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Is it okay to agree with Immaculate Conception and still be Orthodox?

ignatius

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I read several books on Orthodox views of Our Blessed Virgin Mother and I appear to continue to hold to the Immaculate Conception. I once thought I read the Bishop Ware stated that it was okay. Is it okay?
 

Pravoslavbob

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No, it isn't okay to believe in the Immaculate Conception.  I've seen a few arguments for the acceptance of it as being okay, but it just looks like convuluted fluff to me.  Not at all convincing.  Sorry, that's how I see it..
 

PeterTheAleut

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ignatius said:
I read several books on Orthodox views of Our Blessed Virgin Mother and I appear to continue to hold to the Immaculate Conception. I once thought I read the Bishop Ware stated that it was okay. Is it okay?
By "Immaculate Conception" do you mean the teaching as it was dogmatized by Pius IX, Pope of Rome, in 1854?  That the Theotokos--you RC posters (e.g., lubeltri) please correct me if I misstate this dogma--was from her very conception in the womb of her mother Anna preserved from any stain of original sin?  I know that we Orthodox do hold to some beliefs in Mary's ever-purity, that she was protected from all personal sin through her cooperation with the grace of God, so I just want to know exactly how you come to say that you may believe in some semblance of the Immaculate Conception.
 

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St. Gennadius Scholarius believed in the Immaculate Conception in a very Scotistic sense. I think its wrong and shouldn't be dogmatized, but I have no problem accepting it as a private theological opinion about which men may disagree.
 

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Personally, I would say that our Orthodox teaching is correct as is which denies the tenets of the RC dogma.  But I would definitely suggest you go to someone who is far more educated and mature in the faith than I as to whether something is permissible or not.  As far as Bishop Kallistos' opinions goes, I would direct your attention to the following:

"Orthodoxy...sees no need for any dogma of the 'Immaculate Conception'...Two points need to be kept in mind here.  First, as already noted (p. 62), Orthodoxy does not envisage the fall in Augustinian terms, as a taint of inherited guilt.  If we Orthodox had accepted the Latin view of original guilt, then we might also have felt the need to affirm a doctrine of the Immaculate Conception...Secondly, for Orthodoxy, the Virgin Mary consituttes, together with St. John the Baptist, the crown and culmination of Old Testament sanctity.  She is a 'link figure':  the last and greatest of the righteous men and women of hte Old Covenant,...But the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception seems to us to take the Virgin Mary out of the Old Covenant and to place her, by anticipation, entirely in the New...and so her role as 'link' is impaired."  (Ware, The Orthodox Way, 77).

However, he also writes,

"From the Orthodox point of view, however, the whole question belongs to the realm of theological opinion; and if an individual Orthodox today felt impelled to believe in the Immaculate Conception, he or she could not be termed a heretic for so doing" (Ware, The Orthodox Church, 260).

To me, he defends what the teaching is and why it is taught, but also seems to give an out to anybody who still feels the "immaculate conception" is somehow necessary.  I really don't see how this is the case when he so clearly lays out why we believe what we believe with regards to the Theotokos.  But, as I said above, I'll let someone more erudite and faithful than myself determine whether an Orthodox holding on to the "immaculate conception" as a dogma is "OK."

 

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We don't have a different idea of Original Sin. The attempt to prove that we do are what I would classify as "convuluted fluff." As for Immaculate Conception, it comes down to two options: 1.) The Theotokos has the stain of Original Sin, with no personal sins; and 2.) The Theotokos has neither the stain of Original Sin or personal sins. I agree with the former.
 

PeterTheAleut

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^ (continuing from Reply #2)

If you define your belief in the Immaculate Conception along the lines of Roman dogma, then I would agree with Pravoslavbob that the answer is NO; the Roman dogma of the Immaculate Conception is not acceptable belief for the Orthodox.  Maybe our more learned theologians (ozgeorge, PensaTParadosis, etc.) can cover this better than I can, but I see essentially two reasons why the IC dogma is heretical.

1.  The dogma relies too heavily on an Augustinian view of the state of fallen man (i.e., Original Sin as a stain that is passed on from Adam and Eve to their descendants, making us guilty of their sin) at the expense of our understanding of the complementary and sometimes contradictory views of his contemporaries.

2.  The dogma sets Mary apart from the rest of humanity in a way that is detrimental to the Gospel.  If she was consecrated from her conception for the purpose of bearing the Son of God into the world, and if she was rendered, by God's grace, intrinsically different from the rest of man, then she is not truly and fully human with human free will.  She could not have chosen to obey her calling if she was predestined to do so.  The great example for us and the act that made salvation possible is Mary's free will obedience to God's plan of salvation, when she could very well have said to God, "No, I will not submit to your plan."  She needed to obey out of the freedom of her will, something the dogma of the Immaculate Conception denies her.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Symeon said:
We don't have a different idea of Original Sin. The attempt to prove that we do are what I would classify as "convuluted fluff."
A very interesting statement that doesn't jibe with my understanding of Orthodox doctrine.  Prove it.
 

