Aerial Toll-Houses

From OrthodoxWiki
Revision as of 14:12, December 20, 2009 by Wsk (talk | contribs) (links)
Jump to: navigation, search

The theory of Aerial Toll-Houses regards the soul's journey after its departure from the body. It is a fringe teaching, not accepted by the mainstream theologians and jurisdictions.

Dn. Andrew Werbiansky summarizes the theory (described in Fr. Seraphim Rose's book The Soul After Death) as follows: "following a person's death the soul leaves the body and is escorted to God by angels. During this journey the soul passes through an aerial realm which is ruled by demons. The soul encounters these demons at various points referred to as "toll-houses" where the demons then attempt to accuse it of sin and, if possible, drag the soul into hell."[1]

It is a teaching that owes much of its recent popularity to the teachings of Fr. Seraphim Rose, a controversial figure in the modern Church. It is a belief that preys upon the simple-minded and emphasizes guilt and punishment as a way to keep the faithful "in line." The idea of toll-houses ignore the ineffable love, compassion and forgiveness of the our Lord and, in spirit, has much in common with other fundamentalist sects of religions around the world.

According to this teaching, every person has demons that attack him, and "shoot their arrows at them", as Church Fathers say, that "arrows" being thoughts that suggest commiting sins. These demons write down every sin that they persuaded people to do, and even thoughts that people accepted and complied with, but did not, for what ever reason, actually actualize them. When a person repents for a sin, and confesses it in the Holy Mystery (/Sacrament) of Confession [2], it is by God's Grace and Power erased from the demon's papers.

When the soul dies, on the third day it is carried by angels towards Heaven. On that way, they must go past 20 aerial toll-houses, which are huge groups of demons arranged according to specific kinds of sins. When a soul accompanied by angels gets to a toll-house, demons that tempted that soul during her life approach and accuse it for sins. The sins that are written on papers of demons have to be "payed for" by persons good deeds in life, such as prayer, fasting, asceticism, doing works of mercy, etc.

Many believe that this teaching is one that hearkens back to ancient, pagan Greek religion -- when figures like Charon had to be paid to ferry souls across the River Styx.

A Fringe Belief

Toll-houses are a fringe, fundamentalist belief within the Orthodox Church. Most mainstream church leaders, including Archbishop Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa, consider this teaching controversial, even false (describing it as gnostic or of pagan origin).


  1. Death and the Toll House Contraversy by Deacon Andrew Werbiansky
  2. if there is an opportunity for that, if not, confession without a priest is sufficient, as in the case of the Good Thief

See also

External links