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Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers
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Author:  JayDyer [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:32 am ]
Post subject:  Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

A response to an Orthodox critic of Roman Catholicism

[Many more patristic quotes could have been given but it was getting too lengthy. -Jay]

By: Jay Dyer

First, I want to thank my friend James Kelly of for his interest in dialoguing with me. He is far more well-read in Fr. Romanides and the Orthodox writers than I am: Perry Robinson and Daniel Jones as well. I have spent the last few years trying to immerse myself in the East and its Doctors in the attempt to obtain a more Catholic understanding of the mind of the one Church, which all admit is truly East and West in unison. And, as many of you know, I refrained from being received as Orthodox primarily for some of the reasons we will be discussing. I am delighted, however, to have become friends with James, and, I’m even surprised and honored he would be interested in devoting any time to discussions with me. We have had some very engaging late-night discussions and this discussion will get a bit ‘feisty.’ Also, I’m not responding to the ‘haters’ at James’ site who have posted pointless attacks of my "heretical prattle," with absolutely no substance. As many times as I have changed my positions and retracted certain views, I hope it’s obvious my concern is for what is true, and not merely academic disputes and intellectual ostentation.

That being said, as much as I respect the intellects of Dr. Joseph Farrell, Perry Robinson, Daniel Jones and James, I remain unconvinced of their assessment of what truly constitutes the Catholic tradition. I am in the process of reading as much as I can by these men and those they recommend (I also work 2 jobs right now). In this response, I intend to respond to James primarily, since he was zealously desirous of a dialogue/debate, while I will mention a few of Daniel Jones’ points. Let me again stress that I am in the process of learning and can only offer these objections based on the present understanding I have obtained by God’s grace, with the utmost respect to all these men, since they are, in sincerity, more learned than I. And that isn’t false humility.

But our points of departure are not about who is smartest. James has argued a few times now on his blog that his strand of Orthodox thinking is undoubtedly the true one primarily because he has discovered the correct religious epistemology. Perhaps he is right: let’s see if his position is convincing. His view, following Fr. Romanides and others, is that the fallen human ‘nous’ must be purified by deification, recalling its original, natural knowledge of God, which is all part and parcel of the work of glorification. Glorification is experienced in this life, and it is the holy orthodox fathers who have experienced this glorification, along with all true orthodox Christians down to the present, which glorification translates to a direct union with God by which we are given a true religious epistemology ‘from within,’ if you will, by the deifying energies of Trinity. Such is the crux of his presuppositions.

The usefulness of this approach for James in our discussion is that it becomes his bogus ‘trump-card,’ that only the Fathers that he perceives as having experienced this purifying-deifying of the ‘nous’ are to be counted the true, holy orthodox fathers. Thus, anything that one presents from a Church Father or from the Sacred Scriptures must be stretched to fit with James’ presuppositions, and be placed neatly within a kind of Kantian template (not that he is a Kantian, but that he is operating in similar fashion to Kantianism, where the mind orders reality and sticks the ‘facts’ in their proper place in the ‘ice-tray’ of categories). So, for example, if I quote St. John of Damascus speaking of the eternality of God’s just penal decision to damn the wicked, James responds that, "St. John of Damascus was an orthodox father [whom he has allowed to make the cut], and irrespective of what he may have written in certain sections," James is assured, "he had to mean" whatever fits with Fr. Romanides and Gregory of Palamas views, or rather, with James’ own present interpretation.

But this is a fallacious and useless approach. I might simply turn the tables on him, in the same flawed approach that many Catholic apologists take, and make the same ‘trump card’ claims: "James is alien to the commonwealth of the Catholic Communion. Only those with a truly Augustinian-Thomistic understanding can grasp the mysteries of the Catholic Faith. You, James, follow the tired old approach of the radical Eastern polemicists and you have been excluded from the communion of the true saints. Therefore, until you are in agreement with all of my positions, you will never understand the Christian Faith." I mean, of what use would it be for me to say, "unless you have my position, anything you say is meaningless and my truly Catholic ‘nous’ ‘trump-card’ cancels out any and all your quotations of Scripture and the Fathers." This is the very kind of ‘argument’ a weak patristic and biblical theology would resort to.

What would this achieve? Do we all have presuppositions? Of course. But apologetics has to assume some common ground, or else the venture would be useless. In other words, James must posit a radical difference in our epistemic approaches because his position demands it, rather than it actually being the case that we are radically different in our approaches. How can I demonstrate this? James has on several occasions told me that he does not know whether he personally has experienced the purification of ‘nous,’ but that he believes it to be true, and that the fathers he has chosen to follow (in contrast to other orthodox fathers, by the way, as I will show below), certainly experienced the purification of ‘nous’ necessary to know the truth of God.

In other words, what we have in James’ confession of faith is a kind of alter-magisterium. James has decided, with his own uncertainly purified ‘nous’ that he will accept the Cappadocians, and Alexandrians, and not just those fathers’ own writings, but St. Maximus the Confessor, Gregory of Palamas, Dr. Joseph Farrell and Fr. John Romaides’ interpretations of these facts in particular. So, when I quote St. John of Damascus speaking of antecedent and consequent wills of God, for James, it must mean anything but what I think it means, since its clearly favorable to a Thomistic framework (and that just cannot be, in his view). Now, I chose that example for use on his blog because it’s undoubtedly foreign to Fr. Romanides and others in that strand of thinking. Certainly Kalomiros wouldn’t speak in this way! Has any Eastern writer (besides possibly the "Latinized" semi-heretics) ever spoken of antecedent and consequent wills in God? So what is the explanation? James says, "I will have to go back and study," but whatever the case, it can only mean what he and Fr. Romanides think!

