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Author Topic: The Nature of Hell: Eternal or Not?  (Read 40731 times) Average Rating: 0
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GiC
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« on: April 05, 2006, 12:35:39 AM »

Many will go to hell, but hell is not eternal...all will eventually be restored to Communion with God.
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2006, 01:05:02 AM »

Many will go to hell, but hell is not eternal...all will eventually be restored to Communion with God.

Brandon,
Please do not pay attention to anything this person types.  His primary purpose here is for having theological arguments.
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2006, 06:02:30 AM »

Many will go to hell, but hell is not eternal...all will eventually be restored to Communion with God.


So do you care to back up your stance with some evidence here ? Scriptures clearly point to eternal death, so I'm curious to as why you have a different take on this. I've heard about this before, that eventually every soul will be restored to God, but I never understood any of it.
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2006, 06:19:59 AM »

Many will go to hell, but hell is not eternal...all will eventually be restored to Communion with God.

This seems like outright heresy to me. If you'd said something like, 'We do not know but I hope and pray that...all will eventually be restored to Communion with God', then you would be in good company with people like St. Gregory of Nyssa, but to state that hell is not eternal and to teach universalism as a fact is as far as I can see to knowingly teach condemned heresy. Now, I hope that you are expounding in this manner merely to provoke a response rather than because you actually believe this, as you do seem to like to stir things up for no reason. Given the context of this thread, though, I would doubt this as playing devil's advocate in response to a genuine enquiry from a heterodox Christian would be foolhardy and dangerous. I do not believe that you are so foolish, though disregarding the possibility implies that you are indeed foolish in another and also dangerous way. I really do have to wonder if you are actually Orthodox at all at times given that you seem to vacillate between Origenism and a strange kind of reverse Phyletism which elevates theEcumenical Patriarch to a position almost equal to that of the Pope as viewed by ultra-montane proponents of the Papacy. I can only pray for your eyes to be opened, especially as you are a seminarian. At present I would be worried about your influence on others were you ever to be ordained.

James
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2006, 08:49:53 AM »

Many will go to hell, but hell is not eternal...all will eventually be restored to Communion with God.

Origenism. Not official Orthodox teaching.
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2006, 10:12:00 AM »

Origenism. Not official Orthodox teaching.

It's not Origenism, if you wish to debate why it technically is not we can discuss that some time. But you are correct, it is not official Orthodox teaching, nor is any other posistion that has been espoused thus far. That's because we dont have an official teaching on the subject, just various theologoumena; at least, in all my readings, I have not come accross a single synod, Oecumenical or otherwise, that actually defines our dogma in concern to eschatology.

So yes, I am more than willing to say that my posistions are theologoumena, though I would hope others would have the honesty to do the same; the Orthodox Church has traditionally allowed a great latitude of beliefs, so long as they are consonant with the faith of the Seven Oecumenical Synods; a faith which I have not transgressed. With that said, I believe I do have the stronger scriptural and philosophical argument and could argue the patristic side of things to a stalemate or better (I can clearly show that the idea is patristic, but I do not believe there is a patristic consensus to be demonstrated, one way or the other).



This seems like outright heresy to me. If you'd said something like, 'We do not know but I hope and pray that...all will eventually be restored to Communion with God', then you would be in good company with people like St. Gregory of Nyssa

Quick correction, that would be St. Maximos the Confessor...St. Gregory of Nyssa was more in line with what I said.
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2006, 12:01:06 PM »

With that said, I believe I do have the stronger scriptural and philosophical argument and could argue the patristic side of things to a stalemate or better (I can clearly show that the idea is patristic, but I do not believe there is a patristic consensus to be demonstrated, one way or the other).
Ad-hominem removed  It doesn't matter in the least whether or not you can argue this point, as it is completely besides the point of this thread.  You sure as heck know what the original poster is asking and could have given a helpful answer.  Instead, you chose to basically give a troll-like, misleading and decontextualized statement.  People come to this site to get real answers to real questions - not to entertain you in your academic games and debate.  Save that for your fellow seminarians.

