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Annihilationism and disbelief in immaterial souls

Aeschere

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Nikolaos Greek said:
Destroy isn;t meant literally in those passages.
How did you come to that conclusion?
 

PeterTheAleut

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Aeschere said:
Hello!  I’m Didyma’s identical twin.  I joined this forum to cut out the middleman in our discussion.  I would prefer that we only discuss one of the topics my sister pointed out in the OP: Christian Anthropological Monism/Materialism/Physicalism, or Conditionalism/Annihilationism.  I’d rather not debate both at once.  It seems like the people here are mostly discussing annihilationism, and I’m newer to the Christian anthropological monism view, so I’m not as good at explaining it.  Therefore, I’d like to just discuss annihilationism, if that’s fine with you guys.  If you want, I’ll refer you to the podcasts that persuaded me to take on the CAM position, but I won’t be discussing them (not in this thread, at least).  (Don’t be surprised if I don’t start the CAM thread.  I’m pretty busy adjusting to college right now.)

I’m a little busy right now, so to start us off I’ll attempt to post my essay outlining the argument for annihilationism/conditionalism from the Biblical language of destruction that my sister posted earlier:

“As many Christians have noticed, one of the main issues non-Christians have with Christianity is the doctrine of the eternal conscious torment of the unsaved in Hell. The doctrine of ECT (as Eternal Conscious Torment will be called here on out) understandably clashes with most people’s sense of justice.  It clashes with mine, too. In fact, I’m sure that the vast majority of Christians have had at least some emotional distress when they thought about the traditional view of Hell.  Of course, just because something is emotionally displeasing doesn’t mean that it isn’t true, and which view of Hell is true is one of the most crucial things one can know.  Hell is too important for careless thinking and taking one’s own view for granted.  Christians must make sure whether such a major doctrine such as ECT aligns with the Bible.  If it doesn’t fit with Scripture, well, I’m sure God is very displeased His followers are saying such things about Him.  So, does the Bible really require us to believe that God will keep people alive in Hell forever just to suffer?
You do realize that, seeing the Scriptures as a product of the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the life of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, we Orthodox don't believe in sola scriptura, as you appear to do? The Scriptures are truly foundational to our doctrines, but only when understood within their context as a product of the life of the Church.

Aeschere said:
I won’t beat around the bush any longer.  I don’t think so.  I’m a Conditionalist.  You may have heard of other views of Hell held by Christians besides the majority ECT one, which I will sometimes refer to as Traditionalism.  The largest alternative view of Hell is Universalism, also known as Universal Reconciliation.  Conditionalism, also known as Annihilationism or Conditional Immortality, is less famous (or infamous, I suppose) than Universalism.  Simply put, it holds that eternal life is a gift from God, so the unsaved just won’t live forever.  

A more detailed explanation of Conditionalism is that the unsaved will be resurrected, but unlike the saved, will not be gifted with immortality.  Instead, they will be punished with permanent destruction, which includes a certain degree of suffering during the destruction.  Though the amount and strength of the finite suffering that is involved in the destruction will vary person to person according to divine justice, all the unsaved will eventually cease to exist.  Though the suffering will be finite, the punishment (complete destruction) will be eternal, since there will be no coming back from oblivion after this Second Death.  

'Which verses support your view?' you are right to ask.  Before I tell you, however, I would like to point something out.  Many, or even most Christians are committed to the belief that the soul is either indestructible or will never be destroyed.  While this may not be the only factor that causes someone is a Traditionalist (or a Universalist, for that matter), it’s inevitable that this would affect what a Christian believes about Hell.  I would like any reader who holds this view about the human soul to at least acknowledge how this could affect how they take the defense of my view.  It is very likely that you have read the verses that I am about to quote many times over, but through a sort of ECT 'filter.'  I would therefore ask you to acknowledge this figurative filter, and to try to remove it, if possible, just for the sake of trying to understand my position.

Now, on to the scriptural support.  In this essay, I will focus on the Biblical language of destruction, since the argument for Conditional Immortality that is based on it is the most straightforward.
Do you think you may be following the same path most Protestants follow as regards your approach to the Scriptures? Look to the Scriptures as little more than a source text to support the development of your philosophies/doctrines?

Aeschere said:
John 3:16 is among the most quoted verses, and for good reason.  It very succinctly explains the gospel in a way that is easy to understand.  Since it is so commonplace, it is easy to miss important messages in the text.  'For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.'

I can’t think of a clearer way of saying it.  

'[...] whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.'
ISTM that you have defined "life" to be synonymous with "existence", such that eternal life means eternal existence. Is this the right way to define "life"?

Aeschere said:
I have heard the explanation that perishing can mean being apart from God.  And it does mean that.  People who don’t exist can certainly be considered apart from I Am.  But interpreting a word like “perish” in such a straightforward context as meaning 'Living forever (but in a horrifyingly painful place)' is simply bad hermeneutics.
How so?
 

Aeschere

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PeterTheAleut said:
You do realize that, seeing the Scriptures as a product of the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the life of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, we Orthodox don't believe in sola scriptura, as you appear to do? The Scriptures are truly foundational to our doctrines, but only when understood within their context as a product of the life of the Church.

My understanding is that the Eastern Orthodox Church is Prima Scriptura, which means that church doctrines cannot directly contradict scripture.  Is that correct?

PeterTheAleut said:
Do you think you may be following the same path most Protestants follow as regards your approach to the Scriptures? Look to the Scriptures as little more than a source text to support the development of your philosophies/doctrines?
Why shouldn't I base my worldview in scripture? I'm a Christian, right?

