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Author Topic: Heaven, Hell, and Condemnation  (Read 3625 times) Average Rating: 0
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Simayan
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« on: October 16, 2006, 05:43:07 PM »

Ive been wondering for some time now what the Orthodox's opinion on salvation is. I know that the Protestants preach the line "Nobody sees the father except through me", however, I cant help but feel sick when I think that Ghandi or a good athiest would go to Hell. Ive always thought that believing in Christ as God isnt NEEDED to get into heaven. I mean, wouldnt it make sense that a benevolent person who lived 1500 years ago and was ignorant to Christs teachings would be saved? So, this would seem that we are saved by acts (most importantly), and faith (perhaps qually as important but not needed). I mean, that line in the Bible COULD mean that Jesus will save those who do good deeds, thus they are still going through him. Im not sure if thats ultra-heretical, however, thats what my priest teaches.  Undecided

Oh, and what is the stance on the idea that Satan may one day be saved? Certainly it would be possible if he sought it; all he would have to do is ask. But does his arrogance stop him?

And a final question. In the OT, Satan asks God if he can torment Job. Now, I found this odd. Satan could easily have done it, which led me to think that he was still in Gods favor at this point. However I find it odd that he would have not been thrown aside during the Adam and Eve fiasco. I guess what Im asking is when did The Fall occur? And if it happened after Adam and Eve, where did they go at their deaths? Was hell still existant, but contained no ruler?

This also contradicts itself by the fact that Adam and Eve brought evil into the world. Or perhaps there was still evil in the Universe, but not on Earth. Evil would already exist if Satan had been thrown down and tempted them, and I find it improbable that his rebellion would have taken place at the direct instant she ate the apple, because he was already down tempting her.

This makes it logical that they did NOT bring evil unless it was already existant before them in a greater area of time, in which case evil existed before they ate the fruit, but from that point on manifested itself here.

*Sigh*

Yeah, that last one is long. But it's been irritating me.

In Christ,
Simayan





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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2006, 08:28:43 AM »

Actually, He said "no one comes to the Father except through Me."
Think of it this way:
Let's say you live on the edge of a dense forest full of bogs, quicksand, and other dangers. On the other side of the forest is a brand  new mansion which has been given to you for free. You know that there is only one path through the forest which is safe, but there are also other beaten tracks into the forest, but you don't know where they lead. Inside the forest is a guide who carries a lamp to show people where the safe path through the forest is. Which path through the forest would you choose? Now let's say someone else is in the same situation and doesn't know which is the safe path, nor does he know that there is a guide with a lamp. He begins to walk through the forest on one of the other paths, and quickly finds himself in trouble, sinking into a bog. In the distance the guide of the safe path sees him and takes pity on him. The guide runs to the man and reaches out his hand to pull him out. The man in the bog must reach out as well so the guide can grasp him. He does, and the guide pulls the man up on to solid ground. The guide then points out the safe path, but the man says: "No thank you, I'm sure that if I persist and be careful, I will find my own way." To this, the guide replies: "I cannot force you to take the safe path, but all I can tell you is that it will surely take you where you want to go. If you fall into danger again, I will come to help, but you may not be able to reach out and grasp my hand."
The Guide is Christ. The safe path is His Church.

Now, on your next question of the repentance of demons, in the Scriptures we read:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron."(1 Timothy 1-2)
Note especially the words in bold. If someone burns themselves with a hot iron, it is at first very painful, but if you burn the same spot long enough or repeatedly, you actually can no longer feel it because you have destroyed the nerves required to feel pain. So to have your conscience "seared with a hot iron" means that you have seriously and repeatedly persisted in sin for such a longe time that you no longer recognise what you are doing as sin. In this situation, how can one possibly repent since their conscience has given up on accusing them? So while the opportunity of repentance is there, a person who has "seared their conscience" will never come to repentance.

And now, on the question of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve did not "bring evil", rather, they chose to act contrary to their true Nature, and thus, they chose evil. When they died, their souls descended into "Hades" (in Greek) or "Sheol" (in Hebrew). In fact, everyone who died before the Death of Christ went to Hades. Even St. John the Baptist was there. When Christ died, His Soul entered Hades, and He liberated them and opened the gates of Paradise to them. For this reason, the Icon which we call the Icon of the Resurrection (more properly called "The Harrowing of Hades" shows Christ trampling down the gates of Hades and binding up Death (personified as an old man) and pulling Adam and Eve out of their graves to be with Him:
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2006, 03:13:05 PM »

Thank you.

