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Tertullian says that ONLY Martyrs are in Paradise. Why?


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#1 Jack R.

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 04:15 PM

Tertullian believed that only martyrs go to paradise. All other Christians (the Theotokos being an exception?) have to wait in Hades for the resurrection.


He cites St. Perpetua who, he says, saw ONLY martyrs in Paradise in her vision. He also says that is why in the Book of Revelation, St. John the Evangelist saw ONLY the souls of the martyrs under the Altar and no one else.


Is this part of the reason that he is not considered a saint? Why is he then considered a Church Father?

In "De Paradiso," he is reported to have said, "Yet not all souls enter the ‘lower world.’ There is one exception. The souls of the martyrs pass immediately into Paradise, where they are in the presence of the Lord. ‘For no one, on becoming absent from the body, is at once a dweller in the presence of the Lord, except by the prerogative of martyrdom, whereby (the saint) gets at once a lodging in paradise, not in the “lower world.” How is it, then, that the region of Paradise, which, as revealed to John in the spirit, lay under the altar, displays no other souls as in it besides the souls of the martyrs? How is it that the most heroic martyr, Perpetua, on the day of her passion, saw only her fellow martyrs there, in the revelation which she received of Paradise? ’

He then says, "The sole key to unlock Paradise is your own life’s blood.’


Otherwise, we all live in Hades waiting for the resurrection.




Tertullian also says that those who deny that the faithful wait in Hades are “proud”
and "servants above their Lord", and "disciples above their Master"
since Christ descended into Hades where they are unwilling to go.

The martyrs are the only group whom Tertullian admits to heaven before the general resurrection. He
explains his reasons in this way:

How, indeed, shall the soul mount up to he aven, where Christ is already
sitting at the Father's right hand, when as yet the archangel's trumpet
has not been heard by the command of God, when as yet those whom
the coming of the Lord is to find on the earth, have not been caught up
into the air to meet Him at His coming, in company with the dead in
Christ, who shall be the first to arise? To no one is heaven opened; the
earth is still safe for him, I would not say it is shut against him. When
the world, indeed, shall pass away, then the kingdom of heaven shall be
opened. Shall we then have to sleep high up in the ether, with the boyloving
worthies of Plato; or in the air with Arius; or around the moon
with the Endymions of the Stoics? No, but in Paradise, you tell me,
whither already the patriarchs and prophets have removed from Hades
in the retinue of the Lord's resurrection. How is it, then, that the region
of Paradise, which as revealed to John in the Spirit lay under the altar,
displayed no other souls as in it besides the souls of the martyrs? (Quote found in De Anima)

#2 Jack R.

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 04:16 PM

Doesn't this idea deny Jesus' words to the theif on the Cross, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise" How would one justify Tertullian. Would one render that verse, "Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise"?

What about St. Pauls' teaching that it is far better to depart and be with Christ? Although Tertullian could argue that St. Paul knew he was to be martyred.

#3 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 05:19 PM

This is certainly not what the Church teaches. And we shouldn't expect Tertullian to affirm what the Church teaches, since he was a heretic by the end of his life. The term 'Church Father' seems to be used two ways within Orthodoxy. On the one hand, the Church Fathers are those theologians whose work had a major impact of the formation of Orthodoxy. In that sense, Tertullian is a Church Father, and Origen is as well. On the other hand, the Church Fathers are those authors whose work can benefit a non-theologian lay person today. Their works can be trusted to teach the Orthodox faith. In that sense, Tertullian is certainly not a Church Father.

#4 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 05:31 PM

According to the hymns and iconography of the Church, Hades was destroyed on the first Holy Saturday. How can the saints (broadly defined) who were not martyrs intercede for us from Hades - especially if it was destroyed? Also depends what you mean by 'martyr'; those who accept fatal illness in the right way are martyrs. As Bishop Irenaeos once said to me:

just as in ancient times the wild beasts devoured the flesh of the martyrs in the arenas, so today cancer devours the flesh of those whose martyrdom is similar and so leads to like crowns



#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 06:54 PM

PS Whilst Tertullian's writings are mostly respected, he is said to have had a tendency to Montantism which may account for what has been said here about his beliefs. It is to be noted that he is not a saint.

