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Author Topic: Salvation for non-Christians in OOxy  (Read 3256 times) Average Rating: 0
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Severian
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« on: July 08, 2011, 08:14:45 PM »

Growing up in the Coptic Church I was taught that it was impossible for non-Christians to attain salvation. Yet, in the EO Churches I hear many people say that non-Christians can enter the kingdom, which worries me. Is there any evidence from scripture or tradition that teaches non-Christians can be saved? I just wanted to make sure that all the OO Churches agree on this, that is, there is no salvation for non-Christians? No polemics please.
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2011, 12:25:46 AM »

Growing up in the Coptic Church I was taught that it was impossible for non-Christians to attain salvation.
Were you also taught that it would be impossible for a non-Christian to become a Christian after death?
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2011, 12:48:35 AM »

Growing up in the Coptic Church I was taught that it was impossible for non-Christians to attain salvation.
Were you also taught that it would be impossible for a non-Christian to become a Christian after death?
I'm going to allow a more knowledgeable OO answer that. But once again, is this concept taught in the writings of the Holy Fathers or Holy Scripture?
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2011, 01:14:42 AM »

To be sure, Trinitarian baptism is required to be considered to be in any way part of the Body of Christ. The unbaptized are undeniably in a very precarious position.

But God is capable of showing mercy on whomever He wants, and if He so desires, He will not even be constrained by the lack of baptism. The proverbial tribes in the jungles of Africa are not damned simply because the Gospel never got there. In other words, the sacraments are not magic.

God will in fact judge those tribal people by a lower standard because they were ignorant and could only infer things about God from the law written on their hearts and in the cosmos. God will judge baptized and chrismated Orthodox Christians by a much higher standard.

That said, eternal salvation is not something to hedge one's bets about, and we should be baptizing people left and right. But we should be very concerned about our own salvation as well.
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2011, 01:23:17 AM »

(Null) Nevermind, bad post.
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2011, 06:18:00 AM »

I would like to clarify meaning here. Is your impression of the EO teaching that heathens can enter the Kingdom without ultimately accepting the reality of Christ and the Trinity, and thus effectively becoming Christians?
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2011, 09:30:07 PM »

I would like to clarify meaning here. Is your impression of the EO teaching that heathens can enter the Kingdom without ultimately accepting the reality of Christ and the Trinity, and thus effectively becoming Christians?
Well is it? Furthermore, do EOs teach that one can accept the All-Holy Trinity after death? To me that seems like a more moderate form of apocatastasis (spelling?).
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2011, 09:43:15 PM »

Well is it?

Not so far as I have seen. Therefore, one still cannot ultimately be a heathen and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Furthermore, do EOs teach that one can accept the All-Holy Trinity after death? To me that seems like a more moderate form of apocatastasis (spelling?).

I think the idea that those who were heathens in this life could ultimately be judged as among the righteous has that implication. And no, it's not necessarily apocatastasis because it doesn't assume that all will eventually redeemed.
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2011, 09:45:35 PM »

I think the idea that those who were heathens in this life could ultimately be judged as among the righteous has that implication. And no, it's not necessarily apocatastasis because it doesn't assume that all will eventually redeemed.
Is this idea found in the teaching of the Holy Fathers, that is, one can accept the Trinity after death?
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2011, 09:50:09 PM »

I think the idea that those who were heathens in this life could ultimately be judged as among the righteous has that implication. And no, it's not necessarily apocatastasis because it doesn't assume that all will eventually redeemed.
Is this idea found in the teaching of the Holy Fathers, that is, one can accept the Trinity after death?

I don't know. But like I said, the idea that God may judge those who were heathens in their lifetimes to be among the ultimate body of the elect (a teaching which I am confident is Patristic) seems to necessitate that implication.
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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2011, 09:53:28 PM »

I think the idea that those who were heathens in this life could ultimately be judged as among the righteous has that implication. And no, it's not necessarily apocatastasis because it doesn't assume that all will eventually redeemed.
Is this idea found in the teaching of the Holy Fathers, that is, one can accept the Trinity after death?

