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« on: November 04, 2003, 10:42:52 AM »

Unlike the late Fr. Seraphim Rose, my former pastor was very against the concept of "toll houses" - demons trying to get your soul after death and angels trying to buy off your souls with prayers from the living and your good deeds. But on the other hand, there are many Orthodox visions of this actually happening, from St. Macarius of Egypt and the soldier Taxiotis (6th century) to I think even the 20th century (a cleric being told by a voice/vision etc to pray for deceased nuns who were having difficulty getting through the toll houses).

My questions are:

-do the many visions of the toll houses prove they exist?

-what would you say to those who believe Theodora's account of the toll houses in "The Life of St. Basil the New" is a forgery?

-the buying off of sins with good deeds seems to me like "clocking up points" to go to heaven, which I think is not Orthodox? Aren't you judged on the state in which you died? Or do I not understand the toll houses correctly?
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2003, 11:03:32 AM »

Based on reading two Fr Seraphim Rose-related books, I think the toll-houses are simply a Russian folkloric explanation of the particular judgement that happens right after you die. This form, AFAIK, is just an opinion in Eastern Orthodoxy, not dogma.

Quote
My questions are:

-do the many visions of the toll houses prove they exist?

My guess is no. I think it's like in the Catholic Church: private apparitions have no dogmatic standing; they're only opinion, even if they're declared an acceptable optional belief.

Quote
-what would you say to those who believe Theodora's account of the toll houses in "The Life of St. Basil the New" is a forgery?

'You're entitled to your opinion on that. What matters are the church teachings that are dogma, that are necessary for salvation.'

Quote
-the buying off of sins with good deeds seems to me like "clocking up points" to go to heaven, which I think is not Orthodox? Aren't you judged on the state in which you died? Or do I not understand the toll houses correctly?


Sounds like another chapter of the perennial Catholic vs. Protestant faith vs. works argument, really a nonissue as it sets up an opposition between two things that aren't opposed.

I think you are judged on the state in which you died and what happens in the particular judgement (toll-houses if you like) simply reflects that state.

I never understood prayers for the dead as affecting the outcome of that judgement - I think such would be heresy. But rather they affect what the person goes through if he is in the intermediate state (what Eastern Orthodox call hades or the upper hell and what Roman Catholics call purgatory - same thing) after the particular judgement.
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2003, 06:16:14 PM »

I'm more inclined to accept a non-answer.  Why should we pray for the dead?  Why shouldn't we?  It all sounds soooo,.......Scholastic.  Praying for one another helps to make us one, the Church Millitant and Triumphant.

What I guess I'm wanting to say is....

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

All of Heaven and Earth if it be the Will of God.

Why can't we just trust God?  To want to have answers to all the minutia is just another form of trying to get a handle on something we don’t have a handle on.  To serve God is to trust Him.  God’s in charge I choose to accept it and leave it at that.
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2003, 07:01:23 PM »

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Based on reading two Fr Seraphim Rose-related books, I think the toll-houses are simply a Russian folkloric explanation of the particular judgement that happens right after you die. This form, AFAIK, is just an opinion in Eastern Orthodoxy, not dogma.

That isn't exactly true.  The concept of demons attacking the soul after death as it rises to heaven is very present in the Philokalia, the ladder and the Gerondikon which wre written (at least in part for the former) long before Russians entered the Orthodox scene.  The later form of toll houses took may well have happened in Russia but that's still debatable since as far as I know the wording of "toll houses" to refer these vaguely described trials by demons of the soul after death in patristic writtings was first in the synaxarion of the Church of Constaninople.

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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2005, 12:58:13 PM »

The Apostle Paul refers to the toll houses. The Panagia prayed that Christ would receive her soul so that she would be delivered from the toll houses. They're real, guys. Sorry if it's scary, but we need to account for every sin - and the toll gates is where that happens. All twenty of them.
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2005, 01:52:03 PM »

Oy! Vey! This has been discussed several times now and it always leads to certain people buddying up for 'toll houses', a name which people who do not believe in them take too literally, and people who do not believe in them buddying up. I think that anyone who has read Patristic literature knows that you cannot get around certain beliefs about death and demons that the Orthodox Church has never dogmatized, as if Orthodoxy has to have everything dogmatized like in Roman Catholicism, but that are none the less present. These are:
there is an aerial ascent of soul into the heavens after death, demons do live in the air around the earth and do tempt people in life, there is a prescribed period during which the soul makes a gradual ascent, except for Saints who ascend straight into the heavens, and it is commonly found that after death the soul will be tempted and tormented by demons while ascending.

If you look at another thread http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php/topic,5808.0.html you will see that some people, like me, believe very strongly in 'toll houses' while others like Irish Hermit, Archbishop Lazar Puhalo of New Ostrog (OCA) do not. I really do not like to argue about it though I can hardly understand the often harsh attacks on Fr.Seraphim such as you see at New Ostrog's website  http://www.new-ostrog.org//gnostic/ and HOCNA which has published a book calling him a 'Neo-Nestorian' http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:6FhNYXASe3gJ:www.stnectariospress.com/catalog/eccles.htm+st-nectarios-press+seraphim+rose&hl=en

I think Paradosis said something in the other thread I listed that we should look at
Quote
Personally I am amazed that people spend such a great length of time on this particular aspect of the subject. There are so many more important questions about the afterlife: what does St. Mark and numerous saints mean when they speak of a cleansing, and is this something we can't know about? Similarly, why do some Fathers and even Orthodox Liturgical Hymns speak of escaping a place in the afterlife (Hades?) once we have been cleansed? Why did God create a race that he knew would be, for the most part, damned to horrible suffering for eternity, when he was perfectly capable of creating creatures with free-will, the majority of whom would be saved (ie. angels)? Why is there such contradiction among the Fathers about the state of the soul immediately after death, and does this discredit their testimony about the soul as it exists before the death of our earthly body?
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2005, 02:09:41 AM »

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The Apostle Paul refers to the toll houses.

He does?   Huh  Where?
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2005, 03:17:45 AM »

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He does?   Huh  Where?

Next to where he talks about the Papacy... Tongue
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2005, 03:50:02 AM »

haha!  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2005, 07:16:19 AM »

'There is absolutely no doubt that the teaching of the toll-houses is the teaching of the Orthodox Church. We find this teaching in Holy Scripture (cf. Eph 6:12), the writings of all the Church Fathers (both ancient and modern) and throughout the prayers of the Church.

