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Posted By: Bernardo Augustinian teachings vs Eastern Theology - 09/04/12 07:53 PM
Dear brethren:

For the last months I have been "underground" reading the forum and also reading an Orthodox forum that most of you know, and a common topic I have found when discussing things like the interpretation of "original sin" is the teachings of St. Augustine.

Having said that, I have been looking for kind of a "summary" or matters where the Orthodox and Eastern Catholicism views collide with St. Augustine's, with no luck so far. Living in Mexico that is mostly Roman Catholic, it is not easy to find any sources that can address such an issue.

I honestly feel that a lot of the Roman Catholic views regarding the effects of sin and the way the Latin Church sees the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the emphasis given to guilt and repentance being more a "legal" matter than metanoia is absolutely influenced by St Augustine teachings, and reflected in the texts of Trent.

So please, if anyone can assist me on analyzing these matters and get a better view on the Eastern approach to these teachings so can help me on my journey, I will greatly thank you!!

In Christ and the Theotokos

B
Try Orthodox Readings of Orthodoxy [books.google.com] .
Thank you Stuart, I'll purchase the book, it looks very interesting!

B
Bernardo,

from the book reviews we read:

Quote
set up of this book was weird. It was published by an Orthodox Seminary, yet most of the authors were Roman Catholics, I think. Most of the authors were quite critical of many Orthodox distinctives. I wonder if the editors/publisher thought all of these things through.

Since you asked:
Quote
Having said that, I have been looking for kind of a "summary" or matters where the Orthodox and Eastern Catholicism views collide with St. Augustine's, with no luck so far.

It does not seem your appropriate book!
You would rather be interested in Seraphim Rose's book about Augustine

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0938635123


http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8153

Because when I think brilliant patristic scholar, Seraphim Rpse is the first name that comes to mind?

Whoever the reviewer cited by Arbanon is, he's wrong. Most of the authors are not Roman Catholics. All you have to do is check out the contributors of each chapter, which you can easily do in the Google Books link I posted. A few are Catholic--Ayres, Daley and Marion--but the others are Orthodox: Behr, Bradshaw, Demacopolous, Fisher, Flogaus, Hart, Lienhardt, Louth.. .

That aside, I like Arbanon's assumption that a Catholic scholar is incapable of writing objectively on Orthodox perspectives of Augustine. Does this mean that Orthodox scholars are incapable of writing objectively on Catholic perspectives of Palamas?

So, who would you rather have writing about the place of Augustine in Orthodox thought? Seraphim Rose, or Aidan Nichols? I suggest that it's time some people got on board with Father Robert Taft's definition of "ecumenical scholarship", and cease working off the assumption that one must always work from a partisan position.
What you, StuartK, are missing, is that Bernardo is looking for an eastern orthodox or catholic view on Augustine. This is all. I havent read the book you gave the link for. But that link, once opened, it gives reviews which contradict your proposal. Open and see it!

Regarding who is able to comment on the other side, I think the easterners have few advantages. To mention few points on that:
It was primarily on greek texts and writers that western thought was built on. Secondly, western thought has penetrated east more than the eastern west.

So the eastern guys generally are more propable to speak about west than the western ones about east.
I think you're just truculent for the hell of it. Must be an Albanian thing. One more country to cross off my list of places to visit.
I have the impression you dont perceice your answers an ugly arrogance and ignorance!!!!!
Originally Posted by Arbanon
Bernardo,

from the book reviews we read:

Quote
set up of this book was weird. It was published by an Orthodox Seminary, yet most of the authors were Roman Catholics, I think. Most of the authors were quite critical of many Orthodox distinctives. I wonder if the editors/publisher thought all of these things through.

Since you asked:
Quote
Having said that, I have been looking for kind of a "summary" or matters where the Orthodox and Eastern Catholicism views collide with St. Augustine's, with no luck so far.

It does not seem your appropriate book!

Thank you Arbanon. I understand that getting a "summary" is not the easiest thing since different authors have discussed the issue. I'll take a look at the GOARCH link and the book of Fr. Seraphim Rose.

One of the main issues I have with the interpretation the RC have made in general of Augustine is the fact that all humans are somehow "guilty" of Adams sin and not only bear the effects of such sin, which matter has created all this "Theology of guilt" that affects lots of us Roman Catholics (yeah Im a RC by birth, attended some years the Melkite Church and now am leaning every day more towards Orthodoxy).

Thank you very much.

