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Author Topic: St Mark of Ephesus for or against purgatory?  (Read 7171 times) Average Rating: 0
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Philotheos
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« on: June 12, 2006, 06:11:15 PM »

I just came across the writing of St Mark of Ephesus in what was allegedly his refutation of Roman Catholic concept of purgatory. Upon reading this, I came away with impression that he was actually defending the RC concept of purgatory without implicitly mentioning the term purgatory. He even wrote that some sins(venial) are forgiven even after death. This disturbed me in great deal for I was taught that the Orthodox Church do not believe in repentance after death. The following are my questions.
1. Am I mistaken about the position of St Mark?
2. If not, is this particular teaching of St. Mark merely a personal opinion as it was in the case of St Gregory of Nyssa?
3. What is most widely accepted teaching of the Church concerning the state of sould after death?

Your worthless servant in Christ,

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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2006, 07:24:34 PM »

Sins can be forgiven after death. The question is whether God WILL.  No one knows for sure--so we pray for the souls of the dead, who are in the state of waiting.

Anastasios
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2006, 08:25:50 PM »

Thank you Anastasios for your response. In God, all things are possible. Not only remission of sins after death but also salvation of unbelievers. That 's not difficult for me at all to swallow. However, I am trying to come to terms with harsh reality in the Orthodox Church, inconsistent teachings on almost all issues. My catechism book states there is no purgatory, no third stage, no cleansing of departed souls period. Not a single mention of St Mark of Ephesus.
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2006, 09:56:21 PM »

Thank you Anastasios for your response. In God, all things are possible. Not only remission of sins after death but also salvation of unbelievers. That 's not difficult for me at all to swallow. However, I am trying to come to terms with harsh reality in the Orthodox Church, inconsistent teachings on almost all issues. My catechism book states there is no purgatory, no third stage, no cleansing of departed souls period. Not a single mention of St Mark of Ephesus.

It's quite possible that your catechism is incomplete and formulated to try and mimic Roman Catholic ones, but simply stripping out purgatory, etc, and in the processes leaving a vaccum.  That's why Fr Florovsky and others decried what they called the Western Captivity of the Church, which is not to say per se that all things Western are bad but merely that what happened was Orthodoxy lost a lot of its power, its ability to speak its own language and copied another set of definitions and molds.  In modern times, people have begun to come out of that, and things like St Mark of Ephesus and St Gregory Palamas, etc. come to the forefront again.

There most certainly is a third place after death and purification which stretches on forever.  The main difference is that RC's teach that temporal guilt remains from sins committed and that as a result, they must be purified in purgatory before one may enter heaven.  Orthodox teach that sin does a pyschic damage and that as a result, if one is forgiven and enters heaven, he will only experience as much as he has prepared himself to experience on earth, but that the process of growth is forever--no purification, then entering heaven, but rather one enters heaven at the last judgment and thenceforth grows forever.  That brings up the second point--Orthodox do not believe that one fully experiences heaven until the last judgment; so the souls are waiting for both heaven and hell.  They are awake though and experience deification, but it is not the totality of the divine life until the bodies are restored. Being that they are already partially in eternity, though, it is probably not experienced linearly.

A very good book on this subject is Life after Death by Metropolitan Hierotheos, free excerpts of which are available here: www.pelagia.org.  However, I will caution that he is not an academic and even though I am opposed to the concept of purgatory, I feel that he is somewhat inaccurate in his explanation of the RC concept. Still, it is an excellent book.

Anastasios
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2006, 10:41:18 PM »

The Latin concept of purgatory involves, among other things, temporal fire that purifies the soul in Hades (to emphasize: purgatory is about TEMPORAL FIRE in the third state). The Greeks rejected this temporal fire as a method of purification. Instead, the Greeks asserted that the sins of the dead in Hades are "cleansed" by the mercy of God through prayers and the Sacraments.
 
