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Author Topic: Cult of Father Seraphim Rose  (Read 14576 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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Justin Kissel
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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).
« Last Edit: August 27, 2003, 10:38:56 AM by Paradosis » Logged
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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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Justin Kissel
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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

Use the "report" button Tongue
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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

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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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« Reply #45 on: November 03, 2010, 03:08:16 PM »

The following is a quote from Father Ambrose on another thread where a toll-house discussion has been going on since last night:

Re: Fr. Seraphim (Rose) to be a Saint?
« Reply #28 on: Yesterday at 10:57:28 PM »


"According to the toll-house Saints you are going to Hell.  There can be no other destination for those who have not received an Orthodox baptism (and I suspect, sadly with a well-founded suspicion, that those who believe in the toll houses would include the OO as hell-bound.)

Only baptized Orthodox are judged in the toll houses,  The rest of mankind is taken to hell immediately they die and do not go through the torments of the toll houses.  It is very sad for converts with non-Orthodox family and friends.

'Note also,' said the angels, 'that this is the way by which only those who are enlightened by the faith
and by holy baptism can rise and be tested in the stations of torment. The unbelievers do not come here.
Their souls belong to hell even before they part from their bodies. When they die the devils take their souls
with no need to test them. Such souls are their proper prey, and they take them down to the abyss.'
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/theodora.aspx"
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« Reply #46 on: November 03, 2010, 03:10:16 PM »

The following is a quote from Father Ambrose on another thread where a toll-house discussion has been going on since last night:

Re: Fr. Seraphim (Rose) to be a Saint?
« Reply #28 on: Yesterday at 10:57:28 PM »


"According to the toll-house Saints you are going to Hell.  There can be no other destination for those who have not received an Orthodox baptism (and I suspect, sadly with a well-founded suspicion, that those who believe in the toll houses would include the OO as hell-bound.)

Only baptized Orthodox are judged in the toll houses,  The rest of mankind is taken to hell immediately they die and do not go through the torments of the toll houses.  It is very sad for converts with non-Orthodox family and friends.

'Note also,' said the angels, 'that this is the way by which only those who are enlightened by the faith
and by holy baptism can rise and be tested in the stations of torment. The unbelievers do not come here.
Their souls belong to hell even before they part from their bodies. When they die the devils take their souls
with no need to test them. Such souls are their proper prey, and they take them down to the abyss.'
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/theodora.aspx"

i suppose some might believe that, i dont understand it to be part and parcel of the toll house teaching though
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« Reply #47 on: November 03, 2010, 03:18:54 PM »

This is all part of the story of St. Theodora's Journey Through the Aerial Toll-Houses:


"When the soul parts from its body and desires to go to its Creator in heaven, the evil spirits prevent the soul and show to it its sins. If the soul has done more good deeds than evil, they cannot keep it; but if the sins outweigh the good deeds, they keep the soul for some time, shut it up in the prison where it cannot know God, and torment it as much as God's power allows them, until that soul, by means of prayers of the Church and good deeds done for its sake by those who are still on earth, should be granted forgiveness.  (Sounds like Purgatory)

"Those who believe in the Holy Trinity and take as frequently as possible the Holy Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ our Saviour's Body and Blood—such people can rise to heaven directly, with no hindrances, and the holy angels defend them, and the holy saints of God pray for their salvation, since they have lived righteously. No one, however, takes care of the wicked and depraved heretics, who do nothing useful during their lives, and live in disbelief and heresy. The angels can say nothing in their defense.

"When a soul proves to be so sinful and impure before God that it has no hope of salvation, the evil spirits immediately bring it down into the abyss, where their own place of eternal torment is also. There the lost souls are kept until the time of the Lord's Second Coming. Then they will unite with their bodies and will incur torment in the fiery hell together with the devils.

'Note also,' said the angels, 'that this is the way by which only those who are enlightened by the faith and by holy baptism can rise and be tested in the stations of torment. The unbelievers do not come here. Their souls belong to hell even before they part from their bodies. When they die the devils take their souls with no need to test them. Such souls are their proper prey, and they take them down to the abyss.'"

I find all of this troubling from an Orthodox perspective.
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« Reply #48 on: November 03, 2010, 03:25:19 PM »

well but the Tale of Theodora is not the origin of the toll houses, they exist in our Saints long before this writing. I have not read this tale myself, but off the top of my head I would say many of the troubling things might not be so troubling when interpreted symbolically in the context of the tradition ...
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« Reply #49 on: November 03, 2010, 04:30:46 PM »

This is all part of the story of St. Theodora's Journey Through the Aerial Toll-Houses:


"When the soul parts from its body and desires to go to its Creator in heaven, the evil spirits prevent the soul and show to it its sins. If the soul has done more good deeds than evil, they cannot keep it; but if the sins outweigh the good deeds, they keep the soul for some time, shut it up in the prison where it cannot know God, and torment it as much as God's power allows them, until that soul, by means of prayers of the Church and good deeds done for its sake by those who are still on earth, should be granted forgiveness.  (Sounds like Purgatory)

"Those who believe in the Holy Trinity and take as frequently as possible the Holy Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ our Saviour's Body and Blood—such people can rise to heaven directly, with no hindrances, and the holy angels defend them, and the holy saints of God pray for their salvation, since they have lived righteously. No one, however, takes care of the wicked and depraved heretics, who do nothing useful during their lives, and live in disbelief and heresy. The angels can say nothing in their defense.

"When a soul proves to be so sinful and impure before God that it has no hope of salvation, the evil spirits immediately bring it down into the abyss, where their own place of eternal torment is also. There the lost souls are kept until the time of the Lord's Second Coming. Then they will unite with their bodies and will incur torment in the fiery hell together with the devils.

'Note also,' said the angels, 'that this is the way by which only those who are enlightened by the faith and by holy baptism can rise and be tested in the stations of torment. The unbelievers do not come here. Their souls belong to hell even before they part from their bodies. When they die the devils take their souls with no need to test them. Such souls are their proper prey, and they take them down to the abyss.'"

I find all of this troubling from an Orthodox perspective.

The big thing about Purgatory, as I understand it, is not the concept of testing or purification after death. Rather it is purification via actual, material fire, which we reject. But it seems Catholics have largely rejected such a literal understanding as well.
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« Reply #50 on: November 03, 2010, 07:59:03 PM »

The therory of toll houses that I have encountered is different than the one presented here on this thread.

1. Angels escort the soul to heaven.
2. Demons accuse us not judge.
3. It gives no account of the weight of sins versus faith or works. It could be understood that Faith in Christ is sufficient to "pay the toll" all the way to heaven.
4. Since there is no such thing as pergatory it does give a reasonable "mechanism" for judging those who were never baptised or were never exposed to the Christian teachings. If one does not have knowledge of Christ then would they not be judged on works?
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« Reply #51 on: November 03, 2010, 09:06:59 PM »

well but the Tale of Theodora is not the origin of the toll houses, they exist in our Saints long before this writing. I have not read this tale myself, but off the top of my head I would say many of the troubling things might not be so troubling when interpreted symbolically in the context of the tradition ...

My understanding has been that the Theodora story is one of the foundational stories used by supporters of the toll-houses.

The problem with symbolic interpretation is that ten people could have ten interpretations.  It then becomes an issue of speculation.  The part of the story where the demons are described as Black Ethiopians, her head being cut off and forced to drink poison, these and the rest could be interpreted so many different ways as to make the story meaningless.

It becomes reminiscent of the Book of Revelations, no one seems to agree on what most of the symbols in the book mean.  If the toll-houses are just symbolic, then in a sense, they don't really exist, anymore than four horsemen of the apocalypse are real individuals riding real horses.

It becomes a matter of theologoumena, not dogma.
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« Reply #52 on: November 03, 2010, 09:14:28 PM »

The therory of toll houses that I have encountered is different than the one presented here on this thread.

1. Angels escort the soul to heaven.
2. Demons accuse us not judge.
3. It gives no account of the weight of sins versus faith or works. It could be understood that Faith in Christ is sufficient to "pay the toll" all the way to heaven.
4. Since there is no such thing as pergatory it does give a reasonable "mechanism" for judging those who were never baptised or were never exposed to the Christian teachings. If one does not have knowledge of Christ then would they not be judged on works?

I would love to believe that non-Christians will be in heaven, I hope that is what happens, but number 4. says that those not baptized or exposed to Christian teachings can get into heaven on works.  Is this the Orthodox position?  I would like to believe it, but I doubt that is what the Church has taught for the past 2000 years.

If your number 3 is correct, then we Orthodox have nothing to fear from the toll-houses, the fact that we have faith in Christ is sufficient to get past them.  Again, I do not think that is the traditional understanding of the toll-house supporters.  My understanding of the toll-house position is that any un-confessed/un-absolved sins cause us to get trapped at the toll-houses.

It would appear that there are widely divergent views on what the toll-houses are, or how they actually work.
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« Reply #53 on: November 03, 2010, 09:16:40 PM »

here's a talk by Fr. Hopko that i think is very good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdO9jgp2-N0. he says that the toll houses appear in basically every Church Father, but he thinks that the further on you go the more detailed the teaching becomes and sometimes then it becomes problematic, but he still believes that the core teaching is true. even without the Theodora Tale the evidence abounds for the toll houses. they even appear in icons and prayers and hymns of the Church.
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« Reply #54 on: November 03, 2010, 09:39:32 PM »

Yes, this was a good talk, thank you for the link.  Fr. Hopko sees it as an allegory for our being purified before entering heaven.  The classic view of the toll-houses that I have read specifically state that you can be dragged off to hell if you are convicted at one of the toll-houses.  Again, there are many different opinions regarding this subject. 

I copied and pasted the response of one of the video viewers:

"God Himself told St Silouan that the Theotokos NEVER sinned Fr Hopko! Quit saying she did. St Silouan couldn't believe it when he heard it, but he accepted it and believes it now!

And, Christ Himself ascended into Heaven by going UP, through the air. He returns by coming down through the air. Yes, the aerial toll-houses are in the air, where the demons reside and who we must contend with as the Saints teach! And, the 40 days after one's death reveals a literal time frame associated with death!"

These are the types of fanatics that give the toll-house theory a bad name.  It is impossible to reason with such people.  I have great respect for elder Silouan;  did God actually speak to him about the Theotokos?  I have no idea.  As one of the earlier posters (I think on this thread) mentioned, St. John Chrysostom believed that the Theotokos sinned.  Be that as it may, It appears that a belief in the toll-houses is not required for salvation, and can be viewed in many different ways by different people.

As I have heard it taught (which Fr. Hopko talks about in the video, the later, literal view), is a view that I reject.  I am open to his more symbolic interpretation, but the purification part (which I like) does not square with what I have heard from the tollers.
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« Reply #55 on: November 03, 2010, 09:58:49 PM »

he says that the toll houses appear in basically every Church Father,

Everyone makes mistakes.
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« Reply #56 on: November 03, 2010, 10:17:13 PM »


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.

Alveus,  it ought to be clear from what I written that I do NOT say we should be "able to define the process of the trials the soul faces after death in some exact uniformity."  I have made it very clear that, IMHO, Christ has not revealed that and we simply do not know. 
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« Reply #57 on: November 03, 2010, 10:20:10 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

He says in "The Soul after Death" that a man who is sufficiently spiritual may see the toll houses, with his physical eyes, in the sky above his head.   That sounds literal to me!
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« Reply #58 on: November 03, 2010, 10:26:00 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

He says in "The Soul after Death" that a man who is sufficiently spiritual may see the toll houses, with his physical eyes, in the sky above his head.   That sounds literal to me!

but the description that that man would then give should not be literally understood. our human language cannot literally describe spiritual realities. Fr. Seraphim begins the chapter by discussing how to properly understand the language.
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« Reply #59 on: November 03, 2010, 10:26:41 PM »

he says that the toll houses appear in basically every Church Father,

Everyone makes mistakes.

are you saying that Fr. Hopko is wrong for saying that, or that all the Fathers are wrong for teaching this?
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« Reply #60 on: November 03, 2010, 10:37:36 PM »

In the December 6, 1984 edition of THE HELLENIC CHRONICLE, Rev Dr Stanley Harakas, then dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary, wrote the following answer to a question to the editor concerning Fr Seraphim's book, and the teaching about "aerial toll houses" in general.

Relevant paragraph in blue

Dear Father,

I recently read a book by Rev. Seraphim Rose entitled, The Soul After Death. There were many, many teachings that I read for the first time. My question is: "Are these valid Orthodox interpretations and teachings?" (There follow the four questions listed below, which I will briefly respond to.) (D.S. North Royalton, Ohio)

REV DR HARAKAS' ANSWER:

1. Does the soul linger near the body or earth for the first three days?

Though this is a commonly held opinion among Mediterranean peoples, including the Greek people, it finds no answer in the formal teaching of doctrine in the Orthodox Church. We do not know if such is the case, probably because it is not important that this view be accepted in regard to our salvation. Since there is no clear doctrinal teaching regarding it, there is no reason why we would have to accept it.

2. Is the soul met by angels at the moment of death?

Sometimes poetic and sermonic language used in the Church does indicate this. Again, however, most doctrinal treatments of angelology with which I am familiar, do not support this as a formal teaching of the Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, iconography does include the presence of angels at the last judgment, but only sometimes are angels depicted as present at the moment of death. Again, there does not seem to be enough evidence to consider this a doctrinal teaching of the Church.

3. Are prayers and almsgiving able to bring relief to the souls of the deceased?

This is clearly the teaching of the Orthodox Church. We do not know what kind of relief, or to what extent our prayers can help the deceased, for our Church teaches that all progress in our life as persons growing in God's image and likeness ends with our lives in this world, and upon our death. Nevertheless, the unity of the Church, between the Church Militant (the faithful living) and the Church Triumphant (the faithful dead) permits and calls for prayer for our beloved dead.

Some efforts were made during the 17th century to work out a more detailed understanding of the nature of the "help" provided for the dead by our good works and our prayers, but these views have not been widely accepted or taught in our Church. As a result, as one writer puts it, "The exact bounds of this relationship, and the conception of the state of such persons and of their condition before the General Judgment does not seem to be very clear from current Orthodox teaching." What is clear from late Jewish history (2 Maccabees 12:43) was that "a sin offering for the dead" was made, and the earliest liturgical practices of the Church, especially in the earliest Divine Liturgies which we have, and the writings of the Holy Fathers, that "through charitable works, the prayers of the Church, the Holy Eucharist, help and comfort are afforded to those who have died in the faith." (Androutsos, Dogmatike, p.427).

4. And the big question, "What about the toll houses?"

I don't think that it is such a "big question." The idea that when we die we have to go past a number of "toll houses," detaining the soul for testing of the sins which it has committed and requiring payment for them," is certainly a dramatic way of indicating our moral and spiritual responsibility for our lives in this world. However, the overwhelming doctrinal teaching of the Church does not see these statements as anything more than rhetorical devices. "Toll houses" at most, might be called a "theologoumenon" (that is, an optional theological opinion), but for the vast majority of Orthodox teachers of the faith of a the Church, such views are either unknown (not mentioned), acknowledged as having some minor elements of tradition supporting them, but not official doctrine, or, finally, simply erroneous misinterpretations, to be condemned. It is this last opinion that many of Fr Rose's "old calendarist" critics have adopted. I tend to agree with them on this matter.

I would suggest that you rather read the following accounts of the Orthodox teachings regarding eschatology (the doctrine of the last things) rather than this quite controversial book, for an authoritative understanding of the Church's doctrine on the last things. .... A bit polemical, but theologically on target, it appears to me, is Fr Lev Puhalo's (now Archbishop Lazar) The Soul, The Body, and Death. For a rather full and middle of the road, generally accepted perspective, read Constantine Callinicos' Beyond the Grave. For two very short summaries of Orthodox teaching on eschatology, read Bishop Maximos Aghiorgoussis' The Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox Church, pp.166-168, in A Companion to the Greek Orthodox Church and John Karmiris, A Synopsis of the Dogmatic Theology of the Orthodox Catholic Church, chapter 11.


http://www.christianforums.com/t64911-4/

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« Reply #61 on: November 03, 2010, 10:39:08 PM »

he says that the toll houses appear in basically every Church Father,

Everyone makes mistakes.

are you saying that Fr. Hopko is wrong for saying that, or that all the Fathers are wrong for teaching this?

Perhaps Fr. Hopko meant something more subtle by the statement, but the idea that "all the Fathers" teach toll houses, if taken literally, is completely absurd.
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« Reply #62 on: November 03, 2010, 10:42:46 PM »

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.
Alveus,  it ought to be clear from what I written that I do NOT say we should be "able to define the process of the trials the soul faces after death in some exact uniformity."  I have made it very clear that, IMHO, Christ has not revealed that and we simply do not know.

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.

Father, bless.

Again, my point is that you are talking both ways. You say we can't define these things, then you ask us for universal definitions. To counter your point with the same tired example (because it's the best one I have), is it universally agreed what exactly Hell is, so that we can accept or reject it?

You're saying "outline what the toll-houses are" and also saying "we can't outline things after death."
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« Reply #63 on: November 03, 2010, 10:46:21 PM »

he says that the toll houses appear in basically every Church Father,

Everyone makes mistakes.

are you saying that Fr. Hopko is wrong for saying that, or that all the Fathers are wrong for teaching this?

Perhaps Fr. Hopko meant something more subtle by the statement, but the idea that "all the Fathers" teach toll houses, if taken literally, is completely absurd.

well you can listen to the talk, he doesnt ALL, but i think he says nearly all, and perhaps he's speaking hyperbolically, but it gets the point across that its quite a prevalent teaching ...
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« Reply #64 on: November 03, 2010, 10:48:04 PM »

3. Are prayers and almsgiving able to bring relief to the souls of the deceased?

This is clearly the teaching of the Orthodox Church. We do not know what kind of relief, or to what extent our prayers can help the deceased, for our Church teaches that all progress in our life as persons growing in God's image and likeness ends with our lives in this world, and upon our death. Nevertheless, the unity of the Church, between the Church Militant (the faithful living) and the Church Triumphant (the faithful dead) permits and calls for prayer for our beloved dead.

Does she really? Strange, considering that every Orthodox theological book I have read states that theosis is an eternal process, because God is infinite. How else can we move from glory to glory, without eventually becoming God entirely? If the conformity to God's image ceases at death, then the process must be "complete", however that might be possible.

I'm not impressed with this statement.
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« Reply #65 on: November 03, 2010, 10:52:00 PM »

theosis absolutely continues after death, for all eternity ...
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« Reply #66 on: November 03, 2010, 10:53:38 PM »


Again, my point is that you are talking both ways. You say we can't define these things, then you ask us for universal definitions. To counter your point with the same tired example (because it's the best one I have), is it universally agreed what exactly Hell is, so that we can accept or reject it?


You are confounding two different things.  On the one hand, the existence
of hell and its nature..... but the question here is not the nature of the
toll houses but their very existence.


You see, it is almost impossible to tack down with any certainty the
features of this amorphous doctrine. No contemporary toll house proponent
has ever had the courage to say precisely what they believe. They certainly
reject the teaching of the Saints, both St Theodora and St Ignaty
Brianchaninov... Don't you find that odd?... They are decrying the teachings
of the very Saints to whom they also appeal for support in this belief.
Having said that Saint Theodora and Saint Ignaty are wrong in their
teachings,they usually want to advocate a watered down teaching which would
be rejected by the "toll house Saints" themselves including Saint John of
San Francisco.

It's an awful mess, isn't it.

The nitty gritty teaching of the toll houses by the actual toll house
Saints-- Theodora, Theophan the Recluse, Ignaty Brianchaninov --is now held
in contempt and is obviously an embarrasment to nearly all modern-day
tollhouse advocates.

So the "tradition" inspires about as  much confidence as a sinking rubber
dinghy.

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« Reply #67 on: November 03, 2010, 11:01:06 PM »

here's a talk by Fr. Hopko that i think is very good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdO9jgp2-N0. he says that the toll houses appear in basically every Church Father, but he thinks that the further on you go the more detailed the teaching becomes and sometimes then it becomes problematic, but he still believes that the core teaching is true. even without the Theodora Tale the evidence abounds for the toll houses. they even appear in icons and prayers and hymns of the Church.

it doesn't appear in any Apostolic Father, nor do I recall it in St. Clement of Alexandria, the writings of Dionysius, St. John Chrysostom etc.etc.etc. One can be a faithful Orthodox all one's life and never hear of them as long as you stay off the net.
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« Reply #68 on: November 03, 2010, 11:08:26 PM »

Dear Brother Alveus,

This is a frequent problem with American Orthodox tollers.  They deny the
teaching of the Saints who taught the tollhouses and allegorize it away.
They are reminiscent of Rudolf Bultmann, in the 1950s and 60s, who attacked
and demythologized the doctrines of traditional Christianity.

It is noticeable throughout Fr Seraphim's "The Soul After Death" that he
seems to have a multiple belief disorder.  He wavers between allegorical
tollhouses (and in this he is contradicting the teaching of the recent
Russian Saints) and an adherence to the physical reality of the tollhouses.
At times he adopts the demythologized approach for which you have given
several quotes and at other times he asserts the "traditional" teaching and
especially that of Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov from whom he draws extensively
for his own teaching on the tollhouses.  No allegory here with Saint Ignaty,
no metaphor in sight, but only real tollhouses in the air.

For example, Fr Seraphim quotes the holy bishop writing in his "Homily on Death"
1863,  (Collected Works (vol.3). St Petersburg):

    "When the soul of a Christian, leaving its earthly dwelling,  and begins
to strive through the aerial spaces towards the homeland on high, the demons
stop it, strive to find in it a kinship with themselves, their sinfulness,
their fall, and to drag it down to the hell prepared for the devil and his
angels (Matt. 25:41). They act thus by the right which they have acquired
[sic!].

    "For the testing of souls as they pass through the spaces of the air
there have been established by the dark powers separate judgment places and
guards in a remarkable order. In the layers of the under-heaven, from earth
to heaven itself, stand guarding legions of fallen spirits. Each division is
in charge of a special form of sin and tests the soul in it when the soul
reaches this division. The aerial demonic guards and judgment places are
called in the patristic writing the toll-houses, and the spirits who serve
in them are called tax-collectors."

