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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: April 23, 2009, 01:06:59 PM »

Lord have mercy on Your servant Vladimir, and save him. Memory eternal.
Not trying to be difficult here, but I thought he denounced God?  If this is correct, how can he also be a 'servant' of God?  Undecided
Everyone is a servant of God. Some just don't want to serve, and God the benevolent Master allows them to choose whether they will obey Him or not. Though Lenin is dead, it may not be too late for him to choose to serve God. If that be the case, I certainly hope Lenin can make the right choice. Therefore I pray that he will.

***Mods- can we start a separate thread for this discussion?  I would like to pursue it in light of Orthodox/Patristic theology,  but I don't want to go off topic here... I have a few questions for Mr. Y or any one else who knows about the subject.  Thank you.***

« Last Edit: April 23, 2009, 01:07:40 PM by GabrieltheCelt » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2009, 01:43:48 PM »


Everyone is a servant of God. Some just don't want to serve, and God the benevolent Master allows them to choose whether they will obey Him or not. Though Lenin is dead, it may not be too late for him to choose to serve God. If that be the case, I certainly hope Lenin can make the right choice. Therefore I pray that he will.

I am sorry, but, I have to disagree with this statement.
How can this be?  How can Lenin, now that he is dead, still choose to serve God?

My understanding is that we were granted "life" and during our life we either do good or evil.  That is our choice.  We have been given the teachings of all the Prophets, the Church Fathers, and more importantly the example that Christ gave us.  We choose while here on earth, to serve or not.

Once we are dead, it is beyond our capabilities to choose to "do good".  We've missed the boat at that point.

It is true that God wishes for the salvation of every soul, but, each soul must also wish that for itself.

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man saw Lazarus sitting in the bosom of Abraham and asked that Lazarus give him a drop of water.  This was refused.  He asked then that Lazarus return to earth and warn his brothers.  This too was refused.  I get the symbolism here....that the world was given prophets, and wise men, and even should a man return from death the world will not believe.  This is in reference to Christ.  However, it clearly stated that we have all the knowledge, the foundation, to live a good life.  It's up to us to do it, while we are alive.

Additionally, why bother praying for the dead?  If they were bad while alive, well, they still can change and "choose to serve God" in death.  I don't think so.
We pray that God have mercy on the souls of those who have passed from this life, because they are no longer able to help themselves.  They are not capable of "removing" the sins of their lives, of cleansing their souls.  The only things that help them now, are our prayers, the intercession of the Saints on their behalf and our good deeds in memory of them.  Only we, who are alive, can help them now. 

We will all reap in the after life, what we sow here on earth.

God help us so that we may sow good, fruitful seed!

...just my humble opinion...

Peace.



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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2009, 01:48:09 PM »

Lord have mercy on Your servant Vladimir, and save him. Memory eternal.
Not trying to be difficult here, but I thought he denounced God?  If this is correct, how can he also be a 'servant' of God?  Undecided
Everyone is a servant of God. Some just don't want to serve, and God the benevolent Master allows them to choose whether they will obey Him or not. Though Lenin is dead, it may not be too late for him to choose to serve God. If that be the case, I certainly hope Lenin can make the right choice. Therefore I pray that he will.

***Mods- can we start a separate thread for this discussion?  I would like to pursue it in light of Orthodox/Patristic theology,  but I don't want to go off topic here... I have a few questions for Mr. Y or any one else who knows about the subject.  Thank you.***


Thank you Mrs. Y.  Smiley

So, a few things occurred to me as I was reading Mr. Y's reply:

1. How can someone serve someone whom they deny exists?  I understand that if I deny God's existence, He could still use me for His purpose, but then I'm not really serving Him, I'm just being used.

2. How can someone exercise their free-will after their death?  It's my understanding that once you've died, you can no longer choose to follow or deny Christ.  Such a position seems to nullify the belief in personal responsibility, prayers for the dead and even Hell.

 a. If I can simply live my live however I want when I'm living knowing that when I die THEN I can make a decision, this seemingly puts our entire faith in a savior in vain.  It seems to nullify the "dread judgment seat of Christ".
 
 b. If I can choose to believe after I die, then why would we need the prayers of the living?  Seems antithetical to me.

 c. If I can choose to believe after I die, well then why go to the trouble of creating a Hell in the first place? 

