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Moderated Forums => Orthodox-Other Christian Discussion => Orthodox-Protestant Discussion => Topic started by: Armchair Theologian on February 14, 2013, 03:06:50 AM

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 14, 2013, 03:06:50 AM
Split from a thread in the FI - MK

As a sort-of protestant, who is intrigued by the beauty and the many truths of Orthodoxy, this is probably my biggest hurtle to overcome. And I find myself asking the same exact question: Why is she venerated so much? Why is she hymned in every service, even at the Eucharist? I think I've read pretty much all of the arguments presented here and more, and I think I'd like to believe, I mean, I feel a fondness for Mary, and I don't think it's right to completely throw her under the bus just because you don't agree with venerating her the way the Catholics or the Orthodox do, but I keep hitting against this wall... Namely: I can't find any really hard evidence that the Apostles in the first century taught us Christians to think this way about her. So I must ask myself, is it the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or the teaching of men? And the the only answer I can give is, I don't know yet. So I'm just waiting for an answer to come.

Perhaps someone will pray for me that she will make herself known to me somehow. I'm not talking about a sing or a vision, but just that I would come to know the truth about her... I'm open. :)      
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Gebre Menfes Kidus on February 14, 2013, 04:17:16 AM
From my book, FWIW:


Apart from the radiance of the stars, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the sun and the moon, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the angels in heaven, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the holy prophets, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the apostles and saints, our salvation would still be possible. And yes - dare I say it - apart from the Holy Bible itself, our salvation would still be possible. But apart from the Panagia, the Theotokos, Our Lady the most Holy Virgin Maryam, our salvation would never have been possible. Because of her righteousness, virtue, and unparalleled faith, God chose her to be the vessel of His Incarnation. And unless God had been born of a woman, then our redemption could not have occurred. Therefore we glorify, honor, and venerate the Virgin St. Maryam – not because she is our Savior, but because apart from her we would have no Savior.
 
[While it is true that God in His omnipotence did not necessarily need the Virgin Mary to become a man and provide salvation, He nevertheless chose Our Lady to be the vessel of His Incarnation. Therefore, in order to fully understand the message of the Gospel, we need to understand the role of the Virgin Mary.]



Selam
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Velsigne on February 14, 2013, 11:26:29 AM
And the the only answer I can give is, I don't know yet. So I'm just waiting for an answer to come....

...Perhaps someone will pray for me that she will make herself known to me somehow. I'm not talking about a sing or a vision, but just that I would come to know the truth about her... I'm open. :)      

If you are a person who doesn't just automatically believe something because someone said so and are more based in personal experience, that is probably the best way and what I was advised by a Fr. Confessor.  Just give it a year or so of being in the Church, participating in services, keeping the prayer rule.  There is no demand that one have a dogmatic belief about her, except for her role stated in the Nicene Creed.  

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on that.  I just don't recall there being much dogma with regard to her.  

Edit for spelling.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Velsigne on February 14, 2013, 11:38:31 AM
From my book, FWIW:


Apart from the radiance of the stars, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the sun and the moon, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the angels in heaven, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the holy prophets, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the apostles and saints, our salvation would still be possible. And yes - dare I say it - apart from the Holy Bible itself, our salvation would still be possible. But apart from the Panagia, the Theotokos, Our Lady the most Holy Virgin Maryam, our salvation would never have been possible. Because of her righteousness, virtue, and unparalleled faith, God chose her to be the vessel of His Incarnation. And unless God had been born of a woman, then our redemption could not have occurred. Therefore we glorify, honor, and venerate the Virgin St. Maryam – not because she is our Savior, but because apart from her we would have no Savior.
 
[While it is true that God in His omnipotence did not necessarily need the Virgin Mary to become a man and provide salvation, He nevertheless chose Our Lady to be the vessel of His Incarnation. Therefore, in order to fully understand the message of the Gospel, we need to understand the role of the Virgin Mary.]



Selam



That's beautiful. 

Seems like there is some reason for others to believe that her personal holiness and love for God had nothing to do with her role in salvation.  At most, seems she is viewed as some kind of receptacle that pushed God out into our world, and that's it.  Perhaps people from other traditions have just been trained to think one way about her, and they haven't taken the time to contemplate how God would choose the woman who brought the Savior into the world. 

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on February 14, 2013, 12:05:25 PM
Namely: I can't find any really hard evidence that the Apostles in the first century taught us Christians to think this way about her.

"For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."  Luke 1:48

That doesn't work for you?

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: genesisone on February 14, 2013, 12:30:32 PM
What helped me most in understanding the role of the Theotokos in our salvation was the work On the Mother of God (http://www.svspress.com/on-the-mother-of-god/) by Jacob of Serug. (I believe he is known as St Jacob by our OO friends - this work alone makes him worthy, IMHO) It has become my reading during the Dormition Fast.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 15, 2013, 03:30:12 AM
Namely: I can't find any really hard evidence that the Apostles in the first century taught us Christians to think this way about her.

"For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."  Luke 1:48

That doesn't work for you?



Well, it's not that I won't acknowledge that this scriptural statement may well have ramifications altogether lost on the majority of my fellow protestants, but at the same time, from my perspective it seems calling her blessed can't automatically equate to "more honorable than the Cherubim, incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim", or "protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, mediation unto the creator most constant." Those particular statements go a bit beyond calling her blessed (gr, Makarios: Happy, fortunate, well off, receiving of favor). They relate to some very specific teachings about her blessedness. I'm trying not to really doubt them as such, but simply suspending my disbelief until I know more, or God reveals. I'm sitting on the fence, trying to understand why so many Christians believe these things and if I'm not the one who's been wrong the whole time.

I think I'm going to start reading some books on the subject, like the ones suggested in this thread.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 15, 2013, 03:39:24 AM
I'm trying not not really doubt them as such, but simply suspending my disbelief until I know more, or God reveals. I'm sitting on the fence as such.

What could be more blessed, more honorable, more glorious for a human being to accomplish than to conceive, bear, nurse and nurture God Himself? As for God revealing Himself, are not the Gospels proof enough of this? Is the Incarnation not enough proof for you?  ???

The OT has plenty to say about it as well, these two passages immediately come to mind:

God is the Lord, and has revealed Himself to us.
(Psalm 117 LXX)

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel (God-With-Us). (Is. 7:14)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 15, 2013, 04:48:51 AM
And yet the Gospels don't instruct us to sing hymns of praise, glorify and extol her, or any such thing. Honor her, sure, that's fine, but it goes beyond honor I think sometimes. It's true that she was selected, by the grace of God, for a very special role, but then so were others. Abraham was selected to be ancestral father of the nation and lineage of the Savior. Christ was still 'in his loins', so to speak, when God commanded Him to leave his home country and kindred and sojourn in the land of Canaan. And he obeyed without reservation. It could be argued that, without his cooperation and obedience in the plan of God, the God-man could not have come into the world. Why not say that Abraham is thus highly exalted above all saints, to the right hand of Christ Himself, the source of salvation, and so forth? After all, we are actually told in the New Testament the he is father to the faithful. Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians in general explicitly told to regard Mary as Mother. What Jesus said to John, "behold your mother", doesn't necessarily mean that she is the Mother of the Church. He was instructing him to care of her after his departure. Even Jesus didn't call her His mother, strangely enough. He said "Behold, my mother and brethren", and stretched His arm toward his disciples. Perhaps He did this knowing that they would one day come to worship her just for being his mother. But even if she is the Mother of the Church, does that justify the elaborate hymns of liturgical praise, the wealth of Iconography, the feast days and prayers and all the like, all in her honor and with such great extravagance? Or is it rather the God she carried and birthed and and nurtured, who by his grace enabled her to accomplish the task, who really should be receiving such attention and devotion and adoration from the church?

Oh, but then those who make that argument are said to not understand the incarnation. But what if it's the other way around. What if the point of the incarnation is that He might be a faithful and merciful and all-sufficient high priest, one who through his humanity became partaker with us in all of our temptations and afflictions and sufferings, even unto death, and yet thorough his divinity overcame and conquered all. What if he did this so that he would not be "unable to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities", so that we through him could with boldness come before God and receive His mercy and grace. But if on some level you feel that He is not naturally inclined to help you that you must go and implore another mediator to stand between you and Him and gain his favor on your behalf, could it not be argued that on some level you would be missing the whole point? Granted, intercessory prayer is completely biblical and important, but it can be interpreted in a manner that is not appropriate. Some make it sound as though, without the intersession of Mary, we'd be toast. Like it's an indispensable part of salvation. If so, might as well go all the way and call her a co-savior and co-redeemer. But even if all true Christians are all co-saviors and co-redeemers in a the sense that God works through each person for the salvation of the whole body, we still have to deal with the fact that the Apostles, in their writings, did not instruct us to look at either themselves or any other person who played a role in the plan of God as anything more than human beings who were dependent on the mercy of God. If Peter rebuked Cornelius for bowing down to Him, and if the angel rebuked John for the same, why then should we bow to an image of Mary? Is it not possible that she would rebuke us likewise?

At the very least, this possibility occurs to me, and so I'm going to research it a bit more and see if something changes. Sometimes I can almost see it your way, and sometimes I look at it and the whole thing just seems blasphemous. If I am to become Orthodox, it's going to be a processes, and it won't happen over night. Not with the way feel about this issue currently.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Asteriktos on February 15, 2013, 04:52:39 AM
While I am of a different opinion, I don't begrudge you the skepticism or questioning position on this. All I'd say is: keep investigating, keep asking if the Church is what she claims to be or not. And, "well-reasoned hesitation is better than inconsiderate haste" (paraphase of St. Gregory the Theologian)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 15, 2013, 05:12:38 AM
Thank you. Not trying to offend anyone, but sometimes I when I get an argument like "well she gave birth to God incarnate, and therefore she is above all created things and worthy of goddess-like treatment...naturally", I have to make a point. I just don't think it's that black and white, to where there can be no other conclusion, and if you don't agree you don't understand Jesus. I think the people who argue thus really believe that, but I don't think they are right about protestants. Their feelings and thoughts on the run a little beeper than they realize, just as the thoughts and feelings of Catholics and Orthodox on Mary run deeper than Protestants tend to understand. There's just a world of difference in the viewpoints, It's almost impossible to spontaneously jump from one to the other.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 15, 2013, 05:14:06 AM
Even leaving aside the sheer inexpressibility of the greatness of this woman bearing and raising God Incarnate, she is exalted also as the Queen and Mother, being by far the closest to the "ear of God", as it were. This idea is also biblical, and is featured in many cultures, even non-Christian ones. Some retain it to this day: the dowager queen, mother of the reigning king, having special favor in petitioning the king on behalf of the people. Dowagers were recognized as not reigning in their own right, neither did they wield any executive regal power as would the reigning monarch, but they were/are seen as approachable and wise, and having the best chance of bringing the petitions and problems of the people to the king for consideration.

We even see this in the first miracle Christ performed. His Mother remarks to Him that the wine had run out at the wedding in Cana. He initially doesn't do anything about it, telling her that it is not the right time yet. Later, he does fulfill her request. Even the Son of God listens to His mama!  :)

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 15, 2013, 05:37:11 AM
I'm curious, would you interpret this to mean that She has power over Him, and not the other way around? Who is ruling the universe in your estimation? Whose wisdom governs man's salvation? Does Mary make suggestions that he may or may not choose to heed, or does he have to obey her because she is His mother?
   
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 15, 2013, 06:17:08 AM
I'm curious, would you interpret this to mean that She has power over Him, and not the other way around? Who is ruling the universe in your estimation? Whose wisdom governs man's salvation? Does Mary make suggestions that he may or may not choose to heed, or does he have to obey her because she is His mother?
    

Nowhere have I said, nor does the Orthodox Church teach, that she has "power over Him", nor is He obliged to do as she says. The decisions He makes regarding the prayers and petitions which reach him, whether made directly to Him by us, or through the intercessions of the saints and the Mother of God, are His. However, in His compassion and love for mankind, He considers the prayers and petitions received through His saints, who stand before the throne of God. And His Mother is the most effective of these saintly intercessors, by virtue of being His Mother, for the reasons I mentioned in my earlier post.

In iconography which depicts the earthly death of a saint, a common motif, and one which is also expressed in the hymns of the Church, is of the God-pleasing one's soul (in icons, in the form of a babe in swaddling-clothes - symbolizing purity and rebirth into the eternal heavenly life) being taken to heaven in the arms of an angel. In icons of the Dormition of the Mother of God, we see the soul of the reposed Virgin, not carried by angels, but in the arms of her Son, as is fitting and proper. Just as she gave Him earthly life, He takes her soul away to life eternal, with the greatest love and reverence.

The hymnography of the Dormition of the Mother of God is particularly rich and beautiful, and it expresses much about the relationship between Christ and His Mother. Here's a link:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/15aug.htm
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on February 15, 2013, 10:02:37 AM
Quote
"For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."  Luke 1:48
The argument I used in days gone by against this was that Mary was indeed blessed by God, and that all nations would recognize this. However, this scripture did not mean we should glorify her, and it takes away from glorification of God.

However, now I know the difference between Dulia and Latria but that is alien to a lot of branches of Protestantism.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: alanscott on February 15, 2013, 12:51:24 PM
Thank you for posting this question Armchair Theologan. I really appreciate the responses you folks have offered. (Gabe: This book is a finished product or one your still writing?)

On another topic board I recently absorbed the fact that man was created from the lowest form of creation and woman from the highest form of creation. Theophilos78 offered the insight that by deceiving Eve satan turned creation ‘upside down’. God first created Adam and through Adam He created Eve. Satan first deceived Eve and through Eve convinced Adam to sin.  It was woman (together with man) that caused the fall of all mankind; The Spiritual death of the world. It was through a woman, so young and innocent, that gave birth to the world. ‘The word became flesh’ through Mary.

I don’t have a complete understanding of the veneration of Mary yet either Armchair Theologan, and offer my reply as much of a question as a statement, but it seems to me God chose Mary to be this woman to give birth to all mankind and fulfill His prophecy. Could it be that by doing so God turned all of creation right side up again? You make some good points about God choosing others such as Abraham as well. Yet, while not completely understanding how Orthodox venerates Mary, I am beginning to see a profoundness of Mary’s ‘role’ that may transcend beyond what I have known or been taught before. Could 'on earth as it is in heaven' suggest that Mary did not just give birth to the world but in fact still does? 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 15, 2013, 01:03:54 PM
Quote
Could 'on earth as it is in heaven' suggest that Mary did not just give birth to the world but in fact still does?  

The Mother of God did not give birth to the world. She gave birth to the Author and Source of Life, who, through His incarnation, death and resurrection, redeemed His fallen creation.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: alanscott on February 15, 2013, 02:08:00 PM
Quote
Could 'on earth as it is in heaven' suggest that Mary did not just give birth to the world but in fact still does?  

The Mother of God did not give birth to the world. She gave birth to the Author and Source of Life, who, through His incarnation, death and resurrection, redeemed His fallen creation.

Understood TY. Forgive me if this is drifting too far from the OP but if the fall resulted in the spiritual death of mankind, would it be too figurative to say that giving birth to the Redeemer, is giving spiritual birth to the world?

I ask to become more aware of my understanding and be cautious of my own foolish lips. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 15, 2013, 02:36:04 PM
Split from a thread in the FI - MK

As a sort-of protestant, who is intrigued by the beauty and the many truths of Orthodoxy, this is probably my biggest hurtle to overcome. And I find myself asking the same exact question: Why is she venerated so much? Why is she hymned in every service, even at the Eucharist? I think I've read pretty much all of the arguments presented here and more, and I think I'd like to believe, I mean, I feel a fondness for Mary, and I don't think it's right to completely throw her under the bus just because you don't agree with venerating her the way the Catholics or the Orthodox do, but I keep hitting against this wall... Namely: I can't find any really hard evidence that the Apostles in the first century taught us Christians to think this way about her. So I must ask myself, is it the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or the teaching of men? And the the only answer I can give is, I don't know yet. So I'm just waiting for an answer to come.

Perhaps someone will pray for me that she will make herself known to me somehow. I'm not talking about a sing or a vision, but just that I would come to know the truth about her... I'm open. :)      
What do you think of Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, who, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed Mary to be "blessed among women" and "the mother of my Lord"? (see Luke 1:43)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: choy on February 15, 2013, 02:45:25 PM
Quote
Could 'on earth as it is in heaven' suggest that Mary did not just give birth to the world but in fact still does?  

The Mother of God did not give birth to the world. She gave birth to the Author and Source of Life, who, through His incarnation, death and resurrection, redeemed His fallen creation.

Understood TY. Forgive me if this is drifting too far from the OP but if the fall resulted in the spiritual death of mankind, would it be too figurative to say that giving birth to the Redeemer, is giving spiritual birth to the world?

I ask to become more aware of my understanding and be cautious of my own foolish lips. 


Our birth is still into the fallen world.  We don't really get life until we are reborn in baptism.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Velsigne on February 15, 2013, 03:48:51 PM
Thank you. Not trying to offend anyone, but sometimes I when I get an argument like "well she gave birth to God incarnate, and therefore she is above all created things and worthy of goddess-like treatment...naturally", I have to make a point. I just don't think it's that black and white, to where there can be no other conclusion, and if you don't agree you don't understand Jesus. I think the people who argue thus really believe that, but I don't think they are right about protestants. Their feelings and thoughts on the run a little beeper than they realize, just as the thoughts and feelings of Catholics and Orthodox on Mary run deeper than Protestants tend to understand. There's just a world of difference in the viewpoints, It's almost impossible to spontaneously jump from one to the other.

Hi there Armchair Theologian, not sure if you are referring to my post to JamesR or not, because some of that sounds vaguely like what I said to him, and some doesn't.  If so, please forgive me if I upset you. 

I agree with you and think you had the right idea to just give it time and to pray, and not stress about it.  It looks by your moniker that you are inquiring about Orthodoxy, and so are just considering it at this point in time.  However, if the Theotokos is the main issue that would cause you to not become Orthodox, like maybe you feel like our prayers and hymns to her are 'goddess worship' then maybe waiting it out isn't the best idea.  Are you attending services and in contact with an Orthodox priest while you are inquiring?   Or at this point are you primarily inquiring over the internet? 


 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on February 15, 2013, 03:55:46 PM
Quote
Could 'on earth as it is in heaven' suggest that Mary did not just give birth to the world but in fact still does? 

The Mother of God did not give birth to the world. She gave birth to the Author and Source of Life, who, through His incarnation, death and resurrection, redeemed His fallen creation.

Although technically true, you could in an allegorical/contemplative (semi-romantic) sense today say that she did give birth to Our Lord Jesus Christ, "our world".

I'd invite also those of the Protestant tradition to consider looking at the writings of St. Irenaeus, who offers a somewhat interesting insight to the veneration of St. Mary, as taking part in the reversal of what happened in Eden by Eve.  St. Irenaeus has a sense of huge authority in all the Apostolic churches for being a disciple of a disciple of St. John the Evangelist.

It is also around this time when the Protoevangelium of James was probably written, also giving us a sense of how the early Christians viewed St. Mary and venerated her deeply.

Keep in mind, veneration of saints is not odd.  The Church seemed to have kept a feast and veneration of St. John the Forerunner since the very beginning, since it was Christ first who praised him as "no one born of woman better than he."  I don't think it's quite a far stretch to realize that Christ's praise for a human being isn't necessarily idolatry, and we simply imitate Christ's ways, even though Christ is the best and first-born of all salvation born of women.  Therefore, we take this example from Christ as a command that we share in the commemoration of His saints.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 15, 2013, 04:08:38 PM

Nowhere have I said, nor does the Orthodox Church teach, that she has "power over Him", nor is He obliged to do as she says. The decisions He makes regarding the prayers and petitions which reach him, whether made directly to Him by us, or through the intercessions of the saints and the Mother of God, are His. However, in His compassion and love for mankind, He considers the prayers and petitions received through His saints, who stand before the throne of God. And His Mother is the most effective of these saintly intercessors, by virtue of being His Mother, for the reasons I mentioned in my earlier post.

In iconography which depicts the earthly death of a saint, a common motif, and one which is also expressed in the hymns of the Church, is of the God-pleasing one's soul (in icons, in the form of a babe in swaddling-clothes - symbolizing purity and rebirth into the eternal heavenly life) being taken to heaven in the arms of an angel. In icons of the Dormition of the Mother of God, we see the soul of the reposed Virgin, not carried by angels, but in the arms of her Son, as is fitting and proper. Just as she gave Him earthly life, He takes her soul away to life eternal, with the greatest love and reverence.

The hymnography of the Dormition of the Mother of God is particularly rich and beautiful, and it expresses much about the relationship between Christ and His Mother. Here's a link:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/15aug.htm

Thanks LBK. I've never really sensed that the Orthodox Church saw Mary as having any kind of authority over Christ. That would be absurd since Christ is Creator and Mary is created, Christ is Redeemer and Mary is redeemed, but like most protestants, I worry that the distinction becomes blurred, if not in teaching, then perhaps in the hearts of those who are brought up in Christian traditions that place so much emphasis on the glories and holiness of Mary. But I'd like to think my feeling on that is wrong, and so far it seems to be for the most part. I agree with everything you said, but I'm not convinced of the idea that her being His mother makes her incomparably more honorable than other great Saints who have been obedient to God and cooperated with Him in the work he gave them toward reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus Christ. Also, it's hard for me to imagine how Her being the mother of His flesh and blood should give her special influence with Him with respect to His divinity, as though God reasoned in human terms and was subject to familial attachments. Maybe I'm wrong, but Marion Devotion is just very difficult for me to relate to or understand. I can't be exposed to it and not feel inwardly a churning of doubt. It just feels wrong, but then my feelings are those of a sinful person, and I know I can't trust in mere feelings, nor yet my own intellect. I just have to attempt to put away my sinfulness, draw near to God and hope that it will all become clear one day.


What do you think of Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, who, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed Mary to be "blessed among women" and "the mother of my Lord"? (see Luke 1:43)


Well that's sort of what I was saying earlier. Blessed among women does not instantly translate into Queen of all Creation, nor does it prove all of the specific teachings of present day Orthodoxy concerning her. It may just mean that she was favored by God and 'blessed'. And of course, no one is disputing that she is the Mother of the Lord.

I just think I would be more comfortable with Marion devotion if it resembled the form it had taken on in the early 3rd century and hod gone no further. The fact that Theotokia are now sung in every divine service, and even at the Eucharist, just feels like a distraction from the worship of God. And it wasn't always like that in ancient Orthodoxy. The original liturgies were modified in later centuries to reflect the growth and spread of Marion ideas, but I just can't help feeling that things went too far and should have been left the same. But then, I'm not the one creating the one true Religion. If that's what Orthodoxy is, then it's the Holy Spirit who is guiding the Church, in which case it is I who need to change. I'm open to that possibility, forward as I am with my reservations.  

 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 15, 2013, 04:23:41 PM
Thank you. Not trying to offend anyone, but sometimes I when I get an argument like "well she gave birth to God incarnate, and therefore she is above all created things and worthy of goddess-like treatment...naturally", I have to make a point. I just don't think it's that black and white, to where there can be no other conclusion, and if you don't agree you don't understand Jesus. I think the people who argue thus really believe that, but I don't think they are right about protestants. Their feelings and thoughts on the run a little beeper than they realize, just as the thoughts and feelings of Catholics and Orthodox on Mary run deeper than Protestants tend to understand. There's just a world of difference in the viewpoints, It's almost impossible to spontaneously jump from one to the other.

Hi there Armchair Theologian, not sure if you are referring to my post to JamesR or not, because some of that sounds vaguely like what I said to him, and some doesn't.  If so, please forgive me if I upset you. 

I agree with you and think you had the right idea to just give it time and to pray, and not stress about it.  It looks by your moniker that you are inquiring about Orthodoxy, and so are just considering it at this point in time.  However, if the Theotokos is the main issue that would cause you to not become Orthodox, like maybe you feel like our prayers and hymns to her are 'goddess worship' then maybe waiting it out isn't the best idea.  Are you attending services and in contact with an Orthodox priest while you are inquiring?   Or at this point are you primarily inquiring over the internet? 


Hello there!

Yes, I've been attending an Antiochian Parish, and I have conversed with the Priest about this. I didn't feel that my talking with him was very fruitful however. It's hard to explain. I asked him some questions and told him why I was reluctant, but I got the feeling that he felt I was simply challenging his beliefs and he didn't really tell me anything that I hadn't heard before. He's a GREAT man, and he's always been so very kind to my wife and I, but it just felt like something awkward interred into the atmosphere when I began asking questions about Mary. And I don't want to offend him. So I just let it go.
   
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Shanghaiski on February 15, 2013, 08:33:07 PM
To understand the veneration for the Mother of God, I think you just have to love here and enter into a relationship with her. Most likely it won't make sense until you become part of the Church.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 15, 2013, 08:52:39 PM
In the OT, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the jar of manna, the budding rod of Aaron, and the tablets on which the Law (Ten Commandments) were written, were the holiest objects to the Hebrews, and were treated with the utmost respect and honor. To even touch the Ark meant instant death, so great was its holiness.

The Ark, and all it contained, were, in God's wisdom, prefigurations of the immense and incomprehensible mystery, that of the Mother of God. She is the true Ark (in whom the infinite and immaterial God was contained), the Burning Bush (the fire of Divinity she carried in her body not only did not destroy her, but it purified her and preserved her virginity), the rod of Aaron (budded and sprung forth from barren and aged parents), the jar of manna which is fulfilled in the fruit of her womb, the very Bread of Life, Christ our God.

If the ark of old was so sacred, then how much more glorious and holy is the woman who is the very fulfillment of the type and shadow?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: PeterTheAleut on February 15, 2013, 09:07:50 PM

Nowhere have I said, nor does the Orthodox Church teach, that she has "power over Him", nor is He obliged to do as she says. The decisions He makes regarding the prayers and petitions which reach him, whether made directly to Him by us, or through the intercessions of the saints and the Mother of God, are His. However, in His compassion and love for mankind, He considers the prayers and petitions received through His saints, who stand before the throne of God. And His Mother is the most effective of these saintly intercessors, by virtue of being His Mother, for the reasons I mentioned in my earlier post.

In iconography which depicts the earthly death of a saint, a common motif, and one which is also expressed in the hymns of the Church, is of the God-pleasing one's soul (in icons, in the form of a babe in swaddling-clothes - symbolizing purity and rebirth into the eternal heavenly life) being taken to heaven in the arms of an angel. In icons of the Dormition of the Mother of God, we see the soul of the reposed Virgin, not carried by angels, but in the arms of her Son, as is fitting and proper. Just as she gave Him earthly life, He takes her soul away to life eternal, with the greatest love and reverence.

The hymnography of the Dormition of the Mother of God is particularly rich and beautiful, and it expresses much about the relationship between Christ and His Mother. Here's a link:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/15aug.htm

Thanks LBK. I've never really sensed that the Orthodox Church saw Mary as having any kind of authority over Christ. That would be absurd since Christ is Creator and Mary is created, Christ is Redeemer and Mary is redeemed, but like most protestants, I worry that the distinction becomes blurred, if not in teaching, then perhaps in the hearts of those who are brought up in Christian traditions that place so much emphasis on the glories and holiness of Mary. But I'd like to think my feeling on that is wrong, and so far it seems to be for the most part. I agree with everything you said, but I'm not convinced of the idea that her being His mother makes her incomparably more honorable than other great Saints who have been obedient to God and cooperated with Him in the work he gave them toward reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus Christ. Also, it's hard for me to imagine how Her being the mother of His flesh and blood should give her special influence with Him with respect to His divinity, as though God reasoned in human terms and was subject to familial attachments. Maybe I'm wrong, but Marion Devotion is just very difficult for me to relate to or understand. I can't be exposed to it and not feel inwardly a churning of doubt. It just feels wrong, but then my feelings are those of a sinful person, and I know I can't trust in mere feelings, nor yet my own intellect. I just have to attempt to put away my sinfulness, draw near to God and hope that it will all become clear one day.


What do you think of Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, who, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed Mary to be "blessed among women" and "the mother of my Lord"? (see Luke 1:43)


Well that's sort of what I was saying earlier. Blessed among women does not instantly translate into Queen of all Creation, nor does it prove all of the specific teachings of present day Orthodoxy concerning her. It may just mean that she was favored by God and 'blessed'. And of course, no one is disputing that she is the Mother of the Lord.

I just think I would be more comfortable with Marion devotion if it resembled the form it had taken on in the early 3rd century and hod gone no further.
How do you know what veneration of the Theotokos was like in the 3rd century?

The fact that Theotokia are now sung in every divine service, and even at the Eucharist, just feels like a distraction from the worship of God. And it wasn't always like that in ancient Orthodoxy. The original liturgies were modified in later centuries to reflect the growth and spread of Marion ideas, but I just can't help feeling that things went too far and should have been left the same. But then, I'm not the one creating the one true Religion. If that's what Orthodoxy is, then it's the Holy Spirit who is guiding the Church, in which case it is I who need to change. I'm open to that possibility, forward as I am with my reservations.
If only everyone thought of the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church as you do. ;)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: erimos on February 15, 2013, 09:36:11 PM
The Theolokos is the second Eve who is the first Christian, was humble in accepting God, and stood by her Son even while He was on the Cross. This is the love of a mother for her Son, and that love s not defeated by death. If death is a barrier, then the Resurrection is a myth.

Orthodox Christians are not forced to love the Virgin Mary. There is no dogma saying that we must regard her as anything other that the mother of the Logos Incarnate. In other words, you are not forced to love Mary, but as time goes on, you will understand the depth of her love and you will try to imitate her in your humility as you discover God in your heart.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: JamesR on February 15, 2013, 09:55:18 PM
What I also do not understand is the nature of her intercessions. Why exactly are the prayers of the Saints--especially the Theotokos--seen as "more affective" than our own prayers? It just seems like, judging from our services, that without their intercessions, we would be screwed and that the entire fate of the world depends upon their intercessions.

I've honestly tried and tried to get into the Theotokos, but I don't get really what is so inspirational or special about her (no offense to her). I mean, the humility and meekness she showed is great, but what did she really do? She just bore a child. Admittedly, the most important child in the history of the universe/multiverse. But other than that, it doesn't seem like we know much about her. I love motherly Saints--due to not being very close to my own mom--but I don't feel very close to the Theotokos. As blasphemous as this may be, I'd say that St. Monica is a more inspirational maternal Saint than the Theotokos is.

Once again, I see nothing wrong with venerating the Theotokos (as many Protestants have a problem with it), but I also see no good argument as to why we have to venerate her as much as we do. All of our arguments for it seem very stretched and deductive at best. I honestly can't blame Protestants for being skeptical about this; I'm skeptical about it myself.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Shiny on February 16, 2013, 12:17:52 AM
In the OT, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the jar of manna, the budding rod of Aaron, and the tablets on which the Law (Ten Commandments) were written, were the holiest objects to the Hebrews, and were treated with the utmost respect and honor. To even touch the Ark meant instant death, so great was its holiness.

The Ark, and all it contained, were, in God's wisdom, prefigurations of the immense and incomprehensible mystery, that of the Mother of God. She is the true Ark (in whom the infinite and immaterial God was contained), the Burning Bush (the fire of Divinity she carried in her body not only did not destroy her, but it purified her and preserved her virginity), the rod of Aaron (budded and sprung forth from barren and aged parents), the jar of manna which is fulfilled in the fruit of her womb, the very Bread of Life, Christ our God.

If the ark of old was so sacred, then how much more glorious and holy is the woman who is the very fulfillment of the type and shadow?
This is a nice post, I would like to save this.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 16, 2013, 01:48:48 AM
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But other than that, it doesn't seem like we know much about her.

Have you listened to what is being read, chanted and sung at Vespers and Matins of the feasts to the Mother of God? Have you read and absorbed any of the myriad of prayers, Akathists, and Supplicatory Canons, directed to her? Have you taken the time to learn about her iconography?

