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Shiloah
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« on: November 04, 2004, 09:04:27 AM »

Here is a challenging article about God. The introduction begins with these words:
" "The River of Fire" was the keynote address delivered at the Orthodox  Youth Conference sponsored by the parish of St. Nectarios American Orthodox Church at Seattle, Washington during July 22-25, 1980.

    The address was delivered in English and well received. The Most Reverend Archbishop of Canada, Vitaly, expressed his admiration not only when he said that "seldom does one read such texts which breathe forth the fragrance both of true knowledge and of personal experience," but even more when he personally ordered the address to be translated and printed in Russian and French editions. "

http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm

Do you think the thoughts represented here express the overall accepted Orthodox view? Or do you consider this article controversial? And if so, why?

I'm asking because you have more theological feedback than I do and I need to know whether or not to recommend this article further.

Thank you kindly,
Shiloah
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2004, 09:15:45 AM »

Shiloah,

Never read the article myself, so I can't comment...but some threads in the past that have touched on it at some point are here, here (but only in that one post), and here.

Hope this helps.

Pedro
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Shiloah
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2004, 09:40:21 AM »

Oh boy, thanks Pedro. So it certainly was a good thing to ask first. I had some inkling about this article being somewhat off the mainstream and disputeable.

Need to read this through with more time. Others still welcome.
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2004, 09:44:50 AM »

What's the "American Orthodox Church"?
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2004, 09:55:25 AM »

http://www.ind-movement.org
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2004, 10:30:10 AM »

What's the "American Orthodox Church"?  

Good question. I found a webpage at http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/necthist.htm
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2004, 10:56:04 AM »

Good question. I found a webpage at http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/necthist.htm

Shiloah beat me to this post. I do believe this particular group is the "American Orthodox Church" so referenced, Mor Ephrem.

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Shiloah
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2004, 11:07:00 AM »


Roberto, I found the following statement on tht link;
"Most embrace a fairly orthodox Christian theology. Others are theosophical. And still others are, well, interesting. "

What do they mean by 'theosophical'?  I found the following on Merriam-Webster as a definition:

 

Main Entry: the-+os-+o-+phy
Pronunciation: -fE
Function: noun
Etymology: Medieval Latin theosophia, from Late Greek, from Greek the- + sophia wisdom -- more at -SOPHY
1 : teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight
2 often capitalized : the teachings of a modern movement originating in the U.S. in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation
 


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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2004, 11:45:34 AM »

They mean the second dictionary definition. Interestingly a Russian, Madame Helena Blavatsky, started Theosophy. (Though she acted independently, 19th-century Russian aristocrats were into seances.) Some of these Victorian New Agers hooked up with the vagantes when a couple of them tricked Bishop Arnold Mathew, a former Old Catholic, into consecrating them as bishops, whence we get the Liberal Catholic Church International today (nice fellows - they love high traditional liturgy but anything goes regarding belief; no creed, etc.). That got the ball rolling. Today many vagantes, not directly connected the LCCI, are New Agers.

Recently learnt the provenance of these groups:

Unitarians = non-Christian, lapsed Protestants, founded in the early 1800s by disaffected Congregationalists (the inevitable shattering of Calvinism) - already knew about them
Theosophy = see above; read about them 17 years ago
Ethical Culture/Ethical Society = non-believing lapsed Jews, like their version of Unitarianism

Anyway, the guys who are the original subject of the thread seem not like the thousands of tiny woo-woo vagante churches but rather like typical fringe Old Calendar stuff - people I call sincere Eastern vagantes. You know, 'world Orthodoxy's corrupt, we're the true church left on earth', etc. Repeating the history of the Russian Old Believers. Rather like ROAC. I don't agree with them or even particularly like them but they get some respect from me unlike the 'Inclusive Orthodox Church' or Bishop Elias and his gay 'Independent Greek Orthodox Church'. (At least the latter get the externals right and even affect using the Julian calendar.)

Even the woo-woos get a little respect from me, like the Protestant church down the street, if they have 1) real congregations and 2) generational members (people are born and raised in that church).
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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2004, 11:57:14 AM »

Quote
Do you think the thoughts represented here express the overall accepted Orthodox view? Or do you consider this article controversial? And if so, why?

I came across this article ages ago - it confused the hell out of me. In fact i brought up this very article on another Orthodox forum iver here: http://www.monachos.net/mb/messages/4229/17998.html?1097347023

As you can see from my initial post under "Iqbal Youssef" - i had no idea...
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Shiloah
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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2004, 01:47:22 PM »

I came across this article ages ago - it confused the hell out of me. In fact i brought up this very article on another Orthodox forum iver here: http://www.monachos.net/mb/messages/4229/17998.html?1097347023

As you can see from my initial post under "Iqbal Youssef" - i had no idea...

