OrthodoxChristianity.net
September 01, 2014, 05:50:06 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: TOLL HOUSES - A BIBLICAL APPROACH  (Read 3976 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Kosmas
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 66


« on: July 23, 2005, 12:38:16 PM »

Note : I know that this topic has been a hot issue in the past but was mainly based on the Fathers of the Church. I also wish to agree that this topic is a 'theologoumenon' and all of you probably know theologoumena are topics which one can believe in or not believe in without being in trouble of losing one's soul. Furthermore, revelations based on visions of any sort have never been accepted as foundations for dogma of the Church. These dreams and visions from God are purely symbolic and didactic. We do not believe Demons have horns and a tail, there is no real fire, boiling tar and sulphur in Hell.

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Before we can look at the writings of various Fathers shouldn't we firstly look at the greatest authority we have regarding our Christian Faith the words of Christ in the Holy Bible?

Here are various Biblical verses which discuss judgement of souls after we die.


Quotation:

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:22-29)
 




Quotation:

And if I cast out demons by Be-elzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they (the demons) shall be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Matthew 12:27-28, Luke 11:19-20)
 



From these two verses above, we may see where the idea of being 'judged by demons' comes from. If someone is empty and void of the Grace of God and His Holy Spirit then naturally he would be under the powere of demons and demons would be able to judge him or her. But on closer examination, who is void and empty of God's Grace and Spirit? If we truly believe in God then we should not fear being judged by demons since they would have no power over us.


Quotation:

If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the Word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day." (John 12:47-48).
 




Quotation:

And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that He is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name. (Acts 10:42-43).
 




Quotation:

All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. (Romans 2:12-13)
 



From these three verses therefore we see that God has two methods of judgement depending on who we ourselves consider to be our judge. if we have Christ as our judge and follow His teachings then He will judge us according to His mercy, however if we have the Law as our witness and judge then we will be judged by the Law.

The 20 laws or commandments (toll houses) mentioned before are those reserved for those who heard the Word of God but did not keep it. Those who did not accept the mercy of God who thought that the Law could save them. "Therefore they (the demons) shall be your judges." Says Christ.

The 20 (demonic) Toll Houses

Quotation:

1) Idle talking & foul language
2) Lying
3) Judging & slandering
4) Gluttony & Drunkenness
5) Laziness
6) Stealing
7) Greed for money & stinginess
Cool Extortion & bribery
9) Falsehood & Vanity
10) Envy
11) Pride
12) Anger
13) Enmity (remembering of wrongs)
14) Robbery
15) Magic & Foretune telling
16) Fornication
17) Adultery
18) Sodomy
19) Idol worship
20) Unmercifulness & hardheartedness
 



In conclusion God wishes us to live a Spiritual Life filled with God's Love, Grace, Love and Mercy. Let Christ therefore come into our hearts and be our judge. I hope that Christ truly will be our judge.

Glory To You Christ our God.


Kosmas

Logged

«Ουδείς εκών κακός» Σωκράτης
Irish Hermit
Kibernetski Kaludjer
Warned
Merarches
***********
Offline Offline

Posts: 10,991


Holy Father Patrick, pray for us


« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2005, 08:18:11 AM »

Dear fellow listserv participants:

Toll Houses: dogma, a logic of damnation, and taking the implications seriously

To judge by this and other discussions on other Orthodox lists I've
been involved in, the topic of the toll-houses is a perennial source of
agitation.

In fairness, I must say frankly that I remain deeply sceptical of the
toll-house belief, at least as I understand to be its fully developed
form: (a) that after death each person enters into a series of
terrifying accusatory encounters with demons, who in each of many
successive "toll houses" or trials (b) test him to find whether he has
been guilty of a specific type of sin, and ( c ) if they find him guilty
(i.e., not having repented and been absolved) of any one of those sins,
take him to Hell to await the Last Judgment; in addition, I understand
that (d) the demons also try to tempt him to surrender to sin even in
death so that they may take him to Hell even if his earthly life alone
has not altogether warranted it. (My comments below however pertain to
the belief whether or not part (d) is considered to be part of it.)
Nevertheless, despite my scepticism, I really do remain open to
persuasion on the subject, and am posting this message in that spirit.

Fr. Ambrose and Steve Marin have strikingly raised the possibility that
the toll-house belief, though acknowledgedly not dogma or doctrine,
seems to be developing into such in some parts of the Orthodox Church.
With that insight in mind, I pose the following interrelated questions
to Father John and others who accept the belief in the toll houses. I
do so respectfully and in a sincere spirit of inquiry, not wishing to
score "points" but truly to understand the beliefs of others, and their
full implications, as I struggle with this concept myself. My basic
contention--of which I am happy to be disabused--is that the toll-house
belief cannot be optional, cannot be theologoumenon: if it has any
validity, it must be recognized as dogma, because it presents a logic
that significantly modifies certain essential elements of Orthodox
understanding.

1. The question of dogma, or doctrine. If the toll-houses are real,
how can they not be dogma? For any one of us as individuals, the
difference between (1) knowing that we will live and die as sinners but
must nevertheless struggle in all our imperfection to repent and trust
joyfully in God's mercy, looking forward eagerly to meeting Him "face to
face" after death, and (2), alternatively, knowing that despite God's
will for us, any sin that remains on our souls at death is sufficient to
doom us to Hell in the company of our demonic adjudicators, is more
than a matter of life and death; it is a matter of eternal life and
eternal death. It is the difference between dying in realistic sorrow
for one's sins yet realistic joyful trust in God and dying in realistic
terror of the decisive demonic trials that are to come. It is the
difference, in other words, between having ultimate hope in spite of all
that we have done and having ultimate terror in spite of all that Christ
has done. So I ask: how can a belief with such all-important
consequences not be regarded as dogma? Why has there not been more of
an effort to have this belief recognized as such? (By contrast, one
must at least do the Roman Church the justice to acknowledge that once
Catholics came to believe in Purgatory, they were right to recognize its
momentous importance and enshrine it as dogma.) Perhaps the
"development of dogma/doctrine" problem that Fr. Ambrose and Steve Marin
identify in relation to the toll houses is in fact not a problem but a
welcome step necessary to complete the Orthodox understanding of
salvation and damnation, much as St. Gregory Palamas's defense of
Hesychasm completed the Orthodox understanding of the nature of
theosis.

2. The question of our sinful nature. As Orthodox, we
know--intellectually at first, perhaps, but also eventually in our
hearts, as we continue to struggle spiritually--that our sinfulness is
more than a matter of specific sins; it is a matter of a condition of
sinfulness, a constant state of blindness and self-centeredness that
keeps us from loving God and others as we are called to do, and that
guarantees that even a few seconds after receiving absolution, we will
almost certainly have sinned again, if only by not being fully aware of
the beauty and lovableness of the first person we meet as we walk out of
church after confession. We sin, yes, but in some ways the deeper
problem is that we sin because we are sinful. (Those better than I at
memorizing Scripture can here supply the appropriate Pauline texts.)
How does the belief in the toll houses, with its affirmation of specific
trials for specific areas of sin, address this understanding that the
real problem is in some sense not "sins" but sinfulness; not so much
(except in obvious dire cases, such as murder) any particular act
committed or omitted, but our very condition; not the parts, but the
whole that is more--or, perhaps, less--than the sum of the parts?

3. The question of the nature of God's justice in contrast with human
and demonic justice (and here I do not mean primarily the very
problematic "fact" that in the toll houses it is the demons who judge
us, the demons who execute Divine justice). God's justice, as St. Isaac
the Syrian says, has almost nothing to do with human justice; what is
"just" about His sacrificial love for us? What is "just" about the
halting and reluctant steps of the Prodigal being met by the outpouring
of forgiveness and generosity from his father? (One thinks also of the
profound Russian folktale Dostoevsky recounts in The Brothers Karamazov,
about the woman in Hell who was almost released from it because she had
once shared an onion with a beggar--but at the last minute she claimed
the onion as hers exclusively, and so slipped back into Hell.) Such an
understanding turns the toll-house belief on its head: the toll houses
tell us that one unrepented sin is enough to damn us; the Gospels, St.
Isaac (among many others), and the theological wisdom of traditional
Russian culture tell us that God seeks endlessly to find some way to
save us, and suggest that one spontaneous act of love or repentance can
give Him the lever He longs to find to release us into His mercy. How
can these two beliefs be reconciled?

4. The question of the nature of Hell. In accordance with our bedrock
belief in God's absolute love, at the heart of Orthodox Tradition
concerning Hell is the radical insight of St. Isaac and others
(including St. Paul, as in the great passage in Romans 8 about how
nothing can separate us from the love of Christ) that Hell is the
condition of being so opposed to God in one's inward being that the fire
of His love is experienced as torment. (See the justly famous article
by Dr. Alexandre Kalomiros, "The River of Fire," for a modern exposition
of this understanding.) This belief does indeed seem to recognize that
the problem is not so much any individual sin, determinative though such
can be, as the sum of sinfulness or unsinfulness that shapes the
ultimate condition of the person for eternity: in the end, in my inmost
heart, am I fundamentally turned toward God, however incompletely and
despite my sinfulness and failings, or am I fundamentally opposed to
Him, despite whatever superficial gestures I may have made in the
direction of righteousness? That is the difference between salvation
and damnation, between knowing Love as torment and knowing Love as joy.
As an Orthodox, I have always found this belief stunningly clear and
compelling. But how then can one reconcile such a belief with the
toll-house belief and its teaching that whatever the fundamental
orientation of the person, he (or she) may indeed be sentenced to Hell
if the demons find him guilty in any specific area of sin?

« Last Edit: July 30, 2005, 08:21:41 AM by Irish Hermit » Logged
Irish Hermit
Kibernetski Kaludjer
Warned
Merarches
***********
Offline Offline

Posts: 10,991


Holy Father Patrick, pray for us


« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2005, 08:19:57 AM »

5. The question of the nature of sin. By the same token, doesn't the
toll-house belief teach us to see sin not as "missing the mark" (the
literal translation of the Greek hamartia)--that is, as a misdirection
of energies against Love, as the Fathers taught--but as a series of
legal infractions for which we will be legally accountable? (See
Christos Yannaras's brilliant work The Freedom of Morality for an
exposition of the Orthodoxy of the former understanding and the
heterodoxy of the latter.) And is it not just such juridical legalism
for which Orthodox take Roman Catholics so heavily to task? Yet the
whole problematic realm of Catholic teaching on this subject--merits,
indulgences, expiatory suffering in Purgatory, and so forth--at least
expounds a logic of salvation, however imperfectly conceived; the toll
houses, by contrast, expound a logic of damnation.

