Orthodox Christian doctrine about human nature - which we call anthropology - teaches that man was created by God to worship Him in communion with Him, made according to His image to attain to His likeness (Gen. 1:26). Each human being is of infinite value, because we bear the indelible stamp of our Creator. All human beings are composed of both a soul and body, which are permanently part of human nature. Man was created sinless, but not perfected, and so although Adam, the first man, was pure when he was created, he was created for dynamic progress, capable of growing more and more like God.

At the fall of mankind, when Adam and Eve sinned for the first time, they not only sinned in violation of God’s commandments, but their whole way of being changed. Their nature was not changed in itself, but the image of God in them became obscured by sin. And sin is a separation from God in our very being. So even though we’re fallen, we’re not totally depraved, but we suffer from the disease of sin which makes holiness a lot more difficult.

All of mankind suffers from the effects of sin (death, sickness, and all evil), even aside from which sins each of us has committed. In Orthodox anthropology, guilt is not our main problem. The problem is that we are sick. So when we talk about original sin, it is understood not as a transmitted guilt for Adam’s sin, but rather as an inherited disease which can be cured in salvation, the dynamic path of growth into God’s likeness.

So for the Orthodox, what does it mean to be saved?

Next Article: Salvation

Series provided by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick and St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church