Author Topic: Conversion after death?  (Read 11334 times)

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Offline GregoryLA

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Conversion after death?
« on: March 27, 2010, 01:14:26 AM »
I was just listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko's recent podcast on suicide on Ancient Faith Radio.

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/suicide

I was struck by something he had said around minute 23:40...

Quote
And we don't know who accepts the mercy of God.  And we do teach- it is a Christian teaching- that the final judgment of a person is when they stand before God whether or not they accept the divine mercy.  Whether or not they repent of their sin. So we say that everyone has a chance to convert in death. They have a chance to convert when they see... when they see the risen and glorified Christ.  They have the chance ultimately and finally to fall down before Him and say, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner" and not to reject Him and not to reject their own life.

I think I've heard opposite things and I was under the impression that there is no repentance after death.  Yet, Fr. Hopko seems to say quite assuredly there is.  Perhaps I was mistaken?  Is there a distinction being made in that there will be no option of repentance after death UNTIL the general resurrection and then all those in Hades will finally have one last chance to repent?

I'm kinda confused.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2010, 01:15:21 AM by GregoryLA »

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2010, 02:04:13 AM »
Yeah, this is a good question. I'm kind of confused too.

We do pray for the dead, so that would indicate that physical death is not the end of hope. My understanding was that God's mercy still extends to those who have departed from this temporal realm, so by our prayers they may be saved. But whether or not they are able to "convert" in death, well, I have never heard of this until now. What we do know for sure is that "God's mercy endures forever." [Psalm 136]


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Offline SolEX01

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2010, 02:08:23 AM »
The topic has been brought up in threads concerning whether Judas Iscariot can repent and be saved even after death.  After numerous posts and threads, the consensus remains: No one knows.   ???

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2010, 02:17:46 AM »
I was under the impression that there is no repentance after death.  Yet, Fr. Hopko seems to say quite assuredly there is.


Yes, we pray for the unrepentant and their salvation....

Forgive, O Lord, those who have died without repentance.  Save those who
have committed suicide in the darkness of their mind, that the flame of
their sinfulness may be extinguished in the ocean of Thy grace.

            O Lord of unutterable Love, remember Thy servants who have
                        fallen asleep.
Ikos 5

http://users.sisqtel.net/williams/akathist-repose.html

This akathist for the departed is printed by Jordanville monastery with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2010, 02:20:35 AM »
Dear Gregory,

I have taken this from another thread...

Certainly the common teaching of the Orthodox is that even the most serious sin may be forgiven after death. The scriptural foundation for this is 2 Maccabees 12: 39-46 where prayer and almsgiving by the living obtained trhe forgiveness of mortal sin for the dead.

Then we may look at the words of one of Russia's current respected theologians Archbishop Hilarion...

Praying for those in hell...

I was reading an article recently by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev called "Orthodox Worship as a School of Theology", and I came across the following:-

Bishop Hilarion: "Several years ago I came across a short article in a journal of the Coptic Church where it stated that this Church had decided to remove prayers for those held in hell from its service books, since these prayers “contradict Orthodox teaching”. Puzzled by this article, I decided to ask a representative of the Coptic Church about the reasons for this move. Recently I had the possibility to do so, and a Coptic Metropolitan replied that the decision was made by his Synod because, according their official doctrine, no prayers can help those in hell.

"I told the metropolitan that in the liturgical practice of the Russian Orthodox Church and other local Orthodox Churches there are prayers for those held in hell, and that we believe in their saving power. This surprised the Metropolitan, and he promised to study this question in more detail."

Here is the original article ...

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/12/1.aspx
_______________

"Libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu."

Offline Christianus

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2010, 02:21:06 AM »
Is it heresy to say that people can repent in the after life?
What about Jesus preaching to the dead in Hades?

Offline GregoryLA

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2010, 02:25:16 AM »
Dear Gregory,

I have taken this from another thread...

Certainly the common teaching of the Orthodox is that even the most serious sin may be forgiven after death. The scriptural foundation for this is 2 Maccabees 12: 39-46 where prayer and almsgiving by the living obtained trhe forgiveness of mortal sin for the dead.

Then we may look at the words of one of Russia's current respected theologians Archbishop Hilarion...

Praying for those in hell...

I was reading an article recently by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev called "Orthodox Worship as a School of Theology", and I came across the following:-

Bishop Hilarion: "Several years ago I came across a short article in a journal of the Coptic Church where it stated that this Church had decided to remove prayers for those held in hell from its service books, since these prayers “contradict Orthodox teaching”. Puzzled by this article, I decided to ask a representative of the Coptic Church about the reasons for this move. Recently I had the possibility to do so, and a Coptic Metropolitan replied that the decision was made by his Synod because, according their official doctrine, no prayers can help those in hell.

"I told the metropolitan that in the liturgical practice of the Russian Orthodox Church and other local Orthodox Churches there are prayers for those held in hell, and that we believe in their saving power. This surprised the Metropolitan, and he promised to study this question in more detail."

Here is the original article ...

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/12/1.aspx
_______________

"Libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de poenis inferni et de profundo lacu."


