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Author Topic: Metropolitan Anthony on "Life beyond the Grave and Eternal Suffering"  (Read 11969 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 16, 2007, 05:10:24 PM »

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I believe this essay by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) to be very beneficial to an understanding of the torments of Hell. It is very close to the "River of Fire" school of thought, but the key difference is in the last two paragraphs, wherein not only the spiritual, but also the physical nature of the torments is affirmed. I hope others will find it as edifying as I did.

Quote
We are used to imagine the lot of sinners beyond the grave, following the parables about the Rich and Lazarus. Those condemned will be in vain crying over their sins in the infernal fire and appeal to God and the saints for forgiveness, having no response: the repentance of the dead is not accepted, it is late to change! — Why is it so? The fact why the soul, which condemned its falls and changed, is still rejected by the Divine justice remains unclear.

From this originate the natural attempts to invent the stories about some universal reconciliation-apocatharsis. But this teaching is denied by the Church and the Origenists are considered to be heretics. It is all quite consequential: all attempts to interpret the eternity of tortures, as a rather long period of duration, but not infinity, contradict to the word of God and Church tradition. It is enough to point at the words of God in Isaiah: "For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (66:24). These words are impossible to re-interpret as the long duration of tortures, for it is said directly that they will have no end. (comp. Rev. 14:11; 20:10).

Though, if neither the Holy Bible, nor the definitely substantiated teaching of the Church revealed to the people the teaching about the eternity of tortures, our mind anyway would not be able to digress from such a sad conclusion about the beyond-the-grave lot of conscious enemies of God or unrepentant sinners. Really, it would be only left to admit that the Lord would force them to be righteous and to join His joy: but, there where violence rules, there are no moral values, there disappears the very difference between the good and evil, and with that — the whole meaning of the Atonement and House-building.

Is it possible to surmise that there are no consciously and completely evil people; that the evil is the fruit of misunderstanding and imperfection, as pantheists, evolutionists and even some theists teach? But such an understanding is incompatible with the concept of free will, and more — with the teaching of the Holy Scripture and the Church about demons, which no sincere reader would be able to interpret, no matter if he is believing or not believing in God. Finally, we have the direct words of Christ about the fact that his enemies hated Him not because they did not understand Him, but precisely because they understood Him and started to hate the very truth and goodness in Him. "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth" (John 9:41). "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father" (15:22-24).

So, the teaching about the eternity of tortures comes out not only from clarity of the word of God and the Church tradition, but it is impossible to omit it in solving the problem through reason.

Though these are not the things, which stand in the parable about the Rich and Lazarus, — the reader will object: there the talk is not about the unrepentant and embittered villain, but about the soul, which bitterly cries over its sins, and more than that, is filled with compassion to other sinners, who are still on earth; why then the Lord would find no mercy for such a soul? — The objection, in our opinion, is quite well-founded, and it would be difficult to reject it, if in this parable the final lot of the departed was described. But let us recall what the Lord told to the Jews before His descending to hell: did not it have the saving meaning for that repenting about his sinful life rich man? Certainly it did, for the Apostle testifies that not only the righteous, but the sinners were saved by the Conqueror of hell, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah" (1 Pet. 3:18-20).

From these words of the apostle we make the conclusion that the words of Abraham in the parable about the Rich and Lazarus, concerning the abyss that was set between the righteous and sinners and that cannot be passed, refer to the state, typical of the times before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the day of His saving death and resurrection the Lord passed over that abyss and led out of hell not only the waiting for Him righteous, but many, "once rebellious," but still not embittered heathens.

That is why the state of sinful souls, condemned forever, would be not similar to that, through which went the rich man from the parable, humbly begging about bringing to senses his living on earth brothers. Where in the Divine revelation should we find the references to how the perished souls will feel themselves? — "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth," — this is how the Lord defines the lot of the outcast in His parables. These words are said about the cast out from the wedding feast evil guest, who wanted to cast gloom over the common joy through not wearing the wedding vestment, and about the lazy servant, who did not return the given to him talent and was talking with the returned master angrily. According to these words the Lord will drive away from Him those, who will be knocking at the door from the outside and saying: "We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets." (Math. 24:21-30. Luke 13:28). Finally, by this expression is determined the final lot of sinners (Math. 8:12; 13:42-50; 24:51).

So, this state is compared to that, which will experience the invited evil guest and the rejected embittered servant. "Outer darkness" means that dark night, which is so awful after the beautiful, full of light wedding room, or the royal palace. Here not the inflicted sufferings are terrible, but the state of being deprived of common joy, which became absolutely inaccessible to these miserable only because they themselves neglected it and tried to introduce their malice into it, bring the gloom over it through the feeling of senseless bitterness.

What does it mean: weeping and gnashing of teeth? Are only heavy unbearable sufferings or something else meant by these words? It is not said about the rich man of the parable that he gnashed the teeth, but only that he suffered in that fire. What is the direct meaning of this expression? Are sufferings expressed exactly in the gnashing of teeth? No, the gnashing of teeth is the sign of malice and intense struggle. The same way angry dogs, which are attacking their enemies, are gnashing their teeth, as any predatory animals. In the Bible the gnashing of teeth defines the intensified anger and threat, often powerless rage of sinners, directed to the righteous. "The abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not: "With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth" (Ps. 34:16-17). "The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The LORD shall laugh at him" (Ps. 36:12-13; the same meaning in Lamentations 2:16).

But the special character of this phenomenon — the gnashing of teeth — is expressed in the unjust execution of the first martyr of Christ Stephan. When this blissful young man revealed the purity of his faith according to the law and prophets and accused the prophets’ and Christ’s murderers, revealing "the face of an angel," what did his enemies experience? "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth" (Acts 7:54).

Was not that experienced by all villains, overwhelmed by rage and conscious of their powerlessness to fight with the truth? And if this powerlessness is such, that they are not only able to confound it, but to cause any physical damage as well, then the gnashing of teeth joins the wail of powerless rage. — This happens to a ferocious man, who, attacking the hateful neighbor, turns out to be caught and bind: then he cries in malice and gnashes the teeth; this can be often seen by the outraged women, when people around have bound them and do not let them fulfill their malignant intentions.

So "weeping and gnashing of teeth" means not only the sufferings but rage and suffering of powerless rage, of the impossibility to pour it out upon the hated Kingdom of God. This is in what is the meaning of beyond-the-grave tortures! These are not simply the twinges of conscience, which should be followed by repentance, and with this repentance forgiveness shall come. It is impossible to imagine the ever-good Lord, Who would not listen to the centuries-long repentance of sinners and would not ease their state.

But is it possible to imagine such bitterness in the state of rage, which would not cease with the revelation of Divine judgment, with shaming of the kingdom of the devil? — Why one has to ask about the possibility of all, what had already happened in reality? — one should always compare our future appearance before the Lord with how people accepted the Lord, Who had come and worked among them: the kind people joyfully accepted Him; those having the fight between the good and evil, accepted Him after inner struggle and tortures, as the possessed, being cured, as the malefactor on the cross, as Nicodemus, one of the Jewish leaders. The evil ones, on the contrary, the more they knew Him, the more they hated Him, and when they saw the resurrection of Lazarus, "then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death" (John 11:53). This was expressed by the Lord in the words of the farewell conversation, which were mentioned at the beginning of this article. And Apostle John based all his Gospel, his epistles and the Revelation exactly on the revealing of that sad law of war between God and the world, which is in the unceasing fight of the latter against Christ and His Kingdom, — the fight that does not stop, but on the contrary, becomes more intense, the more the Divine plans are being revealed. "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory." This is how sinners will act in the fire of hell and its eternity will depend only on their absence of repentance. But listen to the Revelation further: "And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds" (Rev. 16:8-12; compare 9:20-21).

I am ready to agree with the correctness of such an interpretation and Biblical utterances, and the state of the condemned sinners, — the reader will say: but how is it possible to permit eternal resistance in such insane bitterness against God, the eternal absence of repentance among His enemies? — And what is repentance? — We shall ask in our turn, and shall answer this way. Repentance is the turning point, concerning the will, the change in the human mood, which is caused either by the new way of perceiving oneself, i.e. the awakening of the just found and till that time concealed content of one’s soul, one’ inner life, — or by the assimilation of this new content because of the influence of other people, books, outer world, the very Lord at last, as it happened to Zacchaeus, when he was listening to His holy words and felt His compassionate attitude towards him. — But all these conditions take place only within the gradual process of perceiving oneself and Divine plans, and when it all will be done, when "there should be time no longer" (Rev.10:6) — the plans of God will come true and there will remain nothing to perceive neither in oneself, nor in the outside world; all blessedness and wisdom of God will be revealed before everybody in all its grandeur, and the enemies of God will blaspheme it and curse it and finally turn away from it, without having accepted the accusation neither concerning their terrestrial life, nor the long period between their death and the Dread Judgment (when the prayers of the believers and saints for the souls of the departed raised to God). Then there will be no new chance remaining for the inner change of embittered souls; there will remain only inner necessity for both the righteous and sinners to take root in their mood — in blissful love and thanksgiving, or on the contrary, in powerless rage and painful tortures.

