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To pray or not to pray: Dare we hope for the salvation of all?


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#141 Georgianna

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:46 AM

There is a beautiful balance to be found between the Saturday of Souls and the Sunday of the Last Judgment. In the Synaxarion for the Sunday of the Last Judgment, it states:

The most-godly Fathers placed the present commemoration of the Second Coming of Christ after the two parables of the preceding Sundays so that no one, having learned of God's love for mankind, might lead of life of negligence, saying to himself, "God loves mankind, and when I finally cease sinning, everything will go easily."

Hence they appointed the remembrance of that fearful day in order to frighten the negligent with the thought of death and the anticipation of the future torments and rouse them to the acquisition of virtue so that they will not merely trust in God's love for man but also bear in mind that He is a just Judge who rewards everyone according to his deeds.


As Hieromonk Benedict points out, when St John Chrysostom was exclusive addressing the departed souls of the "heavily sinful", his previously "strict" teachings became "consoling." Do not the Church Fathers advise us to be very strict on ourselves (under the guidance of our spiritual father) while, at the same time, looking towards other souls with compassion and love?

In Our Orthodox Christian Faith, Fr. Athanasios Frangopoulos explains:

Since in Hades "there is no repentance", and the righteous' condition remains stationary in its virtue and the unrighteous' condition remains the same in its evil and condemnation, then why do we perform Memorial Services for the dead and ask God to forgive the departed and to number them amongst the righteous? Why do we need Memorial Services? Memorial Services are necessary and are performed both for the benefit of the living as well as for the benefit of the departed. ... the Memorial Services are performed primarily for the departed. And indeed, for those departed who repented - possibly even at the hour of their death - but were not able to confirm and manifest this repentance through active penitence and through good works. It is also true, of course, that even for those who died in iniquity and sin we hold Memorial Services and offer up prayers to God on their behalf. And we do this, not because we believe that by the Memorial Service they suddenly move out of Hell and enter into Paradise. No we do not believe such a thing. We do believe, however, that even the worse of sinners can repent at the last moment, being goaded and moved by God's grace to repentance and the seeking of God's mercy and be saved. Did this not happen in the case of the Good Thief who was crucified with Jesus? At first he, too, blasphemed the Crucified Christ, as did the other thief. But in a moment he repents, utters the words "Lord, be mindful of me" and inherits Paradise. And who can know how many sinful souls, guilty souls, the souls of theives and robbers, repented at the last moment and asked God's mercy? But because this is unknown to us, for this reason we perform Memorial Services for all the departed and ask God to show compassion on them.


Fr. Athanasios earlier clarified that "sinful man is saved by Christ's sacrifice while his good works - his and not another's - are the manifestation and the fruit of his faith in Christ and of his active love." This may be one root from which almsgiving on behalf to the departed may blossom. The Gospel reading for the Sunday of the Last Judgment is Matthew 25:31-46. If there is someone in need - sick, hungry, thirsty - and an offering is given in the name of the departed, it is an act of love for Christ and mystically, in a way only God knows and only God can allow, it may aid that soul "who repented - possibly even at the hour of their death - but were not able to confirm and manifest this repentance through active penitence and through good works."

#142 Owen Jones

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 02:44 PM

I think it requires a fully developed nous in order to really be able to contemplate the beauty of salvation. For most of us, we are commanded to obey and that should be sufficient.

#143 Paul Cowan

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 01:04 AM

I am reading the little pamphlets (tracts) Conciliar Press puts out that visitors can take when they visit our parish. This one is entitiled "What about the Non-Orthodox" by Fr. David Tillman.

On page 7-8 he says "The idea that finally all creatures with free choice (i.e., angels, devils and men) will share in the grace of salvation is called apocatastasis (or universalism). Origen, St. Clement of Alexandria, and St. Gregory of Nyssa held this opinion. Theirs were understandable errors of charity. In 543 the council of Constantinople condemned universalism." [...] In this light, we know that Lucifer will not be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Neither will Arius or the unrepentant heresiarchs. In addition, St. John Chrysostom tells us that the roads of hell are paved with the skulls of erring priests, and those of erring bishops are the lamposts! Jesus warns us that there will be miracle-workers and prophets among those excluded (see Matthew 7:21-23). St. Paul gives us lists of those who will not inherit eternal life (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)."

This is just 2 pages out of the tract

Paul

#144 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 03:18 AM

I am reading the little pamphlets (tracts) Conciliar Press puts out that visitors can take when they visit our parish. This one is entitiled "What about the Non-Orthodox" by Fr. David Tillman.

On page 7-8 he says "The idea that finally all creatures with free choice (i.e., angels, devils and men) will share in the grace of salvation is called apocatastasis (or universalism). Origen, St. Clement of Alexandria, and St. Gregory of Nyssa held this opinion. Theirs were understandable errors of charity. In 543 the council of Constantinople condemned universalism." [...] In this light, we know that Lucifer will not be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Neither will Arius or the unrepentant heresiarchs. In addition, St. John Chrysostom tells us that the roads of hell are paved with the skulls of erring priests, and those of erring bishops are the lamposts! Jesus warns us that there will be miracle-workers and prophets among those excluded (see Matthew 7:21-23). St. Paul gives us lists of those who will not inherit eternal life (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)."

