Sin and Death

This is the 16th blog in this series which began with Adam & Sin, Paradise and Fasting.  The previous blog is Free will and Freedom.

Because the Orthodox Patristic writers accepted the notion of free will, they did not believe that death was an inevitable part of human existence (See for example  Adam in St. Gregory Palamas).  Humans were created with the potential for immortality, but that potential could be realized only through the choices the humans made.  Some Eastern Christians clearly read the Genesis 3 account as not explaining the existence of mortality in all of creation, but only of explaining why humans created in God’s image and likeness now die like the rest of creation.

Theodoret of Cyrus commenting on Romans 8:20  (“for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope”) says of St. Paul that:

“He teaches that all visible creation shared a mortal nature, especially since the maker of all foresaw the Fall of Adam and the sentence of death imposed on him; it was not right or just, after all, that the things made on his account should share incorruption while he, for whose benefit they were made, should be subject to death and suffering.” (THEODORET COMMENTARY ON THE LETTERS OF PAUL  Vol 1)

Theodoret claims that God knew Adam would sin and that death would be imposed upon him.  Thus God made all the rest of visible creation to have a mortal nature so that when man sinned, man would not end up lower than the rest of visible creation but equal to it.  Theodoret’s logic is that the rest of visible creation was after all made for the benefit of man – including the fact that creation was by nature mortal.  This would imply that not all mortality was caused by human sin, but rather the rest of creation was created mortal – “to benefit humans” – and so that when we became mortal  due to sin creation was of benefit to us rather than being superior to us or beyond our reach.

According to Elizabeth Theokritoff notes:

“From the silence on the subject  from Fathers such as Irenaeus, we might guess that they see death in the non-human creation as ‘natural’- at least in the sense that it existed from the beginning of time. … The original mortality of animals would be an obvious conclusion to draw from the Fathers’ consensus that even Adam was not immortal by nature: he was created for immortality, which is a different matter.  Adam, as a creature of earth, would have returned to earth according to his own nature; he was offered the chance of a different destiny through keeping God’s commandment.  So it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the animals who had not been given that option were mortal.  A few writers, Gregory of Nyssa notable among them, are quite explicit that death did already exist among animals: what happened at man’s fall was that he lapsed into an animal state.  On this view, the moment of the fall … would have made little immediate difference to the condition of earth’s other inhabitants.”   (LIVING IN GOD’S CREATION)

She mentions St. John Chrysostom, St, Gregory of Nyssa and St. Ephrem the Syrian as believing animals were mortal by nature and thus mortality was natural to all creatures except humans.  At the fall, humans become like all creatures in dying.

Fr. Georges Florovsky seemed to hold to an idea that what happens to animals – life ends – is not strictly speaking “death” but just part of the cycle of nature which animals are in.  Thus only humans really die – we have through sin been reduced to being part of this cyclical nature and are now ruled by the animal in us.  This is a creative way of dealing with how  death and extinction could have existed before the sin of Adam and Eve.   Florovsky writes:

“Strictly speaking it is only man that dies.  Death indeed is a law of nature, a law of organic life.  But man’s death means just his fall or entanglement into this cyclical motion of nature, just what ought not to have happened at all.  As St. Gregory says, ‘from the nature of dumb animals mortality is transferred to a nature created for immortality.’  Only for man is death contrary to nature and mortality is evil.  Only man is wounded and mutilated by death.  In the generic life of dumb animals, death is rather a natural moment in the development of the species; it is the expression rather of the generating power of life than of infirmity.  However, with the fall of man, mortality, even in nature, assumes an evil and tragic significance.  Nature itself, as it were, is poisoned by the fatal venom of human decomposition.  With dumb animals, death is but the discontinuation of individual existence.  In the human world, death strikes at personality, and personality is much greater than mere individuality.”  (CREATION AND REDEMPTION, p 106)

Interesting, St. Gregory sees death as being a natural part of animal existence – from before the Fall.   Death from the Fall is only introduced to humanity, not to the rest of creation – we become dust again – losing the divine breath.

Next:  The Garments of Skins

A Panoramic Tour of St. Paul Church, Dayton, OH

Thanks to digital camera technology and computers, you can now take a virtual panoramic tour of the St. Paul Church building in Dayton. OH.

Once you get to the Everyscape webpage, the instructions for how to navigate through the church and to see the exterior of the church are at the bottom of the screen.