That is a great thread on monachos.net. Thanks so much for the link.
I think I've heard and read enough now to forget about that "River..."  Grin

I'm glad I brought it up for discussion and thank you all for answering.

Shiloah
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« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2004, 06:41:45 PM »

I really don't think it is "Controvesial" at all...
There are other books about this subject, though, which cover it , in depth.

This is one: http://www.pelagia.org/htm/b24.en.life_after_death.00.htm

If you want , really, to understand "The River of Fire" , you should read that book...
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Shiloah
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2004, 07:04:22 PM »

I really don't think it is "Controvesial" at all...
There are other books about this subject, though, which cover it , in depth.

This is one: http://www.pelagia.org/htm/b24.en.life_after_death.00.htm

If you want , really, to understand "The River of Fire" , you should read that book...

Thanks for the reminder of this book. I went back to the webpage and read through the online chapters.

My original question
Quote
do you consider this article controversial? And if so, why?
was in regard to that particular article. And I think those who answered to that gave me enough feedback to disregard that article, but of course, not The River of Fire as such.

May I ask you, if you do NOT consider the article controversial, why not? I should have included that in my original question.

Again, thanks, and kind regards,
Shiloah
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2004, 02:36:00 AM »

 Roll Eyes

Hi.

I didn't read all of this article.  In scanning it, I certainly found things of value, but also some very uncharitable things about the West that are, I think, just unnecessarily polemical in tone.  It's been a while since I looked at "Against False Union", but I have the same criticism about this book.  I'm not sure that I would want to recommend the article to anyone.  It seems to be rather shrill in tone.  Admittedly, this comes from only a cursory reading on my part.....
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« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2004, 11:20:39 AM »


May I ask you, if you do NOT consider the article controversial, why not? I should have included that in my original question.

The teachings of the Book-article (the text is the same , I Think..) "Against False Union" is validated through the Teaching of the Holy fathers and through Orthodox iconography.

A very similar text can be found here: http://www.romanity.org/htm/rom.02.en.the_cure_of_the_neurobiological_sickness_of_rel.04.htm#s32

It is written by Prof. John Romanides.

I'm also uploading a "BIBLE ONLY" article, similar to this , which is targeted for Protestants. I hope you find it usefull.

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« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2004, 12:35:32 PM »

A good quote by St. Symeon the New Theologian can be found at:
"About Repentance",  5th speech,  Sources Chretiennes 96, 434.

I Have it in Greek, so its not of much use.

It says how people will be judged during the second comming
They will be Judged by their Peers: Monks by monks ,  husbands by husbands etc etc

Each and everyone of us, will see his peer in light, and by merely seeing the Virtue  of the Holy, and our own wickedness , we will not be able to endure...

If someone has the English translation , it will be very nice.


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« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2004, 08:30:02 AM »

Philip Silouan Thomson , has written a VERY NICE commentary about the "RIVER OF FIRE": http://www.philthompson.net/pages/library/rivernotes.html


A fragment of this:

Quote
St Isaac of Syria

I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna, are scourged by the scourge of love. Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love? ...It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God... The power of love works in two ways: it torments sinners... Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret. But love inebriates the souls of the sons of Heaven by its delectability. (Ascetical Homilies 28, Page 141)

St Basil the Great

'The voice of the Lord divides the flame of fire.' [David] says that this miracle happened to the Three Children in the fiery furnace. The fire in this case was divided into two, so that while it was burning those outside it, it was cooling the Children, as if they were under the shadow of a tree. In what follows he observes that the fire which had been prepared by God for the devil and his angels 'is cut by the voice of the Lord.' Fire has two properties, the caustic and illuminating energies, and that is why it burns and sheds light. Thus those worthy of the fire will feel its caustic quality and those worthy of the lighting will feel the illuminating property of the fire. Therefore he finishes very expressively: 'the voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire' and in the dividing, the fire of hell is without light, and the light of peace remains unburnt. (On Psalm 28, PG 29:297A)

St Gregory Nazianzen

Receive besides this the Resurrection, the Judgment and the Reward according to the righteous scales of God; and believe that this will be Light to those whose mind is purified (that is, God -- seen and known) proportionate to their degree of purity, which we call the Kingdom of heaven; but to those who suffer from blindness of their ruling faculty, darkness, that is estrangement from God, proportionate to their blindness here. (Oration (40) on Holy Baptism 45, NPNF II 7:377)

