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#66 Creation and Fall

Summary:

Jesus Christ is our savior, but what does He save us from?  To answer that, we need to take a closer look at Creation and the Fall.  God made us neither mortal nor immortal, but with freedom: we could choose to either move closer to God, the source of life, or away from Him, and find death.  When Adam and Eve sinned they separated themselves from God and each other, creating the wounded, sick humanity that they passed down to us.

Questions:

As you watch the episode, consider:

1. Why did Christ need to save us? Were we punished by God and did Christ need to pay a debt?

2. How does the Orthodox Christian view of the Fall vary from the Western Christian understanding?

3. What is it that we inherit from Adam and Eve?

4. Can we be restored to our state before the Fall? How?

Check out these model lesson plans / retreat sessions for JOY and GOYA!

Links:

And here are some articles you may find to be helpful:

1. Bible Gateway, Genesis 1-2

2. Preachers Institute, Ancestral Sin vs. Original Sin

3. Orthodox Wiki, Original Sin

Script:

Hey everybody this is Steve, and you've probably heard people call Jesus Christ our Savior. To understand what exactly that means we need to understand what exactly Christ saved us from, and we need to start at the beginning. The fall of Adam and Eve is a really important part of this question, but it's often misunderstood. And that misunderstanding can affect how we see ourselves, and God, and our salvation.

People often think of the Fall in terms of rule and sin, more specifically Original Sin. So in this model God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the Garden of Eden, or Paradise, and He gave them a rule: Don't eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But as we all know Adam and Eve ate. And according to this view, God got angry and He punished them. He kicked them out of Paradise and punished them with death. Then, according to this view, we inherit this guilt and can't pay it off, which is why Christ has to die on the Cross, to pay with His blood and pain our crimes. Some say Christ paid this debt to Satan, others that he paid it to God the Father; either way this is not how Orthodox Christians see things.

We can find the creation of the world described in the book of Genesis. God creates the Heavens and the Earth, the water, the mountains, everything. And each time He makes something He says that "it is good." The same happened when God created humanity. He said "it is good." But there's a twist with humanity. Part of what makes us who we are is our freedom, our ability to choose. God didn't make us mortal, doomed to die, and He didn't make us immortal, totally self-sufficient on our own. Instead, He gave us the choice to either move closer to God, the source of life, or move away from God, to find death. This was all summed up in the commandment not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Saint Irenaeus points out that Adam and Eve were like children. Still new to this whole living thing, and that they needed a reminder that they weren't self-sufficient. So God set forth this one commandment, not for punishment but with a warning. He didn't say, "If you eat of the tree I will kill you." What he said was "In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." It's kind of like when parents tell their children not to touch a hot stove. The parents aren't threatening to burn the kid; they're trying to prevent the kid from being burnt. But little kids aren't always so sensible, and neither were Adam and Eve. They ate the fruit thinking it would give them knowledge apart from God. When God confronted them about it Eve blamed the serpent, and Adam blamed Eve and God.

In the fall, we don't simply see the breaking of a rule and the punishment that follows. We see the breaking of communion and relationship. Adam and Eve were separated from each other and humanity was separated from God. Though we were created for immortality we weren't created immortal. Cutting ourselves off from God affected us. It's like when we pluck a branch off a tree. It goes from green, vibrant and alive, to brown, dry dead. So it's not that we're somehow guilty of Adam and Eve's sin. It's that we've inherited the sick and broken humanity, and the world, that they created for themselves. As Saint Cyril of Alexandria put it "Our nature, then, became diseased by sin through the disobedience of one, that is, of Adam. Thus, all were made sinners, not by being co-transgressors with Adam, something they never were, but by being of his nature, Human nature fell ill in Adam."

This illness is a sort of captivity. As Father John Romanides puts it in the Ancestral Sin, our separation from God brought death into the world. This led to fear, and anxiety, and insecurity; to a biological existence driven by a desire to stay alive rather than to live for others; where our desire isn't for God but for pleasures. As we self medicate to distract ourselves from our inner emptiness. So that what we call life isn't really life at all but something nasty, brutish, and short. Even worse, our sin has consequences for the world; cause we live in the world and God put the world in our care. So things are upended both internally and externally, leading to ever-deepening cycle of pain, sin, and death. "It is for this reason that man finds pain while searching for pleasure, and death while searching for life."

Yet no matter how terrible things might get there's hope. And that starts with the proper understanding of Creation and the Fall. Because God made us for eternal life, which is only something we can receive by being united with Him. He is not the source of our punishments. He is not the source of death. He made us for immortality, and next week we'll talk about how He did it, how He saved us from death. So let's be the bee and see what the Fall is really all about. Be the bee and live Orthodoxy. Remember to like and subscribe. I'll see you all, next week.

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