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« on: July 22, 2011, 05:00:16 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.
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“Wherefore, then, death approaches, gulps down the bait of the body, and is pierced by the hook of the divinity. Then, having tasted of the sinless and life-giving body, it is destroyed and gives up all those whom it had swallowed down of old." - St. John of Damascus
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2011, 05:15:37 PM »

(2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

It is my understanding that nothing is final until after Christ's return (I mean in a temporal sense, in the eternal sense all is seen and known by God).

Quote
If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

This was before Christ descended into Hades and made Himself known through His presence there.

As far as judgement, We are in a sense "judged" whenever come into contact with Christ or He is made known to us. This is why Communion can be taken unto condemnation and sins can be forgiven in confession. When we die, we find Christ's presence even in hades and come into contact with the knowledge of Him and of how we stand in relation to Him. But everything is made final at the final judgement, which is why we call it "final".


At  least that's my understanding of it.
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« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2011, 05:44:02 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.
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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2011, 06:08:56 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.

So if you were born first (temporally), you have a better chance of being prayed out of damnation than someone born near the second coming...

Well, that's not fair.  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2011, 06:11:09 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.

So if you were born first (temporally), you have a better chance of being prayed out of damnation than someone born near the second coming...

Well, that's not fair.  Smiley

Don't forget those who have large families and many friends.  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2011, 06:19:00 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.

So if you were born first (temporally), you have a better chance of being prayed out of damnation than someone born near the second coming...

Well, that's not fair.  Smiley

Don't forget those who have large families and many friends.  Grin
So if you have a large family then it would be more likely  to be saved, than if you had a small family or were an orphan and no one was praying for you? If I say a rosary, can I apply it to all of the orphans of the whole world, so that they would not be left out?
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2011, 06:22:01 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.

So if you were born first (temporally), you have a better chance of being prayed out of damnation than someone born near the second coming...

Well, that's not fair.  Smiley

Don't forget those who have large families and many friends.  Grin
So if you have a large family then it would be more likely  to be saved, than if you had a small family or were an orphan and no one was praying for you? If I say a rosary, can I apply it to all of the orphans of the whole world, so that they would not be left out?

So THAT'S why Catholics have large families... OHHHH!  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2011, 06:29:22 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).   That sinners who have "sinner pardonably" can get out of Hades is confirmed by two councils, one of Jerusalem in 1672 and the Council of Constantinople held a century later in 1772:  

"We the godly, following the truth and turning away from such innovations, confess and accept two places for the souls of the dead, paradise and hades, for the righteous and sinners, as the holy Scripture teaches us. We do not accept a third place, a purgatory, by any means, since neither Scripture nor the holy Fathers have taught us any such thing. However, we believe these two places have many abodes ...
None of the teachers of the Church have handed down or taught such a purgatory, but they all speak of one single place of punishment, hades, just as they teach about one luminous and bright place, paradise. But both the souls of the holy and the righteous go indisputably to paradise and those of the sinners go to hades, of whom the profane and those who have sinned unforgivably are punished forever and those who have offended forgivably and moderately hope to gain freedom through the unspeakable mercy of God. For on behalf of such souls, that is of the moderately and forgivably sinful, there are in the Church prayers, supplications, liturgies, as well as memorial services and almsgiving, that those souls may receive favour and comfort. Thus when the Church prays for the souls of those who are lying asleep, we hope there will be comfort for them from God, but not through fire and purgatory, but through divine love for mankind, whereby the infinite goodness of God is seen."


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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2011, 06:46:06 PM »

A priest once told me that the Mass transcends time, so it matters not whether one dies ten seconds before the final judgment or ten thousand years. But I make no judgment about Hell and damnation.
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2011, 06:48:41 PM »

We do not accept a third place, a purgatory, by any means, since neither Scripture nor the holy Fathers have taught us any such thing.

I'm curious as to your interpretation of RC quote mining for the support of Purgatory.

Quote
Early Christian Belief in Pergatory
The doctrine of purgatory has the unanimous support of the Church Fathers (early Christians) who addressed the matter, either in direct references to an intermediate state prior to heaven, or in reference to prayers for the dead. Fathers Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Lactantius, Eusebius, Cyril, Gregory of Nyssa, Epiphanius, Jerome, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Venerable Bede and second-millennium theologians such as Anselm, Bernard, Aquinas and Bonaventure supported the doctrine of purgatory. Both purgatory and prayers for the dead were upheld by the major councils, beginning with the Council of Carthage in 394 A.D. to the Council of Trent in 1554 A.D. Evidence of prayers for the dead also appeared in inscriptions on the walls of Christian catacombs in the very early years of the Church. In addition, all the liturgies of the early Church, without exception, made references to prayers for the dead.

St. Gregory the Great commenting on St. Matthew's gospel (12:32) states that "In this sentence it is given to understand that many sins can be remitted in this world, but also many in the world to come" - Dial. IV 39 (See Also St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei. XXXXXI 24, 2.).

St. Cyprian speaking of purgatory states that "To be tormented in long pains and to be cleansed and purified from one's sins by continuous fire, is a different thing from expiating one's sins all at by suffering (of martyrdom)" - Ep. 55, 20

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: "And I wish to persuade you by an illustration. For I know that many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world whether with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? For if a king were to banish certain who had given him offence, and then those who belong to them should weave a crown and offer it to him on behalf of those under punishment, would he not grant a remission of their penalties? In the same way we, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves" (Catecheses, 23:10).
St. John Chrysostom:

"Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without illumination, without the seal! They indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, 'Verily I say unrto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven' (John 3:5). Mourn for those who have died in wealth and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not. Let us weep for these; let us assist them according to our power; let us think of some assistance for them, small though it be, yet still let us assist them. How and in what way? By praying and entreating others to make prayers for them, by continually giving to the poor on their behalf. Not in vain did the Apostles order that remembrance should be made of the dead in the dreadful Mysteries. They know that great gain results to them, great benefit; for when the whole people stands with uplifted hands, a priestly assembly, and that awful Sacrifice lies displayed, how shall we not prevail with God by our entreaties of them. And this we do for those who have departed in faith" ("Homilies on Philippians, 3:4).
Pope Gregory I, in AD 604 stated that "If guilty deeds are not beyond absolution even after death, the sacred offering of the saving Victim consistently aids souls even after death, so that the very souls of the departed seem sometimes to yearn for this." (Pelikan, "The Emergence of the Catholic tradition 100-600, pg. 356).

