Several years ago, when I was first coming back to Christianity after many years of being an atheist, I was extremely fond of the writings of Dr. Joel Anderson over at Resurrecting Orthodoxy, especially his work on Adam and Eve, the Fall, original sin, and so on. This is because one of the main reasons why I left Christianity in the first place was over the issue of evolution vs creation. Growing up as the son of two very educated and scientifically minded parents, I was taught the “evolutionary worldview” as a kid, something that made me even want to become a paleontologist when I was young! I remember very vividly being yelled at by my Baptist Sunday school teachers for bringing in dinosaur toys to class, and I was always really confused whenever they would tell me the earth was 6,000 years old, and humans lived with dinosaurs-that’s not what the TV people told me! One day I even told my dad that the Sunday school he had sent my sister and I to taught us that the earth was 6,000 years old, and he and my mom both agreed to pull us out of those classes immediately, not wanting our minds to be “corrupted” by young earth creationism. Thus it should come as no surprise that, when I was introduced to “New Atheism” on YouTube during my middle school years, and they kept hammering this point about evolution against Christianity, I was easily hooked and abandoned my faith, not even really thinking twice about it. 

This is why, as I’ve described in great detail before, I was so attracted to Orthodoxy and Catholicism when I decided to start taking my faith seriously again. Here, I thought, there were rational Christians who understood that Genesis isn’t meant to be taken as literal history, but is rather just meant to teach us theological truths about God, the world, ourselves, and so on. This view, which I now think is completely wrong, is most prominently upheld in the Orthodox world today by the biblical scholar Dr. Joel Anderson, whose work will be the main subject of critique in this article. Although Dr. Anderson has written a lot on this topic, I’m going to focus on two article series of his: Adam, Augustine, and the Doctrine of original sin (parts 1-3), and Irenaeus of Lyon, and the Early Church’s Teaching of Adam and Eve (parts 1-2). Throughout these writings, I’m afraid that Dr. Anderson completely misunderstands and misrepresents the Orthodox teaching on original sin, the Fall, creation, sexuality, and marriage, all while claiming to speak for the Orthodox Church. 

I want to make it clear from the outset here that I have no animosity towards Dr. Anderson as an individual, I’m sure he has the best of intentions with what he’s trying to do and, as someone who used to be a theistic evolutionist myself, I can completely understand where he’s coming from. Rather, because Dr. Anderson and I are brothers in Christ’s Body the Church, this article is my attempt to speak the truth in love and offer a charitable critique in order that the words of Psalm 133 may be fulfilled, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” With that, let’s begin.

There is a very striking pattern I’ve seen among those who critique traditional Christian beliefs: they all seem to hate St. Augustine! Although I wouldn’t say Dr. Anderson hates our Father among the Saints, blessed Augustine, he definitely seems to take issue with this great doctor of the Church. As Dr. Anderson rightly notes, if the “Augustinian” doctrine of original sin is correct, then evolution “throws a monkey wrench” into the whole biblical narrative, because if there was no Adam and Eve who really fell, then from whom exactly do we inherit original sin? Thus, Anderson is hellbent on proving the “heretical” nature of this doctrine. He begins by quoting the crypto-Marcionite biblical scholar Peter Enns in support of several propositions against “Augustinian” original sin, which we can break down one by one. 

The first claim is that “Inherited sin is not one of the stated curses on Adam [in the Bible].” Such an idea simply stems from a failure to read the Genesis story as a single narrative. As I’ve described in detail before, although it’s true that God does not explicitly say “I am condemning your descendants” in the curses of Genesis 3, this is explicitly said just a few chapters later when the Fall narrative is recapitulated in the story of Noah and Ham. Given Anderson is familiar with the work of excellent scholars like Peter Leithart (a fellow young earth creationist), I’m going to assume he already has a basic grasp of many of these concepts: the primary sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 was eating from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The knowledge of good and evil refers to the knowledge that kings exercise in order to govern their people (cf. 1 Kings 3). Thus, Genesis starts with an abuse of the knowledge of good and evil in the failed attempt of Adam and Eve to exalt themselves to kingship, yet it ends with the story of Joseph who humbles himself, only to get exalted to royal status in the house of Pharaoh, thereby properly wielding kingship, i.e. the knowledge of good and evil: “you meant it for evil but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). 

Why am I bringing this up when discussing the biblical teaching of original sin? It’s in order to illustrate how exactly the story of Noah and Ham is a re-telling of the Fall narrative: In Genesis 9, Noah plants a garden, has the power of life and death, and issues blessings and curses just as God did in Genesis 1-3, and just like Adam, Ham rises up against the authority of his father by trying to steal kingship from him. What was Ham’s sin? He “saw the nakedness of his father” rather than clothing him. As in the story of Joseph and many other places in Scripture, robes represent royalty, and by refusing to give back to Noah that which was owed to him (i.e. his robes), Ham was indeed attempting to usurp the royal authority of his father, just like Adam did. And just as God condemned Adam for his rebellion, so also did Noah condemn Ham, but here’s where things get interesting: it wasn’t simply Ham who was being condemned for his own sin, rather the curse of slavery that Noah issued was against the descendents of Ham. It hardly needs to be mentioned that Scripture consistently associates slavery with “the bondage of sin” (Galatians 5:2, John 8:34, Romans 6:20), and when we consider this in light of Genesis 9’s connection to Genesis 3, the point becomes abundantly clear: It wasn’t just Adam and Eve who were condemned to the slavery of sin and death because of their transgression, but it was also their descendants who are condemned for this transgression, which is why we see the very curses put on Adam and Eve (death, labors, birth pains, etc.) slowly creep up on the rest of the human family throughout salvation history, a clear example of “the iniquities of a father being visited upon his children” (Leviticus 26:39, Deuteronomy 5:9). Thus, the idea that Adam and Eve’s descendants were not cursed along with them is completely unfaithful to the biblical text.

