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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
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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:
Quote
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.
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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?
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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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« Reply #45 on: May 25, 2005, 10:42:26 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:


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:

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.
Actually the Jews clearly believed that a person still exists separate from their body after death though not eternally separate from it. How else could King Saul have had the prophet Samuel raised? The argument that the Jews had no word for soul does not mean that they did not believe you still existed as the same person you were in life.

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

The aerial ascent of the soul is universal throughout Patristic literature about the afterlife.

The belief that you can still exist separated from your body does not bother me one bit. Why should it? This does not take away from my belief that you are only wholly yourself when in the body you were born with.

Quote
and the dante's inferno understanding of the nature of hell.
Don't blame Dante Alighieri, the greatest Medieval writer, for this idea of Hell being a place where sinners burn and are tormented by demons. This belief is evidenced in St.Gregory the Dialogist Dialogues.
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« Reply #46 on: May 26, 2005, 03:44:36 AM »



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



...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.



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.


Ok, to begin - you are absolutely right - I offer John Maximovitch and Fr. Seraphim Rose as interpreters of the Holy Fathers.

You are also correct in that there is a problem with me interpreting the Fathers - because, in my fallen state of grace, I lack that capability. However, while I offer my interpretation, the only response that i'm seeing is yours. So, catch 22 situation - we're both lacking interpretative Grace. But i'm also offering the interpretations of at least one Saint,possibly two, who did have that Grace. When you say 'plain sense of scripture', do we not mean your plain sense of scripture. So,if i can't interpret, you can't interpret either: we can't interpret. My question then is: are you also saying that St. John Maximovitch cannot interpret?

Secondly, you say that one who is baptized and suffuciently pure need not fear the toll houses. Are you sufficiently pure? The Mother of God did not feel that she was sufficiently pure enough to escape the Toll Houses. She asked Christ to receive her soul Himself, so that she could escape these very Toll Houses (that aren't scriptural). The Church, in Her Wisdom, calls Mary the Most Pure and Immaculate Lady and Queen of Heaven. Of course, we're much purer than her. We don't have to fear at all. Roll Eyes

Finally, you're right, the Atheists accuse us of searching for reasons not to sin. Again, I bow to your correctness - our reason not to sin should be out of love for Christ, not out of fear. But Christ can take a selfish fear (one to escape the torments of Hell) and turn it into Love for Him. What he requires is an open heart, which was what I was trying to say in my last post. It doesn't matter how we come to Christ, the importance is that we do. When we fully surrender to our nothingness, Christ can come in, and transform that fear into Love, because we will have tasted.

HOWEVER, the interpretation that the Toll Houses are threats to back up the command not to sin is my interpretation, and therefore probably wrong. I offer it as a possibility, speaking from the impact the Toll Houses have had me (not that that's worth anything). Actually, I think that generally, the Toll Houses are merely telling us the consquences of our actions. It is not a threat, it is a consequence. Do not touch the stove, you'll get burnt. Technically, our reason for not touching the stove should be because we were told not to touch it. But the burning is a consequence of the action if we take it. It's not a threat, it's a statement of fact.

(I realize 'fact' may not be the politically correct word to use here, but I believe it to be fact)

The defense rests...
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« Reply #47 on: May 26, 2005, 09:08:36 AM »

How interesting that this controversy should come up right now. zcurrently at the Euphrosynos Cafe, our members have voted fro Father Seraphim's book of the aerial toll-houses, THE SOUL AFTER DEATH to be the next book we read and review together.

I would invite all of you, whether you are currently a believer in the toll-houses or not, whether a traditional Orthodox Christian or not, to join us in the group book review. Information about when we start and the cheapest place to get the book can be found at http://euphrosynoscafe.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=26393#26393

In reading this book, it will help people better understand the theory that they are arguing for or against and to hear the observations of other Orthodox Christians.
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« Reply #48 on: May 26, 2005, 09:47:21 AM »

You are also correct in that there is a problem with me interpreting the Fathers - because, in my fallen state of grace, I lack that capability. However, while I offer my interpretation, the only response that i'm seeing is yours. So, catch 22 situation - we're both lacking interpretative Grace.

That is irrelevant. Orthodoxy does offer an objective standard: that doctrine be believed in all times and in all places. What I see is that this standard does not appear to be met, and indeed seems to be violated. I deny the need for any "interpretive grace" to make this judgement, because it is not a matter of interpretation, but rather of whether the proper protocol is followed. There is no Christian tradition in which John Maximovitch is properly the kind of authority you are making him out to be.

As far as the "plain sense of scripture" is concerned, I mean that someone would not read (for instance) the passage from Ephesians as teaching about toll-houses unless they already believed the toll-house theory. Without that presupposition, the passage teaches something different-- and I would expect that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox interpreters would agree with my reading of it, because the passage is not difficult.

Quote
Secondly, you say that one who is baptized and suffuciently pure need not fear the toll houses. Are you sufficiently pure?

It is sufficient for me to fear the judgement of Christ, the judgement to which scripture does testify. Isn't that enough?
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« Reply #49 on: May 26, 2005, 09:53:37 AM »

CyberSponge,

I've enjoyed your input on the subject; it's prompted some thoughts of my own:

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'.

My guess? Where Satan is called the "prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2). And Eph. 6:12, though it is specifically in the context of this life, does in fact say that there are powers in THIS world, AND that there are spiritual powers "in the heavenly realms." So we know they're at least THERE; what they do once we leave the body is not mentioned. But the idea of demons in the air IS supported within this epistle twice.

Quote
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).


Well, MAYBE the Ephesians references are a start. And yeah, oral tradition ultimately all wound up getting written down EVENTUALLY, just not by the Apostles.

Quote
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."

Hmm. Well, the hell thing has been addressed; the toll house thing seems to be the "particular judgement" we experience when we leave the body--which, by the way, is an unnatural state for man and which will be corrected by the resurrection of the body, when souls are reunited WITH their bodies for the general judgement--and seems to refer not so much to "good deeds" per se, but rather to "condition or attributes of the soul" that come about (or don't) by responding in active faith to all that Christ has done. He took on our flesh, He lived, He died, He rose again, He ascended to heaven, He sat at the right hand of God the Father--He did all this...so that we could respond to His grace and be saved from all the death and sin in our hearts. If we don't respond to that, to the extent that there is still unrepented-of gluttony, lust, sloth, etc.--which could have been uprooted through God's grace and our openness to that grace--then we're not really Christ's. What else could He do that would not override our free will? "Yes, God, I know I didn't submit my lying tongue or my lazy, procrastinating ways to You, but get me out of it anyways! I still 'love' You"...but do we really? And if God takes us at our word and starts to rip things out we're not really ready to give to Him, is it not painful? Just some thoughts concerning the preoccupation with (supposed) "grace of Christ's death" versus "our good deeds."

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"?

Again, I hear ya, but the "immortal whispy things" won't necessarily be enjoying their time outside the body. And this is because, like I said, death is unnatural--it's not like we're saying that having an immortal part of us (a quality which will eventually be put on by the corporal body as well--1 Cor 15) necessarily makes the afterlife "neat" and "cool." Which is why what you quoted from Fr. John (cool, btw), actually does mesh with the departure (and journey, of some sort) of the soul when it unnaturally is separated from the body it was never meant to be apart from.

Quote
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.

Right, 'cause now they're going around the earth and sky tempting and tormenting us (and, presumeably, those who've departed this life and await reunion with their bodies at the Judgement). I believe (if I read it right) that being "stopped" at a "toll house" means you can't progress; it doesn't mean you get pulled down.

Quote
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)...

I know I've said something about this above, and that both of these quotes are addressed at the same time (and that I MAY--though probably didn't--sufficiently address the qualms about "grace vs. works" there), but how do you think this appeal to the true characterisitics of our soul in terms of "response to God's holiness" goes against the grace of God? I'm a bit confused, I have to say; on the one hand, without Christ's Coming, we are completely lost in sin and death, incapable of leaving. But because He came, we can now (and absolutely must ourselves) go home. The ladder's dropped down for us to climb, without which we'd be lost, and He even helps us climb, but he will not do anything for us which we are not ourselves absolutely willing (and, yes, able!) to do.
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« Reply #50 on: May 26, 2005, 06:10:11 PM »


It is sufficient for me to fear the judgement of Christ, the judgement to which scripture does testify. Isn't that enough?


All right, fine, let's say that we just fear Christ's Judgement. Christ tells us that at His Judgement, he will separate the sheep from the goats; and that His Judgement is based on 6 beatitudes: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, give drink to those that thirst, take in the stranger, and go to those in prison. Basically, it is a Judgement of our mercy, shown by our works.

But then, the question I then ask is, are we going to be held accountable for all the other stuff? Where are all the sexual lusts and thieving and murder? Or is it permissable to do all this, just so long as you perform acts of Mercy?

Here's my take: as Christ comes twice, so man is judged twice. The first is the Particular Judgement, where we are hold accountable for all our actions, and then the Final Judgement. The Toll Houses are a teaching of the Particular Judgement. And no, it is not enough to fear just the Last Judgement. I repeat what I said earlier: the PANAGIA feared the Toll Gates. And I'll ask again, are you purer than her?
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« Reply #51 on: May 26, 2005, 06:16:47 PM »

the PANAGIA feared the Toll Gates. And I'll ask again, are you purer than her?

Could we have a citation on that, please?  Is there a quote from St. Mary the Virgin on this point? What is your source, please?

