Aerial Toll Houses

Are any of you familiar with this teaching? This was brought up in another group I am in and, it kind of floored me! After reading this, Purgatory doesn’t bother me at all anymore. :wink:

Toll houses is an idea that some Orthodox theologians believed.

It’s not a doctrine, its a theological speculation of some Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox regarding the afterlife. Not to be taken literally, it is an analogy for the soul passing through the next phase after earthly death.

As long as they have Keeblers’ cookies, it won’t be too bad! LOL!!!

Seriously, this isn’t too far from my personal sense of Purgatory as a kind of customs-line, where one pays the “tariff” on their favorite sins before being allowed to go home.


Nothing of the sort. It is a theory that reflects the idea that the demons will try one final time to turn the soul away from faith and repentance for a time after death. It is, however, not literal.



It seems to fit very well with Catholic piety, else why do Catholics pray the Hail Mary including the lineHoly Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now **and at the hour of our death.**unless there was a particular need for Panagia’s prayers at that time?

The Catholic Church does not teach much dogmatically about the specifics of purgatory beyond that our prayers help the dead and that there is a temporal penalty due for sins after death. Whether such a penalty consists of some kind of fire or a passage through aerial tollhouses is less important.

Contrary to Per Crucem, my understanding is that tollhouses are intended literally.

There are some who have used them literally. However, the imagery, much like the imagery associated with purgatory, esp. from the middle ages, is not literal. The fact that souls may be tested by the demonic forces after death is something which is literal.

This looks like detailed insight of Purgatory here is another…

Is there a possibility of failing the test and being damned after one has entered the toll house? This would be quite different from the Catholic view of purgatory where all are guaranteed heaven after their purification.



Yes. It’s completely different than purgatory. The two are similar only inasmuch as they describe a state after death outside of hell or heaven. To the best of my knowledge the understanding is that one can turn away from faith after death, prior to heaven. Although, it may just be an aspect of the particular judgment, the outcome of which is already foregone depending on how the person lived their life.

I was going to say, either there is a particular judgment at the moment of death or there is not. Now I’m not real sure what the Orthodox view of the particular judgment is. :shrug:

I’ve never met anybody who thinks they’re supposed to be taken literally. They’re an allegorical reference to the demonic assault upon the soul at death, as the demons make one final attempt to draw the soul away from God.

I wonder if this was a source for CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce?

I think the other Orthodox members have defined and defended this well already. The idea is quite literal in the sense that the demons will be attempting to prove that you have sin and your soul belongs to them; while your angel will provide for your proof of confession and repentance. This is, as stated, a very different aspect than that of the Latin churches view of purgatory. It also shows how the demons will continue, even onto death, to try to steal the souls away if they can. In fact, the toll house(s) would probably speak more against the idea of purgatory than for it.

Thanks for the link. So it’s a “done deal” at the moment of death; one cannot be on their way to heaven and then fall into temptation because of some demonic influence and loose his salvation. That answers my question.

But it brings up another. What about those who die in a state of grace, yet are imperfect? Do you believe in any sort of purification process before entering heaven?

Thanks again.


All the reasonable sources deny such “toll stations” as gnostic clap-trap. It could be straight out of the ancient Egyptian book of the dead. The peasant folk took a liking to the silly superstition as they tended to in Roman Catholicism as well. Among the simpler, uneducated folk, fear and terrifying tales of punishment were or are strong deterrents to immorality.

Yet one’s destiny is determined at the time of death. What is there to decide and why would God need to listen to different sides, as in a court room, in order to make his judgment? What we have done is already known by him.

Most definitely.

What do you mean by “onto death”? Yes, we believe that the demons will try to steal our soul up to the moment of death, but not afterword. Our destiny has been determined at that point. We are either heaven bound or hell bound. If we get to purgatory there is only one direction we can go and that is heaven.

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