St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
11 messages Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

bas-f
(Continuation from Comments on above topic)

Dear, DIAKRISIS DOGMATON, thanks for pointing out to me the reference. As you may know, ACCOS have the same numbering for their separate OLD and NEW Testament series.  For some reason I looked only in the O.T., while the quote indeed is found in one of the volumes of the N.T. series. In any case, the correct reference should be more specific and contain the following detail: “Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, NEW TESTAMENT, Vol. XI”. (In fact, the portion of Catena, as I checked later, exists in the writings of the Saint in Migne: PG 74, 1013-16.)

Here some more quotes from St Cyril, pertaining to the emptying Hades, which you asked about. You are correct in saying that there is no contradiction with regards completely or partially emptying. Our nature, captivated by Satan, was liberated from the bonds, but liberation does not mean salvation to all but only to ‘His own’. So, it is correct to say “all liberated” but not to say “all were saved”.

Comm. on Isaiah, I, 2008, 94: “he came to life again after emptying Hades” // 2008, 189-190: “canceled death... and restored everything to its original state” // 2008, 265: “plundering Hades and showing in actual fact that he is superior to death” // Comm. on Isaiah, III, 2008, 46-47: “liberated everyone” // FC 115, 249: “...death will in due course give way, and the goad of Hades will be no more” // ACT II, 2015, 260: “despoiled Hades and thrown open the gates of darkness for those who were there”.

A few remarks here about translation from one language to another (and how a wrong translation can lead to alienated doctrines!)

●  ACCOS English translation is not quite accurate. They say, “those who were in Hades had a chance to acknowledge Him”.  The text does not mention any ‘chance’. Rather it should be read: “those who were in Hades would certainly recognized him” (“οὗτοι γὰρ καὶ εἰς ᾅδου πάντως ἐπέγνωσαν”).

●  Also ACCOS translation of «ἀνακαλύφθητε» (“Be enlightened’) is not correct either; the verb (ἀνακαλύπτομαι) means appear, shew, be revealed, come out in the light, come forth, uncover - but in no way enlighten. The translation in modern Greek you provide has it correct: ‘φανερωθεῖτε’ (v. ‘φανερώνομαι’). ‘Be enlightened’ means another thing (actually a new doctrine!), it is a serious distortion. God enlightens the heart of man before he dies, not afterwards. The reposed one, after death he ceases to be a whole man. “This is a human being: a soul united to a suitable and fitting body,” says St Basil the Great (Migne PG 31, 548). Our God doesn’t enlighten or talk to corpses decayed in the tombs or to separated souls deprived from their bodies. He enlightens a man in this life. “God will not allow him to die in ignorance, but will lead him to the truth, and will enlighten him with the light of knowledge” (St Neilos the Ascetic, Letter 154, bk a’). Bishop Ignaty Brianchianinov says, “throughout the whole of his earthly life, the grace of God does not cease to assist man till the very moment of his departure” (Arena, p. 187). No posthumous enlightenment or conversion, or anything of this sort, in inferno, but during ‘earthly life’. There are no left-overs of humanity for later - no matter if they are pagans or whatever. The King and Prophet is not lying: “The Lord looks out of heaven; he beholds all the sons of men. He looks from his prepared habitation on all the dwellers on the earth” (Psalm. 32:13-14). According to St Ambrose, “He walks in the hearts and minds of each and every one of us” (FC 42, 347). He walks in the hearts of the living men, not of the dead. “The Holy Spirit is not absent from any created being… Thus we find many barbarians and nomadic peoples turning to a civilized way of life” (St Maximus the Confessor, Philokalia, First century of various texts, 72). With such clear a teaching of the Church, that the barbarians during their life are converted, who can blaspheme the Providence of God that is not present in every single human being? Who can deny the omnipotence and care of our loving Saviour for all men! Does our God not care for the remote people? Do the ‘distances’ hinder Him to reach and save people?

●  In another place ACCOS translation says that He preached in Hades in order “to deliver all those who would believe”. However, the text doesn’t say that they believed in Hades. It actually says that He preached to those that would believe in Him if He was incarnate, i.e. if He had become man during their lifetimes. The translation in modern Greek puts it very nicely, although the English one seems to ignore it («γιά νά ἐλευθερώσει ὅσους ἐπρόκειτο νά πιστέψουν ἄν σαρκωνόταν στή δική τους ἐποχή»). Thanks for providing the Greek translation so that at least we can compare!


Thanks, Diakrisis Dogmaton, for the sources (links) that you suggested for further reading. I confess that I usually avoid myself to introduce third-hand sources to others. Especially regarding serious matters of the faith. The Patrologists, the Canonists, the Biblical scholars and the rest of the various branches of theology often fight with each other. Instead of taking one side or the other, wouldn’t it be better to spend our time in reading the plain teaching of the Church – the authoritative and genuine works of the Holy Fathers? Instead of tasting ready, fast–food prepared and served by other ‘cooks,’ would it not be better to labor ourselves -especially by joining reading with prayer? Wouldn’t that be a better ‘recipe’?

In any case, since you offer them to me for ‘review’ I would like to comment briefly to one of the papers you suggested, the one with the title PASSAGES FROM THE CHURCH FATHERS And Other Orthodox Christian Sources Concerning Our Saviour’s Descent into Hades (which looks like an official, synodical document perhaps?) (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzJKrDVZPwcvWlRBRl9IcnJSdVRYOFhzZnN5UTlRYzRNRWln/view;). Unfortunately, there are some misunderstandings or distortions in it and I’m afraid that the paper hardly could withstand a serious critic. Please, endure me for a while.

A.

About the Rich man and Lazarus (pp. 20-22).

The paper ends up with wrong conclusions. No patristic testimony whatsoever is mentioned and naturally, since the Fathers of the Church unanimously condemn the view accepted there, that the Rich man “repented for his sinful life” in Hades! Surprisingly, and opposing the Fathers, the authors of the paper consider this view “a good point”! Is that out of ignorance, a mistake, or on purpose?... In fact, the Fathers express without any exception and clearly in their writings the correct view about the fate of the rich man. I could site here their very wording, but they are so numerous to mention and I have to spare the space here:

Athanasius the Great / Maximus the Confessor / Cyril of Alexandria / Romanos Melodist / Theophylactos / Isidore of Pelusium / Ephraim the Syrian / Gregory the Great / Gregory Palamas / Gregory of Nyssa / Gregory the Theologian / Basil the Great / Ambrose of Milan / Epiphanius of Cyprus / Anastasios of Sinai, and par excellence, Saint John Chrysostom.


To support their view, the authors of the paper do not undertake the labor to quote not even a single Father (if there exist any!)... To whom are they talking, to ‘catechumens’? Where are the “many passages from the Holy Fathers [that] teach the Orthodox [sic] doctrine of posthumous enlightenment” that you mention in your note above? Where have the “Passages from the Church Fathers” mentioned in the title gone? The reader is supposed to accept their opinion blind, as a ‘patristic position’!

B.

St Maximos the Confessor quote.

In another part of this paper (pp. 23-24) something even worse is done: one of the Fathers is scissored! St Maximus answers the question about preaching to the dead in Hades (I Peter 4:6). In the first half of his answer he mentions the opinion that circulated among the people at his time, how others responded to the question (“some say…”). This is not what the saint believes, but what others say. Then, the saint goes forth to express his full response. But what if, perhaps, ‘some’ do not want to listen to what the Gospel and the Churches position is? What if they prefer to keep for themselves just what the others say? Very easy! A scissor does the work perfectly. You cut that portion and, lo the miracle, the view of ‘some’ becomes the view of the Church and of the Fathers! The ‘letter’ kills, so let us kill the letter! You shut the mouth of the saint and all is accomplished!... To anyone concerned: St Maximus says in his cut piece something interesting: “The dead are judged in this world”. No ‘chance’ after departure! They are judged IN THIS WORLD. I don’t see why we have to play with the divine words? Why we cut & paste and tailor the divine saying to fit our measurements? St Isaac the Syrian is very serious when he forewarns us: “Let no one take hold of, and bring forth out of context, a statement from our words and leave the rest, senselessly clutching that alone in his hands” (Homily 76). Have we lost our senses to arm against the Fathers whom we claim we follow?

