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What started as a short reply to our pious and reverend Presbyter @ArmyMatt unleashed something of a can of worms in my mind as I realized it crossed the nexus of several areas of theological study I have been focused on for the past decade, resulting in a voluminous post that was only tangentially related to the thread which prompted it. Indeed I must apologize for the length of the post that follows, but these are topics close to my heart, for reasons that should become apparent.

Fr Tom actually said His Eminence never struck him as going that far, more like only universalism really made sense to him, but he could still be wrong.


agreed.

What Metropolitan Kallistos, memory eternal, said in his lecture Salvation In Christ in 2008 is that it is acceptable to hope that all may be saved, but an error to say that all must be saved, and this to me seems reasonable. He also mentioned the remark by CS Lewis that the gates of Hell are locked on the inside. I think it’s pretty clear that His Eminence was not a Universalist, but considered some form of apokatastasis a possibility one could hope for, and there is a world of difference I think between that and people like Dr. David Bentley Hart who are trying to argue that Holy Orthodoxy is and should be Universalist, which is a view contrary to the Fifth Ecumenical Council that if adopted would cause new schisms in the Eastern Orthodox communion and worsen existing schisms, driving more people over to the Old Calendarist jurisdictions, and also destroy the ecumenical relations the Antiochian and Alexandrian churches have established with their Syriac and Coptic Orthodox counterparts, since the Oriental Orthodox positively reject universalism. I shall return to the issue of neo-Universalists like Dr. David Bentley Hart shortly.


First, however, I felt that I should highlight the most compelling statement that Metropolitan Kallistos Ware made against Universalism (which is also prove positive that he was not himself a universalist by any stretch of the imagination), that being that the one thing God cannot do is force us to love Him. This is based on the idea that love must be voluntary or it is not true love. This statement is also what led me to definitively reject Calvinism (which I am unable to prove is false on the basis of the actual scriptural text, but as St. Irenaeus of Lyons pointed out in the second century (I think it was St. Irenaeus of Lyons, I am going off of the recollection of a lecture on the importance of a canon of interpretation given by Fr. John Behr), that Sacred Scripture is like a mosaic depicting a King, which without the canon of Holy Tradition received from the Apostles and the Fathers of the Orthodox Church, the words of the Holy Bible become like the tiles of the mosaic, which can be rearranged to depict something else, such as a lion or a serpent or really any arbitrary image; it is the Tradition of the Church which assembles them into their proper meaning). Indeed I made the decision to convert to Holy Orthodoxy based on three things: firstly, a lifelong fascination, particularly with Middle Eastern Christianity, secondly, watching videos of the Orthodox liturgy on YouTube and before YouTube came into being, hearing Orthodox music, particularly the exquisite setting of All Night Vigils composed by Rachmaninoff (later I discovered his setting of the Divine Liturgy, which I liked even more), and thirdly, on an intellectual level, I was convinced by the lectures given by Fr. John Behr, who I encountered first (specifically his lecture on “The Heresy of Orthodoxy” which addressed the idiocy and uselessness of the Gnostic gospels and attempts by heretical Christians, Unitarian Universalists and non-Christians like Elaine Pagels, Karen L. King, Jean Dominic Crossan and Bart Ehrman to discover “the historical Jesus”) who led me to the brilliant lectures by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, who reminded me of my late beloved father, who was a Rhodes Scholar and spoke in a similar manner, and their lectures, combined with others, provided the intellectual basis that coupled with the spiritual and noetic attraction I had with Orthodox Christianity at a convenient time, when I had become thoroughly frustrated with the combination of liberal theology and obnoxious praise and worship music in the mainline Protestant church of which I was a member and in which I had attempted to minister before throwing in the proverbial towel (I then spent a transitional year as an Episcopalian, because my friend Fr. Steven Dean was in the last year of his ministry before retirement, and was one of the last conservative Episcopalian priests in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and I wanted the chance to enjoy his company and that of his parishioners before his departure, at which time I promptly joined the Eastern Orthodox Church; indeed midway through my friend’s last year I stopped receiving communion there and began the preparations for conversion; I had actually been inadvertently received by a priest who spoke very poor English without Chrismation due to a mutual misunderstanding, so I had to see to it that oversight was corrected.


Now, with apologies for that very personal segue, which I felt curiously compelled to write, and perhaps belatedly returning to the subject of people pushing for the Orthodox Church to teach universalism: I do admire Dr. David Bentley Hart for his academic work including his withering response to Richard Dawkins, The Atheist Delusion, as well as his recent translation of the New Testament that seeks to translate not just the words or the meaning, but also the literary style of the Apostles and Evangelists from the original Greek into English. However, I feel very strongly that if he and other Universalist-leaning clergy and laity really want to belong to an Eastern Christian church that has an actual history of sustained official belief in a definite Apokatastasis, they should join the Assyrian Church of the East or the Ancient Church of the East, which are basically the same, latter being slightly more traditional*, but the two are in the process of reunfication. Now, these churches at present do not believe in apokatastasis, at least on any widespread scale, although until recently Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s observation in the first edition of The Orthodox Church, which I do feel is somewhat better written and more interesting than subsequent editions, that a shortage of qualified theologians hindered, among other things, Eastern Orthodox-Assyrian relations since the Assyrians were not able to clearly articulate the more subtle aspects of their doctrine. This is now fortunately no longer the case, and some aspects of Assyrian doctrine are surprising, such as their rejection of Nestorian Christology in favor of a translation of Chalcedonian Christology in the sixth century (although they are still technically in violation of the Council of Ephesus as they continue to use the term “Christotokos” and also venerate Nestorius as a confessor, although I have been repeatedly assured that they do not object to the use of the term Theotokos). Additionally, they are also not iconoclasts, as is widely supposed, but rather stopped placing icons due to continued Islamic defacing and desecration thereof, which may sound implausible, and it is possible that there is a lost history of iconoclasm, as one occasionally finds an Assyrian who thinks the church is iconoclastic, but their canons actually require an icon based on that of Christ Pantocrator or the Image Not Made By Hands to be present in the center of the altar, however, these canons are not widely followed due to, as far as I can tell, poor catchessis (and perhaps a fear of parishioners in some places defecting from one of the two churches to the other, perhaps not even intentionally, because Chaldean Catholic churches, which are the Eastern Catholic uniate equivalent of the Church of the East, recently have made a point of adding these icons, having usually lacked them until recently).


