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Author Topic: Are the "Fires of Hell" Literal Flames in the OO View?  (Read 879 times) Average Rating: 0
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Severian
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« on: August 29, 2012, 08:56:16 PM »

I am pretty sure I know the answer to this, but I want you guys to contribute and share any sources on the subject.
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2012, 09:34:11 PM »

Also, is there a difference between the EO and OO on the concept of Hell & Heaven, as well as Hades & Paradise?
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2012, 10:07:09 PM »

No one has anything to say? Huh
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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2012, 10:13:54 PM »


Luckily, nobody on this forum has been to Hell, and therefore, can't say categorically what it is.   angel

However, Christ did speak of the chasm between Heaven and Hell....when Lazarus the poor man was sitting in Abraham's bosom and the rich man, who was in Hell was apparently parched from the heat and asking for a drop of water.
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2012, 10:17:29 PM »

No one has anything to say? Huh
I'll bite. My priest told me that Heaven and Hell aren't literal places; Heaven, he said, was eternal communion with God. Hell on the other hand, is separation from God's loving embrace. There is no literal lake of fire but we experience this separation from God as an unbearable torment. Similarily, we experience communion with God as eternal bliss.

Edit: Again, this is just what my priest told me. I make no claims to its Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2012, 10:23:52 PM »

No one has anything to say? Huh
I'll bite. My priest told me that Heaven and Hell aren't literal places; Heaven, he said, was eternal communion with God. Hell on the other hand, is separation from God's loving embrace. There is no literal lake of fire but we experience this separation from God as an unbearable torment. Similarily, we experience communion with God as eternal bliss.

Edit: Again, this is just what my priest told me. I make no claims to its Orthodoxy.
I think I have heard similar views espoused in my parish. I think St. Isaac the Syrian put it best when he said that those in Hell experience God's love as a scourging fire. Whereas those who are in Heaven experience it as eternal bliss.

@LizaSymonenko Good point.
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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2012, 10:50:38 PM »

I also want to talk about the repentance of souls in the afterlife and praying for those in Hades. I read that the Coptic synod deleted certain prayers for those in Hades. I have also been told that after death no one can repent, but this Indian Orthodox site seems to teach otherwise:

3) The souls can repent

If the souls are completely hardened in sin and have gone beyond redemption, there will not be the possibility of repentance. But nobody knows whether there will be anyone like that. But the fact that our Lord went to sinful souls and preached the gospel, shows that there was the possibility for repentance. “He (Jesus Christ) went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is eight persons, were saved through water” (I Pet. 3:19). From this we understand that the souls can hear the word of God and repent. Hence it is our duty to pray for the repentance of souls.
Nowhere in the Holy Bible is said that the souls will not repent. This does not mean that we can postpone our repentance to the other world. St. Paul says, “Behold now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the time of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). This is a call for immediate action. But this passage is not to be considered as saying that there will not be repentance in the other world. It is a risk to postpone repentance even for a moment. The more and more we postpone repentance and continue to sin, it becomes more and more difficult to repent.


http://www.st-thomas-orthodox-dc.org/articles/article1.htm

Is this view really accepted by all of Oriental Orthodoxy? Plus, I have also gone through several EO sources/websites which also teach that after death there is no hope of repentance.
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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2012, 11:15:24 PM »

Well, the question isn't whether or not they are literal flames. The question is whether or not the flames are created material flames or God's uncreated flames.  Wink
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2012, 11:17:12 PM »

@NicholasMyra Do you know if Byzantine Orthodoxy teaches that a soul can repent after death?

@Asteriktos Thank you for your efforts
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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2012, 11:27:33 PM »

I've seen disagreement among Eastern Orthodox on that issue... I think it's come up at various times in the toll house threads, I'll see if I can find any posts (though it'll be like looking for a needle in a hay stack)...
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2012, 11:30:49 PM »

Here's a back and forth on the topic among Eastern Orthodox (starting at message #8)...
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2012, 12:03:00 AM »

@NicholasMyra Do you know if Byzantine Orthodoxy teaches that a soul can repent after death?
I had to renounce any belief to the contrary before my baptism, I think right before the exorcisms.
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2012, 12:07:08 AM »

