Original Sin in the catholic Church vs Orthodoxy

What would you say is the argument in favor of inheriting Adam’s actual sin, versus the Orthodox position that we do not inherit the actual sin itself, but only the result of it?

I think it’s a distinction without a meaningful difference that people who want to find a reason not to get along can use to achieve their goal.

In either case, the fall damaged man to the extent that he requires a Savior. Left to his own devices, he will destroy himself and his fellow man through sin.

The Orthodox position seems reasonable to me, unless you are correct that it is simply a difference created by “people who want to find a reason not to get along.”

But I strongly suspect there’s more to it than that. having said that, I am NOT a theologian. and would love to hear from somebody who can articulate a real difference.

If I’m not mistaken (and I may be) the orthodox just emphasize that despite original sin being present (and requiring baptism to remove it) that the guilt IS NOT inherited, because scripture teaches parents are not responsible for sins of their children, nor are children held to account for sins of their parents.

I don’t actually see a difference at all, at least in this wording.

[quote= catechism]405 Although it is proper to each individual,295 original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

Note that if we said that we were guilty of original sin in the same way as we are of our particular sins, this would destroy not only the hope that unbaptized babies could go to heaven that we tend to entertain these days, but even the idea of limbo that used to be popular.

It seems likely that the difference is one of emphasis and semantics.

Original sin never seemed to be an issue until recently. At the reunion Councils it wasn’t addressed the way the Filioque, azymes, purgatorial fire, and the papacy were.

For example, as later as 1672 the Orthodox taught this with referemce to the effects of original sin (this is in the context of baptism):

[Baptism] is necessary even for infants, since they also are subject to original sin, and without Baptism are not able to obtain its remission. … And forasmuch as infants are men, and as such need salvation; needing salvation, they need also Baptism. And those that are not regenerated, since they have not received the remission of hereditary sin, are, of necessity, subject to eternal punishment, and consequently cannot without Baptism be saved; so that even infants ought, of necessity, to be baptised.


This is one area in which I found that there really isn’t much of a difference, and good Orthodox theologians like DB Hart will acknowledge this. Orthodox Christians who seek to make a mountain out of this mole hill are attacking a straw man.

Since you seem rather familiar with the history, is it possible that it really became a larger issue between us and the EO around the time the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed? That kind of thing (papal declaration) sticks in the craw of EO folks and it certainly involved discussions of original sin…

If Original Sin does not bear any fault, why does Mary have to be excused from it?

Depends on what you mean by excused. Original Sin has an effect. Part of that effect is that we don’t start in a state of grace. If Mary is not to start with that effect, and if it the normal thin for people to start with it, then something had to happen to keep her from doing so.

That something did not have the character of forgiving her for something that she personally did, but rather of keeping her from suffering the consequences of an effect that all people ordinarily suffer the consequences of.

You can call that “excused,” or something else, or you can use the language of “saved” or whatever. The point is that God decided that it was most fitting that Mary not suffer the effects of Original Sin, and so He prevented her from doing so.

In general terms, this doesn’t really have much to do with what Original Sin is, beyond that it is bad and that God decided to spare Mary from it. God could have done so no matter what Original Sin is.

I don’t know how that is accomplished in the way you explained it. If we are sinful because of Original Sin which we inherit from Adam, Adam was created without Original Sin. So how did he sin in the first place?

But to be saved from Original Sin, you have to have it first, right? How can you be saved from something you never had? You can’t be saved from drowning if you’re in the middle of the desert.

If God can save Mary from Original Sin, why not just do it for all of us?

IMO Adam simply hadn’t yet learned the “value” of God, so to speak, and of His wisdom. He was just the first human to act on this “fault”. We follow in his footsteps to the extent we sin, to the extent we go along with evil. But we’re here to learn how to become sick of the pigsty of evil so that, like the Prodigal, we’ll come to hunger and thirst for goodness alone and run back to the Father, sort of reversing Adam’s decision within ourselves rather than confirming it. As we come to believe in, trust in, and love God, we become reconciled with Him so we may commune with Him again, restoring justice to our part of the universe.

It’s said that Mary was saved retroactively, still via the merits of Christ.

Mary still could’ve sinned ,just as Adam did. We’re saved by Christ, same as her, and we can still sin and fall again as well, but in any case she was given a special role in mankind’s salvation, for the benefit of us all. And her role was no easy one in her life here on earth, especially while enduring the passion and death of her son.

