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Tollhouses: purification or condemnation?

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The angels that are considered in Luke 12:20 seem to be the angels that come to escort the soul to paradise or hades. There does not seem to be toll houses involved since judgment is instant. There is such a treatise on hades that testifies of this. It is actually published as being written by Josephus but scholars say it was written by Hippolytus,

 

Luke

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The Latin Vulgate and the Syriac Peshitta also give "they are asking back/requiring." This is smoothed over in every modern translation I've seen, as well as in the KJV; they all understand it as a passive construction "will be asked back/required." The Douay-Rheims translates it literally as "this night do they require thy soul of thee." The passive understanding seems reasonable, though I haven't found a good explanation for it grammatically. John Gill, an 18th-century Baptist and strict Calvinist, notes in his commentary that the ancient versions are referring to devils whom God has commissioned to drag the soul to hell.
Although there was a strong emphasis with angelology in those days, it makes it very difficult not knowing who or what the verb is referring to.🧐

The only characters in the story are God, the rich man, his soul, material things, and a barn.
 
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MalpanaGiwargis

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Although there was a strong emphasis with angelology in those days, it makes it very difficult not knowing who or what the verb is referring to.🧐

The only characters in the story are God, the rich man, his soul, material things, and a barn.
I wonder if it was a local idiom or something. I know that in Coptic, there is not a true passive voice, and so a third person active verb with a "dummy subject" is used to express the passive: "[they] will require your soul" <=> "your soul is required." However, to my knowledge, this would be rare in both Greek and Aramaic since both have passive forms of the verb in question, though I suppose not impossible.
 
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So regardless of that possible interpretation of Luke, what of the possibility the accusations of demons are purifying and not condemnation.
 

Dominika

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Just my two thoughts:
1. In Eastern rites (not only Byzantine) we pray also for saints, as God is unfinishingly perfect, so the task to be on His likness is eternal, plus bulduing bond closer and closer with Him.

3. Tollhouses may be read as a kind of encouragment to fight step by step with ALL sins and wekanesses, not just chosen ones; so it may be a bit simialr to the Ladder of the Divine Ascent.
 

Saxon

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They seem to me to be a tool of condemnation. After you repose, you have no further efficacy over your own salvation - what's done is done, essentially. If the work necessary for salvation hasn't been accomplished by that point, the demons drag you to a very unpleasant intermediary state, and you better hope those prayers for the dead come through. Purgatory is a tool of purification; reportedly of varying degrees of unpleasantness, but you're guaranteed to reach Heaven when it's all said and done. C.S. Lewis compared it to taking a shower after a long day of labour before sitting down to dinner.

The priest at the new UOCC church I'm attending has some young (20-something) catechumens - three Pentecostals and a Catholic. He asked me to sit in on one of their discussions last week to get a convert's story. They asked about toll houses. It turns out this priest doesn't believe in them. To my knowledge, he's the first Orthodox priest I've met who doesn't.

I'm still trying to figure out where I sit on the issue. Absorbing the arguments, debates, and writings, I'm leaning towards a "no" to toll houses. A "yes" to an intermediary state after death, but not so much to toll houses.
 

Shanghaiski

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It's neither for purification nor condemnation, but is part of the particular judgment, whereby it is ascertained whether the soul is divinized (has been made God-like through doing the work of God, keeping the commandments, exercising virtue, repenting, loving God and neighbor) or demonized (doing the work of demons, rejecting the divine commandments, loving sin, etc.). The ordeals the soul may go through after death from the demons reflect what it has gone through in life, whether or not it acknowledged it.
 

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Gloria,

The definitive book on this topic was realased in 2017, called "The Departure of the Soul: According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church." It is the most comprehensive book on this topic ever written. The Orthodox who reject the doctrine of the toll-houses are influenced by modernism and western heterodoxy, and suffer from a lack of understanding of the Orthodox tradition. The toll-houses are in dogmatic theology volumes, church services, icons, lives of saints and patristic teaching. God does the judging, not demons. God is very merciful in the toll-houses. People who receive communion on the day they die shoot right through them.
 

J Michael

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Gloria,

The definitive book on this topic was realased in 2017, called "The Departure of the Soul: According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church." It is the most comprehensive book on this topic ever written.
That's a huge and pretty expensive book. I understand there's a much smaller and cheaper "Reader's Edition" out. Do you know anything about that?
 
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SirHandel6

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Here's the shorter version
It is what you might expect. It talks about what it states as "toll houses" rather than looking at the big picture of "purification" after death, which is what many of these saints are referring to, though some do refer to toll houses. In my opinion, the issue lies not in whether or not you "believe" in toll houses, but rather in what toll houses mean to each person, as some many say they "believe" toll houses are real, but when you ask them what they are you may receive a different answer. Now, what is the proper answer I dunno, that is up for the bishops in the future to decide.
 

