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Author Topic: Cult of Father Seraphim Rose  (Read 14648 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: August 27, 2003, 09:57:43 AM »

At another message board, someone mentioned that there was a cult of Fr. Seraphim Rose. I'm curious who is in this cult, and why. Of the cults that arise after the person (who is venerated or followed) has died, most seem to spring up because the people attribute to a leader certain qualities that are not his own (e.g., supernatural powers), or attribute teachings and actions that were really not believed or done by the now deceased person (ie. they distort what the person said and/or did to suit their own purposes and ignore the rest). Oddly enough, the person who mentioned the cult of Seraphim Rose is as guilty of the latter distortion as much as anyone I've seen, but this person still spoke of the "cult" as though he were not in it. So the question is, who is in it? And what do they believe and/or do?
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2003, 10:03:42 AM »

Well, considering the way you phrased your post, you strongly imply that what you're considering a "cult" is entirely natural and in keeping in line with the traditions of Orthodox Christianity. I'll try and post a more balanced post when I get home from work. I take it that as someone who denies that the Antiochians have grace, you're certainly a member of the cult of Seraphim Rose, who has a high regard for him.

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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2003, 10:20:52 AM »

Quote
Well, considering the way you phrased your post, you strongly imply that what you're considering a "cult" is entirely natural and in keeping in line with the traditions of Orthodox Christianity.

Your post strongly implies that you have some beef with me. But who cares about implications, why don't you just come out with it? Smiley And how in the world could you take what I said as an implication that it was alright? Does the word "distortion" now mean a good thing? Does "ignoring" someones real teaching equate to a good practice? I can't understand for the life of me how you got the idea that I would be in favor of such practices... except perhaps that your problem with me is so large that you now let it color everything that I write, and you read into what I say your very negative opinion of me (and therefore assume the worst). The cult of the saints (cult being used in its older understanding, not the newer one which normally speaks of kooks) is centered around the truthful and faithful following of a person, not distorting said person's beliefs and/or actions. And the true cult of the saints is careful to not attribute powers to someone that they didn't actually have.

Quote
I take it that as someone who denies that the Antiochians have grace,

Ahh... so we come to the root of your bitterness! And I don't think the Antiochians are totally without grace. Yet. They just do not have grace-filled sacraments. I think of the Antiochians in the same way that Saint Basil spoke of schismatics in his First Canon ("they have no longer the communication of the Holy Ghost, who have broken the succession. They who first made the departure had the spiritual gift; but by being schismatics, they became laymen").

Quote
you're certainly a member of the cult of Seraphim Rose,

FYI, Seraphim Rose communed new calendarists and thought, so far as I know, that the various Orthodox jurisdictions in America (including the Antiochians) had grace. Since I have no wish to distort or ignore what Fr. Seraphim actually taught (and have rather tried to look at him in a balanced way, gems and moles together), I certainly wouldn't identify with him (certainly not be in a cult focused on him!) because of his views on grace and/or ecclesiastical relations.

Quote
who has a high regard for him.

I don't know if I'd say I have "high regard" for him (I certainly don't have cult-like devotion). I've read 4 books by Seraphim Rose, all of which I gave a 6 out of 10 rating. Hardly a cult-like veneration. I've also read some of his other articles and essays, and the biography on him by Monk Damascene, but this material comes off a bit too negatively toned regarding the western world in for my tastes (again, maybe in the 6/10 range). I've never called Fr. Seraphim a saint, but am waiting to see what the Church decides. And if Fr. Seraphim has done anything for my views regarding other jurisdictions, it's been to improve them (ie. take a softer stand), not to make me take a harder stand*. In essence, Fr. Seraphim has had the opposite effect on me than what you are assuming he would have had. If you write anything at all tonight, I would have to guess that it would have to be more "balanced," if for no other reason than you said nothing true or correct thus far, but simply gave your opinions which were built on faulty assumptions.

