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Author Topic: What is Tartarus?  (Read 3406 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 27, 2011, 09:01:26 PM »

I got a new prayer book and it says "Deliver me from eternal fire, and from evil worms and from Tartarus" what is it? and what are evil worms?
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 09:26:36 PM »

Quote from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartarus
In classic mythology, below Uranus, Gaia, and Pontus is Tartarus, or Tartaros (Greek Τάρταρος, deep place). It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld. In the Gorgias, Plato (c. 400 BC) wrote that souls were judged after death and those who received punishment were sent to Tartarus.
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2011, 10:26:47 PM »

It is a Lenten food eaten by RCs in the USA during their strictest fast days, Fridays throughout Lent, served with deep fried fish and french fries and copious amounts of beer.
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 11:15:02 PM »

Tartarus is a hellenic euphemism for hell or the underworld. According to the Wiki link from Melodist, it is indirectly referenced in 2 Peter 2:4 and appears several times in the Septuagint version of Job.

I have always interpreted the "evil worms" to be a reference to Mark 9:48, when Christ speaks of the "undying worm", a rather disgusting euphemism for the tortures of hell (after the multitudes of maggots in garbage dumps outside ancient cities), or perhaps demons.
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2011, 02:22:03 PM »

St. Peter actually quite directly references Tartarus, using the verb, "ταρταρoω" (tartaroō), meaning "I cast into Tartarus."

The passage reads, "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to Tartarus, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;"

In Classical Greek mythology, there can be found three "sections" of the underworld, or "Hades." There was Elysium (the place of the heroic) the Asphodel Meadows (the wasteland in-between, for "normal" folks) and Tartarus (for the wicked). Of course, the geography of the Underworld is not standardized by Greek mythographers, but, this is the basic understanding of the realm of the dead in the Greek world. St. Peter co-opts the terminology, as the Church has a strong tradition of doing, of the native culture and re-defines it in a Christian light to make a vivid point.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hades#Realm_of_Hades

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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2011, 05:46:15 PM »

That "undying worm" phrase scares me.
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2011, 05:50:05 PM »

Tartarus is a hellenic euphemism for hell or the underworld. According to the Wiki link from Melodist, it is indirectly referenced in 2 Peter 2:4 and appears several times in the Septuagint version of Job.

I have always interpreted the "evil worms" to be a reference to Mark 9:48, when Christ speaks of the "undying worm", a rather disgusting euphemism for the tortures of hell (after the multitudes of maggots in garbage dumps outside ancient cities), or perhaps demons.

Does anyone know if bodies were thrown into this garbage dump as well (gehenna)?
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2011, 08:29:09 PM »

Tartarus is a hellenic euphemism for hell or the underworld. According to the Wiki link from Melodist, it is indirectly referenced in 2 Peter 2:4 and appears several times in the Septuagint version of Job.

I have always interpreted the "evil worms" to be a reference to Mark 9:48, when Christ speaks of the "undying worm", a rather disgusting euphemism for the tortures of hell (after the multitudes of maggots in garbage dumps outside ancient cities), or perhaps demons.

Does anyone know if bodies were thrown into this garbage dump as well (gehenna)?

Tartarus is the lowest part of hades.  Already mentioned, it is the darkest part of Hades and the place of the reservation of the wicked for judgment (it is what is depicted in the Resurrection icon with Satan bound in chains).   After the last judgment, all will be "thrown into"  Gehenna.   Hades is a "place" (i.e. place-state, not place in exactly the same way that we know "place") of the soul awaiting the final judgment, Gehenna a permanent state for body and soul after the general resurrection and final judgment.   
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2011, 10:31:34 PM »

On this forum people say that Hell = Gehenna = the Lake of Fire.   They say that this does not exist but will be created by God at the time of the Last Judgement.

So when people say "Hell does not exist" they are quite correct.