Ebor
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« Reply #52 on: May 26, 2005, 11:33:08 PM »



All right, fine, let's say that we just fear Christ's Judgement. Christ tells us that at His Judgement, he will separate the sheep from the goats; and that His Judgement is based on 6 beatitudes: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, give drink to those that thirst, take in the stranger, and go to those in prison. Basically, it is a Judgement of our mercy, shown by our works.

But then, the question I then ask is, are we going to be held accountable for all the other stuff? Where are all the sexual lusts and thieving and murder? Or is it permissable to do all this, just so long as you perform acts of Mercy?

This is theology done like that of Edgar Whisenant, whose interpretation of Matt. 24:36 allowed him to say, "However, this does not preclude or prevent the faithful from knowing the year, the month, and the week of the Lord's return." I reject your theory that Jesus intends to judge us only on what was listed in that passage.

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« Reply #53 on: May 26, 2005, 11:56:51 PM »

In the life of Saint Anthony the Great he saw demons that would fight for the soul of the recently reposed, and such refrences are common in the ascetical fathers (i.e the Evergetinos, Philokalia, Desert Fathers and Mothers, etc.).  Of course no highly structured system is found, but the basic concept of as the soul ascends after death demons will accuse it of sins and attempt to drag the soul to hell with them.  On the converse angels are there to speak of the virtues of the soul and lead it to heaven. 

I don't understand what so many people find objectionable in that. 
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« Reply #54 on: May 27, 2005, 12:10:38 AM »

The Panagia (may she pray for us) had no reason to fear the toll-houses as she was sinless.
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« Reply #55 on: May 27, 2005, 12:23:37 AM »

The Panagia (may she pray for us) had no reason to fear the toll-houses as she was sinless.

The more perfect we become the more aware of our unworthiness we become.  Since she was Most Holy she was Most Humble.
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« Reply #56 on: May 27, 2005, 12:39:35 AM »

Since the Orthodox do not believe in the legalistic system of "redemption" that is often found in Western confessions, sinless or not anyone created is in need of the creater, the redemptor.  Even the most pure of creation trembles in awe and fear in front of our God. 
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« Reply #57 on: May 27, 2005, 08:37:46 AM »



This is theology done like that of Edgar Whisenant, whose interpretation of Matt. 24:36 allowed him to say, "However, this does not preclude or prevent the faithful from knowing the year, the month, and the week of the Lord's return." I reject your theory that Jesus intends to judge us only on what was listed in that passage.



Fine, I resign. You're right, of course. I have offered testimony from many of the greatest church fathers. I have offered the interpretations of two of the great Modern Church fathers. You don't respond, you 'deny the need' to respond. You insist on scriptural proof, and then you deny scriptural proof. You list your religion as 'other'. Clearly, there is no point to this argument. Your arrogance and willfulness against seeing my point preclude it.

I turn it over to those far more blessed and able than I: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/tollhouse_pomaz.aspx

Refer especially to the interpretation of Hebrews 9:27 : "In accordance with simple logic and as also confirmed by the Word of God the soul immediately after its separation from the body enters into a sphere where its further fate is defined. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, we read in the Apostle Paul (Heb. 9:27). This is the Particular Judgement, which is independent of the universal Last Judgement."

Also, the final footnote: "However, Metropolitan Macarius does speak quite in detail on the subject of the tollhouses, devoting ten pages of his second volume to it (pp.528-538), and giving extensive quotes from Saints Cyril of Alexandria, Ephraim the Syrian, Athanasius the Great, Macarius the Great, John Chrysostom, Maximus the Confessor,and a number of other sources, including many texts from the Divine service books, and concluding that "such an uninterrupted, constant, and universal usage in the Church on the teaching of the toll-houses, especially among the teachers of the fourth century, indisputably testifies that it was handed down to them from the teachers of the preceding centuries and is founded on apostolic tradition" (p.535)."

When you can offer conclusive support for your argument, rather than just rejecting mine; when you can find a Church Father who actually, properly, denies that there are two judgements (the Particular and the Final), and denies the Toll Houses, come back to me.
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« Reply #58 on: May 27, 2005, 09:05:28 AM »

Keble,

I'm on your side of things. Orthodoxy has never claimed to know what/how happens after death, and this ornately constructed theory, imo, places an unhealthy focus on demons and takes the power and focus away from Christ. There are those who are convinced by the writings of a very recent saint and a very holy man, as if we were so quick to declare "Church Fathers" of them.  Generally, we take a few centuries to develop such claims, and even then, even our Church Fathers taught things that we reject. No one made them infalliable.  So everyone gets to spend their time thinking about Toll Houses and calculating precisely their ratio of good deeds to sins in order to find out how they'll fair in the afterlife they believe in, and meanwhile, the conscious focus on good deeds and the reason for doing them renders them ineffectual to making our souls closer to what God intends for them to be and Satan gets a double hit; our sin, and our focus on our deeds.
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« Reply #59 on: May 27, 2005, 09:23:57 AM »

So everyone gets to spend their time thinking about Toll Houses and calculating precisely their ratio of good deeds to sins in order to find out how they'll fair in the afterlife they believe in, and meanwhile, the conscious focus on good deeds and the reason for doing them renders them ineffectual to making our souls closer to what God intends for them to be and Satan gets a double hit; our sin, and our focus on our deeds.

Good call, CF.  While we (obviously) have the aspect of works playing a part in our salvation (cf. St. James' epistle), a preoccupation with works in and of themselves (instead of as a means to the end of a purified heart which longs for God) wherein God becomes a celestial tax-collector who weighs our deeds to determine our eternal destiny is unhealthy and--I'd say--unchristian.  That is, though, a temptation we have to fight against, an extreme that it IS possible to go to.

A question for Ebor and Keble: is there any teaching in Anglicanism about a particular judgement before the universal one?  'Cause, to me, whether or not we want to go full-scale literal with this "toll-house" idea (man, I want cookies right now! Wink), it DOES, in its most general (i.e. earliest) form seem to mesh with what Scripture says about "demons in the heavens" and a judgement of some sort directly after death.  Thoughts from you would be appreciated...
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« Reply #60 on: May 27, 2005, 10:13:56 AM »

Quote
Of course no highly structured system is found, but the basic concept of as the soul ascends after death demons will accuse it of sins and attempt to drag the soul to hell with them.  On the converse angels are there to speak of the virtues of the soul and lead it to heaven. 

I don't understand what so many people find objectionable in that.   

I think what people find objectionable is the highly structured system that has arisen from the concept itself. 

It reminds me much of what Roman Catholicism believes re: the concept of purgatory.  What began as an acknowledgement of a third state after death where the soul is purified degenerated into an exceptionally juridical system of indulgences that was inevitably abused.

I'm much more concerned with my actions now, when I am physically capable of choosing to do God's will on earth as we are charged with doing, than with what happens to my soul after death.  For as much as Fr. Seraphim of blessed memory decried the West's scholasticism and rationalism, his writings on the toll houses have done nothing but create Orthodoxy's own scholasticism.  The details about the toll houses might as well be found in Aquinas.
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« Reply #61 on: May 27, 2005, 10:18:43 AM »

Um I have a simple-stupid question, if we go to confession regularly, why would we even have to worry about this? I'm sorry but this whole "toll-house" thing kinda muddies the water for me.
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« Reply #62 on: May 27, 2005, 11:39:01 AM »

A question for Ebor and Keble: is there any teaching in Anglicanism about a particular judgement before the universal one?

 Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy :dunno:

You're looking for a teaching from an Anglican?

Seriously, this is what the catechism in the 1979 BCP says:

Quote
Q What do we mean by the last judgment?

A We believe that Christ will come in glory and judge the living and
the dead.

That's it. We simply don't have much use for dogmatic speculation about the life of the world to come. Lewis speculates about it in The Great Divorce, but he obviously doesn't mean it as an authoritative teaching.

In general, though, I'm guessing that any specific Anglican would say that there is one Judgement, and that Christ does it. And in general, we're sort of OK with the idea of Purgatory, but as a place of spiritual repair/preparation, not as a place of limited punishment. (That is, after all, what the word really means.) And we generally reject the notion of indulgences, especially when people start talking about the number of years one gets off for them.

And I don't think, from a metaphorical perspective, we would necessarily have any disagreement with a contest between angels and demons over the "souls" of the believers. What we have a problem with is the literalism and the systematization. I don't agree with the assumption that scripture is trying to give us a complete, systematic picture, because what we have in scripture is a lot of bits and pieces taken from many places that have to be assembled to get a full picture. Much of it is obviously intended mystically. I wouldn't presume to say, for instance, that the picture of Lazarus and the rich man is supposed to be taken as a literal description; the important part is the punch line about Moses and the prophets and one returned from the dead.

And I double that caveat about visions. The vision of Theodora is compelling and instructive, in its way, but "Ethiopians"? What she describes is in correspondence to what Dante writes in Il Purgatorio.
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« Reply #63 on: May 27, 2005, 12:36:09 PM »

Schultz,

Quote
I'm much more concerned with my actions now, when I am physically capable of choosing to do God's will on earth as we are charged with doing, than with what happens to my soul after death. For as much as Fr. Seraphim of blessed memory decried the West's scholasticism and rationalism, his writings on the toll houses have done nothing but create Orthodoxy's own scholasticism. The details about the toll houses might as well be found in Aquinas.

You see, that's just the thing - it's pretty clear (to me at least) that all Fr.Seraphim did was put together a book detailing what the Holy Fathers (both ancient and new) had come to know of the soul's journey after death. The conceptualization of this as involving "toll houses" is a part of that, but it's not even the whole story! It's a part of it, in so much as we can speak of such things. Yet for whatever reason, certain people make it seem as if Fr.Seraphim was giving us a new dogma, or an "Orthodox Purgatory". Yet, all he was in fact doing was giving details from traditions that originated with those holy ones who claimed some awareness of such things.

