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Author Topic: Cult of Father Seraphim Rose  (Read 15349 times) Average Rating: 0
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peteprint
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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.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 12:03:26 PM by podkarpatska » Logged
jckstraw72
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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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jckstraw72
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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.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 07:10:51 PM by jckstraw72 » Logged
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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:
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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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