Salvation for non-christians?

Can a non Christian be saved according to the orthodox Church?
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  • yes, if he / she repents and becomes a Christian.

    for people in remote parts of the world that don't know about Christianity, God judges, and always gives every person a chance to repent.

    we are not sure exactly what happens with them, but everyone has a chance to find out about God (study Romans chapters 1 to 5 for details)

  • The official answer in the Orthodox Church is that we know where the Church is, we don't know where the Church isn't. We know Orthodoxy is the way of salvation. We cannot know if the non-Christian can or cannot be saved. The evidence from scripture says it can happen but ultimately it is God who decides if a non-Christian can be saved. 

    It is more important to God that the Christian who is saved to not behave like the non-Christian, refusing to carry his cross daily and returning to the way of the darkness. 

    All of our energy should not be wasted on worrying if a hypothetical non-Christian can be saved. Rather our energy should be spent on repenting from our own sins so we don't disqualify ourselves from salvation.

    Pretty much waht mabsoota said. 
  • no, u said it better!
  • @Remnkemi  @ Mabsoota
    Do you guys believe in post mortem salvation? Like St. John of Damascus?
  • Dear @Remnkemi
    A non-Christian can be saved? I am not sure that this is either an orthodox teaching or a Christian teaching altogether?
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • edited July 17
    @ophadece,
    There needs to be clarification here. All salvation can only be through God the Trinity. No other false god can save believers or non believers. I cannot say a non-Christian God can save non-Christians. Let's make sure this is out of the way.

    But a non-Christian can be saved by the Triune God if God chooses. As St Paul informs us, "For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges." 1 Cor 5:12-13. 
    This passage tells we don't have the authority to judge what happens to the non-Christian. It confirms that it is God who will judge the non believer.

    God also informs us, "He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”  So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." Rom 9:15-16.
    Therefore if God wills to save the unbeliever, we cannot say a non-Christian cannot be saved. In fact, St Paul makes the opposite argument: God will condemn the believer (Jews who valued the works of the law) and save the unbeliever (Gentiles who valued works of righteousness because of faith in God). St Paul concludes, "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law." Rom 9:30-32

    St Paul also makes the point, if the non-Christian follows all righteous works of Christianity and the Christian does not, who do you think is going to be saved and who is not? He writes in Rom 2:14-16 (just replace "Gentiles" for "non-Christian" and "law" for "Christianity"), "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they area a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them." 

    Finally, we have to understand God transcends our human boundaries. "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:8.
    Note that the Greek word for wind and Spirit is the same. Just as we cannot know where the wind comes from or where it is blowing to, we cannot know where the Spirit "gives birth" or who exactly is "born of the Spirit". The rest of John 3 tells us that "whoever believes will not be condemned but whoever does not believe has already condemned himself".  (John 3:18). Here is the point: Being a Christian does not mean "baptized" only. Being a Christian means baptized and choosing light (choosing light=living exposed, choosing darkness=sinning). "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."  John 3:20-21. Another important verse that reinforces this idea. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:16. If you believe AND are baptized, you are saved. If you don't believe you are condemned. This is what the verse tells us. It does not say If you are not baptized, you are condemned. It also doesn't says If you are baptized and don't believe, you are saved. It doesn't say if you believe only and are not baptized, you are saved. So a baptized Christian can be condemned and a believing non-Christian can be saved. We can't force God into our boundaries of Christian=saved, non-Christian=not saved. 

    It all comes down to repentance. More on this later.
  • No @Remnkemi,
    All the texts you provide does not mean non-Christians could be saved OUTSIDE of the church. As mabsoota said, they have to be Christians. So what does St. Paul mean? The passages may be referring to a "lenient" kind of punishment, or an exemption of punishment (I don't really know), but they DO NOT enter paradise, or heaven and live with Jesus (i.e. cannot be saved outside the church). 
    Oujai qen P[c
  • Do you guys believe in post mortem salvation? Like St. John of Damascus?

    I don't know what St John of Damascus writes on postmortem salvation. You'll have to provide more information and references so we can answer your question properly.