@NicholasMyra Do you know if Byzantine Orthodoxy teaches that a soul can repent after death?
I had to renounce any belief to the contrary before my baptism, I think right before the exorcisms.
But I read from the EP's Archdiocese website that a soul cannot repent after death (this was talked about in the link Asteriktos gave) and I thought I read one of Fr. Hopko's lectures which seemed to indicate the same thing.
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2012, 12:46:02 AM »

@NicholasMyra Do you know if Byzantine Orthodoxy teaches that a soul can repent after death?
I had to renounce any belief to the contrary before my baptism, I think right before the exorcisms.
But I read from the EP's Archdiocese website that a soul cannot repent after death (this was talked about in the link Asteriktos gave) and I thought I read one of Fr. Hopko's lectures which seemed to indicate the same thing.
The Armenian Orthodox See of Etchmiadzin also seems to agree with this:

We must remember that the deceased are relieved from the ties of their sins not through their efforts but only through the petition of the church. This intercession is based and conducted by the following words from the Gospel: "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18).

The church does not pray for the souls of heathens, heretics, atheists and suicides. As for those who died as true Christians the church asks for God’s mercy and expiation of sins for their forgivable sins and not for their deadly sins.

No matter how much the church prays for the dead, no one must remain unconcerned or light-hearted regarding the salvation of his soul, only relying on the prayer which is read after death, because: "Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). The day of salvation is now while man lives on the earth and can repent, convert and believe, because he will not have these opportunities when he passes away.


http://www.armenianchurch.org/index.jsp?sid=1&id=5757&pid=112&lng=en

I do have a question, though... What is meant by "the church asks for God’s mercy and expiation of sins for their forgivable sins and not for their deadly sins." I did not know Orthodoxy made distinctions/degrees between "types" of sin? Also, what is meant by "released from the ties of their sins?" Does this mean they are granted some relief/comfort (as taught by Sts. Athanasius and Makarius)? Or does it mean changing the actual state of that individual?
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2012, 12:51:51 AM »

I'm guessing the "deadly sins" things comes from 1 Jn. 5:16-17, though I would disagree with that interpretation of it (see here). As for forgiveness or a change in status (for lack of a better term) after death, I hope that such is possible, though I would not say that dogmatically (much like I hope for salvation of all but realise I can't say it dogmatically). Each time I pray the Akathist for the Departed, I am renewed with hope that such is possible.
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« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2012, 01:14:48 AM »

Here is a very informative correspondence between Mina and myself concerning this issue. He said that he did not mind if I shared what he said to me privately.

Me:

Mina,

Do you know the official stance on our communion regarding the repentance of the soul after death? I read the words of an Indian Orthodox Metropolitan that said souls can repent after death, but I was always taught the opposite growing up?

Thanks


Mina:

From what I understand, officially, there is no repentance after death, but that doesn't mean our prayers do not help.  But at the same time, does it matter?  To me, no.  I don't think it should.  Because the after life is such a great mystery to me, as it is not yet known, "neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor heart can contemplate."

You will read various opinions in history.  The Church fathers were not unanimous in this point.  St. Gregory of Nyssa seems to suggest that one can repent in the afterlife, but St. John Chrysostom and St. Severus believed one cannot.  But nevertheless, they might have agreed that our prayers do matter, and even if one feels that a soul is in Hades, one still can pray for the salvation of that soul.  I understand HH Pope Shenouda and HE Metropolitan Bishoy do not believe so, but the Coptic prayers that existed beforehand suggest otherwise.

Whatever the situation, in my opinion, our degree of repentance and preaching should be so grave as if hellfire is forever, our degree of hope should be so great as if hellfire will be extinguished, and our degree of love to God and others should be so great as if neither the fear of hell nor the desire of heaven should matter.  Because the greatest of faith, hope, and love is love, then my desire of growth is neither to find out whether one can repent in the afterlife or not, whether apocatastasis is true or not, but that I should grow in all righteousness for the sole sake of loving God with all my heart, strength, soul, mind.


Me:

Any idea as to why HE and HH rejected this? Both Sts. Makarius and Athanasius taught that prayer for those in Hades provides some relief to those suffering therein. I also am disturbed that our Synod has deleted these prayers.


Mina:

It is probably due to the sense that both HH and HE could not differentiate between afterlife repentance and the efficacy of prayers for the departed.  They thought that both meant the same thing.  To them, prayers for the departed is under the assumption that the departed when alive repented their sins and we didn't know of it.  But to pray for their forgiveness in the afterlife, to them, they believed it mean that somehow in the afterlife, it implied that souls can repent in the afterlife.  They do have a point, and they have Patristic support that souls cannot repent without united to the flesh.  The problem is is that they couldn't understand that prayers to the departed and repentance in the afterlife are two different things.


