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Xenia1918
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« on: July 13, 2011, 08:02:57 PM »

I'm from an Orthodox Jewish background and then became a Traditional RC. In the process of studying Orthodoxy, I learned that the Orthodox Church does not believe in the idea of purgatory (although they do pray for the dead).

I know that the original, most ancient Christian Church arose out of first century Judaism, and naturally, would have many similarities to ancient Judaism.

Here is my question: Ancient (and modern) Judaism believed in the idea of purgatory, though its not called by that name. Jews pray for the dead so they can enter the olam ha'ba (Heaven) faster. In the meantime their souls await in a place of purgation, to be loosed from the guilt due to their sins.

Roman Catholics also have this same belief, which is why they, too, pray for the dead.

So, why don't the Orthodox believe in a place of purgation if they are the oldest Church?
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"O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us..." (from the Prayer of St Basil the Great)

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Ioannis Climacus
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2011, 08:16:22 PM »

Orthodox Christians pray for the dead and for their salvation. These prayers assist individuals in obtaining it. Upon death, the soul must travel through a number of aerial toll houses - demons who accost the soul and desire it's damnation. People are accused of the various sins they have committed throughout their lives and must face these accusations and through the grace and mercy of God, overcome them. I would recommend reading Fr. Seraphim of Platina's book The Soul After Death (http://www.amazon.com/Soul-After-Death-Contemporary-After-Death/dp/093863514X). It is a great introduction to the subject that shows the historical continuity of it.

In short, Orthodox Christians must face and finally repent of their sins and only after this will they reach salvation.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2011, 08:23:08 PM by Ioannis Climacus » Logged

Note : Many of my posts (especially the ones antedating late 2012) do not reflect charity, tact, or even views I presently hold. Please forgive me for any antagonism I have caused.
Xenia1918
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2011, 08:25:31 PM »

Orthodox Christians pray for the dead and for their salvation. These prayers assist individuals in obtaining it. Upon death, the soul must travel through a number of aerial toll houses - demons who accost the soul and desire it's damnation. People are accused of the various sins they have committed throughout their lives and must face these accusations and through the grace and mercy of God, overcome them. I would recommend reading Fr. Seraphim of Platina's book The Soul After Death (http://www.amazon.com/Soul-After-Death-Contemporary-After-Death/dp/093863514X). It is a great introduction to the subject that shows the historical continuity of it.

In short, Orthodox Christians must face and finally repent of their sins and only after this will they reach salvation.

So then, does that mean Orthodox Christians DO believe in the concept of a purgatory, even if they don't use the term? (I remember an Orthodox friend of mine years ago, telling me about the toll houses.)
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"O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us..." (from the Prayer of St Basil the Great)

REAL RC: http://www.traditionalmass.org
REAL OC: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com
Ioannis Climacus
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2011, 08:31:21 PM »

Orthodox Christians pray for the dead and for their salvation. These prayers assist individuals in obtaining it. Upon death, the soul must travel through a number of aerial toll houses - demons who accost the soul and desire it's damnation. People are accused of the various sins they have committed throughout their lives and must face these accusations and through the grace and mercy of God, overcome them. I would recommend reading Fr. Seraphim of Platina's book The Soul After Death (http://www.amazon.com/Soul-After-Death-Contemporary-After-Death/dp/093863514X). It is a great introduction to the subject that shows the historical continuity of it.

In short, Orthodox Christians must face and finally repent of their sins and only after this will they reach salvation.

So then, does that mean Orthodox Christians DO believe in the concept of a purgatory, even if they don't use the term? (I remember an Orthodox friend of mine years ago, telling me about the toll houses.)
Well, in a way, but the term purgatory carries with it a good deal of un-Orthodox baggage (the Latin view is largely a corruption of the patristic view concerning the afterlife). Notably, we do not believe in the concept of indulgences, nor do we accept the idea that one must suffer temporal punishments for the penalty of sin.
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Xenia1918
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2011, 08:48:14 PM »

Orthodox Christians pray for the dead and for their salvation. These prayers assist individuals in obtaining it. Upon death, the soul must travel through a number of aerial toll houses - demons who accost the soul and desire it's damnation. People are accused of the various sins they have committed throughout their lives and must face these accusations and through the grace and mercy of God, overcome them. I would recommend reading Fr. Seraphim of Platina's book The Soul After Death (http://www.amazon.com/Soul-After-Death-Contemporary-After-Death/dp/093863514X). It is a great introduction to the subject that shows the historical continuity of it.

In short, Orthodox Christians must face and finally repent of their sins and only after this will they reach salvation.


OK, thanks for the fuller explanation! BTW I just ordered a copy of the book you recommended.Smiley
So then, does that mean Orthodox Christians DO believe in the concept of a purgatory, even if they don't use the term? (I remember an Orthodox friend of mine years ago, telling me about the toll houses.)
Well, in a way, but the term purgatory carries with it a good deal of un-Orthodox baggage (the Latin view is largely a corruption of the patristic view concerning the afterlife). Notably, we do not believe in the concept of indulgences, nor do we accept the idea that one must suffer temporal punishments for the penalty of sin.
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"O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us..." (from the Prayer of St Basil the Great)

REAL RC: http://www.traditionalmass.org
REAL OC: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2011, 12:30:41 AM »

So, why don't the Orthodox believe in a place of purgation if they are the oldest Church?
A crucial difference is well explained by David Bentley Hart, who generally argues for the harmony of Latin and Eastern positions (albeit not terribly convincing to most Orthodox), but with regard to purgatory identifies a major difference of perspective:
Quote from: David Bentley Hart
...The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit...

[The Orthodox view of salvation/theosis is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 12:39:49 AM by xariskai » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2011, 12:07:40 PM »

So, why don't the Orthodox believe in a place of purgation if they are the oldest Church?
A crucial difference is well explained by David Bentley Hart, who generally argues for the harmony of Latin and Eastern positions (albeit not terribly convincing to most Orthodox), but with regard to purgatory identifies a major difference of perspective:
Quote from: David Bentley Hart
...The Eastern church believes in sanctification after death... but Rome has also traditionally spoken of it as 'temporal punishment', which the pope may in whole or part remit...

[The Orthodox view of salvation/theosis is not] merely a forensic imputation of sinlessness to a sinful creature; it is a real glorification and organic transfiguration of the creature in Christ, one which never violates the integrity of our creatureliness, but which - by causing us to progress from sin to righteousness - really makes us partakers of the divine nature.

Very well then: what then could it mean to remit purgation? Why, if it is sanctification, would one want such remission, and would it not then involve instead the very magical transformation of the creature into something beyond itself that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both deny? These... are questions as yet unanswered"

One cannot be sanctified until one has been purified.  Those who are purified in this life, or reach theosis in this life, need never experience purgation but will move forward through the veil between life and death, from glory to glory.

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