    Whether or not we personally believe in postmortem salvation is irrelevant. We are not here to express personal opinion. We are here to preach the gospel and proclaim God's revelation according to His will. So I will refrain from personal opinion.

    I am going to assume you are asking about either (1) what the Coptic Church believes concerning postmortem salvation or (2) whether postmortem salvation is a truth claim in itself regardless of who believes it. 

    It's difficult to answer what the Coptic Church believes. There are some bishops who claim it is unacceptable to even entertain the thought. Others believe there is more than adequate patristic and scripture evidence that point to postmortem salvation that our Coptic Church has believed, even unofficially. Either way, no one advocates dogmatizing postmortem salvation. 

    Here is an article by a RC monk who is also a famous Coptologist. He provides some interesting patristic evidence for prayer for the dead and postmortem salvation. 

    Our own minasoliman wrote a florlegium about postmortem prayer for the dead that addresses postmortem salvation found here. Keep in mind, I was the one who argued against postmortem salvation and Mina convinced me otherwise. 

    In all of these patristic and scripture evidence, the ultimate goal was repentance. As I quoted above, in Romans 2:14-16, the person who follows the requirements of righteousness has a conscience that sometimes accuses them. This is what happens in repentance. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and we have a conscience that accuses us of wrong doing and pushes us to go into the light exposing our mistakes. That is how we are saved as Christian and that is how a non-Christian is saved. It is also what happened to those who died in sin.

    Why did Christ preach to those in prison (ie, prophets of the Old Testament who were technically still Jewish) and "bring out his chosen ones" at the Resurrection? They had to believe in Him, not only the Mosaic law. They had abandon their old sins (especially the Gentiles) in order to obtain salvation. This is the mystery of repentance. There is a reason why we call it a sacrament and a mystery. If we claim postmortem salvation cannot occur then we are again placing boundaries on God and the efficacy of the sacraments. What God has revealed in the fathers and the scriptures illustrate that God is not bound by time and death in order to save. It is also clear that God does not save when there is no repentance. 

    Repentance is the most important part here, not what happens to others, or how salvation happens, or even when salvation happens. 
  • Dear @Remnkemi
    I am not actually sure if you are addressing the latest post to me but suffice it to say that there is no such a thing as postmortem salvation. I don't know what St John of Damascus said but if he did that is wrong and I do wonder on what basis @minasoliman based his argument. The church believes that your only chance is in this life to repent. There is no other chance after death NONE.. I cannot stress that out enough..
    I also think you answered your own point in the previous post. The Holy Spirit is not equal to a conscience. True salvation that results from repentance happens only to the people who have been baptised and the work of the Holy Spirit is palpable in them. As you rightly alluded, the church refuses to pray on the souls which died in sin.
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • Ophadece, I don't know how you concluded all this from what I wrote.  

    If you truly believe that the Church does not allow for postmortem salvation, then you have to prove the Church fathers mentioned in Mina's paper are wrong. You also have to prove why Christ went to preach the dead? You also have to prove why 2 Maccabees insists on praying for the dead if there is no salvation after death. You also have to show that the fathers who interpreted 2 Maccabees and said there is salvation of the dead were mistaken. You have to show why St John Damascus is wrong, without reading what he wrote, on postmortem salvation. (I don't know what St John Damascus wrote, but I did not conclude it is wrong without at least reading it.) You also have to show how the scriptures cannot be interpreted as evidence in favor of postmortem salvation in light of the article from Fr Mark Sheridan I referenced. 

    The fact is we do not have dogma that says prayer of the dead is wrong, nor salvation cannot happen postmortem, regardless of what a handful of bishops say. If there is dogma in the Coptic Church that says salvation can only happen while a person is alive, please provide an official reference. 

    I never said the Church refuses to pray on the souls who died in sin. Where are you getting this from?