PeterTheAleut said:
ISTM that you have defined "life" to be synonymous with "existence", such that eternal life means eternal existence. Is this the right way to define "life"?
What does "ISTM" stand for? Anyway, I don't think I said that "life" means exactly the same thing as "existence." I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)

Aeschere said:
I have heard the explanation that perishing can mean being apart from God.  And it does mean that.  People who don’t exist can certainly be considered apart from I Am.  But interpreting a word like “perish” in such a straightforward context as meaning 'Living forever (but in a horrifyingly painful place)' is simply bad hermeneutics.
PeterTheAleut said:
The interpretation doesn't make sense for the word and its context. 

(Sorry if the quote formatting is weird.  I'm new to this kind of forum.)
 

TheTrisagion

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I believe Prima Scriptura is a term that Anglicans use.

Orthodoxy hold that we follow Sacred Tradition.  Scripture is part of that Tradition, but so is hymnography, the icons, the patristic Fathers.  It all works in unison.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
You do realize that, seeing the Scriptures as a product of the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the life of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, we Orthodox don't believe in sola scriptura, as you appear to do? The Scriptures are truly foundational to our doctrines, but only when understood within their context as a product of the life of the Church.

My understanding is that the Eastern Orthodox Church is Prima Scriptura, which means that church doctrines cannot directly contradict scripture.  Is that correct?
We do indeed believe that Church doctrine cannot contradict Scripture, but that's not the definition of prima scriptura in that we also believe that one's interpretation of Scripture cannot contradict Church doctrines.

Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Do you think you may be following the same path most Protestants follow as regards your approach to the Scriptures? Look to the Scriptures as little more than a source text to support the development of your philosophies/doctrines?
Why shouldn't I base my worldview in scripture? I'm a Christian, right?
I'm not talking about basing your world view on Scripture. I'm talking about using Scripture as a source text for whatever philosophy you wish to construct. These two approaches are very different.

Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
ISTM that you have defined "life" to be synonymous with "existence", such that eternal life means eternal existence. Is this the right way to define "life"?
What does "ISTM" stand for?
Internet acronym for "it seems to me"

Aeschere said:
Anyway, I don't think I said that "life" means exactly the same thing as "existence." I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Recursive definitions are useless as anything but an exercise in tautology. A definition must use words other than the word you seek to define for it to be effective.

Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
I have heard the explanation that perishing can mean being apart from God.  And it does mean that.  People who don’t exist can certainly be considered apart from I Am.  But interpreting a word like “perish” in such a straightforward context as meaning 'Living forever (but in a horrifyingly painful place)' is simply bad hermeneutics.
PeterTheAleut said:
The interpretation doesn't make sense for the word and its context.  

(Sorry if the quote formatting is weird.  I'm new to this kind of forum.)
How, then, do you know that your hermeneutics are good?
 

NicholasMyra

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Aeschere said:
I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Aeschere, welcome. Don't feel the need to reply to goading/trolling posts here.

Anyway, I don't think this is the ancient Near Eastern understanding of death, the understanding of death you often find used in the Old Testament, for example. My responses to Didyma start here, where I write about this:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,53583.msg987478.html#msg987478

The later-to-be-prodigal son was functioning/moving/rotting in the pigpen, but was not alive in the Christian sense.
 

PeterTheAleut

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NicholasMyra said:
Aeschere said:
I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Aeschere, welcome. Don't feel the need to reply to goading/trolling posts here.
Who's trolling? ??? Since you're quoting Aeschere's direct response to something I posted, I think it safe to suspect you may be talking about me. If so, I think it quite rude and presumptuous for you to insinuate that I'm trolling, since that's not at all what I'm here to do.
 

orthonorm

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Aeschere said:
Achronos said:
So I googled the OP and got this:

deviantART: More Like Gaslamp Fantasy Setting by ~AndItWorked
http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/213756340

LOL at the first result, LARP!!

But somehow I can't find the text google pulled up. That is a mystery.

Oh and Aeschere nice to meet you. I am pretty much the world's greatest internet private investigator.

If I ever come across as extremely creepy by posting stuff of yours 3 years later to cross reference you it's because I can search whatever I need to in a matter of seconds. I'm just that good.

Oh yes...that LARP thing.  I used to be in my school's LARP club because I thought it sounded fun, but we never actually did anything besides come up with settings. I eventually started D&D. 

Anyways, if you were looking for my essay, it was included in that really long reply of mine.
Schools have clubs for this? Is this to make it easier for the bullies to locate who they need give a hard time?
 

orthonorm

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PeterTheAleut said:
Recursive definitions are useless as anything but an exercise in tautology
I thought you were a computer programmer or something.
 

orthonorm

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NicholasMyra said:
Aeschere said:
I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Aeschere, welcome. Don't feel the need to reply to goading/trolling posts here.

Anyway, I don't think this is the ancient Near Eastern understanding of death, the understanding of death you often find used in the Old Testament, for example. My responses to Didyma start here, where I write about this:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,53583.msg987478.html#msg987478

The later-to-be-prodigal son was functioning/moving/rotting in the pigpen, but was not alive in the Christian sense.
My car says otherwise.
 

NicholasMyra

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PeterTheAleut said:
NicholasMyra said:
Aeschere said:
I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Aeschere, welcome. Don't feel the need to reply to goading/trolling posts here.
Who's trolling? ??? Since you're quoting Aeschere's direct response to something I posted, I think it safe to suspect you may be talking about me. If so, I think it quite rude and presumptuous for you to insinuate that I'm trolling, since that's not at all what I'm here to do.
I wouldn't call what you were doing trolling.
 

Aeschere

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orthonorm said:
Aeschere said:
Achronos said:
So I googled the OP and got this:

deviantART: More Like Gaslamp Fantasy Setting by ~AndItWorked
http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/213756340

LOL at the first result, LARP!!

But somehow I can't find the text google pulled up. That is a mystery.

Oh and Aeschere nice to meet you. I am pretty much the world's greatest internet private investigator.

If I ever come across as extremely creepy by posting stuff of yours 3 years later to cross reference you it's because I can search whatever I need to in a matter of seconds. I'm just that good.