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/stmark_purg.aspx
When giving in this answer (June 14th), Bessarion explained the difference of the Greek and Latin doctrine on this subject. The Latins, he said, allow that now, and until the day of the last judgment, departed souls are purified by fire, and are thus liberated from their sins; so that, he who has sinned the most will be a longer time undergoing purification, whereas he whose sins are less will be absolved the sooner, with the aid of the Church; but in the future life they allow the eternal, and not the purgatorial fire. Thus the Latins receive both the temporal and the eternal fire, and call the first the purgatorial fire. On the other hand, the Greeks teach of one eternal fire alone, understanding that the temporal punishment of sinful souls consists in that they for a time depart into a place of darkness and sorrow, are punished by being deprived of the Divine light, and are purified—that is, liberated from this place of darkness and woe—by means of prayers, the Holy Eucharist, and deeds of charity, and not by fire. The Greeks also believe, that until the union of the souls to the bodies, as the souls of sinners do not suffer full punishment, so also those of the saints do not enjoy entire bliss. But the Latins, agreeing with the Greeks in the first point, do not allow the last one, affirming that the souls of saints have already received their full heavenly reward.
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2006, 10:52:26 PM »

Yes, but as has been pointed out MANY times, the Latins do not actually believe the fire is literal.

It is quite possible that some Latin theologians at the time of St Mark taught this, and hence the Greeks are reacting to that.

But real fire is not present Catholic dogma. It's not in our best interests to misrepresent our opponents.

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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2006, 12:45:07 AM »

I am not misrepresenting the Roman Catholics.ÂÂ  According to New Advent, the NATURE of this purgatorial fire was the point of disagreement between the Latins and the Greeks.
 
Quote
Much discussion has arisen over the position the Greeks on the question of purgatory. It would seem that the great difference of opinion not concerning the existence of purgatory but concerning the nature of purgatorial fire;

...

At the Council of Florence, Bessarion argued against the existence of real purgatorial fire, and the Greeks were assured that the Roman Church had never issued any dogmatic decree on this subject. In the West the belief in the existence of real fire is common. Augustine in Ps. 37 n. 3, speaks of the pain which purgatorial fire causes as more severe than anything a man can suffer in this life, "gravior erit ignis quam quidquid potest homo pati in hac vita" (P. L., col. 397). Gregory the Great speaks of those who after this life "will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames," and he adds "that the pain be more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life" (Ps. 3 poenit., n. 1). Following in the footsteps of Gregory, St. Thomas teaches (IV, dist. xxi, q. i, a.1) that besides the separation of the soul from the sight of God, there is the other punishment from fire. "Una poena damni, in quantum scilicet retardantur a divina visione; alia sensus secundum quod ab igne punientur", and St. Bonaventure not only agrees with St. Thomas but adds (IV, dist. xx, p.1, a.1, q. ii) that this punishment by fire is more severe than any punishment which comes to men in this life; "Gravior est omni temporali poena. quam modo sustinet anima carni conjuncta". How this fire affects the souls of the departed the Doctors do not know, and in such matters it is well to heed the warning of the Council of Trent when it commands the bishops "to exclude from their preaching difficult and subtle questions which tend not to edification', and from the discussion of which there is no increase either in piety or devotion" (Sess. XXV, "De Purgatorio").

The same quotes St. Gregory's literal interpretation of the purging fire.
 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm
 
St. Gregory of Nyssa (P. G., XLVI, col. 524, 525) states that man's weaknesses are purged in this life by prayer and wisdom, or are expiated in the next by a cleansing fire. "When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God  ÃƒÆ’‚ till the purging fire shall have cleansed the stains with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil."
 
It also quotes Origen's understanding (this is actually a mistake, since Origen was not referring to purgatory but hell in light of his universalist views).
 
In Origen the doctrine of purgatory is very clear. If a man depart this life with lighter faults, he is condemned to fire which burns away the lighter materials, and prepares the soul for the kingdom of God, where nothing defiled may enter. "For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3 ); but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones? Neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood, and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works." (P. G., XIII, col. 445, 448).
 
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2006, 01:57:54 PM »

While purgatorial concept of hell, apokatastasis, and toll house ideas are widespread in the Orthodox Church nowadays, I'd rather agree with a more traditional view of either eternal reward or punishment. As for the position of St. Mark, it is my understanding that he, with every good intention, committed an error of misrepresenting Orthodox faith to the Council of Florence. That is understandable considering military invasion from Turkey and need for protection from Rome. However, his theological or doctrinal ideas are not authoritative any more than St John Chrysostom's contention that Theotokos sinned or St Gregory of Nyssa's universal salvation is.
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2006, 02:02:16 PM »

Theognostos,

How authoritative can that encyclopedia article be if it says they were in agreement over purgatory? Since Orthodox do not accept purgatory, then why should I believe that author when he says that the Latins believed in literal fire?

