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Author Topic: My notion of heaven and hell have been shattered, I need help!  (Read 1881 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 01, 2010, 12:27:43 AM »

http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=BHynz4ijOmA&feature=related

So we are all saved, and we have to prepare ourselves when we do see God's glory? I thought we can't see the Father unless we go through Christ, and doesn't Christ talk about hell with teeth gnashing?

So hell as a state of being is what it feels like when we don't experience the love that God has?

I'm so confused on the Orthodox take on Heaven and Hell, can you help?
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« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2010, 12:32:24 AM »

"Important, and please note carefully: no matter how much some may want the world – particularly God’s world -  to be describable in clearly defined rules, boundaries and unbending laws – it’s just not the case. If there is a “rule” of any sort – it is God Himself – it is Personal – and is defined only by mercy, love and kindness.

And so it is that the “Way” forward, backwards, up or down, however you want to describe our travel in the Kingdom of God – the Way only follows the map of the heart of God. If you want to know the way to go – if you want to know how things work – then you have to know the heart of God. You have to know God Himself.

And this is all that we need to know for life here – and life hereafter. God Himself is our heaven – and in the teachings of the Fathers – God Himself is our hell – for hell is nothing other than our self-imposed refusal to accept the love of God. It is that refusal that brings its own torment.

If we have the eyes to see – we are already traveling the roads of heaven and hell – already dwelling in the bosom of Abraham or in the torments of Hades. The geography of that journey is the geography of love and mercy, kindness and forgiveness – or contrary – hatred and judgment, violence self-conceit, slander and calumny.

Judge for yourself – for we’ve all experienced both. Where do you want to dwell? The good news is that whatever gulf is fixed in our heart – whatever wall or chasm has been erected within us – Christ has gone there. He descended into Hades. If you will look within yourself – into the darkness of your own private hell – you will find Christ there – for He has gone there to look for you. And as sure as He trampled down death by death – He can trample down your own hell and translate you into the Kingdom of light."

http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/the-geography-of-hell/
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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2010, 12:55:44 AM »

Rev 14:9-10

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2010, 01:12:18 AM »

So Melodist is that confirming what I was saying that Heaven and Hell is just an existence and its how we prepare ourselves for it?
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2010, 02:12:18 AM »

What about the notion where Christ talks about taking out your right eye which causes you to sin, than sacrificing your whole body in Hell. Does that still apply to what the OP mentions in that video?
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2010, 02:23:35 AM »

Orthodoxy does not consider Hell or Heaven as literal places. We will all be in the presence of God. If we have been prepared in this life (noetically as they say in the video) then it will be a joyful experience. If we have not prepared ourselves, and live like the demons, then the presence of God will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2010, 02:27:22 AM »

Our God is a consuming fire. It all depends how we experience that fire. I have also heard it said somewhere  that the outer darkness is "darkness" because those who are unprepared to meet God are blinded by the ineffable Light of God. Quite like what happened on Mount Tabor to the Apostles.
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2010, 02:35:15 AM »

What about the lake of fire, is that metaphorically speaking?
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2010, 02:45:07 AM »

How can one put into physical terms, when it relies on something we cannot physically comprehend?

I have long thought Hell to be nothing more than complete separation from God, but can anyone imagine a place more terrifying and, well, hellish? Lake of fire sounds like a cake walk comparatively.

But I do not put much thought into these things, I feel like my faith is not based on questions of this sort, though I can easily and completely understand people such as yourself seeking answers to these questions.

I know for a fact I disappoint many a friend and inquisitor when I lack the answers to questions like these!
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2010, 02:48:45 AM »

What about the lake of fire, is that metaphorically speaking?
Probably. How can there be outer darkness, and flames?
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2010, 02:54:25 AM »

What about the lake of fire, is that metaphorically speaking?
Probably. How can there be outer darkness, and flames?

Why couldn't there be, aren't all things possible with God?

I agree somewhat JVRR, I think it is interesting to discuss these things theologically
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2010, 09:47:37 AM »

I am not commenting on the content of the video, but am I the only one who thinks that the graphic emblem of the host of the youtube channel is visually similar to a combination of the graphic emblem of the Greek Orthodox Church of America and the Ecumenical Patriachate?
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2010, 06:38:22 PM »

From what I understand, we Orthodox aren't dogmatic about the details of the afterlife.  The only parts we're dogmatic about is the righteous will have a positive experience and wicked will have a negative one.  Most Orthodox, including many saints, believe the afterlife is decided by our attitude toward being in God's presence.  However, if someone wants to believe in a literal heaven and hell, he can still be Orthodox.
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2010, 07:00:56 PM »

In my opinion the worst kind of Hell is that "vision" of God in His full glory and love and not being a part of it. I think that is much worse than fire and brimstone. With heaven it's the same thing, being in that communion with God (Theosis) which no other material thing could substitute.
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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2010, 07:11:15 PM »

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

http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=BHynz4ijOmA&feature=related

So we are all saved, and we have to prepare ourselves when we do see God's glory? I thought we can't see the Father unless we go through Christ, and doesn't Christ talk about hell with teeth gnashing?

