Death & the Future Life: Suggested Books on Death & the Future Life
The Future Life According
to Orthodox Teaching, by Constantine
Cavarnos (Etna: The Center for Traditionalist
Orthodox Studies, 1985). The full text of this excellent work
will soon be available exclusively on the Orthodox Christian Information
The Mystery of Death,
by Nikolaos Vassiliadis, trans. Fr. Peter A. Chamberas (Athens: The
Orthodox Brotherhood of Theologians, 1997).
Life After Death,
by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.
The Soul After Death, by
Father Seraphim Rose. Read most of Appendix
III in reply to his critics. "In this work, published in
1980, the traditional Orthodox teaching on the subject is set forth
and, with that teaching as a base, contemporary 'after-death' and
'out-of-the-body' experiences are interpreted" (Dr. Constantine
Cavarnos in The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching,
p. 14). Read the Preface.
Beyond the Grave, Archimandrite Panteleimon (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery).
Orthodox teachings and traditions concerning the immortality of the
soul and life beyond the grave, drawn from a wide range of patristic
and pious sources. This book was given a hearty commendation by Father
Seraphim Rose in his "Prologue" to Vita
Patrum: "The Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great,
as well as Eternal Mysteries Beyond the Grave, is excellent
medicine for today's over-sophisticated Orthodox Christians. They
can be a touchstone for us: if, reading them, we find them 'naive,'
'too realistic,' or otherwise distasteful, we can know that we are
still too 'sophisticated,' not childlike and simple enough in our
Orthodoxy. If we are converts, we can know that we have not yet entered
enough into the genuine spirit of Orthodoxy; if we are 'native Orthodox,'
we can know that our Orthodoxy has been corrupted by false modern
Roman Catholic ideas" (p. 24).
The Evergetinos: A Complete Text,
Vol. II of the First Book (Etna: The Center for Traditionalist Orthodox
Dialogues, by St. Gregory the Great (the Dialogist). From
the Fathers of the Church series (New York, 1959). See Vol.
IV, which is entirely devoted to the subject of death and the future
The anti-Orthodox teaching on life after death of this critic is all the more dangerous
in that it appeals to a very subtle passion of contemporary mankind.
The Orthodox teaching on life after death is rather severe and demands
a very sober response on our part, full of the fear of God. But mankind
today is very pampered and self-centered and would rather not hear
of such stern realities as judgment and accountability for sins. One
can be much more "comfortable" with an exalted teaching
of "hesychasm" that tells us that God is not "really"
as stern as the Orthodox ascetic tradition has described Him, that
we "really" need have no fear of death and the judgment
it brings, that if only we occupy ourselves with exalted spiritual
ideas like those in the Philokalia (dismissing as "allegories"
all the passages on the toll-houses) we will be "safe" under
a "loving God" who will not demand an accounting of all
our sins, even those forgotten or unrecognized.... The end of these
exalted reflections is a state not far different from that of those
"charismatics" and others who feel themselves already assured
of salvation, or of those who follow the occult teaching that states
there is nothing to fear in death.
The true Orthodox teaching on life after death, on the other hand, fills one
precisely with the fear of God and the inspiration to struggle for
the Kingdom of Heaven against all the unseen enemies who oppose our
path. All Orthodox Christians are called to this struggle, and it
is a cruel injustice to them to dilute the Orthodox teaching to make
them more "comfortable." Let each one read the Orthodox
texts most suited to the spiritual level at which he presently finds
himself; but let no one tell him that he can dismiss as "fables"
the texts he may find "uncomfortable." Fashions and opinions
among men may change, but the Orthodox tradition remains ever the
same, no matter how few may follow it. May we ever be its faithful
Fr. Seraphim of Platina, The Soul After Death, Appendix III,
"Answer to a Critic "
This is one of the most important articles on this page. The reading of it
is highly encouraged.