Justin

PS. The only possible exception one could bring up would be his view on the seminaries other than Jordanville. But in that case, I'm not following Fr. Seraphim, but rather already believed what I believed and his words only confirmed my belief (and clued me in to the fact that the problem had been going on for longer than I had realised).
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2003, 11:29:30 AM »

It seems to me that this person who mentioned the "Cult" was referring to the former CSB (Christ the Savior Brotherhood)/HOMS (Holy Order of Mans).
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2003, 11:35:43 AM »

Not the entire former CSB/HOMS group.  I am well acquianted with an OCA priest who used to be a CSB monk and he has never held to the "cult" even though he told me Fr. Seraphim's writings were very popular.
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2003, 12:15:32 PM »

Quote
From Paradosis: Ahh... so we come to the root of your bitterness! And I don't think the Antiochians are totally without grace. Yet. They just do not have grace-filled sacraments. I think of the Antiochians in the same way that Saint Basil spoke of schismatics in his First Canon ("they have no longer the communication of the Holy Ghost, who have broken the succession. They who first made the departure had the spiritual gift; but by being schismatics, they became laymen").

I went to the link you posted and read St. Basil's Canon I. It seems a bit of a stretch to me to apply that to the Antiochians, especially as no Orthodox council has declared them to be schismatics, and they are in communion with most of the other Orthodox churches.

St. Basil's canon mentions a whole list of specific schismatic groups. He seems to say that their chief offense was that they "have broken the succession". To me (and I do not know it all) that sounds like he is speaking of groups that have set up on their own because of some ecclesiastical dispute without proper canonical episcopal sanction.

Sure doesn't sound like anything the Antiochians have done.

« Last Edit: August 27, 2003, 12:16:06 PM by Linus7 » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2010, 09:41:25 PM »

This is news to me.  I had never heard that the Antiochian Church was considered to have invalid sacraments by any of the other canonical Orthodox Churches.  I can easily imagine that some of the schismatic groups would, but they feel that way about the other Orthodox "mainstream" bodies as well.  I notice very often that Fr. Rose has many admirers online.  I do not consider him a saint, though I do believe that he was a very sincere and devout Christian.  I agree with those that question some of his opinions, opinions that he certainly had the right to have, but perhaps should not have taught as Orthodox dogma.

I would not feel comfortable praying to anyone as a saint until such time as an Orthodox Church glorifies the person.  Many feel that he was a saint, and they would like to see formal recognition, but it is inappropriate to use the title "saint" when referring to someone before such glorification has occurred.

I assume that it is in part because of the excessive devotion some have for Fr. Rose that the issue of a "cult" has come up.
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2010, 11:57:24 PM »

I would not feel comfortable praying to anyone as a saint until such time as an Orthodox Church glorifies the person.  Many feel that he was a saint, and they would like to see formal recognition, but it is inappropriate to use the title "saint" when referring to someone before such glorification has occurred.

First, what a jerk and an idiot that 2003 Asteriktos was, eh? Second, I was very happy to be allowed to have St. Justin Popovich as my patron saint when I became Orthodox, and that was about 8 1/2 years before he was formally glorified by the Serbian Church.
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2010, 12:19:45 AM »

At another message board, someone mentioned that there was a cult of Fr. Seraphim Rose.

I do not know what was meant by a "cult of Fr. Seraphim Rose" but I have not heard of any group who is organized around the veneration or promotion of Fr. Seraphim and his teachings that can be characterized as a cult.  The Christ the Savriour Brotherhood (CSB) that was made up of the Holy Order of Mans (HOOM) was received into Orthodoxy after Fr. Seraphim's repose through the assistance of Fr. Herman of Platina.  As I understand it, after the members of HOOM (which could be characterized as a cult) were received into Orthodoxy, they all mostly went their separate ways and joined different jurisdictions, not retaining any kind of formal organization that could be characterized as a "cult".

In order to get attention and to shock people to pay attention to him, the very lamentable and pitiable man who the OCA received a few years ago from a schismatic group, and gave the title "retired Archbishop" does refer to a "toll-house cult" but I do not think I have heard him refer to a "cult of Fr. Seraphim Rose".  Fr. Seraphim wrote about the "toll houses" in his book The Soul After Death, and this man who is called a “retired Archbishop” refers to the “toll house cult” not as an actual organization that can be called a cult but rather to anyone who believes in the Orthodox teaching on the Particular Judgment whereby the soul, after its separation from the body, passes through the air accompanied by its guardian angel and is accused of various passions by the demons which inhabit the air while one’s guardian angel seeks to defend the soul by responding to these accusations with demonstration of the man’s repentance and corresponding virtue during the person’s life.  If all who refer to the toll houses do in fact belong to a cult, then this cult includes such people as St. John the Wonderworker of San Francisco, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. Theophan the Recluse, the Optina Elders, St. Justin Popovic, St. Nikolai of Zica, the Optina Elders, as well as such contemporary people as Elder Ephraim in Arizona and Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.  If these were all members of a “cult”, then I would rather be in this cult than the alternative.  Better to be with them, it seems to me, than the very dubious people who are vocal against this teaching.     
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2010, 02:34:09 AM »

