Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekly Knox: Original Sin

"Original Sin is the only key which fits the whole puzzle of existence."


Javier said...

This one is difficult.

CWBuckley said...

Well, I think the key is to read Original Sin in its full Catholic sense. That is, not just the individual proclivity to sin, but the entire web of brokenness resulting from it, extending from each broken individual to the next, through every flawed institution we build, perpetuating itself through every generation.

The catechism expresses Knox's statement above almost precisely when it says:

"The overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination toward evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the 'death of the soul.'" [CCC P. 403]

Javier said...

I think the name itself, 'Original Sin', is a bit misleading. A 'sin' seems to imply guilt and intent, and Original Sin has neither. 'Original Flaw' might be more accurate. Because through sin, Adam lost something that we as humans were created with, and now we don't have. And that which Adam lost and we lack, makes us sin-prone.
Other angle of Original Sin that I find very interesting is what was the Sin of Adam itself. And it was Man yielding to the temptation of defining Good and Evil by himself. Which implied there was some Table of Good and Evil beyond God, independent from God, to which Man had access.
And the one chosen to begin to undo the effects of Original Sin, the one who obeys, is Abraham. Abraham receives from God the most shocking order: Kill your son. Kill the son of the Promise. The sensible, the reasonable reaction by Abraham would have been to disobey. But that would have implied comparing God's Will with some Table of Good and Evil external to God and independent from Him. It would have implied that God was not the only source of Good. By disobeying God's terrible order, Abraham would have replayed the Sin of Adam. But Abraham obeyed. He knew God was Good, even if he couldn't understand God's Will. By obeying he was justified by his faith, and by obeying he began to undo the effects of Original Sin in the world.

Mark D. said...

As an Anglican priest I used to know once told me, "Original Sin is the only empirically verifiable Christian doctrine."

Russ said...

From the EWTN web site: (
2. Original Sin
In the East: The primary consequence of Original Sin is death. The reality of death causes people to desire that which can distract them from the reality of their impending death. Hence, people turn to sex, money, and power as a way to forget about death. In this way, death leads to sin.

In the West: The primary consequence of Original Sin is a "stain" of guilt. People are born with a guilt that needs to be washed away as soon as possible.

Both the East and the West agree that original sin causes an ABSENCE of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Through baptism, the Holy Spirit can again dwell within man.

It should be noted that the Catholic Church has adopted a much more Eastern understanding in recent years. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is very Eastern in its approach to original sin.

From the Orthodox Church of America web site: (
While the Orthodox Church does accord Augustine of Hippo the title “saint” and recognizes the vast number of theological works he produced, Augustine was not as well known in the Christian East. His works were not translated into Greek until the 14th century; as such, he had little or no influence on mainstream Orthodox thought until 17th century Ukraine and 18th century Russia, primarily through the influence of western clergy and the establishment of theological schools which relied on Latin models with respect to curricula, text books, etc.

With regard to original sin, the difference between Orthodox Christianity and the West may be outlined as follows:
In the Orthodox Faith, the term “original sin” refers to the “first” sin of Adam and Eve. As a result of this sin, humanity bears the “consequences” of sin, the chief of which is death. Here the word “original” may be seen as synonymous with “first.” Hence, the “original sin” refers to the “first sin” in much the same way as “original chair” refers to the “first chair.”

In the West, humanity likewise bears the “consequences” of the “original sin” of Adam and Eve. However, the West also understands that humanity is likewise “guilty” of the sin of Adam and Eve. The term “Original Sin” here refers to the condition into which humanity is born, a condition in which guilt as well as consequence is involved.

In the Orthodox Christian understanding, while humanity does bear the consequences of the original, or first, sin, humanity does not bear the personal guilt associated with this sin. Adam and Eve are guilty of their willful action; we bear the consequences, chief of which is death.

One might look at all of this in a completely different light. Imagine, if you will, that one of your close relatives was a mass murderer. He committed many serious crimes for which he was found guilty—and perhaps even admitted his guilt publicly. You, as his or her son or brother or cousin, may very well bear the consequences of his action—people may shy away from you or say, “Watch out for him—he comes from a family of mass murderers.” Your name may be tainted, or you may face some other forms of discrimination as a consequence of your relative’s sin. You, however, are not personally guilty of his or her sin.

There are some within Orthodoxy who approach a westernized view of sin, primarily after the 17th and 18th centuries due to a variety of westernizing influences particularly in Ukraine and Russia after the time of Peter Mohyla. These influences have from time to time colored explanations of the Orthodox Faith which are in many respects lacking.

Javier said...

your entry is very interesting. But I still think the Church does not see personal guilt associated to the Original Sin. At least that is what I understand from CCC number 405.