Though, why then these tortures will be so painful, if they are, on the major part, the tortures of powerless rage? — We shall answer this question, recalling one of the Biblical expressions about the weeping and gnashing of teeth. The tortures of powerless rage are very painful. But here, on earth, they are eased by the temporal character and variety of the experienced emotions and states; and as well by the fact that the outraged person hopes to satisfy himself if not in one evil act, then in another, or at last, to find oblivion in wine, earthly entertainments, in some other, accessible to him pleasures and comforts, — and in the other life nothing of this will exist. The complexity and fuss of this life will disappear. "The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Pet. 3:10). For reasonable creatures there will remain only the chance of taking root in moral position in respect of God and the Divine Kingdom: either love for them, or hatred, powerless rage, which is self-accusatory and therefore infinitely torturing. The wedding palace of the Lamb will shine in front of the outcast, to be precise — that sinner who cast himself out. He would be bound and would not interrupt the course of the celebration, there would be light in front of him, but he would be in darkness; the Divine love would shine in front of him, in readiness to forgive everything, but this love would be hated by him, and the forgiveness — undesired. The same way it is said in the Revelation: "And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb" (14:10). — The words of the Lord at the Dread Judgment "Depart from me, ye cursed," and other similar to them words of the Catechism, which explain that hell is the place away from God, should be understood in the sense of moral, but not positional deprivation, as well as the words of Christ, said to the unwisely speaking disciple: "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me" (Math. 16:23).

But what is the fire, making sinners burn? — First of all, it is the same fire, which will enlighten the righteous since the day, "when all deeds, good and evil, will be tried by fire," as we read in the canon to the Guardian Angel; it is like the Chaldean furnace: "A furnace once in Babylon, by divine decree, divided its action, burning up the Chaldeans but refreshing the faithful". The fire burns the wood, hey and straw, but cleanses gold and silver. The sinners shall be cast "into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Math. 13:42-43). Similarly Apostle Paul tells about one and the same fire — the Divine touch — that influences different souls in a different way. "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (1 Cor. 3:13-15).

In this sense the Lord is called as consuming fire in the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah calls him eternal fire, eternal flame, which burns the sinners. "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions", and further (33:14-15).

Do not you want to say that the lot of the righteous and sinful will be the same if to look at them from aside: it is the state of constant vision of God and the impossibility to hide from Him, — but for one it will be the source of pleasure, and for others — of tortures, forthcoming from their hatred and powerless rage? — Or do you want to say that the eternal fire is nothing but the Divine presence, which is so hard to bear for his enemies? I did not mean "nothing but" but what was meant is "in the first place". To say "nothing but" will be possible only in the case, when someone compares the eternal fire with material fire from the church legend (and the church legend is as well holy for us, as the words of the holy Bible), and only if it is possible to bring this idea together with that indisputable truth about the resurrection of the body, so precious for most ancient Christians and so obviously revealed to us through the Word of God.

But, in the vast course of dogmatics there is no expression of the holy fathers about the material fire in hell. But, certainly, we would not dare to deny the presence of physical tortures there, — it is only easier to talk about the soul in respect of future life, than in respect of the resurrected body, for as well in this life the spiritual aspect is more understandable for us, then that of flesh and matter, as correctly states one Russian philosopher, who passed away long before. No one could yet define what matter is, and it is more difficult to imagine, which qualities of matter will definitely remain in the resurrected flesh.

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/mitrop_antonij_hrapovitski_1_e.htm#_Toc90374204
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2007, 01:59:40 AM »

Okay, any bets on how long it takes before greekischristian sees this thread and uses it as a soapbox for preaching his doctrine of apokatastasis? (LOL!  Cheesy)  Good read, though.  Thank you.
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2007, 03:40:04 AM »

I wager 100 bucks!
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2007, 07:54:58 AM »

Okay, any bets on how long it takes before greekischristian sees this thread and uses it as a soapbox for preaching his doctrine of apokatastasis? (LOL!  Cheesy)  Good read, though.  Thank you.

Well, clearly there's a lot of wriggle room for GiC to exploit when the author writes with such ambiguity:  Roll Eyes

Quote
From this originate the natural attempts to invent the stories about some universal reconciliation-apocatharsis. But this teaching is denied by the Church and the Origenists are considered to be heretics. It is all quite consequential: all attempts to interpret the eternity of tortures, as a rather long period of duration, but not infinity, contradict to the word of God and Church tradition. It is enough to point at the words of God in Isaiah: "For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (66:24). These words are impossible to re-interpret as the long duration of tortures, for it is said directly that they will have no end. (comp. Rev. 14:11; 20:10).

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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2007, 09:04:48 AM »

Quote
But the special character of this phenomenon — the gnashing of teeth — is expressed in the unjust execution of the first martyr of Christ Stephan. When this blissful young man revealed the purity of his faith according to the law and prophets and accused the prophets’ and Christ’s murderers, revealing "the face of an angel," what did his enemies experience? "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth" (Acts 7:54).

Was not that experienced by all villains, overwhelmed by rage and conscious of their powerlessness to fight with the truth? And if this powerlessness is such, that they are not only able to confound it, but to cause any physical damage as well, then the gnashing of teeth joins the wail of powerless rage. — This happens to a ferocious man, who, attacking the hateful neighbor, turns out to be caught and bind: then he cries in malice and gnashes the teeth.

It has just occured to me that I have seen people "gnashing their teeth" in exactly the way Metropolitan Anthony describes.
While working in the Forensic Unit (Psychiatric Unit) of Long Bay Prison, one of the prisoners was thwarted from attacking a female nurse by the wardens, and he was gnashing his teeth at the nurse. The prisoner was diagnosed a "Psychopath" (which, by the way, isn't even a recognised diagnosis in Psychiatry). From my experience, the diagnosis "Psychopath" means the patient is "bad", not "mad". The Scriptures have an interesting turn of phrase where it describes those who: "Speak lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:2). All those whom I have met who were "diagnosed" as "Psychopaths" were con-men and manipulators who could convince almost anyone of a lie in order to get what they wanted. They would play on people's sympathy and attempt to divide the nursing staff (who thankfully, were well trained to deal with this, but on rare occasions would fall into their trap). And they did this with no conscience, simply treating people as objects to be exploited. They had "seared their conscience with a hot iron".
On this particular occasion, a "Psychopath" prisoner attempted to create a situation where the nurse would be under his control in a hostage situation. The nurse, unwittingly co-operated with the prisoner, and placed herself in the doorway of an empty room, with the prisoner blocking her only exit. When I saw the situation, and the prisoner approaching her, I pressed my duress alarm and pointed in the direction of the situation, and four wardens apprehended the prisoner. What was interesting was that as he was being taken away, he was cursing with disgusting profanities through his gnashed his teeth, not at the wardens, but at the innocent nurse whom he had failed to entrap. He was calling her "stupid" and "gullible" in order to belittle her, which is always an indictment on the one saying it rather than the object of their derision.
But the look of pure hatred and anger on his face as he hissed profanities through his gnashed teeth is one of those images that I don't think I'll ever be able to forget.
I've often thought that horrendous crimes committed against other human beings- rape, paedophilia, sadism, etc are actually cases where the guilty attack what they perceive to be innocent in order to "punish" them for being innocent.
In the next world, those who condemn themselves to hell will likewise "gnash their teeth" against those who are redeemed. The very reason they will end up in hell is because they did not repent, so why should we assume that they will repent in the next life? If they did repent, they would be saved, but they will not (i.e., not bend their will) to repentance which is why they keep themselves locked in hell.
May we all answer Christ's constant call to repentance, including the sad prisoner I mentioned, but first and foremost: myself.
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2007, 10:23:19 AM »

Ozgeorge,

Thank you!
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2007, 10:40:32 AM »

Quote
From this originate the natural attempts to invent the stories about some universal reconciliation-apocatharsis. But this teaching is denied by the Church and the Origenists are considered to be heretics. It is all quite consequential: all attempts to interpret the eternity of tortures, as a rather long period of duration, but not infinity, contradict to the word of God and Church tradition. It is enough to point at the words of God in Isaiah: "For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (66:24). These words are impossible to re-interpret as the long duration of tortures, for it is said directly that they will have no end. (comp. Rev. 14:11; 20:10).

I'm just amazed me that this guy made it all the way to being a Metropolitan without hearing of hyperbole...goes to show you, it's not what you know, it's who you know.

I would have thought that the problems with this pontification were self-evident. I would have thought he'd read some of the most basic works in middle and neo-platonic philsophy so he'd at least understand the issue, but I guess educating oneself would be too much to expect. Oh well, I guess I stand condemned (along with, of course, the holy fathers of the Church from St. John and St. Paul to St. Athanasios, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory the Theologian). At least when I burn in your hell I'll be in good company. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2007, 01:06:22 PM »

Yes, thank you Ozgeorge!

As for greekischristian, I suggest he visit the following sites:

Dialogues and Articles on the Afterlife
What Early Christians believed about Hell & Eternal Punishment
Life After Death - Chapter 8 - The Restoration of All Things
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2007, 01:16:33 PM »

I find that the idea of eternal torment. Could be very dangerous for a persons soul. It leaves room for one to harbor revenge for those that have did them wrong. That can't other wise instill torture on there own. because of the violation to the law of God.

I find this part of the artical to be the most importance.