6. The question of the meaning of the Resurrection. In the shadow of
the toll houses, what is the meaning of the Resurrection for any one of
us? The demons of the toll houses will try us for sin after sin, and
if we are found guilty in any one of the "houses" of trial, we are
damned. I would venture to say that this makes it very likely that most
of us will be damned, and almost certain if we die in any state other
than that of immediate and complete repentance, confession, and
absolution. (We might wish to argue that prayers for the dead can
release them from Hell up until the Last Judgement, but to make that the
usual means of salvation would be to replace Christ's saving sacrifice
with the Church's saving prayer as the decisive soteriological element
in the destiny of most human beings.) Most of humanity, even most
Orthodox, will therefore go to the demons; Hell will be teeming, and
Heaven the abode of the rare few, the righteous remnant. (Even should I
have any reason to suppose that I myself may be able to elude the
demons, I can at death look with sober confidence on all whom I love in
this world in the safe assumption that I am parting from them forever,
that nearly all human love will founder in oblivion on the rock of
Divine and demonic justice as the vast sinning majority of mankind is
consigned to eternal fire: such is the logic of the toll houses.) Of
course, it is not necessary to believe in the toll houses to believe
that most people will be damned--most American Protestants, for example,
have historically believed this--but the toll-house belief does seem to
present the problem to Orthodox Christians in the starkest terms.

What then is the nature of our confidence in Christ's Resurrection? Is
it not simply the affirmation of a metaphysical possibility that we know
full well is unlikely to be realized in our own lives or those of nearly
all others? Perhaps so; perhaps that is the final meaning of Christ's
pronouncement that "many are called, but few are chosen."

But if this be true, what in the world do we do with our Paschal
proclamations, with St. Paul's confident joy, with the joyful assurance
of salvation that permeated the early Church, with the historical fact
that it was belief in the momentous significance of the Resurrection
that ignited the spread of Christianity from its earliest days? Why did
St. Serafim of Sarov typically greet visitors with the words "my joy,
Christ is Risen!," if the unspoken corollary was, "--but in truth, you
are probably damned anyway"? Why did St. Silouan of Mt. Athos declare
that "Love could not bear" to see anyone in Hell? As Fr. Ambrose
reminded us, St. John Chrysostom's Paschal Homily proclaims, "let none
fear death, for the death of the Savior has set us free"--but, however
much we may struggle with our weakness, if we do so honestly we will
know our perennial failure to avoid sin, and if we believe in the toll
houses we must therefore face death, if it is not simultaneous with
complete confession and absolution, in a state of abject terror. ( Let
us hope therefore to die in an Orthodox home or an Orthodox hospital so
that our appropriate terror may not discourage unbelievers from joining
the Church.)

So I ask again: Why does the Resurrection seem to mean so much to us
Orthodox if its effect on the eternal state of any one of us is likely
to be nil?

Of course I am fully aware of the teachings throughout our Tradition,
but particularly in Christ's parables and in the writings of ascetics
throughout the ages, that counsel us to be mindful always of the
nearness of death and therefore of the very real possibility that any of
our acts or thoughts may turn us decisively from God and onto the path
toward Hell. But it has always seemed to me that this is a matter of
taking our eternal course seriously and recognizing the eternal
implications of all our acts, whether loving or evil, trivial or
momentous: it is not that we are to be terrified of being caught
breaking the rules even at the last moment, as the toll-house belief
would teach us, but that we are to recognize that our lives unceasingly
weave a pattern which points us toward eternal life or eternal death,
and that death itself is the symbol and gateway of our passage into
eternity.

Yet Orthodoxy surely also teaches that such constant repentant
awareness of death can only be understood and lived aright if it is
paradoxically infused and balanced with an absolute, unreasonable,
unjust, unshakable, and entire trust and confidence in Christ's love, in
His mercy, and in the truth that His Death and Resurrection have indeed
opened for us the gates of the Kingdom in spite of all that we have done
and will forever do to hang Him upon the Cross. My human logic cannot
resolve that paradox, but I have always believed that as an Orthodox
Christian I must hold to it with my last breath and therefore refuse to
despair even as I acknowledge my endless sins. The teaching about the
toll houses, however, seems to me to tilt the balance-beam of anguish
and trust decisively in the direction of anguish; it seems to me to
replace the realism of Paschal joy with a realism of terror; it seems to
me to make the demons, rather than Christ Himself, the mediator(s)
between God and man after death; and it seems to me to make the decisive
encounter after death not that between the person and God but that
between the person and demons. And it seems to me to make participation
in Christ's Resurrection a faint hope; a gallant belief to be maintained
for strategic purposes against all odds, perhaps, but one that is very,
very unlikely to be realized.

Please understand, again, that I am not raising these questions
facetiously; I am truly struggling to understand how a belief that seems
to me redolent of the imagination (though not of course of the specific
tenets) of Calvinism, and more portentous in its exacting legalism than
the most legalistic elements of the Latin heritage, can be believed by
so many to be central to Orthodoxy--and whether it is therefore indeed
incumbent on me as an Orthodox Christian to accept it. Note that I am
not arguing the origins, geographic breadth, or historical depth of the
belief; those are separate and obviously intensely contentious
questions, but I'm willing to accept for the sake of argument that the
toll-house belief is both ancient and widespread within Orthodoxy
(though I can't resist paraphrasing St. Cyprian of Carthage to the
effect that the ancientness of a belief may simply be an indication of
the persistence of error). My concern is rather with the implications
of the toll-house belief, because it seems to me that these are so
important that they must be explored and acknowledged in the light of
Tradition and the belief itself accordingly either rejected as a
misguided overinterpretation of some of the metaphorical glimpses the
Lord has offered to certain pious people concerning a subject He wishes
us to entrust almost entirely to Him--or accepted as far more important
to Orthodoxy than even most of its ardent proponents have hitherto been
willing to recognize.

Am I wrong?

Yours in Christ,

--Jurretta Heckscher


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Dr. Jurretta Jordan
 Heckscher
 Research Specialist and Editor, American Memory
 Digital Reference Team
 The Library of Congress
 Washington, D.C.  20540-4604
 




Logged
t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2005, 04:20:40 PM »

The Taxing of Souls
by Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos)
------------------------------------------------
 
Also related to the foregoing is the teaching of both Holy Scripture and the holy Fathers about the taxing of souls. At this point we shall examine the subject thoroughly, as it has a bearing on the terrible mystery of death. We find this topic in the whole biblico-patristic tradition and it corresponds to a reality which we need to look at in order to prepare ourselves for the dreadful hour of death. What follows is written not in order to arouse anxiety, but to prompt repentance, which has joy as its result. For he who has the gift of the Holy Spirit and is united with Christ avoids the terrible presence and activity of the customs demons.

According to the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, the soul at its departure from the body, as well as when it is preparing to leave, senses the presence of the demons who are called customs demons, and is possessed with fear because of having to pass through customs.

Of course we must say from the start that the customs demons have no sovereignty over the righteous, those who have united with Christ. The righteous not only will not go through "customs-houses", but they will also not be in fear of that. We shall see all this better when we compare the teaching of the Fathers. The characterisation of the soul's passage through the demons as customs is taken from the tax collectors of that time. We may look briefly at this subject in order to understand why the Fathers characterise the soul's passage through the demons as customs.

In ancient times the name of tax gatherer was given to those who purchased the public taxes from the State and then collected them from the people" [48]. The tax gatherers were divided into two classes. The first class comprised the so-called "publicans ('confiscators') or tithe collectors", who were the wealthiest class and the force of authority, and the second comprised the "tax collectors". The publicans were the general public collectors, who had bought the taxes from the State, while the tax collectors were their salaried servants, who collected the taxes from the people and gave them to the publicans.

The tax collectors were unjust because they collected larger taxes than had to be paid to their masters. That is why they had a very bad reputation in ancient communities. Plato said that the tax collectors were oppressive, not so much when they collected duties from the visible imports, "but when in looking for what was hidden they meddled in other people's equipment and freight". Therefore when Theocritus was asked what were the fiercest beasts, he answered: "in the mountains, bears and lions, and in the cities, tax collectors and sycophants".

The tax collectors, in their effort to collect as many taxes as they could—and especially in order not to let some people escape who could not accept the very heavy and unjust tax—contrived various means: they would lie in wait in narrow roads and seize passers-by, forcing them to give what they owed. It was very unpleasant and odious to the people of that time.

It is just this familiar and odious image which the Fathers used in order to give the people of that time an understanding of the terrible mystery of death and of the terrible things that unfold when the soul is being prepared for departure, especially when it is leaving the body. St. Macarius of Egypt would say expressively: "Like the tax collectors who sit in the narrow roads and seize the passers-by and the oppressed, so also the demons watch carefully and grab hold of souls. And when they pass out of the body, if they are not completely purified, they are not permitted to go up into the mansions of Heaven there to meet their Master. For they are driven down by the demons of the air" [49].

The image of the tax collectors certainly belongs to the reality of that time. But the teaching that the demons try to seize a man's soul at its departure is mentioned in many texts of Holy Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church. We have already seen that after death the souls of the righteous are received by the angels and the souls of sinners and the unrepentant are received by the demons. With the malice which all the demons have against men, they would like to dominate everyone and have them in their power for ever. But they cannot have authority over the righteous.

A basic passage which the Fathers of the Church interpret as referring to the customs demons is what Christ said shortly before His Passion: "for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me" (John 14, 30). The ruler of this world is the devil. He is called the ruler of the world not because he is really the ruler and final authority in the whole world, but because he dominates the world of the unjust. Christ declares that the devil has no authority over Him. He is surely referring here to the devil and death.

St. Paul, referring to the spiritually dead who were deprived of the grace of God, writes: "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the ways of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 2, 1-2). This passage indicates that men are deadened by sins and the work of the devil.

Likewise the devil is characterised as the prince of the power of the air because he is in the atmosphere and is constantly waging war on men. It is precisely this image which the Fathers have in view, saying that when the soul leaves the body and passes through the air towards heaven, it meets the ruler of the air. The passage also mentions that this ruler is working now too in the sons of disobedience.