Similarly, Fr. Kimel brought up the point missed by James, that when St. Irenaeus argued with the Gnostics, the Bishop of Lyon didn’t make the subjective/purified ‘nous’ ‘trump card’ argument. Fr. Kimel wasn’t saying that St. Irenaeus didn’t believe that we are glorified/deified, or even denying that St. Irenaeus says we must regain perpetual remembrance of God. Rather, Fr. Kimel’s point was that the saint’s apologetic and epistemic approach to the heretic was that of appealing to apostolic succession and objective facts, and in particular, the succession of the all-glorious See of Rome, with which all churches must be in communion with to be considered Orthodox. The point was that St. Irenaeus’ approach to apologetical polemics with ‘heretics’ is the same as ours, while your approach has more in common with Protestants and evangelicals, in that you, or rather, those you trust, have, on word of mouth, experienced God directly, and this, for you, constitutes the true and only religious knowledge.

And, I’ve read some of the 1800s Greek theologians (Androutsos, Mesolora) for example, and all I saw was a bunch of "Latinized" Orthodox theology. Thus, Fr. Kimel was right—200 years ago, we would be hearing things much more conducive to the West from Eastern writers. Were these "Orthodox" men also severely lacking in purified ‘nous’? Apprently so, and thus we see that the ‘purified nous trump card’ really just translates into James’ own theories and arbitrary authorities as the only acceptable path to true knowledge of Christ.

Now, does this mean that the Catholic denies that individuals experience God? Of course not. Does this mean that we think that no one but the pope is ‘zapped’ from without and has the Holy Spirit? No way! We have no problem even using this particular Eastern language (showing our ability to be truly Catholic): St. Paul says that the pagans have chosen not to "retain the knowledge of God in their minds," and as a result, they were given over to depravity and the dominion of devils (Rom. 1:28). In salvation, considered epistemically, we regain the true knowledge of God and are given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Fine. Amen. Who denies this? Certainly not faithful Catholics. So what’s the problem? It looks to me like James has arbitrarily chosen one biblical model and/or description for salvation, to the exclusion of all others, in devotion to Fr. Romanides, and proclaimed that if one doesn’t speak in his terms on all occasions, well, then, "that one is a heretic."

But what of his own admissions of not being as well-versed in these other Fathers? He has mastered Romanides and Farrell, but what about St. John of Damascus? Has he read Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus? What about the myriad places in St. John Chrysostom that are diametrically opposed to his explanation of hell and damnation, for example? Has he read the Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril? Well, they must all be read in accord with James’ purified Orthodox ‘nous’ (which he says he does not have) and which cannot be certainly said to be had by Perry, Kalomiros, or Fr. Romanides either, since none of them have been acclaimed as Orthodox saints. And as he recently queried on his blog, what exactly is the status of ‘sainthood’ in Orthodoxy?

But we can further show the inadequacy of his apologetic/epistemic approach by considering an Orthodox writer that many Orthodox do consider to be a recent saint, who did not share this radically anti-western zeal: Fr. Seraphim Rose. In Vol. 154 of the 1990 "The Orthodox Word," on pages 266-267, Fr. Rose attacks Kalomiros’ arguments for evolution and proclaims them to be a "shocking" "denial of the Scriptures." He continues, writing that Kalomiros was "ignorant" of the fathers and that his arguments for evolution were "very weak." Now, Kalomiros had written to Fr. Rose that evolution was certainly the Orthodox Faith and to deny it was "to deny Orthodoxy." Fr. Rose also blasts Fr. Meyendorff in this article for embracing Teilhard de Chardin, by the way (pg. 265). Now, let us ask James: who here had the truly purified ‘nous’ and was truly glorified? It cannot be them both, since they are disagreeing over what constitutes true Orthodoxy: I know that most "traditionally-minded" Orthodox would vote for Fr. Rose out of this throng, but how was it, in your view, he and Kalomiros were in complete disagreement over what constitutes true Orthodoxy, in terms of their respective purified (or unpurified) ‘nous’(es)?

You may think I’m deflecting from the issue and bringing up ‘red herrings’ like evolution, but I’m not. I bring this up to illustrate the inadequacy of James’ approach to apologetics and epistemic certainty concerning what the true faith is. "You must have a deified nous." Fine. Who had it in this discussion, James, and on what criterion will you show us? Kalomiros or Fr. Rose? Who had the true faith here? How will you adjudicate this, seeing as to do so must again require that very thing—a purified ‘nous’? There has to be a common ground we can both appeal to that is objective that will solve the differences between us. Otherwise, James is in a quandary, defending a faith that even he doesn’t have access to, and to which his modern filters themselves (such as Fr. Romanides) may not have known, since James would himself have to possess a purified ‘nous’ to recognize that Fr. Romanides had it, if in fact he did!

So, James & Co. have not yet convinced me that they have the true Orthodox faith (to the exclusion of the majority of compromised, pseudo-Orthodox) simply because he says several times that he follows the men who supposedly do have a purified ‘nous.’ Since, in James’ view, I don’t have a purified ‘nous,’ am I to just trust that his certified theologians did and do? Well, then, now we are at a kind of fideism, which is intellectual suicide. Perhaps his ‘superiors’ actually have purified nooses. Again, to prove that knowledge and proclamation of the truth are not contingent upon living the truth and other purely subjective realities, I need only cite Judas. He was sent out with the rest of the apostles in Matt. 10:5-15 to cast out demons and preach the Gospel, and apparently did so without controversy. Was Judas wicked? Of course: and all along. But did his wickedness affect his ability to be used of God for the preaching of the truth? Absolutely not. Even the demons know and believe Christ is Lord (James 2:19). Truth is objective, not purely subjective. Otherwise, we might as well be Donatists, and some strands of Orthodoxy do, in fact, tend in this direction, such as the Cyprianites.

