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bogdan
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« Reply #135 on: September 17, 2010, 09:55:13 AM »

Father, if that's what he means, I would disagree as well. But the angle I see in it is that only Orthodoxy is salvific of itself, by its own merits. No religion besides Orthodoxy leads to theosis; it's impossible (not that all Orthodox will reach that either). That does not mean that God will not save other people too—I believe he will, though none of us can possibly know whether that's one person or all but one person.

There is certainly a danger in being too hard-nosed about "the one true Church." But there is an equal danger, more pressing in today's pluralistic world I think, of losing our saltiness and telling everyone to just believe whatever they want because surely God will see their intentions. Well, maybe he will, maybe he won't. The ark of salvation is Orthodoxy, not other religions. They may be clinging to the side of the ark unbeknownst to us, but it's not exactly a safe position to be in.
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« Reply #136 on: September 17, 2010, 10:09:39 AM »


There is certainly a danger in being too hard-nosed about "the one true Church." But there is an equal danger, more pressing in today's pluralistic world I think, of losing our saltiness and telling everyone to just believe whatever they want because surely God will see their intentions. Well, maybe he will, maybe he won't. The ark of salvation is Orthodoxy, not other religions. They may be clinging to the side of the ark unbeknownst to us, but it's not exactly a safe position to be in.

I think there are several factors...

1.  I am sure there is no doubt from my many messages here that I believe with all my being that the Orthodox Church is the one and only Church of Jesus Christ

and

2. That the whole world should belong to her.

But

3.  I do not believe that those outside the Orthodox Church are damned.

and

4.  Because it is always better to know the truth rather than not to know it,  all these things should be affirmed and explained in conversations with outsiders making enquiries.

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« Reply #137 on: September 17, 2010, 11:30:51 AM »

Fr Ambrose, I have written an earlier post on this subject that sets out what we know about who will be saved and who will not be, but I'll repeat the details here.

Firstly, Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”. This passage proves that you have to know the true faith to be saved.

Secondly, John 3:5: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Unless a man is born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God”. This passage proves that you have to receive true baptism to be saved. So you need BOTH Baptism AND the True Faith to be saved.

Thirdly, John 6:53: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you”. This passage proves that apart from true doctrine and Baptism, you need the Divine Eucharist to be saved.

True faith, of course, is the Orthodox faith. All dogmatic deviations from the Orthodox faith are, as I'm sure you would agree, incompatible with this necessary criterion of salvation. What is Orthodox and what is not can be known from the Creed and from the dogmatic decrees of the Church Councils and Fathers.

We also know that true Baptism and the true Eucharist do not exist outside the Orthodox Church. Thus, the 46th Apostolic Canon:“We order that a bishop or presbyter that recognized the baptism or sacrifice of heretics be defrocked. For ‘what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?’” And the second canon of St Cyprian of Carthage: “We declare that no one can possibly be baptized outside the Catholic (i.e. the Orthodox) Church, there being but one baptism, and this existing only in the Catholic Church.”

Being saved in this context means being delivered from Hades after death. We do not know that everyone condemned to Hades will also be condemned to Gehenna, i.e. the eternal fire, at the Last Judgment, because we have testimonies of some souls being saved from Hades by the prayers of the Church. From this evidence we know that condemnation to Hades is not necessarily eternal and hence we can hope that God will have mercy on the souls of unbelievers at the final judgment.

But that those outside the Church will certainly go to Hades after death is proved by the following passage from the vision of Blessed Theodora:

"Those who believe in the Holy Trinity and take as frequently as possible the Holy Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, our Saviour's body and Blood - such people can rise to heaven directly, with no hindrances, and the holy angels defend them, and the holy saints of God pray for their salvation, since they have lived righteously. No one, however, takes care of wicked and depraved heretics, who do nothing useful during their lives, and live in disbelief and heresy. The angels can say nothing in their defence... [Only those] enlightened by the faith and holy baptism can rise and be tested in the stations of torment [that is, the toll-houses]. The unbelievers do not come here. Their souls belong to hell even before they part from their bodies. When they die, the devils take their souls with no need to test them. Such souls are their proper prey, and they take them down to the abyss."

