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lellimore
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« on: July 20, 2004, 07:57:48 PM »

Quick question, universalism wasn't condemned at any council until after the Council of Chalcedon (I believe it was one of the Councils of Constantinople, in any case, it wasn't until the sixth century).  Also, it received some of its strongest support from theologians of the Alexandrine school.  Does this mean that this belief is considered permissible by the OO, or did they condemn it as well?
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2004, 03:33:20 PM »

Peace lellimore,
excuse my ignorance, but what is meant by "universalism" ?
Universal salvation or universal church or universal jurisdiction?
Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2004, 06:40:37 PM »

I mean universal salvation-universal reconciliation as believed in by Origen, Gregory of Nyssa et al.  Sorry about the lack of clarity.
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2004, 07:49:42 PM »

I mean universal salvation-universal reconciliation as believed in by Origen, Gregory of Nyssa et al.  Sorry about the lack of clarity.

The belief that eventually everyone winds up in Heaven no matter what?  I'm familiar with some Gnostic writings which make this claim.  According to those texts, Our Lord Jesus reveals this secret to St. Peter, but urges him not to tell anyone else, because then everyone would behave badly.  Of course the Oriental Orthodox Churches do not believe this.  Just because we don't regard a particular council as being ecumenical doesn't mean we embrace the heresies which it condemns.  For example, we are not iconoclasts either.
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2004, 08:52:02 PM »

AN I have also heard of this, however, I heard that after the Judgement those in Heaven could look down upon those in Hell and if they wanted, they could convince God to release all of the souls in Hell, and allow them to enter Heaven. This idea I am sure was popular amoung the Gnostics, but didn't start with them. It is actually a Zoroastrian belief, that those who do bad deeds, will go to Hell for a certain amount of time, and then will be allowed to join the good people in Heaven, after evil is totaly destroyed, and good reigns supreme.
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2004, 04:44:17 PM »

Hi Ben.  I'm not saying that the Gnostics were the only ones who believed this way.  I am saying that this is not the belief of the Oriental Orthodox.
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2004, 06:11:49 PM »

Quick question, universalism wasn't condemned at any council until after the Council of Chalcedon (I believe it was one of the Councils of Constantinople, in any case, it wasn't until the sixth century).  Also, it received some of its strongest support from theologians of the Alexandrine school.  

Can you recommend sources to read especially Orthodox view against and why?

Thanks in advance.
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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2004, 09:58:05 PM »

Hi Ben.  I'm not saying that the Gnostics were the only ones who believed this way.  I am saying that this is not the belief of the Oriental Orthodox.

Hey....

Wasn't saying that you were saying that....just wanted to say that this an article of the Zoroastrian faith - and probably where some early Christians got it. It wouldn't have been the first time.
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2004, 07:00:42 PM »

No problem!  Who is that on your avatar?
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2004, 11:59:47 PM »

Rumi
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2004, 06:45:45 AM »

To interject some literary sources, perhaps from "outside" the religious texts, I would recommend:

1.) The chapter about Marmeladov in Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" - in which the pitiful / pathological Maramaledov character declares some hope that, at the Last Judgement, even drunkards, prostitutes, etc., will be welcomed by the merciful Lord - with the words "even you, too" are welcome;

2.) C.S. Lewis's "The Last Battle" - a Narnian apocalypsis;

The point in recommending these non-doctrinal sources?

a. Who are we to know whether all will be saved or not, at The Last Day?

b. Sometimes literary fancy may capture the truth of (a.) when primary doctrinal sources are more likely otherwise occupied.

P.S. - Ben, does Jalalladin Rumi have poetic thoughts on this subject? I would expect that he would, poetically expressed in a manner that few others could!
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« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2004, 08:40:46 AM »

Dearest to Christ Lellimore,

Quote
Quick question, universalism wasn't condemned at any council until after the Council of Chalcedon (I believe it was one of the Councils of Constantinople, in any case, it wasn't until the sixth century).  

Actually,.. No,.. Universal salvation as a hope that all may be saved is still alive and well in the Orthodox Church. Today we can see it in such figures as HH. Bishop Kallistos Ware Bishop of Diokleia, the lay-theologian Paul Evdokimov, Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, and I seem to remember Vladimir Lossky also hinted at it.

The anathemas of this Council we EO call the Fifth Ecumenical have been added to it later and do not belong to it. The second Council of Constantinopel never discussed either universal salvation or Origen. The anathemas are those held privately by Emperor Justinian (who in the later years of his life fell into heresy) with which he wanted to rid himself of "originist controversies" and for a long time this succeeded. We now know that these anathemas of Justinian were not endorsed by this Council at all,.. They were erroneously and maliciously added to the Council in later times and have become associated with it as was the name of Origen. Many Patristic textbooks are now revised accordingly.

Quote
Also, it received some of its strongest support from theologians of the Alexandrine school.  

And it still receives support from Orthodox theologians of great stature. As H.H. Kallistos says, it is perfectly Orthodox to hope that all will be saved and to pray that all will be saved. It is unOrthodox and heretical to teach that all MUST be saved, for this is to deny free-will; a line neither Origen or St. Gregorios of Nyssa (my namesaint) crossed.

Quote
Does this mean that this belief is considered permissible by the OO, or did they condemn it as well?

Since I am not Coptic Orthodox, I cannot answer this question,.. but as an Eastern Orthodox I can say that it is perfectly Orthodox to pray and hope that all will be saved. Fr. Michael of New Valamo once said that only those for whom there is no prayer are without hope, and this is certainly true I think. Let us therefore learn to pray for all,.. Not excluding anyone from the benefit of loving inclusion in prayer, not even the dead for they need our prayers as much as the living that are still with us.

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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2004, 12:00:21 PM »

Quote
The anathemas of this Council we EO call the Fifth Ecumenical have been added to it later and do not belong to it. The second Council of Constantinopel never discussed either universal salvation or Origen. The anathemas are those held privately by Emperor Justinian (who in the later years of his life fell into heresy) with which he wanted to rid himself of "originist controversies" and for a long time this succeeded. We now know that these anathemas of Justinian were not endorsed by this Council at all,.. They were erroneously and maliciously added to the Council in later times and have become associated with it as was the name of Origen. Many Patristic textbooks are now revised accordingly.

I must admit that I have read a number of books on St. Justinian, and I have never heard of this. Could you tell me where I could read more about it?
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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2004, 12:50:11 PM »

It is unOrthodox and heretical to teach that all MUST be saved, for this is to deny free-will; a line neither Origen or St. Gregorios of Nyssa (my namesaint) crossed. Grigorii

As a Coptic Orthodox Christian, I would agree with this assessment.  I believe it probably would be wrong to say that eventually everyone winds up in Heaven no matter what (or as Grigorii said, that all MUST be saved), but I would see nothing wrong with praying for the salvation of all mankind.
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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2004, 06:00:02 PM »

Dearest to Christ Paradosis,

Certainly,..  Franz Diekamp, A. Neander, and HH. Cardinal Henri de Lubac have written about the history of the Council and Justinians anathematas, or simply going to a local bookstore to find a new scholarly textbook on Patristics will do the trick. About Justinians fall into heresy I think it was Fr. Meyendorff who wrote about that (among others). I will check for a bibliography for you that might get your research going ok?

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Grigorii

PS I think checking Bishop Joseph Hefele's text might help too and the stuff Paul Halsall has put on the internet about the Councils,..
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2004, 08:10:58 AM »

Gregorii,

Thank you, I will start with what you gave me, and see where to go from there Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2004, 04:22:36 PM »

How do people who believe in universal savation doctrine get around the idea of eternal condemnation in hell?

God bless,

CS
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« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2004, 12:10:21 AM »

How do people who believe in universal savation doctrine get around the idea of eternal condemnation in hell?

God bless,

CS
A very good question.....

Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2004, 06:36:35 AM »

Dearest to Christ CS,

Despite Stavro's shameful words, "universalism" understood as the possibility that all may be saved[/b] is simply part of EO tradition.

H.H. Kallistos Bishop of Diokleia wrote:

"For the Christian there exist but two ultimate alternatives, Heaven and Hell. The Church awaits the final consummation of the end, which in Greek theology is termed the apocatastasis or ‘restoration,’ when Christ will return in great glory to judge both the living and the dead. This final apocatastasis involves, as we have seen, the redemption and the glorification of matter: at the Last Day the righteous will rise from the grave and be united once more to a body — not such a body as we now possess, but one that is transfigured and ‘spiritual,’ in which inward sanctity is made outwardly manifest. And not only man’s body but the whole material order will be transformed: God will create a New Heaven and a New Earth.

But Hell exists as well as Heaven. In recent years many Christians — not only in the west, but at times also in the Orthodox Church — have come to feel that the idea of Hell is inconsistent with belief in a loving God. But to argue thus is to display a sad and perilous confusion of thought. While it is true that God loves us with an infinite love, it is also true that He has given us free will; and since we have free will, it is possible for us to reject God. Since free will exists, Hell exists; for Hell is nothing else than the rejection of God. If we deny Hell, we deny free will. ‘No one is so good and full of pity as God,’ wrote Mark the Monk or Hermit (early fifth century); ‘but even He does not forgive those who do not repent’ (On those who think to be justified from works, 71 (P.G. 65, 940D). God will not force us to love Him, for love is no longer love if it is not free; how then can God reconcile to Himself those who refuse all reconciliation?