More evidence in my favor is found in the question of hell and God’s judgment. James & Co. are adamant that God does not judge people or damn them for all eternity. This, for them, is a part of the true faith, according to the true orthodox fathers, James says, according to his maybe purified ‘nous.’ Now, I can easily show that this is not the faith of the majority of the Eastern and Western Fathers. And when that is done, what happens to all their ‘nouses’? All the Orthodox hail St. Gregory the Dialogist (Pope St. Gregory the Great) as a true saint, but why? He made all the papal claims and was a thoroughgoing Augustinian in his view of unconditional election. Shouldn’t he be a heretic? What about St. Bede the Venerable? He denied the Trullan Council and was also an Augustinian in terms of election. Should we consign him to the temporal (ha!) flames as well? It would certainly be more consistent to do so, since I have the same faith as they did, and I’m a ‘prattling’ heretic.

Let’s return to the question of hell and God’s just damnation. Who, other than St. Gregory of Nyssa, amongst the Fathers taught the universal salvation of all men? No one but Origen. I am aware that St. Maximus distinguishes his apokatastasis from Origen’s. I read Daniel’s paper on Synergy in St. Maximus. I enjoyed it and agreed with the overall thrust: the West has neglected St. Maximus and the philosophical implications of his outworking of the two wills in Christ. But does this prove St. Maximus’ version of the apokatastasis? No. Did I find his paper convincing against predestination? No, because the whole reason he told me to read it was that I said that their (his and Perry’s) view of free will appeared to mean that redeemed men possess the ability to fall even in eternity. Well, he argues that men with free wills may be fixed in the practice of virtue and not fall again, which is all good, but he proclaims that we must also accept the Maximian view that all men will be saved (even if the damned are not deified, being only "caught up into a purely discursive knowledge of God")! But, as I will show, how contrary is this to the Scriptures and the ‘patristic consensus’! We see the irony of the Orthodox position in regard to these hardcore Romanideans: sacrifice the "patristic consensus" for their own favored theologians, such as St. Maximus. Is this intended to denigrate St. Maximus? Of course not: we hail him as a saint as well.

But we have a conscious decision by James & Co. to follow a minority opinion of St. Maximus and St. Gregory of Nyssa on the apokatastasis, as opposed to the majority of Fathers who undoubtedly teach the western, "heretical" view of the eternality of hell as being God’s just decision for the punishment of sin. Where is the apokatastasis—the universal salvation that James believes in, in St. John of Damascus? St. Ignatius? St. Justin? St. Irenaeus? St. Cyprian? St. Ambrose? St. Jerome? St. Clement? St. Gregory of Nazianzus? St. Basil? St. John Chrysostom? St. Athanasius? St. Cyril of Jerusalem? Let’s even leave St. Augustine out! Where is it in any of these other Holy Orthodox Fathers? What—was it a development of theology? I thought the Orthodox deplored doctrinal "development." Why weren’t all these great Fathers’ ‘nouses’ purified enough to see what is so obvious to your small, holy band? It’s nowhere, and it’s nothing but a theory of a very small minority which James, admittedly unread in the majority of these Fathers, bombastically proclaims as the one truth faith!

And, I imagine if he were realize that this theory is nowhere in the above Fathers who clearly constitute the majority, he would likely appeal to the fall-back argument that the above Fathers just happened to be silent on the fact or perhaps were in error (?). Well, so much for the ‘patristic consensus’ so dear to Orthodoxy! We now have these Orthodox fellows doing the very thing they attack us for—following a certain theologian or two (say, Augustine and Aquinas) at the expense of having a truly ‘catholic’ mind. What an irony. I am obviously not a Romanides scholar, nor am I am a scholar of St. Maximus. In fact, I’m not a scholar at all, just a rank amateur. But James insisted on having this discussion, so I have responded on account of his persistence. Perry and Daniel are far more learned than I am, but again, I’m not convinced for that reason. I see much more unity and consistency amongst the East and West, than James especially, is willing to admit. But my approach is not to master Fr. Romanides and then blast all Augustinians (and by implication many other western fathers) while looking through Romanides-tinted glasses, admittedly without even having read the Doctor of Grace himself at length!

So, let’s survey a catena of patristic quotations that are directly contrary to the picture James and co. have painted for us—whether God damns people for all eternity in His justice as punishment for their sins, and we’ll let our readers decide who is really faithful to the consensus of the common Fathers. How do the Fathers speak of damnation and punishment? Is it the case, as James claimed to me in an email, that all the Fathers teach that all men will see a final, eschatological salvation? Note that at the bottom we will see even St. Maximus making statements more in line with what we say on condemnation and punishment that do not fit at all with Fr. Romanides’ mclaims in "The Ancestral Sin," even if St. Maximus did believe in a final restoration of some kind:

St. Ignatius of Antioch:

Letter to the Ephesians 16:1–2

"Corrupters of families will not inherit the kingdom of God. And if they who do these things according to the flesh suffer death, how much more if a man corrupt by evil teaching the faith of God for the sake of which Jesus Christ was crucified? A man become so foul will depart into unquenchable fire: and so will anyone who listens to him."

St. Polycarp:

The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Ch. XI:

"Thou threatenest me with fire which burneth for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but art ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly."

