Aerial Toll-Houses—Dogma or Pious Belief?

Inquiring minds want to know. Is the ancient teaching of the aerial toll-houses a dogma within the Orthodox Church? Is it a doctrine that must be taught by bishops and priests? Is it a doctrine that must be believed and confessed by the faithful? The answer is no. By any reasonable dogmatic standard, the teaching lacks those features that would establish it as an essential belief found in “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Aerial toll-houses are not unambiguously taught in Holy Scripture, have never been the subject of dogmatic definition, and do not qualify as catholic doctrine according to the doctrinal rule of St Vincent of Lérins: “In the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all” (Commontorium 2.5). Despite the multiple, and impressive, testimonies of the Eastern ascetical elders to the conviction that at the moment of death the soul achieves post-mortem clarity regarding its spiritual condition in her confrontation with angels and demons, this conviction does not satisfy the Vincentian criteria for de fide truth. For me personally, the absence of biblical attestation is alone decisive, but when this absence is coupled with the relative absence of the toll-house structure in the Latin Fathers, the verdict becomes certain. We most certainly do find—most famously in the writings and homilies of St Gregory the Great—the belief that the believer’s spiritual struggle with Satan comes to a head in the moment of death (see Alfred Rush, “An Echo of Christian Antiquity“); but this popular view is not identical to the Eastern view on aerial toll-houses. The former is  the presupposition of the latter. Hence I must disagree with St Macarius of Moscow when he asserts that the doctrine of aerial toll-booths is assuredly “founded on apostolic tradition.” The evidence does not support this claim.

If not dogma, then what? In his important essay “Dogma and Dogmatic Theology,” Sergius Bulgakov distinguishes between dogma and theologoumena, between doctrines that enjoy the authority of divine revelation and theological opinions that have not yet achieved irreformable status and perhaps never will. We must avoid conflating the two. It’s easy to mistake “theological opinions expressed in dogmatic language” for “finalized dogmas of the Church” (Tradition Alive, p. 75).  Only genuine dogmas may legitimately impose themselves upon the consciousness of the Church and the conscience of individual believers. Non-defined doctrine, on the other hand, may be subjected to critical analysis and assessment: “it cannot pretend to infallibility, precision, or universally binding authority, and in any case allows for different theological opinions” (p. 68). No doubt further distinctions should be made within the category of theologoumena, acknowledging degrees of doctrinal authority. In any case, the teaching of aerial toll-houses should be properly classified as a theological opinion, not mandatory belief. This is the considered judgment of the traditional theologian Jean-Claude Larchet, who otherwise affirms the toll-house teaching:

This teaching is not an article of faith, having been the object on the Church’s part of no dogmatic definition. It is rather a theologoumenon, a personal belief. On this point the faithful might very well adopt a certain hesitancy, seeing that life beyond the grave remains a mystery here-below. They can also adhere to an ‘abridged’ conception that renounces seeing intermediate stages between the moment of death, when the soul is separated from the body, and the latter’s appearing before Christ at the Last Judgment. There is in the Church, concerning the soul’s destiny after death, not one Tradition, but traditions which, although diverse, are not necessarily irreconcilable and can be equally admissible from the moment that they are not in contradiction with points upon which the Church has given a dogmatic definition (which is the case … for certain later stages of post-mortem destiny). (Life After Death According to the Orthodox Tradition, pp. 116-117)

Zealous supporters of the toll-house doctrine will no doubt dissent from Larchet’s conclusion, but it accurately expresses the reticence of the Orthodox Church to dogmatize the details of the intermediate state. While the stories of the toll-houses, notes Fr Andrew Louth, “is often taken fairly literally by Orthodox believers, and not only at a popular level, it has never been formally defined and rests for its authority less on the fathers of the Church than on popular belief, supported by liturgical practice” (Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology, p. 151). Referring to the forty day memorial services offered by the Church on behalf of the departed, he continues:

The essence of what is entailed by the services for the departed can, however, make good claim to formal Orthodox belief: that the departed are supported by the prayers of Christians, that the communion of living and departed has not been severed by death, that there is hope of ‘a place of light, a place of refreshment, a place of repose, whence pain, sorrow and sighing have fled away’ for the departed. The narrative details of the passage of the soul, for instance the toll-houses, are not, however, mentioned in these services, though the idea that death involves judgment and the inescapable realization of what we have made of our lives is.

