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Author Topic: "The River of Fire" by A. Kalomiros  (Read 6620 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 06, 2008, 12:01:53 PM »

Dear knowledgeable people,

What do you think about the article by a Greek Orthodox theologian Dr. Alexander Kalomiros, titled "The River of Fire?" (http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm)

The reason I am asking is because one cyber-acquaintance of mine, a Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic priest, has recently posted a reply on a Ukrainian Web forum "Maidan", where he argues that Dr. Kalomiros is creating a "straw man." This priest quotes articles from a Catholic Church Catechism (in Ukrainian), where it says that God is not a cruel judge-inquisitor, that hell is not the "torture chamber" but a state of mind, etc. So, he, this Catholic priest, essentially, says that Dr. Kalomiros's "positive" ideas about God do not differ at all from the current teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

I would greatly appreciate your insights. Thank you!

George

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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2008, 01:41:10 PM »

Dear knowledgeable people,

What do you think about the article by a Greek Orthodox theologian Dr. Alexander Kalomiros, titled "The River of Fire?" (http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm)

The reason I am asking is because one cyber-acquaintance of mine, a Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic priest, has recently posted a reply on a Ukrainian Web forum "Maidan", where he argues that Dr. Kalomiros is creating a "straw man." This priest quotes articles from a Catholic Church Catechism (in Ukrainian), where it says that God is not a cruel judge-inquisitor, that hell is not the "torture chamber" but a state of mind, etc. So, he, this Catholic priest, essentially, says that Dr. Kalomiros's "positive" ideas about God do not differ at all from the current teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Well, who determines what's the "current" teachings of the Roman Catholic Church? Shocked
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2008, 02:26:00 PM »

Well, who determines what's the "current" teachings of the Roman Catholic Church? Shocked

The catechism?
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2008, 02:58:05 PM »

When I first read "The River of Fire", one of the things that popped into my mind was that Dr. Kalomiros had not picked up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in quite some time.  Some of the things he writes are caricatures right out of Boettner's Roman Catholicism, including the way the Roman Catholic Church views the state of eternal punishment after death.  Indeed, some of Dr. Kalomiros' views on how the RCC views Hell read like something out of a Calvinist textbook.  While certainly there are people around within the Catholic communion who take a very stern Augustinian view of the eternal punishment, the Church itself teaches otherwise, emphasis mine:

Quote from: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition
1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him.  But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."  Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

...

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."  The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.





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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2008, 03:22:55 PM »

When I first read "The River of Fire", one of the things that popped into my mind was that Dr. Kalomiros had not picked up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in quite some time.  Some of the things he writes are caricatures right out of Boettner's Roman Catholicism, including the way the Roman Catholic Church views the state of eternal punishment after death.  Indeed, some of Dr. Kalomiros' views on how the RCC views Hell read like something out of a Calvinist textbook.  While certainly there are people around within the Catholic communion who take a very stern Augustinian view of the eternal punishment, the Church itself teaches otherwise, emphasis mine:

You can't teach one thing in a catechism and a totally different thing by the way you pray and worship. How a person behaves necessarily outweighs what one says.

Whatever the catechism says it's what most Roman Catholics believe that really matters and their belief is shaped by the life and worship of the Church. How can you say Roman Catholics don't have an overly legalistic view of God when they teach that a person has to provide "satisfaction" in Purgatory for uncofessed venial sins? The very act of praying or doing penance to lessen a persons temporal punishment testifies to your legalistic view of God.

When you place God under the necessity of justice by not allowing Him to grant mercy to unbaptized infants you show us how you view God.

When you say it's a mortal sin to eat 59 minutes before Communion instead of 60 and that to die without confessing that means you will burn in Hell for all eternity you show us how you view the wrath of God.

Lex orandi, lex credendi holds true. How you pray and worship determines what you believe and this case is no exception.


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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2008, 04:05:07 PM »


You can't teach one thing in a catechism and a totally different thing by the way you pray and worship. How a person behaves necessarily outweighs what one says.