Oh yes...that LARP thing.  I used to be in my school's LARP club because I thought it sounded fun, but we never actually did anything besides come up with settings. I eventually started D&D. 

Anyways, if you were looking for my essay, it was included in that really long reply of mine.
Schools have clubs for this? Is this to make it easier for the bullies to locate who they need give a hard time?
Our high school is the nerdiest school I know of.
 

Aeschere

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PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
You do realize that, seeing the Scriptures as a product of the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the life of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, we Orthodox don't believe in sola scriptura, as you appear to do? The Scriptures are truly foundational to our doctrines, but only when understood within their context as a product of the life of the Church.

My understanding is that the Eastern Orthodox Church is Prima Scriptura, which means that church doctrines cannot directly contradict scripture.  Is that correct?
We do indeed believe that Church doctrine cannot contradict Scripture, but that's not the definition of prima scriptura in that we also believe that one's interpretation of Scripture cannot contradict Church doctrines.
Yes. You need to be able to interpret scripture to understand what it says. If you don't know what scripture says, you can't know if it's contradicting anything.

Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Do you think you may be following the same path most Protestants follow as regards your approach to the Scriptures? Look to the Scriptures as little more than a source text to support the development of your philosophies/doctrines?
Why shouldn't I base my worldview in scripture? I'm a Christian, right?
PeterTheAleut said:
I'm not talking about basing your world view on Scripture. I'm talking about using Scripture as a source text for whatever philosophy you wish to construct. These two approaches are very different.
...You seem to be suggesting that basing philosophies and doctrines off scripture is bad...

Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
ISTM that you have defined "life" to be synonymous with "existence", such that eternal life means eternal existence. Is this the right way to define "life"?
I'm not sure whether death has to entail cessation of existence among the other qualifications, but I do know that life entails existence. I don't think that life is synonymous with existence, however.

Aeschere said:
Anyway, I don't think I said that "life" means exactly the same thing as "existence." I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Recursive definitions are useless as anything but an exercise in tautology. A definition must use words other than the word you seek to define for it to be effective.
Life is consciousness, ability to grow, metabolize, have feelings, act, etc. Death means lack of consciousness, no ability to act or make decisions, having no feelings or mental capacity, no growth, no metabolism, etc. It may also include cessation of existence, but I'm not sure.  Either way, eternal conscious torment is out.

Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
I have heard the explanation that perishing can mean being apart from God.  And it does mean that.  People who don’t exist can certainly be considered apart from I Am.  But interpreting a word like “perish” in such a straightforward context as meaning 'Living forever (but in a horrifyingly painful place)' is simply bad hermeneutics.
PeterTheAleut said:
The interpretation doesn't make sense for the word and its context.  

(Sorry if the quote formatting is weird.  I'm new to this kind of forum.)
PeterTheAleut said:
How, then, do you know that your hermeneutics are good?
Because it makes sense for the word and its context.
 

TheTrisagion

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Essentially the argument is: There are thousands of different interpretations of Scripture, why should we believe yours over anyone elses?  For the Orthodox, it is simple, we don't trust yours or our own interpretation, we trust the interpretation of the Church which Christ established.  Christ never promised any one individual would not succumb to falsehood, but He did promise the Church would.  St. Paul never professed to be personally infallible even when he was writing Scripture, but he did profess the Church would be the pillar of truth.
 

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Let's not let this potentially interesting thread get killed by the diversionary tactic of invoking "the Church's authority" over Scripture.

Aeschere is here to discuss conditionalism and annihilationism.

Annihilationism is definitely not an Orthodox doctrine.

As for conditional immortality, this gets hairy. I will take a closer look at the thread tomorrow.

Do Orthodox believe in the immortality of the lost? I would say that the implicit answer is a definite No.

I think there's a number of other questions that need to get asked before one can start asking about the ultimate fate of souls, but whaddya gonna do?

I hope this thread continues.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
You do realize that, seeing the Scriptures as a product of the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the life of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, we Orthodox don't believe in sola scriptura, as you appear to do? The Scriptures are truly foundational to our doctrines, but only when understood within their context as a product of the life of the Church.

My understanding is that the Eastern Orthodox Church is Prima Scriptura, which means that church doctrines cannot directly contradict scripture.  Is that correct?
We do indeed believe that Church doctrine cannot contradict Scripture, but that's not the definition of prima scriptura in that we also believe that one's interpretation of Scripture cannot contradict Church doctrines.
Yes. You need to be able to interpret scripture to understand what it says. If you don't know what scripture says, you can't know if it's contradicting anything.

Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Do you think you may be following the same path most Protestants follow as regards your approach to the Scriptures? Look to the Scriptures as little more than a source text to support the development of your philosophies/doctrines?
Why shouldn't I base my worldview in scripture? I'm a Christian, right?
PeterTheAleut said:
I'm not talking about basing your world view on Scripture. I'm talking about using Scripture as a source text for whatever philosophy you wish to construct. These two approaches are very different.
...You seem to be suggesting that basing philosophies and doctrines off scripture is bad...
Do you not understand what I'm trying to communicate? If not, why not?

BTW, have you read this article from an interview with Dr. Ben Witherington? http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/november/23.66.html This gives the foundation for my question. It seems to me you're doing the same thing he criticized in this interview.

Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
ISTM that you have defined "life" to be synonymous with "existence", such that eternal life means eternal existence. Is this the right way to define "life"?
I'm not sure whether death has to entail cessation of existence among the other qualifications, but I do know that life entails existence. I don't think that life is synonymous with existence, however.

Aeschere said:
Anyway, I don't think I said that "life" means exactly the same thing as "existence." I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Recursive definitions are useless as anything but an exercise in tautology. A definition must use words other than the word you seek to define for it to be effective.
Life is consciousness, ability to grow, metabolize, have feelings, act, etc. Death means lack of consciousness, no ability to act or make decisions, having no feelings or mental capacity, no growth, no metabolism, etc. It may also include cessation of existence, but I'm not sure.  Either way, eternal conscious torment is out.
On what do you base your definition?

Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
I have heard the explanation that perishing can mean being apart from God.  And it does mean that.  People who don’t exist can certainly be considered apart from I Am.  But interpreting a word like “perish” in such a straightforward context as meaning 'Living forever (but in a horrifyingly painful place)' is simply bad hermeneutics.
PeterTheAleut said:
The interpretation doesn't make sense for the word and its context.  

(Sorry if the quote formatting is weird.  I'm new to this kind of forum.)
PeterTheAleut said:
How, then, do you know that your hermeneutics are good?
Because it makes sense for the word and its context.
Makes sense to whom? It seems to me that you're engaging in some circular reasoning here.
 

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^^PtA, not only are you killing the discussion, but your objections are totally illogical.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Rufus said:
^^PtA, not only are you killing the discussion,
Aeschere is answering my questions, so I would say your assessment needs some tweaking.

Rufus said:
but your objections are totally illogical.
They're not meant to be logical. They're questions meant to help Aeschere articulate a more logical point of view.
 

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I suppose this goes around the Greek word apollymi, which has the root meaning of "utterly destroy," as in eternal destruction/perdition. Interestingly, it also has the meaning of "lose," e.g. to apololos probaton, "the lost sheep." The corresponding Latin word perdo has the same two meanings.

How are the two meanings connected?? I'm thinking of the English expression "we lost a man," being a circumlocuitous way of saying a man died.

Dow we have a Hebraeologist here?
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
You do realize that, seeing the Scriptures as a product of the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the life of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, we Orthodox don't believe in sola scriptura, as you appear to do? The Scriptures are truly foundational to our doctrines, but only when understood within their context as a product of the life of the Church.

My understanding is that the Eastern Orthodox Church is Prima Scriptura, which means that church doctrines cannot directly contradict scripture.  Is that correct?
We do indeed believe that Church doctrine cannot contradict Scripture, but that's not the definition of prima scriptura in that we also believe that one's interpretation of Scripture cannot contradict Church doctrines.
Yes. You need to be able to interpret scripture to understand what it says. If you don't know what scripture says, you can't know if it's contradicting anything.

Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Do you think you may be following the same path most Protestants follow as regards your approach to the Scriptures? Look to the Scriptures as little more than a source text to support the development of your philosophies/doctrines?
Why shouldn't I base my worldview in scripture? I'm a Christian, right?
PeterTheAleut said:
I'm not talking about basing your world view on Scripture. I'm talking about using Scripture as a source text for whatever philosophy you wish to construct. These two approaches are very different.
...You seem to be suggesting that basing philosophies and doctrines off scripture is bad...
Do you not understand what I'm trying to communicate? If not, why not?

BTW, have you read this article from an interview with Dr. Ben Witherington? http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/november/23.66.html This gives the foundation for my question. It seems to me you're doing the same thing he criticized in this interview.
I don't understand what you're trying to say.

Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
ISTM that you have defined "life" to be synonymous with "existence", such that eternal life means eternal existence. Is this the right way to define "life"?
I'm not sure whether death has to entail cessation of existence among the other qualifications, but I do know that life entails existence. I don't think that life is synonymous with existence, however.

Aeschere said:
Anyway, I don't think I said that "life" means exactly the same thing as "existence." I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Recursive definitions are useless as anything but an exercise in tautology. A definition must use words other than the word you seek to define for it to be effective.
Life is consciousness, ability to grow, metabolize, have feelings, act, etc. Death means lack of consciousness, no ability to act or make decisions, having no feelings or mental capacity, no growth, no metabolism, etc. It may also include cessation of existence, but I'm not sure.  Either way, eternal conscious torment is out.
PeterTheAleut said:
On what do you base your definition?
Those were the standard definitions of "life" and "death." I don't really see the problem here...

Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
I have heard the explanation that perishing can mean being apart from God.  And it does mean that.  People who don’t exist can certainly be considered apart from I Am.  But interpreting a word like “perish” in such a straightforward context as meaning 'Living forever (but in a horrifyingly painful place)' is simply bad hermeneutics.
PeterTheAleut said:
The interpretation doesn't make sense for the word and its context.  

(Sorry if the quote formatting is weird.  I'm new to this kind of forum.)
PeterTheAleut said:
How, then, do you know that your hermeneutics are good?
Because it makes sense for the word and its context.
PeterTheAleut said:
Makes sense to whom? It seems to me that you're engaging in some circular reasoning here.
A hermeneutic is considered good if it takes into consideration context, the standard meaning of a word, other possible meanings of a word, and word usage. For the word meaning, biblewebapp.com is a good resource (except for in some instances, when it assumes eternal conscious torment)

For the context, the death of the wicked is contrasted (often in the same paragraph or even verse) with the eternal life of the saved. Furthermore, immortality/eternal life in scripture is portrayed as a gift of God to the righteous, and so the wicked would not have eternal life.  Also, the Biblical vision of eternity is one where sin and evil are no more, and everyone is united under Christ. How could that be if the wicked are living forever, separate from God? There is no real support of an eternal duality of horror and bliss in the Bible. Jesus' atoning death is another source of context. Jesus was a substitute for us, bearing our punishment on our behalf. What did he bear? Death. Isaiah 53:8-9 says that He was "cut off from the land of the living" and that "they made his grave with the wicked." Romans 5:6 says that "Christ died for our sins." 1 Peter 3:18 says that it was by physical death that Christ became our substitute. 
 

PeterTheAleut

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Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
You do realize that, seeing the Scriptures as a product of the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the life of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit, we Orthodox don't believe in sola scriptura, as you appear to do? The Scriptures are truly foundational to our doctrines, but only when understood within their context as a product of the life of the Church.