Does the above constitute a fair definition?   Is this a definition which
toll house believers would accept as Orthodox doctrine?  Is this what they
would like to be taught to the youth in our church schools?

Saint Ignaty's definition raises a whole raft of questions.  Where, for
instance, are we taught in Scripture that the fallen angels are assigned the
right to test and judge human souls after death?  It's a most strange
concept, that they should be entrusted with this work of justice (injustice
really) by the God Who Himself thrust them down onto Hell after their
rebellion against Him.  Where are we told that they have acquired this
right?   And again, where are we told in Scripture that the dark powers have
been given a blessing by the Lord to establish "separate judgement places
and guards."  Who gave this right to them?  Was it the Lord Jesus Christ?
But He Himself tells us that "the Father has given ALL judgement to the
Son."  Where and when did the Son delegate His authority to the demons and
the Father of Lies?  To the most malevolent enemies of the human race?
There are many assertions in Bishop Ignaty's writing
which need further investigation.

The holiness of Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov does not guarantee the truth of
this teaching in this matter.  In fact, we find that another great Russian
Saint, Theophan the Recluse, in "Souls and Angels are not Bodies but Spirits
" strongly rebukes Saint Ignaty and takes him to task for his doctrinal
errors.

Fr Ambrose
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« Reply #69 on: November 03, 2010, 11:10:25 PM »

here's a talk by Fr. Hopko that i think is very good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdO9jgp2-N0. he says that the toll houses appear in basically every Church Father, but he thinks that the further on you go the more detailed the teaching becomes and sometimes then it becomes problematic, but he still believes that the core teaching is true. even without the Theodora Tale the evidence abounds for the toll houses. they even appear in icons and prayers and hymns of the Church.

it doesn't appear in any Apostolic Father, nor do I recall it in St. Clement of Alexandria, the writings of Dionysius, St. John Chrysostom etc.etc.etc. One can be a faithful Orthodox all one's life and never hear of them as long as you stay off the net.

i think Met. Hierotheos and Nicholas Vassiliades quote St. John Chrysostom, and there's somewhere in Clement where he makes a reference to toll houses, I don't recall what he says about it or if he's even using the term in the same sense, but anyhoo, im not going to try to prove that every Father mentions them. listen to the talk if you want, whether or not Fr. Hopko is exaggerating, his point is obvious.
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« Reply #70 on: November 03, 2010, 11:45:52 PM »

"He says in "The Soul after Death" that a man who is sufficiently spiritual may see the toll houses, with his physical eyes, in the sky above his head.   That sounds literal to me!"

I agree.  Thank you Father for all of your postings on this matter.  It does seem that some advocates of the houses argue for a metaphoric interpretation of the toll-houses while citing as sources those that believed in a literal interpretation of the same.

In all humility, being neither a priest, nor a theologian, I believe that these men, saints and others, are wrong.  I believe it was a false doctrine that entered the Church and has been passed down to others over the centuries.  I am not aware that any of them claimed to have direct knowledge of the existence of these toll-houses, they simply were repeating, what in all innocence, had been passed on to them by others.

That doesn't make them any less saints, just mistaken on this subject.  If I had been taught this by an elder or my priest when entering the Church, I would have assumed it to be true as well.
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« Reply #71 on: November 04, 2010, 12:06:17 AM »

"He says in "The Soul after Death" that a man who is sufficiently spiritual may see the toll houses, with his physical eyes, in the sky above his head.   That sounds literal to me!"

I agree.  Thank you Father for all of your postings on this matter.  It does seem that some advocates of the houses argue for a metaphoric interpretation of the toll-houses while citing as sources those that believed in a literal interpretation of the same.

In all humility, being neither a priest, nor a theologian, I believe that these men, saints and others, are wrong.  I believe it was a false doctrine that entered the Church and has been passed down to others over the centuries.  I am not aware that any of them claimed to have direct knowledge of the existence of these toll-houses, they simply were repeating, what in all innocence, had been passed on to them by others.

That doesn't make them any less saints, just mistaken on this subject.  If I had been taught this by an elder or my priest when entering the Church, I would have assumed it to be true as well.

pp. 66-69 of Soul After Death are quite explicit that toll houses are NOT to be interpreted literally. in fact he outright criticizes the modern man who is overly obsessed with the literal meaning of texts.

"Accept earthly things here as the weakest kind of depiction of heavenly things.' One must picture the toll-houses not in a sense that is crude and sensuous, but - as far as possible for us - in a spiritual sense, and not be tied down to details which, in the various writers and various accounts of the Church herself, are presented in various ways, even though the basic idea of the toll-houses is one and the same" (p. 67)

pg. 69: "in all such cases we may properly understand these images to be figurative or interpretive devices used to express the spiritual reality which the soul faces at that time . . ."

also Fr. Seraphim does not say that a spiritual person will see them PHYSICALLY, that has been added by the poster (Irish Hermit?). it could mean physically, or it could just as easily be talking about spiritual vision.
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« Reply #72 on: November 04, 2010, 12:33:40 AM »

This thread began with a question regarding whether there is any “cult of Fr. Seraphim (Rose)” and the answer is that there is not, though Abp Lazar likes to speak of some kind of “toll house cult” (I don’t recall him referring to a “Fr. Seraphim cult”).  In any case, neither such cult exists but rather the word “cult” is employed in a seemingly aggressive attempt to demonize those with whom the accuser disagrees.

I suppose as we see how quickly a question about Fr. Seraphim results in a debate about the toll houses, we can see one possible reason why Fr. Seraphim has not yet been canonized (the subject of another recent post).  It is strange, however, that this whole “controversy” seems limited to America.  St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. Theophan the Recluse, St. John the Wonderworker, St. Justin Popovic and many others spoke about the toll houses in great detail and this did not seem to result in any controversy in Serbia, Russia, or elsewhere.  I have never heard that the canonization of any of these saints was delayed because of concerns over the toll house teaching described by these saints.  I’m not suggesting that Fr. Seraphim’s canonization should be “sped up” (as if my suggesting this would make any difference anyway), I am just pointing this out because I think it is significant that this controversy over the toll houses seems limited to contemporary America (and perhaps one hieromonk in New Zealand).

After reading some of these posts, I did just want to make a few comments on the toll house teaching.  When I read various criticisms of this, I often wonder whether those criticizing Fr. Seraphim on account of the toll house teaching have ever read his book “The Soul After Death”, or whether they have read it carefully.  When the toll house teaching comes up, the critics claim that Fr. Seraphim bases this teaching on the story of Theodora’s passage through the toll-houses which is recorded in the Life of St. Basil the New.  The critics then point out everything that they think is wrong with this Life.  Among the problematic aspects of this Life, it is claimed, man is supposedly judged by demons rather than by God, a Roman Catholic idea of “merits of the saints” is employed whereby the “merits” of St. Basil are used to compensate for the deficiencies in Theodora.  Another criticism of the toll house teaching in general is that it is something “amorphous”, that the accounts are “contradictory”, or “too literal”.  In this thread, for the first time I saw the toll house teaching attacked for suggesting that non-Orthodox will not be saved.  I have never heard an Orthodox Christian claim that it was a heresy to believe that salvation is only to be found in the Church. 

It is surprising when one claims that Fr. Seraphim’s book “The Soul After Death” is based on the Life of St. Basil the New because Fr. Seraphim hardly spends any time on this work.  Regarding this Life, Fr. Seraphim states:

Quote
Fr. Seraphim, The Soul After Death, p. 75

The Orthodox Lives of Saints contain numerous accounts – some of them very vivid – of how the soul passes through the toll-houses after death.  The most detailed account is to be found in the Life of St. Basil the New (March 26), which describes the passage through the toll-houses of Blessed Theodora, as related by her in a vision to a fellow disciple of the Saint, Gregory.  In this account twenty specific toll-houses are mentioned, with the kinds of sins tested in each set forth.  Bishop Ignatius [Brianchaninov] quotes this account at some lenth… This account already exists in an English translation, however (Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave, pp. 69-87), and it contains nothing significant that is not to be found in other Orthodox sources on the toll-houses, so we shall omit it here in order to give some of these other sources.

Some of these other sources Fr. Seraphim uses include the Life of St. Anthony the Great (+356) by St. Athanasius the Great, the writings of St. Ephraim the Syrian (+373), an Homily of St. John Chrysostom (+407) on Patience and Gratitude that is appointed to be read on the seventh Saturday of Pascha and at funeral services, the Homily on Sobriety of St. Hesychius of Jerusalem (5th century) contained in the Philokalia, St. Cyril of Alexandria’s (+444) Homily on the Departure of the Soul which is always included in editions of the Slavonic Psalter (soon to be published in English by Jordanville), Homilies 5 and 17 of St. Isaiah the Recluse (6th century) contained in the Philokalia, the Fourth Book of “the Dialogues” of St. Gregory the Diologist (+604) and his Homilies on the Gospel; as well as the Lives of St. Eustratius the Great Martyr (4th century, Dec. 13), St. Niphon of Constantia in Cyprus (4th century, Dec. 23), St. Macarius the Great (4th century, Jan. 19), St. Symeon the fool for Christ of Emesa (6th century, July 21), Patriarch St. John the Merciful of Alexandria (7th century, Dec. 19), St. Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain (7th century, March 14), St. Columba (+597), St. Boniface (8th century), etc.

So, Fr. Seraphim basically passes over the Life of St. Basil the New, though he does return to address the criticism that St. Basil’s “merits” are used to make up for Theodora’s debts following Roman Catholic teaching.  If someone actually were to read the story of Theodora’s passage, they would see that it is the prayers of St. Basil that help her through the toll houses and not any “excess good deeds” or “excess merits” that St. Basil (who is still alive on earth in the story) can donate to cover Theodora’s debts.  Regarding this subject, Fr. Seraphim rightly states:

Quote
Fr. Seraphim (Rose), The Soul After Death, p. 185:

The “bag of gold” with which the angels “paid the debts” of Blessed Theodora at the toll-houses has often been misunderstood by critics of the Orthodox teaching; it is sometimes mistakenly compared to the Latin notion of the “excess merits” of saints.  Again, such critics are too literal-minded in their reading of Orthodox texts.  Nothing else is referred to here than the prayers of the Church for the reposed, in particular the prayers of a holy man and spiritual father.  The form in which this is described – it should hardly be necessary to say – is metaphorical.

That the “payment” offered to cover the debts of Theodora refers to prayers offered on her behalf rather than to any “excess merits of the saints” is very clear from the story itself.  For instance, the story states:

Quote
St. Theodora’s Journey through the Aerial Toll-Houses
www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/theodora.aspx

“Having said this, [St. Basil] took something out that appeared like a little bag of gold and gave it to the angels with the words:  ‘Here is the treasure of prayers before the Lord for this soul!  As you pass through the torments of the air and the evil spirits begin to torment her, pay her debts with this.’”

Now, in general, for those who often misunderstand the teaching on the toll-houses, it is extremely important to read the section in Fr. Seraphim’s book entitled “How to Understand the Toll-Houses.”  In this section, Fr. Seraphim states:

Quote
Fr. Seraphim (Rose), The Soul After Death, p. 66:

Perhaps no aspect of Orthodox eschatology has been so misunderstood as this phenomenon of the aerial toll-houses…  The modern rationalistic over-emphasis on the “literal” meaning of texts and a “realistic” or this-worldly understanding of the events described in Scripture and in the Lives of Saints – have tended to obscure or even blot out entirely the spiritual meanings and spiritual experiences which are often primary in Orthodox sources….

Before presenting further Bishop Ignatius’ [Brianchaninov] teaching on the aerial toll-houses, let us make note of the cautions of two Orthodox thinkers, one modern and one ancient, for those who enter upon the investigation of other-worldly reality.

In the 19th century, Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow, in his discussion of the state of souls after death, writes:  “One must note that, just as in general in the depictions of the objects of the spiritual world for us who are clothed In flesh, certain features that are more or less sensuous and anthropomorphic are unavoidable – so in particular these features are unavoidably present also in the detailed teaching of the toll-houses which the human soul passes through after the separation from the body.  And therefore one must firmly remember the instruction which the angel made to St. Macarius of Alexandria when he had just begun telling him of the toll-houses: ‘Accept earthly things here as the weakest kind of depiction of heavenly things.’  One must picture the toll-houses not in a sense that is crude and sensuous, but – as far as possible for us – in a spiritual sense, and not be tied down to details which, in the various writers and various accounts of the Church herself, are presented in various ways, even though the basic idea of the toll-houses is one and the same. 

The last sentence of the above paragraph is extremely important.  Many claim that the toll house teaching originated with the Life of St. Basil the New because the word “toll-house” was not employed by all of the earlier Fathers who described the same basic reality – that the soul after its separation from the body goes through a final trial whereby the demons seek to accuse the soul of various sins and hinder its ascent .  Because not every source which refers to this final trial provides the same degree of detail, it is important to understand what the common teaching of the toll-houses is.  It is important to understand what all of the accounts have in common which can be called the “teaching of the Church on the toll-houses”.  Regarding this, Fr. Seraphim states:

Quote
Fr. Seraphim (Rose), The Soul After Death, pp.68-69:

…for now it is sufficient for us to be aware that we must have a cautious and sober approach to all experiences of the other world.  No one aware of Orthodox teaching would say that the toll-houses are not “real,” are not actually experienced by the soul after death.  But we must keep in mind that these experiences occur not in our crudely material world; that both time and space, while obviously present, are quite different from our earthly concepts of time and space; and that accounts of these experiences in earthly language invariably fall short of the reality.  Anyone who is at home in the kind of Orthodox literature which describes after-death reality will normally know how to distinguish between the spiritual realities described there and the incidental details which may sometimes be expressed in symbolic or imaginative language.  Thus, of course, there are no visible “houses” or “booths” in the air where “taxes” are collected, and where there is mention of “scrolls” or writing implements whereby sins are recorded, or “scales” by which virtues are weighed, or “gold” by which “debts” are paid – in all such cases we may properly understand these images to be figurative or interpretive devices used to express the spiritual reality which the soul faces at that time.  Whether the soul actually sees these images at the time, due to its lifelong habit of seeing spiritual reality only through bodily forms, or later can remember the experience only by use of such images, or simply finds it impossible to express what it has experienced in any other way – this is all a very secondary question which does not seem to have been important to the Holy Fathers and writers of saints’ lives who have recorded such experiences.  What is certain is that there is a testing by demons, who appear in a frightful but human form, accuse the newly-departed of sins and literally try to seize the subtle body of the soul, which is grasped firmly by angels; and all this occurs in the air above us and can be seen by those whose eyes are open to spiritual reality. 

Further in the text when Fr. Seraphim quotes St. John the Wonderworker from his Homily on Life After Death, Fr. Seraphim states that “it should be kept in mind that this description of the first two days of death constitutes a general rule which by no means covers all cases.  In fact, most of the examples quoted from Orthodox literature in the course of this book do not fit this rule”…(p.182).  He also states, “The description of the first two days (and of the succeeding days as well) is by no means any kind of dogma; it is merely a ‘model’ which indeed sets forth the most common order of the soul’s experiences after death. “ (p. 183)

Based on what has been quoted above from Fr. Seraphim, I do not at all think he would disagree with Met Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos who summarized the teaching in this way:

Quote
Met Hierotheos (Vlachos) on The Taxing of Souls, from Life After Death:
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/soul_taxing.aspx

The things that we have said so far show just what those customs houses are that are spoken of in the patristic texts. On the one hand, they are the passions of the soul which, because of the non-existence of the body, cannot be satisfied, and therefore stifle the soul. On the other hand, they are the evil demons which have gained mastery over passionate people, and it is natural that after the soul's departure they have greater mastery over them. The righteous people, who during their lives have purified their souls and bodies from passions of the soul and body and have been clothed in the pledge of the Spirit and united with God, escape the power of the customs houses, since the demons have no power over them. The souls of the righteous are led, free and undistracted, towards God, with whom they are united.

So the whole problem is not to be afraid of the customs demons, but as long as we live, to cure our soul and our whole being of passions, to partake of the uncreated grace of God, so that the departure of our soul from our body may be a matter of joy and delight.

For those interested in the question of “Gnostic influence”, Met Hierotheos goes on to say in the same section of his book:

Quote
Met Hierotheos (Vlachos) on The Taxing of Souls, from Life After Death:
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/soul_taxing.aspx

Of course there are some who maintain that such notions as customs houses and aerial spirits have come into Christianity from Gnostic theories and pagan myths which prevailed during that period.

There is no doubt that such views can be found in many Gnostic texts, in pagan ideas which are found in Egyptian and Chaldaean myths. However it must be emphasised that many Fathers adopted the teaching about customs houses, but they cleared it of idolatrous and Gnostic frames of reference and placed it in the ecclesiastical atmosphere. The holy Fathers were not afraid to do such creative work.

It is a fact that the Fathers were working creatively and productively when they took many views and theories from the pagan world, but gave them an ecclesiastical content. It is well known that the Fathers took the teaching about the immortality of the soul, about the ecstasy of man and the dispassion of the soul and body, the teaching about the tripartite soul and many other things from the ancient philosophies, as well as from ancient traditions, but clearly they gave them another content and a different perspective. We cannot discard the teaching about the immortality of the soul just because the ancient philosophers spoke of it. We must look at the content which the holy Fathers gave to it.

Therefore what happened to other topics happened also to the subject of the customs houses. It is true that ancient traditions and heretical views spoke of "rulers of the astral sphere", about "gates of an astral journey", about "aerial spirits", and so forth. We find several of these phrases in the Bible and in patristic texts. As we have mentioned in this chapter, many Fathers of the Church speak of customs houses and aerial spirits, but they have given them different content and different meanings.

In the beginning of chapter 10 of his book, Fr. Seraphim said that the book was “too limited in compass to present the entire Orthodox teaching on the other world and life after death” since his attempt was “the more limited one of presenting enough of this teaching to answer the questions raised by today’s ‘after-death’ experiences, and of pointing readers to the Orthodox texts which contain this teaching.”  With this admission, I would highly recommend Met Hierotheos’ book “Life After Death” precisely as a more comprehensive book addressing the Orthodox teaching on these subjects.
 
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« Reply #73 on: November 04, 2010, 12:44:02 AM »

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St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. Theophan the Recluse, St. John the Wonderworker, St. Justin Popovic and many others spoke about the toll houses in great detail and this did not seem to result in any controversy in Serbia, Russia, or elsewhere.

Considering that St. Justin Popovich is my patron saint, and since I have enjoyed his works, I'm curious as to where in his writings he mentioned toll houses?
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« Reply #74 on: November 04, 2010, 12:50:19 AM »

great post Jah777!
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« Reply #75 on: November 04, 2010, 12:55:03 AM »

Considering that St. Justin Popovich is my patron saint, and since I have enjoyed his works, I'm curious as to where in his writings he mentioned toll houses?

Volume 3 of his "Orthodox Dogmatic Theology", pp. 709-726.  This is not yet in English.  St. Herman's in Platina plans to translate and publish this but it could take a few years.
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« Reply #76 on: November 04, 2010, 12:56:36 AM »

Considering that St. Justin Popovich is my patron saint, and since I have enjoyed his works, I'm curious as to where in his writings he mentioned toll houses?

Volume 3 of his "Orthodox Dogmatic Theology", pp. 709-726.  This is not yet in English.  St. Herman's in Platina plans to translate and publish this but it could take a few years.

Thank you, for both pieces of information Smiley
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« Reply #77 on: November 04, 2010, 12:58:53 AM »


St. Justin Popovic and many others spoke about the toll houses in great detail...


Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

In 1932 he published volume 1 of his Dogmatic Theology and in 1935 volume 2 .  There is no mention of the toll houses.

Fr Justin maintained that the toll houses do not form part of the Orthodox Church's dogmatic theology.

However 40 years later, prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

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« Reply #78 on: November 04, 2010, 08:32:06 AM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.   
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« Reply #79 on: November 04, 2010, 08:55:31 AM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.   

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.
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« Reply #80 on: November 04, 2010, 11:38:03 AM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.   

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


ive never read it, but i would assume the heresy comes in the interpretation, just as Scripture can be interpreted heretically.
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« Reply #81 on: November 04, 2010, 01:46:52 PM »


I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.



As far as I can tell, St. Justin did not claim that any aspect of the story of Blessed Theodora’s journey through the toll-houses is heretical.  He seems to accept it as perfectly Orthodox.  It should not be a surprise that this teaching would appear in a work on Orthodox Dogmatic theology because the teaching seems to have been commonly included in works on Orthodox Dogmatic theology in Pre-Revolutionary Russia, if not elsewhere as well.  For instance, Metropolitan Makary of Moscow included a lengthy section on the toll-houses in his 6-volume work on Orthodox Dogmatic Theology that was published between 1847 and 1853.  He cites the story of Theodora along with a multitude of other sources for this teaching, again without any reservations.  After citing so many sources for this teaching, Metropolitan Makary says:

Quote
Met Makary of Moscow (+1882), Orthodox Dogmatic Theology:

Such continuous, perpetual and ubiquitous use in the Church of the
doctrine of toll-houses, and especially among teachers of the fourth
century, offers indisputable evidence that it has been transmitted to
them from teachers of the prior centuries and is based on apostolic
tradition.

The clairvoyant and greatly respected Archbishop of Andrew of Rockland (ROCOR) encouraged his spiritual children to read the description of the 20 toll-houses described in the passage of Blessed Theodora in preparation for Confession.  Again, it seems that only one deposed deacon from ROCOR who is now a retired Abp in the OCA has spoken against this description as supposedly heretical.  He, the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston that he was affiliated with and which broke away from ROCOR in 1986, and a few others they have been able to convince through their propaganda are among these “critics”.

