The Fathers and the Fire

In my last two blog articles, I examined the biblical, patristic, and conciliar evidence for the traditional view of the Church that the punishments of Gehenna were eternal, and also examined the question of how belief in the eternity of those punishments could be consistent with the love of God. I advanced the view that Scripture, the Fathers, the pronouncements of councils, and the general consensus of the Church since those councils…

The Morality of Gehenna

In a previous article I attempted to examine the Scriptural, patristic, and canonical evidence for a belief in Universalism, the belief that eventually all will be saved (including, according to many universalists, Satan and the demons). I concluded that the evidence all went the other way, and I reaffirmed the traditional teaching that the punishments of Gehenna will be eternal. I acknowledged in passing the legitimacy and even the necessity of trying…

Christian Universalism: Will Everyone Finally Be Saved?

When they are in fashion, fads are never recognized as fads. Those under their influence and promoting them feel that they have come across An Important New Truth, or (if Orthodox) An Important But Neglected Part of Our Tradition. Recognizing them as fads or, (worse yet for Orthodox) as deviations from genuine Tradition, would only serve to dismiss them from serious consideration. Thus fads never  ’fess up. I suggest that the latest…

Fire in the Desert

The Sunday before the feast of Theophany is dedicated to the work of John the Baptist (or St. John the Forerunner, to give him his liturgical title). To appreciate him fully, we need to place him in his historical context, and realize that he came to Israel as a thunderstorm at the end of a long drought. Or, to vary the metaphor, as a fire in the desert, illumining the darkened hearts…

Christ as Hierophant

Every Sunday our little parish serves an abbreviated Matins service before the Divine Liturgy, and part of that service contains a hymn called an “Exaposteilarion” or “Song of Light”. In the Sunday Matins, it consists of a brief meditation upon the Gospel reading narrating one of Christ’s Resurrection appearances.   In one Song of Light we read the following: “At the sea of Tiberias, Thomas was fishing with the sons of Zebedee, Nathaniel,…

Islamophobia

With an admitted abundance of irony, I find myself phobic about the use of any word that ends in “phobic”, largely because the word is usually used to shut down sensible sustained debate, and functions as a kind of rhetorical club in the hands of ideological bullies. Take the popular word “homophobic” for example. The word is used as a label to denounce and silence anyone arguing that homosexual practice is sinful.…