There was a young man who whilst visiting St Herman Monastery (Platina) used to follow Fr Serpahim and hang on his every word. He even started crossing himself everytime he came in the presence of Fr Seraphim. At one point, Fr Seraphim turned to the young chap and gently said "You cross yourself before icons, not people", then he walked away. This shows that Fr Seraphim never wanted to be an elder or Orthodox guru.

From what I gather from his writings he would be very much appaled by any so called cult or "following", and he certainly considered himself far from being a saint. That said, I like many others have been inspired by aspects of his life, but in no way consider his every word, teaching, or move "Gospel truth" or infallible. In fact, neither did he. Much of what Fr Seraphim taught is tradition, that which was handed down to him (the writings of the Holy Fathers and Saints, the teachings of Our Lord Himself), whether we like it or not, willing to receive or accept it or not is another thing, but it's what he taught. 

Is he worthy of glorification, to bow before the throne of God interceeding for us... God will make that known if and when. He was a man piety and holiness, an inspiration to countless souls searching for truth in these dark days, but a man nonethless prone to mistakes and tempations as are we all. My personal opinion on the toll houses not withstanding, many saints have made theological errors, many have later recanted and humbly stood corrected. I'm certain Fr Seraphim would gladly do so as well.

In the mean time, let us in the words of St Ephraim humbly "see our own sins, and judge our brother (Fr Seraphim incleded) not.
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2010, 06:41:41 AM »


Quote
I take it that as someone who denies that the Antiochians have grace,

Ahh... so we come to the root of your bitterness! And I don't think the Antiochians are totally without grace. Yet. They just do not have grace-filled sacraments. I think of the Antiochians in the same way that Saint Basil spoke of schismatics in his First Canon ("they have no longer the communication of the Holy Ghost, who have broken the succession. They who first made the departure had the spiritual gift; but by being schismatics, they became laymen").


I'm confused, who is being referred to as "Antiochians" here?
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2010, 07:45:23 AM »


Quote
I take it that as someone who denies that the Antiochians have grace,

Ahh... so we come to the root of your bitterness! And I don't think the Antiochians are totally without grace. Yet. They just do not have grace-filled sacraments. I think of the Antiochians in the same way that Saint Basil spoke of schismatics in his First Canon ("they have no longer the communication of the Holy Ghost, who have broken the succession. They who first made the departure had the spiritual gift; but by being schismatics, they became laymen").


I'm confused, who is being referred to as "Antiochians" here?

The Antiochian Orthodox under Met. Philip 
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2010, 07:51:06 AM »

There was a young man who whilst visiting St Herman Monastery (Platina) used to follow Fr Serpahim and hang on his every word. He even started crossing himself everytime he came in the presence of Fr Seraphim. At one point, Fr Seraphim turned to the young chap and gently said "You cross yourself before icons, not people", then he walked away. This shows that Fr Seraphim never wanted to be an elder or Orthodox guru.

From what I gather from his writings he would be very much appaled by any so called cult or "following", and he certainly considered himself far from being a saint. That said, I like many others have been inspired by aspects of his life, but in no way consider his every word, teaching, or move "Gospel truth" or infallible. In fact, neither did he. Much of what Fr Seraphim taught is tradition, that which was handed down to him (the writings of the Holy Fathers and Saints, the teachings of Our Lord Himself), whether we like it or not, willing to receive or accept it or not is another thing, but it's what he taught. 

Is he worthy of glorification, to bow before the throne of God interceeding for us... God will make that known if and when. He was a man piety and holiness, an inspiration to countless souls searching for truth in these dark days, but a man nonethless prone to mistakes and tempations as are we all. My personal opinion on the toll houses not withstanding, many saints have made theological errors, many have later recanted and humbly stood corrected. I'm certain Fr Seraphim would gladly do so as well.