St. Augustine :

"Some suffer temporal punishments only in this life, others only after death, still others both in life and after death, but always before this most strict and most final court" - De Civ. Dei XXI 13

Origen

"For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones(1 Cor.,3);but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones; Neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood, and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works." - Homilies on Jeremias, PG 13:445,448(A.D. 244),in CE,577

Gregory of Nyssa,

"When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God till the purging fire shall have cleansed the stains with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil." - Sermon on the Dead PG 13:445,448(ante A.D. 394),in CE,577

Ambrose

"Give,Oh Lord,rest to Thy servant Theodosius,that rest Thou hast prepared for Thy saints....I love him,therefore will I follow him to the land of the living; I will not leave him till by my prayers and lamentations he shall be admitted unto the holy mount of the Lord,to which his deserts call him." - De obitu Theodosii,PL 16:1397(A.D. 395),in CE,577

Not until the later stages of the Reformation was the doctrine of purgatory rejected outright. Luther, as late as 1519, had said that the existence of purgatory was undeniable. This view held sway until 1530 when he lessened his support, saying that its existence could not be proven. He later rejected it that same year. In 1543, however, he permitted the insertion of prayers for the dead in the official edition of his church directory. Not only did Luther (the head reformer or leader of the Protestants) contradict himself but also he must Of though just because he didn't believe in it that it all of a sudden does not exist? However the Christians for the past 1500 years held that purgatory existed and so did the Jews before that.

Calvin, the Protestant reformer of Geneva, had a woman whipped because she was discovered praying at the grave of her son and hence was guilty, according to Calvin, of "superstition."

Yes, God promises to purge, to purify us, for "nothing unclean may come into [heaven]." (Revelation 21:27)

One of the most meritorious acts that e can perform on earth is to aid the souls in purgatory. St Franscis de Sales, Said that " With Charity towards the dead we practice all the works of charity. The Church encourages us to aid the souls in purgatory, who in turn will reward us abundantly when they come into their glory" . Thus let us perform this great work of Charity!
http://www.catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/general/purgatorist.htm#Perg
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2011, 06:58:02 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.

So if you were born first (temporally), you have a better chance of being prayed out of damnation than someone born near the second coming...

Well, that's not fair.  Smiley

Uh, the Church prays memorial services for those who have died from Adam to the end of the world.
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2011, 07:00:32 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.

So if you were born first (temporally), you have a better chance of being prayed out of damnation than someone born near the second coming...

Well, that's not fair.  Smiley

Uh, the Church prays memorial services for those who have died from Adam to the end of the world.

Pray for people out of damnation that don't exist, yet?
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2011, 07:23:06 PM »

I think FatherHLL answered the OP quite well. The Western unitary concept of Hell does not correspond to the Orthodox understanding, although as I shall show, if anything it refers only to Gehenna, not to Hades.

Regarding the quote mining to support purgatory, I think at least some of them seem to refer to "fires" of suffering and repentance that are earned in this life, e.g. St Cyprian, who compares "continuous fire" not to Hades or eternal Gehenna, but to martyrdom. Others do not make explicit reference to purgatorial fire, and are quite compatible with the Orthodox teaching that some souls condemned to Hades may still be delivered from there through the prayers of the Church, e.g. St Cyril of Jerusalem, St John Chrysostom, and St Gregory the Dialogist.

I think the dispute is not about whether Hades may be temporal for some, if we can refer to temporal Hades as Purgatory (and leave aside the matter of whether Hades involves any kind of fire), but rather it's about whether it's temporal for all. The RC seem to believe that some souls are sent to Gehenna immediately after death, and that the final judgment is simply a temporary interruption during which they are reunited with their bodies, only to be sent right back. Others who may not be worthy of Paradise immediately must then go to Purgatory. For the Orthodox, Hell and Purgatory are collapsed into Hades, which is quite different from Gehenna, which is what I think the RC and Protestants usually think of as Hell. The West does not recognize Hades, in other words.

As far as I know, the RC teaches that those sent to Hell after death will indeed be there for eternity, even before the Last Judgment. The Orthodox, on the other hand, believe that all souls who are not pure of sin and enlightened by baptism, the Eucharist and the true faith will go to Hades (St John Chrysostom is quite explicit that you need to have been baptized to go to Paradise after death), but that afterward those souls that did not die in mortal sin, and died in the Church, may be delivered from Hades through the prayers of the Church (and possibly even souls with unconfessed mortal sins, or souls of those who died outside the Church, may be delivered by God's mercy alone). After the Final Judgment, however, everyone will receive his or her final and irrevocable reward or condemnation.
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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2011, 07:37:28 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).   That sinners who have "sinner pardonably" can get out of Hades is confirmed by two councils, one of Jerusalem in 1672 and the Council of Constantinople held a century later in 1772:  

"We the godly, following the truth and turning away from such innovations, confess and accept two places for the souls of the dead, paradise and hades, for the righteous and sinners, as the holy Scripture teaches us. We do not accept a third place, a purgatory, by any means, since neither Scripture nor the holy Fathers have taught us any such thing. However, we believe these two places have many abodes ...
None of the teachers of the Church have handed down or taught such a purgatory, but they all speak of one single place of punishment, hades, just as they teach about one luminous and bright place, paradise. But both the souls of the holy and the righteous go indisputably to paradise and those of the sinners go to hades, of whom the profane and those who have sinned unforgivably are punished forever and those who have offended forgivably and moderately hope to gain freedom through the unspeakable mercy of God. For on behalf of such souls, that is of the moderately and forgivably sinful, there are in the Church prayers, supplications, liturgies, as well as memorial services and almsgiving, that those souls may receive favour and comfort. Thus when the Church prays for the souls of those who are lying asleep, we hope there will be comfort for them from God, but not through fire and purgatory, but through divine love for mankind, whereby the infinite goodness of God is seen."




Well the Purgatory issue isn't really an issue for me, as it seemingly comes out of left field in in the history of Christian writings.

I know an earlier poster said that the Church can pray these people into Heaven, or that God would have mercy upon these people, but wouldn't these people also need to choose to act on God's mercy, even if they are in Hades?

