Is the Eastern Orthodox Church correct

Is the Eastern Orthodox Church correct?
I asked a question on another thread that came to me when studying the eastern orthodox perspective on the immaculate conception, Does the Catholic teaching on Original Sin condemn unborn/unbaptized babies?

I am going to post a response from that thread along with my reply:

It is a de fide teaching of the Church that those who die in mortal sin or in original sin alone both go to hell but suffer unequal punishments:

“The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only…immediately descend into hell, yet to be punished with different punishments". —Pope Gregory X, Second Council of Lyons, 1274

“The souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains”. —Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Laetentur Caeli , 6 July 1439

When it comes to unbaptized infants, one cannot argue that because they have not committed any actual sin and are therefore “innocent,” they ought to go to heaven. A person is not saved by being “innocent,” but by having sanctifying grace, which requires baptism, whether by water, blood, or desire. Because baptism of blood and desire require an act of the will, infants can only be saved by baptism of water, which is why St. Thomas Aquinas urges mothers to have their children baptized as soon as possible, because for them there is “no other remedy.”

“It is not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents, because their punishment consisted in being deprived of a free gift of God…to which they had no strict right and which they willfully forfeited by their act of disobedience” (Baltimore Catechism, q. 257). No individual, even if he has not committed any personal sin, has any entitlement to a friendship with God; it is because of God’s love and mercy that Adam and Eve even had the possibility of the Beatific Vision! It is perfectly in-line with His justice if those who die in a state of original sin, with no personal sin, are still deprived of the Beatific Vision.

At the same time, though an individual who dies in a state of original sin alone cannot enter into heaven, he also cannot be punished for personal, actual sins, because he has committed none. The theory of limbo, a state of natural happiness in which unbaptized infants are deprived of the Beatific Vision but otherwise do not suffer, arose as a consequence of this theological dilemma. It is featured extensively in the writings of many saints, doctors, and fathers through the ages which have the full approval of the Church. While limbo is not explicitly mentioned in the aforementioned councils, it has become part of Catholic tradition and cannot be easily dismissed out of hand.







The error many are making in this thread is assuming that only dogma is binding, and that anything that is not dogma is up for speculation. This is not the case, as many non-dogmatic teachings are indeed binding, because they belong to other levels of theological certainty. While limbo is not a dogma, as many here have correctly pointed out, it cannot be wholly disregarded as a mere “speculation,” because it is a theological conclusion that has been proposed by countless saints, doctors, and fathers, and thus is sententia ad fidem pertinens (i.e., theologice certa ).

This is why under the heading “The Punishment of Those Who Die with Original Sin Only," Pius VI’s Auctorem fidei reads: “The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of hell—usually called by the faithful ‘Children’s Limbo’—in which the soul of those dying with only original sin are punished by the pain of loss without any pain of fire; and this taken to mean that by denying the pain of fire one can thereby necessarily postulate a middle state or place involving neither guilt nor penalty between the Kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as Pelagians have invented— false, rash, slanderous to Catholic schools ."

—trans. from “Children’s Limbo, Theory or Doctrine?” by Father Joseph Le Blanc, C.J.M., American Ecclesiastical Review , September 1947, p. 167.



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Hello rose, it seems as though you’ve answered my question, this is exactly how I took the traditional teaching, yet it seems harsh.

My question came up when reading the EO perspective on the Immaculate Conception.

In my readings the question of unborn/unbaptized babies didn’t come up, but rather it was stating that the idea of the Immaculate Conception doesn’t necessarily conflict with eastern orthodox teaching as they believe that all are born sinless, yet inheriting from Adam’s original sin a fallen nature the punishment of which is death, hence no need to define that Mary was immaculately conceived only that she continued throughout life without sin.

Well reading about this it dawned on me the question of original sin and unbaptized or unborn babies, this question may have come to me because my wife and I lost a baby due to miscarriage.
Now I find myself with conflicting beliefs wondering if the traditional Catholic teaching is correct or if not the EO teaching is correct.

It almost seems to me that the EO teaching is correct and if they are correct on this teaching, are they possibly correct on other teachings?

The more I ponder this, I am more confused.
Honestly it’s headache inducing.

All of this get’s me to thinking if the Catholic teaching is wrong on this subject what else could it be wrong about?
Is my understanding of the teaching of the orthodox church correct?
Is the Eastern Orthodox church the true church? Truly this is headache inducing.

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No, not really in such a way (though they do have Apostolic succession and valid sacraments). Here’s a link:

We should find out God’s Justice and try to understand it, not try to make Him into our image.
However, do remember that we aren’t sure as to the end of your child. Pray for him or her, and trust in God. We are not without hope for these people. You wish you could have baptized them. Pray about that to God. Pray for his or her soul.

Ultimately, even if this child is in limbo, he or she would be in a state of perfect natural happiness.

As I said, pray about it, and pray for the child’s soul.