In the mean time, let us in the words of St Ephraim humbly "see our own sins, and judge our brother (Fr Seraphim incleded) not.

Well said, ttf!  I nominate this as Post of the Month!  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2010, 08:15:21 AM »


Quote
I take it that as someone who denies that the Antiochians have grace,

Ahh... so we come to the root of your bitterness! And I don't think the Antiochians are totally without grace. Yet. They just do not have grace-filled sacraments. I think of the Antiochians in the same way that Saint Basil spoke of schismatics in his First Canon ("they have no longer the communication of the Holy Ghost, who have broken the succession. They who first made the departure had the spiritual gift; but by being schismatics, they became laymen").


I'm confused, who is being referred to as "Antiochians" here?

The Antiochian Orthodox under Met. Philip 

Why do you think their sacraments aren't grace filled?
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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2010, 08:20:49 AM »


Quote
I take it that as someone who denies that the Antiochians have grace,

Ahh... so we come to the root of your bitterness! And I don't think the Antiochians are totally without grace. Yet. They just do not have grace-filled sacraments. I think of the Antiochians in the same way that Saint Basil spoke of schismatics in his First Canon ("they have no longer the communication of the Holy Ghost, who have broken the succession. They who first made the departure had the spiritual gift; but by being schismatics, they became laymen").


I'm confused, who is being referred to as "Antiochians" here?

The Antiochian Orthodox under Met. Philip 

Why do you think their sacraments aren't grace filled?

I imagine his opinions have evolved since 2003.
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« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2010, 08:21:33 AM »


Quote
I take it that as someone who denies that the Antiochians have grace,

Ahh... so we come to the root of your bitterness! And I don't think the Antiochians are totally without grace. Yet. They just do not have grace-filled sacraments. I think of the Antiochians in the same way that Saint Basil spoke of schismatics in his First Canon ("they have no longer the communication of the Holy Ghost, who have broken the succession. They who first made the departure had the spiritual gift; but by being schismatics, they became laymen").


I'm confused, who is being referred to as "Antiochians" here?

The Antiochian Orthodox under Met. Philip 

Why do you think their sacraments aren't grace filled?

You do know that when Asteriktos wrote that, it was in 2003......right?
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« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2010, 10:41:54 AM »

ah yes, a slight oversight on my part...  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2010, 11:46:01 AM »

There was a young man who whilst visiting St Herman Monastery (Platina) used to follow Fr Serpahim and hang on his every word. He even started crossing himself everytime he came in the presence of Fr Seraphim. At one point, Fr Seraphim turned to the young chap and gently said "You cross yourself before icons, not people", then he walked away. This shows that Fr Seraphim never wanted to be an elder or Orthodox guru.

From what I gather from his writings he would be very much appaled by any so called cult or "following", and he certainly considered himself far from being a saint. That said, I like many others have been inspired by aspects of his life, but in no way consider his every word, teaching, or move "Gospel truth" or infallible. In fact, neither did he. Much of what Fr Seraphim taught is tradition, that which was handed down to him (the writings of the Holy Fathers and Saints, the teachings of Our Lord Himself), whether we like it or not, willing to receive or accept it or not is another thing, but it's what he taught. 

Is he worthy of glorification, to bow before the throne of God interceeding for us... God will make that known if and when. He was a man piety and holiness, an inspiration to countless souls searching for truth in these dark days, but a man nonethless prone to mistakes and tempations as are we all. My personal opinion on the toll houses not withstanding, many saints have made theological errors, many have later recanted and humbly stood corrected. I'm certain Fr Seraphim would gladly do so as well.

In the mean time, let us in the words of St Ephraim humbly "see our own sins, and judge our brother (Fr Seraphim incleded) not.

Exceptionally well stated.  I concur wholeheartedly.
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« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2010, 01:53:36 PM »

Well said, ttf!  I nominate this as Post of the Month!  Smiley

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« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2010, 10:13:54 PM »



  If all who refer to the toll houses do in fact belong to a cult, then this cult includes such people as St. John the Wonderworker of San Francisco, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. Theophan the Recluse, the Optina elders, St. Justin Popovic, St. Nikolai of Zica, the Optina Elders, as well as such contemporary people as Elder Ephraim in Arizona and Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.  If these were all members of a “cult”, then I would rather be in this cult than the alternative.  Better to be with them, it seems to me, than the very dubious people who are vocal against this teaching.     