Please make a virtual visit us to see our new iconography.   Join us at the 9:30am Sunday Liturgy or Saturday Evening Vespers whenever you able.   Visit the St. Paul Parish Webpage to see our schedule of Services.

All of the photos in the virtual tour were done by Olga Anisimov.

You can also see a slideshow of photos of our church grounds which one of our parishioners tends as if it were God’s own garden in Eden: St. Paul’s Backyard (2011) or last year’s photos at St. Paul’s Backyard (2010).

Free will and Freedom

This is the 15th blog in this series which began with Adam & Sin, Paradise and Fasting.  The previous blog is Free Will.

“In other words, ‘Paradise is the state of being in which there is no valuation or distinction’ between good and evil: likewise, the kingdom of God is ‘beyond’ good and evil.  … One can say, Berdyaev continues, that  ‘it is bad that the distinction between good and evil has arisen, but it is good to make the distinction once it has arisen; it is bad to have gone through the experience of evil, but it is good to know good and evil as a result of this experience.”  (John Witte & Frank Alexander (eds), THE TEACHINGS OF MODERN CHRISTIANITY, p 583)

The effects of Eve and Adam having exercised their free will are obvious in the Book of Genesis.  Keeping in mind that Adam’s story is also a typology, and that Adam represents all who are human, we recognize that Eve and Adam’s use of free will to reject God’s lordship is the story of each of us.  We each behave this way.  We make choices which are self serving rather than loving God and neighbor.  The effect of our choices breeds even more choices, each of which also can lead us further away from God, or not.  That choice, that exercise of the free will, is still ours.  Though admittedly now with the image and likeness of God in us being buried under the mud of sin, it becomes increasingly difficult to recognize let alone choose the good.   Melitio of Sardis (d. ca 170AD) notes:

“But when Adam tasted of the tree… His legacy is ‘not chastity but promiscuity, not imperishability but decay, not honor but dishonor, not freedom but slavery, not royalty but tyranny, not life but death, not salvation but destruction.’”  (Peter Bouteneff, BEGINNINGS: ANCIENT READINGS OF THE BIBLICAL CREATION NARRATIVES, p 67)

Humans now must navigate their way through a world in which no choice we make might necessarily lead us to God.  Torah for the Jews was one answer to this dilemma – simply obey the Law rather than making choices and one can find one’s way back to God and to following God’s will.  Christianity recognized a further difficulty with this – something was still wrong with human nature.  Whether or not humans follow Torah, humans still die, and the effects of sin, namely death, are not dealt away with by either obedience to Torah or by repentance.  Something more needed to be done to save humanity from its own sinfulness and from death.

“For we must always remember this—neither the world nor the devil can violate our freedom; they can only subject us to temptation.” (Jack Sparks, VICTORY IN THE UNSEEN WARFARE,  p 75)

Even following Torah completely did not automatically regenerate in humans a love for God and for one’s neighbor.   Humans might follow Torah selfishly – to get God’s favor or even to try to manipulate God into “having” to bless the person.  Humans might use Torah to condemn others who they feel don’t live up to Torah’s standards.  Humans might use Torah to argue that they have nothing to repent of or change in their hearts.

“We were not created by our heavenly Father to sin but to share in His goodness and life.  Therefore, sin is profoundly unnatural!  Sin is a distortion of living that is especially beneath the dignity of those who are called to follow Christ. … Yes, the gift of freedom can be abused.  The story of the fall in the Book of Genesis points to the tragic consequences of the abuse of freedom.  When Adam and Eve chose to disobey the commandment of God, they sinned.  Their action expressed a self-centered desire to live apart from God, to live autonomous existences.  Unfortunately, their sin- their abuse of freedom—has consequences that effected their relationship not only with God but also with each other and the whole of creation.  The story points to the danger of seeking to live apart from God.  As such, it is a story that has a profound significance for everyone.  … Sin can distort our identity and can harm others as well.  As St. Gregory of Nyssa says, sin creates ‘an ugly mask over the beauty of the image.’”  (Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald, PERSONS ON COMMUNION, pp 32-33)

Christianity understands Christ as not simply forgiving past sins, but restoring humanity to the glory God had given it from the beginning.  Christ brings an end to all that separates humans from God – to healing what was distorted in the human heart.  Christ also ends death’s tyranny over humanity.  Death no longer holds humans captive, for Christ is risen from the dead, destroying death and Satan.