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1.) The Western view does not entail personal guilt for Original Sin. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

2.) If the Immaculate Conception sets the Theotokos apart from the rest of humanity, it does so for Christ too, since Christ was immaculately conceived. There are better objections than this.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Symeon said:
1.) The Western view does not entail personal guilt for Original Sin. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

2.) If the Immaculate Conception sets the Theotokos apart from the rest of humanity, it does so for Christ too, since Christ was immaculately conceived. There are better objections than this.
I'm sorry, but your own personal opinions, regardless of how much grunt work you put into them, don't count as proof. ;)

Maybe it's because I find equally incredulous your consistent thesis that Western theological constructs are not merely acceptable for the Orthodox, but actually go so far as to define Orthodoxy of faith, despite the fact that Orthodox Christianity is still primarily Eastern in its theological roots.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
A very interesting statement that doesn't jibe with my understanding of Orthodox doctrine.  Prove it.
I have had lengthy discussions about this over at Monachos and also at Energetic Procession, and I don't want to rehash it again.

A starting place would be these blogs from Ephrem Hugh Bensusan:

http://razilazenje.blogspot.com/2006/03/original-sin-in-eastern-orthodox.html
http://razilazenje.blogspot.com/2006/12/ancestral-vs-original-sin-false.html
http://razilazenje.blogspot.com/2007/01/original-sin-west-haters-strike-back.html
 

ignatius

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Peace Brothers and Sisters

I didn't desire to get everyone in a conflict.

"From the Orthodox point of view, however, the whole question belongs to the realm of theological opinion; and if an individual Orthodox today felt impelled to believe in the Immaculate Conception, he or she could not be termed a heretic for so doing" (Ware, The Orthodox Church, 260).

This is the quote I was familiar with and the one I believe affords me recognition of the Immaculate Conception as acceptable for me to claim.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
I'm sorry, but your own personal opinions, regardless of how much grunt work you put into them, don't count as proof. ;)
Sorry, I am sick and tired of seeing this straw man attack against the west.

Peter, think over your second objection a little bit. This argument entails that Adam and Eve did not have true human free wills, since by any definition, they were unaffected by Original Sin. The human will is not equivalent to "will of sin."

A good example of Orthodox argumentation against the IC would be the writings of St. John Maximovitch. He gets to the point; none of the phony arguments over the definition of Original Sin.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Symeon said:
Sorry, I am sick and tired of seeing this straw man attack against the west.
This isn't a straw man argument against the West, since my demand for proof was directed solely at you.  You made a claim that doesn't ring true to my understanding of Orthodox faith, so I'm asking you to offer proof of your claim.  It's that simple, unless you choose to complicate things. ;)

Peter, think over your second objection a little bit. This argument entails that Adam and Eve did not have true human free wills, since by any definition, they were unaffected by Original Sin. The human will is not equivalent to "will of sin."
Offer the proof I requested to support your claim, and maybe I'll reconsider my second objection. ;)

A good example of Orthodox argumentation against the IC would be the writings of St. John Maximovitch. He gets to the point; none of the phony arguments over the definition of Original Sin.
Okay, quote something from St. John.  I'm interested to read it, since I have already, to some degree, stated my relative ignorance of theology and my willingness to be corrected by those who know this subject better than I do.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
This isn't a straw man argument against the West, since my demand for proof was directed solely at you.  You made a claim that doesn't ring true to my understanding of Orthodox faith, so I'm asking you to offer proof of your claim.  It's that simple, unless you choose to complicate things. ;)
Why don't you try taking a look at those links I sent your way?  ;)
 

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Maybe it's because I find equally incredulous your consistent thesis that Western theological constructs are not merely acceptable for the Orthodox, but actually go so far as to define Orthodoxy of faith, despite the fact that Orthodox Christianity is still primarily Eastern in its theological roots.
What "Western theological constructs"? My main theological model is St. John of Damascus. But really, why are we identifying theological Orthodoxy with an ethnic mind set? The West was Orthodox for a long time too.  ;)
 

PeterTheAleut

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Symeon said:
What "Western theological constructs"? My main theological model is St. John of Damascus.
What did St. John of Damascus have to say about Original Sin?

But really, why are we identifying theological Orthodoxy with an ethnic mind set?
I'm not.

The West was Orthodox for a long time too.  ;)
I know, which is why I don't object to embracing Western ideas as part of a comprehensive study of Orthodox patristic theology. ;)
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Okay, quote something from St. John.  I'm interested to read it, since I have already, to some degree, stated my relative ignorance of theology and my willingness to be corrected by those who know this subject better than I do.
His discussion of the IC is here. There is no quibbling over "Original Sin." This is what he says about the Theotokos and Original Sin, quoting St. Ambrose:

This same Holy Father teaches concerning the universality of original sin, from which Christ alone is an exception. "Of all those born of women, there is not a single one who is perfectly holy, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, Who in a special new way of immaculate birthgiving, did not experience earthly taint" (St. Ambrose, Commentary on Luke, ch. 2). "God alone is without sin. All born in the usual manner of woman and man, that is, of fleshly union, become guilty of sin. Consequently, He Who does not have sin was not conceived in this manner" (St. Ambrose, Ap. Aug. "Concerning Marriage and Concupiscence"). "One Man alone, the Intermediary between God and man, is free from the bonds of sinful birth, because He was born of a Virgin, and because in being born He did not experience the touch of sin" (St. Ambrose, ibid., Book 2: "Against Julianus").
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
What did St. John of Damascus have to say about Original Sin?
For it was fitting that not only the first-fruits of our nature should partake in the higher good but every man who wished it, and that a second birth should take place and that the nourishment should be new and suitable to the birth and thus the measure of perfection be attained. Through His birth, that is, His incarnation, and baptism and passion and resurrection, He delivered our nature from the sin of our first parent and death and corruption, and became the first-fruits of the resurrection, and made Himself the way and image and pattern, in order that we, too, following in His footsteps, may become by adoption what He is Himself by nature, sons and heirs of God and joint heirs with Him. He gave us therefore, as I said, a second birth in order that, just as we who are born of Adam are in his image and are the heirs of the curse and corruption, so also being born of Him we may be in His likeness and heirs of His incorruption and blessing and glory.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.iv.xiii.html