Thank you, Father!  I had read most of this article the first time you posted it and found it very enlightening!  It did raise some questions in my mind though, quite unrelated to the question of prayers for the dead or those in Hell, though.  Perhaps I will start another thread to those questions.

Offline GregoryLA

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2010, 02:28:19 AM »
I was under the impression that there is no repentance after death.  Yet, Fr. Hopko seems to say quite assuredly there is.


Yes, we pray for the unrepentant and their salvation....

Forgive, O Lord, those who have died without repentance.  Save those who
have committed suicide in the darkness of their mind, that the flame of
their sinfulness may be extinguished in the ocean of Thy grace.

            O Lord of unutterable Love, remember Thy servants who have
                        fallen asleep.
Ikos 5

http://users.sisqtel.net/williams/akathist-repose.html

This akathist for the departed is printed by Jordanville monastery with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

Very interesting, Father!  Would you happen to know the history behind this prayer?  Also, how are we supposed to understand this?  Is it then the case that the departed have a chance to repent?  Or does God override their free will?  I was under the impression that God does not override our free will.  Perhaps it's something left unexplained?

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2010, 02:51:48 AM »
Is it then the case that the departed have a chance to repent?  Or does God override their free will?  I was under the impression that God does not override our free will.  Perhaps it's something left unexplained?

Like you I would not want to say that God overrides our free will..... perhaps the encounter with Him after death brings about changes in our choices and repentance for past sins...

Here is something interesting which speaks of the complete emptying of hell when Christ descended there.... now it's an interesting question to ask, what about those who did not want His salvation and preferred to remain in hell?  What about Judas?  He was there at that time.  Was he freed with all the other milllions and millions of souls?


From the Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna, Russian Orthodox Church's Representative for the EU  (now Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk and head of the Department of External Church Relations.

"The Descent of Christ into Hades in Eastern and Western Theological Traditions"

A lecture delivered at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Minneapolis, USA,
on 5 November  2002

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/5.aspx
[For full article]

Extract:
__________________________________________
The descent of Christ into Hades is one of the most mysterious, enigmatic
and inexplicable events in New Testament history. In today's Christian
world, this event is understood differently. Liberal Western theology
rejects altogether any possibility for speaking of the descent of Christ
into Hades literally, arguing that the scriptural texts on this theme should
be understood metaphorically. The traditional Catholic doctrine insists that
after His death on the cross Christ descended to hell only to deliver the
Old Testament righteous from it. A similar understanding is quite widespread
among Orthodox Christians.

On the other hand, the New Testament speaks of the preaching of Christ in
hell as addressed to the unrepentant sinners: 'For Christ also died for sins
once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to
God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which
he went and preached to the spirit in prison, who formerly did not obey,
when God's patience waited.

However, many Church Fathers and liturgical texts of the Orthodox Church
repeatedly underline that having descended to hell, Christ opened the way to
salvation for all people, not only the Old Testament righteous. The descent
of Christ into Hades is perceived as an event of cosmic significance
involving all people without exception. They also speak about the victory of
Christ over death, the full devastation of hell and that after the descent
of Christ into Hades there was nobody left there except for the devil and
demons
.


-oOo-

Bishop Hilarion was also guest speaker at the Divine Mercy Congress last year where his speech was so greatly appreciated that the applause could not be stopped.  This is all the more remarkable because it was also applauded by Cardinal Schornberg and yet by Catholic lights the speech contained some notable heresy!!

http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3132

The [Divine Mercy] Congress Catches Fire!
Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Christ the Conqueror of Hell
Russian Orthodox Bishop: God's Mercy is immeasurable love of the Father
By Dan Valenti (Apr 6, 2008)

-----------------------------------------------------------

« Last Edit: March 27, 2010, 02:55:22 AM by Irish Hermit »

Offline GregoryLA

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2010, 08:57:25 AM »
Perhaps the distinction is between "active" repentance and a purely mental repentance.

From the first article posted by Fr. Ambrose...

Quote
On the one hand, it is impossible for one to actively repent in hell; it is impossible to rectify the evil deeds one committed by appropriate good works. However, it may be possible for one to repent through a ‘change of heart’, a review of one’s values. One of the testimonies to this is the rich man of the Gospel we have already mentioned. He realized the gravity of his situation as soon as found himself in hell. Indeed, if in his lifetime he was focused on earthly pursuits and forgot God, once in hell he realized that his only hope for salvation was God[76] . Besides, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the fate of a person after death can be changed through the prayer of the Church. Thus, existence after death has its own dynamics. On the basis of what has been said above, we may say that after death the development of the human person does not cease, for existence after death is not a transfer from a dynamic into a static being, but rather continuation on a new level of that road which a person followed in his lifetime.

Offline genesisone

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2010, 10:49:12 AM »
There are also those people who have longed to know God fully and truly, but because of their particular time and place never received the revelation of Jesus Christ. Once they leave this life and encounter Him, they embrace Him gladly. Prayers for the departed seem perfectly reasonable to me.

