Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy 2.0 is now here. Here’s an excerpt.


Update: New episodes are now available at this link.

As I’ve announced on social media and elsewhere, I’m in the process of producing an updated, revised, and expanded version of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy—both the podcast and the book. New episodes of the podcast begin airing on Ancient Faith Radio on November 22.

This new podcast series (and book!) represents a full revision, expansion and update of the original series, which first aired in 2009 and was expanded and published as a book in 2011. In addition to lots of changes to reflect better accuracy and precision, there will also be a whole new section added—on Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, the Word of Faith Movement and the Prosperity Gospel.

The series is also expanding its reach: While the original was designed to speak primarily to Orthodox Christians about other faiths, this “reboot” broadens its perspective to speak to the non-Orthodox, as well. That means we go deeper, broader and with a tone appropriate for a multi-faceted audience. With a different reach comes a new subtitle: Finding the Way to Christ in a Complicated Religious Landscape.

I hope you’ll join me as we begin this journey again.

To help whet your appetite, I’m giving you an example of one piece of the revision that I’m doing. You’ll note that it includes corrections, too, reflecting some things I’ve learned along the way. Below are two passages. The first is the original version on my passage on the Roman Catholic Immaculate Conception doctrine. The second is the revised version.


Original 2009 Podcast / 2011 Book Edition:

The original sin doctrine is also the origin of the Immaculate Conception teaching, which says that the Virgin Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin when she was conceived (declared as dogma in 1854, though rejected by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century). Christ would therefore be born without it. Yet for the Orthodox, it is not guilt that Christ is born with, but rather mortality. He, like His mother, suffered the effects of fallen human nature (such as hunger, fatigue, etc.), but did not commit any personal sins. The original sin/immaculate conception combination puts Him outside of human nature, making Him not truly human. It also makes Mary’s personal holiness no great achievement, since she would be rendered incapable of sin from conception. The clearest argument against the Immaculate Conception, however, is that the Virgin Mary died. If she had been born without original sin, then she would have been incapable of death.

Revised 2015 Podcast/Book Edition:

The original sin doctrine is also the origin of the immaculate conception teaching, which says that the Virgin Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin when she was conceived (declared as dogma in 1854, though rejected by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century). It was this purification from her conception that made it possible for her to assent to the incarnation when announced by the Archangel Gabriel:

    We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. (Ineffabilis Deus, 1854; this is the document by which Pope Pius IX defined the doctrine)

    To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace.” In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. (CCC, 490)

That the Virgin Mary had to have been conceived without the stain of original sin in order to become the mother of the Lord reveals a more pessimistic view of the fall than the Orthodox take. Rome holds that Mary had to be kept from the effects of original sin in order to be free enough to give assent to the incarnation. But the Orthodox believe that all of mankind, including the Virgin Mary, is free to choose God, even if that freedom is impaired and tends toward sin. Her holiness of life under Rome’s model is no credit to her.

The Orthodox do hold to a pre-purification of the Virgin Mary, but it is not at her conception but rather at the Annunciation. This teaching is expressed in the hymns of the Annunciation: “The coming of the Holy Spirit hath purified my soul and sanctified my body; and hath made it a temple able to contain God, a tabernacle divinely adorned, a living shrine, and the pure Mother of Life” (Ode 7 of the Canon of the Annunciation).

And it is our teaching that the sanctification that occurred at the Annunciation was both to make her womb prepared to bear God and also so that the human nature assumed by Christ would be prelapsarian (i.e., before the fall of mankind). Speculating beyond this leads to problems.

In the homilies of St. John of Damascus on the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, he writes that she is indeed freed of corruption, but that freeing happens at the Annunciation (which contradicts Rome’s 1854 definition). She inherited corruption from Adam and Eve but overcame it by her pure life, which is part of what prepared her to become the Theotokos. And he is also clear in his An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith that this purification came after her assent: “So then, after the assent of the Holy Virgin, the Holy Spirit descended on her, according to the word of the Lord which the angel spoke, purifying her, and granting her power to receive the divinity of the Word, and likewise power to bring forth” (Book 3, chapter 2, second paragraph).

Probably the clearest argument against the Immaculate Conception, however, is that the Virgin Mary died—involuntarily and by necessity. If she had been born without the effects of original sin, then she would have been incapable of death.