I'm still curious about how the Orthodox interpret the Psalms passage I presented as well as the passages stating that it is appointed once unto man to die and then the judgment. I'm not trying to proof-text a belief, I'm simply wondering what the interpretation is as those would seemingly state that those in Hades are there to stay. Admittedly, however, this idea makes a "Second Judgment" seem quite superfluous, so I recognize the problem(s) in my own belief as well.
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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2011, 07:56:03 PM »

As far as I know, the RC teaches that those sent to Hell after death will indeed be there for eternity, even before the Last Judgment. The Orthodox, on the other hand, believe that all souls who are not pure of sin and enlightened by baptism, the Eucharist and the true faith will go to Hades (St John Chrysostom is quite explicit that you need to have been baptized to go to Paradise after death), but that afterward those souls that did not die in mortal sin, and died in the Church, may be delivered from Hades through the prayers of the Church (and possibly even souls with unconfessed mortal sins, or souls of those who died outside the Church, may be delivered by God's mercy alone). After the Final Judgment, however, everyone will receive his or her final and irrevocable reward or condemnation.

That's a very sobering paragraph and much needed in my inquiry period. Thank you Jonathan.
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« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2011, 08:56:02 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).   That sinners who have "sinner pardonably" can get out of Hades is confirmed by two councils, one of Jerusalem in 1672 and the Council of Constantinople held a century later in 1772:  

"We the godly, following the truth and turning away from such innovations, confess and accept two places for the souls of the dead, paradise and hades, for the righteous and sinners, as the holy Scripture teaches us. We do not accept a third place, a purgatory, by any means, since neither Scripture nor the holy Fathers have taught us any such thing. However, we believe these two places have many abodes ...
None of the teachers of the Church have handed down or taught such a purgatory, but they all speak of one single place of punishment, hades, just as they teach about one luminous and bright place, paradise. But both the souls of the holy and the righteous go indisputably to paradise and those of the sinners go to hades, of whom the profane and those who have sinned unforgivably are punished forever and those who have offended forgivably and moderately hope to gain freedom through the unspeakable mercy of God. For on behalf of such souls, that is of the moderately and forgivably sinful, there are in the Church prayers, supplications, liturgies, as well as memorial services and almsgiving, that those souls may receive favour and comfort. Thus when the Church prays for the souls of those who are lying asleep, we hope there will be comfort for them from God, but not through fire and purgatory, but through divine love for mankind, whereby the infinite goodness of God is seen."




Well the Purgatory issue isn't really an issue for me, as it seemingly comes out of left field in in the history of Christian writings.

I know an earlier poster said that the Church can pray these people into Heaven, or that God would have mercy upon these people, but wouldn't these people also need to choose to act on God's mercy, even if they are in Hades?

I'm still curious about how the Orthodox interpret the Psalms passage I presented as well as the passages stating that it is appointed once unto man to die and then the judgment. I'm not trying to proof-text a belief, I'm simply wondering what the interpretation is as those would seemingly state that those in Hades are there to stay. Admittedly, however, this idea makes a "Second Judgment" seem quite superfluous, so I recognize the problem(s) in my own belief as well.

If absolutely nothing can be done, then why did Christ go and preach to those in Hades, and how did they get delivered? 

Septuagint Psalm 6.5:  "For in death no man remembers thee: and who will give thee thanks in Hades?"  Anamnesis (remembrance) and eucharist are liturgical acts of koinonoia.  They would not need the prayers of the Church if they could do it themselves.   They benefit from the Liturgy of others giving anamnesis and eucharist on their behalf.   

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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2011, 09:20:02 PM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.

So if you were born first (temporally), you have a better chance of being prayed out of damnation than someone born near the second coming...

Well, that's not fair.  Smiley

Don't forget those who have large families and many friends.  Grin
So if you have a large family then it would be more likely  to be saved, than if you had a small family or were an orphan and no one was praying for you? If I say a rosary, can I apply it to all of the orphans of the whole world, so that they would not be left out?

It was a joke.

Every sunday during the geat entrance, we commemorate everyone who has no one to pray for them or help them. It is not specific to the departed, but doesn't necessarily rule them out. Anyway the point is that no one is left out of the prayers of the Church.
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« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2011, 09:23:34 PM »

(2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

It is my understanding that nothing is final until after Christ's return (I mean in a temporal sense, in the eternal sense all is seen and known by God).

Quote
If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

This was before Christ descended into Hades and made Himself known through His presence there.

As far as judgement, We are in a sense "judged" whenever come into contact with Christ or He is made known to us. This is why Communion can be taken unto condemnation and sins can be forgiven in confession. When we die, we find Christ's presence even in hades and come into contact with the knowledge of Him and of how we stand in relation to Him. But everything is made final at the final judgement, which is why we call it "final".


At  least that's my understanding of it.

Are you suggesting that one without faith in Christ may be saved if he is prayed for after he/she dies?

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).   That sinners who have "sinner pardonably" can get out of Hades is confirmed by two councils, one of Jerusalem in 1672 and the Council of Constantinople held a century later in 1772:

Hell is the English word for both Hades and Gehenna. To say there is no Hell because you personally prefer to use the Hebrew words is like saying, "Jesus doesn't exist. There is such a thing as Yeshua." Cheesy

Off topic: LOL check this out: "Warning - while you were typing 15 new replies have been posted. You may wish to review your post."
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« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2011, 09:44:33 PM »

If absolutely nothing can be done, then why did Christ go and preach to those in Hades, and how did they get delivered? 

Septuagint Psalm 6.5:  "For in death no man remembers thee: and who will give thee thanks in Hades?"  Anamnesis (remembrance) and eucharist are liturgical acts of koinonoia.  They would not need the prayers of the Church if they could do it themselves.   They benefit from the Liturgy of others giving anamnesis and eucharist on their behalf.   

By pure speculation by a devil's advocate:

Can this not be left to the Mercy of God? Jesus (God) had Divine Mercy on those in Hades. It wasn't anything a created man did, but God Himself, recorded as giving His abundant Mercy, even to those who died before His coming.
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« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2011, 09:58:41 PM »

(2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

It is my understanding that nothing is final until after Christ's return (I mean in a temporal sense, in the eternal sense all is seen and known by God).

Quote
If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

This was before Christ descended into Hades and made Himself known through His presence there.

As far as judgement, We are in a sense "judged" whenever come into contact with Christ or He is made known to us. This is why Communion can be taken unto condemnation and sins can be forgiven in confession. When we die, we find Christ's presence even in hades and come into contact with the knowledge of Him and of how we stand in relation to Him. But everything is made final at the final judgement, which is why we call it "final".


At  least that's my understanding of it.

Are you suggesting that one without faith in Christ may be saved if he is prayed for after he/she dies?