There are many passages in the Old Testament which the Fathers use to indicate what is called the souls' payment of customs duties. I should like to mention two of them. One comes from a psalm of David in which the Prophet King speaks to God and says: "0 Lord my God, in you I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me; and deliver me, lest they tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces, with no one to rescue me" (Psalm 7, 1-2). The other passage is in the book of the Prophet Jeremiah, where it says: "there seemed to be a fire burning in my bones; I was wearied and could not endure, for I heard many mocking me on every side" (Jer. 20, 9-10).

Now that we have quoted the most basic passages interpreted by the Fathers, we shall go on to their teaching about the "taxing" of souls. We should say that we will first compare their teaching about the taxing and then speak of the mystical interpretation of this condition. As will be seen more clearly in what follows, the souls of the righteous are not in fear, since they have the grace of God, and the demons have no power over them. The souls of the unrepentant are in anguish, being subject to the influence of the demons and to the action of the passions as well. There are demons, but the customs payment also means the action of the passions. We should never forget this point, because to be unaware of it creates false conceptions. The reader of this chapter must be particularly careful in studying the patristic teaching.

St. Basil the Great, interpreting the passage from the Psalms: "save me from all those who persecute me; and deliver me, lest they tear my soul like a lion" (Psalm 7, 2-3), says that the brave men who have struggled throughout their lives against the invisible enemy, towards the end of their lives "will be searched by the ruler of the age" in order to hold them captive if they are found to have wounds or stigmata or imprints of sins. But if they are found uninjured and unstained, then "as they are invincible and free, Christ will give them rest". Therefore he who is under the power of death, since he knows that "One is He who saves, One is He who redeems", cries out to Christ the Saviour: "deliver me in that time of searching, lest they tear my soul like a lion". And Christ, since he was free of sin, said: "now the ruler of this world is coming and he will have nothing in me"; for man, however, it is enough to say that the ruler of the world is coming and he will have "few and small things" in me" [50].

The hour of death is terrible because then the person recalls his sins, but also because he sees frightening things. St. John Chrysostom bears witness that there are many men who recount terrible visions, which the departing one cannot repel. They are so terrible that "his very bed shakes violently, and he gazes in fear at the bystanders".

That is to say, his very body is shaken by his soul's fear, and he makes many disturbed movements. St. John Chrysostom adds that if we are frightened by the sight of terrible men, how much more frightened we will be when at the departure of our soul from the body we see "angels threatening us and stern powers". The soul which is parted from the body wails uselessly, in vain [51].

St. Symeon the New Theologian speaks about this, emphasising especially that he who has God's Light conquers the demons that come near him, for the demons are burnt by the divine Light. This is the case even now, as far as the person is in the vision of God and is clothed in God's Light. It will be much more the case when a person's soul is leaving his body. St. Symeon says that the Christian has no benefit from the spiritual struggle which he is going through if the devil is not set ablaze by the Light of God. And this means that the essence and aim of the spiritual life is to be united with the Light. St. Symeon writes:

"If the prince of darkness, when he comes, does not see Thy glory accompanying me and is not utterly confounded—he, the darkness, consumed by Thy inaccessible Light—and if all the hostile powers with him do not flee on seeing the mark of Thy seal, while I pass through, trusting in Thy grace perfectly intrepid, and approach Thee and bow down what is the use of that which is going on in me now?" [52].

The demons that want to seize a person's soul even at the last moment are characterised by St. Diadochos of Photike as tartar rulers, that is to say, rulers of hades. A person who loves God will not be in fear, for love casts out fear, and he will freely outdistance "the tartar rulers". The soul of a man who rejoices in the love of God, at the hour of death, "is lifted with the angels of peace above all the hosts of darkness" [53].

Thus the holy Fathers are not satisfied just to emphasise the existence of the demons and their aggressive rage against men, but they also emphasise the way in which we can escape their threats. By confessing his sins completely a person is released from cowardice and fear, is filled with the love of Christ, and so he is freed from the evils of the demons. The devil has no power over him.

Abba Isaiah calls the demons which approach the soul when it is leaving the body "rulers of darkness" and "rulers of evil". He teaches that when a man's soul leaves his body, the angels travel with it. But then the powers of darkness also go out to meet it and to dominate it. At that moment the angels do not fight with the demons but wall the person round with the good deeds that he has done. When the person has conquered the demons because of the good deeds which he has done in his life, then "the Angels will rejoice with him when they see him, freed from the powers of darkness". That is why Abba Isaiah exhorts us to love peace, to have love towards men, to think of God and His righteousness, to ignore need for the world and its honour, and so forth [54].

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers contain the teaching of Theophilos the Archbishop on the subject we are dealing with. He says that at the time of departure a court case takes place between the angels and the demons. The demons present "all the sins committed either deliberately or through ignorance from birth to this last hour", and they make accusation against the person. Likewise the angels bring up the good deeds which the soul of the particular person has done. Then the soul under judgement is in great fear. If the demons win, it hears the words: "Take away the ungodly soul, that it may not see the glory of God". But if it comes out the victor and is given freedom, the demons are put to shame and the angels receive the soul and guide it "into that unspeakable joy and glory" [55].

We find these views in many patristic texts. Hesychios the Priest prays that when the ruler of darkness comes, he may find our misdeeds few and petty [56]. He teaches that when the soul has Christ with it, "He will speedily avenge it" [57].

Likewise St. Theognostos says that the righteous soul rises to heaven, going in peace "to meet the radiant and joyful angel that comes down for it and travelling with him unimpeded through the air, totally unharmed by the evil spirits" [58].

The holy Fathers teach all these things not from their imagination, but from enlightening experiences. Sometimes other holy men have revealed these things to them, and at other times they themselves, illumined by God, have had such frightening experiences.

Antony the Great once reached the point of personally seeing such dreadful things. In his cell he went into rapture and then saw himself go out of his body and walk in the air, obviously led by angels. Some bitter and terrible demons prevented them from ascending to heaven and sought a reason for several deeds. Then those leading Antony the Great fought with the terrible demons, saying that God had forgiven him all his deeds from his birth and that they should accuse him only of what he had done from the moment when he became a monk. "Then when they had accused him and not proven him wrong, his way became free and unhindered" [59].

In a dreadful story of Antony the Great the following is told: During the night a voice wakened him and urged him to go out of his cell and look. Then in fact he saw someone "tall, without bodily form and dreadful", who was the devil, standing straight with his hands raised, preventing some from ascending by keeping hold of them, and gnashing his teeth at others because they had escaped and were ascending to heaven. It was revealed to Antony the Great that this dreadful spectacle was "the passage of souls" [60].

St. John of the Ladder describes a terrible spectacle seen by the hermit Stephen, who was an ascetic on Mt. Sinai, near the cave of the Prophet Elijah. On the day before his death, while his eyes were open, he went into ecstasy and began to took to the right and left of his bed. Those present heard him answering as if he were being interrogated. Sometimes he said: "Of course it is true. That was why I fasted for so many years". Or again: "Yes, that is correct, but I wept and served my brothers". Or again: "No. You are accusing me falsely. "Or sometimes: "Quite right. No, I have no excuse. But God is merciful". And St. John of the Ladder adds that "this unseen and relentless interrogation was a truly awful and frightening spectacle". Worst of all was the fact that they accused him of things which he had not done" [61].

From what we have cited it seems that the whole tradition of the Church speaks of the existence of the customs demons, the spirits in the air, which fight a man with hatred and evils not only throughout his life, but especially before and after his soul's departure from the body.


In the tradition of the Church, however, it is seen clearly, that the demons have no mastery over the men of God, because those who have put on God do not go through such a martyrdom. If the ruler of the world has no power over Christ, this is also true of those men who are united with Him. This is why the Fathers advise us to live within the Church, with repentance, confession and spiritual works, that we live and die in the Church with the orthodox faith and the prayers of our Fathers, so that the ruler of darkness and the spirits of evil may not have power over us.

In any case it is a fact that during the soul's departure from the body a great battle goes on, chiefly in people who have insufficient purification. The terrible thing is that many people in our time die without being aware of the shocking hour of death. That is to say, the illnesses of our time, as well as the powerful pharmaceutical culture, distort man's psychosomatic constitution and make it difficult for him to go through these crucial hours with fitting attention, fear of God and prayer. Of course medicines do help us not to feel the pain of our illnesses, but they also alter our whole psychosomatic constitution; they do not allow us to realise what is going on and to seek God's mercy.

These hours are very crucial. This is why all who fear God and have spiritual knowledge of the crucial moments pray to be made aware of the events of that time. It is a real opportunity for the person to repent of all that he has committed, to seek God's mercy. To be watchful at this frightful hour is the most important work. That is why the Church prays for God to deliver us from "sudden death".


But we must look at the existence of the customs houses from two sides. One side is the demons' malice and the other is the existence of passions. In the patristic teaching we find that there is also another interpretation of the customs houses. Without, of course, overlooking the teaching about the existence of the rulers of darkness and the spirits of evil, I would also like us at this point to turn our attention to the mystical teaching of the Fathers of the Church about the customs-houses.


We also said before that when a person's soul is about to leave the body, the memory of the sins which he has committed in his life comes back to him. It is a truly intolerable state. St. John Chrysostom speaks of it. He says that on the last day of a person's biological life "sins contort his soul", they stir up his soul. This refers to passions which "move up from below the heart" [62]. The passions seek satisfaction, but the person cannot respond. It is a terrible state.

This insatiable desire of the soul is intensified even further when the soul is separated from the body. St. Gregory of Nyssa attributes this kind of interpretation to his sister Macrina. He says that as it happens with people who have remained in filthy places for a long period of time, that they are not released from the odiousness of the dirt even if they live in clean air afterwards, the same happens to the soul when it parts from the body. Lovers of the flesh, even if they have turned to the incorporeal and refined life, are unable to free themselves from the carnal odour. Precisely then the soul becomes more materalised and in that way "they are in great distress". St. Gregory adds that if what some people say is true, that the shadowy shapes of the departed are seen in the vicinity of the graves, this is an indication that the soul does not want to be parted from the life of the flesh even after it has left the body. The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, in which the Rich Man, finding himself in Hades, seems to be thinking about his relatives, indicates that the souls of lovers of the flesh really cannot part from the passions which constitute the carnal life [63].

We know from the Orthodox Tradition that there are passions of the body and passions of the soul. Since there is unity between soul and body, there is also a relationship between the passions of soul and body. The passions of the soul work through the bodily senses. When the soul is released from the body, it cannot satisfy its passions. Ungratified passions produce intolerable pain and a suffocating condition. They stifle the soul. This is the real hell and a frightful affliction. For this reason the holy Fathers advise us to cleanse our souls from the passions while we are in the present life, so that the soul may be released and freed after its departure. It should be satisfied and attracted to God Himself.