Some who object to all of this do so on the grounds that they find the concrete imagery involved (in particular, "toll houses") to be offensive. Yet, somehow the same people get around the book of the Apocalypse (or perhaps they don't?).

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« Reply #64 on: May 27, 2005, 12:51:18 PM »

Fr. Seraphim ends up being a scape goat it seems to me for whatever reason. What he wrote in "The Soul After Death" wasn't his own doctrine; what he wrote was handed down to him from Saint John Maximovitch, who in turn recieved that as part of the Russian spiritual inheritance (i.e Look at Saint Theophan the Reclulse and others who wrote no differently on the matter). And the highly "refined" version of the toll houses came from a vision of Saint Basil the New (reposed 944) to Saint Theodora (who was a contemporary of his, but I don't remember the exact date off hand), so it isn't that new either. For me at least reading the account of Saint Theodora serves as a good reminder of death and judgement - that if I continue on the sinful path I trod my inheritance is with the demons, not the saints.

I haven't ever seen the highly refined form of toll houses forced on people (from a synod of bishops, or legitimate teaching authority) only the general concept found in the desert fathers. I think what is most troubling though is the great lengths that anti-tollhouse crowd is willing to go. The term "gnostic heresy" is thrown around very loosely. I find it very sad that 'faithful' Orthodox would apply such a term to a belief held by a large number of saints. I think with Father Seraphim the issue wasn't toll-houses so much as the approach these people took towards evaluating them. They had the mindset that they were the only true Orthodox people left on earth and somehow better than their predacessors. Both the zealot/schismatics such as the current ROAC group or HOCNA and the Father Alexander Schmemman group within the Church were violently opposed to them - the former leaving the Church entirely because of their arrogance and the latter claiming the Church Abroad to not be part of the Church! If anything I do think the fierce opposition to toll houses does perhaps signal deeper problems below the surface.
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« Reply #65 on: May 27, 2005, 01:24:58 PM »

It's not necessary that we should look at our "tolls" as works in and of themselves.  Sure, whether or not we pass through a certain gate may depend on the amount of good works we performed, but it is looked at in such a way that the good works are natural consequences or indications of how much inner repentance our heart went under.

So there really is no need to look at the toll-house theory in a juridical/legalistic light.

I know this might serve as a bad example (I can't think of a better one for the time being), but it's kinda like some elitist/secret-society dinner function.  The price is $3000 per place-at-a-table, but the point isn't whether or not you have $3000 to pay the front-man.....the point is that anyone who pays $3000 to sit at this dinner has got to be someone important and "in the know".....same with toll-houses...the point isn't whether or not "this good deed" out-weighs "that bad deed", but about what all these things indicate about the state of your heart.

Does that make sense?
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« Reply #66 on: May 27, 2005, 01:30:51 PM »

I think what is most troubling though is the great lengths that anti-tollhouse crowd is willing to go. The term "gnostic heresy" is thrown around very loosely.

The problem, unfortunately, is that it isn't being thrown around that loosely. The notion of weighing the soul on the basis of good and evil deeds goes right back into ancient Egypt and can be traced directly through gnostic teachings.
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« Reply #67 on: May 27, 2005, 01:46:22 PM »

Both the zealot/schismatics such as the current ROAC group

While former-bishop Gregory, before he was retired and excommunicated did espouse an anti-tollhouse rhetoric and did claim it to be the teaching of the ROAC when he was a part of her, this in fact is not true and the ROAC would agree with the historical Russian Church on their metaphorical existance as Father Seraphim has drawen out in the Introduction to THE SOUL AFTER DEATH. You are correct that the deposed former-ROCOR Deacon Lazar Puhalo (Now in the OCA as a retired Archbishop with universal rights to serve and preach) and HOCNA are violently anti-toll houses, I did want to clarify the position of the ROAC.
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« Reply #68 on: May 27, 2005, 01:58:31 PM »

Quote
The problem, unfortunately, is that it isn't being thrown around that loosely. The notion of weighing the soul on the basis of good and evil deeds goes right back into ancient Egypt and can be traced directly through gnostic teachings.

If you honestly think the Desert Fathers and the vast majority of Saints (actually I know of no anti-toll house saints) were gnostic heretics, then so be it.  Then you are the only true criterion of Truth - the same delusion that all past heretics and schismatics have held. 
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« Reply #69 on: May 27, 2005, 02:29:37 PM »

Uh guys, I am still confused. If we make a good confession regularly, does the toll-house belief even come into play?
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« Reply #70 on: May 27, 2005, 02:33:16 PM »

Well if even saints saw need to be fearful of the dread judgement....
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« Reply #71 on: May 27, 2005, 02:39:38 PM »

If you honestly think the Desert Fathers and the vast majority of Saints (actually I know of no anti-toll house saints) were gnostic heretics, then so be it. Then you are the only true criterion of Truth - the same delusion that all past heretics and schismatics have held.

My question to you is how you know that they do endorse the toll-house theory as expounded by the Russian-Americans cited here. I don't actually wish to accuse anyone of gnosticism per se. My point is rather that this "balancing" is a folk/pagan tradition found all over, except in scripture. Indeed, it seems to me that scripture teaches that, in such a weighing, everyone would fail, save Jesus. This is one of the reasons we require salvation. Scripture doesn't teach that you have to do enough good deeds to outweigh the bad that you do (or confess enough of them, which simply makes confession a special form of good deed).
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« Reply #72 on: May 27, 2005, 02:47:36 PM »

Quote
I think what is most troubling though is the great lengths that anti-tollhouse crowd is willing to go.

Nektarios,

While I agree with you for the most part in most everything you've said regarding this subject, the thing I find the most troubling is the great lengths BOTH sides go to in order to get their points across. As you said, you "haven't ever seen the highly refined form of toll houses forced on people (from a synod of bishops, or legitimate teaching authority) only the general concept found in the desert fathers." Yet many people who advocate the toll-house concept go beyond the basic idea and try to force the imagery of the concept down the throats of those who are only skeptical, much like I've never seen an anti-toll house advocate do anything but try to shove their ideas down the throat of the believer. It really just ends up with both sides entrenched in their own ideas and the skeptic or the inquirer is left looking at two very un-Christian acting groups and moving on. Both sides end up practically issuing anathemas at one another and looking like petulant little children of Satan rather than loving children of God.

There are far more important things we should be getting riled up about than what happens to the soul after death. We'll all find out soon enough and be judged accordingly. Hypothetically speaking, if they are there, those who denied them will be tormented just like those who affirm them, each dealing with his or her own special torments. If they are not there, those who affirmed them will be bewildered but I'm sure glad while those who denied them will, hopefully, not be smug.

In the end, no matter what faces us after death, it is the mercy of God Himself that decides how we will spend eternity.

I also agree with you regarding the scape goating of Fr. Seraphim. Ironically, the only person who I've ever seen be charitable in discussing this subject has been Fr. Seraphim himself!

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« Reply #73 on: May 27, 2005, 02:52:39 PM »

Well if even saints saw need to be fearful of the dread judgement....
Then what's the point of confession at all if we are going to be judged for everything anyway?
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« Reply #74 on: May 27, 2005, 04:43:46 PM »

Quote
My question to you is how you know that they do endorse the toll-house theory as expounded by the Russian-Americans cited here.

As for the saints before the 944 date previously cited, I agree you could make that argument.  But I do not know of any (and I would assume the anti-tollhouse groups would cite them heavily if they did exist) saints to speak out against them after that date.  But I also think it is important to look how they were spoken of.  Saint Theophan spoke of the refined "Russian style" toll-houses in a letter to a young women preparing for confession - thus making them an examination of conscience.  And even to Father Seraphim I think this was primarily a pastoral issue.

Here is from the glossary of the book "Counsels from the Holy Mountain" by Elder Ephraim that I think speaks very clearly on the matter:

Toll Houses (-ä+¦++-ë+++¦+¦): According to the Holy Fathers*, when a person dies, his soul ascends to the throne of God to be judged, and the demons as "tax-collectors" try to prevent his ascent at various "toll-houses" where they examine if the soul has sins that have not been confessed, and they even accuse the soul of sins not committed.  If so, they cast the soul into hell at once before it even reaches the throne of God. Of course, the toll-houses are not material entities, but spiritual realities which the Holy Fathers chose to describe with material imagery.

 * Although some modern theologians doubt the existence of the toll-houses, toll-houses are mentioned either explicitly or implicitly by countless saints, including St. Paul, St. Makarios of Egypt, St. Basil the Great, St. Ephraim the Syrian, Abba Isaiah, St. Hesychius the Presbyter, St. Diadochos of Photiki, St. Theognostos, St. Athanasios the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. John of the Ladder, St. John of Damascus, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. Theophan the Recluse, St. John of Krondstadt, and St. John Maximovitch.


Now maybe this is just another case of the Greeks getting it right (with simplicity) while the Russians get carried away...


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« Reply #75 on: May 27, 2005, 04:49:07 PM »

Quote
Now maybe this is just another case of the Greeks getting it right (with simplicity) while the Russians get carried away...

From reading Elder Ephraim's words, I think you may be right, particularly because of the final sentence.
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« Reply #76 on: May 28, 2005, 02:28:03 AM »

My opinion only, and God forgive me if I am mistaken;

However, in my heart, I feel that Jesus Our Lord, "Through His Wounds WE are Healed...."