As to the likelihood that those condemned to Hades for lack of true faith and baptism will also be condemned to Gehenna, that depends on whether or not they consciously resisted the truth. Metropolitan Philaret of New York's famous essay "Will the heterodox be saved?" deals with this question in detail. His conclusion was that it will go worse in the end for those who consciously resisted the truth than for those who did not, i.e. who acted out of ignorance. Only God knows the heart of man in this matter.

The other question to consider is the ignorance of unbelievers, and whether it is voluntary or involuntary ignorance. Ignorance can be voluntary if the individual does not take the necessary steps to discover the truth.

Thus, Luke 12:47-8 "That servant who knew his master's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and he to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more".

Blessed Theophylact comments: "Here some will object, saying: 'He who knows the will of his Lord, but does not do it, is deservedly punished. But why is the ignorant punished?' Because when he might have known he did not wish to do so, but was the cause of his own ignorance through sloth."

And St Cyril of Alexandria: "How can he who did not know it be guilty? The reason is, because he did not want to know it, although it was in his power to learn."

And Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich: "Are the people at fault if godless elders and false prophets lead them onto foreign paths? The people are not at fault to as great an extent as their elders and the false prophets, but they are at fault to some extent. For God gave to the people also to know the right path, both through their conscience and through the preaching of the word of God, so that people should not blindly have followed their blind guides, who led them by false paths that alienated them from God and His Laws."

We know there is no excuse for ignorance of One God the Creator. Thus, St Jerome: "Ours and every other race of men knows God naturally. There are no peoples who do not recognise their Creator naturally.”

And St John Chrysostom: "From the beginning God placed the knowledge of Himself in men, but the pagans awarded this knowledge to sticks and stones, doing wrong to the truth to the extent that they were able."

And again: "One way of coming to the knowledge of God is that which is provided by the whole of creation; and another, no less significant, is that which is offered by conscience, the whole of which we have expounded upon at greater length, showing how you have a self-taught knowledge of what is good and what is not so good, and how conscience urges all this upon you from within. Two teachers, then, are given you from the beginning: creation and conscience. Neither of them has a voice to speak out; yet they teach men in silence."

And finally, the story of St Barbara, who was brought up in polytheism, but came to know the One God through the evidence of Creation and her own conscience, and through her prayers to God the true saving doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity were revealed.

Therefore, where there can be involuntary ignorance, there is no such thing as invincible ignorance, since the Providence of God overcomes everything, provided that the will of the individual cooperates. As St John Cassian says: "When God sees in us some beginnings of good will, He at once enlightens it, urging it on towards salvation."

This is what the Church teaches about the necessity of true faith and sacraments for salvation. As you can see, I am quite right to insist that no one can be saved outside the Church, provided we understand salvation in this case to mean salvation of the soul immediately after death. As to salvation at the Last Judgment, when we are judged in both soul and body, that is up to God alone. But I'm sure you can agree that those condemned to Hades are much more likely to be condemned to Gehenna at the last day than those who are not.
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« Reply #138 on: September 17, 2010, 01:16:25 PM »

On the one hand I would quote a Japanese saying: "Even one speck of dung spoils the entire bowl of rice"

On the other hand yelling at people about how wrong they are does not bring them closer to Christ, it only affirms their worst fears about Christians.

Most Jews I know understand almost nothing about Christianity. Believe me, they don't even have that basic story line. All they know is that Christians hate them. That is hardly a damnable offense IMHO.

It is also true that when the Apostles met in Jerusalem they not not divide themselves from Judaism on such a black and white basis. We are True and they are False. In fact, it was argued that they could well live as Christian Jews and not seek out Gentiles at all. When they did decide to seek out Gentiles it was not done so after a declaration of how false Judaism was.

Christianity is a reinterpretation of Judaism based on the Risen Lord. Each Tradition has changed over 2000 years to make the overlap of beliefs more narrow, but the basis of Christianity is Judaism viewed through the lens of Christ's incarnation and saving death...etc.