Please do not use ad hominem attacks against other posters for any reason.  The best way to respond to perceived error is with facts and charity.
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2006, 12:52:01 PM »

Ad-hominem removed in the original  It doesn't matter in the least whether or not you can argue this point, as it is completely besides the point of this thread.  You sure as heck know what the original poster is asking and could have given a helpful answer.  Instead, you chose to basically give a troll-like, misleading and decontextualized statement.  People come to this site to get real answers to real questions - not to entertain you in your academic games and debate.  Save that for your fellow seminarians.

I gave the answer that I believe to be true. The fullness of Christian Eschatology, free of Judaizing influences, as taught by some of the greatest Fathers in the History of the Church. The mere fact that you disagree with my answer does not negate its validity...unless your claiming to be the pope, with infallibility on all matters of faith and morals. If you have a problem with my response may I suggest you address the issue at hand instead of launching a poorly constructed and executed ad hominem attack. That is, of course, assuming you actually regard your posistion as defensible.
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2006, 12:56:22 PM »

Quick correction, that would be St. Maximos the Confessor...St. Gregory of Nyssa was more in line with what I said.


Yes, and I believe that this teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa is also regarded by official Orthodox doctrinal statements to be heresy.

The Gospels and the Apocalypse of John both state very clearly that hell is eternal.  It is the pious hope of many of the Fathers that this would not be so, but the Church cannot publicly teach something that so clearly contradicts the words of Scripture.  This is why St. Gregory's universalism is declared heretical.
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2006, 01:38:29 PM »

Yes, and I believe that this teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa is also regarded by official Orthodox doctrinal statements to be heresy.

The Gospels and the Apocalypse of John both state very clearly that hell is eternal.  It is the pious hope of many of the Fathers that this would not be so, but the Church cannot publicly teach something that so clearly contradicts the words of Scripture.  This is why St. Gregory's universalism is declared heretical.

Has it been so decreed? Where? Actually there is a synod when the the temporary nature of hell was condemned, a provenical Synod in Constantinople in, I believe, the early 540's (cant remember the exact year off the top of my head). However, what is most telling is that later when the Fifth Oecumenical Synod took up this issue in 553 this Provencial Synod was not ratified, rather the Anathemas against Origen were taken, the Anathemas against a believe in a non-eternal hell were edited out and removed, and a new set of Anathemas, that excluded any reference to the the eternal or non-eternal nature of Hell, were promulgated. I'm guessing such an important point wasn't edited out by the Fathers of the Fifth Oecumenical Synod on accident.
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2006, 01:39:13 PM »

I gave the answer that I believe to be true. The fullness of Christian Eschatology, free of Judaizing influences, as taught by some of the greatest Fathers in the History of the Church. The mere fact that you disagree with my answer does not negate its validity...unless your claiming to be the pope, with infallibility on all matters of faith and morals. If you have a problem with my response may I suggest you address the issue at hand instead of launching a poorly constructed and executed ad hominem attack. That is, of course, assuming you actually regard your posistion as defensible.

Unfortunately, it seems that in this case an ad hominem is the only way to both warn the original poster get the message to you.  Yes, I think my position is defensible, but do not care if you think my ad hominem was poorly constructed and executed.  I'm not a rhetoritician or a good writer and that is still beyond the point of addressing the topic.  Again, I'm not here to play your academic and theological games.
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2006, 01:50:50 PM »

Unfortunately, it seems that in this case an ad hominem is the only way to both warn the original poster get the message to you.  Yes, I think my position is defensible, but do not care if you think my ad hominem was poorly constructed and executed.  I'm not a rhetoritician or a good writer and that is still beyond the point of addressing the topic.  Again, I'm not here to play your academic and theological games.

Don't get me wrong, ad hominems can be wonderful tools and very effective when used properly and there many situations in which I use them, often with great success. I was simply under the impression that their use was contrary to the established rules of debate in this forum.