 
Quote
The fact why the soul, which condemned its falls and changed, is still rejected by the Divine justice remains unclear.
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2007, 02:57:42 PM »


he's read all that and doesn't agree with any of it and he thinks Metropolitan Hierotheos is a bad writer. So, sorry, you won't win. Just ignore him and he gives up Wink
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2007, 07:12:20 PM »


Modern Orthodox writers tend to be of low caliber. I've read some of these writings you reference and am quite disappointed in the scholarship, or should I say lack thereof. (Even Basil and Augustine, both opponents of Apokatastasis, admitted that it was the predominate eschatology of their time.)

But dont take my word for it, find this out for yourself. Read the original sources, read Plotinus, read Origen, read Clement of Alexandria, Read Gregory of Nyssa. Don't accept or reject them based on a poorly written article by a less than capable self-fancied 'scholar'; read their actual arguments and positions and accept or reject their arguments based on their merits. Don't read some Mickey Mouse article about eschatology and believe that from it you are qualified to pass judgement on some of the greatest theological minds in the history of the Church...at least give them the chance to make their arguments in their own words.

he's read all that and doesn't agree with any of it and he thinks Metropolitan Hierotheos is a bad writer. So, sorry, you won't win. Just ignore him and he gives up Wink

Hey, I didn't start this one. Wink
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« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2007, 07:55:32 PM »

Modern Orthodox writers tend to be of low caliber. I've read some of these writings you reference and am quite disappointed in the scholarship, or should I say lack thereof. (Even Basil and Augustine, both opponents of Apokatastasis, admitted that it was the predominate eschatology of their time.)

But dont take my word for it, find this out for yourself. Read the original sources, read Plotinus, read Origen, read Clement of Alexandria, Read Gregory of Nyssa. Don't accept or reject them based on a poorly written article by a less than capable self-fancied 'scholar'; read their actual arguments and positions and accept or reject their arguments based on their merits. Don't read some Mickey Mouse article about eschatology and believe that from it you are qualified to pass judgement on some of the greatest theological minds in the history of the Church...at least give them the chance to make their arguments in their own words.

Hey, I didn't start this one. Wink

So, O great one, when will we be able to read your high caliber scholarly works?
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« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2007, 08:50:12 PM »

So, O great one, when will we be able to read your high caliber scholarly works?

I make no pretense of publishing any, but I have studied the subject enough to be able to distinguish between good and poor scholarship (unfortunately, in Orthodox circles, the vast majority tends to fall in the latter category). But, of course, this is all irrelevant to what I suggested in my previous post. All I said is that the original sources should be consulted and that you should at least go to the trouble of reading these fathers and hearing them out from their own works before you condemn them out of hand based on shoddy scholarship. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2007, 09:37:18 PM »

GIC

This is an honest question, who of the Fathers listed do you think one should start with?  I read Gregory of Nyssa's "On the Soul and the Resurrection" and found it a bit difficult to follow at times (I'm clearly no theologian).  Who would you suggest, and which work, to begin with as a starting point on this interesting subject?

Thanks

Shawn
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« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2007, 09:54:50 PM »

Western scholarship is boring Wink
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« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2007, 09:55:51 PM »

This is an honest question, who of the Fathers listed do you think one should start with?  I read Gregory of Nyssa's "On the Soul and the Resurrection" and found it a bit difficult to follow at times (I'm clearly no theologian).  Who would you suggest, and which work, to begin with as a starting point on this interesting subject?
That depends on how you wish to approach it. If one wishes to approach it as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, one should begin with an examination of the Fifth Oecumenical Council.
If one does not wish to approach it as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, then I would start with Origen.
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« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2007, 11:04:05 PM »

Modern Orthodox writers tend to be of low caliber. I've read some of these writings you reference and am quite disappointed in the scholarship, or should I say lack thereof.
How do we know that your scholarship is any better?  From your posts here, one can conclude rather easily that "bad scholarship" is merely anything with which you disagree.

Quote
(Even Basil and Augustine, both opponents of Apokatastasis, admitted that it was the predominate eschatology of their time.)
At one time the predominant Christology of the Eastern Church was Arianism.

Quote
But dont take my word for it, find this out for yourself. Read the original sources, read Plotinus, read Origen, read Clement of Alexandria, Read Gregory of Nyssa. Don't accept or reject them based on a poorly written article by a less than capable self-fancied 'scholar'; read their actual arguments and positions and accept or reject their arguments based on their merits. Don't read some Mickey Mouse article about eschatology and believe that from it you are qualified to pass judgement on some of the greatest theological minds in the history of the Church...at least give them the chance to make their arguments in their own words.

The problem with apokatastasis, AISI, is that those few Fathers who put forth the teaching did so in opposition to the clear Scriptural teaching on the matter.
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« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2007, 01:14:58 AM »

GIC

This is an honest question, who of the Fathers listed do you think one should start with?  I read Gregory of Nyssa's "On the Soul and the Resurrection" and found it a bit difficult to follow at times (I'm clearly no theologian).  Who would you suggest, and which work, to begin with as a starting point on this interesting subject?

Thanks

Shawn

While the proper scholastic approach would probably be to start with someone like Philo or at least Plotinus, I would recommend starting with St. Athanasios' 'On the Incarnation'. Now while a few might not believe that it is relevant to the issue of apokatastasis, I would disagree, furthermore no Orthodox discussion on eschatology or soteriology is really possible without it. After that I would recommend 'On the Soul and the Resurrection', if you found it difficult reading perhaps the issue's in the translation? It's at least something to look into, Patristic Greek can be difficult to translate and I have come accross some translations that are almost impossible to read. I would also recomment the Stromata of St. Clement of Alexandria, especially volume 7. Also I would recomment Origen's 'De Principiis'. Other writers of importance include Didymus the Blind, Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, Ambrose of Milan, and John Cassian, amongst others.

That depends on how you wish to approach it. If one wishes to approach it as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, one should begin with an examination of the Fifth Oecumenical Council.
If one does not wish to approach it as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, then I would start with Origen.

Being part of the Coptic Church and not accepting the fifth Oecumenical Synod, that would be a strange place for him to start reading...especially considering that the synod itself went out of its way to avoid addressing the issue of Apokatastasis.
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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2007, 01:15:27 AM »

Western scholarship is boring Wink

Well, that's ok, then why not just go right to the source? Wink
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« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2007, 01:25:19 AM »

How do we know that your scholarship is any better?  From your posts here, one can conclude rather easily that "bad scholarship" is merely anything with which you disagree.

Not necessarially, I disagree with much of what Archbishop Peter L'Huillier wrote, yet think he's one of the best Orthodox Scholars in the Americas. Sometimes perhaps better a scholar than would be beneficial for him, his level of academic honesty and rigour in his research at times even weakens the conclusion he desires to draw.

Quote
At one time the predominant Christology of the Eastern Church was Arianism.

But Arianism was not advocated by those whom we today refer to as Church Fathers.

Quote
The problem with apokatastasis, AISI, is that those few Fathers who put forth the teaching did so in opposition to the clear Scriptural teaching on the matter.

I would disagree, I think scripture quite clearly supports Apokatastasis, as I presented at length during our last discussion of this subject.
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« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2007, 01:26:35 AM »

Being part of the Coptic Church and not accepting the fifth Oecumenical Synod, that would be a strange place for him to start reading...especially considering that the synod itself went out of its way to avoid addressing the issue of Apokatastasis.

Born and baptized into a Protestant family (Methodist), age 14 became interested with the Catholic church (through EWTN) and age 15 started RCIA (with parents permission).  I believe Easter 2000 I was confirmed, taking the name of Francis (after Francis of Assisi who I was deeply devoted to) as my confirmation name.  Next couple of years, came in contact with a few Franciscan Orders (under the spiritual direction of my Catholic FOC), looked very seriously into the Franciscans of the Renewal, Franciscans of the Immaculata (sp?), and near the end of my Catholic life, I was in contact with the Franciscan Friars of the Primitive Observance (essentially all "grey renewal friars" if you will).  Age 17, started attending a local Coptic Orthodox parish, and on my 18th birthday baptized and chrismed in the Orthodox church (taking the name Joseph, because Abouna didn't know "Shawn" was a Christian name).  Now, haven't attended liturgy since Jan. 2006 (last liturgy I attended was a Carpatho-Rus. Orthodox liturgy, which locally is in communion with my COC parish).  A friend once called me a "religion whore", and though it is a little more complex than that, I agree and thus don't affiliate with any religious group.  If you want any more detail, feel free to PM me, and I'll fill you in with the desired details to the best of my ability.

Shawn

Really GiC, get with the program! If you can't be trusted to correctly understand information from 4 months ago, why on earth would anyone trust your understanding of the ancient texts of the Church? Cheesy
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« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2007, 01:40:23 AM »

Really GiC, get with the program! If you can't be trusted to correctly understand information from 4 months ago, why on earth would anyone trust your understanding of the ancient texts of the Church? Cheesy

So he's technically in the Coptic Church. Plus, I can't remember what happened at the beginning of the evening...now you want me to think back 4 months? As I said before, go read the fathers I referenced, I'm sure they can put it much better than I can...especially in my current state. Grin
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« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2007, 02:03:31 AM »

From your posts here, one can conclude rather easily that "bad scholarship" is merely anything with which you disagree.

Not necessarially, I disagree with much of what Archbishop Peter L'Huillier wrote, yet think he's one of the best Orthodox Scholars in the Americas. Sometimes perhaps better a scholar than would be beneficial for him, his level of academic honesty and rigour in his research at times even weakens the conclusion he desires to draw.