The Orthodox attitude towards the Last Judgment and Hell is clearly expressed in the choice of Gospel readings at the Liturgy on three successive Sundays shortly before Lent. On the first Sunday is read the parable of the Publican and Pharisee, on the second the parable of the Prodigal Son, stories which illustrate the immense forgiveness and mercy of God towards all sinners who repent. But in the Gospel for the third Sunday — the parable of the Sheep and the Goats — we are reminded of the other truth: that it is possible to reject God and to turn away from Him to Hell. "Then shall He say to those on the left hand, The curse of God is upon you, go from my sight into everlasting fire" (Matt. 25:41).

There is no terrorism in the Orthodox doctrine of God. Orthodox Christians do not cringe before Him in abject fear, but think of Him as philanthropos, the ‘lover of men.’ Yet they keep in mind that Christ at His Second Coming will come as judge.

Hell is not so much a place where God imprisons man, as a place where man, by misusing his free will, chooses to imprison himself. And even in Hell the wicked are not deprived of the love of God, but by their own choice they experience as suffering what the saints experience as joy. ‘The love of God will be an intolerable torment for those who have not acquired it within themselves’ (V. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, p. 234).

Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day comes, we must not despair of anyone’s salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception. No one must be excluded from our loving intercession. ‘What is a merciful heart?’ asked Isaac the Syrian. ‘It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures’ (Mystic Treatises, edited by A. J. Wensinck, Amsterdam, 1923, p. 341). Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the Devil.

The Bible ends upon a note of keen expectation: "Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20). In the same spirit of eager hope the primitive Christians used to pray: ‘Let grace come and let this world pass away’ (Didache, 10, 6). From one point of view the first Christians were wrong: they imagined that the end of the world would occur almost immediately, whereas in fact two millennia have passed and still the end has not yet come. It is not for us to know the times and the seasons, and perhaps this present order will last for many millennia more. Yet from another point of view the primitive Church was right. For whether the end comes early or late, it is always imminent, always spiritually close at hand, even though it may not be temporally close. The Day of the Lord will come "as a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:2) at an hour when men expect it not. Christians, therefore, as in Apostolic times, so today must always be prepared, waiting in constant expectation. One of the most encouraging signs of revival in contemporary Orthodoxy is the renewed awareness among many Orthodox of the Second Coming and its relevance. ‘When a pastor on a visit to Russia asked what is the burning problem of the Russian Church, a priest replied without hesitation: the Parousia (P. Evdokimov, L’Orthodoxie, p. 9 (Parousia: the Greek term for the Second Coming)).

Yet the Second Coming is not simply an event in the future, for in the life of the Church, the Age to Come has already begun to break through into this present age. For members of God’s Church, the ‘Last Times’ are already inaugurated, since here and now Christians enjoy the first fruits of God’s Kingdom. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. He comes already — in the Holy Liturgy and the worship of the Church."


Which sums up the EO position nicely,..

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« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2004, 09:19:13 AM »

Hi Gregoori,

My main concern was that we can't repent on the day of judgement and beyond and I assume that this is just a hope not an expectation?  It is also related to being able to pray for the dead in Christ?

God bless,

CS
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« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2004, 03:44:13 PM »

Dearest to Christ CS,

What Bishop Kallistos is saying is that it may very well be that "hell" may not be the final answer. He keeps the way open that St. Gregory of Nyssa proposed in his exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15, 28 that the Body of Christ will continue to grow until ALL are saved,..  No-one, not even the devil, is excluded in St. Gregorios' vision. Hope is useless if it is not also a realistic expectation.

Prayer for the dead is an expression of the power of prayer thru the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection of Christ,.. It is the "praying Pentecost to those deprived of it" so they too may be saved. St. Mark of Ephesus held a sermon at the false re-union Council at Florence where he gave an example how some saints, by their prayer, saved pagans and/or sinners for  hell who had not repented before they died.  The sermon is quoted extensively in Fr. Seraphim Rose's "The Soul after Death" and it represents EO theology neatly.

When we pray for the dead, as we've always done, we expect that our prayers are heard and that they are effective for good of those for whom we pray. I know this is currently a "hot topic" in the Coptic Church, but to us, EO, it is unacceptable that this be changed. Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev says:

"Several years ago I came across a short article in a journal of the Coptic Church where it stated that this Church had decided to remove prayers for those held in hell from its service books, since these prayers “contradict Orthodox teaching”. Puzzled by this article, I decided to ask a representative of the Coptic Church about the reasons for this move. Recently I had the possibility to do so, and a Coptic Metropolitan replied that the decision was made by his Synod because, according their official doctrine, no prayers can help those in hell. I told the metropolitan that in the liturgical practice of the Russian Orthodox Church and other local Orthodox Churches there are prayers for those held in hell, and that we believe in their saving power. This surprised the Metropolitan, and he promised to study this question in more detail.

During this conversation with the Metropolitan I expressed my thoughts on how one could go very far and even lose important doctrinal teachings in the pursuit of correcting liturgical texts. Orthodox liturgical texts are important because of their ability to give exact criteria of theological truth, and one must always confirm theology using liturgical texts as a guideline, and not the other way round. The lex credendi grows out of the lex orandi, and dogmas are considered divinely revealed because they are born in the life of prayer and revealed to the Church through its divine services. Thus, if there are differences in the understanding of a dogma between a certain theological authority and liturgical texts, I would be inclined to give preference to the latter. And if a textbook of dogmatic theology contains views different from those found in liturgical texts, it is the textbook, not the liturgical texts, that need correction."


Taken from:"Orthodox Worship as a School of Theology."

"On the one hand, it is impossible for one to actively repent in hell; it is impossible to rectify the evil deeds one committed by appropriate good works. However, it may be possible for one to repent through a ‘change of heart’, a review of one’s values. One of the testimonies to this is the rich man of the Gospel we have already mentioned. He realized the gravity of his situation as soon as found himself in hell. Indeed, if in his lifetime he was focused on earthly pursuits and forgot God, once in hell he realized that his only hope for salvation was God[76] . Besides, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the fate of a person after death can be changed through the prayer of the Church. Thus, existence after death has its own dynamics. On the basis of what has been said above, we may say that after death the development of the human person does not cease, for existence after death is not a transfer from a dynamic into a static being, but rather continuation on a new level of that road which a person followed in his lifetime."

Taken from: "Christ the Conqueror of Hell"

IC XC

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« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2004, 04:06:03 PM »

So I take it that this is to mean that one in hell cannot repent because they essentially have no spirituality in hell but thats not to say that others may interceed on their behalf?

God bless you,

CS
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« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2004, 02:48:14 AM »

Dearest to Christ Grigorii,
Quote
Despite Stavro's shameful words, "universalism" understood as the possibility that all may be saved is simply part of EO tradition.
If you mean by Universalism the desire for the whole Universe to be saved and come to know the Truth (as you defined it previously), then I agree and so does the OO Church.
But as you added a new addition and said that there "may" be some salvation after death, then of course we disagree and the arguments the OO Church would use against such an idea is the same as the ones used against Purgatory. I do not know what the EO think of the Purgatory, but the idea you present here is very similar to it.  Not everything that the Saints said was accepted as part of the Tradition, even if they are as holy and saintly as St.Gregory.
Regards,
Stavro
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« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2004, 05:19:22 AM »

Dearest to Christ Stavro,

Quote
We are talking about two different issues and two different definitions and there was no reason for saying that my words are shameful.

I called them shamefull because they would associate some great and sainted teachers of the Church with such abuses of Scripture and Tradition to the point of denial of even our Lord's Divinity. I find that shamefull, however, it is equally shamefull of me that I said such openly and did not send you a private message to speak of this concern of mine. Forgive me, a sinner.

Quote
If you mean by Universalism the desire for the whole Universe to be saved and come to know the Truth (as you defined it previously), then I agree and so does the OO Church.

I did not intend to make it such,.. Cos the desire corresponds to a realistic and possible eschaton (final end of things). I only refuse to say it MUST be so, cos that would be to deny free-will.

Quote
But as you added a new addition and said that there "may" be some salvation after death, then of course we disagree and the arguments the OO Church would use against such an idea is the same as the ones used against Purgatory.

The Eastern Church has always prayed for the salvation of those who have died without it. St. Mark of Ephesus quotes a prayer from St. Basil the Great which says:

"Who, also on this all-perfect and saving feast, are graciously pleased to accept propitiatory prayers for those who are imprisoned in hell, granting us a great hope of improvement for those wo are imprisoned from the defilements which have imprisoned them, and that Thou wilt send down Thy consolation (Third Kneeling prayer at Vespers)."

Theophanes the Confessor:
"Deliver o Saviour, Thy slaves who are in the hell of tears and sighing (Octoechos, Saturday canon for the reposed)."