This is my sole issue with the Western Doctrine of Original Sin.

I accept that by the Ancestral Sin, man has fallen,
Because man is fallen he has a tendency toward sin.

If others want to leave it at that, I’m happy to as well. As soon as you start saying that one can be removed from it (and it is therefore removed from that genetic line), I start to wonder.

“original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted” (§405). CCC

Inclination to sin is an affirmative, but guilt relates to St Augustine, not the Church teaching. There was no transgression of sin before Adam + Eve. Free-will remained intact that’s “how” Adam and Eve transgressed, and the rest of Chapter 3 Genesis is known. So there is no difference in the teaching east or west.

Adam and Eve were created without a stain or spot, Jesus was conceived without spot or stain. Mary had no spot or stain or this would have been transmitted to Jesus since He is fully human and fully divine. The only question remaining is “when” did this occur with Mary?

The idea Jesus was born to a women with a spot or stain would indicate he is not fully human and the biological son of Mary. Or He would somehow pass through and not be infected by sin which of course would not make Him Marys biological Son. Which also is possible, however, this contradicts the hypostatic union and all the early church fathers teachings.

The idea Mary was preserved at the Incarnation leaves a conflict with the Annunciation. So that would leave two options. Since we have this long tradition of Marys youth as in the Coptic Church. I believe the tradition with Mary and St Anne is EO also? I would suggest Mary is indeed special in Her mothers conception alone. Are all these traditions fairy tales? Because if they are not than frankly its very possible in fact probable Mary was conceived without spot or stain I would propose.

The idea that the Catholic Church needs Original Sin to validate the Immaculate Conception is based of what fact’s exactly beside an opinion, I keep hearing this but see no relevant proof to the claim? Does someone have proof or is that opinion?

The division between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East goes back to the disputes over the legitimacy of the expression Mother of God, as well as Mother of Christ for the Virgin Mary, that came to a head at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

The Assyrian Church of the East prays to the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of Christ our God and Saviour”, and the Catholic tradition addresses the Virgin Mary as “the Mother of God” and also as “the Mother of Christ”.

Emblematic of these differences in terminology is the “Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East”, signed by John Paul II, Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic Church, and Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East on November 11, 1994.

Some of the most difficult questions in relations with the ancient Eastern Churches concern not so much doctrine as practical matters such as the concrete exercise of the claim to papal primacy and how to ensure that ecclesial union would not mean mere absorption of the smaller churches by the Latin component of the much larger Catholic Church, the most numerous single religious denomination in the world, and the stifling or abandonment of their own rich theological, liturgical and cultural heritage. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_ecumenism

Looking at the difference between these two churches, one can say that they are merely semantic, yet it was not solved until 1500 years later. So we can imagine the difficulty in solving even such a trivial issue.

Why is it so difficult to solve if it is only semantic and the difference is merely the terminology?

One of the reasons is because we inherit the differences of our fore-fathers at the Council of Ephesus 1500 years ago. Not until both heads of the churches agreed to compromise in 1994 that the differences was settled.

I think that explains the issue of the original sin as held by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church respectively. The effect of the sin of Adam is inherited by us and as long as we refuse to agree and compromise so is the difference.

In other word, the effect of the sin of Adam becomes our own through pride and inexplicable nature of human being regardless of how we phrase it. Semantic? It is for you to decide.

I’ve never been convinced by that idea I am responsible for the sin of another human being. How does one limit it adam’s single sin and not all of his sins and the sins of the billions of mothers and fathers before him? Why can’t we inherit every single sin? It makes more sense to say we have inherited Adam’s nature and not his actual sin.

The distinction is with substantial difference, that is the actual sin is not the same as our fallen nature which was a result of that sin.

By that argument, doesn’t that mean that Mary isn’t fully human, or the biological daughter of her parents?

You are not clear enough. Can you state clearly Catholic belief and Orthodox belief on Original Sin respectively and tell us the difference?

This whole thread is discussing that distinction.

Catholic belief seems to believe the guilt is hereditary (hence why Mary had to be born untouched, in order that she might be sinless). Orthodox belief is that the consequences, but not the guilt are hereditary (and therefore Mary did not need anything special in her birth).

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