St. ATHANASIUS THE GREAT, in his famous life of St. Antony, describes the following:

"At the approach of the ninth hour, after beginning to pray before eating food, Antony was suddenly seized by the Spirit and raised up by angels into the heights. The aerial demons opposed his progress: the angels disputing with them, demanded that the reason of their opposition be set forth, because Antony had no sins at all. The demons strove to set forth the sins committed by him from his very birth; but the angels closed the mouths of the slanderers, telling them that they should not count the sins from his birth which had already been blotted out by the grace of Christ; but let them present -- if they have any -- the sins he committed after he entered monasticism and dedicated himself to God.
In their accusation the demons uttered many brazen lies; but since their slanders were wanting in proof, a free path opened for Antony. Immediately he came to himself and saw that he was standing in the same place where he had stood for prayer. Forgetting about food, he spent the night in prayer with tears and groanings, reflecting on the multitude of man's enemies, on the battle against such an army, on the difficultly of the path to heaven through the air, and on the words of the Apostle who said: 'Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers of the air' (Eph 6:12; Eph 2:2).

The Apostle, knowing that the aerial powers are seeking only one thing, are concerned over it with all fervor, exert themselves and strive to deprive us of a free passage to heaven, exhorts: 'Take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day (Eph 6:13), that the adversary may be put to shame, having no evil thing to say of us (Tit 2:Cool."

St. John Chrysostom, describing the hour of death, teaches:


"Then we will need many prayers, many helpers, many good deeds, a great intercession from angels on the journey through the spaces of the air. If when traveling in a foreign land or a strange city we are in need of a guide, how much more necessary for us are guides and helpers to guide us past the invisible dignities and powers and world-rulers of this air, who are called persecutors and publicans and tax-collectors."
St. Isaiah The Recluse (6th century) teaches that Christians should

"daily have death before our eyes and take care how to accomplish the departure from the body and how to pass by the powers of darkness who are to meet us in the air."
St. Hesychius, Presbyter of Jerusalem (5th century) teaches:

"The hour of death will find us, it will come, and it will be impossible to escape it. Oh, if only the prince of the world and the air who is then to meet us might find our iniquities as nothing and insignificant and might not be able to accuse us justly."
St. EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN (4th century) thus describes the hour of death and the hour of judgment at the toll-houses:

"When the fearful hour comes, when the divine takers-away command the soul to be translated from the body, when they draw us away by force and lead us away to the unavoidable judgment place -- then, seeing them, the poor man comes all into a shaking as if from an earthquake, is all in trembling. The divine takers-away, taking the soul, ascend in the air where stand the chiefs, the authorities and world-rulers of the opposing powers. These are our accusers, the fearful publicans, registrars, tax-collectors; they meet it on the way, register, examine and count all the sins and debts of this man -- the sins of youth and old age, voluntary and involuntary, committed in deed, word and thought. Great is the fear here, great the trembling of the poor soul, indescribable the want which it suffers then from the incalculable multitudes of its enemies surrounding it there in myriads, slandering it so as not to allow it to ascend to heaven, to dwell in the light of the living, to enter the land of life. But the holy angels, taking the soul, lead it away."
St Cyril of Alexandria explains this further:

"As the soul ascends, it finds tax officials guarding the ascent, holding and preventing the souls from ascending. Each one of these custom stations presents its own particular sins of the souls.
But, by the same token, the good angels do not abandon the soul to these evil stations. At the time of its accounting the angels offer in turn the soul's good works.

In fact, the holy angelic powers enumerate to the evil spirits the good acts of the soul that were done by word, deed, thought and imagination. If the soul is found to have lived piously and in a way pleasing to God, it is received by the holy angels and transferred to that ineffable joy of the blessed and eternal life.

But, if it is found to have lived carelessly and prodigally, it hears the most harsh word: 'Let the ungodly be taken away, that he not see the glory of the Lord' (Isa 26:10).

Then the holy angels with profound regret abandon the soul and it is received by those dark demons so that may fling it with much malevolence into the prisons of Hades."

An early Church catchiest, referring to custom officials who collected taxes, relays to us the common Church teaching:

"I know of other tax collectors who after our departure from this present life inspect us and hold us to see if we have something that belongs to them." The same catchiest goes on to say: "I wonder how much we must suffer at the hands of those evil angels, who inspect everything and who, when someone is found unrepentant, demand not only the payment of taxes simply, but also seize and hold us completely captive" (Origen).
This view is upheld by our great Father, St. Basil. Speaking about the courageous athletes of the faith, he teaches that they too will be scrutinized by the "revenue officials," that is, by the evil spirits. The same Father also says that the evil spirits observe the departure of the soul with so much more vigilant attention than do enemies over a besieged city or thieves over a treasury house. St. John Chrysostom likewise calls demons "revenue officials" who threaten us and who are "overbearing powers with a fearful countenance that horrifies the soul that looks upon them."

In another place St. John says that these evil spirits are called "persecutors and revenue officials and collectors of taxes in the Sacred Scripture." According to St. John, even the souls of innocent infants must pass through these toll-houses, for the all-evil devil seeks to snatch their souls, too. However, the infants make the following confession (according to St. John): "We have passed by the evil spirits without suffering any harm. For the dark custom officials saw our spotless body and were put to shame; they saw the soul good and pure and were embarrassed; they say the tongue immaculate and pure and blameless and they were silenced; we passed by and humiliated them. This is why the holy angles of God who met and received us rejoiced, the righteous greeted us with joy and the saints with delight said, 'Welcome, the lambs of Christ!'"

Probably the clearest and most comprehensive account of the toll-houses is that given by an angel of the Lord to St. Macarius Of Egypt:

"From the earth to heaven there is a ladder and a each rung has a cohort of demons. These are called toll-houses and the evil spirits meet the soul and bring its handwritten accounts and show these to the angels, saying: on this day and such and such of the month this soul did that: either it stole or fornicated or committed adultery or engaged in sodomy or lied or encouraged someone to an evil deed. And everything else evil which it has done, they show to the angels.
The angels then show whatever good the soul has done, charity or prayer or liturgies or fasting or anything else.

And the angels and the demons reckon up, and if they find the good greater than the evil, the angels seize the soul and take it up the next rung, while the demons gnash their teeth like wild dogs and make haste the snatch that pitiable soul from the hands of the Angels. The soul, meanwhile, cowers and terror encompasses it, and it makes as if to hide in the bosom of the Angels and there is a great discussion and must turmoil until that soul is delivered from the hands of the demons.

And they come again to another rung and there find another toll-house, fiercer and more horrible. And in this too, there is much uproar and great and indescribable turbulence as to who shall take that wretched soul. And shouting out aloud, the demons examine the soul, causing terror and saying: 'Where are you going? Aren't you the one who fornicated and thoroughly polluted Holy Baptism? Aren't you the one who polluted the angelic habit? Get back. Get down. Get yourself to dark Hell. Get yourself to the outer fire. Get going to that worm that never sleeps.'

Then if it be that that soul is condemned, the demons bear it off to below the earth, to a dark and distressing spot. And woe to that soul in which that person was born. And who shall tell, holy Father, the straits in which the condemned souls will find themselves in that place!