  • Dear @Remnkemi
    Yes those fathers are wrong. I can't show evidence for anything.. It is an issue of faith. Those fathers and St John of Damascus are wrong if they said what you and/or @minasoliman claim, but I cannot show how they are.
    Not sure where you base your statement Jesus preaching the dead? Yes, of course the church prays for the dead souls that God grant them forgiveness based on the repentance they offered during their life but NEVER for postmortem salvation, unless you consider them the same thing!
    No you didn't say that the church refuses to pray for dead souls that died in sin because I did. If you do not know that, you should consult with the church dogmas and beliefs.
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • Hey Guys,
    Thank you for all of your help in this topic.
    I would just like to tell a few things about post mortem repentance that I know.
    There are some theologians from all ages of Christendom who have supported Post Mortem Salvation. 
    I personal suggest examining these passages 
    Philippians 2:8-11
    And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    Romans 14:9-11
    . For to this end Christ died and roseb]'>[b] and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.c]'>[c] 11 For it is written:As I live, says the Lord,
    Every knee shall bow to Me,
    And every tongue shall confess to God.”d]'>


  • Dear @theorthodoxgenius
    I fail to see how the verses you quoted support the claim of postmortem salvation! Please do not stick to false teachings. This is a grave issue. We are judged upon the faith and the works we have in this body. It is a narrow gate and we all run towards the goal WHILST WE EXIST IN THE MORTAL BODY.
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • I can't see what temptations or tribulations one would have after death that one could repent from. Or is it that one knows the sins one has done during life and then can repent after they die? If you can repent after you have died then everyone could do it.
    If I was to pray for someone whom had died but in sin with no repentance, then I would be appealing for God's mercy that it would account to them by my witness as a follower of Christ. Like a court where you have a character witness. It might not do any good but God's mercy is unlimited.
  • Thank you @Joshuaa..
    Oujai qen P[c
  • Ophadece,
    "Yes those fathers are wrong. I can't show evidence for anything.. It is an issue of faith. Those fathers and St John of Damascus are wrong if they said what you and/or @minasoliman claim, but I cannot show how they are. "
    It's pretty presumptuous to claim all these fathers are wrong. I can understand if you don't want to hold St John of Damascus as reliable. I can even understand you reject the Shepherd of Hermes, Acts of Thecla, and Acts of Perpetua and Felicity and various apocrypha (even though they were widely accepted in antiquity). But for you to claim St Clement of Alexandria, St John Chrysostom, St Gregory of Nyssa, St Macrina, St Basil, the monastic writings of St Macarius the Great are all wrong because you don't agree only shows an inability to process information and understand that prayer for the dead and even postmortem salvation was a fully Orthodox concept (not dogma) for centuries. If you have a specific point or writing in any of these fathers that you don't disagree, then we can address it. But a broad dismissal of all of these fathers on this topic without any counterargument is not logical.

    Not sure where you base your statement Jesus preaching the dead? 
    "For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:6)
    "by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (1 Peter 3:19-20)
    The scripture is clear in these passages that Christ preached to those who were dead, not those who were alive warning them about death.  St Peter also tells us that those who were in the prison after death "were formerly disobedient" and these same people were "spirits" not flesh (i.e., already out of the flesh and dead). These spirits were going to be judged the same way as the living (no special treatment) so that they may live according to God in the spirit. "that they may live according to God in the spirit" is fancy language for repentance. They no longer live as evil spirits with no hope of salvation, but they can now be saved from their prison - which by definition is postmortem salvation. 

    There is also language about Christ going down to Hades and ascending with his chosen ones in the writings of St Paul. This again is language of a postmortem salvation. I can give you those references also if you want. 

    Yes, of course the church prays for the dead souls that God grant them forgiveness based on the repentance they offered during their life but NEVER for postmortem salvation, unless you consider them the same thing! 
    If we pray for dead souls for God to grant them forgiveness based on their actions, are we lying when we say "Your mercy O Lord are countless"? If you believe God's mercy is infinite, why would you only pray or ask for mercy with conditions attached? Again if you read the writings of all the Orthodox fathers mentioned above and in the articles I referenced, the fathers never excluded praying for salvation after death. 

    In addition read 2 Maccabees 12:39-45. It explicitly address your concern. The men who died carried pagan tokens which was a sin. Yet Judas asks everyone to pray for them and gathers money for a sin-offering. "For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin."
    If those sinful actions of these Jews while they were alive were a condition of forgiveness, then it is absolutely contradictory to say "that they might be delivered from their sin." They were not delivered from their sin while they were alive. The scripture tells us that the deliverance may occur after their death as a result of the sin-offering and asking God for his infinite mercy. 