I do believe I said quite explicitly that one can definitely find Roman Catholics who ascribe to an overly legalistic view of God's justice.  But this arises from poor catechesis and improper understanding of the rites and prayers of the Latin Church.

Quote
Whatever the catechism says it's what most Roman Catholics believe that really matters and their belief is shaped by the life and worship of the Church. How can you say Roman Catholics don't have an overly legalistic view of God when they teach that a person has to provide "satisfaction" in Purgatory for uncofessed venial sins? The very act of praying or doing penance to lessen a persons temporal punishment testifies to your legalistic view of God.

Once again, I see this a caricature of my lived experience as a Catholic of both the Latin church where I raised in a traditional manner and taught by very traditional priests and in the Ruthenian church where I have walked for the past eight years.  And, once again, I freely admit that there are Catholics who espouse the legalistic view of God you describe, but they do not speak for the entire Church.  Much like how St. Gregory's teachings on apokatastasis are not indicative of what the Orthodox Church teaches, the views of individual Catholics are not indicative of what the Catholic Church teaches.  For that, one must open up the Catechism and read.  In there we find the proper interpretation of the rites of that particular Church as given to Catholics from the Magisterium.

Quote
When you place God under the necessity of justice by not allowing Him to grant mercy to unbaptized infants you show us how you view God.

Apparently you never read the memo that was recently released by the Vatican, which states, in part, emphasis mine:

Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered above give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision. We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge. There is much that simply has not been revealed to us.  We live by faith and hope in the God of mercy and love who has been revealed to us in Christ, and the Spirit moves us to pray in constant thankfulness and joy.

What has been revealed to us is that the ordinary way of salvation is by the sacrament of baptism. None of the above considerations should be taken as qualifying the necessity of baptism or justifying delay in administering the sacrament. Rather, as we want to reaffirm in conclusion, they provide strong grounds for hope that God will save infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely, to baptize them into the faith and life of the Church.

How different is this from the Orthodox view espoused here and elsewhere that we simply do not know what happens to the unbaptised infant but trust in the mercy of God? 

Quote
When you say it's a mortal sin to eat 59 minutes before Communion instead of 60 and that to die without confessing that means you will burn in Hell for all eternity you show us how you view the wrath of God.

If you're going to use Latin Catholic terminology regarding sin, understand what it means.  "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." (CCC 1857). 

In addtion, the Catechism has this to say regarding "mortal sin", again, emphasis mine:

Quote from: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition
1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother." The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

In your example, for someone who eats 59 minutes before Communion to commit a mortal sin, one must, in effect, be telling God, in very deliberate and willful terms, that he knows better than Him and will eat that sandwich or whatever, consequences bedamned.  One must say, "You know, I know that the Church says I shouldn't eat and, well, I don't have to but I feel like.  I'm going to succumb to my passions and chow down.  I know what I am doing is very wrong and I know that I'm separating myself from God by not preparing to receive Him into my body per the instructions of my Church, but I don't care.  I want to eat now."

Are you telling me that an Orthodox Christian who did this would be told by his priest that he was placing his immortal soul in great danger were he to do the same thing, eating an Egg McMuffin on the way to Sunday DL and then receiving Communion that very day?  I would be astonished if his priest merely said, "It's okay.  Just trust in God's mercy and go on your way.  Your soul is not in any danger and you have nothing to confess.  See you next week."

A mortal sin, by definition, is a willful separation from God, and, according to Dr. Kalomiros, those who willfully separate themselves from God will feel the fire of His love as what we might call the painful fires of Hell.

To close, personally I don't make much distinction between mortal and venial sin in the way I was taught in Catholic elementary school.  I've come to see sin as a "missing of the mark" as taught in Orthodox thought, but I also understand the distinction my Latin Catholic brethren make and let them make it.  Those who take them seriously will do the right thing.  Those who use the distinctions to avoid confession would not benefit from understanding the meaning of harmatia because they are overemphasizing the categories to satisfy their own passions. 

I pray I never fall into that trap myself.

