Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

eastern orthodoxy's view of sin



Some years back, I ran across this information on Wikipedia. It provides a perfect example of how other people who claim Jesus see the Bible in a dramatically different way from what we in this country have been taught. It proves for me that how we interpret the Bible is largely a result of preconceived notions implanted by our cultural background.


Wikipedia write-up on Eastern Orthodox Christianity:

The Orthodox approach to sin and how to deal with it is never "legalistic". Following rules strictly without the heart "being in it" does not help a believer with his salvation. Sin is not about breaking some set of rules; rather, it is the name for any behavior which "misses the mark," that is, fails to live up to the higher goal of being like God. Sin, in effect, is the failure to reach our full potential as human beings.

Thus, in the Orthodox tradition sin is not viewed as a stain on the soul that needs to be wiped out, but rather as a pervading sickness or a failure to achieve a goal. Sin, therefore, does not carry with it the guilt for breaking a rule, but rather the impetus to become something more than what we are. Because each person's experience is unique, dealing with one's sinful habits needs individual attention and correction. The ultimate goal for this process is to become more Christ-like in one's actions.

What this more nuanced concept of sin means to me is that the sin problem is not that it is an affront to God which must be paid for, by Christ or the individual sinner. Instead sin is any thought or deed which moves us away from reaching our full human potential as intended by God. Sin is ultimately detrimental because it diminishes and retards our growth toward union with the Creator. The consequences of sin are not adjudicated by God, per se; they simply manifest themselves as what naturally occurs when we act counter productively, without love.