Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Original Sin According to St. Paul

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Concluding Remarks

 

The modern Biblical scholar cannot claim to be objective if his examination of Biblical theology is one-sided, or governed by certain philosophical prejudices. The modern school of Biblical criticism is clearly making a false attempt to get at the essential form of the original kyregma, while remaining quite ignorant and blind to the very essence of the Old and New Testament analysis of the fallen state of humanity and creation, especially in regard to its teachings concerning the natures of God and Satan. Thus, one sees the anti-liberal tendencies of modern Protestantism, accepting the method of Biblical criticism and at the same time trying to salvage what it takes to be the essential message of the Gospel writers. yet, in all their pseudo-scientific method of research, writers of this school fail to come to any definite conclusions because they stubbornly refuse to take seriously the Biblical doctrine of Satan, death and corruption. For this reason, such a question as whether or not the body of Christ was really resurrected is not regarded as important--e.g., Emil Brunner, The Mediator. What is important is the faith that Christ is the unique Savior in history, even though very possibly not resurrected in history. How he saves and what he saves men from is presumably a secondary question.

 

It is clear that for St. Paul the bodily resurrection of Christ is the destruction of the devil, death, and corruption. Christ is the first fruits from the dead.[245] If there is no resurrection there can be no salvation.[246] Since death is a consequence of the discontinuation of communion with the life and love of God, and thereby a captivity of man and creation by the devil, then only a real resurrection can destroy the power of the devil. It is inaccurate and shallow thinking to try to pass off as Biblical the idea that the question of a real bodily resurrection is of secondary importance. At the center of Biblical and patristic thought there is clearly a Christology of real union, which is conditioned by the Biblical doctrine of Satan, death and corruption, and human destiny. Satan is governing through death, materially and physically. His defeat must be also material and physical. Restoration of communion must be not only in the realm of mental attitude, but, more important, through creation, of which man is an inseparable part. Without a clear understanding of the Biblical doctrine of Satan and his power, it is impossible to understand the sacramental life of the body of Christ, and, by consequence, the doctrine of the Fathers concerning Christology and Trinity becomes a meaningless diversion of scholastic specialists. Both Roman scholastics and Protestants are undeniably heretical in their doctrines of grace and ecclesiology simply because they do not see any longer that salvation is only the union of man with the life of God in the body of Christ, where the devil is being ontologically and really destroyed in the life of love. Outside of the life of unity with each other and Christ in the sacramental life of corporate love there is no salvation, because the devil is still ruling the world through the consequences of death and corruption. Extra-sacramental organizations, such as the papacy, cannot be fostered off as the essence of Christianity because they are clearly under the influence of worldly considerations and do not have as their sole aim the life of selfless love. In Western Christianity, the dogmas of the Church have become the object of logical gymnastics in the classrooms of philosophy. What is usually taken as natural human reason is set up as the exponent of revealed theology. The teachings of the Church concerning the Holy Trinity, Christology, and Grace, are no longer the accepted expressions of the continuous and existential experience of the body of Christ, living within the very life of the Holy Trinity through the human nature of Christ, in whose flesh the devil has been destroyed and against whose body (the Church) the gates of death (hades) cannot prevail.

 

It is the mission of Orthodox theology today to bring an awakening to Western Christianity, but in order to do this the Orthodox themselves must rediscover their own traditions and cease, once and for all, accepting the corroding infiltration of Western theological confusion into Orthodox theology. It is only by returning to the Biblical understanding of Satan and human destiny that the sacraments of the Church can once again become the source and strength of Orthodox theology. The enemy of life and love can be destroyed only when Christians can confidently say, "we are not ignorant of his thoughts."[247] Any theology which cannot define with exactitude the methods and deceptions of the devil is clearly heretical, because such a theology is already deceived by the devil. It is for this reason that the Fathers could assert that heresy is the work of the devil.

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