After reading Abp Lazar’s writings condemning the toll-houses as supposedly “neo-Gnostic”, and the story of Theodora as heretical, I have come to agree all the more with Fr. Seraphim’s response to Abp Lazar’s claims which can be read in the “Answers to a Critic” included in Appendix III of the Soul After Death and which can be read here: 

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/critic.aspx

On this topic, Fr. Seraphim says:
Quote
The account of Theodora's passage through the tollhouses (Lives of Saints, March 26) the critic calls a "heresy-filled tale" (6:8-9, p. 24) based upon a "hallucination" (7:2, p. 14) of someone who, in Old Testament times, "would have justly been taken out and stoned" because he "was in a state of abject spiritual delusion" (6:6-7, p. 28). (Why the critic should be so angry against Theodora's account is not clear; it is only one of many similar accounts and teaches nothing different from them—so much so that I saw no need to quote it above in the chapter on the toll-houses.)

These extreme accusations are personal opinions of the critic which certainly have no evidence behind them. One wonders why he insists on making up his own interpretation of the toll-houses and refuses to understand them as the Church has always understood them; the caricature which he is railing against has never been taught in the Orthodox Church, and one is at a loss to know from what source he has taken his preposterous interpretations.

At the beginning of his response to his “critic”, Fr. Seraphim rightly says:

Quote
After reading these attacks I have not found it necessary to change anything I have written here; I have only added a few paragraphs here and there to make more clear the Orthodox teaching which, I believe, is most unfairly caricatured and misinterpreted in these attacks.

There would be no purpose in making a point-by-point reply to this critic. His Patristic citations hardly ever make the points he thinks they are making, and the only reply to them is to indicate that they have been misapplied. Thus, for example: all the quotes showing that man is composed of both soul and body (7:2, p. 26, etc.)—which no one denies—say nothing whatever against the independent activity of the soul after death, which has so much evidence in its favor as to seem quite beyond "refutation" if one trusts the Orthodox sources; the many places in Scripture and in Patristic texts where death is expressed metaphorically as a "sleep" say nothing whatever of the "literal truth" of this metaphor, which has been taught by only a very few Christian teachers over the centuries and certainly is in disagreement with the Church's accepted teaching; etc. A collection of "proof texts" makes sense only if it actually proves an issue in dispute, not if it talks about something a little different or does not speak clearly and explicitly to the issue.

While on the one hand the critic amasses long lists of often irrelevant quotations, his more usual polemical technique is to dismiss his opponents with a sweeping statement that either has no evidence behind it at all, or else obviously contradicts a good part of the evidence. Thus, if the critic wishes to dispute the possibility of communications from people who have come back to life from the dead, he categorically declares: "These things are simply not possible" (vol. 5, no. 6, p. 25)—despite the fact that Orthodox literature contains numerous such communications; if he wants to deny that demons are seen by men after death, he proclaims: "The fathers teach no such thing" (6:12, p. 24) —despite the numerous Patristic references, for example, to the "toll-houses" encountered after death. If the critic does acknowledge the existence of evidence which disputes his point, he dismisses it with a sweeping accusation: it is all "allegories" or "moral fables" (5:6, p. 26).

The critic is also much addicted to rather cruel ad hominem arguments which attempt to discredit anyone who disagrees with him: "It is interesting that some people, together with the Latins, seem to think that the Scripture need not necessarily be conformed with" (6:12, p. 30)—this is said in a context where he has just "swept away" the teaching of Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, who, at least indirectly, is thus accused of disrespect for the Scriptures. The views of others who disagree with the critic are liable to be smeared with such unflattering epithets as "Origenistic" (6:12, p. 31) or "blasphemous" (5:6, P. 23), and the opponents themselves dismissed as having a "Platonic-Origenistic mind" or as being "under heavy Latin-Scholastic-Hellenistic influence, in a state of spiritual delusion ... or simply abysmally ignorant" (6:12, p. 39).

One heresy claimed by Abp Lazar to be found in the toll-house teaching is the description of how Blessed Theodora’s good works are weighed against her sinful deeds.  To refute this supposed heresy, Abp Lazar quotes St. Mark the Ascetic’s work entitled “On those who think to justify themselves by Works.”  Here, St. Mark is quoted as saying:

Quote
When Scripture says, “He will reward every man according to his works,” do not imagine that works in themselves merit either Hell or the Kingdom.  On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but God our Creator and Redeemer. 

Abp Lazar then piles on other similar patristic quotes showing that works *alone* cannot save a man, and yet this has nothing to do with the story of Theodora’s journey.  Just because her works are examined does not mean that she is judged on works *alone*.  As a matter of fact, the story shows quite the opposite.  It is made quite clear in her journey through the nineteenth toll-house that true faith is also necessary for salvation:

Quote
Thereafter we came to the torment of heresies, where are punished those reasonings about faith which are not right, and also turning away from the Orthodox confession of faith, and lack of faith, doubts about it, denial of holy things or a negative attitude toward them, and other sins of the kind. I passed this torment without being tested; we were no longer far from the gates of Heaven.

The story also clearly demonstrates that in addition to true faith and good works, she need the prayers of the Church, as shown by the prayers of her spiritual father St. Basil, as well as a clear conscience resulting from a thorough and detailed confession of her sins prior to her repose. 

Another of the supposed heresies contained in this story, according to Abp Lazar, is the “heretical teaching about works and merits”.  Abp Lazar states here that “the very idea that a man can possess an excess of righteousness so as to have ‘riches’ left over is contrary to the very nature of virtue, as we have seen.”  But as I mentioned in the previous post, St. Basil here offers his *prayers* to cover the debts of Blessed Theodora, not some “merits” based on an “excess of righteousness”.  Again, St. Basil states:

Quote
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/theodora.aspx

... [St. Basil] took something out that appeared like a little bag of gold and gave it to the angels with the words: 'Here is the treasure of prayers before the Lord for this soul! As you pass through the torments of the air and the evil spirits begin to torment her, pay her debts with this.'

As Fr. Seraphim indicated, Abp Lazar often piles on patristic quotations which do not at all support his assertions, or the quotes are torn out of context and twisted to apply to a subject for which the quotes are not relevant, or he distorts the toll-house teaching itself so that it is more easily condemnable.  Of course, many people will just see all of the names of various Fathers, all the quotes provided by him and think that Abp Lazar must be making a credible argument since he can provide so many quotes.  However, a more careful examination of the subjects shows that these quotations are not being used or understood properly.  They are rather presented in the cold, dry, academic proof-text fashion of the Protestant Fundamentalists that he so sharply criticizes. 

When I read the book by Fr. Seraphim and the story of Blessed Theodora (which he again does not really discuss or see the need to discuss in his book), I am encouraged to take seriously the struggle against the passions and the need for repentance.  I can see from such accounts how essential it is to live according to Christ’s commandments and to fulfill the vows made at my baptism.  I am humbled as I come to see my sins more clearly in the description of the passions described at each toll-house, and I am encouraged to become much more watchful over my words and deeds.  On the other hand, when I read the criticisms of Abp Lazar I am shocked by the impiety of his speech, how quickly and easily he mocks and ridicules those who have been counted among the glorified saints of the Church.  Such readings give the impression that we do not need such holy saints, or even monasticism, as much as we need smart people like him who can read a lot of books and then explain how silly so many of our saints and Fathers actually were, how dim-witted and foolish they were to believe such strange tales.  When I read these works I am given the same impression as when I read the proud scholars of the “Jesus Seminar” who subject all that is holy beneath their profane reasoning and scoff at the Holy Scriptures and our holy Faith.  They say that thanks to their superior reasoning we can reject St. Paul’s teaching on homosexuality, we can consider our Lord as a mere teacher and prophet rather God the Son and equal to the Father.  Such proud scholars destroy faith and many of them are also either agnostics or atheists on account of the exaltation of their reasoning.  Though this critic of the toll-houses had not gone this far for sure, he seems to convey the same disposition.   

As I said in a previous message, if so many saints are wrong about the toll-houses, I would rather follow them in word and deed into the heavenly kingdom than the outspoken critics of very questionable reputation who have appeared only in the past few decades with their vain and misguided “reform” campaigns.
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« Reply #82 on: November 04, 2010, 06:13:24 PM »


As I said in a previous message, if so many saints are wrong about the toll-houses, I would rather follow them in word and deed into the heavenly kingdom than the outspoken critics of very questionable reputation who have appeared only in the past few decades with their vain and misguided “reform” campaigns.



As I wrote earlier, you do not follow the teachings of the toll-house Saints but a light weight version put together by American converts which eliminates some of the essential (and embarrasing) features of what the toll-house Saints believed and taught.  It is really not quite honest when modern tollers claim to be obedient to the teachings of the toll-house Saints. They aren't, and those of us who see this clearly wonder why they make this assertion.

One practical result of this dichotomy between the older beliefs and the revised 20th and 21st century toll house belief is that the tollers are completely unable to offer a definition of the toll houses.  To do so would make the contradictions with the older teaching immediately apparent.   So they play both sides of the fence - happy to speak of them as an "illustrative metaphor" on some occasions and on other occasions going far beyond that and asserting they are dogma.

Humbug!
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« Reply #83 on: November 04, 2010, 06:45:45 PM »

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Where could one procure the first two volumes in English?
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« Reply #84 on: November 04, 2010, 07:13:58 PM »

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Where could one procure the first two volumes in English?

Dear Brother Alveus,  I have not seen the English translations.  I imagine an enquiry to Platina would be successful.

Oddly enough, after Mother Maria (Rule) and I finished work on the Prologue in 1979 our next obedience was to have been an English translation of Fr Justin's Dogmatic Theology.  But instead, I was sent back to New Zealand to work as a parish priest and she was entrusted with the practical work of rebuilding Gradac monastery.
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« Reply #85 on: November 04, 2010, 08:54:07 PM »

The statement given by the Holy Synod of the ROCOR regarding the toll-house issue does not sound like a ringing endorsement of the theory.  So much for the claims of some that it has been a universal belief of the Church for centuries:

"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."

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky (1863-1936), the first Hierarch of ROCOR considered the toll-houses as "something the rustic folk" believe in.

Why is it that the supporters of the theory insist that it is a dogma of the Church when it is obviously not?  I don't dispute that many in the Church believe it to be true, but why the insistence on everyone having to accept it as a universally held belief, which has been proven not to be the case?
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« Reply #86 on: November 04, 2010, 10:16:29 PM »

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky (1863-1936), the first Hierarch of ROCOR considered the toll-houses as "something the rustic folk" believe in.

I'm Rustic !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8h_v_our_Q
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« Reply #87 on: November 04, 2010, 10:20:05 PM »

Why is it that the supporters of the theory insist that it is a dogma of the Church when it is obviously not? 

Who does this? Where?
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« Reply #88 on: November 04, 2010, 10:26:55 PM »

I always had the impression this was more of a folk belief that the more educated clergy would never talk about.
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« Reply #89 on: November 04, 2010, 10:30:14 PM »

I always had the impression this was more of a folk belief that the more educated clergy would never talk about.

Right, because Metropolitan Hierotheos is such a folksy, poorly educated theologian.
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« Reply #90 on: November 04, 2010, 10:42:56 PM »

Dear Iconodule,

I was referring to a poster from a thread back in 2005, but others I have read over the years on different forums have similar feelings on the subject:

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Re: toll houses
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2005, 12:58:13 PM »
   Reply with quoteQuote

The Apostle Paul refers to the toll houses. The Panagia prayed that Christ would receive her soul so that she would be delivered from the toll houses. They're real, guys. Sorry if it's scary, but we need to account for every sin - and the toll gates is where that happens. All twenty of them."

"There is absolutely no doubt that the teaching of the toll-houses is the teaching of the Orthodox Church."

And this from  http://stmichaelacademy.org/theo/stjd.htm

"In conclusion, the toll houses are indeed real and a part of the entire teaching of the Orthodox Church in regards to the state of the soul after death. Saint John of Damascus as well as other Church Fathers and the hymnology of the Church all attest to the judgment after death, the frightful testing, and our warring with the spirits in the air. The toll houses are not imaginary, and the soul is not in a state of slumber but active, hence the reason for the Church’s prayers for the dead, as the state of the soul can continually be effected upon until the final judgment." -Hieromonk Dionysios

These are examples of those who insist that we must believe in the toll-houses, and claim that the belief is universal in the Church.
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« Reply #91 on: November 04, 2010, 10:44:22 PM »

I always had the impression this was more of a folk belief that the more educated clergy would never talk about.

Right, because Metropolitan Hierotheos is such a folksy, poorly educated theologian.
I do not think you realize the extent to which folk beliefs influence public preaching in Orthodoxy (outside of America, at least).
I actually think that's a good thing. Personally I could care less if the hierarchy sanction this or that belief or not.
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« Reply #92 on: November 04, 2010, 10:49:47 PM »

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky (1863-1936), the first Hierarch of ROCOR considered the toll-houses as "something the rustic folk" believe in.

I'm Rustic !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8h_v_our_Q

 laugh

That's a good one!

Seriously though, as the example I cited from the Holy Synod of ROCOR shows, the Hierarchs of the Church (collectively, not necessarily as individuals) will never proclaim the toll-houses as Orthodox dogma.  I would be amazed if at anytime in the future a jurisdictional synod or council ever promulgates the toll-houses.  They would prefer to leave it as it is, one of many theologoumena that are optional for the faithful.  Does anyone disagree?
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« Reply #93 on: November 04, 2010, 11:06:12 PM »

As I wrote earlier, you do not follow the teachings of the toll-house Saints but a light weight version put together by American converts which eliminates some of the essential (and embarrasing) features of what the toll-house Saints believed and taught.  It is really not quite honest when modern tollers claim to be obedient to the teachings of the toll-house Saints. They aren't, and those of us who see this clearly wonder why they make this assertion.

One practical result of this dichotomy between the older beliefs and the revised 20th and 21st century toll house belief is that the tollers are completely unable to offer a definition of the toll houses.  To do so would make the contradictions with the older teaching immediately apparent.   So they play both sides of the fence - happy to speak of them as an "illustrative metaphor" on some occasions and on other occasions going far beyond that and asserting they are dogma.

I honestly have no idea what you are talking about, so perhaps you could elaborate?  What are the "essential" features of what toll-house saints believed and taught which you assume I do not believe or would be embarrassed by?  And what exactly is the dichotomy that you see between the teaching as expressed in the 20th and 21st centuries and the teaching as expressed previously?

I wonder if you are trying to create a false dichotomy by suggesting that those who have recently written about the toll-houses “play both sides of the fence”, sometimes referring to them as “illustrative metaphor” and at other times “asserting they are dogma”?  Most of those since the 19th century who have written in detail about this teaching have indicated that it is metaphor in a certain sense but not *merely* metaphor.  For instance, Metropolitan Makary of Moscow who wrote about the toll-houses in his Orthodox Dogmatic Theology in the 19th century said:

Quote
How the particular judgment takes place the Holy Scripture does not set forth. But the figurative representation of the judgment, based mainly on Holy Tradition and in concord with the Holy Scriptures, we find in the doctrine of the toll-houses, which exists from ancient times in the Orthodox Church.

He states in the same work that:

Quote
Such continuous, perpetual and ubiquitous use in the Church of the doctrine of toll-houses, and especially among teachers of the fourth century, offers indisputable evidence that it has been transmitted to them from teachers of the prior centuries and is based on apostolic tradition.

And concludes his discussion of the toll-house teaching by saying:

Quote
And therefore we must keep firmly in mind the instruction that the angel gave the Venerable Macarius of Alexandria, when he just began talking about the toll-houses: "Accept earthly things here as being the weakest representation of the heavenly". It is necessary to consider toll-houses not in the rough, or sensual sense, but as much as it is possible for us, in a spiritual sense, and not be tied to particulars, which have been presented by various authors and in various stories of the Church differently, while preserving the unity of the basic idea regarding the toll-houses.

I do not at all see these statements as contradictory, on one hand insisting that the toll-house teaching is a “doctrine of the Church” and on the other hand insisting that because it deals with realities which we cannot see and concerns what occurs with the soul after its separation from the body, we must hold to the general principles described in all the various references to this teaching while not getting attached to particulars or interpreting the description of the toll-houses too literally in a sensual or material fashion.  Again, I do not think the above words by Met Makary, which those after him have shared, are in any way contradictory. 

Now regarding whether or not the toll-house teaching is a “dogma” can be understood in different ways.  Met Makary says that the toll-house teaching is a “doctrine of the Church” and St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and others speak similarly in this regard.  Yet, Fr. Seraphim (Rose) asserts that the teaching is not a dogma.  Fr. Michael Pomazansky in his “Orthodox Dogmatic Theology” said that the toll-house teaching “is not a dogma in the precise sense” and then says:

Quote
The teaching concerning the Particular Judgment of God enters into the sphere of Orthodox dogmatic theology. As for the toll-houses, Russian writers of general systems of theology limit themselves to a rather stereotyped note: "Concerning all the sensual, earthly images by which the Particular Judgment is presented in the form of the toll-houses, although in their fundamental idea they are completely true, still they should be accepted in the way that the angel instructed Saint Macarius of Alexandria, being only the weakest means of depicting heavenly things.

So, are Frs. Seraphim and Michael contradicting Met Makary and St. Ignatius on the subject of whether the toll-house teaching is a dogma?  Is there a difference between a “doctrine” and a “dogma”? 

The statement given by the Holy Synod of the ROCOR regarding the toll-house issue does not sound like a ringing endorsement of the theory.  So much for the claims of some that it has been a universal belief of the Church for centuries:

Did you read the entire statement contained here?:
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/tollhouse_debate.aspx

The Synod was concerned to put an end to the controversy.  If you read the long discussion which precedes this paragraph you will have a more complete picture.  For instance, touching upon this question regarding “doctrine” vs. “dogma”, the Synod said:

Quote
Among such ancient traditions is the tradition of the so-called toll-stations, which Deacon Lev Puhalo so determinedly dismisses, stating this doctrine, however, in an exaggerated manner. Actually, no one can dogmatically establish the existence of the toll-houses precisely in accordance with the form described in the dream (of Gregory recounted in the life) of Basil the New, insofar as no direct indication thereto is to be found in the Scriptures. However, this tradition has been preserved, with varying details, from profound antiquity and contains nothing that is contrary to piety. It is cited in all texts of dogmatic theology.

So, according to the Synod, there is nothing “contrary to piety” in the teaching of the toll-houses and it is an established teaching or “doctrine” of the Church but not a “dogma” in the precise sense because the *full details* of this teaching as expressed in the Life of St. Basil the New and other sources cannot be argued from the Scriptures.  This does not imply that these descriptions *contradict* the Scriptures, only that the Scriptures are not helpful in identifying the specific details regarding the Particular Judgment.   

Oddly enough, after Mother Maria (Rule) and I finished work on the Prologue in 1979 our next obedience was to have been an English translation of Fr Justin's Dogmatic Theology.

This is what I find so puzzling.  Did you not notice the references to the toll-houses in St. Nikolai’s Prologue?




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« Reply #94 on: November 04, 2010, 11:56:37 PM »



Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky (1863-1936), the first Hierarch of ROCOR considered the toll-houses as "something the rustic folk" believe in.

Hello dear Brother Pete,

I have that quote in this form but I don't have the source any longer.  Anybody?

When asked about the toll houses. Metropolitan Anthony replied:

"The toll houses"  Something the village fold might believe in."

 Cheesy
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« Reply #95 on: November 05, 2010, 12:06:08 AM »

Why is it that the supporters of the theory insist that it is a dogma of the Church when it is obviously not? 

Who does this? Where?

Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, a senior priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

_____________________________

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/43061

Julianna wrote:


> >Last I'd checked tollhouses still weren't dogma even in ROCA(L).


> I [Fr Alexander Lebedeff]  respond:

> I suggest you check again.
_________________________

And he goes on to explain that they are dogma....
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/43061


and again...
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/99911
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« Reply #96 on: November 05, 2010, 12:13:28 AM »

On the same list we also have the counter opinion of Bishop Jerome (Bishop of Manhattan, the
former Fr John R. Shaw) who, when questioned as to whether the toll houses are dogma for
the Russian Church Abroad as some enthusiasts claimed, replied that they are not and they
cannot be since the Church Abroad cannot hold and preach any other faith than that held by all
the Churches

Here are his words where he is kindly replying to some questions from me

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/44029


Fr Ambrose: If this is the case and you are saying that you know that Bishop
Gregory Grabbe falsified the Minutes of a Synod Meeting
[this concerns the 1980 Meeting which dealt with the tollhouses],
then this means that the Minutes are fraudulent and valueless. This
 entails grave results and injustices:---


JRS [Bp Jerome]: I am not saying that he falsified the Minutes.

However, such was his role, that most of the bishops felt (and in certain
cases actually told me!) that there was no use opposing him. The late
Metropolitan Philaret gave him a virtual "blank check" in matters of church
policy.

Therefore this resolution [the 1980 resolution on the toll houses], and many
others like it, should not be interpreted as being the common decision of
all the bishops.

Fr Ambrose: the bishops have not laid down any synodal teaching
on the toll houses and the afterlife.


JRS[Bp Jerome]: That much I would agree with: there can be no "Synodal
teaching" about matters of faith that would differ from what the Orthodox
Church, as a whole, has always held.

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« Reply #97 on: November 05, 2010, 12:20:31 AM »

When asked about the toll houses. Metropolitan Anthony replied:

"The toll houses"  Something the village fold might believe in."

 Cheesy

Such rustic village people probably also foolishly believe that the redemption of mankind was accomplished on the cross, rather than in the Garden of Gethsemane.   Roll Eyes
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« Reply #98 on: November 05, 2010, 12:25:44 AM »

Quote
"There is absolutely no doubt that the teaching of the toll-houses is the teaching of the Orthodox Church."

And this from  http://stmichaelacademy.org/theo/stjd.htm

"In conclusion, the toll houses are indeed real and a part of the entire teaching of the Orthodox Church in regards to the state of the soul after death. Saint John of Damascus as well as other Church Fathers and the hymnology of the Church all attest to the judgment after death, the frightful testing, and our warring with the spirits in the air. The toll houses are not imaginary, and the soul is not in a state of slumber but active, hence the reason for the Church’s prayers for the dead, as the state of the soul can continually be effected upon until the final judgment." -Hieromonk Dionysios

These are examples of those who insist that we must believe in the toll-houses, and claim that the belief is universal in the Church.

