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tfrey1225
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« on: April 15, 2009, 11:38:32 AM »

Hello all, God Bless. 
Let me start this story at the beginning.  I was born and raised in Minnesota.  My parents are loving, dedicated parents.(For the record I am 21 years old now.)  I grew up a "baptist."  I saw "baptist" because my parents believe in Jesus, and if anyone were to ask them they'd say their baptist, however they rarely attended church.  I would go to church with the neighbors, and I would go to "youth group" on Wednesday nights.  However, most of my religious education growing up came from my grandmother.  She is a fire-breathing died in the wool baptist.  She has read through her KJV more times than I can count, and almost never missed church.  During my summers with her she would bring us to church with her.  When I was 10 years old I got "saved" one Sunday.  I remember my grandma crying and just being so proud of me, and I felt like I was making God happy, so from then on I read my Bible and started praying a lot.  When someone said "Christian," I immediately thought of my grandma.  To me, being a Christian meant believing in Sola Scriptura(although I had no idea such words existed at the time), and of course Sola Fide.  Also, the Bible was the Inerrant Word of God, the world was created in six literal days, there would be a rapture one day with the Anti-Christ and the whole shabang.  As I got a little older, I even renounced my previous liberalism, because as we all knew, Jesus was a Republican, and loved America just a little more than everyone else. (You know people actually think like that, and I was young and impressionable. Wink)  I was a true evangelical fundamentalist Christian.  On the outside, I was a "great Christian."(It was a facade, on the inside I was raging with turmoil as I was struggling with many personal demons, including struggling hard with pornography) 
One day however my world was shaken up.  I was sitting at youth group one day, and we were having an open discussion.  A girl mentioned how she would like us to pray for her friends who were Roman Catholics, she was sure they were going to hell.  I thought, "who the heck is this girl to send these poor people to hell?  Also, aren't Catholics Christians?"  It never occured to me that any other group of Christians could be labeled "false Christians," except Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, whom my youth directors regularly labeled as "cults" and "heretics," and we were all assured that they were going to hell.  Back to the point, my youth directors agreed with this girl's assessment.  Roman Catholics were going to hell, and were false Christians.  "But they love Christ just like we do!  I mean, they taught that all you needed to do was make Christ 'your personal Lord and Savior' and you were a Christian!  You could go to heaven!  What's so bad about these Catholics?"  God put it in my heart to do some research.  I poured over countless websites and read some books on Catholicism, I did have to admit it was all foreign to me.  I mean they didn't believe in Sola Scriptura and all of that, and they had the Pope, and Mary and it seemed strange to me.  But I couldn't believe they were all going to hell.
On another night, we were told that we shouldn't be friends with non-Christians anymore it was "too dangerous" or something like that.  Of course they were all going to hell.  What bothered me most is the way they said it.  My youth directors(a married couple) are lovely people and are so nice, yet here they were so off-handedly condemning 90% of the world to hell like they were discussing the weather!  It didn't seem to bother them at all!
I left that church in search of something different.  Through my research I began to have doubts about all of my cherished protestant tenants.  For instance, Scripture Alone falls apart like a house of cards under scrutiny.  Once you un-ravel Sola Scriptura, it's like driving a stake into protestantism.  However, I was so stunned to have the faith of my upbringing unraveled that I became agnostic.  I didn't trust institutional religion anymore.  I looked at Buddhism and eastern philosophies.  However through it all I discovered Catholicism again.  After much prayer and study, I enrolled in RCIA and began the process of becoming Catholic. 
I officially became Catholic Easter of 2006, at the age of 18.  However, certain questions about Catholicism never left me, mainly issues with the Pope and Mary.  I had issues with the "infallibility" of the Pope, and titles like "Co-redemptrix" being bestowed on St. Mary.
Off and on for the past 10 months or so, I have been considering converting to Orthodoxy.  I have been praying and studying.  I have attended Divine Liturgy a few times, and have enjoyed my experience.  The people have been friendly, and DL is just so...beautiful.  The Icons, the singing, it's so...peaceful and timeless.  And theologically speaking, Orthodoxy matches up very nicely with me.  However what I really like about Orthodoxy and Divine Liturgy is it's not about me.  Orthodoxy isn't "seeker-friendly,"or "purpose driven," she doesn't care about current fads or trends, she doesn't change her beliefs and values with the times.  Divine Liturgy isn't about my enjoyment, or "what I get out of it," it's about worshiping the Holy Trinity.
With all of that said, I have a few questions.
From what I have read, I can't say I fully..grasp the concept of Toll-Houses, nor can I say it sits well with me.  Are Toll-Houses widely accepted, or is it more controversial?  Also, if a demon were to drag you off to hell, is it for eternity?  It just seems weird that demons would be the gate-keepers to Heaven...
My next question is, does the Orthodox Church teach that only Orthodox Christians will be saved in the end?  I am married, and my wife doesn't have much interest in converting to Orthodoxy, and so such a question matters to me on a personal level.
I want to thank all of you who took the time to read my lengthy post.  I said all of that to say this, I believe that everything happens for a reason, I think that perhaps God lead me to Catholicism in preparation to lead me to Orthodoxy.  To expose me to the world beyond evangelical protestantism.  Thanks to all again, and God Bless.
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2009, 12:04:03 PM »