Do at least some of these, and you'll find we do, indeed, know quite a bit about her.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: xariskai on February 16, 2013, 05:23:22 AM
It might help to further investigate the subject of honor/veneration in paleo-orthodoxy more generally. This was a normal custom in the ancient near East that seems foreign to many Western Christians more due, I think, to culture than to Protestantism per se. It is also a relatively rare thing today to treat living human beings properly as icons of God.

"...it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ... nor to worship any other. For we worship him indeed, as being the Son of God. However, as for the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the Lord, we worthily love them on account of their extraordinary affections towards their own King." -The Martyrdom of Polycarp [Polycarp was a personal disciple of the apostle John], ch 17. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/martyrdompolycarp-intro.html

"...those who have been genuine servants of our common Lord we honor and venerate because they have the power to make us friends with God the King of all." -The Seventh Ecumenical Council (787 AD)

Here is a short debate on this topic that might help you sort it through: http://www.oodegr.com/english/ekklisia/relative_veneration_in_Bible.htm

"During my conversion to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, I had myriad experiences that sat in stark contrast to the nondenominational, Protestant faith I had carried since childhood. One of the most challenging things to grasp was the apparent prominence of the Virgin Mary in the Church" http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/58478.htm

An early text: http://www.schola-sainte-cecile.com/EN/2011/02/03/sub-tuum-praesidium-the-oldest-christian-prayer-dedicated-to-the-blessed-virgin-mary/
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: JamesR on February 16, 2013, 05:28:22 AM
How exactly do intercessions work? One of the big problems people have with veneration of Saints--especially the Theotokos--is the notion that their prayers are more affective than our own, as if they had some "special" connection with God or something that we don't have. Does the prayer of a righteous person mean more than the prayer of a not-so-righteous person? My thoughts are that yes, it does, however, most people would feel discomforted by that fact--probably due to pride.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 16, 2013, 06:20:34 AM
Quote
Does the prayer of a righteous person mean more than the prayer of a not-so-righteous person? My thoughts are that yes, it does, however, most people would feel discomforted by that fact--probably due to pride.

The humble prayer of the unrighteous and sinful publican hit home - he went home justified, unlike the boastful, "righteous" Pharisee. It is a mark of humility to ask for others, be they living now on earth, or those surrounding the throne of God in heaven, that great cloud of witnesses, to pray for us.

Someone who is genuinely righteous and pleasing to God would balk at the idea of such labels. Yet there's no harm at all in asking for them to pray on our behalf. As St James tells us, the prayers of a good man availeth much.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Shanghaiski on February 16, 2013, 11:06:45 AM
How exactly do intercessions work? One of the big problems people have with veneration of Saints--especially the Theotokos--is the notion that their prayers are more affective than our own, as if they had some "special" connection with God or something that we don't have. Does the prayer of a righteous person mean more than the prayer of a not-so-righteous person? My thoughts are that yes, it does, however, most people would feel discomforted by that fact--probably due to pride.

God hears our prayers. But consider this. Go to an earthly authority or try getting a bank loan. Do you think you'll get what you ask just for your own sake? You have people make introduction for you. You make connections. You bring letters of reference. You get to know people who are well known to the person from whom you're seeking a favor or money.

The saints do have a special connection with God. They are his friends. He has greatly honored them because in their lives they served and honored him. They repented, they were purified, deified, and illumined. They cooperated with divine grace.

Now look at us. What do we have to show for ourselves? What do we bring the King of all? Nothing like what the saints bring.

And the saints have, in cooperating with the will of God, entered into the saving work of Christ. God is for us, the saints are for us--they want us to be saved. An army recruit after training is attached to a unit in which are veteran fighters so that he might learn from them and receive help from their experience. Likewise we, who have been recruited through baptism and trained a little in our daily repentance are surrounded by veterans, many who have destroyed whole enemy armies and won glory and honor from the Judge of the contest. We need their help and support to make it through the battle alive.

As for how exactly the intercession of the saints work, it's a mystery. But the spiritual realm is real and is in our midst. Just as there are demons around, so too are there angels and saints. Only God can know the heart of each person, since it is his dwelling place. He knows our prayer before we even ask. And, I think, through the Holy Spirit, of which we and the saints are partakers, the saints also hear our prayer, in accordance with the will of God, which shows that the saints are not in some static state, but continue as active participants in salvation, cooperating with divine grace, unhindered by much of what bound them when they were in this earthly life.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 16, 2013, 04:06:35 PM
I'm reminded of something I read in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. He had the idea that higher things exert an influence on lesser things, to draw the lesser upward to their own level. In the since, Christ draws man into himself, and men who are close to Him draw other men also along with them, and then men as microcosm and mediators of the creation draw the animals and other things along into union with God, all the work of the secret influence of divine grace working through it's various mediators, but all in and through the One Mediator Jesus Christ.

I think it's possible that if Mary is indeed the greatest of all created beings by virtue of her exceptional closeness to the creator, then it would make sense to say that she exerts a powerful influence on others, drawing them up into closer communion with her Son, and in turn the saints also drawing those on earth up with them into His glory...

I'm using an analogy like gravity, something that pulls other things in via an invisible influence, but perhaps the idea of the Intersession of Saints can be pictured in similar terms. Prayer is not so much an act, as a state. A communion with God. And those in closer communion are helping us to draw closer ourselves. Just a thought. :)   
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Romaios on February 16, 2013, 04:14:23 PM
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When the Virgin intercedes for our aid, healing, or repentance, she draws us into the realm of her relationship with Christ. In Orthodoxy, intercession raises us to the level of the intercessor, bringing us into the presence of Christ, then the mediator disappears. This is to say that intercession is a communion with Christ by grace; the Virgin grants us all the powers granted to her so that so that we might come before Christ. We then stand before Him as the Virgin, that is, in the spirit and grace of purity and holiness granted to us in her. This is what Paul did with all his might: “I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband” (2 Co. 11:2).

This speaks, in the first place, for the correctness of the Orthodox concept of intercession because, in the last analysis, it cancels out the distinction between the intercessor, that is the Virgin, and us. We take from the Virgin the courage that derives from her purity and the audacity that derives from her motherhood and her unique love for Christ. All these things are considered to have been granted to her for our sake, and she, in her great confidence before God, is able to transfer them to us, just as a stronger member in the body grants its strength to a weaker one.

Second, this kind of intercession removes all the barriers between us and Christ. We approach Him unhindered and unimpeded by our weakness, to take from Him help or a particular request or healing or repentance. It is only this that can truly be called intercession. The interceding servant must be prepared to put himself in the place or situation of the servant for whom he intercedes, and must even be prepared to give all he has to make up for the deficiency of his fellow servant.

But intercession can only take place if one is able to step forward in the spirit of the intercessor and be prepared to take or borrow those qualities which make him able to intercede. Otherwise there can be no intercession. The Virgin demonstrates for us the first quality, the essential character required for us to meet with God. Those who deny the role of the Virigin in the incarnation or in intercession, or who deny the importance of purity, do so only in theory, for in practice it is impossible to deny or eliminate them. As far as the incarnation is concerned, God could only be incarnate in purity. As far as intercession is concerned, it is equally impossible for God to reveal Himself or act outside the realm of purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8 ).

The least impurity, even if it be only a passing thought, is enough to hide the face of God, for impurity is darkness and is the work of the devil. It is therefore impossible for one to enter into the presence of God in prayer or meditation if there exists the least inclination to impurity in one’s heart, mind, or body. This state of purity can only be attained by intention of the mind in fervent prayer, and by clinging to grace through the blood of Christ. This will immediately procure from God the gift of holiness and the grace of purity for the mind and body.

Intercession requires a personal presence; the Virgin presents himself in the purity before Christ, on our behalf and within the sphere of our experience. In so doing she opens up before us a door that can lead to the spirit of purity and the awakening of a sense of holiness. “The spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32).

The Virgin Mary represents a human experience that succeeded in plumbing the depths of union with God through a supreme purity that became hers through the Word. She took purity from God and He took from her a body. The Virgin thus became a pattern of union with God, and it remains true that the only quality required for an intercessor is that he surrender what he has.

Blessed is the Virgin, and blessed are those who bless her.

--Fr. Matthew the Poor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matta_El_Meskeen) (Matta El-Maskeen) - Source (http://theinnerkingdom.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/the-intercession-of-the-virgin-mary/)

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 17, 2013, 02:29:34 AM

This speaks, in the first place, for the correctness of the Orthodox concept of intercession because, in the last analysis, it cancels out the distinction between the intercessor, that is the Virgin, and us. We take from the Virgin the courage that derives from her purity and the audacity that derives from her motherhood and her unique love for Christ. All these things are considered to have been granted to her for our sake, and she, in her great confidence before God, is able to transfer them to us, just as a stronger member in the body grants its strength to a weaker one.


OK, so this was very interesting, and kind of ties in with what I was saying about the greater elevating the lesser. There is however a possible objection, and I'll run it by the rest of you and see what resolutions can be offered to my conundrum.

First, lets look at the Apostolic doctrine as contained in Paul's epistle to the Hebrews:

Quote
"Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."

Hebrews 2;17-18

And

Quote
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Hebrews 3; 14-16

Now, you will find this idea in other places in the New Testament. Christ took human flesh so that he could participate with us in our weaknesses and sufferings. Because He was Man, he could suffer and be tempted, and even die, but because He was God, he overcame all, and emerged victorious. Thus in communion with Him, He imparts His own divine strength, His very own nature, thus enabling us also to overcome. He became what we are so that we can become what He is. And because he shared in our infirmities, he can fully empathize with us in all of our weaknesses and failures. Thus, By His Mercy, we can draw near to God, to Him, in boldness and with a degree of audacity, and find the grace we need to aid us in our struggle.

So in short:

Through Christ we have boldness before God.

Now look again at the above quote:

Quote

This speaks, in the first place, for the correctness of the Orthodox concept of intercession because, in the last analysis, it cancels out the distinction between the intercessor, that is the Virgin, and us. We take from the Virgin the courage that derives from her purity and the audacity that derives from her motherhood and her unique love for Christ. All these things are considered to have been granted to her for our sake, and she, in her great confidence before God, is able to transfer them to us, just as a stronger member in the body grants its strength to a weaker one.


What this essentially says is that Mary has boldness and audacity before Christ because of her special relationship with Him, and through her intersession she transfers that to us, so that we too can share in her boldness before God.

Again, in short:

Through Mary we have boldness before God.

Now lets compare these two models.

A: Through Christ we have boldness before God.

B: Through Mary we have boldness before God.

...Is this not problematic? Could it not be argued that because there is this idea that we need Mary to usher us into the presences of her Son, we're making Christ's own empathy for us out to be insufficient? Is it possible that His Divinity is being emphasized in such a way that it marginalizes the importance of His humanity, thus leaving us in a situation where we feel we need an extra mediator to bring us before Him in boldness? What is the resolution?

 

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 17, 2013, 03:59:39 AM
Quote
Now lets compare these two models.

A: Through Christ we have boldness before God.

B: Through Mary we have boldness before God.

...Is this not problematic? Could it not be argued that because there is this idea that we need Mary to usher us into the presences of her Son, we're making Christ's own empathy for us out to be insufficient? Is it possible that His Divinity is being emphasized in such a way that it marginalizes the importance of His humanity, thus leaving us in a situation where we feel we need an extra mediator to bring us before Him in boldness? What is the resolution?

It is only problematic if one has to choose between the two. Orthodoxy does not teach this.

ArmchairTheologian, have you ever attended any Orthodox services? This is not a snarky question.  :)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on February 17, 2013, 09:40:19 AM
"Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ."

So what is Paul teaching?

Through imitating Paul you obtain righteousness
Through imitating Christ you obtain righteousness

The saints are not just good stories of dead people.  God is God of the living, not the dead.  They are conscious blessings for us that we may obtain the salvific blessing of Christ.

The Theotokos' boldness is Christ's boldness. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Romaios on February 17, 2013, 09:55:41 AM
Christ's mediation is unique because he is both God and human, therefore the mediator between God and mankind.

But what he is by nature, Saints become by grace (theosis/"christification") - in becoming like him, they also become mediators between God and men. This would be one way of understanding the "universal priesthood" of Christians.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Cognomen on February 17, 2013, 12:40:37 PM
Not trying to offend anyone, but sometimes I when I get an argument like "well she gave birth to God incarnate, and therefore she is above all created things and worthy of goddess-like treatment...naturally", I have to make a point. I just don't think it's that black and white, to where there can be no other conclusion, and if you don't agree you don't understand Jesus. I think the people who argue thus really believe that, but I don't think they are right about protestants. Their feelings and thoughts on the run a little beeper than they realize, just as the thoughts and feelings of Catholics and Orthodox on Mary run deeper than Protestants tend to understand. There's just a world of difference in the viewpoints, It's almost impossible to spontaneously jump from one to the other.

...I've been attending an Antiochian Parish, and I have conversed with the Priest about this. I didn't feel that my talking with him was very fruitful however. It's hard to explain. I asked him some questions and told him why I was reluctant, but I got the feeling that he felt I was simply challenging his beliefs and he didn't really tell me anything that I hadn't heard before. He's a GREAT man, and he's always been so very kind to my wife and I, but it just felt like something awkward interred into the atmosphere when I began asking questions about Mary. And I don't want to offend him. So I just let it go.  

AT, I think you've done a good job presenting your concerns.  Similarly, I am frequently underwhelmed by arguments surrounding this topic.  Attempts to clarify the teachings and practices of the Church regarding the Theotokos may be more beneficial to some than others.  But frankly, I don't believe the 'hard evidence,' i.e. scripture, early writings of the Fathers, etc. sufficiently explains the place she currently holds in the Church. 

My priest's explanation was equally as unconvincing, and I likewise felt it best to thank him for his perspective and move on.   

While I now largely accept and understand the Church's position, I still believe this was, in part, the result of an evolving process. 

I think you are approaching this in the right way.  Continue to pray on it, participate in the services and life of the Church. This should help you determine the authenticity, even if the 'hard evidence' never quite matches up. 

Best wishes.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on February 21, 2013, 04:00:58 PM

It is only problematic if one has to choose between the two. Orthodoxy does not teach this.


A good answer. It seems that any Christian who has boldness in His relationship with God can help to 'transmit' that boldness to others, and if Mary is indeed closer than any created being to the glory of His majesty, then she in a particularly powerful way could do this. I just think it's important to be sure we understand that the ultimate source or cause or justification for human boldness before God is Jesus Christ. Were it not for Him no one could stand with any boldness before God, not even Mary. As it is said, we become by grace what He is by nature, and this grace comes through Christ. I believe this has to be true with Mary as well.  


ArmchairTheologian, have you ever attended any Orthodox services? This is not a snarky question. :)


Yes, like I said, I've been going to an Antiochian Parish for a few months now. :)

"Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ."

So what is Paul teaching?

Through imitating Paul you obtain righteousness
Through imitating Christ you obtain righteousness

The saints are not just good stories of dead people.  God is God of the living, not the dead.  They are conscious blessings for us that we may obtain the salvific blessing of Christ.

The Theotokos' boldness is Christ's boldness.  

Again, a good answer. Thank you.

Christ's mediation is unique because he is both God and human, therefore the mediator between God and mankind.

But what he is by nature, Saints become by grace (theosis/"christification") - in becoming like him, they also become mediators between God and men. This would be one way of understanding the "universal priesthood" of Christians.

And again, this makes sense and I can't say anything against it. Thank you.

In the OT, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the jar of manna, the budding rod of Aaron, and the tablets on which the Law (Ten Commandments) were written, were the holiest objects to the Hebrews, and were treated with the utmost respect and honor. To even touch the Ark meant instant death, so great was its holiness.

The Ark, and all it contained, were, in God's wisdom, prefigurations of the immense and incomprehensible mystery, that of the Mother of God. She is the true Ark (in whom the infinite and immaterial God was contained), the Burning Bush (the fire of Divinity she carried in her body not only did not destroy her, but it purified her and preserved her virginity), the rod of Aaron (budded and sprung forth from barren and aged parents), the jar of manna which is fulfilled in the fruit of her womb, the very Bread of Life, Christ our God.

If the ark of old was so sacred, then how much more glorious and holy is the woman who is the very fulfillment of the type and shadow?

I meant to reply to this earlier but it had slipped my mind.

What you say is true, if the ark, the things contained therein, the tabernacle, the temple, and so forth are truly symbolic of the Virgin Mary as she who 'contained' God and thus became the fulfillment of the prefigurings. But suppose for the sake of argument that the ark and the temple and so forth didn't represent things that 'contain' the presence of God so much as things that manifest or represent the presence of God itself--His presence among Men. If that is so, then Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of these types. His Body is the Ark, the tabernacle, and the temple of God's presence. And He Himself said this much: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will make it rise again." He was, of course, referring to Himself.

Now, on that view, consider this. The Ark, the Tabernacle, and the Temple(s), were made out of some fairly common and earthy materials, taken from common sources. There's nothing in scripture to inform us that the Ark was made from especially holy and per-sanctified acacia wood or especially sacred gold. Rather it became especially holy and sacred by virtue of God's own presence. The wood and the Gold were just the raw materials.

On that view, the womb of the Virgin is not especially Holy, nor her flesh and blood, which provided the raw materials. Rather, that which God formed out of them was sanctified in it's union with Himself, and that became the Ark of His presence among men, the body of Jesus Christ. In this symbolism, Mary's womb is comparable to the tree they cut down to make the Ark or the quarry from which the stones of the temple were cut. She is blessed in that she willingly offered her flesh and blood and womb, honorable and worthy of reverence even, but not to an incomparable degree above the holy martyrs and apostles and monastics who also willingly offered themselves, in various ways, for the service of God. And that's my concern, not that Mary is honored, but that she is honored way to much.

Now, I'm simply offering this as a suggestion, for the sake of argument. It has occurred to me as a possible objection to the Ark argument, but it is not my current opinion. I'm still undecided. :)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Doubting Thomas on February 21, 2013, 05:06:05 PM
Split from a thread in the FI - MK

As a sort-of protestant, who is intrigued by the beauty and the many truths of Orthodoxy, this is probably my biggest hurtle to overcome. And I find myself asking the same exact question: Why is she venerated so much? Why is she hymned in every service, even at the Eucharist? I think I've read pretty much all of the arguments presented here and more, and I think I'd like to believe, I mean, I feel a fondness for Mary, and I don't think it's right to completely throw her under the bus just because you don't agree with venerating her the way the Catholics or the Orthodox do, but I keep hitting against this wall... Namely: I can't find any really hard evidence that the Apostles in the first century taught us Christians to think this way about her. So I must ask myself, is it the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or the teaching of men?

I know how you feel, brother.  You are in the same boat I was in 8-10 years ago when I explored Eastern Orthodoxy.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on February 21, 2013, 05:09:18 PM
She is blessed in that she willingly offered her flesh and blood and womb, honorable and worthy of reverence even, but not to an incomparable degree above the holy martyrs and apostles and monastics who also willingly offered themselves, in various ways, for the service of God. And that's my concern, not that Mary is honored, but that she is honored way to much.

Except that in a very real sense she did - and to an incomparable degree. She agreed willingly, joyfully even, to bear the Son of God.
ISTM, that you can't really equate this with the service of any other of the saints, as holy as they were.
Of course, for me, this was not a big stumbling block, though, when I realized that she had been especially honored and reverenced throughout the history of Christianity. Even the reformers, especially Luther, honored her.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on February 21, 2013, 05:15:25 PM
Not only were the materials of the Ark were important, the choice of fine acacia wood and overlaid roundabout with gold represents the purity and essential greatness of the material of the Ark itself.  On top of that, it was consecrated with special oil that this oil could not be used for anything else, except of course the priesthood.  God's Shekinah glory would appear on it.  The Ark was the most highly venerated object in the Old Testament.  It was used in wars, it split the waters on the way to Jericho, it was used while shouting down the walls of Jericho, and it was imperative that it be dealt with the utmost respect.  It was placed in the Temple in the "Holy of Holies", where only one priest is allowed to go in at a time, once a year.

Likewise, a woman was chosen from the finest of families, a righteous woman, spotless and pure as gold.  She was then consecrated by none other than the Holy Spirit Himself, cleansed her and prepared her for the Shekinah glory incarnate.  She is thus truly worthy to be highly venerated by the Church.  Her prayers are of utter important, to destroy the diabolical wars of the demons, to be a symbol of our baptism into the Church, to pray that that gates of heaven be open for us.  She is the paten, the cup, the altar that holds the elements of the Eucharist, where a choice few of priests enter in veneration.

If God thought she was good enough for His incarnation, then we should also think she is good enough to seek her example and prayers.

Martyrs take their example from both the Theotokos and the Forerunner.  They bore Christ in their hearts even in the face of doubt and adversity, and they bore witnesses to the truth to bring more to Christ, even unto death.  It's because of the martyrs we venerate highly both the "blessed among women" and the "best born among women".
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on February 21, 2013, 06:06:45 PM
Following on from Mina's excellent post:

One of the standard OT readings for Vespers of feasts of the Mother of God is Ezekiel 43:27-44:4:

Thus said the Lord: "And when they have completed these days, then from the eighth day onward the priests shall offer upon the altar your burnt offerings and your peace offerings; and I will accept you,” says the Lord God. Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And He said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.” Then He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord; and I fell upon my face.


There is a great deal in this passage which is fulfilled in the Mother of God: her virginal conception of Christ, her ever-virginity, the divine Grace which filled her very being, her incomparable holiness among Creation ...
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on March 03, 2013, 02:14:42 AM
So I had an experience today that has defiantly pushed me a bit further away from the Orthodox position on Marion devotion. I took my mother in law to a big choir concert at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Indianapolis. She is a very devout protestant, and very strong in her faith. She came from a Catholic background but chose to leave the Catholic Church in favor of Protestantism, and was almost disowned by her family for it.

This was a joint Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox concert. At first she really got into it, but then came the first hymns to Mary, and the choir leader explained that it was talking about the deliverance of Constantinople from an invading army, believed to have been a deliverance wrought by the Theotokos. He then proceeded to tell the audience that Mary was "the most powerful thing in the Universe" due to her giving birth to God, and that she 'our hope', and that she is a 'High tower' and 'deliverer' for all who 'put their hope in her'. And the we can 'cry aloud to her in our time of need' knowing that she always 'protects us'... not exact quotes, but something very much like that.

It ruined the whole thing for her, and for me. And it made her wonder why I was even interested in Orthodoxy, though she never said it. But I could sense it. I had to explain to her afterward that the Orthodox don't believe that Mary is more powerful or more holy than Christ, and that in Orthodoxy she was considered to be the greatest of all the saints, but not the Savior. And I explained that she was seen one who helps the faithful through her intersession, so that ultimately it's God who is doing the saving and delivering, even though it is often attributed to her. I told her that my experiences with Orthodoxy made me think it was very Christ-centered, but I also told her my honest opinion that I just felt they go way too far sometimes when talking about the Theotokos.

She seemed to understand and retains an open mind, but the whole experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and not because I'm really concerned about what she thinks. I've disagreed with her about a number of things, and I know she'll respect whatever decision I come to. Even if she didn't, I want to be saved and know the truth, not please my family members. But I find myself always coming back to the same questions. Why do Marian devotees always insist upon blurring the line between her and God in their language? Why is it that in so many Marian hymns and prayers things are being said about her that should only appropriately be said about God? The more I think about it the more sickening it looks, so I'm just going to put it down for a while. I'll just turn it over to God and if I'm wrong I pray He shows me.

Such a beautiful and and wonderful religion is Orthodoxy in so many ways. For me believing in it would solve so many problems in my faith and would end all of the confusion about where and what the Church is, what the truth is, how to interpret the Bible, and it's appealing in other ways as well that I don't have time to go into. But the whole claim is based on the idea that the Orthodox Church has preserved the faith of the Apostles in it's fullness. And yet I'm just not seeing how the Apostles taught us any such thing about Mary or anyone else. All they talked about was the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It's not until the 3rd century, so far as we can tell, that people started writing prayers to Mary for her 'protection', and not until like the 8th century that someone decided hymns to Mary were needed in every single service of the Church. If it's all just the invention of man who wanted, then it means that in a huge way the Orthodox tradition has failed to preserve the truth, and has instead turned His mother into a near-goddess for no clear reason at all. We have no need of another deliverer. We have a perfect savior in Christ.

Why not rather praise Jesus and only Jesus for protection and deliverance and compassion? Why not rather throw yourself down before Him and only Him when asking for help and strength and encouragement? Why not instead call Him and only Him our strong tower and deliverer and help? He is God after all. Mary was the one he chose to be His means of incarnation. That doesn't make her the source of the Christian's hope and confidence and salvation. It was God who did it, not her, she only cooperated. Without God she would be nothing. Without Him she would mean nothing. She knows that too I'm sure, I'm not throwing her under the bus. And If I'm just misunderstanding the whole thing then why does the Orthodox Church insist upon wrapping the issue in such horribly confusing and misleading language? And if indeed it is no more than the teaching of men then I think Protestantism, for all of it's many flaws and inconsistencies, really becomes the only viable option for me for this one reason alone. At least then it represents a sliver of hope that the Apostolic teaching can be restored. But I don't know. I just honestly don't know what to think. So I guess I'll just leave it there. Sorry for the rant, but yes, this is a HUGE stumbling block for me.     
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Gebre Menfes Kidus on March 03, 2013, 03:09:12 AM
So I had an experience today that has defiantly pushed me a bit further away from the Orthodox position on Marion devotion. I took my mother in law to a big choir concert at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Indianapolis. She is a very devout protestant, and very strong in her faith. She came from a Catholic background but chose to leave the Catholic Church in favor of Protestantism, and was almost disowned by her family for it.

This was a joint Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox concert. At first she really got into it, but then came the first hymns to Mary, and the choir leader explained that it was talking about the deliverance of Constantinople from an invading army, believed to have been a deliverance wrought by the Theotokos. He then proceeded to tell the audience that Mary was "the most powerful thing in the Universe" due to her giving birth to God, and that she 'our hope', and that she is a 'High tower' and 'deliverer' for all who 'put their hope in her'. And the we can 'cry aloud to her in our time of need' knowing that she always 'protects us'... not exact quotes, but something very much like that.

It ruined the whole thing for her, and for me. And it made her wonder why I was even interested in Orthodoxy, though she never said it. But I could sense it. I had to explain to her afterward that the Orthodox don't believe that Mary is more powerful or more holy than Christ, and that in Orthodoxy she was considered to be the greatest of all the saints, but not the Savior. And I explained that she was seen one who helps the faithful through her intersession, so that ultimately it's God who is doing the saving and delivering, even though it is often attributed to her. I told her that my experiences with Orthodoxy made me think it was very Christ-centered, but I also told her my honest opinion that I just felt they go way too far sometimes when talking about the Theotokos.

She seemed to understand and retains an open mind, but the whole experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and not because I'm really concerned about what she thinks. I've disagreed with her about a number of things, and I know she'll respect whatever decision I come to. Even if she didn't, I want to be saved and know the truth, not please my family members. But I find myself always coming back to the same questions. Why do Marian devotees always insist upon blurring the line between her and God in their language? Why is it that in so many Marian hymns and prayers things are being said about her that should only appropriately be said about God? The more I think about it the more sickening it looks, so I'm just going to put it down for a while. I'll just turn it over to God and if I'm wrong I pray He shows me.

Such a beautiful and and wonderful religion is Orthodoxy in so many ways. For me believing in it would solve so many problems in my faith and would end all of the confusion about where and what the Church is, what the truth is, how to interpret the Bible, and it's appealing in other ways as well that I don't have time to go into. But the whole claim is based on the idea that the Orthodox Church has preserved the faith of the Apostles in it's fullness. And yet I'm just not seeing how the Apostles taught us any such thing about Mary or anyone else. All they talked about was the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It's not until the 3rd century, so far as we can tell, that people started writing prayers to Mary for her 'protection', and not until like the 8th century that someone decided hymns to Mary were needed in every single service of the Church. If it's all just the invention of man who wanted, then it means that in a huge way the Orthodox tradition has failed to preserve the truth, and has instead turned His mother into a near-goddess for no clear reason at all. We have no need of another deliverer. We have a perfect savior in Christ.

Why not rather praise Jesus and only Jesus for protection and deliverance and compassion? Why not rather throw yourself down before Him and only Him when asking for help and strength and encouragement? Why not instead call Him and only Him our strong tower and deliverer and help? He is God after all. Mary was the one he chose to be His means of incarnation. That doesn't make her the source of the Christian's hope and confidence and salvation. It was God who did it, not her, she only cooperated. Without God she would be nothing. Without Him she would mean nothing. She knows that too I'm sure, I'm not throwing her under the bus. And If I'm just misunderstanding the whole thing then why does the Orthodox Church insist upon wrapping the issue in such horribly confusing and misleading language? And if indeed it is no more than the teaching of men then I think Protestantism, for all of it's many flaws and inconsistencies, really becomes the only viable option for me for this one reason alone. At least then it represents a sliver of hope that the Apostolic teaching can be restored. But I don't know. I just honestly don't know what to think. So I guess I'll just leave it there. Sorry for the rant, but yes, this is a HUGE stumbling block for me.     


Legitimate concerns. I would be worried about any prospective Christian convert that didn't wrestle with the issue of our devotion to St. Mary. Our worship bleongs to God alone - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God. This cannot be emphasized enough. And if you look at Orthodox icons of St. Mary, they always direct us to Christ. St. Mary the mother is larger in the icons only because she nursed and cared for the infant Lord, not because she is superior in honor. I think that's what many Protestants get confused about. "Why is Mary bigger than Jesus?!" But if you really study the icons and really listen to the hymns, every word about St. Mary is ultimately a praise to God alone. For St. Mary epitomizes how we all should receive, adore, and worship Jesus Christ Our Lord.



Selam
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Clemente on March 03, 2013, 05:38:18 PM
In the OT, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the jar of manna, the budding rod of Aaron, and the tablets on which the Law (Ten Commandments) were written, were the holiest objects to the Hebrews, and were treated with the utmost respect and honor. To even touch the Ark meant instant death, so great was its holiness.

The Ark, and all it contained, were, in God's wisdom, prefigurations of the immense and incomprehensible mystery, that of the Mother of God. She is the true Ark (in whom the infinite and immaterial God was contained), the Burning Bush (the fire of Divinity she carried in her body not only did not destroy her, but it purified her and preserved her virginity), the rod of Aaron (budded and sprung forth from barren and aged parents), the jar of manna which is fulfilled in the fruit of her womb, the very Bread of Life, Christ our God.

If the ark of old was so sacred, then how much more glorious and holy is the woman who is the very fulfillment of the type and shadow?

I have been thinking a lot about this recently, since the ever-virginity of Mary is the only Marian dogma we have (along with her being Theotokos). Yet, along with the title Theotokos, her ever-virginity is ultimately Christological, for it confirms this: she is the Ark of the New Covenant that could not be touched. She is exalted because she carried the salvation of the world.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 03, 2013, 05:39:22 PM
So I had an experience today that has defiantly pushed me a bit further away from the Orthodox position on Marion devotion. I took my mother in law to a big choir concert at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Indianapolis. She is a very devout protestant, and very strong in her faith. She came from a Catholic background but chose to leave the Catholic Church in favor of Protestantism, and was almost disowned by her family for it.

This was a joint Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox concert. At first she really got into it, but then came the first hymns to Mary, and the choir leader explained that it was talking about the deliverance of Constantinople from an invading army, believed to have been a deliverance wrought by the Theotokos. He then proceeded to tell the audience that Mary was "the most powerful thing in the Universe" due to her giving birth to God, and that she 'our hope', and that she is a 'High tower' and 'deliverer' for all who 'put their hope in her'. And the we can 'cry aloud to her in our time of need' knowing that she always 'protects us'... not exact quotes, but something very much like that.

It ruined the whole thing for her, and for me. And it made her wonder why I was even interested in Orthodoxy, though she never said it. But I could sense it. I had to explain to her afterward that the Orthodox don't believe that Mary is more powerful or more holy than Christ, and that in Orthodoxy she was considered to be the greatest of all the saints, but not the Savior. And I explained that she was seen one who helps the faithful through her intersession, so that ultimately it's God who is doing the saving and delivering, even though it is often attributed to her. I told her that my experiences with Orthodoxy made me think it was very Christ-centered, but I also told her my honest opinion that I just felt they go way too far sometimes when talking about the Theotokos.

