Orthodox original sin


Can someone explain to me the Eastern or Orthodox view of original sin?
My understanding is that it differs from the Catholic or Protestant view.
I do understand the difference between monogerism and synergerism but what is the difference between the
Roman Catholic view and the Eastern Orthodox view of original sin?
My understanding is that they view it as ancestral sin but how is that different?

Should I convert to the Roman Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church?

In the Eastern Churches, we believe that man inherited from Adam only his liability to death and corruption, infants have no sin to remit. It is awareness of death that causes the development of disordered passions, which impel all men to sin.

Baptism represents new life in Christ. When immersed in the font, we descend into the tomb with Christ, and we share in his death, which is the death of the old man. Rising from the font, we are reborn in Christ, have put on Christ, and thus have access to the doors of immortality. Sins are remitted, only to the extent that the catechumen has actual sin to remit. Children, being blameless, do not have any sins to remit, but any sins an adult has committed, die along with the old man.

Hope that makes sense.



Thanks-something to digest as my church teaches somewhat differently


This is why Orthodox find the Immaculate Conception dogma a head-scratcher–NOT because they disagree, but because they never accepted Augustine’s teaching of individual church (and note that that teaching is not dogma in the RCC . . .)

Without the individual guilt, making IC a dogma is kind of like making “2+2=4” a dogma . . .from that perspective, sure, it’s obvious, but why is it even being discussed?

Also, note that EC share the EO, not the RC, notion (except perhaps the Maronites).


Should I convert to the Roman Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church?

Then what does infant baptism do for the infant? The Orthodox baptize infants. Seems useless to do that if there is no sin.


wondered this myself?


It is somewhat incorrect to think of babies as sinless in regard to being holy. We have concupiscence in our body and various passions passed on to us from our parents. Unbaptized, it would be near impossible for these passions to not utterly conquer us, but baptism gives us God’s aid to battle against their inclinations.


entry into the church, and imparts grace to help resist future sin . . . the infant is not just baptized, but moments later is chrismated (confirmed), and a short time later (fat the same liturgy) receives the Eucharist.



Just as @dochawk said, enterance into the Church and as I stated when immersed into the waters of baptism we share in Christ’s death and as we come up we are “born again” and as St. Paul says, “put on Christ.”



Thank you. This helps.


I shared this thought in another thread that might be helpful, I think you should really read some of the fathers of the church to get a better understanding of original sin. It is not as simple as just death and corruption as some have seemed to imply:

“I think that today, the RCC has moved toward what the Orthodox Church believes about it and has dropped mention of personal guilt. The only subtle difference I see is that the RCC is a little more fear driven by it and think that an unbaptized infant can go to hell as Orthodox do not. Orthodox Christians are more positive about God’s providence and see original sin as a means for the betterment of mankind, as a training method. So having fore-knowledge of all things, God has created us in this state knowing that He also will forgive us our sins, He is only disciplining us with this state for our own good. The RCC tend to focus more on justice and punishment, which are really there, but I would say they are secondary to His Providence in which He longs to help us.”

Also baptism has been described by Saints as replacing sin in the center of the heart with grace. Before baptism it is sin that dwells in the heart and grace acts from outside, but after Baptism, grace settles in the heart and sin attracts us from outside.


This is where I struggle with the Eastern objection. No one believes that infants are born guilty of actual sin. The modern Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear that the “stain” of original sin does not constitute a personal guilt nor personal sin, but is rather the consequences of Adam’s sin. At its root, I would argue that the Immaculate Conception is not so much about Our Lady being spared from guilt or a stain, but more that she was holy from the first moment of conception. The liturgical texts of the feast of the IC focus on her holiness as the mother God himself crafted for himself…
If the East believes that all infants are conceived / born holy, that is, participating in the divine life of the Trinity (what we Latins call sanctifying grace), then why bother with baptism at all? In essence, Our Lady enjoyed the benefits of baptism from the first moment of her conception.


What “eastern objection”??? There is no objection, mere head-scratching about what the fusses all about.

Uhm, OK. Sure. I don’t think that’s consistent with either Eastern or Western theology, but . . .