It depends. I don't believe that there is anyone who was, is, or ever will be born that will not have a chance to be saved. That being said, we wouldn't pray if we didn't think there was a possibility of it making a difference.
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« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2011, 10:26:27 PM »

So, let's say someone who died a racist (or, "whatever more minor sin here") is prayed out of Hades. If repentance is impossible after death, will they still be racist in Heaven?
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« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2011, 10:34:12 PM »

(2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

It is my understanding that nothing is final until after Christ's return (I mean in a temporal sense, in the eternal sense all is seen and known by God).

Quote
If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

This was before Christ descended into Hades and made Himself known through His presence there.

As far as judgement, We are in a sense "judged" whenever come into contact with Christ or He is made known to us. This is why Communion can be taken unto condemnation and sins can be forgiven in confession. When we die, we find Christ's presence even in hades and come into contact with the knowledge of Him and of how we stand in relation to Him. But everything is made final at the final judgement, which is why we call it "final".


At  least that's my understanding of it.

Are you suggesting that one without faith in Christ may be saved if he is prayed for after he/she dies?

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).   That sinners who have "sinner pardonably" can get out of Hades is confirmed by two councils, one of Jerusalem in 1672 and the Council of Constantinople held a century later in 1772:

Hell is the English word for both Hades and Gehenna. To say there is no Hell because you personally prefer to use the Hebrew words is like saying, "Jesus doesn't exist. There is such a thing as Yeshua." Cheesy

Off topic: LOL check this out: "Warning - while you were typing 15 new replies have been posted. You may wish to review your post."

Don't impose motives on me.  I have spoken on this at length in several other threads where I stated that, of course, hell means either-or, but if you would have read these other threads, instead of cutting in with your snide comments, you would see that this has caused great confusion, and thus my comment.  Hell is an ambiguous term, thus the need for disambiguation.  Incidentally, these are Greek words, not Hebrew. 
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« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2011, 10:36:00 PM »

So, let's say someone who died a racist (or, "whatever more minor sin here") is prayed out of Hades. If repentance is impossible after death, will they still be racist in Heaven?

No, some degree of repentence is a prerequisite to being one who "pardonably sinned" vs. one who has not.   Being pardoned is one thing, the illness of sin being remitted is another.   
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« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2011, 10:42:42 PM »

For the belief of the Russian Church on salvation from Hell please see message
43
at
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,32546.msg514548.html#msg514548

It is Metropolitan Hilarion expressing his great surprise that the Copts have, only recently, removed prayers for those in Hell from their liturgical books.
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« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2011, 10:44:39 PM »

I guess I'm confused as to how the whole idea of pardonable sin works. If someone has faith and confesses and partakes of the sacraments, all is forgiven even the sins they did not know they committed, right? So, is this teaching about going to Hell for things you somehow forgot to repent of?

Or are we talking about unbelievers here?
 
Also, how can there be more than one unpardonable sin (I'm assuming "mortal"="unpardonable")?
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« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2011, 03:38:17 AM »

(2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

It is my understanding that nothing is final until after Christ's return (I mean in a temporal sense, in the eternal sense all is seen and known by God).

Quote
If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

This was before Christ descended into Hades and made Himself known through His presence there.

As far as judgement, We are in a sense "judged" whenever come into contact with Christ or He is made known to us. This is why Communion can be taken unto condemnation and sins can be forgiven in confession. When we die, we find Christ's presence even in hades and come into contact with the knowledge of Him and of how we stand in relation to Him. But everything is made final at the final judgement, which is why we call it "final".


At  least that's my understanding of it.

Are you suggesting that one without faith in Christ may be saved if he is prayed for after he/she dies?

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).   That sinners who have "sinner pardonably" can get out of Hades is confirmed by two councils, one of Jerusalem in 1672 and the Council of Constantinople held a century later in 1772:

Hell is the English word for both Hades and Gehenna. To say there is no Hell because you personally prefer to use the Hebrew words is like saying, "Jesus doesn't exist. There is such a thing as Yeshua." Cheesy

Off topic: LOL check this out: "Warning - while you were typing 15 new replies have been posted. You may wish to review your post."

Don't impose motives on me.  I have spoken on this at length in several other threads where I stated that, of course, hell means either-or, but if you would have read these other threads, instead of cutting in with your snide comments, you would see that this has caused great confusion, and thus my comment.  Hell is an ambiguous term, thus the need for disambiguation.  Incidentally, these are Greek words, not Hebrew. 

"Let the mouth also fast from disgraceful speeches and railings. For what does it profit if we abstain from fish and fowl and yet bite and devour our brothers and sisters? The evil speaker eats the flesh of his brother and bites the body of his neighbor."
— St. John Chrysostom

The Lord rebuke ye
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« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2011, 09:53:45 AM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


You have slightly misunderstood. After death, a man himself cannot repent, but he can be helped through the prayers of the Church. Once we die, we face the particular, not the final judgment. The final judgment does not happen until Christ's return and the end of the world.

So if you were born first (temporally), you have a better chance of being prayed out of damnation than someone born near the second coming...

Well, that's not fair.  Smiley

Don't forget those who have large families and many friends.  Grin

But if you establish a Church it will pray for you every Holy Liturgy for as long as the Church exists  years, centuries, ...  after nobody on earth will know your name. IN Romania you go to Churches and see founders dressed in clothes from centuries ago and who would rememeber them if they would not establish the Church? If a group establishes a Church, they will be mentioned at Holy liturgy. This is my understanding  about group.

Protestantism does not pray for the dead and you don't know if a Protestant Church is considered Church in Heaven.
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« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2011, 10:41:17 AM »

I've noticed in a few threads that people have said that it's a heresy to suggest that once someone goes to Hell, they cannot turn back to Christ (at least, prior to His return and final judgment). I'm wondering if (1) that is official Orthodox doctrine and (2) is it really a heresy to believe that Hell, prior to Christ's return, is final?

If so to the above, how does the Orthodox Church interpret Psalm 6:5 (I think it's 6:6 if you're using LXX).

The traditional Protestant view, at least the one I've been taught, is that once we die, we are then judged, and then will face the final judgment. Certainly I see some problems with that idea, but I've never thought of it as heretical, nor heard that it was heretical.