However, although it does not appear to reflect their present theology, we can definitely say that the Church of the East believed in Apokatastasis during the late first millennium, a time during which they enjoyed positive relations with both the Eastern Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox (the much loved Syriac Orthodox Maphrian*** Gregorios bar Hebraeus, when he reposed in an Assyrian village while en route from Tikrit to the monastery of St. Matthew in the hills above what is now Mosul, was given a funeral by the Church of the East presided over by the Catholicos himself, and separately there were numerous positive encounters with the Patriarchate of Antioch, which was unable to operate in the Persian Empire due to the centuries-long cold war, occasionally a shooting war, so to speak, between the Romans and the Sassanians. We can assert this due to the Book of the Bee, an attempt by the Bishop of Basra to write a history of the world, past, present and future, summarizing what was recorded in Scripture and the eschatological theology of the Church of the East, in which eternal torment in Hell was denied, with the author instead stating that each infidel would be released after receiving an appropriate number of stripes (lashes) for their offenses, ergo Hell becomes identical to the Roman Catholic concept of purgatory, which obviously contradicts the teaching of the majority of Orthodox Church fathers such as St. John Chrysostom, and the Fifth Ecumenical Council, which rejected all forms of Monergism which include, by necessity, Universalism.


Likewise, we see Apokatastasis described in the recently translated writings of St. Isaac the Syrian (admittedly, some Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics, along with what I suspect is a majority of the Coptic Orthodox, who particularly dislike the Church of the East and all it stands for, to the point of blocking its admission to the association of Middle Eastern churches, reject the idea that these writings, which identify St. Isaac as a member of the Church of the East, were written by the same St. Isaac they venerate. While I myself am confident in the scholarship of Sebastian Brock, I respect the opinions of those who, for pious reasons, do not accept that the recently translated writings were by the same person, and suggest that there was another monk named Isaac who was a member of the Church of the East whose writings have been conflated with those of St. Isaac by Sebastian Brock. If this proves to be the case (which I personally doubt, but it could be), it does not change the fact that the Assyrian church definitely embraced Apokatastasis at a time when both the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox had fairly decisively rejected it.


It is my view that the harm that could be done to Eastern Orthodoxy if we do not act to contain the problem of universalism is considerable. It would represent a departure from the Apostolic tradition, pose a theological problem as eloquently articulated by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware as I mentioned previously, that God cannot force us to love Him and for that reason we cannot say that all must be saved; additionally, we do have prominent warnings in scripture that people will be consigned to the outer darkness, and some Orthodox fathers even suggested that this was a mercy, because God in His infinite love is a consuming fire, and being in the immediate presence of God in the World to Come, a place eternally illuminated by the Light of God Himself, would be torture for those who hate Him, and therefore the work of an Orthodox Christian is to repent of evil and align ourselves with God so that His uncreated energies are received by us as Love rather than as fiery wrath (since God, being impassable, does not go from being in a good mood to suddenly being enraged, as a primitive anthropomorphology would suggest, but rather, the wrath of God is what one experiences when through sin we align ourselves against the consuming fire of His Love and are therefore burned rather than comforted. Immediate universalism results in this theology being discarded outright, while the idea of Hell as Purgatory contradicts scriptural texts and the rejection of monergism. Indeed, the disturbing aspect to this theology, as expressed in the Book of the Bee, which is presumably being advocated by Dr. David Bentley Hart and other misguided Eastern Orthodox Christians who have rejected the Orthodox doctrine on the soul after death in favor of a misinterpretation and misappropriation of Patristic concepts of apokatastasis, is that if we combine the writings of Eastern Orthodox theologians concerning the nature of God’s love, which Metropolitan Kallistos summarized as God being unable to force us to love Him, or perhaps one might prefer to say, God is unwilling to force us to love Him since that would be coercive, and since sin can be described as rejecting God’s love in favor of self-love due to submission to the passions, with the ancient Assyrian eschatological interpretation of Apokatastasis that can only be described as Hell-as-purgatory, an idea which I should reiterate no longer appears to be the prevailing doctrine of either the Assyrian or the Ancient Churches of the East, and which indeed does not even appear to remain in a vestigial form like Nestorianism, which functionally has been rejected, since like the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, the Assyrians affirm that the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ is united in His incarnation without change, confusion, separation or division, while paradoxically continuing to use the term “Christotokos” for reasons of tradition and defiance of the Council of Ephesus and continuing to venerate Nestorius (to the extent that one of their three Anaphoras, which is an obvious adaptation of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, is pseudepigraphally attributed to Nestorius due to its origin in the Church of Constantinople of which the heresiarch was Patriarch until being deposed by the Council of Ephesus, thanks primarily to the efforts of St. Cyril the Great with the useful backing of St. Celestine), well, the problem is that it leads to a scenario which, on closer examination, amounts to God, who we believe to be infinitely loving, consigning people to be tortured until they love Him back, which is obviously inconsistent.


(Continued in next post)
 

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In the likely event that my segues into the historical theology and liturgiology of the Assyrian church may have caused you to miss that, what I am asserting is that, what Dr. David Bentley Hart and other Eastern Orthodox proponents of Universalism are missing, is that, in taking, among other things, the writings of St. Isaac the Syrian which support Apokatastasis but which were written in the isolated bubble of Assyrian eschatology, and not within the larger and more sophisticated context of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox theology, which is the starting point of Eastern Orthodox universalists who think, wrongly, that they are following the lead of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware when in fact they are headed in precisely the wrong direction, is that the incompatible combination of these two eschatological systems leads to the inevitable outcome, which I believe Dr. Hart has yet to realize, or else he would retract or clarify his position, that God will torture us until we love Him sufficiently. This idea is dreadful to contemplate and frankly makes the Calvinist soteriology, which was so repulsive to John Wesley that he said to George Whitefield, leader of the Calvinist-leaning Methodists, “your God is my Devil”, look appealing in comparison.