I don't know. But like I said, the idea that God may judge those who were heathens in their lifetimes to be among the ultimate body of the elect (a teaching which I am confident is Patristic) seems to necessitate that implication.
Well, thanks for your contributions. I am hoping a more knowledgeable OO adds to this thread, because I am anything but knowledgeable. If you find anything else to contribute please do. This puzzles me.
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« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2011, 10:01:32 PM »

Another thing I have to add is that I have experienced a number of Copts having seemingly very extreme and ignorant conceptions of the afterlife, how salvation occurs, and who can be saved, whereas the Syrians and Armenians have seemed to have much more tempered views more similar to the Byzantines. I think this is connected to modern influences my Coptic convert friend and I have observed: that the Syrians and Armenians have been influenced by liberal and ecumenical trends like many mainstream Orthodox jurisdictions/cultures, whereas the Copts actually seemed to have been more affected by conservative Protestant/Augstinian/Anselmian ideas. And I have some confirmation from personal experience of this: the local Coptic Priest basically preached Anselmian atonement theory on Good Friday in 2010. I don't have huge issues with Anselm, I think he's much more mild than Aquinas, being more mild than Luther, being more mild than Calvin. But the phenomenon certainly appears to be there and it's certainly inclined to some degree of error.
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« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2011, 10:02:47 PM »

The point being that I think what you mentioned in the OP being raised with is actually the aberration, even among the OO.
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« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2011, 10:16:22 PM »

Another thing I have to add is that I have experienced a number of Copts having seemingly very extreme and ignorant conceptions of the afterlife, how salvation occurs, and who can be saved, whereas the Syrians and Armenians have seemed to have much more tempered views more similar to the Byzantines. I think this is connected to modern influences my Coptic convert friend and I have observed: that the Syrians and Armenians have been influenced by liberal and ecumenical trends like many mainstream Orthodox jurisdictions/cultures, whereas the Copts actually seemed to have been more affected by conservative Protestant/Augstinian/Anselmian ideas. And I have some confirmation from personal experience of this: the local Coptic Priest basically preached Anselmian atonement theory on Good Friday in 2010. I don't have huge issues with Anselm, I think he's much more mild than Aquinas, being more mild than Luther, being more mild than Calvin. But the phenomenon certainly appears to be there and it's certainly inclined to some degree of error.
Unfortunately, I think you are correct about Protestant influence in the Coptic Church. I personally emphasize patristic teaching, which is why I started this thread, to see the patristic understanding on salvation of non-Christians. Thankfully, I have a very good Priest who emphasizes patristic philosophy, he is certainly not Anselmian. Not to deviate from the topic, but, believing in some sort of judicial atonement theory is, from what I've read, patristic. To ignore the judicial theory completely is to ignore so many Church Fathers and so much Scripture that it's ridiculous. Consider this for example:

Quote
Sts. Athanasius, Symeon the New Theologian, Cyril, Severus (for OOs anyway), John Chrysostom and others all teach the doctrine of atonement from a judicial standpoint.

St Severus of Antioch:
"So he became sin to remit the sins of others: so also he paid the debt that was incurred for us, and we ourselves became righteousness in him; for those who have been freed from debts are righteous, and |203 are not termed liable. And, because during the time of his Humanization he did no sin, therefore also iniquity was not found in him, but he showed himself righteous, that is, he is righteousness; and, when he became flesh, all our nature again was justified in him as in firstfruits; and this is what the wise Paul said to the Corinthians about the Father, «He made him sin for our sake, who knew no sin, that we might be the righteousness of God in him»" ~letter 65

St Cyril:
"The Divine Scripture says that Christ hath been made the High Priest and Apostle of our confession [Heb. 3:1] and He hath offered Himself for us for an odour of a sweet smell to God the Father. If any one therefore say that not the Very Word of God was made our High Priest and Apostle when He was made Flesh and man as we, but that man of a woman apart from himself as other than He, was [so made]: or if any one say that in His own behalf also He offered the Sacrifice and not rather for us alone (for He needed not offering Who knoweth not sin), be he anathema." ~10th anathema to Nestorius