Whoa there, whoa!

The author of this piece of writing, Fr. Dionysius, aka Danny Edmunds, is a nice kid
who advanced himself by jumping around jurisdictions, and is currently not with any
recognised Church. I am not sure where he is now-- he graduated from the University
of Florida, and migrated to some faux Church where they made him Archimandrite (at
about age 24!). At one point he got fed up with Orthodoxy and joined the Church of
his childhood, the Roman Catholics, as a Byzantine Catholic. When the Romans wouldn't
let him serve unless he went to one of their seminaries, he got ticked and left them again.
He went to the Synod of Milan, and then left them after a couple of years. With this
background, his espousal of tolls should come as no surprise.
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« Reply #99 on: November 05, 2010, 12:38:38 AM »


This is what I find so puzzling.  Did you not notice the references to the toll-houses in St. Nikolai’s Prologue?


Um, yes!   I translated the Prologue.  In 1979 and 1980 I had the great joy of being given the obedience of working with Mother Maria (Rule) on the first English translation of the Prologue of Saint Nikolai Velimirovic, working in the same room at the monastery of Zica which had been his library and study.  This was published by Lazarica Press Birmingham in 4 volumes.

There were indeed some problems with some of the uncertain material in the Prologue, including the toll houses.  Mother Maria and I had the same spiritual father, Archimandrite Dositej of Zica, who had been taught and ordained by Saint Nikolaj Velimirovic himself and he had no time for the toll houses.   The local bishop of the Zica Diocese  Bp Stefan (Boca)) had his palace at the monastery of Zica and he did not believe in the toll houses.

Here is what Mother Maria decided to write on this matter:

"A considerable problem arose concerning the historical
accuracy of some of Bishop Nikolai's sources. I am referring
to the legendary material upon which he draws freely....
With regard to the legendary material, I have joyfully remained
faithful to the text, with the strong hope that it will sustain and
uphold the simple, child-like faith with which the marvels are
recounted and which can be ours also, although the prevalent
atmosphere of debunking of such legends can make their
acceptance difficult."

(Part 1 of the Prologue from Ochrid, Lazarica Press, Birmingham, UK,1985).

Fr Ambrose
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« Reply #100 on: November 05, 2010, 12:40:55 AM »



Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky (1863-1936), the first Hierarch of ROCOR considered the toll-houses as "something the rustic folk" believe in.

Hello dear Brother Pete,

I have that quote in this form but I don't have the source any longer.  Anybody?

When asked about the toll houses. Metropolitan Anthony replied:

"The toll houses"  Something the village fold might believe in."

 Cheesy


Father Bless,

I read that in an article the Fr. Michael Azkoul wrote.
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« Reply #101 on: November 05, 2010, 12:49:58 AM »


Did you read the entire statement contained here?:
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/tollhouse_debate.aspx

The Synod was concerned to put an end to the controversy.  If you read the long discussion which precedes this paragraph you will have a more complete picture.  For instance, touching upon this question regarding “doctrine” vs. “dogma”, the Synod said:

Quote
Among such ancient traditions is the tradition of the so-called toll-stations, which Deacon Lev Puhalo so determinedly dismisses, stating this doctrine, however, in an exaggerated manner. Actually, no one can dogmatically establish the existence of the toll-houses precisely in accordance with the form described in the dream (of Gregory recounted in the life) of Basil the New, insofar as no direct indication thereto is to be found in the Scriptures. However, this tradition has been preserved, with varying details, from profound antiquity and contains nothing that is contrary to piety. It is cited in all texts of dogmatic theology.

I am very familiar with the Minutes from the 1980 Session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad.

Firstly, remember that what you are looking at are the Minutes of the meeting.  It is a record of the discussions.

Secondly, remember that these Minutes were written by Bishop Gregory Grabbe

Thirdly, he has created an absolute cat's breakfast.   What he does is take the comments of the various bishops and pile them all together in one page.  He even fails to identify what Bishop said what.  It's a real mess.

You'll notice that what comes through is that some Bishops are for the toll houses, some are against them, and some don't really care very much.

What is important is not their individual opinions pro or con, but the RESOLUTION which concludes the Minutes. That has some authority as being the unanimous and final consensus of all the bishops  -and it proclaims any belief on the afterlife which is more than the little which the Lord has been pleased to reveal to us as not beneficial to our salvation.
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« Reply #102 on: November 05, 2010, 12:50:32 AM »

Quote
"There is absolutely no doubt that the teaching of the toll-houses is the teaching of the Orthodox Church."

And this from  http://stmichaelacademy.org/theo/stjd.htm

"In conclusion, the toll houses are indeed real and a part of the entire teaching of the Orthodox Church in regards to the state of the soul after death. Saint John of Damascus as well as other Church Fathers and the hymnology of the Church all attest to the judgment after death, the frightful testing, and our warring with the spirits in the air. The toll houses are not imaginary, and the soul is not in a state of slumber but active, hence the reason for the Church’s prayers for the dead, as the state of the soul can continually be effected upon until the final judgment." -Hieromonk Dionysios

These are examples of those who insist that we must believe in the toll-houses, and claim that the belief is universal in the Church.

Whoa there, whoa!

The author of this piece of writing, Fr. Dionysius, aka Danny Edmunds, is a nice kid
who advanced himself by jumping around jurisdictions, and is currently not with any
recognised Church. I am not sure where he is now-- he graduated from the University
of Florida, and migrated to some faux Church where they made him Archimandrite (at
about age 24!). At one point he got fed up with Orthodoxy and joined the Church of
his childhood, the Roman Catholics, as a Byzantine Catholic. When the Romans wouldn't
let him serve unless he went to one of their seminaries, he got ticked and left them again.
He went to the Synod of Milan, and then left them after a couple of years. With this
background, his espousal of tolls should come as no surprise.


Father,

A previous poster had asked me who insists that the toll-houses must be believed in.  These were examples that I was aware of.  This Fr. Dionysius seems like quite a character.   Shocked
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« Reply #103 on: November 05, 2010, 12:59:05 AM »

Interestingly, Father Seraphim Rose, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, and a couple of the Optina Elders are the only Russian writers where I have seen the toll-houses discussed.  However, I have read a multitude of Greek Fathers that speak of these things.  Most recently I was reading the writings of St. Symeon the New Theologian (or was it Gregory the Sinaite?), and the saint mentioned that Christians should not gaze into the sky, especially while praying, as the aerial demons try to steal the souls of men there.  While I don't necessarily accept Fr. Seraphim Rose's ideas or St. Ignatius' ideas on the tollhouses, I absolutely believe they do exist in some form.  
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« Reply #104 on: November 05, 2010, 01:00:37 AM »


Did you read the entire statement contained here?:
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/tollhouse_debate.aspx

The Synod was concerned to put an end to the controversy.  If you read the long discussion which precedes this paragraph you will have a more complete picture.  For instance, touching upon this question regarding “doctrine” vs. “dogma”, the Synod said:

Quote
Among such ancient traditions is the tradition of the so-called toll-stations, which Deacon Lev Puhalo so determinedly dismisses, stating this doctrine, however, in an exaggerated manner. Actually, no one can dogmatically establish the existence of the toll-houses precisely in accordance with the form described in the dream (of Gregory recounted in the life) of Basil the New, insofar as no direct indication thereto is to be found in the Scriptures. However, this tradition has been preserved, with varying details, from profound antiquity and contains nothing that is contrary to piety. It is cited in all texts of dogmatic theology.

I am very familiar with the Minutes from the 1980 Session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad.

Firstly, remember that what you are looking at are the Minutes of the meeting.  It is a record of the discussions.

Secondly, remember that these Minutes were written by Bishop Gregory Grabbe

Thirdly, he has created an absolute cat's breakfast.   What he does is take the comments of the various bishops and pile them all together in one page.  He even fails to identify what Bishop said what.  It's a real mess.

You'll notice that what comes through is that some Bishops are for the toll houses, some are against them, and some don't really care very much.

What is important is not their individual opinions pro or con, but the RESOLUTION which concludes the Minutes. That has some authority as being the unanimous and final consensus of all the bishops  -and it proclaims any belief on the afterlife which is more than the little which the Lord has been pleased to reveal to us as not beneficial to our salvation.

Father,

That is my take on the subject.  I believe that at any time over past centuries if someone were to survey x number of Bishops of the Orthodox Church the results would be the same as you mentioned:

"what comes through is that some Bishops are for the toll houses, some are against them, and some don't really care very much."

The problem is the toll-house advocates will list the ones that do and then claim that it is a universally accepted position of the whole Church.  They can make the argument that St. so-and-so, or Bishop so-and-so supported the belief; what they can't do is prove that all the Saints and Bishops in that same period did, or had even heard of the theory.
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« Reply #105 on: November 05, 2010, 01:03:31 AM »

When asked about the toll houses. Metropolitan Anthony replied:

"The toll houses"  Something the village fold might believe in."

 Cheesy

Such rustic village people probably also foolishly believe that the redemption of mankind was accomplished on the cross, rather than in the Garden of Gethsemane.   Roll Eyes

The "Dogma of Redemption" was translated into English by Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov) and published by him at Monastery Press in Canada.  It is unlikely that he would have translated and published an heretical work?  He would not have deliberately sown tares among the wheat of the faith.
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« Reply #106 on: November 05, 2010, 01:05:49 AM »

Interestingly, Father Seraphim Rose, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, and a couple of the Optina Elders are the only Russian writers where I have seen the toll-houses discussed.  However, I have read a multitude of Greek Fathers that speak of these things.  Most recently I was reading the writings of St. Symeon the New Theologian (or was it Gregory the Sinaite?), and the saint mentioned that Christians should not gaze into the sky, especially while praying, as the aerial demons try to steal the souls of men there.  While I don't necessarily accept Fr. Seraphim Rose's ideas or St. Ignatius' ideas on the tollhouses, I absolutely believe they do exist in some form.  

Dear Ioannis,

If you can find out the source, I would be very interested in looking into this.  Was the Saint saying that the Christian might actually see this occurring when looking at the sky?

In Christ,

Peter
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« Reply #107 on: November 05, 2010, 06:35:57 AM »

Why is it that the supporters of the theory insist that it is a dogma of the Church when it is obviously not? 

Who does this? Where?

Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, a senior priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

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http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/43061


Okay, so one protopriest on an internet discussion board. Do you have anything else to justify the assertion that "the supporters of the theory insist that it is a dogma"?
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« Reply #108 on: November 05, 2010, 07:28:15 AM »

Why is it that the supporters of the theory insist that it is a dogma of the Church when it is obviously not?  

Who does this? Where?

Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, a senior priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

_____________________________

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-tradition/message/43061


Okay, so one protopriest on an internet discussion board. Do you have anything else to justify the assertion that "the supporters of the theory insist that it is a dogma"?

That phrase is in message 85 which I myself did not write, but we may safely assume that if a very senior protopriest of the Church states it is dogma he is not alone in this belief as to its dogmatic nature.

We also must wonder why it is included in a major work on dogmatic theology by Saint Justin the New.    Is he saying that it is dogma for the Orthodox Church?  Dogma of the same import as the dogma of the Holy Eucharist, the existence of hell, the hypostatic union of Christ's natures, etc....

There is a rather alarming corollary if those who claim it as Orthodox dogma are correct, namely that those who reject it as a dogma are heretical.  It places non-tollers such as myself outside the Church.
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« Reply #109 on: November 05, 2010, 09:20:23 AM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.   

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?
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« Reply #110 on: November 05, 2010, 10:00:51 AM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.  

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.

1.  It is not true that you may be taken down to hell if the demons at the tollhouses catch you out with a sin which you have not confessed to a priest and received absolution.

2.  It is not true that the demons may take you down to hell if they can get you to commit a fresh sin after death while going through the toll houses.

3.  It is not true that somebody alive on earth may pay for a soul to get through the toll houses by giving the demons the superfluous merits he has earned from his good deeds.  This is the heresy of supererogatory works and even worse than indulgences because the payment is made to the evil powers.

4.  It is not true that without the merits of a spiritual father a soul will be taken down to hell (This one is not from the Aerial Journey but from Saint Seraphim - two Russian abbesses in the toll houses would be in hell today if he had not come to their aid. Pity the Christian who does not have a spiritual father.)

5.  It is not true that only the baptized Orthodox go through the toll houses and the rest of mankind is taken down immediately at death into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

6.  It is not true that demons, the evil and malevolent enemies of humankind who desire only our damnation, may judge human souls.  This is repugnant to the justice of God.

7.  It is not true that our fate will be decided by a balancing between our good deeds and our evil deeds.

These are things I can think of off the top of my head.  There may be more.  There certainly are more in the unexpurgated version.

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« Reply #111 on: November 05, 2010, 10:24:03 AM »

Quote from: Irish Hermit link=topic=1792.msg489853#msg489853
The "Dogma of Redemption" was translated into English by Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov) and published by him at Monastery Press in Canada.  It is unlikely that he would have translated and published an heretical work?  He would not have deliberately sown tares among the wheat of the faith.

The book “How our Departed Ones Live” by Monk Mitrophan which was published with the blessing of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church in 1897 contains a very detailed description of the toll house teaching, including an affirmative summary of the journey of Blessed Theodora and a description of what takes place on the various days following the departure of the soul.  This book was translated by Fr. John Shaw (now Bishop Jerome of Manhattan) and published in 2001 with the blessing of Abp Anthony of San Francisco.  Is it likely that the Holy Synod of the Russian Church in 1897, or Abp Anthony of San Francisco in 2001, would publish a heretical work?

Fr. John (now Bishop Jerome) said concerning this work that on the subject of "life beyond the grave" this was a “detailed book on the teaching of the Orthodox Church on this subject.”

If Met Anthony (Khrapovitsky) did not believe in the toll-houses, it is very interesting since he was the spiritual father of St. John of San Francisco who most certainly did believe in the toll-house teaching. 
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« Reply #112 on: November 05, 2010, 10:31:41 AM »


The book “How our Departed Ones Live” by Monk Mitrophan.....  This book was translated by Fr. John Shaw (now Bishop Jerome of Manhattan) and published in 2001


Although it was (the now) Bishop Jerome who translated the book of the Monk Mitrophan into English he himself expressed his personal disquiet over the toll houses at the time when parts of his translation were serialised on another list.

I do not want to say more since it was on a private list.  If you wanted to, you could contact him and speak with him on this matter.
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« Reply #113 on: November 05, 2010, 10:37:37 AM »



If Met Anthony (Khrapovitsky) did not believe in the toll-houses, it is very interesting since he was the spiritual father of St. John of San Francisco who most certainly did believe in the toll-house teaching. 


Is it known if Saint John accepted and preached the atonement beliefs taught by Metropolitan Anthony and published by Metropolitan Vitaly?
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« Reply #114 on: November 05, 2010, 10:50:42 AM »



If Met Anthony (Khrapovitsky) did not believe in the toll-houses, it is very interesting since he was the spiritual father of St. John of San Francisco who most certainly did believe in the toll-house teaching. 


Is it known if Saint John accepted and preached the atonement beliefs taught by Metropolitan Anthony and published by Metropolitan Vitaly?

I believe he wrote against them, but in a gentle way, in that the Metropolitan was dear to him.
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« Reply #115 on: November 05, 2010, 10:53:08 AM »

There is a sizable amount of dishonesty associated with the modern publishing of the "Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

Here, for example, is what you will find in monk Mitrophan's book.  It is the correct text as translated into English by Bishop Jerome of Manhattan:

'With these words he took out a full dark red bag and, giving it to
the Angels, he said: `When you pass through the aerial toll booths,
and the wicked spirits begin to torture her soul, redeem her debts
with this. I am wealthy in God's grace, gathered many riches by
fasting and my labors, and I make a gift of this bag to the soul that
served me'. Having said this, he departed.

Now that paragraph as above used to be published on the American internet sites which published the Journey.

However, the tollers have realised that it is heretical and so they have altered it on their websites.

Here is the new version you will now find:


At this time holy Basil himself appeared unexpectedly and said to
the holy angels. 'Holy angels! This soul did great service to ease my
old age, and therefore I prayed for her to God, and God has given her to me.'
Having said this, he took something out that appeared like a little bag of gold
and gave it to the angels with the words: 'Here is the treasure of prayers
before the Lord for this soul! As you pass through the torments of the air
and the evil spirits begin to torment her, pay her debts with this.

Notice how the heretical teaching of supererogatory works in the original has been replaced by an innocuous "treasury of prayers."

Humbug and dishonesty!

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« Reply #116 on: November 05, 2010, 10:58:08 AM »


The book “How our Departed Ones Live” by Monk Mitrophan

Fr. John (now Bishop Jerome) said concerning this work that on the subject of "life beyond the grave" this was a “detailed book on the teaching of the Orthodox Church on this subject.”


The two volumes of this work by the monk Mitrophan comprise 900 pages.

Quite astounding!

The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, having deliberated on the matter of the afterlife and the toll houses at its December 1980 session, reaches its conclusion and announces its resolution to the clergy and the faithful of ROCA thus:

    "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 has 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...."
   
    http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/tollhouse_debate.htm

I take my stand with my bishops' very sober and cautionary resolution on this matter. 

But monk Mitrophan and other cognoscenti and illuminati of the afterlife are able to discourse, with an implicit claim to doctrinal accuracy, for 900 pages (!!) on  what the Bishops call the "little that the Lord has been pleased to reveal to us."     

NINE  HUNDRED pages on questions of the afterlife which our Bishops have resolved in Synod are "conjectures" which are "not beneficial to our salvation."

The thing is that humans have never been happy with not knowing.  It is something our pride of intellect finds hard to accept.  So we are quite skilled at inventing fables and false knowledge in order to satisfy our curiosity and fill in the gaps.  The alternative would be unthinkable for us: to humbly accept our limitations and accept that God has not given us to know some things.

Hierom. Ambrose
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« Reply #117 on: November 05, 2010, 12:20:51 PM »

Notice how the heretical teaching of supererogatory works in the original has been replaced by an innocuous "treasury of prayers."

The version provided on the Internet is supposedly what was published in "Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave".  So, who are you suggesting tampered with the text - Archimandrite Panteleimon the author of "Eternal Mysteries", or the webmaster?

But monk Mitrophan and other cognoscenti and illuminati of the afterlife are able to discourse, with an implicit claim to doctrinal accuracy, for 900 pages (!!) on  what the Bishops call the "little that the Lord has been pleased to reveal to us."     

NINE  HUNDRED pages on questions of the afterlife which our Bishops have resolved in Synod are "conjectures" which are "not beneficial to our salvation."

Regarding the Resolution, is it not possible that you have misunderstood it?  Why would you believe Fr. John Shaw’s explanation of the Resolution, who was a parish priest at the time that the Resolution was passed and at the time that he provided his comments regarding the minutes, and which were based on conjecture; rather than believe the explanations given to you by Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff on the subject?  It is important to look at the actual effect of the Resolution in order to understand its purpose.  In the Resolution, deacon Lev was silenced by the Synod for his erroneous teachings and for the confusion he was causing by speaking against the toll-house teaching, which is the same thing that you are doing.  It was never suggested that Fr. Seraphim’s book should not remain in distribution or that the Synod would no longer bless the publication of works affirming the Church’s teaching on the subject.  In fact, the Holy Synod of ROCOR blessed the publication of materials affirming the teaching of the toll-houses after 1980 (see Protopresbyter Vassily Boshchanovskiy's "Lessons in Dogmatic Theology" in Issue 5-6 of the ROCOR Synod’s official publication “Church Life”, published Sept. - Nov. of 2001; as well as the book by Monk Mitrophan published the same year).  It was clear the Synod faulted deacon Lev’s vocal objections to the teaching as the cause of the controversy, which is why he was first silenced and then deposed.  In the matter of the Resolution, it seems that you extract what suits your purposes, interpret it according to your liking, and ignore or attribute to conspiracy anything that contradicts your interpretation. 

Fr. Seraphim’s exposition of the toll-houses was in complete accord with the mainstream teaching of the Russian Church both in Pre-Revolutionary Russia and in the Church Abroad.  The 1980 Resolution did not suggest otherwise.  The toll-house teaching was found in practically every work of Dogmatic Theology in Pre-Revolutionary Russia, just as it is found in the work on Dogmatic Theology by Fr Michael Pomazansky and St. Justin Popovic in more recent times.  Illustrations of the toll-houses were displayed in most parish churches, parish halls, and schools in pre-Revolutionary Russia. The Holy Synod of the Church in Russia blessed the publication of books on the subject.  The toll-houses are referred to in many of the Church’s prayers and service books.  The greatest saints of the Russian Church in the 19th and 20th centuries believed in the toll-houses and the greatest saint of the Church Abroad (St. John of San Francisco) likewise believed and taught this teaching.  As St. Theophan the Recluse wisely said, "No matter how absurd the idea of the toll-houses may seem to our 'wise men,' they will not escape passing through them."   

Everything that could be explained about this teaching has been explained to you, by Fr. Alexander Lebedeff and many others.  Your forebears in the faith, St. Justin Popovic and St. Nikolai of Zica, likewise held the belief which you reject.  Those who have said that the toll-house teaching is a doctrine or dogma have acknowledged that there are different descriptions of this teaching and we are by no means compelled to believe as dogma every fine detail expressed in a single rendition.  Those who have acknowledge that there are different descriptions have likewise affirmed that the different descriptions all contain and express the same basic truth (doctrine or dogma) concerning what the soul encounters after its departure from the body and that the details provided should not be interpreted in an overly literal, sensual, or material manner.  This common doctrine expressed in all the various references to this teaching since the 4th century is the same doctrine which Met Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and the Athonite Fathers also affirm, completely without the use of the Journey of Blessed Theodora or any of the Russian saints. 