And I don’t think it has dawned on Dr. Hart and other supporters of Universalism in the Orthodox Church, because aside from not being properly versed in the traditional theology of Eastern Orthodoxy, they know little or nothing about the history and theology of the Assyrian Church of the East, which for the past decade has been the center of much of my research. Thus, when suggesting, in jest, I might add, that Dr. Hart and others who want to teach Universalism in the Orthodox Church consider joining the Assyrian or the Ancient Church of the East, my point is that if they separated themselves from the Orthodox theological tradition, the idea of Apokatastasis becomes much less horrific in its implications, and the philanthropic intentions behind it become unencumbered by the nightmarish implications one gets by combining incompatible the refined Syro-Alexandrian-Antiochian-Cappadocian-Slavonic synthesis that is Eastern Orthodox theology, hamartiology and eschatology, with the confused potpourri of Nestorianism, Antiochene theology, pan-Syrian theology, and refined liturgical and mystical theology that was developing specifically within the Church of the East under the influence of St. Ephraim, pseudo Dionysius the Aereopagite, and St. Isaac the Syrian (who, even if he turns out not to have been a member of the Church of the East, is still venerated by them as a Saint and had a profound impact on their theology), combined with occasional dialogue with the Syriac Orthodox and the Maronite Catholics******, but whose promising development was halted by events that were no fault of the Assyrians themselves.

In a purely Assyrian theological context, in its underdeveloped simplicity, monergism is permitted, and the essence/energies distinction is not particularly well understood, and scripture is interpreted solely with the literal-historical hermeneutics of the Catechtical School of Antioch, much like in Protestant theology, so the nightmarish and frankly blasphemous Orwellian theology of God torturing us until we love him, like O’Reilly torturing Winston until he genuinely loves Big Brother in Nineteen Eighty-Four, is avoided, justice is preserved by ensuring that the wicked unbelievers are punished, and at the same time the supposed cruelty of eternal torment is avoided.

But this simplistic eschatology (which is strongly reminiscent of the primitive and immature theology of evangelical Protestants and fundamentalist Baptists albeit resulting from an historical tragedy rather than a deliberate spirit of anti-intellectualism such as that which permeates the denominations spawned by the Radical Reformation, Restorationism and the Revivalist movements of the 18th and 19th century) we know to be wrong, as it contradicts the consensus patrum on a larger scale, and for the very reasons expressed by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, we know that universalism and all other forms of monergism must be rejected in order to preserve the Apostolic faith. And what is more, we can assert that unless all evildoers voluntarily repent, they are damned to a Hell of their own making, for as St. John Chrysostom pointed out, the worst part of damnation is missing out on the joys of paradise. However, it is entirely impossible for the joys of paradise to be experienced by the unrepentant, for the great joy stems from proximity to, interaction with and participation in the uncreated energies of God, which cause unbearable suffering to those who have not aligned themselves with God’s grace and thus experience His love as a lake of fiery torment rather than as sublime agape, the fulfillment of the purpose for which mankind and the angels were created. Thus the only option for a loving God is to consign the devil and others who have set themselves against them to the outer darkness, where the weeping and gnashing of teeth is inevitable as the thought of what might have been and resentment and hatred towards the elect as a result gnaws at them as an undying worm, as St. Chrysostom warned, and so we see in the fate of the damned that even God’s perfect justice is as merciful as it can be in accommodating those who are bent on destruction of themselves and the rest of creation through unbridled indulgence of the passions.*******

I wish to conclude by stating that I have a great love for the Assyrian Church of the East; I believe that it, perhaps more than any other church, has an immediate potential to become an Orthodox Church, since it shares so much with us in terms of liturgical theology and the mystical theology that managed to survive the genocide of Tamerlane, encoded in its liturgy. And this also explains the reason why the Assyrian church became confused about its theology, and why the development of its theology ceased, and its eschatology became confused and broken. For its theology, which had developed richly, albeit in relative isolation, without much influence from the Cappadocians and almost none from the Alexandrian school, was cut off because of the horrific genocide waged against them by the Monglo-Turkic Muslim warlord Timur the Lame, better known as Tamerlane, and his sons, starting in the twelfth century, the Assyrians were able to preserve their liturgical forms and some basic texts but lost all of their monasteries and most of their members in the course of that massive genocide. What we possess now are only shreds and traces of the theology of what was once the world’s largest and most important church, one which was destroyed so completely it forgot everything except for its prayers. And what its prayers did preserve is very beautiful and for the most part fully compatible with Eastern Orthodoxy. The mistakes that it made and was making, concerning Nestorianism and later, after it managed to sidestep that disaster by acquiring what was effectively a translation of the Chalcedonian model under Catholicos Mar Babai the Great, apokatastasis, which endured for a few centuries longer in the Church of the East than in its Occidental counterparts, for it was clear in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches by the year 550 that Apokatastasis as proposed by Origen and also mentioned by St. Gregory of Nyssa was not viable, but the Assyrian church took longer to come to this conclusion, as it was fast growing but lacked much in terms of a stable theological base at that time, for by then, the Nestorian theologians exiled from Antioch to Nisibis had reposed and it fell to the monks to continue to explore theological concepts while the majority of the resources of the church remained focused on expansion to the furthest extremes of Asia.

The genocide of Tamerlane was I believe one of the three worst genocides to have historically been waged against Christians, a genocide which exterminated all members of the Church of the East in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Central Asia, and Yemen, leaving only the St. Thomas Christians in India and the Assyrians in the Fertile Crescent, about 5% of the former membership of what up until that time had actually been the largest church in the world in terms of geographic territory and possibly the largest in terms of membership,. Genocides waged by Islamic fundamentalists seems to be something of a theme in this thread, and this is not a coincidence, for the other two genocides of greatest destructive impact were the earlier genocide, likely perpetrated by Arian converts to Islam partially of Visigothic descent, which exterminated all African Christians except for the Coptic and Alexandrian Greek Orthodox and the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox, and more recently, the 1915 Sayfo, as the Syriac Orthodox call it, against the Armenians, Syriac Christians and the Pontic Greek Orthodox of Turkey (which coupled with the forced population exchange of 1920 between Greece and Turkey, which happened due to further genocidal threats among other political factors, resulted in the ethnic cleansing of nearly all Hellenophone Christians from Turkey, a tragedy which would be repeated in Northern Cyprus and Kosovo as a tragedy and not a farce (Karl Marx was wrong, as usual, in that history repeats itself not as a tragedy followed by a farce but as a tragedy followed by a tragedy, but crass, insensitive and inhuman platitudes posing as intellectual discourse was his speciality). And more recently, we had the attempted genocide in Syria and Iraq, and there are Azeri troops massing on the borders of ethnically Armenian territory. Kyrie eleison.