Offline Iconodule

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2010, 11:27:25 AM »
Supposedly, St. Gregory the Great baptized the deceased Emperor Trajan with his tears.
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Offline Rufus

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2010, 04:10:08 PM »
Yes, I believe Clement of Alexandria wrote that all the departed righteous may come to receive the gospel, in some way, in Hades.

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2010, 02:57:42 AM »
Is this of some interest? :

"If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death."

(1 St. John 5:16-17)
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Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2010, 04:22:51 AM »
Supposedly, St. Gregory the Great baptized the deceased Emperor Trajan with his tears.

Something here about that

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13820.msg304197.html#msg304197

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2010, 11:01:46 AM »
Prayer for Those in Hell - from Saint Silouan of Athos
 
"It was particularly characteristic of Staretz Silouan [Saint Silouan of Mount Athos] to pray for the dead suffering in the hell of separation from God... He could not bear to think that anyone would languish in "outer darkness." I remember a conversation between him and a certain hermit, who declared with evident satisfaction, "God will punish all atheists. They will burn in everlasting fire."
 
"Obviously upset, the Staretz said, "Tell me, supposing you went to paradise, and there looked down and saw somebody burning in hell-fire -- would you feel happy?
 
"It can't be helped. It would be their own fault," said the hermit.
 
"The Staretz answered him with a sorrowful countenance. "Love could not bear that," he said. "We must pray for all."
 

From The Inner Kingdom, Volume 1 of the collected works of Bp Kallistos Ware
 
http://tinyurl.com/ycnlgp8

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2010, 11:20:52 AM »
Orthodox Christians!   Let us remember that the belief that God forgives even very serious sin after death is taught to us by holy Scripture.   It is a sound belief authenticated for us in Scripture in the Second Book of Maccabees:


"It  is  a  holy  and  pious thing  that atonement  
be  made  for the  dead,  that  they  might be  delivered  
from their  sin."
 


~ 2 Macc. 12:46

I'd like to comment if I may, for those who don't know the context of this atonement.

What had happened was that many of the dead Jewish soldiers were found to have small idols in their clothing.  They had been worshipping idols and the text says that this idolatry is the reason God allowed them to be slain in battle.

So the surviving soldiers began to offer profound prayers that this dreadful sin would be forgiven their dead comrades and Judas Maccabeus decided to send a large quantity of silver to the Jerusalem temple for prayers for the forgivness of these idolators.

The whole incident substantiates not just prayers for the dead but the belief that sin, even very serious sin (mortal sin if you will), can be forgiven by God after death.

2 Macc 12: 39-46
King James Version
http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/Kjv2Mac.html


And upon the day following, as the use had been, Judas and his company came to take up the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen in their fathers' graves.
Now under the coats of every one that was slain they found things consecrated to the idols of the Jamnites, which is forbidden the Jews by the law. Then every man saw that this was the cause wherefore they were slain.
All men therefore praising the Lord, the righteous Judge, who had opened the things that were hid,
Betook themselves unto prayer, and besought him that the sin committed might wholly be put out of remembrance. Besides, that noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forsomuch as they saw before their eyes the things that came to pass for the sins of those that were slain.
And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection:
For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.
And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2010, 11:22:07 AM by Irish Hermit »

Offline Rufus

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2010, 03:07:14 PM »
Here's a link to Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, who does a patristic investigation:
http://orthodoxy21.blogspot.com/2008/12/heaven-and-hell-orthodox-understanding.html

I also remember hearing a story once about a certain desert father who was travelling through the Egyptian desert and found a skull by the side of the road. He picked it up and asked it who it was. The skull told him it had been a pagan priest, and that he was in an unpleasant state among the dead in hades. However, he said that they (those in hades) were greatly comforted by the prayers of the Christians.

...Well, the story went something like that :).

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2010, 12:23:53 AM »
To keep this discussion focused on the Orthodox understanding of death and possible repentance thereafter--this is, after all, the Faith Issues board, a place for "discussion of issues and inquiries related to the Orthodox Christian faith"--the posts that introduced the element of Orthodox-Catholic dialogue to this thread have been split off and moved here:  Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue on Conversion After Death.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 12:35:17 AM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline akimel

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2010, 12:50:36 AM »
Comment transferred to other thread.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 12:54:43 AM by akimel »

Offline akimel

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2010, 01:04:13 AM »
Given the my original post has now been transferred to another thread, I'd like to re-post the citations from Elder Cleopa and St Mark of Ephesus, as they surely have something to say about Orthodox belief on this subject.  Quite frankly, I'm not terribly interested in debating Orthodox/Catholic differences on eschatology as I am in discussing what Orthodoxy really teaches on this subject.  My impression is greater diversity exists and has always existed in Orthodoxy on topics like these than is often admitted on internet forums. 

