This is a form of works righteousness, No way around it.
This is a form of works righteousness, No way around it.
Eaglesway, I believe that all the sufferings and torments that the scriptures describe as being meted out for our sins occur during this life. Thus the passages you put forward refer to all of our sufferings during our entire lifespans here on earth. They aren’t referring to the 0.00000000000000000001 second.
That is also my experience qaz.
The question is: who should we believe?
I can quote experienced Fathers within the ‘orthodox’ church who clearly state that eternal suffering is one of their teachings (and Geoffrey believes that they must believe in and adhere to the entire liturgy to be a member of the orthodox club (let alone an authoritative figure)), or I can accept a more recent follower of ‘orthodoxy’ such as Geoffrey who says many followers are stupid. It’s a bit of a conundrum and I hope that wishful thinking doesn’t come into it.
Here is a typical citation:
This opinion is so widespread amongst ‘Orthodox Fathers’ that I must conclude (unless presented with better evidence) that it is the true teaching of the ‘orthodox’ churches.
Pilgrim, I address precisely that point in this thread:
No it isn’t. Our position is not that heaven is people’s “just deserts”. People can’t do anything to deserve communion with a perfect Being.
Aren’t the present Ortho clergy part of an unbroken bond whose doctrinal authority goes all the way back to Christ? Why would a modern Ortho leader’s doctrines be less valid than those of one living in AD 300?
No. An Orthodox clergyman is authoritative only insofar as he is Orthodox. There are innumerable instances in history of the “Orthodox” clergy being heretical. It has happened over and over and over again. Let me recount my favorite instance of such:
In the mid-7th century, the Orthodox St. Maximos the Confessor was convicted of “heresy” by the Monothelite heretics. Virtually the entirety of the Orthodox world’s bishops were at this time Monothelite heretics. In trying to “reason” with St. Maximos, his captors basically said, “Maximos, the entire clergy, the entire world is against you! Look. The bishop of Constantinople believes thus *. So do the bishops of Alexandria, and of Antioch, and of Jerusalem, and of all the world. Even the bishop of old Rome believes thus. You are the only one to obstinately hold to your mistaken beliefs, so why don’t you rejoin the entire Church and give up your resistance?”
To which the heroic and saintly Maximos relied, “I wouldn’t care if the entire universe believed thus. I will not.”
He was then led away and tortured and mutilated, for which he has the title of “the Confessor” (which means someone tortured for the faith).
St. Maximos the Confessor is one of the major saints of the Orthodox Church. He was not a clergyman, and he resisted to their faces virtually the entirety of the clergy of the “Orthodox” world which had bought lock-stock-and-barrel into Monothelitism. He resisted to the point of being tortured.
St. Athanosios the Great has a similar story. In fact, there is a Latin phrase encapsulating his lone stand for Orthodoxy against a world made heretical: “Athanasius contra mundum” (“Athanasios against the world”).
St. Symeon the New wrote at length against the worldliness of the Orthodox clergy of his day and was exiled for it.
Twice–in the 13th century and in the 15th century–the vast majority of the Orthodox clergy betrayed Orthodoxy and signed agreements to become part of the Roman Catholic Church. The lonely figures (such as St. Mark of Ephesus) who stood against them are glorified saints of the Church, while the traitorous clergy are remembered with ignominy.
Etc., etc., etc.
The teaching of the Orthodox Church is laid out clearly and at great length in the Orthodox liturgies–nowhere else. This teaching is accessible to all. It is not the esoteric purview of an elite. God has revealed it to all. The job of the bishops and the lower clergy is to teach and defend what God has revealed once and for all. When they cease to do that and instead start teaching things contrary to it, they cease to be shepherds and become vile and dangerous wolves fit only for excommunication.
Humbly taking the words of St. Maximos the Confessor for my own, if anyone (whether priest, bishop, or angel) teaches something contrary to the clear teachings of the Orthodox liturgy, I say, “I wouldn’t care if the entire universe believed thus. I will not.”*
Anyway, I did come across an interesting blog entitled Eclectic Orthodoxy. Here are a couple interesting elements:
It’s also interesting to read the user commentary and questions on** Readings in Universalism** and About.
Since this appears to be both pro-Orthodoxy and Pro-Universalism, I wonder what Geoffrey and others here think?
Hi qaz, hope you are having a fine day!
Fist off, who is the ‘our?’ in “Our position?”
Secondly, ‘After’ denotes that the person must do the thing for the result to happen. If we re phrase the sentence*,“I think God set the process up so that we will learn something that can be learned in no other way than to be redeemed, reconciled and restored, and because of that one repents.” *
Now we have all the same things happening but in the proper order. There is redemption, reconciliation, restoration and repentance. But where it (repentance, or our part) comes from has been severely altered to the Glory of the Father and His Christ.
Many think repentance is to know you’ve done wrong, and strive not to do that again, (usually with a threat or stipulation) but I maintain repentance means ‘change of heart,’ which comes, I believe, after we receive the free gift of grace, so that we may not boast.
qaz, it’s an age old argument
Just something to think about.
Geoffrey, what Bible verses do Orthos cite as giving them authority to create doctrines based on ideas not taught (at least explicitly) in the Bible. For instance, Matt 16:18 is the big proof text for Catholics.
Yes, I’m familiar with that blog. While I do not agree with its every jot and tittle, there is a lot of good stuff there.
This issue is, I think, specific to the 16th-century milieu of western Europe, with the Reformation and the Council of Trent. The Protestants proclaimed sola scriptura, while the Roman Catholics proclaimed Scripture plus Tradition. It is to be expected that a western Christian would basically ask, “Where do the Orthodox fit into our 16th-century fight?” On this as on so many different issues, the Orthodox do not fit into the western paradigm. “Come on! Cut the nonsense and tell us where you fit in!” Trust me. We don’t fit. It’s like asking if a piece of granite is closer to female or closer to male. The granite does not fit into the Protestant-Roman Catholic spectrum.
We have to remember the huge fact that printing basically did not exist until after the fall of Constantinople in A. D. 1453. Printing is a modern invention. That means that for more than 1,500 years, at least 99% of Christians did not have access to written scriptural texts. The few written texts (all laboriously and therefore expensively copied by hand) were in the possession of the clergy and of monks and of a few rich men. Now let us in our imaginations go inside 11th-century Hagia Sophia, the biggest church in all of the Orthodox world. It stood in Constantinople, the capital of the Christian Roman Empire. All the riches of the world flowed into it. Almost every square inch of its walls was covered in mosaic icons made of gold, semi-precious stones, and gemstones, done by the finest artists of the Empire. The building itself was the largest in the western world. The Roman Emperor himself and all his family regularly attended liturgy in Hagia Sophia. My point is that Hagia Sophia lacked for nothing. If the Orthodox Church thought something was even a little bit important, Hagia Sophia had it in spades.
Now imagine attending liturgy there. You will notice that virtually the entire liturgy consists of extensive quotations from scriptural texts, along with close meditations upon those texts. You’ll notice that those chanting the texts are doing so from large volumes covered in pure gold. If you draw near you will see that these scriptural texts are read from the following four different volumes from amongst an entire library of volumes (including the multi-volume Menaion, the Festal Triodion, the Pentekostarion, etc.):
If you look through these above four volumes, you will notice that all but the Psalter are arranged according to the calendar. Each of these three starts with September 1 (the Church’s new year) and ends with August 31. As you page through the Prophetologion, you will see that it consists of readings (averaging, perhaps, 15-20 verses each) from the Septuagint. The Apostolos consists of readings from Acts and from the Epistles of the Apostles James, Peter, John, Jude, and Paul. The Evangelion consists of readings from the Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Psalter has 150 Psalms grouped into 20 sections called kathismata, along with the Nine Odes.
On any given day of the year, the Church has prescribed readings from each of the above four tomes. These readings are done in the context of the liturgy. They are preceded and followed by the Church’s presentation and interpretation of the texts. They are certainly not presented in a vacuum. Further, they are chanted in the midst of a church building full of iconography, which is rigorously defined (particularly by the Seventh Ecumenical Council) in terms of its subject matter and in terms of its style. Additionally, the icons are not arranged haphazardly, but are instead arranged in a precise manner, radiating out from the icon of Christ Pantocrator (Greek for “Lord of the Universe”) done in mosaics on the dome overhead.