Like I said, it may well be that Latins at that time believed in literal fire. My point is that now it seems they don't. So we have to make sure we take that into account in our debates iwth them

Anastasios
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2006, 03:45:36 PM »

As for the position of St. Mark, it is my understanding that he, with every good intention, committed an error of misrepresenting Orthodox faith to the Council of Florence.

 Huh St. Mark is one of the only -- perhaps, THE only -- delegate at Florence who consistently and emphatically spoke against "Latin" doctrines and practices. He evinces no influence from Latin sources, but, rather, bases his theology in Scripture, the early Fathers, Ecumenical Councils and the general practice of the Orthodox Church. He is celebrated liturgically as a pillar of Orthodoxy.

Of course, he isn't infallible, but isn't it more likely, perhaps, that your exact understanding of the afterlife (a rather speculative subject anyway!) is more of an "error" than his?

(That said, I would read his words very carefully and go back to the best manuscripts, since most translations are based on either a rather weak Mansi text or the official Papal Latin.)
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2006, 12:33:03 AM »

Huh St. Mark is one of the only -- perhaps, THE only -- delegate at Florence who consistently and emphatically spoke against "Latin" doctrines and practices. He evinces no influence from Latin sources, but, rather, bases his theology in Scripture, the early Fathers, Ecumenical Councils and the general practice of the Orthodox Church. He is celebrated liturgically as a pillar of Orthodoxy.

Of course, he isn't infallible, but isn't it more likely, perhaps, that your exact understanding of the afterlife (a rather speculative subject anyway!) is more of an "error" than his?

Agree.
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2006, 12:47:47 AM »

How authoritative can that encyclopedia article be if it says they were in agreement over purgatory?

I don't think it says the two sides were in agreement.

Quote
Since Orthodox do not accept purgatory, then why should I believe that author when he says that the Latins believed in literal fire?

Because they quoted a couple of Church Fathers who believed in the cleansing fire of hell (albeit the Latins used it inappropriately for supporting the existence of temporal fire in purgatory).

Quote
Like I said, it may well be that Latins at that time believed in literal fire.

Which is relevant, because we're analyzing St. Mark's position "at that time."

Quote
My point is that now it seems they don't. So we have to make sure we take that into account in our debates iwth them

We're studying the synods here. It doesn't matter what the other Catholics say today.
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2006, 03:58:06 PM »

Thank you for the understanding of purgatory. To me I always thought it the word purgator meant Hell as in one and the same.
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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2006, 05:08:44 PM »

Thank you for the understanding of purgatory. To me I always thought it the word purgatory meant Hell as in one and the same.

I suggest one buy the book: History of The Council of Florence by Ivan N. Ostroumoff. Published by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Mass. 

Read Chapter IV. "Opening of the Council in Ferrara.  Private Disputes on Purgatory."

It a very enlightening chapter that deals with both sides of the issue but it also indicates a profound ignorance of the Latin purgatory doctrine by the Greeks.  Which tells me that this is a development of doctine by the Latins.
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2006, 11:14:24 PM »

Even if Purgatory is a false doctrine, Dante's book by that title is still really, really cool.

Regarding forgiveness after death, the Orthodox (Byzantine) funeral service does contain a final absolution for the deceased.  I don't think there is a definitive answer in our tradition as to how this "works," but rather we pray for everyone and everything out of humility and charity and hope for the best, trusting that God is loving and merciful. 
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2006, 10:52:05 AM »

There is plenty of theological debate on purgatory, as there has been for many centuries.

But dogmatically the Roman Catholic church teaches only that purgatory exists and that the prayers, devotions, alms, etc. of the living can be efficacious for the souls there. Everything else is up for discussion.

The currently dominant view among theologians, not least among the late John Paul II, is that purgatory is not a place but a state.

The Catechism says:

1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.607

    "As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come."608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

    "Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them."611


606 Cf. Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304; Council of Trent (1563):DS 1820; (1547):1580; see also Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000.
607 Cf. 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7.
608 St. Gregory the Great, Dial. 4,39:PL 77,396; cf. Mt 12:31.
609 2 Macc 12:46.
610 Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274):DS 856.
611 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 41,5:PG 61,361; cf. Job 1:5.


--------------------

The "purifying fire" need not be literal, of course. It's a biblical metaphor, referring to the purifying properties of fire. It's the purifying kind of fire, not the consuming kind of fire found in Hell.