Hello all, God Bless. 
Let me start this story at the beginning.  I was born and raised in Minnesota.  My parents are loving, dedicated parents.(For the record I am 21 years old now.)  I grew up a "baptist."  I saw "baptist" because my parents believe in Jesus, and if anyone were to ask them they'd say their baptist, however they rarely attended church.  I would go to church with the neighbors, and I would go to "youth group" on Wednesday nights.  However, most of my religious education growing up came from my grandmother.  She is a fire-breathing died in the wool baptist.  She has read through her KJV more times than I can count, and almost never missed church.  During my summers with her she would bring us to church with her.  When I was 10 years old I got "saved" one Sunday.  I remember my grandma crying and just being so proud of me, and I felt like I was making God happy, so from then on I read my Bible and started praying a lot.  When someone said "Christian," I immediately thought of my grandma.  To me, being a Christian meant believing in Sola Scriptura(although I had no idea such words existed at the time), and of course Sola Fide.  Also, the Bible was the Inerrant Word of God, the world was created in six literal days, there would be a rapture one day with the Anti-Christ and the whole shabang.  As I got a little older, I even renounced my previous liberalism, because as we all knew, Jesus was a Republican, and loved America just a little more than everyone else. (You know people actually think like that, and I was young and impressionable. Wink)  I was a true evangelical fundamentalist Christian.  On the outside, I was a "great Christian."(It was a facade, on the inside I was raging with turmoil as I was struggling with many personal demons, including struggling hard with pornography) 
One day however my world was shaken up.  I was sitting at youth group one day, and we were having an open discussion.  A girl mentioned how she would like us to pray for her friends who were Roman Catholics, she was sure they were going to hell.  I thought, "who the heck is this girl to send these poor people to hell?  Also, aren't Catholics Christians?"  It never occured to me that any other group of Christians could be labeled "false Christians," except Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, whom my youth directors regularly labeled as "cults" and "heretics," and we were all assured that they were going to hell.  Back to the point, my youth directors agreed with this girl's assessment.  Roman Catholics were going to hell, and were false Christians.  "But they love Christ just like we do!  I mean, they taught that all you needed to do was make Christ 'your personal Lord and Savior' and you were a Christian!  You could go to heaven!  What's so bad about these Catholics?"  God put it in my heart to do some research.  I poured over countless websites and read some books on Catholicism, I did have to admit it was all foreign to me.  I mean they didn't believe in Sola Scriptura and all of that, and they had the Pope, and Mary and it seemed strange to me.  But I couldn't believe they were all going to hell.
On another night, we were told that we shouldn't be friends with non-Christians anymore it was "too dangerous" or something like that.  Of course they were all going to hell.  What bothered me most is the way they said it.  My youth directors(a married couple) are lovely people and are so nice, yet here they were so off-handedly condemning 90% of the world to hell like they were discussing the weather!  It didn't seem to bother them at all!
I left that church in search of something different.  Through my research I began to have doubts about all of my cherished protestant tenants.  For instance, Scripture Alone falls apart like a house of cards under scrutiny.  Once you un-ravel Sola Scriptura, it's like driving a stake into protestantism.  However, I was so stunned to have the faith of my upbringing unraveled that I became agnostic.  I didn't trust institutional religion anymore.  I looked at Buddhism and eastern philosophies.  However through it all I discovered Catholicism again.  After much prayer and study, I enrolled in RCIA and began the process of becoming Catholic. 
I officially became Catholic Easter of 2006, at the age of 18.  However, certain questions about Catholicism never left me, mainly issues with the Pope and Mary.  I had issues with the "infallibility" of the Pope, and titles like "Co-redemptrix" being bestowed on St. Mary.
Off and on for the past 10 months or so, I have been considering converting to Orthodoxy.  I have been praying and studying.  I have attended Divine Liturgy a few times, and have enjoyed my experience.  The people have been friendly, and DL is just so...beautiful.  The Icons, the singing, it's so...peaceful and timeless.  And theologically speaking, Orthodoxy matches up very nicely with me.  However what I really like about Orthodoxy and Divine Liturgy is it's not about me.  Orthodoxy isn't "seeker-friendly,"or "purpose driven," she doesn't care about current fads or trends, she doesn't change her beliefs and values with the times.  Divine Liturgy isn't about my enjoyment, or "what I get out of it," it's about worshiping the Holy Trinity.
With all of that said, I have a few questions.
From what I have read, I can't say I fully..grasp the concept of Toll-Houses, nor can I say it sits well with me. 
That don't sit well with many of us, convert or cradle, which is how it is not a dogma.