The sequence of services—from the services for the dying Christian, to the commemoration on the fortieth day, and indeed annually—also serves a pastoral purpose, in assisting the bereaved to cope with their sense of loss and their sense of helplessness. The temporal dimension of the services may have more to do with the temporal process of bereaving and remembrance than with tracking the departed soul’s progress in a state after death about which little has been revealed to us save God’s sure love and Christ’s triumph over death in his resurrection. (pp. 151-152; my emphasis)

There is a difference between dogma and pious belief, and this difference must be respected.

(Go to “White Walkers, Devils, Toll-Houses”)

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24 Responses to Aerial Toll-Houses—Dogma or Pious Belief?

  1. Tom says:

    Is there a third option beside “dogma” and “pious belief”? :o)

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      The Roman Catholics have a bunch of options between dogma and pious belief. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      As I note in my article, there must be options between the two; but modern Orthodox theologians, as far as I can tell, have not reflected on this topic all too much.

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  2. Thank you. Quite frankly, when I first read of “ariel toll-houses” my immediate response was not as generous as yours. Something along the lines of “Bull…..shit!!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cyneathian says:

    In many ways the Toll-house procession reminds me of the Books of the Dead which I have read, both Egyptian and Tibetan: theories of what happens after death used to support the world-views espoused by their compilers. I would not be surprised to find that some of the Desert fathers were familiar with them from their studies in Alexandria, and, perhaps, introduced them to encourage their novices to greater asceticism. <<< Pure speculation!

    It is good to know the difference between dogma and opinion. Thank-you for this clarity.

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  4. John Church says:

    Fr. Kimel,

    Thank you for your treatment of the “aerial toll booths” concept — as a future Orthodox catechumen, I appreciate that adherence to this idea is not necessary to being fully Orthodox.

    Giving it its due respect on account of it being a common patristic teaching in the Eastern Fathers, would you say that the Western concept of a purgatorial fire is also within the limits of Orthodoxy, as it is utilized by Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine, Pope Gregory I, as well as Origen and Gregory of Nyssa (not that they expressed it in its full-out medieval nuances)? It seems to me that the “mythos” of purgatory and the “mythos” of the aerial toll booths are but two different accidents of the same substance to ancient Christian belief in the afterlife.

    Perhaps I’m just partial to my former vestiges of Catholicism.

    God bless

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  5. Justin J says:

    Do we see any sort of liturgical witness that is either explicit about or alludes to tollhouses? In terms of official Orthodox teaching, liturgical texts ought to be normative, perhaps second only to Scripture.

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  6. Maximus says:

    Fr. Kimel,

    Actually, the pious belief is not relatively absent in the ancient and medieval Latin Fathers. I AM NOT trying to convince you or anyone else, but there are explicit accounts where demons encounter and test the departing soul in the Holy Fathers of the West:

    Tertullian

    Undoubtedly, when the soul, by the power of death, is released from its concretion with the flesh, it is by the very release cleansed and purified: it is, moreover, certain that it escapes from the veil of the flesh into open space, to its clear, and pure, and intrinsic light; and then finds itself enjoying its enfranchisement from matter, and by virtue of its liberty it recovers its divinity, as one who awakes out of sleep passes from images to verities. Then it tells out what it sees; then it exults or it fears, according as it finds what lodging is prepared for it, as soon as it sees the very angel’s face, that arraigner of souls, the Mercury of the poets. (A Treatise on the Soul 53)

    St. Hippolytus of Rome

    For as a serpent cannot mark its track upon a rock, so the devil could not find sin in the body of Christ. For the Lord says, Behold, the prince of this world comes, and will find nothing in me. (Jn. 14:30) (On Proverbs)

    And when those who are conducted by the angels appointed unto the souls have passed through this gate, they do not proceed on one and the same way; but the righteous, being conducted in the light toward the right, and being hymned by the angels stationed at the place, are brought to a locality full of light…. But the unrighteous are dragged toward the left by angels who are ministers of punishment, and they go of their own accord no longer, but are dragged by force as prisoners. And the angels appointed over them send them along, reproaching them and threatening them with an eye of terror, forcing them down into the lower parts. And when they are brought there, those appointed to that service drag them on to the confines or hell. And those who are so near hear incessantly the agitation, and feel the hot smoke. And when that vision is so near, as they see the terrible and excessively glowing spectacle of the fire, they shudder in horror at the expectation of the future judgment, (as if they were) already feeling the power of their punishment. (Against Plato, On the Cause of the Universe)