Christ, like His mother, suffered the effects of fallen human nature (such as hunger, fatigue, etc.), but did not commit any personal sins. He did all of this of His own free will, however, and not from necessity, because His human nature was prelapsarian.

There are also uncomfortable soteriological questions raised by the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception: If at her conception the Virgin Mary is preserved from the stain of original sin and therefore returned to the prelapsarian state by “a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God” (even “in view of the merits of Jesus Christ”), what need was there for the incarnation? Why could not all of mankind have been saved by this same method?

NB: This post isn’t an invitation for review comments — I’ve got reviewers working with me (including several non-Orthodox people) on various things, including corrections.

It would be interesting to open up the process to the public, but having spent some 21 years discussing theology via social media, I know it would very, very quickly turn into something that would annoy nearly everyone and make it well-nigh impossible for me to actually get the work done, since I would spend all my time responding or moderating.

Trust me that I’m reviewing everything in the book, checking everything. Almost no paragraph is going untouched, and there is a lot being added. The chapter on RCism alone is now 25% bigger.


  1. I very much look forward to this. The hill of crosses image is interesting in that this was symbolic of Christian resistance to communism in Lithuania that was not specifically Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant.

    1. Even though I am not the graphic designer who put the image together, the Hill of Crosses was my suggestion for two reasons:

      1) The image it presents is of a chaotic religious landscape, many “Christianities” all crowded together; so I think it works on visual grounds, even for those who do not know the actual place. And the path that makes its way through all of them suggests that it is possible to navigate such a landscape.

      2) I am Lithuanian!

      By the way, the Hill of Crosses predates Communism by a long time. More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Crosses

  2. Dear Fr. Andrew,

    Thank you for this teaser. I own your original book, and have listened to the original podcast.

    Two things that disappointed me (a Roman Catholic who is currently interested in and attracted to Orthodoxy) in the RC portions of the book/podcast:

    First, if I recall correctly, your book describes the RC understanding of original sin as based on people bearing the personal *guilt* of Adam. However, that is not what the Roman Catholic Church teaches. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#405-406) says,

    “By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called ‘sin’ only in an analogical sense: it is a sin ‘contracted’ and not ‘committed’ – a state and not an act.

    “Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called ‘concupiscence.'”

    I admittedly may be ignorant on the matter or may have misread your points, but the CCC’s description of original sin does not seem all that different from the Orthodox concept of “ancestral sin,” and the CCC specifically denies the “personal guilt” aspect. St. Augustine may have taken things too far in arguing against the Pelagians, and the Western Church may indeed be more Augustinian than the East, but St. Augustine is not the Magisterium of the Church.

    Secondly, your treatment of purgatory and indulgences in O&H was very misleading in its uncharacteristically Protestant-like and totally uncalled-for mockery of the units of time (e.g. 300 days, 3 years, etc.) that used to be attached to partial indulgences.

    As I am sure you know, Father, those time periods were not “300 fewer days in purgatory” (as if one could measure that), as you presented them, but rather, penance that would be the canonical equivalent of 300 days (or 3 years, or whatever) of penance in the ancient Church, in which the periods of penance after falling away were much harsher than anything we know today. Surely, East and West agree that the Church has a right to impose canonical sentences of penance on repentant sinners.

    Do I agree that in the popular imagination, they were probably misleading in precisely the way you presented them? Yes, which is probably why they are now just called “partial indulgences” with no canonical time equivalents attached to them. You would be right in calling out the unintentionally misleading nature of these units of time. But you should present the teaching as it is taught, not as it is incorrectly perceived.

    Do I think these indulgences (with or without canonical time periods) still represent a very Western, “divine accounting”-type soteriology, and could be criticized on those grounds? Sure. My point is, Father, there are plenty of good and historically accurate arguments out there, so there is no need to resort to unnecessary and historically/theologically inaccurate lines of attack.

    In all this, I do not mean any disrespect to you or your work, which I continue to appreciate and I very much look forward to the revised podcasts and book (with the hope and prayer that they will also address the above points).

    I also ask for your prayers, Father, as my family and I continue to explore the Orthodox faith.