There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).   That sinners who have "sinner pardonably" can get out of Hades is confirmed by two councils, one of Jerusalem in 1672 and the Council of Constantinople held a century later in 1772:  

"We the godly, following the truth and turning away from such innovations, confess and accept two places for the souls of the dead, paradise and hades, for the righteous and sinners, as the holy Scripture teaches us. We do not accept a third place, a purgatory, by any means, since neither Scripture nor the holy Fathers have taught us any such thing. However, we believe these two places have many abodes ...
None of the teachers of the Church have handed down or taught such a purgatory, but they all speak of one single place of punishment, hades, just as they teach about one luminous and bright place, paradise. But both the souls of the holy and the righteous go indisputably to paradise and those of the sinners go to hades, of whom the profane and those who have sinned unforgivably are punished forever and those who have offended forgivably and moderately hope to gain freedom through the unspeakable mercy of God. For on behalf of such souls, that is of the moderately and forgivably sinful, there are in the Church prayers, supplications, liturgies, as well as memorial services and almsgiving, that those souls may receive favour and comfort. Thus when the Church prays for the souls of those who are lying asleep, we hope there will be comfort for them from God, but not through fire and purgatory, but through divine love for mankind, whereby the infinite goodness of God is seen."




Well the Purgatory issue isn't really an issue for me, as it seemingly comes out of left field in in the history of Christian writings.

I know an earlier poster said that the Church can pray these people into Heaven, or that God would have mercy upon these people, but wouldn't these people also need to choose to act on God's mercy, even if they are in Hades?

I'm still curious about how the Orthodox interpret the Psalms passage I presented as well as the passages stating that it is appointed once unto man to die and then the judgment. I'm not trying to proof-text a belief, I'm simply wondering what the interpretation is as those would seemingly state that those in Hades are there to stay. Admittedly, however, this idea makes a "Second Judgment" seem quite superfluous, so I recognize the problem(s) in my own belief as well.

If absolutely nothing can be done, then why did Christ go and preach to those in Hades, and how did they get delivered? 

Septuagint Psalm 6.5:  "For in death no man remembers thee: and who will give thee thanks in Hades?"  Anamnesis (remembrance) and eucharist are liturgical acts of koinonoia.  They would not need the prayers of the Church if they could do it themselves.   They benefit from the Liturgy of others giving anamnesis and eucharist on their behalf.   



Thank you for the explanation FatherHLL (and for the record, your distinctions between Hades and Gehanna is much appreciated).

I'm still stuck with the idea that this almost sounds like the person in Hades is forced into Heaven via God's mercy and our prayers. If the person has no choice while in Hades, then how can it be said that Predestination is a heresy when both essentially force the person into Heaven?
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« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2011, 11:10:57 AM »

I know an earlier poster said that the Church can pray these people into Heaven, or that God would have mercy upon these people, but wouldn't these people also need to choose to act on God's mercy, even if they are in Hades?
Yes, absolutely.  People must make a personal choice in response to God's love even if it takes the love of God centuries to "get through" to a hardened sinner or, tragically, not at all.

There is a strange teaching abroad among Western Christians that the human will is paralyzed or removed at the time of death and of course this would make any response to God's compassion and love quite impossible.   So, the human will must still be active in a human soul after death if it is to be turned to repentance for its sins either by the prayers of its holy Guardian Angel, or its Saint-Protector or the prayers of others on earth or (although this is disputed by some Orthodox) of its own choice.
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« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2011, 11:35:32 AM »

If absolutely nothing can be done, then why did Christ go and preach to those in Hades, and how did they get delivered?  

Septuagint Psalm 6.5:  "For in death no man remembers thee: and who will give thee thanks in Hades?"  Anamnesis (remembrance) and eucharist are liturgical acts of koinonoia.  They would not need the prayers of the Church if they could do it themselves.   They benefit from the Liturgy of others giving anamnesis and eucharist on their behalf.  

By pure speculation by a devil's advocate:

Can this not be left to the Mercy of God? Jesus (God) had Divine Mercy on those in Hades. It wasn't anything a created man did, but God Himself, recorded as giving His abundant Mercy, even to those who died before His coming.
Metropolitan Hilarion speaks of the Church teaching that with the decent of Christ into Hell
the Liberation of ALL souls held there was accomplished and not just of the Old Testament righteous.


"The Descent of Christ into Hades in Eastern and Western Theological Traditions"
A lecture delivered at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Minneapolis, USA,
on 5 November  2002
by the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev)


http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/5.aspx
[For full article]

Extract:
__________________________________________
The descent of Christ into Hades is one of the most mysterious, enigmatic
and inexplicable events in New Testament history. In today's Christian
world, this event is understood differently. Liberal Western theology
rejects altogether any possibility for speaking of the descent of Christ
into Hades literally, arguing that the scriptural texts on this theme should
be understood metaphorically. The traditional Catholic doctrine insists that
after His death on the cross Christ descended to hell only to deliver the
Old Testament righteous from it. A similar understanding is quite widespread
among Orthodox Christians.

On the other hand, the New Testament speaks of the preaching of Christ in
hell as addressed to the unrepentant sinners: 'For Christ also died for sins
once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to
God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which
he went and preached to the spirit in prison, who formerly did not obey,
when God's patience waited.

However, many Church Fathers and liturgical texts of the Orthodox Church
repeatedly underline that having descended to hell, Christ opened the way to
salvation for all people, not only the Old Testament righteous. The descent
of Christ into Hades is perceived as an event of cosmic significance
involving all people without exception. They also speak about the victory of
Christ over death, the full devastation of hell and that after the descent
of Christ into Hades there was nobody left there except for the devil and
demons
.


-oOo-

Bishop Hilarion was also guest speaker at the Divine Mercy Congress where his speech was so greatly appreciated that the applause could not be stopped.  This is all the more remarkable because it was also applauded by Cardinal Schornberg and yet by Catholic lights the speech contained some notable heresy!!

http://thedivinemercy.org/news/story.php?NID=3132

The [Divine Mercy] Congress Catches Fire!
Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Christ the Conqueror of Hell
Russian Orthodox Bishop: God's Mercy is immeasurable love of the Father
By Dan Valenti (Apr 6, 2008)
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 11:48:23 AM by Irish Hermit » Logged
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« Reply #30 on: July 23, 2011, 11:44:20 AM »



There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).
 

Father, the non-existence of Hell may be a permissible private theologoumenon, I just do not know.   However such Saints as Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov and Saint John  Maximovitch believed that Hell is alive and roaring with fire right now...

The Existence of Hell, the Lake of Eternal Fire

The great Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov taught that the eternal hell, the everlasting lake of fire is already in existence (I frankly thought that this was universal teaching and have been surprised to see things  from Americans denying it.)  He teaches that damned souls are taken there at death.

 
    "When the soul of a Christian, leaving its earthly dwelling,  and begins
to strive through the aerial spaces towards the homeland on high, the demons
stop it, strive to find in it a kinship with themselves, their sinfulness,
their fall, and to drag it down to the hell prepared for the devil and his
angels (Matt. 25:41). They act thus by the right which they have acquired.