This isn't simply directed at Mr. Y.  I hope those who have studied the issue can provide some insight or links.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2009, 01:49:49 PM by GabrieltheCelt » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2009, 01:54:24 PM »

Can we move this out of the Politics section so everyone can participate? Wink
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2009, 02:16:48 PM »

Lord have mercy on Your servant Vladimir, and save him. Memory eternal.
Not trying to be difficult here, but I thought he denounced God?  If this is correct, how can he also be a 'servant' of God?  Undecided
Everyone is a servant of God. Some just don't want to serve, and God the benevolent Master allows them to choose whether they will obey Him or not. Though Lenin is dead, it may not be too late for him to choose to serve God. If that be the case, I certainly hope Lenin can make the right choice. Therefore I pray that he will.

***Mods- can we start a separate thread for this discussion?  I would like to pursue it in light of Orthodox/Patristic theology,  but I don't want to go off topic here... I have a few questions for Mr. Y or any one else who knows about the subject.  Thank you.***


Thank you Mrs. Y.  Smiley


You're welcome!  Happy to be of service. Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2009, 02:29:35 PM »

Can we move this out of the Politics section so everyone can participate? Wink

B to the U to the M to the P!  I think many folks can benefit from this discussion and too, it doesn't have anything to do with politics anymore... Wink
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2009, 03:08:34 PM »

Can we move this out of the Politics section so everyone can participate? Wink

B to the U to the M to the P!  I think many folks can benefit from this discussion and too, it doesn't have anything to do with politics anymore... Wink

Done and done!  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2009, 04:53:16 PM »


Everyone is a servant of God. Some just don't want to serve, and God the benevolent Master allows them to choose whether they will obey Him or not. Though Lenin is dead, it may not be too late for him to choose to serve God. If that be the case, I certainly hope Lenin can make the right choice. Therefore I pray that he will.

I am sorry, but, I have to disagree with this statement.
How can this be?  How can Lenin, now that he is dead, still choose to serve God?

I agree with pani Liza. My understanding is, you cannot repent after your physical death. So, when you are dead, you are exactly as close to God or as far from Him as at the moment of your death. Prayers of the Church, and prayers of the Theotokos (especially) can relieve the suffering of your soul somewhat. But you cannot repent and choose to serve God after your physical death.
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2009, 08:08:06 PM »

Does anyone have any Patristic quotes showing whether or not we can choose Christ after death?
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2009, 10:46:07 PM »

Does anyone have any Patristic quotes showing whether or not we can choose Christ after death?

If such sources existed, the question of whether or not Judas Iscariot repented would be definitely answered and not stuck on "I don't know."   Wink
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2009, 09:09:16 AM »

Great point.  So far I haven't been able to locate anything Patristically speaking.  I have a copy of Life After Death by +METROPOLITAN  Hiertheos.  I've read it before, but I don't recall him saying or quoting that we can choose after we die.  Still, I would like Mr. Y to explain what he meant.  Maybe he has access to some quotes that would be useful?  Undecided
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2009, 09:15:38 PM »

*Bump*
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2009, 04:08:36 AM »

Great point.  So far I haven't been able to locate anything Patristically speaking.  I have a copy of Life After Death by +METROPOLITAN  Hiertheos.  I've read it before, but I don't recall him saying or quoting that we can choose after we die.  Still, I would like Mr. Y to explain what he meant.  Maybe he has access to some quotes that would be useful?  Undecided
I'll have to get back to you on this. This weekend is very busy; prom is probably the smallest obligation. After the school play next Friday, I'll have time to give you a proper answer.
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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2009, 09:34:02 AM »

by +METROPOLITAN  Hiertheos

Slightly off topic... I'm glad you're showing His Eminence respect; if you want to do the caps thing, though, it would be more, er, traditional to write it like this: Metropolitan +HIEROTHEOS.
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2009, 10:37:39 PM »

^^Thanks for having the courage to correct me.  I'm always thankful when someone who knows steps in to provide correct information rather than simply letting something slide by.  No one learns that way.  Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2009, 11:56:32 PM »

I wrote something for the forum on this subject a little while ago.  It's basically a summary of a series of podcasts Dr. Clark Carlton did on this subject.  You can read that HERE, and links to the four podcasts are in the article.