As St. Paul writes, a righteous man's works will be tested. But if he fails the test, "He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." (1 Cor 3:15)

---------------------

I always had trouble with purgatory growing up. Once I was old enough to investigate it, the problems went away as I realized that most of what I thought was purgatory wasn't true. My Baptist father had been feeding me lots of misinformation.

edited to indicate specificity of dogmatic source.
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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2006, 09:41:54 PM »

St. John Chrysostom writes that St. Paul in the passage where he writes that a persons works will be burnt up, yet he himself "will be saved, as through fire," is referring to the damned.  The word "saved" in the Greek passage means, according to the Golden-Mouthed, that the person who was wicked will "continue" on in fire-- not be cleansed.  This was brought up by the great Orthodox theologians at the "reunion" councils, but did not convince the Latins.

Further, St. Gregory the Dialogist is often misquoted to mean something he doesn't.  A full reading of his work reveals that he believes that the Grace of the Church through prayers, almsgiving, and commemoration at the Bloodless Sacrifice is what will cleanse a Christian who has not fully repented though who is responsive to the grace of God. 
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« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2006, 02:58:29 AM »

Of course those merits from the treasury of the Church are available to be used for those undergoing purification. That's one of the two things about purgatory that must be believed. Pope St. Gregory had it right.
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« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2006, 04:03:53 AM »

Of course those merits from the treasury of the Church are available to be used for those undergoing purification. That's one of the two things about purgatory that must be believed. Pope St. Gregory had it right.

Yeah. Well, that's your version, anyway.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2006, 04:07:29 AM »

There most certainly is a third place after death and purification which stretches on forever.

That may well be the belief of many, but I do not think that there is anything "certain" about it at all.

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« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2006, 04:56:15 AM »

Of course those merits from the treasury of the Church are available to be used for those undergoing purification. That's one of the two things about purgatory that must be believed. Pope St. Gregory had it right.
The Orthodox Church rejects the "Treasury of Merit".
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« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2006, 12:11:49 PM »

The Orthodox Church rejects the "Treasury of Merit".

That I know. But then, I'm not Eastern Orthodox, am I?
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« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2006, 05:59:05 PM »

But then, I'm not Eastern Orthodox, am I?
I know, but only because your post above (reply No. 15) was edited by an admin to clarify that. Wink
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« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2006, 06:09:35 PM »

I know, but only because your post above (reply No. 15) was edited by an admin to clarify that. Wink

 Smiley

Oh, that. I accept the change. Eastern Catholics do not call it purgatory ("Final Theosis," I believe is the word), so it is accurate that it is a Roman Catholic thing. Thanks, Fr. Chris.
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« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2006, 03:54:11 PM »

I don't think St. Gregory uses "treasury of merits" language.  The issue in Orthodoxy is not about curing God of His anger against sinners,or paying Him off, but instead it is about Uncreated Grace working upon the sinner himself to purify him of the sickness of sin, which has separated him from God and made him incapable of the vision of God. 

I have never been Catholic, but from what I have read of the Latin doctrine of purgatory, the effort seems to be upon performing works to cure God rather than curing the soul.  Don't get me wrong, Orthodox believe in the justice of God.  But the works done and prayers said for the benefit of the dead are not to appease God's anger, but rather are themselves actions of God's grace through the Church, whereby those in Hell who choose to respond to God's grace are helped in some way.  As St. Gregory prayed and fasted and wept for Trajan's sins, he saw that poor old Trajan had made it up to Heaven.  Even St. Gregory's actions in this regard seem inconsistent with the idea that the Papacy in that day believed itself to be the steward of some merit treasury.  Instead of all that labor, couldn't he have just written a check for Trajan?

I think that this doing works for the dead is not about calming down an angry God at all, but rather is rooted deeply in the Orthodox notions of the body being the vehicle of repentance.  The very fact that the dead are no longer in their bodies means that they can no longer work to repent, since the body was for this purpose (the "skins of flesh" given after the fall).  So the living members of the Church repent in their own bodies for those now separated from theirs, which attracts Divine Grace upon the soul of the one who did not bring forth the fruits of repentance in his own life but who nevertheless did not altogether abandon Christ. 

The idea of performing works in the flesh for those who have departed this life is also consistent with another Orthodox idea-- the idea of unending growth and perfection in Heaven-- so that even those in Heaven can be blessed by works of repentance done on their behalf since Heaven itself is an unending "becoming" like God.