Abba Macarius the Great also learns that his prayers can easy the burden and pain of those in hell from a skull in the desert (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers,  macarius the Great, saying 38).

Once more St. Mark of Ephesus:
"And behold, some of the saints who prayed not only for the faithful, but even for the impious, were heard and by their prayers rescued them from eternal torment, as for example the First Woman-martyr Thecla rescued Falconila, and the divine Gregory the Dialogist, as it is related rescued the emperor Trajan."

The prayers for the departed, both pious and impious, believers and unbelievers are given to the Church and are powerful instruments to make available God's grace to even the hopeless. In the earliest life we have of St. Gregory the Dialogist, he gains the salvation of the pagan emperor by his prayer and tears, the Church, therefore, gives a realistic hope that ALL may be saved. It is this that which I defend as Orthodox "universalism" and it does indeed imply salvation after death.

The unnatural, dis-incarnate, state of death, is a stage in between earthly life, and the final resurrection. This state of being is not static but dynamic. Its dynamics are different from the dynamics on earth, but they can be influenced for the better by prayer. Reepetance, as possible on earth, is not possible in the after-life state, but in its own way of things those who are in this state are not necessarily deprived of salvation. Our prayers for them, are capable of continuing the "divine synergy" of salvation that they cannot continue out of their own powers (personally I think this is so because lacking a body and a physical condition of earthlyness they cannot perform deeds that are included in "saving faith" which is why they depend on our prayers and actions on their behalf).

Quote
I do not know what the EO think of the Purgatory, but the idea you present here is very similar to it.  

We reject purgatory as a if it were a place, and its idea of corporeal flames. There is only paradise and hell (as depicted in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus) there is no such thing as purgatory. Purgatory is simply a mistaken interpretation of the dynamics in the afterlife peculiar to Latin theology.

Quote
Not everything that the Saints said was accepted as part of the Tradition, even if they are as holy and saintly as St.Gregory.

Nor is Orthodox Tradition exhausted by what has been dogmatically defined, which is again, a peculiarity of Latin theology. Orthodoxy has few dogma's and a very rich Tradition of thelogoumena and theological opinions. Tho there may be conflicting theological opinions in Orthodox Tradition, they do not (as a rule) imply dogmatic conflict, and certainly not heresy. Traditionalism, as an attitude that seeks to force Tradition into a uniform, plastic, whole, (different from the loyal adherence to Tradition) is a philosophical peculiarity of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism in particular. Western theology is characterized by a dogmatizing attitude,.. seeing to create dogma's where no such need exists, whereas Orthodox theology is chracterized by an attitude of worship. In slavonic language  Orthodoxy translates as Pravoslavie, which means "true glory" thereby revealing the deeply worshipful and relational attitude of Orthodoxy. We are concerned to bring fallen creatures into a truthful relation of worship to the Trinity, not with defining and limiting God and His ways in human philosophical categories.

The worship of the Church and her Liturgical Tradition call for prayer for our beloved departed, that by them we may may assist them to be saved in the Trinity's grace and love. The sayings of saints like St Gregorios of Nyssa are rooted in this, and are therefore Orthodox and not to be numbered with such attitudes that deny the Divinity of our Lord, or that would support homosexuality.  I know that the tradition represented by St. Gregorios is not the only[/b] one or even the most popular one, but is fully Orthodox nonetheless.

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« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2004, 07:19:22 PM »

Oh, I see now......
I apologize for the confusion and misunderstanding. When I replied to Copitc Soldiers question, I did not mean the EO at all (I did not know they believe in such a thing) and definitely not the great saints like St.Gregory, may his prayer and intercession be with us. No way I would insult a great saint, celebrated and remembered every liturgy for his greatness, and associate his blessed character with the above mentioned trangressions.
I was speaking about "christian" cults.
I hope this clarifies. I edited the post accordingly to avoid further misunderstanding.
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Stavro
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« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2004, 08:01:18 PM »

Peace,
Quote
Grigorii:Cos the desire corresponds to a realistic and possible eschaton (final end of things). I only refuse to say it MUST be so, cos that would be to deny free-will.
I guess there is a contradiction in this phrase. Whether it "MUST" or it "MAY" be so, in both cases,if true,  it denies the free will of mankind.
The desire could also be out of love to mankind without being realistic. Samuel the Prophet prayed for Saul the King although God rejected Saul clearly on the tongue of Samuel himself.
Quote
Deliver o Saviour, Thy slaves who are in the hell of tears and sighing

I used this quote by Theophanes the Confessor and will take as representative for all the quotes mentioned before. Is it possible that the saints quoted meant by the word "hell"  those who live in sin and reject salvation on earth, not in the afterlife ? I am not trying to impose any ideas on the EO belief, simply asking whether the quotes are capable of another interpretation.
Quote
It is this that which I defend as Orthodox "universalism" and it does indeed imply salvation after death.
It is a very dangerous idea if it is not true. "MAY or MAY NOT" are not words you want to use when it comes to salvation. There has to be assurance and there has to be confidence in salvation. The story about a Pagan Emperor being saved is very disturbing. What was the need for the Incarnation if the Salvation on the Cross is not needed and there is a way around it ? Is it not unfair for those who have nobody to intercede them out of hell to stay there whereas others have this luxury ?
Forgive me if my question seem elementary and uneducated on the matter but I want to understand the EO position regarding this issue.
Quote
We reject purgatory as a if it were a place, and its idea of corporeal flames. There is only paradise and hell (as depicted in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus) there is no such thing as purgatory. Purgatory is simply a mistaken interpretation of the dynamics in the afterlife peculiar to Latin theology.
But the underlying idea is the same. I do not care so much about whether there is purging fire or not and the physical state of matters in the Purgatory, the idea of salvation after death is what we reject.
Quote
Nor is Orthodox Tradition exhausted by what has been dogmatically defined, which is again, a peculiarity of Latin theology. Orthodoxy has few dogma's and a very rich Tradition of thelogoumena and theological opinions. Tho there may be conflicting theological opinions in Orthodox Tradition, they do not (as a rule) imply dogmatic conflict, and certainly not heresy.
I agree, noting that Orthodox theologians humble themselves and do not imply that they know everything and have access to the mind of Christ.
As for heresy, I think that defining heresy is connected to whether it puts your salvation in jeopardy or not. Denying Christ's divinity is a clear heresy, for example, as it denies the very basis of the work of salvation.
For the above mentioned issue, in my opinion, it will not danger your salvation as a person who believes in salvation after death but still strives for salvation in his earthly life by solid orthodox faith, confession, communion and good works.
BUT its danger lies in the possibility of others embracing this idea and going to live a life of sin as there is a salvation after death by prayers of saints and churches. If it is not true, and it seems that there is no rule for it, then those people perish and there blood will be asked from their teachers and shepards.  

Peace,
Stavro  
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« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2004, 03:29:44 AM »

Dearest to Christ Stavro,

Quote
What was the need for the Incarnation if the Salvation on the Cross is not needed and there is a way around it ?  

There is no way around it. Salvation and the salvific power of prayer is based in, and empowered by the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection Ascesion of our Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Intercession is precisely the application of these mysteries, not their avoidance.

Quote
Is it not unfair for those who have nobody to intercede them out of hell to stay there whereas others have this luxury ?

We better make sure we are praying for them than and that we use the divine gifts God has given us!

Quote
Forgive me if my question seem elementary and uneducated on the matter but I want to understand the EO position regarding this issue.

Most EO will affirm that there is no salvation after the final Judgment. But until that day no-one is lost and prayer and forgiveness of sins are an open option. Most EO will affirm that eternal damnation is indeed eternal by means of duration, some, me among them, will not affirm this however, and look at Judgment from the aspect of grace and conclude that all can be saved.

Salvation is possible only by means of "synergy" that is cooperation between the person and the Trinity. Salvation is a gift, yes, but a gift we need to personallly apply and integrate in our lives by our "living faith" that is by faith and works. Works do not "add" anything to our salvation, nor does faith "add" anything. Faith and works are simply the means thru which we integrate salvation into our lives, they are the means of salvation.  There is no reason I can see, and that some of our great Saints and teachers also could not see, why salvation be limited to this earthly life. It seems to me the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost are belittled, and limited in accordance with all too human limitations.  

But pls understand that this is not the official position of the EO on this issue. The official position has been phrased by the Bishops I quoted earlier. EO leaves the question dogmatically undefined.  Prayer for the departed, those who have died in Christ but have not completely rid their lives of sin, is however an integral part of EO Liturgical and doctrinal life. For this we even have special services "panekhidas"  to pray for the well-being of the souls of our departed. This is a dogmatic tradition in the EO Church. The attempt in the Coptic Church to rid liturgical life of this, would probably be seen as a bending the knees to Protestant influences.  Whether or not hell is the final answer and eternal damnation is eternal by means of duration of time, is not dogmatically defined in the EO Church tho most believe it to be eternal in the sense of never-ending-duration.

