This thread is definitely going to become my new best friend...
So now I have yet two other questions. I listen to OO sermons from OrthodoxSermons.org (found the podcast on iTunes) and today I listened to two on eschatology and Hell.
I believe in the eschatological doctrine of preterism, which is the belief that the parts of Revelation leading up the 1000 year reign took place within the apostles' lifetimes (Matthew 24:34 used as support for this). Now I know that this isn't believed by everyone and there is liberty for many views, as long as you hold to amillennialism and the future general Resurrection. The priest giving the sermon, however, mentioned something about the rapture taking place after the thousand year reign (assuming I understood him right, which I could have). It was my impression that the rapture was invented by an Anglican clergyman in the 1800s. Is this a popular teaching for the OO? As a preterist I reject the rapture.
Well I cannot speak for what this priest has said (maybe you'd like to PM me the link so I can verify, clarify, or rectify, accordingly), but the general position of the Church is amillenial, and any talk of a "rapture" is generally not to be understood in terms that would contradict amillennialism.
In his Commentary on the Book of Revelations, Fr. T. Malaty allows for two interpretations of the thousand years alluded to in Rev. 20:1-3:1) That the Church, in her struggle on earth, lives in the day of the Lord, or “the Sabbath,” which was initiated from the moment of the Resurrection of the Lord, and which will never end. For the Lord, a day is as a thousand years; therefore his time was calculated to be a thousand years!
2) That it points to the period after the crucifixion/resurrection, for a 'thousand' indicates the completeness of time and its perfection.
His Grace Bishop Youssef supports this anti-literal approach:The thousand years is not literal but it is the period we are living now, which started on the Lord's entry into "The strong man's house and plundered his goods, after binding him" (Mk 3:27). He always grants His children to strive and overcome Satan. In the New Testament, we find many quotations (Jn 12:31; Col 2:14,15) that reassure us, not that Satan's behavior is tied down, but that his authority is confined. Therefore, he cannot have dominion over man as long as man gives him no place into his heart. The writings of the early Church Fathers give the believers hope and courage to fight Satan without fear or trouble. Thus the believer is reassured that, with the cross of the Lord, he will tie Satan down and destroy him. "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Lk 10:19).
As far as the terms rapture etc. are concerned, His Grace gives concise Orthodox definitions of each:Rapture: The gathering of all generations from all nations in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when He comes again to judge them.
Second Coming: At the end of the ages, the Lord Jesus Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. Following the judgment a new Heaven and a new earth will replace the old earth, which has been desecrated by sin. As Coptic Orthodox we also believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is already present through the Church. Christians enter into the Kingdom through their participation in the sacramental life of the Church while waiting for the coming of the Lord.
Tribulation: The scriptures plainly tell us that much trouble and violence will engulf the entire world before the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Also, on Hell (and I know I didn't misunderstand this at all): the priest said that Hell is not just spiritual anguish and shame, but that there is literally a worm consuming your flesh for all eternity. Hell is literally a physical torture chamber. I was under the impression that the OO believed, along with us EO, that Hell is still in the presence of God but His love is like a fire that is bliss to those who believe and torture to those who haven't repented, and they run away in their shame to self-inflicted isolation from Him.
Again, I would need to hear this priest's sermon to comment specifically on his own individual remarks. As far as the general position of the Church is concerned, Heaven and Hell affect one's entire person. Orthodox anthropology indicates that the complete person of man resides not in the soul alone, nor the body alone, but the union of the soul and the body (hence, our souls will be re-united with our bodies which will be raised at the General Resurrection). Heaven and Hell thus affect us bodily and soul-ly. Heaven and Hell themselves, however, are not literal physical places, and Biblical expressions pertaining to the experiences they give rise to are not to be taken literally, as per the express teachings of St. Bar Hebraeus. As it states in The Penitential Prayers for Noon
of the 9th Hour Monday Prayer of the Syrian Orthodox Church, "the fire rises from one's self and returns to one's self."