St. Clement of Rome:

2 Clement 17:7:

"But when they see how those who have sinned and who have denied Jesus by their words or by their deeds are punished with terrible torture in unquenchable fire, the righteous, who have done good, and who have endured tortures and have hated the luxuries of life, will give glory to their God saying, ‘There shall be hope for him that has served God with all his heart!’"

St. Justin Martyr:

First Apology 12:

"No more is it possible for the evildoer, the avaricious, and the treacherous to hide from God than it is for the virtuous. Every man will receive the eternal punishment or reward which his actions deserve. Indeed, if all men recognized this, no one would choose evil even for a short time, knowing that he would incur the eternal sentence of fire. On the contrary, he would take every means to control himself and to adorn himself in virtue, so that he might obtain the good gifts of God and escape the punishments."

"We have been taught that only they may aim at immortality who have lived a holy and virtuous life near to God. We believe that they who live wickedly and do not repent will be punished in everlasting fire." (ibid., 21)

"[Jesus] shall come from the heavens in glory with his angelic host, when he shall raise the bodies of all the men who ever lived. Then he will clothe the worthy in immortality; but the wicked, clothed in eternal sensibility, he will commit to the eternal fire, along with the evil demons." (ibid., 52)

Second Apology, Ch. IX:

"Eternal Punishment Not a Mere Threat":

And that no one may say what is said by those who are deemed philosophers, that our assertions that the wicked are punished in eternal fire are big words and bugbears, and that we wish men to live virtuously through fear, and not because such a life is good and pleasant; I will briefly reply to this, that if this be not so, God does not exist; or, if He exists, He cares not for men, and neither virtue nor vice is anything, and, as we said before, lawgivers unjustly punish those who transgress good commandments. But since these are not unjust, and their Father teaches them by the word to do the same things as Himself, they who agree with them are not unjust. And if one object that the laws of men are diverse, and say that with some, one thing is considered good, another evil, while with others what seemed bad to the former is esteemed good, and what seemed good is esteemed bad, let him listen to what we say to this. We know that the wicked angels appointed laws conformable to their own wickedness, in which the men who are like them delight; and the right Reason, when He came, proved that not all opinions nor all doctrines are good, but that some are evil, while others are good. Wherefore, I will declare the same and similar things to such men as these, and, if need be, they shall be spoken of more at large. But at present I return to the subject."

"….some are sent to be punished by unceasingly into judgment and condemnation of fire…." (Ibid., Ch. XLV)

"For the whole human race will be found under a curse. For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the law to do them.’…all the nations appear under a curse who practice idolatry…" (Ibid., XCV)

St. Theophilus of Antioch:

To Autolycus 1:14:

"Give studious attention to the prophetic writings [Scripture] and they will lead you on a clearer path to escape the eternal punishments and to obtain the eternal good things of God. . . . [God] will examine everything and will judge justly, granting recompense to each according to merit. To those who seek immortality by the patient exercise of good works, he will give everlasting life, joy, peace, rest, and all good things. . . . For the unbelievers and for the contemptuous, and for those who do not submit to the truth but assent to iniquity, when they have been involved in adulteries, and fornications, and homosexualities, and avarice, and in lawless idolatries, there will be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish; and in the end, such men as these will be detained in everlasting fire."

St. Irenaeus:

Against Heresies 1:10:1:

"[God will] send the spiritual forces of wickedness, and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, and the impious, unjust, lawless, and blasphemous among men into everlasting fire."

"The penalty increases for those who do not believe the Word of God and despise his coming. . . .It is not merely temporal, but eternal. To whomsoever the Lord shall say, ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire,’ they will be damned forever" (ibid., 4:28:2).

St. Cyprian:

To Demetrian 24:

"An ever-burning Gehenna and the punishment of being devoured by living flames will consume the condemned; nor will there be any way in which the tormented can ever have respite or be at an end. Souls along with their bodies will be preserved for suffering in unlimited agonies. . . . The grief at punishment will then be without the fruit of repentance; weeping will be useless, and prayer ineffectual. Too late will they believe in eternal punishment, who would not believe in eternal life."

St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

Catechetical Lecture 18:10:

"We shall be raised therefore, all with our bodies eternal, but not all with bodies alike: for if a man is righteous, he will receive a heavenly body, that he may be able worthily to hold converse with angels; but if a man is a sinner, he shall receive an eternal body, fitted to endure the penalties of sins, that he may burn eternally in fire, nor ever be consumed. And righteously will God assign this portion to either company; for we do nothing without the body. We blaspheme with the mouth, and with the mouth we pray. With the body we commit fornication, and with the body we keep chastity. With the hand we rob, and by the hand we bestow alms; and the rest in like manner. Since then the body has been our minister in all things, it shall also share with us in the future the fruits of the past."

St. Gregory of Nazianzus:

-Oration on the Holy Lights, Ch. XXXVI:

"I know a cleansing fire which Christ came to hurl upon the earth and He Himself is called fire in words anagogically applied….I know also a fire that is not cleansing but avenging, that fire either of Sodom, which mixed with a storm of brimstone, He pours down on all sinners, or that which is prepared for the devil and his angels, or that which proceeds from the face of the Lord and burns up all His enemies all around. And still there is a fire more fearsome than these, that with which the sleepless worm is associated, and which is never extinguished but belongs eternally to the wicked."

The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 2, Fr. William Jurgens, pg. 28:

"I know the trembling and the staggering and the heaving and the wrenching of the heart and the palsied knees and the like that are the punishments of the impious. But I do not mean to speak of the judgments to come, to which indulgence in this life will deliver us; for its is better to be punished and cleansed now than to be sent to the torment to come, when it will be time for punishing only, and not for cleansing."