And once again, the Pharisees survived in the Diaspora after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem because of their system of worship. They were not Temple dependent and taught that one could practice in ones own home. It made Judaism portable.
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« Reply #139 on: September 17, 2010, 01:55:47 PM »

On the one hand I would quote a Japanese saying: "Even one speck of dung spoils the entire bowl of rice"

On the other hand yelling at people about how wrong they are does not bring them closer to Christ, it only affirms their worst fears about Christians.

Most Jews I know understand almost nothing about Christianity. Believe me, they don't even have that basic story line. All they know is that Christians hate them. That is hardly a damnable offense IMHO.

It is also true that when the Apostles met in Jerusalem they not not divide themselves from Judaism on such a black and white basis. We are True and they are False. In fact, it was argued that they could well live as Christian Jews and not seek out Gentiles at all. When they did decide to seek out Gentiles it was not done so after a declaration of how false Judaism was.

Christianity is a reinterpretation of Judaism based on the Risen Lord. Each Tradition has changed over 2000 years to make the overlap of beliefs more narrow, but the basis of Christianity is Judaism viewed through the lens of Christ's incarnation and saving death...etc.

And once again, the Pharisees survived in the Diaspora after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem because of their system of worship. They were not Temple dependent and taught that one could practice in ones own home. It made Judaism portable.
Christianity is not a reinterpretation of Judaism. Judaism is founded on the Talmud which postdates the NT by centuries, and the Masorectic Text of the OT, which postdates the LXX by a millenium.

The Apostles did tell the Pharisees and Judaizers that they were wrong, but the Apostles didn't renounce their Hebrew roots. As saint Paul clearly states, the Hebrews were still his people, Christians or Jewish.

As for the Pharisees, temple or no temple, a lot of their law revolves around the temple cult (hence why many ultraorthodox Jews want to revive it).

Why anyone who claims to have been baptized into Christ would hate His people (the kin of His Mother and all the Apostles) in the name of the Gospel makes no sense. It isn't Chrsitian.
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« Reply #140 on: September 17, 2010, 02:59:32 PM »

Most Jews I know understand almost nothing about Christianity. Believe me, they don't even have that basic story line. All they know is that Christians hate them. That is hardly a damnable offense IMHO.

Hey Marc, Basic story line? is that what Christianity is, a story or a fairy tale?  And let me tell you what some jews that i know think about Christianity and i'm sure your jew friends feel the same only behing your back and not to your face. The running joke is that Easter is a time when Jesus comes out of a hole in the ground and gives chocolates to little kids. So the jews you know most likely don't care to know or understand anything about the truth/Christianity because they are convinced their religion is the true religion and that they are the chosen ones. Sorry to break the news to you and to your jew friends, but they "missed the boat". Actually, their boat sailed a little over 2000 years ago. The next boat is due to dock shortly, and i'm pretty sure their names will not be on the passenger list, neither will anyone else who follows "false" religions as well.


THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO THE FATHER, AND THAT IS THROUGH THE SON, JESUS CHRIST.

WE MUST REPENT, BE BAPTIZED AND WE MUST TAKE COMMUNION (EATING BREAD AND DRINKING WINE REPRESENTING JESUS'S BODY AND BLOOD) WHICH ARE POSSIBLE IN AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH.




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« Reply #141 on: September 17, 2010, 03:29:41 PM »

Most Jews I know understand almost nothing about Christianity. Believe me, they don't even have that basic story line. All they know is that Christians hate them. That is hardly a damnable offense IMHO.

Hey Marc, Basic story line? is that what Christianity is, a story or a fairy tale?  And let me tell you what some jews that i know think about Christianity and i'm sure your jew friends feel the same only behing your back and not to your face. The running joke is that Easter is a time when Jesus comes out of a hole in the ground and gives chocolates to little kids. So the jews you know most likely don't care to know or understand anything about the truth/Christianity because they are convinced their religion is the true religion and that they are the chosen ones. Sorry to break the news to you and to your jew friends, but they "missed the boat". Actually, their boat sailed a little over 2000 years ago. The next boat is due to dock shortly, and i'm pretty sure their names will not be on the passenger list, neither will anyone else who follows "false" religions as well.


THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO THE FATHER, AND THAT IS THROUGH THE SON, JESUS CHRIST.