"Homily on Death"
1863,  (Collected Works (vol.3). St Petersburg).

And we see that this teaching is ratified by the words of the Saviour:

Matthew 25: 41 ~ "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
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« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2011, 11:53:10 AM »

It may be helpful to keep in mind that when we are talking about 'hell' or 'gehenna' that the spiritual world itself is not like the physical one in terms of geographical locations.  It is perhaps better to think of these mysteries in terms of 'condition' of the spirits rather than locations.

Therefore, Christ's 'descent into Hades' which led all the 'captives' free was not a literal prison break, but a change in their condition whereby the souls of all men were liberated from the absolute bonds of death.  This did not end the torment of those who reject God, but simply means that their choice to suffer is theirs alone, and that even death does not hold them.  They could repent and turn to God, and thus be free.  Nothing holds them captive but their own will, and so when God judges they will have no excuse.
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« Reply #32 on: July 23, 2011, 11:58:51 AM »

It may be helpful to keep in mind that when we are talking about 'hell' or 'gehenna' that the spiritual world itself is not like the physical one in terms of geographical locations.  It is perhaps better to think of these mysteries in terms of 'condition' of the spirits rather than locations.

Therefore, Christ's 'descent into Hades' which led all the 'captives' free was not a literal prison break, but a change in their condition whereby the souls of all men were liberated from the absolute bonds of death.  This did not end the torment of those who reject God, but simply means that their choice to suffer is theirs alone, and that even death does not hold them.  They could repent and turn to God, and thus be free.  Nothing holds them captive but their own will, and so when God judges they will have no excuse.


I am pleased to see, Father, that you have not been taken captive by the Western belief that at death the will ceases to be able to act in a human soul.
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« Reply #33 on: July 23, 2011, 12:09:02 PM »

Father, I don't see how anyone could listen to the hymns of the Church, read the Fathers (at least to the limited extent that I have, which is indeed limited) and come to any other conclusion.

Besides, the human will is an essential part of humanity.  If the will is tampered with or prevented from acting, then one ceases to be human.  That was my essential complaint about Papal Infallibility some years ago: if God interferes with the pope's free will, then either the Cross is cast into doubt as a free-will act of the Son and everything becomes fatalistic, or the pope ceases to be human.


I am pleased to see, Father, that you have not been taken captive by the Western belief that at death the will ceases to be able to act in a human soul.
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« Reply #34 on: July 23, 2011, 12:27:26 PM »

It may be helpful to keep in mind that when we are talking about 'hell' or 'gehenna' that the spiritual world itself is not like the physical one in terms of geographical locations.  It is perhaps better to think of these mysteries in terms of 'condition' of the spirits rather than locations.

Therefore, Christ's 'descent into Hades' which led all the 'captives' free was not a literal prison break, but a change in their condition whereby the souls of all men were liberated from the absolute bonds of death.  This did not end the torment of those who reject God, but simply means that their choice to suffer is theirs alone, and that even death does not hold them.  They could repent and turn to God, and thus be free.  Nothing holds them captive but their own will, and so when God judges they will have no excuse.


Do you remember when this sensitivity, even fear, about describing the heavenly realms and infernal realms (and purgatory) as "places" crept into Christianity?  I remember it very well..... with the groundbreaking book "Honest to God" from the Anglican Bishop John Robinson.  He was bishop of Woolwich and seen as a liberal theologian and indeed he was, and he published his popular "Honest to God" in about 1965, immediately prior to Vatican II..  It was seen as a success in removing a lot of the Christian mythology which prevented 20th century people from taking Christianity seriously.

We were surprised when the Popes of Rome picked up this theme of Purgatory and Hell and such like no longer being "places."  But they soon started to dismantle the old teachings that these places were both "places and states" as Catholics used to be taught and they began to insist that they were only "states."
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« Reply #35 on: July 23, 2011, 12:38:11 PM »

I know an earlier poster said that the Church can pray these people into Heaven, or that God would have mercy upon these people, but wouldn't these people also need to choose to act on God's mercy, even if they are in Hades?
Yes, absolutely.  People must make a personal choice in response to God's love even if it takes the love of God centuries to "get through" to a hardened sinner or, tragically, not at all.

There is a strange teaching abroad among Western Christians that the human will is paralyzed or removed at the time of death and of course this would make any response to God's compassion and love quite impossible.   So, the human will must still be active in a human soul after death if it is to be turned to repentance for its sins either by the prayers of its holy Guardian Angel, or its Saint-Protector or the prayers of others on earth or (although this is disputed by some Orthodox) of its own choice.
It may be helpful to keep in mind that when we are talking about 'hell' or 'gehenna' that the spiritual world itself is not like the physical one in terms of geographical locations.  It is perhaps better to think of these mysteries in terms of 'condition' of the spirits rather than locations.

Therefore, Christ's 'descent into Hades' which led all the 'captives' free was not a literal prison break, but a change in their condition whereby the souls of all men were liberated from the absolute bonds of death.  This did not end the torment of those who reject God, but simply means that their choice to suffer is theirs alone, and that even death does not hold them.  They could repent and turn to God, and thus be free.  Nothing holds them captive but their own will, and so when God judges they will have no excuse.


Fathers, thank you both for this explanation. Solidifying that it is still a free choice sets my mind at ease a bit.

Do understand that coming from a strict evangelical Protestant background, my initial reaction to this view is "universalism" or "heresy." Rationally, I know I am wrong in this reaction, but years of conditioning have put me in a place where that is my reaction.

What Church Fathers speak of what you're talking about? I would ask for Scripture, but I know enough from reading the Fathers that simply by reading them I will be overwhelmed with Scripture. Smiley

Modern authors or anything in between will also work. I actually love this teaching and what I'm learning here as, in my opinion, it seems to coincide with God quite a bit. Plus, the idea of people going to Hades and not being able to leave and then facing a second judgment has always seemed a bit superfluous.
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« Reply #36 on: July 23, 2011, 03:08:50 PM »

It may be helpful to keep in mind that when we are talking about 'hell' or 'gehenna' that the spiritual world itself is not like the physical one in terms of geographical locations.  It is perhaps better to think of these mysteries in terms of 'condition' of the spirits rather than locations.

Therefore, Christ's 'descent into Hades' which led all the 'captives' free was not a literal prison break, but a change in their condition whereby the souls of all men were liberated from the absolute bonds of death.  This did not end the torment of those who reject God, but simply means that their choice to suffer is theirs alone, and that even death does not hold them.  They could repent and turn to God, and thus be free.  Nothing holds them captive but their own will, and so when God judges they will have no excuse.