    Respectfully yours in Christ,


    1. Thanks for your comments. The items you reference are part of the revision. It may interest you to know that, among my reviewers for the RC portion is an ex-Orthodox-now-Catholic Benedictine monk.

      By the way, for everyone else’s reference (this isn’t directed at you, Tom), this post isn’t an invitation for review comments — I’ve got reviewers working with me (including several non-Orthodox people) on various things, including corrections.

      It would be interesting to open up the process to the public, but having spent some 21 years discussing theology via social media, I know it would very, very quickly turn into something that would annoy nearly everyone and make it well-nigh impossible for me to actually get the work done, since I would spend all my time responding or moderating.

      Trust me that I’m reviewing everything in the book, checking everything. Almost no paragraph is going untouched, and there is a lot being added. The chapter on RCism alone is now 25% bigger.

      1. Thank you for the quick approval and reply, Father!

        And just to be clear, there is much more in your work that I like and that has been very helpful for me in our family’s journey than the two issues I highlighted above.

        As an aside, one of those very helpful things was your treatment in a podcast of the “ethnic question” in Orthodoxy. Having grown up in an Orthodox country (Romania) as a non-Orthodox national minority, with a lot of the attendant prejudices, that was very eye-opening and humbling for me… a call for personal repentance I needed to hear. Thank you for that. (I’m a fellow Pennsylvanian now, by the way.)

        I very much look forward to listening to and reading the new edition of O&H.

  3. Can’t wait to read the revised edition!

    So happy also that you touched on Christ assuming the prelapsarian human nature and that his taking upon Himself the blameless passions (such as hunger, thirst, etc) was done completely by His own will. These are the patristic teachings and unfortunately many modern Western Christians (as well as even some well known Orthodox speakers!) have been propagating the heretical and innovative idea of the past couple of hundred years that Christ assumed fallen nature.

    If you haven’t done so, I strongly recommend everyone to read the book “Jesus: Fallen?” It is an outstanding book that addresses this topic.

  4. Would it be possible to include a discussion on current schismatic groups? I know a family who recently departed from the Orthodox Church to join the HOCNA sect, and have been trying to figure out what that’s all about.


    1. That would be interesting, but I think it would stray away from the book’s purpose, which is not about following the (ever-changing!) world of schisms that are near Orthodoxy. Even if I attempted to catalogue them all, the book would be out of date as soon as it went to print.

      1. Fr. Andrew,

        Are the podcasts recorded already? If not, I was wondering if you could address the Immaculist claims of the brilliant (and equally humble) Fr. Kappes, a Eastern Catholic priest. He holds that Sts. John Damascene, Gregory Palamas, Nicholas Cabasilas and others held to the Immaculate Conception. Also, Orthodox priest Fr. Panteleimon Manoussakis in his ecumenical book ‘For the Unity of All’, with the foreword written by the Ecumenical Patriarch, has affirmed the doctrine interpreting Sts. Sophronios of Jerusalem and Photios to have taught it. Fr. Manoussakis states:

        “In the Virgin Mary’s birth, as in her death, we see the light of the end of times breaking into history and transforming its categories. No church, Catholic or Orthodox, can afford sacrificing so much by denying such an essential summation of Christian doctrine. Thankfully, neither does. Whatever protestations some Orthodox theologians have raised in criticism of the immaculate conception of the Theotokos has been insignificant with respect to the points we have articulated here, for they simply ignore or fail to properly understand what is essential in it, misunderstanding it, instead, as some arbitrary distortion and novelty, invented in order to explain the Lord’s immaculate birth, while in reality, as we have shown, it is explained by it.”

        Fr. Florovsky, Lossky and a host of others also missed it. Additionally, utilizing the recent emphasis on the primus coming from the Phanar, Fr. Panteleimon states that the Pope had the authority to unilaterally declare the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma even according to Orthodox ecclesiology. He also states that since it’s an Eastern doctrine and the Pope is the universal primate, he actually represented the Orthodox when he promulgated it:

        “Even that complaint, [about the Pope’s unilateral proclamation] though, is not entirely justifiable, as in pronouncing the doctrine of the immaculate conception as dogma the pope was relying on a tradition that was as much, if not more, Eastern (as I hope my analysis here will show) as it was Western. Thus, it could be said that the pope, in his capacity as the primus of the universal church (of which more below), was at that instance representing the Eastern churches as well. On the Eastern character of the doctrine of the immaculate conception, see Kappes, The Immaculate Conception.”