So hell as a state of being is what it feels like when we don't experience the love that God has?

I'm so confused on the Orthodox take on Heaven and Hell, can you help?

This is not the catechism teaching of the Orthodox Fathers, this is just my own personal interpretation from my experience in life.

Hell is not a place of eternal suffering, a punishment for sins.  Either God can forgive us all, or none at all, but God is fair and just, and it is unjust to forgive one person and not another.  This is why Jesus Christ told us that He did not come to condemn us, that Moses was already busy doing that.  The Devils condemn us to guilt, Jesus Christ raises us up to life.  We have plenty of seeming contradictions in the Orthodox.  How did the Thief on the Cross find salvation without Baptism? Or any of the others whom miracles and healings were committed?

We must turn to Christ in our heart to understand these things, not the Holy Books, or the Canons, or the Hymnals, or the Church Fathers, or the Writings, or any such thing.  God is real.  We must turn to Him directly for Grace and Mercy and Faith.

Hell, in my experience, is a state of fear, dread, punishment, guilt, sorrow, tears and pain which we experience in the here and now, on earth, in our daily lives, when we glance away from God and look towards ourselves or other created things.  Hell is the pain which Buddha identified when he said Life was suffering and pain.  Only God can take away that pain and sorrow.  

In Orthodox, we have the Divine Mysteries.  Surely these can take us to Zion, into the Heavenly Gates of Eternal Life, but so can God entirely on His own without these mechanisms, for He is the Infinite God.  But then what is the real purpose of these things? Why did I go to Liturgy yesterday and stand in His Real Presence, and why did I fall on my knees today at the Sixth Hour praying begging for mercy and consolation and Grace? Life is hard, life hurts, it skins knees, and breaks spirits, it even kills people!  God, in His Divine Wisdom, gave us the Holy Mysteries of Baptism, Confirmation/Anointing, Communion, Holy Orders, Anointing of Sick, etc etc so that we might find earthly, temporal Grace in our sorrow filled lives of pain, fear and apprehension.  Where is the money going to come from? Will I meet my wife? Who will take care of my sick mother? How can I fix my car? Will the war(s) ever stop? What about greed? Guns, violence? etc etc
Life is a swirling illusion of pain, but the Mysteries save us.  Our lives outside of the Divine Mysteries, are Hell itself.  God, comes down from His Perfection, and lifts us up in His Will, in His Time, to perceive His Glory.

Now I know the books and even the red letters in the Gospel speak of eternal punishment, gnashing of teeth and what-not, but I just can't feel it.  Of course, I do feel the pain of this temporary, transitional life, and further more I feel the heeling of the Divine Mysteries.  The Church Fathers call what Freud discovered about our ego and pride as the "fractured minds" and God, through the Orthodox heals these fractures and makes us whole, unison, in His Spirit.

We can only know what we have here and now, the future is for God alone to reveal.  Let us focus then on what we can reach, and pray to be lifted out of the Hell of here and now, and not even contemplate nor worry about any kind of hell or heaven to come.  Heaven can be here, when you stand in the Presence of God, and so can Hell, when you even briefly look away, this is the mixed blessing of Free Will.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2010, 07:16:07 PM »

Habte I appreciate your post, I raise a question to you. I agree with most of what you said but since God can forgive us of our sins, or corrupted state then all of us should have eternity with Him or since free will is at hand, we can make a choice to do wicked or good?
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2010, 07:20:03 PM »

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

Habte I appreciate your post, I raise a question to you. I agree with most of what you said but since God can forgive us of our sins, or corrupted state then all of us should have eternity with Him or since free will is at hand, we can make a choice to do wicked or good?

Personally, I'm a true universalist when it comes to eternal life and salvation, it is a gratuitous gift of God in His Mercy.  I do not believe ANYONE will go to hell, and I would personally give up my own place in line for even Hitler himself, because I am confident that Jesus Christ loves me enough like the security at the bar to let me in the back door and still see the gig even if it is sold out Wink

Again, my emphasis was that Hell and Heaven can be here and now, in our temporal realms which are currently experiencing.  Jesus Christ must not only save us in the Eternal future, but Lord Have His Mercy He must save us in our miseries of today and yesterday as well!
I do believe all of us will share eternity with God, the question of faith is what are we doing in with our lives in the meantime?

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2010, 07:28:12 PM »

Very interesting, I will have to meditate on what you have written. What about, though, the misery someone can inflict on another human. What justice will lie for that person in the after life?
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« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2010, 07:36:27 PM »

Also what is your take on John 3:16?
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« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2010, 09:48:19 PM »

So Melodist is that confirming what I was saying that Heaven and Hell is just an existence and its how we prepare ourselves for it?