Is this the teaching of the Fathers?
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2011, 11:08:06 PM »

On this forum people say that Hell = Gehenna = the Lake of Fire.   They say that this does not exist but will be created by God at the time of the Last Judgement.

So when people say "Hell does not exist" they are quite correct.

Is this the teaching of the Fathers?

Have you had a chance to reference The Mystery of Death by Vassiliades or Life after Death by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos yet? You'll find all sorts of references that answer these questions there (if you already answered me the last time I asked you, pardon me and kindly point me to that post; I don't always catch all replies since I tend to post here in spurts during downtime!)
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2011, 11:19:32 PM »

On this forum people say that Hell = Gehenna = the Lake of Fire.   They say that this does not exist but will be created by God at the time of the Last Judgement.

So when people say "Hell does not exist" they are quite correct.

Is this the teaching of the Fathers?

Have you had a chance to reference The Mystery of Death by Vassiliades or Life after Death by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos yet? You'll find all sorts of references that answer these questions there (if you already answered me the last time I asked you, pardon me and kindly point me to that post; I don't always catch all replies since I tend to post here in spurts during downtime!)
Among some people I know that Vassiliadis is quite popular because they say he demolishes the erroneous teachings of "The River of Fire."

It is because of these major contradictions on the afterlife between theologians that I do not bother with them.  None can be trusted as teaching facts which correspond with the reality of the afterlife.


"The examples of individuals, of peoples and of nations who have been punished in the past by the justice of God, as well as the punishments which we see daily striking those who transgress the holy commandments of God, affirm that "every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution" here (Heb. 2,2). And it is natural, if there is no repentance, that they will also receive punishment there. This is required by the justice of the infinite and all compassionate God. "For then it is a time of revelation and punishment, not compassion and mercy; then it is a time of revelation of the wrath, anger, and the just retribution of God. It is a time when " the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people, and He stretched out His hand against them and smote them" (Is. 5,25), as a punishment to the disobedient. Woe to him who falls into the hands of the living God!" [GREGORY PALAMAS, [...] (To the Most Reverend Xeni)...] This is very natural. For, if God is a lover of mankind, as He is, then He is also just. But because He is just, how will it not be just to punish the one who has received so many benefits and yet has proceeded to do deeds "worthy of hell", and has not become better neither by threats nor by benefactions?

"To him who says that God is loving and consequently cannot punish, St. John Chrysostom says: How are you not afraid when expressing yourself in such a bold manner about God? So if God punishes, according to your opinion, He is not, therefore, a loving God? But did He not foretell you everything from the beginning? Did He not use threats? Did He not use infinite measures for your salvation? And he concludes: " Do not delude yourselves, O people, by being convinced by the devil, for such opinions are his own machinations". [JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, On the Future Judgment PG 63, 743. On the Second Coming of Christ 3, PG 59, 624.]"

"That the impious will be punished we can be assured also by the following: If the evil are not to be punished; if there is "no retribution for anything", then "neither will the righteous be crowned".

pp. 509-510,The Mystery of Death by Nikolaos P. Vassiliadis
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2011, 11:25:26 PM »


Among some people I know that Vassiliadis is quite popular because they say he demolishes the erroneous teachings of "The River of Fire."

It is because of these major contradictions on the afterlife between theologians that I do not bother with them.  None can be trusted as teaching facts which correspond with the reality of the afterlife.


So because there is a disagreement, none can be trusted? And we simply can't know the truth? I don't believe that. Perhaps some theologians show the truth, and others have deviated.  At any rate, the River of Fire topic is a relatively modern and abstract one.

What's great about Vassiliades--and why you should read the book instead of just relying on what other say--is that on almost every page, there are lengthy quotes from the Fathers and footnotes.  You could just use his book for the citations alone, without even reading his commentary (although his commentary is good in and of itself) and learn a lot.  But if you would prefer to continue on an agnostic path vis-a-vis the afterlife, there's nothing I can do to change that.
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2011, 11:29:38 PM »

.  At any rate, the River of Fire topic is a relatively modern and abstract one.