If you do not like the story of Blessed Theodora, you could simply say that Met Hierotheos’s exposition of the teaching in “Life After Death” is preferred by you, or you could say that you are more comfortable with the earlier references to this teaching than with the later descriptions, rather than claim that the toll-house teaching is a heresy and trouble the faithful by implying that the entire Russian Church has been steeped in heresy for at least the past 300 years.  This claim would certainly delight the Old Believers, but unfortunately for your position they too believe in the toll-houses, demonstrating that its exposition in Russian texts and service books goes much further back than even the past 400 or 500 yrs. 

Again, I think everything has been explained to you sufficiently by others over the past 30 yrs or more, but it is clear that you are not open to acknowledging the Church’s teaching on this in any fashion but rather insist on remaining stubbornly and vocally against any and all references to the toll-houses.  If the Church has not yet convinced you of the truth of the toll-house teaching, you will certainly not be convinced by foolish me. 
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« Reply #118 on: November 05, 2010, 01:38:57 PM »

The following is from http://www.orthodoxchristian.info/pages/afterdeath.htm and is from a talk by Fr. Hopko:

"However, I believe that from the Holy Scripture, the lives of the Saints and the funeral service tell us that in the process of dying and entering into the presence of the risen Christ we have to be purified from everything that is contrary to life, God and truth in that particular activity. It is in the very presence of the fire of God, or the consuming fire of God as put by the Scripture, that will burn out of us in that process of dying, everything that can not enter into life or God's kingdom."

"When you die and enter the presence of love and you resist it that becomes a torture to you. St. Mark of Ephesus, a great Church father, refused to sign the council of Florence because of the papacy, the filioque, and because of the Latin teaching on material hellfire. He said that our Church tradition has no teaching on material-hellfire. We have no such teaching; God is not a punisher. Jesus on the Cross was not punished for our sins. Jesus on the Cross loved and trusted God so He can destroy death by death.

"When I speak with that nuance I say that there is no such thing as punishment. The punishment comes from our own evil and the love of God upon us when we reject it. God is not torturing or punishing us. In our tradition, this teaching about the need to be purified to enter into the kingdom got developed into a kind of allegory called the 'tollbooths'. You can read in some of he Christian literature that you have to go through around 20 or 22 tests in order to make it into the kingdom of God. Then I think some weird teachings developed which are not Orthodox and not according to the Scripture, but like every crazy teaching have a kernel of truth. The crazy teachings are that when you die you have to be punished for the things that you do and go through each of these tool-booths in order to get punished by the demons for that particular sin. So you go through the tollbooth of lust to get punished for your lust, you go through the tollbooth of greed to be punished for your greed, you go through the tollbooth of anger to be punished for anger, and so on until you are punished enough and make it."

"In the western church, even before the Reformation, there was a teaching that if you pray for these people you can get some of the punishment off. It was called temporal punishment due to your sin and those were called were called indulgences and then you could actually go to church to light a candle, say a prayer or give some money to get the time off from the punishment. This was called the "purgatorium" (or the "purgatory") connected with the doctrine of punishment and inflicted pain that had to be done away with. This is not our Orthodox teaching."

"The Orthodox teaching is that we do have to be tested by every possible demon and be victorious over that demon by the grace of God, the intercessions of the Saints, and anything that we can do to open ourselves in faith to God so that we can be delivered. So the truth of the tollbooth myth or allegory is not that the soul will go through some "astral space" getting tempted by demons and getting punished for sin. The right interpretation is that, as taught by many holy fathers such as Sts John Klimacus and Athanasias, death is the moment of truth and every demon is going to try to get you to apostatise, hate God and try to make you cling to corporeal things. They would like to stop you from letting go of everything so that you can only love God and let God save you. So the tests will see if we hang on to our pride, arrogance and so on. These tests you have to pass through are symbolically represented by the tollbooths; you have to be 'tried'. Then we that the prayer of the Church and the prayer of the Saints do help us to resist the demons and to be faithful and to be faithful and trust God, but this is true at any moment of our life."

"We pray for one another now, we are prayer for by the Saints now so that we will not succumb to lust, greed, power etc, so that when we die we are ready to float right through and not have to deal with all that at the very end of our life. However, the teaching is this, deal with it we must because we must do the work that Jesus Christ Himself did. Jesus said, "He who believes in Me will do the work that I do". We must conquer the devils like He did. We must resist the temptations like He did. We must destroy death the way that He did. That is what He gives us the power to do through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Sacraments and the life of the Church"

My concerns are:

Here, as in other places, I have seen the concept of purification mentioned.  My understanding of the toll-houses as presented by most sources mentions nothing about purification.  The demons grab the soul and take it to hell.  There is no mention of a purification period and getting released later.

The idea of passing temptations actually does not sound unreasonable, but the toll-house theory doesn't stress the demons tempting the soul; instead they accuse it of sin, and if they are correct, they drag the soul off to hell.  It's a big difference to undergo testing by the demons to see if we keep the faith, and being found guilty of un-confessed sins and dragged off to hell.

Do the toll-house people here agree with Fr. Hopko's interpretation, or do they feel he has watered down the theory?  It seems to me that he is attempting to explain the toll-house theory in a way the the "tollers" do not really see it.
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« Reply #119 on: November 05, 2010, 01:45:06 PM »

I remember reading some studies on Romanian and Balkan folk-lore -where "the toll houses of the air" are re-current -and the authors linked this belief to the Paulician and Bogumil presence in the Balkans.
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« Reply #120 on: November 05, 2010, 02:12:20 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.  

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...
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« Reply #121 on: November 05, 2010, 09:43:29 PM »


The version provided on the Internet is supposedly what was published in "Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave".  So, who are you suggesting tampered with the text - Archimandrite Panteleimon the author of "Eternal Mysteries", or the webmaster?


The websites in English used to have the same text as that provided by Bishop Jerome which, judging from what you have written, is the same as that used by Archiman. Panteleimon.


В это время неожиданно явился там же преподобный  отец
наш  Василий  и  сказал святым Ангелам: "Господие мои, эта душа
много служила мне, успокаивая мою старость, и я молился Богу, и
Он  отдал  ее  мне".  Сказав это, он вынул из-за пазухи золотой
мешочек, весь полный, как я думала, чистым золотом, и отдал его
святым  Ангелам,  сказав:  "Когда  будете  проходить воздушными
мытарствами  и  лукавые  духи  начнут  истязывать   эту   душу,
выкупайте  ее  этим  из ее долгов; я по благодати Божией богат,
потому что много сокровищ собрал себе своими  трудами,  и  дарю
этот  мешочек  душе,  служившей мне". Сказавши это, он скрылся.
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« Reply #122 on: November 05, 2010, 09:50:52 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.   

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...

Would you take each one of the points which I have enumerated and explain why each one is not either outright heretical or borderline heretical.
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« Reply #123 on: November 05, 2010, 09:57:54 PM »


Why would you believe Fr. John Shaw’s explanation of the Resolution, who was a parish priest at the time that the Resolution was passed and at the time that he provided his comments regarding the minutes, and which were based on conjecture; rather than believe the explanations given to you by Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff on the subject?



Father Alexander makes no bones about it and he claims that the toll houses are dogma.

This has the effect of making me a heretic since I reject this dogma.

It has the effect of making Hell my final destination unless I repent.

Do you believe Fr Alexander that it is dogma?

When I was transferred from the Serbian Church into the Russian Church Abroad nobody told me that the toll houses are dogma in ROCA.  If I had been informed of that I would have refused to make the transfer. 
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« Reply #124 on: November 05, 2010, 10:04:20 PM »


It was never suggested that Fr. Seraphim’s book should not remain in distribution

Yes, it was so suggested.  In 1981 Father Herman spent about 10 days with us in New Zealand, after being a speaker at a Youth Conference in Australia.  He openly boasted how he and Fr Seraphim had tricked the Church authorities into allowing the publication of "The Soul After Death", claiming that its publication was too far advanced to back out.

Did you know that Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco prohibited the sale of the book at any church or church book shop in the diocese?
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« Reply #125 on: November 05, 2010, 10:08:46 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.   

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...

Would you take each one of the points which I have enumerated and explain why each one is not either outright heretical or borderline heretical.

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses
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« Reply #126 on: November 05, 2010, 10:21:25 PM »



In fact, the Holy Synod of ROCOR blessed the publication of materials affirming the teaching of the toll-houses after 1980 (see Protopresbyter Vassily Boshchanovskiy's "Lessons in Dogmatic Theology" in Issue 5-6 of the ROCOR Synod’s official publication “Church Life”, published Sept. - Nov. of 2001

And what does Fr Boshchanovskiy affirm about the nature of the toll houses - that they are an "illustrative metaphor." I would not entertain the concept that any "illustrative metaphor" is a dogma of the Orthodox Church.  I do not imagine that  you have been catechised that there any parts of our dogmative faith which are "illustrative metaphors"?

Quote
The toll-house teaching was found in practically every work of Dogmatic Theology in Pre-Revolutionary Russia, just as it is found in the work on Dogmatic Theology by Fr Michael Pomazansky..

Fr Michael Pomazansky's understanding is simply that the toll houses are a metaphor for the subtle processes which take place within the soul at the time of death by which the Partial Judgment takes place and the soul comes to understand its true spiritual condition and fate.  He wrote:


"Let us take this earthly side of the symbolism [of the toll houses] into the spiritual understanding. Theodora is the soul of man; the angels - its virtues; the demons - its sins. Both are in the soul of a man and perhaps after death are found, as it were, on the scales of a balance. Is this image inconsistent with our religious concepts? Talking about the "balance" we imitate the symbolism contained in our hymns: "Thy Cross is found as the measure between the two thieves; for the one was brought down to hades by the weight of his blasphemy, but the other was lightened of his sins unto the knowledge of theology: O Christ God, glory to Thee" (Troparion of the 9th Hour)."


      -oOo-

The Apostle Paul, teaching his disciple the Apostle Timothy, "how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God" (1Tim 3:15), writes to him in the second epistle: "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some do honour, and some do dishonour (or base usage)" (2Tim 2:20). The Apostle has in mind the people in the Church when he speaks of vessels, but we have the right of employing his thought in a simpler and more literal, yet still a broader, sense.

The history of the Orthodox Christian Church, continuing from the Apostles, has now come to the end of its second millennium of existence. Throughout the process of her broad and many-sided growth, the Church has diligently preserved only the truths of the faith, the dogma of faith. Upon their foundation the tree of the Church developed in all directions, nourished by the grace of the Spirit of God. The wealth of its spiritual contents on its own increased, and at the same time its material contents also grew, and often the one would give place to the other. Much was acquired simply for preservation; other things have been carried away by the river of time into the realm of the forgotten, and now on certain rare occasions, something may float to the surface, thanks to the efforts and searches of special investigators and researchers. The Church herself regards everything conservatively and patiently (indulgently), and it has no persons who are assigned to the task of separating the valuable from that which is not so valuable. It has been forced only at certain times to uproot the tares from the field of wheat, both in the spiritual and in the material sense. From such a conservative attitude, the Church does not suffer any harm. It happens sometimes that something which seemed of little value later turns out to be both beneficial and important. The Church, as it were, says, those losses suffered as a result of the persecutions of the Church and of Christianity, wars and the destructive elements of nature are sufficient. If we are to speak of literature (written works), the Church rejects only that which is an evilly-intended forgery or a heretical concoction.

Let us speak a bit concerning genuine Church literature. Of course, all the various forms of literature are not of the same value; among them there is a gradation of value passing from sanctity all the way to simple usefulness.

Here, approximately, are these gradations:

1. The Four Gospels. They are kept in the altar of the Temple on the Holy Table. Before readings from them we hear: "Wisdom, Aright!"

2. The Epistles and Paremia (primarily from the Old Testament). The exclamation: "Wisdom!", but one may sit while listening.

3. The various service books.

These forms of literature are the legacy of the Temple.

4. Patristic literature.

5. Lives of saints.

These, while they are used for reading in the church services, are primarily for private reading (in monasteries - in the refectory).

6. Theological science, academic theology and various theological literature.

7. Ecclesiastical and historical sciences, practical textbooks and reference manuals.

8. Pious accounts, edifying parables. This is simply morally edifying reading in an easy form that is accessible to all.

We ask to be excused for such a lengthy introduction. Let us now pass on to the questions concerning prayer for the dead in the article in question.

One must agree with the author of the letter, The article has essential weaknesses.

We are talking about the Church's commemoration of the dead. Part of the material in the article is concerned with the teaching of the Church, dogmatic theology; but another part with pious accounts and, finally, with Church and popular customs. In the article there is no distinction made concerning the dignity of the material presented, and thus matters which do not concern the dogma of the Church are dogmatized. Let us point out what we have in view:

We find an appropriate example of this in the footnotes of the author. There is no need to discuss the prayerful or liturgical meaning of "kolyva", as an offering for the dead. For it is simply an expression of the desire to treat those who participated in the prayers for the dead, thank them for their love, as the Apostle says: "all is good and there is nothing worthy of condemnation that is done with the word of God and prayer". Even more so, there is no use in explaining the "meaning" of wheat in the kolyva or what the honey and sugar in it "mean" or "symbolize" But of course, these thoughts were all placed in a footnote.

In accordance with ancient views, it is accepted to offer special prayers on the third and fortieth days; these days, these very numbers in the Scriptures, in general, represent something sacred. But the Church does not teach that commemoration on these days, as on the ninth day, is "indispensable". "Man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for man." The days are not the important point.

In such points of the article as the quantity of commemorations, of their ritual forms (candles, prosphora), the skeptical reader could even read in the material interests of the clergy or the parish church; people are given to such criticism.

"The Church established" we read here. But in fact only one thing is necessary and required from the believer. Other things are offered and regulated by the Church for good order and benefit. A third category is permitted as a good intention or custom which has arises among the people of the Church, and these are given their proper forms for the Church.

In connection with this, there arises a question which the author of the letter himself does not pose, but which is essential.

Do the dead need prayers from us? Can the sins of a man be removed by the prayers of other men? The answer is simple. We know that the Church is, in all its depth "a bond of love", where there is One for all - Christ. Therefore in His Body, the Church, one must pray for all and all for each one. This idea is expressed in our services, especially in the prayers of the priest. We pray for those close to us as a duty of love regardless of whether our brother or sister needs our prayers or even wants them.

Much regarding prayers for the dead can appear illogical. We note that the more devoted a person was, the more prayers are offered for his repose. The Church is, as it were, indifferent to great sinners and apostates. Why is this? And in general, do the dead need our prayers? God Himself is merciful and loves mankind, and would He not forgive the dead person without our praying for him? The answer is given in the Gospel and the Epistles of the Apostles. In them there are given three axioms of Christianity. Death does not exist. Pray for one another. Love never ceases. (Rom. 14; James 5; 1Cor 13). "Acquire friends," the Saviour commanded, "so that when you are in poverty, they might receive you into eternal dwelling places." In the parable of our Lord concerning the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man had no one to pray for him when he died and to care for his brothers on the earth. Why? He had not acquired love toward himself on earth.

To forgive sins - this is only within God's will and God's power. "Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow" (Ps 50). And yet we pray for them, for their repose. Why? First of all, we ask for mercy from God, and secondly, for the sake of that grace-filled fire which burned and warmed, to a greater or lesser degree, the reposed, that this fire be maintained, sustained through the change into another form of being; that the fear of God and contrition not be overcome by the fear of one's own unworthiness, of one's own sins. In the prayers of one's own brothers on earth and even more so in the prayers of the saints of the heavenly Church, love is at work, it is the necessary sustenance for the dead person, and therefore the Church not only prays for him itself but constantly calls upon the saints in heaven entreating prayers for all the reposed members of the Church.

Let us now go on to the material in the article which specifically called forth the concern of the author of the letter. We think it possible that this concern expresses also the concern of others. We allow the thought that our Eastern, traditional Church in the sphere of religious psychology is not so strict in the demand for being logical as the Western, which is brought up in a more rationalistic direction. However, allow us to state our understanding of the matter.

We mentioned at the beginning "pious accounts" which are in the article. Our Eastern, pious readers from ancient times have loved to read anthologies of brief, easy stories from the lives of the ascetics, the desert fathers, concerning their journeys, their struggles, their meetings with one another, their conversations, their relation to the desert around them, and to the humble and at the same time miraculous revelations in their lives and acts. Up to the most recent times, such anthologies have been popular, such as "The Spiritual Meadow", the "Lasiac History". These little stories often contain in their naive simplicity much that is allegorical and moral instruction. They are not historical material, and therefore it is not so important as to who is named in the account or whom specifically it concerned. And there is no insult to a person if he is named by mistake.

For example, the account of the conversation of St. Macarius with the skull he found. This conversation attracts attention because of its originality. The skull says that is was formerly that of a pagan priest. But what is its meaning? In the way of life of the person whose brain once worked in the skull? Hardly. "Macarius listened and placed the skull on the earth and buried it." Did Macarius not think to pray for that man? To make the sign of the cross over him? Or to sympathize with him? Why? Because this is hopeless. And this would have been sinful even. But he does not throw his discovery on the ground, but buries it; in this way he expressed his respect for the man. And this is edifying. But what about the conversation? It is an allegory, a parable. But it also might be the spiritual insight of a holy person. Do the Holy Scriptures not offer us examples of such spiritual insight?

A separate question and perhaps even a protest was evoked from the author of the letter by the account of the dream of Blessed Theodora concerning the toll houses, in the life of St. Basil the New. What is this dream needed for, when it introduces into the heavenly sphere concepts and actions which are purely earthly - the image of toll houses or custom stations in heaven, images of arguments for the soul between angels and demons? Let us reply that all this is expressed as a dream, the dream of the disciple of Basil the New, and it is given as an account of what the disciple saw in this dream. Our dreams are also in the form of real and earthly images. And at the same time our dreams can be allegorical. They can express our emotional state, our imagination, and often our illness both of body and soul, dressing them in the form of living beings.

In this instance the dream is recounted just as it was. We might allow that the narrator of the life of St. Basil the New put it into a certain order, put the sins of people into a certain scheme, as this is generally accepted among ascetic writers. But regardless, it is thanks to this full scheme of the falls and weaknesses of men that the account attracted such attention and became so popular among persons seeking moral perfection. But of course this dream is allegorical and is made up of a series of symbols. We are earthly, and we cannot speak of heavenly things with any other language than our earthly tongue; we do not know the tongues of angels. In the Psalms we address the Ruler of All: "Incline Thine ear' stretch forth Thy right hand; draw out Thy sword; chastise and defend with Thy high arm." The Metropolitan of Moscow, Makary, reminds us that we should understand such accounts in as lofty (spiritual) a manner as possible. We can only accept his advice.

Let us take this earthly side of the symbolism into the spiritual understanding. Theodora is the soul of man; the angels - its virtues; the demons - its sins. Both are in the soul of a man and perhaps after death are found, as it were, on the scales of a balance. Is this image inconsistent with our religious concepts? Talking about the "balance" we imitate the symbolism contained in our hymns: "Thy Cross is found as the measure between the two thieves; for the one was brought down to hades by the weight of his blasphemy, but the other was lightened of his sins unto the knowledge of theology: O Christ God, glory to Thee" (Troparion of the 9th Hour).
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« Reply #127 on: November 05, 2010, 10:29:02 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?
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« Reply #128 on: November 05, 2010, 10:45:10 PM »


If you do not like the story of Blessed Theodora, you could simply say that Met Hierotheos’s exposition of the teaching in “Life After Death” is preferred by you, or you could say that you are more comfortable with the earlier references to this teaching than with the later descriptions, rather than claim that the toll-house teaching is a heresy and trouble the faithful by implying that the entire Russian Church has been steeped in heresy for at least the past 300 years. 


Please do NOT attribute to me things I have not said.  Embarrassed I have been always very diligent not to label the toll houses as heresy.   I believe that there are elements in the Theodoran Revelations which are heretical and I believe that the overall theory causes a major aberration in orthodox soteriology.

Whether it is heretical or not, I leave to the judgement of the bishops.  The one recent judgement we have is the 1980 resolution of Their Graces the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad that conjectures about the afterlife more than the little which the Lord has been pleased to reveal to us are not beneficial for our salvation.  I am in full agreement and obedience to my bishops on this.  They have not called it heretical but they have said it is not beneficial to our salvation.
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« Reply #129 on: November 05, 2010, 10:47:21 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.
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« Reply #130 on: November 05, 2010, 10:58:54 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.

I am a priest, dear Brother Jckstraw, and what is more I am a monk, and monks are known to be a little bold in defence of the orthodox faith.  We do not like compromise with error. I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

_________________
Btw, I've never had Volume 3 of Saint Justin's Dogmatic Theology but a parishioner has undertaken to drop off a copy this coming week.  It will be interesting to see what he writes.
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« Reply #131 on: November 05, 2010, 11:17:30 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.

I am a priest, dear Brother Jckstraw, and what is more I am a monk, and monks are known to be a little bold in defence of the orthodox faith.  We do not like compromise with error. I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

_________________
Btw, I've never had Volume 3 of Saint Justin's Dogmatic Theology but a parishioner has undertaken to drop off a copy this coming week.  It will be interesting to see what he writes.

forgive me Father, i did not realize you were a priest.

but i would agree with Jah777's understanding of the Tale of Theodora more than with yours, and even if that tale were completely heretical there would still be a wealth of evidence in favor of the toll houses.
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« Reply #132 on: November 05, 2010, 11:35:18 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.

I am a priest, dear Brother Jckstraw, and what is more I am a monk, and monks are known to be a little bold in defence of the orthodox faith.  We do not like compromise with error. I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

_________________
Btw, I've never had Volume 3 of Saint Justin's Dogmatic Theology but a parishioner has undertaken to drop off a copy this coming week.  It will be interesting to see what he writes.

forgive me Father, i did not realize you were a priest.

Not a problem in the slightest. 

Quote
but i would agree with Jah777's understanding of the Tale of Theodora more than with yours, and even if that tale were completely heretical there would still be a wealth of evidence in favor of the toll houses.