Quote
Are Toll-Houses widely accepted, or is it more controversial? 
Depends on who you ask.  I think I had been Orthodox for decades before hearing of them.
Quote
Also, if a demon were to drag you off to hell, is it for eternity?  It just seems weird that demons would be the gate-keepers to Heaven...
No demon can withstand the Cross: the question is how firmly you hold on.  Resist the devil, and he will flee.

Quote
My next question is, does the Orthodox Church teach that only Orthodox Christians will be saved in the end?  I am married, and my wife doesn't have much interest in converting to Orthodoxy, and so such a question matters to me on a personal level.
God reveals to some of those who have gone to heaven: these are the glorified saints.  Yes, they must be members of the Orthodox Church to be canonized.

He does not reveal all those who are saved. Hence we have All Saints.

He does not tell us at all who has gone to hell.

Rember what St. Paul says about the spouse saving the spouse.

Quote
I want to thank all of you who took the time to read my lengthy post.  I said all of that to say this, I believe that everything happens for a reason, I think that perhaps God lead me to Catholicism in preparation to lead me to Orthodoxy.  To expose me to the world beyond evangelical protestantism.  Thanks to all again, and God Bless.

Anytime.

Btw, I was former solo scriptura too.
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2009, 04:59:47 PM »

Welcome tfrey1225  to the Convert Issues Forum. 

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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2009, 05:54:38 PM »

Tfrey 1225,

Welcome to the forum!

I think one good argument against Sola Scriptura is a historical one. When did this Scriptura actually emerge? Until the Laodicean Council of the Church, which convened between years ~365 and ~381, there was simply no such thing as "Scripture." There existed dozens or even hundreds of various Gospels and "gospels," of which many were extremely weird, maybe even written under satanic influences. There also was no clear understanding of what exactly from the Hebrew literature to regard as authoritative/Inspired, and what not to. So, for about three and a half centuries, the Church lived WITHOUT the "sola" "Scriptura." Nonetheless, during these centuries, the Church formulated Her doctrine of the Trinity (at the Nicene Ecumenical council in 325), Her Apostolic Canons, and many other parts of Her wholesome and durable teaching.

The Church created Scripturers - not the other way around. So it is up to the Church to interpret Scripture, and also to deem other sources of Her teaching authoritative and binding.

My all best wishes to you,

George
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2009, 04:55:26 PM »