Me:

Sorry if this question sounds ridiculous...

But do you think that if I espoused the teachings of Sts. Makarius and Athanasius son this issue in front of a Coptic Priest or Bishop, I would be objected to or accused of error?

[...]

Also do you mind participating on my "Are the Fires of Hell Literal Flames in the OO View" thread? I feel as if we could all benefit from what you have to say.


Mina:

I don't know Severian.  I wouldn't do so as to offend their position in front of others.  Perhaps, I would bring up the quote to them privately, or even anonymously.  I would perhaps say, "[Your Grace/Your Eminence/Your Reverence], I read these quotes from these saints.  I was wondering, what do you think about them?"

As for the thread, well, I've participated in threads with questions like this before.  Personally, for questions like this, I ask "What does it matter if souls can repent or not, or if Hell is everlasting or not?  What benefit do I receive?  Should I not live a righteous life anyway regardless of the answer to these questions for my sake as well as for truly and sacrificially loving God just as He loves me?  And if for love, no matter what, should I not pray for the departed simply out of love, even if the end of my prayers end with 'not my will, but Thine'?"  If anyone can ask themselves these questions, then, at this point, it doesn't matter to me what HH or HE did, or what other people believe.  Sure, I am bothered by the removal of prayers without proper investigation.  But this particular issue is the last thing on my mind before all other dogmatic issues.  It is at this point in my life, a non-issue to me.

I don't mind however if you share publicly what I shared with you privately.

God bless.


Me:

Thank you. And I meant what you said in your first paragraph. I would not do it in front of others. I always ask questions like this privately and not in front of laypeople, to avoid scandalizing/confusing them. After all, they probably do not understand the issues at hand.

Thanks again for your time.
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« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2012, 01:30:27 AM »

As usual I find much of value in what mina says. Smiley  The point I'll have to disagree on--and I agree that we need to be a good Christian and pray for the departed regardless--is that these kinds of things do matter to me, because, frankly, I do not (cannot? will not?) assume that my wife died in the best spiritual state. Towards the end of her life she sort of, let's say, went a bit off course. Did she change her mind before she passed away? Can she change her mind in the afterlife? I can't know these things, but I can hope. And the more chances for repentance, the more chances for forgiveness, the more hope I have.
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« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2012, 02:09:32 AM »

We must remember that the deceased are relieved from the ties of their sins not through their efforts but only through the petition of the church.
Then there is repentance after death.

We also have to understand what we're talking about here.

The repentance of the dead in Sheol when Christ destroyed it?

The repentance of those in some "intermediate state" between the harrowing of Sheol and the Resurrection of the Dead?

Or, the repentance of those who are raised to condemnation in the Resurrection?

According to St. Maximus the Confessor, if I'm not mistaken, your telos is actualized after you're resurrected because you no longer have a gnomic will. So you could not perform metanoia.

However, an "intermediate state" is a different story entirely.
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« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2012, 02:11:05 AM »

The church does not pray for the souls of heathens, heretics, atheists and suicides.
Not because they are without hope, but because we don't have jurisdiction over them. The latter, however, is prayed for, just not given the same type of funeral service.
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« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2012, 02:16:29 AM »

We must remember that the deceased are relieved from the ties of their sins not through their efforts but only through the petition of the church.
Then there is repentance after death.
But it explicitly says after that:

"The day of salvation is now while man lives on the earth and can repent, convert and believe, because he will not have these opportunities when he passes away."

Don't you think that, when read in context, the phrase you quoted simply affirms what Sts. Makarius and Athanasius said? That is, prayer for the dead relieves those in Hades of some of the torment they endure?

We should also make a distinction between a person being able to repent in and of themselves after death, and the effects the prayers of the Church have on the departed.
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« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2012, 02:22:34 AM »

We should also make a distinction between a person being able to repent in and of themselves after death, and the effects the prayers of the Church have on the departed.
Aided repentance is still repentance, unless we're splitting hairs.
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« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2012, 02:38:33 AM »

We should also make a distinction between a person being able to repent in and of themselves after death, and the effects the prayers of the Church have on the departed.
Aided repentance is still repentance, unless we're splitting hairs.
Do the prayers of the Church affect the eternal state of the person? Or do they just provide them with some relief/comfort? That is the question...
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« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2012, 03:28:47 AM »

The church does not pray for the souls of heathens, heretics, atheists and suicides.
Not because they are without hope, but because we don't have jurisdiction over them. The latter, however, is prayed for, just not given the same type of funeral service.