In Christ,
Schultz.
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2008, 04:54:24 PM »

There is really no Patristic warrant anywhere for saying unbaptized infants go to heaven. It's a modern novelty. The Eastern Fathers (like St. Gregory the Theologian) say they won't go to heaven, but they won't experience the torments of hell either. Besides, if unbaptized infants can go to heaven, it's best if God just kills all of us from the moment we are born, isn't it?
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2008, 04:58:58 PM »

I'm also not a big fan of the Kalomiros article, but I think it's an acceptable opinion for Orthodox Christians to hold. It's presentation of the Western view is totally polemical and ridiculous, however.* I think "polemical and ridiculous" is a good description of most of Kalomiros' schismatic career, actually.




*I make an exception for Calvinism. In that case, it's spot on.
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2008, 08:44:29 AM »

Many thanks to all who replied.

Regarding the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church: It is strange to me that seemingly respected, learned theologians with doctoral degrees write something that looks like a clear-cut straw man to those who know what is being talked about... For yet another time, I become convinced that when one hears polemics, it does make sense to find out objectively, what is being presenred by BOTH sides, where do BOTH sides stand.

As far as Calvinism goes, well... Calvin never actually claimed that God "condemns" the reprobate to hell, either. His idea, based on his understanding of Scripture and Augustine, was that God sheds His grace on some people and "passes over" other people; those who receive grace cannot resist it and become saved, while those who do not receive it are essentially free to do whatever they will (but they will to do evil, because the original sin killed everything good in man). To me, Calvin is not quite the caricature drawn on him by anti-Calvinism, where he is pitured as saying that some are predestined to heaven and others to hell and that's it. Rather, he was a man who remained in the state of bewilderment, amazement about what he perceived as God' sovereignty, God's mysterious "good pleasure" as expressed in Scriptural passages like Romans 8:27-30, Mathew 22:14, 1 Peter 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and other.

It saddens me that there is this shallow "triumphalism" in modern Orthodox theology. I just watched the videos by V. Lazar Puhalo, following the link posted in another section of this forum (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_A9sRf89Zc&feature=related), and liked them at first, but then, on a second thought, sensed the same shallow triumphalism there, too. It is very bad.
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2008, 11:54:08 AM »

As far as Calvinism goes, well... Calvin never actually claimed that God "condemns" the reprobate to hell, either. His idea, based on his understanding of Scripture and Augustine, was that God sheds His grace on some people and "passes over" other people; those who receive grace cannot resist it and become saved, while those who do not receive it are esentially free to do whatever they will (but they will to do evil, because the original sin killed everything good in man). To me, Calvin is not quite the caricature drawn on him by anti-Calvinism, where he is pitured as saying that some are predestined to heaven and others to hell and that's it. Rather, he was a man who remained in the state of bewilderment, amazement about what he perceived as God' sovereignty, God's mysterious "good pleasure" as expressed in Scriptural passages like Romans 8:27-30, Mathew 22:14, 1 Peter 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and other.

That may be true; in which case, he isn't too much different than Thomas Aquinas. Calvin is pretty poorly represented by his disciples if that's so, however.
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2008, 01:20:35 PM »

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Quote
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."  The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

Didn't Kalomiros suggest that it was impossible to suffer "eternal separation from God", that the punishments of hell, the "eternal fire", was not due to "separation" from God, but from one's own (extremely unpleasant) experience of God? If Kalomiros is correct regarding what the Orthodox teach on this issue, then this would be one area of obvious Orthodox/Catholic difference.
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2008, 02:19:05 PM »

Didn't Kalomiros suggest that it was impossible to suffer "eternal separation from God", that the punishments of hell, the "eternal fire", was not due to "separation" from God, but from one's own (extremely unpleasant) experience of God? If Kalomiros is correct regarding what the Orthodox teach on this issue, then this would be one area of obvious Orthodox/Catholic difference.

When we speak of separation from God, we are talking about a spiritual separation, not a physical one. Despite the seeming paradox, it is precisely this separation that makes God's presence - the river of fire - torment for the wicked.
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2008, 03:18:44 PM »

There is really no Patristic warrant anywhere for saying unbaptized infants go to heaven. It's a modern novelty. The Eastern Fathers (like St. Gregory the Theologian) say they won't go to heaven, but they won't experience the torments of hell either.