Next:  Sin and Death

Free Will

This is the 14th blog in this series which began with Adam & Sin, Paradise and Fasting.  The previous blog is The Fall from Grace.

St. Paul & St. John Chrysostom

The Eastern Christian writers of the Patristic period tended to be very strong believers in free will, which is the witness of the Scriptures themselves.    God, though omnipotent, in humility and love contains His all-powerful will, respecting the free will He has given to humans.  Generally the Eastern Patristic writers do not subscribe to any idea of predestination for humans  (see my blog Theodoret on Ancestral Sin.  The 5th Century bishop says if our nature was so tainted by sin that we are now predestined to sin, then we are not liable to judgment by God since sinning is all we can do.  He argues God is a just judge and rightfully judges us because we choose to sin, we are not predestined to do so).   We are on a path of our own choosing – even the road to hell (which Chrysostom thought was paved by the good intentions of bishops and priests) is one of our own making and its destiny our own choice.  The amazing grace of salvation is that though we have chosen death and Hades as our preferred destination, God in His love for us was willing to go there as well like the good shepherd to make our return to Him possible.   Death and Satan are not God’s tools of justice to punish us for our sins.  God works to rescue us from their grip.  Christ’s death does not satisfy some demand for justice, but rather in the very means by which God destroys death and Satan and rescues us from the consequences of our own sinfulness.

“Sin, Gehenna, and Death do not exist at all with God, for they are effects, not substances.  Sin is the fruit of free will.  There was a time when sin did not exist, and there will be a time when it will not exist.  Gehenna is the fruit of sin.  At some point in time it had a beginning, but its end is not known.  Death, however, is a dispensation of the wisdom of the Creator.  It will rule only a short time over nature; then it will be totally abolished.”  (THE ASCETICAL HOMILIES OF ST. ISAAC THE SYRIAN, p 133)

Sin,  Gehenna (Hades, Sheol, hell), and death all belong to time, not to eternity.  Their effects on the world, though mighty, are not unlimited.  They all pale before the righteous love and merciful power of God.  Death, St. Isacc said, is a “dispensation.”  He means by this, what many Eastern Fathers thought, that death was actually a means to curtail within each human the effects of sin.  (Again see my blog Theodoret on Ancestral Sin.  Theodoret sees death as a merciful way to prevent us from going on and sinning forever.  But also, because death is painful, it is supposed to make us hate sin, the cause of death.  Obviously that is of limited value in human experience because today people are as likely to blame God for the existence of death as they are to blame sin).  Humans do not grow in sin and evil infinitely – death was used as a means of limiting sin in any one person to a brief time.  No one’s sinfulness increases indefinitely.  Death is a merciful way of God to limit sin and evil in each of us.  Even so, death is no friend and God works to bring sin and death to an end.

“But the element of passion was introduced later on, after he was created, and in the following way.  Man was, as we have said, the image and likeness of the power that rules all creation; and this likeness to the ruler of all things also extended to man’s power of self-determination:  man could choose whatever pleased him and was not enslaved to any external necessity.  But man was led astray by deception and deliberately drew upon himself that catastrophe which all mortals now share.  Man himself invented evil: he did not find it in God.  Nor did God make death; it was man himself who, as it were, was the creator of all that is evil.  …  the first man…deliberately instituted by himself things that were against nature; in rejecting virtue by his own free choice he fashioned the temptation to evil.  For sin does not exist in nature apart from free will; it is not a substance in its own right.  All of God’s creatures are good …   So man fell into the mud of sin, and lost his likeness to the eternal Godhead.  And in its stead he has, by his sin, clothed himself in an image that is of clay and mortal; and this is the image we earnestly counsel him to remove and wash away in the purifying waters of the Christian life.” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, FROM GLORY TO GLORY, pp 112-114)

The goodness in humanity – being created in God’s image and likeness – is still at the heart of every single human being, despite the Fall and despite sin’s presence throughout the human experience.  That goodness has been plastered over by the “mud of sin.”  But it is external to our natural core, and it can be washed away through the tears of repentance and through baptism.