In general: the more you look outside of the Church - yes, even to Orthodoxy - the more you will be confused. Now, the Orthodox (not all of them as they are not united in all aspects) have so much exactly right, but are hindered in their full understanding, as they do not benefit from succeeding councils.

As a Catholic, you possess the fullness of revealed truth. To look elsewhere is to desire, or be seduced, by less.


From the EOC pov, we are born without sin, but into death… We do not inherit Adam’s sin, you see, but his death. Paul affirms as much in Rom 5:1234:

Through this, just as through one man sin entered into the cosmos,
and death through (this) sin also entered (into the cosmos),
so also (in the same manner) did death spread to all men,
upon which (death) all (men) have sinned –

Our objection to the doctrine of the immaculate conception hinges on the “special Grace” afforded by it only to the Blessed Virgin, and not to the rest of mankind… This is problematic for us because Christ healed only what He inherited from Her when She conceived Him, and if she was immaculately conceived with this special Grace, with which we all were not conceived, then we are not saved by His Holy Incarnation…

And this to explain EOC thinking in this matter…

We are to become simple and trusting, as children are simple and trusting, in order that we enter into Christ in Baptism… Children are beloved of God, and blessed… And a joy for their parents into whose hands God has entrusted them…

Paul also wrote: “We are holding the Mystery of the Faith in a purified conscience…” It is more important to concern yourself with your own purification of the heart, your own, than to try to figure out correct and incorrect teachings… “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see/know God…”

May God bless your walk…



The Catholic Church was founded by Christ Himself on Peter (the Rock). Everything else is built on sand. C.f. Matthew 7: 24-27; Matthew 16: 16-18.

So it is correct to say, from the EOC perspective:
All that are born, are born without sin. Instead they inherit death, a punishment which has been passed down through Adams sin & has been conquered by Christ.


From the RCC perspective(as I understand it):
All that are born, are born with original sin. Death being a consequence of original sin. Baptism being a requirement to be cleansed of original sin.

Which lead me to the conclusion in the first place that the traditional RCC teaching condemns unborn/unbaptized children, which seems off, but when getting down to it (no matter how bad it sounds) is what the RCC has traditionally taught.

That is what keeps making me look at the EOC perspective, it seems to me that they got it right.

What if the Catholic Church built upon Peter is the Orthodox Church?

I mean they truly claim to be, and have pretty strong arguments. Sure Peter set up the See of Rome, but did he not also set up the See of Antioch first?

So why wouldn’t the Patriarch’s of Antioch be the successors of Peter?

Except Our Lady, who was the only human person conceived and born without original sin.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is one Divine Person with two natures, Divine and human, in the unity of His Divine Person (c.f. Council of Chalcedon, the Fourth Ecumenical Council - that’s infallible btw), so obviously He has no original or actual sin.

Yes, thanks for the correction.
The Virgin Mary is The Immaculate Conception.

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I think @steve-b answered this on another thread. @steve-b, can you help?

The problem you would face is that the EO, through her old catechisms and her saints before the 20th century, had believed in Original Sin and that infants with Original Sin cannot enter Heaven.

And this is an innovation even in EO. The council of Carthage, which was accepted by the Quinisext council, anathematized those who profess that the baptism of infants is not a baptism remitting Original Sin.

We do not regard death so much a punishment as a condition… Rewards and punishments come with what you do about the condition in which you find yourself in this fallen creation… We are born fallen in Adam, and are re-born into Christ, and that is the Way of Salvation, that’s all…

The idea that unborn children will be sent into the Lake of Fire for eternal unbearable punishment because not Baptized is not an Orthodox teaching… Nor that they will enter into hell without punishment but just with great deprivations of Grace…

Christ by His Holy Death on the Cross trampled down Death when He entered into Hades and overcame its iron bars and released its captives by His Glorious 3rd Day Resurrection… Which is why we are Baptized into His Death, that we should live His Resurrection…



Yes - He inherited our death by being born of the Blessed Virgin in Adam… And by His Life He picked up where Adam left off, as the New Adam, and He overcame Death by His Death on the Cross…

But you see, it is ONLY Christ Who did overcome Death, so that for us, we have to be Baptized into Christ and become a member of His Body, that we in Him also now CAN overcome the world, and no longer live under the rulership of death as we otherwise would… By Baptism we die to death, and to the world… We enter into Christ and take up our own cross and follow Him… Suffering for thew sake of the Christ and the Salvation of man and the cosmos…

We do not need to inherit sin if we inherit death - We will sin plenty enough all on our own in the fallenness of our lives under the rule of death upon which all have sinned…


Thanks for the explanation. :+1:
This I what thought the EOC perspective was, although perhaps I didn’t quite know how to articulate it.

And that “explanation” differs from the EO’s traditional explanation for Original Sin and its effects on unbaptized infants.

Interesting, could you please provide a source on this?


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