Sorry for rambling.
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« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2006, 04:39:30 PM »

I don't think St. Gregory uses "treasury of merits" language.  The issue in Orthodoxy is not about curing God of His anger against sinners,or paying Him off, but instead it is about Uncreated Grace working upon the sinner himself to purify him of the sickness of sin, which has separated him from God and made him incapable of the vision of God. 

I have never been Catholic, but from what I have read of the Latin doctrine of purgatory, the effort seems to be upon performing works to cure God rather than curing the soul.  Don't get me wrong, Orthodox believe in the justice of God.  But the works done and prayers said for the benefit of the dead are not to appease God's anger, but rather are themselves actions of God's grace through the Church, whereby those in Hell who choose to respond to God's grace are helped in some way.  As St. Gregory prayed and fasted and wept for Trajan's sins, he saw that poor old Trajan had made it up to Heaven.  Even St. Gregory's actions in this regard seem inconsistent with the idea that the Papacy in that day believed itself to be the steward of some merit treasury.  Instead of all that labor, couldn't he have just written a check for Trajan?

I think that this doing works for the dead is not about calming down an angry God at all, but rather is rooted deeply in the Orthodox notions of the body being the vehicle of repentance.  The very fact that the dead are no longer in their bodies means that they can no longer work to repent, since the body was for this purpose (the "skins of flesh" given after the fall).  So the living members of the Church repent in their own bodies for those now separated from theirs, which attracts Divine Grace upon the soul of the one who did not bring forth the fruits of repentance in his own life but who nevertheless did not altogether abandon Christ. 

Whoa, I don't know where you got these notions, but they resemble more my Baptist father's musings than what the Church actually teaches about purgatory and the treasury of merit. A gross mischaracterization, I'm afraid to say.

It's ironic you invoke Gregory the Great, because Protestants I speak to usually "blame" Gregory for the belief in purgatory.

---

Question: When you are talking about Hell, are you referring to the "waiting room" or the judgment of damnation? If the latter, I humbly but firmly disagree with you that the damned can be saved by the grace produced by prayers and alms and fasting. This would go against God's justice, and scripture does not support it.

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« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2006, 04:54:25 PM »

Question: When you are talking about Hell, are you referring to the "waiting room" or the judgment of damnation? If the latter, I humbly but firmly disagree with you that the damned can be saved by the grace produced by prayers and alms and fasting.

There is a minority view in Orthodoxy that believes that in the end all will be saved.  Just so long as those who hold this view do not insist on it being a certainty, but rather a hope, their views are perfectly acceptable for the Orthodox Church.

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This would go against God's justice.....

The rather juridical way in which you appear to be referring to God's justice is foreign to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2006, 05:05:24 PM »


Only God knows if someone is eternally damned or in the waiting room.  If my view is a mischaracterization, then perhaps you could tell us what the true teaching is?  Thanks.
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« Reply #28 on: December 07, 2006, 05:14:48 PM »

The rather juridical way in which you appear to be referring to God's justice is foreign to Orthodoxy.

I was not referring to it in a juridical way. God's justice is in his allowing us to make our own choices. The damned freely made their choice. And God will honor our choices. His mercy and the gift of salvation are offered to all, and I certainly wish all are saved, but it is only a wish, not a reality.

Anyway, I'm sure there are already copious multi-page threads debating universal salvation, so I'll leave it at that.
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« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2006, 05:23:34 PM »

There is a minority view in Orthodoxy that believes that in the end all will be saved.  Just so long as those who hold this view do not insist on it being a certainty, but rather a hope, their views are perfectly acceptable for the Orthodox Church.

To make the point clear, Roman Catholicism does not permit such a view.
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« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2006, 05:44:17 PM »

Only God knows if someone is eternally damned or in the waiting room.  If my view is a mischaracterization, then perhaps you could tell us what the true teaching is?  Thanks.

You are right there, which is why we pray for the dead, though some may not in the waiting room and are beyond aid, so to speak.

Purgatory, as you have characterized it, is not about "writing a check" to appease God's wrath. You make it seem almost as if we are bribing God to "calm him down" and let us in. I trust in good faith that you didn't intend to leave that unfortunate impression.