From my summary:

Quote from: DavidBryan
Dr. Carlton waits until the fourth podcast to say this, but I think it bears saying outright: this life is the period given to us for repentance; postmortem repentance is not scriptural according to the Fathers. However, we do not rule out the possibility of a change of the state of a soul in Hades because a change could take place there based on events that happened in his/her life on Earth. Father Thomas Hopko has recently commented on predestination on the most recent broadcast of the Illumined Heart, saying that, yes, God foreknows and predestines some to be saved and others damned, but it is a predestination that is done from outside time, whose completion is, in a sense, already done (for God sees the whole span of time), and is a predestination that we, to a degree, influence now with our own prayers and actions, time-bound though they be. The same, he has said elsewhere, applies to our prayers for those in Hades. Our prayers for them are simply for God to do what He will do with them—for He sees what will/has become of them already—and we ask Him to comfort them, in whatever state they’re in, knowing that our prayers in this life do reverberate in the eternal. In a nutshell, Dr. Carlton says that the so-called “problem” with prayer for the dead is the exact same “problem” some people have with prayer for the living: If God has already planned out His divine will in this world which He will bring to pass regardless of humanity’s actions, what is the purpose of praying for the salvation of individual people or humanity in general? Are we asking God to override a man’s free will? Are we asking Him to “change His mind” regarding what He has planned for us? Certainly not, and neither are we asking Him to do any such thing for souls in Hades.
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« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2009, 01:22:32 AM »

I am very reluctant to question Fr. Thomas, but I have never read Orthodox literature that so emphasizes God's plan for us.  Yes, God knows all, how we'll act and react, but this discussion fails to include our God-given free will, I would submit, for purposes of discussion.  I believe even Saint Paul the Apostle had the free will to reject God, after his vision on the road to Damascus.
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« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2009, 02:03:58 AM »

However, we do not rule out the possibility of a change of the state of a soul in Hades because a change could take place there based on events that happened in his/her life on Earth.

This kind of sounds like the concept of Karma.  And if postpartem repentance isn't scriptural or patristic, is it Orthodox?  Can one really choose after death?
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« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2009, 02:06:05 AM »

However, we do not rule out the possibility of a change of the state of a soul in Hades because a change could take place there based on events that happened in his/her life on Earth.

This kind of sounds like the concept of Karma.  And if postpartem repentance isn't scriptural or patristic, is it Orthodox?  Can one really choose after death?

Uumm...you do know the difference between postpartum and postmortem, right? Huh
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2009, 07:26:18 AM »

However, we do not rule out the possibility of a change of the state of a soul in Hades because a change could take place there based on events that happened in his/her life on Earth. 

This kind of sounds like the concept of Karma.  And if postpartem repentance isn't scriptural or patristic, is it Orthodox?  Can one really choose after death?

Uumm...you do know the difference between postpartum and postmortem, right? Huh

I'm sure he does - but 2am is a tough time to remember that distinction (no matter how large it is).  But it did give me a great Sunday morning chuckle!
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« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2009, 09:15:00 AM »

However, we do not rule out the possibility of a change of the state of a soul in Hades because a change could take place there based on events that happened in his/her life on Earth.

This kind of sounds like the concept of Karma.  And if postpartem repentance isn't scriptural or patristic, is it Orthodox?  Can one really choose after death?

Uumm...you do know the difference between postpartum and postmortem, right? Huh
Cheesy LOL... I'm a klutz sometimes...
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« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2009, 10:19:22 AM »

However, we do not rule out the possibility of a change of the state of a soul in Hades because a change could take place there based on events that happened in his/her life on Earth.

This kind of sounds like the concept of Karma.  And if postpartem repentance isn't scriptural or patristic, is it Orthodox?  Can one really choose after death?

Uumm...you do know the difference between postpartum and postmortem, right? Huh

Cheesy LOL... I'm a klutz sometimes...

Oh, believe me, there's a lot of repentence going on postpartum!   laugh
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« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2009, 09:37:29 PM »

I am very reluctant to question Fr. Thomas, but I have never read Orthodox literature that so emphasizes God's plan for us.  Yes, God knows all, how we'll act and react, but this discussion fails to include our God-given free will, I would submit, for purposes of discussion.  I believe even Saint Paul the Apostle had the free will to reject God, after his vision on the road to Damascus.