So I find it hard to see us being "abused" on the way to Heaven since Jesus Our Lord is the "Key" to Heaven in faith, love, prayers and fastings we should not have fear, but only devotion to Jesus Christ with love.

Thus, in my view, with the best living in Christ we could do our layman best, that we are Saved through Jesus Christ Our Savior.

Thanks for hearing me out.

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« Reply #77 on: May 28, 2005, 07:35:26 AM »

ahlan, ya Hadel 7aalek?..........you are right, but we must appropriate that healing.  Those who do not appropriate that healing adequately will have to suffer the consequences....i.e. the demons will have a legal (although that word, "legal", has juridical connotations that I don't care for) right to make grabs at our souls on our ascent.
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« Reply #78 on: May 28, 2005, 08:44:09 AM »

ahlan, ya Hadel 7aalek?..........you are right, but we must appropriate that healing. Those who do not appropriate that healing adequately will have to suffer the consequences....i.e. the demons will have a legal (although that word, "legal", has juridical connotations that I don't care for) right to make grabs at our souls on our ascent.

Yes, I understand what you are saying "Idontlikenames" so I am saying with a good heart and good intensions with Christ....following the words of Christ, and strong belief...the demons might try in temptations, but your love and faith will prevail....God knows, so I leave my love and faith in God.


Thus, My heart and faith tells me and i deeply pray by God's will, to see heaven with my family.

Ma Sal'lam!

In Christ, Hadel
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« Reply #79 on: March 12, 2009, 02:44:34 PM »

So.  Does anyone want to talk about toll houses?  They've been on my mind lately.  While the idea is repugnant to me, and seems to be pretty merciless, I unfortunately think that they might be real.  In which case, because I'm an inveterate sinner and very forgetful and inexperienced in confession- I'm pretty much screwed. 

What can we do besides try our best to repent in this life?  I'm weak, my flesh is weak, my mind is weak...if I honestly forget to confess a sin, is God not going to have mercy on me even though I am truly struggling?  Will He really let the demons throw me in hell for this? 

I have been Orthodox for about a year now.  I know I have found the true faith, but sometimes it seems awfully harsh and lonely, and ideas like the toll houses make me despair because I know I'll never be totally pure when I die.   Sad
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« Reply #80 on: March 12, 2009, 03:12:51 PM »

Dear si2008,
even if I'm maybe unworthy to help you in this, I feel you need some comfortation, so I'm here.
Saint Paul teaches without any doubt that there are sins which are worse then others and exclude from the Kingdom of Heaven. This is a truth we can't deny. Nevertheless, God is love. Give a look at 1 John 1:5-8. That assures us that our sins are purged in Christ's blood when we show true repentance, and also that ALL people - even the saints - are sinners. Don't be afraid of the mysteries concerning the toll-houses. I believe the toll-houses are nothing but visions who convey spiritual truths, more or less like the prophecies of John in the Apocalypse (don't expect to see a real seven-headed beast...) or account of creation in Genesis 1. Nobody has ever experienced how God created the universe, nor has yet observed what the world will pass through in the End of Times, so God reveals it through an imagery which conveys true spiritual teachings but this ain't to be taken literally.
The same we can say of the toll-houses... The depiction of the afterworld as a series of judgments and payments, the risk of being thrown to hell, the menaces and innuendo of the devils... these are all ideas which try to convey the idea of a balance between God's judgment and our free will to accept his love... our inner fight between good and evil during our lifetime. The timing of 40 days is a spiritual symbol for a purification (as Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, or the Jews 40 years before entering Canaan) which prepares for the bliss of paradise.
I repeat: don't be afraid. None of us is perfect in this life, yet it is God's will that we might be offered salvation under continuous repentance and struggle against temptation. All you can do is continuing your progress in the Faith, and humility is always the key for salvation, since pride is the first of all sins...
Maybe you should read more texts on the toll-houses imagery. If you look closely you'll understand how God intervenes to stop the devils in their accusations... I read one of them some time ago of a girl being rescued by a saint during the process... this is a way to show our link to the other brothers in the Christian faith who have now access to God in a fuller manner.

I hope this helps... and keep this in mind: Christians should not fear hell, they should hope in paradise, since hope is a virtue together with faith and charity.

God bless you, dear si2008!

In Christ, your brother Alex
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« Reply #81 on: March 12, 2009, 03:20:57 PM »

This is so weird, I just finished reading Blessed Seraphim's book about an hour ago!  I am a total novice when it comes to Orthodox matters, but I will say that I found his treatment on the Aerial Toll-Houses to be excellent, and quite convincing.  Right off the bat, I'd say I'm pretty sold on it.  It seems to make sense, but as Blessed Seraphim states several times, these images are meant to convey spiritual truths, so they should not be taken in a totally literal sense.
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« Reply #82 on: March 12, 2009, 03:38:15 PM »

Quote
It seems to make sense, but as Blessed Seraphim states several times, these images are meant to convey spiritual truths, so they should not be taken in a totally literal sense.
PRECISELY.
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« Reply #83 on: March 12, 2009, 04:31:48 PM »

This is so weird, I just finished reading Blessed Seraphim's book about an hour ago!  I am a total novice when it comes to Orthodox matters, but I will say that I found his treatment on the Aerial Toll-Houses to be excellent, and quite convincing.
How so?

Right off the bat, I'd say I'm pretty sold on it.
Why do you choose to believe what Fr. Seraphim has to say?  Have you read other Orthodox perspectives on the teaching of the toll houses?

I'm not questioning Fr. Seraphim on this, since such would be the proper focus of a separate query; I'm just questioning the thoroughness of your own investigation into the matter of the toll house doctrine.
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« Reply #84 on: March 13, 2009, 02:26:02 AM »

For those not yet reduced to a state of narcolepsy by this debate, here is something from Dr Jurretta Heckscher, an intelligent reaction when she encountered the tollhouse theory.
 
Fr Ambrose

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Toll Houses: dogma, a logic of damnation, and taking the implications seriously

May, 2003

 
To judge by this and other discussions on other Orthodox lists I've
been involved in, the topic of the toll-houses is a perennial source of
agitation.

In fairness, I must say frankly that I remain deeply skeptical of the
toll-house belief, at least as I understand to be its fully developed
form: (a) that after death each person enters into a series of
terrifying accusatory encounters with demons, who in each of many
successive "toll houses" or trials (b) test him to find whether he has
been guilty of a specific type of sin, and ( c ) if they find him guilty
(i.e., not having repented and been absolved) of any one of those sins,
take him to Hell to await the Last Judgment; in addition, I understand
that (d) the demons also try to tempt him to surrender to sin even in
death so that they may take him to Hell even if his earthly life alone
has not altogether warranted it. (My comments below however pertain to
the belief whether or not part (d) is considered to be part of it.)
Nevertheless, despite my skepticism, I really do remain open to
persuasion on the subject, and am posting this message in that spirit.

Fr. Ambrose and Steve Marin have strikingly raised the possibility that
the toll-house belief, though acknowledgedly not dogma or doctrine,
seems to be developing into such in some parts of the Orthodox Church.
With that insight in mind, I pose the following interrelated questions
to Father John and others who accept the belief in the toll houses. I
do so respectfully and in a sincere spirit of inquiry, not wishing to
score "points" but truly to understand the beliefs of others, and their
full implications, as I struggle with this concept myself. My basic
contention--of which I am happy to be disabused--is that the toll-house
belief cannot be optional, cannot be theologoumenon: if it has any
validity, it must be recognized as dogma, because it presents a logic
that significantly modifies certain essential elements of Orthodox
understanding.

1. The question of dogma, or doctrine. If the toll-houses are real,
how can they not be dogma? For any one of us as individuals, the
difference between (1) knowing that we will live and die as sinners but
must nevertheless struggle in all our imperfection to repent and trust
joyfully in God's mercy, looking forward eagerly to meeting Him "face to
face" after death, and (2), alternatively, knowing that despite God's
will for us, any sin that remains on our souls at death is sufficient to
doom us to Hell in the company of our demonic adjudicators, is more
than a matter of life and death; it is a matter of eternal life and
eternal death. It is the difference between dying in realistic sorrow
for one's sins yet realistic joyful trust in God and dying in realistic
terror of the decisive demonic trials that are to come. It is the
difference, in other words, between having ultimate hope in spite of all
that we have done and having ultimate terror in spite of all that Christ
has done. So I ask: how can a belief with such all-important
consequences not be regarded as dogma? Why has there not been more of
an effort to have this belief recognized as such? (By contrast, one
must at least do the Roman Church the justice to acknowledge that once
Catholics came to believe in Purgatory, they were right to recognize its
momentous importance and enshrine it as dogma.) Perhaps the
"development of dogma/doctrine" problem that Fr. Ambrose and Steve Marin
identify in relation to the toll houses is in fact not a problem but a
welcome step necessary to complete the Orthodox understanding of
salvation and damnation, much as St. Gregory Palamas's defense of
Hesychasm completed the Orthodox understanding of the nature of
theosis.