Thanks. (I was looking for answers on this)
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« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2012, 01:08:52 PM »

We should also make a distinction between a person being able to repent in and of themselves after death, and the effects the prayers of the Church have on the departed.
Aided repentance is still repentance, unless we're splitting hairs.
Do the prayers of the Church affect the eternal state of the person? Or do they just provide them with some relief/comfort? That is the question...
Once again, are we talking about a fully resurrected person, or an intermediate state?

And more importantly, what sort of penitent are we talking about? An atheist who rejected Evangelicalism because of the blasphemies he saw therein? One who was shooed out of an Orthodox Church because they weren't the right ethnicity? A gentile who never knew God in Christ? Or someone who chose to hate God after knowing him?

Which is truly unrepentant upon death? Is not the latter blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but not the former?

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« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2012, 01:17:45 PM »

We should also make a distinction between a person being able to repent in and of themselves after death, and the effects the prayers of the Church have on the departed.
Aided repentance is still repentance, unless we're splitting hairs.
Do the prayers of the Church affect the eternal state of the person? Or do they just provide them with some relief/comfort? That is the question...

Yes. But not in the way you probably think.

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« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2012, 05:27:51 PM »

We should also make a distinction between a person being able to repent in and of themselves after death, and the effects the prayers of the Church have on the departed.
Aided repentance is still repentance, unless we're splitting hairs.
Do the prayers of the Church affect the eternal state of the person? Or do they just provide them with some relief/comfort? That is the question...
Once again, are we talking about a fully resurrected person, or an intermediate state?

And more importantly, what sort of penitent are we talking about? An atheist who rejected Evangelicalism because of the blasphemies he saw therein? One who was shooed out of an Orthodox Church because they weren't the right ethnicity? A gentile who never knew God in Christ? Or someone who chose to hate God after knowing him?

Which is truly unrepentant upon death? Is not the latter blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but not the former?


I see what your getting at... Is there any Patristic support to back up this notion?

We should also make a distinction between a person being able to repent in and of themselves after death, and the effects the prayers of the Church have on the departed.
Aided repentance is still repentance, unless we're splitting hairs.
Do the prayers of the Church affect the eternal state of the person? Or do they just provide them with some relief/comfort? That is the question...

Yes. But not in the way you probably think.


Could you please elaborate?
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« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2012, 10:51:22 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

No one has anything to say? Huh
I'll bite. My priest told me that Heaven and Hell aren't literal places; Heaven, he said, was eternal communion with God. Hell on the other hand, is separation from God's loving embrace. There is no literal lake of fire but we experience this separation from God as an unbearable torment. Similarily, we experience communion with God as eternal bliss.

Edit: Again, this is just what my priest told me. I make no claims to its Orthodoxy.

I like your priests explanation. It could be easily misunderstood when taken out of context, but I feel the Fathers can be succinctly summarized as Heaven at any level is to be with God, and Hell at any level is to be pushed away from God.  Perhaps it can be thought of in temporal analyses or in eternal schemes, but in truth, we today are far too limited in scale and perspective to understand any such things in the first place, so the best thing to do is keep it simple Smiley

We should also make a distinction between a person being able to repent in and of themselves after death, and the effects the prayers of the Church have on the departed.
Aided repentance is still repentance, unless we're splitting hairs.
Do the prayers of the Church affect the eternal state of the person? Or do they just provide them with some relief/comfort? That is the question...

Yes?

In regards to "fires" what specifically do you mean? I am not quite sure aside from the Lake of Fire in Revelations, that "Hell" is ever really mentioned of as fire and brimstone in the Scriptures or the Fathers, do you mean fires in the sense of temporal punishment for sin in the short term death before Judgement, or the eternal fires of judgment? The Fathers are rarely conclusive about any of the symbolism of the Revelations, so I think we can't really examine that other than in speculation.


stay blessed,
habte selassie
« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 10:53:05 PM by HabteSelassie » Logged

"Yet stand aloof from stupid questionings and geneologies and strifes and fightings about law, for they are without benefit and vain." Titus 3:10
Tags: afterlife 
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