C.

Another (in)famous example is the story about Trajan the Emperor (p.8), the persecutor of Christians. Supposedly by the prayers of St Gregory the Great he was relieved from Hell. In this apocryphal story God is asking St Gregory never to pray again on behalf of impious non-Christians.

It is true, that Christians do not pray for the impious dead non-Christians. Not because we want them to be kept in torments but because it is their free choice and after all, as a result of their previous life, they are not receptive of any sort of help. How it is possible, asks Cabasilas, for somebody “to look at the light whose eyes have been gouged out” (Life in Christ, 4).

However, according to the story, it is in the hands of God to free them, but He, nevertheless, wants them to be kept in their sad state. Here the saint appears more compassionate than God! Is it the God of Orthodoxy Who is portrayed in this scenario? Does God want people to be punished in Hell? Is it not their passions that torment them?

To understand the hoax of this story we simply can check with the works of the ‘real’ St Gregory. First, this story is not found there. Second, in his writings St Gregory easily persuades us to the truth of the matter. He clearly states – in opposition to this story - that we do not pray for those condemned to eternal fire. (Dialogues 4:44: “holy men do not now pray for them that die in their infidelity and known wicked life: for seeing certain it is that they be condemned to endless pains, to what purpose should they pray for them, when they know that no petition will be admitted of God”). Also in his work The Parables of the Gospel, St Gregory says that there is no time of repentance in the other life, all the opportunities are finishing here: “Once the door of the kingdom is closed they can no longer approach him, who was formerly so approachable… he who wasted the time of fruitful penance pleads in vain before the gate of the kingdom”). Again, in another work he says: “The Saints do not pray for the unbelieving and impious that are dead” (Moralia, 34:19).  This is the genuine teaching of St Gregory the Great; his counterpart’s sayings exist only in apocryphal and dubious sources. Again in another place: “In such state as a man departeth out of this life, in the same he is presented in judgment before God” (Dialogues 1,41,3).

Repentance, conversion, change of one’s mind, or no matter what one calls it, does not exist after the departure of the soul from the body. Besides that, the condemned ones are tormented by their own passions and not by God, as false anti-christian stories teach.

We know, that God does not punish anyone in the future, but everyone makes themselves receptive to share in God. And so to share in God is a delight, while not sharing in Him is hell” (St John of Damascus, Contra Manichaeos 44). To be deprived from those unspeakable goods - that is hell. The Rich man was not tortured by God but “because it is a punishment for the voluptuous to lack delights” (St Ambrose). Unsatisfied passions are the “chasm” that Abraham couldn’t help to overcome and reach the unfortunate man: he was tormented from inside.

After all, if indeed it was possible for one to move from Hell to Paradise, that would be the real torment!... Adam was in Paradise and was tormented; he was expelled and was relieved. “To be saved, we must humble ourselves, for the proud man even were he to be set down in paradise would not find peace there but would be discontent, and say, 'Why am I not up in the front rank?' But the humble soul is filled with love and does not seek to be in the foreground. The humble soul wishes good to all men, and in all things, is content” (Starets Silouan, 1991, 304). “But he who loves not his enemies will never find peace, even though he were to be set down in paradise” (422).

D.

About Plato.

This story, included into St Anastasius Q & A, does not belong to the genuine writings of St Anastasius of Sinai. The work Question-Answers that bears the name “Anastasius of Sinai” is in fact a compilation of 3 authors with this name: Anastasius the 3rd, bishop of Nicaea, Anastasius the 2nd, bishop of Antioch and Anastasius the Presbyter the Sinaite. The compiler thought that they were one and the same person and collected them in one. The above Q&A belong to the latter one, the Sinaite Presbyter, whose writings, as an editor of his works noted, “are not worthy of mentioning since they do not contain genuine Christian teaching”.

The problem with the # 61 Q&A is not simply because it refers to an apocryphal story (of course not all the apocryphal are to be rejected) but because it is in direct opposition with the teaching of the Church and the consensus patrum. The Fathers characterize with strong and harsh expressions (actually they ‘anathematize’) Plato and his strange and heretical and demonic philosophical ideas. “An evil spirit, and some cruel demon at war with our race, a foe to modesty, and an enemy to good order, oversetting all things, hath made his voice be heard in [his] soul,” says St John Chrysostom (On Gospel of St Matthew, 1:10, 11).

Of course we know that idolaters that had a virtuous life will be comforted in the other life as St John Chrysostom says (NF 10, 241 “But in proof that they who, not having known Christ before His coming in the flesh, yet refrained from idolatry and worshipped God only, and showed forth an excellent life, shall enjoy all the blessings”). However, Plato, from the point of a good life doesn’t pass the test either. He taught that women are created to be common to all, no one should have his own wife but all women should be available to everyone. There were “demons that preached these things”, St Chrysostom says, and adds some more epithets, about their “uncleanness” of his ways of life, homosexuality and “pederasty” besides adultery and other “inventions of devils, and contrary to nature”. They consider pederasty “respectable and a part of philosophy,” he says (On Babylas, 49, FC 73, 103). St John of Damascus, in the Heresy of Platonists, mentions their belief about “uncreated soul” and “transmigration of souls into bodies, even into those of reptiles” (Heresies, 6).

The story, after the appearance of Plato (or perhaps the demon that appeared in the form of Plato!) concludes: “When you hear about this do not think that conversion is always possible in Hades. This is something that happened on one unique occasion, when Christ descended into the underworld”. Good to know. Conversion happened only once, and it happens no more! You should correct your paper then, which in the very beginning says that there is conversion in Hades – or erase that story about Plato. One of the two, please.

In his writings, the real Saint Anastasius says that the Christian should anathematize “those that do teach alienated doctrines and do not follow the saints and teachers of the Church, and consider them condemned and estranged from Christ” (Odegos, 3.2). Which “saint Anastasius” we should prefer, the above paper’s or the real one?

After all, in the service of the Sunday of Orthodoxy we anathematize (thrice) all the heresies and among them the pagan ancient philosophers and their teaching, and namely Plato. According to St Gregory Palamas, “we place the opinions of the Fathers above the babbles of Aristotle and Plato” (Letter to Barlaam, 1,33). Otherwise, if we give credibility in such stories as the ones about Plato, Trajan etc. we rather may think seriously about changing the Synodicon of Orthodoxy!

Your synod (?) anathematized the council of 1912, something that nobody in the whole world (no local church or synod of bishops) dared ever to do; still, you withhold anathematizing those that the whole Church anathematized! Based on a false story!

Sorry, but I don’t really intend to intervene in your position or beliefs. You have all the rights to believe and write whatever you want. Just a few thoughts because you answered to me and that’s all. I wish we don’t start unending public dialogues.

Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

Diakrisis Dogmaton
Thank you very much for the additional quotations from Saint Cyril of Alexandria.The important point is that we all agree that there is no ultimate contradiction between patristic statements that say “all” are liberated from the power of death and patristic statements that say “some” are saved. God destroys the power of Hades for “all,” but He does not destroy free will, and only “some” souls choose the gospel. That is why the first quotation from Saint Cyril is so important. The pagan spirits who accepted Christ’s enlightenment in Hades did so because they had not blinded themselves with outrageous idolatry, outrageous lust, and other such grievous sins during their earthy lives, as Saint Cyril says clearly. The soul’s capacity in Hades to perceive and accept Christ’s enlightenment is still based on one’s earthly life, as Saint Cyril indicates. That is why it must be repeated that it is inaccurate to mischaracterize this patristic doctrine as “repentance in Hades.” It is enlightenment by Christ's truth and acceptance of, and conversion to, that truth. It is not "repentance" in the sense of a fundamental change in a soul's character, from fundamentally evil to fundamentally good. It is also misleading to call this traditional patristic doctrine “a second chance.” The acceptance (or non-acceptance) of Christ’s enlightenment in Hades is tied to the one "chance" a soul had in his earthly life to avoid unrepentant practice of the most grievous sins on earth, as Saint Cyril also makes clear. What Christ adds in Hades is a preaching of the truth, the truth which the soul may never have heard on earth: souls are given one chance to accept the gospel, whether on earth or in Hades.