Therefore the law of my mind, that is, the conscience, sympathises with the law of God, that is, the precept, and makes that its will. But the law of sin, that is to say, the assault made through the law that is in our members, or through the lust and inclination and movement of the body and of the irrational part of the soul, is in opposition to the law of my mind, that is to conscience, and takes me captive (even though I make the law of God my will and set my love on it, and make not sin my will), by reason of commixture: and through the softness of pleasure and the lust of the body and of the irrational part of the soul, as I said, it leads me astray and induces me to become the servant of sin. But what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (for He assumed flesh but not sin) condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but in the Spirit. For the Spirit helpeth our infirmities and affordeth power to the law of our mind, against the law that is in our members. For the verse, we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession with groanings that cannot be uttered, itself teacheth us what to pray for. Hence it is impossible to carry out the precepts of the Lord except by patience and prayer.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.iv.xxii.html
 

PeterTheAleut

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Symeon said:
His discussion of the IC is here. There is no quibbling over "Original Sin."
SWYP? ???  Maybe St. John Maximovich didn't see much need to spend any time arguing against the Western understanding of original sin as an important tactic in his attack on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, but that doesn't necessarily nullify the value of arguing that the Augustinian view of original sin fundamental to IC dogma is too unbalanced.

This is what he says about the Theotokos and Original Sin, quoting St. Ambrose:
Again, so peripheral to the point St. John tried to make as to be almost irrelevant.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
SWYP? ???  Maybe St. John Maximovich didn't see much need to spend any time arguing against the Western understanding of original sin as an important tactic in his attack on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, but that doesn't necessarily nullify the value of arguing that the Augustinian view of original sin fundamental to IC dogma is too unbalanced.
Yes, no one really saw the point of arguing against the Western view of Original Sin until Frs. Schmemman, Meyendorff, and Romanides, came along to rescue us from the "Western captivity," and now no one can stop harping on it. Read those excerpts from earlier Orthodox confessions and catechisms presented in one of the links I gave to you earlier.

Again, so peripheral to the point St. John tried to make as to be almost irrelevant.
Seeing as how St. Ambrose says that all men born of natural generation (or "sinful birth) become "guilty" of sin, and St. John quoted this statement, I think we can assume that he agreed with this premise. And I agree, the point is peripheral. Nobody cared about this phony issue until the mid-20th century.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Offer the proof I requested to support your claim, and maybe I'll reconsider my second objection. ;)
Peter, however we define Original Sin, we can all agree that at some point at Adam and Eve didn't have it. Nonetheless, they had real and free human wills. The same would be true of the Theotokos if she were born of the IC.
 

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Symeon said:
2.) If the Immaculate Conception sets the Theotokos apart from the rest of humanity, it does so for Christ too, since Christ was immaculately conceived. There are better objections than this.
Bad analogy for the following reason:  the Theotokos was conceived as the result of natural marital relations between her mother and her father, whereas the Christ was conceived in the womb of the Theotokos by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.  To assert that Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin at her conception, despite being conceived by purely natural means, sets her apart from humanity in a way different from how Christ's supernatural conception sets Him apart from the rest of humanity.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Bad analogy for the following reason:  the Theotokos was conceived as the result of natural marital relations between her mother and her father, whereas the Christ was conceived in the womb of the Theotokos by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.  To assert that Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin at her conception, despite being conceived by purely natural means, sets her apart from humanity in a way different from how Christ's supernatural conception sets Him apart from the rest of humanity.
Well, I do agree that there is a problem with the schema of natural birth/immaculate conception (which was an objection Bernard of Clairvaux threw at it). This still has nothing to do with the faculty of willing, which was your initial objection.
 

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Symeon said:
Yes, no one really saw the point of arguing against the Western view of Original Sin until Frs. Schmemman, Meyendorff, and Romanides, came along to rescue us from the "Western captivity," and now no one can stop harping on it.
I read recently that Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the first leader of the ROCOR, worked to stamp out the Russian Church's dependence on Western theological methods.  Do you know anything of this?

Read those excerpts from earlier Orthodox confessions and catechisms presented in one of the links I gave to you earlier.
I did read them.  I don't mean to denigrate Metropolitan St. Philaret of Moscow, but seeing how his catechism came out of the "Western Captivity," I don't see it as necessarily definitive of Orthodox faith.  An excellent resource for a broad study of Orthodox dogmatics, certainly, but I wouldn't place my trust too much on this catechism of St. Philaret.

Seeing as how St. Ambrose says that all men born of natural generation (or "sinful birth) become "guilty" of sin, and St. John quoted this statement, I think we can assume that he agreed with this premise.
St. John quoted St. Ambrose to support his own assertion that the early Western fathers rejected any concept of Immaculate Conception, but this usage doesn't necessarily imply agreement with St. Ambrose's position on original sin.