Allow me to repost what I'd posted above; I think that may clear some things up:

Quote from: DavidBryan
Dr. Carlton waits until the fourth podcast to say this, but I think it bears saying outright: this life is the period given to us for repentance; postmortem repentance is not scriptural according to the Fathers. However, we do not rule out the possibility of a change of the state of a soul in Hades because a change could take place there based on events that happened in his/her life on Earth.  Father Thomas Hopko has recently commented on predestination on the most recent broadcast of the Illumined Heart, saying that, yes, God foreknows and predestines some to be saved and others damned, but it is a predestination that is done from outside time, whose completion is, in a sense, already done (for God sees the whole span of time), and is a predestination that we, to a degree, influence now with our own prayers and actions, time-bound though they be. The same, he has said elsewhere, applies to our prayers for those in Hades. Our prayers for them are simply for God to do what He will do with them—for He sees what will/has become of them already—and we ask Him to comfort them, in whatever state they’re in, knowing that our prayers in this life do reverberate in the eternal. In a nutshell, Dr. Carlton says that the so-called “problem” with prayer for the dead is the exact same “problem” some people have with prayer for the living: If God has already planned out His divine will in this world which He will bring to pass regardless of humanity’s actions, what is the purpose of praying for the salvation of individual people or humanity in general? Are we asking God to override a man’s free will? Are we asking Him to “change His mind” regarding what He has planned for us? Certainly not, and neither are we asking Him to do any such thing for souls in Hades.

The human soul most definitely has a hand -- and a large one, at that -- in the state of his/her soul after death, and it has to do entirely with the way in which they conduct themselves in this light.  Yes, as you said, God knows how we'll act and react, and as I boldfaced above, he will never override man's free will.  Yet neither will our free will thwart His ultimate Purpose.  It goes both ways, paradoxically, even in God's dealings with the departed and our prayers for them.

However, we do not rule out the possibility of a change of the state of a soul in Hades because a change could take place there based on events that happened in his/her life on Earth.

This kind of sounds like the concept of Karma.  And if [postmortem] repentance isn't scriptural or patristic, is it Orthodox?  Can one really choose after death?

I boldfaced a part of the section you quoted...see where it's not about "choosing after death"?  It's about a soul going through a "final purification" of sorts.  I've been told time and again that, though we don't believe in a juridical, merits-based place called Purgatory, we have an idea of the intermediate state of the dead that is quite purgatorial, where the natural consequences of this life are reaped as through fire, and we are purified and/or tormented as we await the final resurrection.
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« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2009, 01:26:44 AM »

I may not be recalling the exact quote, but I thought a former priest of my parish taught that some of the Fathers had written that the soul may experience a temporary reprieve from our prayers for the departed, though we do not know whether God will ultimately accept our requests.
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2009, 06:16:29 AM »

1. How can someone serve someone whom they deny exists?  I understand that if I deny God's existence, He could still use me for His purpose, but then I'm not really serving Him, I'm just being used.
God is Lord of the Universe, the Lord of History, the Lord of Eternity. God does not "Exist" for believers and "Not-Exist" for unbelievers. God Exists. Period. God is in charge of everything, whether you believe that He is or not. Nothing in the Universe happens without it being God's Will or by His permission- nothing. God works through the unbelieving surgeon to heal disease as much as He works through the Believing surgeon. Both serve Him whether they know it or not. Even the animals, plants and rocks serve Him- and they serve Him better than we do because they serve Him unconsciously. The Jasmine releases it's fragrance freely into the air for all to enjoy without asking for anything, and without even being conscious of its giving. If only we would give to others like that. There are Believers who keep all the Fasts, attend Liturgy and incense their icons daily, yet are are wretches who gossip, who spread their bitterness among others, who back-bite while feigning friendship. Are they better servants of God than the Agnostic or Atheist who judges no one, extends a genuine hand of friendship and who cares about others? Being a "Believer" does not automatically make anyone a profitable servant of God; and I have seen God work in the world through some Atheists more than I have seen Him working through "Believers". So yes, someone who denies God's Existence can (and does) serve Him whether they know it or not.
I have no doubt that people will want "Patristic evidence" for this assertion. Well, think about the Liturgical Prayers of the Church when an unbaptised infant is brought to Church on the 40th day for it's Churching. The Priest carries the child into the Church and says: "The Servant of God N. is brought within the Church in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen" An infant 40 days out of the womb is not consciously aware of it's own existence let alone God's. Yet he or she is called "The Servant of God" by the Holy Church.
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« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2009, 06:52:28 AM »

Does anyone have any Patristic quotes showing whether or not we can choose Christ after death?