There is also another problem for the soul after its departure from the body. St. Gregory of Nyssa teaches that all nature is attracted to what is like it, to its relatives. So too the soul is drawn towards the divine and is related to it, since man is related to God and contains within himself copies of the archetype.  After leaving the body, the soul is light, without any bodily pain, and therefore it is easy and pleasant to proceed towards what attracts it, towards God. But if the soul is held down by material habits and by the nails of the passions, then it undergoes suffering in the way in which the body suffers during earthquakes, when it is not only crushed by the weight of the earth but can also be pierced by various pointed objects which are in the earth [64].

It is just this which constitutes the torment of the soul. It experiences a dreadful bifurcation, we could say. On the one hand, it wants to ascend towards God and unite with Him, since it is His image. On the other hand it is impeded by the passions which riddle, press and torment it. And this view is one part of the interpretation of the holy Fathers concerning the customs houses.

The torment of a soul which is parted from the body is described in a wonderful and realistic way by Abba Dorotheos. He says that during this life the soul is comforted through being distracted by the passions. It can feel great sorrow and dreadful pain, but by means of the body and the passions it can take comfort and ease its pain. In such a melancholic and frightful state the person "is fed, drinks, sleeps, meets and associates with friends", that is to say he is entertained by persons dear to him. Thus he is comforted in part and can more easily forget the deepest problem which worries him. But when the soul leaves the body, "it is alone with its own passions and, in short, is always tormented by them". At this time the soul is burning with the annoyance of the passions, it is distracted by them and cannot be mindful of God. This is a real tragedy, for at this time, because there is no body either, it cannot feel even the slightest comfort.

In what follows Abba Dorotheos takes an astonishing example. Suppose someone was shut up in a dark cell with no food or drink for three days without sleeping or meeting anyone, or psalmodising, or praying, or thinking of God at all. Then he would know "what the passions do to him". Actually in such a situation the soul and the whole man is infuriated. We are assured of this by various people who experience the agony of places of torture and frightful imprisonment. If this is the case even while the soul is linked with the body, how much more so when it has left the body and is isolated with its passions.

Abba Dorotheos also makes use of the image of the sick person with a burning fever. This of course creates many other problems as well, especially if the person has a melancholic and ill-tempered body. The same thing happens with the impassioned soul. "The conflict arising from its own bad habits punishes it all the time, the memory being always embittered, the mutterings of its passions constantly emerging, always burning it and enraging it". If one adds to this torment and suffering of the soul the terrible places of Hell and the demons and the fire and the darkness, and so forth, then one can understand the suffering and torment of the soul after its departure and its sojourn in Hades and Hell".

The things that we have said so far show just what those customs houses are that are spoken of in the patristic texts. On the one hand, they are the passions of the soul which, because of the non-existence of the body, cannot be satisfied, and therefore stifle the soul. On the other hand, they are the evil demons which have gained mastery over passionate people, and it is natural that after the soul's departure they have greater mastery over them. The righteous people, who during their lives have purified their souls and bodies from passions of the soul and body and have been clothed in the pledge of the Spirit and united with God, escape the power of the customs houses, since the demons have no power over them. The souls of the righteous are led, free and undistracted, towards God, with whom they are united.

So the whole problem is not to be afraid of the customs demons, but as long as we live, to cure our soul and our whole being of passions, to partake of the uncreated grace of God, so that the departure of our soul from our body may be a matter of joy and delight.

Of course there are some who maintain that such notions as customs houses and aerial spirits have come into Christianity from Gnostic theories and pagan myths which prevailed during that period.

There is no doubt that such views can be found in many Gnostic texts, in pagan ideas which are found in Egyptian and Chaldaean myths. However it must be emphasised that many Fathers adopted the teaching about customs houses, but they cleared it of idolatrous and Gnostic frames of reference and placed it in the ecclesiastical atmosphere. The holy Fathers were not afraid to do such creative work.

It is a fact that the Fathers were working creatively and productively when they took many views and theories from the pagan world, but gave them an ecclesiastical content. It is well known that the Fathers took the teaching about the immortality of the soul, about the ecstasy of man and the dispassion of the soul and body, the teaching about the tripartite soul and many other things from the ancient philosophies, as well as from ancient traditions, but clearly they gave them another content and a different perspective. We cannot discard the teaching about the immortality of the soul just because the ancient philosophers spoke of it. We must look at the content which the holy Fathers gave to it.

Therefore what happened to other topics happened also to the subject of the customs houses. It is true that ancient traditions and heretical views spoke of "rulers of the astral sphere", about "gates of an astral journey", about "aerial spirits", and so forth. We find several of these phrases in the Bible and in patristic texts. As we have mentioned in this chapter, many Fathers of the Church speak of customs houses and aerial spirits, but they have given them different content and different meanings. The patristic teaching about customs houses must be interpreted within the following four points.

First. The symbolic language of the Bible requires the necessary interpretation. Anyone who only keeps to the images used distorts the Gospel message. For instance, we must say that words in the Bible can be misinterpreted if we only look at their theological meaning. The same thing is true in the case of the customs houses. We should not be thinking only of today's customs houses, through which everyone has to pass at the national borders. The symbolic image is intended to present something, but it must be interpreted in an orthodox way.

Second. There are demons, which are dark angels. They are persons and therefore have freedom, and with God's permission, but also through the wrong use of freedom by man, they have been able to dominate him. That is to say, after the soul's departure from the body, the demons demand to possess a soul which they have mastered because of its unrepentance. In Christ's well-known parable about the foolish rich man there is the sentence: "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?". According to the patristic interpretation it is the demons who demand possession of the soul of the foolish rich man after its departure from the body.

Third. The demons have no authority over the men of God. All who are united with God and have within their soul and heart the uncreated energy of God are outside the control of the demons. So the deified will not go through the so-called customs houses.

Fourth. According to the teaching of the Fathers, as we have seen before, the demons, which are real spirits, act by means of the passions. The fact that the passions cannot be gratified after the soul's departure from the body is a suffocation of the soul.

When we examine the customs houses in these theological frames, the use of this teaching is not inappropriate. But if we have other conceptions, we are on the wrong path.



Endnotes
48. See extended analysis in G. Konstantinou: Dictionary of holy Scriptures, ed. Grigori, op. 966 (Gk).

49. Macarius of Egypt: Homily 43, 9, CWS p. 222.

50. Basil the Great: Homily on Psalm 7, 2. PG 29, 232B, D.

51. John Chrysostom: Homily 44 on Matthew, EPE 11, p. 170 (Gk).

52. SC 174, p. 310.

53. Diadochus of Photiki: On spiritual knowledge, 100, Philokalia 1, p. 295.

54. Evergetinos, op. cit. p. 101f.55. Ibid. p. 102f.

56. Hesychios: On watchfulness and holiness 161, Philok. 1, p. 190.

57. Ibid 149, p. 188.

58. Theognostos: On the practice of the virtues 61, Philok. 2, p.

59. Evergetinos, op.,cit. p. 99.

60. Ibid. p. 100.

61. John of the Ladder: Step 7, CWS p. 142.

62. John Chrysostom: Homily 44 on Matthew, EPE 11, p. 168 (Gk).

63. Gregory of Nyssa: On the Soul and the Resurrection, Ch. 6, SVS p. 76.

64. Ibid. p. 83.

65. Dorotheos: Discourse 12, Fear of punishment, CS 33, p. 183f.

From Life After Death, by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, trans. Esther Williams (Levadia, Greece: Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1995), pp. 62-80.
Logged

Strelets
Стрелец
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 444


« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2005, 04:36:50 PM »

The toll house theory was derived from the pseudographia of a John Chrysostom imposter and mistranslated Russian service books.  The Biblical passages quoted above do not lend to this belief, unless you're designating Christ as a demon.  The passages from Matthew and Luke are taken out of context, where Christ had just driven out a demon from a mute and was accused by the Pharisees of being an agent of Beelzebub.  Christ was simply applying the logic back towards them.  It wasn't a soteriological discussion.

The back reading of the toll house theory into Scripture and other sources is akin to a few Protestant sects which back read rapture theory, when in fact both theories are fundamentalist speculations.  These two beliefs are no more valid than believing in the more solidly Patristic universal salvation of St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Jerome, and St. Clement of Alexandria.  Given the choice of picking between the mutually exclusive toll house of horrors or universal salvation, I'd pick the latter.

Plenty of edifying material can be found here: http://www.new-ostrog.org/t_m.htm
Logged

"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2005, 04:57:18 PM »

5. The question of the nature of sin. By the same token, doesn't the
toll-house belief teach us to see sin not as "missing the mark" (the
literal translation of the Greek hamartia)--that is, as a misdirection
of energies against Love, as the Fathers taught--but as a series of
legal infractions for which we will be legally accountable? (See
Christos Yannaras's brilliant work The Freedom of Morality for an
exposition of the Orthodoxy of the former understanding and the
heterodoxy of the latter.) And is it not just such juridical legalism
for which Orthodox take Roman Catholics so heavily to task? Yet the
whole problematic realm of Catholic teaching on this subject--merits,
indulgences, expiatory suffering in Purgatory, and so forth--at least
expounds a logic of salvation, however imperfectly conceived; the toll
houses, by contrast, expound a logic of damnation.

This is not true. The Toll Houses, is not a logic of damnation. Toll houses are not legalistic. The problem is, WE see it from a legalistic point of view. But what is Hell? Isn't Hell to be burned by our passions? Isn't Hell, to place ourselves in the power of our pations? Therefore, the "Toll-Houses" is Just a metaphor: We are the ones that are condemning ourselves. But what we can do is go to the church , which is the Spiritual hospital, and ged rid of our disease: Sin. No "legalism" there. Just as a doctor provides A WARNING that if we let ourselves to the mercy of the disease , we will certainly die, the Church warns us that if we leave ourselves without the medicines of the church, spiritual death is certain.

About Yiannaras, remember, that some of his work (not all) have been condemned by the Monks of Athos as Heretical...Although he has some pretty good work..