I wonder if you really do.  Go back and read the heretical teachings outlined in message 110.   Just to take one example.... Are you a convert?  Do you believe what the angels said about those without an Orthodox baptism, that they are taken down to the lake of everlasting fire and do not even go through the toll houses.  They are damned the very moment they die and even, so says the text, before they die.   Could you believe that of your non-Orthodox family members?  Your mother? Your friends?  Pope John Paul II?  The Dalai Lama?  Father Flanaghan?  Sister John Vianney?  The nuns in the soup kitchen?  The neighbour's children?

Father Irish Hermit  Smiley
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« Reply #133 on: November 05, 2010, 11:41:32 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.

I am a priest, dear Brother Jckstraw, and what is more I am a monk, and monks are known to be a little bold in defence of the orthodox faith.  We do not like compromise with error. I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

_________________
Btw, I've never had Volume 3 of Saint Justin's Dogmatic Theology but a parishioner has undertaken to drop off a copy this coming week.  It will be interesting to see what he writes.

forgive me Father, i did not realize you were a priest.

Not a problem in the slightest. 

Quote
but i would agree with Jah777's understanding of the Tale of Theodora more than with yours, and even if that tale were completely heretical there would still be a wealth of evidence in favor of the toll houses.

I wonder if you really do.  Go back and read the heretical teachings outlined in message 110.   Just to take one example.... Are you a convert?  Do you believe what the angels said about those without an Orthodox baptism, that they are taken down to the lake of everlasting fire and do not even go through the toll houses.  They are damned the very moment they die and even, so says the text, before they die.   Could you believe that of your non-Orthodox family members?  Your mother? Your friends?  Pope John Paul II?  The Dalai Lama?  Father Flanaghan?  Sister John Vianney?  The nuns in the soup kitchen?  The neighbour's children?

Father Irish Hermit  Smiley

ill give you that, i found that problematic, but its certainly not the only statement of its kind in Orthodoxy
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« Reply #134 on: November 05, 2010, 11:57:39 PM »

a while back someone mentioned St. Clement of Alexandria. This is from the Stromata 4.18

Accordingly one dreams, the soul assenting to the vision. But he dreams waking, who looks so as to lust; not only, as that Gnostic said, if along with the sight of the woman he imagine in his mind intercourse, for this is already the act of lust, as lust; but if one looks on beauty of person (the Word says), and the flesh seem to him in the way of lust to be fair, looking on carnally and sinfully, he is judged because he admired. For, on the other hand, he who in chaste love looks on beauty, thinks not that the flesh is beautiful, but the spirit, admiring, as I judge, the body as an image, by whose beauty he transports himself to the Artist, and to the true beauty; exhibiting the sacred symbol, the bright impress of righteousness to the angels that wait on the ascension [i.e., of blessed souls]. I mean the unction of acceptance, the quality of disposition which resides in the soul that is gladdened by the communication of the Holy Spirit. This glory, which shone forth on the face of Moses, the people could not look on. Wherefore he took a veil for the glory, to those who looked carnally. For those, who demand toll, detain those who bring in any worldly things, who are burdened with their own passions. But him that is free of all things which are subject to duty, and is full of knowledge, and of the righteousness of works, they pass on with their good wishes, blessing the man with his work. “And his life shall not fall away”—the leaf of the living tree that is nourished “by the water-courses." Now the righteous is likened to fruit-bearing trees, and not only to such as are of the nature of tall-growing ones. And in the sacrificial oblations, according to the law, there were those who looked for blemishes in the sacrifices. They who are skilled in such matters distinguish propension (ὄρεξις) from lust (ἐπιθυμία); and assign the latter, as being irrational, to pleasures and licentiousness; and propension, as being a rational movement, they assign to the necessities of nature.
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« Reply #135 on: November 06, 2010, 12:23:32 AM »

That is the element of the toll-houses that scares me the most.  The idea that we have to be pure (perfect) at the time of death to reach heaven.  I doubt that I will ever succeed in completely extinguishing the passions in me during my life.  If the toll-houses are as described in the bulk of the literature then I am doomed.   Sad

At least the Catholics believe that they can look forward to a limited period of suffering in purgatory.  With toll-house Orthodoxy you are either pure when you die or you to to hell.  And in the story of Theodora, even though she was a saint, it was a terrifying and painful experience.

That is why I align myself with those that do not support the toll-houses (as they are most often defined).

There are obviously two minds in the Church on this subject.  I would rather err on the side that believes in God's mercy.  As one of the saints said, God is not just, if He were we would all go to hell.  I believe that He is a God Mercy and of Love towards those that repent and implore his mercy.

Lord have mercy on us.
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« Reply #136 on: November 06, 2010, 12:30:29 AM »

It would seem to me the main problem with the toll houses, illustrative metaphor or actual doctrine or dogma, is that it is an attempt to explain the mystery of what happens after death. It overreaches. Sure, there may be some visions here or there, throughout the centuries, but these do not have the weight of Holy Scripture or the backing of the Holy Fathers--at least, there is a lack of consensus. So, failing that, there is also no council to clarify the matter.

We are, in essence, grasping at straws here and there. I think there is good reason for this--that we not get beyond our place. The same goes, I think, for explaining the mysteries of marriage or the Holy Eucharist. We must accept what we are given, and not try to go beyond it. Speculative theology has been a cause for problems in the past. It doesn't matter if several saints believed something, it's not accepted by the entire Church, and it should not be forced on anyone. Also, it should be investigated, so that the matter can be understood in the right way.
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« Reply #137 on: November 06, 2010, 12:02:45 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.

I am a priest, dear Brother Jckstraw, and what is more I am a monk, and monks are known to be a little bold in defence of the orthodox faith.  We do not like compromise with error. I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

_________________
Btw, I've never had Volume 3 of Saint Justin's Dogmatic Theology but a parishioner has undertaken to drop off a copy this coming week.  It will be interesting to see what he writes.

forgive me Father, i did not realize you were a priest.

Not a problem in the slightest.  

Quote
but i would agree with Jah777's understanding of the Tale of Theodora more than with yours, and even if that tale were completely heretical there would still be a wealth of evidence in favor of the toll houses.

I wonder if you really do.  Go back and read the heretical teachings outlined in message 110.   Just to take one example.... Are you a convert?  Do you believe what the angels said about those without an Orthodox baptism, that they are taken down to the lake of everlasting fire and do not even go through the toll houses.  They are damned the very moment they die and even, so says the text, before they die.   Could you believe that of your non-Orthodox family members?  Your mother? Your friends?  Pope John Paul II?  The Dalai Lama?  Father Flanaghan?  Sister John Vianney?  The nuns in the soup kitchen?  The neighbour's children?

Father Irish Hermit  Smiley

Well said Father, I for one can not believe that to be true.

I can not believe that my pious, God-fearing, Greek Catholic ancestors from atop the Carpathian mountains were cast down to the pits of hell upon their death. It was their witness that preserved the True Faith and kept it alive. Likewise, under the heavy yoke of Communism they did the same in our modern times. My grandmother's cousin, +Bishop Paul, died in a Communist prison on account of his steadfastness. As believers, we should worry about the status of our own souls in this realm and leave the rest to God and His infinite mercy and wisdom.
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« Reply #138 on: November 06, 2010, 03:34:46 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.

I am a priest, dear Brother Jckstraw, and what is more I am a monk, and monks are known to be a little bold in defence of the orthodox faith.  We do not like compromise with error. I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

_________________
Btw, I've never had Volume 3 of Saint Justin's Dogmatic Theology but a parishioner has undertaken to drop off a copy this coming week.  It will be interesting to see what he writes.

forgive me Father, i did not realize you were a priest.

Not a problem in the slightest.  

Quote
but i would agree with Jah777's understanding of the Tale of Theodora more than with yours, and even if that tale were completely heretical there would still be a wealth of evidence in favor of the toll houses.

I wonder if you really do.  Go back and read the heretical teachings outlined in message 110.   Just to take one example.... Are you a convert?  Do you believe what the angels said about those without an Orthodox baptism, that they are taken down to the lake of everlasting fire and do not even go through the toll houses.  They are damned the very moment they die and even, so says the text, before they die.   Could you believe that of your non-Orthodox family members?  Your mother? Your friends?  Pope John Paul II?  The Dalai Lama?  Father Flanaghan?  Sister John Vianney?  The nuns in the soup kitchen?  The neighbour's children?

Father Irish Hermit  Smiley

Well said Father, I for one can not believe that to be true.

I can not believe that my pious, God-fearing, Greek Catholic ancestors from atop the Carpathian mountains were cast down to the pits of hell upon their death. It was their witness that preserved the True Faith and kept it alive. Likewise, under the heavy yoke of Communism they did the same in our modern times. My grandmother's cousin, +Bishop Paul, died in a Communist prison on account of his steadfastness. As believers, we should worry about the status of our own souls in this realm and leave the rest to God and His infinite mercy and wisdom.

but you will find Orthodox ppl saying that non-Orthodox go to Hell, totally outside the context of the toll houses, so i dont see how this disproves the toll houses.
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« Reply #139 on: November 06, 2010, 03:46:19 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.

I am a priest, dear Brother Jckstraw, and what is more I am a monk, and monks are known to be a little bold in defence of the orthodox faith.  We do not like compromise with error. I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

_________________
Btw, I've never had Volume 3 of Saint Justin's Dogmatic Theology but a parishioner has undertaken to drop off a copy this coming week.  It will be interesting to see what he writes.

forgive me Father, i did not realize you were a priest.

Not a problem in the slightest. 

Quote
but i would agree with Jah777's understanding of the Tale of Theodora more than with yours, and even if that tale were completely heretical there would still be a wealth of evidence in favor of the toll houses.

I wonder if you really do.  Go back and read the heretical teachings outlined in message 110.   Just to take one example.... Are you a convert?  Do you believe what the angels said about those without an Orthodox baptism, that they are taken down to the lake of everlasting fire and do not even go through the toll houses.  They are damned the very moment they die and even, so says the text, before they die.   Could you believe that of your non-Orthodox family members?  Your mother? Your friends?  Pope John Paul II?  The Dalai Lama?  Father Flanaghan?  Sister John Vianney?  The nuns in the soup kitchen?  The neighbour's children?

Father Irish Hermit  Smiley

Well said Father, I for one can not believe that to be true.

I can not believe that my pious, God-fearing, Greek Catholic ancestors from atop the Carpathian mountains were cast down to the pits of hell upon their death. It was their witness that preserved the True Faith and kept it alive. Likewise, under the heavy yoke of Communism they did the same in our modern times. My grandmother's cousin, +Bishop Paul, died in a Communist prison on account of his steadfastness. As believers, we should worry about the status of our own souls in this realm and leave the rest to God and His infinite mercy and wisdom.

but you will find Orthodox ppl saying that non-Orthodox go to Hell, totally outside the context of the toll houses, so i dont see how this disproves the toll houses.

Who says that?  What bishop teaches it?  What seminary teaches it?  Have you heard a priest preach on that?  I see you are OCA - is it something taught in your Church?
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« Reply #140 on: November 06, 2010, 07:08:30 PM »

my point was that countless Saints disagree with you and you say its impossible that you're wrong, based on your interpretation of but one text that speaks of the toll houses

I thought your point was that because this text is contained in a book of dogmatic theology that it comprises dogma and we must therefore assent to what is taught in the Theodoran Journey as Orthodox dogma.

If I am wrong on that, then what was your point?

i said is there a possibility that you're wrong and St. Justin (and by extension lots of other Saints) are right and you said no. i was then marveling at your boldness.

I am a priest, dear Brother Jckstraw, and what is more I am a monk, and monks are known to be a little bold in defence of the orthodox faith.  We do not like compromise with error. I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

_________________
Btw, I've never had Volume 3 of Saint Justin's Dogmatic Theology but a parishioner has undertaken to drop off a copy this coming week.  It will be interesting to see what he writes.

forgive me Father, i did not realize you were a priest.

Not a problem in the slightest.  

Quote
but i would agree with Jah777's understanding of the Tale of Theodora more than with yours, and even if that tale were completely heretical there would still be a wealth of evidence in favor of the toll houses.

I wonder if you really do.  Go back and read the heretical teachings outlined in message 110.   Just to take one example.... Are you a convert?  Do you believe what the angels said about those without an Orthodox baptism, that they are taken down to the lake of everlasting fire and do not even go through the toll houses.  They are damned the very moment they die and even, so says the text, before they die.   Could you believe that of your non-Orthodox family members?  Your mother? Your friends?  Pope John Paul II?  The Dalai Lama?  Father Flanaghan?  Sister John Vianney?  The nuns in the soup kitchen?  The neighbour's children?

Father Irish Hermit  Smiley

Well said Father, I for one can not believe that to be true.

I can not believe that my pious, God-fearing, Greek Catholic ancestors from atop the Carpathian mountains were cast down to the pits of hell upon their death. It was their witness that preserved the True Faith and kept it alive. Likewise, under the heavy yoke of Communism they did the same in our modern times. My grandmother's cousin, +Bishop Paul, died in a Communist prison on account of his steadfastness. As believers, we should worry about the status of our own souls in this realm and leave the rest to God and His infinite mercy and wisdom.

but you will find Orthodox ppl saying that non-Orthodox go to Hell, totally outside the context of the toll houses, so i dont see how this disproves the toll houses.

Who says that?  What bishop teaches it?  What seminary teaches it?  Have you heard a priest preach on that?  I see you are OCA - is it something taught in your Church?

i dont think ive "heard" anyone teach it, but ive seen it in writings. i dont have any specifics, but i known ive seen it in other Orthodox writings. but even so, the toll houses and the belief that the non-Orthodox are necessarily bound for Hell are not inextricably bound up together. St. Theophan the Recluse is a good example of this - he says no matter how much we disbelieve in the toll houses we will still pass through them, and he also says not to worry about the salvation of the non-Orthodox because they have a good God Who desires their salvation.
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« Reply #141 on: November 06, 2010, 08:24:50 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.  

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...

Yes.  I think that the good Father should post a picture of himself so that we can put it on our prayer corners instead of that of St. Justin or St. Nicholi.
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« Reply #142 on: November 06, 2010, 10:28:21 PM »

oh, also, while i'm thinking of it -- it seems pretty clear to me from the tale of Theodora, that the demons are actually taking people to Hades, not Hell, and that they will still be judged by Christ at the end of time, so even if the non-Orthodox are immediately dragged to Hades, they will still have their chance directly before Christ.
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« Reply #143 on: November 06, 2010, 10:32:22 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.  

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...

Yes.  I think that the good Father should post a picture of himself so that we can put it on our prayer corners instead of that of St. Justin or St. Nicholi.

I was unaware that Orthodox saints are considered infallible.

Do you always show priests of God this kind of respect?
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« Reply #144 on: November 06, 2010, 11:01:32 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.  

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...

Yes.  I think that the good Father should post a picture of himself so that we can put it on our prayer corners instead of that of St. Justin or St. Nicholi.

I was unaware that Orthodox saints are considered infallible.

Do you always show priests of God this kind of respect?

No one is infallible.  However, the last time that I read someone so openly say that he was right and the Saints were wrong was when I was reading the writings of Martin Luther.  While I personally believe in the Toll Houses, I have no problem with those that do not.  Since there has not been agreement in the Church on the matter, a person is free to believe what they wish.  On the other hand, I regard with great suspicion one who would say that the Saints erred while they do not.  I was deluded by those that taught such for thirty years of my life.  I rejected that line of thinking when I became Orthodox.  I do not know how to ask the intercessions of Saints that I dare to call a liar.  And I do not wish to be put into the position of asking the intercession of two Saints whom I hold in high regard by allowing someone else, Priest or not, to call them a liar without being challenged.  Father Seraphim may not be officially recognized as a Saint, but Bishop Nicolai and Father Justin have been declared Saints of the Church, and I will rebuke those that slander them even if they are a Patriarch.  If my devotion to these Saints offends anyone, it matters not to me.  I would rather offend those on Earth than those in the Heavens who pray for us before the throne of God.
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« Reply #145 on: November 06, 2010, 11:40:35 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.  

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...

Yes.  I think that the good Father should post a picture of himself so that we can put it on our prayer corners instead of that of St. Justin or St. Nicholi.

I was unaware that Orthodox saints are considered infallible.

Do you always show priests of God this kind of respect?

No one is infallible.  However, the last time that I read someone so openly say that he was right and the Saints were wrong was when I was reading the writings of Martin Luther.  While I personally believe in the Toll Houses, I have no problem with those that do not.  Since there has not been agreement in the Church on the matter, a person is free to believe what they wish.  On the other hand, I regard with great suspicion one who would say that the Saints erred while they do not.  I was deluded by those that taught such for thirty years of my life.  I rejected that line of thinking when I became Orthodox.  I do not know how to ask the intercessions of Saints that I dare to call a liar.  And I do not wish to be put into the position of asking the intercession of two Saints whom I hold in high regard by allowing someone else, Priest or not, to call them a liar without being challenged.  Father Seraphim may not be officially recognized as a Saint, but Bishop Nicolai and Father Justin have been declared Saints of the Church, and I will rebuke those that slander them even if they are a Patriarch.  If my devotion to these Saints offends anyone, it matters not to me.  I would rather offend those on Earth than those in the Heavens who pray for us before the throne of God.

So am I remiss in saying that St. Gregory of Nyssa was wrong to believe in apokastasis?  Will you rebuke me for slandering them because I (and the rest of the Church) believe he was wrong about something? 

Fr. Ambrose has done no such thing.  He has said, boldly as is his wont, that a Saint was wrong about something that you yourself have just admitted has no agreement in the Church.  This is not slander.  It is disagreement on something that you admit is theologumenon.  Fr. Ambrose has not said that one should not pray to St. Justin or St. Nicolai (he actually says quite the contrary on a regular basis, as his love for St. Justin is quite palpable). 

If you're looking for hubris and slander, look in the mirror, my friend.  Your sarcasm regarding Fr. Ambrose's image in your icon corner is repugnant.  I have had my differences with him in the past, and will likely do so in the future considering our personalities, but he has done nothing to warrant such disrespect in this thread.
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« Reply #146 on: November 06, 2010, 11:52:01 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.   

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...

Yes.  I think that the good Father should post a picture of himself so that we can put it on our prayer corners instead of that of St. Justin or St. Nicholi.

Please go back to message 110.  Read the various heresies that are contained in the Theodoran Revelations.  Then tell me if Saint Justin adhered to these heresies.  It would also be of interest to know if your bishop adheres to them and teaches them.  I suspect that he would agree with me.
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« Reply #147 on: November 06, 2010, 11:58:22 PM »

Just a correction if I may.  Saint Justin the New (as he is starting to be called in Serbia) did NOT speak about the toll houses in great detail.

SNIP

...prior to his death in 1979, he put out a third volume of Dogmatic Theology.

In it he simply provides the "Account of Theodora's Journey through the Aerial Toll Houses."

He does NOT speak of the toll houses in great detail.

This third volume has not yet been translated into English.

Yes, I suppose you could say that he in his section on the Particular Judgment related the detailed account of the toll-houses expressed in the journey of Theodora rather than speaking in detail about the toll-houses in his own words.  In addition to the story of Theodora, he starts this section referring to the Homily on the Departure of the Soul by St. Cyril of Alexandria as a God-inspired teaching, and concludes this section with reference to prayers of the Church which also confirm the toll-house teaching.  There is no doubt that he agrees with these detailed accounts, though he may not add his own detailed analysis or discussion.   

I think it is distressing that he added the "Journey through the Aerial Toll houses" into a work of Dogmatic Theology.

The Theodoran Journey contains several heresies which ought not to be in a book of Orthodoxy theology.

We may only hope that Saint Justin has pointed out the heretical teachings.


dont you think there's the possibility that the Saint is correct, and you're wrong?

No.



wow. thats pretty damn bold of you. good luck with all that ...

Yes.  I think that the good Father should post a picture of himself so that we can put it on our prayer corners instead of that of St. Justin or St. Nicholi.

Please go back to message 110.  Read the various heresies that are contained in the Theodoran Revelations.  Then tell me if Saint Justin adhered to these heresies.  It would also be of interest to know if your bishop adheres to them and teaches them.  I suspect that he would agree with me.

if i recall correctly, its been established that St. Justin included this tale in his third volume of Dogmatic Theology. are you saying he therefore held to several different heresies?
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« Reply #148 on: November 07, 2010, 12:02:02 AM »

oh, also, while i'm thinking of it -- it seems pretty clear to me from the tale of Theodora, that the demons are actually taking people to Hades, not Hell,

Sorry, dear brother, but that is quite wrong.  The toller teaching is that people are taken down to hell, to Gehenna, to the eternal lake of fire.

It is divine revelation (mediated by the angels who accompanied Saint Theodora through the toll houses) that Gehenna is in existence and already receives the souls of all the unbaptized.


Знай  также,  что  таким  путем  испытываются  только  души  тех,  кто
просвещен святым крещением.  Неверующие же во Христа, идолослужители и
вообще все не ведающие истинного Бога этим путем не  восходят,  потому
что во время земной жизни живы только телом,  а душой уже погребены во
аде.  И когда они умирают,  бесы без всякого испытания берут их души и
низводят в геенну и пропасть."


I have bolded the word "Gehenna."

The English translation of this paragraph is deceptive, probably intentionally.  It omits the word gehenna.

-oOo-


One notes that the great toll-house Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov taught that the eternal hell, the everlasting lake of fire is already in existence.  He teaches that damned souls are taken there at death.  Here he is speaking about the toll houses

 
    "When the soul of a Christian, leaving its earthly dwelling,  and begins
to strive through the aerial spaces towards the homeland on high, the demons
stop it, strive to find in it a kinship with themselves, their sinfulness,
their fall, and to drag it down to the hell prepared for the devil and his
angels (Matt. 25:41). They act thus by the right which they have acquired.

"Homily on Death"
1863,  (Collected Works (vol.3). St Petersburg):


Matthew 25: 41 ~ "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
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« Reply #149 on: November 07, 2010, 12:12:49 AM »


if i recall correctly, its been established that St. Justin included this tale in his third volume of Dogmatic Theology. are you saying he therefore held to several different heresies?