I can't think of the words to explain what I'm thinking right now, but our experience in the next life will be based on how we have been conditioned in this life to relate to God.
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« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2010, 10:46:45 PM »

If Heaven and Hell aren't literal, where is Our Lord and Lady? Our Lord bodily ascended into Heaven and Our Lady was assumed bodily into Heaven.  Where will we go when the Lord returns and resurrects the dead?  What will this new earth look like? Sounds gnostic to me.
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« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2010, 12:35:25 AM »

I'm not trying to give specific details about the physical aspects of the age to come or the heaven in which Christ, the Theotokos, Enoch, and Elijah are bodily present, only that our experience will be based on our relation to God and His presence, which is everywhere and filling all things.

Also, while I do not doubt that there is a physical reality to heaven, considering there are people there in their bodies, but I also believe that it's existence is not somewhere that we can eventually map out and travel to with the right technology.
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« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2010, 05:05:52 AM »

So is it wrong to belive that there is not a literal Hell? I just don't accept that God would just comdemn the people that he loves. It doesn't make sense to me.
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« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2010, 07:23:48 AM »

Dear Achronos,

Try a couple of web searches with google.com

Catechism Greek Orthodox

Catechism Alfeyev


Then find the chapters where these two bishops speak of heaven and hell.

If Isa sees this thread, I hope he will tell us where to find what Saint John of Damascus wrote.

I recommend staying with the very basic teaching because over the last few decades there have been a large number of Orthodox people writing on this topic and there is much conflict between the systems they create.  It simply confuses people.
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« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2010, 07:42:58 AM »

As a concrete example of the confusion which has developed in contemporary Orthodoxy on this topic of heaven and hell, we have only to look at Kalomiros' "River of Fire."

When Kalmiros' speech (which eventually became the book) was delivered in 1980 at a Greek parish under the Russian Church Abroad, some people, for example Metropolitan Vitaly, were totally intrigued by Kalomiros' ideas and commended them heartily.

I myself thought it was a wonderful piece of work because it enables us to avoid any suggestion that it is God who punishes.

But the question must be asked -is it Orthodox doctrine? The answer is no.  What it is is an attractive theological opinion which strikes a chord in modern men and that is why it has become so popular in the last 30 years.  But it is not the doctrine of the Church.
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« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2010, 05:14:03 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Very interesting, I will have to meditate on what you have written. What about, though, the misery someone can inflict on another human. What justice will lie for that person in the after life?
Orthodox teaches us to pray, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on me, a sinner" and further "Lord Jesus Christ, who has Mercy on the sinners of whom I AM CHIEF, but does not wish the death of the sinner but that he returns and lives.."
We are all universally guilty of sin, and in sin, sin is sin, there is gradation, no partiality, no distinction or degree.  Sin is sin, all the wages of sin is death.  Only the gratuitous gift of God in Grace and Mercy can we find salvation and forgiveness and eternal life.  Therefore, if God can forgive me, the chief of sinners, surely He can forgive anyone! I am not here to say who God will forgive, but I will also never be so haughty or self-righteous as to say whom God WON'T forgive, that is not our place.  The Church must have official standards and doctrines to settle discussions and have ideals and goals to reach, but none-the-less it is only Grace that saves us, not doctrine or canon our any other effort of ourselves.  These things, Orthodox Worship, are not a means to an end of salvation, rather they are a thankful gift we give back to God in our gratitude for the true gift of life and salvation He gives steadily to us. 
So is it wrong to believe that there is not a literal Hell? I just don't accept that God would just condemn the people that he loves. It doesn't make sense to me.

Amen Amen.  I agree with you completely, which is why I no longer believe in Hell at all! The Devil and his merciless armies I believe still plague humanity with fear and doubt, but the finality of Hell I sincerely believe, confess and believe that the gates of Hell were closed behind Jesus Christ on His way out in the Resurrection, for what did Adam and Eve do that was worthy of repentance and forgiveness that any other person could not? What separates a monster like Hitler from any other sinner in the context of repentance and forgiveness? Is it not in God's infinite power to forgive whomever He pleases, and it is truly none of our business.  But that is why I converted to Orthodox, its not that Orthodox doesn't have a concept of Hell, its just that Orthodox does not spending its time pointing fingers outwardly, rather Hell is not for us Orthodox Christians to point out to others, rather we should only fear it for ourselves, and always in a Spirit of humility believe that God will save everyone else but ourselves from Sin.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2010, 06:50:51 PM »

As a concrete example of the confusion which has developed in contemporary Orthodoxy on this topic of heaven and hell, we have only to look at Kalomiros' "River of Fire."

When Kalmiros' speech (which eventually became the book) was delivered in 1980 at a Greek parish under the Russian Church Abroad, some people, for example Metropolitan Vitaly, were totally intrigued by Kalomiros' ideas and commended them heartily.

