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Author Topic: Cult of Father Seraphim Rose  (Read 14822 times) Average Rating: 0
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peteprint
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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

_____________________________

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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