Orthodox teaching on heaven and hell

I have been looking into this and find it very intriguing. Could any Orthodox help to explain it?

“All over the board”, is the best way to describe it. I’ve heard of God’s light which warms the saints and burns the sinners; I have heard of his energies which divinize us; I have heard tell of toll-houses and soul-sleep.

You have to recognize what is doctrine and what is theological opinion. In Orthodoxy there is a leeway for pious belief without being accepted as a teaching of the Church. Unlike Roman Catholicism, there is no need to spell out each and everything people must believe in. There is a standard for the faith (orthodoxy) and it determines how every idea, every interpretation, if it is acceptable or not.

The part that you mention about “His energies divinize us” is what is doctrinal. Theosis is the path to salvation that Orthodoxy (and Eastern Catholicism) teaches.

Here: orthodoxwiki.org/Theosis

The dominant Orthodox construal of hell is represented in the following quotation from St Isaac the Syrian:

As for me I say that those who are tormented in hell are tormented by the invasion of love. What is there more bitter and violent than the pains of love? Those who feel they have sinned against love bear in themselves a damnation much heavier than the most dreaded punishments. The suffering with which sinning against love afflicts the heart is more keenly felt than any other torment. It is absurd to assume that the sinners in hell are deprived of God’s love. Love is offered impartially. But by its very power it acts in two ways. It torments sinners, as happens here on earth when we are tormented by the presence of a friend to whom we have been unfaithful. And it gives joy to those who have been faithful.

God is unconditional love. His love does not change. He does not inflict punishment for punishment’s sake. He does not inflict suffering to fulfill some standard of retributive justice. The damned suffer because they adamantly refuse the mercy and love of God.

For a popular, and polemical, presentation of the Orthodox understanding, see “The River of Fire” by Alexandre Kalmiros.

Yes. God does not punish us. We punish ourselves.

None of those are at odds with each other.:wink:

My original post has been borne out!

Excellent reasoning so far. I have heard it described like a music concert: those who loved God bask in his beautiful music for ever and those who hated God and turned away from him find it intolerable. Compare it to a rap music fan at a classical concert - the music is still beautiful, the listener is simply unable to love it.

Is this Orthodox teaching on heaven and hell : The listener either hears and participates in creating Gods music or hears silence.

Sorry to sound naive but who is St. Isaac the Syrian? Thanks.

If you do a Google search, you will find many articles about him; but here’s a good place to start: Met Hilarion on St Isaac.

St Isaac the Syrian - a hermit of the 7th century. Not a member of the hierarchy, ordained Bishop but abdicated to live in solitary in the desert. Not much is known of his life, his birth and death. His writing swere famous though and been used by the Orthodox Church. Credit to the OC to use as doctrine from the writing of this Saint.

Yeah, there are different opinions, but one common thing we all hold is the universal ressurection, some to glory, some to damnation.

St Isaac the Syrian was a prolific lay hymnwriter of the late 300s Syria, I believe. Oh, no, that Ephraim the Syrian. I’m actually not sure, as I just now realized that I constantly confuse Ephraim/em and Isaac. If I remember correctly, though, one of them was born nowhere near anything that has ever been called “Syria” anytime in history, and the other was born smack dab in the middle of Mesopotamia. But I’ll be ------- if I can tell you which one is which.

It’s more confusing than that. St. Isaac was born near Bahrain, and eventually became the bishop of Nineveh (smack dab in the middle of Mesopotamia, as you put it), hence why he is known as St. Isaac of Nineveh. His only proper connection, as far as I know, with the title ‘the Syrian,’ is that he wrote in the Syriac language. Furthermore, it is certain that St. Isaac was a bishop of the Nestorian Church. His commemoration by the Orthodox is one of the more curious things, like how St. John of Damascus, who was faithful to Chalcedon, is commemorated in the calendar of the Non-Chalcedonian Ethiopians, or how St. Sergius of Radonezh made it into the Martyrologium Romanum. Evidently, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there also existed a cult of veneration for St. Isaac among the non-chalcedonians, although they changed his biography to make him a Jacobite monk (perhaps this confusion could also be part of why he is known as ‘the Syrian’ despite having nothing to do with Syria).

St. Ephraim (the hymn writer born around the year 300), as far as I know, was actually born in Syria, in the city of Nisibis (which now lies right on the border between modern Turkey and Syria)

Is any of that more weird than Westcott and Hort (not to mention William Ockham) being reckoned with the, and as additional, great Doctors of the Church by the Anglicans, though?

No, that probably does take the cake. The only thing that could be stranger would be if the Copts canonized Nestorius, Theodoret, and Theodore of Mopsuestia (and that positively will never happen).

No, Julian of Eclanum could be added to the Calvinists’ order of worship, or Arius to the Synaxarion.

And Nisibis? “Except for twice”? Or “Not between”, maybe a better translation (if very loose) for the current situation? What a name for a city.

I think it’s a Latin transliteration for some Akkadian name. You might have better luck thinking of Semitic root words related somehow to n-s(emphatic s)-b-n.

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