B
"If you want to know about Augustine, read Augustine, don't read summaries of his work written by dyspeptic Greeks"--David Bentley Hart, Orthodox theologian, Augustine scholar.
Yeah,

"Concluding Advice

Let me finish with a piece of advice for Dr. Hart: if you’re going to defend Christianity, do it intelligently. Don’t misquote sources that even skeptics can check for themselves, and don’t gild the lily. Please portray the past accurately, warts and all"

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/misreading-st-augustine/

Forgive me please my bad English...

Well...Orthodox main view on Avgustin - that he was just first opponent against heretic Pellagy. This role had mislead him in theologi.

Very radical view you can get in book by fr.A. Kalomiros "River of Fire". That fr. Seraphim Rose had answered on it with "The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church.".

Also you cen read next http://www.trueorthodoxy.org/heretics_roman_catholics_augustine_refutation_veneration.shtml

Originally Posted by Bernardo
For the last months I have been "underground" ...

Bernardo, my Melkite brother,

It's off-topic but I have to interrupt here to say hello and that you've been missed. It's good to see a post from you - it's been a long time, old friend. Prayers that you are well.

Many years,

Neil
You know, the more I read the less I believe that Augustine actually taught things that are incompatible with the views of the eastern Church. I actually think the OP is incorrect and overestimates the reliance of the modern RC church on Augustine, as he is problematic for them in a number of areas. Most of the problems with RC legalism actually come from medieval scholastic interpretations of Augustine, rather than Augustine himself. I sometimes even wonder how much Augustine the scholastics had actually even read - for example, inventions such as limbo are totally incompatible with Augustine's theology, the modern RC interpretation of scriptural passages regarding the papacy is completely incompatible with Augustine's theology, and the list goes on. I have a nasty feeling at times when reading the scholastics that they are regurgitating quotes from Augustine and never taking the trouble to actually read him themselves, which goes back to Stuart's point. If you read one of the main works in question, it seems as if Augustine's original sin is much more like the transmitted consequences of Adam's sin of the eastern fathers than the transmitted guilt of the scholastics. Baptism is indeed for the original sin, but for it's consequences (death) rather than for imputed guilt. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15011.htm

Of course it's also important to remember that Augustine's perspectives changed during his life time.
Dear brother Otsheylnik,

I agree with most of what you write here. There is also the possibility that the impression non-Latin Christians have about the Latin Catholic Church (i.e., legalism) is not really due to them being "Latin," but generally "Western." I believe it is the Protestant groups, not the Latin Catholic Church, that has popularized the image of St. Augustine as a figure of legalism. Four particular issues stand out:
(1) The idea that Divine Justice refers to the vengeance of God.
(2) Double-predestination.
(3) Irresistible Grace
(4) That salvation is a mere legal declaration by God and not an actual ontological transformation of the Christian.

None of these legalistic concepts has its source in Latin Catholic teaching, but due to a particular interpretation of St. Augustine by the Protestants. Nevertheless, it is these concepts that have informed the image that non-Latin Christians have of Western Christianity in general, and have at times unfairly applied it to the Latin Catholic Church.

There is one matter of soteriological legalism that deserves particular mention - the idea that we inherit the guilt of Adam's Original Sin. This notion has never been the teaching of the Latin Catholic Church, much less of the Catholic Church as a whole. The idea is based on a mistranslation of the original Latin teaching from Trent. Trent taught that we inherit a reatus due to the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. Reatus is wrongly translated as "guilt" in the English texts. Unfortunately, "guilt," to English speakers, denotes "blame" more than anything else. But "blame" is not what reatus means (the correct Latin word for "blame" is not reatus, but culpa). Reatus refers to the state of moral and ontological necessity to recover the unity with God that was lost due to the sin of our first parents. It has nothing to do with being blamed for the sin of our first parents. This misunderstanding has very unfortunately added to the image of the Latin Catholic Church as "legalistic."

Of course, this is notwithstanding the idea that we are in fact guilty of our own personal sins. I grant that the Latin Tradition lays more stress on this guilt for personal sins than does the Eastern Tradition in the doctrine of salvation. Oriental Tradition adheres to more of a middle-ground on the matter.