        I discussed Immaculate Conception with Fr. Kappes, and I provided him with the views of Sts. Irenaeus, Basil, Cyril of Alexandria, and John Chrysostom; I also questioned his interpretation of the Saints that he believes taught it. For instance, C. Veniamin, who translated all of St. Gregory Palamas’ sermons does not read him that way, neither does he interpret St. Nicholas Cabasilas to teach it either. Veniamin wrote an article on Cabasilas and the Immaculate Conception that you’ve likely read. Fr. Kappes does make a very plausible case, my concern is that it seems to be taking hold in high places. Fr. Kappes told me SVS press plans to publish his new research on the subject and I’m looking forward to delving more into it. What say ye, Fr? It would be great if you could address this.

        1. The problem with a series and book like O&H is that it still can cover these issues only in summary. What you’re describing could really fill a whole chapter and, indeed, a whole book (or two). I do hope that other people will take up these issues in more depth.

          Regarding the particular arguments you mention, I don’t think it would be worth it for me to add them to my summary. For one thing, the idea that the Pope of Rome can speak dogmatically for the Orthodox Church is itself an enormous can of worms that of course almost all Orthodox would never buy into, anyway. What is to stop him from speaking for us on infallibility or supremacy, etc.? No, there’s a reason we are not in communion.

          Anyway, Kappes of course does not speak for us, either, and my sense is that Manoussakis’s view is very much a minority one.

  5. Fr. Andrew,

    Nature is a word that I love, but I get into trouble sometimes when I use it. It has so many different meanings to different people. In the excerpt you shared above, you make a distinction between pre-lapsarian human nature and fallen human nature. This causes some cognitive dissonance for me. Are you saying that our nature has changed since the Fall? Is human nature different from what it once was? Wouldn’t that mean that Christ does not actually share the same nature as us?

    I thought the Orthodox teaching was that our nature remained the same after Adam sinned. Human nature did not change, but instead we are living in an un-natural state of corruption and sin, both of which are contrary to our nature. That has always made so much sense to me because nature, when the word is used properly (I think), means the way a thing is and was designed to be in the mind of God (similar to Plato’s ideal forms). Sin and corruption breaches in the natural order. They are by definition unnatural. So how can they be a part of human nature? For the same reason, we know that evil is not a substance but is the absence of good. If it were a substance, it would have to have a nature, and that would be paradoxical since evil has no place in God’s created order. At least, this is what I have been led to understand.

    Am I misusing the word nature, or am I misunderstanding Orthodox theology (or both)?Believe it or not, I’ve been talking to a lot of people about human nature recently, so I would really appreciate it if you could to set me straight on this.



    1. Speaking of a “fallen nature” does not mean that human nature changed into something else. Indeed, “fallen” is a great word because it expresses the idea of continuity (it is the same nature) yet distortion (it is fallen, but not destroyed). The problem comes when “fallen” is understood to mean “totally depraved.”

      “Prelapsarian” refers to the undistorted state of human nature prior to the Fall. It does not mean that there is some other human nature that ceased to exist when mankind fell.

  6. I look forward to the revised book and podcast. Since I’m on the road a lot for my job, the podcast played an important role in my conversion to Orthodoxy. It was difficult for me at times to hear you challenge ideas I’d held since childhood, but it was what I needed.

  7. Fr. Bless!
    Before I go on to the main point of my comment, I must first thank you for your ministry. I have listened to a good amount of your podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio. I am a regular listener to your weekly podcast, Roads from Emmaus, and I have enjoyed Introduction to God and am currently reading your first edition of Orthodox and Heterodoxy. Thank you for being a willing vessel of God, so that through you, he might bless others.

    I am also very excited that you will be updating both your podcast and your book version of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy!

    I am not exaggerating in saying that the excerpt you gave of the second edition of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy has rocked my world, and left me confused (and somewhat shocked); because what you said seems to go directly against the conclusions I have been coming to on this subject. If you could spare me a few moments I’d like to briefly explain what I mean. But I want to make clear that I am in no way trying to convince you of anything or argue. I want to be corrected. Not to correct you.