MANY PASSAGES FROM THE SAINTS TEACH THE ORTHODOX DOCTRINE OF POSTHUMOUS ENLIGHTENMENT OF SOME SOULS:

Some people before the Incarnation had some sense of the coming salvation from the Messiah/Christ and some even had some inkling of the Trinity. But the worship of the Trinity was made manifest at the Baptism/Epiphany/Theophany of Christ and thereafter. So, in this sense, everyone from pre-Incarnation times who is saved receives posthumous enlightenment from Christ (about Christ, the Trinity, the Gospel of salvation).

The First Letter of Saint Peter the Apostle, as interpreted by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Saint Maximus the Confessor, and others, indicates that those who were “disobedient” at the time of Noah, and were “judged in the flesh” on earth, had the Gospel of salvation preached to them by Christ while they were spirits in Hades. I believe that the text from Saint Cyril is authentic and that Saint Maximus is expressing what he himself believes, not what opponents believe. Some were able to accept the Gospel of salvation because they had not blinded themselves with outrageous idolatry and outrageous lusts in their earthly lives. Some were not capable of accepting because of such idolatry and lusts.

Since we all agree that some “certainly recognized him,” then logically, we have to say that some had the “chance” to recognize him. Logically, if a person does in fact recognize Christ, then we can say that that person was given a “chance” to recognize Him.

When Saint Cyril says «ἀνακαλύφθητε», the scholarly translation “be enlightened” is correct because the alternative definition that was offered (“come out in[to] the light”) means substantially the same thing in context: the spirits came out of the darkness of death and into the light of Christ and His Gospel of salvation and were enlightened posthumously while spirits in Hades.

Several ancient ecclesiastical texts mention a sinner or a heretic or a persecutor who, nonetheless, did receive mercy or salvation after the person died. There is an example in the Greek Lenten Triodion that you should check out, mentioned in Father Panteleimon’s letter.

The Synodicon of Orthodoxy anathematizes Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus (“Christian” Platonists), not Plato. Some saints said that Plato taught some Christians things. Some saints said that Plato taught demonic things. Both are correct. Do not most human beings say some good things (Christian) and some bad things (demonic)?

Also, one meaning of “anathema” is not to “pass judgment on” but to “give over to God to judge.”

A text that has been attributed to Saint Anastasius of Sinai (whether from him or another Anastasius) indicated that those who were enlightened posthumously included the philosopher Plato. This view on Plato is not a dogma of the Church, but it is present in ecclesiastical manuscripts. All Orthodox agree that those who claimed to be Orthodox but who taught Platonic-inspired heresies in place of Orthodoxy have been anathematized (Origen, Didymus, Evagrius, etc.). The idea of universal salvation is also anathematized by all Orthodox Christians. Nevertheless, the fact that some believed that Plato came to faith in Christ (and obtained mercy, to some degree) is one more piece among countless pieces of patristic evidence that show that many Holy Fathers teach Christ enlightened some souls in Hades. To refer to a supposed “heresy of posthumous enlightenment” (as a few individuals did in 2011) is to attack a teaching that is stated by several Holy Fathers. Posthumous enlightenment of some souls in Hades is a patristic teaching.

No one has anathematized a synod of 1912. Rather, a theological opinion letter written by Sergius Stragorodskii on May 16/29, 1913, and published two days later (falsely as a “synodal” opinion), did, strictly speaking, fall under the condemnations or anathemas of the Council of Constantinople of 1351 and the Synodicon of Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy and the Synodicon teach that God’s energies are uncreated, eternal, supremely divine, inseparable from the divine essence, Divinity/Deity/Godhood, God, God Himself. Sergius taught heretically that God's energies are “merely divinity [what is that???], not God, especially not ‘God Himself.’” Even worse, he said that God’s energies were not “divinity” in the normal sense, but only in an abnormal (!) sense used by Gregory Palamas! Sergius condemned Himself by saying the opposite of the Orthodox consensus. If you want to believe in "divinity" that is "not God," you are free to do so, but that is not Orthodoxy, not Christianity, not monotheism.

ON AUGUSTINE, BISHOP OF HIPPO
The accusation from some people that some Orthodox Christians are "opposing saints" when they criticize Augustine of Hippo, can veer off into slander. The statements of Augustine of Hippo on double predestination where rejected (even condemned), by Saint John Cassian, Saint Vincent of Lerins, and councils in the West, usually without naming Augustine. Even the Latin church does not fully accept his teachings because they were so extreme. Scholars have shown that his thought patterns and writings were influenced by Platonism and by Manichaeism. He had been a member of the Manichaean sect and a believer in Manichaean doctrines. The alleged reference to him by the Fifth Ecumenical Council is contained in the Latin translation of the proceedings of the council. It is not in the decree of the council or even in the Greek text of the proceedings. Is this text even genuine? It certainly has not been preserved and received in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but only in the Roman Catholic Church. It does not represent the mind and conscience of the Church. The alleged text also includes a reference to Theophilus who condemned Saint John Chrysostom. Saint Cyril of Alexandria reversed this error of Theophilus. The Church has accepted some of Theophilus’s canons, but she absolutely does not follow him in all things. Neither should we follow Augustine in all things. Many of the errors of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism have their origins in his writings and in the mistaken attitude of considering him a reliable teacher of the faith. The ancient Orthodox Church of the West did perceive his errors, and condemned at least some of them, but exaggerated pro-Augustinianism took over the Latin church and led directly to the schism. Even in the West, veneration took a long time to develop and did not develop in the East. His “authority” was pushed extremely hard by the Franks who hated the Eastern church. Saint Photius believed that Augustine’s writings were interpolated with errors. But very little of Augustine’s writings were translated into Greek — and the ones that had some of the worst errors were not available in Greek. And Saint Photius could not read Augustine’s massive body of writings in Latin. There is no evidence to support Saint Photius’s speculation about interpolations. But his attempt to defend Augustine (through the theory of interpolation) does show that there are errors in those writings.

Augustine’e body of writings is so massive that they have not really been evaluated by Eastern Orthodox until modern times. (Even very learned Russian scholars in modern times did not have access to all of his writings.) Scholars have even published previously-lost works of Augustine in recent decades. It would not surprise me if Father Michael Azkoul was the first Eastern Orthodox person in history to read a majority of Augustine’s works. Father Michael sometimes writes in a one-sided manner, but the evidence he provides needs to be taken seriously. In the Slavic Orthodox churches, Augustine of Hippo is not usually referred to as “saint” (svjatyj) but as “blessed” (blazheni). That is the form of address that is given to Theodoret of Cyrrhus, whose writings against Saint Cyril of Alexandria were condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council — an actual decision of the council, not some alleged statement within the proceedings of the council that the Church never accepted. Augustine is in some calendars, but this is very recent. It is not ancient Orthodox tradition to consider him a Universal Teacher of the Church, and those who point this out are correct. No True Orthodox Christian is “fighting against saints” in the discussions about what every Orthodox acknowledges were Augustine’s serious mistakes.
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

bas-f
Dear Diakrisis Dogmaton, thanks for your response, but I must say it was a small surprise to me.

First, because a great part of it, is out of context. Nearly half of your answer was about Augustine. I didn’t say anything concerning this figure; I hadn’t even mentioned the name of the bishop of Hippo. If you are talking to Vlad. Moss, the author of the original article, then you address the wrong person. Dear Diakrisis, I’m not interested on your thesis about the Bishop of Hippo!...