    No you didn't say that the church refuses to pray for dead souls that died in sin because I did. If you do not know that, you should consult with the church dogmas and beliefs. 
    If the church refuses to pray for souls that died in sin, then no one who died should have any prayers. In the litany of the departed, we say "For no one is pure and without blemish even if his life on earth be a single day". If no one is pure, then everyone has died with impurity. If you think the Church refuses to pray on impure souls, then there should be absolutely no prayers ever offered for these people, according to this logic. 

    And I already asked you to reference any official church dogma or catechesis that says prayer for the dead and postmortem salvation is forbidden. Don't throw the authority of the Church's dogmas if you can't even reference it yourself. 

    Joshuaa,
    It doesn't really matter how postmortem salvation works. God said to Moses "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy." He didn't say "I will have mercy only those who repented before death" or "I will have mercy only those who repent before death because there is no temptation or tribulation after death.". This will always be a mystery. Whether the person who died repents after death or someone else petitions God with an offering (whether eucharistic or fervent prayer), it can never be answered unless someone goes to Hades after death and reports back how it works. Since Christ is the only one who actual did this, and He reported to His disciples, and one of His disciples says "He preached to the spirits" and they will be "judged according to men in the flesh" and another disciple says "he brought out his chosen ones" - then it all happened as the disciples said (even if it is clouded in difficult language). 

    The scripture is clear. Postmortem salvation can happen because God's mercy is unlimited. The scriptures, the patristics, and nearly 2000 years of Orthodox praxis and catechesis confirm there is something happening after death needed before the final judgment and the final resting place; there is some unfinished business that needs to be addressed (in what way we cannot know). This has been called many things like deliverance, salvation, atonement, purging, repentance, repose, rest, cooling, etc. Whatever it is called, we know it requires some suffering (conviction of sin) and a commitment to change (repentance) in conjunction with intercessory offerings (whether eucharist or prayers or even intersessions of the saints) in order to rise in glory. 

    If anything I said contradicts the Scriptures or the fathers or the teachings of the church, let me know with specific references and counterarguments. 
  • Dear @Remnkemi
    I guess whatever I say in this subject from now on may be taken lightly and rightly so because I am not a scholar and I don't study the Bible as much as you do or know the verses that you do by heart. However please take this IF YOU MAY from an ignorant and illiterate person and someone not as learned as you not taking any offence.. Please recheck your beliefs with someone you trust and who has authority in the church. I am afraid you are missing something but of course I cannot tell you what it is. I will have to say this though that the passages St Peter wrote refers to Christianity versus Judaism as people died on the Jewish faith and not the Christian one. That however does not support the concept of postmortem salvation. I will of course also recheck with people in the church so that I can learn more and I will bring it back to the discussion here.
    The point still remains no salvation for non-Christians or for Christians outside of the church. Baptism, Communion and of course anointing with myron are salvationary (sorry for the ad-lib) sacraments. You may also need to check anba Raphael's recent response to some debate on a couple who died young having left orthodoxy and lived as protestants with the Coptic church refusing to pray on their souls. I believe although I am not completely sure that they were from El Minia..
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • Addendum to my latest post: repentance is also the fourth salvationary sacrament
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • While I have my own thought about all this, it is the Church's view that, if someone died in sin, they will not pray on them. The most known case of that is suicide. Almost everyone thinks that we don't pray on suicide cases because "they have given up hope". That is true, but not the main reason. The main reason is that they have died in sin. According to the judgement of the church, they don't see that this person is going to be saved. This is all done while still fully believing that God, as He is the one who knows the heart and not the Church, may still have mercy on the person and we will see them in heaven.