That's a longstanding theologoumenon in the Catholic Church---it has come to be called the Limbo of Infants. St. Thomas Aquinas proposed that such infants experience natural, but not supernatural, joy.

Catholics are free to hold that opinion or any of the other alternatives.
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2008, 03:32:42 PM »

That's a longstanding theologoumenon in the Catholic Church---it has come to be called the Limbo of Infants. St. Thomas Aquinas proposed that such infants experience natural, but not supernatural, joy.

Catholics are free to hold that opinion or any of the other alternatives.

Yes. I think it is rather ironic that Limbo is bashed among us Orthodox so often, since Limbo is essentially an Eastern originated theologoumena. The West would have none of it until the time of the scholastics.
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2008, 03:37:34 PM »

When we speak of separation from God, we are talking about a spiritual separation, not a physical one. Despite the seeming paradox, it is precisely this separation that makes God's presence - the river of fire - torment for the wicked.

Yeah, the separation from God is a moral separation.

A much better article, but along somewhat similar lines, is by the wonderful Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky). I posted it here a long time ago, back when I first registered.

A good quote along these lines comes from St. Ambrose of Milan:

"There is no gnashing of corporeal teeth, nor any perpetual fire of corporeal flames, nor is the worm corporeal. The fire is that which the sadness over transgressions generates, because the sins pierce with compunction the mind and sense of the irrational soul of the guilty, and eat out the, as it were, bowels of conscience ; which sins are generated like worms out of each, as it were from the body of the sinner. The Lord declared this by Isaiah; 'And they shall see the carcases of the men who have transgressed against Me, and their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched.' The gnashing of teeth also indicates the feeling of one indignant because each repents too late, is too late wroth with himself, groans over himself too late, that he offended with such obstinate wickedness."
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« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2008, 05:26:08 PM »

Hi Everyone,

Being Roman Catholic through Baptism, Confirmation and Communion, Confession, etc and only an inquirer into the Eastern Church as it were I can say that this whole River of Fire seems to be very similar to what I read in the Encyclopedia of Catholic Dogma Second Edition regarding entries of Hell etc.  Shocked
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2008, 08:28:16 PM »

It is good to note that the River of Fire was written in 1980, and thus the modern CCC did not exist.

He was probably using an older book, a more puritanical text, for his sources.
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« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2011, 11:08:34 AM »

According to one blogger's interpretation of St. Gregory of Nyssa, the fires of hell are the energies (uncreated) of God:

"From this brief presentation of the teaching of St. Gregory about choice and Hell several truths emerge. First, that the grace of the Holy Spirit, through Baptism, does not regenerate the person if choice is not put into action. Therefore a man's choice has great significance. Secondly, that there exists Hell, in which fire and worm which do not resemble sensory realities hold sway. They are uncreated realities. Indeed, the fact that the things of eternal life will not be like the present day, and that the worm "does not die", shows that both the purifying fire and the tormenting action of the worms is the uncreated energy of God, which will be experienced by those who have not been purified in this life."
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« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2011, 01:46:19 PM »

I'm also not a big fan of the Kalomiros article, but I think it's an acceptable opinion for Orthodox Christians to hold. It's presentation of the Western view is totally polemical and ridiculous, however.* I think "polemical and ridiculous" is a good description of most of Kalomiros' schismatic career, actually.




*I make an exception for Calvinism. In that case, it's spot on.

Have been in full agreement with you here for a long time.  I have actually used the article to catechize eastern Catholics but have made it clear with historical documents predating the current Catechism that this has been the long-standing teaching of the Catholic Church as well.

As eastern Catholics they are sometimes confronted with the accusation that this is a modern teaching of the Church in the new CCC... but it clearly is not.

It is my hope that some day the dust will clear between us and the path forward made straight.