But if the soul is found clean and sinless, it goes up the Heaven with such joy."

Descriptions of the aerial toll-houses may also be found in the following Saints' lives:

St. EUSTRATIUS THE GREAT MARTYR (4th century)
St. NIPHON OF CONSTANTIA in Cyprus (4th century)
St. SYMEON THE FOOL FOR CHRIST (6th century)
St. JOHN THE MERCIFUL (7th century)
St SYMEON OF THE WONDROUS MOUNTAIN (7th century)
St. MACARIUS THE GREAT (4th century)
St. COLUMBA (6th century)
St. ADAMNAN (8th century)
St. BONIFACE (8th century)
St. BASIL THE NEW (10th century)
The Soldier TAXIOTES
St. JOHN OF THE LADDER (6th century)
This very ancient teaching of the early Church Fathers and ascetic Saints is confirmed by the experience and teaching of saints more modern.
St. Seraphim Of Sarov relates:


"Two nuns passed on. Both had been abbesses. The Lord revealed to me that their souls were having difficulty getting through the aerial toll-houses. Three days and nights, I, a lowly sinner, prayed and begged the Mother Of God for their salvation. The goodness of the Lord, through the prayers of the Most Holy Mother Of God, finally had mercy upon them. They passed the aerial toll-houses and received forgiveness of sins."
Likewise, St. Theophan The Recluse writes:


"No matter how absurd the idea of the toll-houses may seem to our 'wise men,' they will not escape passing through them.
What do these toll-gatherers seek in those who pass through? They seek whether people might have some of their goods. What kind of goods?

Passions.

Therefore, in the person whose heart is pure and a stranger to passion, they cannot find anything to wrangle over; on the contrary, the opposing quality will strike them like arrows of lightning.

To this someone who has a little education expressed the following thought: The toll-houses are something frightful. But it is quite possible that the demons, instead of something frightful, might present something seductive. They might present something deceptive and seductive, according to the kinds of passions, to the soul as it passes through one after the other.

When, during the course of life, the passions have been banished from the heart and the virtues opposed to them have been planted, then no matter what seductive thing you might present, the soul, having no kind of sympathy for it, passes by it, turning away from it with disgust. But when the heart has not been cleansed, the soul will rush to whatever passion the heart has most sympathy for; and the demons will take it like a friend, and then they know where to put it.

Therefore, it is very doubtful that a soul, as long as there remain in it sympathies for the objects of any passion, will not be put to shame at the toll-houses. Being put to shame here means that the soul itself is thrown into hell."

In another place, St. Theophan (continuing his letter to the brother of the woman who was about to die) writes:


"In the departed there soon begins the struggle of going through the toll-houses. Here she needs help! Stand then in thought, and you will hear her cry to you: Help! This is where you should direct all your attention and all your love for her. Immerse yourself in prayer for her in her new condition and her new, unexpected needs.
Having begun thus, remain in unceasing crying out to God to help her, for the course of six weeks, and indeed for longer than that.

In the account of Theodora, the bag from which the angels took in order to be separated from the tax-collectors was the prayers of her elder. Your prayers will do the same; do not forget to do this. This is love!"

Significantly, all of this testimony is confirmed by the liturgical prayers of the Church. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov cites over 20 examples of references to the Toll-houses in the Divine service books and this is not a complete list!'

Hope that helps. As to the papacy, you're on your own.  Wink
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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2005, 10:16:44 PM »

Personally, I don't know whether I believe in the toll houses per se, or not ... but in my opinion, it is still better to live life as if they were real, rather than not. 
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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2005, 11:40:29 PM »

Unless someone is able to give clear Biblical evidence for toll house theory, I will have to ignore it for the time-being.
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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2005, 02:31:53 AM »

Now ya know, Orthodoxy isn't about Sola Scriptura - so things don't necessarily have to be noted in the Bible for it to be believed. Like the doctrine of the Trinity... you won't find "Trinity" mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures, so should we ignore that as well?

I am inclined to heed Katherine's sage advice:

Quote
Personally, I don't know whether I believe in the toll houses per se, or not ... but in my opinion, it is still better to live life as if they were real, rather than not.
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« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2005, 03:21:07 AM »

Now ya know, Orthodoxy isn't about Sola Scriptura - so things don't necessarily have to be noted in the Bible for it to be believed. Like the doctrine of the Trinity... you won't find "Trinity" mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures, so should we ignore that as well?
 

Well, to be fair that's comparing apples and oranges.  In the case of the Trinity, there is substantial evidence of the nature of the God-head in scripture.  It's not PROOF, but the teaching does match up with scripture, which is important.  Kind of like how the apostles preached...they used scripture (old testament) to help prove things about christ (e.g. Jesus is the Christ).  I don't think matthew is asking for proof that the words "toll house" are in scripture.
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« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2005, 03:45:12 AM »

Quote
It's not PROOF, but the teaching does match up with scripture, which is important.  Kind of like how the apostles preached...they used scripture (old testament) to help prove things about christ (e.g. Jesus is the Christ).

Important, yes. But is it necessary? No.

Orthodox teaching is derived from Tradition - written and oral, right?

Written would be the Scriptures and such, oral would be those passed on by word of mouth.

To say:

Quote
Unless someone is able to give clear Biblical evidence for toll house theory, I will have to ignore it for the time-being.

sounds as if it would have to be proven by the Scriptures alone, in order for it to be believed.



I don't think matthew is asking for proof that the words "toll house" are in scripture.

Touch+¬.
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« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2005, 04:23:34 AM »



Important, yes. But is it necessary? No.
Wow, I already disagree.  All essential teachings of the Church must be at least referred to in scripture.  We don't call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John "the Gospel" for nuttin'.

Quote
Orthodox teaching is derived from Tradition - written and oral, right?

Written would be the Scriptures and such, oral would be those passed on by word of mouth.
Yes, of course.  But why was it written down?  Ironically, the "evidence" of toll houses used above is from written sources.  Just not scripture.  Every other essential and life-giving teaching of the Church I've ever heard of at least has strong referrences to it in Scripture.  Maybe not the exact details (as the Holy Spirit allows us to work with what we got and deal with problems as they happen).  But all I hear in scripture is "Resurrection, Resurrection, Resurrection!", not "disembodied soul cast into hell by demon judges" or "Sorry bub, you're on your own.  Hope you did a bunch of good deeds cuz Christ's death meant squat."

So really, can someone please list essential gnosis, err..., teachings of the Church that were passed down orally from the Apostles but that had no mention/referrence in scripture? I'm not asking for any type of proofs, but just evidence or indications.  I really can't think of any (and toll-houses don't count Wink )

Quote
To say:
Quote
Unless someone is able to give clear Biblical evidence for toll house theory, I will have to ignore it for the time-being.

sounds as if it would have to be proven by the Scriptures alone, in order for it to be believed.
Well, he never did ask for it to be proven.  I don't think asking forscirptural  evidence of something is uncalled for, geez!