    Over the past couple of months I have been coming to the conclusion that the Immaculate Conception of Mary was a Christological heresy, not because I thought it compromised the true humanity of Christ, but because it made the human nature of Christ prelapsarian by the prelapsarian flesh of the virgin Mary. The logic that led me to this conclusion goes as follows: the Orthodox Church holds to the doctrine of St. Gregory of Nazianus “that which is not assumed is not healed.” If the divine person of Christ did not take on his flesh from fallen humanity, (in other words, attain his human nature from a person who was fallen) he did not truly become what we are so that we might become what he is, or in the words of saint Paul, become sin so that we might become God’s righteousness.
    If it is true that the Orthodox Church teaches “that the sanctification that occurred at the Annunciation was both to make her womb prepared to bear God and also so that [here’s my problem] the human nature assumed by Christ would be prelapsarian (i.e., before the fall of mankind)…” then how can I say that Christ divinized/healed human nature in his incarnation, life, death and resurrection, if human nature was already in a sense healed by Mary’s purification? Doesn’t this put him in a separate category from all of us? Because if he does not assume everything that we are, including our fallen reality, how can it be healed?

    I am also confused by this paragraph: “Christ, like His mother, suffered the effects of fallen human nature (such as hunger, fatigue, etc.), but did not commit any personal sins. He did all of this of His own free will, however, and not from necessity, because His human nature was prelapsarian.”
    How can he “suffer, the effects of sin” but still have a prelapsarian nature by simply willing? This seems like a metaphysical contradiction. If a nature is not broken, how can it act broken?

    Are there any books, articles, podcasts, etc. that you recommend that could help me understand this teaching better?

    I hope I have made my thoughts clear–please forgive me if I have not.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. There is a lot that could be said here, but it’s worth noting that a whole book has been written to address this: http://www.orthodoxwitness.org/jesus-fallen-the-human-nature-of-christ-examined-from-an-eastern-orthodox-perspective

      I haven’t read it, so I can’t comment on its contents. You can see many excerpts from that site, however, by clicking the image with “look inside” on it.

      That said, I think it probably suffices to say that Orthodox tradition is emphatic that Christ’s passion and death were voluntary. If He were fallen, however, they most assuredly would not have been voluntary but according to necessity. Instead of being the Redeemer, He would have needed redemption Himself. Likewise, it would make no sense for Basil to write “The Author of Life could not be held by corruption” in his anaphora if Christ were actually subject to corruption by being fallen.

      The Virgin’s Mary’s deification at the Annunciation does not heal all of human nature, just its fallenness as expressed in her own hypostasis.

      I think where you may be going awry here is in thinking that fallen human nature is its own thing. But fallenness is not a thing but rather a mode of the living out of the nature. The unfallen human nature Christ assumes is the same human nature that is fallen in the rest of us. (Deification is also a mode of the living out of nature.)

      This is, in any event, a topic of much debate these days, especially outside of Orthodoxy. My understanding of the full debate is limited, but my impression is that the key lies in Maximos the Confessor’s Christology, especially concerning the human will of Christ, which he emphatically says is unfallen. If His will was fallen (because it is a property of nature), then we would have to say that Christ tended toward sin–God forbid!

      I hope someone else who knows more about this will comment here.

      1. Fr. Andrew’s summary is correct. There are three categories: nature, person and mode. Confusingly, in both the Greek and Latin traditions (particularly before Chalcedon) each of these categories could be referred to by the term “nature” (physis and natura, respectively).

        Adam was a person who instantiated human nature. This is true just as much before the fall as afterwards. That is to say, Adam was created a human person and after the fall he remained a human person. By his sin he did not become something different than a human. Thus, his nature did not change. What changed was his mode. Put another way, Adam’s sin did not change *that* (nature) he was a human but rather it changed *how* (mode) he was a human.

        St. Gregory’s maxim is completely true, but refers to nature not mode. That is, Christ must have all the constituent parts of a human being. For instance, all humans have a body therefore Christ must have a body. However, it is not necessary that all humans struggle with a tendency toward sin. If such were true, then in the eschaton we would either cease to be human or we would enter an eternal cycle of falls and redemptions (Origenism).