Quote
6. The question of the meaning of the Resurrection. In the shadow of
the toll houses, what is the meaning of the Resurrection for any one of
us? The demons of the toll houses will try us for sin after sin, and
if we are found guilty in any one of the "houses" of trial, we are
damned. I would venture to say that this makes it very likely that most
of us will be damned, and almost certain if we die in any state other
than that of immediate and complete repentance, confession, and
absolution. (We might wish to argue that prayers for the dead can
release them from Hell up until the Last Judgement, but to make that the
usual means of salvation would be to replace Christ's saving sacrifice
with the Church's saving prayer as the decisive soteriological element
in the destiny of most human beings.) Most of humanity, even most
Orthodox, will therefore go to the demons; Hell will be teeming, and
Heaven the abode of the rare few, the righteous remnant. (Even should I
have any reason to suppose that I myself may be able to elude the
demons, I can at death look with sober confidence on all whom I love in
this world in the safe assumption that I am parting from them forever,
that nearly all human love will founder in oblivion on the rock of
Divine and demonic justice as the vast sinning majority of mankind is
consigned to eternal fire: such is the logic of the toll houses.) Of
course, it is not necessary to believe in the toll houses to believe
that most people will be damned--most American Protestants, for example,
have historically believed this--but the toll-house belief does seem to
present the problem to Orthodox Christians in the starkest terms.

What then is the nature of our confidence in Christ's Resurrection? Is
it not simply the affirmation of a metaphysical possibility that we know
full well is unlikely to be realized in our own lives or those of nearly
all others? Perhaps so; perhaps that is the final meaning of Christ's
pronouncement that "many are called, but few are chosen."

The thing is, you are really, imagining what the "Taxing" is.
It is our own choice. We either want light or darkness.
Christ was of course Crucified for us. But he did not say we would be saved, either we want it or not!
What does "want" mean? It mean that we TRY to get rid of pations.
Even if we don't make it completely, our soul will have been "marked" as being related to the Light of God.
If we are (even a litle bit..) related to the light, then, at the time of the "Taxing" we will select light, not darkness..
It isn't God, that Condemns us.
It isn't the Demons.
It is ourselves.

The process of "Taxing" is just an image. We don't know how it really happens. The only certain thing, is that the soul is called TO CHOOSE! Either Choose the uncreated Light of God, or the darkness of its Passions. God wants us to select the Light, but he sets us free. He gives us all the spiritual medicine to do so. But if we don't take this seriously, it is most certain that we are mostly related to darkness. Since we are related to darkness, our soul SEEKS IT. The "Taxing" just reflects this process of selection, nothing more.

It is not words that save us, but the cultivation of our souls.

Matthew 7:21
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

If we do not WORK towards the cure of our souls, then we won't see God's Light. And we won't see it , not  because of the demons. No, not at all. We will CHOOSE the demons, because our pations would make the love of our lord INTOLERABLE to us. And that, my sister, is not legalism. It is tragedy. And it is not a tragedy which God chose or likes. It is a tragedy, which we are bringing to ourselves..

The "Taxing" is just a reminder. It reminds us , that Judgment will come from THE DEPTHS OF OUR HEART
If we will choose the darkness of the demons, or the Light of God's Love, is up to us.


Logged

Strelets
Стрелец
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 444


« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2005, 05:00:13 PM »

Another article dealing with the questionable sources and methods employed in the toll house theory:

http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/062003/editorial.html
Logged

"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2005, 05:09:07 PM »

The toll house theory was derived from the pseudographia of a John Chrysostom imposter and mistranslated Russian service books.
  The Biblical passages quoted above do not lend to this belief, unless you're designating Christ as a demon.  The passages from Matthew and Luke are taken out of context, where Christ had just driven out a demon from a mute and was accused by the Pharisees of being an agent of Beelzebub.  Christ was simply applying the logic back towards them.  It wasn't a soteriological discussion.

The back reading of the toll house theory into Scripture and other sources is akin to a few Protestant sects which back read rapture theory, when in fact both theories are fundamentalist speculations.  These two beliefs are no more valid than believing in the more solidly Patristic universal salvation of St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Jerome, and St. Clement of Alexandria.  Given the choice of picking between the mutually exclusive toll house of horrors or universal salvation, I'd pick the latter.

Plenty of edifying material can be found here: http://www.new-ostrog.org/t_m.htm

The Scripture is interpreted by the Fathers of the Church. And as we may see, the Fathers, almost entirely, agree on the existance of the "Taxing" . Of course, "Taxing" is not just the oversimplified image, we have in our minds. It represents the selection of our Soul. Will we select darkness of passions, or the light of Christ? That is our choice. Now, about "mistranslated Russian service books" in Greece we never had any problem with that, my friend. God's love isn't something we take by force. We have choices. "Taxing" is all about the Soul and the choices it makes. Love, only blossoms, on the grounds of freedom...don't you think?

I finish this, just by saying this: We cannot say Toll houses don't exist, because all of Tradition and Fathers accept them. And they accept them because they have seen them. It is all-over the Writtings of the fathers, and of several contemporary Elders such as Elder Paisios and others.

The problem is, that when we think "Toll-Houses" we mostly think of a theatrical representation, that does not really exist..
Logged

t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2005, 05:16:15 PM »

Another article dealing with the questionable sources and methods employed in the toll house theory:

http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/062003/editorial.html

From the article:

Quote
Toll-housers ignore the implicit synodal rejection of their theory, e.g., decree 18 of the 1672 Synod of Jerusalem:


We believe that the souls of those that have fallen asleep are either at rest or in torment, according to what each has wrought; -- for when they are separated from their bodies, they depart immediately either to joy, or to sorrow and lamentation; though confessedly neither their enjoyment nor condemnation are complete. For after the common Resurrection, when the soul shall be united with the body, with which it had behaved itself well or ill, each shall receive of either enjoyment or of condemnation�

This debunks Purgatory not Toll houses.

another:

Quote

For if while the soul dwells in the body the devil cannot bring violence about it, clearly when it departs from body, he likewise has no power over it.

St John Chrysostom (Homily on Lazarus II, 2 PG 48 984)

This again, has nothing to do with Toll-houses.
Devil has no power, anyway. WE GIVE HIM POWER.
We SELECT HIM. We ASK HIM. We select the darkness of passions.

That is why (also noted on the text of Metropolitan Hierotheos), Toll-Houses are really "non-existant" for one living in virtue..

Logged

Strelets
Стрелец
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 444


« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2005, 05:29:06 PM »

I finish this, just by saying this: We cannot say Toll houses don't exist, because all of Tradition and Fathers accept them.

That's completely untrue.ÂÂ  I've heard the same said about rapture theory.

This debunks Purgatory not Toll houses.

It debunks purgatory and toll houses.ÂÂ  I would just urge readers to go over the articles in the links provided which more than adequately refute this "theologoumenon", which oddly is never treated as "optional" or a "metaphor" by its proponents who claim things like "all of Tradition and Fathers accept them", when in reality it's only the "True O" groups who accept this scholasticesque theory.ÂÂ  More below...

-------------------------------
(Excerpts from http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/062003/editorial.html)

A BAD PENNY: TOLL-HOUSES AGAIN

V.Rev. Dr. Michael Azkoul

1

PREFACE

For if while the soul dwells in the body the devil cannot bring violence about it, clearly when it departs from body, he likewise has no power over it.ÂÂ  - St John Chrysostom (Homily on Lazarus II, 2 PG 48 984)


We may wonder why certain false ideas return, even when they have been refuted time and time again. They return like a bad penny. Their advocates are not bad or stupid people. Yet they are strangely drawn to them, assuming that longevity proves its truth. In fact, there are no new heresies. So it is with the Toll-house (teloneion) theory, whose antecedents is ancient Egypt, with the Gnostic heretics. It tempted members of the Early Church for a brief time, emerged again amongst the Manicheans in the late Byzantium, again in 19th century Russia (along with Theosophy); and, in our recent experience, with Fr Seraphim Rose and his retinue. Others, too, I suppose.

I am of the opinion that this pernicious error is, historically, part of an end-time grand alliance of heresies, which is making collectively one final assault upon the Church before the Lord returns.


2.

Before dealing with the cut-and-paste propaganda of Fr John Mack's "What Happens at Death? A Patristic Summary," a few remarks are necessary about the man largely responsible for this latest revival of the Toll-house fallacy. His writings have reached other traditionally Orthodox countries. I refer to "Blessed" Seraphim Rose (as some have begun to call him). In particular, his "Answer to a Critic," an unhappy response to Archbishop's Lazar's censure of his The Soul After Death, concerns me.(1) Fr Seraphim has reposed. One might complain that it is unfair to reprove someone who cannot defend himself. I have seen too many of his "answers." His disciples stand by his every word, they have painted and icon of him, and call him "Blessed" (the first step towards canonization), let them bear the onus of the criticism.

The followers of Seraphim Rose and the Toll-house theory are very sensitive to any criticism of him (and it). They defend him (and their "tradition") with every rhetorical strategy. We are told that no "responsible theologian" and no "competent scholar" would accuse him of "neo-Gnosticism." "Such an accusation only shows in that person who makes a total lack of familiarity with Gnosticism and its anthropological presuppositions," but even more he demonstrates an ignorance of the Toll-house theory.(2) Aside from vigorous protests they provide imaginative "spinning" on every liturgical and patristic citation, name-calling, "sweeping generalizations" and "cruel ad hominem arguments which attempt to discredit anyone who disagrees with him", they have produced nothing that leads us to believe that he or his defenders are "responsible theologians" or "competent scholars," with a sufficient knowledge of Gnosticism and patrology to defend his position. Mocking their adversaries will do him no good.

The question must necessarily be asked: if Toll-housers read the Scriptures, the Fathers, the divine Services, and the spirituality of the Church one way, and "the critic" and his sympathizers read it another, who must we believe? Can the reader get to the truth of the matter, when both sides insist that their opponent is projecting his personal theology into their common sources? Also troubling is the fact that numerous liturgical and patristic texts related to this subject, apparently, may be understood in different ways? For example, are "spirits of the air" or "aerial spirits" (telonion) the same as Toll-house demons? There must be some way to get at the truth.

We reply with a few simple observations: the Toll-house theory is nowhere found in the Gospels, the Prophets or the Apostles. We have shown that this theory has been read into the Fathers. We have every reason to believe that the patristic sources have been mistranslated, abused, or confused with pseudographia (writings falsely attributed to the Fathers). Again, we have discovered that Fr Seraphim Rose (or Bishop Ignaty) has routinely tortured the Service Books to produce the results he wants. Moreover, Toll-housers have failed to explain why their thanatology (doctrine of death) does not occur before the 4th century; and also why the demonology of the Latin Fathers has almost nothing to say about it. In fact, Fr Rose, et. al treats the early Christian West as if it were not part of the Orthodox Church.