Furthermore, if your posistion is indeed defensible, as you yourself claim, an ad hominem is not the only way to get your point across, you could have actually, well, defended your posistion. An ad hominem was simply the easiest, not the only, way.
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2006, 01:54:17 PM »

Has it been so decreed? Where? Actually there is a synod when the the temporary nature of hell was condemned, a provenical Synod in Constantinople in, I believe, the early 540's (cant remember the exact year off the top of my head). However, what is most telling is that later when the Fifth Oecumenical Synod took up this issue in 553 this Provencial Synod was not ratified, rather the Anathemas against Origen were taken, the Anathemas against a believe in a non-eternal hell were edited out and removed, and a new set of Anathemas, that excluded any reference to the the eternal or non-eternal nature of Hell, were promulgated. I'm guessing such an important point wasn't edited out by the Fathers of the Fifth Oecumenical Synod on accident.

Let's bring this back to the point I'm trying to make.  The Scriptures are very clear in their teaching on the eternal nature of hell.  The faithful do not need the "official declaration of a council" such as you seek to recognize that this is so.
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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2006, 02:10:56 PM »

Let's bring this back to the point I'm trying to make.  The Scriptures are very clear in their teaching on the eternal nature of hell.  The faithful do not need the "official declaration of a council" such as you seek to recognize that this is so.

That's not what I read in the scriptures, rather I read such things as this:

Quote
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  -- I Timothy ii. 3-6

Please, where does scripture negate the temporary nature of hell?
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2006, 02:33:22 PM »

emphasis mine
Quote from: Matthew 25:31-46
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

    37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

    40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

    41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

    44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

    45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

   46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

And don't forget, if there is indeed a local synod of Constantinople that condemns the doctrine of the temporary nature of Hell, and since you are in the local church of Constantinople by your own admission, the canon is still in effect for you unless you can find a canon that specifically overturns it.
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« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2006, 02:34:39 PM »

Please, where does scripture negate the temporary nature of hell?


More Scriptures that speak of the eternal nature of hell:

...and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:10-15


"And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched."

Mark 9:43-48


Now, GiC, I sincerely hope that you are right or that you're just trying to stir up argument and don't really believe what you profess in this thread, but I certainly would not encourage anyone to bet his/her eternity that you are right.
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« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2006, 03:12:52 PM »

Now to steer this thread toward a more positive direction:

Quote
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  -- I Timothy ii. 3-6


Yes, God does will that everyone should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, as the above passage of Scripture states.  It saddens God deeply to see anyone suffer, but He will not overrule our own free will. To do so would be to squash that which makes us truly human and capable of loving God. He wants us to obey Him out of love for Him and not out of blind, coerced subservience.

I don't think that a desire to inflict eternal punishment is consistent with the infinite love and mercy that drove Jesus to the Cross for our sins (or the love communicated in the above passage from 1 Timothy).  But God will honor each person's free will by allowing each person to choose his/her eternity.  If someone wants to stew in his own juices for all of eternity, God will allow this, even though it is against His will.  I think it might actually be the worst punishment for God to make someone live in heaven if that person doesn't want to.


Even though he's not Orthodox, I really like the words of C.S. Lewis on this issue.  "At the Last Judgment, either you will say to God, 'Thy will be done,' or God will say to you, 'Thy will be done.'"
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« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2006, 03:17:40 PM »

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

That is to say:

Quote
και απελευσονται ουτοι εις κολασιν αιωνιον οι δε δικαιοι εις ζωην αιωνιον

But Matthew 13:40 says,

Quote
ωσπερ ουν συλλεγεται τα ζιζανια και πυρι κατακαιεται ουτως εσται εν τη συντελεια του αιωνος τουτου

Are we to translate αιωνος as eternity here as well? Hmmm, perhaps we could use this to argue for the eternal nature of the world? I would contribute the confusion to a poor translation.

Quote
And don't forget, if there is indeed a local synod of Constantinople that condemns the doctrine of the temporary nature of Hell, and since you are in the local church of Constantinople by your own admission, the canon is still in effect for you unless you can find a canon that specifically overturns it.