Second, you avoid answering all my points or, when you do, you ignore my proofs! You repeat (or ‘recycle’) things you have already said without presenting your sources for the opposite, besides of course general expressions that are free for anyone to use (“patristic teaching,” “Holy Fathers,” “countless pieces of patristic evidence,” et.a.). If we base our belief on DREAMS or disposable stories, or even on some patristic exceptions and not on the Consensus Patrum there is no room for discussion, sorry. St Gregory Palamas says, “For any subject you say something, you must name the person you quote and the source of his saying, so that whoever wants may turn to the very books to read it” (Theop. Convers., 7).

●  I proved to you that the saying of St Maximus the Confessor was scissored, that is distorted, by people you trust. In your response you appear to be covering them; according to your understanding they didn’t do anything wrong!...

●  Where is also your response to the story about Trajan and the story’s God of wrath and malice?

●  Where is your response to the Rich man and poor Lazarus? I brought up a great number of Holy Fathers that talk unanimously against your understanding for posthumous enlightenment; where is your ‘patristic evidence’? This is a clear misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the Scriptures against the teaching of the Church Fathers. Dear Diakrisis, are we playing a dialogue amongst two deaf men? Should I spend my time when you keep silent or just not listening to what I’m saying? Please, if you’re going to reply back, do not fail to cover EVERY point omitted in your response!

Here I put down again all these names that contradict your position. Certainly, you have every right either to pass by in silence on the teaching of the Church or to realize you were wrong and change your mind. Only in this second case can I continue to talk with you, please.

Athanasius the Great / Maximus the Confessor / Cyril of Alexandria / Romanos Melodist / Theophylactos / Isidore of Pelusium / Ephraim the Syrian / Gregory the Great / Gregory Palamas / Gregory of Nyssa / Gregory the Theologian / Basil the Great / Ambrose of Milan / Epiphanius of Cyprus / Anastasios of Sinai, and par excellence, Saint John Chrysostom.

●  What about Plato? All you can say is that there is no condemnation on him in the Synodicon? OK, let us see if you are correct if a condemnation in the Synodicon is included or not (see below).

It seems that I will have hard time to persuade you, so let me labor a little bit more (in separate installments perhaps), before I give up. Please listen carefully:

A.

You write (emphasis mine):

“The Synodicon of Orthodoxy anathematizes Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus (“Christian” Platonists),  NOT  PLATO”.


You are wrong, my friend. The Synodicon very clearly anathematizes Plato too (he is “condemned to eternal darkness”, to use St Gregory Palamas’ very words, for his “dangerous, harmful and blasphemous” doctrines, according to St Cyriacus – and there is a multitude of great Holy Fathers I am eager to quote for you, if you are interested – not to mention Plato’s homosexuality/pederasty practice and teaching as I mentioned earlier and you passed by in silence too.)

Here there are some excerpts of the Synodicon, taken from TRUE VINE, issue 27-28 (2000):

p. 49.  “To those who of themselves refashion this creation by means of mythical fabrications and accept the Platonic ideas as veritable, and who say that matter, being self-subsistent, is given form by these ideas; thereby they plainly calumniate the free will of the Creator Who brought all things into being out of non-being and Who, as Maker, established the beginning and end of all things in His authority and sovereignty, Anathema (thrice)”

p. 13 [ Introduction]: “They [heretic Iconoclasts] resembled Plato and the other pagan philosophers who asserted that the material creation could not be sanctified, and salvation was a release of the spirit from the prison of the body” [a question here: can one that does not believe in sanctification be sanctified?]

p. 51, in the Anathema against Bogomils a footnote of the editors of the periodical has thus: “they [Bogomils] were the continuation of the ancient Manicheans, preaching the same Zoroastrian dualism, the same despising of the flesh and all the material creation, and the belief inherited from the pagan philosophers, especially Plato, that man in essence is spirit, while the body is dross”.

p. 73 (The Synodicon praises with Eternal Memory St Gregory Palamas and the Great Church that) “synodically deposed both Barlaam and Acindynus, the leaders and inventors of new heresies, …who wickedly strove to introduce anew into the Church of Christ a created divinity, the Platonic ideas, and those other Greek myths; …[and] wisely and most gallantly fought for the true and infallible dogmas …in accordance with the theologians and… the rest of the Fathers and teachers of the Church of Christ”.

Several years before issuing the Synodicon, in the same official publication, in a review of a contemporary book, it is written: “Another flaw in [the book in review] is the ambiguous use of the terms canonization and veneration. Hence, he [the author] more than implies that the philosopher Plato is listed among the Saints of the Church. It is a fact that both Plato and his writings have been condemned by the Church, notably by Saint John Chrysostom and by the Synodicon of Orthodoxy” (True Vine 1 (1989) 82).

More recent, in another book-review in the same periodical it is also written:

“He [the author of the book] does not name them openly Fathers but calls them “writers and teachers of the Church”; and in order to belittle and denigrate their interpretations, he holds up as examples interpreters outside of the Church or condemned by it (Plato, Philo, and Origen).”  (True Vine 43-44 (2009) 42).

Finally, to make the long story short, in the book on St Gregory Palamas, The Triads Classics of Western Spirituality, 1982, 14, we read:

“It is not astonishing, therefore, to find out that every year, on the first Sunday of Lent—also known as the "Sunday of Orthodoxy"—all Byzantine Orthodox churches resounded with formal and repeated anathemas against "those who follow the foolish opinions of the Hellenic disciplines" and particularly against those "who considered the ideas of Plato as truly existing" or believe (with Aristotle) in the eternity of matter. These anathemas were first issued in the eleventh century on the occasion of the condemnation of the philosopher John Italos, but their inclusion in the liturgical Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy gave them permanent significance”.


That’s all about Plato for now. Please, amend yourself or the …Synodicon!

(Next installment: ‘Tailoring’ achievements – another cut by ‘scissor’.)
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

Diakrisis Dogmaton
This post was updated on .
The distinction that the Orthodox synods and the Synodicon of Orthodoxy make between condemned ideas and condemned persons should not be difficult to understand. Sometimes the ideas are condemned and sometimes both the ideas and the man himself are condemned.

In general, the entire spirit of the Synodicon is to condemn self-proclaimed Orthodox Christians who “strive … wickedly to introduce into the Church of Christ the Platonic ideas and … other Greek myths.” It is consistent with the spirit of the teaching attributed to Anastasius that we should not pass final judgment on Plato the man, but leave that up to God, because (as Saint Cyril says) God is able to enlighten some souls posthumously. Other Fathers were stricter, and condemned Plato the man. Saint Justin Martyr praised him.

For some reason, it has been demanded (twice) that I comment on Plato, pederasty, and homosexuality. O.K. Plato said some un-Christian (maybe even depraved) things about _desire_ (which I will not quote), but it should be pointed out that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, in part, affirm some correct moral standards (at least according to the interpretation of some conservative and not-so-conservative scholars). I will limit my answer to these correct teachings that these ancient philosophers may have had. John M. Finnis (Oxford University, Notre Dame University) writes: “Socrates, Plato and Aristotle regarded homosexual _conduct_ as intrinsically shameful, immoral, and indeed depraved or depraving.… all three rejected the linchpin of modern ‘gay’ ideology and lifestyle” (https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1208&context=law_faculty_scholarship). Christian teaching is stricter and condemns both sinful acts and sinful lust. The New Testament word “arsenokoitai” is an absolutely clear word that means “men who go to bed [sexuality] with a man/men.” Saint Paul (Romans 1:26–27) also condemns actions that are “contrary to nature” (τὴν παρὰ φύσιν) as well as “lust/desire” (τῇ ὀρέξει) and “passions of dishonor” (πάθη ἀτιμίας). All Orthodox Christians condemn pederasty, homosexual actions, and homosexual lust as sin. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle may have been moving depraved Greek thought away from some of its depravity and towards a better (more Christian-like) view. We should all accept the patristic statements condemning Plato and the ones praising him. His record was mixed, but he might have been moving in a good direction.