I myself thought it was a wonderful piece of work because it enables us to avoid any suggestion that it is God who punishes.

But the question must be asked -is it Orthodox doctrine? The answer is no.  What it is is an attractive theological opinion which strikes a chord in modern men and that is why it has become so popular in the last 30 years.  But it is not the doctrine of the Church.


Father bless!

Is 1 Corinthians 3 a basis for this?

"10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames."

I do not see that the God of love is different from the God of righteousness; in either case, He is "a consuming fire." God either specifically metes out punishment to sinners or allows unrepentant sinners and unbelievers to be consumed by this fire. What I am trying to say here (clumsily) is that the result will be the same and the result will depend on our own beliefs and actions.
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« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2010, 07:57:44 PM »

As a concrete example of the confusion which has developed in contemporary Orthodoxy on this topic of heaven and hell, we have only to look at Kalomiros' "River of Fire."

When Kalmiros' speech (which eventually became the book) was delivered in 1980 at a Greek parish under the Russian Church Abroad, some people, for example Metropolitan Vitaly, were totally intrigued by Kalomiros' ideas and commended them heartily.

I myself thought it was a wonderful piece of work because it enables us to avoid any suggestion that it is God who punishes.

But the question must be asked -is it Orthodox doctrine? The answer is no.  What it is is an attractive theological opinion which strikes a chord in modern men and that is why it has become so popular in the last 30 years.  But it is not the doctrine of the Church.


Father bless!

Is 1 Corinthians 3 a basis for this?

"10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames."

I do not see that the God of love is different from the God of righteousness; in either case, He is "a consuming fire." God either specifically metes out punishment to sinners or allows unrepentant sinners and unbelievers to be consumed by this fire. What I am trying to say here (clumsily) is that the result will be the same and the result will depend on our own beliefs and actions.

It seems to boil down to two contrary beliefs.

1.  God never punishes anyone (popularised by Kalomiros' "The River of Fire")

2.  God punishes.

Whether these are two theologoumena within Orthodoxy or whether one is true and the other heretical - that's the question.

Being old in years and able to remember the times before Kalomiros, I go with belief No. 2
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« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2010, 08:50:49 PM »

Dear Achronos,

Try a couple of web searches with google.com

Catechism Greek Orthodox

Catechism Alfeyev


Then find the chapters where these two bishops speak of heaven and hell.

If Isa sees this thread, I hope he will tell us where to find what Saint John of Damascus wrote.

Quote
That God is not the cause of evils.
It is to be observed that it is the custom in the Holy Scripture to speak of God's permission as His energy, as when the apostle says in the Epistle to the Romans, Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour ? And for this reason, that He Himself makes this or that. For He is Himself alone the Maker of all things; yet it is not He Himself that fashions noble or ignoble things, but the personal choice of each one. And this is manifest from what the same Apostle says in the Second Epistle to Timothy, In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth: and some to honour and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 And it is evident that the purification must be voluntary: for if a man, he says, purge himself. And the consequent antistrophe responds, If a man purge not himself he will be a vessel to dishonour, unmeet for the master's use and fit only to be broken in pieces. Wherefore this passage that we have quoted and this, God has concluded them all in unbelief Romans 11:32, and this, God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear , all these must be understood not as though God Himself were energising, but as though God were permitting, both because of free-will and because goodness knows no compulsion.

His permission, therefore, is usually spoken of in the Holy Scripture as His energy and work. Nay, even when He says that God creates evil things, and that there is no evil in a city that the Lord has not done, he does not mean by these words Amos 3:6 that the Lord is the cause of evil, but the word 'evil ' is used in two ways, with two meanings. For sometimes it means what is evil by nature, and this is the opposite of virtue and the will of God: and sometimes it means that which is evil and oppressive to our sensation, that is to say, afflictions and calamities. Now these are seemingly evil because they are painful, but in reality are good. For to those who understand they became ambassadors of conversion and salvation. The Scripture says that of these God is the Author.

It is, moreover, to be observed that of these, too, we are the cause: for involuntary evils are the offspring of voluntary ones.

This also should be recognised, that it is usual in the Scriptures for some things that ought to be considered as effects to be stated in a causal sense , as, Against You, You only, have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight, that You might be justified when You speak, and prevail when You judge. For the sinner did not sin in order that God might prevail, nor again did God require our sin in order that He might by it be revealed as victor. For above comparison He wins the victor's prize against all, even against those who are sinless, being Maker, incomprehensible, uncreated, and possessing natural and not adventitious glory. But it is because when we sin God is not unjust in His anger against us; and when He pardons the penitent He is shown victor over our wickedness. But it is not for this that we sin, but because the thing so turns out. It is just as if one were sitting at work and a friend stood near by, and one said, My friend came in order that I might do no work that day. The friend, however, was not present in order that the man should do no work, but such was the result. For being occupied with receiving his friend he did not work. These things, too, are spoken of as effects because affairs so turned out. Moreover, God does not wish that He alone should be just, but that all should, so far as possible, be made like Him.