On the one hand you may find EO's who say:
The Orthodox Church does not claim that prayers for someone who died in opposition to God can save that soul from hell, since the Scriptures clearly teach that there is no chance for repentance after death (Luke 16:19-31, Hebrews 9:27, etc.). While firmly believing this, the Church still teaches that prayer for the dead in Christ is helpful to them. Why? Because in the Orthodox view, sanctification is seen not as a point-in-time occurrence, but as a process which never ends..

And others, like Bishop Hilarion who say:
On the one hand, it is impossible for one to actively repent in hell; it is impossible to rectify the evil deeds one committed by appropriate good works. However, it may be possible for one to repent through a ‘change of heart’, a review of one’s values. One of the testimonies to this is the rich man of the Gospel we have already mentioned. He realized the gravity of his situation as soon as found himself in hell. Indeed, if in his lifetime he was focused on earthly pursuits and forgot God, once in hell he realized that his only hope for salvation was God[76] . Besides, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the fate of a person after death can be changed through the prayer of the Church.

The official[/b] position of the EO is therefore that concerning the fate of the dead and eternal damnation we are in the realm of "theological opinion" or "theologoumena" and that the only dogmatic  absolutes are that; we will die, and we will be judged (heaven or hell) and that salvation depends on our "living faith" in the Trinity. The internal dynamics of these dogmatic truths is itself not dogmatic and open for different interpretations.

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« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2004, 05:53:30 AM »

Hey all,

This is a big issue because as Grigoori mentioned a verse exited in the liturgy of St. Basil about praying for those in hades.  It was written by St. Basil and went first through a council to become one of the official liturgies and then more than 1000 years later it was removed.  It seems that somewhere someone made a miscalculation, either the fathers who accepted it in the first place, then the generations who came after or the current administration.

God bless,

CS
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« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2004, 08:47:28 AM »

CS is quite correct,.. I am veeeery reluctant to change the Liturgy,.. Like the Bible the Liturgical texts carry a "universally accepted weight" and the individual changing it is more likely to be in error as is the God-given and God-inspired Liturgical text.

As Orthodox, we are a worshipping people,.. It is precisely our "correct and true worship" of the Trinity that makes us "Orthodox" it is therefore a perilous and dangerous thing indeed to assume one can change the Litugy and adapt it to one's personal theological opinion. There is room for theological opinions in Orthodoxy, of course, but there is no room for theological opinion to rise above the authority of Liturgical texts that have been universally received and accepted. That is to say, Liturgical texts that have proven their compatibility with Orthodox life in Chirst over many hundreds of years and in every local Orthodox Church. These texts are the very means by which we worship God publically and the way in which we relate to Him, again,.. I cannot agree to adjusting such a sacred text to theological opinion.  Rather theological opinions should be measured according to the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church such as it is expressed in the Liturgy (for example) not the other way around.

I have repeated myself a few times here,.. If nothing else, this should confirm CS,' idea that this point is a very serious one to me, its gravity can hardly be overstated as far as I am concerned.

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« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2004, 06:28:09 PM »

Prayer for the departed, those who have died in Christ but have not completely rid their lives of sin, is however an integral part of EO Liturgical and doctrinal life. For this we even have special services "panekhidas"  to pray for the well-being of the souls of our departed. This is a dogmatic tradition in the EO Church. The attempt in the Coptic Church to rid liturgical life of this, would probably be seen as a bending the knees to Protestant influences.

I'd like to hear a Coptic response to this, here or in a new thread.  Does the Coptic Orthodox Church want to stop praying for the dead, even taking prayers and services for the dead out of the liturgical prayers?  Does she deny that we can and should pray for the dead?
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« Reply #30 on: August 25, 2004, 07:50:55 PM »

I'd like to hear a Coptic response to this, here or in a new thread.  Does the Coptic Orthodox Church want to stop praying for the dead, even taking prayers and services for the dead out of the liturgical prayers?  Does she deny that we can and should pray for the dead?    

No! No! No!  The Coptic liturgical prayers are filled with "prayers for the departed".  While I have not closely followed this thread, I believe what is being discussed is a small part of the Pentecost Prayers in which prayer is offered specifically on behalf of  "those in Hades/Hell".  I am not sure, but I think the Holy Synod of the Coptic Church decided to remove this reference stating that the Church cannot pray for those already in hell.

However, I tend to agree with Grigorii that we should be *very* careful about changing or deleting any part of our liturgical prayers.

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« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2004, 11:47:51 PM »

The phrase mentioned is not in the liturgy (Cyrillian, Grigorian or Basilian), it is on the Pentecost Day prayer as Raouf mentioned as a phrase and not a whole section or thread of prayers. The decision to remove it is the rigth one, as those in Hades remain in Hades and nothing will benefit them.

Does the EO church pray for those who committed suicide (or any sin of any sort) or died in a heresy ?
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« Reply #32 on: August 25, 2004, 11:51:28 PM »

Dear Grigorii,
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Intercession is precisely the application of these mysteries, not their avoidance.
True, but irrelevant to the topic.  Abraham the Patriarch in the story of the Rich man and Lazarus did not intercede for the Rich man in Hades and told him that it is impossible to cross from one place to another.
Quote
There is no way around it. Salvation and the salvific power of prayer is based in, and empowered by the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection Ascesion of our Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
Apparently there is if those who rejected salvation on the Cross during the lives can still sneak into the Kingdom by means of prayers of others.

Thanks for outlining the EO teaching regarding the subject so nicely.
Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #33 on: August 26, 2004, 08:13:44 AM »

Liturgical issues aside, some Folk interested in this topic might be interested in the question of praying for those who committed suicide as addressed by F.M. Dostoyevsky in "The Brothers Karamazov", in which the saintly Elder Zosima addresses this very matter.


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« Reply #34 on: August 26, 2004, 08:19:23 AM »

Dearest to Christ Stavro,

Quote
Quote:
Intercession is precisely the application of these mysteries, not their avoidance.  
 
True, but irrelevant to the topic.  Abraham the Patriarch in the story of the Rich man and Lazarus did not intercede for the Rich man in Hades and told him that it is impossible to cross from one place to another.

It seems quite relevant to me as it explains ' how'  the departed are affected by our prayers, where these prayers derive their ' power' from; and they have their power only and precisely[/b] in, and thru the Incarnation, Passion-Resurrexion of our Lord and the gift of the Holy Spirit to pray in us (Pentecost).

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man does not imply that the rich man is beyond hope. The parable expressess that the rich man enters the afterlife in the state in which he left his earthly life, and that Abraham is unable to cross the chasm that separates them and vice versa. However,.. the suffering of Lazarus and the rich man are compared to each other; it seems to me that Jesus is classifying both sufferings in the same category.

We also see that the rich man has no cares for others in his earthly life, yet in his experience of suffering in the afterlife he becomes capable of caring for others. To me that would indicate progress for the rich man in the direction of salvation. Yet Abraham says the chasm that separates them cannot be crossed, I think that does not mean it can never[/i] be crossed tho. Abraham does not say that, I also know he does not say it will one day be possible to cross it either.

If the sufferings of both, Lazarus and the rich man are of the same category, than if the one is unending and impossible of change, so must the other be. But this is obviously not so. The sufferings of Lazarus are changed and are limited according to their duration. I would interpret that to mean the sufferings of the rich man are also limited in their duration and capable of being changed.

The meaning of the parable, therefore, is not to teach ' eternal damnation'  is endless duration of suffering, but more precisely to their definite limitedness in duration. The suffering of the rich man is limited according to duration and capable of change. The chasm may not be overcome yet, but I think the parable implies it will be one day (the time is not mentioned, since the rich man must choose to be saved no-one is saved without integrating salvation into ones life freely). Remember, the rich man is still a child of Abraham and is therefore connetced to him despite the factual separation of these two. I believe the parable opens a door of hope for those in hades or hell.

However, this is only my interpretation and is not representative of the majority in the EO Church, only a minority of EO think this way.

Quote
Quote:
There is no way around it. Salvation and the salvific power of prayer is based in, and empowered by the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection Ascesion of our Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
 
Apparently there is if those who rejected salvation on the Cross during the lives can still sneak into the Kingdom by means of prayers of others.

No there is not, without the above mentioned Salvific events prayer is useless and powerless. There is no sneaking into the Heavenly Kingdom, but a struggling in by hard work as must we all. Salvation is not easy,.. its free but not cheap. It is by faith but not without works, and one of the greatest gifts along the way is the intercessions of our brothers and sisters. The same prayers, empowered by the Holy Spirit (who energizes for us the salvific power of the salvific events we mentioned above) are said for those in hades as for those not in hades. Prayer for the dead is therefore possible because of the Incarnation, Passion-Resurrexion of our Lord and Pentecost. Without these salvific events there is no salvation, and prayer would be lifeless, powerless, and futile.

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« Reply #35 on: August 26, 2004, 02:43:44 PM »

While I have not closely followed this thread, I believe what is being discussed is a small part of the Pentecost Prayers in which prayer is offered specifically on behalf of  "those in Hades/Hell".  I am not sure, but I think the Holy Synod of the Coptic Church decided to remove this reference stating that the Church cannot pray for those already in hell.