#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 08:12 PM

Sorry - 'Montanism'!

#7 Steve Roche

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:07 AM

Most of the earlier fathers had their writings altered by gnostics, Jews and heretics to give their opinions the appearance of compliance with a particular error. Apollinaris is credited of altering many writings of the fathers to make them appear in agreement with the Nicene Creed. An example found in Origen demonstrates this, where a single fragment of First Principles stated:

“Let the man who dares to say, 'There was a time when the Son was not', understand that this is what he will be saying, 'Once wisdom did not exist, and the word did not exist, and life did not exist'".

Origen often argued for the eternal relationship of divine persons in the Godhead; but this passage was particularly altered to contend against the Arians at a later date (almost 100 years later). Rufinus, in The Adulteration of the books of Origen, shows multiple authors whose works were tampered with, including Tertullian and Cyprian, to make them say something they did not say, or to make them appear to be in conflict with other authors (in this case, Tertullian appears to be in conflict with Irenaeus).

There was a concerted effort to destroy the infant church by causing confusion and create doubt about teachings and teachers. Practically all early teachings were altered in some way so that we might cast slurs and doubt upon the great men of God. Tertullian is often discredited as previously being a Montanist (or later becoming a Montanist) as an explanation of these contrary teachings. I have yet to see any evidence that this was the case. There is, however, an extraordinary amount of evidence and testimony that Tertullian was deliberately falsified. An awareness of this desecration needs to be observed when arguing doctrine from the earliest fathers. The problem of falsification is mostly overcome by examining the full teachings of an author over many books. If their teachings contradict each other, you can be near certain that this is a result of scribal adulteration.

#8 Olga

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 02:16 AM

Most of the earlier fathers had their writings altered by gnostics, Jews and heretics to give their opinions the appearance of compliance with a particular error. Apollinaris is credited of altering many writings of the fathers to make them appear in agreement with the Nicene Creed. An example found in Origen demonstrates this, where a single fragment of First Principles stated:

“Let the man who dares to say, 'There was a time when the Son was not', understand that this is what he will be saying, 'Once wisdom did not exist, and the word did not exist, and life did not exist'".

Origen often argued for the eternal relationship of divine persons in the Godhead; but this passage was particularly altered to contend against the Arians at a later date (almost 100 years later). Rufinus, in The Adulteration of the books of Origen, shows multiple authors whose works were tampered with, including Tertullian and Cyprian, to make them say something they did not say, or to make them appear to be in conflict with other authors (in this case, Tertullian appears to be in conflict with Irenaeus).

There was a concerted effort to destroy the infant church by causing confusion and create doubt about teachings and teachers. Practically all early teachings were altered in some way so that we might cast slurs and doubt upon the great men of God. Tertullian is often discredited as previously being a Montanist (or later becoming a Montanist) as an explanation of these contrary teachings. I have yet to see any evidence that this was the case. There is, however, an extraordinary amount of evidence and testimony that Tertullian was deliberately falsified. An awareness of this desecration needs to be observed when arguing doctrine from the earliest fathers. The problem of falsification is mostly overcome by examining the full teachings of an author over many books. If their teachings contradict each other, you can be near certain that this is a result of scribal adulteration.


This is not the first time you've alleged that patristic writings have been tampered with. It seems to be the default position you take when matters of Orthodox doctrine are discussed, in your attempts to discredit Orthodoxy. The unmistakeable conclusions that are drawn from such an approach is that the Church cannot be trusted in proclaiming and safeguarding the Truth, that the gates of hades have prevailed against her, which makes a mockery of Christ's own words.

You're entitled to believe as you wish, of course. But, by your argument, you are indeed "causing confusion and creat[ing] doubt about teachings and teachers", and slandering the memory and efforts of a multitude of saints and Fathers, the very people you claim to defend.

#9 Steve Roche

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 02:32 AM

The unmistakeable conclusions that are drawn from such an approach is that the Church cannot be trusted in proclaiming and safeguarding the Truth, that the gates of hades have prevailed against her, which makes a mockery of Christ's own words.