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That there are not two Kingdoms.
That there are not two kingdoms , one good and one bad, we shall see from this. For good and evil are opposed to one another and mutually destructive, and cannot exist in one another or with one another. Each of them, therefore, in its own division will belong to the whole, and first they will be circumscribed, not by the whole alone but also each of them by part of the whole.

Next I ask , who it is that assigns to each its place. For they will not affirm that they have come to a friendly agreement with, or been reconciled to, one another. For evil is not evil when it is at peace with, and reconciled to, goodness, nor is goodness good when it is on amicable terms with evil. But if He Who has marked off to each of these its own sphere of action is something different from them, He must the rather be God.

One of two things indeed is necessary, either that they come in contact with and destroy one another, or that there exists some intermediate place where neither goodness nor evil exists, separating both from one another, like a partition. And so there will be no longer two but three kingdoms.

Again, one of these alternatives is necessary, either that they are at peace, which is quite incompatible with evil (for that which is at peace is not evil), or they are at strife, which is incompatible with goodness (for that which is at strife is not perfectly good), or the evil is at strife and the good does not retaliate, but is destroyed by the evil, or they are ever in trouble and distress , which is not a mark of goodness. There is, therefore, but one kingdom, delivered from all evil.

But if this is so, they say, whence comes evil ? For it is quite impossible that evil should originate from goodness. We answer then, that evil is nothing else than absence of goodness and a lapsing from what is natural into what is unnatural: for nothing evil is natural. For all things, whatsoever God made, are very good Genesis 1:31, so far as they were made: if, therefore, they remain just as they were created, they are very good, but when they voluntarily depart from what is natural and turn to what is unnatural, they slip into evil.

By nature, therefore, all things are servants of the Creator and obey Him. Whenever, then, any of His creatures voluntarily rebels and becomes disobedient to his Maker, he introduces evil into himself. For evil is not any essence nor a property of essence, but an accident, that is, a voluntary deviation from what is natural into what is unnatural, which is sin.

Whence, then, comes sin ? It is an invention of the free-will of the devil. Is the devil, then, evil? In so far as he was brought into existence he is not evil but good. For he was created by his Maker a bright and very brilliant angel, endowed with free-will as being rational. But he voluntarily departed from the virtue that is natural and came into the darkness of evil, being far removed from God, Who alone is good and can give life and light. For from Him every good thing derives its goodness, and so far as it is separated from Him in will (for it is not in place), it falls into evil.

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The purpose for which God in His foreknowledge created persons who would sin and not repent.
God in His goodness brought what exists into being out of nothing, and has foreknowledge of what will exist in the future. If, therefore, they were not to exist in the future, they would neither be evil in the future nor would they be foreknown. For knowledge is of what exists and foreknowledge is of what will surely exist in the future. For simple being comes first and then good or evil being. But if the very existence of those, who through the goodness of God are in the future to exist, were to be prevented by the fact that they were to become evil of their own choice, evil would have prevailed over the goodness of God. Wherefore God makes all His works good, but each becomes of its own choice good or evil. Although, then, the Lord said, Good were it for that man that he had never been born Mark 14:21, He said it in condemnation not of His own creation but of the evil which His own creation had acquired by his own choice and through his own heedlessness. For the heedlessness that marks man's judgment made His Creator's beneficence of no profit to him. It is just as if any one, when he had obtained riches and dominion from a king, were to lord it over his benefactor, who, when he has worsted him, will punish him as he deserves, if he should see him keeping hold of the sovereignty to the end.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/33044.htm

He does have a seperate section on Paradise, but no seperate section on Hell. Which is telling: God is not interested in being bribed, He is interested in those made in His image waking in His likeness.  Some, however, are not interested.

The idea a lot have today is that if one had a chance to repent after death, that everyone would.  Such is a dangerous assumption.  How many people in this life recognize that something they have done has brought them nothing but grief, and yet they do it again, and again, and again. How many persons spurn mates who are good for them, and embrace those who will wed them to nothing but sickness and poorer? For the damned, God still wants them, but they feel Him like a stalker.

God did not say, "Eat the fruit, and I will kill you." He said, "Eat the fruit, and you will die."

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Concerning the devil and demons.
He who from among these angelic powers was set over the earthly realm, and into whose hands God committed the guardianship of the earth, was not made wicked in nature but was good, and made for good ends, and received from his Creator no trace whatever of evil in himself. But he did not sustain the brightness and the honour which the Creator had bestowed on him, and of his free choice was changed from what was in harmony to what was at variance with his nature, and became roused against God Who created him, and determined to rise in rebellion against Him : and he was the first to depart from good and become evil. For evil is nothing else than absence of goodness, just as darkness also is absence of light. For goodness is the light of the mind, and, similarly, evil is the darkness of the mind. Light, therefore, being the work of the Creator and being made good (for God saw all that He made, and behold they were exceeding good Genesis 1:31) produced darkness at His free-will. But along with him an innumerable host of angels subject to him were torn away and followed him and shared in his fall. Wherefore, being of the same nature as the angels, they became wicked, turning away at their own free choice from good to evil.