Aspect

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SiHandel6r, have you actually read the entire book? I have. Some saints do not use the word "toll-houses," many do. And those who don't clearly refer to the concept The claim that what a person gains from the toll-houses is more important than whether or not you believe in them is patently false. None of the Fathers taught this. Orthodox Christians are required to believe in Orthodox doctrine. The toll-houses are an Orthodox doctrine.
 

Ainnir

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But not dogma?
 

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I haven't studied tollhouses yet. When I hear the term "tollhouses" I think of Clark Kent entering the phone booth. It isn't easy. Yet there is a transformation.
 

SirHandel6

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I haven't studied tollhouses yet. When I hear the term "tollhouses" I think of Clark Kent entering the phone booth. It isn't easy. Yet there is a transformation.
This is official church canon now. From now on when we think of tollhouses we must think of them like this.

Anyhoo, with the book and my response on the cookies, (this is for aspect btw) I think my wording might've sounded confusing. I wasn't saying what you gain from toll houses is more important than belief in them. I was actually referring to the fact there are many alternate views on what takes place during the process. Also, I would agree doctrinally/canonically there is a trial or ordeal after death between your vices and virtues, which is what I've in general seen most commonly among these quotes. But the reason I am hesitant to call all of them "tollhouses" is due to the fact, as stated before, there's not a clear enough definition of what they are. Is it exactly like what happens in the vision of St. Theodora by St. Basil the New, or is there a level of uncertainty? That may clear it up a bit.
 

Luke

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I haven't studied tollhouses yet. When I hear the term "tollhouses" I think of Clark Kent entering the phone booth. It isn't easy. Yet there is a transformation.
That is interesting. I haven't thought of it. When thinking of toll-houses, I usually think of this:


The next time I think of them, I will grab a bunch of cookies and munch on them in a phone booth. ;)
 
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This is one concept deeply held by many and (thankfully for some of us) avoidable for others. As quoted from an otherwise supportive explanation of this
subject of the toll-houses is not specifically a topic of Orthodox Christian theology :


http://orthodoxhistory.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Orthodox-Dogmatic-Theology.pdf


“it is not a dogma of the Church in the precise sense, but comprises material of a moral and edifying character, one might say pedagogical.”

The above is from Orthodox dogmatics by Fr Michael Pomezansky who supports the tolls but admits it is not an article of faith.
 

LizaSymonenko

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What if we travel through the tollhouses not after our deaths, but, here and now? We struggle with all these temptations, some more than others, and particular ones at various stages of our lives.

What if the demons tempt us throughout our lives... and take account of our actions...

....and upon our deaths we are merely judged on our actions... as we know we will be...
 

J Michael

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Here's the shorter version
It is what you might expect. It talks about what it states as "toll houses" rather than looking at the big picture of "purification" after death, which is what many of these saints are referring to, though some do refer to toll houses. In my opinion, the issue lies not in whether or not you "believe" in toll houses, but rather in what toll houses mean to each person, as some many say they "believe" toll houses are real, but when you ask them what they are you may receive a different answer. Now, what is the proper answer I dunno, that is up for the bishops in the future to decide.
Thanks, but that's not really "the shorter version". It is only a collection of about 60 non-consecutive sample pages of the original 900+ page book so that one may get a feel for it. I've contacted St. Anthony's monastery to see if they can make available the table of contents and some sample pages of the 200+ page "Reader's Edition". I'll let you know what happens.
 

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That is interesting. I haven't thought of it. When thinking of toll-houses, I usually think of this:


The next time I think of them, I will grab a bunch of cookies and munch on them in a phone booth. ;)
And, while in the phone booth, munching your cookies, you could contemplate death and the state of your soul.:cool:
 

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And " THEY" have taken down our phone booths and think not twice of it.
 

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“it is not a dogma of the Church in the precise sense, but comprises material of a moral and edifying character, one might say pedagogical.”

The above is from Orthodox dogmatics by Fr Michael Pomezansky who supports the tolls but admits it is not an article of faith.
Next time give the page number. The Toll-Houses is a doctrine of the Orthodox Church, but Orthodoxy distinguishes between dogma and doctrine. I don't see how the toll-houses can't be an article of faith, when it is in Orthodox dogmatic volumes (see below), the Fathers, saints, church services and icons.

Dogmatic theology volumes with the Toll-Houses:
Orthodox Church Dogmatics, by St. Justin Popovic;
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Met. Makarios of Moscow;
Dogmatic Theology, by Archbishop Anthony II of Kazan;
Orthodox Christianity, Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church, by Met. Hilarian Alfeyev;
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Fr. Michael Pomazansky;
Lessons in Dogmatic Theology, by Protopresbyter Vassili Boshchanovskii.
 