She seemed to understand and retains an open mind, but the whole experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and not because I'm really concerned about what she thinks. I've disagreed with her about a number of things, and I know she'll respect whatever decision I come to. Even if she didn't, I want to be saved and know the truth, not please my family members. But I find myself always coming back to the same questions. Why do Marian devotees always insist upon blurring the line between her and God in their language? Why is it that in so many Marian hymns and prayers things are being said about her that should only appropriately be said about God? The more I think about it the more sickening it looks, so I'm just going to put it down for a while. I'll just turn it over to God and if I'm wrong I pray He shows me.

Such a beautiful and and wonderful religion is Orthodoxy in so many ways. For me believing in it would solve so many problems in my faith and would end all of the confusion about where and what the Church is, what the truth is, how to interpret the Bible, and it's appealing in other ways as well that I don't have time to go into. But the whole claim is based on the idea that the Orthodox Church has preserved the faith of the Apostles in it's fullness. And yet I'm just not seeing how the Apostles taught us any such thing about Mary or anyone else. All they talked about was the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It's not until the 3rd century, so far as we can tell, that people started writing prayers to Mary for her 'protection', and not until like the 8th century that someone decided hymns to Mary were needed in every single service of the Church. If it's all just the invention of man who wanted, then it means that in a huge way the Orthodox tradition has failed to preserve the truth, and has instead turned His mother into a near-goddess for no clear reason at all. We have no need of another deliverer. We have a perfect savior in Christ.

Why not rather praise Jesus and only Jesus for protection and deliverance and compassion? Why not rather throw yourself down before Him and only Him when asking for help and strength and encouragement? Why not instead call Him and only Him our strong tower and deliverer and help? He is God after all. Mary was the one he chose to be His means of incarnation. That doesn't make her the source of the Christian's hope and confidence and salvation. It was God who did it, not her, she only cooperated. Without God she would be nothing. Without Him she would mean nothing. She knows that too I'm sure, I'm not throwing her under the bus. And If I'm just misunderstanding the whole thing then why does the Orthodox Church insist upon wrapping the issue in such horribly confusing and misleading language? And if indeed it is no more than the teaching of men then I think Protestantism, for all of it's many flaws and inconsistencies, really becomes the only viable option for me for this one reason alone. At least then it represents a sliver of hope that the Apostolic teaching can be restored. But I don't know. I just honestly don't know what to think. So I guess I'll just leave it there. Sorry for the rant, but yes, this is a HUGE stumbling block for me.     

The main problem in your thought is precisely an anachronistic idea that you are looking at this through the lens of 16th and 17th Century thought, rather than the thought of the ancients.  In addition, the point to which you allude, that the hymns don't come until later is also something you have to reconsider.  If some theological thought or hymn does not show up in writing until later, does that mean it was not thought up in oral tradition before?  And if this is something new, wouldn't it have been such a scandal in the thoughts of many Church fathers to write against the praise of human saints in addition to the praise of the Lord?  But interestingly enough, none of that was a scandal.  In fact, you should see some of the other scandals that the Church fathers flew to fight against, the scandal of insulting the Virgin, as Julian the Apostate has done, calling her a prostitute.  Others also fought against the idea that she consummated a marriage with St. Joseph after Christ's birth.

Mariology was also quite an important thought from the earliest of Church fathers.  St. Irenaeus, who was a follower of St. Polycarp, who was a follower of St. John the Apostle, describes St. Mary as a parallel to Eve, just as Christ was a parallel to Adam, in terms of obedience and salvation.  So we can actually trace an implication of the respect of the virtues of the Theotokos from a very early source of Christianity.  The Protoevangelium of James, although apocryphal, has its origins early enough to show a profound respect of the Virgin as well.

So then why is it that such praises of the Theotokos was not a scandal to Christians of the earliest centuries, but only a scandal to Christians of the 15th and 16th Centuries and beyond?  Well, for one thing, I can understand that some saints who are called saints but may have done some outlandish or purely unrighteous things become quite a discouragement to many who are appalled by some of the clear unChristian behavior, and so you can't really go wrong with Christ.  The elevation of the holiness of the Pope along with his and the church's abuses also made a huge impact into the thought of these Protestants.  Nevertheless, that doesn't exclude the fact that there were good Christian saints of the past, and the Theotokos was the prototype of a true Christian saint.

But then this doesn't answer the question about the earliest Church fathers lack of beings scandalized.  Well, have you asked yourself if we do in fact believe the Theotokos is not to be worshipped, but venerated for her greatness, doesn't that mean that we too are called to be as great as she is?  If we say to the Theotokos, "Save us", does that mean we can also save?  The answer is YES, because this is what St. Paul teaches here:

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:16)

Here, St. Paul is telling the newly ordained bishop, St. Timothy, his duty is to be a source of salvation to others.  This does not mean he replaces Christ, but that he leads people to Christ, the true source of our salvation.  Christ proclaims, "I am the True Light, that gives light to the world."  But elsewhere, He says to His disciples, "YOU..."...."YOU!!! are the light of the world."  But Lord, you are the True Light.  Nevertheless, you as disciples of the Lord, having been enlightened must also share the divine light to others.

If saints weren't important, if the St. Mary wasn't important, why does Christ elevate His disciples to become "lights of the world" and "salts of the Earth", when Christ can perfectly do them Himself?  It's because He enlightens man and man through Christ enlightens other men.  The Theotokos thus becomes the best example of a saint that has become a light of the world.  She is the par excellence city that is set on the hill who is not hidden.  She is the [golden] lampstand par excellence (Exodus 25, Matthew 5), who let her light so shine before others, people saw her good works, called her blessed among women as the Angel called her, and through her, glorified the Father in heaven.  The light and salvation she carries is not her own, but Christ's.  The power she possesses that makes her one of the most powerful human beings is yet still not her own, but Christ's.  It is because of her chosen position of carrying God enfleshed from her very own flesh carries amazingly powerful implications of her righteousness, her light, her salt, her involvement in the saving of others as St. Paul commanded St. Timothy.  Even St. Paul speaks of his own role in saving others:

"I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them." (Romans 11:13-14)  St. Jude also calls people to save (v. 23).

So yes, you are right in explaining your mother-in-law all this subtext of what these hymns really mean.  I'm not saying you're unjustified in your discomfort.  I can absolutely relate in your discomfort that I personally do not engage in too much of the language used by the concert.  Nevertheless, have you had a friend who saves your life through prayer, or a preaching of a friend who brings you to Christ?  Are you not going to stand in awe and be forever in debt for his/her service in bring you to Christ? How much more the Theotokos' involvement!  If Christ, who was the best born among women, calls St. John the "best born among women", would it not make sense in that context the Theotokos involvement in the salvation of mankind is the most powerful, aside from Christ being the truly omnipotent one?

Finally, the hymns of the Theotokos precisely echoes the most foundational dogma missing in Protestant theology, and that is:  God become man so that man might become God.  The hymns of the saints are a proof of theosis.  They are a proof of deification that you and I can achieve.  It seems to me the denial of deification in the Protestant traditions goes hand in hand with the aversion of praising saints.  They reduce the salvation of Christ to nothing more than an emotional forgiveness of sins and a release from personal guilt into human happiness forevermore, and not into the ultimate sanctification, illumination, and transcendence of our human nature by the power of the divine nature mingled in our members.  It is by this power we know that saints have done amazing things in history as a testimony to their growth in Christ.  We even have a saint that is said to have moved a mountain based on the Scriptural promise.  This saint's movement of the mountain was one of "the most powerful things in the Universe", giving "hope", "protection", and "deliverance" to the people of Egypt who were threatened by the Muslim governor of Egypt who wanted to see this verse proven.  How much more the Theotokos, who gave birth to the cause of our salvation!

The two most celebrated saints in the Orthodox Church are the Theotokos and the Forerunner, because the Theotokos brought Christ to the world and the Forerunner brought the world to Christ, and we as Christians are called to do BOTH!!!

Forgive me for the length of this rant, but I hope I presented to you enough evidence to truly help you in breaking free from the bonds of your past ways of thinking so that you can come slowly to a true Biblical and ancient Christian basis of what we do in our liturgical services free from the false sense of the guilty conscience you carry.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Clemente on March 03, 2013, 06:00:02 PM
So I had an experience today that has defiantly pushed me a bit further away from the Orthodox position on Marion devotion. I took my mother in law to a big choir concert at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Indianapolis. She is a very devout protestant, and very strong in her faith. She came from a Catholic background but chose to leave the Catholic Church in favor of Protestantism, and was almost disowned by her family for it.

This was a joint Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox concert. At first she really got into it, but then came the first hymns to Mary, and the choir leader explained that it was talking about the deliverance of Constantinople from an invading army, believed to have been a deliverance wrought by the Theotokos. He then proceeded to tell the audience that Mary was "the most powerful thing in the Universe" due to her giving birth to God, and that she 'our hope', and that she is a 'High tower' and 'deliverer' for all who 'put their hope in her'. And the we can 'cry aloud to her in our time of need' knowing that she always 'protects us'... not exact quotes, but something very much like that.

It ruined the whole thing for her, and for me. And it made her wonder why I was even interested in Orthodoxy, though she never said it. But I could sense it. I had to explain to her afterward that the Orthodox don't believe that Mary is more powerful or more holy than Christ, and that in Orthodoxy she was considered to be the greatest of all the saints, but not the Savior. And I explained that she was seen one who helps the faithful through her intersession, so that ultimately it's God who is doing the saving and delivering, even though it is often attributed to her. I told her that my experiences with Orthodoxy made me think it was very Christ-centered, but I also told her my honest opinion that I just felt they go way too far sometimes when talking about the Theotokos.

She seemed to understand and retains an open mind, but the whole experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and not because I'm really concerned about what she thinks. I've disagreed with her about a number of things, and I know she'll respect whatever decision I come to. Even if she didn't, I want to be saved and know the truth, not please my family members. But I find myself always coming back to the same questions. Why do Marian devotees always insist upon blurring the line between her and God in their language? Why is it that in so many Marian hymns and prayers things are being said about her that should only appropriately be said about God? The more I think about it the more sickening it looks, so I'm just going to put it down for a while. I'll just turn it over to God and if I'm wrong I pray He shows me.

Such a beautiful and and wonderful religion is Orthodoxy in so many ways. For me believing in it would solve so many problems in my faith and would end all of the confusion about where and what the Church is, what the truth is, how to interpret the Bible, and it's appealing in other ways as well that I don't have time to go into. But the whole claim is based on the idea that the Orthodox Church has preserved the faith of the Apostles in it's fullness. And yet I'm just not seeing how the Apostles taught us any such thing about Mary or anyone else. All they talked about was the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It's not until the 3rd century, so far as we can tell, that people started writing prayers to Mary for her 'protection', and not until like the 8th century that someone decided hymns to Mary were needed in every single service of the Church. If it's all just the invention of man who wanted, then it means that in a huge way the Orthodox tradition has failed to preserve the truth, and has instead turned His mother into a near-goddess for no clear reason at all. We have no need of another deliverer. We have a perfect savior in Christ.

Why not rather praise Jesus and only Jesus for protection and deliverance and compassion? Why not rather throw yourself down before Him and only Him when asking for help and strength and encouragement? Why not instead call Him and only Him our strong tower and deliverer and help? He is God after all. Mary was the one he chose to be His means of incarnation. That doesn't make her the source of the Christian's hope and confidence and salvation. It was God who did it, not her, she only cooperated. Without God she would be nothing. Without Him she would mean nothing. She knows that too I'm sure, I'm not throwing her under the bus. And If I'm just misunderstanding the whole thing then why does the Orthodox Church insist upon wrapping the issue in such horribly confusing and misleading language? And if indeed it is no more than the teaching of men then I think Protestantism, for all of it's many flaws and inconsistencies, really becomes the only viable option for me for this one reason alone. At least then it represents a sliver of hope that the Apostolic teaching can be restored. But I don't know. I just honestly don't know what to think. So I guess I'll just leave it there. Sorry for the rant, but yes, this is a HUGE stumbling block for me.     
Well, I can certainly understand your concern here. I think Roman Catholic Marian beliefs are, at times, borderline heretical and my position is supported by a number of Orthodox. Why the joint Orthodox-Roman Catholic service? I suggest that you try to see Orthodox veneration of Mary and the saints through Orthodox eyes.

I am a former Evangelical and I got through what you are experiencing by just putting the whole issue on the back burner. The only Marian dogma are her being Theotokos and ever-virgin. Stick with those for now, get comfortable with the patristic witness of these dogma. Some Orthodox here will disagree, but I suggest you take it slowly. Once you get more comfortable with Orthodoxy and you see that the Church is trustworthy, you can get more comfortable with the unique role of the Theotokos. Part of that comfort will come as you explore tradition and learn how the Church needed to highlight the role of Mary in order to properly understand Christ.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Clemente on March 03, 2013, 06:22:18 PM

Forgive me for the length of this rant, but I hope I presented to you enough evidence to truly help you in breaking free from the bonds of your past ways of thinking so that you can come slowly to a true Biblical and ancient Christian basis of what we do in our liturgical services free from the false sense of the guilty conscience you carry.

Great rant. Also, the 7th century work by St Maximus, The Life of the Virgin, fills in further some of the details of the Theotokos' life and how she is, as you suggest, an icon of us. http://www.amazon.com/The-Life-Virgin-Maximus-Confessor/product-reviews/0300175043/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

She was highly involved in her son's ministry and a leader in the Early Church, discipling other women who later had great impact such as Mary Magdala.http://commonwealmagazine.org/maximus’s-mary (http://commonwealmagazine.org/maximus’s-mary)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: SolEX01 on March 03, 2013, 08:30:45 PM
Armchair Theologian, we have no idea what hymns were sung by the Orthodox choir; however, the Greek Orthodox do commemorate the Virgin Mary in the first 5 Fridays of Lent in services called Akathist (standing) Hymn.  While these services are mostly in Greek, they provide a different and more realistic understanding of Mary than whatever you heard today.  The link below provides a better explanation of the Akathist Hymn and if you notice, these hymns date back to the 6th Century.

http://lent.goarch.org/akathist_hymn/learn/ (http://lent.goarch.org/akathist_hymn/learn/)

Quote
The Akathist Hymn is a profound, devotional poem, which sings the praises of the Holy Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is one of the most beloved services in the Orthodox Church. It was composed in the imperial city of Constantinople, "the city of the Virgin," by St. Romanos the Melodist, who reposed in the year 556. The Akathist Hymn has proven so popular in the liturgical life of the Church that many other hymns have been written following its format. These include Akathists to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Cross, and to many Saints.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: NicholasMyra on March 03, 2013, 09:40:57 PM
This was a joint Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox concert. At first she really got into it, but then came the first hymns to Mary, and the choir leader explained that it was talking about the deliverance of Constantinople from an invading army, believed to have been a deliverance wrought by the Theotokos. He then proceeded to tell the audience that Mary was "the most powerful thing in the Universe" due to her giving birth to God, and that she 'our hope', and that she is a 'High tower' and 'deliverer' for all who 'put their hope in her'. And the we can 'cry aloud to her in our time of need' knowing that she always 'protects us'... not exact quotes, but something very much like that.
Sounds like To Thee the Champion Leader was part of it.

Why do Marian devotees always insist upon blurring the line between her and God in their language?
So did Christ. Remember what he said in the Gospel of John, and to his enemies, no less.

Why is it that in so many Marian hymns and prayers things are being said about her that should only appropriately be said about God?
Because it is taken as a given that that she accomplishes everything in Christ and that all glory is to Christ. I encourage you to examine the readings we have on the feast days of the Theotokos.

The more I think about it the more sickening it looks
Maybe that's the problem.

And yet I'm just not seeing how the Apostles taught us any such thing about Mary or anyone else. All they talked about was the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

Let's see what the Apostles taught about humans:

1. They are gods. (John 10).
2. They are sons of God. (Romans 8; John 1).
3. They are nearly Divine and God has set all things under their feet. (Hebrews 2).
4. They are partakers of the Divine Nature. (2 Peter 1).
5. They can do things even greater than Christ because he ascended to the Father. (John 14).
6. They will judge Angels (1 Corinthians 6).

Who is truly human?

Jesus Christ.

Who else can be called truly human?

Those who participate in Him, and his deified humanity.

Why not rather praise Jesus and only Jesus for protection and deliverance and compassion? Why not rather throw yourself down before Him and only Him when asking for help and strength and encouragement?
It is an apostolic practice to seek the prayers and intercessions of others. Christ is high priest of creation, offering all things to the Father through the Holy Spirit. He grants us to participate in that inheritance and ministry through him.

Mary was the one he chose to be His means of incarnation.

Is that all?

"And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts which you have sucked. But he said, Yes rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."

There is a reason this is read on the Theotokos's feast days.

That doesn't make her the source of the Christian's hope and confidence and salvation.
St. Paul admits himself the salvation of men, even he who fills up what was lacking, but all Glory and Power and Salvation are God's.

It was God who did it, not her, she only cooperated.
Only?

Without God she would be nothing. Without Him she would mean nothing.
That is the Orthodox position.


She knows that too I'm sure, I'm not throwing her under the bus. And If I'm just misunderstanding the whole thing then why does the Orthodox Church insist upon wrapping the issue
in such horribly confusing and misleading language?
It's only horrible to minimalists. We Americans are usually those types. It's a hurdle to overcome.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on March 04, 2013, 04:15:39 AM
Thank you all for your replies. I appreciate that no one is taking offense at my doubts. Your replies have given me a lot to ponder, and I will try to keep an open mind, There are A LOT of things I would like to reply to item by item, but for tonight let me go about this a different way. Let me try to explain the things I can except about the Orthodox understanding of the Theotokos to give you an idea as to what I'm not arguing.

For one thing, I can accept the notion that human beings are the greatest of God's creations (or among the greatest if there are beings in other worlds (another topic of interest to me)). That is, of course, biblical. It is also therefore biblical and apostolic to say that man becomes god, in the sense that we become by grace what He is by nature. As St John says, it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as He is", and of course there are many other quotes that speak of men becoming sons of God by grace and partaking of His divine nature. God became man that men might become god. "I said, ye are gods'. OK, I can agree with that. Now if that is what Orthodoxy is basically saying (and I know it's a mystery beyond understanding), then I'm on board with Theosis or deification as a process of being transformed by grace into the image and likeness of God.

I can accept that we can and should honor the saints. That's something I find appealing about Orthodoxy. The church looks at the lives of those people that God seems to have set forth as supreme examples to the flock, those who have geen transformed and 'deified' if you will. The Orthodox Church sees Christ in them, and honors and reveres them for what God has done in them. I can get behind that. It's something missing form protestantism.

I can accept the view that the saints intercede for us in heaven and that we can ask for their help in the form of prayer. I'm not saying that I have accepted that this view is quite right, but if that were all that I had to struggle with, then I don't think it would be an insurmountable obstacle. There is some Biblical evidence for it I think, and it's not such a stretch really.

I can accept that Mary is the prototype for Christians, the first to accept Christ, a model of Christian holiness and purity, a supreme example of the synergy between God and man when he does His will and cooperates with His grace.

I could accept that Mary is therefor, and because of her unique relationship with the Lord and special place in the plan of salvation, the greatest and foremost of the saints... I'm stretching it a little bit here. Honestly, I'm still more of a fan of seeing Mary as being no different intrinsically than any saint who offers Himself or Herself to the service of God and cooperates with Him. I can think of many examples from the Bible. In a lot of ways what Abraham had to do was much more difficult, leaving his own country and sojourning in a foreign land among hostel tribes, and of course the fact that he was willing to offer His only son if that's what God wanted. All Mary had to do was be pregnant, give birth, and raise a child, an experience not at all uncommon to human beings. And we won't even talk about what the martyrs have endured throughout history in obedience to God. So clearly she cannot be honored on the bases that her cooperation with divine grace in this instance was somehow a feat beyond what any other woman could have possibly accomplished. Nevertheless, if it were merely a matter of understanding Mary as the having the highest honor among the Saints on other grounds, I think I could learn to accept that such was what the Spirit has relieved to the Church, and not a man-made fallacy.

I can accept the idea that she was the 'new eve', so long as we don't take the idea too, too far. She's not the one who saved the world because she said 'yes' to God. God of course knew before the foundation of the world what she would say. If he had known she'd say no, then perhaps he would not have planned to ask her, would have selected someone else, or who knows. Such speculations are rather pointless, but while I'm not all about pre-destany, I do affirm the sovereignty of God. If it was His will to become incarnate, then you know he was going to get it done no matter what. It didn't all hinge on Mary being cooperative. Ultimately Christ is the second Adam, who willied to be Incarnate for us, who's will will be done, and who undoes the damage of Adam's transgression though His own obedience, as the apostles taught.  

So, I can accept that the saints should be honored and remembered, including Mary.
I could accept that they petition for us with God, along with Mary.
I could accept that they are by grace what He is by nature, along with Mary.
And I could even accept that Mary is the greatest of them all. BUT...

I still feel there is a problem with the kind of honor that she receives in the Orthodox church. Because ultimately she remains, along with the saints, created and redeemed, not creator and redeemer. There is a distinction, and I feel it's an important one. Perhaps my protestant upbringing have instilled in me a propensity to zero in on said distinction, but that doesn't make it wrong to do so. So I just don't get the idea of saying things to her that could seem to blur that distinction. Maybe the language and carachter of your Marion devotions don't look that way from your point of view, but for me it just really sounds that way. "O blessed and holy must pure and spotless maiden. do not despise my suppliant cries, for you are my only hope, my high tower, my strong fortress. Save me o Theotokos, o most pure and spotless bride, let thy grace enlighten my mind and give strength to my inward. Protect and strengthen and guide me" and so forth. I'm not quoting any actual prayer, but I'm just pointing out how these things tend to go. Most of them are basically like that. NOT making fun, but you get where I'm coming from. It's very odd to me. Gives the wrong impression. I don't know

And yeah, I can thank the people who led me to Christ, and I can think of people I go to to ask for prayer, but I would never address a human being like that. And I would never say that they 'saved' me, or that they were my only hope. If they were any kind of Christians at all I can't imagine they would be to happy with me if I did. They would point me to God. And if Mary really is one who points us to God (and I'm sure she is), then why are we saying these kinds of things to her and not to her Son?  I just think, if there really is an acknowledgement that Mary is what she is by God's grace alone, and if it's really believed that she helps us through her intersessions, so that it is ultimately God who does the helping, then really, lets just humbly ask for her prayers, honor her, but reserve the kind of language described earlier for the only God and savior, both hers and ours.

Sorry to be saying the same things again. All I'm trying to say is, I don't hate the basic teaching. It's not particularly problematic. I just feel it's gone a bit too far, mostly just in the language that surrounds it but in other things as well. I just think that she is too exalted, and in such a way that could be harmful. But maybe I'm wrong.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on March 04, 2013, 10:39:03 AM
In a lot of ways what Abraham had to do was much more difficult, leaving his own country and sojourning in a foreign land among hostel tribes, and of course the fact that he was willing to offer His only son if that's what God wanted. All Mary had to do was be pregnant, give birth, and raise a child, an experience not at all uncommon to human beings.

Seriously? Her child was the Son of God and Savior of mankind. It's a lot bigger deal - pretty much the biggest deal of all time.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 04, 2013, 11:00:29 AM
Just a quick reply:

The Theotokos had a Virgin pregnancy.  She wasn't planning on having children.  St. Joseph had to marry her to cover up the pregnancy from probably a gossiping and judgmental public.  Then she gave birth in a stable of all places among animals.  Then she had to flee and travel all over Egypt from Herod's murderous genocidal infanticide.  She probably had to go around Egypt living off of areas from place to place and learning perhaps a bit of the language to get by.  Then she had to travel back.  They offered turtle doves as sacrifices, which means she was really really poor. All of this while acknowledging the fact that the person she carried in her womb, suckled, raised, and protected, and even was very protective of (as evident in the fact she was looking for him everywhere only to fun him in temple) was going to be the Savior of the world, and you're saying anyone can do that? 

The more I learn about what she had to go through, the more I acknowledge her as righteousness beyond measure, a true mother of the Church.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on March 04, 2013, 11:01:22 AM
I do think it is fair to say that some individual's notion of Marian devotion can be a bit more extravagant than others.  I have no problem honoring the Theotokos, but I am somewhat uncomfortable with some of the flowery imagery that you quoted from the choral concert that you attended.  Perhaps it is due to my own Protestant background, I don't know.  I do think that if we were to remove the honor and veneration of the Theotokos and the Saints it would actually reduce the honor that we show Christ.

If I value the ground someone walked on, it demonstrates the value I place in the actual person.  It doesn't increase the actual value of the ground, it increases the value of the person that walked upon it.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 04, 2013, 11:20:12 AM
So anyway I think it rather unfair to say, "all she had to do was become pregnant and raise a child.". She did a whole lot more than that, and of there was anyone else better suited for the job, God would have chosen her over Mary.  The fact is, she was the best.  She was most "blessed among women."

And while we do have a lot of Theotokos hymns, we also have plenty of hymns of other saints.  The number of  hymns of the Theotokos is in correlation to impact her example had on people.  So it's not so much that we dogmatically give her credit over others, but statistically speaking, she does get the most credit over her example of righteousness and her unique role in salvation.

Perhaps, you should quote some of the liturgical hymns that bother you and we can discuss them further.  Ask yourself this.  Can I do what we praise the Theotokos or any other saint for doing?  If the answer is yes, then you have to swallow your pride in your pre-conceived notions and allow them.  For now, you should also consult with a spiritual father if you're serious about this stumbling block.  In my opinion, you don't really need to chant those parts for yourself, but at least be wary of the other interpretation and understand that it is permissible.

The concerts I think is different.  I think it's better to point your concern on what is said in liturgy than in concert, which may be exaggerated.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Rowan on March 04, 2013, 11:57:25 AM
I think you have gotten a lot of great replies. All I can say is that the Mother of God always leads us to her Son, and "flowery" prayers have traditionally been understood in that way, even if it's not apparent to the outside looking in.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Fotina02 on March 04, 2013, 12:45:38 PM
What you say is true but neglects One fact. Mary's obedience, purity, chastity and character are exemplary and worthy of veneration but not the reason she is the Champion Leader of all the saints. Her being pregnant, giving birth, and raising a child are also not the reason, as you say a common human experience. It is WHO she carried in the womb, gave birth to, suckled at her breasts, and raised to manhood--the never before and never to be repeated UNIQUE birth in all of creation.

Only Mary, of all the saints, martyrs, confessors, fathers, forefathers, apostles, and other righteous ones in all of history past and ages to come, is the Most Holy Mother of God, the Holy Theotokos. Only she gave birth to the God-Man, Jesus Christ, The Only Holy and Sinless One, One of The Holy Trinity, to the Glory of God the Father, Amen.

Likewise, the high praise for the Most Holy Theotokos is only in and through Christ. Apart from Christ, we are nothing. But in Christ, the Infinite God, is there any praise that is too high or love too great? Some say Orthodox are excessive and redundant in their worship and praise. We sing, "It is fitting and right".
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Hiwot on March 04, 2013, 02:46:14 PM
+

Abraham left his father’s house after God promised him a land which is not an impossibility in anyone’s mind, for a God to give land to whom he wants, after all wealth was seen as the favor of the gods even by the pagans. The Virgin believed something extremely extraordinary, humanly impossible, unheard of event. An event that could potentially put her very life in danger under the mosaic law, without anyone else’s guarantee but God’s she said ‘ yes!’ to Him who favored her above all women before her and after her to be the mother of the Eternal Word in Flesh. The entire universe rejoiced because the virgin had said yes to our salvation. As Isaiah has foretold Isaiah 1:9
Except the Lord of hosts had left us seed, we had been as Sodom, and we should have been like to Gomorrah.


She said yes when every logic and reason would have her doubt, with her humility to the words of the Archangel who said’ rejoice o highly favored one! The Lord is with you’ she was afraid of the loftiness of the greeting that has never been said to any human before. But the Holy Spirit comforted her through the Archangel. As he has foretold about her in the scriptures as he has not left his people without instruction of what will come to be. Her father David gives his testimony of her greatness above her fathers, and the honor of all those who shall be called her children.

 (Psalm 45:9-17 A queen hath stood at thy right hand, In pure gold of Ophir.
10 Hearken, O daughter, and see, incline thine ear, And forget thy people, and thy father's house,
11 And the king doth desire thy beauty, Because he is thy lord -- bow thyself to him,
12 And the daughter of Tyre with a present, The rich of the people do appease thy face.
13 All glory is the daughter of the king within, Of gold-embroidered work is her clothing.
14 In divers colours she is brought to the king, Virgins -- after her -- her companions, Are brought to thee.
15 They are brought with joy and gladness, They come into the palace of the king.
16 Instead of thy fathers are thy sons, Thou dost appoint them for princes in all the earth.
17 I make mention of Thy name in all generations, Therefore do peoples praise Thee, To the age, and for ever!)


 For her Son will make it part of his redemptive work on the Cross to give the world the Second Eve (the Mother of the Living) saying to the faithful apostle saying behold thy mother! It was not a mere chitchat of a weak man dying and not knowing what will happen to his mother, but it was the redeeming work of the Savoir, the most generous gift of the conqueror. For she will be the mother of the Living: all those who are brothers to her Son and made coheirs of the Father through the Son. Her unique honor given testimony by the Holy Spirit from among the angels through the mouth of Gabriel, and among humans by the mouth of Elizabeth, all in the One Spirit proclaiming her glory that is above all humans. To whom can we compare her, the living Ark of the New and Everlasting covenant?


The young daughter of David tasted not only the bitter cup of exile but the dread of being hunted by those who wanted to kill her only son. Not only she raised him with humility but with utter faith she consented to the Will of the Holy Trinity, to his gruesome and shameful death for any Jew a death on the cross and saw her only beloved son be brutalized and die without wavering in her faith without fear of those who crucified him, she who is queen of the Apostles, the Most faithful disciple of her Son obeyed until the very end while dying a thousand deaths of a mother who saw the injustice being done to her son. She stood by him without wavering and accepted the sword of her martyrdom to her heart as foretold by the prophet Simon as she surrenders her son without resistance in complete and utter obedience to God’s will. She saw him hang from the tree and her pain as great as it was she did not surrender to the temptation to say ‘if you are the son of God come down from the cross ’ or like the first Eve to exercise power by disobeying God.


The consuming Eternal Fire before whom the seraphim cover their faces with fear and trembling, the Virgin gazing with love and adoration upon his eyes, wrapped him with swaddling clothes and carried him in her bosom. He that gives sustenance to all creatures cried like all children seeking milk from his mother’s breasts. Her womb wider than the heavens contained the uncontainable; in her womb she heard the unceasing praise of the celestial choir.

With whom can we compare her, is it with Abraham, yet he was a weak man who doubted the promise of the Lord and went into Hagar to begat a son for himself. Yet Abraham was protected because she who will bear the Logos was in his loins, because the Messiah was to be born from the seed of Abraham, the King of Salem Malkesadeck offered tribute to the King of Kings who shall be born from her. Is it with David who committed adultery and murdered the innocent for the sake of his lust? Is it with any of the prophets with mosses with Isaiah, Elijah with whom can we compare her? For all of them were unworthy to ascend to the heights she was worthy to ascend to, yet saw her glory in the Spirit and rejoiced. So isn't it better for us to leap with joy and say along with all those moved by the Holy Spirit: Blessed are you among women! Blessed is the fruit of your womb! Why am I so favored for the mother of my Lord to come to me?!


Luke1:41-45 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on March 04, 2013, 03:22:05 PM
Maybe come at it from a different angle:

Why is this, which has been believed, taught and preached by the Church, the Body of Christ, from the earliest time, so distasteful to you? Even Luther and many of the Reformers honored and venerated her.