And I agree, the point is peripheral. Nobody cared about this phony issue until the mid-20th century.
Merely repeating the assertion that the issue of the "Western Captivity" is a phony issue doesn't make the assertion true, regardless of how loudly you keep saying this. ;)
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
I read recently that Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the first leader of the ROCOR, worked to stamp out the Russian Church's dependence on Western theological methods.  Do you know anything of this?
Yes, I do know of this. I forgot Blessed Metropolitan Anthony. I consider his Dogma of Redemption, which is too much misunderstood, to be an Orthodox classic (albeit, not without problems). I think his attempt at "cleansing" the Seminaries was in some ways misguided, but his contribution to Orthodoxy has been very positive, unlike the other three I mentioned. My attitude towards Metropolitan Anthony is the same as St. John Maximovitch, his pupil. A great man who made some errors.

I did read them.  I don't mean to denigrate Metropolitan St. Philaret of Moscow, but seeing how his catechism came out of the "Western Captivity," I don't see it as necessarily definitive of Orthodox faith.  An excellent resource for a broad study of Orthodox dogmatics, certainly, but I wouldn't place my trust too much on this catechism of St. Philaret.
Its not just Metropolitan St. Philaret, if you didn't notice  ;). Which part of St. Philaret's explication do you take issue with specifically, btw?

This "Western captivity" stuff is just a way to create a gap in our understanding that can be filled in with whatever we want by "going back to the Fathers" and creating a new Orthodoxy in our own image, as Fr. Seraphim Rose pointed out. It also implies that Orthodoxy was lost.

But lets take a look at what some great Hesychast Fathers (Sts. Gregory Palamas and Nicholas Cabasilas) have to say on this matter:

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 5:

"Before Christ we all shared the same ancestral curse and condemnation poured out on all of us from our single Forefather, as if it had sprung from the root of the human race and was the common lot of our nature. Each person’s individual action attracted either reproof or praise from God, but no one could do anything about the shared curse and condemnation, or the evil inheritance that has been passed down to him and through him would pass to his descendants. But Christ came, setting human nature free and changing the common curse into a shared blessing. He took upon Himself our guilty nature from the most pure Virgin and united it, new and unmixed with the old seed, to His Divine Person. He rendered it guiltless and righteous, so that all His spiritual descendants would remain outside the ancestral curse and condemnation. How so? He shares His grace with each one of us as a person, and each receives forgiveness of his sins from Him. For He did not receive from us a human person, but assumed our human nature and renewed it by uniting it with His own Person. His wish was to save us all completely and for our sake He bowed the heavens and came down. When by His deeds, words and Sufferings He had pointed out all the ways of salvation, He went up to heaven again, drawing after Him those who trusted Him. His aim was to grant perfect redemption not just to the nature which He had assumed from us in inseparable union, but to each one of those who believed in Him. This He has done and continues to do, reconciling each of us through Himself to the Father, bringing each one back to obedience and thoroughly healing our disobedience. To this end, He established Holy Baptism and gave us saving laws."

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 14:

“If the conception of God had been from seed, He would not have been a new man, nor the Author of new life which will never grow old. If He were from the old stock and had inherited its sin, He would not have been able to bear within Himself the fullness of the incorruptible Godhead or to make His Flesh an inexhaustible Source of sanctification, able to wash away even the defilement of our First Parents by its abundant power, and sufficient to sanctify all who came after them.”

St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ:

"It was neither yesterday nor the day before that the evil began, but at the time that we began to exist. As soon as Adam despised his good Master by believing the evil one and was perverted in will, his soul lost its health and well-being. From that time on his body agreed with the soul and was in accord with it, and was perverted with it like an instrument in the hand of the craftsman. The soul shares its passions with the body by being closely united with it, as is shown by the fact that our body blushes when the soul is ashamed and wastes away when the soul is beset by anxieties. Because our nature was extended and our race increased as it proceeded from the first body, so wickedness too, like any other natural characteristic, was transmitted to the bodies which proceeded from that body. The body, then, not merely shares in the experiences of the soul but also imparts its own experiences to the soul. The soul is subject to joy or vexation, is restrained or unrestrained, depending on the disposition of the body. It therefore followed that each man's soul inherited the wickedness of the first Adam. It spread from his soul to his body, and from his body to the bodies which derived from his, and from those bodies to the souls. This, then, is the old man whom we have received as a seed of evil from our ancestors as we came into existence. We have not seen even one day pure from sin, nor have we ever breathed apart from wickedness, but, as the psalmist says, 'we have gone astray from the womb, we err from our birth' (Ps. 58:4)."

St. John quoted St. Ambrose to support his own assertion that the early Western fathers rejected any concept of Immaculate Conception, but this usage doesn't necessarily imply agreement with St. Ambrose's position on original sin.
St. John is quoting St. Ambrose as a "Holy Father" of authority on the subject of the universality of Original Sin. It does indeed "imply agreement."

Merely repeating the assertion that the issue of the "Western Captivity" is a phony issue doesn't make the assertion true, regardless of how loudly you keep saying this. ;)
It is if the "Western Captivity" was merely an issue of language, and not of content, as Fr. Seraphim Rose maintained.
 