This is just 2 pages out of the tract

Paul


Paul,

How/where can I get a copy of this tract?

#145 Paul Cowan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 04:21 AM

Paul,

How/where can I get a copy of this tract?


www.conciliarpress.com
Conciliar Press Ministries Inc
PO Box 76
Ben Lomond, CA 95005-0076
1/800/967-7377
It says call or write for a free catalog

Paul

#146 Evan

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 04:40 PM

I am reading the little pamphlets (tracts) Conciliar Press puts out that visitors can take when they visit our parish. This one is entitiled "What about the Non-Orthodox" by Fr. David Tillman.

On page 7-8 he says "The idea that finally all creatures with free choice (i.e., angels, devils and men) will share in the grace of salvation is called apocatastasis (or universalism). Origen, St. Clement of Alexandria, and St. Gregory of Nyssa held this opinion. Theirs were understandable errors of charity. In 543 the council of Constantinople condemned universalism." [...] In this light, we know that Lucifer will not be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Neither will Arius or the unrepentant heresiarchs. In addition, St. John Chrysostom tells us that the roads of hell are paved with the skulls of erring priests, and those of erring bishops are the lamposts! Jesus warns us that there will be miracle-workers and prophets among those excluded (see Matthew 7:21-23). St. Paul gives us lists of those who will not inherit eternal life (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)."

This is just 2 pages out of the tract

Paul



I will admit that in my immaturity, I still struggle to see anything compatible with the notion of universal restoration in the hymnography of the Church, the writings of the vast majority of the Fathers, or in Scripture. But I've been given cause to retreat from a hard-line stance on this question by some of the discussion that's transpired early in this thread-- so long as we don't fall into the error of saying that God must save us even if we don't want to be saved, or dare to affirm that "a good God could not condemn anyone to Hell."

I have, for my part, never heard anyone directly state (well, until now) that St. Gregory of Nyssa was in error. And yet, I don't see how any of the salvific work of Christ does a thing for the fallen angels. Tertullian, to my mind, states the case against the restoration of the angels quite well in "On the Flesh of Christ":

"But Christ, they say, bare the nature of an angel. For what reason? The same which induced Him to become man? Christ, then, was actuated by the motive which led Him to take human nature. Man's salvation was the motive, the restoration of that which had perished. Man had perished; his recovery had become necessary. No such cause however,existed for Christ's taking on Him the nature of angels. For although there is assigned to angels also perdition in the fire prepared for the devil and his angels, yet a restoration is never promised to them. No charge about the salvation of angels did Christ ever receive from the Father; and that which the Father neither promised nor commanded, Christ could not have undertaken."

Time would fail to cite all of the Fathers who urged total war against the demonic host and regarded them as utterly lost, to be abhorred and hated with a perfect hatred. Here's hoping for some clarity.

In Christ,
Evan

#147 Darlene Griffith

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 11:25 PM

I will admit that in my immaturity, I still struggle to see anything compatible with the notion of universal restoration in the hymnography of the Church, the writings of the vast majority of the Fathers, or in Scripture. But I've been given cause to retreat from a hard-line stance on this question by some of the discussion that's transpired early in this thread-- so long as we don't fall into the error of saying that God must save us even if we don't want to be saved, or dare to affirm that "a good God could not condemn anyone to Hell."

I have, for my part, never heard anyone directly state (well, until now) that St. Gregory of Nyssa was in error. And yet, I don't see how any of the salvific work of Christ does a thing for the fallen angels. Tertullian, to my mind, states the case against the restoration of the angels quite well in "On the Flesh of Christ":

"But Christ, they say, bare the nature of an angel. For what reason? The same which induced Him to become man? Christ, then, was actuated by the motive which led Him to take human nature. Man's salvation was the motive, the restoration of that which had perished. Man had perished; his recovery had become necessary. No such cause however,existed for Christ's taking on Him the nature of angels. For although there is assigned to angels also perdition in the fire prepared for the devil and his angels, yet a restoration is never promised to them. No charge about the salvation of angels did Christ ever receive from the Father; and that which the Father neither promised nor commanded, Christ could not have undertaken."

Time would fail to cite all of the Fathers who urged total war against the demonic host and regarded them as utterly lost, to be abhorred and hated with a perfect hatred. Here's hoping for some clarity.

In Christ,
Evan


Evan,

I think your statement as regards the Fathers on the demonic host is one of clarity. We do not and should not pray for the demonic host. Our daily struggle against the passions is a war that must be won and a war that is in opposition to the demonic host. They are an enemy we must resist, as Scripture instructs us to do so. Their fate is sealed.

