The full quote in context does not imply sin is an "illness":
. . . iniquity consists in an open and persistent defiance of recognized reality and signifies such a degree of personality disintegration as to border on cosmic insanity.
There are many ways of looking at sin, but from the universe philosophic viewpoint sin is the attitude of a personality who is knowingly resisting cosmic reality. Error might be regarded as a misconception or distortion of reality. Evil is a partial realization of, or maladjustment to, universe realities. But sin is a purposeful resistance to divine reality--a conscious choosing to oppose spiritual progress--while iniquity consists in an open and persistent defiance of recognized reality and signifies such a degree of personality disintegration as to border on cosmic insanity. (754.5)
Clearly, the revelators differentiate error, evil, and sin. I don't see these important distinctions being made, mentioned, or appreciated in your interpretations
of the Philokalia
adelfo, and that leaves an unbalanced presentation in my view. If your stated goal is to discuss the "similarities in Eastern Orthodoxy and Jesus' teachings as we know them in the UB," then why are you arguing for an interpretation of sin that is counter to the teachings of Jesus and the Urantia Book, while igoring Jesus' own teachings:
Make clear in your mind these different attitudes toward the Father and his universe. Never forget these laws of relation to the Father's will:
Evil is the unconscious or unintended transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Evil is likewise the measure of the imperfectness of obedience to the Father's will. (1660.2)
Sin is the conscious, knowing, and deliberate transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Sin is the measure of unwillingness to be divinely led and spiritually directed. (1660.3)
Iniquity is the willful, determined, and persistent transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Iniquity is the measure of the continued rejection of the Father's loving plan of personality survival and the Sons' merciful ministry of salvation. (1660.4)
By nature, before the rebirth of the spirit, mortal man is subject to inherent evil tendencies, but such natural imperfections of behavior are neither sin nor iniquity. Mortal man is just beginning his long ascent to the perfection of the Father in Paradise. To be imperfect or partial in natural endowment is not sinful. Man is indeed subject to evil, but he is in no sense the child of the evil one unless he has knowingly and deliberately chosen the paths of sin and the life of iniquity. Evil is inherent in the natural order of this world, but sin is an attitude of conscious rebellion which was brought to this world by those who fell from spiritual light into gross darkness. (1660.5)
Men are, indeed, by nature evil, but not necessarily sinful. The new birth--the baptism of the spirit--is essential to deliverance from evil and necessary for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, but none of this detracts from the fact that man is the son of God. Neither does this inherent presence of potential evil mean that man is in some mysterious way estranged from the Father in heaven so that, as an alien, foreigner, or stepchild, he must in some manner seek for legal adoption by the Father. All such notions are born, first, of your misunderstanding of the Father and, second, of your ignorance of the origin, nature, and destiny of man. (1660.7)
Yet, the Philokalia
Evil does not exist by nature, nor is there any man naturally evil. (Vol.I.253.3) Evil is foreign to our nature; but given admittance by us through the transgression of the first man [Adam], it has with time become as though natural to us. (Vol.III.315.68)
It also teaches one should confess their "involuntary sins" (Vol.I.295.100) and there are "sins that occur through ignorance" (Vol.III.84), that "Satan is expelled from the soul by Holy Baptism," (Vol.I.280.79) our soul is "imprinted" with Adam's fall, and is therefore "befouled" (Vol.I.280.78), and animals other than humans have souls (Vol.I.354.166). On the other hand, there are some statements that would fit with the philosophy of the Urantia Book as well, such as "What takes place according to nature is not sinful; sin always involves man's deliberate choice" (Vol.I.338.60) or that evil is a "misuse of free-will" (Vol.I.343) and that "sin is not a part of human nature," but men "deliberately transgress divine" law. (Vol.II.167.11) But then, as an eclectic collection of the contemplative musings of hermit monks, why would one expect anything different. For after all, the Philokalia
is not meant to provide "a consistent and logical universe philosophy" or a "co-ordinated and unbroken explanation of both science and religion"; it is not
epochal revelation, even though it may contain an admixture of human wisdom, confused metaphysics, and some autorevelation
The fact of religion consists wholly in the religious experience of rational and average human beings. And this is the only sense in which religion can ever be regarded as scientific or even psychological. The proof that revelation is revelation is this same fact of human experience: the fact that revelation does synthesize the apparently divergent sciences of nature and the theology of religion into a consistent and logical universe philosophy, a co-ordinated and unbroken explanation of both science and religion, thus creating a harmony of mind and satisfaction of spirit which answers in human experience those questionings of the mortal mind which craves to know how the Infinite works out his will and plans in matter, with minds, and on spirit. (1105)