        Thus, to conclude, we inherit a postlapsarian, disordered mode of human existence from Adam. Christ assumes the prelapsarian, ordered mode of human existence from Mary because of the virginal conception. However, he *chooses* to experience the consequences of the postlapsarian mode without himself possessing it. This is the very thing that makes him an intercessor and sacrifice. Summed up, this schema is the ontology of the paschal lamb: one who takes the consequences of sin without the sin itself.

        Now, the question of the Immaculate Conception is somewhat orthogonal. It certainly has a history in the Greek tradition — most notably in St. Gregory Palamas. However, I think the greatest difficulty is that the current definition (contained in Ineffabilis Deus) raises more questions than it provides answers to. For instance, if Mary is born “preserved free from all stain of original sin,” then why does she die? Another question is, if God can preserve Mary, why does he not preserve all humanity? Some notable Catholic theologians are asking these very questions; so Orthodox are not alone in this endeavor. I think considering these questions together provides an opportunity for positive ecumenical development. See, for instance, the work of Latin theologian (and Byzantanist) Fr. Christiaan Kappes. http://www.amazon.com/The-Immaculate-Conception-Eugenicus-Professed/dp/1601140681

        1. Nathaniel,

          Christopher Veniamin states that Sts. Nicholas Cabasilas and Gregory Palamas did not hold to the Immaculate Conception. I consider his testimony to be a weighty one since he translated all of Palamas’ sermons into English. His belief is that there are indeed certain phrases that can appear to teach the Immaculate Conception but there remains drastic differences in the fundamental theology that serves as the basis for Orthodox and 13th century scholastic RCC theology. Fr. Florovsky, V. Lossky and Met. Kallistos have the same conclusion. I’m just a little surprised that you’ve embraced that St. Gregory Palamas taught the Immaculate Conception so assuredly.

          St. Gregory Palamas:

          If He had been conceived from seed, He would not have been a new man, nor sinless, nor the Savior of sinners… If the conception of God had been from seed, He would not have been a new man, or the author of new life that will never grow old. If He were from the old stock and inherited it’s sin, He would not have been able to bear within Himself the fullness of the incorruptible Godhead or to make His flesh an inexhaustible source of sanctification, able to wash away even the defilement of our First Parents by its abundant power, and sufficient to sanctify all who came after them.” (Homily 14.5)

        2. Nathanial,

          Thanks for your thoughts on this subject.
          I just sent another comment to Fr. Andrew. If you have any thoughts on my question about Mary, I would love to hear them. Thanks.

      2. Fr. Andrew,
        Thank you for the book recommendation. I will be reading it soon.

        It is probably no coincidence you mention St. Maximus’ teaching on Christ having no gnomic will. I just recently started looking into that subject in depth. It didn’t quite work with my incarnational theology. But works much better with what you are saying.

        Indeed, I thought of prelapsarian human nature as something different–not unhuman, but to be compared to the resurrected state to come.

        Also, am I correct in understanding your comment about Mary to mean that her person was healed/deified, but her body was not, which is why she died? So when Christ was concieved, his humanity was taken from her fallen flesh. But made prelapsarian because of the divine hyposteses of Christ and not Mary’s flesh–which was still subject to corruption? And Mary was able to bear this composite human-divine, prelapsarian person because her hypostasis was completely healed?


        1. H. Ian Attila,
          Pre-fallen Adam was immortal but not divinized. Following St Maximos we know that Christ’s death conquered sin, Christ’s resurrection conquered death, but it was Christ’s incarnation that overcame man’s created nature. Pre-fallen man had one problem in his relation to union with God, namely, being a creature. Fallen man has three problems: creation, sin, and death. Pre-fallen Adam needed only to united himself to the Incarnate Word for deification; presumably the Son would become incarnate even if man has not sinned (in the West, this is the Franciscan position of Scotus, etc.). Pre-fallen man, though immortal, was not divinized — clearly not, since he did in fact sin.

          According to St Gregory Palamas, Mary was already pre-purified at the time of the Annunciation. The overshadowing of the Holy Spirit cleansed more even more. The human nature that the Word assumed from Mary was either purified already by the action of the Spirit (Eastern view) or was preserved from sin in view of the merits of Christ (Western dogma).