I may be wrong, but I thought our Church taught that there was a distinction between "hades" and "hell".  Perhaps praying for those in "hell" is useless, but is it useless to pray for those in "hades"?  

As an aside, if it is useless to pray for those in hell (because nothing can help them), then why do we pray for the saints in heaven (and I've seen this in the liturgies)?  If they are in heaven, they don't really need our prayers, so why do we offer prayers for them and not just to them?
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« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2004, 09:26:28 PM »

The phrase mentioned is not in the liturgy (Cyrillian, Grigorian or Basilian), it is on the Pentecost Day prayer as Raouf mentioned as a phrase and not a whole section or thread of prayers. The decision to remove it is the rigth one, as those in Hades remain in Hades and nothing will benefit them.

Does the EO church pray for those who committed suicide (or any sin of any sort) or died in a heresy ?

Apologies for the inaccuracy, methinks I assume too much for my own good.

When we pray for the departed, I think we do so when they die in the hope that God will recieve our prayers for them at the last moment.  Fittingly we do so for people who have committed suicide and did so as the result of a illness such as depression in the hope that God will also have mercy on them in the OO rite.  Is this to assume that people will be saved on the basis of prayers that will be offered after the point of death so they God to heaven in anticipation of God saving them?

This leads me to question I was discussing with a friend yesterday hell is not considered to be a physical place is it?

God bless,

CS
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« Reply #37 on: August 28, 2004, 09:58:29 PM »

Dear Grigorii,
Quote
Grigorii:We also see that the rich man has no cares for others in his earthly life, yet in his experience of suffering in the afterlife he becomes capable of caring for others.
Grigorii: Salvation is not easy,.. its free but not cheap. It is by faith but not without works, and one of the greatest gifts along the way is the intercessions of our brothers and sisters.
The rich man "experienced", and did not have faith. There is an ocean of difference between experience and faith. All in hell will come to this realization. In fact, hell would be a place for "the hopeful" rather than a place of torment.
I disagree on the way you interpreted the parable, as I think that Abraham was clear that there is no passing over from one place the other.
I also wonder how the verse :" "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)
Is it possible that the Lord will change his judgement and allow those once condemned to hell to come back ? What does the word "eternal" signify except that it is a one way ticket ?

As for intercession, the only way intercession works is by being part of the same Body, the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those in hell are not part of this Body, or are they ?

Quote
Mor: Perhaps praying for those in "hell" is useless, but is it useless to pray for those in "hades"?
Nobody knows how Hades is and how it looks like. Some would say that Hades is not a physical place but a state of mind before Hell, filled with sadness and unhopeful thoughts.Paradise is the opposite, looking forward to the full union with God. Maybe there are two different places. One thing is : Nothing can change after the departure from this earthly life. Why should we even evangelize if everybody will wind up in heaven no matter what or by a couple or intensive prayers.

Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #38 on: August 29, 2004, 03:24:06 AM »

Dearest to Christ Stavro,

Quote
Is it possible that the Lord will change his judgement and allow those once condemned to hell to come back ? What does the word "eternal" signify except that it is a one way ticket ?

I'de say the Lord's judgment will attain to its purpose, the salvation of of those He punishes. Punishment is not for the sake of punishment, it is always for the sake of correction and healing.

Quote
As for intercession, the only way intercession works is by being part of the same Body, the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those in hell are not part of this Body, or are they ?

The Church prays for the whole world, even the pagans,.. and heretics that they may find the true Faith; THAT is intercession,.. and it is niot limited to those in the Body of Christ. It extends to those who are not (yet) in it,..

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« Reply #39 on: August 31, 2004, 10:24:59 AM »

Punishment is not for the sake of punishment, it is always for the sake of correction and healing.

Its interesting that you say this, I've seen a couple Coptic Bishops who describe soteriology using examples from Anslem's penal substitution theology.  I'm not sure if they do so unwittingly but its an interesting trend none the less.  I remember it had a bad impact on me because its like we're being saved from God....

God bless,

CS
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« Reply #40 on: August 31, 2004, 12:32:20 PM »

Its interesting that you say this, I've seen a couple Coptic Bishops who describe soteriology using examples from Anslem's penal substitution theology.  I'm not sure if they do so unwittingly but its an interesting trend none the less.  I remember it had a bad impact on me because its like we're being saved from God....

God bless,

CS

Dear CS,

It seems that in Egypt for many recent centuries the patristic mind of the early church was somehow dimmed.  Especially in the last centuries one sees a trend of using RC theology to refute Protestantism and Protestant theology to refute RCism.  I am not sure why but it seems that until recently much of the patristic literature wasn't easily available in Arabic.

I see two trends now within the Coptic Church. One is a definite move towards traditional Orthodoxy (I mean here more in the educational realm, the Coptic Church has always maintained an Orthodox praxis) .  This is coming about both in Egypt and abroad by establishing patristic centers of study, new translations of ancient and modern patristic texts, and an openess to modern Orthodox theology as found in some of EO schools (hence the translation of many Russian texts into Arabic).  Unfortunately, the second trend is one that seems to be influenced by the success of Protestantism both in Egypt and elsewhere.  The latter seems to have impacted Orthodox praxis more than the actual doctrinal teachings of the Coptic Church.  Just visit some Coptic Church websites...at first you might think its a protestant site!

However, thank God that our Church has maintained its strong monastic spirit (both within and outside the actual monastic vocation - that is, both inside the monasteries and within parish life in the world).  This monastic spirit is what I believe gives power and life to our church, producing saints in all generations, which in turn witness to the power of transfiguration withing tradition Orthodoxy.

In Christ,
Raouf
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« Reply #41 on: August 31, 2004, 04:28:28 PM »

Dear Grigorii,
Quote
Grigorii:I'de say the Lord's judgment will attain to its purpose, the salvation of of those He punishes. Punishment is not for the sake of punishment, it is always for the sake of correction and healing.
I see the verse as clear and beyond need for extra explanation : Eternal condemnation in hell. Punishment in our earthly life might serve for correction, but there is no indication that it serves as such in hell. Clear verses.... Whereas God will make all the effort to safe all mankind, it is still a personal choice. Being in hell and being tormented by torture, whether physical or emotional, can be hardly regarded as choice. Is it possible that they will choose to remain in hell ?
The idea is extremely dangerous.
Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #42 on: August 31, 2004, 05:09:50 PM »

Peace,
Quote
Raouf:However, thank God that our Church has maintained its strong monastic spirit (both within and outside the actual monastic vocation - that is, both inside the monasteries and within parish life in the world).  This monastic spirit is what I believe gives power and life to our church, producing saints in all generations, which in turn witness to the power of transfiguration withing tradition Orthodoxy.
This is very true. From the land where monasticism first came to exist, its blessed Tradition is still bringing blessed fruits. The best quality I see in our fathers the monks and Hierarchs is being very conservative when it comes to Tradition and Orthodoxy, and also their resistence to any liberal trend in the Church influenced by the new cults.
I see many other factors:
1- Persecution throughout 2000 years has been very severe and very tough, but carried the Church to another level of spirituality by the intercession of my Fathers the martyrs and confessors. It is a blessing that only a christian will understand.
2- GOD's promise to the church in Egypt in Isaiah 19:19 ....
3- GOD's blessing to Egypt when the Lord Christ found refuge in Egypt and blessed it again and again.
4- I cannot believe that one day we will abondon Orthodoxy. Intercessions of St.Athanasius, St.Cyril, St.Dioscoros and The Seal of Martyrs St.Peter is to strong to be ignored in front of the Lord sitting on the Heavenly Throne.
Quote
Raouf:I see two trends now within the Coptic Church. One is a definite move towards traditional Orthodoxy (I mean here more in the educational realm, the Coptic Church has always maintained an Orthodox praxis) .  This is coming about both in Egypt and abroad by establishing patristic centers of study, new translations of ancient and modern patristic texts, and an openess to modern Orthodox theology as found in some of EO schools (hence the translation of many Russian texts into Arabic).
The Church in Egypt has experienced a spiritual growth in the past four decades with the Papacy of St.Kyrillos the 6th and flourished in H.H. Pope Shenouda's Papacy by his teachings and by the rise of the generation that included great teachers like Anba Samuel (martyred in 1981 in the famous assassination of Saddat) and Anba Grigorios. H.H. Pope Shenouda made it clear that his first periority is to teach and to maintain the Faith as he received it.
Now the second trend:
Quote
Raouf:Unfortunately, the second trend is one that seems to be influenced by the success of Protestantism both in Egypt and elsewhere.  The latter seems to have impacted Orthodox praxis more than the actual doctrinal teachings of the Coptic Church
As for Egypt, the impact of Protestantism is not as "marketed" by our dear brothers working in Protestant missions.
The target is the young youth, and there are hardly any converts among the adults. Youth are lured by an extremely liberal Protestant Church that is very attractive to them. However, we are talking about a very tiny minority among christians in Egypt. People understand the beginning of Protestantism and how it started in Egypt and therefore they are not comfortable with it.
I see the risk more in the West. Not that it infiltrated the Church, but Coptic youth in Europe and America are more subject to the Protestant teachings and sometimes the servants in Sunday School or in Bible studies try to be diplomatic and "easy". A heresy is a heresy and has to be treated as such by exposing it very firmly.