If such sources existed, the question of whether or not Judas Iscariot repented would be definitely answered and not stuck on "I don't know."   Wink

Please have a look at this thread "Did Judas Repent"

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15756.0.html

Especially have a look at message # 65 where Archbishop Hilarion speaks of the patristic and liturgical tradition that hell was completely emptied of every human by the coming of Christ after His death.   
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« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2009, 09:19:46 AM »


My understanding is that we were granted "life" and during our life we either do good or evil.  That is our choice.  We have been given the teachings of all the Prophets, the Church Fathers, and more importantly the example that Christ gave us.  We choose while here on earth, to serve or not.

Once we are dead, it is beyond our capabilities to choose to "do good".  We've missed the boat at that point.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13820.msg304145.html#msg304145

This link should take you to Message #407 in a thread on Purgatory.  It speaks of 2 Maccabees 12: 39-46 as a proof text for the Orthodox belief that serious/grave/mortal sin may be forgiven by God after death. 
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« Reply #27 on: April 28, 2009, 01:25:17 PM »

1. How can someone serve someone whom they deny exists?  I understand that if I deny God's existence, He could still use me for His purpose, but then I'm not really serving Him, I'm just being used.
God is Lord of the Universe, the Lord of History, the Lord of Eternity. God does not "Exist" for believers and "Not-Exist" for unbelievers. God Exists. Period. God is in charge of everything, whether you believe that He is or not. Nothing in the Universe happens without it being God's Will or by His permission- nothing. God works through the unbelieving surgeon to heal disease as much as He works through the Believing surgeon. Both serve Him whether they know it or not. Even the animals, plants and rocks serve Him- and they serve Him better than we do because they serve Him unconsciously. The Jasmine releases it's fragrance freely into the air for all to enjoy without asking for anything, and without even being conscious of its giving. If only we would give to others like that. There are Believers who keep all the Fasts, attend Liturgy and incense their icons daily, yet are are wretches who gossip, who spread their bitterness among others, who back-bite while feigning friendship. Are they better servants of God than the Agnostic or Atheist who judges no one, extends a genuine hand of friendship and who cares about others? Being a "Believer" does not automatically make anyone a profitable servant of God; and I have seen God work in the world through some Atheists more than I have seen Him working through "Believers". So yes, someone who denies God's Existence can (and does) serve Him whether they know it or not.
I have no doubt that people will want "Patristic evidence" for this assertion. Well, think about the Liturgical Prayers of the Church when an unbaptised infant is brought to Church on the 40th day for it's Churching. The Priest carries the child into the Church and says: "The Servant of God N. is brought within the Church in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen" An infant 40 days out of the womb is not consciously aware of it's own existence let alone God's. Yet he or she is called "The Servant of God" by the Holy Church.
You've made some great points, and I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I see the 'presentation' of a baby and calling him/her a 'servant of God' differently than I see an adult who denies his maker.  The baby can't make a decision; the adult can.  And I would assert that we 'hope' the child will grow and mature into a servant of God, but that's not always the case. 
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« Reply #28 on: April 28, 2009, 01:30:07 PM »


My understanding is that we were granted "life" and during our life we either do good or evil.  That is our choice.  We have been given the teachings of all the Prophets, the Church Fathers, and more importantly the example that Christ gave us.  We choose while here on earth, to serve or not.

Once we are dead, it is beyond our capabilities to choose to "do good".  We've missed the boat at that point.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13820.msg304145.html#msg304145

This link should take you to Message #407 in a thread on Purgatory.  It speaks of 2 Maccabees 12: 39-46 as a proof text for the Orthodox belief that serious/grave/mortal sin may be forgiven by God after death. 

I absolutely believe that sins can be forgiven after death Father, but my question revolves around whether or not I can repent of my sins after I die; I understand that you can pray for me, but can I pray for myself?  I mean, if it's never too late to repent, then why not live a life of debauchery now?  I'm not accusing you of this Father, but this seems to border on the Protestant concept of "once saved, always saved."  At least that's how I understand the OP assertion. 
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« Reply #29 on: April 28, 2009, 03:44:37 PM »

I mean, if it's never too late to repent, then why not live a life of debauchery now?

I think the first questions to ask on this are: what is heaven?  What is hell?