For me, the beginning of wisdom is the realization that there is at least a theoretical possibility that I could be mistaken.

Or, as an evangelical inquirer said in distress to a priest friend of mine, "but Fr. Barnabas, if this is true, then everything I ever thought is wrong!"
To which Fr. Barnabas replied, "Well, yes, son, that's right. But the good part is, all the heavy lifting has already been done for you!"
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on March 05, 2013, 01:56:46 PM
OK, fair enough. After reading and considering the replies, I will acknowledge that what she did and what she faced was a lot more of a challenge than simply giving birth to a child. The only thing I will point out is that, reading some of the tales of the Martyrs, how some of them were tortured for months and even years, it still seems what they had to do for the faith of God was a bit harder. But then again, it's not so much about what a person 'goes through' or even what a person does, as it is about what a person is. And if Mary was really spotless, all-holy, and all-pure in every way, and if her obedience was truly perfect obedience, if that's really what she had to be in order to become the Mother of God, then it makes sense that she should be honored above even the apostles and martyrs. It's just been hammered into my head I guess that Jesus is the only sinless One, and so it's kind of a hard idea to embrace.

I got frustrated thinking about all of this. But the real problem is that I can't prove anything one way or another. I've always operated under the assumption that what the Apostles and Prophets said was true, but everything else was suspect. And believing that, I've always been essentially sola-scriptura, and so the traditions about Mary's ever virginity, or that she lived in the Temple from age 3, or that she was mysteriously nourished by an Angel, which all first appears in writing in the mid-second century (fairly early, granted), and then of course the belief in her bodily assumption which only appears in writing centuries later--all of these ideas are suspect to me, because there is no first century evidence that they were taught by the apostles... You see what I'm saying? I can't deny them, as such, but an argument can be made that they were made up later on, after Marion ideas began to evolve, especially the Dormition/Assumption belief. And the veneration of Mary is intimately bound up in these beliefs.

In other words, there's no proof, but they have to be accepted by faith...faith in the Church. Faith that the Holy Spirit was guiding the Church into all truth.

I came to accept the testimony of scripture by faith. I have no proof, though of course there is strong evidence. There is also some interesting evidence for the Marion beliefs that I mentioned. There's a case to be made. I don't think anyone is guilty of heresy for believing them, even if they're not true. But I think I need to really seek the will of God here, and stop relying on my own reasoning and rationalizing. I'm never going to find a smoking gun of proof. There will always be arguments for and against. But if Orthodoxy is really the Church, and if it's really the right way of interpreting the Bible, if Psalm 45 means that the Orthodox Church thinks it means, if the East Gate of Ezekiel's Temple really is the womb the the Virgin,  then I want to believe it. On the other hand, if it's wrong, I don't want to be deceived. So I just have to take some more time and keep praying and try not to let let uncertainty trouble me. I think God rewards those who earnestly and sincerely seek the truth. In fact, I'm pretty sure Saint Seraphim of Sarov said that. That's just what I'm going to have to do. 

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on March 05, 2013, 02:30:05 PM
While this particular dogma didn't bother me (I mean, after all, she's His mom!  ;D), I had my own struggles with a couple of other things.

What it really boils down to for me is, (as you said), which is more likely to be mistaken or have an incomplete understanding - me or the Church (the Body of Christ, which has been believing, teaching, preaching and practicing these things for a couple of millenia, give or take)?

Based on my own personal track record (YMMV, of course), there's a better than average chance that I've got it wrong.
Really wrong. (after all, you should have seen some of my hairstyles and fashion choices a few years ago!  ;))

Therefore, I went with the Church's teaching.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: NicholasMyra on March 05, 2013, 02:37:28 PM
I've always been essentially sola-scriptura, and so the traditions about Mary's ever virginity...
And yet the inventor of sola scriptura believed in Mary's ever virginity.  ;)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: choy on March 05, 2013, 02:46:28 PM
OK, fair enough. After reading and considering the replies, I will acknowledge that what she did and what she faced was a lot more of a challenge than simply giving birth to a child. The only thing I will point out is that, reading some of the tales of the Martyrs, how some of them were tortured for months and even years, it still seems what they had to do for the faith of God was a bit harder. But then again, it's not so much about what a person 'goes through' or even what a person does, as it is about what a person is. And if Mary was really spotless, all-holy, and all-pure in every way, and if her obedience was truly perfect obedience, if that's really what she had to be in order to become the Mother of God, then it makes sense that she should be honored above even the apostles and martyrs. It's just been hammered into my head I guess that Jesus is the only sinless One, and so it's kind of a hard idea to embrace.

A young Jewish girl getting pregnant without a husband in 1st century Palestine is not hard?

Jesus is the only one who is sinless, the Theotokos is blameless.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Eastern Mind on March 05, 2013, 03:01:29 PM
I've always been essentially sola-scriptura, and so the traditions about Mary's ever virginity...
And yet the inventor of sola scriptura believed in Mary's ever virginity.  ;)

Yes indeed.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on March 05, 2013, 04:07:26 PM
Well, it's been levied around the the initial reformers believed in the perpetual virginity and had a devotion to Mary.

Yes and no. I know Martin Luther believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, but he was hotly critical of Roman Catholic views on Marion devotion and the veneration of Saints. It is often alleged that he changed some of his views later in life. He also seems fairly iffy about the Assumption.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Marian_theology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Marian_theology)

John Calvin Calvin also criticized many of the Marion beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church, believed they held her up as an idol, and rejected the perpetual virginity.   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Marian_theology  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Marian_theology)

So no, their sense of Marion devotion was very different from what is practiced in Orthodoxy, far more moderate. And even thus, I don't consider the Luther or Calvin or anyone to have had the definitive conclusion for what a reformed (restored) Christianity would look like. At best, they may have took some steps in the right direction. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Clemente on March 05, 2013, 04:47:53 PM
Well, it's been levied around the the initial reformers believed in the perpetual virginity and had a devotion to Mary.

Yes and no. I know Martin Luther believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, but he was hotly critical of Roman Catholic views on Marion devotion and the veneration of Saints. It is often alleged that he changed some of his views later in life. He also seems fairly iffy about the Assumption.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Marian_theology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Marian_theology)

John Calvin Calvin also criticized many of the Marion beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church, believed they held her up as an idol, and rejected the perpetual virginity.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Marian_theology  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Marian_theology)

So no, their sense of Marion devotion was very different from what is practiced in Orthodoxy, far more moderate. And even thus, I don't consider the Luther or Calvin or anyone to have had the definitive conclusion for what a reformed (restored) Christianity would look like. At best, they may have took some steps in the right direction.  

Zwingli and Wesley also believed in the ever-virginity of the Theotokos. It is mentioned in early historical accounts (150 AD). It is supported by a clear consensus of Fathers, including St Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom and Blessed Augustine. It is supported by Ecumenical Councils. Only two early writers opposed the idea and they were rebuked quickly by St Jerome and St Ambrose. In short, there is much more consensus in the Early Church for the ever-virginity than for, say, our current New Testament Canon, which was not clear until the late 4th century.

I sympathise with you, since I was there a few years ago. I think understanding the Church's Marian beliefs and praxis comes with time. Since some of this depends on Tradition not found in Scripture, you will need to get comfortable that the Fathers and Councils are trustworthy. That will take some time and reading. In the meantime, I would put your concern on hold about some of the flowery language used to describe the Theotokos.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 05, 2013, 09:10:33 PM
OK, fair enough. After reading and considering the replies, I will acknowledge that what she did and what she faced was a lot more of a challenge than simply giving birth to a child. The only thing I will point out is that, reading some of the tales of the Martyrs, how some of them were tortured for months and even years, it still seems what they had to do for the faith of God was a bit harder. But then again, it's not so much about what a person 'goes through' or even what a person does, as it is about what a person is. And if Mary was really spotless, all-holy, and all-pure in every way, and if her obedience was truly perfect obedience, if that's really what she had to be in order to become the Mother of God, then it makes sense that she should be honored above even the apostles and martyrs. It's just been hammered into my head I guess that Jesus is the only sinless One, and so it's kind of a hard idea to embrace.

I got frustrated thinking about all of this. But the real problem is that I can't prove anything one way or another. I've always operated under the assumption that what the Apostles and Prophets said was true, but everything else was suspect. And believing that, I've always been essentially sola-scriptura, and so the traditions about Mary's ever virginity, or that she lived in the Temple from age 3, or that she was mysteriously nourished by an Angel, which all first appears in writing in the mid-second century (fairly early, granted), and then of course the belief in her bodily assumption which only appears in writing centuries later--all of these ideas are suspect to me, because there is no first century evidence that they were taught by the apostles... You see what I'm saying? I can't deny them, as such, but an argument can be made that they were made up later on, after Marion ideas began to evolve, especially the Dormition/Assumption belief. And the veneration of Mary is intimately bound up in these beliefs.

In other words, there's no proof, but they have to be accepted by faith...faith in the Church. Faith that the Holy Spirit was guiding the Church into all truth.

I came to accept the testimony of scripture by faith. I have no proof, though of course there is strong evidence. There is also some interesting evidence for the Marion beliefs that I mentioned. There's a case to be made. I don't think anyone is guilty of heresy for believing them, even if they're not true. But I think I need to really seek the will of God here, and stop relying on my own reasoning and rationalizing. I'm never going to find a smoking gun of proof. There will always be arguments for and against. But if Orthodoxy is really the Church, and if it's really the right way of interpreting the Bible, if Psalm 45 means that the Orthodox Church thinks it means, if the East Gate of Ezekiel's Temple really is the womb the the Virgin,  then I want to believe it. On the other hand, if it's wrong, I don't want to be deceived. So I just have to take some more time and keep praying and try not to let let uncertainty trouble me. I think God rewards those who earnestly and sincerely seek the truth. In fact, I'm pretty sure Saint Seraphim of Sarov said that. That's just what I'm going to have to do. 

From what I understand, while most people in the Orthodox Church celebrate such stories about the Theotokos that are outside Scripture, such stories are not dogma, and not required to be believed.  But what is important is that the reason for all these stories to be believed was because of the Scriptural evidence of her greatness.  Thus far, I have only used Scripture to describe why we venerate her most highly.  The extra stories, while I would concede to you that I may not know the full truth of them, yet in them also, nothing inherently heretical is found.

The martyrs are worthy of all veneration.  They are among the highly venerated.  In the order of veneration in the Church, we place those closest to Christ among the highest venerated.  The Theotokos, the Forerunner, the relatives thereof, the heavenly hosts, the Apostles and Disciples (who were mostly martyred), St. Paul (also martyr), the thief who repented on the Cross (in the Coptic Church, we call him "Demas"), St. Mary Magdalene and her relatives, and I can't think of anyone else, but right after them, all the choir of the martyrs occupy the highest veneration, and right after them, the confessors, that is those who were tortured and survived.

In the Coptic Church, as I'm sure the other Orthodox Churches do, we have a theological tradition, where the Church was bought with the price of the blood of Christ, and the road to our birth into the Church was paved with the blood of His martyrs.  In fact, even those who believed but were not baptized with water, and yet martyred are to be believed that they were baptized with blood.  For there's no greater baptism than to, as the Scriptures say, literally "die in Christ", as Demas did.

I think the problem is, people like you concentrate so much on the Theotokos, you forget we kept a record and a huge veneration of the martyrs.  First, second, and third century post-Scriptural writings were filled with Acts of the martyrs.  They are NEVER ignored.  We even have bazaars for them in home countries (I know Egypt does for martyrs like St. George, St. Demiana, St. Mina, St. Marina, etc. etc.).  There are many people who have an overwhelming amount of devotion to one or many of these martyrs along with the Theotokos.  In my opinion as an Orthodox Christian, while he is "officially" high on the list, yet I would like to see more devotional hymns for St. John the Forerunner, who deserves just as much praise as the Theotokos.

Again, seek a priest spiritual adviser.  At the same time, I advise you to search deeply in the Scriptures for the greatness of the Theotokos as we have shown to you.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on March 06, 2013, 01:54:06 AM
Quote
while most people in the Orthodox Church celebrate such stories about the Theotokos that are outside Scripture, such stories are not dogma, and not required to be believed.

The only Marian feast of the Church which is found in scripture is the Annunciation. The Mother of God also shares with Christ the feast of the Meeting of the Lord. All other Marian feasts are from Holy Tradition. To say that "such stories are not dogma, and not required to be believed" at best flies in the face of the fact that the Church has seen it fit to sanctify and elevate these events in salvation history to the highest level of worship - as our greatest feasts. At worst, it veers dangerously close to a sola scriptura approach, and a protestant mentality of "pick and choose" which beliefs one adheres to.

They are neither allegory, nor "optional" to believe. No Church feast is based on allegory, and to diminish the reality of these events is to mock the faith.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on March 06, 2013, 02:08:11 AM
I have a somewhat related question, though nothing to do with my concerns.

I've noticed that everything I read that comes out the the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Saints associated therewith, seems to be somewhat 'Mary-heavy', in that they talk about the Theotokos a lot. Saint Seraphim of Sarov comes to mind, who seems to have had an especially close relationship with her. I know there are also many wonder-working icons of the Theotokos in Russia, each sort of 'presiding' over a different area. I also see Russian Orthodox figures such as Saint John of Kronstadt talking about how the Theotokos chose Russia as her special inheritance, and watches over Russia in a special way. The feast of the Protection of the Theotokos I hear is a bigger deal in Russia than it is in even the Greek Church.

Now the parish I've been going to is of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdioceses of North America, and it along with the rest of the Antiochian Church feels comparatively "Mary-light". At my Parrish they almost never speak of her, except of course in the liturgy, and I have yet to hear her mentioned in a homily, and all of the religious homilies and statements I have read for Metropolitan Philip and other Bishops and Priests of the archdiocese seem largely devoid of Marion references, though of course they obviously give her great honor.

My question is, are there differences in the ways that different jurisdictions see this? Or perhaps a difference in emphasis from one church to the next?    
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on March 06, 2013, 03:07:07 AM
I have a somewhat related question, though nothing to do with my concerns.

I've noticed that everything I read that comes out the the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Saints associated therewith, seems to be somewhat 'Mary-heavy', in that they talk about the Theotokos a lot. Saint Seraphim of Sarov comes to mind, who seems to have had an especially close relationship with her. I know there are also many wonder-working icons of the Theotokos in Russia, each sort of 'presiding' over a different area. I also see Russian Orthodox figures such as Saint John of Kronstadt talking about how the Theotokos chose Russia as her special inheritance, and watches over Russia in a special way. The feast of the Protection of the Theotokos I hear is a bigger deal in Russia than it is in even the Greek Church.

Now the parish I've been going to is of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdioceses of North America, and it along with the rest of the Antiochian Church feels comparatively "Mary-light". At my Parrish they almost never speak of her, except of course in the liturgy, and I have yet to hear her mentioned in a homily, and all of the religious homilies and statements I have read for Metropolitan Philip and other Bishops and Priests of the archdiocese seem largely devoid of Marion references, though of course they obviously give her great honor.

My question is, are there differences in the ways that different jurisdictions see this? Or perhaps a difference in emphasis from one church to the next?    

My experience of some 50 years of Orthodoxy across various jurisdictions and ethnicities has not noticed any difference in the way the various local Churches approach the Mother of God. There are large number of saints who are not Russian who had great devotion to the Mother of God (St Nektarios of Aegina and St John of Damascus instantly come to mind, and it would not be difficult to quickly come up with many more names). The number of icons, including miracle-working ones, dedicated to her are innumerable, and across all regions and cultures.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 06, 2013, 03:16:59 AM
Quote
while most people in the Orthodox Church celebrate such stories about the Theotokos that are outside Scripture, such stories are not dogma, and not required to be believed.

The only Marian feast of the Church which is found in scripture is the Annunciation. The Mother of God also shares with Christ the feast of the Meeting of the Lord. All other Marian feasts are from Holy Tradition. To say that "such stories are not dogma, and not required to be believed" at best flies in the face of the fact that the Church has seen it fit to sanctify and elevate these events in salvation history to the highest level of worship - as our greatest feasts. At worst, it veers dangerously close to a sola scriptura approach, and a protestant mentality of "pick and choose" which beliefs one adheres to.

They are neither allegory, nor "optional" to believe. No Church feast is based on allegory, and to diminish the reality of these events is to mock the faith.
From what I understand and read from Orthodox sources, the assumption of the Theotokos, though celebrated is not church dogma.  We are not Roman Catholics to dogmatize every single story of the Theotokos.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on March 06, 2013, 03:51:01 AM
Quote
while most people in the Orthodox Church celebrate such stories about the Theotokos that are outside Scripture, such stories are not dogma, and not required to be believed.

The only Marian feast of the Church which is found in scripture is the Annunciation. The Mother of God also shares with Christ the feast of the Meeting of the Lord. All other Marian feasts are from Holy Tradition. To say that "such stories are not dogma, and not required to be believed" at best flies in the face of the fact that the Church has seen it fit to sanctify and elevate these events in salvation history to the highest level of worship - as our greatest feasts. At worst, it veers dangerously close to a sola scriptura approach, and a protestant mentality of "pick and choose" which beliefs one adheres to.

They are neither allegory, nor "optional" to believe. No Church feast is based on allegory, and to diminish the reality of these events is to mock the faith.
From what I understand and read from Orthodox sources, the assumption of the Theotokos, though celebrated is not church dogma.  We are not Roman Catholics to dogmatize every single story of the Theotokos.

The bodily translation of the Mother of God after her death is mentioned frequently in the hymnography of the feast of the Dormition, and in the synaxarion reading at Matins. That means it's an official and accepted Orthodox teaching. Lex orandi, lex credendi.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: choy on March 06, 2013, 03:53:39 AM
I have a somewhat related question, though nothing to do with my concerns.

I've noticed that everything I read that comes out the the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Saints associated therewith, seems to be somewhat 'Mary-heavy', in that they talk about the Theotokos a lot. Saint Seraphim of Sarov comes to mind, who seems to have had an especially close relationship with her. I know there are also many wonder-working icons of the Theotokos in Russia, each sort of 'presiding' over a different area. I also see Russian Orthodox figures such as Saint John of Kronstadt talking about how the Theotokos chose Russia as her special inheritance, and watches over Russia in a special way. The feast of the Protection of the Theotokos I hear is a bigger deal in Russia than it is in even the Greek Church.

Now the parish I've been going to is of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdioceses of North America, and it along with the rest of the Antiochian Church feels comparatively "Mary-light". At my Parrish they almost never speak of her, except of course in the liturgy, and I have yet to hear her mentioned in a homily, and all of the religious homilies and statements I have read for Metropolitan Philip and other Bishops and Priests of the archdiocese seem largely devoid of Marion references, though of course they obviously give her great honor.

My question is, are there differences in the ways that different jurisdictions see this? Or perhaps a difference in emphasis from one church to the next?    

Does that parish have a lot of converts?  I heard of issues regarding parishes that has a lot of converts and their tendency to "scale back" on veneration of the Theotokos because of the Protestant background of most converts.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 06, 2013, 08:58:45 AM
Quote
Orthodox Christians observe the feast of the Dormition or Falling Asleep of the Theotokos on the same day (adjusted to calendar if applicable) as the Roman Catholic Church, and some Orthodox parishes are named "Assumption of the Virgin / Theotokos") although this is more of a Western expression. Orthodox Christians believe, not as a dogma but as an ecclesiastical conviction that the Theotokos was not in any sense of form captive to death and thus translated to the fullnest of life in Christ, body, soul and spirit. This belief in not dogmatized in the Orthodox Churches (as it was done by the Roman Catholic Church in 1950).

A recommended resource is: Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption by Stephen J. Shoemaker.

(emphasis mine)

From http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/answer/12/

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on March 06, 2013, 10:05:23 AM
Quote
Orthodox Christians observe the feast of the Dormition or Falling Asleep of the Theotokos on the same day (adjusted to calendar if applicable) as the Roman Catholic Church, and some Orthodox parishes are named "Assumption of the Virgin / Theotokos") although this is more of a Western expression. Orthodox Christians believe, not as a dogma but as an ecclesiastical conviction that the Theotokos was not in any sense of form captive to death and thus translated to the fullnest of life in Christ, body, soul and spirit. This belief in not dogmatized in the Orthodox Churches (as it was done by the Roman Catholic Church in 1950).

A recommended resource is: Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption by Stephen J. Shoemaker.

(emphasis mine)

From http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/answer/12/

If it's in the hymnography, the whole Church believes it, teaches it and proclaims it. It's a semantic moot point whether we call it dogma or doctrine. Just as the Church proclaims the death and burial of the Mother of God, it also proclaims her bodily translation to heaven.

From the feast of the Dormition:

It was fitting for the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word to see the Dormition of his Mother according to the flesh, the final mystery concerning her, that they might not only see the Ascension of the Saviour from the earth, but also be witnesses to the Translation from earth of her who bore Him. Therefore, carried over from all parts by divine power, they came to Zion and escorted her, as she who is higher than the Cherubim hastened towards heaven. With them we venerate her as she intercedes for our souls.

Come, gathering of the lovers of festivals; come, and let us form a choir; come, let us garland the Church with songs as the Ark of God goes to her rest. For today heaven unfolds its bosom as it receives the one who gave birth to Him whom nothing can contain. The earth, as it gives back the source of life, is robed in blessing and majesty. Angels with Apostles form a choir as they gaze with fear while she who gave birth to the Prince of life is translated from life to life. Let us all worship her as we beg: ‘Sovereign Lady, do not forget your ties of kinship with those who celebrate with faith your all-holy Dormition’.

In giving birth you retained your virginity; in falling asleep, O Mother of God, you did not abandon the world. You passed over into life, you, the Mother of life; and by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.
(troparion of the feast)

The all-honoured choir of the wise Apostles was wondrously assembled to bury with glory your immaculate body, O all-praised Mother of God. With them the multitudes of Angels also raised their song as they reverently praised your Translation, which we celebrate with faith.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy; in the fullness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions.
When the Translation of your immaculate Body was being prepared, the Apostles surrounded your deathbed and looked on you with dread. And as they gazed at your body they were seized with awe, while Peter cried out to you with tears: ‘Immaculate Virgin, I see you, the life of all, lying here outstretched, and I am struck with wonder; for in you the Delight of the life to come made his dwelling. But fervently implore your Son and God that your people may be kept safe from harm’.

Pure Virgin, sprung from mortal loins, your final departure was in conformity with nature; but, as you gave birth to the true life, you have passed over to Him who is the divine life in person.

At your Translation, Mother of God, the hosts of Angels in fear and joy covered with hallowed wings your body that had been spacious enough to receive God.

The King and God of all apportions to you the things above nature; for just as He kept you a Virgin in your giving birth, so He preserved your body incorrupt in the tomb, and He glorified you with Him by a divine Translation, gracing you with honours, as a Son His Mother.

Angels, when they saw the Dormition of the Virgin, were amazed at how the Virgin went up from earth to heaven.

At a divine command the chief Apostles hastened from the ends of the earth to bury you, and when they saw you being taken from the earth to heaven they cried out with joy in Gabriel’s words: Hail, chariot of the whole Godhead; hail, who alone by your childbirth have joined together things on earth with those on high.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: genesisone on March 06, 2013, 10:12:37 AM


Now the parish I've been going to is of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdioceses of North America, and it along with the rest of the Antiochian Church feels comparatively "Mary-light". At my Parrish they almost never speak of her, except of course in the liturgy, and I have yet to hear her mentioned in a homily, and all of the religious homilies and statements I have read for Metropolitan Philip and other Bishops and Priests of the archdiocese seem largely devoid of Marion references, though of course they obviously give her great honor.


Every year the Antiochian Archdiocese holds a Sacred Music Institute for chanters, choir members, choir directors, and other interested persons. In 2011 the theme was "The Theotokos". Unfortunately, I didn't attend that event - 2012 was my first - but that seems to be a pretty good indication that the Theotokos is given a prominent role in parish life.

If your priest is a convert, he may be like me - while I have the highest regard for the Theotokos and will defend veneration of her, the practice of that veneration simply hasn't permeated my life as it might in those who have known only Orthodox Christianity.

I do know personally one convert priest (not my own) who will attribute his entrance into the Orthodox Church directly to his devotion to the Theotokos and her intercessions on his behalf.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 06, 2013, 12:50:00 PM
Quote
Orthodox Christians observe the feast of the Dormition or Falling Asleep of the Theotokos on the same day (adjusted to calendar if applicable) as the Roman Catholic Church, and some Orthodox parishes are named "Assumption of the Virgin / Theotokos") although this is more of a Western expression. Orthodox Christians believe, not as a dogma but as an ecclesiastical conviction that the Theotokos was not in any sense of form captive to death and thus translated to the fullnest of life in Christ, body, soul and spirit. This belief in not dogmatized in the Orthodox Churches (as it was done by the Roman Catholic Church in 1950).

A recommended resource is: Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption by Stephen J. Shoemaker.

(emphasis mine)

From http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/answer/12/

If it's in the hymnography, the whole Church believes it, teaches it and proclaims it. It's a semantic moot point whether we call it dogma or doctrine. Just as the Church proclaims the death and burial of the Mother of God, it also proclaims her bodily translation to heaven.

From the feast of the Dormition:

It was fitting for the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word to see the Dormition of his Mother according to the flesh, the final mystery concerning her, that they might not only see the Ascension of the Saviour from the earth, but also be witnesses to the Translation from earth of her who bore Him. Therefore, carried over from all parts by divine power, they came to Zion and escorted her, as she who is higher than the Cherubim hastened towards heaven. With them we venerate her as she intercedes for our souls.

Come, gathering of the lovers of festivals; come, and let us form a choir; come, let us garland the Church with songs as the Ark of God goes to her rest. For today heaven unfolds its bosom as it receives the one who gave birth to Him whom nothing can contain. The earth, as it gives back the source of life, is robed in blessing and majesty. Angels with Apostles form a choir as they gaze with fear while she who gave birth to the Prince of life is translated from life to life. Let us all worship her as we beg: ‘Sovereign Lady, do not forget your ties of kinship with those who celebrate with faith your all-holy Dormition’.

In giving birth you retained your virginity; in falling asleep, O Mother of God, you did not abandon the world. You passed over into life, you, the Mother of life; and by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.
(troparion of the feast)

The all-honoured choir of the wise Apostles was wondrously assembled to bury with glory your immaculate body, O all-praised Mother of God. With them the multitudes of Angels also raised their song as they reverently praised your Translation, which we celebrate with faith.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy; in the fullness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions.
When the Translation of your immaculate Body was being prepared, the Apostles surrounded your deathbed and looked on you with dread. And as they gazed at your body they were seized with awe, while Peter cried out to you with tears: ‘Immaculate Virgin, I see you, the life of all, lying here outstretched, and I am struck with wonder; for in you the Delight of the life to come made his dwelling. But fervently implore your Son and God that your people may be kept safe from harm’.

Pure Virgin, sprung from mortal loins, your final departure was in conformity with nature; but, as you gave birth to the true life, you have passed over to Him who is the divine life in person.

At your Translation, Mother of God, the hosts of Angels in fear and joy covered with hallowed wings your body that had been spacious enough to receive God.

The King and God of all apportions to you the things above nature; for just as He kept you a Virgin in your giving birth, so He preserved your body incorrupt in the tomb, and He glorified you with Him by a divine Translation, gracing you with honours, as a Son His Mother.

Angels, when they saw the Dormition of the Virgin, were amazed at how the Virgin went up from earth to heaven.

At a divine command the chief Apostles hastened from the ends of the earth to bury you, and when they saw you being taken from the earth to heaven they cried out with joy in Gabriel’s words: Hail, chariot of the whole Godhead; hail, who alone by your childbirth have joined together things on earth with those on high.

I'm going to agree to disagree.  To me if you say it's dogma, then it's denial is heretical, which I don't think is correct.  I've learned from various Orthodox sources, EO and OO, that denial of these particular points does not put you at jeopardy with the Church.  It's a matter of growing into the knowledge of accepting the conviction over a period of spiritual growth, but not as a prerequisite for baptism into the Church.

This will be my last post on the subject so as not to derail the topic further.  I strongly suggest Amrchair Theologian to get off his armchair ( ;) ) and seek a spiritual Orthodox priest for guidance.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: choy on March 06, 2013, 01:47:15 PM
Quote
Orthodox Christians observe the feast of the Dormition or Falling Asleep of the Theotokos on the same day (adjusted to calendar if applicable) as the Roman Catholic Church, and some Orthodox parishes are named "Assumption of the Virgin / Theotokos") although this is more of a Western expression. Orthodox Christians believe, not as a dogma but as an ecclesiastical conviction that the Theotokos was not in any sense of form captive to death and thus translated to the fullnest of life in Christ, body, soul and spirit. This belief in not dogmatized in the Orthodox Churches (as it was done by the Roman Catholic Church in 1950).

A recommended resource is: Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary's Dormition and Assumption by Stephen J. Shoemaker.

(emphasis mine)

From http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/answer/12/

If it's in the hymnography, the whole Church believes it, teaches it and proclaims it. It's a semantic moot point whether we call it dogma or doctrine. Just as the Church proclaims the death and burial of the Mother of God, it also proclaims her bodily translation to heaven.

From the feast of the Dormition:

It was fitting for the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word to see the Dormition of his Mother according to the flesh, the final mystery concerning her, that they might not only see the Ascension of the Saviour from the earth, but also be witnesses to the Translation from earth of her who bore Him. Therefore, carried over from all parts by divine power, they came to Zion and escorted her, as she who is higher than the Cherubim hastened towards heaven. With them we venerate her as she intercedes for our souls.

Come, gathering of the lovers of festivals; come, and let us form a choir; come, let us garland the Church with songs as the Ark of God goes to her rest. For today heaven unfolds its bosom as it receives the one who gave birth to Him whom nothing can contain. The earth, as it gives back the source of life, is robed in blessing and majesty. Angels with Apostles form a choir as they gaze with fear while she who gave birth to the Prince of life is translated from life to life. Let us all worship her as we beg: ‘Sovereign Lady, do not forget your ties of kinship with those who celebrate with faith your all-holy Dormition’.

In giving birth you retained your virginity; in falling asleep, O Mother of God, you did not abandon the world. You passed over into life, you, the Mother of life; and by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.
(troparion of the feast)

The all-honoured choir of the wise Apostles was wondrously assembled to bury with glory your immaculate body, O all-praised Mother of God. With them the multitudes of Angels also raised their song as they reverently praised your Translation, which we celebrate with faith.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy; in the fullness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions.
When the Translation of your immaculate Body was being prepared, the Apostles surrounded your deathbed and looked on you with dread. And as they gazed at your body they were seized with awe, while Peter cried out to you with tears: ‘Immaculate Virgin, I see you, the life of all, lying here outstretched, and I am struck with wonder; for in you the Delight of the life to come made his dwelling. But fervently implore your Son and God that your people may be kept safe from harm’.

Pure Virgin, sprung from mortal loins, your final departure was in conformity with nature; but, as you gave birth to the true life, you have passed over to Him who is the divine life in person.

At your Translation, Mother of God, the hosts of Angels in fear and joy covered with hallowed wings your body that had been spacious enough to receive God.

The King and God of all apportions to you the things above nature; for just as He kept you a Virgin in your giving birth, so He preserved your body incorrupt in the tomb, and He glorified you with Him by a divine Translation, gracing you with honours, as a Son His Mother.

Angels, when they saw the Dormition of the Virgin, were amazed at how the Virgin went up from earth to heaven.

At a divine command the chief Apostles hastened from the ends of the earth to bury you, and when they saw you being taken from the earth to heaven they cried out with joy in Gabriel’s words: Hail, chariot of the whole Godhead; hail, who alone by your childbirth have joined together things on earth with those on high.

I'm going to agree to disagree.  To me if you say it's dogma, then it's denial is heretical, which I don't think is correct.  I've learned from various Orthodox sources, EO and OO, that denial of these particular points does not put you at jeopardy with the Church.  It's a matter of growing into the knowledge of accepting the conviction over a period of spiritual growth, but not as a prerequisite for baptism into the Church.