It is one thing to present two different views of sin for comparison, and another thing to argue as you have been that sin should be redefined as "imperfection, a form of illness, deficiency or weakness," as you continue doing when you say "The word illness does not necessarily imply a lack of responsibility. There are many human illnesses which are clearly the result of a lack of personal responsibility. Example: If you smoke, you will most likely die from a tobacco related disease." This is a philosophical assertion open to rational examination and reasonable differences of opinion. Logically and philosophically speaking, there is a difference between cause and effect; i.e., the conscious act of choosing
to smoke even when one knows full well the natural consequences of smoking vs. the natural consequences
(i.e., the disease itself). Cancer, the "illness" is not responsible
for its own cause
; it is the conscious choice to engage in the behavior of smoking that is rationally associated with responsibility
. The conscious choice to smoke and the natural consequence of the act are different things: The "illness" -- cancer -- is not personally responsible for its existence; it is not a personal reality, but rather the natural consequence of the choices made by the person who chooses to smoke.
The fact that the Father loves us even when we make poor choices is simply not relevant to the question of whether or not sin can be redefined as an "imperfection, a form of illness, deficiency or weakness." They are different questions; like apples and oranges.
The Philokalia is the most important collection of Orthodox religious texts and deserves respect.
While the Philokalia
is one of the most significant sources of Orthodox spirituality, it is a fact that this eighteenth-century collection of ascetic and mystical writings composed in the fourth through the fifteenth centuries (Fairbairn 2002: 37-38) contains much that is simply inconsistent with the teachings of the Urantia Book. There are beautiful similarities and wonderful insights, even inspirational verse, but also there are real differences and no shortage of confused metaphysics born of various ascetic disciplines, mystic meditations, and isolated contemplations (1105.2), such as the teaching that with regards to sin, there is both unconscious sin as well as conscious sin. "Compiled by the Greek monk Nikodimos and by Markarios, the bishop of Corinth, the Philokalia was first published in Venice in 1782 and gathered the unpublished writings of all major Hesychasts (hermits) of the Christian East, from Evagrius Ponticus to Gregory Palamas." (Encyclopedia Britannica Online) The ascetic monks that wrote the Philokalia
practiced a form of asceticism consisting of withdrawal from the world for the purpose of fasting and for the affliction of the soul and denial of the flesh while they engaged in mystic meditations and isolated contemplations.
Balance requires that the full context of the texts be respected, including their very real differences
in philosophical viewpoints regarding evil, sin, and iniquity.
Finally, why do you call the desire to make these important distinctions clear, which you apparently view in a different philosophical light, vitriolic
? Are you saying that no one should ask questions? You are making clear philosophical assertions adelfo, and these are open to rational and reasonable philosophical examination in light of the teachings of the UB. Are you saying that it is somehow wrong to question your philosophical interpretations?
The experience of God-consciousness remains the same from generation to generation, but with each advancing epoch in human knowledge the philosophic concept and the theologic definitions of God must change. God-knowingness, religious consciousness, is a universe reality, but no matter how valid (real) religious experience is, it must be willing to subject itself to intelligent criticism and reasonable philosophic interpretation; it must not seek to be a thing apart in the totality of human experience. (69.7)
It is one thing to interpret sin in the light of the Philokalia
rather than in the light of the Urantia Book; another to interpret sin in light of Fifth Epochal Revelation
and the teachings of Jesus therein. A balanced comparison notes both the differences and similarities, without attempting to redefine or explain away clear differences.
There are some wonderful concepts that are amazingly consistent with the UB's teachings which you have already shared, such as for example the idea of theosis
. I greatly enjoy your sharing these insights and encourage you to continue to do so.
Adelfo, I am really hoping you will explore a little more the relationship between sin and the so-called fall of man within the Western and Eastern traditions. I really think your point about sin being viewed differently is more fully revealed in the two views, which differer in some important respects.
Edited by Robert Reno, 05 September 2008 - 08:55 AM.