St Athanasius:
"For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life  of all satisfied the debt by His death" ~ "On the Incarnation"

St John Chrysostom:
“It is as if, at a session of a court of justice, the devil should be addressed as follows: ‘Granted that you destroyed all men because you found them guilty of sin; but why did you destroy Christ? Is it not very evident that you did so unjustly? Well then, through Him the whole world will be vindicated." ~Commentary on St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, Homilies 48-88

Symeon the New Theologian:
“God, Who is incomparably higher than the visible and invisible creation, accepted human nature, which is higher than the whole visible creation, and offered it as a sacrifice to His God and Father.... Honoring the sacrifice, the Father could not leave it in the hands of death. Therefore, He annihilated His sentence." ~The First-Created Man

Testimony from Scripture*:
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." ~ Romans 5:9

"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
~Hebrews 9:22

I know as Orthodox we place more emphasis on the ontological view of the atonement, that is, Christ
dying to grant us life and "God becoming man so we can become [like] god", but, I feel that we must at least place some emphasis on the judicial theory in order to remain completely loyal to Holy scripture and the patristic tradition.

Seeking your prayers,
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*All scriptural citations taken from the King James Version
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« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2011, 10:19:56 PM »

I personally emphasize patristic teaching

As you should.  Wink

The good thing is that I think there is slowly brewing a Patristic revival among the Coptic faithful.
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« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2011, 10:29:21 PM »

I personally emphasize patristic teaching

As you should.  Wink

The good thing is that I think there is slowly brewing a Patristic revival among the Coptic faithful.
I heard the Russian Church used to be influenced by Anselmianism, but, after reading the writings of Sts. Athanasius, Cyril, et al they returned to Orthodox dogma. My Priest always gives commentary on scripture from the Fathers every Sunday after the gospel reading, in this country the Coptic Church communicates with her sister Churches, which always helps. 
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« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2011, 11:05:08 PM »

So could someone who's Armenian or Syriac say what they were taught about the salvation of non-Christians in their Church? I am curious to see if the OO Churches are in agreement on this issue.
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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2011, 11:13:43 PM »

I don't know who is in hell, and I only know some of those in Heaven. But I do know that those who never knew God in their lives fare better in the next Life than those who were baptized Orthodox Christians yet who spurned His commandments. Abba Makarios attests to this:

Quote
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2011, 11:17:35 PM »

I don't know who is in hell, and I only know some of those in Heaven. But I do know that those who never knew God in their lives fare better in the next Life than those who were baptized Orthodox Christians yet who spurned His commandments. Abba Makarios attests to this:

Quote
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
Source
Don't think that baptism alone saves anyone.
Great post ozgeorge, thanks. That's some food for thought. But, once again, a pagan priest who denied Christ and the Trinity was tormented, I don't think his morality had anything to do with it. He still endured eternal torture.
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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2011, 11:18:59 PM »

So could someone who's Armenian or Syriac say what they were taught about the salvation of non-Christians in their Church? I am curious to see if the OO Churches are in agreement on this issue.

I've been taught that it is up to God and that only He knows.  Our job is to try to tell as many people as we can about Christ.  Whether God saves those who never had a chance to know Him is something we don't know.
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« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2011, 11:19:49 PM »

Don't think that baptism alone saves anyone.

I don't think any Church teaches that.
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« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2011, 11:31:28 PM »

I don't know who is in hell, and I only know some of those in Heaven. But I do know that those who never knew God in their lives fare better in the next Life than those who were baptized Orthodox Christians yet who spurned His commandments. Abba Makarios attests to this:

Quote
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
Source
Don't think that baptism alone saves anyone.
Great post ozgeorge, thanks. That's some food for thought. But, once again, a pagan priest who denied Christ and the Trinity was tormented, I don't think his morality had anything to do with it. He still endured eternal torture.
Where did you get the idea that the pagan priest was in 'eternal torture'?
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« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2011, 11:39:10 PM »