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Most people
Next time give the page number. The Toll-Houses is a doctrine of the Orthodox Church, but Orthodoxy distinguishes between dogma and doctrine. I don't see how the toll-houses can't be an article of faith, when it is in Orthodox dogmatic volumes (see below), the Fathers, saints, church services and icons.

Dogmatic theology volumes with the Toll-Houses:
Orthodox Church Dogmatics, by St. Justin Popovic;
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Met. Makarios of Moscow;
Dogmatic Theology, by Archbishop Anthony II of Kazan;
Orthodox Christianity, Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church, by Met. Hilarian Alfeyev;
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Fr. Michael Pomazansky;
Lessons in Dogmatic Theology, by Protopresbyter Vassili Boshchanovskii.
Ok.
 
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Next time give the page number. The Toll-Houses is a doctrine of the Orthodox Church, but Orthodoxy distinguishes between dogma and doctrine. I don't see how the toll-houses can't be an article of faith, when it is in Orthodox dogmatic volumes (see below), the Fathers, saints, church services and icons.

Dogmatic theology volumes with the Toll-Houses:
Orthodox Church Dogmatics, by St. Justin Popovic;
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Met. Makarios of Moscow;
Dogmatic Theology, by Archbishop Anthony II of Kazan;
Orthodox Christianity, Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church, by Met. Hilarian Alfeyev;
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Fr. Michael Pomazansky;
Lessons in Dogmatic Theology, by Protopresbyter Vassili Boshchanovskii.
Do all these sources say exactly what tollhouses are? I've read Fr. Michael Pomazansky's work, and besides the aforementioned part about how tollhouses are doctrine and not dogma, he's not exactly clear on what tollhouses and how they work. My question is one of soteriological and not eschatological concern. I don't question that they exist but how it would be possible to be saved if the demons will drag you to hell over every seedling of a passion you haven't overcome. After all the demons tempt you for several days of the 40 after death. How could we sinners possibly avoid every single one of the temptations?

It's not possible to be completely purified of all passions in this life (if we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves..).
 

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Love covers a multitude of sins. We forgive. We love.
 
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In my post #63, I have no idea where the portion saying “ Most people” came from. I just meant to say “ok” as I did in concluding my post,
 

Fr. George

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Gloria,

The definitive book on this topic was realased in 2017, called "The Departure of the Soul: According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church." It is the most comprehensive book on this topic ever written. The Orthodox who reject the doctrine of the toll-houses are influenced by modernism and western heterodoxy, and suffer from a lack of understanding of the Orthodox tradition. The toll-houses are in dogmatic theology volumes, church services, icons, lives of saints and patristic teaching. God does the judging, not demons. God is very merciful in the toll-houses. People who receive communion on the day they die shoot right through them.
The book makes the same mistake that others make: the vast majority of references cited as "tollhouse" related only point to "once your soul leaves the body, it will see the existing spiritual world, and will be more intensely subject to the warfare there, including an accounting of its sins." The systematized description (tollhouses, progression, etc.) seem to come not from scripture but from a much smaller subset of spiritual authors. (It wouldn't make sense for the tollhouses to appear in the OT, as there wasn't a comparable system in place before Roman roads, and they certainly don't appear in the NT.)
 

Fr. George

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Next time give the page number. The Toll-Houses is a doctrine of the Orthodox Church, but Orthodoxy distinguishes between dogma and doctrine. I don't see how the toll-houses can't be an article of faith, when it is in Orthodox dogmatic volumes (see below), the Fathers, saints, church services and icons.

Dogmatic theology volumes with the Toll-Houses:
Orthodox Church Dogmatics, by St. Justin Popovic;
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Met. Makarios of Moscow;
Dogmatic Theology, by Archbishop Anthony II of Kazan;
Orthodox Christianity, Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church, by Met. Hilarian Alfeyev;
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, by Fr. Michael Pomazansky;
Lessons in Dogmatic Theology, by Protopresbyter Vassili Boshchanovskii.
Note: all from the Slavic traditions, and all relatively new (from Orthodoxy).
 

LizaSymonenko

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Upon the Cross, Christ told the good thief that "today" he would be in Paradise.

While the tollhouses strike a chord of fear in everyone... and rightfully so... whether we do, or do not traverse through tollhouses... we will nonetheless still be held accountable for all our words, deeds, thoughts, etc.

So to me... this argument just divides us needlessly... when in truth... the end result will be the same. We will be judged. Christ is the Judge, and He is just.
 

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how it would be possible to be saved if the demons will drag you to hell over every seedling of a passion you haven't overcome.
That is not the teaching we get from the toll-houses. Demons accuse us, but in only severe cases do they take a soul to Hell. They don't take us to Hell for "every seeding of a passion" we haven't overcome. That's a straw-man argument. God's love, mercy and the help of angels constantly intervene by counterting our sinful deeds with the good deeds we had in life. The book "The Departure of the Soul" correctly relates the teaching of the toll-houses and shows God as judge and merciful.
 
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