Eight Deadly Thoughts

“These eight deadly thoughts are like cholesterol, they fill the arteries, so to speak, and the flow of the Spirit is not able to get through easily, and sometime, choked off all together.”

These thoughts assail us unbidden – It is important to realize that the thoughts themselves are not sin. Christ was tempted, yet did not sin. The problem is when we dwell on, indulge, or act on these thoughts that they become sin. When we entertain these thoughts, our thoughts are not free to dwell on the things of God. The short video attached is the introduction to the video series, they are relatively short so easy to listen to, even if you are tight on time. Other videos will be linked to the outline below.

Diogenese on Spiritual Theology – ” … one of the things I found … through all spiritual writers, that is people who are concerned with bringing to fullness, in our lives, the work of Christ, and that’s the work of God the Holy Spirit….all of them agree that after we are converted we can expect ourselves to be assailed by eight deadly thoughts.”

“The Eight Deadly Thoughts”, takes its name from one of the chapters in On Practice by Evagrius Ponticus (c 346-399), a Desert Father. Dr. Diogenes Allen adopts the same name for this series. Before approaching the content, Professor Allen would approach the context, the genesis of idea. The first video in the series Dr Allen provides:

  • Context – a brief sketch of the life of Evagrius
  • Context – Dr. Allen’s personal genesis, what led him to study spiritual theology – unprepared to make a spiritual evaluation
  • Content – “Eight Deadly Thoughts:”
    1. Gluttony – related to the appetites (link)
    2. Lust – to desire the
      body of a person and not to desire the person, (future link)
    3. Avarice “Our needs for material goods suggest to the mind a lengthy old age.” “I will not be able to provide for myself.”, (future link)
    4. Sadness – a form of self pity – all the things I could have become,  (future link)
    5. Anger with Sadness “are concerned with our relation to other people”,  (future link)
    6. Acedia – discouragement at lack of progress – apathy, boredom,  (future link)
    7. Vainglory – wanting the notice of our achievements by others,  (future link)
    8. Pride – we take full credit for our achievements – failing to credit God  (future link)
  • Content – Gregory I shifts “deadly thoughts” to “deadly sins” – Dr Allen’s retains focus on the eight thoughts of Evagrius – I see this as a quantitative change.
  • Content – Practice, how to overcome these ‘Deadly Thoughts’ – Lectio Divina – divine reading – 4 steps: read, meditate, pray and contemplate


In studying spiritual theology Diogenes considers the shift from “How can we know and love God” to “What can we know about God.” Again professor Allen looks to the early Church through the The Age of Enlightenment. And that is ‘knowing how to love God’ rather than ‘knowing about God.’

Dr Allen, in the guise of a country parson, cautions us that these thought are not sin when they come. We can still repent, turn from the thought before we take further action. Dr. Allen asserts Christ was tempted and did not sin. These thoughts are temptation. We can repent from these thoughts prior to their becoming sin. This is a benefit.

The body is seen as a benefit. If we were only spirit,  our thought would be our action. Thinking deadly thoughts would be equivalent to sin. Since we have a body we have time to turn away from the thoughts before acting. Dwelling on these thoughts too long and they can choke off the life of the Spirit in our lives. We can become careless.

Date of post changed to revision date.

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