While we tend to use physical ideas to explain them, it is important to not limit ourselves to them.  While I wouldn't mind heaven being a comfortable recliner, endless supply of sweet tea and the Diamondbacks finally being able to pitch, it is probably a pit more spiritual than that.  On the same token, hell probably isn't listening to the typical, all soprano GOA choir - replete with an organ - for all eternity. 

If you look at it from another analogy it makes a bit more sense.  Hell is something entirely of our own creation.  Our sins so harden our hearts, that our hearts are unable to receive the Love and Grace of God because we have so shut Him out.  Heaven is simply the continuation of the process of theosis that we are starting on earth - by avoiding sin we are opening our heart up to receive the Grace of God.  The joy that such Grace brings is heaven itself - the imagery of a paradisiacal garden and such is a metaphor for that joy rather than being heaven itself.  Thus if you look at it from that perspective, the question of whether it is "fair" for someone to live a life of debauchery and still attain the reward of heaven doesn't really make sense - instead the question is whether when admitted to the hospital of the Church, the Physician can perform a bypass on the patient who has a 99.9% blockage in his arteries in order to restore full bloodflow to the heart. 

To get to your question precisely - can we repent after death - I think it is a misnomer.  This is better understood as a continuum rather than an either / or question.  The great saints had a very small blockage in their artery to the heart, the greatest sinners have a much larger blockage.  I suppose it is theoretically possible someone could have a 100% blocked artery - and that would be hell.  But if the blockage is 99.9%, does it not stand to reason that Christ can use that .1% to save the patient?  What's the real difference between Christ working with .1% or Him saving someone with a smaller blockage, but a blockage nonetheless? 
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« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2009, 09:36:55 PM »

I mean, if it's never too late to repent, then why not live a life of debauchery now?
Your assertion is predicated by the assumption that it's never too late to repent. That is not true. At the Judgment, it is too late to repent. But the Judgment has not yet occurred, and so we can say with relative certainty that it is not yet too late to repent, and that it is certainly not too late to pray for others to repent.
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« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2009, 10:12:37 PM »

1. How can someone serve someone whom they deny exists?  I understand that if I deny God's existence, He could still use me for His purpose, but then I'm not really serving Him, I'm just being used.
God is Lord of the Universe, the Lord of History, the Lord of Eternity. God does not "Exist" for believers and "Not-Exist" for unbelievers. God Exists. Period. God is in charge of everything, whether you believe that He is or not. Nothing in the Universe happens without it being God's Will or by His permission- nothing. God works through the unbelieving surgeon to heal disease as much as He works through the Believing surgeon. Both serve Him whether they know it or not. Even the animals, plants and rocks serve Him- and they serve Him better than we do because they serve Him unconsciously. The Jasmine releases it's fragrance freely into the air for all to enjoy without asking for anything, and without even being conscious of its giving. If only we would give to others like that. There are Believers who keep all the Fasts, attend Liturgy and incense their icons daily, yet are are wretches who gossip, who spread their bitterness among others, who back-bite while feigning friendship. Are they better servants of God than the Agnostic or Atheist who judges no one, extends a genuine hand of friendship and who cares about others? Being a "Believer" does not automatically make anyone a profitable servant of God; and I have seen God work in the world through some Atheists more than I have seen Him working through "Believers". So yes, someone who denies God's Existence can (and does) serve Him whether they know it or not.
I have no doubt that people will want "Patristic evidence" for this assertion. Well, think about the Liturgical Prayers of the Church when an unbaptised infant is brought to Church on the 40th day for it's Churching. The Priest carries the child into the Church and says: "The Servant of God N. is brought within the Church in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen" An infant 40 days out of the womb is not consciously aware of it's own existence let alone God's. Yet he or she is called "The Servant of God" by the Holy Church.
You've made some great points, and I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I see the 'presentation' of a baby and calling him/her a 'servant of God' differently than I see an adult who denies his maker.  The baby can't make a decision; the adult can.  And I would assert that we 'hope' the child will grow and mature into a servant of God, but that's not always the case. 

Gabriel, what you "see" is limited by your own views. We are all Servants, some of us are profitable Servants, some are unprofitable Servants who will be thrown into the outer darkness (Matthew 25:30). And we should not assume that a "profitable Servant" is one who believes in God's Existence bcause even the demons believe in God's Existence- and tremble (James 2:19).
An atheist who lives and loves as though God Exists is a more profitable Servant of God than a Believer who lives as though there was no God and does not love.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2009, 10:15:39 PM by ozgeorge » Logged

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