29 January 2012
River of Fire by Dr. Kalomiros
Question about writings on the ROAC USA website:
I read the "River of Fire" awhile ago... For the sake of clarity, can someone please indicate what is unorthodox about it? I am not defending it - I sincerely do not know.
The most troubling aspect of the Kalomiran view of hell is the notion that heaven and hell are the same objective reality experienced subjectively. Several questions arise as a result: How are the scriptural references to heaven and hell as physical places compatible with this view? If indeed the experience of heaven and hell entirely depends on our personal response to God's love, what prevents the worst sinners from being receptive to it and what prevents the recipients of salvation from rejecting it after death? If hell's torment is solely caused by hate against God, how did the rich man in the parable of Lazarus cry out to Father Abraham, "Have mercy on me"? Is this reflective of hate against God?
In addition, Dr. Kalomiros introduces yet another heretical statement: "God never hates, never punishes, never takes vengeance." Is he familiar with the Bible or the Church Fathers at all? The Scriptural references replete with mentions of divine wrath and eternal punishment will obviate the need to quote all the verses in it. For convenience’s sake, I am quoting the following two verses from Revelation, 20:9-10. “(A)nd fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.” It is evident in these Bible verses that the destructive fire originates from God, not from His creatures. Of course, this is not to portray God as a Christian equivalent of the Hindu goddess Kali. Rather, it is a reiteration of another significant aspect of divine justice besides correction. Namely, retribution. As for his patrisitc references, let us examine the very words of the saints, whom Dr. Kalomiros chose for his article. St. John of Damascus writes, "A judge justly punishes one who is guilty of wrongdoing; and if he does not punish him he is himself a wrongdoer." St. Symeon the New Theologian writes, "(If I) depart from this life still defiled, I shall be fit to suffer derision on the part of God and His angels and be cast into eternal fire with the demons."
In my opinion, the River of Fire is a well-wrapped deism. By stripping God of His ultimate authority to execute justice and judgment, Dr. Kalomiros reduces God into a mere clock maker and elevates us men to the status of the sovereign overlord of our own fate. In his stark portrait, the farthest extent of God's role is the creator of the law. He is a passive and powerless lawmaker. As for the enforcement and execution of justice, they become our sole responsibility. Isn't there something fundamentally wrong with this humanistic picture? It is important to remember that God's law first went into effect before there ever was its violation. This alone demonstrates the supreme sovereignty of God. While we provide the essential ground for God's justice to be carried out, the end result, however, is God's active governance at work in response to our transgressions. It is this aspect of divine sovereignty and our subjection to it that Dr. Kalomiros loses sight of in determination to "peculiarize" Orthodox Christianity at all costs.
The idea of God as espoused by Dr. Kalomiros is an industrial printing press. While its main function is to provide invaluable information in the form of written media for all people, some in their carelessness may fall into it and die; the machine is not to blame for it simply did its own job. The major problem with this view is that we are in full control of our destiny and God plays no part in it. Why is it wrong for God to render judgment against those who continue to disobey Him? Why is it wrong to have fear of God? What's Dr Kalomiros's objection to the wrath of God? I do believe that God's love fills both heaven and hell but love sometimes is expressed in the form of violence and fear. Out of love for Father, our Lord overturned the tables of money changers and merchants at the temple; out of love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, St. Nicholas punched the heretic Arius at the Council of Nicea. If they had just stood there in indifference, would that have demonstrated their fervent love for God and humanity? Far from it.
Also see this refutation, recommended and approved by this blog: