Reasons not to be Eastern Orthodox #237: "Aerial Toll Houses"

Discussion in 'Non-Anglican Discussion' started by Stalwart, May 18, 2021.

  1. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Also, everyone please try to stick to the topic. The thread already has six pages. If we can get back on the topic, there is a chance that this thread will leave an edifying legacy about something people will find useful, rather than being about everything all at the same time.
     
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  2. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    "We believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church..."

    I daresay that even a non-denom Christian could confess this as truth.
    1. "one" - Such a person would freely agree that God's true Church on earth is one, for it is one in Him, united by Him and by the Spirit.
    2. "holy" - Every believer is set apart, separated to God, and being sanctified.
    3. "catholic" - with a small 'c', it means 'universal'.
    4. "apostolic" - God's one, universal Church is a spiritual one, but it is built upon the acts of the apostles which they undertook in accordance with the instructions of Jesus and the leading from the Holy Spirit. The non-denom follower of Christ will not have a priest ordained by apostolic succession, but he has an elder of the Church called by God to the pastoral office (the apostle Paul did teach about pastors), and that pastor endeavors (though imperfectly) to carry on with the teachings of the apostles in that local church.

    The non-denom believer generally sees no special reason to belong to the Eastern Orthodox group, because it's just another group of humans trying to follow Christ in the way they think is right, just like he (the non-denom believer) is doing.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2021
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  3. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    The article is not a particularly thorough treatment of the subject. It is true that there is no repentance after death, and what a soul that is not yet ready to enter into the presence of God experiences would not be called moral growth either, but the article doesn't address why we pray for the souls of the departed, which is what you would expect from such an article. And it is simply not correct that there are no souls in Hades which we pray for. The entire Orthodox Church prays generally for such souls on the evening of Pentecost. See: https://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/2013/06/stump-priest-does-hades-still-exist.html

    And you can look at the text of the entire service in question here, and simply hit control 'F" and then search for "hades"
    http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pentecost_kneelingvespers.doc
     
  4. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    A non-denominational Christian could affirm those words with your interpretation, but they could not affirm those words as the Church Fathers who composed them actually understood them. Take a look at the canons of the first two ecumenical councils, and you will see that not only heretics, but those who were schismatics (but otherwise shared the same faith) were not considered to be part of the Church, but rather as those who needed to be united with the Church.
     
  5. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    There is no eisegesis at all in my reading of St. John Chrysostom. He lived at a time when the understanding that the Church consisted of those who were actually in communion with the rest of the Church and shared the same faith was undeniable, and there is nothing in his comments that you reference that would suggest that he deviated from that view. And you are the one who brought up St. John Chrysostom's interpretation here.
     
  6. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    There is nothing in Scripture or Tradition that would suggest that Hades ceased to be an abode from some people who will yet enter into heaven.

    St. Augustine clearly did not think his mother's views of prayers for the dead were in need of correction. And as a matter of fact, the universality of prayers for the dead in the early Church and beyond is one of the easiest things to document you will find. References are ubiquitous.
     
  7. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    I mentioned the option that the Nicene Creed is simply in error, and so was simply stating the facts, if you take the meaning of the Nicene Creed as understood by those who composed it seriously.
     
  8. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    I didn't say that the Church is not composed of humans, but the Church is also a divine / human entity, which Christ as the head, and as such, it cannot be divided or err... those those who are in the Church can and do err as individuals. The Church is One, and Visible. It is not divided into branches, nor is it divided in doctrine or communion.
     
  9. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    This thread will re-open in 7 days, once we are ready to get back on topic.
     
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  10. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    By the way, this has been opened, so please have at it (abiding by the original topic of the thread).
     
  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps Fr. John wasn't trying to define theology but merely stating a certain imagery that is hoped to help some people deal with their emotional need to anticipate what the immediate afterlife might be like. Such imagery doesn't help me (and I can only speculate whether it would be of any aid to the average Anglican), but I can imagine that some EO might be helped, considering where they are theologically in other details.
     
  12. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The problem with assuming that everything we read about in parables is an actual description of a reality, rather than an explanatory device aimed at getting a particular theological point across to an otherwise 'worldbound' readership, is that bizarre theological dichotomies often result from such crass, literalist pedantry.

    The whole purpose of Jesus telling this story was to make this one point to those who doubted his credentials as messiah. "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Which is why Jesus did not bother to reveal himself to the enemies who had murdered him, only to a select group of friends who already accepted his credentials as their LORD.

    There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: [notice no burial for Lazarus] the rich man also died, and was buried; [but the rich man got a good send off] And in hell [actually Sheol] he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. [notice their respective position in Sheol or Abrahams's bosom has nothing whatever to do with their conduct upon earth, their present fate is based only upon their bank ballances] And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. [The very reason the Gospel is preached to unrepentant sinners by enthusiastic Evangelicals] Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
    This is not the view of spiritual realities you find in Scripture... not by a long shot.

    Quite so, Hell's gates will not stand against Christ's Church so there is no unbridgeable gulf fixed which cannot or has not been breached. Christ has bridged that 'gulf' 1 Pet.3:18-19 and now possesses the keys to both death and Hades. Revelation 1:18. He can come and go as he pleases, nothing 'fixed' about that gulf spoken of in the story, probably because it is just a story devised to make the point that there are those who will not be persuaded "even, though one should rise from the dead." And we experience this truth daily as we preach the gospel to sinners like ourselves.

    And in this bizarre 'Toll booths in the sky' silly folklore speculation, who is actually tasked with the job of Judgment then?

    Is it God or some interfering airborne, vigilante demons who seem to have taken over His final justice department? Where does their authority come from to do God's will? And if it is not God's will, how do they get away with bypassing it and doing their own thing? What do they get out of it?

    I get the impression that according to scripture, it is God's angels who do the sorting, not Satan's. Matt.13:39, Matt.13:41, Matt.13:49, Matt.16:27, Matt.24:31, Mk.13:27 and Matt.25:41 seems rather to indicate that far from your 'Toll Booth demons' being on patrol for God, up in the air like spiritual Spitfires and Hurricanes sending Dorniers, Heinkels and Stukas to their fate in the Battle of Britain. They're more like the Luftwaffe not heading for home in hell with a net full of miserably unfortunate captives, but suffering the same unpleasant fiery fate as those unrepentant sinners they are illegitimately, supposedly intercepting. Matt.25:41
    .
     
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  13. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. The point of the story is not to teach us about the afterlife, but rather to illustrate that truly knowing “Moses and the Prophets” would lead one to knowledge of the Messiah, and that, barring that knowledge, it would not matter if he were to “rise from the dead”. Striving to have the proper understanding of the Scriptures is, ironically, the point the Lord was making.
     
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  14. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    I know that the popular Protestant take on Parables is that they only have one point. But it is interesting that every parable that Christ explained in the Gospels had many levels of meaning. No one in the history of the Church, prior to the Protestant reformation, thought Christ was not describing the actual state of souls in this parable. Feel free to prove me wrong, if you can.

    This is a rather bizarre mixing and matching of proof text to avoid the plain meaning of the text. The gates of hades not prevailing against the Church does not at all suggest that the Church can go and snatch the souls of people who are lost and free them. Who in the history of the Church ever used this passage to mean that the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus doesn't mean what it clearly purports to describe?

    The parable of the Rich man and Lazrus doesn't actually say who came to collect the soul of the Rich man. But are you unaware that Demons are Angels.. fallen Angels, but Angels none the less. And the Book of Job makes it clear that they still can only do what God allows them to do. They are not free agents. When Satan is described as the Prince and power of the Air, what do you think that means?
     
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  15. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    This appears to be a case of obscurum per obscurius. Satan is also not represented as an evil figure in Job as he is in the Pauline corpus. He is in the former essentially a sort of 'heavenly prosecutor' in the divine council, doing his job. And he does seem to have some discretion over what "charges" he may bring against specific individuals. It isn't until much later that he is understood to be fundamentally opposed to God. So I'm not sure how much light Job can really be thought to cast on Paul's statement in Ephesians 2, or why we would be beholden to a premodern cosmology that held that demons literally "lived" in the air. And I think we can take St. Paul's larger point without doing him the disservice of interpreting him more rigidly than he would interpret himself, were he here with us today.
     
  16. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    So you think that the book of Job is not talking about Satan, or just that it is just incorrect? Where do you suppose demons actually do live... or do you just deny that demons actually exist?
     
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  17. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Fr., this has nothing to do with the Reformation. If someone is catechized in a liberal Christian tradition, they will have a perspective, but that is not a perspective that goes very far back. I don't know of any Reformers that did not take the Parables as describing real events. Just imagine that you're debating someone from the OCA, a liberal version of Eastern Orthodoxy.

    Similarly here, I would definitely affirm with you that there is no division between the Book of Job, and the teachings on Satan and demons in other parts of Scripture. The whole of Scripture was authored by the same person, and came from the one mind of the Holy Ghost. The same meaning is present in the earliest chapters of Scripture, as in the latter-most ones, written thousands of years afterward.


    My disagreement with Fr. John is precisely that the theory of toll houses has doctrinal implications. It's not just a visualization of the various steps of the afterlife. The theory has several extra doctrines which add on (alter) the traditional Christian doctrine: the judgment of the soul happens in physical space, literally in the atmosphere of the planet called Earth; this epic Judgment is performed by demons; it is predicated on works ("did you do enough to be saved?"); and it conflicts with the Final Judgment of Christ himself.

    As we've shown in this thread, this doctrine (for that's what it is), does not have a foundation: it is (certainly) not the natural reading of the Scriptures, nor is it present in this form among the Church Fathers. The first times it truly begins to appear, is in the 8-10th centuries in the Byzantine world. Even prior Byzantine theologians did not teach it, and the doctrine fell into abyss afterward so that no later Byzantine theologians had really taught it either. It only began to be pushed hard literally in our own lifetimes, in some corners of the 20th century Eastern Orthodox upheavals. It is very far from being even a traditional Eastern Orthodox doctrine, as witnessed by many EOs who vociferously disagree and deny it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2021
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  18. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I was noting that the understanding of Satan evolved over time. Modern Judaism, for example, continues to preserve the "heavenly prosecutor" notion of Satan that one finds in the Book of Job. As a literary character, he is certainly portrayed as though he has free will.
    Strictly speaking, spiritual beings, lacking extension, do not live "anywhere".
     
  19. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    Since human beings a circumscribed, and therefore have to be in some place at any given time, how do you imagine any judgment not involving people being in a physical space when it happens?

    When God judged Israel, by allowing the Assyrians and Babylonians to take them into exile, did the Assyrians and Babylonians do the judging, or did God do it?
     
  20. Fr. John Whiteford

    Fr. John Whiteford Member

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    How can angelic beings not be limited to some specific place? If they weren't, they would be uncircumscribed, and thus be on par with God. If you acknowledge that Job is equally inspired with the rest of Scripture, and is talking about the same Satan as the rest of Scripture, why did you make the case that Job is speaking of Satan in some way that doesn't hold up to what the rest of Scripture says? Because if you accept what Job presents, the demons still answer to God.