Next:  Free will and Freedom

Prayer: Standing Attentively Before God

Prayer is essentially a state of standing before God. […] St Dimitri of Rostov (17th C):  ‘Prayer is turning the mind and thoughts toward God.  To pray means  to stand before God with the mind, mentally to gaze unswervingly at Him and to converse with Him in reverent fear and hope.’ […] Theophan states, ‘The principal thing is to stand with the mind in the heart before God, and to go on standing before Him unceasingly day and night, until the end of life.’ […] This state of standing before God may be accompanied by words, or it may be ‘soundless’:  sometimes we speak to God, sometimes we simply remain in His presence, saying nothing, but conscious that He is near us, ‘closer to us than our own soul.’  As with the mind in […] His presence [and/or] glorification.

(Bishop Kallistos, The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology pgs 116-117)

The Victory of the Cross

“Evil flies in the face of God, like the scourging of the blindfolded Jesus. The cries of Job can still be heard and Rachel weeps for her children. But the answer to Job has been given and remains given: it is the cross. It is God crucified upon all the evil of the world but causing an immense power of resurrection to burst forth in the darkness. Pascha is the Transfiguration taking place in the abyss. ‘Deliver us from evil’ means: Come, Lord Jesus;come, you who have come already to conquer hell and death; you who said that you ‘saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’ (Lk 10:18). This victory is present within the depths of the Church. We receive its strength and its joy whenever we receive communion. If Christ keeps it secret it is in order to bind us to it. ‘Deliver us from evil’ is an active prayer intended to challenge us.” (Olivier Clément, Three Prayers, pg.39)

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW CHRIST:

What does it mean, “let him take up his own cross”? It means he must endure many things that are painful; that is the way he must follow Me. When he begins to follow Me in my life and My teachings, many will contradict him, try to stop him, or dissuade him, even those who call themselves Christ’s disciples. It was they who walked with Christ that tried to stop the blind men from calling out to Him. So if you wish to follow Christ, you will take these threats or flattery of any kind of obstacle and fashion them into the Cross; you must endure it, carry it, and not give way under it. And so in this world that is the Church, a world of the good, the reconciled, and the saved-or rather, those destined for salvation, but already saved by hope, as it is written, “by hope we are saved”- in this world of the Church, which completely follows Christ, He has said to everyone, “If anyone wishes to follow Me, let him deny himself.”

This is not a command for virgins to obey and brides to ignore, for widows and not for married women, for monks and not for married men, or for the clergy and not for the laity. No, the whole Church, the entire body, all the members in their distinct and varied functions, must follow Christ. She who is totally unique, the dove, the spouse who was redeemed and dowered by the blood of her Bridegroom, is to follow Him. There is a place in the Church for the chastity of the virgin, for the countenance of the widow, and for the modesty of the married. Indeed, all her members have their place, and this is where they are to follow Christ, in their function and in their way of life. They must deny themselves, that is, they must not presume on their own strength. They must take up their cross by enduring in the world for Christ’s sake whatever pain the world brings. (The Blessed Augustine of Hippo, Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and Pentecostarion, pgs.105-106)

Fasting as a Weapon in the Spiritual Warfare

Abba John the Short, advising the young brothers to love fasting, told them frequently: “The good soldier, undertaking to capture a strongly fortified, enemy city, blockades food and water. In this way the resistance of the enemy is weakened and he finally surrenders. Something similar happens with carnal impulses, which severely war against a person in his youth. Blessed fasting subdues the passions and the demons and ultimately removes them far from the combatant.” “And the powerful lion,” he told them another time,”frequently falls into a snare because of his gluttony, and all of his strength and might disappear.” (Archimandrite Chrysostomos, The Ancient Fathers of the Desert, pgs. 20-21)

Annunciation: The Descent of the Angel

Jacob of Serug (d. ca 520AD) was a Syrian Christian who wrote hymns and poetry.  Little is actually known about him.  He composed a poem based upon the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38).   One of the great images is “blessed is the fruit of your virginity.” The God-man conceived in her is not the result of sexual union but the fruit of purity.

The Descent of the Angel

The Watcher had descended while Mary was standing in prayer;

he gave her the greeting which was sent to her from the Most High:

‘Peace to you Mary, blessed one, our Lord is with you;

Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your virginity.’

Then when she heard it, she was prudently reflecting

On what might be the cause of this unusual greeting.

The Watcher said: ‘Do not be afraid, O full of mercy,

The Lord has chosen you that in your virginity you might be his Mother.

‘Behold from this time you will solemnly conceive;

you will give birth to the great One whose Kingdom is without end.’

Mary said: ‘How then will what you say happen

Since man has never been known to me, how will I bring forth?’