St Gregory Nazianzen

Wherefore we must purify ourselves first, and then approach this converse with the Pure; unless we would have the same experience as Israel, who could not endure the glory of the face of Moses, and therefore asked for a veil; or else would feel and say with Manoah "We are undone O wife, we have seen God," although it was God only in his fancy; or like Peter would send Jesus out of the boat, as being ourselves unworthy of such a visit; and when I say Peter, I am speaking of the man who walked upon the waves; or like Paul would be stricken in eyes, as he was before he was cleansed from the guilt of his persecution, when he conversed with Him Whom he was persecuting--or rather with a short flash of That great Light; or like the Centurion would seek for healing, but would not, through a praiseworthy fear, receive the Healer into his house. Let each one of us also speak so, as long as he is still uncleansed, and is a Centurion still, commanding many in wickedness, and serving in the army of Caesar, the World-ruler of those who are being dragged down; "I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof." But when he shall have looked upon Jesus, though he be little of stature like Zaccheus of old, and climb up on the top of the sycamore tree by mortifying his members which are upon the earth, and having risen above the body of humiliation, then he shall receive the Word, and it shall be said to him, This day is salvation come to this house. Then let him lay hold on the salvation, and bring forth fruit more perfectly, scattering and pouring forth rightly that which as a publican he wrongly gathered. For the same Word is on the one hand terrible through its nature to those who are unworthy, and on the other through its loving kindness can be received by those who are thus prepared, who have driven out the unclean and worldly spirit from their souls, and have swept and adorned their own souls by self-examination, and have not left them idle or without employment, so as again to be occupied with greater armament by the seven spirits of wickedness..." (Oration (39) on the Holy Lights 9-10, NPNF II 354-355)

St Gregory Nazianzen

O Trinity, Whom I have been granted to worship and proclaim, Who will someday be known to all, to some through illumination, to others through punishment!" (On Peace 3, PG 35:1165B)

St Gregory Palamas

He says: 'He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire', that is to say, with illumination and punishment, according to the disposition of each. (Homily 59, EPE 11, Page 498)

St John Climacus

It is one thing frequently to keep watch over the heart, and another to supervise the heart by means of the mind, that ruler and high-priest that offers spiritual sacrifices to Christ. When the holy and super-celestial fire comes to dwell in the souls of the former, as says one of those who have received the title of Theologian, it burns them because they still lack purification, whereas it enlightens the latter according to the degree of their perfection. For one and the same fire is called both the fire which consumes and the light which illuminates." (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 28:51)

St Theophan the Recluse

The righteous will go into eternal life, but the satanized sinners into eternal torments, in communion with demons. Will these torments end? If satanism and becoming like satan should end, then the torments also can end...there is no hope either for men who become satanized by his influence [to change]. (quoted in Father Michael Pomazansky, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, page 351)

St. Makarios of Egypt

The heavenly fire of the divine nature, which Christians receive in this world, where it works within their hearts, this fire will work from outside, when the body is destroyed; it will restore again the disjointed limbs, and will bring to life the bodies which have decayed... (Spiritual Homilies 11:1, PG 34:544)

St Isaac of Syria

Sin, Gehenna, and Death do not exist at all with God, for they are effects, not substances. Sin is the fruit of free will. There was a time when sin did not exist, and there will be a time when it will not exist. Gehenna is the fruit of sin... (Ascetical Homilies 27, Page 133)

St Isaac of Syria

This is the aim of Love. Love's chastisement is for correction, but it does not aim at retribution...But the man who considers God an avenger, presuming that he bears witness to His justice, the same accuses Him of being bereft of goodness. Far be it, that vengeance could ever be found in that Fountain of love and Ocean brimming with goodness! The aim of His design is the correction of men." (Ascetical Homilies 48, Page 230)

St Isaac of Syria

Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you. And if David calls Him just and upright, His Son revealed to us that He is good and kind. 'He is good', He says 'to the evil and to the impious.' How can you call God just when you come across the Scriptural passage on the wage given to the workers?...How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son who wasted his wealth with riotous living, how for the compunction alone which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck and gave him authority over all his wealth?...Where, then, is God's justice, for while we are sinners Christ died for us!" (Ascetical Homilies 51, Page 251)

Vladimir Lossky on St Symeon the new Theologian

For according to St. Symeon, there are two judgments: one, in this life, the judgment to salvation; the other, after the end of the world, the judgment to condemnation 'In this present life, when by repentance, we enter freely and of our own will into the divine light, we find ourselves accused and under judgment; but, owing to the divine love and compassion the accusation and judgment is made in secret, in the depths of our soul, to purify us, that we may receive the pardon of our sins. It is only God and ourselves who at that time will see the hidden depths of our hearts. Those who in this life undergo such a judgment will have nothing to fear from another tribunal. But for those who will not, in this life, enter into the light, that they may be accused and judged, for those who hate the light, the second coming of Christ will disclose the light which at present remains hidden, and will make manifest everything which has been concealed. Everything which today we hide, not wishing to reveal the depths of our hearts in repentance, will then be made open in the light, before the face of God; and the whole world, and what we really are will be made plain.' At the second coming of Christ, all will be made fully conscious, in the power of the divine light. But this consciousness will not be one which opens up freely in grace, according to the divine will; it will be a consciousness coming, so to speak, from outside, and developing in persons against their will, a light being united to beings extraneously, that is to say, 'outside grace,' as St. Maximus has it. The love of God will be an intolerable torment for those who have not acquired it within themselves...The resurrection itself will reveal the inner condition of beings, as bodies will allow the secrets of the soul to shine through." (Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, Pages 233-234)
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« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2004, 01:35:03 PM »