My understanding is that the Eastern Orthodox Church is Prima Scriptura, which means that church doctrines cannot directly contradict scripture.  Is that correct?
We do indeed believe that Church doctrine cannot contradict Scripture, but that's not the definition of prima scriptura in that we also believe that one's interpretation of Scripture cannot contradict Church doctrines.
Yes. You need to be able to interpret scripture to understand what it says. If you don't know what scripture says, you can't know if it's contradicting anything.

Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Do you think you may be following the same path most Protestants follow as regards your approach to the Scriptures? Look to the Scriptures as little more than a source text to support the development of your philosophies/doctrines?
Why shouldn't I base my worldview in scripture? I'm a Christian, right?
PeterTheAleut said:
I'm not talking about basing your world view on Scripture. I'm talking about using Scripture as a source text for whatever philosophy you wish to construct. These two approaches are very different.
...You seem to be suggesting that basing philosophies and doctrines off scripture is bad...
Do you not understand what I'm trying to communicate? If not, why not?

BTW, have you read this article from an interview with Dr. Ben Witherington? http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/november/23.66.html This gives the foundation for my question. It seems to me you're doing the same thing he criticized in this interview.
I don't understand what you're trying to say.
What I'm saying is that you appear to have already crafted your world view without prior reference to the Scriptures and are only searching the Scriptures for texts that prove the world view you've already created.

Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
PeterTheAleut said:
ISTM that you have defined "life" to be synonymous with "existence", such that eternal life means eternal existence. Is this the right way to define "life"?
I'm not sure whether death has to entail cessation of existence among the other qualifications, but I do know that life entails existence. I don't think that life is synonymous with existence, however.

Aeschere said:
Anyway, I don't think I said that "life" means exactly the same thing as "existence." I said that life means life, and death means death (ceasing to live/ceasing to be conscious, able to make decisions, able to have emotions, growing, etc.)
Recursive definitions are useless as anything but an exercise in tautology. A definition must use words other than the word you seek to define for it to be effective.
Life is consciousness, ability to grow, metabolize, have feelings, act, etc. Death means lack of consciousness, no ability to act or make decisions, having no feelings or mental capacity, no growth, no metabolism, etc. It may also include cessation of existence, but I'm not sure.  Either way, eternal conscious torment is out.
PeterTheAleut said:
On what do you base your definition?
Those were the standard definitions of "life" and "death." I don't really see the problem here...
"Standard"... What standard?

Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
Aeschere said:
I have heard the explanation that perishing can mean being apart from God.  And it does mean that.  People who don’t exist can certainly be considered apart from I Am.  But interpreting a word like “perish” in such a straightforward context as meaning 'Living forever (but in a horrifyingly painful place)' is simply bad hermeneutics.
PeterTheAleut said:
The interpretation doesn't make sense for the word and its context.  

(Sorry if the quote formatting is weird.  I'm new to this kind of forum.)
PeterTheAleut said:
How, then, do you know that your hermeneutics are good?
Because it makes sense for the word and its context.
PeterTheAleut said:
Makes sense to whom? It seems to me that you're engaging in some circular reasoning here.
A hermeneutic is considered good
Considered good by whom?

Aeschere said:
if it takes into consideration context, the standard meaning of a word, other possible meanings of a word, and word usage. For the word meaning, biblewebapp.com is a good resource (except for in some instances, when it assumes eternal conscious torment)

For the context, the death of the wicked is contrasted (often in the same paragraph or even verse) with the eternal life of the saved. Furthermore, immortality/eternal life in scripture is portrayed as a gift of God to the righteous, and so the wicked would not have eternal life.  Also, the Biblical vision of eternity is one where sin and evil are no more, and everyone is united under Christ. How could that be if the wicked are living forever, separate from God? There is no real support of an eternal duality of horror and bliss in the Bible. Jesus' atoning death is another source of context. Jesus was a substitute for us, bearing our punishment on our behalf. What did he bear? Death. Isaiah 53:8-9 says that He was "cut off from the land of the living" and that "they made his grave with the wicked." Romans 5:6 says that "Christ died for our sins." 1 Peter 3:18 says that it was by physical death that Christ became our substitute. 
Again, you do realize that your approach to the Scriptures is foreign to Orthodox Christianity?
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
if it takes into consideration context, the standard meaning of a word, other possible meanings of a word, and word usage. For the word meaning, biblewebapp.com is a good resource (except for in some instances, when it assumes eternal conscious torment)

For the context, the death of the wicked is contrasted (often in the same paragraph or even verse) with the eternal life of the saved. Furthermore, immortality/eternal life in scripture is portrayed as a gift of God to the righteous, and so the wicked would not have eternal life.  Also, the Biblical vision of eternity is one where sin and evil are no more, and everyone is united under Christ. How could that be if the wicked are living forever, separate from God? There is no real support of an eternal duality of horror and bliss in the Bible. Jesus' atoning death is another source of context. Jesus was a substitute for us, bearing our punishment on our behalf. What did he bear? Death. Isaiah 53:8-9 says that He was "cut off from the land of the living" and that "they made his grave with the wicked." Romans 5:6 says that "Christ died for our sins." 1 Peter 3:18 says that it was by physical death that Christ became our substitute. 
Again, you do realize that your approach to the Scriptures is foreign to Orthodox Christianity?
Peter,

1) Can you articulate what an Orthodox approach to Scripture would actually entail in this situation?

2) Do you believe that her argument would be invalidated by being foreign to Orthodoxy?
 