    Luckily, I was recently watching a lecture for Anba Benyameen about "common mistakes in rites" and he started talking about who can talk communion and who can't...the subject started around min 32:
  • edited July 18
    I do want to make something very clear. Repentance is an action that requires our full selves, body and soul. But in the afterlife many Church fathers believed that those who are still alive in body and soul can live a life of repentance and virtue ON BEHALF of those in the afterlife, that their prayers may be efficacious for those in Amente, and bring them comfort. This was also in our Coptic liturgical tradition before Pope Shenouda removed them.

    Then there are those in the afterlife who have lived such a life of repentance and virtue before their departure that we need their prayers and comfort that we may be with them.

    All of this essentially affirms that the Church is dynamic, whether before or after departure, and that we cannot truly know fully the state of what occurs in the afterlife. But we do know our prayers can be effective even for those in Hades. That much is sure and has been part of our Coptic Orthodox tradition.

    Anba Benyameen is simply repeating what Pope Shenouda is saying, which isn't much help. I was hoping my article can be of some assistance into some of the rich theological heritage we lost as a result of Islamic persecutions, just like the issue of theosis.

    With that said, I don't think this should be a reason to make the leap into salvation for non-Christians. Quite the opposite: all this should affirm that salvation is only through the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and it is through our prayers and membership in the Church that salvation occurs.
  • Dear @minasoliman
    You said "But we do know our prayers can be effective even for those in Hades", so I would like to ask how do we know that?
    I believe that the issue that pope Shenouda found hard to leave in the rites is that there are extreme arguments that prayers relieve the suffering of the deceased. This is wrong I believe. So why do we pray for the dead in the first place? Because one purpose amongst many is to participate with the deceased in requesting grace and being granted forgiveness for their sins. There are many other reasons of course. By the way repentance as you rightly say is a function of the whole being of the mortal body and its soul. It is not a function of the spirit outside the body. Indeed I would go further and say that the Holy Spirit convicts man in the flesh. In hades and hell the suffering is different..
    Oujai khan ebshois
  • You said "But we do know our prayers can be effective even for those in Hades", so I would like to ask how do we know that?
    Scriptures directly state it. The fathers spoke about it. All other churches believe there is some unfinished business in the afterlife and that prayers are effective in some unknown manner. 

    I believe that the issue that pope Shenouda found hard to leave in the rites is that there are extreme arguments that prayers relieve the suffering of the deceased. This is wrong I believe.
    God relieves the suffering of the deceased, not prayers, not people. God listens to prayers and he may grant forgiveness or comfort or rest to the deceased if it is his will. He can even be persuaded by intercessions since He already told us as much. But make no mistake. No one here is saying postmortem salvation is a dogma and you have to believe it to be saved. All we are saying is that God can do whatever he wants to people after death and he has given many hints.

    I'm sorry repentance in the afterlife is a stumbling bock for all of us. This whole discussion started not to prove repentance in the afterlife, rather to show that it is more important for us who are alive to repent instead of worrying about the salvation of non-Christians. 


  • Interesting topic. I dont have much to contribute to the discussion, but its great to read all you guys posts since ive thought a lot about this issue before.
    I agree with Remnkemi that what is more important is repenting before death and that since its not a dogma its not an issue that needs to be a hinderance for anyones faith.
  • theorthodoxgenius I found the "orthodox afterlife" by John Habib is a very interesting book on all subjects of this thread. The book is the result of 15 years of research on a quest to arrive at what the orthodox Christian understanding of the afterlife really is and it will answer some of the questions here as to why we pray for the departed good or bad and that salvation IS for repentant Christians.I must say i'm a bit surprised at some of the replies here. remnkemi and minasoliman I look up to you guys and respect your opinions and others in this thread and you were a real help to me since I joined this forum 3 yrs ago but as ophadece suggested you may need to speak to someone you trust about this, however I totally agree with remnkemi when you said at the very beginning that our energy should be rather spent on our own salvation so that we don't disqualify ourselves from salvation. Please forgive me if i came across as unpleasent...I did not mean it....pray for me
  • edited July 19
    The only prayer I see for the dead that I think may be true are those in the faith who take communion (assuming God requires that of everyone still which He may or may not) who sufficiently repented but still not perfectly or their faults still need to be purged. They crucified much of the flesh but not all and therefore I'm not sure anyone will escape some suffering in death because though they are forgiven and purified of some sins can we really say we are purified of all sins by the blood of christ when we still have some sins not tested. We must all be conformed to the image of His Son (though we are only rewarded for what we did on earth) as jesus says one jot or tittle will not pass from the law until all is fulfilled. His blood purifies us after death. Therefore the thief may have been with Christ in paradise but still having suffering and not fully with Christ just knowing he will be fully one day but for him soon probably as he is a little bit now. Some peoples faults may not require suffering to be purged and these are considered saved already

