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Author Topic: Orthodox understanding of End Times  (Read 6296 times) Average Rating: 0
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cothrige
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« on: September 07, 2005, 11:15:51 PM »

Hello all,

I recently found myself reading an article online preaching about the rapture and how the Whore of Babylon is the Roman Catholic Church.  Most of it was patently absurd of course, but I found myself curious about some of the specific imagery.  As a Roman Catholic myself I have to admit that I have spent next to no time reading the Apocalypse, and certainly haven't worried too much about what is meant by this or that reference.  But, my curiosity piqued, I began digging for some more reliable info.  Unfortunately I found next to nothing.  Apparently I am not alone in the Roman Church in basically ignoring these issues.

So, in keeping with a habit of mine, I decided to see if the Orthodox, whose opinions in matters biblical and patristic I hold highest, had any firm ideas historically about these symbols and references.  However, I could find nothing to speak of, mostly I think because a google search of "orthodox church revelation" or some such returns too much to sort through.  By the way, the same problem shows up here in the search utility, and so I could not be sure I am not asking a question which has already been discussed to death.  I am sorry if I am.

But, after all this, I am wondering if someone here will help fill me in on how the Orthodox approach this particular topic and specifically the Apocalypse?  For instance, how are things such as the harlot, 144,000, beast, and so on interpreted?  And is there a basic school of interpretation favored in Orthodoxy, i.e. preterism, historicism, etc?  And have any views been specifically condemned, as I assume chiliasm has been?

I hope that perhaps somebody here can enlighten me a bit on the Orthodox, and if the normal trend is trusted, more historical and patristic reading of these prophecies.  Many thanks in advance for the help.

Patrick

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PhosZoe
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2005, 10:50:15 AM »

You might want to start with this article.

http://www.orthodoxonline.com/leftbehind.htm
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donkeyhotay
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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2005, 11:36:06 AM »

The word you want to toss into your searches is "eschatology".

This article will explain the main different eschatological views held by different Christians.  Although it uses the word "Orthodox" in its title, I would read that as "Orthodox" with a small "o".

You will find that the early Church Fathers were Covenantal Premillennialists, and many Orthodox (who study such things) hold to this view today.  It differs from Dispensational Premillennialism largely in that it does not hold to a pre-tribulational rapture.  This view is (I think) also sometimes known as "Historic" Premillennialism.

Agustine promoted the theory of Amillennialism and some Orthodox hold to this view all or in part, or in some combination with Covenantal Premillennialism. Amillennialism is the nominal view of the RCC, Anglican, and original Reformed traditions (Luther, Calvin), though of course some of the reformation groups that originally held to the Amillennial view now embrace Dispensational Postmillennialism.

Ultimately, most Orthodox are not interested in eschatology apart from always being ready for Christ's return.  The "mechanics", if you will, of eschatology are a secondary issue.

Edit: Personally, I think both Covenantal Premillennialism and Amillennialism hold merit, but I think only God knows His plans for the future.   
« Last Edit: September 08, 2005, 11:42:41 AM by donkeyhotay » Logged

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cothrige
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2005, 08:37:30 AM »

Many thanks for the links.  I will check them out.

And very fascinating about "covenantal premillenialism."  I am surprised that the Orthodox would be so comfortable with a literal millenium.  We Catholics tend to view the millenium in the Church age and one will often hear the Nicene Creed's affirmation of "his kingdom will have no end" as having been a denial of any possible literal millenium.  Of course, that is when anything is said at all on the subject, which is not often.  As in your case, I suppose we are not so interested in the mechanics either, but when reading some specific theory with all of these detailed interpretations for every comment in the texts I do become curious about what has been generally accepted.  I will certainly peruse the file and page and see what I can learn.

Many thanks,

Patrick
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donkeyhotay
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« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2005, 11:55:15 AM »

Quote
I am surprised that the Orthodox would be so comfortable with a literal millenium.

I'd like to stress that this is probably not the case now, in modern times, and I don't know that anyone knows for sure that the millennial view was the majority view among the early fathers.  Eschatology (at least that part that deals with the future of the world) holds little interest with most Orthodox.  The Orthodox focus is on eschatology as it affects the individual, or as I've seen it put: "The world ends for some people every day in the form of physical death."

At any rate, Orthodox views on eschatology are as rare as hen's teeth online. I have had several books recommended to me: Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End,  and A Rumor Of War: Christ ’s Millennial Reign and the Rapture of His Church both by Dennis Engleman; The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology by Brian E. Daley; Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity by Charles E. Hill.