As fellow victims of the genocides, and as Eastern Christians who share with the Eastern Orthodox a rejection of the errors of the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism, including a rejection of the Filioque, a rejection of Scholastic theology, a rejection of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide and other 16th century innovations, and who possess an ancient liturgy, including one of the three oldest anaphoras in the world (that of Saints Addai and Mari; the other two are the Anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus, and the Divine Liturgy of St. Mark, also known as the Divine Liturgy of St. Cyril, which is actually the oldest attested liturgy still in use, owing to the second century Strasbourg Papyrus. This liturgy is frequently used in the Coptic Orthodox church, an anaphoric derived from it is periodically used in the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Greek Divine Liturgy of St. Mark is occasionally used in the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, which has an 1893 version of it that shares the synaxis (except for the prayers said by the priest after each of the three antiphons) with the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, and the obscure Divine Liturgy of St. Peter, known to have been used as recently as the early 20th century by some Russian Orthodox old believers, along with that of St. Mark and St. James, which has a different synaxis. A textual variant taken from the Euchologion of St. Serapion of Thmuis was celebrated by Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus in 2009; I would love to see the rubrics he used, but I digress. The Assyrians also use the Trisagion, as one would expect. Finally, the Assyrian Church of the East already have very good relations with some Orthodox churches, especially the Russian Orthodox Church, and as far as I am aware, both the Antiochian Orthodox Church and its Oriental Orthodox Syriac counterpart also have warm relationships with the Assyrian Church of the East, which is in the process of reuniting with the Ancient Church of the East.

Optimistically, perhaps, I feel that all is needed for reunion with the Assyrians is for them to display icons on the holy table of their altars as their own canon law requires, the formal adoption of the term Theotokos and a de-emphasis of Nestorius, as the veneration of Nestorius is naturally extremely offensive to most Orthodox including myself; I have no objection to their veneration of Theodore of Mopsuestia, primarily because of his friendship with St. John Chrysostom, his death in the peace of the church and his anathematization post-mortem by Justinian (the anathema against Origen bothers me for the same reasons), but Nestorius was anathematized while still alive and had every opportunity to recant, repent and be readmitted, but instead, driven by pride, he stuck to his guns, and wrote a self-serving petulant autobiographical tome with the pretentious title The Bazaar of Heraclides. And I believe this is all entirely possible, although I believe reunification with the Oriental Orthodox should be pursued first, due to the particularly low regard the Coptic Orthodox Church has for the Assyrian Church, since Coptic theology (and Ethiopian theology, by extension) is driven by an intense love for the idea of the Incarnation as described by St. Athanasius and St. Cyril and an intense loathing for Nestorius, Nestorianism and anything that resembles it. It is for this reason that a small minority of Ethiopian monks incorrectly accuse the Chalcedonian churches of Nestorianism. However, if we attempted a premature reunion with the Assyrians without first achieving reunion with the Copts, it would pose a problem for this reason. However, some people would argue that reunion with the Assyrians would be easier that reunion with the Oriental Orthodox, although such an argument disregards the fact that a limited reconciliation which includes intercommunion for married couples is already in place between the Coptic Orthodox and the Alexandrian Greek Orthodox churches, and an even closer ecumenical relationship exists between the Syriac Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox (in the Middle East; my understanding is that the agreement does not extend to the Antiochian Orthodox Church of North America because the AOCNA is an autonomous church under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Antioch, much like how the Church of Sinai is an autonomous church under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Jerusalem (which is likely why there are numerous reports of Coptic pilgrims receiving the Eucharist at St. Catharine’s monastery, which would be very unlikely at a parish of the Hagiopolitan Church itself and almost certainly unthinkable at the Holy Sepulchre due to the tense politics such as the infamous immovable ladder.
 
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*The two separated in the 1960s not over just the issue of the Gregorian Calendar by Mar Shimun XXIII but rather after a group of bishops discovered a manuscript that was a nomocanon, or collection of canon laws, of the Church of the East, and among them was a canon stating that a bishop cannot appoint his successor, which made the unusual hereditary succession of the Catholicos of the East which had persisted for around four or five centuries by that time, and consequently the patriarchate of Mar Shimun XXIII, uncanonical. This led to the appointment of a very young priest as acting patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, who would become Mar Addai II of blessed memory, who reposed last year, being one of the last primates of any Middle Eastern Church appointed long before the Arab Spring. In the Assyrian Church of the East, Catholicos Mar Dinkha IV of blessed memory, who reposed in 2015 if I recall, and who I saw at a liturgy in 2014** also abolished the hereditary patriarchate permanently after he was elected, following the tragic assasination of Mar Shimun XXIII, believed to have been in response to his becoming engaged to be married (the hereditary patriarchs were supposed to remain celibate, like all Assyrian bishops above the rank of Chorepiscopus. A Chorepiscopus, or Choir Bishop, is in effect an Archpriest who has been granted limited episcopal powers, such as the ability to ordain readers and other minor orders and to perform consecrations of altars, the latter being useful in the Assyrian Church of the East because of a number of canons which cause their altars to become desecrated, requiring a Bishop to re-consecrate them, in the event of any number of accidental mishaps, for example, a minor spill on the Holy Table, or if a priest‘s sandal came off and his bare foot touched the floor of the altar, or if the priest inadvertently filled the chalice with Holy Oil (fortunately, they also have a wooden tablet similar to the Syriac Orthodox tablitho, which functions like an Orthodox antimention, and if the altar is inadvertently desecrated it does not automatically desecrate the antimension tablet).



**To my great chagrin that particular visit was cut short in an embarrassing moment when I passed out and fell down the marble staircase at St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Tarzana neighborhood of Los Angeles, whose name is in fact derived from Tarzan of the Apes, a beautiful new church the Patriarch was consecrated, located next to St. Innocent’s OCA, and also a Georgian Orthodox parish which is one of only three in the United States, as Los Angeles has a large Georgian population, and also a United Methodist Church a client of mine whose business unfortunately collapsed due to Covid-19 attends, and down the street, a combination synagogue and advanced Torah research center, like a Yeshiva but for adult Jews, I forget what they are called, but our friend @Yeshua HaDerekh might know owing to his expertise in Judaism, which is a religion that I do not agree with in its present forms but find extremely interesting to study, and I also happen to like Jewish people, several of them having been my contacts at the client companies of my software engineering practice and close friends, and a desire of mine is to see more Messianic Jews convert to the Orthodox Church, which provides that which many Jews aspire to but cannot really attain, such as genuine mystical prayer, the presence of the Messiah, and fulfilled worship, as well as actual temples which fulfill the prophecy of St. Ezekiel, in which the bloodless and rational sacrifice of the Eucharist is offered.