    And unlike Catholics we don't believe they will be purified without our prayers we have to pray but I can't believe it is true if our prayers do not help everyone equally but even so I should pray if it doesn't for those who will be helped

    But that is not dogma and may not be true

    But the passages Catholics use to refer to purgatory do not I think for example I'm not sure I do not remember such as Jesus casting the hypocrites with the unbelievers. That refers to the lost not those who will be forgiven

    However we trust or hope no one is lost because of us if we perfectly repent but if we abuse that knowledge we probably won't repent

  • Dear
    @Remnkemi,



    First of all let me apologise for not being very clear in several of my posts
    in this forum, and particularly this thread. You may know this already, but
    very often I edit posts from my mobile, and that doesn't give me the time and
    space to think clearly, post in abundance, or elaborate well (not that I can do
    it well either typing on the computer.. hehe.. but I will try). 

    So, yes, you advise me that the Scriptures directly state this. I would like to
    ask a very specific question, so that you show me with proof the answer - the
    specific question is how do we know the prayers are "EFFECTIVE"?
    Where in the Scriptures does it promise EFFICACY of prayers. Please let's not
    forget that I am denying God's work through praying, or that praying is ineffective
    most of the time. Certainly this is not what I am alluding to, but I am only
    interested in finding out what you believe is the definition of the word
    "effective". Please remember that St. Paul prayed for years for God
    to remove his afflictions, but God did not! Is that effective prayer? To me it
    is - why? Because God takes heed of all our prayers, but His will may not be
    exactly the same like us. So that is also my understanding on praying for the
    deceased. We pray that God grant them forgiveness, but that doesn't mean that
    God will, should He see that person having not repented fully. And yes, I am
    aware of the use of adverbs here, not for the purpose of emphasis, but
    indicating that salvation, repentance (and dare I say baptism too) are
    continuous processes, that could be fulfilled in part, or in full, and we hope
    and pray that God accept our incompleteness (ad-libbing again)!!! I will
    elaborate further below. 

     

    So
    you said: "
    The fathers spoke about it. All other churches
    believe there is some unfinished business in the afterlife and that prayers are
    effective in some unknown manner."

    You
    got that right of course (who would if you don't? hehe). The Coptic Orthodox
    Church doesn't follow other churches. That is to say the Coptic Orthodox Church
    does not believe in purgatory, or things pertaining to such concepts. The
    belief, or the concept if you will, in the Coptic church is that your
    opportunity finishes when you leave the mortal body. There is no other chance
    FULL STOP. Therefore abouna's prayers on the deceased are not a slam dunk in
    acquiring forgiveness, or we wouldn't have heard about saints in the church not
    knowing if they were accepted or not after their departure (by the way, that
    doesn't mean that they could have repented more, and I believe you know the stories
    of those saints I am talking about - I think a big name that comes to my mind
    is Abu Maqar, but I may be completely mistaken). 

