Eastern Orthodox view of sin

The Orthodox Church presents a view of sin distinct from views found in Roman Catholicism and in Protestantism, that sin is viewed primarily as a terminal spiritual sickness, rather than a state of guilt, a self-perpetuating illness which distorts the whole human being and energies, corrupts the Image of God inherent in those who bear the human nature, diminishes the divine likeness within them, disorients their understanding of the world as it truly is, and distracts a person from fulfilling his natural potential to become deified in communion with God.

Orthodoxy typically divides sin into two categories: original or ancestral sin, the accursed state of death shared by all fallen men and which necessitates healing through the redemptive work of Christ and the operations of the Holy Spirit; and actual or personal sin, the free choice to rebel against the loving purpose of God, follow Adam in disobedience and affirm oneself in fallenness, thereby justifying one's death by willful separation from the Source of life, the remedy of which is forgiveness through faith and repentance.


The Biblical Greek term for sin, αμαρτία (amartia), means "sin": it implies that one's aim is out and that one has not reached the goal, one's fullest potential. As in Western Christianity, in Eastern Orthodoxy the goal is union with God. Orthodoxy also understands sin as a disease of the soul, a condition where the soul is lacking in God's grace. Union with God, as made possible through Christ, is the ultimate medicine. Orthodoxy regards the mysteries of the Church, also known as sacraments in the West, as vehicles leading towards union with God.

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