With that out of the way, let’s dive a little deeper into the actual doctrine of original sin itself. If you were to ask me if Dr. Anderson actually has a proper understanding of this doctrine, I’d have to say he doesn’t; either that, or he intentionally misrepresents it. This becomes evident given the fact that the rest of the arguments against original sin that Anderson cites from Peter Enns revolve around the idea that in the Old Testament, people are never held responsible for the sins of others: Adam isn’t punished for the murder of Cain, nor is he held responsible for the flood, and so on. However, as I’ve explained at length in a previous article, while it’s true that Scripture teaches that no one can be culpable for the sin of another (Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18:19-20), it’s also true that you can be held liable for the sins of others, thereby justly receiving their punishment, either directly or indirectly. We just saw this in the story of Noah and Ham: the descendents of Ham received the punishment (slavery) due to their father on account of his sin. This doesn’t mean that they were culpable for Ham’s sin, rather it means that, because children lawfully receive unmerited inheritances from their parents (either good or bad), those whose parents are in a state of slavery are themselves also born into this state, and thus they are liable/subject to the punishment that was originally given to their parents. And this is essentially what original sin is: because Adam and Eve were punitively deprived of the presence of God, the one who is Life itself, they naturally tended towards death and corruption; and because the descendents of Adam and Eve (us) were born into this depraved state, we too tend towards death and corruption, which are things that lawfully exclude us from the presence of God until they are dealt with, and insofar as this is a reality, we are said to inherit the penalty that was originally given to Adam and Eve on account of their sin, hence “original sin.” In the words of the early Church Father St. Cyril of Alexandria:

Our nature contracted the disease of sin because of the disobedience of one man, that is Adam, and thus many became sinners. This was not because they sinned along with Adam, because they did not then exist, but because they had the same nature as Adam, which fell under the law of sin… the whole nature of man became guilty in the person of him who was first formed. (Quoted from Nathaniel McCallum, “Inherited Guilt in Ss. Augustine and Cyril.”)

So, contra Dr. Anderson, original sin is not God unjustly punishing us for the sin of Adam and Eve. Rather, God justly punished Adam and Eve for their own sin by excluding them from His presence, and because parents cannot give to children that which they do not have, we too are born into this state of being deprived of God’s presence, thereby experiencing the same punishment that was given to Adam and Eve, though indirectly. Perhaps an example could better explain this.

Consider the following scenario: let’s say a man received a very large sum of money as an inheritance from his father, and then this man goes on to have children with whom he shares this abundant inheritance. However one day, the man loses all of his money while out engaging in sinful activities, and as a result, not only is he forced into poverty, but his children are as well. In this case, were the man’s children being punished for the sinful behavior of their father, or were they simply experiencing the natural consequences of having a sinful parent? Obviously, it’s the latter, as it is with original sin. All talk of “guilt” and “punishment” in this context is, of course, analogical though not simply metaphorical, as we shall see further below.

Moreover, that Dr. Anderson misunderstands original sin is further seen in his absolutely un-Orthodox comments regarding marriage and sexuality. In part 2 of his article series on St. Augustine, Anderson attempts to explain away original sin by going on a long tirade about how early Christians were reacting very harshly against an extremely sexually immoral culture in ancient Rome, and this caused them to have very negative views towards marriage and sex, which tainted their view of the Fall. Anderson rightly notes how the Fathers of the Church condemned those who denied the intrinsic goodness of both of these things, however he argues that they didn’t go far enough:

At first, it seemed that Clement succeeded in defending the sanctity of marriage against heretical groups like the Encratists. But with a simple look at what transpired in the following centuries concerning Church teaching on sexuality and marriage, one can see that the spirit-matter dualism of Neo-Platonic thought continued to infect Christian theology. In short, Stoic thought had its foot in the door of Christian theology. In the following centuries, the thoughts of many early Church Fathers toward sexuality and marriage continued to become more and more pessimistic and negative… The passion and pleasure of sex was seen as a curse of original sin, and marriage was seen as instituted by God for those who were unable to renounce passion in their own lives. Gregory of Nyssa… believed that marriage was a consequence of sin, “a lesser evil which collaborates in the end with the reign of death because it constantly furnishes that kingdom with new occasions for triumph.” (Augustine and the Doctrine of Original Sin (Part 2): Background About the Ultimate STD)

As is clear, from the outset Anderson posits that the traditional Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality is wrong, and from this presupposition, he begins to attack St. Augustine: 

The problem with Augustine’s view of sexuality and marriage is that it is completely contradictory. He affirmed marriage and made it a sacrament, but then said that the passion that happens in sexual intercourse was a sign of original sin and evil. Then to top it off, he said that it was impossible to engage in sexual intercourse without, “shameful lusts.” In the end, even though marriage was a sacrament, sexual expression, even within marriage, was considered sinful and shameful… The result of all this was that even though marriage was held in high esteem, sexual pleasure, even within marriage, was considered shameful and a sign of sin. And therefore, the only purpose for sex was for the procreation of children, and not for pleasure. Sex, because it was pleasurable, was not considered spiritual. (Ibid.)

So let’s dissect Dr. Anderson’s attack on the Christian view of marriage and sexuality. First, he posits that it’s “contradictory” to uphold marriage as a holy sacrament, while at the same time suggesting that sexual intercorse is a “sign of sin,” however is this really the case? Anderson seems to think that the Fathers of the Church were getting their negative views of sex from pagan philosophy, and while it’s true that this may have had some influence on their thinking, it overlooks one pesky detail: they were actually getting this idea straight from the Old Testament. As I’ve noted before, all of the purity laws of Leviticus directly map onto specific curses from Genesis 3: things associated with death, animals associated with the serpent and the cursed ground, and birth pains, are all considered ritually impure, which doesn’t mean that these things are sinful, rather it just means that because they are corrupted results of the Fall (“signs of sin”), they cannot be in God’s presence, and this is why one must be clean of all impurity before entering into God’s presence (keep this point in mind). This is extremely important to understand because what else makes you ritually impure and thus not fit for God’s presence? According to Leviticus 15, having sexual relations with your wife results in impurity! Thus the Old Testament itself tells us that having sex with your wife, while not sinful, is still an impure result of the Fall and unworthy of God’s presence. This is why, to this day in the Orthodox Church, it’s canonically forbidden for clergy and laity alike to have sex before attending the Liturgy, because we uphold the Mosaic command of Exodus 19:15 for husbands “not to go near their wives” before entering into God’s holy place.