    Blessed Augustine of Hippo

    Let no one tear her [St. Monica] away from Your protection. Let not the devil, who is a lion and serpent in one, bar her way by force or by guile. For she will not answer that she has no debt to pay, for fear that her cunning accuser should prove her wrong and win her for himself. Her reply will be that her debt has been paid by Christ, to whom none can repay the which He paid for us, though the debt was not His to pay. (Confessions, Bk. 9, 13.36. excerpted from the “Birth of Purgatory” by Frances Le Goff, p. 65)

    St. Columba of Iona

    [W]hilst the holy man was living in the Iouan island (Hy, now Iona), he one day suddenly raised his eyes to heaven and uttered the words, “O happy woman happy because of thy virtues; the angels of God are now carrying thy soul to paradise.” Now these words from the mouth of the saint were heard by a certain religious brother, a Saxon, by name Genere, who was at the moment working at his trade, which was that of a baker. And on the same day of the month, at the end of the same year, the saint addressed the same Genere the Saxon, and said, “I see a wonderful thing; behold, the woman of whom I spake in thy presence last year, now meeteth in the air the soul of her husband, a poor and holy man, and together with the holy angels engageth in a contest for it against the adverse powers; by their united assistance, and by the aid of the virtuous character of the man himself, his soul is rescued from the assaults of the demons, and brought to the place of eternal refreshment. (St. Adamnan, Life of St. Columba Bk. 3.11)

    Pope St. Gregory the Dialogist

    One must reflect deeply on how frightful the hour of death will be for us, what terror the soul will then experience, what remembrance of all the evils, what forgetfulness of past happiness, what fear, and what apprehension of the Judge. Then the evil spirits will seek out in the departing soul its deeds; then they will present before its view the sins towards which they had disposed it, so as to draw their accomplice to torment. But why do we speak only of the sinful soul, when they come even to the chosen among the dying and seek out their own in them, if they have succeeded with them? (Homilies on the Gospels, XXXIX, 8 [on Luke 19:42-27], PL 76, 1298D-1299D)

    I could also supply detailed accounts from Sts. Bede, Boniface, the Life of St. Kevin of Glendalough and others if you are interested in seeing them for yourself. Also, I toured Italy for two weeks and Assisi was one of the scheduled stops so I got the opportunity to see a peculiar fresco of the assumption of the soul of Francis of Assisi pretty closely. Our official tour guide pointed out the recent discovery of a demonic face in the cloud beneath the saint. I asked her about the significance of the demonic image and she stated that it symbolized an old belief that demons in the air tried to impede souls on their way to heaven. I was actually shocked.

    Chiara Frugoni, a medievalist and an Francis expert, agrees:

    “The significance of the image still needs to be delved into. In the Middle Ages it was believed that demons lived in the sky and that they could impede the ascension of human souls to Heaven… Until now it was thought that the first painter to use clouds in this way was Andrea Mantegna, with a painting of St Sebastian from 1460, in which high up in the sky there’s a cloud from which a knight on horseback emerges. Now we know that Giotto was the first (to use this technique).”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/8872780/Smirking-face-of-the-Devil-discovered-in-Giotto-fresco.html

    I even found the doctrine in the Miaphysite saints, Dioscoros and Severos, which may not surprise you but I thought the prevalence of this belief throughout the ancient world was very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Thanks, Maximus, for the citations.

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      • Maximus says:

        Fr. Kimel,

        I agree with Dr. Larchet but I think your premise needs more reflection. As you noted above, the Orthodox Church only dogmatizes when necessary. I was told that we really only have two dogmas: our Triadology and Christology. There are a lot that of doctrines that flow from these: Ecclesiology, the Holy Mysteries, Icons, worship, etc. For instance, is the Canon of Scripture a dogma? How about the Dormition and subsequent body/soul assumption of the Theotokos?

        As you know, the Homoousian was initially rejected because it wasn’t unambiguously taught in Holy Scripture. And according to Holy Fathers like St Basil, even the Deity of the Holy Spirit is not unambiguously taught in Scripture, but is a Tradition of the Church. St. John Damascene used the same argument in re: to Holy Icons. Eutyches actually refused to believe in two natures because he didn’t see it in Scripture. The 7th Council anathematized this manner of reasoning:

        “Anathema to those who spurn the teachings of the holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church, taking as a pretext and making their own the arguments of Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and Dioscorus, that unless we were evidently taught by the Old and New Testaments, we should not follow the teachings of the holy Fathers and of the holy Ecumenical Synods, and the tradition of the Catholic Church.” (Session I)

        St. Vincent himself said: “…owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters.” Hence, the so-called “absence of biblical attestation” is a can of worms. The greatest of our 4th cent. patristic exegetes find the doctrine attested throughout Holy Scripture: the Psalter, Isa. 3:12; Jn. 14:30; Eph. 2:2; Lk. 12:20; Lk. 12:58-59 and other places. St. Vincent himself also said that one: “must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the Ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in various times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities…”.