The trouble here is that you are probably NOT in line with the teachings of
these Saints who believed in toll houses ~  Saint Theodora and Saint Basil the
New (who gave us the foundational tollhouse document), St Ignaty Bryanchaninov,
and of course Fr Seraphim Rose.

For St Theodora and St Basil the New, St Ignatius Brianchaninov and Fr
Seraphim Rose (although he vacillates about his belief) - there are physical
toll houses in the air above your head and visible to your eyes if you are
sufficiently "spiritual" where demons have been appointed to judge the
souls of the departed.  Souls can purchase their way through those
tollhouses or tollgates when they do not have an accumulation of their
own sufficient good works to outweigh their evil deeds (salvation by works)
by using the superfluous merits of their spiritual fathers.

Nobody but the Orthodox may go on this journey since the
non-Orthodox do not pass through the toll houses but are taken straight to
hell upon their death - the non-Orthodox, Catholics, Baptists, Buddhists,
Hindus, do not experience the Partial Judgement at death.   They are already
condemned to hell and they are taken from their death bed to hell by the
demons ....  Much of the tollhouse belief system is heretical.

In its most attentuated form as advanced by Fr Michael Pomazansky -subtle
movements in the soul at the time of death by which the soul comes to a
realisation of its spiritual state and its abode until the Final Judgement -
it is fully acceptable (although one could question why the imagery of the
toll houses is necessary at all in this case.)

In between these two forms - heresy and imagery - there exists a whole
smorgasbord of beliefs from which tollers may pick and choose to create
their own private version of the belief.

The toll houses is one of the most ill-defined theories and, frankly, no
Christian could be seriously expected to give credence to it. The least the
tollers could do is give us an understanding of their belief/theologoumenon
and a universally agreed definition. At the moment the whole thing is so
self-contradictory and so nebulous that no Christian can be asked to believe
it.

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« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2010, 10:27:12 PM »

Dear Irish Hermit,

I have often wondered, where did this story regarding Theodora come from?  I have heard that St. Basil the New heard it from someone else, who reported having a dream of Theodora.  That alone makes my question the validity of the dream.  Who actually wrote the Life of St. Basil the New?  When/Where was it published?

It would appear that the St. Basil had no first hand experience of the dream at all, having heard it from another source altogether.  As one of the foundational "documents" of the toll-house supporters, I would really like to know the answers to these questions.  It seems like a very weak document on which to base the theory.

Thank you,

Peter
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« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2010, 11:49:20 PM »

I have often wondered, where did this story regarding Theodora come from?  I have heard that St. Basil the New heard it from someone else, who reported having a dream of Theodora.  


The Toll Houses - known to Tradition or not?


We would have to explain why the toll houses were unknown to the Church in
the 10th century and not known in its Tradition.

When a young monk Gregory wished to know what happens to the soul after death he
had no idea about any toll houses. At the prayers of his spiritual father
Saint Basil the New the newly reposed Saint Theodora (also Basil's disciple)
visited Gregory in a dream and revealed the existence of toll houses and all
the ghoulish details. The tale is called "Theodora's Journey through the
Aerial Toll Houses" - a foundational document for tollers.  It's a medieval
version of a modern horror film. It is *just* the sort of apocryphal stuff
which the Church rejected in deciding on the contents of the Bible.

Prior to this vision Gregory knew nothing of the toll houses.
(He was in the same blessed state as I was prior to Fr Seraphim Rose!)

Gregory's lack of knowledge is proof that the toll houses formed no part of the
"Orthodox phronema" in the 10th century Church.

After this vision he was forbidden by Saint Basil to reveal Saint Theodora's
revelations about the afterlife to anybody.  This prohibition is yet more
proof the toll houses were unknown in the Church and not part of its
Tradition.

Have a read of this older thread
Thoughts on "The Life of St. Basil the New"
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,6952.msg91460.html#msg91460

It is only two messages :-)
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« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2010, 11:51:25 PM »

Thank you Father.

In Christ,

Peter
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« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2010, 12:56:16 AM »

Gregory's lack of knowledge is proof that the toll houses formed no part of the "Orthodox phronema" in the 10th century Church.

Father, bless.