St. Ambrose:

Jurgens, Vol. 2, pg. 150:

"The Egyptian people were plunged into the Red Sea, but the Hebrew people went over. Moses passed through; but Pharoah and was cast down headlong, because the heavier weight of his sins plunged him downwards. In the same way do sacrileges cast down into the lake of burning fire those who fling their proud insults in the face of God."

St. Jerome: seemingly writing to Kalomiros himself!:

Jurgens, Vol. 2, Commentary on Ephesians, pg. 193:

"There are many who say there are no future punishments for sins nor any torments extrinsically applied, but that sin itself and the consciousness of guilt serve as punishment, while the worm in the heart does not die, and a fire is kindled in the mind, much like a fever…These arguments and fraudulent fancies are but inane and empty words having the semblance of a certain eloquence of speech but serving only to delude sinners; and if they give them credence they only add to the burden of eternal punishment which they will carry with them."

Jurgens, Vol. 2, Commentary on Jonah, pg. 201:

"If all rational creatures are equal, and by their own free will are, in view of their virtues or of their vices, in view of their virtues or of their vices, either raised up to the heights or plunged down to the depths, and after lengthy passages of ages there will be a restitution of all things and but a single dignity for all the soldiers, how far apart will a virgin be from a whore? What difference between the Mother of the Lord and—it is impious even to say it—the victims of public licentiousness? Will Gabriel and the devil be the same? The Apostles and the demons, the same? The Prophets and the pseudo-prophets, the same? Martyrs and their persecutors the same?"

St. Basil the Great:

Jurgens, pg. 21, On Psalm 28, No. 6:

"The voice of the Lord divides the flame of fire. I believe that the fire prepared in punishment for the devil and his angels is divided by the voice of the Lord. Thus, since there are two capacities in fire, one of burning and the other of illuminating, the fierce and punitive property of the fire may await those who deserve to burn…"

St. Cyril of Alexandria:

On the Unity of Christ, pg. 57:

"For He did not allow it to remain mortal and subject to corruption, thus allowing the penalty of Adam’s transgression to continue to pass on to us…."

"The Word becoming flesh is the undoing and the abolition of all that fell upon human nature as our curse and punishment….If the Word has not become flesh, then neither has the dominion of death been overthrown, and in no way has sin been abolished and we are still held captive in the transgressions of the fist man, Adam, deprived of any return to a better condition" (Ibid., pg. 60).

"We had become accursed through Adam’s transgression and fallen into the trap of death, abandoned by God" (Ibid., pg. 105).

-Five Tomes Against Nestorius, Tome I:1:

"For if He had not been born as we, according to the flesh, if He had not partaken like us of the same, He would not have freed the nature of man from the blame contracted in Adam, nor would He have driven away from our bodies the decay, nor would the might of the curse have ceased which we say came on the first woman; for it was said to her, "In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children."

But the nature of man hath fallen into the disease of disobedience in Adam, it has become now approved in Christ through the total obedience [of Christ]: for it is written: As by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners, so too by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. For in Adam hath it suffered, "dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return," in Christ hath it gained the riches of being able to be superior to the toils of death, and, so to say, exult over decay…"

St. John Chrysostom:

Homily 3 on Rom. 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold down the truth in unrighteousness.

"Observe the discretion of Paul, how after encouraging by the gentler things, he turns his discourse to the more fearful. For after saying that the Gospel is the cause of salvation and of life, that it is the power of God, that it genders salvation and righteousness, he mentions what might well make them fear that were heedless of it. For since in general most men are not drawn so much by the promise of what is good as by the fear of what is painful, he draws them on both sides. For this cause too did God not only promise a kingdom, but also threaten hell. And the Prophets spoke thus with the Jews, ever intermingling the evil with the good. For this cause too Paul thus varies his discourse, yet not anyhow, but he sets first the good things, and after the evil, to show that the former came of the guiding purpose of God, but the latter of the wickedness of the backsliding. And in this way the prophet puts the good first, saying, If you be willing and will obey me, you shall eat the good of the land: but if you be not willing and will not obey me, the sword shall devour you. (Isaiah 1:19, 20.) So here too does Paul conduct his discourse. But observe him; Christ, he means, came to bring forgiveness, righteousness, life, yet not in any way, but by the Cross, which is greatest too and wonderful, that He not only gave such things, but that He also suffered such things. If then ye insolently scorn the gifts, then will the penalties await you. And see how he raises his language, For the wrath of God, he says, is revealed from heaven. Whence does this appear? If it be a believer who says this, we will tell him of the declarations of Christ, but if the unbeliever and the Grecian, him Paul silences, by what he says presently of the judgment of God, bringing an uncontrovertible demonstration from the things which were done by them. And this too is by far the most striking point in him, how he exhibits those who speak against the truth, as themselves bearing witness by the things which they do daily, and say, to the doctrines of the truth. But of this in the sequel: but for the present, let us keep to what is set before us. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. And indeed even here this often takes place in famines and pestilences and wars: for each individually and all in common are punished. What will be the new thing then? That the chastisement will be greater, and common to all, and not by the same rules. For now what takes place is for correction; but then for vengeance. And this also St. Paul showed, when he said, We are chastened now, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor. xi. 32.) And now indeed to many such things usually seem to come not of the wrath from above, but of the malice of man. But then the punishment from God shall be manifest, when the Judge, sitting upon the fearful tribunal, shall command some to be dragged to the furnaces, and some to the outer darkness, and some to other inexorable and intolerable punishments. And why is it that he does not speak as plainly as this, the Son of God is coming with ten thousand angels, and will call each man to account, but says, that the wrath of God is revealed? His hearers were as yet novices, and therefore he draws them first by things quite allowed by them. And besides what is here mentioned, he also seems to me to be aiming against the Greeks. And this is why he makes his beginning from this, but afterwards he introduces the subject of Christ's judgment."