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Further, St. John Maximovitch quotes from Sts. Ignatius Brianchaninov and Ambrose on the inheritance by the Theotokos of Original Sin. This is from the conclusion of his book:

"Despite the righteousness and the immaculateness of the life which the Mother of God led, sin and eternal death manifested their presence in Her. They could not but be manifested: Such is the precise and faithful teaching of the Orthodox Church concerning the Mother of God with relation to original sin and death." (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, "Exposition of the Teaching of the Orthodox Church on the Mother of God.") "A stranger to any fall into sin" (St. Ambrose of Milan, Commentary on the II8th Psalm), "She was not a stranger to sinful temptations." "God alone is without sin" (St. Ambrose, same source), "while man will always have in himself something yet needing correction and perfection in order to fulfill the commandment of God; Be ye holy as I the Lord your God am Holy (Leviticus 19:2). The more pure and perfect one is, the more he notices his imperfections and considers himself all the more unworthy.

The Virgin Mary, having given Herself entirely up to God, even though She repulsed from Herself every impulse to sin, still felt the weakness of human nature more powerfully than others and ardently desired the coming of the Saviour. In Her humility She considered Herself unworthy to be even the servant-girl of the Virgin Who was to give Him birth. So that nothing might distract Her from prayer and heedfulness to Herself, Mary gave to God a vow not to become married, in order to please only Him Her whole life long. Being betrothed to the elderly Joseph when Her age no longer, allowed Her to remain in the Temple, She settled in his house in Nazareth. Here the Virgin was vouchsafed the coming of the Archangel Gabriel, who brought Her the good tidings of the birth, from Her of the Son of the Most High.
http://www.stmaryofegypt.org/library/st_john_maximovich/on_veneration_of_the_theotokos.htm#orthodox_veneration
 

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Symeon said:
This "Western captivity" stuff is just a way to create a gap in our understanding that can be filled in with whatever we want by "going back to the Fathers" and creating a new Orthodoxy in our own image, as Fr. Seraphim Rose pointed out. It also implies that Orthodoxy was lost.

...

It is if the "Western Captivity" was merely an issue of language, and not of content, as Fr. Seraphim Rose maintained.
And this is where we disagree at a very foundational level.  From my reading of Russian Church history, I see a very clear Latinization of Russia's church theology, something with much deeper effects than merely linguistic.  (For instance, how do you justify the Russian adoption of a Latin--many would say heretical--formula of absolution for Confession?)  I also see these effects as so insidious as to make its "victims" totally unaware of how much their ability to see their situation has been compromised.  Sorry to use such a crass analogy, but pigs don't know that pigs stink.  In addition, since I see this Western Captivity as confined for the most part to Russian Orthodoxy, which never was fully representative of the breadth of universal Orthodoxy, I don't see talk of the Western Captivity as an implication that Orthodoxy was ever lost--we need to see Orthodoxy as much bigger than its Russian expression.  Finally, though I have a very profound respect for the monastic spirituality of Fr. Seraphim Rose, I don't consider him an unquestioned authority on things dogmatic.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
And this is where we disagree at a very foundational level.  From my reading of Russian Church history, I see a very clear Latinization of Russia's church theology, something with much deeper effects than merely linguistic.  (For instance, how do you justify the Russian adoption of a Latin--many would say heretical--formula of absolution for Confession?)
If the formula of absolution is the worst example of the Western Captivity (and it seems to be the trump card), then the Western Captivity didn't do that much damage. But here is how I justify it. Priests receive the power to "bind and loose," as we know from scripture. Peter Moghila's formula attributes this to the priests, while the Greek formula attributes it to God, where it ultimately belongs, but there is not a true contradiction. The Greek formula is preferable, though.

In addition, since I see this Western Captivity as confined for the most part to Russian Orthodoxy, which never was fully representative of the breadth of universal Orthodoxy, I don't see talk of the Western Captivity as an implication that Orthodoxy was ever lost--we need to see Orthodoxy as much bigger than its Russian expression.
The proponents of the Western Captivity theory don't limit it to Russia alone, but also to Greece. Just read what Fr. Romanides writes on this subject. For Fr. Romanides, Russia was ruined by Peter the Great and Greece by Adamantios Korais. His dissertation "The Ancestral Sin" is supposed to have been some great revelation to Greece.

Finally, though I have a very profound respect for the monastic spirituality of Fr. Seraphim Rose, I don't consider him an unquestioned authority on things dogmatic.
The monastics and holy men generally know best.  ;)
 

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Symeon said:
But lets take a look at what some great Hesychast Fathers (Sts. Gregory Palamas and Nicholas Cabasilas) have to say on this matter:

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 5:

"Before Christ we all shared the same ancestral curse and condemnation poured out on all of us from our single Forefather, as if it had sprung from the root of the human race and was the common lot of our nature. Each person’s individual action attracted either reproof or praise from God, but no one could do anything about the shared curse and condemnation, or the evil inheritance that has been passed down to him and through him would pass to his descendants. But Christ came, setting human nature free and changing the common curse into a shared blessing. He took upon Himself our guilty nature from the most pure Virgin and united it, new and unmixed with the old seed, to His Divine Person. He rendered it guiltless and righteous, so that all His spiritual descendants would remain outside the ancestral curse and condemnation. How so? He shares His grace with each one of us as a person, and each receives forgiveness of his sins from Him. For He did not receive from us a human person, but assumed our human nature and renewed it by uniting it with His own Person. His wish was to save us all completely and for our sake He bowed the heavens and came down. When by His deeds, words and Sufferings He had pointed out all the ways of salvation, He went up to heaven again, drawing after Him those who trusted Him. His aim was to grant perfect redemption not just to the nature which He had assumed from us in inseparable union, but to each one of those who believed in Him. This He has done and continues to do, reconciling each of us through Himself to the Father, bringing each one back to obedience and thoroughly healing our disobedience. To this end, He established Holy Baptism and gave us saving laws."