Purgatory is a wonderful thing---I think that, if God in his providence allows me salvation, I should be extremely thankful for purgatory. Without that purification, upon reaching heaven, I might get tossed out not long after arrival! I'm a terrible sinner, still too attached to too many sins. Put in your language, I have a long way to go in theosis. There's a reason the Lord spoke through St. John that unclean things do not enter the kingdom of heaven. He wants us to stay!

Here are some selections from the Cathechism to explain it a bit. I already posted above the three main paragraphs on purgatory (Summarized: Those who die in God's grace but are not fully sanctified are purified after death until they are made holy enough to enter heaven; this purification is called purgatory; and prayers, fasting, alms, etc. can be offered on behalf of these people; everything else is theological opinion, not doctrine).

1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the "temporal punishment" of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.84

1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the "old man" and to put on the "new man."85

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm#1472


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« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2006, 05:45:33 PM »

To make the point clear, Roman Catholicism does not permit such a view.

In nomine Iesu Pravolavbob I offer you continued peace,

Neither does Sacred Scripture...

Pax Vobiscum
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« Reply #32 on: December 07, 2006, 05:50:49 PM »

In nomine Iesu Pravolavbob I offer you continued peace,

Neither does Sacred Scripture...

Pax Vobiscum

Francis-Christopher,

This depends on your interpretation.
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« Reply #33 on: December 07, 2006, 05:52:03 PM »

To make the point clear, Roman Catholicism does not permit such a view.

That is true. 
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« Reply #34 on: December 07, 2006, 06:14:38 PM »

Only God knows if someone is eternally damned or in the waiting room.  If my view is a mischaracterization, then perhaps you could tell us what the true teaching is?  Thanks.

To be clear, there is a waiting room for heaven and a waiting room for hell. No one except those with bodies (Theotokos, St Elijah, and St Enoch) are in heaven fully nor in hell fully.  that can only happen at the resurrection. However, a further point is there is no time aspect in eternity so is it really a waiting room? To us it is, but to them maybe not--or maybe, because God created time until such time as he ends it. Oh, my head! Smiley

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« Reply #35 on: December 07, 2006, 06:15:45 PM »

Francis-Christopher,

This depends on your interpretation.

In nomine Iesu Pravoslavbob I offer you continued peace,

Not mine but 99% of the all Saints, Doctors of the Church as well as any normative understanding of the literal sense of Sacred Scripture. I understand that Orthodoxy has a couple of individuals who promote this but I contend that such positions stem from an attempt to place philosophy over the normative understanding of revelation.

Universalism may well be the most popular theory in our modern day but it has been, by far, the minority view of Christian Philosophers. Less than 1%.

If they are correct, then the whole debate really doesn't matter at all. If they are wrong, then the debate matters a great deal.

Pax Vobiscum
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« Reply #36 on: December 07, 2006, 06:20:13 PM »

However, a further point is there is no time aspect in eternity so is it really a waiting room? To us it is, but to them maybe not--or maybe, because God created time until such time as he ends it. Oh, my head! Smiley

Excellent point. I would also apply that to our purgatory.
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« Reply #37 on: December 07, 2006, 07:24:15 PM »

To make the point clear, Roman Catholicism does not permit such a view.
In fact, we take Christ's word very seriously when he speaks of the separating of the sheep and the goats.
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« Reply #38 on: December 07, 2006, 07:32:26 PM »

The Orthodox take it just as seriously.  This is not the point.
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« Reply #39 on: December 07, 2006, 10:50:02 PM »

With all respect to PSB, Orthodoxy doesn't teach universalism... St. Gregory of Nyssa made a pious error and Origen as well (for which Origen was delivered over to anathema).  I've been following some of what GisC has been saying about it and much of his argument is dubious.  Any text on Orthodox Dogmatic Theology says that the 5th Ecumenical Council condemned the doctrine of "apocatastasis" or "restoration of all things" including the devil.  It doesn't matter how much wishful thinking we do about it-- Hell is real and is eternal, but for the Grace of God.

It seems to me that in some respects the Latins and Orthodox are dealing with similar bits of information in different ways.  Both believe that people can be forgiven of sins after they have died.  Both believe that this can be effected through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving on another's behalf, as well as comemmoration at the altar.

This unity is encouraging.  The Orthodox diverge from the Latin teaching in their belief that the fire itself or the sufferings beyond life are purgative in their effect.  For the Orthodox (and it would seem to me that this includes a thorough reading of St. Gregory the Dialogist), it is God's grace which acts upon the sinner to purify him and make him worthy of heaven-- not through fire, but through the prayers of the Church. 