Quote
Quote
I don't think matthew is asking for proof that the words "toll house" are in scripture.
Touch+¬.
Huh  What were you trying to say here?  It seems you missed the point of my message and feel intent on immediately being combative about it.  Geez man, chill!  We're all brothers and sisters here.
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« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2005, 08:58:58 AM »

All essential teachings of the Church must be at least referred to in scripture.
'Taint necessarily so.
Holy Tradition predates Scripture, and Scripture is only a part of Tradition. The use of Holy Chrism in Chrisimation is an essential teaching of the Church, but there is no reference to it in Scripture, only the laying on of hands. The same with triple immersion in Baptism, anointing with oil prior to baptism, making the sign of the Cross etc.
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« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2005, 09:14:48 AM »


'Taint necessarily so.
Holy Tradition predates Scripture, and Scripture is only a part of Tradition. The use of Holy Chrism in Chrisimation is an essential teaching of the Church, but there is no reference to it in Scripture, only the laying on of hands. The same with triple immersion in Baptism, anointing with oil prior to baptism, making the sign of the Cross etc.

Two questions, ozgeorge:
1) I was under the understanding that the use of Holy Chrism in Chrismation was 'the laying on of hands". Is this not so?
2) Is not the anointing with oil prior to baptism basically a "Greek"-thing not found in all Orthodox traditions?

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« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2005, 09:42:53 AM »

"laying on of hands" is the placing of hands on another (on their head). This is still the practice in Holy Orders when the Bishop lays his hands on the head of the one to be ordained.
All Orthodox Churches use oil in Holy Baptism.
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« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2005, 09:58:29 AM »

"laying on of hands" is the placing of hands on another (on their head). This is still the practice in Holy Orders when the Bishop lays his hands on the head of the one to be ordained.
All Orthodox Churches use oil in Holy Baptism.

"Confirmation or the laying on of hands, which the Orthodox Church calls a Sacrament—"Chrismation"—in the Anglican Church is merely the laying on of hands of the Bishop accompanied by a set form of prayers, without the use of Holy Chrism, which has come down from Apostolic days as necessary." from http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/hawaweeny.aspx

As to anointing before baptism, as I think both of us are from a Byzantine church, I'll await some input from our Slavic friends.  Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2005, 10:17:53 AM »

An interesting response to to Fr. Rose's teaching can be found here.

Personally, I find the insistence that one must believe in this theory rather, um, strange. It's hard to see how it has any practical application, as one must ultimately pray to God for salvation, and not to demons and evil powers. I also note in reading the various ancient citations that the supposed references become decidedly vaguer as one goes further back. For instance, the reference to Ephesians 6:12 is plainly talking about confronting evil in the present life, and not after death.

I'll also note that this theory has a direct parallel in ancient Egyptian theories about the weighing of the heart after death. The more I look at it, the more I see the likelihood that this is a pagan notion which was gradually folded into church tradition over several centuries, justified through a rather loose reading of scripture and of earlier writers.
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« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2005, 10:48:04 AM »

I'm slavic-decended. We anoint before baptism too.
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« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2005, 12:04:01 PM »

The more I look at it, the more I see the likelihood that this is a pagan notion which was gradually folded into church tradition over several centuries, justified through a rather loose reading of scripture and of earlier writers.

I know this is considered another one of my "open-mindedly ignorant" liberal theories, but I truly believe that much (perhaps even more than half) of Church Tradition (notice the Big "T"....so this includes Scripture) is precisely that: "pagan notions which were gradually folded into church tradition".  Does this mean they are un-true?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  Christianity is God's "synthesis" of monotheistic Judaism with the polytheistic pagan religions.  For example, a rank-and-file Protestant might point to our "worship" of the Most, Holy Mother and liken it to a Teutonic, Hellenic, or some other European Virgin-with-Child motif and say we copted it from them.  But are they forgetting that the God-dead-and-resurrected-and-atoning theme runs rampant all over the geographical, mythological map (for example Dionysus and Krishna, among others)?  Or that the "Triad"-motif is almost universal?  The Holy Spirit has revealed Himself in other religions....albeit they may have become corrupted over time.  So the question as to the ultimate source of the Toll-House theory, in my humble opinion, is irrelevant to its actual Truth.

And...as others have, Scripture is one small PART of Holy Tradition.  If we accept part of that Tradition (the written part....which so happened to be canonized by the Church), and arbitrarily reject the rest of it (the so-called "oral"), then are we not being as inconsistent as the Protestants?  In order to be consistent, we must accept ALL of it.  There is no separation between Scripture and Tradition.  There is no putting up of a pedestal of one over the other.  One small, minute part of Tradition just so happened to be written down in the first century.....so why does this make it greater than the rest?  (I'm not directing this at anybody in particular...just food for thought).

jayson's post, in my opinion, presented OVERWHELMING evidence in favour of Toll-Houses....so, whether I like it or not, I must accept it.  Sure, it sounds like a harsh theory.  But isn't the fundamentalist theory (notice the small "f"....so please don't think I'm trying to put "hillbilly" or "backwards" labels on anyone) that there is no hope for those in hell equally harsh? :flame:  So I guess the two cancel each other out and we're at just as much inner, personal peace as when we started, eh? Afro
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« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2005, 01:48:04 PM »

So the question as to the ultimate source of the Toll-House theory, in my humble opinion, is irrelevant to its actual Truth.

But it's not irrelevant as to whether it should be believed to be true. After all, you are trying to construct an argument from authority, in which case the source is crucial.

The argument here is whether the toll house theory is part of sacred tradition, or whether it is simply a pious opinion of considerable antiquity. For it to be the former, it must exist as a consensus both through time and across the church. That's precisely what I'm not seeing here. I'm having trouble checking up on the reference to Chrysostom because the CCEL translations are not permitting me to find the passage cited. What I see in this translation is something that allows for a quite different interpretation. But the scriptural citations simply do not support the theory, and indeed, scripture tends to point to a quite different theory.

All roads on this lead through Rose, as it were. The passages cited, by friend or foe, are invariably in his translations. It's not to hard to conclude that what we're seeing here is a tradition (note small t) of some popularity in the Russian church and seized upon by Fr. Rose because it fits into his generally rather apocalyptic theology. Everyone here has probably seen my not very positive assessment of this; he seemed to have synthesized Russian and American conservative Protestant ideas to create something that is highly sympathetic to the American traditionalist mind, but which I have to suspect represents a minority viewpoint in Orthodoxy.