The "River of Fire" is reflective of our modern age of non-judgementalism and self-assessment.
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2011, 11:33:58 PM »

Somebody told me that Vassiliadis teaches heresy about the tollhouses.  He says that the righteous and the sinners must pass through them.  This is said to be incorrect since only sinners must go through the tollhouses?  The righeous do not see them at all.
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2011, 11:40:16 PM »

Somebody told me that Vassiliadis teaches heresy about the tollhouses.  He says that the righteous and the sinners must pass through them.  This is said to be incorrect since only sinners must go through the tollhouses?  The righeous do not see them at all.

Is that what Vassiliades teaches? You'll have to read it to find out  Cool

In all seriousness, if I weren't in the middle of several projects, I would just scan in the relevant section for you, but unfortunately that won't be possible right now. Sorry Sad
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2011, 11:50:17 PM »

Tartarus is a hellenic euphemism for hell or the underworld. According to the Wiki link from Melodist, it is indirectly referenced in 2 Peter 2:4 and appears several times in the Septuagint version of Job.

I have always interpreted the "evil worms" to be a reference to Mark 9:48, when Christ speaks of the "undying worm", a rather disgusting euphemism for the tortures of hell (after the multitudes of maggots in garbage dumps outside ancient cities), or perhaps demons.

Does anyone know if bodies were thrown into this garbage dump as well (gehenna)?

Tartarus is the lowest part of hades.  Already mentioned, it is the darkest part of Hades and the place of the reservation of the wicked for judgment (it is what is depicted in the Resurrection icon with Satan bound in chains).   After the last judgment, all will be "thrown into"  Gehenna.   Hades is a "place" (i.e. place-state, not place in exactly the same way that we know "place") of the soul awaiting the final judgment, Gehenna a permanent state for body and soul after the general resurrection and final judgment.   

Actually I was referring to the historical place outside of Jerusalem known as gehenna.
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2011, 11:51:31 PM »

Somebody told me that Vassiliadis teaches heresy about the tollhouses.  He says that the righteous and the sinners must pass through them.  This is said to be incorrect since only sinners must go through the tollhouses?  The righeous do not see them at all.

From what i've heard about the toll-houses, everyone has to go through them (except for the saints/martyrs perhaps), since everyone is a sinner, no?
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« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2011, 03:20:55 AM »

Dear Father,

It is a case of three times bitten, four times shy.

1) I remember when I was a young man in the 1960s how enamoured many of us were with Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky's teaching "The Dogma of Redemption."   We saw it as the last and best explanation of how redemption took place.

We were fooled.  As the years went by more and more bishops told us that his work was heretical.  Ooops!

2) Then came Fr Seraphim Rose's "Life after Death" in the late 1970s and again many of us bowed down before him and said, yes! yes!  this is the teaching of the Fathers.   It wasn't.  We were fooled.

3) Then came Kalomiros and "The River of Fire" in 1980 and again we were exited and said:  This is wonderful, finally we can explain how the torments of hell are inflicted on mankind without attributing it to God and His justice.  Again, we were fooled.  While "The River of Fire" is a very attractive theologoumenon it is not Orthodox doctrine.

Now we have a succession of modern theologians still dealing with the theme of the afterlife, all of them putting together their clever pastiche of patristic quotes, as others have done before them in the last century.

Treat them very very carefully.  Treat them as hypotheses only.   As for this old man, he is going to stay with what he learnt years ago and he is not going to get enthusiastic over new theologians with theories which may claim to be patristic doctrine but which were not known to my generation.  Once bitten, twice shy!  Given my generation's disillusionment with Met Khrapovitsky, hieromonk Seraphim Rose and Kalomiros you will understand our cautious scepticism with these new writings.