From a "policy" perspective (not that this is a valid argument) but it seems to me that if a Latin were certain enough that he was headed heavenward, but wished to sin in whatever way, he could more or less say, "Put it on my tab" and just burn it off (so to speak) in the next life.  How else can indulgences be explained?  Or how about going to see the Shroud in Rome and getting 12,000 years off of your sentance in purgatory?  These things are absurd to Orthodoxy... but how do the modern RCs explain them?

Thanks for your patience.  I am sincerely asking, with no wish to quarrel, much less to "vanquish" you by force of rhetoric.  I wish to know why this question was so important to both of our spiritual predecessors at the reunion councils and why they could never agree?

Interestingly, did you know that our St. Mark of Ephesus met the notorious Juan de Torquemada of Inquisition fame at one such council?  By the way, does purgatory somehow tie into Latin beliefs at the time about torturing heretics (like maybe in some twisted way they were trying to make their sentence in Hell a little lighter?)
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« Reply #40 on: December 08, 2006, 01:03:38 AM »

With all respect to PSB, Orthodoxy doesn't teach universalism... St. Gregory of Nyssa made a pious error

Why dont you actually address the arguments of St. Gregory of Nyssa. You see, unlike many lesser men in the history of the Church who chose to dogmatize and pontificate rather than theologize and teach, St. Gregory of Nyssa actually presented well argued and well supported posistions.

Quote
and Origen as well (for which Origen was delivered over to anathema).  I've been following some of what GisC has been saying about it and much of his argument is dubious.  Any text on Orthodox Dogmatic Theology says that the 5th Ecumenical Council condemned the doctrine of "apocatastasis" or "restoration of all things" including the devil.

Well then 'any test on Orthodox Dogmatic Theology,' whatever book that is, is simply wrong, and I would strongly recomment whoever wrote this book to actually read the decrees of the council before they pontificate on what the Synod said. The fact of the matter is that an anathema of Apokatastasis is not included in the Anathemas against Origen, so by your logic I could essentially argue that because (if I recall properly) Nestorius believed in an eternal hell, the anathemas against Nestorius at Ephesus can clearly be construed as an anathema against the belief in an eternal hell.

I'm sorry to be the one to break the news to you, but there is no-cop out for this issue, there is no appeal to authority. If you actually want to make the case you're trying to make you'll have to do some real theology (and I'm talking about the kind of theology the fathers did, not this second-rate plagiarism that passes for theology in the 20th century).

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It doesn't matter how much wishful thinking we do about it-- Hell is real and is eternal, but for the Grace of God.

Nor does mankind exist, but for the Grace of God. But God does exist and He is Gracious and Loving, thus we both exist and shall be restored to Him. If you desire to overturn the Christian Belief in an All-Loving and All-Merciful All-Sustaining God and in the Complete and Unconditional Victory of the Cross over Death, you're going to have to do better than a false appeal to authority (or even better than a genuine appeal to authority, for that matter, as I do recall a verse somewhere about angels from heaven and teaching different gospels).
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« Reply #41 on: December 08, 2006, 01:12:56 AM »

It seems to me that in some respects the Latins and Orthodox are dealing with similar bits of information in different ways.  Both believe that people can be forgiven of sins after they have died.  Both believe that this can be effected through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving on another's behalf, as well as comemmoration at the altar.

This unity is encouraging.  The Orthodox diverge from the Latin teaching in their belief that the fire itself or the sufferings beyond life are purgative in their effect.  For the Orthodox (and it would seem to me that this includes a thorough reading of St. Gregory the Dialogist), it is God's grace which acts upon the sinner to purify him and make him worthy of heaven-- not through fire, but through the prayers of the Church. 

From a "policy" perspective (not that this is a valid argument) but it seems to me that if a Latin were certain enough that he was headed heavenward, but wished to sin in whatever way, he could more or less say, "Put it on my tab" and just burn it off (so to speak) in the next life.  How else can indulgences be explained?  Or how about going to see the Shroud in Rome and getting 12,000 years off of your sentance in purgatory?  These things are absurd to Orthodoxy... but how do the modern RCs explain them?