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« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2011, 03:48:12 PM »

As far as Calvinism goes, well... Calvin never actually claimed that God "condemns" the reprobate to hell, either. His idea, based on his understanding of Scripture and Augustine, was that God sheds His grace on some people and "passes over" other people; those who receive grace cannot resist it and become saved, while those who do not receive it are essentially free to do whatever they will (but they will to do evil, because the original sin killed everything good in man). To me, Calvin is not quite the caricature drawn on him by anti-Calvinism, where he is pitured as saying that some are predestined to heaven and others to hell and that's it. Rather, he was a man who remained in the state of bewilderment, amazement about what he perceived as God' sovereignty, God's mysterious "good pleasure" as expressed in Scriptural passages like Romans 8:27-30, Mathew 22:14, 1 Peter 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and other.

It's not clear to me that Calvin did not teach double predestination.  Thus from his Institutes:

Quote
In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns the elect, is founded on his gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; but that to those whom he devotes to condemnation, the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible, judgment. In the elect, we consider calling as an evidence of election, and justification as another token of its manifestation, till they arrive in glory, which constitutes its completion. As God seals his elect by vocation and justification, so by excluding the reprobate from the knowledge of his name and the sanctification of his Spirit, he affords an indication of the judgement that awaits them.

We could reach a more confident judgment on this question if we could confidently answer the question "What did Calvin teach on the extent of the Atonement?  Did Christ die for everyone or only for the elect?"  Alas, the evidence is mixed, but it seems to point to limited (or definite) atonement.  Certainly, that is how Calvin's successors interpreted him.  See, e.g., Roger Nicole's article "John Calvin's View of Limited Atonement."

I'm not sure if there really is a significant difference between reprobation and preterition. 
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« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2011, 03:58:38 PM »

As far as Calvinism goes, well... Calvin never actually claimed that God "condemns" the reprobate to hell, either. His idea, based on his understanding of Scripture and Augustine, was that God sheds His grace on some people and "passes over" other people; those who receive grace cannot resist it and become saved, while those who do not receive it are essentially free to do whatever they will (but they will to do evil, because the original sin killed everything good in man). To me, Calvin is not quite the caricature drawn on him by anti-Calvinism, where he is pitured as saying that some are predestined to heaven and others to hell and that's it. Rather, he was a man who remained in the state of bewilderment, amazement about what he perceived as God' sovereignty, God's mysterious "good pleasure" as expressed in Scriptural passages like Romans 8:27-30, Mathew 22:14, 1 Peter 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and other.

It's not clear to me that Calvin did not teach double predestination.  Thus from his Institutes:

Quote
In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom he would admit to salvation, and whom he would condemn to destruction. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns the elect, is founded on his gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; but that to those whom he devotes to condemnation, the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible, judgment. In the elect, we consider calling as an evidence of election, and justification as another token of its manifestation, till they arrive in glory, which constitutes its completion. As God seals his elect by vocation and justification, so by excluding the reprobate from the knowledge of his name and the sanctification of his Spirit, he affords an indication of the judgement that awaits them.

We could reach a more confident judgment on this question if we could confidently answer the question "What did Calvin teach on the extent of the Atonement?  Did Christ die for everyone or only for the elect?"  Alas, the evidence is mixed, but it seems to point to limited (or definite) atonement.  Certainly, that is how Calvin's successors interpreted him.  See, e.g., Roger Nicole's article "John Calvin's View of Limited Atonement."

I'm not sure if there really is a significant difference between reprobation and preterition. 


Ahhh, these old theology threads... Don't ask me, I don't know anything anymore where any theology is concerned. I refuse. Strike. Forever. Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2011, 05:50:49 PM »

There is really no Patristic warrant anywhere for saying unbaptized infants go to heaven. It's a modern novelty. The Eastern Fathers (like St. Gregory the Theologian) say they won't go to heaven, but they won't experience the torments of hell either. Besides, if unbaptized infants can go to heaven, it's best if God just kills all of us from the moment we are born, isn't it?
I feel this way as well.