Consider, e.g., the views of Elder Cleopa in this book The Truth of Our Faith:

Quote
We know well from solid testimonies of Holy Scripture that for evildoers the torments of hell will be eternal. ... Truly, God is forgiving and long-suffering towards those who fall into sin in this life, for the time of our correction is now, in this life, and the acquisition of His forgiveness depends on our own repentance. In the life on the other side of the grave, however, we no longer are able to repent, to change our minds, given that there God does not judge us according to His omnipotence and goodness, but in accord with His impartiality and righteousness, rewarding each according to his deeds. If God were to forgive all the sins of men without justice or fairness, what would be the point of continually alarming us with the terror of the eternal torments if, in fact, they didn't exist? How is it possible for God to tell us lies instead of the truth? ... God offers eternal joy to the righteous, who struggled for a time to carry out good works here on earth, but as a just and righteous God, He also chastises eternally the ungodly that transgressed in this temporal life. Why is it so? Because the wounds incurred from sin that are not healed in this life through the appropriate repentance will remain infected eternally in the presence of God. ... It must be clear that he who dies in grave and disastrous sins is separated from God forever and in particular will not be able, in the next life, to be amended. In the life beyond the grave his sins will remain with him eternally and thus the torments will also continue to exist forever. (pp. 213-217)

On the other hand, Elder Cleopa recognizes that prayer for the dead is efficacious for their removal from Hades to Heaven, but with one qualification:

Quote
It is indeed possible for someone to be redeemed from perdition, but not through the purgatorial fire as the Roman Catholics content (their offering of expiation presented for the living and the dead notwithstanding. The Lord, as ruler of the heavens, the earth and the infernal regions has the power to remove a soul from Hades, as Scripture testifies: 'The Lord killeth and maketh alive; He bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up.'

The power and sacrifice of Christ, which is offered to whosoever seeks it, is unlimited and His goodness so great that only He is able to rescind the eternal anguish of man. We know that God asks that we love our fellow man and looks on this love with joy. We we are truly praying for others, there is nothing greater than love. God hears the prayer of the Church very clearly, especially when the prayers of Christians are united with the suppliant voices of angels in the heavens, and that of the Lady Theotokos. ...

Between Hades and Paradise there does exist a great chasm indeed, as our Lord has told us. Yet, this chasm does not have the power to impede the mercy of our great God, Who hears our prayers for the reposed. We do not suppose, as do the Roman Catholics that there exists a purgatorial fire, but we say that only for those who since very severely (or mortally) and did not confess their sin is the passage form Hades to Paradise impossible. For those who sinned more lightly this pathway is not definitely closed, given that in the future judgment each one's pace, either in heaven or in hell, will be decided definitively, inasmuch as after this judgment someone whose orientation was Hades can no longer pass over into Paradise. For those who sinned unto death, our prayers are completely futile. ... We do not pray for those who have committed sins against the Holy Spirit, for such sins will not be forgiven, neither in this life, nor in the one to come. Rather, we pray for those who committed lighter sins for which forgiveness--when we pray--is also possible in the other world, inasmuch as we love them to inherit eternal life. (pp. 127-129)

Elder Cleopa's presentation seems close to the position of St Mark of Ephesus as stated in his first homily on purgatory (included in Seraphim Rose, The Soul After Death):

Quote
But we have received that even the souls which are held in hell and are already given over to eternal torments, whether in actual fact and experience or in hopeless expectation of such, can be aided and given a certain small help, although not in the sense of completely loosing them from torment or giving hope for a final deliverance.

St Mark then goes on to say that those who have "departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have not repented at all, or great ones for which--even though they have repented over them--they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance" must first be cleansed before they are admitted into heaven.


Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2010, 01:18:19 AM »

Quote from: Saint Mark of Ephesus
But we have received that even the souls which are held in hell and are already given over to eternal torments, whether in actual fact and experience or in hopeless expectation of such, can be aided and given a certain small help, although not in the sense of completely loosing them from torment or giving hope for a final deliverance.


So is Saint Mark contradicting Scripture which says clearly in 2 Maccabees 12 that the Jewish soldiers who had been slain and were in hell because of the grave sin of idolatry could be released from hell by prayer and almsgiving and sacrifices in the Temple?

The meaning of 2 Maccabees 12 is quite transparent and it contradicts what Saint Mark says in the quote above.

It would be decidedly odd if God gives to the Jews the opportunity to pray souls out of Hell but denies this opportunity to Christians!

We have young priests on the Forum just out of seminary as well as members still at seminary.   Would any of them like to contribute?  or maybe to make an enquiry with their professors?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 01:32:53 AM by Irish Hermit »

Offline jnorm888

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2010, 01:31:15 AM »
I was just listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko's recent podcast on suicide on Ancient Faith Radio.

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/suicide

I was struck by something he had said around minute 23:40...

Quote
And we don't know who accepts the mercy of God.  And we do teach- it is a Christian teaching- that the final judgment of a person is when they stand before God whether or not they accept the divine mercy.  Whether or not they repent of their sin. So we say that everyone has a chance to convert in death. They have a chance to convert when they see... when they see the risen and glorified Christ.  They have the chance ultimately and finally to fall down before Him and say, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner" and not to reject Him and not to reject their own life.

I think I've heard opposite things and I was under the impression that there is no repentance after death.  Yet, Fr. Hopko seems to say quite assuredly there is.  Perhaps I was mistaken?  Is there a distinction being made in that there will be no option of repentance after death UNTIL the general resurrection and then all those in Hades will finally have one last chance to repent?