Take all of that together in one indivisible and organic whole: That is the liturgy. That is the teaching of the Church. That is the word of the Apostles given them by Christ.
WHOOSH! OK. Back to the 21st century. As you think about what you experienced and saw, you would realize that you never saw what you would call a “Bible”, complete with 66 books starting with Genesis and ending with Revelation. There was no one part of the liturgy that you could extract from the rest and have it sit in judgment on other elements of the liturgy. It is as though someone sneaked into the Church and grabbed (from amongst twenty or so volumes) the Prophetologion, the Psalter, the Apostolos, and the Evangelion and proceeded to cut them up, throw away parts, keep other parts, and re-arrange the kept parts. Then he held aloft that resulting book cut-and-pasted together (newly christened as “the Bible”) and said, “This condemns everything else in this building!”
But on top of that, the Bible thus assembled from parts of the Prophetologion, Psalter, Apostolos, and Evangelion would be incomplete. Where is the book of Revelation? Where is the book of Esther? They are totally absent! The Psalms, Gospels, Acts, and Epistles are all complete, but much of the Old Testament is missing! Where are the other 25 chapters of Leviticus? Where is most of Job? Etc.
Qaz, I don’t know if you will find all of this a satisfactory answer or not, but it’s the best I can do. You asked a simple question, but I’m afraid that I do not have a simple answer for you. Kind of like asking a gentle man the following yes-or-no question: “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” He cannot truthfully answer with a simple yes or no, but must give a more complicated answer that denies the assumptions of the question.
Thanks, G, for that explanation, which is very informative!
There must be a huge amount of commonality of belief between the 3 rivers, though? (prot, cath, Eox) . What do all 3 have incommon, as far as religious truth?
Here’s a chart, Dave, that shows similarities and differences:
The simplest answer would be “the Nicene Creed” (which the Orthodox call “the Symbol of Faith”), but of course there are differences even there. The Orthodox retain the text hammered-out at the Second Ecumenical Council in A. D. 381. The Roman Catholic Church added the Latin word “filioque” (meaning “and the Son”) to the Creed in A. D. 1014 (thus changing the statement that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father” into the statement “proceeds from the Father and the Son”). The Protestants adopted this amended version of the Creed. On top of that, each of the three has different understandings of the meaning of the text (for example, the meaning of the word “Church”). That said, there are a lot of commonalities centered upon the Nicene Creed.
Thx to both of you.
“Precisely that point”?!
All you say in your thread is that you have no proof that any Greek Church Father believed in hell.
The Greek Church Fathers were not the ones in question.
The point both Qaz and I raised is that authoritative figures in the ‘orthodox’ church openly promote the doctrine of eternal suffering. Furthermore, with regards to those who die as unrepentant sinners, this is the only readily available teaching from the ‘orthodox’ church. This is not a fringe element. This is the teaching of the ‘orthodox’ church.
It is quite clear that your reply did not address this situation and I can only conclude that you do not wish to contemplate the reality of your church’s teaching. So I will not pursue this point any further. It seems that it may be a delicate topic for you at present and I have no wish to upset you.
I believe Geoffrey stopped at this shop and got a new pair, of rose-colored glasses. So you have to blame his eye ware.
Anyway, I did share this earlier from an interesting blog entitled Eclectic Orthodoxy. Here are a couple interesting elements:
Let me quote from the About page:
This I also found interesting, which comes from the same source - an Eastern Orthodox priest (i.e. regarding the Three Holy Hierarchs)
It would be nice to review the concept of eternal bliss and damnation in Orthoxody, from the WIki article at Eastern Orthodox Christian theology
Or to put it another way. In the AMC series The Walking Dead, if the Zombies are neither reverted back to human form, destroyed nor exiled, a perfect creation is not established. Torturing the zombies is never a viewpoint, I side with. I do side with a post mortem attempt to save the zombies. And I hope they all become human again.
I side with these quotes, from the Purgatorial Conditionalist article:
The problem with Geoffrey’s position
The problem I find with Geoffrey’s position is this. He can’t find hell anyway mentioned in the 1700 page Orthodoxy liturgy - therefore, it doesn’t exist. Well, I can’t find it in the liturgy of the Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans either (unless they present it inadvertently, in a scriptural reading). But Holy Scripture (although various canons) is part of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches. But it does exist in their canons of holy scripture.