If Dr. Anderson really believes that God is the author of Exodus and Leviticus, would he posit that God contradicts Himself by, on the one hand, blessing the sacrament of marriage, while, on the other hand, considering sex impure? This rhetorical question is very relevant given the fact that Dr. Anderson also criticizes the view that marriage exists for the sake of those who cannot control their sexual lusts, yet does he realize that the Fathers who said this were merely repeating the teaching of St. Paul? 

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. […] Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.. (1 Corinthians 7:1-38)

St. Paul seems very clear that marriage exists as a concession to the weakness of man, to serve as a protection against fornication. He goes so far as to say that he wishes everyone could remain unmarried like he is, but he recognizes that not everyone can handle that, and so he encourages those who cannot control their lust to get married, affirming that while such a man “does right,” the man who remains unmarried “does better.” In Matthew 22:30, Jesus explains that in the age to come, there will be no more marriage and no more sex, a point that Paul alludes to by saying that those who are married cannot devote all of their attention to God, while those who are unmarried can focus entirely on heavenly things; and these are the ideas that laid the groundwork for the Orthodox teaching on virginity, namely that it is a superior state to marriage because of its reflection of the eschaton and its imitation of the earthly life of Christ, who Himself remained unmarried and taught His disciples “it is better not to marry” (Matthew 19). St. Paul takes this a step further by saying that even married couples should try to imitate the celibate life by refraining from sex “for the sake of prayer,” thus affirming the Mosaic principle that staying away from sex results in an elevated state of holiness and closeness to God. This is a teaching, by the way, that has been affirmed by just about every Orthodox saint, both ancient and modern, who has ever spoken on the topic, as well as by the corpus of our canon law. As the great canonist St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite writes:

The charisms and privileges of virginity are heavenly and superior, and have no comparison to marriage. For the divine Chrysostom stated in his oration concerning virginity, “Virginity surpasses marriage just as much as heaven is from the earth, and the angels from men”…Gregory the Theologian states in his epic poems that virgins imitate the virgin Holy Trinity, stand before the Lamb, and follow Him wherever He might lead (according to the fourteenth chapter of the Apocalypse). Virginity is united with wisdom, on which account also the latter embraced the same theologian while awake, like two very beautiful women. Virginity is so beautiful that marriage is useless without it. For Paul states that, “those who have wives must have them with as much chastity and virginity as if they did not have them at all.” Isidore of Pelusium also states, “Humanity is like the angels in its chastity, but marriage, is differed in no way from the beasts, for whom intercourse is necessity.” (Quoted from “Orthodox Canon Law” by Fr. Patrick Viscuso)

Thus it should be clear that, contra Dr. Anderson, the teaching that marriage, as it exists now, was created for the purpose of mitigating against sexual desires, which themselves are unworthy of the glory of Heaven (Heaven simply is God’s presence), and are thus impure (though not intrinsically sinful), is non-negotiable for faithful Christians.

And so, where does this leave Anderson’s critique of St. Augustine and original sin? In shambles. Anderson posits that, with this view of sex, Augustine argued that original sin was like a kind of “STD” that was transmitted from parents to their children, causing two outcomes that Anderson believes are outrageously incorrect, leading him to conclude that “the doctrine of original sin makes God unjust”:

Original pollution—everyone, by no choice of their own, is born into a sinful state, totally depraved, and totally unable to obey God’s laws. Everything in our nature is contaminated and polluted by sin from birth. This original pollution has been transmitted to everyone throughout history through propagation. 

Original guilt—everyone is guilty before God on three counts. Not only is each person guilty of his individual sins, but he is also guilty of Adam’s sin, as well as the person’s own sinful nature. Even though we were not there when Adam sinned, we were “in him” in so far as he was our natural head and first father. (The Problems with the Doctrine of Original Sin (Part 3))

Given Anderson torts these ideas as foolish, I have a question for him: Does he deny that we are born into a sinful state? If so, then he should be able to answer the argument that St. Augustine gave to Julian of Eclanum:

  1. All death is the result of some sin.
  2. Infants, who have no personal sins, are still subject to death.
  3. Thus, infants must have some sin that is not personal.
  4. This sin we call original sin.

Anderson will be forced to deny one of these premises in order to follow the semi-Pelagian heretics in denying the existence of original sin, and given he’s a theistic evolutionist, my gut tells me he would deny the first premise. However, if sin is not the cause of infants’ deaths, then what is? If there’s no personal or original sin that causes innocent infants to die, then the only conclusion we’re left to draw is that it’s God who kills them, something that explicitly contradicts the teaching of Wisdom 1:12-14 that “God did not create death.” Or perhaps Anderson would posit that death is just “part of nature,” however this just begs the question: who created nature this way? If the answer is God, then we run into the same problem; if the answer is someone or something else, then why aren’t we worshipping the Demiurge? The only other response would be to posit that fallen creation is co-eternal with God, a Neo-Platonist heresy that has been condemned by numerous Fathers and Ecumenical Councils (most notably St. Gregory Palamas in The 150 Chapters).

Furthermore, Anderson sets up a strawman by confusing original sin with the Protestant doctrine of “total depravity.” As I demonstrated at length above, all original sin entails is that we are liable to the punishments that were given to Adam and Eve, those being things like hard labor, pain, and ultimately death (it has nothing to do with the idea that we can never please God); and what’s super important to keep in mind about all of these things is that, as I explained in my comments on purity laws in Leviticus, all of these corruptions, while not sinful in and of themselves, nevertheless make us unworthy of God’s presence, and thus excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven until they are cleansed. If this wasn’t the case, then why, according to Anderson’s view, were the righteous of the Old Testament kept in Hell until the coming of Christ? Tradition holds that several of these men, including Prophet Jeremiah, had no personal sins, yet they were still denied entrance into Heaven until Jesus’ Harrowing of Hades; if there’s no such thing as original sin, why would this be the case?

