This is a question that every convert to Eastern Orthodoxy always asked. The question can be stated differently: Does the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin include Original Guilt? Fr. John Romanides famously distinguish Ancestral Sin from St. Augustine's Original Sin, claiming the later was erroneously introducing Manichaean view of Original Guilt into Latin theology. Fr. Vladimir Moss wrote extensively to show why the doctrine of Original Sin is Apostolic in origin and dogmatically sound in Orthodoxy. To further clarify why original sin and ancestral sin are not substantially different? It's important to address what is the difference between Original Sin and later theological development from Protestant on Original Guilt?

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    I think there's a great question in here, as the doctrine of original sin is not as, well, original, as many contemporary Christians would believe. But I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what you're asking.
    – Flimzy
    Feb 17, 2015 at 16:36
  • If you search Christianity.SE there have been mass confusion among people when describing Catholic view of original sin. I ask this question to clarify that original sin has nothing to do with guilt. Adam's decendants are not guilty of his sin but burdened by the penalty of his sin. As an Eastern Catholic we believe Christ share the same fallen human nature from Theotokos. This can't be the case if sin and guilt are conflated. Because Christ would be a sinner. In Catholic and Orthodox we distinguish sin from guilt. This is why all newly born babies are guiltless. Feb 17, 2015 at 18:12
  • @AdithiaKusno. Can you please post a full answer. Feb 17, 2015 at 18:41
  • @gideonmarx I can but I prefer answer from others. You can check a link (the last one) to my answer on another similar question. You can comment on that one if it's not clear. Feb 17, 2015 at 19:15
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    This question seems fine to me as well, but it looks like you know exactly what answer you're looking for, and what details would make for an acceptable one. In this case, I really think it would be better for you to answer it yourself. Feb 20, 2015 at 7:14

4 Answers 4


There isn't a Catholic definition of guilt, therefore the Catholic understanding of guilt is how it is often understood:

"That state of a moral agent which results from his commission of a crime or an offense wilfully or by consent" - cf. guilt (n.) | Online Etymology Dictionary.

There is a Catholic definition of sin:

113. What is sin?
Sin is an offense against God, by any thought, word, deed or omission against the law of God. - cf. re Article 10 of Apostle's Creed | Penny Catechism.

And of Original Sin:

115. What is original sin?
Original sin is that guilt and stain of sin which we inherit from Adam, who was the origin and head of all mankind. - cf. re Article 10 of Apostle's Creed | Penny Catechism.

In other words:

Original sin is that state resulting from the sin committed and stain of sin which we inherit from Adam, when he sinned by disobeying God's Commandment. Cf. (CCC 396-409).


First a little anecdote from an 81 year old human, male by design and orientation. Met a lady once who was taught by her mother that using of two leaves of toilet paper simultaneously was both wasteful and environmentally inappropriate. Mother's wrath was unrelenting. Whenever she used two, her guilt was quite profound. She had inherited the definition: wrong, 'sinful' and naughty in this speciality, but not any compulsion to use two leaves. Thus guilt is taught relative to any act perceived to be sinful by her teacher/mother.

In this manner sin and guilt are melded into one unholy whole.

Original sin was indeed an Original all others but inferior copies. However sages wish to construe it, I and every other dweller on our beautiful earth cannot even begin to copy that original, I mean, where is that tree now? Note also that the Tree of Life was accessible to Adam and his lovely wife right from the very beginning for them to eat - just check out Genesis yourself. God never tabooed it. The word 'also' in Genesis 3:22 does not appear in the original text according to Strong, other than in the King James and other translations he used, but if indeed it were in the base Hebrew text, 'again' is its 'legal' synonym.

Sin and Guilt are not inherited biblically or scientifically, as in human anatomy and physiology, for they are both taught to exist by the teachers of that great amalgam of Church and state, more particularly since that great Roman amalgamator Constantine.

As for the bible: there is Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. KJV

And then there is the entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 to make the point.

AHHHH, but then one of your great scholars out there in this church/state amalgam will with profound pride and conviction retort with 1 John 1:8-10: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Just as it is with reference to Isaiah 53, one needs to be aware who John is addressing in his Epistle. Isaiah was writing to: Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil–doers, children that deal corruptly! they have forsaken Jehovah, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are estranged and gone backward. Isaiah 1:4 - ASV.

John was writing to the little flock to be given the kingdom (Luke 12:32) who had just come out of redeemed Israel. Audience relevance is the key for the proper ID to know how to fix the alleged sin/guilt dichotomy and who is to do what and why. Only those who had Law could possibly sin against it. Only Israel had Law! Behold Romans 4:15; 5:13 and verse 12 in that context! Perhaps this page on my website: http://www.sanctifyname.com/pronouns.html might be of some value.

I hope this helps to discern that sin and guilt are inseparable and both are acquired through learning.

Thanks, Dieter


Right from the beginning Adam and Eve felt Guilt, such shame that they covered their nakedness with aprons made of fig leaves even before God made himself present. When the Lord approached, the couple now clothed in fig leaf aprons, they hid, the excuse given was that they were ashamed of their nakedness even though by their own efforts where now covered. When the Lord God called to Adam, he asked, “Where are you” as if it were even possible that god did not know where he was, if it was possible this would be an understandable question as the couple were hiding, but he did know. The question he was actually asking was “Where are you in relation to me?” God knowing all things was well aware of the physical location of both Adam and Eve. Even being clothed with an apron the 1st Son of God was still naked as his guilt and disgrace of his sin exposed him as if he were naked before God. (Genesis 3)

The difference between original sin and original Guilt is the knowledge of sinning, which both of our first parents had, this knowledge gave them original guilt. Without knowledge there is no Guilt but there is damage, damage that separates us from original Justice with God. The actions of our first parents were a choice, removing us from that original Justice and by not living in that state of Justice we deny our children the knowledge of it. So we passed on, through our fathers a condition of not knowing a state of Justice before God and in turn, living in sin. God teaches us, through his commandments what sin is and how we are to repent of it, through faith in God and obedience of that faith, Faith that includes Worship, but not any worship, worship that is only for God, worship that includes sacrifice.