Provencial synods have long been suspect when defining issues of dogma; I'm not even certain the minutes of the synod that I mentioned even exist any more, it's referenced through the Anathemas of Justinian in the fifth Oecumenical Synod...which were probably the same as the Anathemas of the said synod, but it is not guaranteed. Of course, there are Anathemas promulgated by Endimousa Synods of Constantinople, never officially repealed, against those who celebrate the feasts of the Saints (in addition to Pascha) according to the Papal Calendar, and we have good documentation of those Anathemas. But, again, these are no Oecumenical Synods, and thus their doctrinal decrees are not regarded as binding, and if these synods become problematic in the future they will be ignored, not reversed...how much more so with an dogma that was not only promulgated by only a Provencial Synod, but a dogma that while presented to an Oecumenical Synod was rejected by the same.
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« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2006, 05:36:19 PM »

More Scriptures that speak of the eternal nature of hell:

More? Consider:

John iii. 17
John xii. 32
Acts iii. 20-21
Romans v. 18-20
Romans xi. 15
Romans xi. 32-33
I Corinthians xv. 22
I Corinthians xv. 28
Ephesians iv. 10
Colossians i. 19-22

I wont actually type them out because it would take up too much space, And that's just a starter.

Quote
...and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever...

I don't believe I need to point out the somewhat questionable place that the Apocalypse of John in the History of the Canon of the Orthodox Church. However, with that said, look at the text of the verse...day and night? Day and night are material elements of creation, of heaven and earth, not of eternity where there will be neither day nor night, such a reference clearly places such happenings (for ages of ages) in the material realm, and yet we know that heaven and earth shall pass away, so this cannot be a reference to hell in eternity.

Quote
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Hell is bad and it exists, but that doesn't mean it's eternal.

Quote
Now, GiC, I sincerely hope that you are right or that you're just trying to stir up argument and don't really believe what you profess in this thread, but I certainly would not encourage anyone to bet his/her eternity that you are right.

I dont believe what I believe out of concern for my own soul, but rather out of concern for the truth. Those who believe in God out of desire for heaven and their own person well-being are less worthy of heaven than those who openly reject God.
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2006, 06:07:00 PM »

GiC,

I hope you've said all that you plan to say in arguing your point, because I'm done arguing with you.  I would like to move on to more positive endeavors on this thread.
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« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2006, 06:18:09 PM »

GiC,

I hope you've said all that you plan to say in arguing your point, because I'm done arguing with you.  I would like to move on to more positive endeavors on this thread.

I'll take that as a concession.
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« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2006, 12:03:23 PM »

The debate about the nature of hell, obviously, has been moved here.  Debate it here, if you're gonna.

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« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2006, 02:39:07 PM »

God desires all to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), but not all will be saved.  The eternity of hell exists because we are eternal, not because God willed it to be eternal, but that we will to always reject God.

It happens.

God bless.
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« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2006, 02:43:17 PM »

Many will go to hell, but hell is not eternal...all will eventually be restored to Communion with God.

Oh Great! Now that this secret is out, everyone will want to start sinning again.  Just Great!

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« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2006, 03:09:46 PM »

The debate about the nature of hell has been moved here.  Debate it there, if you're gonna.

Pedro



I dont quite see how it could be regarded as off topic. Nor do I understand how anyone would disapprove of the discussion (I'm assuming someone, incapable of defending their personal opinion, complained). The OP asked about Eschatology and a posistion that is consonant with Orthodox Theology, as espoused by some of the Greatest Theologians in the History of the Church (Including two of the three who actually bear the official title of 'Theologian'), was presented.  Huh


I believe that the above parenthetical statement that I highlighted in the above quote is probably directed to me, so for the sake of the forum let me explain why I ended my argument with GiC.