Once this is understood, we can better understand what exactly is meant by “original guilt”: As explained above, it does not mean that the descendents of Adam are culpable of committing his sin and then subsequently punished for it (as Anderson suggests), rather it means that, because no one can merit entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, and because we receive the fallen inheritance that Adam has lawfully given to us as our forefather (an inheritance that naturally entails exclusion from Heaven), God is not actively punishing us for a sin we didn’t commit, rather we are being held liable to the consequences of this punishment on account of our descent from Adam, and this depraved state is referred to as “guilt,” or a “guilty nature” in the above cited words of St. Cyril of Alexandria. In other words, this penalty is not a positive action but rather a negative one, meaning that God is not actively inflicting His wrath upon those with original sin, rather He is simply allowing us to fall away from that which was not owed to us in the first place, namely eternal Life, because (contra Pelagius) no man can merit an eternity with God. And so, when we understand original sin properly, it’s easy to see why all of Dr. Anderson’s accusations of it “making God unjust” fall flat.

With that in mind, let’s consider something Dr. Anderson stated in his first article: “the Eastern Orthodox Church tend[s] to shy away from the idea of ‘original sin,’ and instead prefers to talk about ‘ancestral sin.’” However, does the Orthodox Church really, as Anderson implies, have a different view of original sin than the West? Nope. It’s embarrassingly easy to find dogmatic decrees of the Orthodox Church that explicitly affirm the doctrine.

Starting with Councils that even Dr. Anderson will be forced to admit are dogmatically binding, we have the 6th Ecumenical Council, which itself ratified all of the canons of the Council of Carthage +419. Importantly, St. Augustine himself was at this Council, and it taught the following about original sin:

Likewise it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother’s wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which needs to be removed by the laver of regeneration, from whence the conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema. (Council of Carthage +419, Canon 110)

This is pretty straight forward: those who say infants don’t have original sin from Adam, and thus don’t need to be baptized, are condemned. At the end of the day we have to remind ourselves, why is Dr. Anderson really against the doctrine of original sin? It’s because of this very issue: original sin necessitates the existence of an historical Adam and an historical Fall event, something that Anderson himself agrees contradicts evolutionary theory, stating in his article on St. Augustine: “that the doctrine of original sin is incompatible with evolution… I’d have to agree.” This problem becomes even worse for Anderson when we get into more recent dogmatic proclamations of the Orthodox Church on this question. In 1642, the Orthodox Church spoke as with one voice in affirming the following:

As all Mankind, during the state of Innocence, was in Adam; so in him all Men, falling from what he fell, remained in a State of Sin. Wherefore Mankind is become, not only subject unto Sin, but also, on Account of Sin, unto Punishment; which, according to the Sentence pronounced of God, was (Gen. ii. 17), In the Day that thou eatest of the Tree, thou shalt surely die. And to this the Apostle alludes {Rom. v. 12), Wherefore as by one Man Sin entered into the World, and Death by Sin, and so Death passed upon all Men, for that all have sinned. So that we are conceived in our Mother’s Womb, and born in this Sin, according to the holy Psalmist (Psal. li. 7), Behold, I was shapen in Wickedness, and in Sin hath my Mother conceived me. This is called parental, or original Sin, first, because that, before this, Man was free from all Sin; although the Devil was then corrupt, and fallen, by whose Temptation this parental Sin sprang up in Man; and Adam becoming guilty, we all likewise, who descend from him, become also guilty. Secondly, this is called original Sin, because no Mortal is conceived without this Depravity of Nature. (Council of Jassy +1642, Question 24)

As is clear, like the Council of Carthage, the Council of Jassy simply assumes that Adam was an historical person from whom we all inherit original sin, which the Council says makes all of us “guilty” by virtue of our inheritance of a “depraved nature.” This same teaching on original sin was repeated just a few centuries later at the Council of Jerusalem +1672, which was called for the purpose of refuting Protestant heresies:

We believe the first man created by God to have fallen in Paradise, when, disregarding the Divine commandment, he yielded to the deceitful counsel of the serpent. And as a result hereditary sin flowed to his posterity; so that everyone who is born after the flesh bears this burden, and experiences the fruits of it in this present world. But by these fruits and this burden we do not understand [actual] sin, such as impiety, blasphemy, murder, sodomy, adultery, fornication, enmity, and whatever else is by our depraved choice committed contrarily to the Divine Will, not from nature. For many both of the Forefathers and of the Prophets, and vast numbers of others, as well of those under the shadow [of the Law], as well as under the truth [of the Gospel], such as the divine Precursor, and especially the Mother of God the Word, the ever-virgin Mary, did not experience these [sins], or such like faults. But only what the Divine Justice inflicted upon man as a punishment for the [original] transgression, such as sweats in labor, afflictions, bodily sicknesses, pains in child-bearing, and, finally, while on our pilgrimage, to live a laborious life, and lastly, bodily death […] Baptism is necessary even for infants, since they also are subject to original sin, and without Baptism are not able to obtain its remission. Which the Lord showed when he said, not of some only, but simply and absolutely, “Whoever is not born [again],” which is the same as saying, “All that after the coming of Christ the Savior would enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens must be regenerated.” And since infants are men, and as such need salvation, needing salvation they need also Baptism. And those that are not regenerated, since they have not received the remission of hereditary sin, are, of necessity, subject to eternal punishment, and consequently cannot without Baptism be saved… And Augustine says that it is an Apostolic tradition, that children are saved through Baptism; and in another place, “The Church gives to babes the feet of others, that they may come; and the hearts of others, that they may believe; and the tongues of others, that they may promise;” and in another place, “Our mother, the Church, furnishes them with a particular heart”… And the effects of Baptism are, to speak concisely, firstly, the remission of the hereditary transgression, and of any sins of any kind that the baptized may have committed. Secondly, it delivers him from the eternal punishment, to which he was liable, as well for original sin and for mortal sins he may have individually committed. (Council of Jerusalem +1672, Decrees VI and XVI)

As is clear, the Council of Jerusalem repeats the point that I’ve been hammering home throughout this whole article: original sin does not mean that God is directly punishing us for the sin committed by Adam, rather it means that we are being held liable to the transgression of Adam on account of our descent from him, and this reality excludes even infants from the Kingdom of God until they are freed from original sin in baptism. It’s sort of ironic how, far from rejecting the teaching of St. Augustine on original sin, the Orthodox Church actually cites him as an authority on this question! 