#148 Evan

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 02:00 PM

Darlene,

I suppose that the clarity I'm looking for is specific to St. Gregory. His views concerning the restoration of the demonic host strike me as extremely problematic to say the least-- and yet he is regarded as a pillar of Orthodoxy, whereas Origen is condemned as a heretic (of course, Origen also taught the pre-existence of souls, but it is my understanding that his views concerning the restoration of demons were independently repudiated). I've heard the phrase "pious speculation" used to describe St. Gregory's teachings on the subject. The answer I'd give on the street concerning the fate of the demons (admittedly, this doesn't often come up in casual conversation) would run along the lines of "No way, no how, they're doomed." But how, then, am I to regard St. Gregory?

I would welcome any correction as to what St. Gregory did or did not teach. My characterization of his views is drawn from accounts of his work I've read elsewhere. I've only just started reading his commentary on the "Song of Songs," and he hasn't touched upon the restoration yet. I would also welcome guidance as to separating wheat from chaff, if that must be done.

In Christ,
Evan

#149 April Ibarra

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 03:02 PM

Greetings,

I was a little giddy when I tripped upon this thread, seeing the topic. Reading through all eight pages, I was not disappointed.

I've been poring over the topic of universal salvation for the last year now, and saw the conclusions of the argument expressed best in H.U. von Balthasar's Dare We Hope that All Men be Saved? I've appealed to these sensibilities in several discussion groups, online and off, to find where I stood to write a paper on the subject, and have found that the discussion here has been the most civilized and open to the real charitability of the question.
Some observations in watching the discussion:

Here, as opposed to the Protestant forums, is so much more willing to think through the question to its end. The Protestant forums is reduced to belligerant rants and name-calling, completely missing the points made, because of problems in theology, these I've found to be in the Augustinian-based picture of hell.
(The premise of my class paper was von Balthasar's mapping out of this argument, which begins with the two originators-- Origen on the side of apocatastasis, and Augustine as the creator of the fire and brim stone theology of eternal suffering we know now. )

The eight pages of discussion, here, I think shows that ultimately, in prayer life, we must pray for the salvation of all people, not necessarility by name, but understanding that God alone knows the particularities of our individual circumstances and is not a judge as we know of the human laws, God is graceful, and not bound, as we are, to limitations of sight and circumstance. The way that the minds of all of the thinkers here converged, at least in a practical sense, to consider all possibly worthy, I think, and I think this is where there is an immediate fruit that comes from meditating on the question. The question eventually brings one around to meditate deeply on God's infinite mercy and love, and that we too are to draw from this well.

This leads me into the existential element of this inquiry; does it lead one to be more open to God's love in one self towards others? As much as I'd like to keep this argument primarily in the realm of scholarship, I have to admit it has changed my life in huge ways. I used to be Calvinist, and then I saw questions that arose in my spirit that truly made me doubt my salvation, then others, then my own again. I went back to Augustine, and became overwhelmed with not only fear but restlessness-- I could not sit content in my own salvation while I was certain that I was living far below the bar I should be--I could not do charity work without neglecting my own family is one example. I was probably suffering from scrupulosity(sp?). As a Protestant I lived under these teaching and of Rapture and worked heavily in ministry, and I found myself exhausted. No matter what I did, I could not sufficiently honor the love that God gave to me, I could not work hard enough to show myself worthy of his mercy, and even in my work for him--my love was grossly inadequate to convey his love.
I know this shows all kinds of errors in theology--again I'm speaking of my own struggles... but in entertaining that God might save all (not without some purgation), I saw that my love was unleashed in prayer to be open to God's love. I saw how often I had dismissed people as hellbent or inadequate for salvation....my love was previously inadequate because it didn't show the love of God at all--it showed a salvation by works, that if you did all the right things, God would hopefully pick you at the end to reside with him in heaven. In order to continue my work, I had to presume that I indeed was saved.

I'm not saying that those who believe in the Augustinian hell come from my former mindset--I'm only sharing my own experience. But von Balthasar comes to similar conclusions, and does seem to insinuate that the mind that is preoccupied with a certainty of hell has a much harder time seeing the true power of God's transforming love. He doesn't argue that it doesn't exist or that there is no scriptural case for it, only that the New Testament reveals Christ, and to those who have hope in him the "warnings" are only only that--"warnings" to persevere towards righteousness.

Any thoughts? Insights?

#150 Antonios

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 05:02 AM

Thank you dearly for your post! Truly, the love of God is immeasurable!

#151 April Ibarra

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Posted 27 July 2011 - 12:00 AM

Your welcome, Antonios. I hope that it was a blessing.

#152 IoanC

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 12:04 PM

Personally, I pray for all, but I know that some will reject God, therefore my prayer also. Main thing here is that we are not to speculate on a particular individual's fate (which is between them and God); we are to simply love everybody like God does.

#153 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 04:42 AM

I am spending a late Sunday afternoon browsing the Forum.  It's wet outside and the earthquakes are still scary...

 

"To pray or not to pray: Dare we hope for the salvation of all?"

 

The answer is yes.   Long after the cessation of the controversy over universal salvation, it obviously still reverberated in the soul of Saint Maximos the Confessor who wrote:  "We should pray that apokatastasis is true, but it would be foolish to teach it as doctrine.'






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