The Truth is not dependent on my ability to defend my opinions and win an argument.  My goal in the argument was to present the Truth as I understand it to combat what I consider to be a heresy against the words of Christ Himself.  I presented all the points I felt I needed to present, and I rested my case.  At that point, I decided that any attempts on my part to continue the argument would only serve to fuel my own pride and turn GiC against me.  I would then have devolved into a blatant attempt to prove myself right at all costs, and my presentation of the Truth would have suffered.  I've done that all too often in the past, and I vow to not allow this to dominate me again.  So I told GiC that my argument with him is done.  Now I will say that I have absolutely no interest in GiC bringing this argument up again.
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« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2006, 03:16:37 PM »

I believe that the above parenthetical statement that I highlighted in the above quote is probably directed to me, so for the sake of the forum let me explain why I ended my argument with GiC.

That particular statement was not directed at you, but rather at whoever (presumably more than one person in discussion on the mod or admin forum) decided to split the thread, in spite of the fact that this line of discussion was perfectly on topic and relevant to the issue of Orthodox Eschatology. Unless, of course, you complained about one of my posts, none of which violated any rules, though I didn't think you did; but if that is the case, then yes, part was directed at you...but only indirectly.
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« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2006, 03:29:17 PM »

That particular statement was not directed at you, but rather at whoever (presumably more than one person in discussion on the mod or admin forum) decided to split the thread, in spite of the fact that this line of discussion was perfectly on topic and relevant to the issue of Orthodox Eschatology. Unless, of course, you complained about one of my posts, none of which violated any rules, though I didn't think you did; but if that is the case, then yes, part was directed at you...but only indirectly.

No, I never had any intent of complaining against you.  Nor do I harbor any ill will against you.  For my own salvation, I just want to make sure that I don't carry our previous argument or any other argument too far.
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« Reply #27 on: April 06, 2006, 03:43:13 PM »

(The post was split because the OP asked specifically about Orthodox soteriology as it pertains to eschatology--not merely the duration of the eschatology, which we felt is another topic in and of itself.  No complaints were made by non-mods/admins; sorry if you were offended, GiC.)
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« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2006, 05:01:50 PM »

(The post was split because the OP asked specifically about Orthodox soteriology as it pertains to eschatology--not merely the duration of the eschatology, which we felt is another topic in and of itself.  No complaints were made by non-mods/admins; sorry if you were offended, GiC.)

But the issue of the eternal nature of hell is simply the eschatological element of the soteriology I initially presented, universal salvation. Oh well, it doesn't matter and has grown beyond absrud on both sides, I really dont know I'm bothering to continue...LOL.
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« Reply #29 on: April 06, 2006, 05:52:28 PM »

Why did you bother to start?  Grin
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« Reply #30 on: April 06, 2006, 06:00:54 PM »

My 2 c's, I really don't know what God will decide to do with the condemned. Let's put it this way, there are some condemned whom I would never want to see with me if I make it to heaven, i.e. Joseph Stalin, Madeline Albright, etc.

I think thinking that God will eventually spring the suffering out of hell is not a healthy way to approach salvation. We know that the condemned will likely regret their choices in this life once they are condemned. Whether or not they are capable of repenting in that world is a mystery. I guess it would depend on what God plans for his creations in the afterlife. For that matter, I am wondering what existence will be like in the afterlife. Our scope here is so limited, we can only see a fragment of the light.

I think we just have to leave it as a divine mystery. After all, we are on a 'need to know' basis with God Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: April 06, 2006, 06:08:19 PM »

Let's put it this way, there are some condemned whom I would never want to see with me if I make it to heaven, i.e. Joseph Stalin, Madeline Albright, etc.


What bone do you have to pick with Madeline Albright?  Maybe I'm not all that bright, but I haven't heard of any evil that she's done that would put her on the same level with Joseph Stalin.
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« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2006, 06:23:52 PM »

He might be referring to her role in the bombings of the Serbs...
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« Reply #33 on: April 06, 2006, 09:37:55 PM »

Quote
And don't forget, if there is indeed a local synod of Constantinople that condemns the doctrine of the temporary nature of Hell, and since you are in the local church of Constantinople by your own admission, the canon is still in effect for you unless you can find a canon that specifically overturns it.

