Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bishop Kallistos on the Possibility of Universal Salvation: There is no terrorism in the Orthodox doctrine of God


There is no terrorism in the Orthodox doctrine of God. Orthodox Christians do not cringe before Him in abject fear, but think of Him as philanthropos, the ‘lover of men.’ Yet they keep in mind that Christ at His Second Coming will come as judge.

Hell is not so much a place where God imprisons man, as a place where man, by misusing his free will, chooses to imprison himself. And even in Hell the wicked are not deprived of the love of God, but by their own choice they experience as suffering what the saints experience as joy. ‘The love of God will be an intolerable torment for those who have not acquired it within themselves’ (V. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, p. 234).

Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day comes, we must not despair of anyone’s salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception. No one must be excluded from our loving intercession. ‘What is a merciful heart?’ asked Isaac the Syrian. ‘It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures’ (Mystic Treatises, edited by A. J. Wensinck, Amsterdam, 1923, p. 341). Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the Devil.

from Bishop Kallistos' book, The Orthodox Church.

4 comments:

  1. The idea that in the end all might be reconciled with God is a happy thought, but does not accord with Christ's words in Matt 25:41,46 or with the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Origen was one of those who taught this doctrine; he is not a "Father" of the Church, for he was condemned as a heretic by the 5th Ecumenical Council. St Gregory of Nyssa also taught it, but it is believed that that is why he is not given the title "Theologian." Some of his other teachings were sublime, and that's why he is numbered among the saints.

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  2. http://frederickbuechner.com/content/hell-0

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  3. The way you view it is all in a shift in perspective. Read scripture with one lens it reveals so much more if you shift to another lens, within a deep faith context.

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