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How does the Orthodox Church view sin?

Are we guilty of Adams sin?

The Orthodox Church teaches that Adam’s sin broke man’s natural communion with God and tragically brought death into this world. Those who came after Adam however are not guilty of his sin, but are rather affected and infected by all the consequences of the fallen condition.


In Greek, sin means to “miss the target.”  Sin is not the breaking of a moral code but the breaking of relationship, to miss the target of love, of likeness to God. Sin is a misdirection of man’s energies and will from their true target and yearning: life with God. In God’s Church it is possible to overcome sin.


Therefore the Orthodox and early Church teaching is that the guilt of our first ancestors belongs to them alone. Those of us who come after them do not inherit their personal guilt.  Rather, what we receive is a fallen, death-bound human nature, infected with the contagion of unnatural sinful passions, along with all the other consequences of the Fall, especially death.

© Fr. Michael Shanbour

What is sin?

In Orthodoxy, sin is not understood as a crime necessitating punishment but as an illness in need of cure. Man sins because his nature has been corrupted and needs to be healed and renewed, brought into union with incorruption. It is death and the fear of death that has held man in bondage (Heb. 2:15), not guilt. and death can only be overcome by Life, that is, Jesus Christ.

© Fr. Michael Shanbour




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