Hence they have no power or strength against any one except what God in His dispensation has conceded to them, as for instance, against Job Job 1:12 and those swine that are mentioned in the Gospels. Mark 5:13 But when God has made the concession they do prevail, and are changed and transformed into any form whatever in which they wish to appear.

Of the future both the angels of God and the demons are alike ignorant: yet they make predictions. God reveals the future to the angels and commands them to prophesy, and so what they say comes to pass. But the demons also make predictions, sometimes because they see what is happening at a distance, and sometimes merely making guesses: hence much that they say is false and they should not be believed, even although they do often, in the way we have said, tell what is true. Besides they know the Scriptures.

All wickedness, then, and all impure passions are the work of their mind. But while the liberty to attack man has been granted to them, they have not the strength to over-master any one: for we have it in our power to receive or not to receive the attack. Wherefore there has been prepared for the devil and his demons, and those who follow him, fire unquenchable and everlasting punishment Matthew 25:41 .

Note, further, that what in the case of man is death is a fall in the case of angels. For after the fall there is no possibility of repentance for them, just as after death there is for men no repentance.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/33042.htm

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I recommend staying with the very basic teaching because over the last few decades there have been a large number of Orthodox people writing on this topic and there is much conflict between the systems they create.  It simply confuses people.

And to honest, I don't understand to what purpose:"I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life." Deut. 30:19. How simple is that?
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« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2010, 10:09:41 PM »


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


It seems to boil down to two contrary beliefs.

1.  God never punishes anyone (popularised by Kalomiros' "The River of Fire")

2.  God punishes.

Whether these are two theologoumena within Orthodoxy or whether one is true and the other heretical - that's the question.

Being old in years and able to remember the times before Kalomiros, I go with belief No. 2

This seems to be the debate, not just in Orthodox but amongst Christians and religious folks of all persuasions. However, I think to go with the way you phrased it goes against the true nature of Orthodox Faith and the concept of the Divine Mysteries.  In Orthodox, we never CAN know the mind and Will of God, rather we are revealed the Will of God through the Divine Mysteries and the Church.  But, this was not necessarily intended to limit God to the Canons and Councils in some kind of dogmatic way, God is Unlimited.

Theologically lets say

2. God may punish.

We have a Book which speaks of punishment for sure, but it does not specify truly who it is that will be punished, and in Orthodox, our only sincere thought is to assume its only our individual selves, and no one else.  We understand the Sin is universal, and we are Chief amongst Sinners, and only Grace saves us in God through the Divine Mysteries and the Church.  Through, but not because of the Church. It is because of God.  We do not participate in Orthodox like a series of commands, spells, or behaviors which manipulate God into saving us for the sake of our activities, rather we do them to get closers and nearer in worship and sincerity to a God who out of His great and infinite Love for Mankind, bore the Cross to give us the gift of salvation, and to give it to whomever He chooses, of His own Will.

That He may is better then the statement that He does , because we can not from our humble perspectives make assumptions or conclusions about God.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2010, 10:19:25 PM »


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


It seems to boil down to two contrary beliefs.

1.  God never punishes anyone (popularised by Kalomiros' "The River of Fire")

2.  God punishes.

Whether these are two theologoumena within Orthodoxy or whether one is true and the other heretical - that's the question.

Being old in years and able to remember the times before Kalomiros, I go with belief No. 2

This seems to be the debate, not just in Orthodox but amongst Christians and religious folks of all persuasions. However, I think to go with the way you phrased it goes against the true nature of Orthodox Faith and the concept of the Divine Mysteries.  In Orthodox, we never CAN know the mind and Will of God, rather we are revealed the Will of God through the Divine Mysteries and the Church.  But, this was not necessarily intended to limit God to the Canons and Councils in some kind of dogmatic way, God is Unlimited.

Theologically lets say

2. God may punish.

We have a Book which speaks of punishment for sure, but it does not specify truly who it is that will be punished, and in Orthodox, our only sincere thought is to assume its only our individual selves, and no one else.  We understand the Sin is universal, and we are Chief amongst Sinners, and only Grace saves us in God through the Divine Mysteries and the Church.  Through, but not because of the Church. It is because of God.  We do not participate in Orthodox like a series of commands, spells, or behaviors which manipulate God into saving us for the sake of our activities, rather we do them to get closers and nearer in worship and sincerity to a God who out of His great and infinite Love for Mankind, bore the Cross to give us the gift of salvation, and to give it to whomever He chooses, of His own Will.

