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Tuesday, March 8

One Hell of a question

Constantine,

I like your style. I juxtaposed the 'Rescue' with Constantine's portrayal of eternal damnation for just the reason you gave. An article I really like on the topic of hell was written by Dr. Alexander Kalomiros and can be found at:

http://www.philthompson.net/pages/library/riveroffire.html

Basically, he says that the love of God in Christ is the purging fire of heaven and hell. For some it is glorious, for others it is quite painful.

Beyond that, I like St. Isaac the Syrian's desire:

From the Saint’s eighty-first Discourse:

‘And what is a merciful heart?’ And he said: ‘the burning of the heart for all creation, for men, birds, animals, and demons, and for every creature. From the memory and contemplation of them, his eyes pour forth tears. Out of the great and intense mercy that grips his heart, and from great fortitude, his heart is humbled, and he cannot bear to hear or to see any kind of harm or the least distress come over creation. And for this reason, he offers tearful prayer at every hour, even for irrational creatures, for the enemies of the Truth, and for those who injure him, that they might be kept safe and receive mercy, and likewise for the genus of reptiles, out of the great mercy that is aroused in his heart boundlessly, in the likeness of God.’

If a monk has this kind of compassion, to have mercy on even the evil ones, surely Christ's mercy is greater and his rescue extends beyond the grave. To paraphrase Bishop Kallistos, it is presumption to expect God to save everyone, but we can surely hope and pray that he does!

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7 Comments:

  1. Blogger jholder said...

    If Kalomiros is right, then having to be in the eternal presence of God is eternal damnation for those who rejected Him, perhaps because being aware of their damning choice to reject God while being in His presence. (could be related to 1 Cor 3:13-15) I, too, really like the thoughts contained in "The River of Fire".

    An interesting aside re: Dr. Kalomiros - although he was a very intelligent Orthodox thinker, he was a staunch evolutionist, for which he takes a great deal of heat from Fr. Seraphim Rose. (In "Fr. Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works) In part, Fr. Seraphim's resulting action was to write his book "Genesis, Creation, and Early Man", a 712 page book (published after his death, currently out of print). I think this is one that Kevin would like, as Fr. Seraphim was into what we would call "Intelligent Design" back in the 1970's, although he hadn't publish about it.

    11:55 AM, March 08, 2005  
  2. Blogger fatherneo said...

    Who is the publisher of this work on Fr. Seraphim?

    3:10 PM, March 09, 2005  
  3. Blogger Constantine said...

    Wisdom abounds in good measure in my estimation with the good doctor and St. Isaac the Syrian. I extend my gratitude to Padre Neo for tendering a dissident view for consideration, even if he doesn’t hold it himself. Hell doth not exist! At least not the one popularly conceived for ages by even the greatest of Saints. However affronting this notion, it has the latent power to set captives free in the here and now, and according to at least some in “good standing,” in the hereafter. Perfect Love casts out fear. Love is NOT an attribute of God, but instead His very essence. Yes! All are loved ad infinitum by the Holy One and the day will come when each captive (whom among us is not in part a captive still?) will sing a hymn of joy exclaiming “free at last, free at last!” Could a radical, minority belief like this promote an inflation of sin among its adherents? If so, I defer to the magisterial reformer Luther. Sin boldly. (I say this with some jest, though Luther did not.) A radical, minority belief (at least within the established Church in the Latin West) for his day set him free (or so he believed anyway). While I don’t agree with all that Dr. Kalomiros asserts he brings the question of Hell into the correct context. As for St. Isaac the Syrian--what can I say that will do justice to his sentiment?! Each time I read his compunction for all of God’s creation I’m left breathless. Is his the mind of God? Is he a man after God’s own heart (oops-sorry, that’s David)? I think so. Or I suppose I should say I hope so.

    9:56 PM, March 09, 2005  
  4. Blogger jholder said...

    It is available at Amazon.com - at least, this is where I bought it. A weighty tome (shipping weight is 3 pounds!). 1160 pages, puublished by St. Xenia Skete Press.

    10:47 AM, March 10, 2005  
  5. Blogger fatherneo said...

    I think good St. Isaac reflects God's heart. Not to sound to warm and fuzzy, I like Dame Julian's sentiments: "All shall be well, All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.

    9:24 PM, March 10, 2005  
  6. Blogger Padowan Nephew said...

    Greetings to Constantine! Welcome to the desert of the real.

    A couple of thoughts came to mind regarding the previous posts....

    - Whichever concept of Hell one wishes to imagine, what could be more horrific than being forever separated from God, damned for all eternity? How devastating would it be to hear Jesus tell us, "I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness?" [Matt. 7:23]. Fire and brimstone pale in comparison.

    - Fr. Neo, your boy St. Isaac seems to be quite a guy. But if this young Padowan may be so bold, I think he's somewhat misplaced. Exactly what is the point in weeping for "birds, animals, and every creature"? Were they made in God's own image? Are their "souls" even comparable to ours? To whom exactly did God send His Son to rescue? Is God more concerned in a relationship with His children or Toto, too?

    And as for having tears for demons, I have a hard time considering anything of the sort [see Rev. 18:20]. If the very essence of God is Love, and not just an attribute, then God's very essence is also Truth, Righteousness, Holiness, and Justice (to name a few). These perfections are inseparable.

    Ergo, in striving to be Christ-like, we must of course exhibit love and mercy, but should we not also remember that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this present darkness; against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places?

    - Re: Constantine the Movie. Probably the most poignant scene in the movie (for me) was near the end, when Constantine sacrificed his life for another, in effect flipping off the Devil and securing his salvation. Remember? The Devil is livid; he heals Constantine's wounds because he demands the claim to Constantine's soul. The Devil wants it, desires it, yearns for it, and will do everthing in his power to gain it.

    Heavy theological flaws aside, this is spiritual warfare visualized.

    May the Force be with you, always.

    11:04 PM, March 10, 2005  
  7. Blogger Constantine said...

    Lady Julian is indeed the real deal. I cherish the quote from her posted here. Although, some of her other “Showings” scare the hell out of me.

    Here is what I take to be the great insight, likely unintended, of the movie “Constantine.” “If you’re going through Hell, keep going” (Winston Churchill). You might come out on the other side! Continue to board the “damned” bus that departs from the Grey city (I’m referring to saint Clive’s Great Divorce) and take in the sights of Purgatory on the Outer Banks of Paradise. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em too (Constantine sure as hell did as did Lewis). It takes time (Love is patient), and yes, might be a tad painful, maybe real painful. So be it. I concur with Padowan Nephew’s (gracious for the welcome) fav scene from the movie “Constantine,” the “no greater love” denouement towards the end of the movie. As with Christ on the cross, Constantine the character overcomes evil with good. No penal/forensic substitutionary atonement necessary. Just God practicing what he preaches.

    2:07 AM, March 11, 2005  

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