Regardless of what you think of your assessment of others' scholarship, that doesn't change the truth of what I said, that others could draw different conclusions about what defines your standards of scholarship.

Quote
But Arianism was not advocated by those whom we today refer to as Church Fathers.
Yes, and St. Gregory of Nyssa was almost denied the title of Church Father for his advocacy of apokatastasis.

Quote
I would disagree, I think scripture quite clearly supports Apokatastasis, as I presented at length during our last discussion of this subject.
I thought your Scriptural arguments unbiblical then, and I think the same of them now.
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« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2007, 02:11:45 AM »

Regardless of what you think of your assessment of others' scholarship, that doesn't change the truth of what I said, that others could draw different conclusions about what defines your standards of scholarship.

Yes, you can draw those conclusions if you like, they're wrong but you're welcome to them.

Quote
Yes, and St. Gregory of Nyssa was almost denied the title of Church Father for his advocacy of apokatastasis.

Ah, first it was St. Clement of Alexandria, now people are attacking the Sainthood of Gregory of Nyssa...LMAO. I keep this up for a few more years, you people will have fewer saints than the protestants.

Quote
I thought your Scriptural arguments unbiblical then, and I think the same of them now.

You're welcome to that opinion, and I understand, I really do. It gives one a strange comfort to believe that they are better than their neighbour and that those who dont agree with them will burn in hell.
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« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2007, 02:19:01 AM »

You're welcome to that opinion, and I understand, I really do. It gives one a strange comfort to believe that they are better than their neighbour and that those who dont agree with them will burn in hell.

It could indeed give the self-righteous an excuse to be proud.  Even so, many such as I will PRAY for the salvation of all yet still preach the biblical doctrine that the suffering of hell is unending.  Do we secretly wish to see our enemies burn in hell forever?  I certainly pray not!
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« Reply #25 on: May 19, 2007, 02:34:02 AM »

You're welcome to that opinion, and I understand, I really do. It gives one a strange comfort to believe that they are better than their neighbour and that those who dont agree with them will burn in hell.
God Forbid! Έξω από εδώ! Φτου! Κούφια η ώρα!
By the same token though, it often gives one "strange comfort" to belittle a Metroplitan and dismiss everything he has said because one disagrees with him. You remain stuck in the notion that God would have to be cruel and sadistic not to accept the repentance of those in hell, but I urge you to take a second look at Metropolitan Anthony's essay, because this is one of the very things he addresses, namely, that the souls in hell are in hell by their own choice, there is no repentance for God to accept, they hate Him and they hate His Saints, and their rage is why they "gnash their teeth". You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink; you can preach repentance, but you can't make someone repent.
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« Reply #26 on: May 19, 2007, 05:00:03 AM »

 
God Forbid! Έξω από εδώ! Φτου! Κούφια η ώρα!
By the same token though, it often gives one "strange comfort" to belittle a Metroplitan and dismiss everything he has said because one disagrees with him.

I dont dismiss everything he has to say...everytime he recites the creed I am in fully agreement with him. Grin

But he has, through his writings, entered himself into the ancient debate about apokatastasis, and by writing in modern times citing the ancient argument, he has entered himself into the debate as a secondary source. Thus, he is subject to criticism as the same.

Quote
You remain stuck in the notion that God would have to be cruel and sadistic not to accept the repentance of those in hell, but I urge you to take a second look at Metropolitan Anthony's essay, because this is one of the very things he addresses, namely, that the souls in hell are in hell by their own choice, there is no repentance for God to accept, they hate Him and they hate His Saints, and their rage is why they "gnash their teeth". You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink; you can preach repentance, but you can't make someone repent.

This position is not a source of confusion to me, as I once held it. But in my readings of the philosophers and of the fathers amongst the Saints, I have come to the conclusion that this approach simply doesn't work. First and foremost in my concern is St. Athanasios' 'De Incarnatione'. If one takes to heart what he teaches about salvation one must come to realize that salvation is a corporate act, not an individual one. In your example you speak of individuals and of the refusal of individuals...but Christ did not come to save individuals, he came to save the Human race. To quote Paul, 'Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.' Now if the salvation from Christ is only for a few, then the 'sin of Adam' only applies to a few...in this case, I'm claiming exemption from the latter. Wink Of course, St. Athanasios was probably one of us universalist heretics by most accounts...so I guess we're going to be throwing his writings out pretty soon along with Sts. Clement of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa

Beyond this are the more complex philosophical issues dealing with evil. If evil is eternal, then it has defeated God, by making itself the equal of God. Why not serve evil? Apparently it too is co-eternal with the Father...either that or the Father chooses to eternally sustain evil, in which case evil is not merely co-eternal with the Father, it IS the Father. I fear I simply cannot accept the logical absurdities of an Eternal Hell. With it comes the limitation of God, the defeat of Christ, the worthlessness of the Crucifixion...if I were going to believe these things, I might as well be an atheist, at least then I'd be on the winning side. Apparently, Christ is not risen from the dead, for he has not trampled down death by death, and as for those in the tombs only a lucky few actually got life out of the deal.
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« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2007, 07:16:36 AM »

I dont dismiss everything he has to say...everytime he recites the creed I am in fully agreement with him. Grin
Well, that's something I guess.... Cheesy

But he has, through his writings, entered himself into the ancient debate about apokatastasis, and by writing in modern times citing the ancient argument, he has entered himself into the debate as a secondary source. Thus, he is subject to criticism as the same.
GiC, accusing him of being "anaxios" of the Metropolitanate because he, in your opinion, is "unfamiliar with hyperbole" is not a criticism of what he has to say. It is a personal attack based on the belief that you are smarter than he is.

This position is not a source of confusion to me, as I once held it. But in my readings of the philosophers and of the fathers amongst the Saints, I have come to the conclusion that this approach simply doesn't work.
OK, let's look at how you came to this conclusion:

First and foremost in my concern is St. Athanasios' 'De Incarnatione'. If one takes to heart what he teaches about salvation one must come to realize that salvation is a corporate act, not an individual one. In your example you speak of individuals and of the refusal of individuals...but Christ did not come to save individuals, he came to save the Human race.
Christ came to save human nature, and He did. Our nature has been redeemed, and the gates of Paradise has been opened to it which were once shut to human nature. Just as God is Three Persons in One Nature (Ousia), we who are made in His Image are many persons who share a common nature (ousia). But you are going wrong in your logic because you are equating the abstract concept of "humanity" with "human nature". You are erroneously equating the multiplicity of human persons with the concept of "humanity". All people are human just as all Persons of the Trinity are Divine. All people share human nature just as all Persons of the Trinity share Divine Nature. And finally, each individual person has humanity just as each Person of the Trinity has Divinity.
If God acts only on humanity as a whole and not individuals, why then wasn't everyone who was sick and suffering on Earth healed by Christ when he walked among us? Why did He only raise Lazarus, the little girl and the widow's son from the dead? Why these particular interactions with individuals and not a "corporate act"? Does God not relate to each person personally? Do we not meet the Persons of the Trinity as persons ourselves? Do individuals lose their individuality in theosis? Is theosis the completre annihilation of the self into some communal "self" belonging to all of "humanity"? Even for us, it is so much easier to "love humanity" than it is to love a human person. But "humanity" is just a concept, and it's easy to love concepts. But God does not approach us as a "concept", nor can we approach God as a concept. We can only approach God person to Person.
How can theosis make us God-like if it leaves us with no personhood- particularly since personhood is the unmistakable mark of our God Who is One Nature in Three Persons? The Words spoken by the Holy Trinity by which God created man are recorded in Genesis as: "Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness..."  "Us" and "Our" denote Persons. "Let Us (Persons) make Man in Our Image (i.e. "with personhood"). Without personhood, man is not man. The only way your concept of the "salvation of all humanity" works is if we lose our personhood in Eternity, that is, if God annihilates not only the Image of Himself, but human nature itself, since human nature can only exist while there are humans, and humans can only exist if they have personhood. What you want is for God to treat us, not as persons, but as a single, homogenous organism resembling an amoeba. You might say that there is no point to personhood if it suffers in hell for everlasting, but as we have said before, and as the fathers have said before: the flames of hell are not some demonic creation. The flames of hell are the Divinie Energies. The flames of hell are simply God Being God.  The flames of hell is the same Loving God which illumines the redeemed. The flames of hell are the same as the Light of Tabor. The flames of hell are the the Love of God which the damned have rejected and continue to reject. And the only reason they experience it as torment is because they continue to reject it. The damned suffer precisely because God is "All in all", they suffer because they reject and want to escape from the God Who surrounds and penetrates their being, but they can't. The English word "hell" comes from the Proto Germanic word "khalija" meaning "to hide, to cower, to take cover". The damed seek to take hide from the Divine Presence and cannot, and therefore experience this as torment. Is annihilation preferable to this? Tell me, what would you say of a God Who commands us to love our enemies, yet annihilates His own? That God continues to respect the personhood of those who hate Him is yet more testament of His Love.

To quote Paul, 'Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.' Now if the salvation from Christ is only for a few, then the 'sin of Adam' only applies to a few...in this case, I'm claiming exemption from the latter. Wink
A gift requires both a giver and a receiver. And the same Apostle who wrote the words you quote explains this himself when he says: "For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."  Both the herbs and the thorns receive the same blessing from God, but one uses it to become useful herbs, and the other rejects it to become harmful thorns.