This will be my last post on the subject so as not to derail the topic further.  I strongly suggest Amrchair Theologian to get off his armchair ( ;) ) and seek a spiritual Orthodox priest for guidance.

But everything we say during Liturgy is required belief.  You can't be part of the Liturgy saying (chanting) something and not believing it, or saying "Amen" to something that is "optional".
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 06, 2013, 02:34:29 PM
So when we chant the slaying of the dragon by St George, that's dogma?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on March 07, 2013, 02:47:10 PM
Does that parish have a lot of converts?  I heard of issues regarding parishes that has a lot of converts and their tendency to "scale back" on veneration of the Theotokos because of the Protestant background of most converts.

Actually, yes. I think most of the people there are former protestants. The priest though is cradle Orthodox, I think, though he was brought up by a protestant convert.... actually, I don't know if I should say this on the internet, but... the Priest there is the son of the late Fr. Peter E Gilquist who wrote the book Becoming Orthodox, and he was somewhat famous. But I haven't been going there long enough to know exactly what all they do, nor do I know what the correct proportionality is for talking about Christ vs talking about the Theotokos. I just know that from what little I've seen, for the most part they talk a lot more about Christ, and relatively little about the Theotokos. But then again, that might change once we start approaching the next Marion feast.  
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: sheenj on March 07, 2013, 02:53:06 PM
So when we chant the slaying of the dragon by St George, that's dogma?

IMO St. George defeating a dragon is dogma. Who or what that dragon is may not be.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on March 07, 2013, 03:16:53 PM
I think a dogma is technically something that is affirmed in an ecumenical council. To the point that you're under an anathema if you don't acknowledge it.

The only 'Marion' dogmas I know about are that she is the Mother of God, and I also heard you're under an anathema if you proclaim that the Theotokos isn't Ever Virgin. The wording didn't even say you had to believe it, just don't speak against it.

That said, I don't know why you'd want to be Orthodox if you didn't believe it.  
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: leap of faith on March 08, 2013, 10:49:17 AM
AT, you've received answers much more thorough and eloquent than anything that I can offer.  Like many other converts, I also struggled with this. I had discovered the history (The Orthodox Veneration of Mary by St. John Maximovitch was very helpful.) I also read pretty much every thread here on the topic, among other things.  I decided that the Church had proven herself as being so very reliable and cohesive that I would watch but wouldn't further feed my doubts, allowing God time to open my eyes and ears.  For me, the turning point occurred when I quieted my mind and opened the prayer books.  It is through the prayer books that I came to a wonderful peace about the Theotokos.  I prayed as often as I could the Akathist to the Theotokos.  Not only did I experience the reality that she always leads us to her Son, but that she truly is and does what the Church claims.  I asked for help utilizing the well-known scripture, "I believe, help me with my unbelief." I came to introduce myself to her through the Orthodox Prayer Books...which seems quite appropriate.  I continue to get to know and embrace her, but it's through those prayers that my journey truly began.

I also had to accept that my beloved family was not going to fully understand unless, prayerfully, they come to Orthodoxy.  Again, as it is with so many other things, the veneration of the Theotokos and who she is within the Church must be experienced because history and scriptural basis will take them and us only so far.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on March 08, 2013, 11:08:57 AM
I decided that the Church had proven herself as being so very reliable and cohesive that I would watch but wouldn't further feed my doubts, allowing God time to open my eyes and ears.  For me, the turning point occurred when I quieted my mind and opened the prayer books.  It is through the prayer books that I came to a wonderful peace about the Theotokos.  I prayed as often as I could the Akathist to the Theotokos.  Not only did I experience the reality that she always leads us to her Son, but that she truly is and does what the Church claims.  I asked for help utilizing the well-known scripture, "I believe, help me with my unbelief." I came to introduce myself to her through the Orthodox Prayer Books...which seems quite appropriate.  I continue to get to know and embrace her, but it's through those prayers that my journey truly began.

...Again, as it is with so many other things, the veneration of the Theotokos and who she is within the Church must be experienced because history and scriptural basis will take them and us only so far.

And there you have it. Thank you.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on March 25, 2013, 03:14:03 PM
So it's been a while since I've posted. I realized I was becoming somewhat argumentative and I think what it comes down to is the simple fact that sometimes the internet is not the best place to hash out theological matters. Forums have a way of making people argumentative, and I figured I would give it a while and just pray about my difficulties. Well I must report, I think a part of me is starting to understand the Orthodox Church's high veneration for the Theotokos, and I thought I would share what has occurred to me. I'm not at the point where I can honestly say I completely agree with it, but I think I've made a breakthrough in understating it.  

For one thing, I was reading in the so called Amplified Bible, which is claimed to help readers see some of the finer points of the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible that aren't always obvious in the English translations. And I was surprised to see that the passages in Luke where Mary is referred to as "blessed among women" were rendered "more blessed than any other woman", which kind of went against how I had always interpreted the phrase.

I got the thinking about it, and I realized that indeed, if Jesus is God, as I believe He is, it makes since to say that not only is His mother more blessed than any other woman, but more blessed than any man or angel or any created thing. God chose her to provide Him a womb, made her His link to humanity, was made perfectly man, yet remaining perfectly God, through her.

That in turn got me to thinking about how she could be seen as a forrunner and prototype for the whole church. She heard the Gospel proclaimed by the archangel, she believed and in humility willingly cooperated with the grace of God. God the spirit came upon her and God the Son lived within her and was born of her. She became a holy temple of God, and offered Christ to the world, even as all true Christians are called to be a temple of the Holy Spirit and to present Him to the world in their lives. Mary was the first Christian!

On that note, I think the only thing that I'm still not sure about is some of the language that refers to her as though she were the great champion/defender/leader of all Christians, which I am not sure I understand. Take for example this Kontakion of the Annunciation:

"To thee, the Champion Leader, we thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos; but as thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do thou deliver us, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, thou Bride Unwedded."

In some ways though, I think the reason I am unsure of this kind of language has to do with the fact that A: I'm looking at is out of context with the rest of the Church's liturgical hymns and statements, and B: because it's about the Virgin Mary, so naturally I assume it's expressing a kind of worship, just because I've always assumed that's what's behind all veneration for Mary. But take a look at this hymn honoring Saint Raphael of Brooklyn:

"Rejoice, O Father Raphael, Adornment of the Holy Church! Thou art Champion of the true Faith, Seeker of the lost, Consolation of the oppressed, Father to orphans, and Friend of the poor, Peacemaker and Good Shepherd, Joy of all the Orthodox, Son of Antioch, Boast of America: Intercede with Christ God for us and for all who honor thee."

I realized hearing this hymn, that it didn't bother me at all, because I already know that the Orthodox Church doesn't worship him. The Church honors him, and so these statements aren't meant to indicate that he is THE champion of the faith, and THE Seeker of the lost, and THE peacemaker and THE good shephard. All it's saying is that in his life, he was a champion of the faith, a seeker of the lost, a peacemaker and a good shepherd, and so he is has all of these Christ-like qualities displayed in his life. It's not idolatry to point them out then. And so in the same way, the Theotokos is the Champion Leader, not because she has power even over Christ, but because she showed us the way in following Him, and through Him conquered all. All of the Saints are Champion Leaders in a since, though Mary in a special and preeminent way perhaps. Bit that doesn't make her THE Champion Leader, and I think that becomes clear when you see the hymn in it's proper context with the rest of what the Church is saying. I the same way, all of the saints have, I think, an invincible might in Christ, but this of course does not make them objects of worship, and saying this about the Theotokos is not necessarily making her into a goddess. I think it's just a matter of understanding the veneration of Saints and putting such statements in proper context. But correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.    
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: SolEX01 on March 25, 2013, 03:45:02 PM
On that note, I think the only thing that I'm still not sure about is some of the language that refers to her as though she were the great champion/defender/leader of all Christians, which I am not sure I understand. Take for example this Kontakion of the Annunciation:

"To thee, the Champion Leader, we thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos; but as thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do thou deliver us, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, thou Bride Unwedded."

In some ways though, I think the reason I am unsure of this kind of language has to do with the fact that A: I'm looking at is out of context with the rest of the Church's liturgical hymns and statements, and B: because it's about the Virgin Mary, so naturally I assume it's expressing a kind of worship, just because I've always assumed that's what's behind all veneration for Mary.

It's in context with the rest of the Church's liturgical hymns and statements.  In the past, masses of people prayed to the Virgin Mary for deliverance from enemies.  The Virgin Mary intercedes to Christ for deliverance from not our physical enemies, but our spiritual enemies as well.

But take a look at this hymn honoring Saint Raphael of Brooklyn:

"Rejoice, O Father Raphael, Adornment of the Holy Church! Thou art Champion of the true Faith, Seeker of the lost, Consolation of the oppressed, Father to orphans, and Friend of the poor, Peacemaker and Good Shepherd, Joy of all the Orthodox, Son of Antioch, Boast of America: Intercede with Christ God for us and for all who honor thee."

I realized hearing this hymn, that it didn't bother me at all, because I already know that the Orthodox Church doesn't worship him. The Church honors him, and so these statements aren't meant to indicate that he is THE champion of the faith, and THE Seeker of the lost, and THE peacemaker and THE good shephard. All it's saying is that in his life, he was a champion of the faith, a seeker of the lost, a peacemaker and a good shepherd, and so he is has all of these Christ-like qualities displayed in his life. It's not idolatry to point them out then. And so in the same way, the Theotokos is the Champion Leader, not because she has power even over Christ,

The Virgin Mary is between Christ and us.  She intercedes to her son, like the Wedding at Cana.  The Virgin Mary is akin to a high-level intermediary because she is Mother of God.

but because she showed us the way in following Him, and through Him conquered all. All of the Saints are Champion Leaders in a since, though Mary in a special and preeminent way perhaps. Bit that doesn't make her THE Champion Leader, and I think that becomes clear when you see the hymn in it's proper context with the rest of what the Church is saying. I the same way, all of the saints have, I think, an invincible might in Christ, but this of course does not make them objects of worship, and saying this about the Theotokos is not necessarily making her into a goddess. I think it's just a matter of understanding the veneration of Saints and putting such statements in proper context. But correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.

The Virgin Mary is the world's first Christian.  She is a Champion Leader from that perspective.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on March 25, 2013, 09:02:28 PM
So it's been a while since I've posted. I realized I was becoming somewhat argumentative and I think what it comes down to is the simple fact that sometimes the internet is not the best place to hash out theological matters. Forums have a way of making people argumentative, and I figured I would give it a while and just pray about my difficulties. Well I must report, I think a part of me is starting to understand the Orthodox Church's high veneration for the Theotokos, and I thought I would share what has occurred to me. I'm not at the point where I can honestly say I completely agree with it, but I think I've made a breakthrough in understating it. 

For one thing, I was reading in the so called Amplified Bible, which is claimed to help readers see some of the finer points of the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible that aren't always obvious in the English translations. And I was surprised to see that the passages in Luke where Mary is referred to as "blessed among women" were rendered "more blessed than any other woman", which kind of went against how I had always interpreted the phrase.

I got the thinking about it, and I realized that indeed, if Jesus is God, as I believe He is, it makes since to say that not only is His mother more blessed than any other woman, but more blessed than any man or angel or any created thing. God chose her to provide Him a womb, made her His link to humanity, was made perfectly man, yet remaining perfectly God, through her.

That in turn got me to thinking about how she could be seen as a forrunner and prototype for the whole church. She heard the Gospel proclaimed by the archangel, she believed and in humility willingly cooperated with the grace of God. God the spirit came upon her and God the Son lived within her and was born of her. She became a holy temple of God, and offered Christ to the world, even as all true Christians are called to be a temple of the Holy Spirit and to present Him to the world in their lives. Mary was the first Christian!

On that note, I think the only thing that I'm still not sure about is some of the language that refers to her as though she were the great champion/defender/leader of all Christians, which I am not sure I understand. Take for example this Kontakion of the Annunciation:

"To thee, the Champion Leader, we thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos; but as thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do thou deliver us, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, thou Bride Unwedded."

In some ways though, I think the reason I am unsure of this kind of language has to do with the fact that A: I'm looking at is out of context with the rest of the Church's liturgical hymns and statements, and B: because it's about the Virgin Mary, so naturally I assume it's expressing a kind of worship, just because I've always assumed that's what's behind all veneration for Mary. But take a look at this hymn honoring Saint Raphael of Brooklyn:

"Rejoice, O Father Raphael, Adornment of the Holy Church! Thou art Champion of the true Faith, Seeker of the lost, Consolation of the oppressed, Father to orphans, and Friend of the poor, Peacemaker and Good Shepherd, Joy of all the Orthodox, Son of Antioch, Boast of America: Intercede with Christ God for us and for all who honor thee."

I realized hearing this hymn, that it didn't bother me at all, because I already know that the Orthodox Church doesn't worship him. The Church honors him, and so these statements aren't meant to indicate that he is THE champion of the faith, and THE Seeker of the lost, and THE peacemaker and THE good shephard. All it's saying is that in his life, he was a champion of the faith, a seeker of the lost, a peacemaker and a good shepherd, and so he is has all of these Christ-like qualities displayed in his life. It's not idolatry to point them out then. And so in the same way, the Theotokos is the Champion Leader, not because she has power even over Christ, but because she showed us the way in following Him, and through Him conquered all. All of the Saints are Champion Leaders in a since, though Mary in a special and preeminent way perhaps. Bit that doesn't make her THE Champion Leader, and I think that becomes clear when you see the hymn in it's proper context with the rest of what the Church is saying. I the same way, all of the saints have, I think, an invincible might in Christ, but this of course does not make them objects of worship, and saying this about the Theotokos is not necessarily making her into a goddess. I think it's just a matter of understanding the veneration of Saints and putting such statements in proper context. But correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.     

I agree...

To add:  Where does the Theotokos and St. Raphael and all the saints get their "championship", their "leadership", their "Shepherdness", their "invincibility", their "brideness", their "consolations", their "peacemaking", their "joy", their "motherhood", their "fatherhood", etc.?  All of this comes through divine grace from Christ Himself first and foremost.  We are in fact acknowledging the deification of the saints by pointing out their qualities they have achieved from Christ, who is the source of all goodness and grace.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on March 26, 2013, 08:17:20 AM
As I began my journey to Orthodoxy, I too was uncomfortable with the flowery language used in veneration of the Theotokos and the Saints.  One thing that kind of put it in perspective for me is that when many of these hymns and venerations were written, it was not unusual to address dignitaries and important people in such a manner.  Today, as an American, I would not say:  "Hail Barak, decendent in the lineage of Obama, prince of power, guardian of the poor, defender of the citizens of the realm. Thou art the most excellent king of all the earth, magnanimous and worth of our praise, give heed to our petition."  Instead, we say "Hello, Mr. President".  Our minimalist modern style is naturally uncomfortable with the ancient phraseology used in honoring those who have gone before us.  Rather than abandoning it, however, we should recognize that it is language of respect and while it may not be how we typically converse in today's modern society, it is good to show reverence to those who are entitled to it.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Fotina02 on March 26, 2013, 10:17:54 AM
Feast of the Annunciation + March 25

Verily, Gabriel did come to thee, disclosing the purpose which was before the ages, hailing thee and saying, Rejoice O unseeded land! Rejoice, O unburning bush! Rejoice, O depth inaccessible to vision! Rejoice, O bridge leading to the heavens! Rejoice, O lofty ladder whom Jacob did behold! Rejoice, O jar of divine manna! Rejoice, O dissolution of the curse! Rejoice, O recall of Adam! The Lord is with thee.
Vespers of the Feast, Tone 6

Rejoice, O Theotokos, O deliverance of Adam from the curse! Rejoice, O chaste Theotokos! Rejoice, O living bush! Rejoice, O lamp! Rejoice, O throne! Rejoice, O ladder and door! Rejoice, O divine chariot! Rejoice, O bright cloud! Rejoice, O temple, O most-gilded jar! Rejoice, O mountain! Rejoice, O tabernacle and table! Rejoice, O deliverer of Eve!
Orthros of the Feast, Tone 2

St. Gregory the Wonderworker
"For of all generations she alone has risen as a virgin pure in body and in spirit; and she alone bears Him who bears all things on His word. Nor is it only the beauty of this holy one in body that calls forth our admiration, but also the innate virtue of her soul. Wherefore also the angels addressed her first with the salutation, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee, and no spouse of earth;" He Himself is with thee who is the Lord of sanctification, the Father of purity, the Author of incorruption, and the Bestower of liberty, the Curator of salvation, and the Steward and Provider of the true peace, who out of the virgin earth made man, and out of man's side formed Eve in addition. Even this Lord is with thee, and on the other hand also is of thee.

Come, therefore, beloved brethren, and let us take up the angelic strain, and to the utmost of our ability return the due meed of praise, saying, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee!" For it is thine truly to rejoice, seeing that the grace of God, as he knows, has chosen to dwell with thee-the Lord of glory dwelling with the handmaiden; "He that is fairer than the children of men " with the fair virgin; He who sanctifies all things with the undefiled. God is with thee, and with thee also is the perfect man in whom dwells the whole fullness of the Godhead.

Hail, thou that art highly favored, the fountain of the light that lightens all who believe upon Him! Hail, thou that art highly favored, the rising of the rational Sun, and the undefiled flower of Life! Hail, thou that art highly favored, the mead of sweet savour! Hail, thou that art highly favored, the ever-blooming vine, that makes glad the souls of those who honor thee!

Hail, thou that art highly favored!-the soil that, all untilled, bears bounteous fruit: for thou hast brought forth in accordance with the law of nature indeed, as it goes with us, and by the set time of practice, and yet in a way beyond nature, or rather above nature, by reason that God the Word from above took His abode in thee, and formed the new Adam in thy holy womb, and inasmuch as the Holy Ghost gave the power of conception to the holy virgin; and the reality of His body was assumed from her body.

And just as the pearl comes of the two natures, namely lightning and water, the occult signs of the sea; so also our Lord Jesus Christ proceeds, without fusion and without mutation, from the pure, and chaste, and undefiled, and holy Virgin Mary; perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, in all things equal to the Father, and in all things consubstantial with us, apart from sin. Most of the holy fathers, and patriarchs, and prophets desired to see Him, and to be eye-witnesses of Him, but did not attaint hereto. And some of them by visions beheld Him in type, and darkly; others, again, were privileged to hear the divine voice through the medium of the cloud, and were favored with sights of holy angels; but to Mary the pure virgin alone did the archangel Gabriel manifest himself luminously, bringing her the glad address, "Hail, thou that art highly favored!" And thus she received the word, and in the due time of the fulfillment according to the body's course she brought forth the priceless pearl.

Come, then, ye too, dearly beloved, and let us chant the melody which has been taught us by the inspired harp of David, and say, "Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest; Thou, and the ark of Thy sanctuary." For the holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary."

http://www.antiochian.org/node/22550
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Nicene on March 27, 2013, 11:35:29 PM
I think the better question is why is the woman who bore God into this world (IE Theotokos, Bearer of God or mother of God) not venerated in other churches? We can also extend this to the saints. Should we not recognise the good things God has used these people for? Their sacrifice and life as examples and praise them as God has praised them? For me, to ignore these saints and the theotokos (as alot of protestants ultimately do) is to Ignore what God has done in them and this is unacceptable. All of our praises to saints is ultimately to God, to this end. Just like the title theotokos is for the sake of Christ and not for the sake of the virgin Mary alone.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: lovesupreme on March 28, 2013, 12:20:36 AM
I think the better question is why is the woman who bore God into this world (IE Theotokos, Bearer of God or mother of God) not venerated in other churches? We can also extend this to the saints. Should we not recognise the good things God has used these people for? Their sacrifice and life as examples and praise them as God has praised them? For me, to ignore these saints and the theotokos (as alot of protestants ultimately do) is to Ignore what God has done in them and this is unacceptable. All of our praises to saints is ultimately to God, to this end. Just like the title theotokos is for the sake of Christ and not for the sake of the virgin Mary alone.

I think most protestants would say that the people we revere as saints cannot even hear us from heaven. Also, there is the argument that any "glory" you are bestowing to another person is glory you could be bestowing to God. This, of course, ignores the teaching that we revere our beloved saints solely for the glory of God. Also, most protestants object to the idea of "intermediaries"; that, in praising a saint, we are somehow trying to curry favor with them so that they will bless us or grant us powers.

Personally, as soon as I started seeing the saints as a part of the Holy Church, our family, I stopped worrying about these things. To honor someone in the King's court is to do honor to the King Himself. Also, the Blessed Theotokos, by the grace of God, is entitled to the highest honors as she is literally the Mother of our Lord, the Queen of the Kingdom.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on March 28, 2013, 09:32:17 AM
For me, to ignore these saints and the theotokos (as alot of protestants ultimately do) is to Ignore what God has done in them and this is unacceptable.

Good point.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: JamesR on March 28, 2013, 04:55:12 PM
My only problem with this is that I was raised a heathen Protestant, therefore, paying so much veneration to the Theotokos and commemorating her at almost every service and prayer in the Church is very foreign to me. I wasn't indoctrinated my entire life to believe that she was so special, holy and inspirational. I don't get the reverence and fascination that people have with her. I could see it with other Saints because they have inspirational stories, but I really don't get it with the Theotokos. I don't mean to disrespect her, but all she did was bear a child. If she didn't want to do it, I'm sure God could have found some other women to do it. She didn't slay any dragons, heal tons of people or face torture and martyrdom like other Saints.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Arachne on March 28, 2013, 04:57:59 PM
The Incarnate Word was not 'a child'. ::)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on March 28, 2013, 06:52:27 PM
The Incarnate Word was not 'a child'. ::)

Oh yes He was.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on March 28, 2013, 06:53:41 PM
I wasn't indoctrinated my entire life to believe that she was so special, holy and inspirational.

I like Fr. Thom's formulation, perhaps he is quoting another, I cannot remember:

The Theotokos is not the exception, she is the rule.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: thethinker on March 28, 2013, 07:31:57 PM
From my book, FWIW:


Apart from the radiance of the stars, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the sun and the moon, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the angels in heaven, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the holy prophets, our salvation would still be possible. Apart from the apostles and saints, our salvation would still be possible. And yes - dare I say it - apart from the Holy Bible itself, our salvation would still be possible. But apart from the Panagia, the Theotokos, Our Lady the most Holy Virgin Maryam, our salvation would never have been possible. Because of her righteousness, virtue, and unparalleled faith, God chose her to be the vessel of His Incarnation. And unless God had been born of a woman, then our redemption could not have occurred. Therefore we glorify, honor, and venerate the Virgin St. Maryam – not because she is our Savior, but because apart from her we would have no Savior.
 
[While it is true that God in His omnipotence did not necessarily need the Virgin Mary to become a man and provide salvation, He nevertheless chose Our Lady to be the vessel of His Incarnation. Therefore, in order to fully understand the message of the Gospel, we need to understand the role of the Virgin Mary.]



Selam


Yet she did not really understand who Jesus was or why He came:

48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
 
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

Had she really known who Jesus was and why He came she would have understood His statement. And she would not have kept those things in her heart (vs. 51).

And what if, because she was driven by her anxiety, had been able to control or direct Jesus to act before the time (John 2:1-4)?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: PeterTheAleut on March 28, 2013, 10:50:07 PM
The Incarnate Word was not 'a child'. ::)
So He was born a fully grown man? :o And to think that His Mother gave birth without pain.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on March 28, 2013, 11:05:26 PM
The Incarnate Word was not 'a child'. ::)
So He was born a fully grown man? :o And to think that the Theotokos gave birth without pain.

Arachne can answer for herself, of course, but my take on what she said was that the Incarnate Word was not just any, ordinary, child, in response to James' rather dismissive statement of "all she did was bear a child".

I'm sure I'm not alone in my understanding.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: PeterTheAleut on March 28, 2013, 11:09:53 PM
The Incarnate Word was not 'a child'. ::)
So He was born a fully grown man? :o And to think that the Theotokos gave birth without pain.

Arachne can answer for herself, of course, but my take on what she said was that the Incarnate Word was not just any, ordinary, child, in response to James' rather dismissive statement of "all she did was bear a child".

I'm sure I'm not alone in my understanding.
Yeah, that's pretty much what I understood her to be saying. It's just that the words she actually used left her wide open to all sorts of smart alecky corrections. ;D
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on March 28, 2013, 11:14:21 PM
The Incarnate Word was not 'a child'. ::)
So He was born a fully grown man? :o And to think that the Theotokos gave birth without pain.

Arachne can answer for herself, of course, but my take on what she said was that the Incarnate Word was not just any, ordinary, child, in response to James' rather dismissive statement of "all she did was bear a child".

I'm sure I'm not alone in my understanding.

The appropriate rejoinder would have been:

She did not just bear a child.

Her statement has heretical implications. Frankly, I have no idea what Arachne means given other posts here.

And really, people do like avoid much of the humanity of Christ and His mother.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on March 28, 2013, 11:20:25 PM

The appropriate rejoinder would have been:

She did not just bear a child.


You fall short. The appropriate rejoinder would have been she did not bear just any child.

Frankly, I have no idea what Arachne means given other posts here.

Perhaps you have trouble understanding her because she's British.  ;)

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: PeterTheAleut on March 28, 2013, 11:24:48 PM

The appropriate rejoinder would have been:

She did not just bear a child.


You fall short. The appropriate rejoinder would have been she did not bear just any child.
Actually, you're both right. Mary did much more with her life than just bear a child, and the Child she bore was not just any child.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Arachne on March 29, 2013, 07:22:35 AM
Well, smart alecks must have their fix from time to time as well. :P

But really, 'all she did was bear a child' is a downright insulting thing even for an ordinary mother of an ordinary child, let alone the extraordinary Mother of the Incarnate Word.

And James? The other day you were going, like:

You mean like when we act like we don't think she's a goddess? Gasp! How horrible!!

I don't think that's treating her like a goddess; I think the problem lies in culture. America is very, eh, what's the word? Lazy and casual. The most respect we show to someone is a handshake. So when you see others showing respect to someone in a different way, you immediately assume worship.

Quote
Did you ever think about how it sounds to us when you call her all-holy, most blessed and glorious virgin pure, immaculate lady, queen of all, more radiant than the rays of sun and higher than the heavens, superior to angels, brighter than the firmament and purer than the sun's light, and so on and so forth?

It sounds pretty nice, thank you very much. Much better than when Protestants just disrespect her by casually saying "mary" or going to great lengths to minimalize her role in the Incarnation because of rabid anti-Catholicism.

Make up your mind, dude. ???
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Andrew21091 on April 04, 2013, 12:54:20 AM
I don't mean to disrespect her, but all she did was bear a child.

Just a child?

(http://jonathanscorner.com/images/icon_creation_stars.jpg)

She carried Our Lord incarnate in her womb for nine months. How does that not make her important?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Andrew21091 on April 04, 2013, 01:22:39 AM
My only problem with this is that I was raised a heathen Protestant, therefore, paying so much veneration to the Theotokos and commemorating her at almost every service and prayer in the Church is very foreign to me. I wasn't indoctrinated my entire life to believe that she was so special, holy and inspirational. I don't get the reverence and fascination that people have with her. I could see it with other Saints because they have inspirational stories, but I really don't get it with the Theotokos. I don't mean to disrespect her, but all she did was bear a child. If she didn't want to do it, I'm sure God could have found some other women to do it. She didn't slay any dragons, heal tons of people or face torture and martyrdom like other Saints.

I've seen your thread about how you told your mom that you were interesting in becoming a monastic. But if you have a problem with devotion to the Mother of God, then perhaps a monastery isn't for you. In my experience, monastics have a very strong devotion to the Mother of God. They not only commemorate her during the services, but also read canons and Akathists daily to her. When I stayed at one monastery, the abbot told me how important it was to seek her help and he even recommended singing the Akathist to her every day. Not to mention, the Holy Mountain is dedicated to the Mother of God; referring to it as the Garden of the Panagia ('Most Holy', an affectionate title that many Greeks refer to Mary as). She holds a very special place in the lives of Orthodox monastics. Just look and the lives of some great monastic Saints such as St. Seraphim of Sarov, or the Optina Elders who all had a very strong devotion to the Mother of God.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on May 24, 2013, 03:32:00 AM
Well, I've not been posting for a while, but I wanted to drop back in with some observations and more questions.

I don't think I mentioned it, but I've been reading The Life of the Virgin Mary the Theotokos from Holy Apostles Convent, and I must say it's quite an interesting read. I can honestly say that I've come to agree with, or at least understand, a lot of the things I'm reading from the hymns and writings of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, at least with respect to their understanding of the supreme significance of Mary in the economy of Salvation in facilitating the incarnation. I think, no, I know now that there's a LOT of things that protestants miss in their way of understanding her, and it's had the effect of weakening their overall understanding of the Incarnation and the implications thereof, and that's a shame.

That said, I'm still struggling with certain aspects of it. Mainly two things... The tradition of her Dormition and Assumption seems to lack the super-early written attestation that other traditions of the Virgin Mary seem to have, thus making it harder for me to feel 'safe' trusting in the idea. And also, I still don't care for some of the language used in some Orthodox prayers and services with respect to the Theotokos. It just doesn't make sense to me and feels too sentimental and often misleading from a theological standpoint. Let me give another example, this time from the Akathist service...

Quote
Priest: Our most gracious Queen, our hope, O Theotokos, Who receivest the orphaned and art the intercessor for the stranger; the joy of those in sorrow, protectress of the wronged, see our distress, see our affliction! Help us, for we are helpless. Feed us, for we are strangers and pilgrims. Thou knowest our offences; forgive them, and resolve them as Thou dost will. For we know no other help but Thee, no other intercessor, no gracious comforter, only Thee, O Theotokos to guard and protect us for ages of ages. Amen. 

I understand about her allegedly guarding and priotecting us through her intersession, and I can be comfortable with that (though I wouldn't use that wording myself. God protects, the saints only pray for it), but several things about this I just don't understand: Does the Virgin Mary forgive sins? No other Help? No other intercessor? No other Comforter? What about the Holy Trinity? What about the other Saints and Angels of God?

It almost feels to me like there has been a gradual shift in the way that the Orthodox Church has been viewing the Virgin Mary's intercessory role over the course of the last few centuries. It feels like if you look at some of the things that were being said, say, between the 6th and 15th centuries, you get this idea that they were starting to think of the Theotokos as standing directly between us and Christ, the mystical 'neck" of the Body of Christ through whom we must go to get to God, and only if she wills it, thus making her 'our only hope' of salvation, whereas nowadays I don't really get the sense that that's how most Orthodox understand it. They say she aids us through her powerful intersessions, but that's about it. No longer directly in our path the Christ, but at our side helping us a long. And yet the remnants of this more medieval view just seem to be sort of 'stuck' in the liturgical texts. When modern Orthodox teachers and apologists and so forth try to explain what some of these enigmatic statements mean they say "Well, we're not really saying that, we're just asking her to pray for us, and it's more of a sentimental gesture than a theological statement", and so forth. I don't know, but that's just the vague impression that I get sometimes. I would appreciate any clarifying responses I can get. :)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on May 24, 2013, 04:11:15 AM
I don't mean to disrespect her, but all she did was bear a child.

Just a child?

(http://jonathanscorner.com/images/icon_creation_stars.jpg)

She carried Our Lord incarnate in her womb for nine months. How does that not make her important?

I think what I was driving at is that if we are judging the glory and honor of a saint based solely on what they had to suffer and sacrifice for the Kingdom of God, I don't think it can be said that Mary suffered and sacrificed more than any of them. But I admit what I said was rooted in ignorance that I've since had to really think twice about it. For some reason the essential and obvious point of who Mary is was just completely escaping me. She may not have suffered a horrible martyrdom, but it's not about that. It's about cooperation with the grace of God, and her cooperation was really an essential component in the salvation of Human Kind. I see that now. I think it's just because I'm the product of a Christianity that completely ignores Mary in every way possible just because they're fearful of opening the door to what they feel are idolatrous excesses of Marion devotion. But I see now that that's really a shame. She did much more than bare a child.