Where did you get the idea that the pagan priest was in 'eternal torture'?
Isn't it clear from the text that the Pagan Priest is tormented?
Quote
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
As for where I got the word 'eternal', well aren't the torments in hell eternal? To say otherwise is apocatastasis. Are you somehow implying that the torments in hell are only temporary?
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« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2011, 12:11:26 AM »

But, once again, a pagan priest who denied Christ and the Trinity was tormented
We can't know if he denied Christ, since we don't know if he knew Him. To deny Christ, the Trinity, or anyone means to know them but behave as though we don't know them (like St. Peter who denied Christ three times). We can't know why the pagan priest was in torments, and I think it would be wrong to create a causal relationship between simply being a pagan priest and being in torment. If an Orthodox Christian Bishop is in hell, you wouldn't create a causal relationship between being a Orthodox Bishop and being in hell.

I don't think his morality had anything to do with it.
The Scriptures attest that the prayers and good works of the unbaptised are acceptable to God (as in the case of Cornelius in Acts 10).

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« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2011, 12:14:38 AM »

But, once again, a pagan priest who denied Christ and the Trinity was tormented
We can't know if he denied Christ, since we don't know if he knew Him. To deny Christ, the Trinity, or anyone means to know them but behave as though we don't know them (like St. Peter who denied Christ three times). We can't know why the pagan priest was in torments, and I think it would be wrong to create a causal relationship between simply being a pagan priest and being in torment. If an Orthodox Christian Bishop is in hell, you wouldn't create a causal relationship between being a Orthodox Bishop and being in hell.

I don't think his morality had anything to do with it.
The Scriptures attest that the prayers and good works of the unbaptised are acceptable to God (as in the case of Cornelius in Acts 10).


That's true. I am glad I created this thread, I am clearly ignorant of this subject and it's good to get information from people who are clearly so much more well-versed in matters like this.
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« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2011, 12:26:24 AM »

Where did you get the idea that the pagan priest was in 'eternal torture'?
Isn't it clear from the text that the Pagan Priest is tormented?
Quote
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
As for where I got the word 'eternal', well aren't the torments in hell eternal? To say otherwise is apocatastasis. Are you somehow implying that the torments in hell are only temporary?

The torment suffered in Hades after the particular judgment is different from that of the torment suffered in the Lake of Fire after the Final Judgment. The latter is the more clearly final one.
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« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2011, 12:27:13 AM »

To say otherwise is apocatastasis.

I already told you this is incorrect. Apocatastasis is the doctrine that all (including the demons) will be redeemed.
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« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2011, 12:29:46 AM »

Furthermore, the only form of apocatastasis that has clearly been condemned is that which has been attributed to Origen, which had much more baggage attached to it that was addressed as its context, so we actually don't know if all forms (such as that of Gregory of Nyssa, or Theodore of Mopsuestia, or Isaac of Ninevah) of it are heretical.
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« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2011, 12:30:20 AM »

To be sure, Trinitarian baptism is required to be considered to be in any way part of the Body of Christ. The unbaptized are undeniably in a very precarious position.

But God is capable of showing mercy on whomever He wants, and if He so desires, He will not even be constrained by the lack of baptism. The proverbial tribes in the jungles of Africa are not damned simply because the Gospel never got there. In other words, the sacraments are not magic.

God will in fact judge those tribal people by a lower standard because they were ignorant and could only infer things about God from the law written on their hearts and in the cosmos. God will judge baptized and chrismated Orthodox Christians by a much higher standard.

That said, eternal salvation is not something to hedge one's bets about, and we should be baptizing people left and right. But we should be very concerned about our own salvation as well.

Now here's my point of contention. Wouldn't it be better off to be ignorant and not know the Gospel to have a better chance at salvation? I'm basing this on how you said Orthodox Christians are elevated to a higher standard.
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« Reply #29 on: July 11, 2011, 12:34:58 AM »

Where did you get the idea that the pagan priest was in 'eternal torture'?
Isn't it clear from the text that the Pagan Priest is tormented?
Quote
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
As for where I got the word 'eternal', well aren't the torments in hell eternal? To say otherwise is apocatastasis. Are you somehow implying that the torments in hell are only temporary?