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 14:

“If the conception of God had been from seed, He would not have been a new man, nor the Author of new life which will never grow old. If He were from the old stock and had inherited its sin, He would not have been able to bear within Himself the fullness of the incorruptible Godhead or to make His Flesh an inexhaustible Source of sanctification, able to wash away even the defilement of our First Parents by its abundant power, and sufficient to sanctify all who came after them.”

St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ:

"It was neither yesterday nor the day before that the evil began, but at the time that we began to exist. As soon as Adam despised his good Master by believing the evil one and was perverted in will, his soul lost its health and well-being. From that time on his body agreed with the soul and was in accord with it, and was perverted with it like an instrument in the hand of the craftsman. The soul shares its passions with the body by being closely united with it, as is shown by the fact that our body blushes when the soul is ashamed and wastes away when the soul is beset by anxieties. Because our nature was extended and our race increased as it proceeded from the first body, so wickedness too, like any other natural characteristic, was transmitted to the bodies which proceeded from that body. The body, then, not merely shares in the experiences of the soul but also imparts its own experiences to the soul. The soul is subject to joy or vexation, is restrained or unrestrained, depending on the disposition of the body. It therefore followed that each man's soul inherited the wickedness of the first Adam. It spread from his soul to his body, and from his body to the bodies which derived from his, and from those bodies to the souls. This, then, is the old man whom we have received as a seed of evil from our ancestors as we came into existence. We have not seen even one day pure from sin, nor have we ever breathed apart from wickedness, but, as the psalmist says, 'we have gone astray from the womb, we err from our birth' (Ps. 58:4)."
I don't deny the orthodoxy of belief that the human nature we inherited from our first parents is in some way corrupted by the Fall, but how does this justify your Western view of original sin as some sort of stain that must be cleansed?  Does this not imply some type of personal guilt for Adam's sin?  Would not the words you quoted above of the Fathers also fit a world view that saw death, as opposed to some type of stain, to be the corruption of the Fall?

St. John is quoting St. Ambrose as a "Holy Father" of authority on the subject of the universality of Original Sin. It does indeed "imply agreement."
Emphasis, as I read St. John's quote of St. Ambrose, on the universality of original sin, regardless of how this is defined...  This doesn't imply agreement with St. Ambrose's definition of original sin (that we are born guilty of Adam's sin).
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
I don't deny the orthodoxy of belief that the human nature we inherited from our first parents is in some way corrupted by the Fall, but how does this justify your Western view of original sin as some sort of stain that must be cleansed?  Does this not imply some type of personal guilt for Adam's sin?  Would not the words you quoted above of the Fathers also fit a world view that saw death, as opposed to some type of stain, to be the corruption of the Fall?
Let me put some emphases in these quotes.

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 5:

"Before Christ we all shared the same ancestral curse and condemnation poured out on all of us from our single Forefather, as if it had sprung from the root of the human race and was the common lot of our nature. Each person’s individual action attracted either reproof or praise from God, but no one could do anything about the shared curse and condemnation, or the evil inheritance that has been passed down to him and through him would pass to his descendants. But Christ came, setting human nature free and changing the common curse into a shared blessing. He took upon Himself our guilty nature from the most pure Virgin and united it, new and unmixed with the old seed, to His Divine Person. He rendered it guiltless and righteous, so that all His spiritual descendants would remain outside the ancestral curse and condemnation."

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 14:

“If the conception of God had been from seed, He would not have been a new man, nor the Author of new life which will never grow old. If He were from the old stock and had inherited its sin, He would not have been able to bear within Himself the fullness of the incorruptible Godhead or to make His Flesh an inexhaustible Source of sanctification, able to wash away even the defilement of our First Parents by its abundant power, and sufficient to sanctify all who came after them.”

St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ:

"It was neither yesterday nor the day before that the evil began, but at the time that we began to exist. As soon as Adam despised his good Master by believing the evil one and was perverted in will, his soul lost its health and well-being. From that time on his body agreed with the soul and was in accord with it, and was perverted with it like an instrument in the hand of the craftsman. The soul shares its passions with the body by being closely united with it, as is shown by the fact that our body blushes when the soul is ashamed and wastes away when the soul is beset by anxieties. Because our nature was extended and our race increased as it proceeded from the first body, so wickedness too, like any other natural characteristic, was transmitted to the bodies which proceeded from that body. The body, then, not merely shares in the experiences of the soul but also imparts its own experiences to the soul. The soul is subject to joy or vexation, is restrained or unrestrained, depending on the disposition of the body. It therefore followed that each man's soul inherited the wickedness of the first Adam. It spread from his soul to his body, and from his body to the bodies which derived from his, and from those bodies to the souls. This, then, is the old man whom we have received as a seed of evil from our ancestors as we came into existence. We have not seen even one day pure from sin, nor have we ever breathed apart from wickedness, but, as the psalmist says, 'we have gone astray from the womb, we err from our birth' (Ps. 58:4)."