But I don't usually go around telling people that because it tends to offend them, but I usually give the line on "trusting in God's mercy". I mean, I do, and I definitely pray for the souls of unbaptized infants. I also hope that in his infinite and loving mercy God will grant them eternal life - but the odds don't look too good to me.
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« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2011, 05:51:55 PM »

There is no question in my mind that Kalomiros has presented a polemical caricature of mainstream Catholic teaching on God, grace, and Hell.  One wonders who he has read within the Catholic tradition.  I do not doubt one can find individual Catholics who reduce God to the punitive, legalistic deity that he abhors; but these individuals can hardly be said to be representative of the Catholic tradition as a whole.  Moreover, Kalomiros's presentation of the "Eastern" position, which might be described as "Hell is Heaven experienced differently," ignores huge swatches of the patristic testimony.  Over at the Monachos forum, patristics scholar Fr Irenaeus Steenberg identified the following problems with Kalomiros's argument:

Quote
* The biblical and patristic assertions that heaven and hell are places, and different places, must be either ignored or rendered wholly allegorical;
   
* The biblical and patristic assertions that God actively sends the sheep to one side, the goats to the other—and not that they simply end up their by their own measure with God as passive observer—must be either ignored or rendered wholly allegorical;

* The biblical and patristic assertions that Gehenna is a place in which sins are actively punished by the demons (i.e. not a place where love is simply experienced as want or separation) must be either ignored or rendered wholly allegorical;

* The assertion that God’s love and God’s justice are mutually opposed (which is a false assertion, a deeply un-scriptural assertion) must be maintained, allowing for the exercise of ‘justice’ only of it is identical in form to love. It is quite correct to see God’s justice as His love in nature: i.e. God always acts in the same manner toward creation, which is a manifestation of His loving nature. But the form that this love-in-justice takes in response to sin can be radically different than the form love-in-justice takes in response to righteousness—a view strongly maintained in the Fathers, yet which must be largely abandoned to maintain this view on hell as ‘heaven experienced differently’.

Kalomiros's presentation of damnation has become the standard position in internet Orthodoxy, but before one accepts it as THE Orthodox position, one should at least attempt to survey what the Fathers say about Hell and divine judgment.  In fact, I find myself in strong sympathy with much of Kalomiros's positive argument, having been strongly influenced by the writings of C. S. Lewis many years ago; but I have to acknowledge the contrary voices in the Tradition.  Matters simply are not as simple and clear as Kalomiros would like them to be.   

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« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2011, 06:02:23 PM »

There is no question in my mind that Kalomiros has presented a polemical caricature of mainstream Catholic teaching on God, grace, and Hell.  One wonders who he has read within the Catholic tradition.  I do not doubt one can find individual Catholics who reduce God to the punitive, legalistic deity that he abhors; but these individuals can hardly be said to be representative of the Catholic tradition as a whole.  Moreover, Kalomiros's presentation of the "Eastern" position, which might be described as "Hell is Heaven experienced differently," ignores huge swatches of the patristic testimony.  Over at the Monachos forum, patristics scholar Fr Irenaeus Steenberg identified the following problems with Kalomiros's argument:

Quote
* The biblical and patristic assertions that heaven and hell are places, and different places, must be either ignored or rendered wholly allegorical;
Why can't heaven and hell be the same 'places' but in different dimensions, such that those people in different dimensions simply can not interact with those in other dimensions? In such a scenario, the biblical/patristic teaching that heaven and hell are places, remains true, but these places can exist in different dimensions.
    
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« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2011, 06:06:29 PM »

Why can't heaven and hell be the same 'places' but in different dimensions, such that those people in different dimensions simply can not interact with those in other dimensions? In such a scenario, the biblical/patristic teaching that heaven and hell are places, remains true, but these places can exist in different dimensions.

We are free to speculate to our hearts' desire.  Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2011, 08:11:56 PM »

I said this elsewhere in another forums.  We should repent as if hell was everlasting, have hope as if all will be saved, love as if neither matters.  That is the extent of speculation that we should be allowed considering the conflicting views of Church fathers in past.
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« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2011, 08:39:34 PM »

We should repent as if hell was everlasting, have hope as if all will be saved, love as if neither matters. 