Toll-housers ignore the implicit synodal rejection of their theory, e.g., decree 18 of the 1672 Synod of Jerusalem:

We believe that the souls of those that have fallen asleep are either at rest or in torment, according to what each has wrought; -- for when they are separated from their bodies, they depart immediately either to joy, or to sorrow and lamentation; though confessedly neither their enjoyment nor condemnation are complete. For after the common Resurrection, when the soul shall be united with the body, with which it had behaved itself well or ill, each shall receive of either enjoyment or of condemnation

There is a body of learning about Orthodox doctrine of death and demons which, if they do not simply refute the Toll-house Gnosticism, views it as spiritual allegory. Also, Father Seraphim's "Orthodox" exposition of this theory exhibits a gross indifference to the necessity of Grace. I cannot be certain that the word appears in The Soul After Death. Finally, the similarity between the Toll-house theory and Gnostic After-life experience is remarkable.

As diverse as they were, all Gnostic theologies held a "toll-house" system as a standard principle of their thanatology. The Greek, "Jewish" and "Christian" Gnostic sects advocated the idea of an After-life in which the soul, in order to achieve beatitude, must endure a demonic trial. It must stand before "revenue collectors" at "places of retention" or "toll booths," situated somewhere within the planetary system, in the Zodiac plane, celestial levels occupied by "archons" or "cosmocrators" or, indeed, "demons." Passage through the spheres is guaranteed for the soul that utters "the secret word," and is baptized or has partaken of some other initiatory rite. Prayers offered by the religious community for the departed souls are also efficacious.(3) The primitive Orthodox Church, however, did not understand salvation in terms of "secret knowledge" or "rites" or litanies of a spiritual elite. Salvation comes to all by true Faith, Love and Grace, and life in the Church. Salvation is deification or divinization that, as the Prayers before Communion declares, begins already in this life, through the Church and her Sacraments, continuing after death with the ascent of the soul to divine consolation..

Why, then, did some of the Greek Fathers, after the fourth century, mix Toll-house imagery with their sermons and pedagogy? Such rhetoric was the result of the Church's collision with Hellenism. Before that period, the Orthodox Church was a "closed society," and we do not hear the language or ideology of the Toll-houses; but after its union with the Roman Empire, she lost the protection of her seclusion. She met the influx of foreign ideas by adapting them. The Fathers, East and West, disinfected the invading philosophical and religious words and concepts. They altered their pagan presuppositions and injected the alien material with Christian meaning.(4) For example, "the day of the sun" (Sunday) became "the Day of the Son" (icon of the Age to Come). Aristotle's word homousios ("same substance") was sanitized and used in the Nicean Creed.

But the Toll-housers have not been not busy converting the Gnostic thanatology into a Christian idiom. They forged an ugly synthesis with the heresy. Nineteenth century Russia gave us "Russian mystics" preoccupied with refining modern neo-Gnosticism, beginning with the very Bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov who "inspired" Fr Rose's The Soul After Death ("Answer to a Critic," 1). I suspect that the latter, at least, knew that his mentor had overstated the "literal sense" and sought to protect himself with the subterfuge of the "metaphorical" or "figurative sense." He writes, "It is obvious to all but the youngest children that the name 'toll-house' is not to be taken literally; it is a metaphor which the Eastern Fathers have thought appropriate for describing the reality which the soul encounters after death. It is also obvious to all that some of the elements in the descriptions of toll-houses are metaphorical or figurative. The accounts themselves, however, are neither 'allegories' nor 'fables,' but straightforward accounts of personal experiences in the most adequate language at the disposal of the teller" ("Answer to a Critic").

Fr Rose concedes that Toll-houses "has never been defined as a 'dogma,' belonging rather to the tradition of Orthodox piety." The bewildered Fr Pomazansky agrees that "the toll-houses are not specifically a topic of Orthodox theology: it is not a dogma of the Church in the strict sense."(5) Neither man explains his remarkable assertion. Are we to think that the "dogma" is not part of "Orthodox piety"? or that it is possible to be pious (eusebeia) without sound doctrine or dogma? What is "a dogma of the Church in the strict sense"? What is it in the broad sense? It would seem to me that a "dogma" (in the strict sense) is a teaching mandatory upon the Faithful to profess. What it is in the broad sense, I have no idea. Toll-housers have said that their beliefs, as all "pious opinion," are discretionary (theologoumenon). That is not the way Fr Seraphim, Archbishop Chysostomos of Etna, et. al defend this theory. They hold it was "handed down from her very beginning and taught uninterruptedly in he Church even down to our own day" (Preface to The Soul After Death). They attack opponents publicly and vigorously as if the Toll-house theory is necessary to salvation.

How else may we explain their animosity towards "the critic"? Sometimes their enthusiasm becomes the occasion for careless speech. "It is probably no exaggeration to say that no Orthodox writer has ever been so dogmatic in describing the nature of this other-worldly reality as the present critic (Archbishop Lazar) in denying it altogether. This is not a sphere for categorical assertions" ("Answer to a Critic, 4). Aside from the obvious self-contradiction, Fr Seraphim refers to the Toll-houses precisely as an "other-worldly reality." His guru, Vladika Ignaty, informs us that fallen angels dwell in the space between heaven and earth; and the devil was "the prince of the air"? Fr Rose alludes to it as "this other-worldly reality." (6) Which is it? Are the Toll-houses in this physical world, time-space, or the spiritual world, eternity? Is the devil "prince of the air" (with oxygen and gravity) or "prince of the spiritual world"?

Toll-house writers relentlessly smother us paragraph upon paragraph from liturgical patristic writings, as if the sheer number of quotes made their case. More times than not, the expression "Toll-houses" does even not appear in their citations. When it does, it is not unequivocally literal. Usually, the words and phrases are figurative. It is worth repeating the traditional Christian conception of the soul after death: it does not deny that the existence of "the accusing demons" in this world, in the air; nor does the Church deny their desire to capture every soul. Indeed, some souls at death are "bound" or given over to the demons that convey them to "darkest hades." They take unbaptized souls, heretics, and individuals that have died unrepentant. Demons have no authority to judge any creature. They do not decide our fate. They neither cast anyone into "hell" nor grant souls to passage to "heaven." God alone is the judge of all men.


Endnotes: 2.

When we study the Toll-house books, articles and letters -- in the USA nowadays largely promoted by the Platina or Etna groups -- we discover an ardent devotion to it, a devotion that overwhelms all intellectual caution and blinds its adherents to the legitimate objections to the Toll-house fancy. In this state of mind, they can take themselves seriously when they claim to be uncompromising Orthodox consecrated to the spirit and authority of the Fathers -- a "fidelity" that evidently justifies just a little intellectual dishonesty. They typically amass quotes from their works -- customarily without much bibliographical data. They write an article in which it is asserted that this or that Father is a Toll-houser. Everyone who opposes them is guilty of "Punk Patristics," which is, I believe, the favourite epithet of Auxentios, editor of Orthodox Tradition (XV, 4, pp. 28-30).

They routinely fail to distinguish between what are authenticated treatises, letters, sermons (and fragments of otherwise lost patristic prose and poetry) and those that are falsely attributed to them (spuria), such as pseudo-Cyril (of Alexandria) Homily on the Departure of the Soul or the pseudo-Chrysostom's (On Remembering the Dead, Homily on Patience and Gratitude) so popular with Toll-housers. Literally, thousands of spurious writings bear the name of Sts John Chrysostom, Athanasius the Great, Ephraim the Syrian, etc., and they cannot tell them apart -- or perhaps quite intentionally do not wish to tell them apart since such pseudoepigraphica is absolutely indispensable to their dubious arguments. There are also many "patristic" writings that may not belong to the name on the cover (dubia). This bibliographical reality is a matter of the greatest indifference to the Toll-housers.

The number of patristic citations need not intimidate us, but rather our anxiety is their authenticity and verifiability. In addition, we ought to ask why the Toll-house speculation lacks universal consent and antiquity, especially among the sub-Apostolic Fathers (Sts. Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement of Rome, etc.), among the anti-Gnostic writers (Sts. Hegesippus, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, etc.). Toll-housers do not invoke the early African theologians (Sts. Cyprian, Dionysius of Alexandria or Tertullian). Sts. Cyril of Jerusalem and St Epiphanius of Salamis are not among those to whom they point in behalf of their doctrine. To be sure, they appeal to Sts. Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers, Macarius of Egypt, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Dialogist, etc., but, on this score, the passages they cite are always ambiguous.

Toll-housers receive no comfort from Sts. Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus, Photius, Symeon the New Theologian, Mark of Ephesus, Gregory Palamas, Symeon of Thessalonica, Mark of Ephesus, Gennadius Scholarius -- unless they put it there, as they have with St Gregory the Great. The Latin Fathers (whom Toll-housers generally neglect) contribute nothing to their cause: not Sts. Hilary of Poitier, Jerome, Ambrose, Leo the Great, Faustus of Riez, Zeno of Verona, Nicetas of Remesiana, Peter of Ravenna, John Cassian, Benedict of Nursia, the Venerable Bede, Gregory of Agrigentum, Paulinus of Nola, none of the Spanish, British or French Fathers, etc. To the chagrin of many, there is no Toll-house tutoring in the works of Augustine of Hippo.

In addition, the proponents of the Toll-house theory too often provide us with no context for their citations. It is not difficult to catch Fr Seraphim patently abusing a passage. His The Soul After Death is full of them. He translates to taste. We must demand from him the context from which he took the quote, because his treatment of the sources has not won our trust. Without warning, he gives us an English version of patristic (and liturgical) works commonly rendered from more than one foreign language. His followers accept Fr Rose's translation from the Russian of the famous Bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov (1883 edition of his works). Not knowing Russian, I cannot verify it, linguistically, what might have been lost in Vladika Ignatiy's translation nor in Fr Seraphim's rendition -- from the Greek, Syriac, and Latin -- if, in fact, they even did consult the originals. It is worth pondering what meaning might be missing in English version?
« Last Edit: July 30, 2005, 05:31:11 PM by Strelets » Logged

"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2005, 05:39:56 PM »

Another article dealing with the questionable sources and methods employed in the toll house theory:

http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/062003/editorial.html

Again from the Text:

Quote

When the soul of man departs out of the body, a great mystery occurs. If it is yet under guilt of sins, there come bands of devils and (fallen) angels from the left, powers of darkness take over the soul, descend upon the soul and drag it as a prisoner to their own place. No one ought to be surprised at this, for if, while in this life, a man lives in subjection to them, and was their obedient slave, how much more when he leaves this world shall he be captive to and controlled by them. When the righteous leave their bodies, bands of (good) angels receive their souls and carry them to their side, to pure eternity. And so they are with the Lord forever. Amen (Spiritual. Homilies. XXII PG 34 660AB).