        You stated: “For me personally, the absence of biblical attestation is alone decisive, but when this absence is coupled with its relative absence in the Latin Fathers, the verdict becomes certain.”

        I’m not trying to make you or your readers into dogmatic tollhousers. My point is that the verdict is not as certain as you make it out to be. As we have seen, the teaching is not absent from the greatest Latin Fathers, it can actually meet St. Vincent’s criteria and there is no “absence of biblical attestation” according to our greatest ancient exegetes.

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        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          Who’s not interested in the details of the afterlife? Certainly one finds various opinions in the Western Fathers about the it, most famously in the Dialogues of St Gregory, who certainly believed that at the moment of death demons, even Satan himself, attacks the sinner. Thus Harnack referred to Gregory as “Doctor angelorum et diaboli.” Some of those opinions may well express something akin to toll-houses; but I don’t see these opinions being consensually asserted as revealed doctrine in the first millennium, which I think is the decisive dogmatic point. Hence I do not see the ancient belief in toll-houses as coming close to satisfying the Vincentian criteria of binding dogma.

          I want to thank you, Maximus, for gently pushing me on the Latin Fathers. I should have said something more about them. After this thread has died down, I think I’ll go back and revise it in order to clarify my own thoughts. In the meantime, folks may find this article of interest: “An Echo of Christian Antiquity in St Gregory the Great.”

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          • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

            Heck, I decided not to wait and went ahead and revised the article. Hopefully this will clarify my thoughts about the Latin Fathers. Let me know what you think.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      On further reflection, Maximus, I think my phrase “relative absence” was ill-chosen (and I’ll probably go back and alter it after this thread has closed). I certainly did not mean to suggest that first millennium Latin Christians did not have strong belief in the reality of demons or that they did not believe that the departed are immediately met by angels. But I think it is fair to say (please correct me if I’m wrong) that a theory of toll-houses never gets elaborated in the Western tradition in the way the way it gets elaborated in the Eastern ascetical tradition; and certainly what they did believe and teach never achieves doctrinal status. Do you agree?

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      • Maximus says:

        Yes, Fr I totally agree. These images were never contested. Tollhouses are but one of the post-mortem images which we encounter. There are saints, angels, demonic tax collectors, purging fires, ice, bogs and lots of other imagery utilized by Fathers from the East and the West. That’s why Dr Larchet’s point was a brilliant one. Btw, Larchet did come out against Puhalo and Fr. Azkoul in his work.

        These images aren’t mutually exclusive because they often pertain to the state of one’s soul. For instance, St. Gregory of Nyssa said the chasm between Lazarus and the Rich Man was the distance between his heart and the things of God. Consequently, we don’t see a large chasm in every image of the afterlife! Even the Greek Fathers were not against purging fires, actually. They eventually came out against material understandings of it, Purgatory as a some “third place” and the Roman framework that was eventually built up around it.

        Btw, did you know that the Eastern and Western Fathers even speak of Holy Angels who will bar your way due to a lack of repentance?

        St. Gregory of Nyssa

        The doorkeepers of the [heavenly] kingdom are careful and they do not play games. They see the soul bearing the marks of her banishment…Then the miserable soul, accusing herself severely of her own thoughtlessness, and howling and wailing and lamenting, remains in that sullen place, cast away as if in a corner, while the incessant and inconsolable wailing takes vengeance forever. (Against Those Who Resent Correction. Migne PG 46: col. 312)

        St. Ambrose of Milan

        And therefore [the angels] descrying the approach of the Lord of all, first and only Vanquisher of Death, bade their princes that the gates should be lifted up, saying inadoration, Lift up the gates, such as are princes among you, and be lifted up, O everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in…