Beautifully stated.
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« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2011, 08:48:57 PM »

I'm also not a big fan of the Kalomiros article, but I think it's an acceptable opinion for Orthodox Christians to hold. It's presentation of the Western view is totally polemical and ridiculous, however.* I think "polemical and ridiculous" is a good description of most of Kalomiros' schismatic career, actually.




*I make an exception for Calvinism. In that case, it's spot on.

Having grown up Calvinist, I can attest to that.

I don't know how I feel about Kalomiros' essay these days, but when I was in the process of converting, it helped me a great deal in understanding the concepts of theosis which were completely alien to my very legalistic experience.
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« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2011, 10:44:35 PM »

There is no question in my mind that Kalomiros has presented a polemical caricature of mainstream Catholic teaching on God, grace, and Hell.  One wonders who he has read within the Catholic tradition.  I do not doubt one can find individual Catholics who reduce God to the punitive, legalistic deity that he abhors; but these individuals can hardly be said to be representative of the Catholic tradition as a whole.  Moreover, Kalomiros's presentation of the "Eastern" position, which might be described as "Hell is Heaven experienced differently," ignores huge swatches of the patristic testimony.  Over at the Monachos forum, patristics scholar Fr Irenaeus Steenberg identified the following problems with Kalomiros's argument:

Quote
* The biblical and patristic assertions that heaven and hell are places, and different places, must be either ignored or rendered wholly allegorical;
   
* The biblical and patristic assertions that God actively sends the sheep to one side, the goats to the other—and not that they simply end up their by their own measure with God as passive observer—must be either ignored or rendered wholly allegorical;

* The biblical and patristic assertions that Gehenna is a place in which sins are actively punished by the demons (i.e. not a place where love is simply experienced as want or separation) must be either ignored or rendered wholly allegorical;

* The assertion that God’s love and God’s justice are mutually opposed (which is a false assertion, a deeply un-scriptural assertion) must be maintained, allowing for the exercise of ‘justice’ only of it is identical in form to love. It is quite correct to see God’s justice as His love in nature: i.e. God always acts in the same manner toward creation, which is a manifestation of His loving nature. But the form that this love-in-justice takes in response to sin can be radically different than the form love-in-justice takes in response to righteousness—a view strongly maintained in the Fathers, yet which must be largely abandoned to maintain this view on hell as ‘heaven experienced differently’.

Kalomiros's presentation of damnation has become the standard position in internet Orthodoxy, but before one accepts it as THE Orthodox position, one should at least attempt to survey what the Fathers say about Hell and divine judgment.  In fact, I find myself in strong sympathy with much of Kalomiros's positive argument, having been strongly influenced by the writings of C. S. Lewis many years ago; but I have to acknowledge the contrary voices in the Tradition.  Matters simply are not as simple and clear as Kalomiros would like them to be.   



One of the key elements that must be dealt with because it is a part of the credal profession is whether or not heaven, hell, purgation...are "places"...

If we believe in the resurrection of the body, it seems to me that place, though not clearly defined, has to be considered as an element of our here-after.

Also the idea that justice is not an expression of love is very bad theology. 

But as you note, The River of Fire has many good lessons...if they can be filtered and distilled.
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« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2011, 10:44:36 PM »

I said this elsewhere in another forums.  We should repent as if hell was everlasting, have hope as if all will be saved, love as if neither matters.  That is the extent of speculation that we should be allowed considering the conflicting views of Church fathers in past.

It is this clearly active spiritual side of you that makes you a wonderful person to talk to on this forum.  I've enjoyed every bit of contact that I've had with you.  This is so simple and so wonderful and loving...and rings so absolutely true to our condition as fallen and redeemed and stiff-necked children of the Father.

Mary
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« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2011, 11:21:23 PM »

One of the key elements that must be dealt with because it is a part of the credal profession is whether or not heaven, hell, purgation...are "places"...

If we believe in the resurrection of the body, it seems to me that place, though not clearly defined, has to be considered as an element of our here-after.