That He may is better then the statement that He does , because we can not from our humble perspectives make assumptions or conclusions about God.


Dear Habte Selassie,

I am not following. 

The people who, following "The River of Fire", say that God does not punish are most certainly making  assumptions and conclusions about God.
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« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2010, 11:39:24 PM »

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

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


It seems to boil down to two contrary beliefs.

1.  God never punishes anyone (popularised by Kalomiros' "The River of Fire")

2.  God punishes.

Whether these are two theologoumena within Orthodoxy or whether one is true and the other heretical - that's the question.

Being old in years and able to remember the times before Kalomiros, I go with belief No. 2


Theologically lets say

2. God may punish.

We have a Book which speaks of punishment for sure, but it does not specify truly who it is that will be punished, and in Orthodox, our only sincere thought is to assume its only our individual selves, and no one else.  We understand the Sin is universal, and we are Chief amongst Sinners, and only Grace saves us in God through the Divine Mysteries and the Church.  Through, but not because of the Church. It is because of God.  We do not participate in Orthodox like a series of commands, spells, or behaviors which manipulate God into saving us for the sake of our activities, rather we do them to get closers and nearer in worship and sincerity to a God who out of His great and infinite Love for Mankind, bore the Cross to give us the gift of salvation, and to give it to whomever He chooses, of His own Will.

That He may is better then the statement that He does , because we can not from our humble perspectives make assumptions or conclusions about God.


Dear Habte Selassie,

I am not following.  

The people who, following "The River of Fire", say that God does not punish are most certainly making  assumptions and conclusions about God.
I do not know anything about River of Fire or any of those folks, I only addressed your conclusion of belief 2. God punishes (or to be a bit more awkward yet clear, God does punish) and I made the point to say that we do know anything which God will do, it is better for us in the spirit of repentance and humility to say that 2. God may punish. ,Further I do believe our Lord Jesus Christ asked us to reserve any judgment, and the Apostles admonished us not to judge one or any other, but to reserve judgment to God.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #32 on: December 03, 2010, 02:28:05 AM »

http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=BHynz4ijOmA&feature=related

So we are all saved, and we have to prepare ourselves when we do see God's glory? I thought we can't see the Father unless we go through Christ, and doesn't Christ talk about hell with teeth gnashing?

So hell as a state of being is what it feels like when we don't experience the love that God has?

I'm so confused on the Orthodox take on Heaven and Hell, can you help?


1.) The Incarnation unites Jesus with not only mankind, but also with the entire Cosmos/Universe.

2.) The Death of Christ washes/cleanses/eradicates/purges/expiates our sins. Romans chapter 6 shows how we are united with his death. And one of the parables in the Gospels talk about the 10 virgins and their lamps? And so this shows how we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.....5 out of the 10 virgins kept their lights lit to the very end.

3.) The Resurrection of Christ makes it possible for all mankind to one day rise again.

4.) Our God is like a consuming fire

Hebrews 12:29
for our “God is a consuming fire."

 and one day the entire Cosmos will be like the burning bush. Those in a right relationship with God will like the flame and will not be harmed......similar to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel. While those in a wrong relationship with God will hate it and will be harmed by it.


At least this is the picture I get. If I'm wrong I'm sure someone on the boards will correct me.
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« Reply #33 on: December 03, 2010, 02:44:31 AM »

As a concrete example of the confusion which has developed in contemporary Orthodoxy on this topic of heaven and hell, we have only to look at Kalomiros' "River of Fire."

When Kalmiros' speech (which eventually became the book) was delivered in 1980 at a Greek parish under the Russian Church Abroad, some people, for example Metropolitan Vitaly, were totally intrigued by Kalomiros' ideas and commended them heartily.

I myself thought it was a wonderful piece of work because it enables us to avoid any suggestion that it is God who punishes.

But the question must be asked -is it Orthodox doctrine? The answer is no.  What it is is an attractive theological opinion which strikes a chord in modern men and that is why it has become so popular in the last 30 years.  But it is not the doctrine of the Church.


Thanks for mentioning this Father. I did not know
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« Reply #34 on: December 03, 2010, 03:08:01 AM »

As a concrete example of the confusion which has developed in contemporary Orthodoxy on this topic of heaven and hell, we have only to look at Kalomiros' "River of Fire."

When Kalmiros' speech (which eventually became the book) was delivered in 1980 at a Greek parish under the Russian Church Abroad, some people, for example Metropolitan Vitaly, were totally intrigued by Kalomiros' ideas and commended them heartily.

I myself thought it was a wonderful piece of work because it enables us to avoid any suggestion that it is God who punishes.

But the question must be asked -is it Orthodox doctrine? The answer is no.  What it is is an attractive theological opinion which strikes a chord in modern men and that is why it has become so popular in the last 30 years.  But it is not the doctrine of the Church.


