I am very perplexed by the teaching of the Rev. Father Thomas Hopko and am wondering if his teachings on immediate life after physical death are Orthodox.
Specifically, he teaches that not only do we not believe in the platonic ideas that the soul preexists the body and that the soul is entrapped in the body, but he denies completely that the soul can survive the death of the body and enter paradise, despite our Lord's teaching that this in fact happens as in the story of the rich man and Lazarus and despite the many sayings of the Fathers that tell of sightings of souls leaving bodies and being crowned with life IMMEDIATELY after death.
"Those who have been Baptised have died, raised and sealed with the life creating Spirit. They are literally raised from the dead and can not die, and death becomes the transfiguration or the passage of everlasting life in Christ, because Christ is risen. This is important, not because we have an immortal soul; our soul is as dead as our body is, as far as the Bible is concerned. We do not teach immortality of the soul in our Church; we are not Socrates or Plato, but we follow the Bible. Death is the enemy of the body and soul, and Christ raises us up in body and soul. It is because Christ is risen that we have hope over death, not because of any 'natural' teaching."
"We see it all in terms of the end and not some immortal soul that is out there floating around somewhere and we wonder where.
No, we see it all in terms of the final victory of Christ that is already anticipated by us on earth in the Church by our Baptism and Eucharist. Furthermore, when we die we leave the temporal and spatial conditions of the planet earth and enter the very presence of God anticipating already the age to come." http://www.orthodoxchristian.info/pages/afterdeath.htm
How do we leave the temporal and spatial conditions if we have not soul/spirit that departs the body????
1) THIS IS MIND BOGGLING Fr. Thomas Hopko states duriong his lecture on The Descent Of Jesus Into Hades
on April 30, 2008
"... we do not ever want to imagine the dead as disincarnate souls. Some of the great teachers of Christianity do that, even Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos, he does that. I must say honestly say I do not agree with him when he does that. The dead are simply completely and totally dead. And then when you are alive, you are completely and totally alive. And I believe that when Christ rose from the dead in His glorified body, He gave the glorified body to all those in the tombs immediately, that they enter into eternal life with Him. That is why when we glorify the saints we glorify them as completely and totally alive. When they appear to people they do not appear as disincarnate souls, they appear as people in their glorified bodies, with their risen bodies. They are clothed with the raised body of Jesus Christ. The relic of their physical body might still be in the tombs, and they are in the tombs until the last day when all the tombs will be empty and there will be no more cemeteries and no more death anymore at all. But the dead in Christ are already entering into that splendid glory of the age to come. That is how we relate to them and venerate them within the Orthodox Church."
WHEN in the last 2000 years did ANY of the FATHERS TEACH THIS?
It appears to me that Father Hopko does NOT believe in spirits/souls of the departed being able to servive outside of the body.
At time 1:26 of the video at the following link, Father Thomas claims that "somehow" you are immediately in the age to come, resurrected, supposedly (transported in time). He believes when the saints appear, they are appearing in their resurrected body. At 1:31 he states that it is "absurd" that disincarnate souls are what we are seeing when Saints make apparitions http://ancientfaith.com/specials/hopko_lectures/the_death_of_christ_and_our_death_in_him
Does this mean that Saints are going back in time to appear to us? Am I already physically dead and resurrected in the future kingdom?
3) In the following article he appreas to be equating "soul" with life as though when saying that the soul leaves the body, all is meant is that the life leaves the body. He seems to insist that eternal life is eternal biological life.
He says that that idea of saying that you have a soul that leaves your body is not the biblical teaching that it is Platonism: "'You have a spirit in you. You have a soul in you. And when you die, your body rots, but your soul goes off to contemplate eternal realities in some purely spiritually heavenly world.' That’s Platonism, basically, and even in some sense, that’s Hinduism and Buddhism, that the spiritual reality somehow remains and so on. But that’s not the Biblical teaching at all."http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/nam...the_life/print
While Plato believed that souls are eternal, preexist the body, trapped in the body, then leaves the body to be free, he shares the idea of a soul leaving the body with Christianity which, according to the parabled of the rich man and Lazarus, there IS a soul that leaves the body and goes somewhere. Fr. Hopko seems to deny that there is a soul that leaves the body simply because plato had other wrong ideas about the soul.
I am confused and now confused and somewhat apprehesive of physical death. To my knowledge, all martyrs went bravely to their physical deaths believing that they will continue to be in the love of Christ as their spirit/soul departs the body to live conciously and immediately after death.
I often read works by Father Thomas Hopko as he is very precise and knowledgable about Orthodox Church history and Fathers. But on this issue he has confused me completely. It appears that many Eastern Orthodox Christians share similar teachings as he does.
Do we have souls/spirits that are sustained by God and grant us conciousness immediately after physical death or not, according to Orthodoxy?? If not, and what Fr. Thomas Hopko teaches is correct, then what is it in our nature that is created by God that allows us to have a presence in the immediate afterlife after physical death if we do not have conscious minds/souls that leave the body?
Please assist me as I am greatly troubled by this confusion. Do we have immediate coniousness after death, according to the Consensus of the Fathers and Eastern Orthodox understanding???
Although I am Coptic Orthodox, I often read many of his writings as I thought he was a very precise and learned theologian.
I corresponded with him briefly and he does believe in immediate consciousness after death for all humans, but he does not believe in disincarnate human souls, that is souls outside of the body.
It seems that he is going against the ideas of Plato who taught that the soul pre-existed the body and is naturally immortal on its own, but I think he went to the other extreme in completely denying that there is a separate soul that leaves the body and enters into the afterlife.