Fr. Athanasius on Original Sin

 

Your Eminence:
Here is another communication between myself and two of our youth from my Church in Kitchener, in which they bring to my attention another error in one of your articles on your website. The quotation they supplied reads as follows:
 
 The doctrine of The Original Sin is one of the important corners of Christian doctrine, because, if there were no original sin there would not have been death for the rest of humanity, and the descendents of Adam would not have had need for salvation. Therefore, non-Christians who reject the doctrine of redemption also reject the doctrine of the original sin and its inheritance.
 
First: The doctrine of The Original Sin is a western doctrine that has never been accepted in the Christian East. (see patristic quotations below). 
Second: your assertion that  if there were no original sin there would not have been death for the rest of humanity, is false. We are born mortal because we are born of mortal parents (see patristic quotations below).
Third: your assertion that the descendents of Adam would not have had need for salvation. is refuted by Saint Cyril:
 
What has Adam’s guilt to do with us? Why are we held responsible for his sin when we were not even born when he committed it? Did not God say : “The parents will not die for the children, nor the children for parents, but the soul which had sinned, it shall die.” How then shall we defend this doctrine? The soul, I say, which had sinned, it shall die. We have become sinners because of Adam’s disobedience in the following manner.... After he fell into sin and surrendered to corruption, impure lusts invaded the nature of his flesh, and at the same time the evil law of our members was born. For our nature contracted the disease of sin because of the disobedience of one man, that is Adam, and thus many became sinners. This was not because they sinned along with Adam, because they did not then exist, but because they had the same nature as Adam, which fell under the law of sin. Thus, just as human nature acquired the weakness of corruption in Adam because of disobedience, and evil desires invaded it, so the same nature was later set free by Christ, who was obedient to God the Father and did not commit sin. [Saint Cyril of Alexandria: Explanation of the Letter to the Romans: Migne PG 74, col 788-89 in: Romans  By Gerald Lewis Bray, Thomas C. Oden   pp 142-143]
 
Here is what Saint Cyril the Great, 24th Patriarch of Alexandria and Pillar of the faith says: How then shall we defend this doctrine? Your Eminence is doing exactly the opposite, defending a doctrine that is totally alien to our Church of Alexandria, while denying an Alexandrian tradition preserved for us by Saint Theodosius 33rd Patriarch of Alexandria, calling it a Western innovation dating to 1951. (read my book Defending The Holy Virgin Mary)This shows your total ignorance of the writings of 6 great Patriarchs of Alexandria (so far)
 
Here is what Saint Severus of Antioch says about this doctrine:
 
The sin of those who engendered us, viz. the sin of Adam and Eve, is not naturally (kata phusin) mixed with our substance (ousia), as the evil and impious opinion of the Messalians, in other words the Manichees, claims, but because they (Adam and Eve) had lost the grace of immortality the judgment and the sentence reach down to us, when, following a natural disposition. we are born mortal insofar as [we are born] of mortal parents. but not sinners insofar as we are of sinful parents. For it is not true that sin is a nature (phusis) and that it naturally passes from parents to their children,"
[Julien d' Halicarnasse et sa controverse avec Severe d' Antioche sur I'incorruptibilite du corps du Christ (Louvain, 1924), pp 130-131, quoted in: John Meyendorff: Christ in Eastern Orthodox Thought, p 227]
 
As you see, we do not die because of Adam's sin, rather, we are born mortal insofar as [we are born] of mortal parents. but not sinners insofar as we are of sinful parents.
 
Saint Cyril who was a contemporary of Augustine of Hippo, was restrained in his criticism of this doctrine, but Saint Severus who wrote after the death of Augustine, calls this doctrine the evil and impious opinion of the Messalians, in other words the Manichees. I hope you know that Augustine was a Manichean for 10 years before his conversion to Christianity.
 
Your Eminence: it is a sad day for our Church when two youths in their twenties from one of the smallest churches in Canada can easily recognize theological errors in the writings of the man who claims to be "the foremost Theologian of the Coptic Church!" and "one of the four greatest theologians in the whole world!" (who are the other three?)
It is even sadder that this man whose teachings run in a diametrically opposed direction to those of Athanasius, Theodosius, Cyril, Severus, Alexander and Peter seal of the martyrs, insists on remaining as a candidate for the Patriarchate, in spite of this.
 
Original sin is one of 8 errors of Augustine of Hippo that include the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son, the purgatory, salvation by faith only ... That is why he never made it to our Synaxarion even though he was contemporary to Saint Theophilus and Saint Cyril the Great. To know more about the errors of Augustine, please read the attached article.