I'm kinda confused.

Some of the Apostolic fathers, and nonfathers, and maybe even some of the other Ante-nicene fathers talked about those who have never heard the Gospel as having a first chance to hear it in Hades when either John the Baptist went there or Jesus. The speculation seemed to stop there. At least with them, but it's been years since I read that and so I will have to skim through just to make sure....either that or start saving what I read in quote form and store them somewhere for easy access. But yeah, the idea is pretty old.

The belief could of been modified over the centuries but it's not a new idea.







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« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 01:33:54 AM by jnorm888 »
"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/

Offline jnorm888

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2010, 01:41:48 AM »
Yes, I believe Clement of Alexandria wrote that all the departed righteous may come to receive the gospel, in some way, in Hades.

Yes, I read the samething some many years ago. But he wasn't the only one who said something like that. There were others as well. I will have to review to make sure.






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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/

Offline GregoryLA

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2010, 02:07:37 AM »
I was just listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko's recent podcast on suicide on Ancient Faith Radio.

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/suicide

I was struck by something he had said around minute 23:40...

Quote
And we don't know who accepts the mercy of God.  And we do teach- it is a Christian teaching- that the final judgment of a person is when they stand before God whether or not they accept the divine mercy.  Whether or not they repent of their sin. So we say that everyone has a chance to convert in death. They have a chance to convert when they see... when they see the risen and glorified Christ.  They have the chance ultimately and finally to fall down before Him and say, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner" and not to reject Him and not to reject their own life.

I think I've heard opposite things and I was under the impression that there is no repentance after death.  Yet, Fr. Hopko seems to say quite assuredly there is.  Perhaps I was mistaken?  Is there a distinction being made in that there will be no option of repentance after death UNTIL the general resurrection and then all those in Hades will finally have one last chance to repent?

I'm kinda confused.

Some of the Apostolic fathers, and nonfathers, and maybe even some of the other Ante-nicene fathers talked about those who have never heard the Gospel as having a first chance to hear it in Hades when either John the Baptist went there or Jesus. The speculation seemed to stop there. At least with them, but it's been years since I read that and so I will have to skim through just to make sure....either that or start saving what I read in quote form and store them somewhere for easy access. But yeah, the idea is pretty old.

The belief could of been modified over the centuries but it's not a new idea.







ICXC NIKA

Thanks! If you, or anyone else, could give us references for those quotes that be great!

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #25 on: March 29, 2010, 02:13:41 AM »
I think the most important thing to remember is that the Orthodox Church consistently teaches that we should pray for the dead. So, we should do so and leave the rest to God. (If I am wrong, please correct me.)


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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #26 on: March 29, 2010, 02:16:03 AM »
I was just listening to Fr. Thomas Hopko's recent podcast on suicide on Ancient Faith Radio.

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/suicide

I was struck by something he had said around minute 23:40...

Quote
And we don't know who accepts the mercy of God.  And we do teach- it is a Christian teaching- that the final judgment of a person is when they stand before God whether or not they accept the divine mercy.  Whether or not they repent of their sin. So we say that everyone has a chance to convert in death. They have a chance to convert when they see... when they see the risen and glorified Christ.  They have the chance ultimately and finally to fall down before Him and say, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner" and not to reject Him and not to reject their own life.

I think I've heard opposite things and I was under the impression that there is no repentance after death.  Yet, Fr. Hopko seems to say quite assuredly there is.  Perhaps I was mistaken?  Is there a distinction being made in that there will be no option of repentance after death UNTIL the general resurrection and then all those in Hades will finally have one last chance to repent?

I'm kinda confused.

Some of the Apostolic fathers, and nonfathers, and maybe even some of the other Ante-nicene fathers talked about those who have never heard the Gospel as having a first chance to hear it in Hades when either John the Baptist went there or Jesus. The speculation seemed to stop there. At least with them, but it's been years since I read that and so I will have to skim through just to make sure....either that or start saving what I read in quote form and store them somewhere for easy access. But yeah, the idea is pretty old.

The belief could of been modified over the centuries but it's not a new idea.

ICXC NIKA

Thanks! If you, or anyone else, could give us references for those quotes that be great!

It's gonna be some days to maybe a month. But you can always help out if you wanna. I'm gonna start saving what I read as well as where I got it from for easy access in the future.

The link:
http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/main/homepage/homepage.shtml (Early Church Texts)






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« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 02:20:32 AM by jnorm888 »
"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/

Offline franthonyc

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #27 on: March 29, 2010, 03:08:24 AM »

Quote from: Saint Mark of Ephesus
But we have received that even the souls which are held in hell and are already given over to eternal torments, whether in actual fact and experience or in hopeless expectation of such, can be aided and given a certain small help, although not in the sense of completely loosing them from torment or giving hope for a final deliverance.


So is Saint Mark contradicting Scripture which says clearly in 2 Maccabees 12 that the Jewish soldiers who had been slain and were in hell because of the grave sin of idolatry could be released from hell by prayer and almsgiving and sacrifices in the Temple?

The meaning of 2 Maccabees 12 is quite transparent and it contradicts what Saint Mark says in the quote above.

