Contemporary theology

Will Everyone Eventually 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 would only serve to dismiss them from serious consideration.  Thus fads never ’fess up.

I suggest that the recent interest in Universalism—the belief that everyone will eventually be saved – is the latest fad.  Evidence of this may be found in the fact that the view is being promoted by a number of different people who have little contact with one another and with little else in common, such as by scholar David Bentley Hart (in his essay God, Creation, and Evil), and also by Rob Bell (in his best-seller Love Wins).  Admittedly the conviction that everyone will eventually be saved, including Satan and the demons, has been expressed from time to time throughout Christian history, but the majority of Christians have decided to pass on it.  For people like the Orthodox who believe that God guides His Church and that therefore consensus matters, the solid fact of Christian consensus about the eternity of hell is surely significant.

The Veneration of the Theotokos According to the Bible

We Orthodox Christians honor the Theotokos Mary more than all the saints and angels of heaven for she was found worthy to give birth to Christ, the Savior of the world by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. The honor we render to the Mother of the Lord is exceptional, most honorable and most revered, for she is not only "a friend of His,” as are the other saints, but she is Most Holy (Panagia) above all the saints and all the angels.

For this the angels as much as people venerate and honor her with prayers, hymns, church services and eulogies. Similarly the Archangel Gabriel greeted her at the annunciation (Luke 1:28-29) as well as Saint Elizabeth, the mother of Saint John the Baptist (Luke 1:40-43).

The Widow of Nain

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Today's Gospel concerns the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain. We recall that this miracle occurred just after the healing of the servant of the centurion, a healing which had taken place at a distance.

Making Death into a Means to Spiritual Transformation

In a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet, most of us spend our lives doing everything possible to avoid them both. Even when a loved one dies some try to escape this grim reality by holding “celebration of life” events rather than a more traditional wake or funeral service. We are surrounded and inundated by cheery, but inane, messages proclaiming youthful vigor, rejuvenation, and bliss in marketing campaigns. All of this makes the grief process more difficult and a search for meaning all the more obscure.

HOMILY ON THE SUNDAY OF ALL SAINTS

On the Signs of God’s Chosen by St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

(Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30)

The Holy Flame: the Greatness of the Miracle, and the Helplessness of the Skeptics

Why do atheists and skeptics want to destroy faith?

During the long history of Christianity, there has never been a single miracle that skeptics and atheists have not tried to disprove. They have used and still use every possible means in this bat­tle. Even St. John Chrysostom talked about those [the chief priests and Pharisees] who denied the miracle of the Resurrection, saying, “But note, I pray thee, their plotting, how ridiculous it is. They [the chief priests and Pharisees] say, ‘Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, “After three days I will rise again”’ (Matthew 27:63). Yet if He were a deceiver, and boastfully spoke falsehood, why are ye afraid, and why do ye rush about, and make such a com­motion? They reply, ‘We are afraid that the disciples might steal Him away, and deceive the multitude.’ And yet it has been proved [in the previous paragraph of his homily] that this could in no way happen. Malice, however, is a thing obstinate and shameless, and attempts to do what is foolish” (The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of St. Matthew. Homily LXXXIX 2).