‘You have announced a Son to me but I am not conscious of marital union;

I have heard of nativity but I see no marriage.’

That moment was full of wonder when Mary was standing,

Conversing in argument with Gabriel.

One humble daughter of poor folk and one angel

Met each other and spoke of a wonderful tale.

A pure virgin and fiery Watcher spoke with wonder:

a discourse which reconciled dwellers of earth and heaven.

One women and the prince of all the hosts

Had made an agreement for the reconciliation of the whole world.

The two had sat between heavenly beings and earthly ones;

they spoke, attended to and made peace for those who were wroth.

Maiden and Watcher met each other and conversed in argument on the matter

Until they abolished the conflict between the Lord and Adam.

That great strife which occurred amidst the trees

came up for discussion, and it all came to an end; there was peace.

An earthly being and heavenly one spoke with love;

the struggle between the two sides ceased, and they were at peace.

(Jacob of Serug (d. ca 520AD), ON THE MOTHER OF GOD, pp 28-29)

The Fall from Grace

This is the 13th blog in this series which began with Adam & Sin, Paradise and Fasting.  The previous blog is What then is (Ancestral) Sin?.

A few observations about the Fall itself.

“For Gregory (of Nyssa), the mind, and not the body, is responsible for the fall.  The mind turns its attention away from God toward material things, namely the body and the earth.”   (Nonna Verna Harrison, GOD’S MANY SPLENDORED IMAGE, p 116)

In the Patristic Writers we do find ideas that don’t support the dualistic assumptions many modern Christians make about a spirit vs. body divide.  The body, the flesh, is created by God and  is good and not of necessity evil.   The Fall begins not in fleshly impulses but in the human mind turning away from God.  Death is the end result of humans choosing to separate themselves from God.  It is not punishment from God but a natural consequence of humans separating themselves from the source of life.

Eve conceives of sin in the mind before acting upon it.  She decides to do what seems good for her personally, rather than what is good in maintaining a relationship with God.  She is willing to abandon the relationship with God in order to pursue her own will.  The story of the Fall is written in terms of the humans deciding to eat what they crave even if God said not to eat it.  God’s one and only commandment in Paradise is a fasting rule and the humans decidedly reject fasting and self denial.

St. John Chrysostom

“God, when in the beginning He created man, He immediately brought him over to and deposited him in the hands of fasting; and he entrusted his salvation to her as if to a loving mother and an excellent teacher.  Because the command: ‘Of every tree which is in the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, of it you shall not eat,’ was one kind of fasting.  If fasting was imperative in paradise, much more so was it outside of paradise.  If the medicine was useful before the wound, much more so was it after the wound. … However, since he disobeyed that voice, death, anxieties, toils, faintheartedness, and a life that is altogether more burdensome than death came upon the human race; this is why thorns and thistles came about; this is the reason for the labors and pains and a life weary with toil.”  (St. John Chrysostom, ON REPENTANCE AND ALMSGIVING, p 58)

As Chrysostom describes it, fasting was the way to follow the will of God.  Thus Great Lent is a return to Paradise – a voluntary embracing of a fasting discipline by those who want to please God and do His will.  While we often think of Great Lent as a season of denial, it actually is a season in which we embrace Paradise and attempt to eat what God allowed in paradise rather than grasping for every food which our appetitive nature demands we take.

We read during Lent the book of Genesis and the stories about the Fall of humans from grace.  These stories are our story.  They describe our life on earth today – they are not meant so much to be a historical account of the first humans as they are a spiritual account of what it means to be human.  We today behave like Eve and Adam behaved and so suffer the same consequences in the world.

“But it should be noted at the outset that there is no expression in Greek – certainly not in the Fathers—corresponding to the phrase ‘the fallen world.’  In the Orthodox understanding, it would be more accurate to speak of ‘the world of the fall.’  The difference is an important one.  To speak of ‘the world of the fall’ signals that the very laws of nature have indeed been affected by the rupture in man’s relationship with God. … The Fathers saw the creation and fall stories as far more than simply information…”  (Elizabeth Theokritoff, LIVING IN GOD’S CREATION, p 80)

We live in the world of the Fall, and through Great Lent and Christian discipline we begin to experience again what it means to be created in God’s image and likeness and to be the creatures on earth who God awaits to fulfill His plan.  Humanity created the world of the Fall by rebelling against God and bringing creation into an antagonistic relationship with ourselves.

