There was another point I wanted to make re: John Farrell's Forbes piece, Can Theology Evolve? Farrell writes, "The Eastern Orthodox Churches, for example, do not accept the doctrine of Original Sin . . . ." I think this claim needs some nuancing. (Here is my first Farrell post.)
First of all, Eastern Orthodoxy certainly accepts the doctrine of the Fall, and so accepts the doctrine of Original Sin, unless there is some reason to distinguish the two. Timothy Ware, expounding the Orthodox doctrine, writes, "Adam's fall consisted essentially in his disobedience of the will of God; he set up his own will against the divine will, and so by his own act he separated himself from God." (The Orthodox Church, Penguin 1964, p. 227.) If anything counts as Original Sin, this act of disobedience does. So, at first blush, the Fall and Original Sin are the same 'event.' Accepting the first, Orthodoxy accepts the second.
But both 'events' are also 'states' in which post-Adamic, postlapsarian man finds himself. He is in the state or condition of original sinfulness and in the state or condition of fallenness. This fallen state is one of moral corruption and mortality. This belief is common to the Romans, the Protestants, and the Orthodox. But it could be maintained that while we inherit Adam's corruption and mortality, we don't inherit his guilt. And here is where there is an important difference between the Romans and the Protestants, on the one hand, and the Eastern Orthodox, on the other. The latter subscribe to Original Sin but not to Original Guilt. Timothy Ware: "Men (Orthodox usually teach) automatically inherit Adam's corruption and mortality, but not his guilt: they are only guilty in so far as by their own free choice they imitate Adam." (229)
I conclude that Farrell should have said, not that the Orthodox do not accept Original Sin, but that they do not accept Original Guilt. Or he could have said that the Orthodox do not accept the Roman Catholic doctrine of Original Sin which includes the fomer idea. Actually, given the context this is probably what he meant.
There is something repugnant to reason about the doctrine of Original Guilt. How can I be held morally responsible for what someone else has done? That is a morally obnoxious notion, as obnoxious as the notion behind calls for reparations for blacks. Surely I am not morally responsible for crimes committed in the 19th century. The more I think about it, the more appealing the Orthodox doctrine becomes.