Do you remember when this sensitivity, even fear, about describing the heavenly realms and infernal realms (and purgatory) as "places" crept into Christianity?  I remember it very well..... with the groundbreaking book "Honest to God" from the Anglican Bishop John Robinson.  He was bishop of Woolwich and seen as a liberal theologian and indeed he was, and he published his popular "Honest to God" in about 1965, immediately prior to Vatican II..  It was seen as a success in removing a lot of the Christian mythology which prevented 20th century people from taking Christianity seriously.

We were surprised when the Popes of Rome picked up this theme of Purgatory and Hell and such like no longer being "places."  But they soon started to dismantle the old teachings that these places were both "places and states" as Catholics used to be taught and they began to insist that they were only "states."



The opinion (for I am not sure if we can call it anything more solid than that) has been around for only 50 years in the West.

I'd be interested to know when it entered Orthodoxy and was it under a Western impulse.

The commonplace tradition within the Church was (or is?) that these afterlife realms are places.  May we alter this tradition to suit our late 20th preferences?  I would love to hear something on this.

Here is Tertullian in the 2nd century (admittedly suspect because of his later Montanist period) speaking of the opinion of the Church against the Gnostics....  Our forefathers in the faith had a different teaching to what is becoming current today... or could we say that these contrasting teachings may be encompassed within the Church since it is not a matter of revelation?

"Hades is not supposed by us to be a bare cavity, nor some subterranean sewer of the world. Rather it is a vast deep space in the interior of the earth......For we read that Christ in His death spent three days in the heart of the earth. ....He did not ascend into the heights of heaven before descending into the lower parts of the earth. This was so that He might there make the patriarchs and prophets partakers of himself. You must believe Hades is a subterranean region.

"You should keep at arm's length those [Gnostics] who are too proud to believe that the sould of the faithful deserve a place in Hades. These persons-who are servants above their Lord, and disciples above their Master-would no doubt spurn to receive the comfort of the resurrection, if they must expect it in Abraham's bosom. But it was for this purpose, they say, that Christ descended into Hades-that we might not ourselves have to descend there. Well, then, what difference is there between pagans and Christians, if the same prison awaits them all when dead? How, indeed, will the soul mount up to heaven, where Christ is already sitting at the Father's right hand? For the archangel's trumpet has not yet been heard by the command of God.....To no one is heaven opened.
When the world, indeed, will pass away, then the Kingdom of heaven will be opened."

 Tertullian 210A.D.
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« Reply #37 on: July 23, 2011, 03:58:38 PM »

I know an earlier poster said that the Church can pray these people into Heaven, or that God would have mercy upon these people, but wouldn't these people also need to choose to act on God's mercy, even if they are in Hades?
Yes, absolutely.  People must make a personal choice in response to God's love even if it takes the love of God centuries to "get through" to a hardened sinner or, tragically, not at all.

There is a strange teaching abroad among Western Christians that the human will is paralyzed or removed at the time of death and of course this would make any response to God's compassion and love quite impossible.   So, the human will must still be active in a human soul after death if it is to be turned to repentance for its sins either by the prayers of its holy Guardian Angel, or its Saint-Protector or the prayers of others on earth or (although this is disputed by some Orthodox) of its own choice.
So, could it be said that although the dead in Hades can't communicate with God a la Psalm 6:5, He can still somehow still reach their wills and intentions?
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« Reply #38 on: July 23, 2011, 04:04:09 PM »

I know an earlier poster said that the Church can pray these people into Heaven, or that God would have mercy upon these people, but wouldn't these people also need to choose to act on God's mercy, even if they are in Hades?
Yes, absolutely.  People must make a personal choice in response to God's love even if it takes the love of God centuries to "get through" to a hardened sinner or, tragically, not at all.

There is a strange teaching abroad among Western Christians that the human will is paralyzed or removed at the time of death and of course this would make any response to God's compassion and love quite impossible.   So, the human will must still be active in a human soul after death if it is to be turned to repentance for its sins either by the prayers of its holy Guardian Angel, or its Saint-Protector or the prayers of others on earth or (although this is disputed by some Orthodox) of its own choice.
So, could it be said that although the dead in Hades can't communicate with God a la Psalm 6:5, He can still somehow still reach their wills and intentions?

I tell thee honestly, Volnutt, that I do not know the mechanics of how it is accomplished.

But I would think that if Abraham and Lazarus were able to communicate with the Rich Man, that God can manage to do so too.  laugh
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« Reply #39 on: July 23, 2011, 04:12:03 PM »

I know an earlier poster said that the Church can pray these people into Heaven, or that God would have mercy upon these people, but wouldn't these people also need to choose to act on God's mercy, even if they are in Hades?
Yes, absolutely.  People must make a personal choice in response to God's love even if it takes the love of God centuries to "get through" to a hardened sinner or, tragically, not at all.

There is a strange teaching abroad among Western Christians that the human will is paralyzed or removed at the time of death and of course this would make any response to God's compassion and love quite impossible.   So, the human will must still be active in a human soul after death if it is to be turned to repentance for its sins either by the prayers of its holy Guardian Angel, or its Saint-Protector or the prayers of others on earth or (although this is disputed by some Orthodox) of its own choice.
So, could it be said that although the dead in Hades can't communicate with God a la Psalm 6:5, He can still somehow still reach their wills and intentions?

I tell thee honestly, Volnutt, that I do not know the mechanics of how it is accomplished.

But I would think that if Abraham and Lazarus were able to communicate with the Rich Man, that God can manage to do so too.  laugh
Good point laugh.

Quote from: Met. Hilarion
They also speak about the victory of
Christ over death, the full devastation of hell and that after the descent
of Christ into Hades there was nobody left there except for the devil and
demons.
So does this mean Haman, Antiochus Epiphanies, Jezebel, and co. are now absolutely in Heaven or is the "emptying" more hyperbolic?

Also, just as an aside, an endorsement from Cardinal Schoernberg is not exactly a good thing.
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« Reply #40 on: July 23, 2011, 05:22:20 PM »



There is no such thing as hell.  There is such a thing as Hades (the place of the souls of sinners before the resurrection) and Gehenna (the place/state of the damned after the resurrection).
 

Father, the non-existence of Hell may be a permissible private theologoumenon, I just do not know.   However such Saints as Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov and Saint John  Maximovitch believed that Hell is alive and roaring with fire right now...