And if you think that the Councils of +1642 and +1672 are just examples of some kind of “western captivity” that plagued the Orthodox Church during the early modern era, and that we can therefore just ignore their teachings, consider this: not only did all major Orthodox Patriarchates at the time ratify the decrees of these Councils (thereby fulfilling the requirements for their status as authoritative), but the authority of these Councils was upheld as recently as 2016 at the Council of Crete:

The Conciliar work [of the Church] continues uninterrupted in history through the later councils of universal authority, such as, for example, the Great Council (879-880) convened at the time of St. Photios the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople, and also the Great Councils convened at the time of St. Gregory Palamas (1341, 1351, 1368), through which the same truth of faith was confirmed, most especially as concerns the procession of the Holy Spirit and as concerns the participation of human beings in the uncreated divine energies, and furthermore through the Holy and Great Councils convened in Constantinople, in 1484 to refute the unionist Council of Florence (1438-1439), in 1638, 1642, 1672 and 1691 to refute Protestant beliefs. (Encyclical of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, 3)

Regardless of what you think about the Council of Crete, it remains a fact that it represents the official beliefs of the Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Serbia, Romania, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania, and Slovakia, as recently as the year 2016, and all of these Churches have reaffirmed the consensus of the 17th century Church, namely that the Councils of +1642 and +1672 “refuted Protestant beliefs,” are “Holy and Great,” and they possess “universal [i.e. ecumenical] authority.” The only major Churches that did not attend Crete +2016 were the Churches of Moscow and Antioch, the latter of which simply didn’t attend because of a territorial dispute with Jerusalem, and the former had other, unrelated, canonical reservations about the Council; and far from decrying the Councils of +1642 and +1672, Moscow was the very Church that canonized St. Peter Mogila, whose confession was proclaimed as the rule of faith at both of these Councils (explicitly at the former, implicitly at the latter). All of that to say, the belief that the Pan-Orthodox Councils of the 17th century, which very clearly taught the Augustinian doctrine of original sin, are authoritative is not just my opinion, rather it is the normative belief of the canonical Orthodox Church today. Once that’s understood, hopefully it should be clear why one cannot be in good standing with the Orthodox Church while holding the beliefs that Dr. Anderson advances in his article about St. Augustine and original sin.

Now at this point we’ve exhaustively addressed Dr. Anderson’s views of marriage, sexuality, and original sin, however we’ve only hinted at how his views of Orthodox creationism are flawed, so let’s address that in more detail. Anderson’s views on this topic are summarized throughout his article series on St. Irenaeus of Lyon, wherein he writes:

Irenaeus said that Church Tradition had always taught that Adam and Eve were essentially children who had yet to develop into full maturity. Therefore, their sin was not so much a “fall from perfection,” as it was childish immaturity. Now, if that shocks you, consider something else. Irenaeus viewed Adam and Eve as symbolic of all humanity. For Irenaeus, Adam was never just an individual—he symbolized all humanity. In that respect, as Denis Minns has pointed out, “Irenaeus’ reading of Genesis 1-3 is far more modern, far more alive to the symbolic function of the story than the reading that has prevailed in the Western Church for most of its history” (71). (Irenaeus of Lyon: Heretics, Ken Ham, and the Proper Understanding of Adam and Eve (Part 2))

This is essentially the springboard from which Anderson attacks young earth creationism: St. Irenaeus and the early Church didn’t believe that Adam and Eve were perfect, therefore there could have been corruption and even death before the Fall (which itself might not have even happened) right? Right?! Unfortunately, such a conclusion can only be drawn from the most shallow reading of the patrisitc literature on the topic of Adam and Eve before the Fall. Obviously Adam and Eve were not created in a state of complete perfection, rather, as the Council of Jassy +1642 says, they were created in a “state of innocence,” which is also traditionally referred to as “original incorruption.” Many Fathers, like Sts. Ephraim the Syrian and most especially Maximus the Confessor, explain this in great detail: Adam and Eve, and indeed the entirety of creation, were not created in a glorified (“perfect”) state, rather they were created in a prelapsarian (incorrupt) state, which had the potential to either be glorified or corrupted. However, contrary to what Anderson implies, this state was not in any way subject to the effects of the Fall (death, pain, disease, and so on), rather it was a state of (conditional) immortality, painlessness, non-violence, and happiness. 

This patrisitc understanding of original incorruption is affirmed in the writings of many contemporary Orthodox theologians such as Vladimir Lossky in his Dogmatic Theology, Fr. John Meyendorff in Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, Fr. Alexander Schmeman in O Death, Where is Thy Sting, blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose in Genesis, Creation, and Early Man, and it’s explored in great detail in Hieromonk Damascene’s article “Created in Incorruption,” which I highly recommend reading to see just how many Fathers of the Church held this view, some of whom I’ll just let speak for themselves below (quotes below are from Hieromonk Damascene’s article).