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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2011, 11:45:37 AM »

Father, thank you for providing a more thorough reply. It does help me to put in perspective why you take the approach you do.

I would say, however, that I never have really jumped on the bandwagon of any of the above modern theologians.  I do read them, and especially with Fr. Seraphim, I appreciated it because he finally showed me what it was that I experienced as a teenager dabbling in astral projection/Out of Body experiences.  But the part at the end about where the soul is on day 3, 9, etc., I knew that had to be figurative.  But I am not sure he didn't think so himself based on some of his clarifications.

Basically, I think that caution is laudable, but we have to avoid the completely agnostic approach.  I think there is enough meat in the Fathers to get a basic outline, without our own interpretations. I think Vassiliades is pretty responsible in his treatment, for the record, but I don't always agree with him and I know some of this stuff could be considered a theologoumena.
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2011, 12:02:53 PM »

I agree, caution, without the agnostic approach.   The dirty bathwater needs to go but the baby must stay.   
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2011, 12:34:55 PM »

Tartarus is a hellenic euphemism for hell or the underworld. According to the Wiki link from Melodist, it is indirectly referenced in 2 Peter 2:4 and appears several times in the Septuagint version of Job.

I have always interpreted the "evil worms" to be a reference to Mark 9:48, when Christ speaks of the "undying worm", a rather disgusting euphemism for the tortures of hell (after the multitudes of maggots in garbage dumps outside ancient cities), or perhaps demons.

Does anyone know if bodies were thrown into this garbage dump as well (gehenna)?


Yes, bodies were thrown into the gehenna, the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem. Usually people who were criminals and those who were "unworthy" of an honorable burial. Some crucified victims were likely thrown there too. historically speaking the fire that never goes out is simply a reference to the fact that the smolder garbage heap never ran out of fuel because more garbage and bodies were constantly thrown into the heap to be burned up. (like adding another log to the fire)


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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2011, 01:21:57 PM »

.  At any rate, the River of Fire topic is a relatively modern and abstract one.


The "River of Fire" is reflective of our modern age of non-judgementalism and self-assessment.


I think you are absolutely correct Father and I hope that me, a dreaded Roman Catholic, doesn't harm your case.
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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2011, 03:58:10 PM »

I agree, caution, without the agnostic approach.   The dirty bathwater needs to go but the baby must stay.  

Since the time of Father Seraphim Rose there has been a great interest in some quarters in identifying the manifold states of the afterlife, particularly the hellish regions, and the mind can start spinning trying to keep track of it....

hell

hades

sheol

gehenna

tartarus

the lake of fire.....etc.

There is really no unanimity in the Fathers about the distinctions between these terms, or these states and places.  Theories vary from country to country and century to century.  So there's little hope of us lesser mortals (well, me anyway) sorting it out.

I tend to stay close to what my own bishops of the Russian Church Abroad said at a synodal meeting in December 1980.  It's concise, it's sober and it doesn't pretend to know more than we can.

"Taking all of the foregoing into consideration, the Synod of Bishops resolve:

In the deliberations on life after death one must in general keep in mind
that it has not pleased the Lord to reveal to us very much aside from
the fact that the degree of a soul's blessedness depends on how much
a man's life on the earth has been truly Christian, and the degree of a
man's posthumous suffering depends upon the degree of sinfulness.
To add conjectures to the little that the Lord has been pleased to reveal
to us is not beneficial to our salvation..."



So if I be judged as an agnostic it is an agnosticisn shared by the bishops of the Russian Church.
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« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2011, 04:08:01 PM »

I agree, caution, without the agnostic approach.      

I know many many people who adopt an agnostic approach to the tollhouses (something taught by Vassiliadis.)