2. The question of our sinful nature. As Orthodox, we
know--intellectually at first, perhaps, but also eventually in our
hearts, as we continue to struggle spiritually--that our sinfulness is
more than a matter of specific sins; it is a matter of a condition of
sinfulness, a constant state of blindness and self-centeredness that
keeps us from loving God and others as we are called to do, and that
guarantees that even a few seconds after receiving absolution, we will
almost certainly have sinned again, if only by not being fully aware of
the beauty and lovableness of the first person we meet as we walk out of
church after confession. We sin, yes, but in some ways the deeper
problem is that we sin because we are sinful. (Those better than I at
memorizing Scripture can here supply the appropriate Pauline texts.)
How does the belief in the toll houses, with its affirmation of specific
trials for specific areas of sin, address this understanding that the
real problem is in some sense not "sins" but sinfulness; not so much
(except in obvious dire cases, such as murder) any particular act
committed or omitted, but our very condition; not the parts, but the
whole that is more--or, perhaps, less--than the sum of the parts?

3. The question of the nature of God's justice in contrast with human
and demonic justice (and here I do not mean primarily the very
problematic "fact" that in the toll houses it is the demons who judge
us, the demons who execute Divine justice). God's justice, as St. Isaac
the Syrian says, has almost nothing to do with human justice; what is
"just" about His sacrificial love for us? What is "just" about the
halting and reluctant steps of the Prodigal being met by the outpouring
of forgiveness and generosity from his father? (One thinks also of the
profound Russian folktale Dostoevsky recounts in The Brothers Karamazov,
about the woman in Hell who was almost released from it because she had
once shared an onion with a beggar--but at the last minute she claimed
the onion as hers exclusively, and so slipped back into Hell.) Such an
understanding turns the toll-house belief on its head: the toll houses
tell us that one unrepented sin is enough to damn us; the Gospels, St.
Isaac (among many others), and the theological wisdom of traditional
Russian culture tell us that God seeks endlessly to find some way to
save us, and suggest that one spontaneous act of love or repentance can
give Him the lever He longs to find to release us into His mercy. How
can these two beliefs be reconcile.
 
to be continued...

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« Reply #85 on: March 13, 2009, 09:46:42 AM »

This article raises a potentially serious problem since most of us are probably not even aware of this toll house doctrine. Personally I do not believe it (yes I know some do & that is their allowance) and do not have to believe it. A concept not in any form of catechism could be foisted as doctrine? Would disbelief of it be considered a heresy if this toll house teaching becomes doctrine? I do not care to discuss toll houses but rather its implications as a potential article of faith.
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« Reply #86 on: March 13, 2009, 10:08:22 AM »


Toll Houses: dogma, a logic of damnation, and taking the implications seriously

Part ii

4. The question of the nature of Hell. In accordance with our bedrock
belief in God's absolute love, at the heart of Orthodox Tradition
concerning Hell is the radical insight of St. Isaac and others
(including St. Paul, as in the great passage in Romans 8 about how
nothing can separate us from the love of Christ) that Hell is the
condition of being so opposed to God in one's inward being that the fire
of His love is experienced as torment. (See the justly famous article
by Dr. Alexandre Kalomiros, "The River of Fire," for a modern exposition
of this understanding.) This belief does indeed seem to recognize that
the problem is not so much any individual sin, determinative though such
can be, as the sum of sinfulness or unsinfulness that shapes the
ultimate condition of the person for eternity: in the end, in my inmost
heart, am I fundamentally turned toward God, however incompletely and
despite my sinfulness and failings, or am I fundamentally opposed to
Him, despite whatever superficial gestures I may have made in the
direction of righteousness? That is the difference between salvation
and damnation, between knowing Love as torment and knowing Love as joy.
As an Orthodox, I have always found this belief stunningly clear and
compelling. But how then can one reconcile such a belief with the
toll-house belief and its teaching that whatever the fundamental
orientation of the person, he (or she) may indeed be sentenced to Hell
if the demons find him guilty in any specific area of sin?

5. The question of the nature of sin. By the same token, doesn't the
toll-house belief teach us to see sin not as "missing the mark" (the
literal translation of the Greek hamartia)--that is, as a misdirection
of energies against Love, as the Fathers taught--but as a series of
legal infractions for which we will be legally accountable? (See
Christos Yannaras's brilliant work The Freedom of Morality for an
exposition of the Orthodoxy of the former understanding and the
heterodoxy of the latter.) And is it not just such juridical legalism
for which Orthodox take Roman Catholics so heavily to task? Yet the
whole problematic realm of Catholic teaching on this subject--merits,
indulgences, expiatory suffering in Purgatory, and so forth--at least
expounds a logic of salvation, however imperfectly conceived; the toll
houses, by contrast, expound a logic of damnation.

6. The question of the meaning of the Resurrection. In the shadow of
the toll houses, what is the meaning of the Resurrection for any one of
us? The demons of the toll houses will try us for sin after sin, and
if we are found guilty in any one of the "houses" of trial, we are
damned. I would venture to say that this makes it very likely that most
of us will be damned, and almost certain if we die in any state other
than that of immediate and complete repentance, confession, and
absolution. (We might wish to argue that prayers for the dead can
release them from Hell up until the Last Judgement, but to make that the
usual means of salvation would be to replace Christ's saving sacrifice
with the Church's saving prayer as the decisive soteriological element
in the destiny of most human beings.) Most of humanity, even most
Orthodox, will therefore go to the demons; Hell will be teeming, and
Heaven the abode of the rare few, the righteous remnant. (Even should I
have any reason to suppose that I myself may be able to elude the
demons, I can at death look with sober confidence on all whom I love in
this world in the safe assumption that I am parting from them forever,
that nearly all human love will founder in oblivion on the rock of
Divine and demonic justice as the vast sinning majority of mankind is
consigned to eternal fire: such is the logic of the toll houses.) Of
course, it is not necessary to believe in the toll houses to believe
that most people will be damned--most American Protestants, for example,
have historically believed this--but the toll-house belief does seem to
present the problem to Orthodox Christians in the starkest terms.

What then is the nature of our confidence in Christ's Resurrection? Is
it not simply the affirmation of a metaphysical possibility that we know
full well is unlikely to be realized in our own lives or those of nearly
all others? Perhaps so; perhaps that is the final meaning of Christ's
pronouncement that "many are called, but few are chosen."

But if this be true, what in the world do we do with our Paschal
proclamations, with St. Paul's confident joy, with the joyful assurance
of salvation that permeated the early Church, with the historical fact
that it was belief in the momentous significance of the Resurrection
that ignited the spread of Christianity from its earliest days? Why did
St. Serafim of Sarov typically greet visitors with the words "my joy,
Christ is Risen!," if the unspoken corollary was, "--but in truth, you
are probably damned anyway"? Why did St. Silouan of Mt. Athos declare
that "Love could not bear" to see anyone in Hell? As Fr. Ambrose
reminded us, St. John Chrysostom's Paschal Homily proclaims, "let none
fear death, for the death of the Savior has set us free"--but, however
much we may struggle with our weakness, if we do so honestly we will
know our perennial failure to avoid sin, and if we believe in the toll
houses we must therefore face death, if it is not simultaneous with
complete confession and absolution, in a state of abject terror. ( Let
us hope therefore to die in an Orthodox home or an Orthodox hospital so
that our appropriate terror may not discourage unbelievers from joining
the Church.)

So I ask again: Why does the Resurrection seem to mean so much to us
Orthodox if its effect on the eternal state of any one of us is likely
to be nil?
 
to be continued...
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« Reply #87 on: March 13, 2009, 11:09:05 AM »

Thank you for the article Fr. Ambrose.  The author poses all of my questions, except with more optimism and confidence.  When I read the Gospel and Epistles, I am filled with hope despite my sinfulness.  When I read Fr. Seraphim and others who subscribe to the reality of toll-houses, I am filled with fear and despair.  Sometimes I get the impression from the latter that we are not to trust any feelings of joy or hope, and we should only trust the feeling that we'll be damned.  If this is what saves, I can't see myself aquiring the Spirit of Peace, much less leading others to the true faith.

Sorry if I opened a topic others are bored of; thank you for the responses.   
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« Reply #88 on: March 13, 2009, 11:29:17 AM »

Thank you for the article Fr. Ambrose.  The author poses all of my questions, except with more optimism and confidence.  When I read the Gospel and Epistles, I am filled with hope despite my sinfulness.  When I read Fr. Seraphim and others who subscribe to the reality of toll-houses, I am filled with fear and despair.  Sometimes I get the impression from the latter that we are not to trust any feelings of joy or hope, and we should only trust the feeling that we'll be damned.  If this is what saves, I can't see myself aquiring the Spirit of Peace, much less leading others to the true faith.

Sorry if I opened a topic others are bored of; thank you for the responses.   

You have echoed my own feelings and beliefs beautifully. I never bought the toll house analogy. It just doesn't square with what I read in the scriptures.
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« Reply #89 on: March 13, 2009, 01:19:32 PM »

I would like to add that there are opinions that the toll house doctrine is a heresy and that does not seem healthy either. Since this is a belief held within communion those who adhere to it cannot be judged within such criteria. It is one of those agree to disagree situations (I would personally think).
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« Reply #90 on: March 13, 2009, 05:27:56 PM »

I would like to add that there are opinions that the toll house doctrine is a heresy and that does not seem healthy either. Since this is a belief held within communion those who adhere to it cannot be judged within such criteria. It is one of those agree to disagree situations (I would personally think).

Yeaaaah...but even if I shrug it off with "agree to disagree", it's still either true or not true.  Or comprehensible by sinners or incomprehensible.  Exactly as you stated, it's a belief held by many influential and by all accounts godly Orthodox, which is why it is so troubling to me.  Sometimes it feels like Orthodoxy is being torn in doctrine and belief just as violently as Western Christianity; the Church just hasn't had a council to make some of these ideas definitive or not. 