So do we carry the weight of guilt associated with original sin? If we are not properly catechized we do not have knowledge of original justice or original sin and so we don’t have original guilt. Having no knowledge of sin frees us from the guilt of that sin, yet the inequity of sin and the damage of sin still remains with us, and we are guilty unless by the Grace of God we are Water Baptized in the Name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. This action done to us, a visible sign of a spiritual (not metaphorical) reality, not of our own works but the works of Christ on the Cross, frees us from the guilt and punishment and reunites us to God. This is a one-time occurrence in the life of a Christian. It is a complete and total Grace that each and every one of us should be thankful for. After being restored however, we are responsible for living righteously increasing the sanctification of our flesh caused by the damage of our sins which if left to continue in the life of a Christian will lead once again to death. Repeating the same act of disobedience as our first parants Genesis 3, and removing us once again from Gods Justice. (Romans 6:19, Romans 8:12-17)

Additional discussion relates to this topic:

The 3 fold nature of sin (Gen 3:6, Luke 4, Math 4, 1 Jon 2:16)

The entrance into Gods Davidic Kingdom, present in heaven and now on earth. (Gospels)

The gifts, (Mysteries) that he provided for our Justification and continued Sanctification.

The Nature of what it means to be “In Messiah” or “In Christ Jesus”

Types of sins CCC section 8, article 4 (1852)

The different ways in which Christ can Baptize us.


Christianity is utterly incoherent without Original sin (Jesus saved us! From what?).

Ancestral sin is Original sin. Ancestral sin is the sin of the ancestors, as the Original sin is a sin from our origins (it can also be understood as the origin of sin itself too though).

Some Orthodox think that Catholics believe that all unbaptised humans are guilty of the Original sin, which is not true. Rather, we believe that we inherently the guilt of the sin, which is very different (the difference between the Latin word culpa and reatus.). And that's just one type of formation (the analogy that St. Augustine used to describe Original sin).

The problem is that the English word "guilt" has changed its meaning slightly since the Council of Trent. I think the better way of explaining St. Augustine and Trent is by saying that "Adam is at fault for the Original sin, and his Children inherented the consequences."

The definition of Original sin in the broadest sense (regardless on what analogy you wish to use) is the absence of Original Grace, and these concepts are straight out of St. Athanasius's On the Incarnation (another big influence on the Western view of Original Sin along with St. Augustine), which can be found here: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/history/ath-inc.htm#ch_1_5

We saw in the last chapter that, because death and corruption were gaining ever firmer hold on them, the human race was in process of destruction. Man, who was created in God's image and in his possession of reason reflected the very Word Himself, was disappearing, and the work of God was being undone. The law of death, which followed from the Transgression, prevailed upon us, and from it there was no escape. The thing that was happening was in truth both monstrous and unfitting. It would, of course, have been unthinkable that God should go back upon His word and that man, having transgressed, should not die; but it was equally monstrous that beings which once had shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption. It was unworthy of the goodness of God that creatures made by Him should be brought to nothing through the deceit wrought upon man by the devil; and it was supremely unfitting that the work of God in mankind should disappear, either through their own negligence or through the deceit of evil spirits. As, then, the creatures whom He had created reasonable, like the Word, were in fact perishing, and such noble works were on the road to ruin, what then was God, being Good, to do? Was He to let corruption and death have their way with them? In that case, what was the use of having made them in the beginning? Surely it would have been better never to have been created at all than, having been created, to be neglected and perish; and, besides that, such indifference to the ruin of His own work before His very eyes would argue not goodness in God but limitation, and that far more than if He had never created men at all. It was impossible, therefore, that God should leave man to be carried off by corruption, because it would be unfitting and unworthy of Himself.

Yet, true though this is, it is not the whole matter. As we have already noted, it was unthinkable that God, the Father of Truth, should go back upon His word regarding death in order to ensure our continued existence. He could not falsify Himself; what, then, was God to do? Was He to demand repentance from men for their transgression? You might say that that was worthy of God, and argue further that, as through the Transgression they became subject to corruption, so through repentance they might return to incorruption again. But repentance would not guard the Divine consistency, for, if death did not hold dominion over men, God would still remain untrue. Nor does repentance recall men from what is according to their nature; all that it does is to make them cease from sinning. Had it been a case of a trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough; but when once transgression had begun men came under the power of the corruption proper to their nature [My Note: Original sin] and were bereft of the grace [My Note: Original Grace: a share in the Divine Life] which belonged to them as creatures in the Image of God. No, repentance could not meet the case. What—or rather Who [My Note: Jesus Christ! That's Who!] was it that was needed for such grace and such recall as we required? Who, save the Word of God Himself, Who also in the beginning had made all things out of nothing? His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.

The "law of death" and "corruption" and "Transgression" St. Athanasius is writing about is Original sin. Original sin is Patristic.

Christi pax.

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