According to the very St. Irenaeus of Lyon whom Anderson appeals to over and over again throughout his article series, because of man’s incorrupt state before the Fall, animals too were not subject to the corruption of predation. Thus on Isaiah 11, “the lion shall lay down with the lamb… etc,” he comments the following:

It is right that when the creation is restored, all the animals should obey and be in subjection to man, and revert to the food originally given by God (for they had originally been subjected in obedience to Adam) that is, the productions of the earth [i.e. plants]. (Against Heresies, 5.33)

Notice that Irenaeus says that the original state of all animals being peaceful and subject to man will be “restored” in the Age to Come, an idea that Dr. Anderson considers a “gnostic heresy.” This same position was also defended by Sts. Theophilus of Antioch, John of Damascus, Maximus the Confessor, and John Chrysostom, the last of whom is someone that Dr. Anderson (if he’s in the eastern rite) liturgically praises every Sunday. With that in mind, consider what else Chrysostom has to say about the subject of original incorruption:

[Adam and Eve] lived in Paradise as in heaven and they enjoyed God’s company. Desire for sexual intercourse, conception, labor, childbirth and every form of corruption had been banished from their souls…. At that time there were no cities, crafts, or houses. Nevertheless, nothing either thwarted or hindered that happy life, which was far better than this… Up until that time [of the fall] [Adam and Eve] were living like angels in Paradise and so they were not burning with desire, not assaulted by other passions, not subject to the needs of nature, but on the contrary they were created incorruptible and immortal, and on that account at any rate they had no need to wear clothes… Consider, I ask you, the transcendence of their blessed condition, how they were superior to all bodily concerns, how they lived on earth as if they were in heaven, and though in fact possessing body they did not feel the limitations of their bodies. After all, they had no need of shelter or habitation, clothing or anything of that kind…. Everything, you see, He [God] made and arranged so that this rational being [man] created by Him had the good fortune to be of the greatest importance, and far from being inferior to the life of the angels, [Adam and Eve] enjoyed in the body their immunity from suffering. (Homilies on Genesis, 15-17, and On Virginity, 14)

Given Dr. Anderson asserts that it’s a “gnostic heresy” to believe that Adam and Eve were created “angelic-like” or that they were in any way “perfect,” it makes one wonder how he can praise St. John Chrysostom as a “teacher of the universe” at every Divine Liturgy, given this is precisely what the divine Father says: before the Fall, Adam and Eve lived the life of angels, they were incorrupt, immortal, and immune from every form of suffering. Was Chrysostom alone in affirming the “perfect” state of creation before the Fall? Far from it! St. Maximus the Confessor, whose theology was hailed at the 6th Ecumenical Council, taught the following:

So I suppose that the teacher said these things wanting to indicate the difference between the temperament of the human body in the forefather Adam before the transgression and that which in us is now seen and holds sway, because back then man clearly was not torn apart by qualities contrary to and corruptive of each other in their bodily mixture, but was accordingly without flux or efflux-and free of the constant alteration between them, depending on which quality predominates. For indeed man was not deprived of the immortality that is by grace, and did not have corruption which now whips him with its goads, but another temperament of the body manifestly befit him, a temperament held together by qualities that are simple and without strife. For reason of this temperament was the first man naked, not as one fleshless or bodiless, but as one not having the which makes the flesh denser, mortal, and tough. (Ambiguum, 45)

Once again we see that this pillar of the Orthodox faith, St. Maximus, explicitly teaches that Adam and Eve had incorrupt and immortal bodies before the Fall, which are categorically different from the bodies that we now possess in our state of corruption. Such a teaching was also repeated by our Holy Father, St. Symeon the New Theologian:

Fiery lust or movement or the irrational madness and desire of the stomach, as yet did not at all exist, but in him [Adam] was life without internal discord, and his existence was free from pain… God did not, as some people think, just give Paradise to our ancestors at the beginning, nor did He make only Paradise incorruptible. No! Instead, He did much more. Before Paradise He made the whole earth, the one which we inhabit, and everything in it. Nor that alone, but He also in five days brought the heavens and all they contain into being. On the sixth day He made Adam and established him as lord and king of all the visible creation. Neither Eve nor Paradise were yet created, but the whole world had been brought into being by God as one thing, as a kind of paradise, at once incorruptible yet material and perceptible. It was this world, as we said, which was given to Adam and to his descendants for their enjoyment. Does this seem strange to you? It should not. (On the Mystical Life, pg. 21)

Not only does St. Symeon affirm that Adam and Eve experienced incorruptibility and painlessness in paradise, but he takes it a step further in saying that the entire creation also shared in the incorrupt and blameless life that was given to our first parents. I pray that Dr. Anderson and his followers would seriously meditate on the words of our Holy Father, “Does this seem strange to you? It should not.”

Thus it should be clear that the teaching that the cosmos was originally created in an incorrupt state before the Fall is not a Protestant belief that was invented by Ken Ham, rather this is the unanimous teaching of the early Church Fathers. The obvious implication of this is that Dr. Anderson’s belief that “Adam and Eve are merely symbols of humanity” is just a cope. The patristic teaching of paradise and the Fall necessitates that these doctrines revolve around actual historical events, the consequences of which we still experience today, and the ultimate fruit of which we look forward to in the future. Of course Adam and Eve are symbolic of all humanity, so was Israel, so is Jesus, so is the Church, yet all of these things actually exist, because symbolism is not just something we superimpose onto an otherwise meaningless world, rather God has woven symbolism into the very fabric of creation and history. With that in mind, allow me to turn one of Dr. Anderson’s statements against him: if this is the view that the early Church, the Apostles, and probably Christ himself had regarding Genesis 2-3, we need to take it seriously. Yes, such a view might send shockwaves through our brains, but we cannot dismiss it. We have to consider that perhaps our assumption that Adam and Eve were somehow “not perfect” before the Fall is, in fact, wrong.