I am sorry you have misunderstood my views and intentions. I do not think or feel as you have alleged. I would imagine the subject of the 'fathers' is new to you if you have only learnt this premise from me for the first time. A good place to start is to examine all of the pseudo documents written in the name of other authors. Pseudepigraphical authors are a large body of the earliest writings. The practice began to be phased out (though not entirely) by the 5th century, which are the fathers (post 5th century) whom you would seem to be most familiar with. Anyway, I am not challenging the authority or trustworthiness of the church in "safeguarding the truth"; that is entirely your own adaptation.

#10 Olga

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 02:56 AM

Pseudepigraphical authors are a large body of the earliest writings.


Like Pseudo-Dionysius? Like the Protoevangelion of James? Are you saying that these documents are unsafe as a reflection of Church beliefs and teachings?

Anyway, I am not challenging the authority or trustworthiness of the church in "safeguarding the truth"; that is entirely your own adaptation.


But this is exactly what you are doing. You are putting your own mind, your own opinions and your own beliefs over what the Church has long espoused. The Church many centuries ago sorted through which early writings were consistent with the Apostolic faith, and those which were not. The Protoevangelion is one which is accepted. The Gospel of Judas is not. And so on.

#11 Eric Peterson

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 03:37 AM

If one source says something, and it's not corroborated in the patristic consensus, it is ultimately unreliable. So, you could have even St. So and So say X, and it would have no bearing since it is not supported by any other source, council, tradition, etc. We know there are more than just martyrs in paradise, therefore the alleged claim of Tertullian has no standing.

#12 Steve Roche

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 04:50 AM

Not all writings that are labelled “Pseudo” are considered “Spurious” or are even pseudographical. Actual writings that have been tampered with, however, such as are mentioned in Rufinus (which include Origen, Tertullian and Cyprian) need to be read with caution. The spurious nature of Tertullian’s teaching regarding martyrdom and souls in heaven is the purpose and the question of the OP, to which I have addressed my response. My answer in no way questions the authority of the fathers or the church, as I hold both in the highest possible regard.

The method used to discern whether any particular writing has been tampered with is outlined in Rufinus, who is a respected historian and father of the church, and it helps us to be aware if ever we find articles in the fathers writings that appear to contradict the general teaching of the church or even contradict the overall teaching of the author of the particular writing.

The implication of a spurious work from a well-respected father does not require that we question that father; but that we keep in mind that a common practice among the gnostics was to alter texts, or in the case of Valentinians, to write a manuscript under the “spirit medium” of a given apostle or father. The Gospel of Thomas being an example. The writing of pseudepigrapha, for the Valentinian, was a compulsory initiation into their sect. Being aware of this, at least for me, has assisted my faith in the earliest fathers, not eroded it.

On the Spurious Epistles of Ignatius, the following is the original Introductory Notice from Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (The Ante-Nicene Fathers). It is posted on the Orthodox Church Fathers website:

http://orthodoxchurc...f01/anf0127.htm
http://orthodoxinternet.com/

“We formerly stated that eight out of the fifteen Epistles bearing the name of Ignatius are now universally admitted to be spurious. None of them are quoted or referred to by any ancient writer previous to the sixth century. The style, moreover, in which they are written, so different from that of the other Ignatian letters, and allusions which they contain to heresies and ecclesiastical arrangements of a much later date than that of their professed author, render it perfectly certain that they are not the authentic production of the illustrious bishop of Antioch.”

“We cannot tell when or by whom these Epistles were fabricated. They have been thought to betray the same hand as the longer and interpolated form of the seven Epistles which are generally regarded as genuine. And some have conceived that the writer who gave forth to the world the Apostolic Constitutions under the name of Clement, was probably the author of these letters falsely ascribed to Ignatius, as well as of the longer recension of the seven Epistles which are mentioned by Eusebius.”

If I am stating anything which is contrary to what the Orthodox Church already states, then I would be grateful if anyone was willing to correct me in the spirit of humility and gentleness.

#13 Olga

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 07:20 AM

Rufinus might have formulated a method of evaluating whether a text had been doctored or not, but what overrides all that is whether the Church as a whole has accepted this or that individual's writing or opinion. Eric Peterson's post sums up the position of the Church perfectly.

