Vol 15 (2012), 308 pp.
Simply put, sinners by nature or sinners by choice are the traditional positions of Western and (Near) Eastern branches of the Church. John Chrysostom, an early fifth century Bishop of Constantinople, took the latter position. Having gained a basic anthropology from his training in the Greek paideia, he understood the mindset (γνώμη) to be the centre of responsibility of the person. Repeatedly in his homilies, the γνώμη is held responsible for sin in action, thought, and intention. The mindset evaluates passions and thoughts, and then directs the προαίρεσις (the moral choice) towards the end decided by the γνώμη. The γνώμη, a store of deliberated attitudes, is the very lodging-place of sin in the psyche. Chrysostom, holding our basic nature to be unchangeable, found in the γνώμη, a faculty of the soul distinct from nature, a citadel of sin needing to be overcome by the power of the Gospel. Then the person with a renewed mindset sets about shaping it to be conformed to the image of Christ.