How does one isolated person's ignorance automatically equal that something is not a part of tradition?

You read a lot of these types of things in the early Egyptian monastic literature, if I am not mistaken.
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« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2010, 01:22:52 AM »

Gregory's lack of knowledge is proof that the toll houses formed no part of the "Orthodox phronema" in the 10th century Church.

Father, bless.

How does one isolated person's ignorance automatically equal that something is not a part of tradition?


The toll houses are either fact or they are not. How could a Greek Christian be ignorant of them after the passing of 950 years of Christianity?
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« Reply #25 on: November 03, 2010, 01:37:55 AM »

The toll houses are either fact or they are not. How could a Greek Christian be ignorant of them after the passing of 950 years of Christianity?

Father, bless.

Because not all information is distributed in the exact same form or manner throughout time. Concepts are lost at times, or at least unknown to many people. Important figures fade from memory. When St. Paisius Velichovsky was collecting spiritual writings on Mt. Athos, most of the monks there had never even heard of some of the greatest teachers of the Orthodox faith. I wonder how many "Greek Christians" today are unfamiliar with the Uncreated Light or theosis after 2000 years of Christianity? I know that most of the Greeks I've met haven't heard of either. But they do know about Alexander the Great, and his mighty Greek accomplishments.

Saying that the toll-houses are "either fact or they are not" is just like saying that Outer Darkness is "either fact or it is not". Eternal torment is described in a variety of different ways, and today many Orthodox thinkers emphasize that torment is in fact forced union with God. So which is it then, being cast away, or forced in? You'd better pick one, because there are only two options, and only one of them is factually accurate!!!

I think you might be setting up a false dichotomy.
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« Reply #26 on: November 03, 2010, 02:06:36 AM »


I think you might be setting up a false dichotomy.

For those not yet reduced to a state of narcolepsy by this debate, here is something from Dr Jurretta Heckscher, an intelligent reaction when she encountered the tollhouse theory.  Either they are fact or they are not.
 
Fr Ambrose

-oOo-

Toll Houses: dogma, a logic of damnation, and taking the implications seriously

PART 1  ~~  message 84
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2145.msg300562.html#msg300562


PART 2  ~~  message 86
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2145.msg300616.html#msg300616


PART 3  ~~  message 91
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2145.msg300770.html#msg300770
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« Reply #27 on: November 03, 2010, 02:07:48 AM »

I would think that the saints that accepted the toll-house belief did so because they had been taught by others, in the same way the Fr. Seraphim was taught it by St. John Maximovitch.  It makes sense that the story, as told in the Theodora tale, was believed by some who read it and they, in all innocence, passed it on to others.  I am not aware that any of the post-10th Century saints that professed belief in it claimed that their belief was base on any personal divine revelation or visions.  They either were taught it by someone else, or heard that saint so-and-so professed it.  A century from now there will be defenders of the teaching that cite Fr. Seraphim as one of their sources; it is self-perpetuating.

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« Reply #28 on: November 03, 2010, 03:20:51 AM »

[
Because not all information is distributed in the exact same form or manner throughout time. Concepts are lost at times, .....


If you are right, then the doctrine of the toll houses had been forgotten in 1672 when the Synod of Constantinople took place:

"We believe that the souls of the departed are in either repose or torment as each one has wrought,
for immediately after the separation from the body they are pronounced either in bliss or in suffering
and sorrows, yet we confess that neither their joy nor their condemnation are yet complete. After
the general resurrection, when the soul is reunited with the body, each one will receive the full measure
of joy or condemnation due to him for the way in which he conducted himself, whether well or ill"

The bishops know nothing of toll houses.  There is no mention of them and no mention of having to pass through them.
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« Reply #29 on: November 03, 2010, 09:05:22 AM »

the toll houses are attested to well before the 10th century - they are in St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Ephraim, St. Cyril of Alexandria, etc
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« Reply #30 on: November 03, 2010, 10:08:03 AM »

the toll houses are attested to well before the 10th century - they are in St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Ephraim, St. Cyril of Alexandria, etc

There are *major* problems here with Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Cyril of Alexandria.

The problem is that we are looking at a spurious work attributed to Saint John Chrysostom "On Remembering the Dead"  and an equally spurious work attributed to  Saint Cyril of Alexandria "Departure of the Soul."   They comprise pseudo-Chrysostom and pseudo-Cyril.