There are three major approaches:

1.  The tollhouses are an aberration in Orthodox soteriology.  I reject them.

2.  The tollhouses are God's truth.  I accept them.

3.  I just cannot make up my mind.  I don't know.   The agnostic approach.
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« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2011, 04:15:10 PM »

What would be the argument though that Vassiliades "teaches" the Toll Houses?  If I assemble a list of patristic quotations that talk about them in one place, am I teaching or assembling?  Is his commentary on the Toll Houses a teaching or a summary?

Or perhaps the argument is that he is being selective or that he is ignoring patristic evidence that disagrees with toll houses?  Or that his commentary is speculative and goes beyond what the sources state?  Or that he does not approach the sources critically? What argument is being presented? I am not sure and I don't want to jump to any conclusions.

I am also not sure it's really a good idea to argue about Vassiliades's methodology when not everyone has read his work beyond excerpts available online.  But here I am engaging in such discussion anyway. Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2011, 04:22:34 PM »

What would be the argument though that Vassiliades "teaches" the Toll Houses? 

Sorry, I did not realise that my choice of the word "taught" would be contentious.   laugh

So I rephrase...

Does Vassiliadis uphold the tollhouse teaching?

Does he reject the tollhouse teaching?

Does he (God forgive him!) adopt an agnostic approach?
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« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2011, 11:13:38 PM »

Wait a minute.  No need to get defensive.  I was agreeing with FatherA's statement that your caution was laudable but also agreed with him that we must avoid a completely agnostic approach to eschatological topics:

Quote
Fr.Anastasios:  Basically, I think that caution is laudable, but we have to avoid the completely agnostic approach.

  I agree, caution, without the agnostic approach.   The dirty bathwater needs to go but the baby must stay.   

I disagree that the Fathers do not make clear the teachings on Hades, Tartarus, Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, etc.  It does not spin my mind at all.  Seems rather clear, but by the same token I also like a more sober approach to the speculative aspects of these things, especially tollhouses, and agree with you on approaching the latter issue with extreme caution.   Then again, I think Fr. Anastasios also agrees with this to a certain degree as I read his statement.     

I agree, caution, without the agnostic approach.   The dirty bathwater needs to go but the baby must stay.  

Since the time of Father Seraphim Rose there has been a great interest in some quarters in identifying the manifold states of the afterlife, particularly the hellish regions, and the mind can start spinning trying to keep track of it....

hell

hades

sheol

gehenna

tartarus

the lake of fire.....etc.

There is really no unanimity in the Fathers about the distinctions between these terms, or these states and places.  Theories vary from country to country and century to century.  So there's little hope of us lesser mortals (well, me anyway) sorting it out.

I tend to stay close to what my own bishops of the Russian Church Abroad said at a synodal meeting in December 1980.  It's concise, it's sober and it doesn't pretend to know more than we can.

"Taking all of the foregoing into consideration, the Synod of Bishops resolve:

In the deliberations on life after death one must in general keep in mind
that it has not pleased the Lord to reveal to us very much aside from
the fact that the degree of a soul's blessedness depends on how much
a man's life on the earth has been truly Christian, and the degree of a
man's posthumous suffering depends upon the degree of sinfulness.
To add conjectures to the little that the Lord has been pleased to reveal
to us is not beneficial to our salvation..."



So if I be judged as an agnostic it is an agnosticisn shared by the bishops of the Russian Church.
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« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2011, 11:17:39 PM »

I agree, caution, without the agnostic approach.      
I know many many people who adopt an agnostic approach to the tollhouses (something taught by Vassiliadis.)
There are three major approaches:
1.  The tollhouses are an aberration in Orthodox soteriology.  I reject them.
2.  The tollhouses are God's truth.  I accept them.
3.  I just cannot make up my mind.  I don't know.   The agnostic approach.

Right, "I don't know" is acceptable with regard to tollhouses.   It is a questionable matter that St. Paul warns us not to be overly quarrelsome about.   
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« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2011, 11:28:30 PM »

I agree, caution, without the agnostic approach.      

I know many many people who adopt an agnostic approach to the tollhouses (something taught by Vassiliadis.)