        What shall we do, then? How shall we ascend unto heaven? There, powers are stationed, principalities drawn up in order, who keep the doors of heaven, and challenge him who ascends. Who shall give me passage, unless I proclaim that Christ is Almighty? The gates are shut—they are not opened to any and every one; not every one who will shall enter, unless he also believes according to the true Faith. The Sovereign’s court is kept under guard. (De Fide Bk 4.9-15)

        Elsewhere St. Ambrose says these angels carry swords of fire which amounts to the river of fire which the righteous must cross:

        Before the resurrected lies a fire, which all of them must cross. This is the baptism of fire foretold by John the Baptist, in the Holy Ghost and the fire; it is the burning sword of the Cherub who guards the gate of heaven, before which everyone must pass: all shall be subjected to examination by fire; for all who want to return to heaven must be tried by fire. (Jacques Le Goff, “The Birth of Purgatory” pg. 59)

        Angelic guards in one writing, something like purgation in another; all depicting one reality which is indeed a mystery. One thing that I see is when I come across these instances is that we give the powers authority over us: Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16) St. Basil demonstrates this concept in re: to demonic powers –

        “Imagine your soul in a balance, devils and angels pulling at it in different directions. Which side will your heart defend? Who will win you over? Will it be fleshly delights or the holy soul? Present pleasure or a longing for the world to come? Will angels welcome you or will what you are tightly grasping now continue to own you?” (On Fasting and Feasts [Popular Patristic Series Book 50] Kindle Locations 1049-1056. St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. Kindle Edition)

        Demonic trials at death is the teaching of the Church (East and West) in my opinion. Even into the 15th cent Western Church as illustrated by Francis of Assisi’s fresco. Tollhouses are but one manifestation of this teaching. Is it mandatory doctrine? Met. Hilarion of Volokolamsk did include it in his series: Orthodox Christianity, Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church Vol. II pp. 499-501. I just don’t think we be should be vocal about rejecting the teaching with certainty because so many Fathers taught it from experience not books. To reject them with certainty is the equal and opposite position of those who elevate tollhouses to the level of Nicea 325.

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    • I note that all of the above are Latin theologians who approach salvation from the aspect of law, punishment, and their view of justice. Sorry….not buying their nonsense either.

      QUOTE: “The significance of the image still needs to be delved into. In the Middle Ages it was believed that demons lived in the sky and that they could impede the ascension of human souls to Heaven”

      Really? What kind of salvation is that? This relates to my my 10 Questions I would like to see answered here:

      https://http4281.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/10-questions/

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  7. For myself, the fact that the toll-house myth (as generally imagined and presented, anyway) has no scriptural warrant is fairly decisive for me – at it’s best, it is just a different narrative device for talking about the mystery of death, similar to the best presentations of the doctrine of purgatory. In my experience though, as my late spiritual father once put it, “The toll houses are what protestants think Catholics believe about purgatory.” Indeed, the whole idea of getting into heaven by buying off demons with prayers and good works makes me want to nail some theses to a door.

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  8. As far as Western Christianity is concerned I found it interesting to find Newman’s “The Dream of Gerontius” which seems to confirm some sort of “toll-house” experience and that Newman is using much of the text of the “Commendation of a Departing Soul” to be found in the Breviary. These prayers are to be used as the Priest is ministering to a person who is in the process of dying (the rubrics clearly dictate the occasion and their use). I have, myself, used them on several occasions. One of these prayers commending the soul to God (this particular prayer is sadly absent from the Anglican Breviary but present in the Monastic Office and the Roman Breviary) is certainly suggestive of some sort of journey and struggle of the departing soul. There is no number given them nor are they necessarily attached to particular vices. But it seems to me that some sort of “toll-house” experience is not at all incompatible nor even absent from Western Christianity.

    Gregory +

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    • Maximus says:

      Even Western Evangelicals get it in spite of Sola Scriptura:

      “At the moment of death the spirit departs from the body and moves through the atmosphere. But the Scripture teaches us that the devil lurks there. He is ‘the prince of the power of the air’ (Eph. 2:2). If the eyes of our understanding were opened, one would probably see the air filled with demons, the enemies of Christ. If satan could hinder the angel of Daniel for three weeks on his mission to earth, we can imagine the opposition a Christian may encounter at death…. The moment of death is satan’s final opportunity to attack the true believer; but God has sent His angels to guard us at that time.” (Billy Graham, Angels, God’s Secret Messengers , Doubleday, New York, 1975, pp. 150–51.)

      This is cited by Fr. Seraphim in his Soul After Death.

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      • He is the “Prince of the Power of the Air” Really?