When it comes to Plato, the balanced teaching of the Church includes the following: (1) All Orthodox condemn certain Platonic ideas. (2) Some saints praised Plato the man and some saints condemned Plato the man. (3) The Synodicon of Orthodoxy condemns certain Platonic ideas. (4) The Synodicon of Orthodoxy condemns certain men who claimed to be Christian but who infiltrated Platonic-derived heresies into their allegedly “Christian” teaching. Both the ideas and the men themselves are condemned. (5) The Synodicon of Orthodoxy does not anathematize Plato as a man, by name, as it does anathematize several specific men as men, by name. (6) Despite Origen’s (Platonic) heresies, Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian compiled an anthology of his Orthodox writings called the Philocalia. (6) Despite Evagrius’s (Platonic) heresies, some of his Orthodox writings were included by Saint Macarius of Corinth and Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain in the Philokalia of 1782.
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

bas-f
(We understand why children are afraid of darkness ... but why are men afraid of light? – Plato)

To Diakrisis Dogmaton: Sir, I already told you: we cannot proceed with our ‘dialogue’ if you ignore what I’m saying and switch to other things or interpretations. I asked you to cover every point if you want to return to our dialogue. You just ignore that and focus on other things, again and again. For example, do you recognize that the ‘Passages of the Fathers’ (the paper you suggested) is wrong about the Rich man and poor Lazarus? If you don’t recognize it, then you must present testimonies of the Fathers that support your bishops who composed that paper – not just keep silent!

Do you think that the Fathers I quoted (I am forced to put as a reminder their names here for a third time!) are wrong?! Your bishops, in their paper (pp. 20-22), ignore the actual ‘passages of the Fathers’ they claim in the title they provide, and in their place they mention …none of the Fathers. I presented you with a plethora of Saints that say that there was no profit, no change to the Rich man after his soul departed from the body. Ignoring the position of the Church, your bishops believe, instead, that there is a change. Not only that, but they award themselves for their wrong position, saying that this [theirs] is a ‘good point’!

Here are the names of the Church Fathers – tell them they are wrong!

Athanasius the Great / Maximus the Confessor / Cyril of Alexandria / Romanos Melodist / Theophylactos / Isidore of Pelusium / Ephraim the Syrian / Gregory the Great / Gregory Palamas / Gregory of Nyssa / Gregory the Theologian / Basil the Great / Ambrose of Milan / Epiphanius of Cyprus / Anastasios of Sinai, and par excellence, Saint John Chrysostom.

Some more and specific references on the Rich man and poor Lazarus are provided in this paper (pp. 14-19) addressed to Metropolitan Ephraim by his clergy (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/orthodoxinfo/conversations/messages/837?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=ma ***click on Your-eminence PDF***). I hope, finally, it will be understood that dreams and stories or poor patristic references or interpretations are not the best way to meet the Truth of our Saviour.

Have a good reading,
Best,
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

Diakrisis Dogmaton
In reply to this post by bas-f
THE SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY: GOD’S MERCY ON A FORMER ICONOCLAST
Greek editions (and one English translation) of the Lenten Triodion have an instructive text on an iconoclast emperor, Theophilus (reigned October 2, 829–January 20, 842). He had been a violent persecutor of the Orthodox icon-venerators within the empire, he repented of iconoclasm on his deathbed, and, this text assures us, he was given God’s mercy on account of the prayers offered for his soul. It was his wife, Theodora, who had persuaded him to repent on his deathbed and he died after having venerated an icon in an Orthodox manner. Theodora asked the clergy and people to pray for the forgiveness of her husband. “Thus [Saint] Methodius [the Patriarch] gathered the people and the clergy, and they made a vigil for Theophilus, something that was continued during the whole first week of the Fast. In a dream, Christ told Theodora, “know then that because of your tears and your faith, and, moreover, because of the prayers of my servants and my priests, I bestow forgiveness to Theophilus your husband.” Saint Methodius also had a dream in which an angel said: “Your prayer has been received and Theophilus has been forgiven.” God also confirmed the authenticity of the dream. When Saint Methodius checked a list of names of iconoclasts who would be proclaimed as anathema, he “took the paper from the altar, unfolded it, and — O judgment of God! — the name of Theophilus had been deleted from the list.” The iconoclast emperors were all anathematized, but Theophilus, because of his last-second repentance and due to the prayers of the faithful, was forgiven his great sin against the Holy Faith. This account in the Triodion for the Sunday of Orthodoxy demonstrates (as if we need demonstration) that God is free to forgive a great sinner at the last moment, and it also demonstrates the power of pious prayer by the faithful on earth for the souls of the dead.

For English, see Dimitri Katsadas, trans., Triodion: The Compunctious Book of Lent: All Services of the Great Lent and Holy Week in Full Text (The Service Books of the Orthodox Church, under the supervision of Archimandrite Athanasios Anthidis, edited by the Oecumenical Patriarchate, Holy Archdiocese of Southeast Asia and New Zealand, Exarchate of India; Athens, 1990), 168–169. For the Greek text, see virtually any Greek-language, Orthodox edition of the Lenten Triodion, such as Τριῴδιον κατανυκτικόν, 4th edition (Venice: Φοίνιξ, 1876), 126–128, https://books.google.com/books?id=kWcZAAAAYAAJ; and Τριῴδιον κατανυκτικόν (Athens: Ἀποστολικὴ Διακονία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τῆς Ἑλλάδος, 1994), 310–313.
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

bas-f
That’s quite interesting. Diakrisis Dogmaton writes:

“[Theophilus] repented of iconoclasm on his deathbed, and, this text assures us, he was given God’s mercy on account of the prayers offered for his soul. It was his wife, Theodora, who had persuaded him to repent on his deathbed and he died after having venerated an icon in an Orthodox manner…  Theophilus, because of his last-second repentance and due to the prayers of the faithful, was forgiven his great sin against the Holy Faith.”

Theophilus repented at his last hour and, like the Thief on the Cross, he was saved. He was accompanied with the prayers of the faithful (which help and work as memorial services and, certainly, not as a sort of Purgatory). He repented BEFORE DEATH.

So, we come to the same conclusion! There is no repentance after death. This is a firm teaching of the Church. The opposite is called by the Fathers a heresy, as St Modestus of Jerusalem says. Also, according to St Philastrius, Bishop of Brescia (whom the holy Church celebrates on July 18):

“There are heretics who say that the Lord descended into hell (infernum), and even there announced to all that they could be saved after death, confessing there. But this is contrary to what the prophet David said, "In hell who will confess you?’” (Div. haer. lib. 125).

Finally, it seems we agree! How can we do otherwise since the Church Fathers (and not just stories or dreams which often are confusing and a quick sand) unanimously say that there is no repentance after separation of the soul from the body.

Just for the record I am putting (once more) down here for our readers the Fathers that quite clearly transferred to us this doctrine:

Athanasius the Great / Maximus the Confessor / Cyril of Alexandria / Romanos Melodist / Theophylactos / Isidore of Pelusium / Ephraim the Syrian / Gregory the Great / Gregory Palamas / Gregory of Nyssa / Gregory the Theologian / Basil the Great / Ambrose of Milan / Epiphanius of Cyprus / Anastasios of Sinai, and par excellence, Saint John Chrysostom.

“This is the Faith of the Apostles, this is the Faith of the Fathers, this is the Faith of the Orthodox, this Faith hath established the world” (Synodicon).
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

Diakrisis Dogmaton
Dear bas-f:

We agree on much.