The torment suffered in Hades after the particular judgment is different from that of the torment suffered in the Lake of Fire after the Final Judgment. The latter is the more clearly final one.
That I knew, when I was asked where I got the phrase 'eternal torment' I was wondering if Jetavan was implying that torment is not eternal and that those in hell would eventually be released. And yes, I know the Byzantine Church condemned Origen for teaching this doctrine and that St Gregory of Nyssa espoused a form of it. I am sorry, it seems I never fail to demonstrate my ignorance Embarrassed . Furthermore, I read an essay by HE Metropolitan Bishoy which stated that St. Isaac did in fact teach apocatastasis, I'm not sure if that's the case but that is what HE said. St Isaac did place a lot of emphasis on God's mercy, I remember reading a work of his where he says that a human heart should "burn for all creation" including demons. This does not necessarily mean he taught apocatastasis, but, he certainly lent himself towards that interpretation.
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« Reply #30 on: July 11, 2011, 12:38:26 AM »

Furthermore, the only form of apocatastasis that has clearly been condemned is that which has been attributed to Origen, which had much more baggage attached to it that was addressed as its context, so we actually don't know if all forms (such as that of Gregory of Nyssa, or Theodore of Mopsuestia, or Isaac of Ninevah) of it are heretical.
What baggage? The only thing that comes to mind is the preexistence of human souls.
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« Reply #31 on: July 11, 2011, 12:38:52 AM »

As for where I got the word 'eternal', well aren't the torments in hell eternal? To say otherwise is apocatastasis. Are you somehow implying that the torments in hell are only temporary?
While I am not entirely sure about apocatastasis, I think what is meant is that the souls in hell may not be there eternally, otherwise, why pray for the dead and ask for their sins to be forgiven?
Now, as for "apokatastasis", do you know that this is a Scriptural term?:
Quote
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, Whom Heaven must receive until the times of restoration (Gk: "apokatastaseos") of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21)
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« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2011, 12:41:02 AM »

As for where I got the word 'eternal', well aren't the torments in hell eternal? To say otherwise is apocatastasis. Are you somehow implying that the torments in hell are only temporary?
While I am not entirely sure about apocatastasis, I think what is meant is that the souls in hell may not be there eternally, otherwise, why pray for the dead and ask for their sins to be forgiven?
Now, as for "apokatastasis", do you know that this is a Scriptural term?:
Quote
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, Whom Heaven must receive until the times of restoration (Gk: "apokatastaseos") of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21)
Okay then, my misunderstanding, sorry.
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« Reply #33 on: July 11, 2011, 12:50:18 AM »

Where did you get the idea that the pagan priest was in 'eternal torture'?
Isn't it clear from the text that the Pagan Priest is tormented?
Quote
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
As for where I got the word 'eternal', well aren't the torments in hell eternal? To say otherwise is apocatastasis. Are you somehow implying that the torments in hell are only temporary?

The torment suffered in Hades after the particular judgment is different from that of the torment suffered in the Lake of Fire after the Final Judgment. The latter is the more clearly final one.
Just to clarify, when I objected to Jetavan's query I thought he was referring to final judgment, not Hades/particular judgment. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
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« Reply #34 on: July 11, 2011, 12:50:34 AM »

To be sure, Trinitarian baptism is required to be considered to be in any way part of the Body of Christ. The unbaptized are undeniably in a very precarious position.

But God is capable of showing mercy on whomever He wants, and if He so desires, He will not even be constrained by the lack of baptism. The proverbial tribes in the jungles of Africa are not damned simply because the Gospel never got there. In other words, the sacraments are not magic.

God will in fact judge those tribal people by a lower standard because they were ignorant and could only infer things about God from the law written on their hearts and in the cosmos. God will judge baptized and chrismated Orthodox Christians by a much higher standard.

That said, eternal salvation is not something to hedge one's bets about, and we should be baptizing people left and right. But we should be very concerned about our own salvation as well.

Now here's my point of contention. Wouldn't it be better off to be ignorant and not know the Gospel to have a better chance at salvation? I'm basing this on how you said Orthodox Christians are elevated to a higher standard.