I would like to think AlexanderofBergamo's response is what Fr. Seraphim Rose et al are aiming for; spiritual truths/visions that we have the power to fend off if we are ultimately oriented toward Christ.  But what I'm hearing is too literal, too juridical to be a metaphor or vision.  And ya know, I'm terrible at taking tests under pressure even if I know the right answers, so why should this doctrine be of no import to me even though I'm a struggling Christian?
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« Reply #91 on: March 13, 2009, 07:19:19 PM »

Toll Houses: dogma, a logic of damnation, and taking the implications seriously

Part iii

 
Of course I am fully aware of the teachings throughout our Tradition,
but particularly in Christ's parables and in the writings of ascetics
throughout the ages, that counsel us to be mindful always of the
nearness of death and therefore of the very real possibility that any of
our acts or thoughts may turn us decisively from God and onto the path
toward Hell. But it has always seemed to me that this is a matter of
taking our eternal course seriously and recognizing the eternal
implications of all our acts, whether loving or evil, trivial or
momentous: it is not that we are to be terrified of being caught
breaking the rules even at the last moment, as the toll-house belief
would teach us, but that we are to recognize that our lives unceasingly
weave a pattern which points us toward eternal life or eternal death,
and that death itself is the symbol and gateway of our passage into
eternity.

Yet Orthodoxy surely also teaches that such constant repentant
awareness of death can only be understood and lived aright if it is
paradoxically infused and balanced with an absolute, unreasonable,
unjust, unshakable, and entire trust and confidence in Christ's love, in
His mercy, and in the truth that His Death and Resurrection have indeed
opened for us the gates of the Kingdom in spite of all that we have done
and will forever do to hang Him upon the Cross. My human logic cannot
resolve that paradox, but I have always believed that as an Orthodox
Christian I must hold to it with my last breath and therefore refuse to
despair even as I acknowledge my endless sins. The teaching about the
toll houses, however, seems to me to tilt the balance-beam of anguish
and trust decisively in the direction of anguish; it seems to me to
replace the realism of Paschal joy with a realism of terror; it seems to
me to make the demons, rather than Christ Himself, the mediator(s)
between God and man after death; and it seems to me to make the decisive
encounter after death not that between the person and God but that
between the person and demons. And it seems to me to make participation
in Christ's Resurrection a faint hope; a gallant belief to be maintained
for strategic purposes against all odds, perhaps, but one that is very,
very unlikely to be realized.

Please understand, again, that I am not raising these questions
facetiously; I am truly struggling to understand how a belief that seems
to me redolent of the imagination (though not of course of the specific
tenets) of Calvinism, and more portentous in its exacting legalism than
the most legalistic elements of the Latin heritage, can be believed by
so many to be central to Orthodoxy--and whether it is therefore indeed
incumbent on me as an Orthodox Christian to accept it. Note that I am
not arguing the origins, geographic breadth, or historical depth of the
belief; those are separate and obviously intensely contentious
questions, but I'm willing to accept for the sake of argument that the
toll-house belief is both ancient and widespread within Orthodoxy
(though I can't resist paraphrasing St. Cyprian of Carthage to the
effect that the ancientness of a belief may simply be an indication of
the persistence of error). My concern is rather with the implications
of the toll-house belief, because it seems to me that these are so
important that they must be explored and acknowledged in the light of
Tradition and the belief itself accordingly either rejected as a
misguided overinterpretation of some of the metaphorical glimpses the
Lord has offered to certain pious people concerning a subject He wishes
us to entrust almost entirely to Him--or accepted as far more important
to Orthodoxy than even most of its ardent proponents have hitherto been
willing to recognize.

Am I wrong?

Yours in Christ,

--Jurretta Heckscher





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Heckscher
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Washington, D.C. 20540-4604
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« Reply #92 on: May 03, 2009, 05:57:00 PM »

Can anyone explain what the Orthodox teaching is concerning toll houses? Thanks
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« Reply #93 on: May 03, 2009, 06:32:59 PM »

Can anyone explain what the Orthodox teaching is concerning toll houses? Thanks

Good luck with that question.  Smiley  I've tried for years to get a coherent definition of the toll houses from their adherents. 

The concept was popularised in the 1970s by hieromonk Seraphim Rose of California but his own writings are contradictory.

At the bottom of this page you'll find links to previous discussions of the toll houses.
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« Reply #94 on: May 03, 2009, 06:36:21 PM »

The Toll Houses don't exist. And even if you met a demon on your way to the Judgement Seat, you would simply have to say: "The Light of Christ shines on all, but you are in darkness and therefore I cannot see you".
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« Reply #95 on: May 03, 2009, 06:39:59 PM »

Oh, they exist alright:

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« Reply #96 on: May 03, 2009, 06:46:45 PM »

^Is that what you have to pay the demons to get through their Toll Houses? Cheesy

The very idea of paying demons anything is ludicrous. Demons can accuse us all they want, but they do not judge us, God does. Why would we have to give an account of ourselves to demons, let alone have to "pay" them anything to get past them? I think if you stood before Christ and told him that you had been chatting with demons on the way and making offerings to them, it would not stand in your favour when you faced His Judgement!
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« Reply #97 on: May 03, 2009, 06:56:50 PM »

Those cookies look really good hmmm yummy  Grin . I guess this is one, hairy subject?. Somehow I thought it would be similar to the definition of Purgatory. That's why I ask  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #98 on: May 03, 2009, 06:58:25 PM »

I guess this is one, hairy subject?

It's as hairy as the Forerunner's shirt.
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« Reply #99 on: May 03, 2009, 07:27:43 PM »

I paid one on the PA Turnpike the other day - $6 for 75 miles of travel or 8 cents a mile which is pretty expensive....
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« Reply #100 on: May 03, 2009, 07:41:45 PM »

I paid one on the PA Turnpike the other day - $6 for 75 miles of travel or 8 cents a mile which is pretty expensive....
I was waiting for someone to post a comment like this  Cool. Congrats!
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« Reply #101 on: May 03, 2009, 07:50:40 PM »

Fr.Miroslav Mentioned the tollhouses once ,He actually believed in them ,,So I believe in Toll houses..
What is the difference if one believes in them or not...
The person that does accept the toll houses, will walk the straight and narrower Path
not wanting to confront, those accusing demons when death comes a calling...

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« Reply #102 on: May 04, 2009, 01:10:39 AM »

Fr.Miroslav Mentioned the tollhouses once ,He actually believed in them ,,So I believe in Toll houses..

He must be a very holy man, for you to so trust his judgment on the matter.  But then again, we should all be able to trust our spiritual fathers...
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« Reply #103 on: May 04, 2009, 04:31:48 AM »

Fr.Miroslav Mentioned the tollhouses once ,He actually believed in them ,,So I believe in Toll houses..

He must be a very holy man, for you to so trust his judgment on the matter.  But then again, we should all be able to trust our spiritual fathers...


Im not sure ....When he speaks there is a musical tone or quality in his voice from all the chanting of the Divine Lturgies, if that is a sign of holiness, maybe i don't know if i can explain it anymore more clear...
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« Reply #104 on: May 04, 2009, 04:51:44 AM »

I paid one on the PA Turnpike the other day - $6 for 75 miles of travel or 8 cents a mile which is pretty expensive....

The PA toll charges may be outrageous but they aren't heretical...
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« Reply #105 on: May 04, 2009, 07:10:35 AM »

Dear ozgeorge, you wrote:
Quote
^Is that what you have to pay the demons to get through their Toll Houses?

The very idea of paying demons anything is ludicrous. Demons can accuse us all they want, but they do not judge us, God does. Why would we have to give an account of ourselves to demons, let alone have to "pay" them anything to get past them? I think if you stood before Christ and told him that you had been chatting with demons on the way and making offerings to them, it would not stand in your favour when you faced His Judgement!

Sorry for contradicting you, but it doesn't seem this is Christ's teaching...

Matthew 5:25-26 (see also Lk 12:58)
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.


Now, since Jesus spoke aramaic or hebrew, I might assume he said "satan" for "adversary"... or am I wrong?
Of course I'm not in favour of a too literal interpretation of the toll-houses... I interpret them as an allegorical and mystical description of the inner process of one's awareness in front of God's judgment, having angels to represent our good actions and devils representing our "dark side". The fact that the souls "feel" to be passing through the toll-houses may also be an allegory for the duration of the process of deification.

But in the end... why bother so much? Destiny of the souls after death is and remains a theologumenon until a doctrine doesn't entirely contradict the Gospel of Christ and the Holy Tradition of the Church. Since many mystics had revelation of the toll-houses we shouldn't be so hostile to such a description of the Particular judgment, don't you think?

Your unworthy brother in Christ,
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« Reply #106 on: May 04, 2009, 07:57:30 AM »

Dear ozgeorge, you wrote:
Quote
^Is that what you have to pay the demons to get through their Toll Houses?

The very idea of paying demons anything is ludicrous. Demons can accuse us all they want, but they do not judge us, God does. Why would we have to give an account of ourselves to demons, let alone have to "pay" them anything to get past them? I think if you stood before Christ and told him that you had been chatting with demons on the way and making offerings to them, it would not stand in your favour when you faced His Judgement!

Sorry for contradicting you, but it doesn't seem this is Christ's teaching...

Matthew 5:25-26 (see also Lk 12:58)
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.


Now, since Jesus spoke aramaic or hebrew, I might assume he said "satan" for "adversary"... or am I wrong?

Well, it doesn't quite chime with how some of the holy Fathers interpreted "adversary" in this verse.  They see the "adversary" as our conscience.