Homily 5 on Romans 2:4:

Ver. 4. Or despises thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-sufferring; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

For after praising God's long-suffering, showing the gain thereof to be very great to them that heeded it (and this was the drawing sinners to repentance); he adds to the terror. For as to them, who avail themselves of it aright, it is a ground of safety; so to them that slight it, it is conducive to a greater vengeance. For whenever you utter this common notion, that God does not exact justice, because He is good and long-suffering, he says, You do but mention what will make the vengeance more intense. For God shows His goodness that you may get free from your sins, not that you may add to them. If then thou make not this use thereof, the judgment will be more fearful. Wherefore it is a chief ground for abstaining from sin, that God is long-suffering, and not for making the benefit a plea for obstinacy. For if He be long-suffering, He most certainly punishes. Whence does this appear? from what is next said. For if the wickedness be great and the wicked have not been requited, it is absolutely necessary that they should be requited. For if men do not overlook these things, how should God make an oversight? And so from this point he introduces the subject of the judgment. For the fact of showing many who, if they repent not, are liable, yet still are not punished here, introduces with it necessarily the judgment, and that with increase."

Homily 10 on Romans 5:15:

"Ver. 15. But not as the offence, so is also the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto the many.

For what he says is somewhat of this kind. If sin had so extensive effects, and the sin of one man too; how can grace, and that the grace of God, not the Father only, but also the Son, do otherwise than be the more abundant of the two? For the latter is far the more reasonable supposition. For that one man should be punished on account of another does not seem to be much in accordance with reason. But for one to be saved on account of another is at once more suitable and more reasonable. If then the former took place, much more may the latter. Hence he has shown from these grounds the likelihood and reasonableness of it. For when the former had been made good, this would then be readily admitted. But that it is even necessarily so, he makes good from what follows. How then does he make it good?

…For this is what Paul intimated by saying that they who have received the abundance of the grace and righteousness shall reign in life. And as he had now clearly demonstrated this, he again makes use of his former argument, clenching it by taking up the same word afresh, and saying that if for that offence all were punished, then they may be justified too by these means. And so he says,

Ver. 18. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."

St. John of Damascus:

On the Orthodox Faith, Bk. 4:

"It is to be observed that it is the custom in the Holy Scripture to speak of God’s permission as His energy, as when the apostle says in the Epistle to the Romans, Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour ? And for this reason, that He Himself makes this or that. For He is Himself alone the Maker of all things; yet it is not He Himself that fashions noble or ignoble things, but the personal choice of each one . And this is manifest from what the same Apostle says in the Second Epistle to Timothy, In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth: and some to honour and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work 2 Timothy 2:20-21 . And it is evident that the purification must be voluntary: for if a man, he says, purge himself. And the consequent antistrophe responds, If a man purge not himself he will be a vessel to dishonour, unmeet for the master’s use and fit only to be broken in pieces. Wherefore this passage that we have quoted and this, God has concluded them all in unbelief Romans 11:32, and this, God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear , all these must be understood not as though God Himself were energising, but as though God were permitting, both because of free-will and because goodness knows no compulsion.

His permission, therefore, is usually spoken of in the Holy Scripture as His energy and work. Nay, even when He says that God creates evil things, and that there is no evil in a city that the Lord has not done, he does not mean by these words Amos 3:6 that the Lord is the cause of evil, but the word ‘evil ‘ is used in two ways, with two meanings. For sometimes it means what is evil by nature, and this is the opposite of virtue and the will of God: and sometimes it means that which is evil and oppressive to our sensation, that is to say, afflictions and calamities. Now these are seemingly evil because they are painful, but in reality are good. For to those who understand they became ambassadors of conversion and salvation. The Scripture says that of these God is the Author.

It is, moreover, to be observed that of these, too, we are the cause: for involuntary evils are the offspring of voluntary ones.

This also should be recognised, that it is usual in the Scriptures for some things that ought to be considered as effects to be stated in a causal sense , as, Against You, You only, have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight, that You might be justified when You speak, and prevail when You judge . For the sinner did not sin in order that God might prevail, nor again did God require our sin in order that He might by it be revealed as victor . For above comparison He wins the victor’s prize against all, even against those who are sinless, being Maker, incomprehensible, uncreated, and possessing natural and not adventitious glory. But it is because when we sin God is not unjust in His anger against us; and when He pardons the penitent He is shown victor over our wickedness. But it is not for this that we sin, but because the thing so turns out. It is just as if one were sitting at work and a friend stood near by, and one said, My friend came in order that I might do no work that day. The friend, however, was not present in order that the man should do no work, but such was the result. For being occupied with receiving his friend he did not work. These things, too, are spoken of as effects because affairs so turned out. Moreover, God does not wish that He alone should be just, but that all should, so far as possible, be made like Him."

Ibid. Bk. 2:29:

"Also one must bear in mind that God’s original wish was that all should be saved and come to His Kingdom 1 Timothy 2:4. For it was not for punishment that He formed us but to share in His goodness, inasmuch as He is a good God. But inasmuch as He is a just God, His will is that sinners should suffer punishment."