I'm not sure how much this reflects the normal flow of Christian history. It sounds logical, especially when canons (juridical by their nature) are being talked about, but it seems to me that more times that not Christianity would change and not bother to revise or discard earlier canons. Indeed, when I was inquiring into Orthodoxy years ago, one point of pride among Orthodox that I talked to was that they weren't like those "legalistic" Catholics who changed their canons all the time, but that the Orthodox never got rid of a canon--once accepted on an Ecumenical level at least--because they were all (to some extent) divinely inspired.

There is, for example, Canon 15 of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea. This was followed by almost no one right from the start: but right there it is, a canon at one of the most important (if not the most important) Councils in Church history. Gregory of Nazianzus certainly was not following this canon when he went to Constantinople, and interestingly enough his adversaries tried to bring it up in an attempt to get rid of him (though the adversaries didn't really care about the canons, because when ecclesiastical solutions didn't work, they resorted to more thuggish methods). But by that time it was absurd to try and invoke it as though it were law. I don't think there have been any revisions or discarding of the canons concerning treating slaves properly, not going to Jewish doctors, not attending the services or praying with "heretics," etc., yet these types of canons seem to be very rarely followed (or in many cases, even necessary) these days.
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« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2006, 09:54:00 PM »

GIC,

You've mentioned some thoughts on how the concept of eternal damnation came into Christianity, but I was wondering if you could clarify some things, and perhaps provide some references. First, do you believe that the concept of eternal damnation was entirely absent in early Christianity, or rather that it was one tenable position, alongside at least one other? Second, I know you've spoken of monastic influence as it relates to the doctrine of eternal damnation, but where exactly and when exactly do you think that this influence took place? Third, if a hell that is not eternal is indeed a tenable position, then why is it that the majority of Church writers who spoke on this subject through the centuries spoke against it? And fourth, could you give a quick list (like you did above with Scriptural passages) of Church writers who support your position?
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« Reply #35 on: April 06, 2006, 10:32:14 PM »

What bone do you have to pick with Madeline Albright?  Maybe I'm not all that bright, but I haven't heard of any evil that she's done that would put her on the same level with Joseph Stalin.

Her wanton murder of over 3,000 innocent Serbs, a murder campaign which continued on Orthodox Easter, under the guise of an "international intervention" to help a terrorist organization overrun Serbian soil and terrorize the Serbian population, as well as desecrate and destroy Orthodox churches.
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« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2006, 01:06:52 AM »

You've mentioned some thoughts on how the concept of eternal damnation came into Christianity, but I was wondering if you could clarify some things, and perhaps provide some references. First, do you believe that the concept of eternal damnation was entirely absent in early Christianity, or rather that it was one tenable position, alongside at least one other?

I think it was present, but best I can gather I believe it was a minority opinion, at least it was only a minority opinion in the fourth century.

Quote
Second, I know you've spoken of monastic influence as it relates to the doctrine of eternal damnation, but where exactly and when exactly do you think that this influence took place?

Probably starting in the late fourth century, though not fully manifesting itself until the eighth or ninth century. A good way I have come across to determine the degree of monastic influence is to look at the history of sacerdotal celibacy (especially in regard to bishops in the east) which was essentially a monastic movement.

Quote
Third, if a hell that is not eternal is indeed a tenable position, then why is it that the majority of Church writers who spoke on this subject through the centuries spoke against it? And fourth, could you give a quick list (like you did above with Scriptural passages) of Church writers who support your position?

I dont know that I would say that a majority advocated an eternal hell, at least not a majority before the sixth or seventh century.

As to fathers who clearly supported Apokatastasis off the top of my head I can say with a fair amount of certainty:
Clement of Alexandria
Origen
Didymus the Blind
Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory the Theologian
Ambrose of Milan
Jerome

Also, Athanasius the Great seems to have supported the theology of universal salvation (which would make sense, being an Alexandrian and well aquainted with Didymus the Blind), but he never directly addressed the issue.

And for a modern reference, Silouan the Athonite

And while Basil did not support the doctrine of universal salvation, when refering to its posistion within the Church he did admit that 'the mass of men say there is to be an end to punishment and to those who are punished.' Demonstrating that the temproary nature of hell was the predominate Christian viewpoint in the Church at that time.