This is not "Taxing"? Of course it is! It is the Soul's SELECTION..It either Selects  darkness or light.
These are the two "extremes" of taxing.

As Metr. Hierotheos has written, Taxing, is not existant for the virtuous...for the one cleaned by pations.
But so for the one that has selected wickedness with all his heart: No "Taxing", the demons get him right away. There are though a lot of many "in between" stances..

Let us read again:

Quote
St Macarius augments this passage with another:

Just as the winds, blowing powerfully, all creatures in the sky, shall produce a very loud sound; likewise does the power of the enemy shake our thoughts, and carry them away, stirring those thoughts, stirring the depths of the heart at will, while scattering those thoughts for his own purposes. Like the tax-collectors (telonia) who sit along the narrow streets, extorting money from passers-by, so also the demons watch carefully and grab hold of souls. And when the thoughts pass out of the body, if they have not been completely purified, they are not permitted to reach heavenly mansions where they reach the Master. Rather they are driven down by the demons in the air. If, however, they are yet in the flesh, they shall� (Spiritual. Homily. XLIII, 9 PG 35 777BC).(13)

The implication of these passages is that in this world the power of the demons is limited to tempting, taunting and deceiving. When a person dies, the soul separates from the body and the demons rush to accuse it of many sins. If their accusations are right, God permits them to take the soul to the "left" (Particular Judgment). St John Chrysostom says nothing more; and neither do the Gospels of Luke or Matthew. During this temporary and intermediary period the soul is conscious and exercises its own energies, so as to enjoy bliss or endure pain. The Pauline expression "falling asleep" applies only to the body.(14) The terms "heaven" and "hell" are conspicuously absent from these discourses.

This, again...is "Taxing".
Is it not?

Of course the Soul doesn't go to either "Heaven" or "Hell". This is for the final Judgement.
But they go somewhere where is the a pre-taste , of what is to come. This is well known..



« Last Edit: July 30, 2005, 06:13:42 PM by t0m_dR » Logged

t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2005, 05:45:23 PM »

That's completely untrue.  I've heard the same said about rapture theory.

I am not going to start a flame, my brother. This is my opinion, and the opinion of the Fathers, as been shown at the article of Metr. Hierotheos...that's all..

Quote
It debunks purgatory and toll houses.  I would just urge readers to go over the articles in the links provided which more than adequately refute this "theologoumenon", which oddly is never treated as "optional" or a "metaphor" by its proponents who claim things like "all of Tradition and Fathers accept them", when in reality it's only the "True O" groups who accept this scholasticesque theory.  More below...

It has nothing to do, with Toll, Houses, I see nothing there...I'm sorry...but there is nothing about them.

Well, Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, is not in any "Tru O" Group, and neither is the Dean of the  Athens Theological School which accepts this, neither was Elder Paisios of the Holy mountain...This is just your opinion..I live in Greece. I am not a member of such a Group. This is a well accepted Church doctrine here. I cannot speak about the US, because I don't live here..
« Last Edit: July 30, 2005, 05:58:28 PM by t0m_dR » Logged

t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2005, 05:57:15 PM »

Again from the link:

Quote

"If the soul has Christ with it, it will not be disgraced by its enemies, even at death, when it rises to heaven's entrance. It will, then, as now, boldly confront them. But let us not tire in calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, day and night, until the time of departure from this mortal life. He will speedily avenge it in accordance with the promise which He Himself made when speaking of the unjust judge (cf. Luke 18:1-8). Indeed, He will avenge it both in the present life and at its departure from its body."(19)


Saint Hesychius comforts us with the knowledge that Christ will stand with his faithful servant. The demons have no power over the righteous in the physical or spirit-world. Holy martyrs confessors and teachers of the Faith are first in "a place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose, where all sickness, sorrow and sighing have fled away."(20) The souls of all the saved are carried there by a "band of angels" to Abraham's Bosom. There is no reason to believe that they are "required" to stop before demonic "toll-booths" prior to their dwelling in Paradise.

This is quite Correct, and I agree. For the righteous , "Toll-Houses" don't exist. This is what metropolitan Hierotheos states, also. Christ, will help us, if we have selected him. But would we have done this? I certainly hope so.

I think that the Writter's problem, is mostly with the term "Toll-Houses". But we musn't let that get in the way. The problem is not the "words" , but the actual reality behind it.
Logged

t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2005, 06:35:01 PM »

Let me say I made some corrections on the answers above.

As I see it, we do not disagre...but I think we mean different things with the term "Taxing" of the souls
I , do not actually think that there will be "Judges" or shall we have to pass some tests. I believe that taxing has to do with Passions, and about the soul being either caught by them, or caught by Christ. Each soul is "caught" by what it likes.

Also , It is my opinion that the accounts given by either the fathers, or other people, about their "after death" experiences...is not literal. We can understand this, because almost all the accounts differ , one from the other. So, I believe that those are images that our mind makes, in order to express a reality which cannot really be expressed.

And with this, I stop writting here , before we REALLY have a FLAME. :-)
I wish you farewell, I will not answer anymore. Thank you for debating. See ya! Smiley
Logged

Strelets
Стрелец
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 444


« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2005, 06:39:35 PM »

This, again...is "Taxing".
Is it not?

Of course the Soul doesn't go to either "Heaven" or "Hell". This is for the final Judgement.
But they go somewhere where is the a pre-taste , of what is to come. This is well known..

The last line of the quote says: If, however, they are yet in the flesh, they shall. ÂÂ This is a metaphor about earthly life, not the after-life. ÂÂ This is another flaw in the toll house theory pointed out in the articles, in that metaphorical descriptions of the worldly life in Patristic works are confused for reality in the immediate afterlife.ÂÂ  Works are cited without any apparent notice that they are comments on this life before our passing.

I am not going to start a flame, my brother. This is my opinion, and the opinion of the Fathers, as been shown at the article of Metr. Hierotheos...that's all..

A flame war isn't necessary.  I believe the links provide adequate commentary on the subject.  It's also unclear how much Bishop Hierotheos was really a toll-houser, which Vladika Lazar discussed (http://www.new-ostrog.org/question14.html).

Again from the link:

This is quite Correct, and I agree. For the righteous , "Toll-Houses" don't exist. This is what metropolitan Hierotheos states, also.

That's not what was written above, and it's the shifting of gears from one position -- "it's a theologoumenon" -- to -- "all of Tradition and Fathers accept them" -- that produces an incoherent argument open for criticism.  This is what was written in the first post above:

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers contain the teaching of Theophilos the Archbishop on the subject we are dealing with. He says that at the time of departure a court case takes place between the angels and the demons. The demons present "all the sins committed either deliberately or through ignorance from birth to this last hour", and they make accusation against the person. Likewise the angels bring up the good deeds which the soul of the particular person has done. Then the soul under judgement is in great fear. If the demons win, it hears the words: "Take away the ungodly soul, that it may not see the glory of God". But if it comes out the victor and is given freedom, the demons are put to shame and the angels receive the soul and guide it "into that unspeakable joy and glory" [55].

This description of the toll house encounter says everyone, not just the wicked, are enslaved before the toll house court.  Only after being not found guilty are we "given freedom."  Now tell us, are the righteous brought before these toll house judgements are not?  What's the point of the toll house court if our life has already judged our fate?  That's right, it's a pointless exercise.  Either it's an exercise in cruelty by giving the condemned a false hope in salvation, or it's needlessly frightening the saved.  So what's the purpose of the toll house?

I think that the Writter's problem, is mostly with the term "Toll-Houses". But we musn't let that get in the way. The problem is not the "words" , but the actual reality behind it.

No, the writer's problem is the toll-houser's use of spurious Patristic sources and putting forth something as believed by "all" Church Fathers when it's proven otherwise.  If the term "toll house" isn't supposed to be taken as reality, then it should be dropped and we should instead rely upon Scripture as our guide and not an innovative list of twenty toll houses each of us are supposed to enounter on the way to heaven in the afterlife.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2005, 07:10:46 PM by Strelets » Logged

"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
t0m_dR
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 174


« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2005, 07:20:35 PM »

Since I saw this post, before leaving, I'll answer to this..LAST.

The last line of the quote says: If, however, they are yet in the flesh, they shall.  This is a metaphor about earthly life, not the after-life.  This is another flaw in the toll house theory pointed out in the articles, in that metaphorical descriptions of the worldly life in Patristic works are confused for reality in the immediate afterlife.  Works are cited without any apparent notice that they are comments on this life before our passing.

Not really. It says distinctively, about the SOUL after death. The writter also accepts this. "Flesh" might have the meaning of "Passions".
Before, it states: " When the soul of man departs out of the body, a great mystery occurs. If it is yet under guilt of sins, there come bands of devils and (fallen) angels from the left, powers of darkness take over the soul, descend upon the soul and drag it as a prisoner to their own place."

Quote
That's not what was written above, and it's the shifting of gears from one position -- "it's a theologoumenon" -- to -- "all of Tradition and Fathers accept them" -- that produces an incoherent argument open for criticism.  This is what was written in your post above:

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers contain the teaching of Theophilos the Archbishop on the subject we are dealing with. He says that at the time of departure a court case takes place between the angels and the demons. The demons present "all the sins committed either deliberately or through ignorance from birth to this last hour", and they make accusation against the person. Likewise the angels bring up the good deeds which the soul of the particular person has done. Then the soul under judgement is in great fear. If the demons win, it hears the words: "Take away the ungodly soul, that it may not see the glory of God". But if it comes out the victor and is given freedom, the demons are put to shame and the angels receive the soul and guide it "into that unspeakable joy and glory" [55].

This description of the toll house encounter says everyone, not just the wicked, are enslaved before the toll house court.  Only after being not found guilty are we "given freedom."  Now tell us, are the righteous brought before these toll house judgements are not?  What's the point of the toll house court if our life has already judged our fate?  That's right, it's a pointless exercise.  Either it's an exercise in cruelty by giving the condemned a false hope in salvation, or it's needlessly frightening the saved.  So what's the purpose of the toll house?