However, but probably due to my fatigue, my question was not clear.

I was asking in the first question if it is possible and probable for someone who does good deeds but has no faith to be saved. And also, what of the good Pagans in Scotland who died but never heard Christ's teachings? The whole point is, today, most people in the world know about Jesus and his teachings. But even if a missionary came to a Pagan, whose culture had been practicing sun-worship for 500 years, dont you think they would have dismissed this crazy fool in the year 100? I am familiar with that icon; we have a VERY large one in our church painted on the western wall. However, even after Jesus released everyone from Hell, what of people who lived and died after his ascension? Were they guarenteed a place in heaven?

Even today, children raised in an Athiest household cannot be held responsible for their skeptisism of religion. In most conversations I have, someone says "The Holy Spirit can teach them the way". Folks, let be serious here, and secular. God isnt going to visit each and every one of these people. He COULD, but he wont. My grandmother is an athiest. She was raised Anglican, but has left God mostly behind, yet still lives a moral and upstanding life. Both her son and husband died within 2 years of eachother. Certainly people who experience that become secularists. But is that a reason for her to be condemned by God?

One more point I hid amongst my endless rabble in the last question:

I was wondering WHEN did the fall of Satan occur? Was Satan in hell when Adam and Eve died, or was he in Hell sometime after Job?
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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2006, 06:21:51 PM »

I was asking in the first question if it is possible and probable for someone who does good deeds but has no faith to be saved. And also, what of the good Pagans in Scotland who died but never heard Christ's teachings?
And I guess my answer wasn't clear. If, in the example of the paths through the forest, Christ is the Guide and the Church is the safe path, then the other paths which are not safe are other ways through life, i.e. other faiths, atheism etc. If we choose to follow these other paths through life, we may or may not make it to the goal on the other side, but if we do make it, it is only because the  guide (Christ) has taken pity on us and pulled us out
of trouble. So, what I am saying is that the only sure and certain way is to follow Christ and His Church, however, if someone chooses a different way,  they may or may not be saved depending on the circumstances, but we can never be sure. But if anyone following another way (other than Christ and His Church) is saved, it is still Christ Who saves them. Thus, "No one comes to the Father except through Christ".

However, even after Jesus released everyone from Hell, what of people who lived and died after his ascension? Were they guarenteed a place in heaven?
If we had no choice but to be saved, then we would have to be robots with no ability to make choices. If someone chooses to reject God's Love throughout their life, God will not force Himself on them.

Even today, children raised in an Athiest household cannot be held responsible for their skeptisism of religion.
Yes, but at some point, children grow up and must take responsibility for their own choices. We cannot use outr childhood experiences as an excuse for our behaviour for the rest of our lives. There are many Saints who had awful childhoods, for example, St. Barbara's own father beheaded her, St. Markella's own father tried to rape her, St. Phanourious was the illegitimate son of a prostitute....

Folks, let be serious here, and secular. God isnt going to visit each and every one of these people. He COULD, but he wont.
Huh And how do you know? God is "everywhere present and fills all things", and "the Light of Christ shines on all". Exactly how is one supposed to understand God in a "secular" way? Undecided

My grandmother is an athiest. She was raised Anglican, but has left God mostly behind, yet still lives a moral and upstanding life. Both her son and husband died within 2 years of eachother. Certainly people who experience that become secularists. But is that a reason for her to be condemned by God?
A Christian is forbidden to pass judgement on anyone, either one way or the other. This is why we pray for all. Unless God makes it clear that someone has entered Paradise after death (by Glorifying one of His Saints) we have no way of knowing who is or isn't saved, so we pray for all. So, do not judge your Grandmother one way or the other- that is Christ's job.