The rain falls on all the earth which produces both wheat and weeds. The wheat is gathered for the harvest and is ground into flour and placed in the fire to make bread for the banquet. The weeds are put in the same fire, but they burn because they are dry weeds.
The fire is the Divine Energy.

Of course, St. Athanasios was probably one of us universalist heretics by most accounts...so I guess we're going to be throwing his writings out pretty soon along with Sts. Clement of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa
Who has thrown them out? Come on, are you now going to tell us that if a Father is fallible, he must be rejected as a Father? Give me some credit, and don't insult my intelligence with this kind of dramatics!

Beyond this are the more complex philosophical issues dealing with evil. If evil is eternal, then it has defeated God, by making itself the equal of God. Why not serve evil? Apparently it too is co-eternal with the Father...either that or the Father chooses to eternally sustain evil, in which case evil is not merely co-eternal with the Father, it IS the Father.
Orthodoxy Ontology 101: Evil has no existence. Evil is a non-existence.
Those who love evil and do not repent of it are "sustained", but are also "contained", they are bound up, and made powerless so that they can do no harm- which is the very reason that the damned "gnash their teeth". Again, I ask: What would you say of a God Who commands us to love our enemies, yet annihilates His own?

I fear I simply cannot accept the logical absurdities of an Eternal Hell. With it comes the limitation of God, the defeat of Christ, the worthlessness of the Crucifixion...if I were going to believe these things, I might as well be an atheist, at least then I'd be on the winning side.
Well, if you think being made powerless to carry out your evil designs for all eternity is "winning" then, I don't know what I can say...

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« Reply #28 on: May 19, 2007, 10:57:58 AM »

Your both touching on a very important issue.

Quote
Orthodoxy Ontology 101: Evil has no existence. Evil is a non-existence.

To George: How will something that is contained be able to not exist?

And GIC: How can something witch is evil exist if it can't be transformed into good. Via free will?


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« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2007, 11:13:34 AM »

To George: How will s omething that is contained be able to not exist?
Note my careful choice of words:
Those who love evil and do not repent of it are "sustained", but are also "contained"
Evildoers cannot in themselves be evil by nature, because their nature is created by God. Even the demons are not evil by nature. Both, however, have misused their nature and chosen to love non-existant evil rather the Living God. They choose to cling to their delusion, and thereby create their own hell.
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« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2007, 12:43:54 PM »

GiC and OzGeorge

Thanks for the suggestions. 

Shawn
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« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2007, 02:07:32 PM »

Your both touching on a very important issue.

Demetrios,

Would you care to share with us your own theological opinions rather than make everything you share sound like Church Dogma?
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« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2007, 02:20:00 PM »

GiC, accusing him of being "anaxios" of the Metropolitanate because he, in your opinion, is "unfamiliar with hyperbole" is not a criticism of what he has to say. It is a personal attack based on the belief that you are smarter than he is.

I guess hyperbolie is not only lost on the metropolitan.

Quote
Christ came to save human nature, and He did. Our nature has been redeemed, and the gates of Paradise has been opened to it which were once shut to human nature. Just as God is Three Persons in One Nature (Ousia), we who are made in His Image are many persons who share a common nature (ousia). But you are going wrong in your logic because you are equating the abstract concept of "humanity" with "human nature". You are erroneously equating the multiplicity of human persons with the concept of "humanity". All people are human just as all Persons of the Trinity are Divine. All people share human nature just as all Persons of the Trinity share Divine Nature. And finally, each individual person has humanity just as each Person of the Trinity has Divinity.

It is this very fact, coupled with the absurdity of the notion of an eschatological schism within the Trinity, that I am counting on to make my point. Salvation is a primarially natural, not personal, process. We are saved not beliefs, our actions, or even our faith, we are saved because of our ontological link to the salvific act of Christ through the Incarnation. But St. Athanasios said it better than I,

'Naturally also, through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all men were clothed with
incorruption in the promise of the resurrection. For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all. You know how it is when some great king enters a large city and dwells in one of its houses; because of his dwelling in that single house, the whole city is honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of all; He has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence the designs of the enemy against mankind have been foiled and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be. For the human race would have perished utterly had not the Lord and Savior of all the Son of God, come among us to put an end to death.'

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How can theosis make us God-like if it leaves us with no personhood- particularly since personhood is the unmistakable mark of our God Who is One Nature in Three Persons? The Words spoken by the Holy Trinity by which God created man are recorded in Genesis as: "Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness..."  "Us" and "Our" denote Persons. "Let Us (Persons) make Man in Our Image (i.e. "with personhood"). Without personhood, man is not man. The only way your concept of the "salvation of all humanity" works is if we lose our personhood in Eternity, that is, if God annihilates not only the Image of Himself, but human nature itself, since human nature can only exist while there are humans, and humans can only exist if they have personhood. What you want is for God to treat us, not as persons, but as a single, homogenous organism resembling an amoeba.

The fact that there are fundamental natural elements that go along with being human does not negate the significance of personhood, and through personhood individuality. For instance, we are by our nature human, you don't get to will yourself to not be human becuse your person no longer desires to be human, being human is just a fundamental natural reality of our existance, yet no one would argue that we do not have free will or individuality because we are 'compelled' to be human. Likewise, the salvation of humanity is a fundamental natural reality, it simply goes along with being human and is no more compelling force or an abrogation of free well than being 'compelled' to be human.

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You might say that there is no point to personhood if it suffers in hell for everlasting, but as we have said before, and as the fathers have said before: the flames of hell are not some demonic creation. The flames of hell are the Divinie Energies. The flames of hell are simply God Being God.  The flames of hell is the same Loving God which illumines the redeemed. The flames of hell are the same as the Light of Tabor. The flames of hell are the the Love of God which the damned have rejected and continue to reject. And the only reason they experience it as torment is because they continue to reject it. The damned suffer precisely because God is "All in all", they suffer because they reject and want to escape from the God Who surrounds and penetrates their being, but they can't.

In this instance I would not question the purpose of the person, but rather question the purpose of the divine. It creates humans who can reject itself and it creates the means by which to reject itself, then gets it's pleasure out of torturing those who reject it. God is the creator of all, He is the One, there is nothing that is not from Him; thus he is culpable in any human action for good or evil. As the prophet Isaiah said, 'I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things', or as Jeremiah said in his Lamentations, 'Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?' So God, who is culpable in these actions decides to bring torment upon those who follow this path, but presumably God would recuse himself from the same.

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The English word "hell" comes from the Proto Germanic word "khalija" meaning "to hide, to cower, to take cover". The damed seek to take hide from the Divine Presence and cannot, and therefore experience this as torment. Is annihilation preferable to this? Tell me, what would you say of a God Who commands us to love our enemies, yet annihilates His own? That God continues to respect the personhood of those who hate Him is yet more testament of His Love.

Annihilation? who was been speaking of annihilation? I have been speaking of the final restoration, not annihilation, of all things.

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A gift requires both a giver and a receiver. And the same Apostle who wrote the words you quote explains this himself when he says: "For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."  Both the herbs and the thorns receive the same blessing from God, but one uses it to become useful herbs, and the other rejects it to become harmful thorns.

But in the end, both herb and thorn they all return whence they came.

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Who has thrown them out? Come on, are you now going to tell us that if a Father is fallible, he must be rejected as a Father? Give me some credit, and don't insult my intelligence with this kind of dramatics!

It's all part of the game. Grin

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Orthodoxy Ontology 101: Evil has no existence. Evil is a non-existence.

Ah, I see the problem, you haven't taken the upper division courses! Wink

Orthodox Ontology 301: Non-Existance is Existance (You have read Dionysus the Pseudo-Areopagite haven't you? God is both existance and non-existance, he is the cause and end of both.)

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Those who love evil and do not repent of it are "sustained", but are also "contained", they are bound up, and made powerless so that they can do no harm- which is the very reason that the damned "gnash their teeth". Again, I ask: What would you say of a God Who commands us to love our enemies, yet annihilates His own?
Well, if you think being made powerless to carry out your evil designs for all eternity is "winning" then, I don't know what I can say...

But they continue to exist; thus they must either exist by their own volition, in which case they have become self-sustaining, they have become co-eternal and equal with the Trinity and by the creation of the multiplicity of the divine they have vanquished the divine. Otherwise, they have forced a God who abhores evil to continue to ontologically sustain evil, thus creating a contradiction within the divine and by this they have vanquished the divine.

There are really only two ways out of this problem, either to say that the soul is not immortal and can be utterly destroyed and driven from existance and non-existance both, to be made as though it never was. And yet, if this is not viewed as a restoration, an multiplicity of problems arise. The only rational solution to this dilemma is that which St. Gregory of Nyssa saw so clearly, the final restoration of all things...apokatastasis.
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« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2007, 02:24:55 PM »

And GIC: How can something witch is evil exist if it can't be transformed into good. Via free will?