During his life Father Justin used to say that the toll houses are not part of our dogmatic theology.  So it is interesting that he included them in the 3rd volume of his "Dogmatics of the Orthodox Church" which came out 2 years before his death.

I am waiting for a parishioner to bring me a copy sometime this week and I am curious what comments he has made on the toll houses and on the Theodoran Revelations.
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« Reply #150 on: November 07, 2010, 12:12:59 AM »

in the 4th Torment it says this:

"'Still, even the gluttonous can be saved. Those of them that are merciful and kindhearted to needy and beggars and help those who ask for help—such men can easily obtain from God forgiveness of their sins, and because of their kindheartedness toward their neighbors, pass the stations of torment without stopping. It is said in the Scripture: alms save from death and cleanse every kind of sin; those who give alms and do justice will be filled with life (Tob. 12. 9). But he who does not strive to cleanse his sins by good deeds cannot escape the dark tormentors who lead the sinners down to hell and hold them bound until the terrible judgment at Christ's Second Coming. You too would not have escaped here your evil lot, were it not that you have received the treasure of holy Basil's prayers.'

but i suppose it could be saying something different for unbaptized ppl
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« Reply #151 on: November 07, 2010, 12:30:26 AM »

I suspect that Fr Seraphim and his inclusion in the Canon of the Saints (canonisation) is going to have to pass through two of its own toll houses in Moscow.

1.  His homosexuality.  Ethnic Russian bishops have stong feelings on this topic and would agree with Pope Benedict that it constitutes a deep seated personality disorder. It may prevent his cause proceeding to glorification.

2.  The toll houses themselves.  Perhaps the bishops will take the opportunity to offer some guidance on this belief since it has become a major part of the cult of Fr Seraphim.
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« Reply #152 on: November 07, 2010, 02:29:21 AM »

in the 4th Torment it says this:

'You too would not have escaped here your evil lot, were it not that you have received the treasure of holy Basil's prayers.'


Once again the text here has been bowlderised by the English translators who have become aware that the original text teaches the heresy of supererogatory works.

The original text does NOT say "the treasure of holy Basil's prayers.  It says "the treasury of Saint Basil's GOOD WORKS."

И тебе самой невозможно было избежать этого, если бы не сокровищница добрых дел преподобного Василия, из которой были покрыты твои грехи."

Now since this is claimed as an angelic revelation it is obviously fraudulent since angels are seen as God's messengers and their words are seen as the words of God Himself.  Their words certainly cannot be heretical.   These various heresies in the Theodoran Revelations call the whole thing into question.
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« Reply #153 on: November 07, 2010, 03:12:49 AM »

I suspect that Fr Seraphim and his inclusion in the Canon of the Saints (canonisation) is going to have to pass through two of its own toll houses in Moscow.

1.  His homosexuality.  Ethnic Russian bishops have stong feelings on this topic and would agree with Pope Benedict that it constitutes a deep seated personality disorder. It may prevent his cause proceeding to glorification.

2.  The toll houses themselves.  Perhaps the bishops will take the opportunity to offer some guidance on this belief since it has become a major part of the cult of Fr Seraphim.

Regarding 1, if we can have--and even celebrate--"fools for Christ," why would the sanctity of someone be nullified by a "personality disorder"? I understand that this is not exactly your point, but I think you see what I'm driving at...?  Regarding 2, Fr. Seraphim is perhaps like St. Augustine in this way: even if people disagree with significant portions of his teachings, he could still be considered a saint. After all, if we can look past Augustine's very influential errors and "cover his nakedness," then surely the matter of toll houses is a small matter?
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« Reply #154 on: November 07, 2010, 03:26:24 AM »


Fr. Ambrose has done no such thing.  He has said, boldly as is his wont, that a Saint was wrong about something that you yourself have just admitted has no agreement in the Church.  This is not slander.  It is disagreement on something that you admit is theologumenon.  Fr. Ambrose has not said that one should not pray to St. Justin or St. Nicolai (he actually says quite the contrary on a regular basis, as his love for St. Justin is quite palpable). 


Thank you, Schultz, for your balanced and truthful words.

I have a personal love and veneration for both Saint Justin and Saint Nikolai.

Saint Justin - I was there in Serbia while he was alive.  I was at his funeral.  My next obedience at the monastery, if they had not sent me off to New Zealand, was to be the translation of his Dogmatic Theology.

Saint Nikolai - I lived in his monastery of Zica.  I translated his work of the Prologue in the very same room where he wrote it.  It had been his library and the room where he received guests.

What is more I am the spiritual grandson of Saint Nikolai.  With my monastic lineage.  My spiritual father and the person who tonsured me into the monastic life was Fr Archimandrite Dositej of Zica (eternal memory).  Fr Dositej had been the personal disciple and cell attendant of Saint Nikolai and he was tonsured a monk and ordained a priest by him.

I ask you, how can I not love them all.  Unworthy though I am to kiss their boots, could they be any dearer to me?
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« Reply #155 on: November 07, 2010, 02:07:19 PM »

in the 4th Torment it says this:

'You too would not have escaped here your evil lot, were it not that you have received the treasure of holy Basil's prayers.'


Once again the text here has been bowlderised by the English translators who have become aware that the original text teaches the heresy of supererogatory works.

The original text does NOT say "the treasure of holy Basil's prayers.  It says "the treasury of Saint Basil's GOOD WORKS."

И тебе самой невозможно было избежать этого, если бы не сокровищница добрых дел преподобного Василия, из которой были покрыты твои грехи."

Now since this is claimed as an angelic revelation it is obviously fraudulent since angels are seen as God's messengers and their words are seen as the words of God Himself.  Their words certainly cannot be heretical.   These various heresies in the Theodoran Revelations call the whole thing into question.

ok, if so, then that also sounds problematic, but i was referring specifically to the part that says the demons hold the souls there until they are judged by Christ at His second coming.
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« Reply #156 on: November 08, 2010, 12:35:23 AM »

So am I remiss in saying that St. Gregory of Nyssa was wrong to believe in apokastasis

Yes, because St. Gregory of Nyssa did not believe in apokastasis.  Read Met Hierotheos detailed discussion of this subject from the same book of his in which he describes the universal Orthodox doctrine concerning the toll-houses:

http://www.pelagia.org/htm/b24.en.life_after_death.08.htm

A small excerpt:

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

A separate thread should be created if anyone wishes to discuss this since it is not entirely applicable to the present thread. 
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« Reply #157 on: November 08, 2010, 12:58:10 AM »

Read Met Hierotheos detailed discussion of this subject from the same book of his in which he describes the universal Orthodox doctrine concerning the toll-houses:


If Metropolitan Hierotheos teaches that the toll houses are a "universal doctrine" or even a "doctrine" he is wrong on both counts and is abusing his episcopal charism of "rightly dividing the word of truth."


The Non-Universality of the toll houses in the Church of Russia........

May I offer something written by an archpriest at the cathedral in Irkutsk? In January and February 2003 we had an Archpriest from Irkutsk, Fr Rodion Sivtsev, in our Wellington, New Zealand parish. He is back in Irkutsk where he is first priest at the Theophany (Bogoyavlenski) cathedral. We keep in touch via e-mail and I decided to ask him his opinion of the toll-houses. He is a serious man given to conciseness. He sent back a brief answer...

Translation from Russian:

"The opinion about the toll-houses among the people is quite positive (based on popular translations of Seraphim Rose) and they love to talk about them.  But among the clergy and theologians there are diverse opinions, and they consider them to be a uniate-catholic influence stemming from purgatory."

So what do we see here? There is NO consensus in Russia. It seems impossible to claim that this is a "universal" and "non-debatable" tradition or that they are an integral strand of Orthodoxy piety.
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« Reply #158 on: November 08, 2010, 01:05:45 AM »

Read Met Hierotheos detailed discussion of this subject from the same book of his in which he describes the universal Orthodox doctrine concerning the toll-houses:


If Metropolitan Hierotheos teaches that the toll houses are a "universal doctrine" or even a "doctrine" he is wrong on both counts and is abusing his episcopal charism of "rightly dividing the word of truth."


The Non-Universality of the toll houses in the Church of Russia........

May I offer something written by an archpriest at the cathedral in Irkutsk? In January and February 2003 we had an Archpriest from Irkutsk, Fr Rodion Sivtsev, in our Wellington, New Zealand parish. He is back in Irkutsk where he is first priest at the Theophany (Bogoyavlenski) cathedral. We keep in touch via e-mail and I decided to ask him his opinion of the toll-houses. He is a serious man given to conciseness. He sent back a brief answer...

Translation from Russian:

"The opinion about the toll-houses among the people is quite positive (based on popular translations of Seraphim Rose) and they love to talk about them.  But among the clergy and theologians there are diverse opinions, and they consider them to be a uniate-catholic influence stemming from purgatory."

So what do we see here? There is NO consensus in Russia. It seems impossible to claim that this is a "universal" and "non-debatable" tradition or that they are an integral strand of Orthodoxy piety.


isnt the tale of Theodora from well before the Uniates? and even besides that one tale, the toll houses are prominent esp. in 4th century sources, as Met. Makary wrote ...
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« Reply #159 on: November 08, 2010, 01:18:40 AM »

Read Met Hierotheos detailed discussion of this subject from the same book of his in which he describes the universal Orthodox doctrine concerning the toll-houses:


If Metropolitan Hierotheos teaches that the toll houses are a "universal doctrine" or even a "doctrine" he is wrong on both counts and is abusing his episcopal charism of "rightly dividing the word of truth."


The Non-Universality of the toll houses in the Church of Russia........

May I offer something written by an archpriest at the cathedral in Irkutsk? In January and February 2003 we had an Archpriest from Irkutsk, Fr Rodion Sivtsev, in our Wellington, New Zealand parish. He is back in Irkutsk where he is first priest at the Theophany (Bogoyavlenski) cathedral. We keep in touch via e-mail and I decided to ask him his opinion of the toll-houses. He is a serious man given to conciseness. He sent back a brief answer...

Translation from Russian:

"The opinion about the toll-houses among the people is quite positive (based on popular translations of Seraphim Rose) and they love to talk about them.  But among the clergy and theologians there are diverse opinions, and they consider them to be a uniate-catholic influence stemming from purgatory."

So what do we see here? There is NO consensus in Russia. It seems impossible to claim that this is a "universal" and "non-debatable" tradition or that they are an integral strand of Orthodoxy piety.


Father Bless.

As I stated before, Fr. Seraphim did the Church no favor by writing his book.  It has caused divisiveness among Orthodox Christians, as evidenced on this and numerous forums.  It is unfortunate that he chose to write on a subject that the Church has never felt the need to issue an opinion on, an issue that is better left alone.  Too much speculation on the subject is unprofitable for our salvation.
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« Reply #160 on: November 08, 2010, 01:25:00 AM »


isnt the tale of Theodora from well before the Uniates? and even besides that one tale, the toll houses are prominent esp. in 4th century sources, as Met. Makary wrote ...


The Toll Houses in the Church of Rome

Yes, well before the U-people.   In fact the Theodoran Revelations come from the time when the Church of Constantinople was in full communion with the Church of Rome.  We would expect this teaching therefore to be taught by the Church of Rome.  Otherwise, where is the universality which Met Hierotheos claims?

Also where are the toll houses in the Churches of Egypt and Syria?
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« Reply #161 on: November 08, 2010, 01:29:56 AM »


isnt the tale of Theodora from well before the Uniates? and even besides that one tale, the toll houses are prominent esp. in 4th century sources, as Met. Makary wrote ...


The Toll Houses in the Church of Rome

Yes, well before the U-people.   In fact the Theodoran Revelations come from the time when the Church of Constantinople was in full communion with the Church of Rome.  We would expect this teaching therefore to be taught by the Church of Rome.  Otherwise, where is the universality which Met Hierotheos claims?

Also where are the toll houses in the Churches of Egypt and Syria?

well its absence in Rome doesnt mean anything i dont think ... Rome is whacky!
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« Reply #162 on: November 08, 2010, 12:08:03 PM »

The idea that we pass through "Toll houses" ( I believe Fr. Seraphim says they are "LIKE Toll Houses on a road") has been helpful to me as a Christian. Having the blessing of seeing the face of death several times in my life, I have developed an awareness of how fragile and temporary life is.

Being a miserable convert, I had no clear conception of the Afterlife except what is in popular culture. It seems to me that many people believe they will have a cozy chat with the Lord and there will be a discussion of your life.  

On the other hand, the belief that you must defend yourself against the accusation of demons each step of the way has been very helpful for me. I believe that there are demons who have been around you all your life and know you very well. I absolutely believe that is true even though I realize it sounds medieval and superstitious. I equally believe that we all have a Guardian Angle who cares for us and also knows us well.

So now, when I am ashamed of a sin I have committed, I go through a mental process of thinking through how I would defend myself against an aggressive prosecutor as I travel through the "Tolls".

What would I say? Have I made real amends or just gone through the motions? Am I constantly repeating the sin? How could an aggressive prosecutor challenge my repentance?  Sometimes I pray to my Guardian that I will need his help with this or that when the time comes. This is a better, more useful paradigm for me than the idea that the Lord, who loves me infinitely, will be a soft parent and give me a pass on most anything.

In the main, the Toll Houses as applied to a Christian life, can be very beneficial. Maybe it is just for those of us with bad instruction or fuzzy understanding of more sophisticated teachings but it can be a great help.    
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« Reply #163 on: November 08, 2010, 01:58:28 PM »

Concerning "Irish Hermit"'s objections to the journey of Theodora

Msg #128 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
I believe that there are elements in the Theodoran Revelations which are heretical and I believe that the overall theory causes a major aberration in orthodox soteriology.


Msg# 130 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

Msg# 110 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
1.  It is not true that you may be taken down to hell if the demons at the tollhouses catch you out with a sin which you have not confessed to a priest and received absolution.

Surely you are not suggesting here that it is then okay to conceal certain sins at the time of confession?  Which is more beneficial for the soul, to believe that one must confess all of their sins so as to stand blameless at the Final Judgment (and pass swiftly through the Particular Judgment), or to suggest that a person can still save their souls if they conceal their sins or abstain from confession?  In any case, with regard to the journey of Theodora, this story certainly does emphasize the importance of making a thorough confession.  If you read the entire story, though, you will find that it does not support your assertion that a person will go to hell for a single unconfessed sin.  For instance, at the fourth toll-house it is said that:

Quote
“Still, even the gluttonous can be saved. Those of them that are merciful and kindhearted to needy and beggars and help those who ask for help—such men can easily obtain from God forgiveness of their sins, and because of their kindheartedness toward their neighbors, pass the stations of torment without stopping. It is said in the Scripture: alms save from death and cleanse every kind of sin; those who give alms and do justice will be filled with life (Tob. 12. 9).” 

Where sins were not sufficiently confessed, the prayers of the Church also helped the soul of Blessed Theodora, represented by the prayers of her spiritual father St. Basil.   

Furthermore, what do the angels explain to Theodora after the fifteenth toll-house concerning confession of sins?

Quote
“Every one goes this way, but not everyone is tormented like you; only sinners like you incur the torments, for they have not confessed their sins fully, and moved by a false sense of shame, have kept their really shameful deeds secret from their spiritual fathers. When a man wholeheartedly confesses his evil deeds and repents and regrets them, his sins are invisibly wiped out by God's mercy. When a repentant soul comes here, the tormentors of the air open their books but find nothing written there; the soul, however, joyfully ascends to the throne of God.

"'The evil spirits open their records but find nothing written there, for the Holy Spirit has made invisible all the writing. The spirits see this and know that what they have recorded has all been obliterated because of the soul's confession, and they are very much saddened by this. If the man is still alive when his confession has wiped out his sins, the spirits once again try to have an occasion to record some new sins of his.

"'Indeed, there is a great source of salvation for man in his confession! Confession saves him from many misfortunes and much unhappiness and gives him the opportunity to pass all the torments with no hindrance and to approach God. Some people do not confess their sins because they hope to have time for salvation and for a remittance of their sins; others are simply ashamed of telling their spiritual father about their sins. They will, however, be severely tested when they pass the stations of torment. There are still other people, who are ashamed of telling everything to one spiritual father. Therefore they choose several and reveal some of their sins to one and others to another, and so on; they will be punished for this kind of confession and will suffer a great deal as they pass from one torment into another.

"'If you too had made a complete confession of your sins and had been granted remission of them, and had then done all you could to make up for them by good deeds—if you had done all this, you would not have been subjected to such terrible torments in the stations.”

These are extremely edifying words!  Do you consider this heresy?  Here it is not said that a person is cast into hell because a week went by after their last confession and a few sins had occurred in the interval between the last confession and their untimely death, but it rather addresses those who knowingly conceal their sins from their spiritual father.


Msg# 110 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
2.  It is not true that the demons may take you down to hell if they can get you to commit a fresh sin after death while going through the toll houses.

Can you point out where this is stated in the journey of Theodora?  I looked but couldn’t find it anywhere.  Without reading it, I cannot comment. 


Msg# 110 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
3.  It is not true that somebody alive on earth may pay for a soul to get through the toll houses by giving the demons the superfluous merits he has earned from his good deeds.  This is the heresy of supererogatory works and even worse than indulgences because the payment is made to the evil powers.

The account I have states that where Blessed Theodora had not sufficiently confessed her sins, or where her good deeds were not sufficient to cover her sins, the prayers of St. Basil made up for what was lacking and helped her to advance through the toll-houses.  In the account I have, St. Basil presents a bag of gold to the angels with the words:

Quote
'Here is the treasure of prayers before the Lord for this soul! As you pass through the torments of the air and the evil spirits begin to torment her, pay her debts with this.'

You say that this is [intentionally] mistranslated, and should rather read:

Quote
‘I am wealthy in God's grace, gathered many riches by
fasting and my labors, and I make a gift of this bag to the soul that
served me'. Having said this, he departed.’

The account I have states at several toll-houses words such as:

Quote
Here also the angels freed me by means of the prayers of the holy man Basil, and we continued to ascend.

Does the version you have also state that his “deeds” or “merits” or anything other than his prayers helped her through the toll-houses, aside from that one sentence regarding his bag?

In regard to your phrasing of St. Basil’s words, which you claim is more accurate, does this really teach the heresy of “supererogatory works”?  Could this not be instead interpreted as the good deeds St. Basil offers for the soul of Theodora?  I’m sure you agree that the Church teaches that the soul after its departure from the body is benefitted by prayers (and fasting joined with prayer), good works done on behalf of the soul (almsgiving), and especially the commemoration of the name of the departed during the Divine Liturgy.  The “many riches” St. Basil has acquired through “fasting and prayer”, according to your translation, can be understood in this entirely Orthodox context of prayers and deeds offered on behalf of the departed soul.

Concerning “supererogatory works”, Fr. Victor Potapov says the following:

Quote

http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/orthhtrdx/e_P08.htm

According to Catholic teaching, many of God's saints, especially the Most Holy Virgin Mary, in endeavoring to realize in their life not only God's law or the commandments (præcepta), offered superabundant and supererogatory satisfaction to the divine justice and performed supererogatory good works (opera supererogationis). From them, a certain quantity still remains, as it were, of excess, supererogatory good works. This excess makes up the so called treasury of supererogatory merits (thesaurus meritorium), which is at the full and unconditional disposal of the pope. Whoever does not have as many of his own deeds as are needed to satisfy God's justice for his sins, can, by the mercy of the pope, make use of the supererogatory merits of the saints in the church's treasury. This teaching was confirmed in 1343 by Pope Clement VI.

The Roman Catholic teaching of supererogatory works, from this description, indicates that saints who have passed from this life have an excess of good works which build up a reserve that the Pope can then withdraw from in order to cover the debts of those whose works are insufficient to satisfy divine justice.  The differences between this teaching and what is expressed in the journey of Theodora should be obvious, but for one thing St. Basil’s deeds (according to your translation) were offered specifically on behalf of Theodora by him (who was still living) to assist her specifically in her passage.  These were not accumulated merits of departed saints which went into some general bank account to be withdrawn by the Pope and applied by him to souls according to how much money they had been spent to acquire papal indulgences.  In other words, regardless of the translation discrepancies, what is described in the journey of Theodora seems reflective of the Orthodox teaching regarding the benefit to the soul of prayers, alms-giving, and commemoration in Divine Liturgies, rather than the Roman Catholic heresy of “supererogatory works” which is bound up with the teaching of papal indulgences.

Msg# 110 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
4.  It is not true that without the merits of a spiritual father a soul will be taken down to hell (This one is not from the Aerial Journey but from Saint Seraphim - two Russian abbesses in the toll houses would be in hell today if he had not come to their aid. Pity the Christian who does not have a spiritual father.

You say this is from St. Seraphim and not the journey of Theodora.  I haven’t read this so I cannot comment.  Does this story refer to his “merits” or to his “prayers” on their behalf?  Please explain.  Regardless of what is said here, however, I do not recall reading from anyone who believes in the toll-houses the assertion that only the prayers or good deeds of a holy spiritual father can help a person through the toll-houses.  Rather, prayers for the departed in general, almsgiving, and commemoration in Divine Liturgies are emphasized as helping the departed soul, with the latter said to be most important.


Msg# 110 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
5.  It is not true that only the baptized Orthodox go through the toll houses and the rest of mankind is taken down immediately at death into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Do you know this for a fact?  If so, then how do you know?  St. Paisius Velichkovsky, in a letter to a Uniate priest, encouraged him not to delay his departure from the Uniates and his entrance into the Orthodox Church, lest death overtake him while still a Uniate and he be counted among the unbelievers and the ungodly rather than among the believers.  That being said, I do not recall that anyone who has described the toll-house teaching and referenced the journey of Theodora in their description of this teaching (Fr. Seraphim Rose, St. Justin Popovic, Met Mekary, Monk Mitrophan, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. Justin Popovic, St. Theophan the Recluse, St. John the Wonderworker, etc.) has actually reiterated or affirmed this concerning the non-Orthodox from the story of Theodora.  Nevertheless, countless Fathers have stated that “there is no salvation outside of the Church”.  Do we have any proof, from any lives of the saints, any writing of the Fathers, or any Church services, that non-Orthodox will find salvation outside of the Church?  If not, how can you say it is heretical to believe that the non-Orthodox will not be saved?