          1. Alienus,

            You’re missing something very important; there are other ‘options’ than the two you present. The human nature of the Word, according to Sts. Athanasius, Cyril and Maximos, to name but a few, was immediatedly deified at the very moment it came into being because it is the very Body of the Logos Himself. He cleansed it the moment He enhypostasized it.

          2. Here is an example from St. Cyril’s First Letter to Succensus:

            [I]t was necessary that the Word of God should be incarnated for the salvation of us who are on this earth. This was so he could make his own that human flesh which was subject to corruption and sick with its desires, and destroy corruption within it since he is Life and Life-giver, bringing its innate sensual impulses to order. This was how the sin that lay within it was to be put to death . . . From the time that human flesh became the personal flesh of the Word it has ceased to be subject to corruption, and since he who dwelt within it, and revealed it as his very own, knew no sin being God, as I have already said, it has also ceased to be sick with its desires.

  8. Fr. Andrew, Nathaniel and Ian:

    Re. Immaculate Conception and pre/post lapsarian human nature:

    Very enlightening discussion!

    Thank you.


  9. Father Andrew-

    I thoroughly enjoyed your original podcast series and am looking forward to listening to the 2.0 version.

    One thing that I noticed back in the original and is reiterated in the 2.0 version is the Catholic doctrine regarding indulgences. There seems to be a misunderstanding regarding the time affixed to any individual indulgence. This time does not actually reflect any “time out of purgatory” since the Catholic church admits and teaches that there is no time as we know it in Eternity. Rather the time was meant to indicate a certain length of a penance that would have been performed in the early Church when penances were much more severe. So for example an indulgence of “5 years” does not mean 5 years out of Purgatory, but rather that is the equivalent of a 5 year penance for performing that specific act:


    1. You’re right, but “time” in purgatory is indeed the language that was formerly commonly used (the 1913 Catholic Encylopedia, for instance, refers to its “duration”), which was corrected in the 20th c. along the lines you mention. That said, purgatory is still said in the CCC to refer to “temporal punishment.” So the basic problem still remains.

      This is all explicitly mentioned in a section which has not aired as yet. Here’s a sneak preview:

      For Rome, the doctrine and practice of indulgences are “closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of penance” (CCC, 1471), which, as we saw above is understood as synonymous with “satisfaction” (CCC, 1459). Indulgences are traditionally obtained in terms of a certain amount of time out of purgatory. While such strictly temporal definitions have been corrected in twentieth century reforms to refer to the spiritual effect of a certain amount of time spent in penance, the quantification of indulgences still prevails, and the language of “temporal punishment” also still remains.

      So what’s happened is that the connection between indulgences and purgatory in terms of time has been made less direct. Indulgences function in terms of the time spent in penance to rid oneself of temporal punishment (CCC, 1471), and purgatory is a place of temporal punishment, but the precise “exchange rate,” so to speak, is not directly correlated any longer.

      It’s not clear that there ever was any official direct correlation, but that was definitely the popular understanding among Catholics. The ODCC, for instance, notes that the initial development of the doctrine of purgatory was taught in the 12th c. to be in terms of “completing” penances that were still in process in the earthly life.

      The core problem is really the “temporal punishment” for sin, which is still due to those who are forgiven. Until that teaching is let go, the “time out of purgatory” issue will haunt the purgatory/indulgences model.

      1. Father Andrew-

        Thank you for the clarification. I’m looking forward to future installments.

  10. Dear father Andrew

    I’ve been wondering why you don’t comment – at least not in the old series and book, and in the new podcasts I’ve heard so far – on the split between the Oriental Orthodox and ourselves.

    In many ways this split is just as tragical if not more so than the split with Rome, since the OO seem to be very close to us in many ways. More so, I would argue, than Rome.
    Could you explain your reasons?

    Thank you

    1. I added slightly more this time around, but I’m still opting not to treat this subject with any detail. Why?

      For one thing, theological dialogues between the EO and OO have not concluded. For another, though, there are a good many theologians within the EO who are convinced that the OO are not actually the same as us on Christology. Florovsky, for instance, famously regarded the RCC as dogmatically closer to us because of our shared conciliar tradition.