But evil can be transformed into good. It is transformed into good when it tempts us and when we can grow by our interaction with it (we can also fall, but we then have the opportunity to learn from our mistake and ultimately grow from it). And for those who fail to learn from evil and grow in God in this life, there is the fire of purificiation St. Gregory of Nyssa speaks of in the life to come. It is hell, for sure, but not an eternal hell, a hell with a purpose of purification not punishment, to take evil, to purify it, and not to destroy it per se, but rather to transform it to righteousness. Evil is not an enemy of mankind, rather it is a tool by which we can grow and advance in our spiritual lives.
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« Reply #34 on: May 19, 2007, 02:25:54 PM »

Demetrios,

Would you care to share with us your own theological opinions rather than make everything you share sound like Church Dogma?

He was just asking a couple of questions, give him a break. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2007, 03:54:41 PM »

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Ah, I see the problem, you haven't taken the upper division courses!

Orthodox Ontology 301: Non-Existance is Existance (You have read Dionysus the Pseudo-Areopagite haven't you? God is both existance and non-existance, he is the cause and end of both.)

Are you serious GIC. Read what St.Athanasius

On the Incarnation chapter 1

(3) Such are the notions which men put forward. But the impiety of their foolish talk is plainly declared by the divine teaching of the Christian faith. From it we know that, because there is Mind behind the universe, it did not originate itself; because God is infinite, not finite, it was not made from pre-existent matter, but out of nothing and out of non-existence absolute and utter God brought it into being through the Word. He says as much in Genesis: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;and again through that most helpful book The Shepherd, "Believe thou first and foremost that there is One God Who created and arranged all things and brought them out of non-existence into being." Paul also indicates the same thing when he says, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which we see now did not come into being out of things which had previously appeared."For God is good—or rather, of all goodness He is Fountainhead, and it is impossible for one who is good to be mean or grudging about anything. Grudging existence to none therefore, He made all things out of nothing through His own Word, our Lord Jesus Christ and of all these His earthly creatures He reserved especial mercy for the race of men. Upon them, therefore, upon men who, as animals, were essentially impermanent, He bestowed a grace which other creatures lacked—namely the impress of His own Image, a share in the reasonable being of the very Word Himself, so that, reflecting Him and themselves becoming reasonable and expressing the Mind of God even as He does, though in limited degree they might continue for ever in the blessed and only true life of the saints in paradise. But since the will of man could turn either way, God secured this grace that He had given by making it conditional from the first upon two things—namely, a law and a place. He set them in His own paradise, and laid upon them a single prohibition. If they guarded the grace and retained the loveliness of their original innocence, then the life of paradise should be theirs, without sorrow, pain or care, and after it the assurance of immortality in heaven. But if they went astray and became vile, throwing away their birthright of beauty, then they would come under the natural law of death and live no longer in paradise, but, dying outside of it, continue in death and in corruption. This is what Holy Scripture tells us, proclaiming the command of God, "Of every tree that is in the garden thou shalt surely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ye shall not eat, but in the day that ye do eat, ye shall surely die.""Ye shall surely die"—not just die only, but remain in the state of death and of corruption.

GIC: Your holding a platonic view that all are immortal. George is making the same mistake. He is framing out Christianity through the eye's of Augustine. Augustines theology is platonic as well. Not held by all Orthodox. Including one of the great saints, Athanasius.


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« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2007, 05:13:35 PM »

Now what view did St. Athanasius actually hold concerning the torments of hell?

He is to come, no more to suffer, but thenceforth to render to all the fruit of His own cross, that is, the resurrection and incorruption; and no longer to be judged, but to judge all, by what each has done in the body, whether good or evil; where there is laid up for the good the kingdom of heaven, but for them that have done evil everlasting fire and outer darkness ... he that would comprehend the mind of those who speak of God must needs begin by washing and cleansing his soul, by his manner of living, and approach the saints themselves by imitating their works; so that, associated with them in the conduct of a common life, he may understand also what has been revealed to them by God, and thenceforth, as closely knit to them, may escape the peril of sinners and their fire at the day of judgment, and receive what is laid up for the saints in the kingdom of heaven.
Athanasius, Incarnation of the Word, Sections 56 and 57, NPNF Series 2, Vol 4, pages 66 and 67

But such men have the due reward of their folly, since their expectation will be vain through their ingratitude; for there is no hope for the ungrateful, the last fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, awaits those who have neglected divine light.  Such then is the end of the unthankful.
Athanasius, Festal Letter for the Year 331, Section 7, NPNF Series 2, Vol 4

http://web.archive.org/web/20010619045823/www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/supplement.htm

I do not think that St. Athanasius held to apokatastasis.
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« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2007, 05:29:42 PM »

GiC

Concerning the translation of St. Gregory's work, I purchased the book from SVS.  The translation is probably pretty good, just a lot of the ideas put forward were/are still rather new to me.  I've read, "On the Incarnation", I think I'll give both works above another read.

On another forum a user I respect wrote this, and perhaps if you have time you could comment on it:

"Christ is risen,

St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote a dialogue concerning Universalism, called "On the Soul and the Resurrection." The dialogue form of writing was used by ancient authors to tell some of their opinions without affirming that they're necessarily true. So when you read any of the Fathers' works that happen to be in dialogue form, you should be aware that they were talking about things "casually" as though it's a matter of discussion, rather than their teaching.

So in this case, we can't really say that St. Gregory taught Universalism, because he was only trying to think about it for himself (as an intellectual) and suggest to others to think about it as a possibility, but not as a truth.

While it may be possible, there are problems with that idea:

1) God cannot eliminate our free will, since doing so means that we're not fully human in the eternal life. Universalism, on the other hand, claims that God will be all-in-all, regardless of our (and the demons') choices.

2) God is not a magnet, attracting everyone to himself without his own willing of such. He has the free will to act and is not bound by the law of being all-in-all.

3) If Universalism is true, then anything is permissable - anything including immorality.

4) Universalism springs from Origenism. It's ironic, in my opinion, to find that Origen, the master of the allegorical interpretation of Scripture, to take the verse of God being all-in-all in 1 Corinthians only in its literal sense. But he did so because it strengthens his theory of the pre-existence and immortality of souls (taken from Neo-Platonism), so it's not fair."

I'm not asking you to comment on his four points (since I'm sure you have countless times in various threads), but I'm inviting you to comment on his opening paragraphs.  Obviously you disagree and believe that St. Gregory did accept universal salvation.  But do you believe his argument is worthy of consideration (at least when I read St. Gregory's work, it appeared to me that he did accept the concept of universal restoration and wasn't just discussing it)?
 
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« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2007, 05:33:02 PM »

I am not going to engage greekischristian's original theological arguments, which elsewhere he boasts may be superior to the fathers, but I will only engage his claimed support from the fathers and Church history.

1. Origen's apokatastasis was condemned at the Fifth Ecumenical Council:

The fact of the matter is that an anathema of Apokatastasis is not included in the Anathemas against Origen, so by your logic I could essentially argue that because (if I recall properly) Nestorius believed in an eternal hell, the anathemas against Nestorius at Ephesus can clearly be construed as an anathema against the belief in an eternal hell.

First, there is Emperor St. Justinian the Great's ninth anathema against Origen:

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IX. If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (apokatastasis) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema.

greekischristian has replied that this was not ratified by the Ecumenical Council, but only taken into consideration. This may be so, but we should surely not take an anthema pronounced by a Saint lightly.

Next, we have the fourteenth anathema against Origen of the Fifth Ecumenical Council:

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XIV. IF anyone shall say that all reasonable beings will one day be united in one, when the hypostases as well as the numbers and the bodies shall have disappeared, and that the knowledge of the world to come will carry with it the ruin of the worlds, and the rejection of bodies as also the abolition of [all] names, and that there shall be finally an identity of the gnpsis and of the hypostasis; moreover, that in this pretended apocatastasis, spirits only will continue to exist, as it was in the reigned pre-existence: let him be anathema.

greekischristian asserts that this is not the position he holds (and by implication Origen), but that of Plotinus that is being condemned, since it denies the resurrection of the body. It is strange that an anathema against Plotinus would be included in the anathemas against Origen, so in what did Origen's apokatastasis actually consist? From Adolf von Harnack's History of Dogma, Volume II:

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Origen’s eschatology occupies a middle position between that of Irenæus and the theory of the Valentinian Gnostics, but is more akin to the latter view. Whilst, according to Irenaeus, Christ reunites and glorifies all that had been severed, though in such a way that there is still a remnant eternally damned; and, according to Valentinus, Christ separates what is illegitimately united and saves the spirits alone, Origen believes that all spirits will be finally rescued and glorified, each in the form of its individual life, in order to serve a new epoch of the world when sensuous matter disappears of itself. Here he rejects all sensuous eschatological expectations. He accepted the formula, “resurrection of the flesh”, only because it was contained in the doctrine of the Church; but, on the strength of 1. Cor. XV. 44, he interpreted it as the rising of a “corpus spiritale”, which will lack all material attributes and even all the members that have sensuous functions, and which will beam with radiant light like the angels and stars. Rejecting the doctrine that souls sleep, Origen assumed that the souls of the departed immediately enter Paradise, and that souls not yet purified pass into a state of punishment, a penal fire, which, however, like the whole world, is to be conceived as a place of purification. There is another and intermediate stage between the punishments in hell and regnum dei. In this way also Origen contrived to reconcile his position with the Church doctrines of the judgment and the punishments in hell; but, like Clement, he viewed the purifying fire as a temporary and figurative one; it consists in the torments of conscience. In the end all the spirits in heaven and earth, nay, even the demons, are purified and brought back to God by the Logos-Christ, after they have ascended from stage to stage through seven heavens. Origen does not mention them, so far as I know.  Hence Origen treated this doctrine as an esoteric one: “for the common man it is sufficient to know that the sinner is punished.”