Hello all, God Bless. 
Let me start this story at the beginning.  I was born and raised in Minnesota.  My parents are loving, dedicated parents.(For the record I am 21 years old now.)  I grew up a "baptist."  I saw "baptist" because my parents believe in Jesus, and if anyone were to ask them they'd say their baptist, however they rarely attended church.  I would go to church with the neighbors, and I would go to "youth group" on Wednesday nights.  However, most of my religious education growing up came from my grandmother.  She is a fire-breathing died in the wool baptist.  She has read through her KJV more times than I can count, and almost never missed church.  During my summers with her she would bring us to church with her.  When I was 10 years old I got "saved" one Sunday.  I remember my grandma crying and just being so proud of me, and I felt like I was making God happy, so from then on I read my Bible and started praying a lot.  When someone said "Christian," I immediately thought of my grandma.  To me, being a Christian meant believing in Sola Scriptura(although I had no idea such words existed at the time), and of course Sola Fide.  Also, the Bible was the Inerrant Word of God, the world was created in six literal days, there would be a rapture one day with the Anti-Christ and the whole shabang.  As I got a little older, I even renounced my previous liberalism, because as we all knew, Jesus was a Republican, and loved America just a little more than everyone else. (You know people actually think like that, and I was young and impressionable. Wink)  I was a true evangelical fundamentalist Christian.  On the outside, I was a "great Christian."(It was a facade, on the inside I was raging with turmoil as I was struggling with many personal demons, including struggling hard with pornography) 
One day however my world was shaken up.  I was sitting at youth group one day, and we were having an open discussion.  A girl mentioned how she would like us to pray for her friends who were Roman Catholics, she was sure they were going to hell.  I thought, "who the heck is this girl to send these poor people to hell?  Also, aren't Catholics Christians?"  It never occured to me that any other group of Christians could be labeled "false Christians," except Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, whom my youth directors regularly labeled as "cults" and "heretics," and we were all assured that they were going to hell.  Back to the point, my youth directors agreed with this girl's assessment.  Roman Catholics were going to hell, and were false Christians.  "But they love Christ just like we do!  I mean, they taught that all you needed to do was make Christ 'your personal Lord and Savior' and you were a Christian!  You could go to heaven!  What's so bad about these Catholics?"  God put it in my heart to do some research.  I poured over countless websites and read some books on Catholicism, I did have to admit it was all foreign to me.  I mean they didn't believe in Sola Scriptura and all of that, and they had the Pope, and Mary and it seemed strange to me.  But I couldn't believe they were all going to hell.
On another night, we were told that we shouldn't be friends with non-Christians anymore it was "too dangerous" or something like that.  Of course they were all going to hell.  What bothered me most is the way they said it.  My youth directors(a married couple) are lovely people and are so nice, yet here they were so off-handedly condemning 90% of the world to hell like they were discussing the weather!  It didn't seem to bother them at all!
I left that church in search of something different.  Through my research I began to have doubts about all of my cherished protestant tenants.  For instance, Scripture Alone falls apart like a house of cards under scrutiny.  Once you un-ravel Sola Scriptura, it's like driving a stake into protestantism.  However, I was so stunned to have the faith of my upbringing unraveled that I became agnostic.  I didn't trust institutional religion anymore.  I looked at Buddhism and eastern philosophies.  However through it all I discovered Catholicism again.  After much prayer and study, I enrolled in RCIA and began the process of becoming Catholic. 
I officially became Catholic Easter of 2006, at the age of 18.  However, certain questions about Catholicism never left me, mainly issues with the Pope and Mary.  I had issues with the "infallibility" of the Pope, and titles like "Co-redemptrix" being bestowed on St. Mary.
Off and on for the past 10 months or so, I have been considering converting to Orthodoxy.  I have been praying and studying.  I have attended Divine Liturgy a few times, and have enjoyed my experience.  The people have been friendly, and DL is just so...beautiful.  The Icons, the singing, it's so...peaceful and timeless.  And theologically speaking, Orthodoxy matches up very nicely with me.  However what I really like about Orthodoxy and Divine Liturgy is it's not about me.  Orthodoxy isn't "seeker-friendly,"or "purpose driven," she doesn't care about current fads or trends, she doesn't change her beliefs and values with the times.  Divine Liturgy isn't about my enjoyment, or "what I get out of it," it's about worshiping the Holy Trinity.
With all of that said, I have a few questions.
From what I have read, I can't say I fully..grasp the concept of Toll-Houses, nor can I say it sits well with me.  Are Toll-Houses widely accepted, or is it more controversial?  Also, if a demon were to drag you off to hell, is it for eternity?  It just seems weird that demons would be the gate-keepers to Heaven...
My next question is, does the Orthodox Church teach that only Orthodox Christians will be saved in the end?  I am married, and my wife doesn't have much interest in converting to Orthodoxy, and so such a question matters to me on a personal level.
I want to thank all of you who took the time to read my lengthy post.  I said all of that to say this, I believe that everything happens for a reason, I think that perhaps God lead me to Catholicism in preparation to lead me to Orthodoxy.  To expose me to the world beyond evangelical protestantism.  Thanks to all again, and God Bless.
Christ is Risen!

I'm in the same situation as you. God willing, when I return home for the summer from college, I hope that the priest at the local Orthodox mission I attend will permit me to become a catechumen. I became a Roman Catholic at 17 in 2007. I did not understand everything that they taught fully, but once I began to read more closely what the early Church taught, believed and practiced I realized that I was NOT in the ancient Church. I came face to face with Orthodoxy and believe I'm ready to begin the journey. If you ever want someone to discuss it with, I'd be more than willing, as we are on the same journey. Feel free to ask any questions here as everyone is very warm and willing to help. Enjoy your stay!

Andrew
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2009, 05:14:12 PM »

From what I have read, I can't say I fully..grasp the concept of Toll-Houses, nor can I say it sits well with me.  Are Toll-Houses widely accepted, or is it more controversial?  Also, if a demon were to drag you off to hell, is it for eternity?  It just seems weird that demons would be the gate-keepers to Heaven...

