I had an old post about this topic, where I began to compile all references to this subject. I’ll post the whole thing here:
Aerial Toll Houses (3rd Version, as of Friday 11 March AD 2016)
Here is a list of people that I have found through my own studies–and not from reading what someone else read–who believe the toll houses to be either literal and/or figurative/metaphorical:
circa 580-662 – St. Maximus the Confessor – L
“The Logos . . . reduce[d] to impotence the hostile powers that fill the intermediary region between heaven and earth . . . ” –On the Lord’s Prayer (circa 628-630
circa 7th century – St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic – L & F
b1815-d1894 – St. Theophan the Recluse – L
b1896-d1966 – St. John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker – L
b1897/1898-d1959 – Elder Joseph the Hesychast – L
b1934-d1982 – Fr. Seraphim Rose – L & F
b1934-d2015 – Fr. Thomas Hopko – Allegory of a reality?
present day – Metropolitan Kallistos Ware – L & F
present day – Rdr. Thomas Sandberg – L & F
Upon release of The Departure of the Soul According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church I thought for sure the topic was closed, and all the Ecumenists, converts, and academic theologians would surely take a pause and reevaluate their error, especially in light of the endorsements of many Bishops.
I, of course, was wrong. Instead, those above have enough pride to say it is those exact same Bishops who endorse the book who are wrong. Such is the case with Paul Ladouceur’s book review posted on the Ancient Faith blog “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy,” entitled Orthodox Theologies of the Afterlife: Review of “The Departure of the Soul.” An interesting quirk here is that Ancient Faith, under whose umbrella the review is posted, also sells the book in question, which should give one pause.
I’m not going to go through his review and dissect his errors, of which there are many, as I’m sure the more astute readers will be commenting in the comment section, giving Fr. Damick much to defend Ladouceur over. Instead, I will point my readers to a much better and honest review of the book written by Fr. Lawrence Farley on his Ancient Faith blog “No Other Foundation” and published on June 11th, 2017, entitled Book Review: The Departure of the Soul; also, read the comments therein.
In closing, I would like to point out to my readers that Paul Ladouceur is employed by the Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College, which “was established with the blessing of His Grace Irénée, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada, Orthodox Church in America.” This is important because as far as I know Ladouceur is a member of the OCA, and His Grace Irénée’s endorsement of the book Ladouceur essentially calls heretical for it’s “ecclesiology” can be found on page 19 of the book in question.
Update: I have since had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ladouceur many times now, and we have discussed many interesting topics. Some of those topics we are in agreement, others not so much; however, toll houses has yet to become a topic of conversation between us yet.
I feel as though it’s always “been a difficult couple of weeks,” and it has left me worrying about the future of the Church. Very common talk appears to be towards the secular understanding of human sexuality at the expense of the Orthodox understanding, shorter services, doing away with Koine Greek, American Leftist politics, Ecumenism, and cremation. All towards the acceptance of the aforementioned, a complete rejecting of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (and much other Scripture and patristic references) and a bold trust in the fallen Self-girded together with the unvoiced heresy of modernism—the belief that the Church is in error and one’s thoughts are not.
The thought that one’s thoughts are actually one’s own and not the result of the demonic’s zeitgeist-societal programming from the day of birth never occurs to most people, and why would it? Their φρόνημα is not that of the Church, and the whole concept of co-crucifixion with Christ in order to metamorphose and recapitulate the fallen Self is absent; it is no longer ‘come as you are but don’t leave as you came.’ It is now ‘come as you are and remain the same, the Church will change and legitimise my sins.’
The problem with moving the boundary, with the liberal application of οἰκονομία, is that what is οἰκονομία now becomes the new standard of ἀκρίβεια later, and this has been progressively happening since the legalisation of Orthodox Christianity in the 4th century, and to all those who doubt this I point you to Chapter 7 of Pomazansky’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, and this here and here.
Now here is a nice song to cheer you up