It would be decidedly odd if God gives to the Jews the opportunity to pray souls out of Hell but denies this opportunity to Christians!

We have young priests on the Forum just out of seminary as well as members still at seminary.   Would any of them like to contribute?  or maybe to make an enquiry with their professors?

As a young priest on the forum, 3 years out of seminary...I can say that seminary did NOT answer this question. That is to say, seminary taught me that Orthodox dogma is discerned from several sources, among them the Ecumenical Councils and (most immediately relevant) in the Consensus of the Fathers.

On this issue, I am not able to say that there is a Consensus of the Fathers that gives a definitive answer. Too many saints of the Church have said different things on the subject at different times (as is highlighted in various of the posts above).

However, in that lack of definitive consensus, there is, if you will, something of a scatter-chart in the Fathers of what it is possible to say, what it is necessary to say, and what it is pastorally wise to say.

It is possible to say that God loves all and desires that all should be saved, and that therefore we both do, and MUST, pray for the salvation of ALL.
It is necessary to say that eternal damnation is a reality, and sin and its consequences on the soul cannot be taken lightly, and that it is in this life, NOW, that we are called to "work out our salvation," not in the next. TODAY is the day of salvation.
It is pastorally wise, therefore, to NOT preach a doctrine of possible salvation after death. Apathy (especially in this age) is a serious enough problem for our people without adding the temptation of "I'll just repent after I die, and live as I wish until then" to the mix.

I have heard priests preach universal salvation in public. I consider it presumptuous, badly unbalanced, and pastorally foolish. If that hope is to be expressed at all to the people, it must be expressed only as a hope, and be expressed only together with sober warnings of the pressing and real danger of self-damnation.

The issue does come up, though...usually when people ask about the justice of God damning all those souls who died before His Incarnation, or when people of a particularly legalistic mindset start asking if they will be damned for this or that sin. When it comes up...it requires a lengthy answer, emphasizing all the points above.

For what little it's worth...
Τῷ μεγάλῳ χρίεται μύρῳ καὶ χειρονεῖται βασιλεὺς καὶ αὐτοκράτωρ τῶν Ῥωμαίων, πάντων δηλαδὴ τῶν χριστιανῶν...οὐδὲν οὖν ἔνι καλὸν, υἱέ μου, ἵνα λέγῃς, ὅτι ἐκκλησίαν ἔχομεν, οὐχὶ βασιλέα, οὐκ ἔνι δυνατὸν εἰς τοὺς χριστιανοὺς, ἔκκλησίαν ἔχειν καὶ βασιλέα οὐκ ἔχειν. – EP Anthony to Basil of Moscow c. 1395

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #28 on: March 29, 2010, 03:25:26 AM »
Fr Anthony,

Thank you for your reply and this is a quick response hoping to catch you while you are still on line....  what of the scriptural teaching of 2 Maccabees 12:39-46?  Are there Orthodox who deny it?

And a quick comment.... you say it is pastorally unwise to teach these things.... but it is approved by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (Abroad) and they gave their blessing for the printing and use by the faithful of the Akathist which teaches these things on redemption after death.  See message 3 above.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 03:27:46 AM by Irish Hermit »

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2010, 04:09:00 AM »
Fr Anthony,

Thank you for your reply and this is a quick response hoping to catch you while you are still on line....  what of the scriptural teaching of 2 Maccabees 12:39-46?  Are there Orthodox who deny it?

And a quick comment.... you say it is pastorally unwise to teach these things.... but it is approved by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (Abroad) and they gave their blessing for the printing and use by the faithful of the Akathist which teaches these things on redemption after death.  See message 3 above.

Fr. Ambrose,

I thought of clarifying this even as I wrote it. Forgive me for being unclear...I plead the lateness of the hour here in the U.S., and a host of personal experiences that incline me to jump directly from a discussion of the possibility of redemption after death (a reality in the Orthodox tradition, particularly in practice) to a warning against the excess of universalism, the unequivocal assertion that all WILL be saved.

Regarding 2 Macccabees...to be perfectly frank, I have no right to say whether or not there are Orthodox who deny it. I imagine that there are. I think they are wrong to do so.  At the same time, I recognize that a certain degree of caution with regard to the books and passages which we do not read in the Church is appropriate. And at the same time, I hesitate to state the "deuterocanonical-ness" of those books too strongly. American culture has peculiar hang-ups about Scriptural canonicity which I suspect have had some effect on the Orthodox here. It seems that we do not use the so-called Apocrypha in the same way that the rest of the Orthodox world does, perhaps due to the fact that, until very recently, those books were not present in any Bible available to us except Catholic Bibles, which obviously are approached with caution.

As for my "pastorally unwise" comment...I was thinking specifically of an instance in which a young priest, on vacation, visited another parish, was invited to give the sermon, and stood up and preached that God in His abundant mercy and love would eventually reconcile all with Himself. In that instance, beyond the excess of preaching an unequivocal universal salvation, beyond the absence of the corresponding and (in my opinion, necessary) emphasis that one cannot PLAN to turn to God after death, and the entire elaboration of the Orthodox understanding of sin, damnation, salvation, and their organic and relational character which ought to accompany a discussion of the subject of redemption after death...beyond all that, I was shocked at the indiscretion of preaching such a controversial (if not heretical, as many would call it by a broader interpretation of the condemnations of Origen) doctrine while a guest in another's church.