Moreover, not only was original incorruption taught by the early Church Fathers, but it was also taught by our recent Holy Fathers as well (as, in the Orthodox Church, we do not believe that the “Age of the Fathers” ever came to an end). Writing in the 19th century, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov teaches the following:

The earth, created, adorned, blessed by God, did not have any deficiencies. It was overflowing with refinement. “God saw,” after the completion of the whole creation of the world, “everything that He had made: and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Now the earth is presented to our eyes in a completely different look. We do not know her condition in holy virginity; we know her in the condition of corruption and accursedness, we know her already sentenced to burning; she was created for eternity. The God-inspired writer of Genesis says that the earth in its original condition did not have need of tilling (Gen. 2:5): it brought forth by itself grains and other nourishing grasses, vegetables and fruits overabundantly and of superb worth. There were no harmful growths on it; plants were not subjected either to decay or to diseases; both decay and diseases, and the weeds themselves, appeared after the alteration of the earth following the fall of man, as one ought to conclude from the words of God to Adam as he was being exiled from Paradise: “Thorns and thistles shall it [the ground] bring forth to thee” (Gen. 3:18). According to its creation, there was on it only the splendid, only the wholesome, there was only that which was suitable for the immortal and blessed life of its inhabitants. Changes in the weather did not exist: it was continually the same-the most clear and favorable. There were no rains. A spring came forth from the earth and watered its face (Gen. 2:5-6, Septuagint). The beasts and other animals lived in perfect harmony among themselves, nourishing themselves on plant life. (Homily on Man, pg. 19)

As is clear, St. Ignatius simply assumes the patristic teaching of original incorruption as a given, going into detail about just how holy and good our world used to be before the Fall, affirming the consensus patrum that there was no death, disease, or decay of any kind before sin entered the world through our first parents. Ironically, Ignatius cites Genesis 1:31, “and God saw that [the creation] was very good,” as being proof of creation’s original incorruptibility, something that Dr. Anderson attributes to modern Protestantism, yet here we have an Orthodox saint teaching this. And not only do our saints teach the doctrine of original incorruption, but we also have both the 6th and 7th Ecumenical Councils affirming the following decree from Carthage +419:

That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body — that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema. (Council of Carthage +419, Canon 109)

By positing his theistic evolutionary interpretation of St. Irenaeus, Dr. Anderson would need to argue that Adam and Eve (or “the first homosapiens,” because Anderson doesn’t believe Adam and Eve are real people, despite the fact that he celebrates their Feast Day on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers) were created in a fallen postlapsarian state, and that they were therefore subject to death by natural necessity, and holding such a position would place Dr. Anderson, and the majority of those who believe in theistic evolution, under an Ecumenical anathema. 

Moreover, it’s very ironic how Dr. Anderson consistently considers the idea that all death and corruption entered the world through sin (and not God) a “Protestant heresy,” yet the Council of Jerusalem +1672, which was called to refute Protestant heresies, taught just this, with the intention of confuting certain strains of Calvinism:

[God] made everything that he made very good {cf. Genesis 1:31}, and cannot ever be the maker of evil. But if there is any evil, that is to say, sin, that comes about contrarily to the Divine Will, in man or in demon, — for that evil is simply in nature, we do not acknowledge, — it is either of man, or of the devil. For it is a true and infallible rule, that God is in no way the author of evil, nor can it at all by just reasoning be attributed to God. (Council of Jerusalem +1672, Decrees IV)

This is why, in recognition of the fact that any and all evil in the world was neither intended nor created by God, all of our Holy Fathers who have lived since the time of Darwin have condemned modern evolutionary “science” as with one voice. You can read countless instances of this happening in OldBelieving’s “Saints, Holy Elders, and Theologians who have lived since Darwin,” and I’ll end this article by quoting just a few of many Fathers who have explicitly condemned Darwin’s theory as heretical. I pray that every Orthodox Christian who’s reading this who considers themselves a theistic evolutionist will take the time to seriously meditate on the following words of our Holy Fathers. There was a time when I thought I could never believe in young earth creationism, yet since I’ve accepted this belief, I’ve come to see the creation in a whole new light. I now can actually say that the sun really shines, the birds really sing, and all creation truly proclaims that Christ rose to renew all things. Thanks for reading and God bless.

St. Hilarion Troitsky: The contemporary conscience is saturated with the idea of evolution, the idea of progress, i.e., the very idea that nourishes human pride. Christianity demands a humble conscience. There was perfect Adam, my forefather; and I, mankind, have only been involved in sin and corruption. The Church calls us to humility when she calls Adam our ancestor. But evolution? Descent from a monkey? No matter how modestly someone may judge himself, still he cannot avoid thinking with some pride: at least I am not a monkey, at least some progress has been realized in me. This is how evolution, by calling a monkey our ancestor, feeds our pride.

St. Joseph the Hesychast: Once when a certain theologian came near Elder Joseph the Cave-dweller, the elder sensed a bad odour. He brought it to the man’s attention, admonishing him to go and make his confession. As a result, it became clear that the cause of the odour was the theologian’s misguided belief in Darwin’s theory of the evolution of mankind… [St. Joseph addressing an Orthodox theistic evolutionist]: “When you present a theory or an opinion, why don’t you draw from the writings of the holy Fathers and Orthodox theologians rather than heretics who aren’t even Christian! A theory or viewpoint becomes fortified when it is confirmed by the Bible or by the holy Fathers of the Church. You will not be welcome here in my hut until you renounce that theory [of evolution].” 

St. Justin Popovic: The anthropology of the New Testament stands or falls on the anthropology of the Old. The entire Gospel of the Old Testament: Man – the image of God! The entire Gospel of the New Testament: the God-man – image of man! Whatever is heavenly, divine, eternal, immortal and unchangeable in humans is the image of God, the godlikeness of man… if everything in man occurs and is the result of evolution, then there is nothing that needs to be saved in him since nothing is immortal and unchangeable within him, but all is earthly and clay and as such are transient, perishable and perceptible. In such a world of “evolution” there is no place for the Church, which is the body of the God-man Christ. The theology which again bases itself on the anthropology of the “scientific” theory of evolution is nothing more than a self-negation. In essence it is a theology without God and an anthropology without man. If man is not immortal, eternal and a God-man image of God, then all theologies and all anthropologies are nothing but a silly joke, a tragic comedy.” (On the Divine-Human Path)

St. Luke the Surgeon: Darwinism, which declares that man, by means of evolution, has developed from the lower species of animals, and is not a product of the creative act of the Godhead, has turned out to be merely a supposition, a hypothesis, which has become obsolete even for science. This hypothesis has been acknowledged as contradictory not only to the Bible, but to nature itself, which jealously strives to preserve the purity of each species, and knows of no transition even from a sparrow to a swallow. There are no known facts of a transition of an ape into a man.