"The first then is called God’s antecedent will and pleasure, and springs from Himself, while the second is called God’s consequent will and permission, and has its origin in us. And the latter is two-fold; one part dealing with matters of guidance and training, and having in view our salvation, and the other being hopeless and leading to our utter punishment, as we said above. And this is the case with actions that are not left in our hands."

Again, he wrote in Bk 1.2 that hell is everlasting punishment and God’s will:

"But we speak also of ages of ages, inasmuch as the seven ages of the present world include many ages in the sense of lives of men, and the one age embraces all the ages, and the present and the future are spoken of as age of age. Further, everlasting (i.e. αἰ& 240·νιος) life and everlasting punishment prove that the age or æon to come is unending . For time will not be counted by days and nights even after the resurrection, but there will rather be one day with no evening, wherein the Sun of Justice will shine brightly on the just, but for the sinful there will be night profound and limitless. In what way then will the period of one thousand years be counted which, according to Origen , is required for the complete restoration? Of all the ages, therefore, the sole creator is God Who has also created the universe and Who was before the ages."

St. Maximus the Confessor on death as a punishment by God on all for Adam’s sin:

"Out of His goodness, God who works out our salvation, fixed a punishment that is suitable to the irrational movement of our intellectual faculty. The punishment was death, which means the capacity to render to God what is due God alone, to love Him with all our mind, was destroyed."

-On The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, Ambiguum 7, pg. 67.

"For we, from whom is demanded a satisfaction for the sins of our predecessors, retain no trace of those sins in our memory."

-Ibid., Ambiguum 8, pg. 77.

"And the same is true of the rest of the signs and wonders that God performed there to give the faithful hope for liberation from overwhelming perils, and to give the unbelieving a taste of His punitive power so as to dissolve the hardness toward God that kept coming upon them: when He divided the sea with the rod…"

-Ibid., Ambiguum 42, pg. 91.

"Since the first man spurned this deifying, divine, and immaterial birth when he preferred what was delectable and obvious to his senses over intelligible and meanwhile invisible goods, he was justly condemned to a material, mortal bodily birth outside the scope of his free choice. God deservedly punished him for willingly choosing morally inferior objects…"

Adam was condemned to the bodily birth that leads to corruption. He, then, who in his goodness and philanthropy willingly became man amid our transgression, voluntarily subjected himself to condemnation along with us…"And he has just said this was imposed by God.

-Ibid., Ambiguum 42, pg. 93-94.

"Man was not created by God in the beginning with such a corrupted nature; rather, man invented and knew it since he created deliberate sin through his disobedience. And clearly condemnation by death is the result of such sin."

-Ibid., Ad Thalassium 42, pg. 122.

"Henceforth, because irrational pleasure entered into human nature, pain entered our nature opposite this pleasure in accordance with reason, and, through many sufferings in which and from which death occurs, pain uproots unnatural pleasure, but does not completely destroy it, whereby, then the grace of the divine pleasure of the mind is naturally exalted. For every suffering, effectively having pleasure as its primary cause, is quite naturally, in view of its cause, a penalty exacted from all who share in human nature."

-Ibid., Ad Thalassium 61, pg. 133.

"After the transgression [of Adam] pleasure naturally preconditioned the births of all human beings…everyone was requited with sufferings, and subsequent death as the natural punishment. The way to freedom was hard for all who were tyrannized by unrighteous pleasure and thoroughly just death accompanying them."

"And because of this unrighteous beginning based on pleasure, Adam subjected along with him his whole posterity, all who like him are born of the flesh, to the finality of death through suffering—and justly so."

-Ibid., Ad Thalassium, 65, pg. 135.

"So too the Word of God dries up the activity of sin with the rising sunlight of the oracles of the Spirit (Jonah 4:8), and, by recalling the threat of eternal punishment like the wind of burning heat, as though it were the sinner’s head, smites the source of depraved passions amid the provocations of the senses."

Ibid., Ad Thalassium, 64, pg. 171.

And even one of their own, Symeon the New Theologian, does not speak Romanides-speak:

On the Final Judgment by Christ

"If I am therefore now in darkness, I shall also be in darkness in my death. Clearly the Day of the Lord will also come upon me as a thief in the night, and as the pain which comes upon a woman giving birth and I shall be unable to escape."

"…nor this alone, but even as more than those who circumcise their bodies, they (false Christians) will be justly condemned as mutilating God’s commandments."…This man will not escape the inevitability of justice….he will be condemned [by God].

"…lest he [the faithless man] deceive himself in vain and, fancying himself faithful, be found without faith, and, thinking he has the Lord in himself, depart from his body empty and be condemned as possessing nothing, and, deprived even of what he imagined he had, and be cast into the fire [by Christ]."

"For while those who were still in the frigid lake received their crown’s from God’s hand [the 40 martyrs of Sebaste], he who fled to the bathhouse was immediately killed by its warmth and departed into everlasting fire."

"the Light speaks as follows: …Therefore, you worker of iniquity, depart from me into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41)."

"Blessed are they who even now have put on His light, for they are clothed already with the wedding garment. They will not be bound hand and foot, nor will they be cast into the everlasting fire." [the others will]

-On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses: The Church and the Last Things, pg. 148-9, 159, 163, 165.

Author:  lord voldemort [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

That is quite a read. I hope to read it in its entirely in a few days. Not sure if will respond to it, depends, but I will give the curtisey of a read.

Author:  JayDyer [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

Are you Orthodox or something? Is it deserving of a response?

Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

Lord V is a young man eager to learn. It would be a kindness to help him do that.