So from this we see that Origen's doctrine was quite specifically and in detail condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council, while St. Justinian's anathema was general.

2. Patristic support for apokatastasis is considerably less than greekischristian makes it out to be:

The fact that you believe in a 'consensus patrum' demonstrates that either you have not adequately studied Church history or that you know better and use such arguments to strengthen a weak point. Furthermore, if you are trying to make such a point, the fact that two of the three great Cappadocians, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory the Theologian, as well as the Catechetical School of Alexandria, and in the west no less a significant figure than St. Ambrose of Milan all advocated the theology and that St. Basil tells us that during his time apokatastasis was a theological posistion held by the majority of the Church, pretty much dismisses your argument about there being consensus on the matter. The doctrine of apokatastasis only fell out of favour when it became necessary to use Christianity as a means to control the masses; certainly an understandable development for the time, but now that we no longer have need of the Church for that purpose, the social danger of moving away from fear towards proper Christian Soteriology is minimal.

First, St. Gregory of Nyssa did not actually hold this view, as Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos shows in his book, Life After Death, and he appeals to Ss. Maximos the Confessor and Mark of Ephesus' readings of St. Gregory of Nyssa in support of his own. The relevant section can be read here.

From the conclusion:

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To conclude this chapter we should summarise the most basic points on the subject that we have developed.

First. The teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa concerning the restoration of all things and the purifying fire should be seen within the teaching of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory the Theologian about Paradise and Hell. One cannot isolate him from the other two saints who are bound together with him by brotherly and friendly ties. Perhaps St. Gregory of Nyssa developed these views further and in philosophical language, answering philosophical questions and problems, but he did not depart from a reality also affirmed by other saints, that is, St. Maximus the Confessor and Mark Eugenicus.

Second. God's love, philanthropy and goodness are His uncreated energy, which will be sent to both the just and the unjust in the future life. But this love will be experienced differently. The righteous will participate in God, while those not cured will see God but have no participation and communion with Him.

Third. Evil will be nonexistent, since even today evil is the absence of good and alienation from it. Night does not exist ontologically, but it is the absence of the sun. When the sun of righteousness appears, then there will be no evil. Death will also be abolished - death from which infinite evils, many passions and sins are produced. The fact that evil will be non-existent does not mean that sinners and uncured souls will not exist. Man's existence is one thing, and another thing is his participation and communion with God, which constitutes true life.

Fourth. At the Second Coming of Christ nature will be restored, but the will will not be restored. All will gain immortality, the bodies of all will rise again, but the will and man's personal opinion will not change. They will continue there too according to the choice with which they lived in their biological life. Even the sinners will have knowledge of God, will see God, but they will not have participation. Punishment is not the absence of God, but non-participation in God, the presence of God as a fire.

Fifth. For those people who have entered the stage of purification before their death, perfecting will continue in the next life as well. Perfection is endless. It has no end and completion. Moreover, human nature is limited, while God is infinite.

Sixth. There is a heretical restoration of all things, as Origen believed and which the Church condemned, and there is an Orthodox restoration of all things, as St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Maximus the Confessor teach it. According to the latter, all men will recognise God in the Second Coming, but they will not all have a share in God. All will rise again, but they will not all glorify Him. Christ's resurrection is a gift which was given to all, but the ascension will be experienced only by the saints. Therefore in all there will be a restoration of nature, which will remain forever, immortal, but there will not be a restoration of the will, since each person will perceive Christ according to his choice.

St. Gregory of Nyssa's theology concerning the last things, concerning the Kingdom of God, is transluscent and orthodox. It cannot be said that this great Father and theologian follows the heretical teachings of Origen about the restoration of all things, because St. Gregory of Nyssa is organically bound up with the whole orthodox, ecclesiastical tradition.

Now, concerning Ss. Ambrose of Milan and Gregory the Theologian, R. Grant Jones' "Dialogues and Articles on the Afterlife" (unfortunately only available through Internet Archive) is very relevant.

St. Ambrose of Milan:
"Now let the Manichaean have his word.  'I hold that the devil is the creator of our flesh.'  The Lord will answer him:  'What, then, doest thou in the heavenly places?  Depart, go thy way to thy creator.  My will is that they be with Me, whom my Father hath given Me.  Thou, Manichaean, holdest thyself for a creature of the devil; hasten, then, to his abode, the place of fire and brimstone, where the fire thereof is not quenched, lest ever the punishment have an end.'" Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 10, On the Christian Faith - Book II, page 239.

http://web.archive.org/web/20010619041327/www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/damnation1.htm

St. Gregory the Theologian:
"I know the emptying, the making void, the making waste, the melting of the heart, and knocking of the knees together, such are the punishments of the ungodly.  I do not dwell on the judgments to come, to which indulgence in this world delivers us, as it is better to be punished and cleansed now than to be transmitted to the torment to come, when it is the time of chastisement, not of cleansing.  For as he who remembers God here is conqueror of death (as David has most excellently sung) so the departed have not in the grave confession and restoration; for God has confined life and action to this world, and to the future the scrutiny of what has been done."
Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 16, Section 7, NPNF Series 2, Vol 7

"But then what advocate shall we have?  What pretext?  What false excuse?  What plausible artifice?  What device contrary to the truth will impose upon the court, and rob it of its right judgment, which places in the balance for us all, our entire life, action, word, and thought, and weighs against the evil that which is better, until that which preponderates wins the day, and the decision is given in favour of the main tendency; after which there is no appeal, no higher court, no defence on the ground of subsequent conduct, no oil obtained from the wise virgins, or from them that sell, for the lamps going out, no repentance of the rich man wasting away in the flame, and begging for repentance for his friends, no statute of limitations; but only that final and fearful judgment-seat, more just even than fearful; or rather more fearful because it is also just; when the thrones are set and the Ancient of days takes His seat, and the books are opened, and the fiery stream comes forth, and the light before Him, and the darkness prepared; and they that have done good shall go into the resurrection of life, now hid in Christ and to be manifested hereafter with Him, and they that have done evil, into the resurrection of judgment, to which they who have not believed have been condemned already by the word which judges them. Some will be welcomed by the unspeakable light and the vision of the holy and royal Trinity, Which now shines upon them with greater brilliancy and purity and unites Itself wholly to the whole soul, in which solely and beyond all else I take it that the kingdom of heaven consists. The others among other torments, but above and before them all must endure the being outcast from God, and the shame of conscience which has no limit.  But of these anon."
Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 16, Section 9, NPNF Series 2, Vol 7

"It is a sad thing to let the Manna pass and then to long for food. It is a sad thing to take a counsel too late, and to become sensible of the loss only when it is impossible to repair it; that is, after our departure hence, and the bitter closing of the acts of each man's life, and the punishment of sinners, and the glory of the purified.  Therefore do not delay in coming to grace, but hasten, lest the robber outstrip you, lest the adulterer pass you by, lest the insatiate be satisfied before you, lest the murderer seize the blessing first, or the publican or the fornicator, or any of these violent ones who take the Kingdom of heaven by force."
Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 40, On Holy Baptism, Section 24, NPNF Series 2, Vol 7

"For I know a cleansing fire which Christ came to send upon the earth, and He Himself is anagogically called a Fire.  This Fire takes away whatsoever is material and of evil habit; and this He desires to kindle with all speed, for He longs for speed in doing us good, since He gives us even coals of fire to help us.  I know also a fire which is not cleansing, but avenging; either that fire of Sodom which He pours down on all sinners, mingled with brimstone and storms, or that which is prepared for the Devil and his Angels or that which proceeds from the face of the Lord, and shall burn up his enemies round about; and one even more fearful still than these, the unquenchable fire which is ranged with the worm that dieth not but is eternal for the wicked. For all these belong to the destroying power; though some may prefer even in this place to take a more merciful view of this fire, worthily of Him That chastises."
Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 40, On Holy Baptism, Section 36, NPNF Series 2, Vol 7

http://web.archive.org/web/20010619045823/www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/supplement.htm
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« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2007, 07:08:24 PM »

St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote a dialogue concerning Universalism, called "On the Soul and the Resurrection." The dialogue form of writing was used by ancient authors to tell some of their opinions without affirming that they're necessarily true. So when you read any of the Fathers' works that happen to be in dialogue form, you should be aware that they were talking about things "casually" as though it's a matter of discussion, rather than their teaching.

So in this case, we can't really say that St. Gregory taught Universalism, because he was only trying to think about it for himself (as an intellectual) and suggest to others to think about it as a possibility, but not as a truth.

A dialogue is an ancient style of writing, but it's hardly a rambling on of whatever pops into one's head. I think from reading the work in question that it's quite clear Gregory of Nyssa advocated the doctrine of apokatastasis. It's also quite reasonable from a historical perspective as well, the Cappadocians were intellectual successors of Athanasios the Great and Didymus the Blind who were the intellectual successors of Clement and Origen of Alexandria. The doctrine is fundamental the philosophy of this great lineage. Read the work and decide for yourself, but it sounds to me like you're friend's just trying to get away from the fact that apokatastasis was the predominate eschatology of the Early Church.
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« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2007, 07:43:09 PM »

I am not going to engage greekischristian's original theological arguments, which elsewhere he boasts may be superior to the fathers, but I will only engage his claimed support from the fathers and Church history.