A little Googling quickly establishes that toll-houses are an extremely controversial idea. Take a look at these links:

Archbishop Lazar condemned them utterly and wrote The Soul, the Body and Death to refute Fr. Rose's theories
minutes of a ROCOR synod concerning the issue
V.Rev. Dr. Michael Azkoul weighs in; he seems to be Fr. Rose's other principal antagonist

Given this level of controversy, I do not think it can be said that the notion in unassailable Tradition.
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« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2005, 01:53:06 PM »

hmmmmm.....perhaps jayson searched every nook and cranny to glean the slightest evidence in support of his theory and piled it all into one massive post, thus creating the impression of weighty "proof" for the universality of this belief....i dunno.  But I never said I was crazy about the Toll-house theory...not that I can disprove it dialectically.....it just doesn't "sit with me" well, intuitionally speaking.  I do, however, hold to Apokastasis, which Fr. Rose's system doesn't seem to allow.
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« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2005, 02:26:08 PM »

The doctrine of the trinity is clearly taught in Scriptures. Are we not to baptize in the name of "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit". Are there not "three that testify, and these three are one"?
The existence of toll houses, on the other hand, I have not found Scriptural support for.
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« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2005, 02:30:51 PM »

hmmmm....I'd have to disagree....I know some Oneness-Pentecostals who can put up a pretty good argument for their case, using only Scripture (basically, they are Sabellians).
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« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2005, 02:32:16 PM »

It seems to me that the use of some kind of oil for anointing/chrism can certainly be based on the scriptures with the kings being anointed and "Thou anointest my head with oil" and a passage in (I think) the book of James that refers to anointing with oil if someone is ill. Must look that up

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« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2005, 02:56:27 PM »


Given this level of controversy, I do not think it can be said that the notion in unassailable Tradition.

Keble the problem with that argument is that there is no great level of controversy within the Church. Archbishop Lazar was a member of the Milan Synod before coming to the OCA as a retired bishop. Dr.Azkoul is a member of the schismatic HOCNA and is not in any way representative of 'mainstream' Orthodoxy. In fact in his book, The Teachings of the Orthodox Church he has a special appendix for the 'heretic' Augustine as if the Orthodox Church does not venerate him as a Saint. Both of these men are representative of a loud minority of intellectuals who hate Fr.Seraphim and regularly attack him as a 'Neo-Nestorian', and a 'convert who never understood Orthodoxy'. They do not represent Orthodox Tradition and have been at odds with the Orthodox Church for much of their lives.

Fr.Seraphim was a spiritual son of St.John the Wonderworker of San Francisco and naturally taught what St.John passed on to him. What else does a loyal son do? While I can agree that most Orthodox in America and probably most Orthodox laity in Greece and the Middle East know little or nothing of the 'toll-house' theory that does not make it illegitimate or a Slavic tradition. Jayson quoted from this page's footnotes to show the Fathers did indeed write about the 'toll-houses'. http://www.sfaturiortodoxe.ro/orthodox/orthodox_advices_life_after_death.htm

I do, however, hold to Apokastasis, which Fr. Rose's system doesn't seem to allow.
Actually the Orthodox Church does not teach this nor does it allow it.

IX. If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (apokatastasis) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema.
-Fifth Ecumenical Council Anathemas of Emperor Jusitinian Against Origen

While I would like to believe in the Apokatastasis as well, it would take a lot of pressure off a sinner like me, the Orthodox Church has always taught that there are those who will be eternally punished in Hell. While I admit God can do what He wills it has been revealed to us that some, in fact many, will be in eternal torment.
But I am glad to finally discuss something about life after death other than the 'toll-house controversy'.
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« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2005, 02:59:39 PM »

hmmmm....I'd have to disagree....I know some Oneness-Pentecostals who can put up a pretty good argument for their case, using only Scripture (basically, they are Sabellians).

Oneness theology is Scripturally bunk. It is modelism revisited.

Please consider the following:

"The Father, Son, And Holy Spirit Are Distinct Persons

Matt. 28:19
"the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit": use of definite article before each personal noun indicates distinct persons unless explicitly stated otherwise; compare Rev. 1:17; 2:8, 26
The views that "Father" and "Son" are distinct persons but not the Holy Spirit, or that the Holy Spirit is not a person at all, or that all three are different offices or roles of one person, are impossible in view of the grammar (together with the fact that in Scripture a "spirit" is a person unless context shows otherwise).
Does singular "name" prove that the three are one person? No; cf. Gen. 5:2; 11:14; 48:6; and esp. 48:16
"Name" need not be personal name, may be title: Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:23. If a single personal name is sought, the name shared by all three persons is "Yahweh" or "Jehovah."

Acts 2:38 and Matt. 28:19
Neither passage specifies that certain words are to be spoken during baptism; nor does the Bible ever record someone saying, "I baptize you in the name of...."
Those said to be baptized in the name of Jesus (whether or not the formula "in the name of Jesus" was used) were people already familiar with the God of the OT:
Jews: Acts 2:5, 38; 22:16
Samaritans: Acts 8:5, 12, 16
God-fearing Gentiles: Acts 10:1-2, 22, 48
Disciples of John the Baptist: Acts 19:1-5
The first Christians in Corinth were Jews and God-fearing Gentiles: Acts 18:1-8; 1 Cor. 1:13
Trinitarian formula for baptism (if that is what Matt. 28:19 is) was given in context of commissioning apostles to take the gospel to "all the nations," including people who did not know of the biblical God

God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ are two persons
The salutations: Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; 6:23; Phil. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1, 2; 1 Tim. 1:1, 2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Phm. 3; James 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:2; 2 John 3
Two witnesses: John 5:31-32; 8:16-18; cf. Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15
The Father sent the Son: John 3:16-17; Gal. 4:4; 1 John 4:10; etc.; cf. John 1:6; 17:18; 20:21
The Father and the Son love each other: John 3:35; 5:20; 14:31; 15:9; 17-23-26; cf. Matt. 3:17 par.; 17:5 par.; 2 Pet. 1:17
The Father speaks to the Son, and the Son speaks to the Father: John 11:41-42; 12:28; 17:1-26; etc.
The Father knows the Son, and the Son knows the Father: Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 7:29; 8:55; 10:15
Jesus our Advocate with the Father: 1 John 2:1

