Romanides on Original (Ancestral) Sin


Romanides’ thesis is that the Fathers of the second and third centuries believed (contra Augustine) that the effect of Adam’s sin was to introduce death (constituted in the loss of divine grace) into the race of man. Through death Satan rules mankind and causes them to sin. Important in this is that 1. God is not the author of sin or death 2. Satan is no instrument of divine wrath 3. Death is no punishment inflicted by God but rather the natural consequence of our sin which came at the deceptive prompting of Satan, thus it actually makes sense for God to want to save us from death.

This is how:

“In the first place, the deprivation of divine grace impairs the mental powers of the newborn infant; thus, the mind of man has a tendency toward evil from the beginning. This tendency grows strong when the ruling force of corruption becomes perceptible in the body. Through the power of death and the devil, sin that reigns in man gives rise to fear and anxiety and to the general instinct of self-preservation or survival. Thus, Satan manipulates man’s fear and his desire for self-satisfaction, raising up sin in him, in other words, transgression against the divine will regarding unselfish love, and provoking man to stray from his original destiny. Since weakness is caused in the flesh by death, Satan moves man to countless passions and leads him to devious thoughts, actions, and selfish relations with God as well as with his fellow man. Sin reigns both in death and in the mortal body because ‘the sting of death is sin'”

The Ancestral Sin pg. 162


3 Responses to “Romanides on Original (Ancestral) Sin”

  1. Moses Says:

    Funny how the West differs with us in that respect; they chose St. Augustine, while we went with the common majority of the East.

  2. Andrew Says:

    I think it needs to get taken into account that modern Catholics would say the important thing in original sin is the loss of divine grace, which, as you write in the post, is also accepted by Romanides…

    As far as I am concerned, this is what we should be discussing. Yes, the Catholics don’t seem able to understand the gravity of death, but I think the real problem is whether humanity actually fell from a state of grace, because of Adam, or not.

  3. Michel Vasquez Says:


    The gravity of death not understood by “Catholics”?

    I guess the Requiem Mass isn’t serious enough.

    The distinction really has to do with the legal notion of guilt. That view, held by Augustine, is what distinguishes Catholicism from Orthodoxy and even then, only some Catholics, ( who never held the Lutheran/ Calvinist view of not only guilt but total depravity).

    Modern Catholic teaching is far closer to the pre-Augustian position than it is to Augustine.

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