“It has been said that the people of the (Byzantine) empire had a ‘constitutional right of revolution’:  if an emperor became a tyrant, he forfeited his legitimacy and could expect his subjects to revolt.  So it was when Adam disobeyed the King above: the whole creation rose up against him, ‘no longer wishing to be obedient to the transgressor.’  The wild beasts turned hostile, the earth was unwilling to feed him and the sky was barely persuaded not to fall and crush him.”  (Elizabeth Theokritoff, LIVING IN GOD’S CREATION, p 85)

Thus the world became hostile to humanity’s effort to live on earth separated from God.  Our life here became more tragic, and yet we failed to see the signs that our problems on earth – including suffering and death – are the result of our rejection of God.

Next:  Free Will

What then is (Ancestral) Sin?

Ancestors of Christ

This is the 12th blog in this series which began with Adam & Sin, Paradise and Fasting.  The previous blog is Ancestral Sin.

While the notion of “original sin” seems to carry with it a sense of personal guilt and also the loss by humans of their original humanity so that humans really cannot choose the good, the sense of “ancestral sin” tends to focus on the fact that all humans share a common nature which has been tainted by sin.  We have not lost our original goodness – namely, the image of God in us – but sin has impacted our ability to see and choose the good.

“The primary meaning of the Greek word amartia (sin) is ‘failure’ or, more specifically, ‘failure to hit the mark’, a ‘going astray’ or, ultimately, ‘failure to achieve the purpose for which one is created’.   …  Sin, that is to say, is to be viewed not primarily in juridical terms, as the transgression of a moral code, but rather in an existential perspective, as the failure to be one’s own real self.  Sin is a lack of true humanness.  This means that it is above all else a loss of relationship.  To be human according to God’s Trinitarian image is to love one another after the model of the mutual love of the persons of the Trinity.  Sinfulness, then, as a lack of true humanness is isolation  –  from God and from our fellow humans.  It is the absence of communion.”   (Bishop Kallistos Ware, HOW ARE WE SAVED?, pp 8-10)

Thus the ancestral sin was the first time humans rejected their role in creation, refusing to accept God’s plan for humans and rather reaching out to take divinity on for themselves.

Old Testament Women Saints

The cause of the Fall was a misdirection and misuse of Adam’s self-determination, love and trust, i.e., that self-love, the first reason and effect of his disobedience, which resulted in a divinization of the creature and in a self-worship and distrust toward God.  That self-love (philaftia), separated from God, caused the fundamental fragmentation of humanity and divided mankind into self-centered and self-serving individuals.  Of course, the Fathers did not overlook the satan’s deception, malice and envy in the Fall, but more responsible and more blameable are considered by them Adam and Eve, since ‘to become like God’ was also the promise, the power and privilege given to them by God.  Tragically enough, they trusted and relied more on the satan than their Creator.  With the Fall then more alienation from God and disorder, revolt and conflict becomes the new pattern of created nature, self-centered love (philaftia) and godless autonomy or self-sufficiency being the mother of all the passions and evils.

It is significant that Saint Gregory of Nazianzus blames not the flesh as the cause of the Fall (actually, the flesh is interpreted by Gregory as a punishment of the Fall), but the mind.  Thus, the original sin, according to Gregory, is a sin of the spirit, not of the body, in the sense that the human mind failed to lead its body to maturity and to their appropriate relationships and harmonious balance.” (Constantine Tsirpanlis, INTRODUCTION TO EASTERN PATRISTIC THOUGHT AND ORTHODOX THEOLOGY, p 50)

The fall was thus not the sinful flesh dragging down the human soul as if God had made the physical aspect of humanity out of some fallen matter, but rather the result of human choice.

“And original sin was not just an erroneous choice, not just an option for the wrong direction, but rather a refusal to ascend toward God, a desertion from the service of God. … If, however, it was a choice, it was not a choice between good and evil but only a choice between God and himself, between service and sloth. … According to St. Athanasius, the human fall consists precisely in the fact that man limits himself to himself, that man become, as it were, in love with himself.”  (Georges Florovsky, CREATION AND REDEMPTION, p 85)

Thus instead of being relational creatures of love, we become imprisoned by our self-love, and thus the created order became fragmented – humans separated from God and also from creation, male separated from female, and even within each person an alienation from self as a spiritual warfare began in each of us.

Next:  The Fall from Grace