Superior only in presentation, since I can simultaneously present diverse opinions that were derived by them from greater Philosophical truths. However, if you are not going to address the Philosophical arguments themselves, what's the point in even weighing in on the discussion? You have already admited that you refuse to discuss the substance so obviously this fallacious path of mere appeals to authority will effect little save the wasting of our time.

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First, there is Emperor St. Justinian the Great's ninth anathema against Origen:

greekischristian has replied that this was not ratified by the Ecumenical Council, but only taken into consideration. This may be so, but we should surely not take an anthema pronounced by a Saint lightly.

Justinian is really outclassed this one (truth be told, so is the oecumenical synod, but at least they had the wisdom to not speak too much on a subject there were not qualified to fully address); Justinian's anathemas stand against the preeminent eschatology of the early Church and are directly opposed to even greater Saints, thus they should not be applied too lightly.

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Next, we have the fourteenth anathema against Origen of the Fifth Ecumenical Council:

greekischristian asserts that this is not the position he holds (and by implication Origen), but that of Plotinus that is being condemned, since it denies the resurrection of the body. It is strange that an anathema against Plotinus would be included in the anathemas against Origen, so in what did Origen's apokatastasis actually consist? From Adolf von Harnack's History of Dogma, Volume II:

Actually what I have said in the past is that here I disagree with Origen and rather side with Clement, Athanasios, Gregory of Nyssa, etc. Though I have, in recent months reconsidered the position of Origen, I will still assert the position I have previously maintained.

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So from this we see that Origen's doctrine was quite specifically and in detail condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council, while St. Justinian's anathema was general.

2. Patristic support for apokatastasis is considerably less than greekischristian makes it out to be:

First, St. Gregory of Nyssa did not actually hold this view, as Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos shows in his book, Life After Death, and he appeals to Ss. Maximos the Confessor and Mark of Ephesus' readings of St. Gregory of Nyssa in support of his own. The relevant section can be read here.

Your link isn't working, but independent of that the thesis is absurd. I cannot recall whether or not I actually read this part of the Metropolitan's book in the past, but I can say that what I did read of it was poorly written and the quality of the research was so poor it probably wouldn't be enough to pass a class in secondary school; you're not going to impress me, or anyone who's done research on even the most basic level, by citing it. St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Gregory the Theologian were the inheritors of the intellectual lineage of Athanasios and Didymus and before them Origen and Clement. If you read these people, you will see how the philosophy and theology flows and develops from one Generation to the next, the difference between Gregory the Theologian and Origen of Alexandria is not in their philosophy and the essence of their thought, it's in accidental and relatively insignificant details (which, incidentally, is what Constantinople II addresses).

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From the conclusion:

Now, concerning Ss. Ambrose of Milan and Gregory the Theologian, R. Grant Jones' "Dialogues and Articles on the Afterlife" (unfortunately only available through Internet Archive) is very relevant.

I dont know where to start to dismiss these mostly irrelevant postings you found, but this is the problem with proof-texting, this list appears to have been composed by either someone who has not really read hese fathers and has no real understanding of their thought process, or by someone who is simply dishonest with a clear agenda. But I'll throw in a couple proof texts, more to demonstrate the absurdity of that particular method of argument than actually prove my thesis:

'Let these men then if they will, follow our way, which is Christ's way; but if they will not, let them go their own. Perhaps in it they will be baptized with Fire, in that last Baptism which is more painful and longer, which devours wood like grass, and consumes the stubble of every evil.' -- Gregory the Theologian, Oration 39 Section 19.

'Our Saviour 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.' -- Ambrose of Milan, Commentary on Pslam I.
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« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2007, 10:16:33 PM »

'Naturally also, through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all men were clothed with
incorruption in the promise of the resurrection. For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all. You know how it is when some great king enters a large city and dwells in one of its houses; because of his dwelling in that single house, the whole city is honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of all; He has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence the designs of the enemy against mankind have been foiled and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be. For the human race would have perished utterly had not the Lord and Savior of all the Son of God, come among us to put an end to death.'
Yep, that's right. The General Resurrection. I already knew about that, but thanks. Wink

The fact that there are fundamental natural elements that go along with being human does not negate the significance of personhood, and through personhood individuality. For instance, we are by our nature human, you don't get to will yourself to not be human becuse your person no longer desires to be human, being human is just a fundamental natural reality of our existance, yet no one would argue that we do not have free will or individuality because we are 'compelled' to be human. Likewise, the salvation of humanity is a fundamental natural reality, it simply goes along with being human and is no more compelling force or an abrogation of free well than being 'compelled' to be human.
It just doesn't work with salvation. Salvation cannot be a natural attribute of the human person since salvation requires an act of will. Your "logical" answer to the question "What must I do to be saved?" is "Nothing". But neither Christ nor the Apostles ever answered the question thus. Why call us to repentance if it makes no difference? Why Command us to Love God and our neighbour if it makes no difference? Why not cause a nuclear holocaust which will destroy the entire planet so that our wonderful and inevitable universal salvation comes quicker?

Orthodox Ontology 301: Non-Existance is Existance (You have read Dionysus the Pseudo-Areopagite haven't you? God is both existance and non-existance, he is the cause and end of both.)
Looks like you failed Ontology 301. I think you better read him again. He says that God belongs neither to the category of existing nor non-existing things. And he's right. How can the Source of Being have the same type of existence as the things which receive their being from Him?

But they continue to exist; thus they must either exist by their own volition, in which case they have become self-sustaining, they have become co-eternal and equal with the Trinity and by the creation of the multiplicity of the divine they have vanquished the divine.
OR the same God Who willed their continued existence as persons, continues to will it.

In this instance I would not question the purpose of the person, but rather question the purpose of the divine. It creates humans who can reject itself and it creates the means by which to reject itself, then gets it's pleasure out of torturing those who reject it. God is the creator of all, He is the One, there is nothing that is not from Him; thus he is culpable in any human action for good or evil. As the prophet Isaiah said, 'I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things', or as Jeremiah said in his Lamentations, 'Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?' So God, who is culpable in these actions decides to bring torment upon those who follow this path, but presumably God would recuse himself from the same.....<snip>.....Otherwise, they have forced a God who abhores evil to continue to ontologically sustain evil, thus creating a contradiction within the divine and by this they have vanquished the divine.
But my dear GiC, if God abhors evil, why would He, as you claim, create it? Surely you're not going to contradict yourself? I prefer St. Maximos the Confessor's understanding, that what God has created can never be evil in it's original nature, not even the demons. The logoi of all created things, including the demons, are inherently good. One of the signs of theosis is the ability to see the logoi in all created things, but what you are saying is that the logoi in certain created things are inherently evil. This means that the Logos Himself must contain some evil (which is clearly ridiculous). So you see, the problem doesnt exist.


There are really only two ways out of this problem, either to say that the soul is not immortal and can be utterly destroyed and driven from existance and non-existance both, to be made as though it never was. And yet, if this is not viewed as a restoration, an multiplicity of problems arise. The only rational solution to this dilemma is that which St. Gregory of Nyssa saw so clearly, the final restoration of all things...apokatastasis.
The soul can be utterly destroyed and annihilated. It's not as if a God Who can created a Universe ex nihilo has to follow the laws of thermodynamics. He "Who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were" can stop willing our soul's existence, but He doesn't. You may be well learned, but don't tell the Almighty what He can and can't do.  Wink All that you and the other Oreginists have done, GiC is create two possible logical solutions to a problem which doesn't even exit.
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« Reply #42 on: May 20, 2007, 01:15:53 AM »

Note my careful choice of words:Evildoers cannot in themselves be evil by nature, because their nature is created by God. Even the demons are not evil by nature. Both, however, have misused their nature and chosen to love non-existant evil rather the Living God. They choose to cling to their delusion, and thereby create their own hell.

  Evil is created by the created. If evil will not exist when heaven and earth are renewed. The inventor will not exist. Both man and devil are created beings. Both can harbor evil. Created has a begining. So it can have an end. The only one without begining is God. For evil to not exist created has to die. If created dies evil will also not exist. When you say created will exist forever than evil will exist forever. Even if it is contained it will still exist. But we are told that evil will not exist.
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« Reply #43 on: May 20, 2007, 01:23:41 AM »

Posted by GIC: 
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There are really only two ways out of this problem, either to say that the soul is not immortal and can be utterly destroyed and driven from existance and non-existance both, to be made as though it never was. And yet, if this is not viewed as a restoration, an multiplicity of problems arise.

I'm glad you can see that. Now George has to.
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Excellence of character, then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect.
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« Reply #44 on: May 20, 2007, 01:39:59 AM »

  Evil is created by the created. If evil will not exist when heaven and earth are renewed. The inventor will not exist. Both man and devil are created beings. Both can harbor evil. Created has a begining. So it can have an end. The only one without begining is God. For evil to not exist created has to die. If created dies evil will also not exist. When you say created will exist forever than evil will exist forever. Even if it is contained it will still exist. But we are told that evil will not exist.
So you believe then in the utter annihilation of the wicked?  Does this view not also contradict the Word of Scripture?
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