German Islamists predicted hellish torment for the German Chancellor if she does not accept Islam. Is Angela Merkel threatened only by Muslim hell or is she a candidate to hell from a Christian perspective as well? And what is hell? Hieromonk Nikanor (Lepeshev), a teacher of the Khabarovsk Theological Seminary, talked about it with Pravda.ru.
If you die without accepting Islam, you will go to hell forever and will be there to suffer torments worse than you can imagine, says a video message of a radical Muslim association, The Invitation to Paradise to Angela Merkel and the heads of security agencies in Germany, quoted by Blagovest-info with a reference to Spiegel magazine.
The members of the Islamist group believe that Islam is not just the only way to ensure that the soul gets a prosperous fate after death, but the only proper form of government. Employees of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (the German intelligence services engaged in surveillance of extremist groups in Germany) consider that the leader of The Invitation to Paradise Pierre Vogel promotes the idea of jihad through his radical sermons. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere does not rule out that in the future the activities of the association The Invitation to Paradise may be outlawed.
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As we know, Angela Merkel is a Lutheran. Her father was a very influential Lutheran theologian who first served as a pastor at the parish church, then led the college for pastors. What kind of afterlife awaits posthumous Angela Merkel and other Lutherans from the standpoint of orthodox theologians?
"True union with Christ is possible only in His true Church, which is the Orthodox Church. It was founded by the Savior through His apostles two thousand years ago. Only in this church we can gain freedom from the sin, Satan and hell. Being outside the Orthodox Church - in other faith, other religion, in a state of religious indifference or atheism - is not salvation, it is destructive for the soul," hieromonk Nikanor (Lepeshev) told Pravda.ru.
At the same time, according to the teacher of the seminary, "God is love, and it is impossible to imagine that He had made a large part of humanity simply as the firewood for the hell fire. This gives us hope that He will find a way to save those who for valid reasons, due to objective circumstances, could not become children of the Orthodox Church, but were searching for God and tried to be faithful."
"This is evidenced, for example, by the words of St. Nectarios of Optina. Remember the incident of the Life of St. Gregory of Rome, who begged the soul of pagan emperor Trajan, the persecutor of Christians, from hell. A very important point: if the salvation of these people happens, it happens through no other means than the Orthodox Church, but solely through its prayers. That is entirely thanks to it, not as something to bypass it. Thus, the words of martyr Cyprian of Carthage "without the Church there is no salvation" fully retain their power." said Father Nikanor.
What is Hell and what are the tortures for unrepentant sinners? According to the hieromonk, "hell is a state of separation of the soul from God. Actually, if we, for whatever reason, are alienated from the Lord, then the hell in our mind begins here and now, on Earth. And after the death its natural continuation follows."
"What does separate us from God? It is sin. And this sin is personal - one or another violation of the evangelical precepts, which are to love God and people. And the original sin is the hereditary spiritual disease, the damage to our common human nature that we all passed down from generation to generation, from Adam and Eve after they moved away from God," stressed Father Nikanor.
According to him, "deliverance from both original and personal sin is found in Christ. By his incarnation, earthly life, atoning death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, the Son of God defeated the sin, Satan, hell and death. He freed us from their power. And we partake in His victory in the sacraments of the Church: in Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, Confession ... But the connection with God and salvation from hell is not automatic, not magical. It demands our personal involvement, our constant effort. That is, a deed of conscious Christian life. The mechanical participation in the sacraments without internal regeneration does not save us from hell."
Does the Orthodox Church teach that sinners in hell are awaited by boiling pots, frying pans and other quite tangible instruments of torture? "According to Ven. Isaac, unrepentant sinners are punished in hell by a "whip of love."That is, the torments of conscience, late remorse that they sinned against God's love, rejected it, closed it for their hearts," said the priest.
"The holy fathers also expressed the idea that the source of hellish sufferings is our sinful passions and lusts. If the human soul during life on earth is not cleared from them, after death they will burn and tear it from the inside. In describing some visions, as well as, for example, the icons of the Last Judgment, we can see glowing images of frying pans, boiling-water pots, tearing of the body with hooks, etc. But these are only the symbols of unbearable anguish of conscience and those lingering sinful passions that will burn and tear the souls of unrepentant sinners," he concluded.