These Holy Fathers declare our nature to be "guilty" and say that "sin," "evil" and "wickedness" are inherit within it. St. Nicholas says "We have not seen even one day pure from sin, nor have we ever breathed apart from wickedness." This is quite a bit more than mere death. If you agree with these quotes, then you can not fault St. Philaret, who is not nearly as harsh. And of course, our natural guilt is not a personal one; even St. Augustine did not think that.

Emphasis, as I read St. John's quote of St. Ambrose, on the universality of original sin, regardless of how this is defined...  This doesn't imply agreement with St. Ambrose's definition of original sin (that we are born guilty of Adam's sin).
Do you also think the St. John disagreed with St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, when he quoted him to effect that, while immaculate and pure personally, sin and eternal death were manifested in the Theotokos? He also proceeds to quote St. Ambrose to the same effect, and this is after he has finished his polemics against the IC.
 

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Symeon said:
Let me put some emphases in these quotes.

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 5:

"Before Christ we all shared the same ancestral curse and condemnation poured out on all of us from our single Forefather, as if it had sprung from the root of the human race and was the common lot of our nature. Each person’s individual action attracted either reproof or praise from God, but no one could do anything about the shared curse and condemnation, or the evil inheritance that has been passed down to him and through him would pass to his descendants. But Christ came, setting human nature free and changing the common curse into a shared blessing. He took upon Himself our guilty nature from the most pure Virgin and united it, new and unmixed with the old seed, to His Divine Person. He rendered it guiltless and righteous, so that all His spiritual descendants would remain outside the ancestral curse and condemnation."

St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 14:

“If the conception of God had been from seed, He would not have been a new man, nor the Author of new life which will never grow old. If He were from the old stock and had inherited its sin, He would not have been able to bear within Himself the fullness of the incorruptible Godhead or to make His Flesh an inexhaustible Source of sanctification, able to wash away even the defilement of our First Parents by its abundant power, and sufficient to sanctify all who came after them.”

St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ:

"It was neither yesterday nor the day before that the evil began, but at the time that we began to exist. As soon as Adam despised his good Master by believing the evil one and was perverted in will, his soul lost its health and well-being. From that time on his body agreed with the soul and was in accord with it, and was perverted with it like an instrument in the hand of the craftsman. The soul shares its passions with the body by being closely united with it, as is shown by the fact that our body blushes when the soul is ashamed and wastes away when the soul is beset by anxieties. Because our nature was extended and our race increased as it proceeded from the first body, so wickedness too, like any other natural characteristic, was transmitted to the bodies which proceeded from that body. The body, then, not merely shares in the experiences of the soul but also imparts its own experiences to the soul. The soul is subject to joy or vexation, is restrained or unrestrained, depending on the disposition of the body. It therefore followed that each man's soul inherited the wickedness of the first Adam. It spread from his soul to his body, and from his body to the bodies which derived from his, and from those bodies to the souls. This, then, is the old man whom we have received as a seed of evil from our ancestors as we came into existence. We have not seen even one day pure from sin, nor have we ever breathed apart from wickedness, but, as the psalmist says, 'we have gone astray from the womb, we err from our birth' (Ps. 58:4)."

These Holy Fathers declare our nature to be "guilty" and say that "sin," "evil" and "wickedness" are inherit within it. St. Nicholas says "We have not seen even one day pure from sin, nor have we ever breathed apart from wickedness." This is quite a bit more than mere death. If you agree with these quotes, then you can not fault St. Philaret, who is not nearly as harsh. And of course, our natural guilt is not a personal one; even St. Augustine did not think that.
Natural guilt... personal guilt...  seems like a lot of hairsplitting over semantics to me.  What difference does it make if we are considered guilty of Adam's sin?  (BTW, what of those Fathers who may have espoused different definitions of original sin?  I'll try to find a few this weekend.  Would you reject them as not authoritative because they don't fit your predefined world view?  If so, then you will end up doing exactly what you accused me of doing in Reply #15 when you accused me of attacking--i.e., rejecting--the West. ;))

Do you also think the St. John disagreed with St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, when he quoted him to effect that, while immaculate and pure personally, sin and eternal death were manifested in the Theotokos? He also proceeds to quote St. Ambrose to the same effect, and this is after he has finished his polemics against the IC.
Look, I don't disagree that we are in some way cursed by the Fall of Adam, and I don't have a problem with the language the Fathers use to describe this curse.  However, the words you quoted and emphasized can be used just as consistently within the Latin definition of original sin that serves as the framework for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as with the Byzantine-Slavic definition that leads to a rejection of the dogma.  So how, specifically, do the words you quoted support your point of view exclusively?  Are you not just filtering these quotes from the Fathers through your particular world view, a world view I don't share with you?
 

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Symeon said:
The monastics and holy men generally know best.  ;)
And yet, because the Church has always been much more than just the monastics and holy men--I assume you mean ascetics--and because the Gospel of Christ's Incarnation IS unique to Christianity, unlike her ascetic practices found in most other religions, there is room for the historians and other "academics" in the Church.  IOW, the Holy Spirit indwells the WHOLE Church and is not the possession of the monastics and ascetics alone. ;)

Now, I have to get up earlier than is my wont on a Saturday morning because of the Divine Liturgy of the Akathist Hymn, so I better wrap this up for now so I can go to bed.  Despite our disagreements, I have really enjoyed debating this issue with you, and I hope we haven't departed too much from the intent of the OP so that I have to split this off into its own thread tomorrow. ;)  Have a good night, and may the blessings of the Lord be upon you as you sing the Akathist to the Theotokos (interestingly appropriate for this thread, is it not? 8)) this weekend, if you haven't done so already.