*** Maphrian is the title the Syriac Orthodox adopted for the bishop second in precedence in their hierarchy, to avoid confusion with the Catholicos of the East. The Patriarch would serve as the principle celebrant among the bishops present at the consecration of the Maphrian, and likewise the Maphrian would preside over the consecration of the Patriarch. The Maphrian was historically responsible for overseeing the operations of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mesopotamia, and the Persian Empire, while the Patriarch directly supervised the church in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and the Holy Land. The Patriarch, until the aftermath of the gruesome genocide against Syriacs, Assyrians, Pontic Greeks and Armenians in 1915**** resided at one of the monasteries in Tur Abdin, in modern day Turkey, while the Maphrian alternated between the Syriac Orthodox bastion in Tikrit and the Monastery of St. Matthew, located in the hills above Mosul, formerly known as Nineveh, the areas around which have historically been a stronghold for Syriac Orthodox, Assyrian and Chaldean Catholic Christians, as well as the Yazidis and other Kurds, and it was in this area that the principle ISIS genocide against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq occurred in 2014-2015, with Christians having to flee Mosul or face being forcibly circumcised without anestheia, and the Yazidi town of Sinjar being subject to a massacre of all of its adult and older teenage men, with the younger boys and the girls and women of all ages sold into slavery, including sexual slavery.



**** The depravity of the ISIS genocide in 2015 would not come as a shock to anyone familiar with the Ottoman genocide of 1915, which in turn would have come as no surprise to any Bulgarian Orthodox Christians, who were the victims of an equally brutal genocide in the 1870s, albeit one which horrified 19th century European sensibilities and resulted in the Ottoman Empire being permanently stripped of its province known as Roumelia (from Rum, the Arabic word for Roman, as I am sure most Orthodox members are aware is the demonym historically used by Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Middle East and the former Ottoman Empire, owing to our status as the actual Roman Catholic Church - the fact that we refer to the Latin church as the Roman Catholic Church is effectively a courtesy title intended to foster ecumenical dialogue, but it would be more accurate to call them the Latin Church and to refer to Eastern Catholics as Byzantine Rite Christians in communion with the Latin Pope, but this would of course greatly interfere with ecumenical relations, and even for those who do not hope for a reunion with them or a partial reunion*****, ecumenical relations have brought benefits, such as the return of relics which had been previously stolen by various Western European powers such as the Venetian Republic, most notably the relics of the Three Holy Hierarchs, although I have to confess the fact that those relics are at St. George’s Cathedral in Istanbul makes me nervous given the increasing fanaticism of the Erdogan regime, and I hope that at least someone in the Ecumenical Patriarchate has worked out a plan for surreptitiously evacuating these relics to Thessaloniki, Crete or another safe location, because it seems a near certainty that the Turkish Ministry of Antiquities would not allow their removal.



***** I hope for a full reunion along with a correction of their theological errors, namely purgatory, created grace, the filioque, and certain other aspects of Scholastic theology which were discontinuous with Patristic theology and contradict Orthodox theology, which continues the Patristic tradition to such a great extent that I don’t mind thinking of St. John of Kronstadt, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov and St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite as Church Fathers).



****** The main basis for suspecting contact between the Assyrians and Maronites is twofold: firstly, there is an East Syriac anaphora that is an interloper among their large repetoire of West Syriac anaphoras, most of which are shared with the Syriac Orthodox, but not this one, although the anaphoric in question is not used by the Church of the East and might never have been, it is of the same distinctive structure as their Eucharistic liturgies. Secondly, and more speculatively, many believe the Maronites were excommunicated by the Syriac Orthodox for embracing Monothelitism, which is heresy in the Oriental Orthodox Church as much as in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but which is coincidentally an implied requirement of Nestorianism, since in Nestorian Christology, the man Jesus and the divine Logos are united by one will - this fact I suspect contributed to its rejection by the two communions it was supposed to unite, ironically separating the Maronites from the Oriental Orthodox and also separating St. Maximus the Confessor, who I have a profound devotion to, from his tongue, leading to him becoming a martyr as well as a confessor, since his exlinguination lead to his death, a reminder that we are all one incompetent theologian away from receiving a crown of martyrdom through immense suffering should we have the courage to confess the truth of Christ before men.
 
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Yeshua HaDerekh

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a combination synagogue and advanced Torah research center, like a Yeshiva but for adult Jews, I forget what they are called, but our friend @Yeshua HaDerekh might know owing to his expertise in Judaism, which is a religion that I do not agree with in its present forms but find extremely interesting to study, and I also happen to like Jewish people, several of them having been my contacts at the client companies of my software engineering practice and close friends, and a desire of mine is to see more Messianic Jews convert to the Orthodox Church, which provides that which many Jews aspire to but cannot really attain, such as genuine mystical prayer, the presence of the Messiah, and fulfilled worship, as well as actual temples which fulfill the prophecy of St. Ezekiel, in which the bloodless and rational sacrifice of the Eucharist is offered.
Shalom! Are you speaking about Chabad? Shul, Kollel, Beit Midrash?
 
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Very interesting and informative post - I'm just down the road from one of their parishes and I've meant to go check it out sometime but, you know, I'm busy on Sundays.
 
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The Liturgist

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Very interesting and informative post - I'm just down the road from one of their parishes and I've meant to go check it out sometime but, you know, I'm busy on Sundays.

Indeed obviously I do not suggest visiting them in lieu of a service at your parish. They do have midweek services and I also have a playlist of high quality streams including English language and the rare Presanctified Liturgy they recently resumed serving occasionally after a hiatus of a few centuries or so, which you may enjoy meeting. I strongly encourage meeting the Assyrians however as they are extremely loving people - I was hugged by an elderly Assyrian lady the first time I visited one of their churches. And their services are beautiful with intense use of incense, and their food is reasonably good, not as good as Armenian, Georgian, Greek, Russian or Ukrainian cuisine that one sometimes gets after a liturgy (and I assume Ethiopian food during non-fasting seasons, as I love Ethiopian cuisine), but definitely on a par with Levantine Christian food. As I see it, the first step in persuading the Assyrians to stop venerating Nestorius, comply with their own canon law that requires them to display an icon of Christ Not Made By Hands on the altar table, and to refer to Our Lady, who they do venerate and seek the intercessions of, as Theotokos, so as to be able to join the Orthodox in communion, is to visit with them and convince them that friendship with us is worth it, and of the benefits of communion.