      Further, friends of mine who have studied these things in detail tell me that there is a huge variety within the OO communion. They are not all on the same page as each other. Even the Copts, who are perhaps best known to the EO, have their own internal controversies, e.g., regarding theosis, which the previous Coptic pope rejected (he also famously wrote that we do not receive Christ’s divinity in the Eucharist), which put him at odds with Matthew the Poor and others.

      So, in short, it is an enormous can of worms that I don’t feel qualified to open — significantly because most of the sources are in languages that I can’t read. I don’t know how to assess the situation, but I am definitely not one of those who thinks communion between the EO and OO should be a done deal. There’s a lot of work yet to do, and I have been told that the dialogues papered over a lot of it, which is now coming to haunt them.

      1. Fr. Andrew,

        Fr. Florovsky, while stating his own theological reasons in print, also followed the example of St. Philaret of Moscow, whom he quoted in ‘Ways of Russian Theology’: “Placing the Papal Church on the same level as the Armenian Church is cruel and useless.” In the Protocols of the ROCOR Council of Bishops of 1953, Met. Anastassy states one of the reasons WHY St. Philaret felt this way: “When Metropolitan Philaret was asked about the Catholics, he said: ‘How can I judge a Church which the entire Ecumenical Council did not judge?'”

        The various groups of the Miaphysites and the men they venerate as Saints have been condemned by name in the Ecumenical Councils, the Canons, the Divine Services and the writings of ancient and contemporary Saints. It’s not the case that our dogmatic tradition is “up in the air” awaiting scholarship on this issue; although I definitely respect your pastoral intentions, we can speak definitively from our dogmatic tradition for the benefit of Orthodox who are confused on this issue. And there are definitely some who are confused… I was, but I have found the true Faith.

  11. Sadly the previous edition doesn’t appear to be in my local library system.
    As a Mormon my understanding of the Gospel has been greatly enriched by the things I have learned from studying the faith and doctrine and witness of Christ through the Orthodox Church and I look forward to what I will learn from this comparative study.

    However, based on the podcast segment in which you address my church I do hope you have done some major revision as there were a number of painful inaccuracies in that presentation. The interpretation you present of the conception of Christ, for example, is a wild misinterpretation of statements made to address a compleatly different point, and is neither believed or taught by anybody I know, or know of.

    That said, I found the opening chapters available on the website a beautify clear exposition of principles I heartily agree with and look forward to learning more from the full book and podcast.

    Also, I do hope you will take the opportunity to attend the open house of the Temple we are building in Philadelphia which should be complete late next year.


    … Truthfully, You are such a great orator and storyteller! i immediately bought your book when it first came out and downloaded all the podcasts in July 2013 when i first stumbled upon “eastern orthodoxy” for the first time. not realizing that i had already ran into it in snippets here and there, totally unaware.. completely unaware..

    thank you Fr. Andrew!

    Matthew Salih

    1. Matthew,

      Ha! That’s exactly how I felt about it when I first heard the series and read the book.

      Fr. Andrew,

      Is there an O & H multi-volume encyclopedia in the works?!

  13. I’m excited to read this book. Any word on a release date for the revised edition, or is it listed & I just missed it? 🙂

    My husband (a former Mormon) & I (a non-denominational Protestant) went to a Word of Faith Bible school, and almost immediately upon graduating (18 months ago) discovered Orthodoxy & fell in love with it. We know we’ll eventually convert, but due to our current involvement in ministry are unable to do so right now. But we’ll actually be attending the pre-Lenten retreat you’ll be speaking at in Idaho next month, and are very much looking forward to that. It will also be our first opportunity to attend Divine Liturgy! We can’t wait. Thank you for doing all of this research and sharing the podcasts as well! They’re so helpful as we continue – and begin – this journey.

    1. Brittany,

      Would that be Rhema Bible Training Center? Just curious. I grew up near there and attended in RBTC in South Africa.

  14. Father, will the owners of the 1.0 ebook get upgraded to 2.0 or will they need to re-purchase it?

  15. I’m excited about this, as well. I’d love to hear some Orthodox commentary on the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith movement.

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