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Author Topic: Levels of Heaven and Hell  (Read 5021 times) Average Rating: 0
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Myrrh23
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« on: June 16, 2008, 03:54:34 AM »

Does Orthodoxy believe that Heaven and Hell are made up of different levels? If so, is it possible for non-Christians to at least go to the nearest level of Heaven (1st level?)? If non-Christians go to Hell, are they guaranteed to suffer even if they are on the first level of Hell, even if they were good people, like Gandhi? Sorry if this was confusing....
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 06:58:35 AM »

You mean like Dante's Inferno in the Divine Comedy?

No, there are no levels (and it's even possible to debate that Heaven and Hell are just states of being while in God's presence, but that's been discussed ad nauseum). Yet nothing we experience after death is truly Heaven or truly Hell until the Final Judgment.

Nevertheless, it is not a guarantee than non-Christians are damned. We do not know how the Creator judges, and we only know where the Holy Spirit is, not where it is absent.

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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2008, 07:10:09 AM »

Quote
Nevertheless, it is not a guarantee than non-Christians are damned.

So then how does Orthodoxy explain "No man cometh to the Father but through me" bit?
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2008, 07:15:50 AM »

We know how we go through him, but he may very well say to Ghandi, "What you have done unto the least of your brethren you did unto me. Enter into the joy of your master."
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« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2008, 07:50:53 AM »

You mean like Dante's Inferno in the Divine Comedy?

No, there are no levels (and it's even possible to debate that Heaven and Hell are just states of being while in God's presence, but that's been discussed ad nauseum). Yet nothing we experience after death is truly Heaven or truly Hell until the Final Judgment.

Nevertheless, it is not a guarantee than non-Christians are damned. We do not know how the Creator judges, and we only know where the Holy Spirit is, not where it is absent.



Um, I understand that, yes there are levels. And I have no idea what Dante has written about so I am not referring to him. My understanding is that depending on our degree of faith and way of life, we are not all to ascend to the same level of heaven or descend to the same level of hell for that matter. Forgive my putting it crudely but I believe this is the basic idea more or less.
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« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2008, 08:46:55 AM »

It's not so much that there are levels of heaven and hell, as Dante described, which are immutable, eternal states. It's that we will experience God's love differently. Some will receive it better than others. Those who receive it best will be in the highest level of heaven, so to speak; those who reject it most will be in the lowest circle of hell, so to speak. Dante was not entirely incorrect, but as he was not Orthodox, he does not speak for us.

Hope that helps.
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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2008, 07:38:00 PM »

This is also how I've understood heaven and hell: there aren't levels so much as degrees for each individual. Those who are in hell are those who have turned away from God, but their experience there will be determined by how much they've personally turned away from God. Likewise with heaven. As to non-Christians, I don't know, other than that God will judge justly/lovingly.
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2008, 12:11:59 AM »

It's not so much that there are levels of heaven and hell, as Dante described, which are immutable, eternal states. It's that we will experience God's love differently. Some will receive it better than others. Those who receive it best will be in the highest level of heaven, so to speak; those who reject it most will be in the lowest circle of hell, so to speak. Dante was not entirely incorrect, but as he was not Orthodox, he does not speak for us.

Hope that helps.
You speak with such assurance.  Both you and Simayan.  Do you mean to say that this is your understanding?  Or have you been to hell or had the answer revealed to you?  Provide us with your (seemingly) Divine insight.  Suffice it to say that I am not a Christian so you'll really need to offer more than just the party line.

Respectfully,

Seamus
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2008, 12:21:36 AM »

You speak with such assurance.  Both you and Simayan.  Do you mean to say that this is your understanding?  Or have you been to hell or had the answer revealed to you?  Provide us with your (seemingly) Divine insight.  Suffice it to say that I am not a Christian so you'll really need to offer more than just the party line.

Respectfully,

Seamus

It seems to be the consensus among the Church fathers and the experience of the Church.
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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2008, 12:33:10 AM »

As I understand the Orthodox view on heaven and hell, it's as someone (ytterbiumanalyst and someone else?) has already said; it's not so much levels but degrees? I have heard it explained as the degree of how much we long to be with or long not to be with God here and now that will be our degree of heaven and hell.

Sort of like when one has a great friend whose company we really desire. Recognising great value in them, we find it's a joy to be with them; we are comfortable and at ease with them.

Then, on the other hand, there are those that we don't recognise any value in their company. For whatever reason, we can't stand to be in the same room with them and we groan when we see their car pull into the driveway. We suffer in their company, can't wait for them to leave so that we can regain our equilibrium.

I sort of, rightly or wrongly, equate this to how it will be when we come face to face with God. But I don't get the impression that this condition or state of being is static.   
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2008, 12:38:41 AM »

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) shows that there is a chasm separating Father Abraham's Bosom (e.g. Heaven) from the place of eternal suffering.  The Gospel passage didn't imply any levels for Heaven or Hell. 