The Existence of Hell, the Lake of Eternal Fire

The great Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov taught that the eternal hell, the everlasting lake of fire is already in existence (I frankly thought that this was universal teaching and have been surprised to see things  from Americans denying it.)  He teaches that damned souls are taken there at death.

 
    "When the soul of a Christian, leaving its earthly dwelling,  and begins
to strive through the aerial spaces towards the homeland on high, the demons
stop it, strive to find in it a kinship with themselves, their sinfulness,
their fall, and to drag it down to the hell prepared for the devil and his
angels (Matt. 25:41). They act thus by the right which they have acquired.


"Homily on Death"
1863,  (Collected Works (vol.3). St Petersburg).

And we see that this teaching is ratified by the words of the Saviour:

Matthew 25: 41 ~ "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."


Really? I didn't know that they spoke English and used Norse words.  Did you even read my response to the other person who commented on this? 
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« Reply #41 on: July 23, 2011, 05:26:07 PM »

It may be helpful to keep in mind that when we are talking about 'hell' or 'gehenna' that the spiritual world itself is not like the physical one in terms of geographical locations.  It is perhaps better to think of these mysteries in terms of 'condition' of the spirits rather than locations.

Therefore, Christ's 'descent into Hades' which led all the 'captives' free was not a literal prison break, but a change in their condition whereby the souls of all men were liberated from the absolute bonds of death.  This did not end the torment of those who reject God, but simply means that their choice to suffer is theirs alone, and that even death does not hold them.  They could repent and turn to God, and thus be free.  Nothing holds them captive but their own will, and so when God judges they will have no excuse.


I am pleased to see, Father, that you have not been taken captive by the Western belief that at death the will ceases to be able to act in a human soul.

Who believes that at the death the will ceases to be able to act?   Repentence is required.  Willingly undergoing treatment for the illness of sin is required in Hades for the prayers to have any effect.  But this is obvious, as pardonable sins are those which have been repented of. 
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« Reply #42 on: July 23, 2011, 06:37:35 PM »

It may be helpful to keep in mind that when we are talking about 'hell' or 'gehenna' that the spiritual world itself is not like the physical one in terms of geographical locations.  It is perhaps better to think of these mysteries in terms of 'condition' of the spirits rather than locations.

Therefore, Christ's 'descent into Hades' which led all the 'captives' free was not a literal prison break, but a change in their condition whereby the souls of all men were liberated from the absolute bonds of death.  This did not end the torment of those who reject God, but simply means that their choice to suffer is theirs alone, and that even death does not hold them.  They could repent and turn to God, and thus be free.  Nothing holds them captive but their own will, and so when God judges they will have no excuse.


I am pleased to see, Father, that you have not been taken captive by the Western belief that at death the will ceases to be able to act in a human soul.

Who believes that at the death the will ceases to be able to act?   Repentence is required.  Willingly undergoing treatment for the illness of sin is required in Hades for the prayers to have any effect.  But this is obvious, as pardonable sins are those which have been repented of. 

I've heard various definitions of the pardonable/mortal distinction: St Nicodemus' Exomologetarion has a rather long discussion of the different ways of distinguishing them, citing various Orthodox authorities. He even tries to illustrate the gradation from pardonable through "non-mortal" to mortal with respect to sins of violence (e.g. thinking a violent thought is pardonable, striking without causing injury is non-mortal, and murder is mortal), but even so I didn't come away with a clear idea of how to distinguish them. One could say that your conscience should tell you whether the sin you committed was serious or not, but then those with more sensitive consciences might then commit more mortal sins than those with weak consciences, even if the sins are objectively less grave. But then maybe that's the point: the more you advance in holiness, the higher your spiritual goals become. My conclusion is that there is a distinction, but it seems to be too subtle to define in any formal way, and perhaps really should be left to conscience. At least this is the impression I get talking to those who grew up in Orthodoxy, since they all make a distinction between serious and trivial sins, though they consider them all sins, and this seems to be good enough for them.

But I wonder about the idea that the souls in Hades will their deliverance in any way, whenever God chooses to deliver one. I thought repentance was impossible after the soul is separated from the body, which happens to be another important distinction between the Orthodox and the Catholic understanding, since Catholic Purgatory implies the soul is being purified through suffering, but the only purification of this kind can come in this life, we are taught. The sufferings in Hades do not constitute works of repentance, so the only help can come from outside, from the prayers of the Church. The soul has no choice but to accept God's will in this matter. Personally, I don't see how this implies Calvinistic predestination, since while the will of the soul itself may not be able to play a role, the wills of those in the Church praying for the dead do.

I might be wrong about this, but in that case, I'd like to see something from the Fathers showing an example of a soul in Hades willingly accepting God's deliverance, or willingly rejecting it. I know there's the example of Christ preaching in Hades, but wasn't that a one-time event? I don't know of any teaching grounded in the Fathers that this preaching is ongoing, and that souls in Hades are continuing to hear Christ's Gospel and choosing to accept or reject it. But again, I might be wrong.
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« Reply #43 on: July 23, 2011, 08:38:33 PM »

Quote
Who believes that at the death the will ceases to be able to act?   Repentence is required.  Willingly undergoing treatment for the illness of sin is required in Hades for the prayers to have any effect.  But this is obvious, as pardonable sins are those which have been repented of. 


My main question about human will after death (remember, I have a Catholic Confirmation to my name) is a matter of playing devil's advocate: if humans can will their repentence in Hell, then can they do the reverse, and sin in heaven?
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« Reply #44 on: July 23, 2011, 09:08:48 PM »

Quote
Who believes that at the death the will ceases to be able to act?   Repentence is required.  Willingly undergoing treatment for the illness of sin is required in Hades for the prayers to have any effect.  But this is obvious, as pardonable sins are those which have been repented of. 


My main question about human will after death (remember, I have a Catholic Confirmation to my name) is a matter of playing devil's advocate: if humans can will their repentence in Hell, then can they do the reverse, and sin in heaven?
I don't know if it's an answer but the quote that keeps coming to mind when I ponder this (important to me as well) question is, "It is given to [good] angels not fall, it is given to demons to fall and not to get up again, and it is given to man to fall and get up again."-St. John of the Ladder (from memory).

To me this indicates that maybe we can get to a point where we've repented so much we'll be like angels who won't fall again. I realize this is probably eisogesis on my part, but I just thought I through that out there. I get an inkling that someone who's been enlightened in death and seen sin in all it's ugliness, especially if they roasted in Hell for hundreds of years is pretty unlikely to fall again, if this makes sense. I can see the holes in it myself though...
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