Jesus is not God the Father
Isa. 9:6: "Father of eternity" means eternal; compare other names formed with word "father": Abialbon, "father of strength" = strong (2 Sam. 23:31); Abiasaph, "father of gathering" = gatherer (Ex. 6:24); Abigail, a woman's name(!), "father of exultation" = exulting (1 Chron. 2:16)
John 10:30
Jesus did not say, "I am the Father," nor did He say, "the Son and the Father are one person."
The first person plural esmen ("we are") implies two persons
The neuter word for "one" (hen) is used, implying essential unity but not personal unity (compare John 17:21-23).
John 5:43: Jesus' coming in His Father's name means not that He was the Father because He had the Father's name, but that, while others come in their own name (or their own authority), Jesus does not; He comes in His Father's name (on His Father's authority)
John 8:19; 16:3: Ignorance of Jesus is indeed ignorance of the Father, but that does not prove that Jesus is the one He calls "My Father"
John 14:6-11
Jesus and the Father are one being, not one person
Jesus said, "I am in the Father," not "I am the Father"
The statement, "the Father is in Me," does not mean Jesus is the Father; compare John 14:20; 17:21-23
John 14:18: An older adult brother can care for his younger siblings, thus preventing them from being "orphans," without being their father
Colossians 2:9: Does not mean that Jesus is the Father, or that Jesus is an incarnation of the Father; rather, since "Godhead" (theotes) means Deity, the state of being God, the nature of God, Jesus is fully God, but not the only person who is God. "The Godhead" here does not = the Father (note that Jesus is in the Father, John 10:38; 14:10, 11; 17:21), but the nature of the Father.
The Father and the Son are both involved in various activities: raising Jesus (Gal. 1:1; John 2:19-22), raising the dead (John 5:21); 6:39-40, 44, 54, 1 Cor. 6:14), answering prayer (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23), sending the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7), drawing people to Jesus (John 6:44; 12:32), etc. These common works do prove that the two persons are both God, but not that Jesus is the Father

The Son existed before His Incarnation, even before creation
Prov. 30:4: This is not predictive prophecy; "prophecy" in 30:1 translates massa, which is rendered elsewhere as "burden."
The Son created all things: See VI.E.1
Jesus was "with" (pros or para) God the Father before creation: John 1:1; 17:5; pros in John 1:1 does not mean "pertaining to," although is does in Hebrews 2:17; 5:1 (which use pros with ta).
Jesus, the Son of God, existed before John the Baptist (who was born before Jesus): john 1:15, cf. 1:14-18, 29-34
Jesus, the Son, came down from heaven, sent from the Father, and went back to heaven, back to the Father: John 3:13, 31; 6:33; 38, 41, 46, 51, 56-58, 62; 8:23, 42; 13:3; 16:27-28; cf. Acts 1:10-11; cf. the sending of the Holy Spirit, John 16:5-7; 1 Pet. 1:12
Jesus, speaking as the Son (John 8:54-56), asserts His eternal preexistence before Abraham: john 8:58
The Son explicitly said to exist "before all things": Col. 1:17, cf. 1:12-20
These statements cannot be dismissed as true only in God's foreknowledge
We are all in God's min before creation; yet such passages as John 1:1 and John 17:5 clearly mean to say something unusual about Christ.
To say that all things were created through Christ means that He must have existed at creation.
No one else in Scripture is ever said to have been with God before creation.
Texts which speak of the Son being begotten "today" do not mean He became the Son on a certain day, since they refer to His exaltation at the resurrection (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:3-5; 5:5; cf. Psa. 2:7; cf. also Rom. 1:4)

Jesus is not the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is "another Comforter": John 14:16; compare 1 John 2:1
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit: John 15:26; 16:7
The Holy Spirit exhibits humility in relation to, and seeks to glorify, Jesus (John 16:13-14)
The Son and the Holy Spirit are distinguished as tow persons in Matt. 28:19
The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus: Luke 3:22
Is Jesus the Holy Spirit?
2 Cor. 3:17: the Spirit is here called "Lord" in the sense of being Yahweh or God, not Jesus (cf. v. 16, citing Ex. 34:34; cf. v. 17 in the New English Bible); note Acts 28:25-27, cf. Isa. 6:8-10
1 Cor. 15:45: Jesus is "a life-giving Spirit," not in the sense that He is the Holy Spirit whom He sent at Pentecost, but in the sense that He is the glorified God-man; and as God He is Spirit by nature. All three persons of the Trinity are Spirit, though there are not three divine Spirits; and only one person is designated "the Holy Spirit."
Rom. 8:27, 34: the fact that two persons intercede for us is consistent with the fact that we have two Advocates (John 14:16; Rom. 8:26; 1 John 2:1)
John 14:18: Jesus here refers to His appearances to the disciples after the resurrection (compare 14:19), not to the coming of the Spirit
Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both involved in various activities: raising Jesus (John 2:19-19-22); Rom. 8:9-11), raising the dead (John 5:21; 6:39-40, 44, 54, Rom. 8:9-11), dwelling in the believer (John 14:16; 2 Cor. 13:5; Col. 1:27), interceding for the believer (Rom. 8:26; Heb. 7:25), sanctifying believers (Eph. 5:26; 1 Pet. 1:2), etc. These works prove that the two persons are both God, but not that Jesus is the Holy Spirit.

The Father is not the Holy Spirit
The Father sent the Holy Spirit: John 14:15; 15:26
The Holy Spirit intercedes with the Father for us: Rom. 8:26-27
The Father and the Holy Spirit are distinguished as two persons in Matt. 28:19
Is the Father the Holy Spirit?
Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:35: It is argued that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the incarnate Son of God; this argument ignores the fact that the "conception" is not a product of physical union between a man and a woman!
The Father and the Holy Spirit are both said to be active in various activities; the resurrection of Jesus (Gal. 1:1; Rom. 8:11), comforting Christians (2 Cor. 1:3-4; John 14:26), sanctifying Christians (Jude 1; 1 Pet. 1:2), etc. The most these facts prove is that the two work together; they do not prove the two are one person."
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/t08.html#eight
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« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2005, 03:03:25 PM »



"Confirmation or the laying on of hands, which the Orthodox Church calls a Sacrament—"Chrismation"—in the Anglican Church is merely the laying on of hands of the Bishop accompanied by a set form of prayers, without the use of Holy Chrism, which has come down from Apostolic days as necessary." from http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/hawaweeny.aspx

As to anointing before baptism, as I think both of us are from a Byzantine church, I'll await some input from our Slavic friends. Smiley

I'm slavic-decended. We anoint before baptism too.
I think he is referring to the covering the child with olive oil that takes place in the Greek churches. The anointing you are thinking of is that of the oil of the catechumens. The child must first be anointed with the oil of the catechumen before being made a full member of the Church. But as far as I know it is only Greek churches that cover the baby in olive oil. I remember someone mentioned in another discussion that their GOA priest stopped this tradition when he came to their parish because he was worried that the child would be too slippery and slip through his hands.
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« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2005, 03:07:16 PM »

Yes, you got it, Sabbas. I was referring to the Greek-thing. Thanks.
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« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2005, 03:19:20 PM »

Actually the Orthodox Church does not teach this nor does it allow it.