WE MUST REPENT, BE BAPTIZED AND WE MUST TAKE COMMUNION (EATING BREAD AND DRINKING WINE REPRESENTING JESUS'S BODY AND BLOOD) WHICH ARE POSSIBLE IN AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH.






My "Jew Friends" ?  LOL.. Nice.

Remember, excorism is always an option..
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« Reply #142 on: September 17, 2010, 03:38:26 PM »

You must know some pretty nasty people. Most of the religious Jews I know are quite respectful towards our Christian beliefs and customs, even if they don't believe them.

And FWIW, I'm awfully glad it's Jesus Christ who will be our judge, and not some of my fellow Christians! lol!
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« Reply #143 on: September 17, 2010, 03:45:28 PM »

On the one hand I would quote a Japanese saying: "Even one speck of dung spoils the entire bowl of rice"

On the other hand yelling at people about how wrong they are does not bring them closer to Christ, it only affirms their worst fears about Christians.

Most Jews I know understand almost nothing about Christianity. Believe me, they don't even have that basic story line. All they know is that Christians hate them. That is hardly a damnable offense IMHO.

It is also true that when the Apostles met in Jerusalem they not not divide themselves from Judaism on such a black and white basis. We are True and they are False. In fact, it was argued that they could well live as Christian Jews and not seek out Gentiles at all. When they did decide to seek out Gentiles it was not done so after a declaration of how false Judaism was.

Christianity is a reinterpretation of Judaism based on the Risen Lord. Each Tradition has changed over 2000 years to make the overlap of beliefs more narrow, but the basis of Christianity is Judaism viewed through the lens of Christ's incarnation and saving death...etc.

And once again, the Pharisees survived in the Diaspora after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem because of their system of worship. They were not Temple dependent and taught that one could practice in ones own home. It made Judaism portable.
Christianity is not a reinterpretation of Judaism. Judaism is founded on the Talmud which postdates the NT by centuries, and the Masorectic Text of the OT, which postdates the LXX by a millenium.

The Apostles did tell the Pharisees and Judaizers that they were wrong, but the Apostles didn't renounce their Hebrew roots. As saint Paul clearly states, the Hebrews were still his people, Christians or Jewish.

As for the Pharisees, temple or no temple, a lot of their law revolves around the temple cult (hence why many ultraorthodox Jews want to revive it).

Why anyone who claims to have been baptized into Christ would hate His people (the kin of His Mother and all the Apostles) in the name of the Gospel makes no sense. It isn't Chrsitian.


I never said they didn't think the Pharisees were wrong, they were. They were certainly wrong about the identity of Jesus. But were they wrong about one God? Were the wrong about Genisis and creation?.. Were they wrong to love your neighbor etc etc. Those things remain True. We just add insight to all those matters via the Gospel.

I also recognize that there is no single form of Judaism. Some long for a New Temple, some don't care one bit.

I just object to the broad brush, black and white proclamations by people with an Antisemitic agenda masquerading as something else.The proclamation of Falsehood from the mouth of a bigot rubs me the wrong way. Cogent analysis coming to a similar conclusion is fine. I'm here to learn too.

The level of hatred and venom on these couple of threads that discuss Jews or Judaism or "Jewish plots" is rather shocking to me. Are Protestanets this Antisemitic? Are Catholics?
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« Reply #144 on: September 17, 2010, 03:53:46 PM »

Most Jews I know understand almost nothing about Christianity. Believe me, they don't even have that basic story line. All they know is that Christians hate them. That is hardly a damnable offense IMHO.

Hey Marc, Basic story line? is that what Christianity is, a story or a fairy tale?  And let me tell you what some jews that i know think about Christianity and i'm sure your jew friends feel the same only behing your back and not to your face. The running joke is that Easter is a time when Jesus comes out of a hole in the ground and gives chocolates to little kids. So the jews you know most likely don't care to know or understand anything about the truth/Christianity because they are convinced their religion is the true religion and that they are the chosen ones. Sorry to break the news to you and to your jew friends, but they "missed the boat". Actually, their boat sailed a little over 2000 years ago. The next boat is due to dock shortly, and i'm pretty sure their names will not be on the passenger list, neither will anyone else who follows "false" religions as well.


THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO THE FATHER, AND THAT IS THROUGH THE SON, JESUS CHRIST.

WE MUST REPENT, BE BAPTIZED AND WE MUST TAKE COMMUNION (EATING BREAD AND DRINKING WINE REPRESENTING JESUS'S BODY AND BLOOD) WHICH ARE POSSIBLE IN AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH.






Romans 11:16-26
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« Reply #145 on: September 17, 2010, 04:15:17 PM »

While I don't condone every word said here, and ialmisry's scripture quote above is worth remembering, it's grossly unfair to default to the quite worn-out charge of antisemitism simply because someone is skeptical about the salvific qualities of the Jewish religion. (Not that there aren't antisemitic Orthodox, even here on OCN, but it's still a worn-out response.)

Besides, how can Orthodox people be antisemitic? Many of our churches are full of Semites. I am personally very pro-semitic. It's the Jewish religion I have difficulty with. Actually, not even that really, but the tendency Christians have to hold Judaism—Modern Judaism—up as practically a second covenant.
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« Reply #146 on: September 17, 2010, 07:07:50 PM »

What does anti-Semitism have to do with our response to Islam? Huh  Haven't we already been talking about this on another thread?  Why do we need to let the discussion on the other thread overflow into and derail this one?
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« Reply #147 on: September 17, 2010, 08:28:09 PM »


Fr Ambrose, I have written an earlier post on this subject that sets out what we know about who will be saved and who will not be, but I'll repeat the details here.


I suppose it is good for my humility to have a whippersnapper outside the Church think he can give me correction and instruction in the faith.

But, there are holy men in the Church who are more advanced in wisdom and knowledge than Jonathan and they do not agree with him.....  Their voices ought to be heard as the authentic voice of the Orthodox Church.

We have things such as....

Saint Paul who has already given the apostolic teaching quite cogently and told us how it occurs that the non-Christians may be saved:

Romans 2 - the salvation of non-believers:

  "...for when Gentiles, who do not have the law,
  by nature do the things in the law, these, although
  not having the law, are a law to themselves, who
  show the work of the law written in their hearts,
  their conscience also bearing witness, and between
  themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing
  them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men
  by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel."
 
~ Romans 2:14-16


... and there are the words of the holy Metropolitan Philaret who was the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad when I was a young man and a very conservative theologian.  He is here speaking of heterodox Christians but I would think he would say the same about Jews and others:


  It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman
Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox
confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics—i.e. those who
knowingly pervert the truth... They have been born and raised and are
living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do
the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not
been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The
Lord, "Who will have all men to be saved" (I Tim. 2:4) and "Who
enlightens every man born into the world" (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is
leading them also towards salvation In His own way."


N.B:  "The Lord...undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation
In His own way."

....and we have the words of St. Theophan the Recluse to guide us into a correct Orthodox understanding:

  "You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them?
They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being.
He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such
concern. Study yourself and your own sins... I will tell you one thing, however:
should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray
Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever."

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« Reply #148 on: September 17, 2010, 08:36:23 PM »


But that those outside the Church will certainly go to Hades after death is proved by the following passage from the vision of Blessed Theodora:

"Those who believe in the Holy Trinity and take as frequently as possible the Holy Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, our Saviour's body and Blood - such people can rise to heaven directly, with no hindrances, and the holy angels defend them, and the holy saints of God pray for their salvation, since they have lived righteously. No one, however, takes care of wicked and depraved heretics, who do nothing useful during their lives, and live in disbelief and heresy. The angels can say nothing in their defence... [Only those] enlightened by the faith and holy baptism can rise and be tested in the stations of torment [that is, the toll-houses]. The unbelievers do not come here. Their souls belong to hell even before they part from their bodies. When they die, the devils take their souls with no need to test them. Such souls are their proper prey, and they take them down to the abyss."


Much of what is found in Saint Basil the New's writing and visions is nonsense and some of it is outright heretical.  The Byzantines rejected it and when it made its way into Russia it was bowlderised of all the heretical elements.