Peace,
Stavro
 
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« Reply #43 on: August 31, 2004, 06:22:48 PM »

Dear Stavro,

I agree with everything you stated! I am glad to hear that the influence of Protestantism in Egypt is not as widespread as I might have thought.  

I think the other problem here in the States is that many servants in Sunday School utilize Protestant materials in order to "attract" the youth to Church.  It also spills over in music and art where we see many youth who prefer Western style pictures over traditional iconography and modern protestant hymns over traditional Coptic Orthodox chant.

Truly, our Church has been extremely blessed by Pope Kyrillos VI - wonderworker, clairvoyant, and restorer of traditional Orthodoxy, followed by HH Pope Shenouda III - Teacher, Defender of the Faith, and Expander of the Coptic Church.  Each given to us by our Lord at precisely the right time in our history.

In Christ,
Raouf
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« Reply #44 on: September 02, 2004, 06:41:49 AM »

Dearest to Christ Stavro,

Quote
I see the verse as clear and beyond need for extra explanation : Eternal condemnation in hell.

Certainly, I understand you do. But, I and some of the Fathers of the Church, disagree with you.  We see no such idea implied,.. Quite the opposite.

Quote
Punishment in our earthly life might serve for correction, but there is no indication that it serves as such in hell.

There is no indication that God punishes for correction and healing during earthly life, and that he punishes for the sake of punishment in the life-after-death. Such a penal-legalist understanding is too limited an understanding of God's Incarnation, Passion-Resurrection I'de say. I think these Salvific Events must be understood as a healing of a "sickness-unto-death" which is sin. Forgiveness of sins, is probably the "easiest" aspect of salvation, the healing of our corrupted natures is much more difficult. The Cross was NOT necessary for God,.. He did not and does not need a sacrifice to satisfy His bloodthirsty anger, such is a pagan idea of God, rather, the sacrifice of the Life-Giving-Cross is necessary to put to death the sickness that is in us, and the Resurrection is necessary to enter a new life, free of this sickness. The Cross-Resurrection did not change God and was not needed by Him, it changes US and it is necessary for US. In this respect I, hesiatently (for there are some clear errors in his Trinitarian doctrine, tho he was not condemned for them) agree with Nicholas Berdyaev (Russian Orthodox lay-theologian) that the penal-legalist idea is a remnant of paganism in our theology of the Cross.

Quote
Clear verses.... Whereas God will make all the effort to safe all mankind, it is still a personal choice.

To which I agree completely. Salvation is integrated by how a person determines (by his or her self-determination) his or her own life. Salvation can be accepted into one's self-determination or it can be rejected. It is my belief, as that of the Fathers in whom I have immersed my spiritual life, that ideath must be seen as a function of life and that it too depends upon how we determine our lives. I do not see death as a limit on God's salvation, only our free-will limits or removes the limits of God's salvation.

Quote
Being in hell and being tormented by torture, whether physical or emotional, can be hardly regarded as choice. Is it possible that they will choose to remain in hell ?

I do not think it is practically possible. I think that every one of them will realize that he or she is eating the food of pigs in a stable while the Father is awaiting their repentant return home (which is a choice one can make or not make). But theoretically[/b] it is possible that someone chooses to remain with the pigs and eat their food. So, as far as I am concerned whether or not one is saved (even after death) depends upon free-will not on any type of limit on our free-will nor upon any sort of limit on God's will and power to save.

Quote
The idea is extremely dangerous.

A very surprising statement,.. The opposite idea is extremely dangerous I'de say,.. It may deprive those who need our prayers the most for their salvation from receiving them. Thereby letting the devil have the victory over God's salvific will.

IC XC

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« Reply #45 on: September 03, 2004, 12:59:27 PM »

Peace Grigorii,
I knew it will come down to this: Hell mistakenly being taken to represent a blood-thirsty God, lacking in mercy. To have a solution that would fit our own idea about this merciful God, we have to imagine one who contradicts himself and lacks in justice, and in the process make ourselves comfortable with the idea that we will end up in heaven no matter what, sooner or later.

But some simple questions will need an answer:

1- When evangelizing others and telling them about the good news, what will an "Post-hell salvation" evangelist answer to a simple question posed by a non-believer: What if I reject the the salvation of the Cross ? The only answer that will fit in this scheme of dogmas is : "Well, you will spend a couple of years in hell and then we will pray for you and you will be up there in heaven , even though you rejected the salvic power of Christ, even though you committed sins without atonement,....it is cool.

Why evangelize ?

2- What about heretics like Arius &co. ? Will they find a way to the Kingdom ? Why did St.Athanasius waste his valuable time defending a side issue like the divinity of Christ if all men, by means of a couple of prayers, will end up in heaven ? Why the creed and Orthodoxy and christianity to beging with ? Why did you convert from Protestantism ? In any case, you would wind up in the Kingdom.

3- How does atonement work in hell ? The Catholics through the Purgatory have the purging fire, how do you lay out the process of atonement in hell ? Because just praying for a non-believer is not enough on earth if this non believer is not baptized, nor are the sins forgiven by just prayer without confession and communion. Are there sacraments in hell ?

4- To be consistent, it seems that the death of the Cross was just to deliver us from the shame of sin but not its penality.

5- Is there need for a sinful believer to repent ?

Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #46 on: September 03, 2004, 02:12:27 PM »

Dear Grigorii,

Quote
There is no indication that God punishes for correction and healing during earthly life, and that he punishes for the sake of punishment in the life-after-death.
1- Maybe not for the sake of punishment, although that would be more consistent with your thesis.
2-We might discuss the question of suffering on earth as a separate topic.
3-It is enough that we know there will be eternal punishment.
4- There is no indication that there is salvation after death either.
5-
I will have to cite the verse again :
Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, cursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels’ (Matthew 25:41)
Now, what fate awaits people together with Satan in this eternal fire (according to the Holy Scripture) :
And the Devil who deceived them was thrown into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
Again, it is forever and ever. It will be hard to prove quite the opposite, namely, that Satan also will be saved and his followers will end up in the Kingdom.
Quote
Forgiveness of sins, is probably the "easiest" aspect of salvation, the healing of our corrupted natures is much more difficult.
There is no small and big aspects when it comes to the work of God, nor is there an easy or difficult one. It has to be a whole complete work that contempliments itself in greatness, justice, mercy, omnipotence, omniprensence,...and all the Holy Attributes of the Divinity.
We get a new nature in Baptism, but it is  not incorruptable. Therefore, we sin, and yet, the sins we commit afterwards are forgiven by the Holy Sacraments.
Forgiveness of sins is very key to salvation.
Quote
He did not and does not need a sacrifice to satisfy His bloodthirsty anger, such is a pagan idea of God.
I assure you that this is not my idea about God. We are discussing how Divine mercy and Divine justice are fulfilled. But does God punish ? For sure, and there are tons of examples about this is both the OT and NT.
Quote
The Cross was NOT necessary for God
I would use the words of St.Athanasius the Apostolic. He wrote in his masterpiece about Incarnation that after Adam's sin, there was a divine dilemma.
God was NOT forced to find a solution, like a King who sees his son sinking in water and is also NOT forced to get into the water and save him. But his divine love and mercy had to find out a way consistent with his divine justice to save mankind. That is the dilemma and it was a brilliant solution.
Quote
But theoretically it is possible that someone chooses to remain with the pigs and eat their food.
You made a double-edged statement. It is true that the sinners and non believers decide to eat the pig's food, before they die, but the consequences are that God allows them to continue living out their choice in hell, after death. It is then a true choice.

It seems that we come from different schools that has long been separated and it needs time till we digest differences, although many are more clear than before.

Peace,
Stavro

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« Reply #47 on: September 04, 2004, 08:58:50 AM »

Dearest to Christ Stavro,

You still do not seem to grasp what really is involved in unlimited salvation, and continue to put one confusion on top of another. I will attempt a continuation of my explanation;

Why evangelize you ask,.. Well,.. it is a command given to us. Why is this command given to us? Because only by it can the world hear the Gospel of Christ and be saved by it. Universal salvation does not deny this, but depends on it!

Are heretics excluded from God's saving grace? Only inasmuch we all are; until we choose to be saved by Truth. Heretics are not more unworthy of grace as we are,.. we are all equally unworthy, and yet equally loved by God. Whether or not we are saved depends upon whether or not we choose to be. So, can they be saved? Yes of course! Everyone can be,.. Tho it is, at least theoretically, possible not everyone will be.

Atonement is rooted in and works by the Incarnation, Passion-Resurrection of Christ. How[/i] it works? I don't know. The dynamics of the afterlife are not readily accesible to me, nor is there any definite teaching on this in any dogmatic sense. All I know is that it ]is[/b] possible and that our prayers are essential to it.