St. Ambrose of Optina: Don’t believe at face value all kinds of nonsense without investigation: that something can come into being [of itself] from dust, and that people used to be apes.

St. Barsanuphius of Optina: The English philosopher Darwin created an entire system according to which life is a struggle for existence, a struggle of the strong against the weak, where those that are conquered are doomed to destruction and the conquerors are triumphant. This is already the beginning of a bestial philosophy, and those who come to believe in it wouldn’t think twice about killing a man, assaulting a woman, or robbing their closest friend — and they would do all this calmly, with a full recognition of their right to commit these crimes.

St. John of Kronstadt: Half-educated people and over-educated people do not believe in a personal, righteous, omnipotent, and unoriginate God, but believe in an impersonal origin and in some kind of evolution of the world and all beings … and therefore they live and act as thought they will not have to give an answer to anyone for their words and deeds, making gods of themselves, their reason, and their passions … In their blindness they reach the point of insanity, deny the very existence of God, and maintain that everything stems from blind evolution (the teaching that everything comes into being of itself, without the participation of a Creative power). But he who has an intellect does not believe in such insane ravings.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: How can a twisted spine be straightened without breaking? How can a stiffened neck move without remaining a source of pain? It takes a million years, say the ignorant minds of our day, for a monkey’s spine to become straight and a monkey to become a man. Thus they speak, not knowing the power and the might of the living God. It took just a second, at one word from the Lord Jesus, for the woman’s spine, which was much more bent than that of a monkey, to be straightened. But how is a spine straightened? How is a neck unstiffened? … Do not ask about all this, but thank God as this woman did.

St. Paisios of Mt. Athos: The theory of evolution was being taught by a professor I knew at the University. Once, I said to him, “In time and with proper care a green bean plant will become a better green bean plant, the eggplant a better eggplant. If you feed and take care of a monkey, he will become a better monkey, but he will not turn into a human being. If a white man moves to a warm climate and is always in the sun, his complexion may change somewhat, but he will still be a white man.” And then, there’s this to think about. Christ was born of a human being, the Panaghia! Are we supposed to believe that His ancestors were monkeys? What blasphemy! And those who support this theory don’t realize that they are blaspheming. They throw a stone and do not check to see how many heads they have cracked. All you will from them is, “Mine went farther than the other fellow’s.” That’s what they are all about these days; they marvel at who will throw a stone the farthest. But they care nothing about those who are passing by and the many heads their stones will crack.

Blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose: Thus, “theistic evolution,” as I understand its motives, is the invention of men who, being afraid that physical evolution is really “scientific,” stick “God” in at various points of the evolutionary process in order not to be left out, in order to conform “theology” to the “latest scientific discoveries.” But this kind of artificial thinking is satisfactory neither for theology nor science, but just mixes the two realms up.

St. Theophan the Recluse: These days many nihilists of both sexes, naturalists, Darwinists, Spiritists, and Westernizers in general have multiplied among us. All right, you’re thinking – would the Church have been silent, would it not have proferred its voice, would it not have condemned or anathematized them if there had been something new in their teaching? To be sure – a council would have done so without doubt, and all of them, with their teachings, would have been given over to anathema. To the current Rite of Orthodoxy only the following item would have been added: ‘To Büchner, Feuerbach, Darwin, Renan, Kardec, and all their followers – anathema! But there is no need, either for a special council or for any kind of addition. All of their false teachings were anathematized long ago. At the present time, not only in principal cities but in all place and churches the Rite of Orthodoxy ought to be brought in and celebrated, so that all the teachings contrary to the word of God might be collected and that it might be proclaimed to everyone what they must fear and from what teachings they must flee, and all might know. Many are seduced intellectually only through ignorance, and therefore a public condemnation of pernicious teachings would save them from destruction. If the action of an anathema is terrible to someone, then let him avoid the teachings that lead to it. Let him who is afraid of it for the sake of others bring them back to a healthy teaching. If you who are not favorably disposed to this action are Orthodox, then you are going against yourself; and if you have already lost sound teaching, then what business do you have concerning what is done in the Church that supports it? After all, you’ve already separated yourself from the Church and have your own convictions, your own way of looking at things – well, live with them then. It’s all the same whether or not your name and your teaching are uttered under the anathema: you are already under anathema if you philosophize against the Church and persist in this philosophizing.

St. Varlaam Nikol’sky (hieromartyr): Soviet interrogator: Did you try to conduct religious propaganda among schoolchildren? In particular, did you say that in the schools they do not correctly explain the origin of man? St. Varlaam: Last year I was walking past a school, and a student of the school addressed me with the question of where man came from, saying that the teacher had said in the lesson that man originated from apes. He asked me what I thought, and I answered that man came from God.


Update: Dr. Anderson’s Response

I feel it’s worth mentioning that Dr. Anderson has responded to this article on his blog, and him and I have gone back and forth in the comment section about the topics discussed above. Unfortunately, throughout our discussion, Dr. Anderson has repeatedly avoided my arguments, and revealed that he dos not view the teachings of the Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils as authoritative, thereby showing himself to be out of step with the beliefs of the Orthodox Church. Thus, I warn everyone who reads his blog that Dr. Anderson cannot be said to be a faithful representative of the Church, and he should not be taken seriously regarding what the Church believes. Please know that I’m not saying this out of a place of malice or hate towards Dr. Anderson, rather a genuine desire to protect the integrity of the Orthodox faith.