IX. If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (apokatastasis) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema.
-Fifth Ecumenical Council Anathemas of Emperor Jusitinian Against Origen

hmmmm.....I know many scholars would argue that these anathema's of Emperor Justinian were done in a separate setting in 543 AD.....being added to the Acts of Constantinople II later on, being the custom of the day (as in adding the Acts of Sardica to Nicaea).....i dunno, I'll have to do more research....be back with answers later on
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« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2005, 03:41:16 PM »

Keble the problem with that argument is that there is no great level of controversy within the Church. Archbishop Lazar was a member of the Milan Synod before coming to the OCA as a retired bishop. Dr.Azkoul is a member of the schismatic HOCNA and is not in any way representative of 'mainstream' Orthodoxy. In fact in his book, The Teachings of the Orthodox Church he has a special appendix for the 'heretic' Augustine as if the Orthodox Church does not venerate him as a Saint.

Well, actually I saw on the GOARCH site a reference to this work. They portray it as an excessive expression of Orthodox opinion on Augustinian theology, but they do not go so far as to repudiate it.

Also, from what I see you are exaggerating the disregard for these figures. I find them cited all over the place and the archbishop's book, in particular, is quite commonly referenced.

Even now that I see that this traces back to John Maximovitch, the same problem remains. This is still being transmitted through a very narrow channel, through a man who died six years after I was born. There seems to be a one-to-one correspondence between regard for Fr. Rose and dogmatic insistence on toll houses. The struggle seems not to be between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, but (if I may make a coinage) Seraphimism and its detractors.

As far as the references are concerned: the cited passages are not sufficient for me to look them up and see them for myself. I have some familiarity with the celts and if Columba made reference to something like toll houses, it wouldn't surprise me that the reference is inexact. (The vision of Drythelm makes no reference to them.) As I said before, the scriptural references misuse the text.

Quote
While I can agree that most Orthodox in America and probably most Orthodox laity in Greece and the Middle East know little or nothing of the 'toll-house' theory that does not make it illegitimate or a Slavic tradition.

Well, yes, I think it means I can assume it does have such a provenance, until you can show me more general references. Right now what I'm seeing is a mid 20th century Russo-American tradition that skips back a millenium or more for sources.
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« Reply #34 on: May 25, 2005, 04:36:16 PM »

Quote
The child must first be anointed with the oil of the catechumen before being made a full member of the Church. But as far as I know it is only Greek churches that cover the baby in olive oil.

Hmmm... when I was chrismated at St. Seraphim's in Dallas (OCA), there were several people being baptised as well. The babies were oiled beforehand (and lo, did they scream), but unfortunately, not the leggy Russian bombshell who was also being baptized (dangit).
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« Reply #35 on: May 25, 2005, 04:49:09 PM »

She waited to get baptized as an adult just to tease you. Kiss
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« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2005, 05:33:15 PM »

Hmmm... when I was chrismated at St. Seraphim's in Dallas (OCA), there were several people being baptised as well. The babies were oiled beforehand (and lo, did they scream), but unfortunately, not the leggy Russian bombshell who was also being baptized (dangit).

And just to upset you even more, she would have also been anointed privately. This is one reason why we used to have Deacoonesses to assist in adult female Baptism.
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« Reply #37 on: May 25, 2005, 05:41:22 PM »

Firstly, can I just say that the toll houses are not part of some Russian folklore. There is a strong belief in the Greek churches. I am Greek Orthodox, and my knowledge of the toll gates long predated any reading of Father Seraphim Rose. My point is this - many of the Church Fathers taught on the Toll Gates. Let me just quote Ephesians 6:12 here:

'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.' (Orthodox Study Bible). The next verse tells us to take up the armor of God, that we may 'withstand in the evil day' (Ephesians 6:13).

The 'evil day' is the day of our death. This chapter of Paul's epistle talks of our preparation for the Particular Judgement. This is the judgement that we face just after our death. The General Judgement occurs at the Revelation, where we are judged for our acts of mercy.

Let me return to the verse that was given in support of the Toll Houses. Who are 'the rulers of darkness' in this age? Where are the 'heavenly places'? It seems clear to me that we will face the demons on our ascension to heaven. If they have claim on us against which we have no counter-argument, we will not be permitted to continue up to the Heavens. This verse gives support to the concept of the Toll Houses.

The Holy Fathers, as they did with the doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the veneration of the Icons, the magnification of the Panagia, took the Bible verse, and interpreted it to its fuller meaning with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is completed in its interpretation. Let me rephrase, the Bible is incomplete without the correct interpretation. We possess neither the grace nor the intellect to fully comprehend the Divine Word that lies within human ones - but the Fathers did. Through the Grace of the Spirit, they bring the meaning to its fully Divine conclusion.

Athanasius the Great, John Chrysostom, Macarius the Great, Seraphim of Sarov and Theophan the Recluse, amongst many of the Holy Fathers, taught of the Toll Houses. What really concerns me is the unwillingness to accept a concept that is not convenient. We can accept their teachings on the Trinity, because that does not appear to have impact on our current state of being. The Toll Houses, as described by Blessed Theodora, do.

Are we unprepared to accept a truth out of fear?! Rather, use that fear to motivate a life in Christ. I'm sure that was the reason for the Revelation of the Toll Houses to the Holy Fathers. Fear is a powerful motivator along the path to Christ. Not the best path, but if we flee to Him out of fear, does it matter if in the end we taste His Sweetness? The Psalms entreat us to 'taste and see that the Lord is good' (Ps 34:8 ). However we come to experience God, the importance is that we experience Him.

On the Toll Houses, perhaps yes, it is not absolutely necessary to believe it. The question is why do you not believe it. Is it because it does not fit with your idea of God? How correct is that idea, or is it an idol set up in His place? Is it out of fear? Even worse, is it cynicism - it is clearly not heretical to believe in the Toll Houses. Where does the cynicism come from? Just thought I'd ask. PS. thanks Keble for the support. Wink
« Last Edit: May 25, 2005, 05:42:48 PM by jayson » Logged
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« Reply #38 on: May 25, 2005, 05:50:34 PM »

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She waited to get baptized as an adult just to tease you.

I tell you, though, when she came up out of the water wearing the baptismal robe you could see every guy in the church look towards her quickly and then just as quickly look anywhere but there...
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« Reply #39 on: May 25, 2005, 06:38:34 PM »

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I tell you, though, when she came up out of the water wearing the baptismal robe you could see every guy in the church look towards her quickly and then just as quickly look anywhere but there...

LoL....Do you have a picture for us?... Grin
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« Reply #40 on: May 25, 2005, 06:40:55 PM »

well, perhaps, jayson, you are right.  But I still think that prayers for these souls are just as important as the good deeds they did.
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« Reply #41 on: May 25, 2005, 08:16:12 PM »

Excuse me folks, let's back up.

I hear all this talk that assumes our "soul" floats up to heaven when we die.