No, not really, because while the "wolves in sheep's clothing" are worse off than the heathens, OTOH, those who enter into Orthodoxy in good faith and strive for union with Christ are better off than the heathens.
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« Reply #35 on: July 11, 2011, 12:53:03 AM »

To be sure, Trinitarian baptism is required to be considered to be in any way part of the Body of Christ. The unbaptized are undeniably in a very precarious position.

But God is capable of showing mercy on whomever He wants, and if He so desires, He will not even be constrained by the lack of baptism. The proverbial tribes in the jungles of Africa are not damned simply because the Gospel never got there. In other words, the sacraments are not magic.

God will in fact judge those tribal people by a lower standard because they were ignorant and could only infer things about God from the law written on their hearts and in the cosmos. God will judge baptized and chrismated Orthodox Christians by a much higher standard.

That said, eternal salvation is not something to hedge one's bets about, and we should be baptizing people left and right. But we should be very concerned about our own salvation as well.

Now here's my point of contention. Wouldn't it be better off to be ignorant and not know the Gospel to have a better chance at salvation? I'm basing this on how you said Orthodox Christians are elevated to a higher standard.

No, not really, because while the "wolves in sheep's clothing" are worse off than the heathens, OTOH, those who enter into Orthodoxy in good faith and strive for union with Christ are better off than the heathens.
Furthermore, aren't Orthodox Christians (edit:more likely to) achieve a higher level of theosis/unity with God than the heathens?
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« Reply #36 on: July 11, 2011, 01:00:35 AM »

Furthermore, wouldn't Orthodox Christians achieve a higher level of theosis/unity with God than the heathens?
How can we know these things when even the greatest Saints never dared to speculate on them?
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« Reply #37 on: July 11, 2011, 01:13:20 AM »

Furthermore, wouldn't Orthodox Christians achieve a higher level of theosis/unity with God than the heathens?
How can we know these things when even the greatest Saints never dared to speculate on them?
I suppose you're right. No one knows for sure. But don't you think that an Orthodox monk who lived a holy and righteous life is going to have a far better chance at theosis then, say, a pagan? We can't put ourselves in the place of God, but, doesn't Orthodoxy teach that the spiritual state of those outside of her are unknown and that salvation comes through partaking of the uncreated graces of God, and that those graces are most intimately experienced by participating in the sacramental life of the Church? St Seraphim of Sarov said "God will listen to a Christian monk just as much as a laymen provided both are Orthodox" (a bit of a paraphrase from memory). Once again I am not trying to object to what you are saying. I am genuinely trying to learn and create further discussion as I have clearly demonstrated my ignorance on this subject in the past.
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« Reply #38 on: July 11, 2011, 01:20:33 AM »

Furthermore, wouldn't Orthodox Christians achieve a higher level of theosis/unity with God than the heathens?
How can we know these things when even the greatest Saints never dared to speculate on them?

Point taken (and obviously not specifically Oriental Orthodox), but it appears saints have speculated.  St. Nicholas Cabasilas, for instance, writes that:
Quote
"The one world is the wedding feast with the Bridegroom Himself, the other is the preparation for that wedding feast.  Accordingly, those who depart this life without the Eucharistic gifts will have nothing for that life.  But those who have been able to receive the grace and preserve it have entered into the joy of their Lord (Mt 25:10), and have gone in with the Bridegroom to the wedding feast (Mt. 25:10)."
The Life in Christ-SVS Press p.148
 

Doesn't this imply an advantage towards unity with God that "heathens" cannot readily obtain?
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« Reply #39 on: July 11, 2011, 01:23:19 AM »

Doesn't this imply an advantage towards unity with God that "heathens" cannot readily obtain?
That was the point I was trying to make, I suppose ultimately it's God's choice, though.
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« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2011, 05:29:43 AM »

Furthermore, the only form of apocatastasis that has clearly been condemned is that which has been attributed to Origen, which had much more baggage attached to it that was addressed as its context, so we actually don't know if all forms (such as that of Gregory of Nyssa, or Theodore of Mopsuestia, or Isaac of Ninevah) of it are heretical.
What baggage? The only thing that comes to mind is the preexistence of human souls.
Other baggage included the Origenistic idea that apocatastasis refers to the soul's return to the soul's original (no pun intended) condition -- which was union with God in the spiritual realm. For Origenists, the goal of theosis was to restore the soul to its original condition.