The text in the Greek Lenten Triodion for the first Sunday of the Fast states that the violent iconoclast persecutor, Emperor Theophilus, repented on the very last day of his life and he venerated an icon. Then his pious wife, the patriarch, and much of the city prayed that the deceased persecutor receive God's forgiveness, which he did, as was attested by miracles. This relates to what I wrote earlier about "posthumous forgiveness" (but not posthumous repentance) based on the state that one entered Hades. If one enters Hades without knowledge of the Gospel, but also without outrageous and unrepentant idolatry, God may choose to forgive him, or, in the case of the iconoclast, to forgive posthumously based on a last minute repentance on earth (repentance that he had no time to act upon other than one kiss to one icon, that is, he did not "make amends" for all of the violence he had perpetrated) --- and, as the text states, God can forgive also because of the prayers of the faithful on earth. So, once again, I am not defending "posthumous repentance," but I certainly am defending God's freedom to give posthumous enlightenment and posthumous salvation to some souls who entered Hades without outrageous idolatry that would totally blind them to Christ's enlightenment (as Saint Cyril wrote in the quotations I provided earlier). It is texts like this (The Triodion's and Saint Cyril's) that I was defending.

I also agree with you that the Synodicon issues a general anathema against Greek pagan doctrines and their advocates. However, the Syndicon anathematizes by name only self-claimed Christians who try to introduce paganism or other heresy into the Church. "Anathema" can also mean "hand over to God for final judgment." It would be a misreading of the Synodicon, I believe, to conclude that it forbids God to forgive any and all pagans who never heard the Gospel. God is free to forgive based on a person's earthly life. A new English translation of Saint Maximus's Answers to Thalassius will come out in a couple of months. I do not expect that it will support your claim about the quotation being mistranslated or taken out of context. I believe that it will be consistent with the many patristic quotations already provided that point to God being free to enlighten and/or forgive after death, based on a person's earthly life. The characterization of "posthumous repentance" has always been a mischaracterization of (even a slander against) what had been written.
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

bas-f
It turns out that there are not many common points in this conversation, so I’m better concluding with this last posting. In two parts.

                                                                         A
Mentioned earlier about scissoring St Maximus the Confessor, it is rather obvious for any reader to understand that one doesn’t have to rely upon translations into other languages if the original is clear enough. What St Maximus says does not require any special knowledge. The saint says: “the dead are judged in this age while in flesh” («ἐν τῶ αἰῶνι τούτῳ νεκροί σαρκί κρίνονται»).

                                                                         B
Let me point out another instance of distorting the teaching of the Fathers—by cutting out an important portion of their writings.

In his article HERALDS OF GOD’S MERCY, Metropolitan Ephraim quotes the following text from St John Chrysostom:

“Wherefore the devil sets everything in motion in order to root in us the reasoning which comes of despair: for he knows that if we repent even a little we shall not do this without some reward. But just as he who gives a cup of cold water has his recompense reserved for him so also the man who has repented of the evils which he has done ― even if he cannot exhibit the repentance which his offences deserve ― will have a commensurate reward. For not a single item of good, however small it may be, will be overlooked by the righteous Judge. For if He makes such an exact scrutiny of our sins, as to require punishment for both our words and thoughts, much more will our good deeds, whether they be great or small, be reckoned to our credit at that day”  (Letter One to the Fallen Theodore, 9).

St John speaks for this present life, not after death. In the section immediately preceding the above text (that was cut by the editors), the saint says clearly: “As long as we are in this world, even if we commit countless sins it is possible to wash them all away by manifesting repentance for our offences: but when once we have departed to the other world, even if we display the most earnest repentance it will be of no avail… For only when we are in Hades should we abandon the hope derived from repentance: for there only is this remedy weak and unprofitable: but while we are here even if it is applied in old age itself it exhibits much strength. Wherefore the devil sets everything in motion in order” (here follows the article’s portion mentioned above).

The article HERALDS OF GOD’S MERCY, in order to support its false claim that there is conversion and change after death, has cut crucial parts from St Maximus and St Chrysostom. Very smart indeed! The saints, willingly or unwillingly, they come to your aid!

That was not the only time St John Chrysostom has been scissored by M.E.

Here is another example.

In his Encyclical on Holy Lent of a previous year (protocol # 2901) he writes:

<< In his Homily on Galatians 6:9-10, Saint John Chrysostom tells us also the following: Lest anyone should suppose that their teachers were to be cared for and supported, but that others might be neglected, he [Saint Paul] makes his discourse general, and opens the door of this charitable zeal to all; nay, he carries it to such a height, as to command us to show mercy both to Jews and Greeks [i.e., pagans], in the proper gradation indeed, but still to show mercy………. [we’ll come here in a moment, to explain these dots]
Therefore he says, "as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men," hereby especially also setting the faithful free from the narrow-mindedness of the Jews. For the whole of the benevolence of the Jews was confined to their own race, but the rule of life which Grace gives invites both land and sea to the board of charity, only it shows a greater care for its own household. >>

Well, there is a part of the quote that is missing; it was cut and for a purpose. Here below is the full quote of St Chrysostom, with the missing text included, in bold:

“Lest any one should suppose that their Teachers were to be cared for and supported, but that others might be neglected, he makes his discourse general, and opens the door of this charitable zeal to all; nay, he carries it to such a height, as to command us to show mercy both to Jews and Greeks, in the proper gradation indeed, but still to show mercy... And so does the rich man who neglected Lazarus for he, being destitute of this succor, although he wept and made many entreaties, won no compassion from the Patriarch, or anyone else, but continued destitute of all forgiveness, and tormented with perpetual fire.  Therefore he says, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, hereby especially also setting them free from the narrow-mindedness of the Jews. For the whole of their benevolence was confined to their own race, but the rule of life which Grace gives invites both land and sea to the board of charity, only it shows a greater care for its own household.”    (http://newadvent.org/fathers/23106.htm)

As I mentioned earlier to Diakrisis Dogmaton the consensus of the Fathers of the Church (with not a single exception, to my knowledge) agree with St John Chrysostom. Metropolitan Ephraim I guess does not agree; thus the need of a ‘scissor’.

Nevertheless, M.E. assures us that he follows the Fathers!:

We follow in the footsteps of the Holy Fathers… The Church Fathers have bequeathed us many wonderful lessons concerning the Orthodox Christian Faith and its application in a variety of life's circumstances. Are we willing to listen to them?” (in his article titled ‘WHAT IF’).

One of M.E.’s priests reminds us how M.E. listens to the Fathers. He had stated that M.E.’s statements were based on quotations which were “truncated,” or taken out of context. And he quoted an example (too much to mention here) from the very saint that M.E. bears his name: Ephraim the Syrian. M.E. uses St Ephraim’s “Hymns of Paradise”, jumping from one stanza to another, trespassing stanzas that are clearly against his “new theology” (as the matushka or another priest of him wrote).

Enough said, those familiar with the whole issue and its tragic side-effects in the parishes of HOCNA, will understand. Building upon distortions of the Fathers, or upon false and peculiar stories and upon some rare exceptions in the church writings, what else one can expect?
Thanks to Diakrisis Dogmaton for answering my initial question to V.Moss. With his answer he started our dialogue and it seemed to me as though he was eager to continue the chat. Right or wrong, I considered his intervention as a challenge to me, and I felt I was forced to speak openly. However, by not responding to my basic questions mentioned earlier in these postings I have decided that it is not a good idea to dedicate more of my time to this dialogue. There are many things to be said, but this dialogue is not as it ought to be. Seeing his bishops distorting the faith of the Holy Fathers and, instead of censuring, promoting their writings –says much to me.

St Photius the Great, speaking of similar cases, says:

“They call them fathers—indeed, they do—not to attribute the honor of fathers to them, but to discover how they might become parricides” (Mystagogy, 69, translated by Holy Transfiguration Monastery).