PeterTheAleut

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Rufus said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
if it takes into consideration context, the standard meaning of a word, other possible meanings of a word, and word usage. For the word meaning, biblewebapp.com is a good resource (except for in some instances, when it assumes eternal conscious torment)

For the context, the death of the wicked is contrasted (often in the same paragraph or even verse) with the eternal life of the saved. Furthermore, immortality/eternal life in scripture is portrayed as a gift of God to the righteous, and so the wicked would not have eternal life.  Also, the Biblical vision of eternity is one where sin and evil are no more, and everyone is united under Christ. How could that be if the wicked are living forever, separate from God? There is no real support of an eternal duality of horror and bliss in the Bible. Jesus' atoning death is another source of context. Jesus was a substitute for us, bearing our punishment on our behalf. What did he bear? Death. Isaiah 53:8-9 says that He was "cut off from the land of the living" and that "they made his grave with the wicked." Romans 5:6 says that "Christ died for our sins." 1 Peter 3:18 says that it was by physical death that Christ became our substitute.  
Again, you do realize that your approach to the Scriptures is foreign to Orthodox Christianity?
Peter,

1) Can you articulate what an Orthodox approach to Scripture would actually entail in this situation?

2) Do you believe that her argument would be invalidated by being foreign to Orthodoxy?
I hope she will ask her own questions to show that she really wants to know more. Right now she seems inclined to do nothing more than defend her point of view.
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Rufus said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
if it takes into consideration context, the standard meaning of a word, other possible meanings of a word, and word usage. For the word meaning, biblewebapp.com is a good resource (except for in some instances, when it assumes eternal conscious torment)

For the context, the death of the wicked is contrasted (often in the same paragraph or even verse) with the eternal life of the saved. Furthermore, immortality/eternal life in scripture is portrayed as a gift of God to the righteous, and so the wicked would not have eternal life.  Also, the Biblical vision of eternity is one where sin and evil are no more, and everyone is united under Christ. How could that be if the wicked are living forever, separate from God? There is no real support of an eternal duality of horror and bliss in the Bible. Jesus' atoning death is another source of context. Jesus was a substitute for us, bearing our punishment on our behalf. What did he bear? Death. Isaiah 53:8-9 says that He was "cut off from the land of the living" and that "they made his grave with the wicked." Romans 5:6 says that "Christ died for our sins." 1 Peter 3:18 says that it was by physical death that Christ became our substitute.  
Again, you do realize that your approach to the Scriptures is foreign to Orthodox Christianity?
Peter,

1) Can you articulate what an Orthodox approach to Scripture would actually entail in this situation?

2) Do you believe that her argument would be invalidated by being foreign to Orthodoxy?
I hope she will ask her own questions to show that she really wants to know more. Right now she seems inclined to do nothing more than defend her point of view.
LOL! I'm sure you'd rather she wanted to defend your point of view instead!

Give me a break.
 

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Rufus said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Rufus said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Aeschere said:
if it takes into consideration context, the standard meaning of a word, other possible meanings of a word, and word usage. For the word meaning, biblewebapp.com is a good resource (except for in some instances, when it assumes eternal conscious torment)

For the context, the death of the wicked is contrasted (often in the same paragraph or even verse) with the eternal life of the saved. Furthermore, immortality/eternal life in scripture is portrayed as a gift of God to the righteous, and so the wicked would not have eternal life.  Also, the Biblical vision of eternity is one where sin and evil are no more, and everyone is united under Christ. How could that be if the wicked are living forever, separate from God? There is no real support of an eternal duality of horror and bliss in the Bible. Jesus' atoning death is another source of context. Jesus was a substitute for us, bearing our punishment on our behalf. What did he bear? Death. Isaiah 53:8-9 says that He was "cut off from the land of the living" and that "they made his grave with the wicked." Romans 5:6 says that "Christ died for our sins." 1 Peter 3:18 says that it was by physical death that Christ became our substitute.  
Again, you do realize that your approach to the Scriptures is foreign to Orthodox Christianity?
Peter,

1) Can you articulate what an Orthodox approach to Scripture would actually entail in this situation?

2) Do you believe that her argument would be invalidated by being foreign to Orthodoxy?
I hope she will ask her own questions to show that she really wants to know more. Right now she seems inclined to do nothing more than defend her point of view.
LOL! I'm sure you'd rather she wanted to defend your point of view instead!
I know what I'm doing. You only think you know what I'm doing. Therefore, I'd like you to do me a favor and cease your peanut gallery comments long enough to see how Aeschere responds to my probing.

Rufus said:
Give me a break.
Why? Do you have any special role in this discussion that I need to have your approval on everything I post here?
 

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Rufus said:
Let's not let this potentially interesting thread get killed by the diversionary tactic of invoking "the Church's authority" over Scripture.

Aeschere is here to discuss conditionalism and annihilationism.

Annihilationism is definitely not an Orthodox doctrine.

As for conditional immortality, this gets hairy. I will take a closer look at the thread tomorrow.

Do Orthodox believe in the immortality of the lost? I would say that the implicit answer is a definite No.

I think there's a number of other questions that need to get asked before one can start asking about the ultimate fate of souls, but whaddya gonna do?

I hope this thread continues.
I am suing you for syntax infringement!
 

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TheTrisagion said:
For the Orthodox, it is simple, we don't trust yours or our own interpretation
It is simple, you trust your own. It's the only understand you can constitutionally trust. You literally have no recourse to any other understanding. This is something that grates around here and anyone who has reflected for a moment on understanding or taken a course or two beyond middle school would understand.

There is no interpretation of the Church as such.

For evidences: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
Rufus said:
Give me a break.
Why? Do you have any special role in this discussion that I need to have your approval on everything I post here?
Last time I checked, voicing one's opinion wasn't against forum rules.   :police:  Rufus is entitled to have his say just as everyone else is.
 

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Rufus said:
I suppose this goes around the Greek word apollymi, which has the root meaning of "utterly destroy," as in eternal destruction/perdition. Interestingly, it also has the meaning of "lose," e.g. to apololos probaton, "the lost sheep." The corresponding Latin word perdo has the same two meanings.

How are the two meanings connected?? I'm thinking of the English expression "we lost a man," being a circumlocuitous way of saying a man died.

Dow we have a Hebraeologist here?
A voice in the wilderness. I would interested in your expanding on your reasons for saying the Orthodox not believing in the immortality of the lost.

I think that phrasing could be understood in a number of way.