I have a friend named Dora, who has been a member of the Greek Orthodox church all her life. She has a masters from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Oxford. She is fluent in Koine and contemporary Greek, Russian and English. She certainly wouldn’t agree with Geoffrey’s portrayal of Orthodoxy’s view - on the afterlife.
And regarding scholars, PhD, academics, etc. They have an objective stance on presenting things. So they would say that Orthodoxy has traditionally taught hell as real and never ending suffering. Same with the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions. Whether we agree with that, is a different matter. Certainly, in contemporary Protestant teaching, there is room for various viewpoints:
Symbolic descriptions of hell
Port Mortem redemption opportunities
Suppose if I go to Ecuador - for example. And I spend my time at rich gated communities and country clubs. I might say crime doesn’t exist in Ecuador. I’m wearing rose colored glasses. But the statistical evidence says otherwise.
I would be hard pressed to choose between Geoffrey’s super optimistic view (i.e. no post mortem punishment) and Davo’s full Preterist view. Come to think of it, I have the same problem with Hillary C. and Donald T. Except that the US used to have an interesting policy. They used to give tons of money to ruthless world dictators - to keep communists from ruling. So I can do the same, with electing a checkered politician with political experience - over one with none.
Ah, I misunderstood you. When you wrote “Fathers” I thought you meant the glorified saints of the Church, whom we refer to as the Church Fathers. My apologies.
If I am not misunderstanding you again, am I correct in saying that you are referring to present-day Orthodox clergy who write and publish books containing their opinions about Orthodoxy? If so, please see my post in this present thread with the following date and time: Fri Aug 19, 2016 8:48 am (beginning with the words “No. An Orthodox clergyman is authoritative only insofar as he is Orthodox.”). Even were it the case (which, thank God, it is not) that every single Orthodox bishop and priest were to write books affirming never-ending damnation, it would be of no concern to me. (If it were the case that Orthodoxy were defined by its bishops’ opinions about Hell or about anything else, Orthodoxy would be a hopeless tissue of contradictions!) The Church’s one voice is the liturgy. I have attended countless hours of the Church’s liturgical services, and I have studied approximately 1,700 pages of the Church’s liturgical texts. (These texts are readily available for purchase. I can supply ISBNs if desired.) Never-ending hell is absent. It’s just not there.
If someone were to ask, “Then how can all these Orthodox clergy assert the reality of never-ending Hell?”, then I would ask in return, “How could all the Orthodox clergy fall into the Arian heresy in the 4th century, into the Monothelite heresy in the 7th century, the Filioquist heresy in the 13th and 15th centuries, and etc.?” (Answer: Because we are all fallible.)
Or if someone were to ask, “How can Orthodox believers ignore the plain teaching of the Orthodox liturgy of universal salvation?”, then I would mention a fact recounted by Leo Tolstoi: In the 19th century, Russians on the street in Moscow were asked in a sort of poll, “Who are the three Persons of the Trinity?” Now keep in mind that the phrase “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” is chanted about 20 times in each Sunday’s liturgy (not even counting the countless times those words are chanted in other liturgies). Assuming a man going to church every Sunday, he would hear that Trinitarian formula over 1,000 times each year. Assuming an average age of 30 on the part of those Muscovites asked, and assuming that they slept through it all for their first five years, then they heard “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” over 25,000 times before being asked to name the three Persons of the Trinity. Scandalously, very few got it right. The single most common answer was “Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and St. Nicholas”.
Now, I ask you: Does that not make one almost despair of teaching anyone anything? If the liturgy can tell a man 25,000 times that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are the three Persons of the Trinity, and yet he still scratches his head and moronically mumbles “Jesus, Mary, and Nicholas”… Well, it’s hardly a wonder that people think that Hell is in there, too.
To take it full circle: It’s as inexplicable and as confounding as whole teams of scholars for different English translations of the Bible translating “Gehenna” as “Hell”. This Hell thing makes people ignore the plain text of the Bible and the plain words of the Orthodox liturgy.
A quick note: I entreat everyone not to trust anyone (including myself) about the Orthodox Church. Go straight to the source. Read her liturgical texts. (Or better yet, attend her liturgies.) Why rely on second-hand opinions when you can go straight to the source?