St John Chrysostom, reminds us that distortion was a quite old ‘hobby’:

“Such is the devil’s malice, to introduce harmful doctrines by addition or subtraction or distortion or alteration of the contents… What is the implication of this for the subject in hand? That one should not carelessly cite the verses of Scripture, removing them from their context, separating them from related material, isolating the words from the assistance given by what follows and what precedes so as to indulge rashly in slander and abuse” (Homiliam In illud: Domine, non est in homine, Migne PG 56, 158).

Adios.
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

Diakrisis Dogmaton
                                                 A RECAP OF MAIN POINTS


Bas-f did not disprove any of my main theological points or quotations. He (at least partially) and/or his evidence agreed with several of my main points and evidence.


1. GOD’S ENERGIES ARE GOD HIMSELF


SERGIUS’S CONDEMNATION OF PALAMAS AND MONOTHEISM. It is simply historical fact that (1) Sergius Stragorodskii condemned Saint Gregory Palamas’s teaching — and he condemned monotheism itself — in 1912; and that (2) some individuals in 2012 said we should endorse this “without reservation.” The theological opinion letter written by Sergius Stragorodskii on May 16/29, 1913, and published two days later (falsely as a “synodal” opinion), did, strictly speaking, fall under the condemnations or anathemas of the Council of Constantinople of 1351 and the Synodicon of Orthodoxy. Other bishops on the seven-person synod did not agree with the letter, so it was not really “synodal.” Orthodoxy and the Synodicon teach that God’s energies are uncreated, eternal, supremely divine, inseparable from the divine essence, Divinity/Deity/Godhood, God, God Himself. Sergius taught heretically that God’s energies are “merely divinity, not God, especially not ‘God Himself.’” Even worse, he said that God’s energies were not “divinity” in the normal sense, but only in an abnormal (!) sense used by Gregory Palamas! Sergius condemned Himself by saying the opposite of the Orthodox consensus. If you want to believe in some “divinity that is not God,” you are free to do so, but that is not Orthodoxy, not Christianity, not monotheism.



2. CHRIST ENLIGHTENED SOME SOULS IN HADES


POSTHUMOUS ENLIGHTENMENT, NOT POSTHUMOUS REPENTANCE. The characterization of “posthumous repentance” has always been a slander against what had been written about posthumous enlightenment and conversion. I am glad that Bas-f now, finally, refers correctly to posthumous “conversion” to the gospel. Saint Cyril of Alexandria absolutely, positively refers to posthumous conversion to the gospel — as does First Peter. The full quotation in three languages from Saint Maximus the Confessor is consistent with the many patristic quotations already provided (some by Bas-f himself) that point to God being free to enlighten and/or forgive after death, based on a person’s earthly life. The text in the Greek Lenten Triodion for the first Sunday of the Fast states that the violent iconoclast persecutor, Emperor Theophilus, repented on the very last day of his life and he venerated an icon. Then his pious wife, the patriarch, and much of the city prayed that the deceased persecutor receive God’s forgiveness, which he did, as was attested by miracles. This relates to what I wrote about “posthumous forgiveness” (but _not_ posthumous repentance) based on the state that one entered Hades. If one enters Hades without knowledge of the Gospel, but also without outrageous and unrepentant idolatry, God may choose to forgive him, or, in the case of the iconoclast, to forgive posthumously based on a last minute repentance on earth (repentance that he had no time to act upon other than one kiss to one icon, that is, he did not “make amends” for all of the violence he had perpetrated) — and, as the text states, God can forgive also because of the prayers of the faithful on earth. So, once again, I am not defending “posthumous repentance,” but I certainly am defending God’s freedom to give posthumous enlightenment and posthumous salvation to some souls who entered Hades without outrageous idolatry that would totally blind them to Christ’s enlightenment (as Saint Cyril wrote). (I leave the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus to a later day.)


ANASTASIUS, PLATO, AND PLATONISTS. A text that has been attributed in the Church to Saint Anastasius of Sinai (whether from him or another Anastasius) indicated that those who were enlightened posthumously included the philosopher Plato. This view on Plato is not a dogma of the Church, but it is present in ecclesiastical manuscripts. All Orthodox agree that those who claimed to be Orthodox but who taught Platonic-inspired heresies in place of Orthodoxy have been anathematized (Origen, Didymus, Evagrius, etc.). The idea of universal salvation is also anathematized by all Orthodox Christians. Nevertheless, the fact that some (including one Anastasius) believed that Plato came to faith in Christ (and obtained mercy, to some degree) is one more piece among countless pieces of patristic evidence that show that many Holy Fathers teach Christ enlightened some souls in Hades. To refer to a supposed “heresy of posthumous enlightenment” (as a few individuals did in 2011) is to attack a teaching that is stated by several Holy Fathers. Posthumous enlightenment of some souls in Hades is a patristic teaching.


CONDEMNATION OF NAMED PERSONS VERSUS CONDEMNATION OF FALSE IDEAS. The distinction that the Orthodox synods and the Synodicon of Orthodoxy make between condemned ideas and condemned (named) persons should not be difficult to understand. Sometimes the ideas are condemned and sometimes both the ideas and the man himself are condemned. The Synodicon issues a general anathema against Greek pagan doctrines and their advocates. (One meaning of “anathema” is not to “pass judgment on” but to “give over to God to judge.”) Either way, the Syndicon anathematizes by name only self-claimed Christians who try to introduce paganism or other heresy into the Church. It would be a gross misreading of the Synodicon to conclude that it forbids God to forgive any and all pagans who never heard the Gospel. God is free to forgive based on a person’s earthly life. The Synodicon of Orthodoxy anathematizes by name Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus (“Christian” Platonists). The Synodicon does not anathematize Plato by name. Some saints said that Plato taught some Christians things. Some saints said that Plato taught some demonic things. Both are correct. In general, the entire spirit of the Synodicon is to condemn self-proclaimed Orthodox Christians who “strive … wickedly to introduce into the Church of Christ the Platonic ideas and … other Greek myths.” It is consistent with the spirit of the teaching attributed to Anastasius that we should not pass final judgment on Plato the man, but leave that up to God, because (as Saint Cyril says) God is able to enlighten some souls posthumously. Other Fathers were stricter, and condemned Plato the man. Saint Justin Martyr praised him highly.


PLATO AND SIN. Plato said some un-Christian (maybe even depraved) things about _desire_ (which I will not quote), but it should be pointed out that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, in part, affirm some correct moral standards (at least according to the interpretation of some conservative and not-so-conservative scholars). I will limit my answer to some correct teachings that these ancient philosophers may have had. John M. Finnis (Oxford University, Notre Dame University) writes: “Socrates, Plato and Aristotle regarded homosexual _conduct_ as intrinsically shameful, immoral, and indeed depraved or depraving.… all three rejected the linchpin of modern ‘gay’ ideology and lifestyle” (https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1208&context=law_faculty_scholarship). Christian teaching is stricter and condemns both sinful acts and sinful lust. The New Testament word “arsenokoitai” is an absolutely clear word that means “men who go to bed [sexuality] with a man/men.” Saint Paul (Romans 1:26–27) also condemns actions that are “contrary to nature” (τὴν παρὰ φύσιν) as well as “lust/desire” (τῇ ὀρέξει) and “passions of dishonor” (πάθη ἀτιμίας). All Orthodox Christians condemn pederasty, homosexual actions, and homosexual lust as sin. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle may have been moving depraved Greek thought away from some of its depravity and towards a better (more Christian-like) view. We should all accept the patristic statements condemning Plato and the ones praising him. His record was mixed, but he might have been moving in a good direction.