There are three major approaches:

1.  The tollhouses are an aberration in Orthodox soteriology.  I reject them.

2.  The tollhouses are God's truth.  I accept them.

3.  I just cannot make up my mind.  I don't know.   The agnostic approach.
4. I don't care.  Their existence or nonexistence affects no one in their working out of their salvation.  I avoid idle prattle about them.
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« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2011, 11:30:58 PM »

Tartarus is a hellenic euphemism for hell or the underworld. According to the Wiki link from Melodist, it is indirectly referenced in 2 Peter 2:4 and appears several times in the Septuagint version of Job.

I have always interpreted the "evil worms" to be a reference to Mark 9:48, when Christ speaks of the "undying worm", a rather disgusting euphemism for the tortures of hell (after the multitudes of maggots in garbage dumps outside ancient cities), or perhaps demons.

Does anyone know if bodies were thrown into this garbage dump as well (gehenna)?


Yes, bodies were thrown into the gehenna, the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem. Usually people who were criminals and those who were "unworthy" of an honorable burial. Some crucified victims were likely thrown there too. historically speaking the fire that never goes out is simply a reference to the fact that the smolder garbage heap never ran out of fuel because more garbage and bodies were constantly thrown into the heap to be burned up. (like adding another log to the fire)



I've been there in the summer. It is still hotter than Gehanna.
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« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2011, 11:37:37 PM »


4. I don't care.  Their existence or nonexistence affects no one in their working out of their salvation.  I avoid idle prattle about them.

I would think that the patristic references to demons attacking us at death and prayers to our Guardian Angel found in standard prayer books asking him to fend them off would give one pause, but that's just me.  Yeah, sure, everyone should approach faith in God because of love, but we know that not everyone attains this laudable level, some still reacting out of fear, others out of desire for reward, which are steps toward the ultimate goal.  So thinking about the hour of death and the judgment and the assault of the demons at death is a powerful incentive for a lot of people and affects the "working out of their salvation."

I would think that the *details* of how that might play out would become at some point a source for speculation and unprofitable to debate after a certain point.
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« Reply #31 on: February 01, 2011, 11:50:09 PM »

Wait a minute.  No need to get defensive. 

Irish Hermit is sorry he was defensive.  He thinks the only other time he was described as agnostic (self-described really ) was about the presence of Jesus Christ in the Roman Catholic Eucharist.  Boy, did he ever take a beating from some "traditionalists."   Apparently the correct answer is, no, not ever, never, impossible.
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« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2011, 05:09:00 PM »

Wait a minute.  No need to get defensive. 
Irish Hermit is sorry he was defensive.  He thinks the only other time he was described as agnostic (self-described really ) was about the presence of Jesus Christ in the Roman Catholic Eucharist.  Boy, did he ever take a beating from some "traditionalists."   Apparently the correct answer is, no, not ever, never, impossible.
Understood Father.   Yes, the presence of Christ in the Vatican's sacraments is a tough one, and not to be tread upon lightly.  Then again, Christ is everywhere, but not everywhere sacramentally.  Certainly no one would say that the omnipresent God is everywhere and fills all things except on top of an RC altar.  The question is whether He is present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity there.  But that is another subject. 
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« Reply #33 on: February 07, 2011, 09:43:26 PM »

Interesting, I was not aware there was any serious controversy concerning Kalamiros' teaching in The River of Fire. Though I never thought it was the last word on the subject, given it's broad dissemination and promotion among the Orthodox, I've never had any reason to question that it was a representative summary of Orthodox teaching on the question of God's justice and mercy with respect to salvation and the Judgement.
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« Reply #34 on: February 07, 2011, 09:54:22 PM »

I like the River of Fire, but I think the Orthodox perspective is to not hold it dogmatically. I'll just say heaven and hell are beyond what we could comprehend. It's intersting one of my emails to a priest with joining the Orthodox Church I asked him if he knew any books on heaven and hell. He replies to all of mine, but except for that one. I think it was for a good reason to (if he missed it on accident so be it) because we should focus on our salvation and being in the Kingdom of Heaven in the now instead of something that is a future destination. You know working on our salvation.