I hope that clarifies somewhat.

I would like to see the text of this Akathist you speak of. The common practice liturgically in my experience in the Greek Archdiocese of America (and thus the practice to which I refer when preaching or teaching on the subject) is more or less confined to the prayers of the Trisagion service and the portion of the Kneeling Prayers of Pentecost evening which undertake to pray, not just for the departed Orthodox, but for ALL the departed.

When I say that I think it is pastorally unwise to teach these things...I am again being unclear, and I beg your forgiveness. I think that, for the theologically ignorant, redemption after death is the wrong point at which to begin. To open the subject by saying, "If you die in your sins, the Church can pray for you and you can be delivered from torment and gain salvation," when so many of the people to whom you are preaching have a purely legalistic understanding of sin and salvation in the first place seems dangerous...in my community, if I began in that way, the people would extrapolate essentially the doctrines of purgatory and indulgences from what I was saying. I try to first teach an Orthodox understanding of the nature of sin, repentance, and salvation, and then I extrapolate and elaborate on the consequences that has for our understanding and beliefs about the state of sin after death.

My personal suspicion is that the variance amongst the Fathers is born for the most part from a similar concern lest people hear only what they want to hear and neglect their salvation in expectation of a later opportunity. When forced to give a short answer to the question, I generally say, "We are not given any certainty in the Faith about the specifics of what comes after death. We know that we are commanded to pray for the dead, and we know that the prayer of a righteous man is effective. For the rest...the salvation of any one of us is in the hands of God alone, and is not ours to judge or decide, so we pray that He will show mercy on them and on us." I think that reflects a cautious and conservative approach that reflects to the greatest degree possible the entirety of the Orthodox tradition on the subject. Emphasis on the "I think." ;)

And with that...because my thoughts are becoming less organized, not more...I think I should go to bed.
Τῷ μεγάλῳ χρίεται μύρῳ καὶ χειρονεῖται βασιλεὺς καὶ αὐτοκράτωρ τῶν Ῥωμαίων, πάντων δηλαδὴ τῶν χριστιανῶν...οὐδὲν οὖν ἔνι καλὸν, υἱέ μου, ἵνα λέγῃς, ὅτι ἐκκλησίαν ἔχομεν, οὐχὶ βασιλέα, οὐκ ἔνι δυνατὸν εἰς τοὺς χριστιανοὺς, ἔκκλησίαν ἔχειν καὶ βασιλέα οὐκ ἔχειν. – EP Anthony to Basil of Moscow c. 1395

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #30 on: March 29, 2010, 05:37:16 AM »
Has anyone looked at the text for an Orthodox funeral or requiem? I've learned over the years that the first place to look for answers to sticky questions is in the liturgical and, where possible, iconographic deposit of the Church.  ;)
Am I posting? Or is it Schroedinger's Cat?

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #31 on: March 29, 2010, 06:00:16 AM »
Has anyone looked at the text for an Orthodox funeral or requiem? I've learned over the years that the first place to look for answers to sticky questions is in the liturgical and, where possible, iconographic deposit of the Church.  ;)

The Funeral finishes with the reading of the Prayer of Absolution by the priest who states in the prayer that he is acting on the power relayed to him in an unbroken chain back to the holy Apostles.   

Because of this Absolution of sin at the funeral, the Orthodoxy in which I was formed considers a Funeral as one of the Holy Mysteries.

You have certainly heard and seen the priest read the Prayer of Absolution at a Funeral, and you will have seen him take the paper on which the Prayer is written, roll it up and place it in the hand of the dead person.

Here is the text:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His divine grace, as also by the gift and power vouchsafed unto His holy Disciples and Apostles, that they should bind and loose the sins of men: For He said unto them: Receive ye the Holy Spirit; whosesoever sins re remit, they are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye shall retain they are retained.  And whatsoever ye shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven.

By this same power also, transmitted unto us from them, this my spiritual child (Name) is absolved, through me unworthy though I am, from all things wherein he (she) hath sinned against God, whether in word, or deed, or thought, and with all his (her) senses, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, whether wittingly or through ignorance...... <snip>

May all those things which have proceeded from the weakness of his (her) mortal nature be consigned to oblivion, and be forgiven him (her), through His loving-kindness......

Offline franthonyc

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #32 on: March 29, 2010, 10:09:22 AM »
Has anyone looked at the text for an Orthodox funeral or requiem? I've learned over the years that the first place to look for answers to sticky questions is in the liturgical and, where possible, iconographic deposit of the Church.  ;)

The Funeral finishes with the reading of the Prayer of Absolution by the priest who states in the prayer that he is acting on the power relayed to him in an unbroken chain back to the holy Apostles.   

Because of this Absolution of sin at the funeral, the Orthodoxy in which I was formed considers a Funeral as one of the Holy Mysteries.