One compelling inducement might be that since 700,000 of the roughly 1.1 million members of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East speak a vernacular Aramaic dialect, given that the Antiochian Orthodox Church has one of the few Aramaic speaking villages in Syria, and the only Aramaic speaking Convent (albeit a different dialect, but still, there is some level of mutual intelligibility, especially for their clergy who speak and use Classical Syriac as the liturgical language, like their Syriac Orthodox counterparts but with a different, and indeed older, accent), which is important since the Assyrians recently tried unsuccessfully to start a monastery in California, and while a minority of the Syriac Orthodox speak vernacular West Syriac dialects, particularly Turoyo, the majority vernacular languages in the Syriac Orthodox Church have unfortunately become Arabic and Malayalam, and I am unaware of any convents outside of India, so even if a Syriac Orthodox monastery is able to get by speaking a Syriac dialect, there are no convents, and female monasticism is essential in setting up a viable monastic system, which the Church of the East has not had for roughly 800 years. So if the Assyrians become part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, it would help solidify the Aramaic speaking community, and also help them jumpstart their monastic initiative. The benefits would of course be compounded if the schism with the Oriental Orthodox is first resolved.

(As you may suspect, given a choice between two Orthodox parishes of equal convenience, I will preferentially attend the one with better food and better music, provided the people are equally lovely, but given that I love midweek services, frequently this means I would be at either/or. And I will visit Assyrian, Continuing Anglican and other high church Protestant, and Traditional Latin masses provided they do not conflict with the schedule of the Orthodox churches I am involved with.).
 
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Light of the East

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It is my view that the harm that could be done to Eastern Orthodoxy if we do not act to contain the problem of universalism is considerable. It would represent a departure from the Apostolic tradition, pose a theological problem as eloquently articulated by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware as I mentioned previously, that God cannot force us to love Him and for that reason we cannot say that all must be saved;

Let me say in the beginning that having read your posts, I know that I am not on the intellectual level that you are, nor am I as deep in the history of the Church as your posts show you to be. There are, however, questions that I have, and statements that I would like to make. I will parse out the various sentences in your post, as I have done above, in order to separate my questions/concerns.

How is Universalism not part of the Apostolic Tradition? In the first 500 years of the Church, there were four theological schools teaching it in the Roman Empire, predominately in the East, as the Western schools were teaching Eternal Conscious Torment. Where could this idea, and the corresponding belief in God's all-restorative love, have come from if not from the Apostles. Augustine, whose ideas both began the attack on Universalism and are the foundation of the heresy known as Calvinism, admitted that there were a "great number" of people who believed in and taught God's universal salvific plan. Perhaps you know something I do not or have missed in my readings on the subject, but it seems that this was a teaching that went all the way back to the Apostles.


additionally, we do have prominent warnings in scripture that people will be consigned to the outer darkness,

This is called "reading into the text." I looked up the scriptures on "outer darkness" and there are three only. First of all, admitting that the Scriptures talk of outer darkness, where is the clarification that this state lasts forever? I see none. Secondly, what is the nature of this outer darkness. I think some research is needed on my part to understand this from a Jewish perspective, inasmuch as Jesus was speaking to Jews and using Jewish Apocalyptic Language which would be understood by them, but is alien to our twentieth century thinking. It is, in fact, alien to Western thinking, for we see the Latin Church claiming that Matthew 16 speaks of Christ giving the keys of the "Kingdom of Heaven" to Peter, and they use that to insist that this establishes the Papacy. In fact, the phrase, "the Kingdom of Heaven," appears only in Matthew's Gospel, which is specifically directed to the Jews. It is the "Jewish Gospel," and this gives us the proper understanding, along with the Jewish idiom of the day regarding the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" as to what Jesus was speaking about. The Kingdom of Heaven was understood by the Jews in Christ's day as meaning national Israel. We need to be very careful when reading the Scriptures with a 21st century Western mindset. That is where Protestant Fundamentalist comes from.
and some Orthodox fathers even suggested that this was a mercy, because God in His infinite love is a consuming fire, and being in the immediate presence of God in the World to Come, a place eternally illuminated by the Light of God Himself, would be torture for those who hate Him, and therefore the work of an Orthodox Christian is to repent of evil and align ourselves with God so that His uncreated energies are received by us as Love rather than as fiery wrath (since God, being impassable, does not go from being in a good mood to suddenly being enraged, as a primitive anthropomorphology would suggest, but rather, the wrath of God is what one experiences when through sin we align ourselves against the consuming fire of His Love and are therefore burned rather than comforted.

I have a dog in this fight, having had a very personal experience of God's chastening fire in my own life.

I know this personally because I was given a minuscule taste of it after the death of my first wife. I had spent years being driven by Christian fear-mongers who threatened me with eternal fire if I did not believe correctly and did not win souls to Christ. One even went as far as to say that nothing was more important than serving Christ, even one’s own family. In the grip of this brainwashed farce of a religion, I became driven and self-righteous. I was sure I had the correct religion, and since my family didn’t share my views, I was cold and indifferent to them. I gave more time to my church and its activities than to them, desperately working to be sure God loved me and would receive me into His Kingdom rather than toss me into hell. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was a judgmental boor, constantly badgering people about “getting right with God” so they could go to heaven. While the message was technically correct, the insensitive way I clubbed people over the head with it was not.

It was only after Karen died that I was brought one night to see what a jerk I had become. At the urging of two friends who were Carmelite nuns, I went back to a monastery I had visited before, wondering if the life of a monk was now God’s plan for the rest of my life. On my last night of a three month stay, I had an interior illumination which shook me to my core. In this illuminated moment, with clarity I remembered my poor wife, sitting alone upstairs, watching TV, without her husband there to be with her. Every night I came home, made dinner, and went downstairs to spend hours on the computer. For the first time I clearly realized how selfish this was. The knowledge of this truth was like waves of fire raining down on my conscience. I cannot begin to adequately describe in words the agony of this knowledge, but fire is a good description. That is exactly what it felt like. There was nowhere to run or hide. All I could do was weep and beg God to forgive me for what I had done. All pretense of being a good Christian was stripped away in the raw, naked truth of how selfish I had been. True Christian, self-giving love would have put aside my desires and would have given my time to Karen.