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« Reply #31 on: November 03, 2010, 10:30:36 AM »

the toll houses are attested to well before the 10th century - they are in St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Ephraim, St. Cyril of Alexandria, etc

There are *major* problems here with Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Cyril of Alexandria.

The problem is that we are looking at a spurious work attributed to Saint John Chrysostom "On Remembering the Dead"  and an equally spurious work attributed to  Saint Cyril of Alexandria "Departure of the Soul."    They comprise pseudo-Chrysostom and pseudo-Cyril.


i suppose thats a possibility, but they have been accepted in the history of the Church as belonging to these Saints, and the same teaching has appeared time and again in other Saints.

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« Reply #32 on: November 03, 2010, 12:07:08 PM »

Did Father Seraphim Rose see the "Toll House" theory as some kind of metaphor?
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« Reply #33 on: November 03, 2010, 01:22:01 PM »

Did Father Seraphim Rose see the "Toll House" theory as some kind of metaphor?

Almost all of the language we use when we speak of the things of God are metaphors! Whatever we try to say that God is, He is that, but he is also beyond it.

I think Fr. Ambrose's criticism that the "tollers" are working with a nebulous concept that is at the whims of their own interpretation is disingenuous. One would easily encounter similar ambiguity if I were to ask a person to outline how it works moving from glory to glory into God. How does that work? What happens? Explain the mechanics to me.

On one hand he is saying that we should remain mostly silent on the state of the soul in the hereafter, and on the other hand he is saying we should be able to define the process of the trials the soul faces after death in some exact uniformity. You can't have it both ways.
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« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2010, 01:28:21 PM »

The grisly details of the Theodora story don't sound like metaphors to me.

In Christ,

Peter
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« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2010, 01:31:00 PM »

Did Father Seraphim Rose see the "Toll House" theory as some kind of metaphor?

he absolutely did not see them literally, and he explains that quite extensively in the chapter from his book
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« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2010, 01:31:37 PM »

Did Father Seraphim Rose see the "Toll House" theory as some kind of metaphor?

he absolutely did not see them literally, and he explains that quite extensively in the chapter from his book
Then what do people have against him?
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« Reply #37 on: November 03, 2010, 01:33:07 PM »

Did Father Seraphim Rose see the "Toll House" theory as some kind of metaphor?

he absolutely did not see them literally, and he explains that quite extensively in the chapter from his book
Then what do people have against him?

hey i wish i could tell ya. all i can say is that people are against the toll houses even if they arent interpreted literally.
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« Reply #38 on: November 03, 2010, 01:40:03 PM »

...an intelligent reaction when she encountered the tollhouse theory.  Either they are fact or they are not.

Father, bless.

I think the core issue here boils down to whether or not there are any "trials" after death. Some say that trials are confined to this life, others say there is a brief period of trial after death.

So how about this, Father:

They are a fact or they are not. Very well. Is Hell Outer Darkness or a burning trash heap? You only get one choice.

Now, does the soul face a particular judgement at death (AKA is it on trial), or does it go through the arial toll houses (AKA does it go through trials)? Or are both of these illustrations pointing to the greater reality: that during the course of our earthly life we have lived our lives in such a way that it warrants a particular destination; either torment or bliss? The way we have lived and trained ourselves in this life (i.e. in temperance or indulging passions) determines our degree of synergy with God. If we face these deeds on trial before God, or in trials before God and through demons, the reality remains the same. What is in our hearts is revealed, and our fate is determined.

So the "fact" is that we are judged when we die, and there are many ways of explaining this process.
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« Reply #39 on: November 03, 2010, 01:48:17 PM »

The metaphor aspect does not address the mechanics involved.  That is like saying we are saved by Christ, does it matter if it was via his sacrifice on the cross, or simply having faith in him as the messiah, whether he died and rose again or not.  The mechanics, or process, is important. 

The toll-houses have serious theological implications, such as our being judged by demons rather than by God, the need to be pure and sinless to pass through them (dying with an un-confessed or un-absolved sin will keep one from passing through them).  Of course there is a particular judgment after death, but what form that judgment takes is very important.
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« Reply #40 on: November 03, 2010, 02:00:56 PM »

The metaphor aspect does not address the mechanics involved.  That is like saying we are saved by Christ, does it matter if it was via his sacrifice on the cross, or simply having faith in him as the messiah, whether he died and rose again or not.  The mechanics, or process, is important. 