I was wondering WHEN did the fall of Satan occur? Was Satan in hell when Adam and Eve died, or was he in Hell sometime after Job?
Firstly, don't think of it as "in hell" as though hell is a place. I think that is why you are getting confused.  The devil is still our adversary and accuser who tries to lead us away from God (1 Peter 5:Cool just as he was in Job's time. The evil one was cast out of Paradise (i.e. rebelled against God) sometime after the universe was created. If you read the Genesis account, God curses the Serpent and prophesies the coming of Christ to utterly crush him immediately after the sin of Adam and Eve.
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2006, 07:09:53 PM »

Dear Friend, you may find the following helpful:

Many Holy Fathers have taught that we are to judge no one, that as one draws
closer to God in ascetic struggle, he will begin to see that he truly is “chief among
sinners”—as Orthodox Christians pray before every partaking of Holy Communion—,
and that all others should be esteemed higher than himself.
With this in mind we offer for the reader’s consideration these wise and instructive
words of Saint Dorotheos of Gaza (sixth century):
Why are we so ready to judge our neighbor? Why are we so concerned about the burden
of others? We have plenty to be concerned about, each one has his own debt and his
own sins. It is for God alone to judge, to justify or to condemn. He knows the state of
each one of us and our capacities, our deviations, and our gifts, our constitution and our
preparedness, and it is for him to judge each of these things according to the knowledge
that he alone has. For God judges the affairs of a bishop in one way and those of a
prince in another. His judgment is for an abbot or for a disciple, he judges differently
the senior and the neophyte, the sick man and the healthy man. Who could understand
all these judgments except the one who has done everything, formed everything, knows
everything? I remember once hearing the following story: a slave ship put in at a certain
port where there lived a holy virgin who was in earnest about her spiritual life. When
she learned about the arrival of the ship she was glad, for she wanted to buy a small
serving maid for herself. She thought to herself, 'I will take her into my home and bring
her up in my way of life so that she knows nothing of the evils of the world.' So she sent
and enquired of the master of the ship and found that he had two small girls who he
thought would suit her. Whereupon she gladly paid the price and took one of the
children into her house. The ship's master went away. He had not gone very far when
there met him the leader of a dancing troupe who saw the other small girl with him and
wanted to buy her; the price was agreed and paid, and he took her away with him. Now
take a look at God's mystery; see what his judgment was. Which of us could give any
judgment about this case? The holy virgin took one of these little ones to bring her up in
the fear of God, to instruct her in every good work, to teach her all that belongs to the
monastic state and all the sweetness of holy commandments of God. The other
unfortunate child was taken for the dancing troupe, to be trained in the works of the
devil. What effect would teaching her this orgiastic dancing have, but the ruin of her
soul? What can we have to say about this frightful judgment? Here were two little girls
taken away from their parents by violence. Neither knew where they came from; one is
found in the hands of God and the other falls into the hands of the devil. Is it possible to
say that what God asks from the one he asks also from the other? Surely not! Suppose
they both fell into fornication or some other deadly sin; is it possible that they both face
88
the same judgment or that their fall is the same? How does it appear to the mind of God
when one learns about the Judgment and about the Kingdom of God day and night,
while the other unfortunate knows nothing of it, never hears anything good but only the
contrary, everything shameful, everything diabolical? How can he allow them to be
examined by the same standard?173
Some Saints even prayed for the conversion of the Devil himself and all his fallen
angels! What unfathomable love has been shed abroad in the hearts of these asceticwarriors!
For those who have tasted of true humility born of prayer and spiritual
struggle, the thought of passing eternal judgment upon others is abhorrent. God alone
is the Righteous Judge of Mankind. Our speculation should cease with this affirmation.
As Saint Macarius of Optina wrote in the nineteenth century:
As to those people who are good and kind but are not believers, we cannot and must
not judge them. The ways of the Lord are inscrutable; let us leave these good people
entirely to His judgment and to the grace of His Providence. He alone knows how and
why He has built the argosy of humanity, and the small boat of each one of us, such as it
is.174
These wise words remind us of the Patristic dictum so eloquently set forth by Saint
Gregory the Dialogist over fourteen hundred years ago: “Who is able to enter into the
secret judgements of God? Wherefore those things which in divine examination we
cannot comprehend, we ought rather to fear than curiously to discuss.”175
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2006, 11:17:35 PM »

What a wonderful and wise reply by falafel333!!!!!  We should always hope and pray for others instead of curiously speculating on their fate.  I must constantly remind myself of this as I am a person who tends to be nosy.  God help us all.      :)Juliana
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2006, 08:24:01 PM »

What a wonderful and wise reply by falafel333!!!!!  We should always hope and pray for others instead of curiously speculating on their fate.  I must constantly remind myself of this as I am a person who tends to be nosy.  God help us all.      :)Juliana

Which is all well and good, provided our failure to speculate is truly an act of humility and not simply an excuse to avoid addressing an irrational soteriology/eschatology that is devoid of love and a theology of a hateful and sadistic God.
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2006, 08:38:59 PM »

Which is all well and good, provided our failure to speculate is truly an act of humility and not simply an excuse to avoid addressing an irrational soteriology/eschatology that is devoid of love and a theology of a hateful and sadistic God.