Likewise Augustine said, 'There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments.'
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« Reply #37 on: April 09, 2006, 06:56:42 PM »

Yikes.
This is the one reason that I want to go over to the Pope sometimes.
He can settle things really quickly.
I guess He's not always right (Urban II anyone?).

This seems like a Martin Luther type debate.  I am not even sure why we are addressing it.
I mean, if the Church teaches eternal Hell.... then isn't that what the Church teaches?

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« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2006, 07:26:26 PM »

Her wanton murder of over 3,000 innocent Serbs, a murder campaign which continued on Orthodox Easter, under the guise of an "international intervention" to help a terrorist organization overrun Serbian soil and terrorize the Serbian population, as well as desecrate and destroy Orthodox churches.

your missing the whole irony. During ww2 she was ajew from Czechia. She escaped and serbia offered her refuge. She escaped the Nazis living in Serbia. Then she turned her back and basically was the first person to say BOMB SERBIA
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« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2006, 08:16:36 PM »

I think it was present, but best I can gather I believe it was a minority opinion, at least it was only a minority opinion in the fourth century.

Probably starting in the late fourth century, though not fully manifesting itself until the eighth or ninth century. A good way I have come across to determine the degree of monastic influence is to look at the history of sacerdotal celibacy (especially in regard to bishops in the east) which was essentially a monastic movement.

I dont know that I would say that a majority advocated an eternal hell, at least not a majority before the sixth or seventh century.

As to fathers who clearly supported Apokatastasis off the top of my head I can say with a fair amount of certainty:
Clement of Alexandria
Origen
Didymus the Blind
Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory the Theologian
Ambrose of Milan
Jerome

Also, Athanasius the Great seems to have supported the theology of universal salvation (which would make sense, being an Alexandrian and well aquainted with Didymus the Blind), but he never directly addressed the issue.

And for a modern reference, Silouan the Athonite

And while Basil did not support the doctrine of universal salvation, when refering to its posistion within the Church he did admit that 'the mass of men say there is to be an end to punishment and to those who are punished.' Demonstrating that the temproary nature of hell was the predominate Christian viewpoint in the Church at that time.

Likewise Augustine said, 'There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments.'


       GisC-


     I am aware of quotes supporting Universal Salvation from all of the authors you mentioned, plus St. Ephrem the Syrian, but where are the quotes from St. Ambrose? I would like to look them up.....? Where would the best study be to show that this was the majority opinion before the condemnation of Origenism?

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« Reply #40 on: April 10, 2006, 12:59:01 PM »

Yikes.
This is the one reason that I want to go over to the Pope sometimes.
He can settle things really quickly.
I guess He's not always right (Urban II anyone?).

Please, do, and he'll give you the answer you want, and even a nice little dualistic theology about how matter is evil and sin is transfered through biology.

Quote
This seems like a Martin Luther type debate.  I am not even sure why we are addressing it.
I mean, if the Church teaches eternal Hell.... then isn't that what the Church teaches?

It is what SOME in the History of the Church have taught, but as my list of Church Fathers who advocate this posistion demonstrates, the Church has really never come to a conclusion on this question
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« Reply #41 on: April 10, 2006, 01:11:07 PM »

I am aware of quotes supporting Universal Salvation from all of the authors you mentioned, plus St. Ephrem the Syrian,

True, forgot about him, and a case could be made for St. Isaac the Syrian as well.

Quote
but where are the quotes from St. Ambrose? I would like to look them up.....?

I was specifically thinking of a quote from his commentary on Pslams 1: 'Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. 'Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,' for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.'

Though I haven't had a chance to read all the available commentaries of St. Ambrose on the Pslams, I understand that in these commentaries he discusses this idea in greater detail.

Quote
Where would the best study be to show that this was the majority opinion before the condemnation of Origenism?