The toll-houses have serious theological implications, such as our being judged by demons rather than by God, the need to be pure and sinless to pass through them (dying with an un-confessed or un-absolved sin will keep one from passing through them).  Of course there is a particular judgment after death, but what form that judgment takes is very important.

So you are under the impression that we have the mechanics of salvation all figured out?
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« Reply #41 on: November 03, 2010, 02:20:13 PM »

Not at all.  I have read that many Fathers taught we should not speculate on what happens after death.  The toll-house theory on the other hand does exactly that.  It lays out in gruesome detail exactly what happens to the soul upon death.  Here is what the Bishop's of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia had to say about the toll-house debate:

"Taking all of the forgoing into consideration, the Synod of Bishops resolve: In the deliberations on life after death one must in general keep in mind that it is not pleased the Lord to reveal to us very much aside from the fact that the degree of a soul's blessedness depends on how much a man's life on the earth has been truly Christian, and the degree of a man's posthumous suffering depends upon the degree of sinfulness. To add conjectures to the little that the Lord has been pleased to reveal to us is not beneficial to our salvation, and all disputes in this domain are now especially detrimental, the more so when they become the object of the discussion of people who have not been fully established in the Faith. Acrid polemic apart from the spirit of mutual love turns such an exchange of opinions from a deliberation into an argument about words. The positive preaching of truths of the Church may be profitable, but not disputes in an area which is not subject to our investigation, but which evokes in the unprepared reader false notions on questions of importance to our salvation." 
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« Reply #42 on: November 03, 2010, 02:25:04 PM »


The toll-houses have serious theological implications, such as our being judged by demons rather than by God,

Psalm 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
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« Reply #43 on: November 03, 2010, 02:44:24 PM »


The toll-houses have serious theological implications, such as our being judged by demons rather than by God,

Psalm 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

I am not sure of your reason for quoting this verse.  I know that according to the toll-house theory, the non-Orthodox go straight to hell and do not have to deal with the toll-houses.  If that is what you are referring to, then the verse implies that the godly will.  If they are "godly" then what would they have to worry about the toll-houses?  This opens up another issue altogether.  We believe that all men will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  So the saying that the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, what does that mean?

I found this commentary on the St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church website:

"David affirmed that when the judgment of God comes (through disease, famine, or other earthly disaster), these impious will not be spared. They will not stand upright. Instead, they will be blown flat, prostrate before the wind of His fury, struck down by those earthly disasters.

For us in the Church, we can see this reference to not standing in the judgment as prophetic of their overthrow before the dread Judgment Seat of Christ on the Last Day."

I am not sure how this verse applies to the discussion on the toll-houses.  Forgive my ignorance.
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« Reply #44 on: November 03, 2010, 02:55:13 PM »


The toll-houses have serious theological implications, such as our being judged by demons rather than by God,

Psalm 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

I am not sure of your reason for quoting this verse.  I know that according to the toll-house theory, the non-Orthodox go straight to hell and do not have to deal with the toll-houses.  If that is what you are referring to, then the verse implies that the godly will.  If they are "godly" then what would they have to worry about the toll-houses?  This opens up another issue altogether.  We believe that all men will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  So the saying that the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, what does that mean?

I found this commentary on the St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church website:

"David affirmed that when the judgment of God comes (through disease, famine, or other earthly disaster), these impious will not be spared. They will not stand upright. Instead, they will be blown flat, prostrate before the wind of His fury, struck down by those earthly disasters.

For us in the Church, we can see this reference to not standing in the judgment as prophetic of their overthrow before the dread Judgment Seat of Christ on the Last Day."

I am not sure how this verse applies to the discussion on the toll-houses.  Forgive my ignorance.

we wont necessarily be judged by God, but yet we all believe in the particular judgment - so it could be accomplished by demons - God can use even demons as is seen in the OT at points, and he uses a pagan king (Cyrus?) as his christ to bring the Jews back to Jerusalem - but yet God is ultimately in charge here. the toll houses dont negate God's sovereign judgment; although ive never heard that non-Orthodox necessarily go straight to Hell. Vassiliades says all people pass through the toll houses
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