Jesus is infinitely more than just a child, and thus Mary is infinitely more than simply a mother.  
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 24, 2013, 06:44:08 AM
She may not have suffered a horrible martyrdom, but it's not about that.

Yeah, lovingly watching your son get nailed to a cross is a picnic.

Whatever legendary material you take to understand Mary's life, the underlying theme, is absolute obedience to God.

Try being obedient for an hour, absolutely.

For most, it would probably be hell.

So yeah, she is pretty much the greatest martyr.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 24, 2013, 11:05:10 AM
I understand about her allegedly guarding and priotecting us through her intersession, and I can be comfortable with that (though I wouldn't use that wording myself. God protects, the saints only pray for it), but several things about this I just don't understand: Does the Virgin Mary forgive sins? No other Help? No other intercessor? No other Comforter? What about the Holy Trinity? What about the other Saints and Angels of God?

A lot of this language is hyperbole; there is certainly theology behind it, but its origin is more from "the heart" than "the mind".  If someone does me a big favor and I respond "Thanks, you're the greatest!", I'm not making a dogmatic statement regarding their superhuman dignity--it's a way of describing my regard for that person and what they mean to me.  If a man tells his wife she's the most beautiful woman that ever walked the earth, most of the time that's factually not true: separated from the context of that relationship, he could probably pick out twenty women more beautiful from some "objective aesthetic" perspective, but for him, they're not even a blip on the radar.  It comes from the heart, not from the eyes or mind.   

It's certainly true that the saints in general and Our Lady in particular intercede for us with God, and God answers the prayers, does the protecting, etc.  Since prayer ultimately comes from God and not through our own initiative alone, we can even say that this intercession comes from God, and they're just responding to the call to pray.  On the flip side, their prayer is already their participation in God's saving work, and it's not impossible for God to allow his saints to "do some of the heavy lifting".  In fact, you see that in Scripture...in both OT and NT, holy people "do miracles"--the power comes from God, and the glory ultimately goes to God, but in some real sense it is ascribed to themselves without prejudice to God, because God is glorified in his saints. 

Quote
It almost feels to me like there has been a gradual shift in the way that the Orthodox Church has been viewing the Virgin Mary's intercessory role over the course of the last few centuries. It feels like if you look at some of the things that were being said, say, between the 6th and 15th centuries, you get this idea that they were starting to think of the Theotokos as standing directly between us and Christ, the mystical 'neck" of the Body of Christ through whom we must go to get to God, and only if she wills it, thus making her 'our only hope' of salvation, whereas nowadays I don't really get the sense that that's how most Orthodox understand it. They say she aids us through her powerful intersessions, but that's about it. No longer directly in our path the Christ, but at our side helping us a long. And yet the remnants of this more medieval view just seem to be sort of 'stuck' in the liturgical texts. When modern Orthodox teachers and apologists and so forth try to explain what some of these enigmatic statements mean they say "Well, we're not really saying that, we're just asking her to pray for us, and it's more of a sentimental gesture than a theological statement", and so forth. I don't know, but that's just the vague impression that I get sometimes. I would appreciate any clarifying responses I can get. :)

The liturgical texts are a source of theology; they are, as another poster wrote elsewhere, the distillation of the Church's faith expounded by Scripture, interpreted by the Fathers, lived out by the saints.  Since they represent the voice of the Church in prayer to God, and it is the Holy Spirit from whom prayer flows, we trust the liturgical texts in a special way not to mislead us.  So even these prayers and hymns you seem to have trouble with are not problematic in and of themselves; we are missing something which prevents us from understanding them.

Your answer is already in what you wrote.  You read these texts and find terms like "no other intercessor", "no other Comforter", and ideas like the Virgin's "forgiving of sins", and they scandalize you a little.  I don't know where you're coming from, but all the people I know in my life who had/have the same issues are either Orthodox who are learning their faith anew with a strict allegiance to Scripture, or other Christians with the same allegiance.  They see "no other intercessor" and think it's wrong because "There is one mediator, etc." (I Tim. 2.5), Christ who intercedes for us (I Jn. 2.1-2, Heb. 7.25); they read "no other Comforter" and question where the Holy Spirit fits in (cf. Jn. 14.26); they ask, with the Jews "Who can forgive sins except God alone?" (Lk. 5.21).  But when they ask the Orthodox what it all means, they get what seems to be a lame answer: "Well, we're not really saying that, we're just asking her to pray for us, and it's more of a sentimental gesture than a theological statement".  It may seem like a lame response, but I think it's because they're coming at it from "the heart", understanding that when you love someone, you say things that, taken at face value, may not be "factually" true but nevertheless are true.  They're not taking the hyperbole and using it to replace Christ, as that would be an erroneous extreme (and sadly people do "go there" sometimes), but they're also not reading everything in every prayer as a theological proposition about Christ that has to be affirmed or denied at face value.  They're in the middle, where the heart is.  They realize that Our Lady is and does all those things because she's radically linked to and oriented towards Christ.  And while no one is more "perfect" at it than she is, all the saints have that in common with her.  What they "do" is "theirs", but it comes from Christ, refers to Christ, and returns (in glory) to Christ.     
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 24, 2013, 11:06:38 AM
She may not have suffered a horrible martyrdom, but it's not about that.

Yeah, lovingly watching your son get nailed to a cross is a picnic.

Whatever legendary material you take to understand Mary's life, the underlying theme, is absolute obedience to God.

Try being obedient for an hour, absolutely.

For most, it would probably be hell.

So yeah, she is pretty much the greatest martyr.

Absolutely true. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on May 24, 2013, 02:53:22 PM
I understand about her allegedly guarding and priotecting us through her intersession, and I can be comfortable with that (though I wouldn't use that wording myself. God protects, the saints only pray for it), but several things about this I just don't understand: Does the Virgin Mary forgive sins? No other Help? No other intercessor? No other Comforter? What about the Holy Trinity? What about the other Saints and Angels of God?

A lot of this language is hyperbole; there is certainly theology behind it, but its origin is more from "the heart" than "the mind".  If someone does me a big favor and I respond "Thanks, you're the greatest!", I'm not making a dogmatic statement regarding their superhuman dignity--it's a way of describing my regard for that person and what they mean to me.  If a man tells his wife she's the most beautiful woman that ever walked the earth, most of the time that's factually not true: separated from the context of that relationship, he could probably pick out twenty women more beautiful from some "objective aesthetic" perspective, but for him, they're not even a blip on the radar.  It comes from the heart, not from the eyes or mind.    

It's certainly true that the saints in general and Our Lady in particular intercede for us with God, and God answers the prayers, does the protecting, etc.  Since prayer ultimately comes from God and not through our own initiative alone, we can even say that this intercession comes from God, and they're just responding to the call to pray.  On the flip side, their prayer is already their participation in God's saving work, and it's not impossible for God to allow his saints to "do some of the heavy lifting".  In fact, you see that in Scripture...in both OT and NT, holy people "do miracles"--the power comes from God, and the glory ultimately goes to God, but in some real sense it is ascribed to themselves without prejudice to God, because God is glorified in his saints.  

Quote
It almost feels to me like there has been a gradual shift in the way that the Orthodox Church has been viewing the Virgin Mary's intercessory role over the course of the last few centuries. It feels like if you look at some of the things that were being said, say, between the 6th and 15th centuries, you get this idea that they were starting to think of the Theotokos as standing directly between us and Christ, the mystical 'neck" of the Body of Christ through whom we must go to get to God, and only if she wills it, thus making her 'our only hope' of salvation, whereas nowadays I don't really get the sense that that's how most Orthodox understand it. They say she aids us through her powerful intersessions, but that's about it. No longer directly in our path the Christ, but at our side helping us a long. And yet the remnants of this more medieval view just seem to be sort of 'stuck' in the liturgical texts. When modern Orthodox teachers and apologists and so forth try to explain what some of these enigmatic statements mean they say "Well, we're not really saying that, we're just asking her to pray for us, and it's more of a sentimental gesture than a theological statement", and so forth. I don't know, but that's just the vague impression that I get sometimes. I would appreciate any clarifying responses I can get. :)

The liturgical texts are a source of theology; they are, as another poster wrote elsewhere, the distillation of the Church's faith expounded by Scripture, interpreted by the Fathers, lived out by the saints.  Since they represent the voice of the Church in prayer to God, and it is the Holy Spirit from whom prayer flows, we trust the liturgical texts in a special way not to mislead us.  So even these prayers and hymns you seem to have trouble with are not problematic in and of themselves; we are missing something which prevents us from understanding them.

Your answer is already in what you wrote.  You read these texts and find terms like "no other intercessor", "no other Comforter", and ideas like the Virgin's "forgiving of sins", and they scandalize you a little.  I don't know where you're coming from, but all the people I know in my life who had/have the same issues are either Orthodox who are learning their faith anew with a strict allegiance to Scripture, or other Christians with the same allegiance.  They see "no other intercessor" and think it's wrong because "There is one mediator, etc." (I Tim. 2.5), Christ who intercedes for us (I Jn. 2.1-2, Heb. 7.25); they read "no other Comforter" and question where the Holy Spirit fits in (cf. Jn. 14.26); they ask, with the Jews "Who can forgive sins except God alone?" (Lk. 5.21).  But when they ask the Orthodox what it all means, they get what seems to be a lame answer: "Well, we're not really saying that, we're just asking her to pray for us, and it's more of a sentimental gesture than a theological statement".  It may seem like a lame response, but I think it's because they're coming at it from "the heart", understanding that when you love someone, you say things that, taken at face value, may not be "factually" true but nevertheless are true.  They're not taking the hyperbole and using it to replace Christ, as that would be an erroneous extreme (and sadly people do "go there" sometimes), but they're also not reading everything in every prayer as a theological proposition about Christ that has to be affirmed or denied at face value.  They're in the middle, where the heart is.  They realize that Our Lady is and does all those things because she's radically linked to and oriented towards Christ.  And while no one is more "perfect" at it than she is, all the saints have that in common with her.  What they "do" is "theirs", but it comes from Christ, refers to Christ, and returns (in glory) to Christ.      

Well thank you. What you're saying more or less conforms to the way I've been reasoning it out in my mind, but it's helpful for me to get additional confirmation from people who are actually living the Orthodox that the church is not asking it's people to take some of these statements too literally. Not everything in Scripture can always be taken literally either. I think the key keeping things in context and exercising a degree of common sense.

You mentioned not knowing my background. Currently I'm basically a non-denominational protestant, but I've been going to an Antiochian Orthodox church and reading almost nothing but Orthodox literature for about five months now. The Eastern Orthodox Church makes claims that I find very attractive, such as it's being the true Church founded by the apostles, with a real and concrete sense of historical continuity with the Christian Church throughout history, and with a tradition that through the guidance of the Holy Spirit reveals the whole truth of scripture and exactly how to interpret it. For me, looking at the divisions and disagreements and outrageous misinterpretations of those who call themselves Christians has really done a lot to cripple me in my faith. How can we know what's true? Who has the answers? Where is the Church? Orthodoxy offers an appealing answer to all of these questions, but it also has some answers that I just had a hard time accepting and agreeing with. The teachings on Mary are one example. In the end, it kinda doesn't matter how self-consistent and historic The Orthodox Church is, if it's wrong...if historic Christianity has altered and added to the teachings of the Apostles, then I'll have no part in it. So basically, I've been doing a lot of reading, a lot of going to church, a lot of asking questions, a lot of Bible studying and a lot of praying. And I will say that I feel like the road is slowly leading me to a realization that's going to blow my mind and it seems to be headed for Orthodoxy. That said, I'm not there yet and in the meantime I'm probably going to be something of a tough person to sell of some of this. I have to be sure... and that's my background. :)

She may not have suffered a horrible martyrdom, but it's not about that.

Yeah, lovingly watching your son get nailed to a cross is a picnic.

Whatever legendary material you take to understand Mary's life, the underlying theme, is absolute obedience to God.

Try being obedient for an hour, absolutely.

For most, it would probably be hell.

So yeah, she is pretty much the greatest martyr.
 

There are many martyred Saints who not only died horribly themselves but also had to watch as their children, parents, spouses, or others dear to their hearts where cruelly tortured and executed. Saint Sophia the Martyr comes to mind.

I can't climb inside of her heart and know exactly what her inward sufferings were like, but I don't see why it has to be believed that her sufferings were greater than those of all other saints. The Church itself doesn't really teach that does it? Don't get me wrong, I believe firmly that had she been called upon to suffer and die for Christ, she would have gladly. All I'm saying is, she wasn't, so it really shouldn't be said that she is "the greatest martyr". She isn't a Martyr at all.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on May 24, 2013, 03:02:27 PM
All I'm saying is, she wasn't, so it really shouldn't be said that she is "the greatest martyr". She isn't a Martyr at all.

I think the key to it is not how much she suffered compared to other saints and martyrs (how can you quantify suffering?). I think the key is the statement about being totally obedient to God - she was, and that is why she can justifiably be called the greatest martyr.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on May 24, 2013, 03:16:54 PM
All I'm saying is, she wasn't, so it really shouldn't be said that she is "the greatest martyr". She isn't a Martyr at all.

I think the key to it is not how much she suffered compared to other saints and martyrs (how can you quantify suffering?). I think the key is the statement about being totally obedient to God - she was, and that is why she can justifiably be called the greatest martyr.

Well said. I can completely agree with that.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 24, 2013, 11:32:36 PM
She may not have suffered a horrible martyrdom, but it's not about that.

Yeah, lovingly watching your son get nailed to a cross is a picnic.

Whatever legendary material you take to understand Mary's life, the underlying theme, is absolute obedience to God.

Try being obedient for an hour, absolutely.

For most, it would probably be hell.

So yeah, she is pretty much the greatest martyr.
 

There are many martyred Saints who not only died horribly themselves but also had to watch as their children, parents, spouses, or others dear to their hearts where cruelly tortured and executed. Saint Sophia the Martyr comes to mind.

I can't climb inside of her heart and know exactly what her inward sufferings were like, but I don't see why it has to be believed that her sufferings were greater than those of all other saints. The Church itself doesn't really teach that does it? Don't get me wrong, I believe firmly that had she been called upon to suffer and die for Christ, she would have gladly. All I'm saying is, she wasn't, so it really shouldn't be said that she is "the greatest martyr". She isn't a Martyr at all.

You're obviously not a golfer.

When you get over the blood drenched imaginings and learn what real martyrdom is, get back to me.

And trying to get into the mind of folks you probably have almost nothing in common with is a great way to arrive at confusion.

Oh, I'll be nice and help:

Quote
In its original meaning, the word martyr, meaning witness, was used in the secular sphere as well as in the New Testament of the Bible.[1] The process of bearing witness was not intended to lead to the death of the witness, although it is known from ancient writers (e.g. Josephus) and from the New Testament that witnesses often died for their testimonies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martyr

And who is the witness par excellence? In every meaning of the term.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Fotina02 on May 24, 2013, 11:38:44 PM
Here's a sermon without all the flowery praise.

THE LIGHTNESS OF BEING (ORTHODOX)
Quote
My mother was at a church once where a very kind and prayerful batiushka serves. One day, on the Nativity of the Mother of God, after liturgy he
came out of the royal doors to give the sermon. It was obvious that he felt
the feast deeply. He crossed himself and began... “The Most Holy
Theotokos...” (his voice trembled) “...our Lady, the Mother of God.” Tears
stood in his eyes and began to run down his cheek. People in the church
began sniffling. “...her holy parents, Joachim and Anna...” he continued,
crying openly now. The people were weeping quietly. Batiushka tried to continue, but was unable. Tears were choking him. He made a hopeless gesture
with his hands and retreated into the altar. The people sobbed aloud, and
leaving the church, my mother heard two of his parishioners say that it was
the best sermon they had ever heard.
http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/Lightness_of_Being_Orthodox.pdf
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Pharaoh714 on May 25, 2013, 01:20:53 AM
Watch this video its a Catholic one but it can explain some things that Orthodox Believe except Virgin St. Mary being sinless at birth of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUdYeYy3NQA
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: SolEX01 on May 25, 2013, 01:27:02 AM
All I'm saying is, she wasn't, so it really shouldn't be said that she is "the greatest martyr". She isn't a Martyr at all.

I think the key to it is not how much she suffered compared to other saints and martyrs (how can you quantify suffering?). I think the key is the statement about being totally obedient to God - she was, and that is why she can justifiably be called the greatest martyr.

The Theotokos isn't a martyr if that what the above exchange was discussing.  orthonorm refers to the Theotokos as a martyr in Reply #113.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on May 25, 2013, 03:52:14 AM
And who is the witness par excellence? In every meaning of the term.

John the Baptist, maybe Saint Paul. Who knows. But it wasn't Mary. You know why? Because Mary was not a preacher, or an apostle, or an evangelist who was known for 'giving testimony', and what's more she never had to suffer and die for her testimony. Which, by the way, is what your Orthodox Church actually does mean when it talks about Martyrs. You see, in the modern world, when we refer to someone who died for their faith, we call them (gasp!) martyrs, whereas when we refer to people who didn't die for their faith, we generally (gasp!) don't. That's because, you see, in today's world, that's what the word actually means. ;)

And so, concluding the whole matter once and for all: The Virgin is not a martyr. Once you have grasped this, get back to me, this time no condescending tone or attitude-y remarks, and there's a slim chance you'll be deemed intellectually suitable for some limited degree of further attention from me. Til then, peace out.  ;)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 25, 2013, 04:25:26 AM

Keep at that dictionary understanding of the world.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 25, 2013, 04:28:58 AM
All I'm saying is, she wasn't, so it really shouldn't be said that she is "the greatest martyr". She isn't a Martyr at all.

I think the key to it is not how much she suffered compared to other saints and martyrs (how can you quantify suffering?). I think the key is the statement about being totally obedient to God - she was, and that is why she can justifiably be called the greatest martyr.

The Theotokos isn't a martyr if that what the above exchange was discussing.  orthonorm refers to the Theotokos as a martyr in Reply #113.

Yes she is.

Please explain to mean who gave more of their life for Christ, literally witnessed Christ more, and is a witness to Him in virtue the perfect expression of the faith than the Mary.

Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on May 25, 2013, 04:41:51 AM
Orthonorm, since it seems to me that you have a somewhat limited comprehension of the English language, I'm going to assume that your previous comments were not intended to be quite as attitudy and pointlessly rude as they came across. Still, the word martyr is generally taken as referring to someone who actually, literally died for something they believed or a cause of some sort. OR, if you're going to apply the oldschool classical greek meaning, I think the word 'witness' implies testifying, or preaching, or communicating a verbal message and so forth. In the first since, the Virgin Mary didn't die for the cause of Christ. In the second she is not known among Christians as a great preacher or evangelist who took the message of Christ all through the world and so forth. Not saying she is in any way inferior to actual real martyrs. I mean, She gave her whole self to God just the same, and in an even more amazing way, to be sure... but technically you wouldn't use the word martyrdom to refer to that. All I'm sayin' bro.    
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: William on May 25, 2013, 05:38:19 AM
Sorry Armchair Theologian, but Mary is pretty clearly viewed as a martyr in the Orthodox faith. Unless you buy the whole "eh the liturgy says it but we don't really mean it" line (which by the way is an absolutely ridiculous thing to believe).
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 25, 2013, 06:05:56 AM
Quote
Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Your too-clever-by-half pronouncements are really getting tiresome, Orthonorm. Take it up with the sainted hymnographers who compiled the marriage services.

Selections:

Bless this marriage and grant to these Your servants, N. and M., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory.(from the first prayer before the Crowning)

Remember them, Lord our God, as You remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. (from the second prayer before the Crowning)

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. (after the Dance of Isaiah, and before the removal of the crowns from the couple's heads)

O God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these Your servants also, who by Your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offense to the ages of ages. (prayer at the removal of the crowns)

May He who by His presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind. (dismissal prayer)

The imagery of martyrs receiving crowns of glory in heaven is a constant and inescapable theme in their hymnography. The martyrdom of a married couple is the self-sacrifice each spouse is expected to show to the other, as expressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians: the wife lives for the husband, and does all she can for him; the husband lives for the wife, and does all he can for her, even to give his life for her as Christ did for His Church.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 25, 2013, 10:20:56 AM
Quote
Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Your too-clever-by-half pronouncements are really getting tiresome, Orthonorm. Take it up with the sainted hymnographers who compiled the marriage services.

Selections:

Bless this marriage and grant to these Your servants, N. and M., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory.(from the first prayer before the Crowning)

Remember them, Lord our God, as You remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. (from the second prayer before the Crowning)

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. (after the Dance of Isaiah, and before the removal of the crowns from the couple's heads)

O God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these Your servants also, who by Your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offense to the ages of ages. (prayer at the removal of the crowns)

May He who by His presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind. (dismissal prayer)

The imagery of martyrs receiving crowns of glory in heaven is a constant and inescapable theme in their hymnography. The martyrdom of a married couple is the self-sacrifice each spouse is expected to show to the other, as expressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians: the wife lives for the husband, and does all she can for him; the husband lives for the wife, and does all he can for her, even to give his life for her as Christ did for His Church.

Thanks for the news. Oh, wait that text is looking at me in the face.

And so people who marry take on the terrible sacrifice of marrying someone they are giddy in love with are more a martyr than Mary the mother of God?

You need to learn some proportion and some rhetoric.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 25, 2013, 10:26:34 AM
Quote
Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Your too-clever-by-half pronouncements are really getting tiresome, Orthonorm. Take it up with the sainted hymnographers who compiled the marriage services.

Selections:

Bless this marriage and grant to these Your servants, N. and M., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory.(from the first prayer before the Crowning)

Remember them, Lord our God, as You remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. (from the second prayer before the Crowning)

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. (after the Dance of Isaiah, and before the removal of the crowns from the couple's heads)

O God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these Your servants also, who by Your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offense to the ages of ages. (prayer at the removal of the crowns)

May He who by His presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind. (dismissal prayer)

The imagery of martyrs receiving crowns of glory in heaven is a constant and inescapable theme in their hymnography. The martyrdom of a married couple is the self-sacrifice each spouse is expected to show to the other, as expressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians: the wife lives for the husband, and does all she can for him; the husband lives for the wife, and does all he can for her, even to give his life for her as Christ did for His Church.

Thanks for the news. Oh, wait that text is looking at me in the face.

And so people who marry take on the terrible sacrifice of marrying someone they are giddy in love with are more a martyr than Mary the mother of God?

You need to learn some proportion and some rhetoric.

And you need to temper your glib pronouncements. I did not say anything about whether the Mother of God was or was not a martyr, but it was you who dismissed any notion that marriage is a form of martyrdom, yet the Church regards it as so, as expressed in her hymns and prayers.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Santagranddad on May 25, 2013, 10:30:16 AM
Quote
Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Your too-clever-by-half pronouncements are really getting tiresome, Orthonorm. Take it up with the sainted hymnographers who compiled the marriage services.

Selections:

Bless this marriage and grant to these Your servants, N. and M., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory.(from the first prayer before the Crowning)

Remember them, Lord our God, as You remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. (from the second prayer before the Crowning)

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. (after the Dance of Isaiah, and before the removal of the crowns from the couple's heads)

O God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these Your servants also, who by Your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offense to the ages of ages. (prayer at the removal of the crowns)

May He who by His presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind. (dismissal prayer)

The imagery of martyrs receiving crowns of glory in heaven is a constant and inescapable theme in their hymnography. The martyrdom of a married couple is the self-sacrifice each spouse is expected to show to the other, as expressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians: the wife lives for the husband, and does all she can for him; the husband lives for the wife, and does all he can for her, even to give his life for her as Christ did for His Church.

Thanks for the news. Oh, wait that text is looking at me in the face.

And so people who marry take on the terrible sacrifice of marrying someone they are giddy in love with are more a martyr than Mary the mother of God?

You need to learn some proportion and some rhetoric.

And you need to temper your glib pronouncements. I did not say anything about whether the Mother of God was or was not a martyr, but it was you who dismissed any notion that marriage is a form of martyrdom, yet the Church regards it as so, as expressed in her hymns and prayers.

Well said but I've come the conclusion that we waste our time responding, given the pathology of the poster.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 25, 2013, 10:32:06 AM

Enjoy your linguistic minimalism.

The "common" understanding of the term martyr in American I might argue has nothing to do with death as I would guess it is often most used in somewhat ironic manner to describe the relatively small sacrifices of someone who makes a big about them, whether directed at them by other or themselves.

Yeah, I know I am real martyr here, trying to explain to all you what a martyr is.

But we would have to look at a relatively current database of usage to determine that.

Nevertheless, none of these meaning make sense except in light of the fact that martyr means in a radical sense witness. If you don't understand that, then you will never understand what a martyr is, whether they die or do not.

Yes, the Church at times does use the term martyr in a different sense to differentiate how one witnessed. If you read more, you find yourself coming to feel as I do, that really martyrs get too much press. Seems that the lot of confessors is quite worse in my opinion.

But every time some in the Church or when speaking about the Church need use such technical definitions.

Mary's birth, life, death, and her role now witnesses greater than any other human person save Christ to the Christian message.

Anyway, I am finished. This bores.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 25, 2013, 10:32:47 AM
Quote
Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Your too-clever-by-half pronouncements are really getting tiresome, Orthonorm. Take it up with the sainted hymnographers who compiled the marriage services.

Selections:

Bless this marriage and grant to these Your servants, N. and M., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory.(from the first prayer before the Crowning)

Remember them, Lord our God, as You remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. (from the second prayer before the Crowning)

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. (after the Dance of Isaiah, and before the removal of the crowns from the couple's heads)

O God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these Your servants also, who by Your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offense to the ages of ages. (prayer at the removal of the crowns)

May He who by His presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind. (dismissal prayer)

The imagery of martyrs receiving crowns of glory in heaven is a constant and inescapable theme in their hymnography. The martyrdom of a married couple is the self-sacrifice each spouse is expected to show to the other, as expressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians: the wife lives for the husband, and does all she can for him; the husband lives for the wife, and does all he can for her, even to give his life for her as Christ did for His Church.

Thanks for the news. Oh, wait that text is looking at me in the face.

And so people who marry take on the terrible sacrifice of marrying someone they are giddy in love with are more a martyr than Mary the mother of God?

You need to learn some proportion and some rhetoric.

And you need to temper your glib pronouncements. I did not say anything about whether the Mother of God was or was not a martyr, but it was you who dismissed any notion that marriage is a form of martyrdom, yet the Church regards it as so, as expressed in her hymns and prayers.

I dismissed nothing. Rhetoric, look it up.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Santagranddad on May 25, 2013, 10:35:10 AM
Quote
Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Your too-clever-by-half pronouncements are really getting tiresome, Orthonorm. Take it up with the sainted hymnographers who compiled the marriage services.

Selections:

Bless this marriage and grant to these Your servants, N. and M., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory.(from the first prayer before the Crowning)

Remember them, Lord our God, as You remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. (from the second prayer before the Crowning)

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. (after the Dance of Isaiah, and before the removal of the crowns from the couple's heads)

O God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these Your servants also, who by Your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offense to the ages of ages. (prayer at the removal of the crowns)

May He who by His presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind. (dismissal prayer)

The imagery of martyrs receiving crowns of glory in heaven is a constant and inescapable theme in their hymnography. The martyrdom of a married couple is the self-sacrifice each spouse is expected to show to the other, as expressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians: the wife lives for the husband, and does all she can for him; the husband lives for the wife, and does all he can for her, even to give his life for her as Christ did for His Church.

Thanks for the news. Oh, wait that text is looking at me in the face.

And so people who marry take on the terrible sacrifice of marrying someone they are giddy in love with are more a martyr than Mary the mother of God?

You need to learn some proportion and some rhetoric.

And you need to temper your glib pronouncements. I did not say anything about whether the Mother of God was or was not a martyr, but it was you who dismissed any notion that marriage is a form of martyrdom, yet the Church regards it as so, as expressed in her hymns and prayers.

I dismissed nothing. Rhetoric, look it up.

Yawn!
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 25, 2013, 10:36:25 AM
May Christ give peace and blessings upon you all my dear brothers and sisters for an loving discussion, i´ve been enjoying this thread really much, praise be to God!

One thought I might include in all this, when we distinguish between the Saints, the Theotokos or other righteous people. In mentioning their names, or asking with humility for their prayers, we do it because of one thing in the end. When these persons was here on earth, and now when they are rejoicing gladly in heaven, Gods grace is working through them. To say the the Theotokos is magnified just because her name was Mary and she had a child while yet being a virgin is not enough. We cannot focus on the specific names of people, and exclude the living and working grace of God in whoever we talk about. It is always 2 things that we notice in the Saints, the blessed Theotokos and other holy persons.

1: Their beautiful and exclusive will to live for God and make his name worthy, not theirs. Remember this, no Saint asked for anyones prayers, but we ask him/her to pray because we see Gods grace through him, in actions, words, truth or overall life.

2: The second and most outstanding thing when we refer to Saints or the Theotokos is this. That God explicitly through them has worked slightly and yet made tremendous changes, both spiritually and in history.

So the persons loving will for God and Gods explicit interaction with us humans through them are something that in perfect union made these persons very unique!

We cannot exclude one from the other.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 25, 2013, 10:38:14 AM
Quote
Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Your too-clever-by-half pronouncements are really getting tiresome, Orthonorm. Take it up with the sainted hymnographers who compiled the marriage services.

Selections:

Bless this marriage and grant to these Your servants, N. and M., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory.(from the first prayer before the Crowning)

Remember them, Lord our God, as You remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. (from the second prayer before the Crowning)

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. (after the Dance of Isaiah, and before the removal of the crowns from the couple's heads)

O God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these Your servants also, who by Your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offense to the ages of ages. (prayer at the removal of the crowns)

May He who by His presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind. (dismissal prayer)

The imagery of martyrs receiving crowns of glory in heaven is a constant and inescapable theme in their hymnography. The martyrdom of a married couple is the self-sacrifice each spouse is expected to show to the other, as expressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians: the wife lives for the husband, and does all she can for him; the husband lives for the wife, and does all he can for her, even to give his life for her as Christ did for His Church.

Thanks for the news. Oh, wait that text is looking at me in the face.

And so people who marry take on the terrible sacrifice of marrying someone they are giddy in love with are more a martyr than Mary the mother of God?

You need to learn some proportion and some rhetoric.

And you need to temper your glib pronouncements. I did not say anything about whether the Mother of God was or was not a martyr, but it was you who dismissed any notion that marriage is a form of martyrdom, yet the Church regards it as so, as expressed in her hymns and prayers.

I dismissed nothing. Rhetoric, look it up.

Rubbish. Here are your words:

Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 25, 2013, 10:54:04 AM
Quote
Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Your too-clever-by-half pronouncements are really getting tiresome, Orthonorm. Take it up with the sainted hymnographers who compiled the marriage services.

Selections:

Bless this marriage and grant to these Your servants, N. and M., a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory.(from the first prayer before the Crowning)

Remember them, Lord our God, as You remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. (from the second prayer before the Crowning)

Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. (after the Dance of Isaiah, and before the removal of the crowns from the couple's heads)

O God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these Your servants also, who by Your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offense to the ages of ages. (prayer at the removal of the crowns)

May He who by His presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of His all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind. (dismissal prayer)

The imagery of martyrs receiving crowns of glory in heaven is a constant and inescapable theme in their hymnography. The martyrdom of a married couple is the self-sacrifice each spouse is expected to show to the other, as expressed in the epistle reading from Ephesians: the wife lives for the husband, and does all she can for him; the husband lives for the wife, and does all he can for her, even to give his life for her as Christ did for His Church.

Thanks for the news. Oh, wait that text is looking at me in the face.

And so people who marry take on the terrible sacrifice of marrying someone they are giddy in love with are more a martyr than Mary the mother of God?

You need to learn some proportion and some rhetoric.