Only if you have the time and inclination of course! Not looking to argue here, as I am rather agnostic on the matter.
 

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LBK said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Rufus said:
Give me a break.
Why? Do you have any special role in this discussion that I need to have your approval on everything I post here?
Last time I checked, voicing one's opinion wasn't against forum rules.   :police:  Rufus is entitled to have his say just as everyone else is.
Wait for the strange loop . . .
 

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LBK said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Rufus said:
Give me a break.
Why? Do you have any special role in this discussion that I need to have your approval on everything I post here?
Last time I checked, voicing one's opinion wasn't against forum rules.   :police:  Rufus is entitled to have his say just as everyone else is.
Last time I checked, LBK, I am just as entitled to voice my opinion as Rufus is to voice his, even if he doesn't know what he's talking about.

So now I have to ask, LBK, don't you have something better to do than play Mrs. Moderator? I notice you haven't posted anything else to this thread. Maybe you would actually like to address the original topic of this discussion with something of substance.
 

PeterTheAleut

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FWIW, I think this criticism of tactics off topic and irrelevant to the discussion. Rufus has in mind an approach he would like to implement--one I have never criticized, BTW. I have in mind a different approach I would like to implement. There's room for both approaches in this discussion. Ultimately, however, Aeschere's responses will dictate which approach works better, which is why I have asked Rufus to stop his pointless critique of my tactics in favor of just sitting back and watching how Aeschere responds. Who knows? Maybe my tactic won't work, and I'll be forced to try another. In the end, though, this will be determined by how Aeschere responds and not by some comments from a fellow who has no desire to know what I'm thinking.
 

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orthonorm said:
Rufus said:
I suppose this goes around the Greek word apollymi, which has the root meaning of "utterly destroy," as in eternal destruction/perdition. Interestingly, it also has the meaning of "lose," e.g. to apololos probaton, "the lost sheep." The corresponding Latin word perdo has the same two meanings.

How are the two meanings connected?? I'm thinking of the English expression "we lost a man," being a circumlocuitous way of saying a man died.

Dow we have a Hebraeologist here?
A voice in the wilderness. I would interested in your expanding on your reasons for saying the Orthodox not believing in the immortality of the lost.

I think that phrasing could be understood in a number of way.

Only if you have the time and inclination of course! Not looking to argue here, as I am rather agnostic on the matter.
I think there is a double aspect to it. For one thing, death and destruction is definitely the fate of the lost, while eternal life is something reserved for the saved. For evidence, see all those places in the Bible that Aesch... has referenced. She makes a very convincing argument from Scripture.

Look at Orthodox liturgical texts. What is Holy Communion for? "Eternal life" for the partaker. The implication is that others are deprived of eternal life. Not once in any Orthodox text I have ever seen, including the Bible, does it speak of the lost as having life.

But we are not annihilationists: we believe that the torment is eternal. And I believe that this view* is scripturally warranted, even if it's never explicitly spelled out.

So eternal life is not merely eternal existence, nor is the destruction of the lost an annihilation. The problem is that this paradox canNOT be resolved  by contemporary popular anthropology, because we do not have a sufficiently refined understanding of what life and death are. So ultimately, this becomes an anthropological problem.

For about a decade now, I have been concerned that the latent anthropological beliefs people hold as well as certain metaphysical and logical notions have sucked us all into a death-spiral. How we are going to get out of it, I don't know. Christian theology will have to make some nifty moves in order to avoid being swallowed up by it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my mental meanderings.


*EDIT: "this view" = eternal torment, as opposed to annihilation.
 

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Rufus said:
I suppose this goes around the Greek word apollymi, which has the root meaning of "utterly destroy," as in eternal destruction/perdition. Interestingly, it also has the meaning of "lose," e.g. to apololos probaton, "the lost sheep." The corresponding Latin word perdo has the same two meanings.

How are the two meanings connected?? I'm thinking of the English expression "we lost a man," being a circumlocuitous way of saying a man died.

Dow we have a Hebraeologist here?
I'm not one, but this seems relevant:

Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary said:
ABADDON [Heb ʾăbaddôn ([size=15pt]אֲבַדֹּון)]. Derived from Heb ʾābad, “became lost,” “be ruined, destroyed,” “perish,” Abaddon has a variety of nuanced meanings.

A poetic synonym for the abode of the dead, meaning “Destruction,” or “ (the place of) destruction.” Abaddon occurs in parallel and in conjunction with Sheol (Job 26:6 and Prov 15:11; 27:20). It is also found in conjunction with Death (Job 28:22) and in parallel with the grave (Ps 88:12—Eng 88:11). Although a place of mystery which is hidden from human eyes, Abaddon is clearly known by God (Job 26:6; Prov 15:11). It is twice personified: (1) along with Death, it speaks (Job 28:22); and (2) along with Sheol, it is insatiable (Prov 27:20). It is also remote: in Job 31:12, adultery becomes “a fire that consumes unto [as far as] Abaddon.” See also DEAD, ABODE OF THE.

In Rev 9:11, the word “Abaddon” is personified as “the angel of the bottomless pit.” It is also identified as the king of the demonic “locusts” described in Rev 9:3, 7–10, and is explained for Greek-speaking readers as Apollyon (Gk apollyōn), “destroyer.”
The LXX usually translates Heb ʾabaddon as Gk apōleia, “destruction”; the Vg renders it as Latin perditio, “ruin, destruction” (whence Eng “perdition,” which ordinarily means “hell”); in Syr (Peshitta), the cognate word means “destruction,” and is sometimes used in the Psalms to render “the Pit,” which is another OT synonym of Sheol.

In rabbinic literature, the word has come to mean the place of punishment reserved for the wicked. Current English versions render this word variously in the OT: “Abaddon,” “Destruction/destruction,” “the place of destruction,” “Perdition/perdition,” “the abyss,” “the world of the dead.” In the single NT occurrence, the word is consistently transliterated as “Abaddon.”
[/size]
Luke 15:32 in Hebrew: akhikha zeh haya met vehine chazar lachayim, avad vehine nimtsa.