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« Reply #149 on: September 17, 2010, 09:41:22 PM »


But that those outside the Church will certainly go to Hades after death is proved by the following passage from the vision of Blessed Theodora:

"... [Only those] enlightened by the faith and holy baptism can rise and be tested in the stations of torment [that is, the toll-houses]. The unbelievers do not come here. Their souls belong to hell even before they part from their bodies. When they die, the devils take their souls with no need to test them. Such souls are their proper prey, and they take them down to the abyss."
.

The text reads differently in many phrases and the differences are important...

Знай  также,  что  таким  путем  испытываются  только  души  тех,  кто
просвещен святым крещением.  Неверующие же во Христа, идолослужители и
вообще все не ведающие истинного Бога этим путем не  восходят,  потому
что во время земной жизни живы только телом,  а душой уже погребены во
аде.  И когда они умирают,  бесы без всякого испытания берут их души и
низводят в геенну и пропасть."


Quote

But I'm sure you can agree that those condemned to Hades are much more likely to be condemned to Gehenna at the last day than those who are not.


You will note that the text says these souls, all those not baptized,  are taken to Gehenna immediately at their time of death.
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« Reply #150 on: September 17, 2010, 10:43:18 PM »

What does anti-Semitism have to do with our response to Islam? Huh  Haven't we already been talking about this on another thread?  Why do we need to let the discussion on the other thread overflow into and derail this one?

It happened because we discussed the nature of a false religion. However, i am going to start a new thread to discuss what the Pharisees taught. I have revisited Nehamia Gordon's  work and found a lecture by him on this topic that should help us all. I will post a new thread for anyone interested.

Thanks for your patience with me.
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« Reply #151 on: September 17, 2010, 11:58:02 PM »

Father Ambrose, just wanted to thank you for your much-needed voice in this thread!
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« Reply #152 on: September 18, 2010, 12:01:06 AM »

Fr Ambrose, first of all, although I am a great sinner and most probably a whippersnapper to boot, I am most definitely in the Church, whereas I do not believe you are, since you are in communion with the ecumenist apostasy. But we have already argued about that elsewhere.

St Paul's words do not contradict mine, because he is obviously speaking of the Last Day, when we will be judged according to our conscience. I have a feeling you didn't read my post very carefully (I know it was quite long), since I made a careful distinction between salvation with respect to the immediate destiny of our soul after death (Hades or Paradise), where membership of the True Church is absolutely necessary, and with respect to our destiny after the Final Judgment, where we will be judged according to our consciences.

I myself cited Metropolitan St Philaret, and your failure to acknowledge this more or less confirms my suspicion that you didn't read my post all the way through, if at all. Again, St Philaret was speaking of the conviction of our consciences, again clearly referring to our destiny after the Last Judgment.

St Theophan's words are very apt, and I'm glad you cited him. Both he and St Philaret and St Paul are all speaking of the fact that the ultimate destiny of all of us is known to God alone, because only God knows our consciences and how they will convict or exonerate us at the last day. I tried to make it very clear in my post, but obviously not clear enough. I have no knowledge of any individual's destiny at the final judgment, and as to who lives in Paradise now and who in Hades, I only know those whom the Church has publicly glorified (who are in Paradise), or those who died outside the Church (who are in Hades).

The point is, you have to consider also the other passages I cited, which say without a hint of doubt that Baptism, the Holy Eucharist and the Orthodox faith are all necessary for salvation. You must admit that we must understand how to integrate that knowledge with the other knowledge we have, about how our final destiny depends on how we obey our God-given consciences. When we witness to those outside the Church, we have to be clear about what the Church teaches about their destiny. Will they be able to go to Paradise if they choose to remain outside the Church, for example?

I have shown that they will not, and that they will definitely go to Hades after death if they do not accept Orthodoxy and Holy Baptism in the True Church. How they will fare at the Last Judgment, on the other hand, is indeed something that will be between them, their consciences and God, although you can agree that it will be less easy for them if they consciously resist the Truth, as the passage from St Luke's Gospel makes clear.
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« Reply #153 on: September 18, 2010, 12:37:25 AM »


I have a feeling you didn't read my post very carefully (I know it was quite long), since I made a careful distinction between salvation with respect to the immediate destiny of our soul after death (Hades or Paradise), where membership of the True Church is absolutely necessary, and with respect to our destiny after the Final Judgment, where we will be judged according to our consciences.