- Peter
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Natural guilt... personal guilt...  seems like a lot of hairsplitting over semantics to me.  What difference does it make if we are considered guilty of Adam's sin?
Well, I have no problem saying, with St. Gregory Palamas, that I have a guilty nature that Christ has redeemed. Personal sins are sins that we personally commit. Our natural guilt is our sin-inclined state, concupiscence, unable to approach God.

(BTW, what of those Fathers who may have espoused different definitions of original sin?  I'll try to find a few this weekend.  Would you reject them as not authoritative because they don't fit your predefined world view?  If so, then you will end up doing exactly what you accused me of doing in Reply #15 when you accused me of attacking--i.e., rejecting--the West. ;))
The only Father who I think really holds a different view of Original Sin would be Blessed Theodoret, who Fr. John Meyendorff holds up to be as a prime example of the "Eastern" view, and in my reading approaches Pelagianism on this issue (ironically, Theodoret attacked St. Cyril and his followers as Pelagian in one of his letters). While I have a great fondness for Theodoret, I would not hold him up as a model on this issue. But do try to find some more quotes and we can discuss them (perhaps in the inevitable split thread  ;)).

Look, I don't disagree that we are in some way cursed by the Fall of Adam, and I don't have a problem with the language the Fathers use to describe this curse.  However, the words you quoted and emphasized can be used just as consistently within the Latin definition of original sin that serves as the framework for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as with the Byzantine-Slavic definition that leads to a rejection of the dogma.  So how, specifically, do the words you quoted support your point of view exclusively?  Are you not just filtering these quotes from the Fathers through your particular world view, a world view I don't share with you?
Well, this goes back to the question of whether there actually is any difference. The Byzantine-Slavic definition does not naturally lead to a rejection of it, as St. John Maximovitch does not combat it on these grounds, or even dispute them. Nor does the Latin definition naturally lead to it, as many of the later Latin "saints" (such as Bernard and Thomas), who where very Augustinian on Original Sin, still rejected the IC. So what is the definitive demarcation line between the two views?
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
And yet, because the Church has always been much more than just the monastics and holy men--I assume you mean ascetics--and because the Gospel of Christ's Incarnation IS unique to Christianity, unlike her ascetic practices found in most other religions, there is room for the historians and other "academics" in the Church.  IOW, the Holy Spirit indwells the WHOLE Church and is not the possession of the monastics and ascetics alone. ;)

Now, I have to get up earlier than is my wont on a Saturday morning because of the Divine Liturgy of the Akathist Hymn, so I better wrap this up for now so I can go to bed.  Despite our disagreements, I have really enjoyed debating this issue with you, and I hope we haven't departed too much from the intent of the OP so that I have to split this off into its own thread tomorrow. ;)  Have a good night, and may the blessings of the Lord be upon you as you sing the Akathist to the Theotokos (interestingly appropriate for this thread, is it not? 8)) this weekend, if you haven't done so already.

- Peter
May the Lord be upon you also. Have a good sleep.  :)
 

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From an Orthodox perspective, the Immaculate Conception is an absurd solution to a non existent problem.
Which person among you has repented of their "Original Sin"? The notion of culpability for someone else's sin is simply absurd.
There is no culpability in inheriting the Ancestral Sin. We merely inherit the consequences of it- we live under the conditions of the Fall.
Christ and the Theotokos both lived under the conditions of the Fall- they were both subject to death.
 

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ozgeorge said:
From an Orthodox perspective, the Immaculate Conception is an absurd solution to a non existent problem.
I agree. Because mans fall isn't sin, but the consequences from sin.
 

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Symeon said:
The only Father who I think really holds a different view of Original Sin would be Blessed Theodoret, who Fr. John Meyendorff holds up to be as a prime example of the "Eastern" view, and in my reading approaches Pelagianism on this issue (ironically, Theodoret attacked St. Cyril and his followers as Pelagian in one of his letters). While I have a great fondness for Theodoret, I would not hold him up as a model on this issue. But do try to find some more quotes and we can discuss them (perhaps in the inevitable split thread  ;)).
ozgeorge,  how do you answer this charge that the Patristic Consensus supports a Western view of Original Sin, that there's really a dearth of Fathers who support what we call the Orthodox point of view?  A case of selective reading of the Fathers to support one's own dogmatic tradition?
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
ozgeorge,  how do you answer this charge that the Patristic Consensus supports a Western view of Original Sin, that there's really a dearth of Fathers who support what we call the Orthodox point of view?  A case of selective reading of the Fathers to support one's own dogmatic tradition?
I answer with one word: "Bollocks".
 

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I tend to be sympathetic towards Symeon's view.  We had a discussion a while ago about this same issue, except with an interesting twist of including St. Athanasius to it.  I also included a link to Vladimir Moss' book on the issue.

I think what needs to be done is to define words like "guilt," "original sin," even the word "sin" in that phrase before we can condemn the West as heretical at this point.

In addition, if Original Sin is wrong, as +Ware says, yet he says that Immaculate Conception is up for theological opinion.  In other words, since it carries with it the baggage of "Western" Original Sin, should that also be a "theological opinion" among Orthodox, and not heresy?

God bless.
 
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