I have not read any of these, unfortunately, so I couldn't recommend any one over another.


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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2005, 10:05:29 PM »

cothridge,

It is not suprising that you didn't find much. The topic is not really addressed directly and has apparently not been an issue since Iraneous view of chilism.
I have read the book by Dennis Engleman, "A Rumor of War" as well as "A Second Look at the Second Coming" by T.L. Frazier.
In each case they don't necessarily present an Orthodox view as it is typically Orthodox by being apophatic. What it is not. Most spend the chapters refuting all the modern notions regarding most of the views.
Since at some point in the early twentieth century millennialism was married to dispensationalism, another book I found quite enlightening regarding the prophecy of Isreal is, "Exploding the Israel Deception" by Steve Wohlberg.
The latter is not written by an Orthodox author, but by a Jewish Believer.
I found them all to be excellent, balanced and quite informative.
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2005, 10:34:03 PM »

I would also recommend the following from St. Symeon the New Theologian:

http://sgpm.goarch.org/Monastery/index.php?p=46

- EDIT -

... and let me say this only, The End Times has been fulfilled for the Saints.

icxn
« Last Edit: September 11, 2005, 10:42:31 PM by icxn » Logged
cothrige
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2005, 08:28:36 AM »

I am intrigued by what you are calling the "prophecy of Israel" sojourner.  Would you be able to elaborate on which prophecy you mean specifically.  Just curious since the title of that book sounds so, well, explosive.

Patrick
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2005, 08:59:46 AM »

You might want to start with this article.

http://www.orthodoxonline.com/leftbehind.htm

Great link. The rapture has always been something I avoided even when I was RC.
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donkeyhotay
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2005, 11:56:09 AM »

Quote
Dispensational Postmillennialism

Sorry, this should read Dispensational Premillennialism.

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amnesiac99
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« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2005, 03:52:50 PM »

You might find this link interesting: http://www.receive.org/index.php?menu=3&submenu=23&id=17
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« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2005, 05:03:29 PM »

I would also like to urge whoever it was who suggested that the Orthodox view is somehow premillennialist to check out the canons from the Second Ecumenical Council. Premillennialism certainly was posited by many, but was rejected as heresy by the Council of Constantinople in 381. This, and multiple talks I've heard given by prominent Orthodox scholars and theologians, leads me to the conclusion that the Orthodox Church rejects, and has always rejected, any form of premillennialism. I think you're correct that most Orthodox are not terribly interested in these issues, as our focus is much more sacramental and spiritual, but there is a definite Orthodox position.
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donkeyhotay
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2005, 11:17:23 PM »

I would also like to urge whoever it was who suggested that the Orthodox view is somehow premillennialist to check out the canons from the Second Ecumenical Council. Premillennialism certainly was posited by many, but was rejected as heresy by the Council of Constantinople in 381. This, and multiple talks I've heard given by prominent Orthodox scholars and theologians, leads me to the conclusion that the Orthodox Church rejects, and has always rejected, any form of premillennialism. I think you're correct that most Orthodox are not terribly interested in these issues, as our focus is much more sacramental and spiritual, but there is a definite Orthodox position.

Hmmm.  I thought it was rejected by the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431. 
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« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2005, 07:28:20 AM »

I'd like to stress that this is probably not the case now, in modern times, and I don't know that anyone knows for sure that the millennial view was the majority view among the early fathers. Eschatology (at least that part that deals with the future of the world) holds little interest with most Orthodox. The Orthodox focus is on eschatology as it affects the individual, or as I've seen it put: "The world ends for some people every day in the form of physical death."

At any rate, Orthodox views on eschatology are as rare as hen's teeth online. I have had several books recommended to me: Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End, and A Rumor Of War: Christ ’s Millennial Reign and the Rapture of His Church both by Dennis Engleman; The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology by Brian E. Daley; Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity by Charles E. Hill.

I have not read any of these, unfortunately, so I couldn't recommend any one over another.

I wouldn't say that Orthodox views on eschatology are rare, per se, but rather that Orthodx views on the eschaton are hard to find.  Many Orthodox theologians incorporate eschatology into their works, since our Church is an eschatological Church.  Thus, you will find eschatology woven into everything from ecclesiology to sacramental theology to Hagiology.  There is a definite focus in the writings of the Church fathers on transforming where we are and who we are into beings of the Kingdom of God.

Now, I'm no expert on matters of the eschaton proper, so you'll have to ask others for books regarding the Apocalypse/end times.  Of course, I'm no expert on eschatology, either; I've just had a bit more exposure to it than to books on the end times.
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