Please do not hijack this thread with your Origenist speculations that are not the received tradition of soteriology in Orthodoxy.  If you wish, you may link to other threads where you have made your case, but I am not interested in seeing every thread on soteriology be diverted to Origenistic speculation. Thank you.

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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2006, 09:00:26 PM »

Please do not hijack this thread with your Origenist speculations that are not the received tradition of soteriology in Orthodoxy.  If you wish, you may link to other threads where you have made your case, but I am not interested in seeing every thread on soteriology be diverted to Origenistic speculation. Thank you.

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I'm sure that it is unnecessary for me to point out the many great Fathers of the Church who would advocated the soteriology I support and that it is likewise unnecessary for me to again bring out the patristic quotes that demonstrate that my soteriology was supported by the majority of Christians during, at the very least, the third, fourth, and fifth centuries. Surely this isn't an issue of numbers as many opinions are often presented on this site that do not have a 'majority' support, many of which have far less patristic support than apokatastasis; perhaps I should remind you that old calendarism is certainly not a majority view.

Furthermore, Simayan has posted questions which many Fathers such as St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Ambrose of Milan, etc. have addressed, why do you seek to prevent their patristic voice from even being heard. I know you try to argue that you're not censoring their opinions; however, your desire to restirct the conversation about their theologies to a few dead threads from months past is just that; why do you seek to prevent these patristic voices from being presented in a thread that asks questions DIRECTLY related to the teachings of these fathers?

Why are St. Clement and St. Gregory so dangerous? Why do you seek to censor their teachings when you allow far more absurd (and far less patristic) opinions to be presented freely? These saints directly answer Simayan, they say in no uncertain terms that God is all-loving, that God is all-merciful, and that divine love will be victorious; they teach that one need not worry about the fates of others, but merely trust in the infinite, unlimited, and unbounded Love and Mercy of God.

Why, for a Christian, is the belief in Divine Love and Mercy too dangerous to even be uttered?
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2006, 09:10:00 PM »

Clement of Alexandria is NOT an Orthodox saint. You have never proven this to me or anyone despite repeated requests.  St Gregory's soteriology was resoundly not accepted by the vast majority of the fathers. Reading the Bible, the Philokalia, the Lives of the Desert Fathers, and other theologians, it is abundantly obvious that despite the fact that your preferred soteriology was in vogue in the early centuries, it was ultimately not received. I allow you the chance to air your views, but inquirers do have an expectation in the faith forum when they ask questions about Orthodoxy that they will recieve the STANDARD Orthodox response, and your response IS NOT THE STANDARD ORTHODOX RESPONSE, no matter how you slice it. We are simply tired of repeatedly having to issue disclaimers. Post away in the threads you have already made. Link to those threads. But I'd appreciate it if you stopped injecting this speculation into basic threads.

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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2006, 11:50:43 PM »

Gentlemen,

Perhaps rather than trying to censor particular views the best course would be to encourage all posters when answering inquirer questions to clearly state whether the doctrinal position being explained is considered Orthodox or heterodox, dogmatic or non-dogmatic, a majority view or minority view, etc - some sort of context.  This way everyone, including GiC, would be free to present his views, so long as he provided a contextual basis on which inquirers could judge whether to research further.  As an inquirer I understand the desire of Anastasios to maintain some sort of clarity here, but the fact is that an Internet forum is a distinctly poor place to ensure consistency of viewpoint, and attempts to enforce consistency generally rob the forum of its best characteristics, not to mention creating headaches for moderators.  If an inquirer wants to be assured he or she is receiving the "official" Orthodox teaching, then perhaps the inquirer should be directed to an approved article on the subject (such as on the websites of OCA, GOAA, etc.), directed to a book that discusses the topic from an Orthodox viewpoint, or directed to ask a priest.

Just a few thoughts.

Sincerely in Christ,
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2006, 11:58:07 PM »

Brian,

Thank you for your thoughts. I spoke with GisC in private and we came to an acceptable compromise.