I have shown that they will not, and that they will definitely go to Hades after death if they do not accept Orthodoxy and Holy Baptism in the True Church. How they will fare at the Last Judgment, on the other hand, is indeed something that will be between them, their consciences and God, although you can agree that it will be less easy for them if they consciously resist the Truth, as the passage from St Luke's Gospel makes clear.

You quote Saint Theodora's claimed vision to Paul of Thebes in a dream and she is claiming to have received her knowledge directly from the angels, and the event was written down by Saint Basil the New in the heretical writings unfortunately attributed to him. It would be worth your while to obtain an unexpurgated version of his writings and see how shocking they are!   Absolutely shocking but let's go with it for the moment.

Now I *have* read your message and I have already addressed your point in message 149.

The English text you quote is corrupt, so I gave you the Russian.  It is crystal clear - the angelic (i.e., divine) revelation is that the unbaptized do not pass through the toll houses but are taken immediately they die into GEHENNA and NOT into Hades (which you seem to believe.)

Given that you do not accept the baptism of the ancient Patriarchates and Autocephalies, that means that I am going to Gehenna and so are all the other Orthodox on this forum (apart from Fr. Anastasios who is also a member of the GOC/HOTCA.)
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« Reply #154 on: September 18, 2010, 12:55:47 AM »

Sorry, I missed those other messages. You are obviously correct that the Russian text contains the word 'geenna'. But you also say the Russian version was expurgated of heretical elements, and this Orthodox version was used obviously with approval by St Theophan, as you can see here:

http://www.orthodox.net/articles/life-after-death-john-maximovitch.html (scroll down to footnote 4, on the toll-houses)

So I'm afraid I'm going to have to take the Russian Church's word on the authority of the vision of St Theodora.

While admitting that the Russian version of St Theodora explicitly uses the word 'geenna' here, the fact that she is speaking of the fate of souls only, and of the toll-houses, makes it even more clear that in fact she was seeing a vision of the judgment of souls, Hades and Paradise, NOT the terrible Last Judgment. The most economical explanation is that the Russian translators were not making a rigid distinction between 'hades' and 'gehenna', which is unfortunately confusing but remedied by reading in the context.

And I'm sure you're aware that, given the Russian Church has approved the genuineness of this vision, it is obviously much worse for you and others outside the Church if the unbaptized and the heretics are doomed to Gehenna from the moment of death, something which I do not believe but you seem curiously insistent upon. I certainly hope you will not go to Gehenna, although in the end the choice is yours.
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« Reply #155 on: September 18, 2010, 01:03:59 AM »

I am reminded of the traditionalist RC's on other forums who insist that only baptized RC's be saved.  And they use quite a few of the same arguments and prooftexts -substitute "Catholic" for "Orthodox" and you wouldn't know if you were on CAF or OC.net.

It's funny and sad at the same time.
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« Reply #156 on: September 18, 2010, 01:13:19 AM »

And I'm sure you're aware that, given the Russian Church has approved the genuineness of this vision, it is obviously much worse for you and others outside the Church if the unbaptized and the heretics are doomed to Gehenna from the moment of death, something which I do not believe but you seem curiously insistent upon. I certainly hope you will not go to Gehenna, although in the end the choice is yours.

You are not being straightforward, Mr Gress.

You have written before that you do not accept the baptism or the Eucharist of the canonical Orthodox Churches.

You have written that those not baptized cannot be saved.

I am doomed and so are all on this list (excepting Fr Anastasios and yourself.)

It is a little unpleasant to the soul to have contact with a man who believes salvation is possible for only a few dozen people.  But I wish you well and pray for you.
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« Reply #157 on: September 18, 2010, 01:19:26 AM »

Wait, we're talking about a vision?  Didn't stashko make fun of RC's earlier in this thread for (supposedly) basing their beliefs on visions of Mary?  Why is that wrong for RC's but perfectly OK for Russian Orthodox?
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« Reply #158 on: September 18, 2010, 04:27:47 AM »

Wait, we're talking about a vision?  Didn't stashko make fun of RC's earlier in this thread for (supposedly) basing their beliefs on visions of Mary?  Why is that wrong for RC's but perfectly OK for Russian Orthodox?