Saint Abba Dorotheos and others explain the Saviour's parable:

"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison."   (Lk.12:58).

St Dorotheos and other fathers explain that "the adversary" is a person's conscience with which he must be reconciled in this life ~Instruction 3, para.42.

Strangely some people have interpreted the "adversary" or "accuser" here as being Satan or his demons. One wonders how they could imagine that Christ is advising us to "be reconciled with Satan and his demons in the way."


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« Reply #107 on: May 04, 2009, 09:07:18 AM »

...The person that does accept the toll houses, will walk the straight and narrower Path...
OK, whatever.... Roll Eyes
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« Reply #108 on: May 04, 2009, 10:19:02 AM »

Fr.Miroslav Mentioned the tollhouses once ,He actually believed in them ,,So I believe in Toll houses..
What is the difference if one believes in them or not...
The person that does accept the toll houses, will walk the straight and narrower Path
not wanting to confront, those accusing demons when death comes a calling...



Oh, I don't know about that. I've known folks who believed this gnostic idea and they certainly didn't appear to walk any straight and narrow path; no more so than folks who don't hold to this notion, that is.
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« Reply #109 on: May 04, 2009, 10:34:36 AM »

Oh, I don't know about that. I've known folks who believed this gnostic idea and they certainly didn't appear to walk any straight and narrow path; no more so than folks who don't hold to this notion, that is.
I completely agree.
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« Reply #110 on: May 04, 2009, 11:21:39 AM »

I paid one on the PA Turnpike the other day - $6 for 75 miles of travel or 8 cents a mile which is pretty expensive....

The PA toll charges may be outrageous but they aren't heretical...

I felt every expansion joint between Valley Forge interchange and somewhere between Reading and Lancaster interchanges.  That is a heresy for I-83 was a much smoother ride and non-toll.   angel
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« Reply #111 on: May 04, 2009, 12:35:18 PM »

I have heard that there is a way of understanding toll-houses that is much more symbolic, instead of overly literal. Can anyone mention anything about this? Is a more symbolic interpretation original to the teaching of toll-houses? Or is it an innovation meant to make it more acceptable?
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« Reply #112 on: May 04, 2009, 02:01:58 PM »

Sorry for contradicting you, but it doesn't seem this is Christ's teaching...

Matthew 5:25-26 (see also Lk 12:58)
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

I disagree; I see this as a purely human situation. I think here Christ was admonishing us to make restitution for our mistakes quickly, because if we ignore or fight those who accuse us of wrongdoing, we may end up making the situation worse.
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« Reply #113 on: May 04, 2009, 02:08:37 PM »

I moved this topic from Convert Issues Forum to Moderated Forums - Faith issues where the topic has been discussed frequently in the past. As the Toll Houses are a "Faith" and not a "convert issue" this  move will enable you to discuss the issue in the proper forum. I hope that your discussion will contineu, also don't forget to read the many other topics listed at the bottom of this  forum referring to Toll House discussions in the past.

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« Reply #114 on: May 04, 2009, 02:12:55 PM »

Well, Satan has been characterized as the great accuser. It seems to me a reasonable assumption that he will accuse us at the Judgment. And we know that there will be a Judgment which suggests that our lives are going to be completely open for all to see. Christ the Lord will wipe away all tears, suggesting there will be tears. My objection to a literal interpretation of this tale is that the Lord alone will be my Judge and not some demon or even Satan himself. Only the Lord has this prerogative. In addition, to suggest that He might make use of demons or Satan to render His judgment seems to me an obscene idea. What has light to do with darkness? Then there is the whole notion of excess merits of departed Saints in the Lord which is brought into this tale. The Lord alone is worthy and as I cooperate with Him in working out my salvation in a synergistic fashion, salvation will be received. The idea, as one poster stated, that this fearful tale will somehow keep us on the straight and narrow is downright laughable. Running a gauntlet of demons in the afterlife is about as middle-ages as it gets (along with a literal lake of burning fire and Satan with his pitch fork).

The only symbolism that I would entertain is one that is connected with judgment. We know we will die. We know we will stand before the Lord and be judged. Beyond that we know very little (if in fact anything). We need to redeem the time as best we can "while it is yet day" for the "night comes in which no man works."
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« Reply #115 on: July 12, 2009, 03:30:21 AM »

This article raises a potentially serious problem since most of us are probably not even aware of this toll house doctrine. Personally I do not believe it (yes I know some do & that is their allowance) and do not have to believe it. A concept not in any form of catechism could be foisted as doctrine? Would disbelief of it be considered a heresy if this toll house teaching becomes doctrine? I do not care to discuss toll houses but rather its implications as a potential article of faith.

Sorry to resurrect this thread again, but no one seemed to answer recent convert's question. If there was a discussion, was it moved?
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« Reply #116 on: July 12, 2009, 04:15:59 AM »

This article raises a potentially serious problem since most of us are probably not even aware of this toll house doctrine. Personally I do not believe it (yes I know some do & that is their allowance) and do not have to believe it. A concept not in any form of catechism could be foisted as doctrine? Would disbelief of it be considered a heresy if this toll house teaching becomes doctrine? I do not care to discuss toll houses but rather its implications as a potential article of faith.

Sorry to resurrect this thread again, but no one seemed to answer recent convert's question. If there was a discussion, was it moved?

Dear Riddikulus and recent convert,

Please read this message in another thread

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13820.msg328999.html#msg328999

Basically it shows that in Russia the tollhouses lack general acceptance.   It would not be possible to "foist" it on the Church since it so obviously is not an accepted part of the 2 millennia of Orthodox teaching. 
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« Reply #117 on: July 12, 2009, 04:22:50 AM »

Would disbelief of it be considered a heresy if this toll house teaching becomes doctrine? I do not care to discuss toll houses but rather its implications as a potential article of faith.
IF the toll house teaching were to become dogma, then I suppose it would be heretical by definition to not believe the teaching.  That said, I don't think toll house teaching will ever become a dogma, since it really doesn't have any foundation in that faith which has been believed everywhere at all times by all the faithful.
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« Reply #118 on: July 12, 2009, 04:35:11 AM »

[  That said, I don't think toll house teaching will ever become a dogma, since it really doesn't have any foundation in that faith which has been believed everywhere at all times by all the faithful.

Agreed!

We would have to explain why the tollhouses were unknown to the Church in the 10th century? When Paul of Thebes wished to know what happens to the soul after death he had no idea about any tollhouses. At the prayers of his spiritual father Saint Basil the New the newly reposed Saint Theodora (also Basil's disciple) visited Paul in a dream and revealed the existence of tollhouses and all the ghoulish details. The tale is called "Theodora's Journey through the Aerial TollHouses" - a foundational document for tollers.  It's a medieval version of a modern horror film. It is *just* the sort of apocryphal stuff which the Church rejected in deciding on the contents of the Bible. 

Prior to this vision Saint Paul of Thebes knew nothing of the toll houses.  (He was in the same blessed state as I was prior to Fr Seraphim Rose!)

Paul's lack of knowledge is proof that the tollhouses formed no part of the "Orthodox phronema" in the 10th century in Constantinople. After this vision he was forbidden by Saint Basil to reveal Saint Theodora's revelations to anybody.  This prohibition is yet more proof the tollhouses were unknown in the Church and not part of its Tradition.
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« Reply #119 on: July 12, 2009, 05:11:52 AM »


Prior to this vision Saint Paul of Thebes knew nothing of the toll houses.  (He was in the same blessed state as I was prior to Fr Seraphim Rose!)


 laugh I suppose I shouldn't laugh, but I did! I have always been of the opinion that this tollhouse business is another of Fr Seraphim's odd tangents.
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« Reply #120 on: July 12, 2009, 11:50:45 AM »

  (He was in the same blessed state as I was prior to Fr Seraphim Rose!)




Now THAT is funny!  laugh
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« Reply #121 on: September 04, 2009, 10:18:04 AM »

"Can  you offer up enough sins that, by them, you can tilt the balance of justice against the precious blood which I shed on the Cross for this man?   Behold  My murder and death, which I endured for the forgiveness of his sins."

The  Lord Jesus Christ to Satan, Evergetinos, Book I, Hypothesis I, E.
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« Reply #122 on: September 04, 2009, 01:51:54 PM »

I think the only unforgivable sin is one not repented of.

Russian Old Slavonic manuscripts dating to the 13th century still exist which explain the itinerary of our moral pilgrimage after, or at, the separation from this world, showing the penalties and sufferings that can be expected. These are quite similar to those found in the Apocalypse’s 21st chapter.

The teaching really comes from the tenth century, not that its anceintness makes it worthy.

The idea that if we do not repent from sin is worthy, that is what I would make of it.

There is a booklet published by Holy Trinity Monastery called A Journey Beyond Death which has an interesting sketch on the first page. It shows The Broad Way, that has so many people dressed in sensual clothing, smoking tobacco, busy working in industry and all speeding their way along this wide path. There are passenger planes, cruise ships, cars, bicycles and all manner of people with their dogs all following in the way pointed down by the demon.

Let us all hope that we will be of the few that find the more hidden, narrow and difficult way that leads upwards and away from such things.

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« Reply #123 on: September 04, 2009, 01:54:28 PM »

Grace and Peace,

I don't deny the existent of 'toll-houses' as the Saints envisioned them. I frankly would like to read the sources. Are there any translated english texts of these sources?


The Orthodox tradition on the judgement of the soul after death, and the

passage of the soul through the “toll-houses”, was summarized by St.