Your theology of the Cross, or at least your attempt to ridicule a "universalist" understanding of it, is of course, precisely that. Ridiculous. The human condition after the fall is a complex whole. The main character of this whole is ' sicknes unto death'  the inability to experience God's love as love, and to suffer His love as pain as hell-fire. The Life-giving Cross becomes our death, wherein our incapacity to experience God as love dies, and the Glorious Resurrection is our new life, free from sin so we are once again capable of knowing God as He is and we are no longer endangered by the fires of hell.

Guilt is of course part of the human situation after the fall too, however, I don't think guilt (in this sense) should be taken as something merely juridical or economic. Rather it is a relational concept here. And, yes, the Life-giving Cross is cure to this too. Thru it we receive forgiveness of our sins.

And, yes, of course there is need for a sinning believer to repent.

It is surprising that you would need to ask these things; even if in relation to universalism. Universalism differs from the common perception of soteriology in once thing only,.. Salvation is not a partial success but a complete success.

You also appear to be confused by the term ' eternal', since you consistently interpret it as menaing 'endless duration' (aka 'bad infinity'). I think you will have great difficulty with St. Jeremiah the Prophet who announced eternal fire and eternal shame to come down, will be followed by restoration and healing (Jer. 17, 4, 27; 31, 38-40). Or St. Isaiah who also prophesied that the an eternal punishment is followed by restoration and healing (32, 14-15), further studies into the biblical concept of 'eternity'  reveal that it is not necessarily the equivalent of ' endless duration of time' , rather it can be used to signify the quality of something which has a limited duration in time. Eternity is a translation of greek and hebrew words that are far less suggestive as is our word ' eternity'.

Quote
You made a double-edged statement. It is true that the sinners and non believers decide to eat the pig's food, before they die, but the consequences are that God allows them to continue living out their choice in hell, after death. It is then a true choice.

There is no denial of true choice in extending the possibility of choice to the afterlife. Rather not to do so is putting a limit on choice and therefore closer to denial of it as the other.

Quote
It seems that we come from different schools that has long been separated and it needs time till we digest differences, although many are more clear than before.

Yes, it seems to be so. It is utterly unacceptable to me that prayers for the dead (those in hades) are to be removed from the Liturgy (and Coptic Liturgy is precisely an Orthodox Liturgy) because ' new insights'  conflicts with the traditional one. I cannot, but continue to pray for the dead as the Church calls me to and even further as the Church allows me to (for the extent to which i take this is not necessarily the same as other Eastern Orthodox, on the contrary!).

IC XC

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« Reply #48 on: September 05, 2004, 01:21:24 AM »

I mean to say this in absolute humbleness and without any intention to offend to you, dearest Stavro: I think we should be more careful in taking on the responsibility of representing the "different school" that we claim to represent. If a liturgic phrase is present somewhere in the coptic offices, one should take time to understand why it is there, in light of the wealthy tradition layed down for us by our blessed fathers among the saints.

Insofar as i have read brother Gregorii, i have found no contradiction with a tradition that was present among certain fathers, we should pull these above-mentioned fathers and ecclisiastical writers (Origen is still a church father to me, though!) out, and see where they were going with all of this...

No liturgical passage is there without reason! The church would not allow a congregation to err so easily, and let its children worship in a "heritical" manner(why are we so quick to use that word, anyway?).

Removing a liturgical passage that has been there for centuries without REAL REAL REAL UPTIGHT GOD-FEARING CAREFUL CAREFUL CAREFUL APOPHATIC CAUTION is serious trouble; we might as well start altering scripture.

Please comment, dearest brother.
Love,
mourad
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« Reply #49 on: September 06, 2004, 02:53:08 AM »

Dear Mourad,
1- It is NOT a liturgical phrase and it was never included in any liturgy. It was in the prayer of "kneeling" which is prayed once a year on the Pentecoast, and the Holy Synod has deleted this phrase. How, when and why this phrase creeped into this prayer needs time and resources to research but as long deleting the phrase does not contradict the Faith but rather confirms Orthodoxy, it is a very blessed action.

2- With all respect to you, as I really value your opinions and like you as a nice and very kind person, I would take the Holy Synod decision over your opinion. You know how Traditional our church is, and if they found any of this ideas in the Tradition they would have never deleted the phrase.
Deleting a phrase also, by a Holy Synod decision, shows the gravity of it. It is among the ideas Origen was excommunicated for, whether he really wrote it or not, the idea is anathemized.

3- It is not a hot topic in the Coptic Orthodox Church as some try to falsely present it, probably intentionally. Ever read a comment by Pope Shenouda, H.G. The LAte Bishop Grigorius or H.G. The Late Bishop Samuel or H.E. Metropolitan Anba Bishoy ( to name a few theologians of our time) endorse the salvation after Hades idea? On the contrary, the idea is seldomly brought up because it was never even an issue on the people's mind and when it comes up, there is a definite :NO . NO SALVATION after death.
Don't take everything our dearest brothers say for granted. There is an ocean of difference between the OO and others.

4- Grigorii is representing ideas consistent with a Tradition he belongs too. His thing..... But it has no trace back in my Tradition (OO Tradition). Maybe the word Tradition needs to be defined, because not all lonely quotes and sometimes quotes alleged to great theologians are part of the Tradition.

Quote
No liturgical passage is there without reason! The church would not allow a congregation to err so easily, and let its children worship in a "heritical" manner(why are we so quick to use that word, anyway?).
It is NOT liturgical. As for heretical or not, I do not care as long as it is not part of my Tradition and as long as our Holy Synod took care of it. What does Pope Shenouda say about it ? What about Pope St.Kyrillos and many others theologians, saints, hierarchs look upon this issue ?

Me and you have a common ground, we have the same references and we have a totally different line of discussion other than with EO who are alien to our Tradition in many aspects. My reference and yours is the Holy Synod and OO Tradition.

I am never worried about our Church (OO Tradition) embracing any "new"ideas. We have simply many strong grounds that will make us stay till till the Second coming. It is not a coincidence that we survived 2000 years of persecution. Consult Raouf's post. This decision of the Holy Synod shows how careful we are in excluding ideas alient to the Faith and being consistent in it. This is not a concern, the concern comes from another area.

We (OO) reject Purgatory, and the idea presented here is almost the same, if not even more absurd. We have to be consistent, anything else is hypocrisy.  

It also shows how far apart OO and others are. There are Questions other than Christology that needs to be addressed like "EO Purgatory" (purged by prayers) and so on.

Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #50 on: September 06, 2004, 03:03:48 AM »

Dear Grigorii,
Quote
Your theology of the Cross, or at least your attempt to ridicule a "universalist" understanding of it, is of course, precisely that. Ridiculous.
Thank you. I appreciate your kindness. As for myself, I did not ridicule your comments in any way and do not intend to do so.
Quote
Yes, it seems to be so. It is utterly unacceptable to me that prayers for the dead (those in hades) are to be removed from the Liturgy (and Coptic Liturgy is precisely an Orthodox Liturgy) because ' new insights'  conflicts with the traditional one. I cannot, but continue to pray for the dead as the Church calls me to and even further as the Church allows me to (for the extent to which i take this is not necessarily the same as other Eastern Orthodox, on the contrary!).

It is unacceptable for me as well to change the Faith to include ideas like the one you defended. It was NOT in the liturgy. It is unacceptable for me also to misinterpret the Bible and falsely claim such ideas as Salvation after Hell to be part of the Tradition.

Good luck in your prayers. May the Lord save (through your mighty prayers)  Arius, Nestorius ........

Thanks for the discussion.
Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #51 on: September 06, 2004, 03:45:16 AM »

Hi again Stavro,

just wanted to say a couple of things,

first, the phrase is liturgical. the sagda liturgy is done after Holy Pentecost Eucharist divine liturgy, which means it is liturgical, so i don't understand why you don't acknowledge that.

Secondly, if a phrase 'creeped' into the above-mentioned prayers and was accepted for x amount of years, should the reasearch regarding that specific passage be done first in order to find out why/how/when it got there? Or should we delete it, maybe find out a reason to put it back? How would that seem to you?

the last thing i'd like to say here is that what Gregorii has brought up here is something you can find in our heritage, in our fathers. I never said i totally agreed with all he said - come to think of it - i don;t even know if he actually agrees with all he's said, all i know is that he has been trying to explain where this idea ok apokatastasis comes from.

oh! p.s. i wasnt challenging the holy synod, i was just bringing up a point on the editing of the liturgic phrase, you saying that you'll take the opinon of the holy synod over mine is actually kinda out of place, it's not at all what this is about.

anyway,
take care and God bless you,
your brother,
mourad
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« Reply #52 on: September 06, 2004, 04:18:33 AM »

Peace Mourad,
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first, the phrase is liturgical. the sagda liturgy is done after Holy Pentecost Eucharist divine liturgy, which means it is liturgical, so i don't understand why you don't acknowledge that.
I do not acknowledge it because we define litrugy as a eucharistic rite. The "Sagda" is a "salah" and not a "kuddas". The glorifcation songs (madaye7) for example cannot be regarded as a liturgical rite and cannot be taken to define faith.
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Secondly, if a phrase 'creeped' into the above-mentioned prayers and was accepted for x amount of years, should the reasearch regarding that specific passage be done first in order to find out why/how/when it got there? Or should we delete it, maybe find out a reason to put it back? How would that seem to you?
Both go together. It is not an either or question, it is simply a question of whether or not this phrase conforms to the Orthodox Faith or not. If not, it is deleted.
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the last thing i'd like to say here is that what Gregorii has brought up here is something you can find in our heritage, in our fathers.