In orthodox Christianity, the soul is created by God at conception; the soul does not pre-exist in a spiritual realm with God. For Orthodoxy, the goal of theosis does not mean restoring the soul to its original condition -- it means taking the soul where it has not gone before, deeper and deeper into God.

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« Reply #41 on: July 11, 2011, 05:32:33 AM »

Where did you get the idea that the pagan priest was in 'eternal torture'?
Isn't it clear from the text that the Pagan Priest is tormented?
Quote
One time the Monk Makarios was walking along the way and, seeing a skull lying upon the ground, he asked it: "Who art thou?" The skull answered: "I was a chief-priest of the pagans. When thou, Abba, dost pray for those situated in hell, we do receive some mitigation". The monk asked: "What are these torments?" "We are sitting in a great fire, -- answered the skull, -- and we do not see one another. When thou prayest, we begin to see each other somewhat, and this affords us some comfort". Having heard such words, the monk began weeping and asked: "Are there yet more fiercesome torments?" The skull answered: "Down below us are located those, which did know the Name of God, but spurned Him and kept not His commandments. They endure yet more grievous torments".
As for where I got the word 'eternal', well aren't the torments in hell eternal? To say otherwise is apocatastasis. Are you somehow implying that the torments in hell are only temporary?

The torment suffered in Hades after the particular judgment is different from that of the torment suffered in the Lake of Fire after the Final Judgment. The latter is the more clearly final one.
Just to clarify, when I objected to Jetavan's query I thought he was referring to final judgment, not Hades/particular judgment. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
"Hell" has two meanings: Hades or the Lake of Fire.

There is a simple way to find out which meaning is meant in a given context: if the power of prayer is able to change what happens in "hell", then the first meaning is meant. (Whether OO would agree with this, I don't know.)
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« Reply #42 on: July 11, 2011, 06:32:17 AM »

Growing up in the Coptic Church I was taught that it was impossible for non-Christians to attain salvation.

If I remember correctly Fr. Ambrose has pointed out somewhere in OC.net that until recently the Coptic Church used to pray liturgically for those in Hell. This seems to imply that even Copts have historically had similar i.e. hopeful idea with EOs about non-Christians' salvation.
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« Reply #43 on: July 11, 2011, 06:52:46 AM »

Growing up in the Coptic Church I was taught that it was impossible for non-Christians to attain salvation.

If I remember correctly Fr. Ambrose has pointed out somewhere in OC.net that until recently the Coptic Church used to pray liturgically for those in Hell. This seems to imply that even Copts have historically had similar i.e. hopeful idea with EOs about non-Christians' salvation.

Yes, until a few years ago the Coptic Church believed, with all the Orthodox world, Byzantine and Oriental, that souls could be delivered from hell.   But for some reason they have dropped that belief and no longer pray for those in hell.

Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Church speaks of this Coptic change of belief in message 43
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« Reply #44 on: July 11, 2011, 10:53:34 AM »

Growing up in the Coptic Church I was taught that it was impossible for non-Christians to attain salvation.

If I remember correctly Fr. Ambrose has pointed out somewhere in OC.net that until recently the Coptic Church used to pray liturgically for those in Hell. This seems to imply that even Copts have historically had similar i.e. hopeful idea with EOs about non-Christians' salvation.

Yes, until a few years ago the Coptic Church believed, with all the Orthodox world, Byzantine and Oriental, that souls could be delivered from hell.   But for some reason they have dropped that belief and no longer pray for those in hell.

Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Church speaks of this Coptic change of belief in message 43
at
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,32546.msg514548.html#msg514548
I read about that, that's disturbing. We should be careful what liturgical prayers we delete. The way we pray is the way we believe, after all.
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