To the patriarchs He will likewise oppose the sainted patriarchs: John of the golden words (i.e., Chrysostom), John the Almsgiver, Ignatius, Tarasius, Methodius, and the rest, who not only by word but by deed were the reflection of the true God. Against the metropolitans He will set the saintly metropolitans: Basil, Gregory his brother and his namesake the Wonderworker, Ambrose, and Nicholas. In short, each patriarch, each metropolitan, each bishop, God will judge by the apostles and the holy Fathers who were illustriuos before them in each metropolitan see and diocese. he will set them all opposite each other when you hear Him say, "The sheep on the right hand, the goats to the left" (Mt. 25:33).  He will say, "The place where these have worshiped and served Me, is it not the same as where you have spent your lives? Did you not sit on their thrones? Why did you not imitate their life and conduct as well? Why have you not been afraid to handle and eat Me, the spotless and undefiled, with unclean hands and yet more unclean souls? Have you not all shuddered, have you not trembled? Why have you wasted what belonged to the poor on your own pleasures, your friends and relatives? Why, when you had bought Me as if I were a worthless slave, did you exploit Me to serve the passions of the flesh? Even as you have failed to honor Me, so I will not spare you. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, depart!" (Lk. 13:27)

Thus fathers will be judged by fathers, friend and relatives by friends and relatives, brothers by brothers, slaves and free men by slaves and free men respectively, the rich by those who were rich and the poor by those who were poor, the married by those who have excelled in the married state, and the unmarried by those who have lived unmarried. In short, on the awesome day of judgment every sinful man will see one who is like him opposite to him in eternal life, in that unutterable light, and will be judged by him. What do I mean? As every sinner looks on him who is like him, the king upon king, the ruler upon the ruler, the impenitent whoremonger on the whoremonger who repented, the poor man on the poor man, and the slave on the slave, he will remember that the other one was also a man, witht he same soul, the same hands, the same eyes, in short with all other things in common, the same kind of life and the same rank, the same occupation, the same resources. Yet, since he was unwilling to imitate him, his mouth will at once be stopped (Ps. 107:42) and he will remain without excuse (Rom. 1:20), without a word to speak! When seculars see seculars and sinful kings see holy kings on the right hand, when those who bear the burden of life see rich men and those who bore that burden among the saints, and all those who will be in torments see men like themselves in the kingdom of heaven, then they will be put to shame and find themselves without excuse, just as teh rich man saw Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham while he himself was roasting in fire (Lk. 16:23).

- Saint Syemon the New Theologian, Discourse 5 (On Penitence), -º 15
From: Symeon the New Theologian: The Discourses, Trans. C.J. DeCatanzaro, (Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 107-108
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2005, 08:25:23 PM »

Quote
Do you think the thoughts represented here express the overall accepted Orthodox view? Or do you consider this article controversial? And if so, why?

I'm not going to go so far as to call the article unOrthodox (as a whole). If it helps you out, then that's great, go ahead and take from it what you can. However, the anti-western polemic is a totally unOrthodox straw man, and for me at least, makes it unreadable (though I did read through it when I was a catechumen). This whole West=BAD / East=GOOD dichotomy is extremely frustrating, especially when such strange rationales are offered as in this particular article. According to the author, the Fathers just couldn't condemn Augustine because his treatises were too long and they were in Latin. Huh? First, the idea that they were just too long for the Fathers to plow through is just plain wierd. Did the Fathers have ADD or something? And anyway, regarding both that argument and the part about the writings being in Latin, the author goes on to admit that western Fathers and Saints did read Bl. Augustine's writings, and that they were in fact read so widely that they apparently influenced all of western theology. So which is it? Was Augustine unreadable and hence uncondemnable, or was he widely read and widely used (including usage by Saints)?
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« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2005, 09:27:54 PM »

It's interesting that you brought this topic back to life, Parodosis. I agree with your criticisms about its uncharitable anti-western polemic. Do you know what though?  Much to my surprise, I got a lot of benefit out of reading the commentary recommended by tOm_dr. I clicked on the "related" link on the right and read for quite a while. It has been a couple of months since I've read it. I should look at it again.

Bob
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