I think it would be beneficial to discuss these 2 very different views of the sin of Adam. It will have very different consequences in many areas of Christian Theology.
Original Sin: This term was coined by Augustine of Hippo is his response to Pelagius to describe the sin of Adam. Prior to Augustine of Hippo the term Original Sin had never been used. However Augustine’s development of this doctrine in turn had profound impact on the Reformers and in particular Calvin who used it to develop his own doctrine concerning Election.
Ancestral Sin: This is the term used by the Orthodox Church to describe the sin of Adam. This ancient Tradition and the 2 other ancient traditions claim this term was used by the early Church and the Patristics. They claim the term Original Sin is uniquely Roman Catholic/Protestant in doctrine and not universal in the Church at large.
So what is the difference and the difference is profound.
- Original Sin is the doctrine that states Mankind is sinful in Adam (Ro 5:12). And Mankind is sinful and separate from God from conception (Ps 51:5)
- Ancestral Sin is the doctrine that states Mankind suffers sin because of Adam (Ro 5:12). And Mankind suffers from sin beginning at conception (Ps 51:5) and this suffering is the reality of physical death.
Proponents of Ancestral Sin claim that Augustine did not know Greek (by his own omission) and used a Latin translation of the Greek which interpreted Romans 5:12 to say Therefore, just as in whom one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. Whereas the Greek actually says Therefore, just because of one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. This misinterpretation led to the whole doctrine of original sin of Augustine that had not existed before Augustine.
I will note here that many in the West identify the Eastern Orthodox Church of Ancestral Sin as Semi-Pelagianism and it is not. The consequences of the differences are significant because of the following conclusions:
Original Sin views the Sin of Adam as guilt passed on. That is man is guilty of sin from conception and this in turn logically leads to infant condemnation and baptism as requirement to remove original sin.
Ancestral Sin views the Sin of Adam as disease passed on. That is man suffers from the presence of sin from conception which is primarily physical death and logically leads to actual sin separating man from God. This in turn leads to infant salvation and baptism not being required from salvation.
I believe this difference in views of the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church had some influence on the Reformers seeking to join the Orthodox Church.
So what do you all think about all this. Should be an interesting discussion particularly if we can get some Roman Catholics and Orthodox Catholics into the discussion.