Believe me, if I could make you feel what I felt that night, you would run to your church and fall on your knees to beg God to forgive whatever sin has you in its grip with its false delights. For the deeply wicked, I cannot begin to imagine what they face when the stand in the presence of the One who is Truth. Every petty tyrant will see himself not as the bold warrior or great defender of his country he fancied himself to be, but as a murderer, thief, and beast. Every fornicator, adulterer, and sexually impure person will see the truth about himself and how he simply used others for his pleasure. It will be agonizing beyond any earthly description to face this raw truth.

This leads me to address something else you have said. You talk about God "torturing us until we love Him." That is NOT how Universalists view the work of God's love in our souls. What happened to me after that night at the monastery when I was tormented by the intense revelation of God as to my true state and how I had treated my wife? I repented. I began a new journey in my life in the direction of learning to be a loving, self-giving person. The falsehood was stripped away. This is what happens to all sinners who stand in the presence of He who is Truth. No more excuses, self-delusion, or clinging to sin. We see Christ and we both repent and at the same time, come to desire Him as the fullness of life.



Immediate universalism results in this theology being discarded outright, while the idea of Hell as Purgatory contradicts scriptural texts and the rejection of monergism. Indeed, the disturbing aspect to this theology, as expressed in the Book of the Bee, which is presumably being advocated by Dr. David Bentley Hart and other misguided Eastern Orthodox Christians who have rejected the Orthodox doctrine on the soul after death in favor of a misinterpretation and misappropriation of Patristic concepts of apokatastasis

This is one of several common attacks on Universalism - that the clear teaching of Universalism by the Fathers has somehow be misunderstood by us plebians, who should know better and are not listening to the intelligentsia teaching correctly. I find it odd to see people (not speaking necessarily of you) who couldn't carry the briefcase of Dr. Hart, Dr. Illaria Ramelli, Fr. John Behr, and others, attacking them with what I consider to be ill-informed attacks. How certain people want to argue the Greek of the Scriptures with Dr. Ramelli is amazing to me. When they write a 700+ page discourse on why the Latin translation of "aionios" is correct in order to refute her book, along with having a rather impressive string of accolades and achievements behind their names as she does, then perhaps I will take the time to seriously consider what they have written.

I think the real issue for those who despise the teaching of Universalism boils down to two issues: there is a fear that if people hear the Good News of God's immense salvific love, they will not take Theosis seriously and live lax, or even downright sinful lives. There is a bit of truth here, for knowing the human propensity to excuse away sin, even the Fathers who taught Apokatastasis deferred in letting new converts know this teaching until it was ascertained that the knowledge would not tempt them away into sin.

I think the second thing is our own propensity for revenge, a desire to see the wicked "get what is coming to them." I think this mindset comes from a blind spot in our own self-awareness, that we really don't see ourselves as "all that bad," but other sinners - OH THEM! THEY deserve hell and forever! It is not without reason that we pray "Yes, O Lord and Master of my life, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother . . ." Great wisdom there.


. . . on closer examination, amounts to God, who we believe to be infinitely loving, consigning people to be tortured until they love Him back, which is obviously inconsistent.

Which is, of course, a very erroneous Western and legalistic way of thinking. First of all, as you did mention, God does not torture anyone. As I mentioned in my personal story, it is the knowledge of our own sins, brought home by having all falsehood and excuses removed and seeing ourselves as we really are, which torments us. Secondly, that knowledge shows us what is real and what is not, causing us, as it did me, to seek the good. I no longer wanted to be that person who was selfish and self-centered. It is repentance. We also have the image in 1 Corinthians 3 which speaks of the fire (of God's love) burning away the dross, but not destroying the person him/herself. The torment, I believe, will come from the deep knowledge of how we hurt the One who loved us unto death, and how we hurt others, made in God's image. And maybe even how we hurt ourselves, settling for mud pies instead of starry crowns.

Many will not agree with me here, but I see the idea of an eternal burning hell of torture as coming from the Roman Catholic Church and its deep attachment to legal and punitive thinking regarding God. God is not Father; He is fearful and terrible Judge in their theology. It is not about being healed, it is about being punished, some forever.
 
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It sure seems that St. Ignatius ( of Antioch) warned of everlasting judgment when he visited the Ephesians around 100 AD.

Chapter XVI.-The Fate of False Teachers


Do not err, my brethren. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And if those that corrupt mere human families are condemned to death, how much more shall those suffer everlasting punishment who endeavour to corrupt the Church of Christ, for which the Lord Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, endured the cross, and submitted to death! Whosoever, "being waxen fat," and "become gross," sets at nought His doctrine, shall go into hell. In like manner, every one that has received from God the power of distinguishing, and yet follows an unskilful shepherd, and receives a false opinion for the truth, shall be punished. "What communion hath light with darkness? or Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath he that believeth with an infidel? or the temple of God with idols? " And in like manner say I, what communion hath truth with falsehood? or righteousness with unrighteousness? or true doctrine with that which is false?




Personally, I believe the doctrine of guaranteed hell which probably shows it’s fullest expression in Chick tracts has damaged evangelism.. History is murky & I am no scholar but I tend to think guaranteed hell might have arisen from Carthage where doctrine disputes seemed more frequent & chaotic than elsewhere.

I believe St. Augustine was a product of the Carthage mindset & tried ( & often succeeded) in preaching the Orthodox faith. It seems he did not come to grips with guaranteed hell but his very life was threatened from Donatists to Arians. I think in his stress from the chaos around him, he reacted (usually correctly) to Pelagianism but tragically cemented the guaranteed hell doctrine in the process.
 
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Many will not agree with me here, but I see the idea of an eternal burning hell of torture as coming from the Roman Catholic Church and its deep attachment to legal and punitive thinking regarding God. God is not Father; He is fearful and terrible Judge in their theology. It is not about being healed, it is about being punished, some forever.
I certainly hope we don’t believe that, aside to say He is the fearful and terrible judge (as we say that in our services).
 