Thanks for your patience.  I am sincerely asking, with no wish to quarrel, much less to "vanquish" you by force of rhetoric.  I wish to know why this question was so important to both of our spiritual predecessors at the reunion councils and why they could never agree?

The fire IS God's grace working its purification. Purification is painful---it's DYING to yourself and becoming a new person. It's painful on Earth, as it would be painful in purgatory. The idea of a purifying fire---a suitable metaphor, in my view---doesn't come from Pope St. Gregory the Great or the Inquisition, but from the Bible. Though, I have to insist again, the purifying fire is not dogmatic teaching, just as the consuming fire of Hell is not either. These are representations, though Biblical ones. They may or may not be literal.

The "time" in purgatory does not represent actual time in purgatory. Who knows what kind of time exists there? There is no dogmatic teaching on that. The currently prevalent theological opinion is that it is a state, not a place, and that time does not pass.

You seem to have some misunderstandings about what indulgences are and exactly what they do. Perhaps this page will help clear up the misunderstandings. http://www.catholic.com/library/Myths_About_Indulgences.asp
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« Reply #42 on: December 08, 2006, 01:19:24 AM »

it seems to me that if a Latin were certain enough that he was headed heavenward, but wished to sin in whatever way, he could more or less say, "Put it on my tab" and just burn it off (so to speak) in the next life. 

This is pretty preposterous.

Can an Orthodox sin all he wants, knowing that he can go to confession afterwards and wipe it all away?

No Catholic is to be "certain" he is heading heavenward. That is a Protestant, particularly Calvinist, perspective. And if he was so certain he was in a state of grace that he began to sin all he wanted, he would no longer have to worry about indulgences---he'd have his salvation to worry about.

Any sacrament is rendered inefficacious if it is not received sincerely. Indulgences are the same. Any transfer of divine grace is. A person who receives Holy Communion improperly disposed is cursed.
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« Reply #43 on: December 08, 2006, 01:31:13 AM »

No Catholic is to be "certain" he is heading heavenward. That is a Protestant, particularly Calvinist, perspective. And if he was so certain he was in a state of grace that he began to sin all he wanted, he would no longer have to worry about indulgences---he'd have his salvation to worry about.

Not to change the subject, but that's not exactly the teaching of Calvinism. Calvin indeed taught that man was predestined, but not only his eternal fate, also his earthly actions. If a man was predestined for heaven he would live his life and die accordingly, if one lived piously but died an apostate he was not predestined, if one lived as an apostate but truly came to Christ on his deathbed, then he was predestined. The possibility of living and dying a life of sin and then going to heaven is simply not an element of Calvinist thought, if you live a life of sin you do so because God destined you to, and those are destined to live a life of sin are destined for hell. To quote Solon, 'Let no man be called happy before his death.'
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« Reply #44 on: December 08, 2006, 03:09:15 AM »

Not to change the subject, but that's not exactly the teaching of Calvinism. Calvin indeed taught that man was predestined, but not only his eternal fate, also his earthly actions. If a man was predestined for heaven he would live his life and die accordingly, if one lived piously but died an apostate he was not predestined, if one lived as an apostate but truly came to Christ on his deathbed, then he was predestined. The possibility of living and dying a life of sin and then going to heaven is simply not an element of Calvinist thought, if you live a life of sin you do so because God destined you to, and those are destined to live a life of sin are destined for hell. To quote Solon, 'Let no man be called happy before his death.'

You are right that traditional Calvinists believe that someone who does not live a righteous life was not saved to begin with. Unconditional election is necessarily followed by sanctification. The permanence of salvation among traditional Calvinists is usually called "perseverance of the saints."

However, there is an important school of non-traditional Calvinism (found more among Baptists and some Evangelicals than among the original Reformed churches) that holds that sanctification need not follow unconditional election, that a person's life does not necessarily  signal their status as elect or reprobate. These neo-Calvinists usually prefer to call perseverance of the saints "eternal security."

This is the kind of Calvinism I grew up with, as my father became a Baptist when I was small and was (and is) a devotee of John MacArthur and Charles Stanley.

He, among many others I've known, always told me that we can know our salvation (at which point they introduced their proof-text):

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son.

And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life.

These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.

1 John 5:10-13

-

I don't accept this interpretation, of course, but I'm just pointing out that many Protestants and Evangelicals in the Calvinist tradition see being "born again" as the point at which they knew they were saved. Loss of salvation is not possible because God's grace is irresistible.
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