I think the argument can be made, from some of the Fathers, that it is impossible for us to exist without being in a place. This would be based on the idea that I've come across in St. John of Damascus, Tertullian, and a couple others, that only the uncreated can truly be material. As St. John said: "all that is compared with God Who alone is incomparable, we find to be dense and material. For in reality only the Deity is immaterial and incorporeal." (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 2, 3) In that some passage St. John calls angels immaterial--yet he ends by saying that they are only immaterial from one perspective, and not wholly immaterial compared to God.  So to with our souls, our afterlife spiritual bodies, all of it, should have a materiality to it, at least in comparison to the immaterial God.
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« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2011, 12:04:54 PM »

One of the key elements that must be dealt with because it is a part of the credal profession is whether or not heaven, hell, purgation...are "places"...

If we believe in the resurrection of the body, it seems to me that place, though not clearly defined, has to be considered as an element of our here-after.

I think the argument can be made, from some of the Fathers, that it is impossible for us to exist without being in a place. This would be based on the idea that I've come across in St. John of Damascus, Tertullian, and a couple others, that only the uncreated can truly be material. As St. John said: "all that is compared with God Who alone is incomparable, we find to be dense and material. For in reality only the Deity is immaterial and incorporeal." (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 2, 3) In that some passage St. John calls angels immaterial--yet he ends by saying that they are only immaterial from one perspective, and not wholly immaterial compared to God.  So to with our souls, our afterlife spiritual bodies, all of it, should have a materiality to it, at least in comparison to the immaterial God.

Thus far the very laws of the created universe also tell us as much.
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« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2011, 11:26:39 PM »

I said this elsewhere in another forums.  We should repent as if hell was everlasting, have hope as if all will be saved, love as if neither matters.  That is the extent of speculation that we should be allowed considering the conflicting views of Church fathers in past.

It is this clearly active spiritual side of you that makes you a wonderful person to talk to on this forum.  I've enjoyed every bit of contact that I've had with you.  This is so simple and so wonderful and loving...and rings so absolutely true to our condition as fallen and redeemed and stiff-necked children of the Father.

Mary

Thank you for your kind words.  You have also been a pleasure to talk with as well  Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: January 30, 2011, 01:42:12 PM »

Father George Metallinos writes:


(2) Paradise and hell are not two different places. This separation idea is an idolatrous
concept. They instead signify two different situations (ways), which originate from the
same uncreated source, and are perceived by man as two, different experiences. Or,
more precisely, they are the same experience, except that they are perceived differently
by man, depending on man's internal state.
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« Reply #34 on: February 16, 2014, 12:33:06 PM »

Father George Metallinos writes:


(2) Paradise and hell are not two different places. This separation idea is an idolatrous
concept. They instead signify two different situations (ways), which originate from the
same uncreated source, and are perceived by man as two, different experiences. Or,
more precisely, they are the same experience, except that they are perceived differently
by man, depending on man's internal state.


 I must say that I like this explanation.  Is this an accepted view from the Orthodox Church, or simply a pious theologumen?
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« Reply #35 on: February 16, 2014, 02:03:59 PM »

The view stated in that quote is neither accepted nor pious, though I do think there is something to be learned from the idea in general.
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« Reply #36 on: February 16, 2014, 03:02:39 PM »

There is really no Patristic warrant anywhere for saying unbaptized infants go to heaven. It's a modern novelty. The Eastern Fathers (like St. Gregory the Theologian) say they won't go to heaven, but they won't experience the torments of hell either. Besides, if unbaptized infants can go to heaven, it's best if God just kills all of us from the moment we are born, isn't it?

I do realize that I'm quoting a five years old message. That said, does anyone have any idea on what quote of St. Gregory he was referring to?
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« Reply #37 on: February 17, 2014, 11:25:17 PM »

I do realize that I'm quoting a five years old message. That said, does anyone have any idea on what quote of St. Gregory he was referring to?

Nothing in particular by St. Gregory of Nazianzus comes to mind. He was perhaps thinking of this work by St. Gregory of Nyssa, in which St. Gregory does seems to say something along the lines of what Symeon said above.
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« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2014, 11:54:05 PM »


Ahhh, these old theology threads... Don't ask me, I don't know anything anymore where any theology is concerned. I refuse. Strike. Forever. Smiley

WISDOM ARIGHT!!!!!!
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