I would say very controversial, except that implies there's a lot of debate about them. In fact, as Ialmisry says it's not often discussed--but when it is you can find a very broad spectrum of views. But even in the 'strictest' view of the tollhouses, the demons are not really gate-keepers. Rather, they are trying one last chance to pull you away from the path of Christ. The answer is the same as any other attempt by the demons to pull you away from Christ (i.e., temptation). Cling to Christ and His Grace and mercy will carry you through.

Quote
My next question is, does the Orthodox Church teach that only Orthodox Christians will be saved in the end?  I am married, and my wife doesn't have much interest in converting to Orthodoxy, and so such a question matters to me on a personal level.

God judges. We don't. God has revealed a specific path of salvation in the Church. What He chooses to do beyond that path is not revealed to us. If I get to heaven to find Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot in line before me, I will just be grateful to be there.
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2009, 07:25:41 PM »

Welcome to the forum!  May God guide your steps!
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2009, 08:39:45 PM »

Dear Considering Orthodoxy,

I recommend that you read some general books on Orthodoxy written by western converts as they may be more likely to use familiar language. My list certainly includes "The Orthodox Church" and "The Orthodox Way" by Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy Ware) and "Becoming Orthodox" by Father Peter Gillquist.

May God bless your spiritual quest.
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2009, 11:06:22 PM »

I must say that I am in the same boat. A lot of the problems that I have with the Catholic Church are answered by Orthodoxy.  ie. development of papal infallibilty, immaculate conception, although, surprisingly I never had a problem with purgatory, it seems rather logical to me. 

I think that the only problem for me, at least mentally, is that the Orthodox Church has not done as good of a job at evangelizing the rest of the world. For the first millenium Orthodoxy spread like wild-fire, then after the split it remained localized for the most part in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Catholocism has a much greater presence in Western Europe, South America (duh,) North America, and Africa.  Is it because the Holy Spirit is leading the CC (making the Orthodox the ones in Schism), or is it because Orthodoxy had more to face with Islam and, in the last century, the rise of the USSR?  I know what each side would say, but since you are somewhat in the middle at this point, what do you think? If it had been the other way around--Orthodoxy the larger one and Catholicism the smaller one--I probably wouldn't be considering Catholicism.  That is my only issue at this point, and it probably should be a non-issue, but it still just doesn't sit well with me.

I felt very called to the RCC, but I now am starting to look at it as you are, that it might have been a bridge from Protestantism to Orthodoxy.

A book that I found helpful was "Truth: What every Roman Catholic Should Know about the Orthodox Church."  It compared the two churches and also gave a history of the papacy that I had not heard from the Roman Catholic side.

btw, I once asked an EO priest about the toll houses, and was very surprised that he was against the whole concept.  It was very strange because a lot of the Catholic websites, forums, and talk shows that I watched made it seem like it was a universally held belief within Orthodoxy... showing how important it is to go to the source rather than second hand info.

God bless you on your journey.  <><
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2009, 09:55:49 PM »

Welcome to Orthodoxy!

I agree with Ialmisry, I've been Orthodox my whole life (20 yrs now), and this is the first I've heard of "toll  houses". Put your trust in the Lord that he will have mercy, and no demon could ever hope to change that.

In addressing who will/won't be saved, I can't say what the Lord will do. The Church definitely does not preach that only Orthodox Christians will be saved. My godson's parents are converts from the Baptist faith, and your story is just about identical to theirs, about how their youth leaders used to tell them Roman Catholics were going to hell. None of us know what the Lord will do, so it's useless to try and make predictions.

For the three of you who are interested in Orthodoxy, I would agree with Second Chance and say read "The Orthodox Church". I read it a couple years ago, and it's a great book, even for "cradle Orthodox" such as myself. Also, don't be timid about speaking with an Orthodox priest. They are the best source for info and answers to your questions.

May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you on your spiritual journey into the Orthodox faith!
« Last Edit: April 27, 2009, 09:57:32 PM by shep4569 » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2009, 10:04:45 PM »

Toll houses are very controversial.  In fact, two Saints of the Orthodox Church went head to head on the issue:  St. Ignatius Brianchaninov and St. Theophan the Recluse.  When St. Ignatius' Homily on Death first appeared in 1863, St Theophan replied in Souls and Angels .   The issue simmered down for a while but was revived with the work of Seraphim Rose, The Soul after Death, in favor of Toll Houses, and the reply of (now) Archbishop Lazar Puhalo  The Soul, the Body and Death against it.   It is not a matter of dogma. 
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