        Silly me. And here I thought that he is a defeated foe who has neither claim nor power over human beings anymore because of the victory of the Cross.

        Sheeesh!!! Some victory that is!!!

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  9. Basem says:

    My own conviction about dogma is actually minimalist, the “Nicene Creed” is fairly sufficient for me as far as dogma is concerned and, I claim no authority in making this statement or accuracy, but I believe that pre-Nicea Christian laity didn’t have a lot of sophisticated believes beyond what is later crystallized in the Nicene creed. Those ancient Christians had no bible, creeds, hymns, liturgies, or edicts. What they had was a living inflamed faith that they confessed to death! Anything else beyond the Nicene creed, is a reflection, inspiration, and revelation (which may be personal and not necessarily universal). Saints have frequently disagreed on theological matters and reached 180 degree conclusions. The insistence on dogmatic maximalism reduces faith to a brilliant theory open to scholarly debates rather than a life of communion with God! When I read those revelations of the ancient fathers, I reflect and meditate on them for inspiration to my personal life. They are like poetry written in the same style at Genesis, Song of Solomon, and Book of Revelation and not to be interpreted literally. Trying to fossilize every teaching into dogma and sanctify it by ecclesiastical authority have done the church a lot of harm in my humble opinion!

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  10. Stephen says:

    Here are several nice rebuttals to the Toll House theory which I think was perpetrated in order to scare peasants into fear induced morality. I myself think this refutes the idea of grace and the fact that we will all likely die trapped in some sin, if not simply pride or some other basic sin. I see nothing but a neurotic fear of sin as a result of this doctrine and leaving the demons as our judge and not God the Father. Our passions may “torture” us when we die, but I would go no further than that.

    http://gotruthreform.org/the-aerial-tollhouse-myth

    and

    https://thoughtsintrusive.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/the-return-of-the-tollhouses/

    and this:

    http://constans_wright.tripod.com/notolls.html

    and for a demonstration by by Fr. Michael Azkoul on how Seraphim Rose twisted the words of the scripture and the Fathers to perpetual this horrific belief:

    https://thoughtsintrusive.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/the-tollhouse-myththe-neognosticism-of-fr-seraphim.pdf

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  11. Fr. John Parsells says:

    The Departure of the Soul According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church

    This book is the first comprehensive presentation of the teachings of over 120 Orthodox Saints and dozens of holy hierarchs, clergy, and theologians on the subject of the soul’s exodus to the next life. With over 750 pages of source material featuring many rare images and dozens of texts translated into English for the first time, The Departure of the Soul is unique as both the sole reference edition on the subject and a fascinating and spiritually profitable book for anyone seeking insight into one of the greatest mysteries of all. The book also reveals over 100 falsifications, misrepresentations, and errors contained in the publications of authors who oppose the teaching of the Church, thus definitively ending the 40-year controversy in the Church.

    The book features:

    Full endorsements by eight Orthodox hierarchs
    Foreword by His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki (Church of Greece)
    Spans the 2,000-year history of the Orthodox Church with chapters on:
    Holy Scripture
    The Liturgical Services
    The Writings of the Fathers of the Church
    The Lives of the Saints
    Iconography
    Commemoration and Prayer for the Departed
    Contemporary Opponents of the Church’s Teaching
    Many rare images and dozens of texts translated for the first time from the original Greek, Russian, Slavonic, Serbian, and Romanian
    Complete scholarly apparatus

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  12. DennisB says:

    Hi Fr Kimel,

    Thanks for the 2nd part to this series on Tollhouses & also to the great contributors of the comments above. Considering it had a fairly widespread acceptance in the early church I would think some of the teaching is plausible from an overall aspect & maybe not so much in some of the details. Once the teaching crosses into a person not being able to retain their “saved” status due to the demonic accusations, I would question it as at that point it seems to go against the free gift of God’s mercy to the penitent.

    However considering that there are allusions in scripture to the “prince of the power of the air” & exhortations regarding our works being tested by fire after death, there could well be a struggle on the way to meet our Lord. Maybe that is part of a purification.

    Cheers
    DennisB

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  13. elijahmaria says:

    I realize that this is a rather simple-minded comment but it seems to me that we have very little difficulty speaking of “our demons” when alive but then seem to shy from them in that transformation into the next life as though somehow we instantly become different creatures. I rather think that the ones that torment us unto death will accompany us for a while unto life…should we choose life….M.

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