PLATO AND CHURCH FATHERS. When it comes to Plato, the balanced teaching of the Church includes the following: (1) All Orthodox condemn certain Platonic ideas. (2) Some saints praised Plato the man and some saints condemned Plato the man. (3) The Synodicon of Orthodoxy condemns certain Platonic ideas. (4) The Synodicon of Orthodoxy condemns certain men who claimed to be Christian but who infiltrated Platonic-derived heresies into their allegedly “Christian” teaching. Both the ideas and the men themselves are condemned. (5) The Synodicon of Orthodoxy does not anathematize Plato as a man, by name, as it does anathematize several specific men as men, by name. (6) Despite Origen’s (Platonic) heresies, Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian compiled an anthology of his Orthodox writings called the Philocalia. (6) Despite Evagrius’s (Platonic) heresies, some of his Orthodox writings were included by Saint Macarius of Corinth and Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain in the Philokalia of 1782. We should follow the Holy Fathers in condemning certain Platonic teachings and also in appreciating certain Platonic tendencies, especially those that helped lead depraved Greek culture away from the hedonistic and false-glory-seeking values of Homer and helped lead that same culture towards an interest in truth and asceticism that prepared the way for many Greeks to accept the one true God of Israel and the Messiah, the God-Man Christ. If one simply looks at some of the subtitles of the Platonic dialogues — On Holiness, On the Soul, On Wisdom, On Knowledge, On Virtue, On the Nature of Man, On Moderation, and On Friendship — one can see an interest in spiritual topics that is worlds apart from the primitive values of Homer. Just as Plato played a role in preparing Saint Justin the Philosopher and Martyr to accept the unique and absolute truth of Christianity, so also Plato played such a role in Greek culture more widely.


ALL LIBERATED, NOT ALL SAVED. As Bas-f eventually conceded, there is no ultimate contradiction between patristic statements that say “all” are liberated from the power of death and patristic statements that say “some” are saved. God destroys the power of Hades for “all,” but He does not destroy free will, and only “some” souls choose the gospel. That is why the first quotation from Saint Cyril is so important. The pagan spirits who accepted Christ’s enlightenment in Hades did so because they had not blinded themselves with outrageous idolatry, outrageous lust, and other such grievous sins during their earthy lives, as Saint Cyril says clearly. The soul’s capacity in Hades to perceive and accept Christ’s enlightenment is still based on one’s earthly life, as Saint Cyril indicates. That is why it must be repeated that it is inaccurate to mischaracterize this patristic doctrine as “repentance in Hades.” It is enlightenment by Christ’s truth and acceptance of, and conversion to, that truth. It is not “repentance” in the sense of a fundamental change in a soul’s character, from fundamentally evil to fundamentally good. It is also misleading to call this traditional patristic doctrine “a second chance.” The acceptance (or non-acceptance) of Christ’s enlightenment in Hades is tied to the one “chance” a soul had in his earthly life to avoid unrepentant practice of the most grievous sins on earth, as Saint Cyril also makes clear. What Christ adds in Hades is a preaching of the truth, the truth which the soul may never have heard on earth: souls are given one chance to accept the gospel, whether on earth or in Hades.


POSTHUMOUS ENLIGHTENMENT OF SOME SOULS. Many passages from the saints teach the Orthodox doctrine of posthumous enlightenment of some souls. Some people before the Incarnation had some sense of the coming salvation from the Messiah/Christ and some even had some inkling of the Trinity. But the worship of the Trinity was made manifest at the Baptism/Epiphany/Theophany of Christ and thereafter. So, in this sense, everyone from pre-Incarnation times who is saved receives posthumous enlightenment from Christ (about Christ, the Trinity, the Gospel of salvation).


FIRST PETER AND CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The First Letter of Saint Peter the Apostle, as interpreted by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Saint Maximus the Confessor, and others, indicates that those who were “disobedient” at the time of Noah, and were “judged in the flesh” on earth, had the Gospel of salvation preached to them by Christ while they were spirits in Hades. Some were able to accept the Gospel of salvation because they had not blinded themselves with outrageous idolatry and outrageous lusts in their earthly lives. Some were not capable of accepting because of such idolatry and lusts. Since we all agree that some “certainly recognized him,” then logically, we have to say that some had the “chance” to recognize him. Logically, if a person does in fact recognize Christ, then we can say that that person was given a “chance” to recognize Him. When Saint Cyril says ἀνακαλύφθητε, the scholarly translation “be enlightened” is correct because the alternative definition that was offered by Bas-f (“come out in[to] the light”) means substantially the same thing in context: the spirits came out of the darkness of death and into the light of Christ and His Gospel of salvation and were enlightened posthumously while spirits in Hades. Several ancient Orthodox ecclesiastical texts mention a sinner or a heretic or a persecutor who, nonetheless, did receive mercy or salvation after the person died.


A WEALTH OF PATRISTIC TESTIMONY. Please read the Scriptural, patristic, and liturgical texts in “Passages from the Church Fathers and Other Orthodox Christian Sources Concerning Our Saviour’s Descent into Hades,” https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzJKrDVZPwcvWlRBRl9IcnJSdVRYOFhzZnN5UTlRYzRNRWln/; Ioannes N. Karmires, Ἡ εἰς ᾍδου κάθοδος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐξ ἐπόψεως Ὀρθοδόξου (Athens, 1939); and Hilarion Alfeyev, Христос — Победитель ада: Тема сошествия во ад в восточно-христианской традиции ([2001]; 2nd ed.; Saint Petersburg: Алетейя, 2005).
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: St Augustine & Fr Panteleimon

bas-f
PS
Dear D.D., I feel that you write all sorts of things (a lot of things) out of context in your postings in order to challenge me to enter into an unending cyber-dialogue. I will not consent. Is this your purpose indeed, to keep us talking throughout a whole year? This is not the orthodox way after all. The Fathers say, “if somebody asks you to teach him, respond, but you expose yourself to dangers of death”. On the other hand, if somebody does NOT ask you - I don’t know what happens in that case. The divine words spoken are analogous to Eucharist (“give not that which is holy unto the dogs”), they shouldn’t dispense without reason (St Maximus of Turin calls them “sacrament of the heavenly words”, Serm. 42:1). Silence is “more admirable and more glorious than theology” (Abba Barsanuphius, 36).

I know for sure I didn’t ask you for all this stuff you graciously offer. For the things I indeed asked you, however, no evidence of response. In your last posting you say (about Lazarus) that you’ll “respond later” (of course; it is hard to acknowledge that your views oppose the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, right?). Or my previous posting about “scissoring” by your bishops, about which you kept total silence! scissoring, which is worse than a heresy, since sometimes one may teach a heresy by ignorance and be innocent, while cutting and paste and changing the teaching of the Fathers holding a ‘scissor’, reveals his real motives; as in the Minutes of the 6th Ecum. Council is said: “it is not appropriate for orthodox to repudiate sayings of the holy fathers; rather this is a characteristic of the heretics”! (in the eighth Act of this Council, the Fathers exposed one heresiarch Macarius for taking out portions of patristic texts, and they cited specific writings as examples to show how he manufactured his ‘articles’ – which he was later forced to recognize, he couldn’t …hide).

Again, you extend your postings by filling whole paragraphs, or starting issues I’ve never asked, or repeating the same things again and again (twice or even thrice!). I told you “that’s it” and you keep going! Sorry, but I am too busy to come through and read all of them and, certainly, I am not interested to; I didn’t ask and I don’t care about your views or theology!

If you’re looking for opportunities to propagandize your ideas (I’ve seen your name appearing and commenting in other places too), there are plenty out there in cyberspace and it’s free; but I haven’t asked you myself, do you understand that, or you are going to come back again?

This not orthodox behavior. You entered the ring without being invited. My initial query was for the author of the article, Vlad. Moss. You jumped in before the man, and started lecturing your (obsessive perhaps) ideas. Thanks for your eagerness but that’s enough. Could you, please, leave us alone! (and I don’t care if you don’t want to respond to MY questions).

Let us put in practice the words of theology, my dear friend in Christ; let us keep quiet in our minds. Let us celebrate these coming divine days and holy Pascha, with the beautiful, ethereal hymnography and services and most of all, by participating in the Body and Blood of our Saviour; without this living way, our theology becomes “dark words”, as the Ladder notes (27:28). Let the feathers of intellectual theology travel afar - with the wind - and say to them goodbye.