In Christ,

Anastasios
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2006, 03:49:35 PM »

Everyone seems to think I wanted to judge people. Actually, I was hoping to have my hopes affirmed that anyone can be saved, because God decides, not faith in your own mind.

Anastasios said that GiC wasnt giving the Orthodox response..

Quote
These saints directly answer Simayan, they say in no uncertain terms that God is all-loving, that God is all-merciful, and that divine love will be victorious; they teach that one need not worry about the fates of others, but merely trust in the infinite, unlimited, and unbounded Love and Mercy of God.

I should hope that IS the standard response.
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2006, 04:54:19 PM »

Everyone seems to think I wanted to judge people. Actually, I was hoping to have my hopes affirmed that anyone can be saved, because God decides, not faith in your own mind.

Anastasios said that GiC wasnt giving the Orthodox response..

I should hope that IS the standard response.

GisC does not believe in an eternal hell. That is the context in which he said those words.

A.
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2006, 07:14:08 AM »

Sorry for reviving an older thread, but this is an important subject for me and it goes along with another topic I recently posted. My thoughts agree almost exactly with ozgeorge and falafel333's views. I do have my own ways of explaining them though, if it helps you understand better (keep in mind these are just educated guesses, I don't think the Church has an official view on this subject):

Another way to think of ozgeorge's forest explaination is to think that salvation is a destination, and your beliefs are like a map. If you are Christian, especially Orthodox, your map is accurate and detailed, showing the best route. If you are of a different faith, your map may contain errors and less details. If you are athiest, maybe you don't get a map at all. Is it possible to reach a destination with an inaccurate map? Is it possible to reach a destination with no map at all? Yes it is. But it's harder. And it may involve you going against the rules of your map (your faith).

And what falafel333 said is exactly what I was thinking but could not put into words. If you were going into a hospital for a serious surgery, would you want the world's best surgeon working on you, or the guy that works the McDonald's drive-thru? Why not? Becuase the fast food employee doesn't have all the info and skills needed. Now who has all the info and skills needed for judgement of a soul? God has all the information, and He is all powerful. He knows everything about a person's situation, their upbringing, their fears, their reasoning, their intelligence, their personality, their desires, their struggles, everything! I hate it when we reduce God's judgement to a system instead of a relationship, as if God was a civil court. Why do we have laws? I got pulled over for speeding a few months ago even though I don't speed that often, and my friend who speeds recklessly all the time hasn't gotten a ticket in over year. Is that fair? No. But how was the court supposed to know that? The reason we have a civil justice system is becuase we don't have all the information. But God does, so He doesn't use a system. It's not like He's adding up points, or checks, or gold stars or something. He doesn't give you grades for your faith and then after your death calculates whether your not you made a passing C or not. You and everyone else is judged as a whole person, not as a number. God doesn't know of you, God knows you!

Something I heard from a Catholic once resonated in my mind, I'm not sure if it's appropriate or even true, but it stuck with me. She said "You are a human being, so by your very nature you're not perfect, and you're not all loving. Not even close. But yet you are trying to make excuses for why these people should get into Heaven. Don't you think that therefore, God, who loves all people with a perfect and unthinkable amount of love would not do the same or more?"

...and like you, this is a issue that I still am troubled with. When I hear someone say that everyone who doesn't believe in Christ is going to hell, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. And when I hear someone say only Orthodox Christians are going to Heaven, I get overcome by a very gloomy and hopeless feeling. Like falafel333 said, we just have to trust God to make the best choice.

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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2006, 07:55:37 AM »

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. While some of us here believe that non-Christians may have a chance at going to Heaven, ozgeorge is right about Christ's involvement in that. If a non-believer does enter Heaven, it is becuase God willed it. It is not becuase he managed to succeed in being a good enough person and therefore "earned" a spot, but rather that due to his good deeds and circumstances that may provide an excuse for his lack of faith, Christ made the decision and found it right and fitting to bring him into Heaven, through His mercy. Without Christ, no one has a chance. Any belief other than this I think will be a heresy against our faith and beliefs, and probably even the beliefs of almost all Christian denominations.
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« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2010, 06:49:37 AM »

Well I believe that michael jackson had a chance to make it heaven as he was like a little child. I know jesus christ and the christ that I love and talk to everyday has his mysteries that he wont reveal-I really think on judgement day we are going to be shocked when we actually see who is saved and who isnt saved. Really really shocked
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