Aramaic (Peshitto): hono achukh mitho hwo wachyo, wavidho hwo weshtkach.

("This brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.")

Lost sheep: tson 'ovdot (from the same root 'bd in Hebrew), but 'edhbe dt'aw in Syriac.
 

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Rufus said:
I suppose this goes around the Greek word apollymi, which has the root meaning of "utterly destroy," as in eternal destruction/perdition. Interestingly, it also has the meaning of "lose," e.g. to apololos probaton, "the lost sheep." The corresponding Latin word perdo has the same two meanings.

How are the two meanings connected?? I'm thinking of the English expression "we lost a man," being a circumlocutious way of saying a man died.

Dow we have a Hebraeologist here?
Norm, do you know if the 'Deg might be able to give us a clue here? even an indirect one?
 

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Here it is (re-translated from Romanian, so excuse the clumsiness - especially that of the philosophical jargon):

Definitive fates! But who ignores that nowadays a more or less vulgar origenism has crept into each soul, the secret conviction that God “will forgive eventually”? People of various conditions and extractions admit this so often, that one inadvertently begins to think “there is an imminent  core of truth to this”. The conscience starts from the idea of God as Love. Love cannot create in order to destroy, cannot build knowing that destruction will follow. Love cannot not forgive. Just as the rays of the all-victorious sun dispels mists, the brightness of God’s endless love dissipates any idea of retribution for His creature and all that pertains to it. From the vantage point of Eternity, everything is forgiven, everything is forgotten: May “God be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). In short, the impossibility of universal salvation is impossible.   

This is what things look like from the loftiness of the idea of God. But if we consider the polar and conjugated perspective, starting not from God’s love for His creature, but from the creature’s love for God, the same conscience unavoidably reaches the opposite conclusion. Now the conscience cannot concede that there can be salvation without responding to God’s love. And, since one cannot admit that love could lack freedom, that the Father could force His creature to love Him, the imminent conclusion is this: it is possible that God’s love does not meet a corresponding response from His creature, therefore the impossibility of universal salvation is possible.
   
The thesis: the impossibility of universal salvation is impossible and the antithesis: the impossibility of universal salvation is possible constitute an obvious antinomy. As long as God’s love is acknowledged, the thesis is unavoidable; as long as the creature’s liberty is admitted as a logical consequence of the same love of God, the antithesis is also unavoidable. The idea of a Triune God as Essential Love related to the idea of creature is developed in the mutually exclusive terms of forgiveness and retribution, salvation and perdition, love and merit, Redeemer and Punisher, thus in aspects which – from a rational point of view – are as incompatible as trinity and unity in intra-divine life. This way rigorous monarchianism and temperate tritheism appeared in history.

If man’s liberty is the authentic freedom of self-determination, then forgiving ill will becomes impossible, since it is a deliberate product of this liberty. To not consider ill will as evil would be to deny the authenticity of freedom. But if liberty is not authentic, it follows that God’s love for His creature is not authentic either; if there is no real freedom for the creature, there is no real delimitation of the Godhead in the act of creation, there is no “emptying”, and thus no love. And if there is no love, there is no forgiveness.

To the contrary, if there is divine forgiveness, there is also divine love, and consequently the authentic liberty of the creature exists. If there is real freedom, its consequence is also imminent, namely the possibility of ill will and, consequently, the impossibility of forgiveness.

Denying the antithesis negates the thesis as well; affirming the antithesis affirms the thesis, and vice-versa. Thesis and antithesis are inseparable, like the object and its shadow. The antinomic character of the dogma of final destinies is obvious from the logical perspective. Actually not only from a logical point of view: it is obvious psychologically as well. The soul prays for the forgiveness of all, it yearns for universal salvation, it hopes “for the peace the entire world”. But, given the perverted and damned ill will, which chooses evil for the sake of evil, given the will which denies God for the sake of denial and hates Him just because He is Love, in short, given the cynicism, the “love of evil” and in E.A. Poe’s words, “the demon of perversity”, the soul curses the very forgiveness of God, it denies and refuses it. “Never do people do as much evil and with as much pleasure – says Pascal – as when they do it consciously.” Thus: “for these hell is already embraced and insatiable; they are already voluntary martyrs. They damned themselves by cursing God and cursing life. They feed on their own pride as one who is starving in the desert, who started drinking his own blood. But they are insatiable unto the ages of ages and they refuse to be forgiven by God, who calls them. They cannot contemplate the living God without enmity and they demand that the God of life exist no more, that God should annihilate Himself and destroy His creation. And they will forever be consumed by the fire of their rage, they will forever thirst for death and nothingness. And death they will not have…” This is what Elder Zosima says in Dostoevsky. It’s not God who refuses to be reconciled with His creature and to forgive an evil soul, filled with hatred, but the very soul would not be reconciled with God. To constrain him to be reconciled, to forcefully make him love God, He would have had to deprive him of liberty, that is He Himself should have stopped loving and started hating. But being Love, He abolishes nobody’s freedom, because “those who of their own will deny Him, He separated from Himself, granting them what they themselves have chosen.”     

God’s Love, from which one previously deduced the unavoidable character of forgiveness, now becomes an obstacle for it. If previously we demanded universal salvation, now we are “revolted” by it.

Within the limits of reason there is no solution to this aporia. The solution can only consist of the effective transformation of the reality itself, where the synthesis of thesis and antithesis is experienced as a fact, as a direct consequence of experience, relying for its justification on the Tri-hypostatic Truth. In other words, the synthesis can only be given definitively in the living out of the final destinies of the creature,  that is in the complete renewal of the world; before that, the synthesis is experienced in the Mysteries, where we are granted a personal regeneration (you understand what I mean).
 
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