I do not agree.
1- As I said, not every quote by a saint (if truly he said it) is part of the Tradition.
2- What is beyond doubt that Origen has been criticized for such writings among other things and his excommunication was confirmed for those ideas. If you listen to H.H. sermon on Origen you will find out more about this issue and how H.H. refutes the idea.
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come to think of it - i don;t even know if he actually agrees with all he's said, all i know is that he has been trying to explain where this idea ok apokatastasis comes from.
I am not discussing Grigorii's person because obviously he is a respected scholar of immense knowledge (and nice on top of it) and he has the right to defend what he thinks is true. I reserve my right to disagree.  
But the idea of Apokatastasis to me is very similar to Purgatory, even if minor details are different. If you reject one, you cannot accept the other.
In addition, I believe that is gives everybody a carte blanche to sin as much as he can as long as he will be saved in any case.

Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #53 on: September 06, 2004, 06:05:50 AM »

Dearest to Christ Stavro,

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As for myself, I did not ridicule your comments in any way and do not intend to do so.

Forgive me my brother it seems I was mislead by the way I took your comment. The error is mine.

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It is unacceptable for me as well to change the Faith to include ideas like the one you defended.

That would not imply a change,.. To exclude it is changing the Faith. Orthodox Tradition knows both theologoumena, the endless duration of the hellish-torments as well as the apocatastasis (implying an end to these sufferings).  Tho a great majority assume the former position, a small minority (myself included) embrace the apocatastasis as a theologoumenon.

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It was NOT in the liturgy.

By your own admission that it is in the "the prayer of kneeling" sung at Pentecost (admitted once a year, but no less Liturgical for it; in fact it is precisely Liturgical and it confessess to the Faith of the Church undefiled and unchanged), it is.

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It is unacceptable for me also to misinterpret the Bible and falsely claim such ideas as Salvation after Hell to be part of the Tradition.

To misrepresent, misquote, and to make false claims are equally unacceptable to me. I, nor the Fathers in whose company my soul is educated, have done this is suggesting a 'final restoration' (apocatastasis).

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Good luck in your prayers. May the Lord save (through your mighty prayers)  Arius, Nestorius ........

Only the prayers of the righteous are mighty Stavro. I appreciate your high esteem of my attempts to prayer, but I assure you they are mere attempts at it, I am still learning to pray.  

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Thanks for the discussion.

You're welcome



Note
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t also shows how far apart OO and others are. There are Questions other than Christology that needs to be addressed like "EO Purgatory" (purged by prayers) and so on.

The EO, in general do not[/i] share my views concerning the final restoration. The EO merely allow softies, such as myself to hope and pray for the salvation of all. Prayer for those in hades do not imply universalism. Even the majority of EO's who disagree with my views concerning the final restoration, will agree with me in praying for the dead.

"But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have not repented at all, or great ones for which - even though they have repented of them - they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe must eb cleansed from this kind of sins, but not by means of purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have said, has not at all been handed down to us).

All such ones, we affirm, are helped by the prayers and Liturgies performed for them. with cooperation of the Divine Goodness and love for mankind. This Divine cooperation immediately disdains and remits some sins, those committed out of human weakness, as Dionysios the Great (the Aereopagite) says in the 'Reflections on the Mystery of Those Reposed in Faith' ( in The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, VII, 7); while other sins, after a certain time, by righteous judgments it either likewise releases and forgives - and that completely -  or lightens the responsibility for them until that final Judgment. And therefore we see no necessity whatever for any other punishment or a cleansing fire; for some are cleansed by fear, while others are devoured by the gnawings of conscience with more torment than any fire, and still others are cleanes only by the very terror before the Divine Glory and the uncertainty as to what the future will be.

And so we, entreat God and believe to deliver the departed from (eternal torment), and not from any other torment or fire apart from thoise torments and that fire which have been proclaimed to be forever.

Remission of sins is given in three forms and at different times: 1) during Baptism: 2) after Baptism, through conversion and sorrow making up (for sins) by good works in the present life: and 3) after death, through prayers and good deeds and tahnks to whatever else the Church does for the dead.

The first remission of sins is distinguished from the last by this; that the first is a remission of all sins in an equal degree, while the last is a remission only of those sins which are not mortal and over which a person has repented in life."

St. Mark of Ephesus "First Homily : Refutation of the Latin Chapters concerning Purgatorial Fire"

St. Mark is quite strongly opposed to the idea of apokatastasis, he goes so far as to suggest that St. Gregory of Nyssa's writngs (where this theologoumenon is abundently present) might have been counterfitted by 'Origenists' which serves to show that prayers for those in hades are not supportive of purgatory, rather it is based upon the rejection of purgatory.

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Grigorii
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« Reply #54 on: September 06, 2004, 07:22:36 PM »

Dearest dearest Stavro,
 
Liturgy is any communial set as rite in the church, i.e. vespers, matins, eucharist, matrimony, midnight praise, all are liturgical, all of same caliber when it comes to the words that are to be used, all profess our faith... In no way am i saying that i agree that prayers can aleviate the state of those in hades(since tecchnically, OO do not believe that those who are not in paradise now are in Hell, just as differentiate between paradise and the kingdom after the second coming), but i am saying that much should provided when taking the decision to remove a phrase from our already instated communial prayers - that is all i am saying.

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« Reply #55 on: November 29, 2012, 07:38:17 PM »

Dearest to Christ CS,

What Bishop Kallistos is saying is that it may very well be that "hell" may not be the final answer. He keeps the way open that St. Gregory of Nyssa proposed in his exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15, 28 that the Body of Christ will continue to grow until ALL are saved,..  No-one, not even the devil, is excluded in St. Gregorios' vision. Hope is useless if it is not also a realistic expectation.

Prayer for the dead is an expression of the power of prayer thru the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection of Christ,.. It is the "praying Pentecost to those deprived of it" so they too may be saved. St. Mark of Ephesus held a sermon at the false re-union Council at Florence where he gave an example how some saints, by their prayer, saved pagans and/or sinners for  hell who had not repented before they died.  The sermon is quoted extensively in Fr. Seraphim Rose's "The Soul after Death" and it represents EO theology neatly.

When we pray for the dead, as we've always done, we expect that our prayers are heard and that they are effective for good of those for whom we pray. I know this is currently a "hot topic" in the Coptic Church, but to us, EO, it is unacceptable that this be changed. Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev says:

"Several years ago I came across a short article in a journal of the Coptic Church where it stated that this Church had decided to remove prayers for those held in hell from its service books, since these prayers “contradict Orthodox teaching”. Puzzled by this article, I decided to ask a representative of the Coptic Church about the reasons for this move. Recently I had the possibility to do so, and a Coptic Metropolitan replied that the decision was made by his Synod because, according their official doctrine, no prayers can help those in hell. I told the metropolitan that in the liturgical practice of the Russian Orthodox Church and other local Orthodox Churches there are prayers for those held in hell, and that we believe in their saving power. This surprised the Metropolitan, and he promised to study this question in more detail.

During this conversation with the Metropolitan I expressed my thoughts on how one could go very far and even lose important doctrinal teachings in the pursuit of correcting liturgical texts. Orthodox liturgical texts are important because of their ability to give exact criteria of theological truth, and one must always confirm theology using liturgical texts as a guideline, and not the other way round. The lex credendi grows out of the lex orandi, and dogmas are considered divinely revealed because they are born in the life of prayer and revealed to the Church through its divine services. Thus, if there are differences in the understanding of a dogma between a certain theological authority and liturgical texts, I would be inclined to give preference to the latter. And if a textbook of dogmatic theology contains views different from those found in liturgical texts, it is the textbook, not the liturgical texts, that need correction."


Taken from:"Orthodox Worship as a School of Theology."

"On the one hand, it is impossible for one to actively repent in hell; it is impossible to rectify the evil deeds one committed by appropriate good works. However, it may be possible for one to repent through a ‘change of heart’, a review of one’s values. One of the testimonies to this is the rich man of the Gospel we have already mentioned. He realized the gravity of his situation as soon as found himself in hell. Indeed, if in his lifetime he was focused on earthly pursuits and forgot God, once in hell he realized that his only hope for salvation was God[76] . Besides, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the fate of a person after death can be changed through the prayer of the Church. Thus, existence after death has its own dynamics. On the basis of what has been said above, we may say that after death the development of the human person does not cease, for existence after death is not a transfer from a dynamic into a static being, but rather continuation on a new level of that road which a person followed in his lifetime."

Taken from: "Christ the Conqueror of Hell"

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Grigorii


The devil will not be saved though. Isn't that what the revelation says.?
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