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Light of the East

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Chapter XVI.-The Fate of False Teachers


Do not err, my brethren. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And if those that corrupt mere human families are condemned to death, how much more shall those suffer everlasting punishment who endeavour to corrupt the Church of Christ, for which the Lord Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, endured the cross, and submitted to death! Whosoever, "being waxen fat," and "become gross," sets at nought His doctrine, shall go into hell. In like manner, every one that has received from God the power of distinguishing, and yet follows an unskilful shepherd, and receives a false opinion for the truth, shall be punished. "What communion hath light with darkness? or Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath he that believeth with an infidel? or the temple of God with idols? " And in like manner say I, what communion hath truth with falsehood? or righteousness with unrighteousness? or true doctrine with that which is false?

Here's the problem. In doing some of my research on this subject and the Fathers, I found that the quotes that we are reading are not true to the original Greek. For instance, in the part in red, we need to know if St. Ignatius used the Greek words "aidios epitimia" or "aionios kolasis" I found that in several or the quotes from the original texts, the Greek words "aionios kolasis" were wrongly translated, giving the impression that the speaker was speaking of eternal punishment.

It seems that every Western translator of the Greek Fathers has an agenda that says when you see the Greek word "aionios" it means eternal. This is a problem.
 
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Here's the problem. In doing some of my research on this subject and the Fathers, I found that the quotes that we are reading are not true to the original Greek. For instance, in the part in red, we need to know if St. Ignatius used the Greek words "aidios epitimia" or "aionios kolasis" I found that in several or the quotes from the original texts, the Greek words "aionios kolasis" were wrongly translated, giving the impression that the speaker was speaking of eternal punishment.

It seems that every Western translator of the Greek Fathers has an agenda that says when you see the Greek word "aionios" it means eternal. This is a problem.
I’m sorry but you are already losing me here because I do not believe that there is some secret translation that redefines basic faith understanding. I do not need DBH’s New Testament translation & his revised theology for my faith

Additionaly, I have a book a collection of homilies of St. Gregory ( Palamas) edited by Christopher Veniamin and there is no universalism expressed by St. Gregory.

 
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I certainly hope we don’t believe that, aside to say He is the fearful and terrible judge (as we say that in our services).

Indeed, I certainly don’t believe it. Rather I merely reject the hybrid of Alexandrian and Ancient Assyrian theology that DBH is pushing. By the way @Lukaris I did not see anything in his New Testament translation that was objectionable or biased; I am not prepared to accuse him of intentional dishonesty such as what we see with the J/w “New World Bible” which modifies John 1:1 to promote their Arian heresy. For that matter I find the politically correct gender neutral language of the third edition of the NIV to be troubling (and earlier editions, while stylistically elegant, do allow Protestant ideas to influence their dynamic equivalence translation, which is a risk with dynamic equivalence, and so there are good reasons why no Orthodox Church uses the NIV. Worse still is the NRSVue which appears to water down one of St. Paul’s statements condemning homosexuality, despite its translators denying it. At a minimum it uses unacceptably vague language.
 
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Indeed, I certainly don’t believe it. Rather I merely reject the hybrid of Alexandrian and Ancient Assyrian theology that DBH is pushing. By the way @Lukaris I did not see anything in his New Testament translation that was objectionable or biased; I am not prepared to accuse him of intentional dishonesty such as what we see with the J/w “New World Bible” which modifies John 1:1 to promote their Arian heresy. For that matter I find the politically correct gender neutral language of the third edition of the NIV to be troubling (and earlier editions, while stylistically elegant, do allow Protestant ideas to influence their dynamic equivalence translation, which is a risk with dynamic equivalence, and so there are good reasons why no Orthodox Church uses the NIV. Worse still is the NRSVue which appears to water down one of St. Paul’s statements condemning homosexuality, despite its translators denying it. At a minimum it uses unacceptably vague language.
DBH has also added Marcion to his errors, and in one of his books and a few interviews he says that the God of the OT is really a pagan storm god.
 
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DBH has also added Marcion to his errors, and in one of his books and a few interviews he says that the God of the OT is really a pagan storm god.

Kyrie eleison!

How is it that he hasn’t been anathematized? We simply can’t have Marcionists in the Church. I would assume/hope that at least some jurisdictions have told their priests not to communicate him, such as what happened with Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov?
 
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DBH has also added Marcion to his errors, and in one of his books and a few interviews he says that the God of the OT is really a pagan storm god.
He must mean "yahweh"...but was that the OT God? :) You also need to know what happened in Samaria in John 4:22 when the woman was told "we know what we worship". The Romans tried instituting their gods on Israel but ended up killing Jews because they would not institute them at the Temple. The Samaritans said their temple had no name and they said they did not care so Jove or IaBe was Joveh or Yoveh was Jupiter for the name of their Temple. This is in both 2 maccabees as well as written about by josephus.
 
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I just wanted to clarify that in my response to Light of the East, I maintain my original point. However, I kind of rushed to assumptions on David Bentley Hart ( DBH) the particular conversation. Light of the East did not mention DBH in his post so I do not want to misrepresent Light of the East in this conversation. So I am sorry to misrepresent Light of the East in the conversation, it was unintentional but incorrect on the matter of DBH.
 
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He must mean "yahweh"...but was that the OT God? :) You also need to know what happened in Samaria in John 4:22 when the woman was told "we know what we worship". The Romans tried instituting their gods on Israel but ended up killing Jews because they would not institute them at the Temple. The Samaritans said their temple had no name and they said they did not care so Jove or IaBe was Joveh or Yoveh was Jupiter for the name of their Temple. This is in both 2 maccabees as well as written about by josephus.

Regarding what Christ our True God says about the Samaritans, the Orthodox Study Bible, which I feel obliged to regard as more reliable than Josephus, has this to say:

Salvation is of the Jews (v. 22): The Lord affirms that true revelation comes from Judaism. “The commonwealth of Israel was the school of the knowledge of God for all the nations” (AthanG). More importantly, Jesus is testifying that the Messiah, who was prophesied among the Jews, has risen from among the Jews. While the gift of salvation in Christ is to all nations, it has come from within Judaism. The hour (v. 21) refers to the death and Resurrection of Christ and to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which inaugurates the worship of the new covenant.
 
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Kyrie eleison!

How is it that he hasn’t been anathematized? We simply can’t have Marcionists in the Church. I would assume/hope that at least some jurisdictions have told their priests not to communicate him, such as what happened with Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov?
no idea, aside to say that no one takes him seriously.
 
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