    This
    therefore leads me to the next point that I was unclear about in my response to
    @minasoliman - when does God hear our prayers for the departed? Right at the
    point of departure? Right at the point of the funeral prayers? During the commemoration
    prayers in the Liturgy after 40 days? When exactly? Again, I think this is
    a continuous process. God listens to our prayers even before the deceased
    departs. We continue praying, not because He didn’t listen in the first place,
    but in order to TEACH our finite brains and hearts that we need to pray
    continuously, as does God in listening continuously. That, however, doesn’t mean
    that God MAY change His decision. Remember, He is as merciful as He is just. So
    let’s not delude ourselves and focus on mercy, forgetting justice. But yes, God
    does sometimes change His decision because of our prayers (not a given that we
    pray, therefore they are granted forgiveness). This takes me to pope Shenouda’s
    removal of some prayers despite Scriptures saying the contrary. I am not
    defending pope Shenouda, but I am only throwing my two pence. Some people in
    the Coptic Church started misunderstanding the process as if God listens to our
    prayers every time we pray (as though He is bound by the worldly temporal
    constraints), and relieves the souls of the departed. This is not a Coptic
    concept. God has already decided, and the purpose of our prayers is to TEACH ourselves
    again and again, REMIND ourselves of God’s mercies and justices, and TRY TO
    change His heart, if that is possible (which may have already happened during
    the funeral prayers, or in the yearly commemoration, or after 40 days, or
    whenever). Once again, that is only my throwing two pence, as I don’t know
    exactly if that is what pope Shenouda based his argument on, because again
    unsurprisingly I have not heard it. One more thing to say in this point, we
    pray in the litany of the departed the statement along the lines of “may God
    give relief, consolation, and respite to their souls, those who slept in the
    Christian faith, … etc” (sorry for my translation, as I don’t remember the
    words in English), which reiterates the fact that it is a continuous process, I
    mean our prayers, and not just at any one point and that’s it. Please don’t be
    confused as if I am saying that salvation could occur to them, or if their repentance
    is incomplete they will still be forgiven through our prayers (MAYBE YES if God
    so chooses), but this is not the norm. Otherwise, the church wouldn’t have
    refused to pray for the souls of those who died deliberately rejecting the
    works of the Holy Spirit, as in suicide for example as @minatasgeel mentioned. I
    hope I am clearer this time in what I would like to convey, but please ask me
    any questions should I not have been…

    Oujai qen P[c

  • No @mikeforjesus,

    There is no suffering for the chosen. It is EITHER OR. Either you enter the heavenly Kingdom (having awaited in paradise), or the eternal fire (having awaited in hades). There is no suffering at all, because YOU HAVE TO BE SURE that Christ's blood cleanses and purifies us WHOLLY, despite our iniquities, incompleteness, and imperfections in offering true repentance. No one is capable of doing that, but that doesn't mean that the whole humanity will suffer a little, or much, before entering the heavenly Kingdom. NO. Christ's blood is infinite. While you say you don't believe in purgatory, what this describes is some form of purgatory. That is wrong. 

    Another point as you rightly say, partaking of the Holy Communion is a must for forgiveness of our sins. This distinguishes us from other denominations, e.g. protestants. 

    Oujai qen P[c

  • I know it's a hard concept to swallow given what we learned from Pope Shenouda, as we are from his generation. But I invite you all to read the article I wrote:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HHHLnZtqIEs9TiMlDn4vmnJ8xsr9KiD_t6Rbu7X4ECU/pub

    On the contrary, this is a Coptic concept.

    The question, why do we pray for the departed good or bad? The answer is extremely simple: LOVE. And also hope. If there's hope, there's efficacy. I would consider it a great cruelty to think that our prayers are useless at that point for those we still have hope for. It is essentially no different from Protestants who don't even pray for the departed and don't ask for their prayers. Yes God is just and merciful, but these are concepts regarding His eternal nature which we cannot fully fathom. But He commands us to pray for the departed and the Church fathers were clear. Even Pope St. Theodosius was very very clear, and used the prayers of Archangel Michael as a help for those in Amente! It's not something hidden. And Pope Theodosius is not just any Pope, but also a pillar of faith in the Coptic Church, taking after the teachings of St. Severus of Antioch. This is not my own personal opinion, but of the teachings of the Coptic Church in the ancient times.
  • Dear @minasoliman,
    Agreed on all what you said. However, efficacy doesn't mean the bad will gain forgiveness when we pray for them (UNLESS GOD LISTENS TO THOSE PRAYERS AND CHANGES HIS HEART). Likewise, people who died in sin, may still be forgiven even though the church would refuse to pray for them. I will read your article now.
    Oujai qen P[c
  • Dear @minasoliman,
    I read the article, but have not finished it yet. I cannot response; I am not that well learned.
    Oujai qen `P`[c
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