Joining the church, ongoing grace, and such “minor details.”



It isn’t consistent with the West nor East to say that Our Lady was Holy from the first moment of her conception? That’s really what the Immaculate Conception is all about.
That’s where I see the biggest disconnect. I get the impression that many in the East believe that all are conceived holy, that is partaking of the divine nature… while the Latin teaching is clear that this is something that happens at baptism when we “put on Christ”. Our Lady, on the other hand, partook of the divine nature from the first moment she existed. That’s really what the IC comes down to- once you remove the theological baggage of “guilt” and “stain”.

If the East really believes that every human is conceived holy, conceived a saint, even prior to baptism, then there truly is a blatant contradiction between our beliefs. Our Lady was conceived a saint, I became a saint (in progress) only at baptism.
As CCC 491 says, Our Lady was redeemed from the first moment of her conception. (http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/491.htm).


No, I suggested no such thing.

It isn’t consistent “rephrase” the issue in a way that completely changes the discussion.

That’s a rather interesting, even unique, spin on it.

Augustine taught individual guilt from Original Sin, which needed redemption. The IC is a response to that.

That’s not the Eastern teaching.

Without which, the IC would never have been something to discuss.

If the west believes that hot dogs should be served with catsup and that failure to do so is sin, it’s a blatant contradiction between our beliefs.

But so what? Neither is the case.

You are attempting to put your own western dichotomy on your own determination of eastern theology.



This is close to being the real Orthodox position. Like I said I think most in the RCC are starting to view it the Orthodox way because the newer catechism has a lot if influence from Orthodox theology. The main part missing are the merits and dispassion forknown of Sts. Joachim and Anna and then of the Holy Virgin Mary that made it possible for God to grace them at the time of the conception of the Holy Theotokos. But to think that she was saved from the effects of original sin don’t make sense, she still had concupiscence and the innocent passions by nature. Only Christ chose to have them in order to conquer them.

It is not wise to think of the Holy Virgin only as being graced with the gifts of baptism from conception because it would mean that somehow the 9 to 12 months from conception to baptism for most Christians somehow is responsible for their failure to live like the Theotokos. Her life was foreknown from the beginning of creation. She had the same potential that all man has, but she truly is worthy of giving birth to Christ our God.


This is not true. The early fathers say that Adam and Eve were clothed with God’s glory and when they sinned they became naked not being clothed in God’s glory but now clothed in death and corruption. That’s us now.

I reread the portion of The Fall in the CCC and in summary it basically says, at least from my interpretation, that the Latin Church teaches that “original sin” is that we, decendents of Adam and Eve, have been deprived from the original holiness that they were given, not an inherited guilt, and that the consequences of their sin is death and a tendency toward sin. This is no different from the eastern understanding.

In baptism, as we are submerged into the water, we participate in Christ’s death, and as we come up from the waters we are “born again” we “put on Christ.” Of course, in the case of adults, a remission of personal sin.



I apologize if I came off as trying to impose my understanding on the East- I just wanted to reach an understanding.


Thank you. This is what I was originally trying to get at… I don’t think there is that vast of a gulf between us anymore on this issue. I didn’t think that the Orthodox believed we were all conceived as saints, but I was starting to wonder…
Did Our Lady have an unfair advantage? I suppose from a Latin perspective she did… but then anyone born into a Christian family has an advantage over someone born into a pagan family, no? I think Catholic theology would still say that Our Lady merited her glory through exemplary faith. Perhaps her exemplary faith was applied backwards in some sense… God is not bound by time.


What we consider advantages are not necessarily advantages in the big scheme of things. God gives each person the best possible experience for their maturing and salvation. For most, being graced as much as the Holy Theotokos was and then failing to appreciate such care would make their condemnation worse than if they did not receive such grace. St Gregory of Nyssa and St. Dorotheos of Gaza both teach that all scenarios, free or slave, rich or poor, etc. are fair because every scenario has its temptations. A person born into a life of sin will be judged differently than one born and then raised in a convent. More is expected from the later. Just the desire in the former is what is important.

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