We run away as fast as we can from Talking visions apparition ..and don't accept what they have to say.........we only accept the faith once delivered unto salvation from the Holy Fathers........no quickies or short cut or magic words for umteenth times  or certain days set aside to guarantee salvation like catholic have from their talking ones which are questionable........  I didn't bash anything ,i gave a link where it was said first....Some of the Holy orthodox saints where Almost decieved By talking Visions of jesus and Mary ....and they warn us not to trust or put our faith in any of them....This i read on this forum.....
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« Reply #159 on: September 18, 2010, 09:57:37 AM »

Father Ambrose, just wanted to thank you for your much-needed voice in this thread!

I agree! Thank you Father.
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« Reply #160 on: September 18, 2010, 10:32:21 AM »

So, stashko, just to clarify, do you then disagree with Jonathan about the vision approved by the Russian Church?
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« Reply #161 on: September 18, 2010, 10:49:13 AM »

Brothers and Sisters,

Should we leave this thread to the topic of Christianity and Islam and move the discussion on Saint Basil the New and the vision of the afterlife to an existing thread?

Thoughts on "The Life of St. Basil the New"

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,6952.0.html
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« Reply #162 on: September 18, 2010, 12:22:28 PM »

So, stashko, just to clarify, do you then disagree with Jonathan about the vision approved by the Russian Church?

Ill have to read about it,then ill throw in my 2 centavos worth... Grin Gotta work,, sunday night will be back....
Talking apparitions aren't preached in the Holy Orthodox churches ,..Where warned by the saints, when we
pray not to visualize be it Jesus or Mary Or any of the saints or angels....

Thou we srbs celabrate vidov dan ,the day of seeing...
Tsar Lazar was visited by a Angel and given a book sent From the Blessed Theotokos......But none of these give alternative ways to salvation
or short cuts to it....
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« Reply #163 on: September 18, 2010, 12:28:35 PM »

Yes. Fr Ambrpse, I will  check out the other thread.  Sorry for the derail. Smiley

And thanks for your response, stashko.
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« Reply #164 on: September 18, 2010, 01:09:30 PM »

And I'm sure you're aware that, given the Russian Church has approved the genuineness of this vision, it is obviously much worse for you and others outside the Church if the unbaptized and the heretics are doomed to Gehenna from the moment of death, something which I do not believe but you seem curiously insistent upon. I certainly hope you will not go to Gehenna, although in the end the choice is yours.

You are not being straightforward, Mr Gress.

You have written before that you do not accept the baptism or the Eucharist of the canonical Orthodox Churches.

You have written that those not baptized cannot be saved.

I am doomed and so are all on this list (excepting Fr Anastasios and yourself.)

It is a little unpleasant to the soul to have contact with a man who believes salvation is possible for only a few dozen people.  But I wish you well and pray for you.

Fr Ambrose, I have explained with excruciating clarity in what manner we can say in all surety that only those who have been baptized and hold the true faith unerringly can be saved, and in what manner we can not say in surety that they will be saved. You can certainly continue to misrepresent my argument in order to win this little online debate, but you might want to ask yourself at some point whether it's worth it to you in the long run.
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« Reply #165 on: September 18, 2010, 02:35:19 PM »

I meant to say that in one sense we can say in surety that only those who are baptized and hold the true faith can be saved, but in another sense we cannot say in surety that only they can be saved.
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« Reply #166 on: September 18, 2010, 03:14:21 PM »

Here is a story I once heard:

The was a Samurai Warrior in Japan who had been evengelized by the Jesuits. He was soon to be baptized but had a question for the Priest. He asked:

"What happens to people who are have already died but were never baptized?"

The Priest Answered: "They are in Hell"

"For how long?"  asked the Samurai.

"Forever" answered the Priest

The Samurai was silent for a moment or two and then asked:

"Both my Mother and Father are dead. They were not baptized. Are they in Hell forever"?

The Priest answered: "Yes, I am afraid they are"

The Samurai paused again for a minute to reflect and then said:

"Then I can not be Baptized. It is my duty to be with my parents in the afterlife. Anything else would be dishonorable"
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