I see that you have not studied the article of Metr. Hierotheos. He EXPLICITLY SAYS (in the text you just used) ::
"

In the tradition of the Church, however, it is seen clearly, that the demons have no mastery over the men of God, because those who have put on God do not go through such a martyrdom. If the ruler of the world has no power over Christ, this is also true of those men who are united with Him. This is why the Fathers advise us to live within the Church, with repentance, confession and spiritual works, that we live and die in the Church with the orthodox faith and the prayers of our Fathers, so that the ruler of darkness and the spirits of evil may not have power over us."
"  "


So, I don't see any difference to what you are saying.
But you see it LITERALLY , as a court. This is not true. This is not what Metr. Hierotheos sees it..It is a symbol of the way our soul goes. Either it likes pations and is attracted by them, or it is attracted by Christ. And I don't think the Fathers ment it literally..

The Tradition of the Church, of course accepts "Taxing" , but not with the meaning you are giving it.

Quote
No, the writer's problem is the toll-houser's use of spurious Patristic sources and putting forth something as believed by "all" Church Fathers when it's proven otherwise.  If the term "toll house" isn't supposed to be taken as reality, then it should be dropped and we should instead rely upon Scripture as our guide and not an innovative list of twenty toll houses each of us are supposed to enounter on the way to heaven in the afterlife.

Quote
It's also unclear how much Bishop Hierotheos was really a toll-houser

The term "Taxing" or "Toll-Houses" as we in Greece, or the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos uses it, Is I think, somewhat different, than you are reffering. So, as I said before, I don't think the term has a problem , but the meaning given to it. Of course none debates the usage of the term "Toll-Houses" or "Taxing" in Greece, except a few litle, which lived outside. But, we use it somewhat differently

As I see it, the list, is not to be taken literally, but is a general  list of passions. As I remember, there  are other lists with more or less pations...

Also, relying just "On scripture" is a bit Protestant , don't you think? The term "Toll-House" exists in some fathers, in the entire tradition. We do not need to "drop it", just define it as it should be defined. We are not in a position to Judge the Fathers. And neither is any "contemporary" Theologist, that has not reached Glorification.

As Metr. Hierotheos, says it the Text:

"First. The symbolic language of the Bible requires the necessary interpretation. Anyone who only keeps to the images used distorts the Gospel message. For instance, we must say that words in the Bible can be misinterpreted if we only look at their theological meaning. The same thing is true in the case of the customs houses. We should not be thinking only of today's customs houses, through which everyone has to pass at the national borders. The symbolic image is intended to present something, but it must be interpreted in an orthodox way."


This, I think, gives us the key, of our debate. As I said, I think that the Metropolitan Hierotheos, and the Orthodox Tradition, uses the word "Taxing" or "Toll-Houses" with quite a different meaning from the one you are using. So, really, there is not that much debate..

I probably must understand that there are differences between the U.S. and here, in matters of terminology...oh well...farewell..
Smiley
« Last Edit: July 30, 2005, 07:24:11 PM by t0m_dR » Logged

Nigula Qian Zishi
Administrator Emeritus, Retired Deacon, Inactive Poster, Active Orthodox Christian, Father, and Husband
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Posts: 1,836


我美丽的妻子和我。

nstanosheck
WWW
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2005, 11:27:25 PM »

It should be clarified that Lazar Puhalo was a deacon in ROCOR and was defrocked by his own synod because he taught the heresey of soul sleep which I understand he still teaches to this day. Thus, his teachings on the afterlife should be ignored since they have already been declared heretical by a synod in ecclesiastical court.
Logged

在基督         My Original Blog
尼古拉         My Facebook Profile
前执事         My Twitter Page
observer
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 546

Vivre die Raznitsa!


« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2005, 12:01:15 AM »

Amen.
Logged

Thou shalt not prefer one thing to another (Law of Liberalism)
Strelets
Стрелец
Elder
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 444


« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2005, 01:43:14 AM »

Quote
So, I don't see any difference to what you are saying.

How?ÂÂ  In one instance, it's said toll houses don't exist for the righteous, though in another instance it's said each individual is brought forth in a trial with demons as prosecutors, regardless of his choosing.ÂÂ  Is that not a difference?ÂÂ  That's like saying our courts and judges don't exist for those found not guilty.ÂÂ  This is fallacious argumentation.

Quote
But you see it LITERALLY , as a court. This is not true.

No, I don't see it literally because I don't see it as true nor is it of an Orthodox phronema in its attempts to strike a fear of demons into believers when we should fear only God, whether you're a unrepentent sinner or not.ÂÂ  The way the theory is being described and defended is that it's true in the sense as it's presented -- twenty toll houses in the air filled with demons for twenty different sins.ÂÂ  If that's not how we're to visualize events after death, then as much should be said without the ambiguous doublespeak and sensitive reactions to anyone who disputes the theory and its Gnostic underpinnings.

It's also contradictory.ÂÂ  It's written that "toll houses don't exist" for the righteous, but as I clearly quoted, it's said that everyone -- including the righteous -- will be tried before a court of demons and only after being found not guilty are you "given freedom" and the angels allowed to receive your soul.ÂÂ  Grace, God, love, and mercy are missing from the discourse, and instead we're given a fundamentalist hellfire and brimstone story which doesn't reflect the fullness nor the tone of Orthodox soteriology.ÂÂ  The question remains as to the purpose of the toll house show trial, symbolic or otherwise, when the fate of our souls has already been determined by our actions on earth.

Whether anyone believes this is metaphorical or literal isn't my concern.ÂÂ  It is needless speculation.ÂÂ  Your actions/inactions in this life are what determine your judgment, and not a silly show trial in a court of demons in the afterlife.ÂÂ  As I noted, it has the hallmarks of back reading rapture theory in the "early" Church, or the back reading of papal supremacy in Patristic documents, when in fact such back reading doesn't hide the fact that it's an innovation and wasn't believed until more recent times.

Quote
The term "Taxing" or "Toll-Houses" as we in Greece, or the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos uses it, Is I think, somewhat different, than you are reffering.

I've referred to the material you and the initial poster provided.ÂÂ  But I do concede that Bishop Hierotheos is possibly not a full blown toll-houser.

Quote
Also, relying just "On scripture" is a bit Protestant , don't you think?

Don't ya think you shouldn't insert words like "just", which I didn't write? Wink

Quote
Also, relying just "On scripture" is a bit Protestant , don't you think? The term "Toll-House" exists in some fathers, in the entire tradition. We do not need to "drop it", just define it as it should be defined. We are not in a position to Judge the Fathers. And neither is any "contemporary" Theologist, that has not reached Glorification.

In that event, one must accept universal salvation as true being that it was promoted by several Fathers.ÂÂ  Baloney.ÂÂ  Being a Father doesn't make one infallible, particularly when there are speculations and conclusions that are rejected by the Church and other Fathers, and it remains that the Patristic "support" for the toll house theory is predominately pseudographia and creative back reading into selective sources.ÂÂ  When so many sources are questionable in nature, and plenty of Patristics contradict it, it should raise flags in any scholarly mind as to the veracity of the theory, symbolic or not.

Quote
It should be clarified that Lazar Puhalo was a deacon in ROCOR and was defrocked by his own synod because he taught the heresey of soul sleep which I understand he still teaches to this day. Thus, his teachings on the afterlife should be ignored since they have already been declared heretical by a synod in ecclesiastical court.

Oh, you mean that uncanonical, closed door "trial" that Archbp. Lazar didn't know about until he heard about it from a website?ÂÂ  LOL.ÂÂ  I'm afraid you've read misinformed sources because Archbp. Lazar wasn't a member of ROCA at that time.ÂÂ  The supposed heresies were deemed to be in his work The Soul, The Body and Death, but in fact this work had been accepted within ROCA according to Metropolitan Philaret and Archpriest Konstantine Fedoroff and was sold in the synodal bookstore.ÂÂ  Only after Archbp. Lazar left ROCA was there a backlash against his work because of the hard feelings resulting from his departure.ÂÂ  Other theologians have defended this work, and a letter from Fr. Pomazansky showed he was substantially in agreement with it.ÂÂ  This matter was discussed here: http://www.new-ostrog.org/tollhouseletter.html

Lazar Puhalo is an Archbishop in the OCA, and I remember an explicit remark in an earlier thread from a moderator that we're to address clergy appropriately by their titles and not designate those clergy in other jurisdictions as false bishops or heretical.ÂÂ  I may not agree with many things written by some personalities in ROCOR or the Greek Resistance synods, but I afford them due respect by referring to their titles given by their jurisdictions.

Dr. John Romanides, Rev. Dr. Michael Azkoul, and V. Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou are critics who've written against toll-housery as well.ÂÂ  Fr. Panagiotis Carras (HOCNA, under the True Orthodox Church of Greece) defended Archbp. Lazar's work in a letter to Archbishop Vitaly of ROCOR in 1980.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2005, 01:46:21 AM by Strelets » Logged

"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
Kosmas
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 66


« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2005, 11:04:45 AM »

 Huh Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided Huh Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided Huh Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided Undecided

I'm sure we will all know once we get there. Trust me.
Logged

«Ουδείς εκών κακός» Σωκράτης
Sabbas
Drink from your own wells
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 503

St. Glicherie True Orthodox Church of Romania


« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2005, 07:05:51 PM »

There should be a new rule that no more discussions on the tempting of the soul by demons during the arial ascent after death, otherwise called the 'tollhouse theory,' will be allowed. Just go back and continue the several other discussions dealing with this subject. None of the previous discussions resulted in anything more than fighting between those who absolutely believe in the 'tollhouses' and those who think it is a heresy. I don't really see why people continue to bring this up. There are plenty of other "harry" points of doctrine dealing with life after death. For example what do the Fathers say about Ghosts? Most I have read state that they are demons. In fact St.Gregory of Nyssa stated that when King Saul had the ghost of the prophet Samuel raised by a witch it was in fact a demon. Personally I am curious about what other Fathers have said and discussing issues like this that aren't so polarizing.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2005, 07:06:35 PM by Sabbas » Logged

www.hungersite.com  Ãƒâ€šÃ‚  www.freedonation.com you can donate up to 20 times at freedonation.  http://www.pomog.org/ has online 1851 Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton English translation of Septuagint.http://www.cnrs.ubc.ca/greekbible/ Original Koine Septuagint and New Testament.
Tags: toll houses soul sleep Puhalo ROCOR Lazar Puhalo 
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.21 seconds with 48 queries.