Blessings

Originally Posted by Otsheylnik
You know, the more I read the less I believe that Augustine actually taught things that are incompatible with the views of the eastern Church. I actually think the OP is incorrect and overestimates the reliance of the modern RC church on Augustine, as he is problematic for them in a number of areas. Most of the problems with RC legalism actually come from medieval scholastic interpretations of Augustine, rather than Augustine himself. I sometimes even wonder how much Augustine the scholastics had actually even read - for example, inventions such as limbo are totally incompatible with Augustine's theology, the modern RC interpretation of scriptural passages regarding the papacy is completely incompatible with Augustine's theology, and the list goes on. I have a nasty feeling at times when reading the scholastics that they are regurgitating quotes from Augustine and never taking the trouble to actually read him themselves, which goes back to Stuart's point. If you read one of the main works in question, it seems as if Augustine's original sin is much more like the transmitted consequences of Adam's sin of the eastern fathers than the transmitted guilt of the scholastics. Baptism is indeed for the original sin, but for it's consequences (death) rather than for imputed guilt. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15011.htm

Of course it's also important to remember that Augustine's perspectives changed during his life time.
Dear Mardukm

Originally Posted by mardukm
Dear brother Otsheylnik,

I agree with most of what you write here. There is also the possibility that the impression non-Latin Christians have about the Latin Catholic Church (i.e., legalism) is not really due to them being "Latin," but generally "Western." I believe it is the Protestant groups, not the Latin Catholic Church, that has popularized the image of St. Augustine as a figure of legalism. Four particular issues stand out:
(1) The idea that Divine Justice refers to the vengeance of God.
(2) Double-predestination.
(3) Irresistible Grace
(4) That salvation is a mere legal declaration by God and not an actual ontological transformation of the Christian.

None of these legalistic concepts has its source in Latin Catholic teaching, but due to a particular interpretation of St. Augustine by the Protestants. Nevertheless, it is these concepts that have informed the image that non-Latin Christians have of Western Christianity in general, and have at times unfairly applied it to the Latin Catholic Church.

I agree entirely. Great points.

Originally Posted by mardukm
There is one matter of soteriological legalism that deserves particular mention - the idea that we inherit the guilt of Adam's Original Sin. This notion has never been the teaching of the Latin Catholic Church, much less of the Catholic Church as a whole. The idea is based on a mistranslation of the original Latin teaching from Trent. Trent taught that we inherit a reatus due to the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. Reatus is wrongly translated as "guilt" in the English texts. Unfortunately, "guilt," to English speakers, denotes "blame" more than anything else. But "blame" is not what reatus means (the correct Latin word for "blame" is not reatus, but culpa). Reatus refers to the state of moral and ontological necessity to recover the unity with God that was lost due to the sin of our first parents. It has nothing to do with being blamed for the sin of our first parents. This misunderstanding has very unfortunately added to the image of the Latin Catholic Church as "legalistic."

I think it should be noted that, whether based on a mistranslation or no, there certainly have been Latin clergy who have understood and taught that we had "guilt" inherited from Adam. Nonetheless, I think we both agree that Augustine didn't necessarily view things in this way.




Originally Posted by Otsheylnik
I think it should be noted that, whether based on a mistranslation or no, there certainly have been Latin clergy who have understood and taught that we had "guilt" inherited from Adam.
True enough. I would simply add that as an Eastern Catholic I do not believe that man is born with either "culpa" or "reatus", instead, he is simply born mortal, and that condition does not have any impact upon his moral character at conception or birth.
Interesting. So you don't believe that each human being is created with a necessity to recover the unity with God that was lost by our first parents. Is this your personal belief, or would you say that this is the general teaching of the Eastern (Byzantine) Tradition?

But first, a more basic question is, do you believe that the sin of our first parents resulted in a spiritual separation from God that each human being inherits?

Blessings

Originally Posted by Apotheoun
Originally Posted by Otsheylnik
I think it should be noted that, whether based on a mistranslation or no, there certainly have been Latin clergy who have understood and taught that we had "guilt" inherited from Adam.
True enough. I would simply add that as an Eastern Catholic I do not believe that man is born with either "culpa" or "reatus", instead, he is simply born mortal, and that condition does not have any impact upon his moral character at conception or birth.
Originally Posted by mardukm
Interesting. So you don't believe that each human being is created with a necessity to recover the unity with God that was lost by our first parents. Is this your personal belief, or would you say that this is the general teaching of the Eastern (Byzantine) Tradition?