Author:  lord voldemort [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Lord V is a young man eager to learn. It would be a kindness to help him do that.

What he says :mrgreen:

Author:  JayDyer [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

Who was denying him help? Obi Wan, why do you always give me bunk?


Author:  JayDyer [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

I meant was my article deserving of a response, not that he didnt deserve a response.


Author:  Bonaventure [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

JayDyer wrote:
Who was denying him help? Obi Wan, why do you always give me bunk?


Father was responding to Athanasius and not you, Jay.

Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

JayDyer wrote:
Who was denying him help? Obi Wan, why do you always give me bunk?
I'm not aware that I was, and I surely don't intend to be. My apologies if I have come off that way. It did seem to me that your reply to Lord V (and sorry, Bon, I was responding to Jay) was dismissive, but I'm perfectly ready to believe I read you wrong.

Author:  JayDyer [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

I didn't understand why he was saying he would prepare a response within 5 minutes of my posting it. So, I asked him if he was orthodox, and what I meant by that was, did he feel it needed an immediate response and why so? I think it was a misunderstanding.


Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

I think so. Thanks for clarifying.

Author:  INsearch [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

lord voldemort wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Lord V is a young man eager to learn. It would be a kindness to help him do that.

What he says :mrgreen:

PFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!! tell them the truth!!! :twisted:

Author:  Bonaventure [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
JayDyer wrote:
Who was denying him help? Obi Wan, why do you always give me bunk?
I'm not aware that I was, and I surely don't intend to be. My apologies if I have come off that way. It did seem to me that your reply to Lord V (and sorry, Bon, I was responding to Jay) was dismissive, but I'm perfectly ready to believe I read you wrong.


I saw the avatar and got mixed up. :oops: :oops: :oops:

Author:  HalJordan [ Mon Sep 22, 2008 10:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

If it means anything, even Origen seems to talk about eternal punishment in a couple of places. Contra Celsus, I think, but it's been a while.

Author:  lord voldemort [ Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

JayDyer wrote:
I didn't understand why he was saying he would prepare a response within 5 minutes of my posting it. So, I asked him if he was orthodox, and what I meant by that was, did he feel it needed an immediate response and why so? I think it was a misunderstanding.


No all i was saying was, that i would read it and then if it warrented I would respond to it.

I know what it is like to post something that you put alot of time in and no one responds, so I said I would read it and then post something, out of courtesy. Even If i just I read it.

Author:  JayDyer [ Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

Gotcha. Its all good.

Author:  Catholic Dude [ Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

It was a good read, this situation is not uncommon in my discussions with Orthodox. While I have never been in a discussion with an EO regarding hell, the Confession of Dositheos teaches various "Latin" things (including eternal hellfire as a punishment) which many EO I have talked with downplay WHILE still maintaining a Latin dislike and condemnation of the same doctrines.

What can you say?

That being said, I remember reading stuff in the popular book Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Fr Pomazansky that says things like:

However, these opinions are not to be confused with dogmas, in the precise meaning of the word. There are some private opinions of certain Fathers and teachers which are not recognized as being in agreement with the general catholic faith of the Church, and are not accepted as a guide to faith. (As an example of such "private opinions," one may take the mistaken opinion of St. Gregory of Nyssa that hell is not everlasting and that all — including the demons — are to be saved in the end. This opinion was rejected decisively at the Fifth Ecumenical Councilas contradicting the Church's "catholic consciousness," but St. Gregory himself is still accepted as a saint and as a Holy Father in the Orthodox Church and his other teachings are not questioned.

Yet, it goes onto later make comments like these:
Thus, the Orthodox Church distinguishes two different conditions after the Particular Judgment: one for the righteous, another for sinners; in other words, paradise and hell. The Church does not recognize the Roman Catholic teaching of three conditions: 1) blessedness, 2) purgatory, and 3) gehenna (hell). The very name "gehenna" the Fathers of the Church usually refer to the condition after the Last judgment, when both death and hell will be cast into the "lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). The Fathers of the Church, basing themselves on the word of God, suppose that the torments of sinners before the Last Judgment have a preparatory character. These torments can be eased and even taken away by the prayers of the Church (Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs, para. 18).

Is it just me, or is this saying the bad souls before the Last Judgement can be prayed out of this preparatory hell?

Similarly, from the word of God we know that the Lord Jesus has "the keys of hell and of death" (Rev. 1:18); consequently, He has power to open the gates of hell by the prayers of the Church and by power of the propitiatory Bloodless Sacrifice which is offered for the dead.

What this seems to be describing is "purgatory," yet its almost like they don't want to use the term. Purgatory is another one of those famous examples of which the EO are sure it is a Latin invention, yet they appear to be teaching the same concept. That said, IF they are teaching there is ONLY heaven and non permanent "preparatory punishments" which can be remitted, that is problematic.

Author:  Charles07 [ Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

Good read. I have saved it for future reference. Thank you for your time spent posting this!

Author:  JayDyer [ Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

[/quote]What this seems to be describing is "purgatory," yet its almost like they don't want to use the term. Purgatory is another one of those famous examples of which the EO are sure it is a Latin invention, yet they appear to be teaching the same concept. That said, IF they are teaching there is ONLY heaven and non permanent "preparatory punishments" which can be remitted, that is problematic.[/quote]

I couldn't have said it better. the EO Im dialoguing with are adamant about universal salvation, however!

Author:  Catholic Dude [ Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Response to an Orthodox Critic on Hell and the Fathers

JayDyer wrote:
I couldn't have said it better. the EO Im dialoguing with are adamant about universal salvation, however!

So according to them Fr Pomazansky doesn't have a "purified nous"?

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