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