Regarding the journey of Theodora, in the section which you refer to, following the thirteenth toll-house and concerning those who are heretics and unbelievers, the angels say to Theodora:

Quote
“When a soul proves to be so sinful and impure before God that it has no hope of salvation, the evil spirits immediately bring it down into the abyss, where their own place of eternal torment is also. There the lost souls are kept until the time of the Lord's Second Coming. Then they will unite with their bodies and will incur torment in the fiery hell together with the devils.”

It seems here that a distinction is made between the “abyss” where the soul goes after the Particular Judgment, and the “fiery hell” where the souls are sent after the Final Judgment.  Sure, the distinction of Hades/Gehenna and Paradise/Heaven may lack clarity, but is this a problem with the translation or is it the case that Russian texts do not generally distinguish between “Hades” and “Gehenna”?


Msg# 110 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
6.  It is not true that demons, the evil and malevolent enemies of humankind who desire only our damnation, may judge human souls.  This is repugnant to the justice of God.

The toll-house teaching states that the soul is ultimately taken captive after its separation from the body by those to whom it was most inclined during this life – whether the soul served the Evil One or God during its life by its works.  The journey of Theodora states quite clearly that the soul is taken either by the demons or the angels to the place where they await the Final Judgment following the resurrection of the body at the Second Coming of Christ.  Final Judgment belongs to God alone, without the assistance of the angels.  Another way to understand this is that those who have had authority over the soul on earth continue to have authority over the soul after its separation from the body, until the Final Judgment.  The demons are not able to have any authority over the soul which the soul did not freely give to the demons during its life by its deeds.  This is neither heretical nor repugnant to the justice of God, but an affirmation of the justice of the God who says that we will be judged according to our works. 

Here we find the same principle expressed by Christ to the Jews in chapter 8 of the gospel of St. John:

Quote
Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham…  You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.”

Similarly, in chapter 13 of the gospel of St. Luke it states:

Quote
   
Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.”


Msg# 110 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
7.  It is not true that our fate will be decided by a balancing between our good deeds and our evil deeds.

Matthew 16:27 – “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

Rev 20:13 – “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.”

The journey of Theodora does show that our Particular Judgment is accomplished as the demons accuse us of various passions and the angels defend us by producing our good deeds.  The story does not say that “by works alone” our fate is decided, nor by the sole balance of good deeds against bad.  The story explains how the demons cannot take control of a soul for sins that have been confessed and repented of, it demonstrates the power of mercy shown in this life to cover our sins at the particular judgment, and it illustrates the benefit to the soul of prayers offered on its behalf after its separation from the body. 

But why do you ignore the following words of the angels to Theodora regarding those who depart having lived righteously?:

Quote
Those who believe in the Holy Trinity and take as frequently as possible the Holy Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ our Saviour's Body and Blood—such people can rise to heaven directly, with no hindrances, and the holy angels defend them, and the holy saints of God pray for their salvation, since they have lived righteously.


I have attempted to address these objections to the journey of Theodora because you indicate that you do not believe the toll-house teaching to be heretical, but rather certain elements in the journey of Theodora, which you summarized in the seven points above.  I have to reiterate, though, that even if there is nothing “wrong” with the story of Theodora, it is extremely misguided to focus one’s attention on this one vision from the life of one saint as the basis for either accepting or rejecting the toll-house teaching.  Nobody has sought to dogmatize this life, and it is very much lacking in discretion to take a single vision in one life of a saint as an infallible dogmatic explanation.  Nobody who has claimed to believe that the toll-house teaching is a “dogma” or “doctrine” has given the description of the toll-houses found in the journey of Theodora nearly the importance that you and other critics have attributed to it.  The reason why I keep pointing to Met Hierotheos Vlachos’ description of the toll-house teaching is because he best summarizes the universal teaching of the Church concerning this subject, and since the Life of St. Basil the New is not accepted in the Byzantine Church, he describes this doctrine completely without any reference to the journey of Theodora or to the Russian saints of the 19th and 20th centuries who used this life as one of a multitude of references on the topic.  Met Hierotheos most concisely summarizes the Church’s universal teaching on the subject, but his exposition is not at all in conflict with the basic teaching expressed also by the Russian saints.  So, please read the following description from Met Hierotheos and tell me what “heresies” you find here:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/soul_taxing.aspx

Then, perhaps you can also explain, if the toll-house teaching is considered by you to be a theologoumenon, what other “mere opinions” has the Church allowed to be dogmatized by incorporating such “opinions” into the Church’s prayers and service books.  What do you do when you encounter such references in your prayers?  Do you skip over them?  Are there other theologoumena that are expressed in our service books that we can skip over as well?

In the Octoechos of St. John Damascene, in the Canon for the dead:

"When my soul desires to separate its bodily ties and depart from
life, do Thou appear to me, O Mistress, and destroy the councils of
the bodiless enemies, crush their jaws of those who seek to devour me:
that I may without hindrance pass the princes of darkness, standing in
the air, O Bride of God, "(Tone 2, Sat. Ode 9, Tr. 16).

In Canon to the Guardian Angel:

"All my life I have spent much time in vain, now I approach the end: I
pray thee, my keeper, be a protector to me and an undefeated champion,
when I will pass the toll-houses of the ferocious keeper of the
world"(Ode. 9, tr. 3)

In the Prayer after the fourth Kathisma:

"O Lord, grant me tears of compunction ... that with them I will pray
to Thee to be cleansed before my end of every sin: a fearsome and
stern place I must pass, having separated from my body, and a
multitude of dark and inhumane demons will meet me (Psalt. Prayer
after the 4th Kath.).

Or

"Be merciful unto me, O angels of all-holy God Almighty,
and save me from all of the evil toll-houses: for I do not have good
deeds to measure against the measure of my evil doings." (Trebnik. p.
182 on the reverse, M. 1836).

The above prayers were cited by Met Makary of Moscow in the description of the toll-house teaching of the Church in his 6 Volume work on Orthodox Dogmatic Theology published between the years of 1847 and 1853, so it cannot be explained away that these words were mistranslated into English.
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« Reply #164 on: November 08, 2010, 04:56:43 PM »

Concerning "Irish Hermit"'s objections to the journey of Theodora

Msg #128 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
I believe that there are elements in the Theodoran Revelations which are heretical and I believe that the overall theory causes a major aberration in orthodox soteriology.


Msg# 130 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
I ask you to go back to message 110 and tell me which of those teachings found in the Theodoran Revelations are not simply heretical or borderline heretical.

Msg# 110 from “Irish Hermit”:
Quote
1.  It is not true that you may be taken down to hell if the demons at the tollhouses catch you out with a sin which you have not confessed to a priest and received absolution.

Surely you are not suggesting here that it is then okay to conceal certain sins at the time of confession?  Which is more beneficial for the soul, to believe that one must confess all of their sins so as to stand blameless at the Final Judgment (and pass swiftly through the Particular Judgment), or to suggest that a person can still save their souls if they conceal their sins or abstain from confession?  In any case, with regard to the journey of Theodora, this story certainly does emphasize the importance of making a thorough confession.

Some have contended that the entire Theodoran Revelations were created as a cautionary tale with the purpose of encouraging people to go to sacramental Confession.  That is great... but as with most of the supposed angelic revelations in the tale it has to ruin it by asserting that any sin not confessed to a priest is enough for the demons to drag a soul down to the everlasting fires of hell.  In many ways the toll houses are a major vehicle of damnation.  If they were just a tick list of 20 sins wrapped in an "illustrative metaphor" and you could examine the state of your soul against these 20 sins, that would be fine, but the teachings goes way beyond that and becomes, as I say, a vehicle for damnation.
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« Reply #165 on: November 08, 2010, 05:12:25 PM »

Concerning "jah777"'s support for the Theodoran Revelations



"All my life I have spent much time in vain, now I approach the end: I
pray thee, my keeper, be a protector to me and an undefeated champion,
when I will pass the toll-houses of the ferocious keeper of the
world"(Ode. 9, tr. 3)


To their eternal shame the toll house advocates are not above laying their hands on the holy books which have nourished the beliefs and piety of our people for countless generations.  They are prepared to change the text to propagate their toller beliefs.

The canon to the Guardian Angel is one example which was discussed at some length on Indiana several years ago.  Please see this message:

https://listserv.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/wa-iub.exe?A2=ind9503C&L=ORTHODOX&P=R4321

You will also find messages dealing with quite a lot of other toller distortions of Prayerbooks and misinterpretation of patristic writings.  I believe that someone should scan through Indiana and collect all of them on one website.
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« Reply #166 on: November 08, 2010, 08:17:42 PM »


regarding Basil's prayers vs. Basil's good works: is it possible that the original text has been corrupted by Latin influence?

also, regarding the idea that the non-baptized go straight to Hell - this really isn't a necessary part of the toll house teaching as i see it. in his The Spiritual Life and How to be Attuned to It, St. Theophan the Recluse recommends the Tale of Theodora to someone as a good preparation for confession, and he says "Blessed Theodora encountered the same things which every soul encounters" (chapter 36).
To their eternal shame the toll house advocates are not above laying their hands on the holy books which have nourished the beliefs and piety of our people for countless generations.  They are prepared to change the text to propagate their toller beliefs.

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« Reply #167 on: November 09, 2010, 07:12:25 AM »

Some have contended that the entire Theodoran Revelations were created as a cautionary tale with the purpose of encouraging people to go to sacramental Confession.  That is great... but as with most of the supposed angelic revelations in the tale it has to ruin it by asserting that any sin not confessed to a priest is enough for the demons to drag a soul down to the everlasting fires of hell.  In many ways the toll houses are a major vehicle of damnation.  If they were just a tick list of 20 sins wrapped in an "illustrative metaphor" and you could examine the state of your soul against these 20 sins, that would be fine, but the teachings goes way beyond that and becomes, as I say, a vehicle for damnation.

If you read my entire response in msg #163, I showed how the journey of Theodora does not state that the soul is dragged to the “everlasting fires of hell” for a single unconfessed sin.   Again, on this subject the angels said to Theodora:

Quote
"'Indeed, there is a great source of salvation for man in his confession! Confession saves him from many misfortunes and much unhappiness and gives him the opportunity to pass all the torments with no hindrance and to approach God. Some people do not confess their sins because they hope to have time for salvation and for a remittance of their sins; others are simply ashamed of telling their spiritual father about their sins. They will, however, be severely tested when they pass the stations of torment. There are still other people, who are ashamed of telling everything to one spiritual father. Therefore they choose several and reveal some of their sins to one and others to another, and so on; they will be punished for this kind of confession and will suffer a great deal as they pass from one torment into another.

"'If you too had made a complete confession of your sins and had been granted remission of them, and had then done all you could to make up for them by good deeds—if you had done all this, you would not have been subjected to such terrible torments in the stations.”

This section emphasizes the importance of not concealing our sins before our spiritual father, saying that if we do so we will suffer much more through the toll-houses, whereas if we thoroughly and sincerely confess everything, our slate is wiped clean and we pass swiftly through.  This should rather give us hope and encourage us to confess our sins diligently and honestly, to repent fervently and go on to produce the fruits of repentance, rather than cause us to fall into despondency and despair of the possibility of salvation.  Furthermore, where in this story Theodora had not sufficiently confessed her sins, her good works accomplished in this life, the mercy she showed towards others in her life, and the prayers and good deeds of the Church on her behalf (prayers and deeds of St. Basil) made up for these debts and helped her pass through to life everlasting.


Concerning "jah777"'s support for the Theodoran Revelations

"All my life I have spent much time in vain, now I approach the end: I
pray thee, my keeper, be a protector to me and an undefeated champion,
when I will pass the toll-houses of the ferocious keeper of the
world"(Ode. 9, tr. 3)


To their eternal shame the toll house advocates are not above laying their hands on the holy books which have nourished the beliefs and piety of our people for countless generations.  They are prepared to change the text to propagate their toller beliefs.
The canon to the Guardian Angel is one example which was discussed at some length on Indiana several years ago.  Please see this message:

https://listserv.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/wa-iub.exe?A2=ind9503C&L=ORTHODOX&P=R4321

You will also find messages dealing with quite a lot of other toller distortions of Prayerbooks and misinterpretation of patristic writings.  I believe that someone should scan through Indiana and collect all of them on one website.

The link you provided claims that this canon to the Guardian Angel in the Jordanville Prayer Book was “altered” in 1986 to include the words “toll-houses” which were not included in previous editions of this Prayer Book.  Perhaps you overlooked the fact that my quotation of this prayer did not come from the 1986 Jordanville Prayer Book but from the quotation used by Metropolitan Makary of Moscow in the mid 19th century in his work on the toll-houses?  It seems that the link you provided addresses the prayer after the canon, and not the prayer from Ode 9 which Met Makary refers to.  I think they are different prayers.  Are you accusing Metropolitan Makary of falsifying the text of this prayer?  Since I posted four prayers that Met Makary said speak of the toll-houses, why do you only suggest that one has been “altered” and not the others?  Can you explain when such “alterations” took place prior to the mid-19th century?  How do you know that the Jordanville Prayerbook was dishonestly altered in its 1986 edition, as opposed to the possibility that a different variant of the text from Russia was used than in previous editions?

If it is true that the inclusion of the toll-house teaching in the various prayers of the Menaion, the Octoechos, the Slavonic Psalter, etc. was done fraudulently, what is the implication of suggesting that so many of the Church’s saints (including the Optina Elders, St. Theophan of Poltava, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. John the Wonderworker, etc.) were praying to God with heretical or boarderline heretical (according to you) words?  If they are not heretical or boarderline heretical, why do you continue your campaign? 

Please post an update after you have read the relevant sections from the Orthodox Dogmatic Theology written by St. Justin (Popovic).  I believe he also refers to several prayers from the Church services which mention the toll-houses.
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« Reply #168 on: November 09, 2010, 07:37:21 AM »


...regarding the idea that the non-baptized go straight to Hell - this really isn't a necessary part of the toll house teaching as i see it.

I fear that you are incorrect and do not have the luxury of denying this.  A refusal to accept the angelic teaching whereas other tollers accept it highlights one of the major problems of the toller belief - it is a smorgasbord belief.  Take your pick of various elements and combine them or reject them according to your personal preferences.  Humbug!

The teaching of the Church is that angels are messengers from God (this is exactly what the word "angel" means.)  Whatever messages angels bring to the human race is the truth of God Himself.  It is He who is speaking though the intermediary of an angel.

As such the Theodoran Revelations from the angels partake of the infallibility of God. To deny them is to deny the words of God.

The alternative of course is to deny that the Theodoran Revelations actually are a revelation from God.  Given the various heretical elements in the Revelations from the "angels" this is certainly the safer and more sober conclusion.

Test it for yourself. Go back to message 110 and take the propositions contained in the Revelations to your priest or your bishop.  Ask him if they are acceptable Orthodox doctrine.
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« Reply #169 on: November 09, 2010, 10:31:42 AM »


...regarding the idea that the non-baptized go straight to Hell - this really isn't a necessary part of the toll house teaching as i see it.

I fear that you are incorrect and do not have the luxury of denying this.  A refusal to accept the angelic teaching whereas other tollers accept it highlights one of the major problems of the toller belief - it is a smorgasbord belief.  Take your pick of various elements and combine them or reject them according to your personal preferences.  Humbug

ok, but i gave the example of St. Theophan who acceps the tale of Theodora and yet leaves room for the salvation of the unbaptized ... the text doesnt seem to make an explicit distinction between Hades and Hell, and neither does Fr. Seraphim in his book, but that doesn't mean the distinction isnt there and understood by these holy men.
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« Reply #170 on: November 09, 2010, 10:48:14 AM »


...regarding the idea that the non-baptized go straight to Hell - this really isn't a necessary part of the toll house teaching as i see it.

I fear that you are incorrect and do not have the luxury of denying this.  A refusal to accept the angelic teaching whereas other tollers accept it highlights one of the major problems of the toller belief - it is a smorgasbord belief.  Take your pick of various elements and combine them or reject them according to your personal preferences.  Humbug

ok, but i gave the example of St. Theophan who acceps the tale of Theodora and yet leaves room for the salvation of the unbaptized ... the text doesnt seem to make an explicit distinction between Hades and Hell, and neither does Fr. Seraphim in his book, but that doesn't mean the distinction isnt there and understood by these holy men.

I have provided the text about Gehenna at least twice and pointed out that the tollers who translated this into English were dreadfully dishonest in their translation.  They want to maintain the now popular American fiction that Gehenna, the lake of everlasting fire, comes into existence only on the Day of the Last Judgement.  This is contradicted by the Theodoran Revelations and by Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov.

We seem to be going round in circles now...  I may take a break from this topic.
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« Reply #171 on: November 09, 2010, 11:04:01 AM »


...regarding the idea that the non-baptized go straight to Hell - this really isn't a necessary part of the toll house teaching as i see it.

I fear that you are incorrect and do not have the luxury of denying this.  A refusal to accept the angelic teaching whereas other tollers accept it highlights one of the major problems of the toller belief - it is a smorgasbord belief.  Take your pick of various elements and combine them or reject them according to your personal preferences.  Humbug

ok, but i gave the example of St. Theophan who acceps the tale of Theodora and yet leaves room for the salvation of the unbaptized ... the text doesnt seem to make an explicit distinction between Hades and Hell, and neither does Fr. Seraphim in his book, but that doesn't mean the distinction isnt there and understood by these holy men.

I have provided the text about Gehenna at least twice and pointed out that the tollers who translated this into English were dreadfully dishonest in their translation.  They want to maintain the now popular American fiction that Gehenna, the lake of everlasting fire, comes into existence only on the Day of the Last Judgement.  This is contradicted by the Theodoran Revelations and by Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov.

We seem to be going round in circles now...  I may take a break from this topic.

well but im asking, does Russian ever make a distinction between Hades and Hell, or does it use Gehenna for everything?

and now im confused - youre saying its American to believe that Gehenna comes into existence only at the 2nd Coming - is that not the Orthodox teaching? i thought you were agreeing with that teaching and that was your basis for criticizing the tale's use of Gehenna ...
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« Reply #172 on: November 10, 2010, 03:11:49 AM »

I read this older post on another thread today.  What a revolting story; it reminded me of the Theodora tale but even worse.

Another story from apparently from our friend at orthodoxinfo.

That these types of stories are accepted by some as Orthodox concerns me greatly.  Satan is alive and well, spreading such things among the faithful.

It's titled "a miracle in Russia".  Better titled a "nightmare".



http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10028.msg136459/topicseen.html#msg136459
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« Reply #173 on: November 11, 2010, 10:54:43 AM »

I read this older post on another thread today.  What a revolting story; it reminded me of the Theodora tale but even worse.

Another story from apparently from our friend at orthodoxinfo.

That these types of stories are accepted by some as Orthodox concerns me greatly.  Satan is alive and well, spreading such things among the faithful.

It's titled "a miracle in Russia".  Better titled a "nightmare".



http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10028.msg136459/topicseen.html#msg136459

I dont know how deeply we want to go into the subject of near death experiences but I want to mention something that those who research such phenomena have discovered. For years, especially after the publication of the book "Life After Life" by Raymond Moody, the accounts of "Near Death" ( people who leave their body but then return) were all positive experiences. All sweetness and light.

What they discovered was that there were also many people who had negative near death experiences. It was harder to get them to talk about it and researchers had not been looking for such things initially. Many involve the presence of "Demons".

There is a very good book by a man named Howard Storm who had a negative near death experience called "My decent into Death". It is well written and Mr. Storm does not come off as any sort of crack pot.

There is also a web site with all kinds of near-death experiences written up. I think there are religious categories such as near death experiences by Christians, near death experiences by Atheists.. ( some of those make for fun reading)  etc.

www.near-death.com
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« Reply #174 on: December 18, 2010, 03:38:37 AM »

There is a very good book by a man named Howard Storm who had a negative near death experience called "My decent into Death". It is well written and Mr. Storm does not come off as any sort of crack pot.

There is also a web site with all kinds of near-death experiences written up. I think there are religious categories such as near death experiences by Christians, near death experiences by Atheists.. ( some of those make for fun reading)  etc.

www.near-death.com
Howard Storm is very intriguing. A prolific internet skeptic wrote the following regarding his testimony:
Quote
Recently, my agnosticism was shaken by the testimony of one man in particular, Howard Storm, a former hardened agnostic and chairman of a university art department, whose description of his long, involved, near-death experience roused me from my doubts and fear that there may be no afterlife, to positively hoping there may be one.

I am presently studying a numbers of books on near-death experiences, and have "confirmed" several aspects of Storm's story by comparing it with the stories of those who have had remarkably similar experiences. Few stones I've run across are as long and detailed as his. After his experience, Storm's life changed radically. He quit his well-paid position at the university and attended seminary. Today he is a minister in a liberal Christian denomination, United Church of Christ. He is much happier than he was before the experience and does not fear death. He continues to assert that his near-death experience was "more real" than waking reality, and that extraordinary experiences accompanied him long after he had it.

Moreover, I've discovered that my personal happiness has increased with my renewed interest in an afterlife. After studying only a few books on near-death experiences, and reading several skeptical pieces on them, I am still no expert on the phenomenon. However, I am no longer the skeptic I once was. There does appear to be some evidence for life after death. It wouldn't be much fun being a "skeptical inquirer" if there were absolutely no claims to "inquire" about, would it?

I don't know a great deal about Howard Storm, but the 12 part video (below) is absolutely fascinating.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Storm

Here is an interview with Storm:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9f2n0xPZ3k
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaNmPSViGQs&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47DjjkgaIMk&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkIborHkIXk&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAnTYgSZP2Q&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktOGrLIoQMc&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxaY3jxJ3KQ&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD4dbp9wM-s&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z14Df4J41Gw&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sggs_Nvcw2Q&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7O8BjmSkXY&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sG87NIsUOg&NR=1



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Silly Stars
Tags: Fr. Seraphim Rose toll houses 
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