St. Gregory Palamas on Total Depravity

St. Gregory Palamas ca. 1296-1359

Although St Paul called the body ‘death’ when he said, ‘Who will deliver me from the body ‘of this death?’ (Rom. 7 : 24), this is simply because the materialistic, carnal mentality is body-like, and so he rightly called it a body when comparing it to the spiritual and divine mind. Further, he did not say simply ‘body’ but ‘death of the body’. Shortly before this he clarifies his meaning when he says that the flesh is not at fault, but the sinful impulse that infiltrates into the flesh because of the fall. ‘I am sold’, he says, ‘into slavery under sin’ (Rom. 7:14); but he who is sold is not a slave by nature. And again he says, ‘I know that in me – that is, in my flesh – there dwells nothing good’ (Rom. 7:18). Note that he does not say the flesh is evil, but that which dwells therein. Thus it is evil for this ‘law that is in our bodily members, warring against the law of the intellect’ (cf. Rom. 7:23) – to dwell in the body, not for the intellect to dwell there. (In Defense of Those Who Devoutly Practice a Life of Stillness 1)

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