For this statement I was relying on the assesment of St. Basil the Great that I posted above ('The mass of men say there is to be an end to punishment and to those who are punished'). Which can probably be taken as an objective statement on the matter (as St. Basil was amongst the opponents of apokatastasis) by a highly educated man.
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« Reply #42 on: April 10, 2006, 08:54:57 PM »

GIC,

Ok, I took a few days to consider (and look into) what you are saying.  One problem is that almost every site on the internet that I go to has quotes but no actual references, so that I can double check. And no offense, but I'm not going to just take a universalist site at it's word that so-and-so taught universalism, especially considering that I find them to often overstate their case. For example, Didymus, Gregory the Theologian and others often get there names mentioned as though there is no question as to their belief, but in my opinion the quotes supplied by such Fathers are ambiguous (perhaps on purpose) and could be accepted by both sides. Others (like Jerome) seemed to hold to one position early ni life, and another position later on in life, so it's hard to know what to make of it.

Then there are other quotes which don't really say much unless you want them to defend a certain position. Your quote that you attribute to Basil, for instance. First, a number of sites I came upon (even pro-universalist sites) admit that it might not even be by Basil. It's hard to know what to make of the quote when I don't know the context. And second, even if it's true, who really cares what "the mass of men" say? If the mass of men also believed that putting off baptism until you were almost dead was a good idea, did that make it a good idea?

You mentioned "late 4th century" as the time when the anti-universalist position really started taking hold, and were perhaps thinking of the opponents of the origenists. And you have yourself mentioned that there was a local council in Constantinople (545) that condemned universalism. But I am most interested in what you think of the Fifth Ecumenical Council and what it had to say, particularly the anathema of St. Justinian:

Quote
"Whoever says or thinks that the torments of the demons and of impious men are temporal, so that they will, at length, come to an end, or whoever holds a restoration either of the demons, or of the impious, let him be anathema."
Emperor Justinian, Condemnation of Origen, 9th Anathema

And the condemnation of Origen and his followers from the actual Council:

Quote
"If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Synods and [if anyone does not equally anathematize] all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned: let him be anathema." - The Capitula of the Council, 11
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« Reply #43 on: April 10, 2006, 11:07:47 PM »


Likewise Augustine said, 'There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments.'

   I believe Bl. Augustine's entire 21st book of the City of God is devoted to describing hell's torments and seeking to refute the views of those he called the "compassionate" who believed in apokatastasis.
I would imagine it had to be a widespread opinion to garnish that much attention..........
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« Reply #44 on: April 11, 2006, 06:03:41 AM »

ÂÂ  I believe Bl. Augustine's entire 21st book of the City of God is devoted to describing hell's torments and seeking to refute the views of those he called the "compassionate" who believed in apokatastasis.
I would imagine it had to be a widespread opinion to garnish that much attention..........

Augustine and the Greek language are incompatible.

www.nccg.org/069Art-EarlyView.html

The German theologian and historian Johann Christoph Doerderlin (1829-1888) writes: "In proportion as any man was eminent in learning in Christian antiquity, the more did he cherish and defend the hope of the termination of future torments." Later on, as when we read some of the early Christian writings, we will find this statement to be true; the more learned a Christian was in the Scriptures in the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, the more likely he or she was to see the "Doctrine of the Restitution of All Things." Those such as Augustine, who said he hated the Greek language, who read only the Latin Vulgate translation, began to be prone toward the "Doctrine of Eternal Torment."

One of several reasons for this was because the Greek word "aion," which meant "age," was translated into the Latin Vulgate as "aeternum" and "seculum." This was a serious mistake which also corrupted our English translations. This error was instrumental in changing the doctrine of the early Christians who believed that punishment was confined to "age." The Latin church, filled with unconverted pagans, separated themselves from the original languages and secluded themselves into the corrupted Latin Vulgate and began to teach what the pagan religions had taught for centuries--eternal torment. I have much information about this. If you want to learn, I'll be happy to send it to you.

Professor and historian Henry Nutcomb Oxenham informs us that the, "Doctrine of endless punishment was not believed at all by some of the holiest and wisest of the Fathers, and was not taught as an integral part of the Christian faith by any even of those who believed it as an opinion."

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