Athanasius and the Fall
Many for instance have been made holy and clean from all sin; nay, Jeremiah was hallowed even from the womb, and John, while yet in the womb, leapt for joy at the voice of Mary Bearer of God; nevertheless 'death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression Romans 5:14;' and thus man remained mortal and corruptible as before, liable to the affections proper to their nature.
For men's mind having finally fallen to things of sense, the Word disguised Himself by appearing in a body, that He might, as Man, transfer men to Himself, and centre their senses on Himself, and, men seeing Him thenceforth as Man, persuade them by the works He did that He is not Man only, but also God, and the Word and Wisdom of the true God. (On the Incarnation, 16)
The Greek Fathers
The orbit within which they worked was quite different, being marked out by the ideas of participation in the divine nature, rebirth through the power of the Spirit, adoption as sons, new creation through Christ—all leading to the concept of deification. ... Grace thus conceived is a state of communion with God, and if a man must use his free will to attain it, there can be no question but that the blessedness in which it consists is wholly the gift of God. (352)
The West before Augustine
Peter was clean, but he must wash his feet, for he had sin by succession from the first man, when the serpent overthrew him and persuaded him to sin. His feet were therefore washed, that hereditary sins might be done away, for our own sins are remitted through baptism.
This inherited corruption is inherited from Adam, and is transmitted in the procreative act. Not surprisingly, therefore, Ambrose also maintains that Christ was free from all taint of this inherited corruption because of his virginal conception! (355)
The point is that for Ambrosiaster, as for Ambrose, we are not punished for Adam's sin, but only for our own sins. As he says, “You perceive that men are not made guilty by the fact of their birth, but by their evil behavior. Baptism is therefore necessary, not as abolishing inherited guilt, but as delivering us from death and opening the gates of the kingdom of heaven.” (355-356)
The Doctrine of Pelagius
If a man enjoys freedom of choice, it is by the express bounty of his Creator, and he ought to use it for the ends which He prescribes. (358)
Since each soul is, as he [Pelagius] believes, created immediately by God, it cannot come into the world soiled by original sin transmitted from Adam. To suppose that it does savours of the traducian theory that souls, like bodies, are generated from the parents, and is tantamount to Manichaeism. Even if true, however, would not the theory entail that the offspring of baptized parents are not only free from Adam's taint but inherit their sanctification? In any case God, Who forgives human beings their own sins, surely cannot blame them for someone else's. Adam's trespass certainly had disastrous consequences; it introduced death, physical and spiritual, and set going a habit of disobedience. But this latter is propagated, not by physical descent, but by custom and example. Hence there is no congenital fault in man as he is born: 'before he begins exercising his will, there is only in him what God has created.' Pelagius' baptismal teaching naturally fitted in with this. For adults the sacrament was medicinal and regenerative, but its effect on infants [provided] adoption as children of God. (358-359)
Pelagius' teaching is often described as a species of naturalism, but this label scarcely does justice to its profoundly religious spirit. Defective though it is in its recognition of man's weakness, it radiates an intense awareness of God's majesty, of the wonderful privileges and high destiny He has vouchsafed to men, and of the claims of the moral law and of Christ's example. (360-361)
What he envisages is not a state of perfection acquired once for all, but rather one which is attained by strenuous efforts of the will and which only steadily increasing application will be able to maintain. (360)
Augustine and Original Sin
Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Job 14:4 "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one."
Job 15:14 "What is man that he should be clean? And he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?"
John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you're born from above, you cannot see the Kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he's old? Surely he can't go into his mother's womb and be born a second time?" Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, if you're not born of water and the Spirit you cannot come into the Kingdom of God.
Rom. 5:12 "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.”
Eph. 2:3 "We all once lived among them in the desires of the flesh; we did what the flesh and our imagination wanted and were, by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of them."
Finally, the general wretchedness of man's lot and his enslavement to his desires seemed to clinch the matter. Like others before him, he believed that the taint was propagated from parent to child b the physical act of generation, or rather as the result of the carnal excitement which accompanied it and was present, he noticed, in the sexual intercourse even of baptized persons. As we have seen, Augustine was divided in mind between the traducianist and various forms of the creationist theory of the soul's origin. If the former is right, original sin passes to us directly from our parents; if the latter, the freshly created soul becomes soiled as it enters the body. (363)
Grace and Predestination
Since grace takes the initiative and apart from it all men form a massa damnata, it is for God to determine which shall receive grace and which shall not. This He has done, Augustine believes on the basis of Scripture, from all eternity. The number of the elect is strictly limited, being neither more nor less than is required to replace the fallen angels. Hence he has to twist the text 'God wills all men to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4), making it mean that He wills the salvation of all the elect... God's choice of those to whom grace is to be given in no way depends on his foreknowledge of their future merits... Then how does God decide to justify this man rather than that? There can in the end be no answer to this agonizing question. … Augustine is therefore prepared to speak of certain people as being predestined to eternal death and damnation; they may include, apparently, decent Christians who have been called and baptized, but to whom the grace of perseverance has not been given. (368-369)
The Western Settlement
On the other hand, Augustine could not fairly claim that the Church had ratified his distinctive teaching in its fullness. So far as the East was concerned, his ideas, as we shall see, had no noticeable impact. In the West … there were many … who found some of [Augustine's ideas] wholly unpalatable.