You have certainly heard and seen the priest read the Prayer of Absolution at a Funeral, and you will have seen him take the paper on which the Prayer is written, roll it up and place it in the hand of the dead person.

Here is the text:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His divine grace, as also by the gift and power vouchsafed unto His holy Disciples and Apostles, that they should bind and loose the sins of men: For He said unto them: Receive ye the Holy Spirit; whosesoever sins re remit, they are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye shall retain they are retained.  And whatsoever ye shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven.

By this same power also, transmitted unto us from them, this my spiritual child (Name) is absolved, through me unworthy though I am, from all things wherein he (she) hath sinned against God, whether in word, or deed, or thought, and with all his (her) senses, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, whether wittingly or through ignorance...... <snip>

May all those things which have proceeded from the weakness of his (her) mortal nature be consigned to oblivion, and be forgiven him (her), through His loving-kindness......


Very interesting. The service books and usage in our tradition reserves the reading of that prayer of absolution to the bishop, if he is serving. It is not read when a priest serves the Funeral by himself.
Τῷ μεγάλῳ χρίεται μύρῳ καὶ χειρονεῖται βασιλεὺς καὶ αὐτοκράτωρ τῶν Ῥωμαίων, πάντων δηλαδὴ τῶν χριστιανῶν...οὐδὲν οὖν ἔνι καλὸν, υἱέ μου, ἵνα λέγῃς, ὅτι ἐκκλησίαν ἔχομεν, οὐχὶ βασιλέα, οὐκ ἔνι δυνατὸν εἰς τοὺς χριστιανοὺς, ἔκκλησίαν ἔχειν καὶ βασιλέα οὐκ ἔχειν. – EP Anthony to Basil of Moscow c. 1395

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #33 on: March 30, 2010, 03:27:56 AM »
Has anyone looked at the text for an Orthodox funeral or requiem? I've learned over the years that the first place to look for answers to sticky questions is in the liturgical and, where possible, iconographic deposit of the Church.  ;)

The Funeral finishes with the reading of the Prayer of Absolution by the priest who states in the prayer that he is acting on the power relayed to him in an unbroken chain back to the holy Apostles.   

Because of this Absolution of sin at the funeral, the Orthodoxy in which I was formed considers a Funeral as one of the Holy Mysteries.

You have certainly heard and seen the priest read the Prayer of Absolution at a Funeral, and you will have seen him take the paper on which the Prayer is written, roll it up and place it in the hand of the dead person.

Here is the text:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His divine grace, as also by the gift and power vouchsafed unto His holy Disciples and Apostles, that they should bind and loose the sins of men: For He said unto them: Receive ye the Holy Spirit; whosesoever sins re remit, they are remitted; and whosesoever sins ye shall retain they are retained.  And whatsoever ye shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven.

By this same power also, transmitted unto us from them, this my spiritual child (Name) is absolved, through me unworthy though I am, from all things wherein he (she) hath sinned against God, whether in word, or deed, or thought, and with all his (her) senses, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, whether wittingly or through ignorance...... <snip>

May all those things which have proceeded from the weakness of his (her) mortal nature be consigned to oblivion, and be forgiven him (her), through His loving-kindness......


Very interesting. The service books and usage in our tradition reserves the reading of that prayer of absolution to the bishop, if he is serving. It is not read when a priest serves the Funeral by himself.

I believe that a Greek priest reads an almost identical prayer, just a little shorter:

May the Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who gave His divine commands to His holy Disciples and Apostles, that they should bind and loose the sins of the fallen , we in turn, having received from them the power to do the same, pardon thee, O spiritual child, all thy deeds done amiss in this life, both voluntary and involuntary....

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #34 on: March 30, 2010, 04:12:01 AM »
I believe that a Greek priest reads an almost identical prayer, just a little shorter:

May the Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who gave His divine commands to His holy Disciples and Apostles, that they should bind and loose the sins of the fallen , we in turn, having received from them the power to do the same, pardon thee, O spiritual child, all thy deeds done amiss in this life, both voluntary and involuntary....

Interesting. This passage is not found in any of the Greek funeral service texts I have on file (two in Greek and two in English).
« Last Edit: March 30, 2010, 04:13:27 AM by LBK »
Am I posting? Or is it Schroedinger's Cat?

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Re: Conversion after death?
« Reply #35 on: March 30, 2010, 04:39:55 AM »
I believe that a Greek priest reads an almost identical prayer, just a little shorter:

May the Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who gave His divine commands to His holy Disciples and Apostles, that they should bind and loose the sins of the fallen , we in turn, having received from them the power to do the same, pardon thee, O spiritual child, all thy deeds done amiss in this life, both voluntary and involuntary....

Interesting. This passage is not found in any of the Greek funeral service texts I have on file (two in Greek and two in English).

So it would seem that the Russians and the Serbs absolve their departed brothers and sisters from sin at the ending of a funeral but the Greeks do not.

My text is a photocopied one from the time when for six months I was acting parish priest for the Greek community, and while I could do Liturgy in Greek well enough,  other things I prefered not to attempt and did in English.