And you need to temper your glib pronouncements. I did not say anything about whether the Mother of God was or was not a martyr, but it was you who dismissed any notion that marriage is a form of martyrdom, yet the Church regards it as so, as expressed in her hymns and prayers.

I dismissed nothing. Rhetoric, look it up.

Rubbish. Here are your words:

Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

LBK, you can curse at me all you want.

But if you stopped to think for moment, and here is a rare chance for me to attempt to explain internetz to you.

I say Mary is a martyr.
Some people argue about this using a very narrow definition of the word.
I suggest a more broad definition of the word harkening back to it most radical meaning and explain how Mary is the martyr par excellence.
The pocket dictionary responds (LKB this is rhetoric, literally a pocket dictionary didn't respond) with more of the same resting on the "Orthodox" notion of martyrdom.
Realizing they are out of their depth I point to a martyrdom that flies in the face of their "Orthodox" understanding. People in love just like everyone else on the planet do something like everyone else on the planet and it is called a form of martyrdom. (Note I am not snide about the text but about those who WOULD DO such a thing, marry someone they are in love and THINK (sometimes even TELL ME) they are martyrs.)
I place in obvious ridiculous notion of folks in conjunction with the notion Mary is not a martyr.

God knows she is and God knows not matter how many texts, liturgical or otherwise, I doubt during her life she would have told me she was or thought herself so.

So what did I say again? (with my emphasis)

Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Good grief indeed.

So learn to read what I say. Heck, here is a time when it ain't that subtle.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 25, 2013, 01:09:49 PM
And who is the witness par excellence? In every meaning of the term.

John the Baptist, maybe Saint Paul. Who knows. But it wasn't Mary. You know why?

Yes, because of Rev. 3.14: Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ·

The "witness" par excellence is Christ, the "apostle" par excellence is Christ, the "prophet" par excellence is Christ, the "evangelist" par excellence is Christ, the "confessor" par excellence is Christ, the "virgin" par excellence is Christ, etc.  But we don't typically refer to Christ as any of these things as a common practice, even though he is all of those things.  It's all over Scripture if one has eyes to see and ears to hear.   

Our Lord fulfills all the requirements of such categories, but also exceeds them.  If he didn't do the former, none of those categories would have the meaning they have in our tradition; if he didn't do the latter, he'd just be an over-achieving Boy Scout collecting merit badges.  All of those "titles" and "categories" are rooted in him, they derive their meaning from him.  It may not be common to call Christ a martyr, but if he's not, then martyrdom is meaningless.   

In a similar way, but in a way lesser than Christ, Our Lady "is" a lot of things we don't normally refer to her as.  Who brought the Word to all nations more than she did?  She didn't travel as much as the apostles did, but the Word they preached entered the world as the Son she brought forth: she is certainly "apostle" and "evangelist", even if not by the standard definition, because she fulfills its more fundamental meaning.  She didn't write any books of oracles she received from God, but her whole life was a proclamation of the Word of God which came to her, first through her obedience and then through her consent to the Angel's message, after which she proclaimed to Elizabeth and to all humanity the greatness of God her Savior: how is she not a "prophet"?  If we are limited in considering martyrdom as involving the shedding of one's blood as a witness to God, then Mary, having died peacefully at a good age, may not "count".  But if we consider the fundamental meaning of martyrdom, of witness, then she is certainly that. 

Did she not witness faithfulness to God in the face of darkness and death more than all the other martyrs?  Our liturgical texts (here, I specifically refer to Syriac texts, though I'm sure the same sentiments can be found in Greek and other texts) speak of the martyrs having seen Christ in the heavens holding crowns plaited by the Holy Spirit, waiting to crown them upon their death, and their response was "Let us die for him who died for us".  Even St Stephen gives up his life, after believing in the death and resurrection of Christ, and seeing him sitting at the right hand of God.  But Our Lady answers the Angel's lofty words in Luke 1 with obedience, and from then on, she's subject to people's doubts about her virtue, she flees to Egypt to save her Son, and when he enters into his ministry, you know the ridicule that fell on him was directed toward her (that's just how people are).  When she sees him die on the Cross, does anyone think she was there smiling and winking at the bystanders saying "We'll see who has the last laugh on Sunday"?  No.  We believe she had an invincible faith, in spite of the fact that nothing the Angel told her seemed to have come to pass: when he's taken down from the cross, no one thinks he's great or the Son of the Most High, he can't sit on the throne of his father David if he's dead, and so it seems like his kingdom has ended before it had a chance to begin.  Is it so easy to believe in the resurrection for us, even though we have the benefit of two thousand years' space and innumerable witnesses since it happened?  How much more difficult must it have been three days before it happened, how much it must've looked for all intents and purposes like all was lost and meaningless.  And yet, she had faith even when the sword prophesied by the Elder Simeon in Luke 2 had in fact pierced her own soul: not a physical martyrdom, but a martyrdom of the spirit, the very martyrdom that must necessarily precede one's willingness to suffer physically and shed blood unto death.   

Like her Son and because of her Son, Our Lady fulfills and exceeds all our categories.  She didn't shed her blood as a martyr, but if she's not a martyr, then none of the rest are either.  As long as we're stuck on the physical violence and blood of martyrdom, we'll not only misunderstand the "martyrdom" of Mary, but we already demonstrate a misunderstanding of the martyrdom of the martyrs we do accept.  So, with all due respect, I believe you're missing something in your analysis: the most important things are meant to be understood in the heart and not just in the mind, and this is one of them. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Santagranddad on May 25, 2013, 01:13:20 PM
And who is the witness par excellence? In every meaning of the term.

John the Baptist, maybe Saint Paul. Who knows. But it wasn't Mary. You know why?

Yes, because of Rev. 3.14: Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ·

The "witness" par excellence is Christ, the "apostle" par excellence is Christ, the "prophet" par excellence is Christ, the "evangelist" par excellence is Christ, the "confessor" par excellence is Christ, the "virgin" par excellence is Christ, etc.  But we don't typically refer to Christ as any of these things as a common practice, even though he is all of those things.  It's all over Scripture if one has eyes to see and ears to hear.   

Our Lord fulfills all the requirements of such categories, but also exceeds them.  If he didn't do the former, none of those categories would have the meaning they have in our tradition; if he didn't do the latter, he'd just be an over-achieving Boy Scout collecting merit badges.  All of those "titles" and "categories" are rooted in him, they derive their meaning from him.  It may not be common to call Christ a martyr, but if he's not, then martyrdom is meaningless.   

In a similar way, but in a way lesser than Christ, Our Lady "is" a lot of things we don't normally refer to her as.  Who brought the Word to all nations more than she did?  She didn't travel as much as the apostles did, but the Word they preached entered the world as the Son she brought forth: she is certainly "apostle" and "evangelist", even if not by the standard definition, because she fulfills its more fundamental meaning.  She didn't write any books of oracles she received from God, but her whole life was a proclamation of the Word of God which came to her, first through her obedience and then through her consent to the Angel's message, after which she proclaimed to Elizabeth and to all humanity the greatness of God her Savior: how is she not a "prophet"?  If we are limited in considering martyrdom as involving the shedding of one's blood as a witness to God, then Mary, having died peacefully at a good age, may not "count".  But if we consider the fundamental meaning of martyrdom, of witness, then she is certainly that. 

Did she not witness faithfulness to God in the face of darkness and death more than all the other martyrs?  Our liturgical texts (here, I specifically refer to Syriac texts, though I'm sure the same sentiments can be found in Greek and other texts) speak of the martyrs having seen Christ in the heavens holding crowns plaited by the Holy Spirit, waiting to crown them upon their death, and their response was "Let us die for him who died for us".  Even St Stephen gives up his life, after believing in the death and resurrection of Christ, and seeing him sitting at the right hand of God.  But Our Lady answers the Angel's lofty words in Luke 1 with obedience, and from then on, she's subject to people's doubts about her virtue, she flees to Egypt to save her Son, and when he enters into his ministry, you know the ridicule that fell on him was directed toward her (that's just how people are).  When she sees him die on the Cross, does anyone think she was there smiling and winking at the bystanders saying "We'll see who has the last laugh on Sunday"?  No.  We believe she had an invincible faith, in spite of the fact that nothing the Angel told her seemed to have come to pass: when he's taken down from the cross, no one thinks he's great or the Son of the Most High, he can't sit on the throne of his father David if he's dead, and so it seems like his kingdom has ended before it had a chance to begin.  Is it so easy to believe in the resurrection for us, even though we have the benefit of two thousand years' space and innumerable witnesses since it happened?  How much more difficult must it have been three days before it happened, how much it must've looked for all intents and purposes like all was lost and meaningless.  And yet, she had faith even when the sword prophesied by the Elder Simeon in Luke 2 had in fact pierced her own soul: not a physical martyrdom, but a martyrdom of the spirit, the very martyrdom that must necessarily precede one's willingness to suffer physically and shed blood unto death.   

Like her Son and because of her Son, Our Lady fulfills and exceeds all our categories.  She didn't shed her blood as a martyr, but if she's not a martyr, then none of the rest are either.  As long as we're stuck on the physical violence and blood of martyrdom, we'll not only misunderstand the "martyrdom" of Mary, but we already demonstrate a misunderstanding of the martyrdom of the martyrs we do accept.  So, with all due respect, I believe you're missing something in your analysis: the most important things are meant to be understood in the heart and not just in the mind, and this is one of them. 

Amen
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 25, 2013, 01:13:29 PM
And who is the witness par excellence? In every meaning of the term.

John the Baptist, maybe Saint Paul. Who knows. But it wasn't Mary. You know why?

Yes, because of Rev. 3.14: Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ·

The "witness" par excellence is Christ, the "apostle" par excellence is Christ, the "prophet" par excellence is Christ, the "evangelist" par excellence is Christ, the "confessor" par excellence is Christ, the "virgin" par excellence is Christ, etc.  But we don't typically refer to Christ as any of these things as a common practice, even though he is all of those things.  It's all over Scripture if one has eyes to see and ears to hear.   

Our Lord fulfills all the requirements of such categories, but also exceeds them.  If he didn't do the former, none of those categories would have the meaning they have in our tradition; if he didn't do the latter, he'd just be an over-achieving Boy Scout collecting merit badges.  All of those "titles" and "categories" are rooted in him, they derive their meaning from him.  It may not be common to call Christ a martyr, but if he's not, then martyrdom is meaningless.   

In a similar way, but in a way lesser than Christ, Our Lady "is" a lot of things we don't normally refer to her as.  Who brought the Word to all nations more than she did?  She didn't travel as much as the apostles did, but the Word they preached entered the world as the Son she brought forth: she is certainly "apostle" and "evangelist", even if not by the standard definition, because she fulfills its more fundamental meaning.  She didn't write any books of oracles she received from God, but her whole life was a proclamation of the Word of God which came to her, first through her obedience and then through her consent to the Angel's message, after which she proclaimed to Elizabeth and to all humanity the greatness of God her Savior: how is she not a "prophet"?  If we are limited in considering martyrdom as involving the shedding of one's blood as a witness to God, then Mary, having died peacefully at a good age, may not "count".  But if we consider the fundamental meaning of martyrdom, of witness, then she is certainly that. 

Did she not witness faithfulness to God in the face of darkness and death more than all the other martyrs?  Our liturgical texts (here, I specifically refer to Syriac texts, though I'm sure the same sentiments can be found in Greek and other texts) speak of the martyrs having seen Christ in the heavens holding crowns plaited by the Holy Spirit, waiting to crown them upon their death, and their response was "Let us die for him who died for us".  Even St Stephen gives up his life, after believing in the death and resurrection of Christ, and seeing him sitting at the right hand of God.  But Our Lady answers the Angel's lofty words in Luke 1 with obedience, and from then on, she's subject to people's doubts about her virtue, she flees to Egypt to save her Son, and when he enters into his ministry, you know the ridicule that fell on him was directed toward her (that's just how people are).  When she sees him die on the Cross, does anyone think she was there smiling and winking at the bystanders saying "We'll see who has the last laugh on Sunday"?  No.  We believe she had an invincible faith, in spite of the fact that nothing the Angel told her seemed to have come to pass: when he's taken down from the cross, no one thinks he's great or the Son of the Most High, he can't sit on the throne of his father David if he's dead, and so it seems like his kingdom has ended before it had a chance to begin.  Is it so easy to believe in the resurrection for us, even though we have the benefit of two thousand years' space and innumerable witnesses since it happened?  How much more difficult must it have been three days before it happened, how much it must've looked for all intents and purposes like all was lost and meaningless.  And yet, she had faith even when the sword prophesied by the Elder Simeon in Luke 2 had in fact pierced her own soul: not a physical martyrdom, but a martyrdom of the spirit, the very martyrdom that must necessarily precede one's willingness to suffer physically and shed blood unto death.   

Like her Son and because of her Son, Our Lady fulfills and exceeds all our categories.  She didn't shed her blood as a martyr, but if she's not a martyr, then none of the rest are either.  As long as we're stuck on the physical violence and blood of martyrdom, we'll not only misunderstand the "martyrdom" of Mary, but we already demonstrate a misunderstanding of the martyrdom of the martyrs we do accept.  So, with all due respect, I believe you're missing something in your analysis: the most important things are meant to be understood in the heart and not just in the mind, and this is one of them. 

Very well done.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: SolEX01 on May 25, 2013, 02:10:23 PM
All I'm saying is, she wasn't, so it really shouldn't be said that she is "the greatest martyr". She isn't a Martyr at all.

I think the key to it is not how much she suffered compared to other saints and martyrs (how can you quantify suffering?). I think the key is the statement about being totally obedient to God - she was, and that is why she can justifiably be called the greatest martyr.

The Theotokos isn't a martyr if that what the above exchange was discussing.  orthonorm refers to the Theotokos as a martyr in Reply #113.

Yes she is.

Please explain to mean who gave more of their life for Christ, literally witnessed Christ more, and is a witness to Him in virtue the perfect expression of the faith than the Mary.

Good grief, there are folks in the Church who think they are martyrs cause they marry someone they are in love with. White martyrs or something ridiculous like that.

Here's one definition for martyr:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martyr (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/martyr)

Quote
a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle

If the Theotokos didn't sacrifice her life, what "great value" did the Theotokos sacrifice to become a martyr?  Dying a natural death doesn't make one a martyr like St. Stephen, the first martyr.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: mike on May 25, 2013, 04:23:22 PM
Remember this, no Saint asked for anyones prayers, but we ask him/her to pray because we see Gods grace through him, in actions, words, truth or overall life.

St. John asked in his anaphora.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 25, 2013, 06:11:05 PM
And who is the witness par excellence? In every meaning of the term.

John the Baptist, maybe Saint Paul. Who knows. But it wasn't Mary. You know why?

Yes, because of Rev. 3.14: Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ·

The "witness" par excellence is Christ, the "apostle" par excellence is Christ, the "prophet" par excellence is Christ, the "evangelist" par excellence is Christ, the "confessor" par excellence is Christ, the "virgin" par excellence is Christ, etc.  But we don't typically refer to Christ as any of these things as a common practice, even though he is all of those things.  It's all over Scripture if one has eyes to see and ears to hear.   

Our Lord fulfills all the requirements of such categories, but also exceeds them.  If he didn't do the former, none of those categories would have the meaning they have in our tradition; if he didn't do the latter, he'd just be an over-achieving Boy Scout collecting merit badges.  All of those "titles" and "categories" are rooted in him, they derive their meaning from him.  It may not be common to call Christ a martyr, but if he's not, then martyrdom is meaningless.   

In a similar way, but in a way lesser than Christ, Our Lady "is" a lot of things we don't normally refer to her as.  Who brought the Word to all nations more than she did?  She didn't travel as much as the apostles did, but the Word they preached entered the world as the Son she brought forth: she is certainly "apostle" and "evangelist", even if not by the standard definition, because she fulfills its more fundamental meaning.  She didn't write any books of oracles she received from God, but her whole life was a proclamation of the Word of God which came to her, first through her obedience and then through her consent to the Angel's message, after which she proclaimed to Elizabeth and to all humanity the greatness of God her Savior: how is she not a "prophet"?  If we are limited in considering martyrdom as involving the shedding of one's blood as a witness to God, then Mary, having died peacefully at a good age, may not "count".  But if we consider the fundamental meaning of martyrdom, of witness, then she is certainly that. 

Did she not witness faithfulness to God in the face of darkness and death more than all the other martyrs?  Our liturgical texts (here, I specifically refer to Syriac texts, though I'm sure the same sentiments can be found in Greek and other texts) speak of the martyrs having seen Christ in the heavens holding crowns plaited by the Holy Spirit, waiting to crown them upon their death, and their response was "Let us die for him who died for us".  Even St Stephen gives up his life, after believing in the death and resurrection of Christ, and seeing him sitting at the right hand of God.  But Our Lady answers the Angel's lofty words in Luke 1 with obedience, and from then on, she's subject to people's doubts about her virtue, she flees to Egypt to save her Son, and when he enters into his ministry, you know the ridicule that fell on him was directed toward her (that's just how people are).  When she sees him die on the Cross, does anyone think she was there smiling and winking at the bystanders saying "We'll see who has the last laugh on Sunday"?  No.  We believe she had an invincible faith, in spite of the fact that nothing the Angel told her seemed to have come to pass: when he's taken down from the cross, no one thinks he's great or the Son of the Most High, he can't sit on the throne of his father David if he's dead, and so it seems like his kingdom has ended before it had a chance to begin.  Is it so easy to believe in the resurrection for us, even though we have the benefit of two thousand years' space and innumerable witnesses since it happened?  How much more difficult must it have been three days before it happened, how much it must've looked for all intents and purposes like all was lost and meaningless.  And yet, she had faith even when the sword prophesied by the Elder Simeon in Luke 2 had in fact pierced her own soul: not a physical martyrdom, but a martyrdom of the spirit, the very martyrdom that must necessarily precede one's willingness to suffer physically and shed blood unto death.   

Like her Son and because of her Son, Our Lady fulfills and exceeds all our categories.  She didn't shed her blood as a martyr, but if she's not a martyr, then none of the rest are either.  As long as we're stuck on the physical violence and blood of martyrdom, we'll not only misunderstand the "martyrdom" of Mary, but we already demonstrate a misunderstanding of the martyrdom of the martyrs we do accept.  So, with all due respect, I believe you're missing something in your analysis: the most important things are meant to be understood in the heart and not just in the mind, and this is one of them. 

AMEN!!! Sweetness for the soul!


I humbly ask You O'Theotokos, the Queen and Lady, remember the smallest fraction of this prayer before our Lord, the Holy One, Your Son.  I am not worthy to ask Thee our Lady. Grant Mor Ephrem the peace of knowing that he is on Your loving and humble prayers before the Lord. May our God and Savior Jesus, Your Son, Bless him in tons, through your loving prayers. Amen.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 25, 2013, 06:13:51 PM
Remember this, no Saint asked for anyones prayers, but we ask him/her to pray because we see Gods grace through him, in actions, words, truth or overall life.

St. John asked in his anaphora.

I´m sorry dear brother, what I meant was that no Saint in total pride asked for others to deliver their prayer request to him/her. Please forgive me for not including that.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on May 26, 2013, 02:01:23 AM
And who is the witness par excellence? In every meaning of the term.

John the Baptist, maybe Saint Paul. Who knows. But it wasn't Mary. You know why?

Yes, because of Rev. 3.14: Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ·

The "witness" par excellence is Christ, the "apostle" par excellence is Christ, the "prophet" par excellence is Christ, the "evangelist" par excellence is Christ, the "confessor" par excellence is Christ, the "virgin" par excellence is Christ, etc.  But we don't typically refer to Christ as any of these things as a common practice, even though he is all of those things.  It's all over Scripture if one has eyes to see and ears to hear.   

Our Lord fulfills all the requirements of such categories, but also exceeds them.  If he didn't do the former, none of those categories would have the meaning they have in our tradition; if he didn't do the latter, he'd just be an over-achieving Boy Scout collecting merit badges.  All of those "titles" and "categories" are rooted in him, they derive their meaning from him.  It may not be common to call Christ a martyr, but if he's not, then martyrdom is meaningless.   

In a similar way, but in a way lesser than Christ, Our Lady "is" a lot of things we don't normally refer to her as.  Who brought the Word to all nations more than she did?  She didn't travel as much as the apostles did, but the Word they preached entered the world as the Son she brought forth: she is certainly "apostle" and "evangelist", even if not by the standard definition, because she fulfills its more fundamental meaning.  She didn't write any books of oracles she received from God, but her whole life was a proclamation of the Word of God which came to her, first through her obedience and then through her consent to the Angel's message, after which she proclaimed to Elizabeth and to all humanity the greatness of God her Savior: how is she not a "prophet"?  If we are limited in considering martyrdom as involving the shedding of one's blood as a witness to God, then Mary, having died peacefully at a good age, may not "count".  But if we consider the fundamental meaning of martyrdom, of witness, then she is certainly that. 

Did she not witness faithfulness to God in the face of darkness and death more than all the other martyrs?  Our liturgical texts (here, I specifically refer to Syriac texts, though I'm sure the same sentiments can be found in Greek and other texts) speak of the martyrs having seen Christ in the heavens holding crowns plaited by the Holy Spirit, waiting to crown them upon their death, and their response was "Let us die for him who died for us".  Even St Stephen gives up his life, after believing in the death and resurrection of Christ, and seeing him sitting at the right hand of God.  But Our Lady answers the Angel's lofty words in Luke 1 with obedience, and from then on, she's subject to people's doubts about her virtue, she flees to Egypt to save her Son, and when he enters into his ministry, you know the ridicule that fell on him was directed toward her (that's just how people are).  When she sees him die on the Cross, does anyone think she was there smiling and winking at the bystanders saying "We'll see who has the last laugh on Sunday"?  No.  We believe she had an invincible faith, in spite of the fact that nothing the Angel told her seemed to have come to pass: when he's taken down from the cross, no one thinks he's great or the Son of the Most High, he can't sit on the throne of his father David if he's dead, and so it seems like his kingdom has ended before it had a chance to begin.  Is it so easy to believe in the resurrection for us, even though we have the benefit of two thousand years' space and innumerable witnesses since it happened?  How much more difficult must it have been three days before it happened, how much it must've looked for all intents and purposes like all was lost and meaningless.  And yet, she had faith even when the sword prophesied by the Elder Simeon in Luke 2 had in fact pierced her own soul: not a physical martyrdom, but a martyrdom of the spirit, the very martyrdom that must necessarily precede one's willingness to suffer physically and shed blood unto death.   

Like her Son and because of her Son, Our Lady fulfills and exceeds all our categories.  She didn't shed her blood as a martyr, but if she's not a martyr, then none of the rest are either.  As long as we're stuck on the physical violence and blood of martyrdom, we'll not only misunderstand the "martyrdom" of Mary, but we already demonstrate a misunderstanding of the martyrdom of the martyrs we do accept.  So, with all due respect, I believe you're missing something in your analysis: the most important things are meant to be understood in the heart and not just in the mind, and this is one of them. 

What Joy! You explained this very well. If martyrdom can be seen as sacrificing all and persevering in the face of great evil and suffering, than I can agree that in this sense the Theotokos could be called a martyr. And since she is the prototype for all Christians and an icon of the Church, I think the steadfastness and self-sacrifice of the martyrs is reflecting of the qualities and virtues that we see exemplified beyond measure in her. Thank you.

And I apologize, orthonorm for antagonizing you. I just thought I sensed some condescension in your cyber-tone and reacted inappropriately. Forgive me. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on May 26, 2013, 02:10:11 AM
I just thought I sensed some condescension in your cyber-tone and reacted inappropriately. Forgive me. 

I still don't get what is wrong with condescension. It is what God did after all.

It is probably my stock tone. No big deal. I speak internet. Mor speaks from the heart. It takes all kinds. Nothing to forgive.

It was a very compelling post.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 08:23:51 AM
Even leaving aside the sheer inexpressibility of the greatness of this woman bearing and raising God Incarnate, she is exalted also as the Queen and Mother, being by far the closest to the "ear of God", as it were. This idea is also biblical
I would be grateful if you would quote where you think you find such an idea in the bible.
Such an idea is idolatrous.
The Queen of Heaven originated from pagan Babylonian goddess worship. Jeremiah speaks about the Babylonian Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7 and 44).  Jeremiah 7:18 plainly states that God hates idolatry and it provokes Him to anger.
Jeremiah 7:18
The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.
Exodus 34:14
for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God
God will not share his glory with another.
Mary is a sinner in need of a saviour just like the rest of mankind.
Romans 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.




Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 08:37:12 AM


The decisions He makes regarding the prayers and petitions which reach him, whether made directly to Him by us, or through the intercessions of the saints and the Mother of God, are His. However, in His compassion and love for mankind, He considers the prayers and petitions received through His saints, who stand before the throne of God. And His Mother is the most effective of these saintly intercessors, by virtue of being His Mother
Could you please show where  in God's word it suggests such a thing?

Quote
In icons of the Dormition of the Mother of God, we see the soul of the reposed Virgin, not carried by angels, but in the arms of her Son, as is fitting and proper. Just as she gave Him earthly life, He takes her soul away to life eternal, with the greatest love and reverence.
Where in the bible do you read of this?

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 08:39:50 AM
And yet the Gospels don't instruct us to sing hymns of praise, glorify and extol her, or any such thing.
That's because we're not supposed to do such a thing. It is idolatry. God will not share his glory with another.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 08:45:36 AM
To understand the veneration for the Mother of God, I think you just have to love here and enter into a relationship with her. Most likely it won't make sense until you become part of the Church.
Where are we told to enter into a relationship with her?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 26, 2013, 08:46:51 AM
Rachel, dear sister, not these kind of questions again XD

I´ve asked twice on the biblical reference for masturbation being a sin. I might add abortion to that as well.

And pay a lot of attention to this now. I DON`T want a remix of your interpretation and explanation of sexual immorality or the true worth of life.

I want word for word as you´ve probably asked for many times, and now are asking regarding the blessed Virgin and Mother.

If you can´t provide that from Gods word then you´ve given me and other christians no reason to believe your sola scriptura.

Take notice: No remixing on interpretation, word for word. Abortion is a sin, masturbation is a sin. I´m not using my standard dear sister in fatih, but yours.


With all respect and love, forgive me if I sounded embittering in any way. But the huge discussion on a other thread was based on the exact same basis you put forth now, and there is no need to go through that again.

Please pray for me a sinner, and forgive me.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 08:48:37 AM
In the OT, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the jar of manna, the budding rod of Aaron, and the tablets on which the Law (Ten Commandments) were written, were the holiest objects to the Hebrews, and were treated with the utmost respect and honor. To even touch the Ark meant instant death, so great was its holiness.

The Ark, and all it contained, were, in God's wisdom, prefigurations of the immense and incomprehensible mystery, that of the Mother of God. She is the true Ark (in whom the infinite and immaterial God was contained), the Burning Bush (the fire of Divinity she carried in her body not only did not destroy her, but it purified her and preserved her virginity), the rod of Aaron (budded and sprung forth from barren and aged parents), the jar of manna which is fulfilled in the fruit of her womb, the very Bread of Life, Christ our God.

If the ark of old was so sacred, then how much more glorious and holy is the woman who is the very fulfillment of the type and shadow?
It is Christ himself who is that fulfilment NOT Mary.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 09:14:53 AM
How exactly do intercessions work? One of the big problems people have with veneration of Saints--especially the Theotokos--is the notion that their prayers are more affective than our own, as if they had some "special" connection with God or something that we don't have. Does the prayer of a righteous person mean more than the prayer of a not-so-righteous person? My thoughts are that yes, it does, however, most people would feel discomforted by that fact--probably due to pride.

God hears our prayers. But consider this. Go to an earthly authority or try getting a bank loan. Do you think you'll get what you ask just for your own sake? You have people make introduction for you. You make connections. You bring letters of reference. You get to know people who are well known to the person from whom you're seeking a favor or money.

The saints do have a special connection with God. They are his friends. He has greatly honored them because in their lives they served and honored him. They repented, they were purified, deified, and illumined. They cooperated with divine grace.
The biblical view of a saint is that all those who have accepted Christ as Saviour are called saints. There are numerous verses that show this. You become a saint by accepting Christ as Saviour not by being purified, deified and illumined.
Neither are we told to pray to the dead nor that the dead can pray for us. Indeed we are told that communication with the dead is against scripture.

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Now look at us. What do we have to show for ourselves? What do we bring the King of all? Nothing like what the saints bring
And the saints have, in cooperating with the will of God, entered into the saving work of Christ.
It is Christ alone who saves us through his atoning work at Calvary.

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As for how exactly the intercession of the saints work, it's a mystery. But the spiritual realm is real and is in our midst. Just as there are demons around, so too are there angels and saints.
There is biblical evidence for demons and angels being around us but where is your evidence that the saints are around us?

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Only God can know the heart of each person, since it is his dwelling place. He knows our prayer before we even ask.
Quite so, so speak to him directly as he tells you to.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 09:54:34 AM
[Taken from Fr. Matthew the Poor.]When the Virgin intercedes for our aid, healing, or repentance, she draws us into the realm of her relationship with Christ. In Orthodoxy, intercession raises us to the level of the intercessor, bringing us into the presence of Christ, then the mediator disappears.
Where does God's word tell you this? If this were so Christ would need Mary's help to save us. This is blasphemous. Christ said of his work on the cross - "It is finished." The veil of the temple was ripped from top to bottom to show that we, through Christ's death and resurrection have direct access to himself.

 
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This is to say that intercession is a communion with Christ by grace; the Virgin grants us all the powers granted to her so that so that we might come before Christ.
Where do you think God says this in his word? Where do you get all this stuff from? We can come before Christ because of what he did and only because of what he did. He paid the price for our sins. Refer above.
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We then stand before Him as the Virgin, that is, in the spirit and grace of purity and holiness granted to us in her.
It is nothing to do with her 'grace of purity and holiness.' You are elevating her to a position that she does not hold. Mary was equally in need of Christ's atonement for sin. She was not sinless. We have direct access to God because when we are his we are clothed in Christ's righteousness.
 
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We take from the Virgin the courage that derives from her purity and the audacity that derives from her motherhood and her unique love for Christ. All these things are considered to have been granted to her for our sake, and she, in her great confidence before God, is able to transfer them to us, just as a stronger member in the body grants its strength to a weaker one.
I ask again, where in scripture does it tell you this?  Mary is not able to help in our salvation. This notion is not scriptural.

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Second, this kind of intercession removes all the barriers between us and Christ. We approach Him unhindered and unimpeded by our weakness, to take from Him help or a particular request or healing or repentance.
Where does it tell you this in scripture?
Scripture tells us:
Ephesians 3:11-13
11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,  12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.


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But intercession can only take place if one is able to step forward in the spirit of the intercessor and be prepared to take or borrow those qualities which make him able to intercede. Otherwise there can be no intercession. The Virgin demonstrates for us the first quality, the essential character required for us to meet with God. Those who deny the role of the Virigin in the incarnation or in intercession, or who deny the importance of purity, do so only in theory, for in practice it is impossible to deny or eliminate them. As far as the incarnation is concerned, God could only be incarnate in purity. As far as intercession is concerned, it is equally impossible for God to reveal Himself or act outside the realm of purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8 ).

God’s Righteousness Through Faith
Romans 3
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,  22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all[h] who believe. For there is no difference;  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,  26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.


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Intercession requires a personal presence; the Virgin presents himself in the purity before Christ, on our behalf and within the sphere of our experience. In so doing she opens up before us a door that can lead to the spirit of purity and the awakening of a sense of holiness.

Where does God's word tell you this?



Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 26, 2013, 09:59:35 AM


The decisions He makes regarding the prayers and petitions which reach him, whether made directly to Him by us, or through the intercessions of the saints and the Mother of God, are His. However, in His compassion and love for mankind, He considers the prayers and petitions received through His saints, who stand before the throne of God. And His Mother is the most effective of these saintly intercessors, by virtue of being His Mother
Could you please show where  in God's word it suggests such a thing?


Gladly.