2 Corinthians 12:1-6 implies the third Heaven is the highest Heaven while Paradise is the City of God where he reigns among the just.
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2008, 12:46:01 AM »

You speak with such assurance.  Both you and Simayan.  Do you mean to say that this is your understanding?  Or have you been to hell or had the answer revealed to you?  Provide us with your (seemingly) Divine insight.  Suffice it to say that I am not a Christian so you'll really need to offer more than just the party line.

Respectfully,

Seamus
So you would counsel us to not trust in what God has revealed to others (e.g., the Apostles and Holy Fathers, whom we venerate as great lights within the Church) and seek direct experience or revelations for ourselves?  Would you ask that we stop doing that which makes us Orthodox Christians to follow after our own easily deceived intuitions?
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« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2008, 12:57:30 AM »

You speak with such assurance.  Both you and Simayan.  Do you mean to say that this is your understanding?  Or have you been to hell or had the answer revealed to you?  Provide us with your (seemingly) Divine insight.  Suffice it to say that I am not a Christian so you'll really need to offer more than just the party line.

People who've taken, ahem, recreational drugs could describe the levels of Heaven and Hell except that such a description would not be consistent between different people who've taken the same recreational drugs and would definitely not be theologically valid.   angel
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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2008, 01:08:47 AM »

So you would counsel us to not trust in what God has revealed to others (e.g., the Apostles and Holy Fathers, whom we venerate as great lights within the Church) and seek direct experience or revelations for ourselves?  Would you ask that we stop doing that which makes us Orthodox Christians to follow after our own easily deceived intuitions?
I would do no such thing and I believe you've completely missrepresented or missunderstood my point.  The person I questioned spoke with such authoritative assurance, sans Biblical/Patristic quotes, that it seemed they were privy to knowledge brought about by either experience or Divine insight.  Try to be more discerning in your criticism next time.
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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2008, 01:13:13 AM »

I would do no such thing and I believe you've completely missrepresented or missunderstood my point.  The person I questioned spoke with such authoritative assurance, sans Biblical/Patristic quotes

So, one comes to an Orthodox Christian forum and asks about the levels of Heaven and Hell without expecting a quote from Scripture nor a quotation from Patristic sources.

OK, here's the best answer, I don't know.
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« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2008, 01:13:44 AM »

I would do no such thing and I believe you've completely missrepresented or missunderstood my point.  The person I questioned spoke with such authoritative assurance, sans Biblical/Patristic quotes, that it seemed they were privy to knowledge brought about by either experience or Divine insight.  Try to be more discerning in your criticism next time.

Actually Seamus I think you misunderstood Mr.Y's point. Mr. Y is speaking from the experience of the Church fathers and our Theology. Peter was questioning why you think the Bible, church fathers and the Holy Tradition do not suffice for you?
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« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2008, 01:25:46 AM »

Actually Seamus I think you misunderstood Mr.Y's point. Mr. Y is speaking from the experience of the Church fathers and our Theology. Peter was questioning why you think the Bible, church fathers and the Holy Tradition do not suffice for you?
They probably would have given the matter a bit more weight, but since no reference was given
  The person I questioned spoke with such authoritative assurance, sans Biblical/Patristic quotes, that it seemed they were privy to knowledge brought about by either experience or Divine insight.  
This, then, was where I took umbrage.
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« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2008, 01:28:20 AM »

I would do no such thing and I believe you've completely missrepresented or missunderstood my point.  The person I questioned spoke with such authoritative assurance, sans Biblical/Patristic quotes, that it seemed they were privy to knowledge brought about by either experience or Divine insight.  Try to be more discerning in your criticism next time.
And yet you stated that merely offering the "party line" is not good enough for you.  For us, the party line is the Scriptures, the Apostolic Tradition, the Holy Fathers, etc.  This is the source from which we draw our faith, so for us to give you more than the "party line" is to relate to you personal experiences that may in fact not be Orthodox.  You come to an Orthodox discussion forum seeking answers, but what answers do you want?  Potentially deceitful personal revelations, or the teachings of the Orthodox Tradition?
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« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2008, 01:36:38 AM »

^^ Seamus, are you in any crisis?
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2008, 01:45:54 AM »

Listen, the main problem I see on religious forums, be they Christian or Buddhist or Islamic, is that people neglect to preface their posts with some form of intimation with scripture or some other religious figure.  Rather, many simply prefer to post in such a manner as to seemingly pass off ancient wisdom as their own.  

"Party line" was a bad choice of words.  I mean no disrespect towards Orthodox Christianity of Orthodox Christians.
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« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2008, 01:48:25 AM »

^^ Seamus, are you in any crisis?
Why do you ask?  Are you a licensed therapist? Wink
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« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2008, 01:54:48 AM »

Why do you ask?  Are you a licensed therapist? Wink

I'm not a licensed therapist; However, I have training in recognizing people in crisis based on what they communicate to others.   Wink

The line of thought of your recent posts in this thread plus the title of another recent thread led me to believe that perhaps your visit here could be a cry for help based on something happening recenty?

If you're in crisis, please call 1.800.SUICIDE or 911 ASAP.  If not, please pardon my intrusion.   angel
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« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2008, 02:06:39 AM »

Why do you ask?  Are you a licensed therapist? Wink

The resident therapist on oc.net is Ozgeorge. You can ask him if he would be willing to give you some advice Cheesy.
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The sins I don't commit are largely due to the weakness of my limbs.