The Toll House teaching depends on this aspect.  That is, it depends on the "popular religion" view of the soul...that is, our soul is a separate entity.  This is a view held in common by almost all non-Christian religion, aside from Judaism.  As far as I know, Judaism was not only the one religion that believed in a single God of all, but also focussed on our bodily existence as the only existence we have.  In fact, belief in some type of disembodied soul would have been nonsensical to them.  Rewards for "good behavior" was NOT salvation from hell, but rather a longer life.  Death was something inescapable.  But why should death be feared if we have immortal whispy things that can float around and see anywhere and exist forever.  Really, what makes the Gospel the "Good News"?

Perhaps later on, and due to their constant exposure to other religions, some began to believe in some type of separate soul.  I wouldn't be surprised if later Jewish writings reflect this.  Afterall, all sorts of other things were becoming more and more screwed up in the Jewish people.  That's when Christ came.

That was why the resurrection was such a huge deal.  I mean, why would it be a big deal if you had a disembodied soul that would already float off?  It was such a big deal b/c as one Greek priest put in his Christmas homily, "Death was so final to the Jews."  Because it really was final.

I'm reminded of an essay written by Fr. John Breck written for Again magazine on the topic of Embryonic Stem-Cell research.  During part of it, he writes:
Quote
Let's take a closer look at the moral implications of embryonic stem cell research and therapies derived from it.

Unlike their Roman Catholic counterparts, Orthodox theologians have never tried to specify at what point God endows the newly created embryo with a soul. Western thought has theorized that the soul is either co-created with the body, or infused into the body after fertilization. This line of reasoning, however, distinguishes the soul from the body as a separate entity. In the holistic, Orthodox perspective of the Greek Fathers, it would be more appropriate to speak of the body, not as "having" or "possessing" a soul, but as being "ensouled." Neither body nor soul ultimately exists without the other. Thus, we affirm that Christ's victory over death results not in the "immortality of the soul," but in the resurrection of the body.

The "soul," in other words, is to be understood as the animating principle in human life that guides development of the person from fertilization through death, and into the Kingdom of heaven. This way of thinking leads to an important conclusion: that human life is sacred from its very beginning, since from conception it is ensouled existence -- created in the image of God and endowed with a sanctity that destines it for eternal life.

So that's problem one.  Problem two is this concept of demons pulling people down to Hell right away.  I wouldn't be surprised if they pull us down with them after the final judgement.  Hell is NOT some type of fortress of demons where they hang out and torture poor disembodied souls.  Scripture is entirely clear that Hell is where the DEMONS will be punished at the end of time.  So as Fr. Thomas Hopko put it:
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In the Old Testament, however, whatever the position was about resurrection everyone was dead. In the Bible, the place of the dead or the condition of being dead was called Sheol in the Hebrew or Hades in the Greek. One problem is that sometimes Sheol or Hades is translated into English as hell, and people speak of God descending into hell, but it should never be called hell, because there is no hell until the end of time.
So besides the obviously "scary" aspect of Toll Houses (not so much that there are demons out there who may drag us down [as we know that they try to drag us down in this life!], but that somehow the Gospel of Grace is lost), two other issues I have with TH's is the perpetuation of, and total dependence on, two fundamentally incorrect beliefs: about the nature of us as humans (i.e., in disembodied souls that float around), and the dante's inferno understanding of the nature of hell.

The End.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2005, 08:18:30 PM by CyberSponge » Logged
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« Reply #42 on: May 25, 2005, 08:40:13 PM »

I am in complete agreement with your metaphysical argument, CyberSponge.....as Aristotle would say (not that I'm an Aristotelian by any means), the soul is the form, or the "entelechy" of the body. It is not a thing in-itself....although I mentioned the exact same thing in a previous post of mine, but got thoroughly attacked for it.

On the popular science level, the soul is looked at as an "algorithm".....so after-death existences can be maintained as an algorithm operating on a different medium (i.e. the resurrected body).

....although I am still quite open to the idea that such an "algorithm" can operate on a more abstract, ethereal medium.....or perhaps causality exists within a Platonic realm?
« Last Edit: May 25, 2005, 08:41:51 PM by idontlikenames » Logged

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« Reply #43 on: May 25, 2005, 10:21:02 PM »

Huh What were you trying to say here? It seems you missed the point of my message and feel intent on immediately being combative about it. Geez man, chill! We're all brothers and sisters here.

 :scratch: :dunno:   I wasn't trying to say anything.

Nor was I trying to be "combative" about anything - I was merely replying to what you said. 

I used "Touch+¬" to mean: ya got me there - good point. :thumbsup:  Grin 

So, if you picked up some "ulterior meaning" to anything I said, I can assure you that it was not intentional - because there was no ulterior meaning. I am the type of guy who will say what I mean, because life is less complicated that way.  angel 

Next time I am posting that late at night (or early in the morning - depends upon how you look at it), I will make sure to re-read my post, add some emoticons and get myself a cup of coffee.  :coffee:   
So be assured that I am cool as a cucumber and too cold to hold, my friend.  Afro

As brothers and sisters in Christ - let us keep the peace.  :hippy:    .....and imbibe!  :brew:  :wave2:
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« Reply #44 on: May 25, 2005, 10:35:18 PM »

Firstly, can I just say that the toll houses are not part of some Russian folklore. There is a strong belief in the Greek churches. I am Greek Orthodox, and my knowledge of the toll gates long predated any reading of Father Seraphim Rose.

Well, maybe. But what you are telling me is entirely taken from the one article from John Maximovitch, which you repeat over and over. All the other Greek sources I find, up to and including the archdiocesan website, do not wholeheartedly endorse this article.

And what I'm seeing is that the older the passage, the less clearly it "teaches" this theory. The Ephesians passage does not appear to teach it at all; it makes much more sense, read in context, to refer to the present conflict, and that the "evil day" means any day on which one's faith is put to the test. I would note also that in other passages where the context would indicate that the teaching should appear, it does not. It is not mentioned when Paul says that we will meet our savior in the air; nor is it mentioned when Paul explains why we should no longer sin.

It is pointless to continue to lecture me on the interpretive authority of the fathers. The problem here is on the one hand, your authority as an interpreter of the fathers, and on the other, Fr. Rose and Bp. Maximovitch's authority to do the same. What you provide instead is your sole reliance on them and yourself as interpretive authorities.

It is strange that you say that

Quote
We can accept their teachings on the Trinity, because that does not appear to have impact on our current state of being. The Toll Houses, as described by Blessed Theodora, do.

...because following Paul, they should not. You are commanded not to sin; that should be enough. Backing that command up with the threat of the toll-houses is committing exactly the fault which atheists accuse us of: failing to find a reason in this life not to sin, we must resort to threats of the next.

What I'm getting, instead, is that belief in the toll-houses is what is important. According to the theory, one who is baptized and is sufficiently pure need not fear the demons who staff these toll-houses, after all.

Quote
The question is why do you not believe it.

Why I do not believe it? Because I am a graceless heretic, of course! No, actually I don't believe it because it is against the plain sense of scripture.
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