But first, a more basic question is, do you believe that the sin of our first parents resulted in a spiritual separation from God that each human being inherits?
As I have said in countless posts, I believe that Adam's descendants are born mortal, and that to overcome death they need the grace of God that comes only through the incarnation and paschal mystery of Christ. But no one is conceived or born guilty (in any sense of that word - i.e., either "culpa" or "reatus"). As we proclaim in the liturgy: "Christ is risen from the dead! By death He conquered death, and to those in the graves He granted life."
does Baptism then restore to immortality?
Originally Posted by Apotheoun
Originally Posted by mardukm
Interesting. So you don't believe that each human being is created with a necessity to recover the unity with God that was lost by our first parents. Is this your personal belief, or would you say that this is the general teaching of the Eastern (Byzantine) Tradition?

But first, a more basic question is, do you believe that the sin of our first parents resulted in a spiritual separation from God that each human being inherits?
As I have said in countless posts, I believe that Adam's descendants are born mortal, and that to overcome death they need the grace of God that comes only through the incarnation and paschal mystery of Christ. But no one is conceived or born guilty (in any sense of that word - i.e., either "culpa" or "reatus"). As we proclaim in the liturgy: "Christ is risen from the dead! By death He conquered death, and to those in the graves He granted life."


Augustine does not disagree with you. As he writes here,

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15011.htm

the fist sin IS death. However, it is wrong to understand "death" solely in a physical sense. Therefore, the question asked "does baptism make you immortal?" is not really the right question. The question is rather does baptism bestow life? Just as Augustine uses death to refer to a set of conditions affecting the soul or nous (primarily), life as bestowed by baptism is primarily important for its effects on the soul - the correction of the effects of the original sin (death to God) allows the baptised person to embark on a process of life in Christ, much more profiound than the merely physical way in which one restricts the action of Christ to the realm of mortality. The most important thing to remember in reading Augustine is that like the eastern fathers he was a Platonist. For him concepts like death and life apply first in the realm of form and idea, and only in some secondary sense in the mortal realm. It takes his philosophy out of context to reduce the question to death in a physical sense.
I still don't understand how you can say we are conceived or born without reatus. Reatus is the state of necessity to recover the unity with God lost by our first parents. Is this necessity of recovering the original unity with God part of human nature or not? Does not our inherent mortality in fact denote this state of necessity (reatus)?

Your claim that we are born/created/conceived without reatus seems inconsistent with your claim that we are born/created/conceived mortal. Obviously, we are born mortal because our first parents lost something, and it is a loss that we inherit, correct?

So I ask again - how can you say we are not born/created/conceived with the reatus due to the Original Sin of our first parents?

Blessings

Originally Posted by Apotheoun
Originally Posted by mardukm
Interesting. So you don't believe that each human being is created with a necessity to recover the unity with God that was lost by our first parents. Is this your personal belief, or would you say that this is the general teaching of the Eastern (Byzantine) Tradition?

But first, a more basic question is, do you believe that the sin of our first parents resulted in a spiritual separation from God that each human being inherits?
As I have said in countless posts, I believe that Adam's descendants are born mortal, and that to overcome death they need the grace of God that comes only through the incarnation and paschal mystery of Christ. But no one is conceived or born guilty (in any sense of that word - i.e., either "culpa" or "reatus"). As we proclaim in the liturgy: "Christ is risen from the dead! By death He conquered death, and to those in the graves He granted life."
Excellent.

Originally Posted by Otsheylnik
Augustine does not disagree with you. As he writes here,

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15011.htm

the fist sin IS death. However, it is wrong to understand "death" solely in a physical sense. Therefore, the question asked "does baptism make you immortal?" is not really the right question. The question is rather does baptism bestow life? Just as Augustine uses death to refer to a set of conditions affecting the soul or nous (primarily), life as bestowed by baptism is primarily important for its effects on the soul - the correction of the effects of the original sin (death to God) allows the baptised person to embark on a process of life in Christ, much more profiound than the merely physical way in which one restricts the action of Christ to the realm of mortality. The most important thing to remember in reading Augustine is that like the eastern fathers he was a Platonist. For him concepts like death and life apply first in the realm of form and idea, and only in some secondary sense in the mortal realm. It takes his philosophy out of context to reduce the question to death in a physical sense.
Sound advice in terms of any of the Church Fathers. I have Calvinists with whom I work, but they are institutional Calvinists who teach "orthodox" Calvinism, which does not square with everything John Calvin actually wrote. The great scholar Pelikan wrote in his five volume work on The Christian Church about how "orthodox Augustinianism" appears different in certain areas from just plain ol' Augustinianism of the fourth century.
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