Orthodox hymnography and iconography, the most accessible and universally-accepted source of doctrine and dogma, also unequivocally confirm that it is not only martyrs who are in Paradise. The penitent thief is one obvious example, Adam and Eve (as seen in the icon of the Resurrection being raised from their graves by Christ Himself, in his compassion for humanity) are just two others which give the lie to Tertullian's statement - if, indeed, Tertullian said such a thing.

#14 Steve Roche

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 07:30 AM

We appear to be saying the same thing. I agree with the ideas presented by Eric, and, as you said, "if, indeed, Tertullian said such a thing".

#15 Olga

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 07:44 AM

We appear to be saying the same thing. I agree with the ideas presented by Eric, and, as you said, "if, indeed, Tertullian said such a thing".


Steve, I agree with what Eric Peterson said, not with what you said.

Rufinus might have formulated a method of evaluating whether a text had been doctored or not, but what overrides all that is whether the Church as a whole has accepted this or that individual's writing or opinion. Eric Peterson's post sums up the position of the Church perfectly.

Orthodox hymnography and iconography, the most accessible and unimpeachable source of doctrine and dogma, reflecting and proclaiming the consensus of the Fathers, also unequivocally confirm that it is not only martyrs who are in Paradise. The penitent thief is one obvious example, Adam and Eve (as seen in the icon of the Resurrection being raised from their graves by Christ Himself, in his compassion for humanity) are just two others which give the lie to Tertullian's statement.

As I stated before, you might have your own ideas on what Christian doctrine should be. But the result of your methodology does not square with what the Church teaches through her hymnography and iconography.

#16 Steve Roche

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 07:58 AM

I was directing my comments toward the OP. You seem to be addressing everything you imagine you know about my beliefs. Olga, I have a problem with how you address your statements, not on your beliefs per se. You direct personal comments about me like you are trying to paint me as an opposition. I am here trying to learn more about the Orthodox faith within my limited capacity to do so, as I still have a lot of hurdles to overcome because of misinformation and misdirection. Your accusations and characterizations of me do not make that any easier. You are welcome to disagree with me; but you do not need to focus on me as though I am a fox among the pigeons. I am here to learn and to sort out fact from fiction on questions of the earliest fathers. My "methodology", as you claim, is the methodology proposed and recommended by the fathers. You have not been able to show me otherwise, although I welcomed you to do so. Your only approach is to falsely characterize me as being an opponent. If I have opposed the churches teaching on my response to the OP, then please provide evidence that I have done so.

#17 Olga

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 08:19 AM

Steve,

If you sincerely and honestly wish to learn about what the Orthodox Church truly and unequivocally teaches, then what you need to do is find an Orthodox church close to you. Then, make a point of attending as many services there which are held, particularly the services of Vespers and Matins. Or, at the very least, make the effort to contact and speak to an Orthodox priest in your vicinity.

You live in Australia, where there is a longstanding Orthodox presence in most inhabited parts of the country. The oldest Russian Orthodox parish is in Brisbane (1924). The Greeks of Melbourne built their first church in 1900, which still stands. In my own city, by no means the largest capital of this country, there are some twenty-five Orthodox parishes and monasteries spread over a variety of ethnicities and jurisdictions. If you need help in locating an Orthodox priest, you're welcome to PM me.

[putting moderator's hat on]

May I remind folks of the need to stick to the subject of this thread: that only martyrs go to Paradise. :-)

Edited by Olga, 11 October 2012 - 09:30 AM.


#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:04 AM

May I remind folks of the need to stick to the subject of this thread: that only martyrs go to Paradise.


To which we have had the answer.

#19 John Konstantin

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 11:37 AM

The Church believes what is writes and writes what it believes. Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture both come from the the living, breathing, inspired and ongoing community of believers. What is erroneous is easily verifiable because it is not in tandem with the words and praxis of the God preserved Holy Church.

What is written by whomsoever does not exist in a vacuum it springs from community belief. If it springs from individual belief it is then tested against that believing community.

#20 Jack R.

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 02:09 PM

Did the Holy Martyr Perpetua see, teach, and believe, that ONLY martyrs are in Paradise?

May her holy intercessions be with us all.




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