Macarius the Great as follows: “When the soul of man departs out of the body,

a great mystery is there accomplished. If it is under the guilt of sins, there

come bands of demons, and angels of the left hand, and powers of darkness

that take over that soul, and hold it fast on their side. No one ought to be

surprised at this. If, while alive and in this world, the man was subject and

compliant to them, and made himself their bondsman, how much more, when

he departs out of this world, is he kept down and held fast by them. That this

is the case, you ought to understand from what happens on the good side.

God’s holy servants even now have angels continually beside them, and holy

spirits encompassing and protecting them; and when they depart out of the

body, the hands of angels take over their souls to their own side, into the pure

world, and so they bring them to the Lord…
 

“Like tax-collectors sitting in the narrow ways, and laying hold upon the

passers-by, so do the demons spy upon souls and lay hold of them; and when

they pass out of the body, if they were not perfectly cleansed, they do not

suffer them to mount up to the mansions of heaven and to meet their Lord,

and they are driven down by the demons of the air. But if whilst they are yet

in the flesh, they shall with much labour and effort obtain from the Lord the

grace from on high, assuredly these, together with those who through

virtuous living are at rest, shall go to the Lord…” (Homilies, XLIII, 4, 9)

sources http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/214/death-toll-houses/
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« Reply #124 on: September 04, 2009, 07:23:59 PM »

Anyone who is acquainted with the Orthodox view of death will surely agree that it was sin (not being in communion with God) that brought death, for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, it is the devil who holds mankind bound to Hades. This is why Jesus Christ became a ransom. He, being sinless, died. That means that the devil cheated and took to Hades a sinless man, who -in fact- should live eternally. Thus the gates of Hades were stormed and Christ demanded an exchange for what the devil had done unto Him; thus He became a ransom for us.

Until Christ's Resurrection, there was only Hades, no matter how holy could one man be, and, since it was the devil who was ruling death, the evil spirits would come to transfer one's soul to Hades. Jesus Christ has mentioned that John 14:30, a common one.
Another passages used to support this doctrine include Psalm 7:1-2 and Jeremiah 20:9-10; clearly showing that, upon one's death, the evil spirits come to take him down to Hades.

A man who has lived a saint life and is filled with God's Grace will not stop at a demon, but rather make him go away, trembling in fear of the saint's holiness. Thus the saint will be free to climb the ladder to Heaven. Saint Symeon the New Theologian says that if the demons are burnt by the Light which surrounds a saint's body, imagine how much more will it be able to do when the souls leaves the body!

Of course, that does not mean that we have to literally believe that there's some sort of ladder which leads to a cloudy palace and some horned imps that forcefully take us inside planet Earth. It is just that the Saints could not describe what they have been revealed in any better way. The rest is apophatic theology to me and I will not even dare to try to interpret this any furtherer and delve inside the mystical visions of the Saints.

The Master of Death (Satan) is doing his best to take our souls down to Hades and he will not stop at our death, but will still be pursuing us, even when our soul has left our body. But no demon, and not even Satan himself, has such power that can drag a saint to Hades.
As the soul ascends, all the forces of evil will try to remind her how sinful she had been and cause her dismay and, latter on, being -finally- drawn down to Hades. A holy soul that has the Grace of God will not stop at any of the toll houses and for every sin the demon will be reminding her, the soul and her guardian angel will have a three times holier deed to be reminded of and repel the demon by the Light of God.

(I gathered those information together thanks to the book Life after Death of Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpaktos.)
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« Reply #125 on: March 25, 2010, 12:34:47 AM »

MATTHEW777,

You wrote:
Quote
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)


How do the Psalms indicate that when they spoke of the person being begotten today, they referred to Christ's exaltation at the resurrection?

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« Reply #126 on: March 25, 2010, 12:38:24 AM »

MATTHEW777,

You wrote:
Quote
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)


How do the Psalms indicate that when they spoke of the person being begotten today, they referred to Christ's exaltation at the resurrection?


You're not going to get a reply from Matthew777, for he was banned from this site a few years ago.
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« Reply #127 on: March 25, 2010, 12:48:37 AM »

MATTHEW777,

You wrote:
Quote
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)


How do the Psalms indicate that when they spoke of the person being begotten today, they referred to Christ's exaltation at the resurrection?


You're not going to get a reply from Matthew777, for he was banned from this site a few years ago.

He was?  I thought when a person is banned, a red dot with the word 'Banned' appears under their name.  Matthew777 has a green dot 'Warned'.  Huh
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Lord, have mercy on the Christians in Mosul!


« Reply #128 on: March 25, 2010, 12:50:47 AM »

MATTHEW777,

You wrote:
Quote
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)


How do the Psalms indicate that when they spoke of the person being begotten today, they referred to Christ's exaltation at the resurrection?


You're not going to get a reply from Matthew777, for he was banned from this site a few years ago.

He was?  I thought when a person is banned, a red dot with the word 'Banned' appears under their name.  Matthew777 has a green dot 'Warned'.  Huh
Rogue defect in the forum software.  Check out Matthew777's profile, and you'll see that he is indeed banned.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2010, 12:55:25 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #129 on: March 25, 2010, 06:46:20 AM »

Recognizing (so it seems) that this is an ON-GOING debate, I have a couple of 'score card questions'.

1) What is the alternative to Toll House theory? (And please don't give me oreoes!)

2) Which groups/ jurisdictions hold to the Toll House view versus which groups hold to the other (s) view (s)?

The more perplexed than a cat in a mirrored tinsel factory,

Basil the fool
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« Reply #130 on: March 25, 2010, 07:14:41 AM »

"Can  you offer up enough sins that, by them, you can tilt the balance of justice against the precious blood which I shed on the Cross for this man?   Behold  My murder and death, which I endured for the forgiveness of his sins."

The  Lord Jesus Christ to Satan, Evergetinos, Book I, Hypothesis I, E.


Interesting.. I can picture that in mind.
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« Reply #131 on: March 25, 2010, 08:45:00 AM »

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« Reply #132 on: March 25, 2010, 07:03:56 PM »



  "...a soul which departs from the body
  does not fall under the tyranny of the devil....
  For if while the soul dwells in the body the devil
  cannot bring violence upon it, it is obvious that
  when it departs he likewise cannot."

    -- St. John Chrysostom,
    Homily 2 on Lazarus and the Rich Man
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« Reply #133 on: March 25, 2010, 07:43:30 PM »

People shouldn't get too worked up about Toll Houses, which even the supporters of which (mostly) accept are an imagery to explain something the mechanics of which are ultimately a mystery.

As I say every time this topic comes up (I may have even said it in this thread, I didn't read the old posts!) a good book is The Mystery of Death by Nikolaos Vassiliadis.  Metropolitan Hierotheos's Life after Death is also good; it navigates between the two extremes presented by Fr Seraphim and Archbishop Lazar.  However, Met. Hierotheos's books are not the most scholarly (they are more pastoral and are often transcriptions of talks) and he does not give the Latin doctrine of Purgatory a fair treatment.  That being said, it's a good book.

The best news of all is though, however we understand toll houses and life after death, if we just do what we are supposed to while here, we will fly right through to Heaven at the hour of death! It's as simple as that! So let's get to work!!
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« Reply #134 on: March 29, 2010, 08:43:16 AM »

The best news of all is though, however we understand toll houses and life after death, if we just do what we are supposed to while here, we will fly right through to Heaven at the hour of death! It's as simple as that! So let's get to work!!

Wisdom! Let us attend!
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« Reply #135 on: December 27, 2010, 11:53:34 PM »

Peter the Aleut,

Thanks for giving me the heads up that I wouldn't get a reply from Matthew777. I'm sorry he was banned, although I should say that you seem to do a good job warning people.

On the other hand, actually, I checked his profile and it says:

  • Website:  
    Current Status:   Offline   [Add To Buddy List]  
    Current Level: O  Warned


By the way, I want to thank you for the patience that you had with me, and hopefully still have, as I get to know the forum rules better.

Regards.

Gabriel the Celt,

I have the same confusion you did, when you wrote:
Quote
He was?  I thought when a person is banned, a red dot with the word 'Banned' appears under their name.  Matthew777 has a green dot 'Warned'.


I am not sure how this is possible, except that it must be, like Peter wrote, a rogue defect in the forum software:
  • Matthew777
    O Warned
    Archon

Regards.

Matthew 777,

I doubt you will ever read this, but you raised a question in my mind, about which I am still confused.

The reason I asked was to see if the scriptures prophesied that the Messiah would rise.

Still, after reading on OC.net and articles on the question, I have come to believe that they do, and wrote about it on my site rakovskii.livejournal.com . Feel free to stop by at your leisure.

Happy Nativity
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« Reply #136 on: December 27, 2010, 11:56:23 PM »

The best news of all is though, however we understand toll houses and life after death, if we just do what we are supposed to while here, we will fly right through to Heaven at the hour of death! It's as simple as that! So let's get to work!!

Sounds good Father.
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« Reply #137 on: December 28, 2010, 03:05:10 PM »

rakovsky,

The banning system that we use is separate from the warning system (because of a glitch in the warning system that doesn't allow for permanent bans).  Hence, there are quite a few people who are banned, but who show up as warned or muted (or something like that) because the banning system doesn't display "Banned."  Occasionally, we will use both systems to ban someone, so that people will initially see it, but eventually the warning system's ban will reduce (to Muted, then Moderated, then Warned, then nothing) and you won't be able to tell if they're really banned or not.  A better way to tell if someone is banned is to see if they show up in the member list (click "Members" in the menu bar near the top) - if they show up, they're not banned, and if they don't show up, then they're banned.
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