But I'm a complete hypocrite even by saying that, so take it with a grain of salt.
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« Reply #35 on: February 08, 2011, 01:15:27 AM »

Here, let me google that for you
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« Reply #36 on: February 08, 2011, 10:44:00 AM »

Not unlike St. Paul's Mishna reference (in the Holy epistle to the Corinthians) to the stone that followed post-exodus Israel around the desert en-route to the promised land, Tartarus has a root in tradition.  In the book of Enoch we find a story wherein Angels who fell were placed in a Tartarus-esque “place”, out of harm's way.   Whether Tartarus or this dark place wherein the Angels were cast and bound was revealed to Israel post or prior to the use and presuppositions of words like, “Abyss” or “Tartarus” or “Hades” or “Sheol” or “Abbadon”, I do not know. 

The way I have approached the reality of the afterlife and the various Orthodox explanations is to accept what seems contradictory insofar as it does not contradict.  What I mean here is that on some levels most of the Orthodox teachings on this subject do agree with one another up to a certain point.
 
 Where they depart is when the teachings appear to us as etiological necessity.  For example, if I say that Gehenna is a “place” then my mind as much as it is able to grasp is going to cling to geographic illustrations and references in order to keep its compass from spinning.   Some fellow Orthodox brother stops by and says that Gehenna is a “state of being”, my brain is going to puff up and say, “that is contradictory and both of us can't be right.”

Another example: we often hear or read the word, “Hades” being called, “Hell” and as I understand, “hell”, Hades is not “hell” in the sense that the second death is a truer “hell” and yet at the same time it is appropriate to call Hades, “hell”.  We certainly can receive a foretaste of that second death in Hades even if the Lake of Fire isn't “in” Hades.  Again, we earthen vessels have to resort to cave paintings to explain the unexplainable because all we can write with is a pile of dust.  Abraham's Bosom is also said to be in Hades.  Go figure. 

It is also appropriate to call Hades, “paradise”.  Abraham's Bosom was (and still is!) considered to be “in” Hades.  Hades is Sheol.  Sheol was said to be divided into different compartments.  Depending on the tradition, some Jewish sects or movements believed Sheol to be divided into two, four, twelve different sections.  Our Lord speaks about there being at least two, however we are to understand “two”, I don't know. 

The kicker is when we begin to argue within ourselves whether we should think of these “places” as “states” or “geographical” realities.  If holiness will improve our Noetic GPS then we would probably have little need for such arguments and become that which we seek to know the answer to.  What need I of heaven when I become heaven, is one of my favorite quotes and I have forgotten who said it but I know that such a gem is a pile of dust that can only shine when tested by the fire.  In other words, I am pretty sure that it was a canonized Saint who was inspired to say such a thing. 

One glaring oversight that is common is the reality that Our Lord called Sheol, “Hades”.  In more ways than one, that reality says much.  He did not come for the gentile but for the Jew and yet the Jews were Hellenized Jews.  I do not think that there is Irony in heaven but that reality still strikes awe in me.   

We see but dimly.  Our salvation is our aim.  Much else will often cause the arrow to miss the mark.  Communion with God is the mark.  Knowing or satiating our curiosity about the particulars of the afterlife must be salvific.  Regardless of the explanations of these types of subjects, the reality is that, either way, we will find out the answer – even if we never ask the question. 
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« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2011, 02:01:26 AM »

Tartarus is the darkest deepest part of hades. Its the prison for certain kind of angels (that fell away) which apocrypha describes as a 'watcher' (see also Dan 4.17) Even though Tartarus is only mentioned by name in 2Pet 2.4
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