We have disagreed on many things here, Fr Ambrose, but I have to say I agree with you on Kalomiros. The confusion of the OP on the matter of heaven and hell is a strong confirmation of the fears that many have expressed over this new teaching on the Last Judgment. At best, Kalomiros' ideas are pure rationalization, the efforts of human reason to discern the mystery of how a God Who is Love can cast unrepentant sinners into eternal hellfire. At worst, they are a kind of neo-Origenism, a teaching that, whether or not we repent in this life, we will all be "saved" at the Last Day.
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« Reply #35 on: December 03, 2010, 03:55:18 AM »

It would seem unfair for those who have done everything to repent and yet they remain equal to those that have unrepented in their life. So in the Particular Judgment there is a chance for those to repent?

So the burning bush, what exactly does that all mean?
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« Reply #36 on: December 03, 2010, 05:47:56 AM »

So as in the video mentions, how the whole notion of God is wrathful and punishes those to Hell in eternity, is alien to the Orthodox church. Is that true?
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« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2010, 05:59:19 AM »

So as in the video mentions, how the whole notion of God is wrathful and punishes those to Hell in eternity, is alien to the Orthodox church. Is that true?

I suppose the answer to that hinges on your conception of fatherhood.

When a human father punishes his child is he acting in the image of God the Father or is he acting perversely and sinning, acting contrary to the image of divine fatherhood?
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« Reply #38 on: December 03, 2010, 03:54:50 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
So as in the video mentions, how the whole notion of God is wrathful and punishes those to Hell in eternity, is alien to the Orthodox church. Is that true?

I suppose the answer to that hinges on your conception of fatherhood.

When a human father punishes his child is he acting in the image of God the Father or is he acting perversely and sinning, acting contrary to the image of divine fatherhood?

True, but in this context, the earthly punishment by our temporal fathers is temporary, it is not eternal.  It is chastisement, which is meant to be a temporary means of correction for a hope of future change to the positive direction.  The Apostle Paul also compares this earthly chastisement with the way God deals with us here and now, in this temporal realm of earth.  But this theological concept of chastisement for correction, for rehabilitation, for positive change, does not equate with the concept of God's Final, Eternal punishment.  If God punishes for eternity, how is this chastisement bringing about edification and correction? Our earthly fathers do not punish us just to spite us, and neither does God, but the concept of Eternal punishment is just that, capricious, spiteful, merciless.  This is why I stick to the truest, humblest interpretation which does not limit God in anyone, either to say that He can or can not punish, but rather use the terms may, because we can not know the mind of God, or suppose to make His decisions for Him.
At best, Kalomiros' ideas are pure rationalization, the efforts of human reason to discern the mystery of how a God Who is Love can cast unrepentant sinners into eternal hellfire. At worst, they are a kind of neo-Origenism, a teaching that, whether or not we repent in this life, we will all be "saved" at the Last Day.

The question to really ask here is to say when do humans repent? When does God stop allowing us the opportunity to repent? How can we know this from our limited perspective here on earth in this transitional period? And further, I must ask you all, so what if God can or does chose to forgive everyone regardless? Why is this hard to accept? Shouldn't we be focused on our own, individual sins and repentance and not even contemplate the fate of others? Others fate is in God's hand, not ours, and as I said before, it seems clear to me that this is frankly none of our business.  Essentially, the old adage applies, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" which demonstrates the patience of Christ before Pilate  or the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, to utter not a word one way or the other, but to wait in silence on the matter for God.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #39 on: November 30, 2012, 04:04:14 PM »

So Melodist is that confirming what I was saying that Heaven and Hell is just an existence and its how we prepare ourselves for it?

I can't think of the words to explain what I'm thinking right now, but our experience in the next life will be based on how we have been conditioned in this life to relate to God.

meaning?
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« Reply #40 on: November 30, 2012, 04:07:58 PM »

[quoteIf it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames."

 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames."
[/quote]

I wonder what this means.
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« Reply #41 on: November 30, 2012, 04:17:22 PM »

So as in the video mentions, how the whole notion of God is wrathful and punishes those to Hell in eternity, is alien to the Orthodox church. Is that true?

I suppose the answer to that hinges on your conception of fatherhood.

When a human father punishes his child is he acting in the image of God the Father or is he acting perversely and sinning, acting contrary to the image of divine fatherhood?

I choose the second part. Since most people due to our sin condition. want revenge not justice.
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« Reply #42 on: November 30, 2012, 10:31:07 PM »

I can't think of the words to explain what I'm thinking right now, but our experience in the next life will be based on how we have been conditioned in this life to relate to God.
meaning?

We are made in His image and likeness, and it is in Him that we live and move and have our being. If we spend this life growing in love for God and growing in our likeness of Him, then we will continue to do so in the age to come. If we spend this life rejecting God's love and diminshing His likeness in us, then we will continue to do so and be tormented by it in the age to come.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

Made Perfect in Weakness - Latest Post: The Son of God
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