Fr. Alexander Schmemann is famous for his sacramental theology – a theology which doesn’t accept a division between the sacred and profane but sees the goal of salvation as the transfiguration and transformation of all things into their naturally spiritual state. The Fall introduced a division between material creation and the spiritual world as the physical world lost its union with the Creator; a division which is being overcome in the incarnation of the Son of God.
“On the basis of the mythical (that is, symbolic) story in the Bible, the whole world was given by God as food to man, with the exception of one forbidden fruit. And it is precisely this fruit that man eats, refusing to believe and to obey God.
What is the meaning of this story, which greets us like a child’s fable? It means that the fruit of this one tree, in contrast to all others, was not given as a gift to man. It did not bear God’s blessing. This means that if man ate this fruit, he did not eat it in order to have life with God, as a means of transforming it into life, but rather as a goal in itself, and thus, having consumed it, man subjected himself to food. He desired to have life not from God or for God but rather for himself. …
Man ate the forbidden fruit, thinking that it would give him life. But life itself outside of and without God is simply communion with death. It is no accident that what we eat already needs to be dead in order to become our life. We eat in order to live, but since we eat something that is already deprived of life, food itself inevitably leads us to death. And in death there neither is nor can be any life. ” (Alexander Schmemann, O DEATH, WHERE IS THY STING?, pp 73-75)
Once humans began to pursue the created order for its own riches, rather than as a means of Communion with God, once humanity began to value itself more than its relationship with God, the created order became no longer our means for relating to God but nothing more than our means for relating to the material world. The empirical world devoid of God could never raise us up to divinity, but rather limited us to mortal, material existence.
“Before the Fall, man found nourishment in God who is life, and recognized Him to be the foundation of the life that filled his entire being. By freely choosing to eat of the forbidden fruit, in an act of self-sufficiency that revealed his preference for human nature over the gift of divine kinship, man removed himself from the source of life. He passed from a spiritual to a biological existence, from union with God to a life of independence, contrary to nature. By choosing to eat the perishable fruit, man is cast into a cycle of change and corruption, into a time marked henceforth by death. Once he is subject to death, he struggles to preserve life, trying to escape death. The fall did not simply lead man into a biological form of life. It encompassed the whole of his psychosomatic being which, once turned from its intended state, submitted itself to instincts that led to the realm of the passions. Carnal pleasure for the body is equivalent to avarice for the spirit, all of which leads a person to be disconnected and lacking in harmony; it shatters his original unity. . . . The more man is removed from his ultimate aim which is God, the more he is lured by creatures and creation, the greater the tragedy of his uprootedness, his alienation, and his suffering, caused by the disintegration of his being and by ultimate meaninglessness.” (Michael Quenot, THE RESURRECTION AND THE ICON, p 208)
“We do not have it within us even to want to look for God. Adam and Eve, with the taste of the forbidden fruit still in their mouths, were not searching for God; they were hiding from Him, and so do we all. Left to our own resources, none of us can do better than to conceal ourselves in the bushes, with our bare behinds hanging out, hoping that God will pass by.” (Patrick Reardon, CHRIST IN THE PSALMS, p 104)