1915-1923 Հայոց Ցեղասպանութիւն ,never again,
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« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2008, 02:07:13 AM »

I'm not a licensed therapist; However, I have training in recognizing people in crisis based on what they communicate to others.   Wink

The line of thought of your recent posts in this thread plus the title of another recent thread led me to believe that perhaps your visit here could be a cry for help based on something happening recenty?

If you're in crisis, please call 1.800.SUICIDE or 911 ASAP.  If not, please pardon my intrusion.   angel
Thankfully, no crisis.  Just trying to get folks to think.  Also, nothing personal towards Ytterbiumanalyst (hence forward "Mr. Y") or Simayan.  I simply wanted to know how they know what they presented as fact.  And BTW, you might wish to further your 'training' or perhaps go into a different line of work. Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2008, 02:08:45 AM »

Listen, the main problem I see on religious forums, be they Christian or Buddhist or Islamic, is that people neglect to preface their posts with some form of intimation with scripture or some other religious figure.  Rather, many simply prefer to post in such a manner as to seemingly pass off ancient wisdom as their own.
And yet, on another thread you complain about how many of us prefer to merely regurgitate what we've been taught without ever making that something we would know from personal experience.  This seems to contradict somewhat the words you speak above.  Do you want us to regurgitate what we've been taught, as the above quote seems to suggest, or do you want us to speak what we know from experience (with the authority that such experience brings), or would you rather we keep altogether silent?

(Please note also that we just hijacked someone else's thread, which may require me to split this tangent off into another thread.)
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« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2008, 02:09:46 AM »

Just trying to get folks to think. 

Oh ok yeah its all cool Seamus we have had many posters come that have told people to think.

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The sins I don't commit are largely due to the weakness of my limbs.

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« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2008, 02:44:09 AM »

Thankfully, no crisis.  Just trying to get folks to think.  Also, nothing personal towards Ytterbiumanalyst (hence forward "Mr. Y") or Simayan.  I simply wanted to know how they know what they presented as fact.  

I get the impression that this really isn't a topic that anyone can speak of "as fact" and I don't believe that MrY and Simayan were presenting a personal point of view as anything other than what we as Orthodox Christians can ascertain from scripture and the opinions of our Church Fathers. I know that other Christians have very firm viewpoints on this, but we consider it one of those areas that you simply can't throw out a bible verse and get a pat answer. Orthodoxy simply doesn't work that way.

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« Reply #27 on: June 17, 2008, 08:26:12 AM »

You speak with such assurance.  Both you and Simayan.  Do you mean to say that this is your understanding?  Or have you been to hell or had the answer revealed to you?  Provide us with your (seemingly) Divine insight.  Suffice it to say that I am not a Christian so you'll really need to offer more than just the party line.
Well, actually, this was one of the first questions I had coming into Orthodoxy, as I had come to the conclusion by my own rational thinking that heaven and hell could not be literal places. Therefore, I asked my priest how Orthodoxy viewed heaven and hell, and I received the answer I passed on to you and the rest on this forum.

I make no claim to be an expert; what I share here is my informed opinion, based on what I've learned from the Church and from my own studies. Sometimes I remember where I've learned a particular byte of knowledge, but usually it just becomes part of my paradigm, and I can't really separate one byte from another.

I apologize that I have offended you by my style, but as this is a discussion/debate forum, I usually take a stronger tone for purposes of furthering the argument. In argument truth is often revealed. My thesis may not be absolutely true, but by comparing it with an antithesis the truth will reveal itself. The stronger the theses, the easier this comparison is made. If I were to have said, "Well, I think probably that heaven and hell might have things which are sort of like levels, maybe, if I am not entirely incorrect, and I hope I'm not"--what sort of argument is that? That's the sort of thing which is said by a person with social anxiety disorder. No, I argue strongly, and even when I am wrong (which is pretty often), I have learned better what the truth is.
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« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2010, 09:57:15 AM »

according to orthodox church fathers...there is 3 levels of heaven and seven levels of hell (or visa versa) -one or the other. Other non christians will be judged according to their intentions and heart
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« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2010, 01:02:51 PM »

according to orthodox church fathers...there is 3 levels of heaven and seven levels of hell (or visa versa) -one or the other. Other non christians will be judged according to their intentions and heart
Which Fathers?  Can you quote them?

BTW, welcome to the forum! Grin
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« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2010, 11:13:06 PM »

hey thanks for your welcome...i cant remember but its books like unseen welfare etc.... i have defintely read it i may try to google it and let u know more Smiley
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« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2010, 11:18:32 PM »

right i googled it we believe as st paul said when he said he caught up to the third heaven...there are three levels of heaven and seven of hell/////
maybe father can quote the church father or fathers that have quoted this?
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« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2010, 12:41:12 AM »

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the doctrine of epektasis yet.
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« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2010, 02:49:33 AM »

can u please elobarate on epektasis

i know we dont believe in puragortory
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