There is an Aramaic word, "Gebirah", which means "Queen Mother". Traditionally, next to the throne of the King was a second throne. Many would assume that the second throne belonged to the wife of the King, but in Israel it belonged to the mother of the king. The Gebirah was an official position, one with which everyone (Jesus and His disciples included) was entirely familiar. Her role was as an advocate of the people; anyone who had a petition or sought an audience with the King did so through her. She was an intercessor, presenting the wishes and concerns of the people to the King. This does not imply that the King was unapproachable, or that people were afraid or unable to speak to him. It merely means that the King honored his mother and took her requests into special consideration. On the part of the people, they felt close to her, as if they too were her children. This role is mentioned in:

1 Kings 15:13 " He also deposed his Maacah from her position as queen mother"
2 Kings 10:13 " "We are kinsmen of Ahaziah," they replied. "We are going down to visit the princes and the family of the queen mother.""
Jeremiah 13:18 " Say to the king and to the queen mother: come down from your throne"

Her specific place of honor and intercession is clearly illustrated in 1 Kings 2: 13-21:

"Adonijah, son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. "Do you come as a friend?" she asked. "Yes," he answered, and added, "I have something to say to you." She replied, "Say it." So he said: "...There is one favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me." And she said, "Speak on." He said, "Please ask King Solomon, who will not refuse you, to give me Abishag the Shunamite for my wife." "Very well," replied Bathsheba, "I will speak to the king for you." Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king's mother, who sat at his right. "There is one small favor I would ask of you," she said. "Do not refuse me." "Ask it, my mother," the king said to her, "for I will not refuse you." So she said, "Let Abishag the Shunamite be given to your brother Adonijah for his wife."

The following is also significant:

    Adonijah assumed that the queen mother would approach the King on his behalf; he trusted her.
    The reaction of the King is noteworthy: he stood up to meet her and paid her homage.
    A throne was provided for her, and she sat at his right.
    Her power as intercessor is stressed by the repetition of the idea that the king "will not refuse her".

To this day, Orthodox Christians (and those non-Orthodox who believe in her intercession) continue to pray to the Mother of God in this light. We assume that she will approach the King on our behalf. Now, many Protestants will say "We don't need to go through anyone; we can speak to God directly." Well, of course we can, and we should. But I doubt that that same person NEVER asked a friend to say a prayer for or with him. We ask our friends to pray for and with us, not because we feel that we can't approach God directly, but because we are a family in Christ, and the more the merrier. We care about each other, and approach God on behalf of those we love all the time. Why limit that care and assistance to those living on this earth now?

Saint Paul tells us that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses-- do we think that these witnesses care nothing for us? Revelation tells us that the prayers of the saints rise like incense before God. If we ask those we know here to pray for us, how should we refrain from asking those who are in the presence of God? James 5 says the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Who is more righteous than the Mother of God? And if we ask those who are in the presence of God to pray for us, how should we refrain from asking the very mother of the King? The issue is not "mediation" but intercession, which is something all Christians are called on to do for one another.

You see, Rachel, this and your subsequent questions such as praying for the dead can be answered from scripture. Praying for the dead, praying to saints or the Mother of God for their intercession, it's all biblical. You might not realize this, as you have never attended an Orthodox Church. Our services and prayers are simply groaning with scripture, and, more importantly, on making the effort to keep one's eyes and ears open during the services, the proper context and interpretation of all this scripture will be made clear.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 10:00:42 AM

This speaks, in the first place, for the correctness of the Orthodox concept of intercession because, in the last analysis, it cancels out the distinction between the intercessor, that is the Virgin, and us. We take from the Virgin the courage that derives from her purity and the audacity that derives from her motherhood and her unique love for Christ. All these things are considered to have been granted to her for our sake, and she, in her great confidence before God, is able to transfer them to us, just as a stronger member in the body grants its strength to a weaker one.


OK, so this was very interesting, and kind of ties in with what I was saying about the greater elevating the lesser. There is however a possible objection, and I'll run it by the rest of you and see what resolutions can be offered to my conundrum.

First, lets look at the Apostolic doctrine as contained in Paul's epistle to the Hebrews:

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"Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."

Hebrews 2;17-18

And

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"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Hebrews 3; 14-16

Now, you will find this idea in other places in the New Testament. Christ took human flesh so that he could participate with us in our weaknesses and sufferings. Because He was Man, he could suffer and be tempted, and even die, but because He was God, he overcame all, and emerged victorious. Thus in communion with Him, He imparts His own divine strength, His very own nature, thus enabling us also to overcome. He became what we are so that we can become what He is. And because he shared in our infirmities, he can fully empathize with us in all of our weaknesses and failures. Thus, By His Mercy, we can draw near to God, to Him, in boldness and with a degree of audacity, and find the grace we need to aid us in our struggle.

So in short:

Through Christ we have boldness before God.

Amen. This is indeed what God's word says.

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Now look again at the above quote:

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This speaks, in the first place, for the correctness of the Orthodox concept of intercession because, in the last analysis, it cancels out the distinction between the intercessor, that is the Virgin, and us. We take from the Virgin the courage that derives from her purity and the audacity that derives from her motherhood and her unique love for Christ. All these things are considered to have been granted to her for our sake, and she, in her great confidence before God, is able to transfer them to us, just as a stronger member in the body grants its strength to a weaker one.


What this essentially says is that Mary has boldness and audacity before Christ because of her special relationship with Him, and through her intersession she transfers that to us, so that we too can share in her boldness before God.

Again, in short:

Through Mary we have boldness before God.

Now lets compare these two models.

A: Through Christ we have boldness before God.

B: Through Mary we have boldness before God.

...Is this not problematic? Could it not be argued that because there is this idea that we need Mary to usher us into the presences of her Son, we're making Christ's own empathy for us out to be insufficient? Is it possible that His Divinity is being emphasized in such a way that it marginalizes the importance of His humanity, thus leaving us in a situation where we feel we need an extra mediator to bring us before Him in boldness?
That is precisely what such a belief does and it is NOT scriptural.

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What is the resolution?
Take God at his word. The notion that we need Mary is found NOWHERE in scripture.

 


Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 10:09:22 AM
"Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ."

So what is Paul teaching?

Through imitating Paul you obtain righteousness
Through imitating Christ you obtain righteousness
Please tell us where in God's word Paul says that through imitating him you can obtain righteousness? If this were so then there would be no need for Christ to have died for us. We could just imitate Paul and earn our own.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 10:14:18 AM
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Now lets compare these two models.

A: Through Christ we have boldness before God.

B: Through Mary we have boldness before God.

...Is this not problematic? Could it not be argued that because there is this idea that we need Mary to usher us into the presences of her Son, we're making Christ's own empathy for us out to be insufficient? Is it possible that His Divinity is being emphasized in such a way that it marginalizes the importance of His humanity, thus leaving us in a situation where we feel we need an extra mediator to bring us before Him in boldness? What is the resolution?

It is only problematic if one has to choose between the two. Orthodoxy does not teach this.
The difference is that the one is scriptural and the other isn't.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 26, 2013, 10:21:46 AM
Quote
Now lets compare these two models.

A: Through Christ we have boldness before God.

B: Through Mary we have boldness before God.

...Is this not problematic? Could it not be argued that because there is this idea that we need Mary to usher us into the presences of her Son, we're making Christ's own empathy for us out to be insufficient? Is it possible that His Divinity is being emphasized in such a way that it marginalizes the importance of His humanity, thus leaving us in a situation where we feel we need an extra mediator to bring us before Him in boldness? What is the resolution?

It is only problematic if one has to choose between the two. Orthodoxy does not teach this.
The difference is that the one is scriptural and the other isn't.



Nonsense. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, as St James writes in his epistle. And who are the most righteous? The saints, and the Mother of God, who are alive in Christ.

Rachel, I suggest you read my previous post if you haven't done so already.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 10:45:13 AM
Why do Marian devotees always insist upon blurring the line between her and God in their language? Why is it that in so many Marian hymns and prayers things are being said about her that should only appropriately be said about God? The more I think about it the more sickening it looks...
 the whole claim is based on the idea that the Orthodox Church has preserved the faith of the Apostles in it's fullness. And yet I'm just not seeing how the Apostles taught us any such thing about Mary or anyone else. All they talked about was the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It's not until the 3rd century, so far as we can tell, that people started writing prayers to Mary for her 'protection', and not until like the 8th century that someone decided hymns to Mary were needed in every single service of the Church. If it's all just the invention of man who wanted, then it means that in a huge way the Orthodox tradition has failed to preserve the truth, and has instead turned His mother into a near-goddess for no clear reason at all. We have no need of another deliverer. We have a perfect savior in Christ.

Why not rather praise Jesus and only Jesus for protection and deliverance and compassion? Why not rather throw yourself down before Him and only Him when asking for help and strength and encouragement? Why not instead call Him and only Him our strong tower and deliverer and help? He is God after all. Mary was the one he chose to be His means of incarnation. That doesn't make her the source of the Christian's hope and confidence and salvation. It was God who did it, not her, she only cooperated.      

You are right to be sceptical of what Orthodoxy teaches. Indeed the apostles did not teach any such thing about Mary. Such concepts are lies of Satan who wishes always to take glory away from Christ and to suggest that Christ's death and resurrection alone are insufficient. God says we can trust his word.  Do you not recognise when his Spirit is speaking to you and showing you where there is error? I think you are uneasy because you sense in your spirit that this teaching is not of God.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 10:48:44 AM
, since the ever-virginity of Mary is the only Marian dogma we have (along with her being Theotokos).
Please provide biblical reference for this.
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Yet, along with the title Theotokos, her ever-virginity is ultimately Christological, for it confirms this: she is the Ark of the New Covenant that could not be touched. She is exalted because she carried the salvation of the world.
Christ himself is the Ark of the New Covenant.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 11:19:30 AM

 But the real problem is that I can't prove anything one way or another. I've always operated under the assumption that what the Apostles and Prophets said was true, but everything else was suspect. And believing that, I've always been essentially sola-scriptura, and so the traditions about Mary's ever virginity, or that she lived in the Temple from age 3, or that she was mysteriously nourished by an Angel, which all first appears in writing in the mid-second century (fairly early, granted), and then of course the belief in her bodily assumption which only appears in writing centuries later--all of these ideas are suspect to me, because there is no first century evidence that they were taught by the apostles... You see what I'm saying? I can't deny them, as such, but an argument can be made that they were made up later on, after Marion ideas began to evolve, especially the Dormition/Assumption belief. And the veneration of Mary is intimately bound up in these beliefs.
And do these beliefs concur with scripture or are they just human constructs? Do the apostles speak of them? No. Does that not strike you as strange? Some of the beliefs about Mary as mentioned on this thread by yourself are in direct contradiction to what the apostles taught. So which is the truth? If God's word is not absolute truth then we can discount all of it.
So who do you chose to place your faith in? The word of God or the constructs of man?

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In other words, there's no proof, but they have to be accepted by faith...faith in the Church. Faith that the Holy Spirit was guiding the Church into all truth.
The Orthodox church makes all sorts of claims and yet many of their doctrines, of which that about Mary is only one, run counter to God's word. So which is infallible? Everyone ultimately has to make a leap of faith. Is God a man that he should lie? What does he say about his word?

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 26, 2013, 11:21:28 AM
, since the ever-virginity of Mary is the only Marian dogma we have (along with her being Theotokos).
Please provide biblical reference for this.
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Yet, along with the title Theotokos, her ever-virginity is ultimately Christological, for it confirms this: she is the Ark of the New Covenant that could not be touched. She is exalted because she carried the salvation of the world.
Christ himself is the Ark of the New Covenant.

Again, gladly:

On the ever-virginity of the Mother of God, and this list is not exhaustive:

Ezekiel 43:27-44:4, which is one of the appointed OT readings for Vespers for the feasts of the Mother of God:  

And when they have completed these days, then from the eighth day onward the priests shall offer upon the altar your burnt offerings and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, said the Lord God. Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me: This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way. Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord; and I fell upon my face.

Psalm 67:

The mountain of God is a fertile mountain, a bedewed mountain, a fertile mountain; why gaze you with envy, O bedewed mountains? for this is the mountain in which God has deigned to dwell.

Song of Solomon:

The garden is enclosed -- O My sister, My bride, -- the fountainhead is sealed, -- the fountainhead of the garden and the well-spring of living water.

Your garden is enclosed, O Virgin Mother, and your fountainhead is sealed by the Spirit of God, thus did the most-wise one sing in his songs.

On her being the Ark of the Covenant:

I have written about this in posts connected with the iconography of St Joseph the Betrothed. I'll add that the ark of the OT contained the tablets of the Law handed down to Moses by God, as well as several other items, such as Aaron's rod which budded, and the jar of manna, priceless in their holiness. The ark was so sacred that to touch it could result in death:

Samuel 6:6-7: And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.

The tablets of the Law were, to use your parlance, Rachel, the word of God, and the ark its protective enclosure. These prefigurations are fulfilled with utmost clarity: the true Word of God, Jesus Christ, incarnate in the womb of the Virgin. The ark imagery, of course, also speaks of the ever-virginity, purity and supreme among mortals holiness of the Mother of God.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 11:34:48 AM

If it's in the hymnography, the whole Church believes it, teaches it and proclaims it. It's a semantic moot point whether we call it dogma or doctrine. Just as the Church proclaims the death and burial of the Mother of God, it also proclaims her bodily translation to heaven.

From the feast of the Dormition:

... she who is higher than the Cherubim hastened towards heaven. With them we venerate her as she intercedes for our souls...
 come, let us garland the Church with songs as the Ark of God goes to her rest...
 For today heaven unfolds its bosom as it receives the one who gave birth to Him whom nothing can contain...
 while she who gave birth to the Prince of life is translated from life to life. Let us all worship her as we beg: ‘Sovereign Lady, do not forget your ties of kinship with those who celebrate with faith your all-holy Dormition’...
 by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.

Where in scripture does it tell you this? Where in scripture are you told to worship her? We are to worship God alone. Just that should tell you that this is not sound doctrine.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Cyrillic on May 26, 2013, 11:47:16 AM
Where in scripture are you told to worship her?

Where in that hymn are you told to worship her?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Cyrillic on May 26, 2013, 11:50:14 AM
God will not share his glory with another.

Praising you or anyone else but God is a dangerous thing, then?

Christ himself is the Ark of the New Covenant.

Christ is the New Covenant.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 11:53:58 AM
Feast of the Annunciation + March 25

Verily, Gabriel did come to thee, disclosing the purpose which was before the ages, hailing thee and saying, Rejoice O unseeded land! Rejoice, O unburning bush! Rejoice, O depth inaccessible to vision! Rejoice, O bridge leading to the heavens! Rejoice, O lofty ladder whom Jacob did behold! Rejoice, O jar of divine manna! Rejoice, O dissolution of the curse! Rejoice, O recall of Adam! The Lord is with thee.
Vespers of the Feast, Tone 6

Rejoice, O Theotokos, O deliverance of Adam from the curse! Rejoice, O chaste Theotokos! Rejoice, O living bush! Rejoice, O lamp! Rejoice, O throne! Rejoice, O ladder and door! Rejoice, O divine chariot! Rejoice, O bright cloud! Rejoice, O temple, O most-gilded jar! Rejoice, O mountain! Rejoice, O tabernacle and table! Rejoice, O deliverer of Eve!
Orthros of the Feast, Tone 2
Nowhere does God's word suggest that Mary is these things. Much of this usurps Christ's position.
God's word says in Luke Chapter 1:
Christ’s Birth Announced to Mary
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”[c]
29 But when she saw him,[d] she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.  30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.  36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.  37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.








Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Cyrillic on May 26, 2013, 11:58:06 AM
Someone is unfamiliar with Byzantine rhetorics  :)
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 26, 2013, 12:00:45 PM
Rachel didn´t answer my question for the 3rd time :(

Truth doesn´t deserve that, but I, a great sinner do.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 12:16:03 PM
Quote
Priest: Our most gracious Queen, our hope, O Theotokos, Who receivest the orphaned and art the intercessor for the stranger; the joy of those in sorrow, protectress of the wronged, see our distress, see our affliction! Help us, for we are helpless. Feed us, for we are strangers and pilgrims. Thou knowest our offences; forgive them, and resolve them as Thou dost will. For we know no other help but Thee, no other intercessor, no gracious comforter, only Thee, O Theotokos to guard and protect us for ages of ages. Amen. 
Where in God's word does it say that Mary is:
queen?
our hope?
our intercessor?
our protectress?
Where does it say:
that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?
that she can forgive sins?
that we have no other help but her?
that we have no other intercessor?
that we have no comforter than her?
That she can guard and protect us?

These ideas usurp Christ's place and are therefore blasphemous. God says, " I will share my glory with no one."
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Cyrillic on May 26, 2013, 12:17:11 PM
Someone is unfamiliar with Byzantine rhetorics  :)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 12:41:54 PM


The decisions He makes regarding the prayers and petitions which reach him, whether made directly to Him by us, or through the intercessions of the saints and the Mother of God, are His. However, in His compassion and love for mankind, He considers the prayers and petitions received through His saints, who stand before the throne of God. And His Mother is the most effective of these saintly intercessors, by virtue of being His Mother
Could you please show where  in God's word it suggests such a thing?


To this day, Orthodox Christians (and those non-Orthodox who believe in her intercession) continue to pray to the Mother of God in this light. We assume that she will approach the King on our behalf.
You assume an awful lot. Where does scripture tell you that she will do this?
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Now, many Protestants will say "We don't need to go through anyone; we can speak to God directly."
And why do we say this? Because that is what God's word tells us to do.
Quote
Well, of course we can, and we should. But I doubt that that same person NEVER asked a friend to say a prayer for or with him. We ask our friends to pray for and with us, not because we feel that we can't approach God directly, but because we are a family in Christ, and the more the merrier. We care about each other, and approach God on behalf of those we love all the time. Why limit that care and assistance to those living on this earth now?

But we do not pray to that friend. Both the friend and myself pray directly to God. This is scriptural. What is not scriptural is to ask the dead to pray for us.

Quote
Revelation tells us that the prayers of the saints rise like incense before God.
Quite so - the saints are all those who accept Christ. So if you have accepted Christ then your prayers do this. Nowhere in scripture does it suggest that those who have died pray for us. Nor are we to ask them to do so. Are they God that they can hear us?
Quote
If we ask those we know here to pray for us, how should we refrain from asking those who are in the presence of God?
Because God does not sanction this.
Quote
James 5 says the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Who is more righteous than the Mother of God?
There is only one who is righteous enough and that is Christ. You can boldly approach the throne of God if, and only if, you stand clothed in his righteousness.

Quote
You see, Rachel, this and your subsequent questions such as praying for the dead can be answered from scripture. Praying for the dead, praying to saints or the Mother of God for their intercession, it's all biblical.
Then please cite where.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 12:48:25 PM
Quote
Now lets compare these two models.

A: Through Christ we have boldness before God.

B: Through Mary we have boldness before God.

...Is this not problematic? Could it not be argued that because there is this idea that we need Mary to usher us into the presences of her Son, we're making Christ's own empathy for us out to be insufficient? Is it possible that His Divinity is being emphasized in such a way that it marginalizes the importance of His humanity, thus leaving us in a situation where we feel we need an extra mediator to bring us before Him in boldness? What is the resolution?

It is only problematic if one has to choose between the two. Orthodoxy does not teach this.
The difference is that the one is scriptural and the other isn't.



Nonsense. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, as St James writes in his epistle. And who are the most righteous? The saints, and the Mother of God, who are alive in Christ.
Who do you think is righteous enough?
The answer is no-one. Not the apostles, not Mary. We can stand before God clothed only in Christ's righteousness that he purchased for us at Calvary. We are told that our righteousness is as filthy rags.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Cyrillic on May 26, 2013, 12:53:31 PM
Why would the apostles write down that the prayer of a righteous man avails much when such a thing doesn't even exist?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 12:58:38 PM
, since the ever-virginity of Mary is the only Marian dogma we have (along with her being Theotokos).
Please provide biblical reference for this.
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Yet, along with the title Theotokos, her ever-virginity is ultimately Christological, for it confirms this: she is the Ark of the New Covenant that could not be touched. She is exalted because she carried the salvation of the world.
Christ himself is the Ark of the New Covenant.

Again, gladly:

On the ever-virginity of the Mother of God, and this list is not exhaustive:

Ezekiel 43:27-44:4, which is one of the appointed OT readings for Vespers for the feasts of the Mother of God:  

And when they have completed these days, then from the eighth day onward the priests shall offer upon the altar your burnt offerings and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, said the Lord God. Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me: This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way. Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord; and I fell upon my face.

Psalm 67:

The mountain of God is a fertile mountain, a bedewed mountain, a fertile mountain; why gaze you with envy, O bedewed mountains? for this is the mountain in which God has deigned to dwell.

Song of Solomon:

The garden is enclosed -- O My sister, My bride, -- the fountainhead is sealed, -- the fountainhead of the garden and the well-spring of living water.

Your garden is enclosed, O Virgin Mother, and your fountainhead is sealed by the Spirit of God, thus did the most-wise one sing in his songs.

On her being the Ark of the Covenant:

I have written about this in posts connected with the iconography of St Joseph the Betrothed. I'll add that the ark of the OT contained the tablets of the Law handed down to Moses by God, as well as several other items, such as Aaron's rod which budded, and the jar of manna, priceless in their holiness. The ark was so sacred that to touch it could result in death:

Samuel 6:6-7: And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.

The tablets of the Law were, to use your parlance, Rachel, the word of God, and the ark its protective enclosure. These prefigurations are fulfilled with utmost clarity: the true Word of God, Jesus Christ, incarnate in the womb of the Virgin. The ark imagery, of course, also speaks of the ever-virginity, purity and supreme among mortals holiness of the Mother of God.
None of the above suggests that Mary is the Ark of the covenant.
 I suggest you read Hebrews chapter 9

Hebrews 9
The Earthly Sanctuary

9 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.  2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;  3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,  4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;  5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

Limitations of the Earthly Service

6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.  7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;  8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.  9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—  10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

The Heavenly Sanctuary

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,[a] with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.  12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,  14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

The Mediator’s Death Necessary

16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.  18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.  19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,  20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”  21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.  22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Greatness of Christ’s Sacrifice

23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;  25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—  26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,  28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 01:07:35 PM
God will not share his glory with another.

Praising you or anyone else but God is a dangerous thing, then?
Well God says:
Isaiah 42:8
I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 01:08:51 PM
Why would the apostles write down that the prayer of a righteous man avails much when such a thing doesn't even exist?
It does exist. We stand in Christ's righteousness.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Maria on May 26, 2013, 01:10:54 PM
Quote
Now lets compare these two models.

A: Through Christ we have boldness before God.

B: Through Mary we have boldness before God.

...Is this not problematic? Could it not be argued that because there is this idea that we need Mary to usher us into the presences of her Son, we're making Christ's own empathy for us out to be insufficient? Is it possible that His Divinity is being emphasized in such a way that it marginalizes the importance of His humanity, thus leaving us in a situation where we feel we need an extra mediator to bring us before Him in boldness? What is the resolution?

It is only problematic if one has to choose between the two. Orthodoxy does not teach this.
The difference is that the one is scriptural and the other isn't.



Nonsense. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, as St James writes in his epistle. And who are the most righteous? The saints, and the Mother of God, who are alive in Christ.
Who do you think is righteous enough?
The answer is no-one. Not the apostles, not Mary. We can stand before God clothed only in Christ's righteousness that he purchased for us at Calvary. We are told that our righteousness is as filthy rags.



Christ instituted the Holy Mystery of Baptism whereby we are born again and clothed in righteousness. To believe that our righteousness is now nothing but a bunch of menstrual rags is heresy now that we have been redeemed, born again, and clothed in righteousness.

The Holy Mystery of Chrismation fills us with the Holy Spirit and illuminates us so that we can be victorious over the devil and strive toward theosis. Holy Communion unites us with Christ where we become one with Christ.

You have been spouting the insidious heresy of Calvinism, which does not believe that man can be redeemed. If man cannot be redeemed through Holy Baptism, Holy Chrismation and Holy Communion, then why did Christ die for us?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Arachne on May 26, 2013, 01:12:52 PM
And yet the Gospels don't instruct us to sing hymns of praise, glorify and extol her, or any such thing.
That's because we're not supposed to do such a thing. It is idolatry. God will not share his glory with another.

Is your Bible missing the Gospel of Luke?

'My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me
, and holy is his Name.'
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Cyrillic on May 26, 2013, 01:13:10 PM
Why would the apostles write down that the prayer of a righteous man avails much when such a thing doesn't even exist?
It does exist. We stand in Christ's righteousness.

And the saints don't?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Maria on May 26, 2013, 01:13:47 PM
God will not share his glory with another.

Praising you or anyone else but God is a dangerous thing, then?
Well God says:
Isaiah 42:8
I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images

To praise another person for spouting heresy is not only flattery, it is insidious ecumenism.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Cyrillic on May 26, 2013, 01:17:34 PM
God will not share his glory with another.

Praising you or anyone else but God is a dangerous thing, then?
Well God says:
Isaiah 42:8
I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images

So praising someone is a no-no?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 26, 2013, 01:27:14 PM
I still don't get what is wrong with condescension. It is what God did after all.

This makes me smile...thank you, sir.  :)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 01:36:19 PM
Jovan,
You ask me whether masturbation and abortion are sins. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about these things?
I am not your judge.
Regarding the views expressed about Mary.
Firstly: there is nothing to suggest any of this in scripture
Secondly: there is a lot in scripture that allows you to know that such beliefs are wrong as the Holy Spirit will not contradict himself.
For example:
God says that ONLY he can forgive sins
He says he is the door
He says there is ONE mediator and that is himself
etc
Read my posts as I have identified where beliefs about Mary run counter to scripture. If you chose to believe Orthodox views on Mary then you chose these views above God's word and the implication of this is that you think God a liar.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 01:40:58 PM
Quote
Now lets compare these two models.

A: Through Christ we have boldness before God.

B: Through Mary we have boldness before God.

...Is this not problematic? Could it not be argued that because there is this idea that we need Mary to usher us into the presences of her Son, we're making Christ's own empathy for us out to be insufficient? Is it possible that His Divinity is being emphasized in such a way that it marginalizes the importance of His humanity, thus leaving us in a situation where we feel we need an extra mediator to bring us before Him in boldness? What is the resolution?

It is only problematic if one has to choose between the two. Orthodoxy does not teach this.
The difference is that the one is scriptural and the other isn't.



Nonsense. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, as St James writes in his epistle. And who are the most righteous? The saints, and the Mother of God, who are alive in Christ.
Who do you think is righteous enough?
The answer is no-one. Not the apostles, not Mary. We can stand before God clothed only in Christ's righteousness that he purchased for us at Calvary. We are told that our righteousness is as filthy rags.



Christ instituted the Holy Mystery of Baptism whereby we are born again and clothed in righteousness. To believe that our righteousness is now nothing but a bunch of menstrual rags is heresy now that we have been redeemed, born again, and clothed in righteousness.

The Holy Mystery of Chrismation fills us with the Holy Spirit and illuminates us so that we can be victorious over the devil and strive toward theosis. Holy Communion unites us with Christ where we become one with Christ.

You have been spouting the insidious heresy of Calvinism, which does not believe that man can be redeemed. If man cannot be redeemed through Holy Baptism, Holy Chrismation and Holy Communion, then why did Christ die for us?
I will happily answer these things but I think you need to put them in another thread as we are going off topic. Do you want to transfer them to how to interpret scripture?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 01:46:08 PM
And yet the Gospels don't instruct us to sing hymns of praise, glorify and extol her, or any such thing.
That's because we're not supposed to do such a thing. It is idolatry. God will not share his glory with another.

Is your Bible missing the Gospel of Luke?

'My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me
, and holy is his Name.'

Absolutely. But what it doesn't say is:
Priest: Our most gracious Queen, our hope, O Theotokos, Who receivest the orphaned and art the intercessor for the stranger; the joy of those in sorrow, protectress of the wronged, see our distress, see our affliction! Help us, for we are helpless. Feed us, for we are strangers and pilgrims. Thou knowest our offences; forgive them, and resolve them as Thou dost will. For we know no other help but Thee, no other intercessor, no gracious comforter, only Thee, O Theotokos to guard and protect us for ages of ages. Amen. 
Where in God's word does it say that Mary is:
queen?
our hope?
our intercessor?
our protectress?
Where does it say:
that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?
that she can forgive sins?
that we have no other help but her?
that we have no other intercessor?
that we have no comforter than her?
That she can guard and protect us?

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 01:47:44 PM
Why would the apostles write down that the prayer of a righteous man avails much when such a thing doesn't even exist?
It does exist. We stand in Christ's righteousness.

And the saints don't?
We all, saints from the past and saints alive today, stand clothed in Christ's righteousness.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: JamesR on May 26, 2013, 02:10:04 PM
I'm starting to get the feeling that this whole "Do what the Holy Spirit is telling you" think is really a cover up for many peoples' personal feelings and emotions. After all, many people have believed that the voices inside of their heads were of "the Holy Spirit" or of some other religious thing  ;)
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 26, 2013, 02:17:51 PM
I'm starting to get the feeling that this whole "Do what the Holy Spirit is telling you" think is really a cover up for many peoples' personal feelings and emotions. After all, many people have believed that the voices inside of their heads were of "the Holy Spirit" or of some other religious thing  ;)

Thanks mate, you saved me some explanation.

But with all respect I appreciate your response Rachel. But now you see why I asked the question. People have felt that lying is needed just because the "Holy Spirit" convinced them. People have felt that in a matter of a second suddenly the Holy Spirit ought to give words rather than Gods word, which I thought was a complete source for me to look at according to you. In the end , someone has then to judge if that what we think is the "work and telling of the Holy Spirit" is something true or false. If scripture can´t back that up, who or what can?

You still got the questions before you. If you can´t answer them in the way I asked you to. Exact word by word that these acts are sins, then your sola scriptura fails, end of discussion. With much love and respect for you. But if Sola scriptura can´t stand the questions on masturbation and abortion, then the orthodox has proved the point. We need an outside source, except the scripture, to explain about these matters, and many, many, many and many more.

If the protestant church is that outside source, then you go into circular reasoning, and give that church the authority it cannot prove nor hold.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 26, 2013, 02:20:12 PM
So now Rachel, before you even go on with questioning Mary and her role in the orthodox church. Try to find answers, according to your own standard(Word by word in the scripture, or else rubbish) on masturbation and abortion. Start with these, I can fill you up with more matters if you need. If your standard can´t hold the race, then you better change it.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 26, 2013, 02:27:01 PM
Mary is a sinner in need of a saviour just like the rest of mankind.

Hi Rachel,

I don't know you; forgive me if this sounds harsh, but there's no pleasant sounding way to warn a swimmer of a shark.

All of your harping would be so boring and long-winded if it weren't so dangerous.  From the first pages of Scripture, God has announced the enmity between the serpent and "the woman", between the serpent's seed and the seed of "the woman" (cf. Gn. 3.15).  And every time I see Protestants, out of their zeal for the worship of the one God, drag down into the mud and stomp upon the dignity of the Mother of Jesus (the only woman with seed because of her ever-virginal motherhood), I can't help but hear Christ's words directed toward them: "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (Jn. 8.44).

No one denies that Mary needed a Savior.  She said so herself (cf. Lk. 1.47).  But, typically, even if we see others sinning, we don't call them sinners or think badly of them, because we recognize, as Paul did, that each of us ourselves is the foremost among sinners (cf. I Tim. 1.15).  So why do you think you have the right to take your eyes off your own spiritual misery and heap insults on Jesus' Mother?  Do you think Jesus is impressed?

No, he's not impressed.  He is impressed when a woman cries out in a crowd "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed", and rather than contradict those words, he amplifies them by declaring blessed those who hear the word of God and keep it (cf. Lk. 11.27-28).  No one in Scripture heard the word of God and kept it better than Mary, who heard God's word with the ears and heart of faith and brought it forth in her manner of life even before she heard God's word through the angel with the same ears and heart of faith, bringing forth God's Son made flesh, flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone, blood of her blood.  It was because there was no one who heard the word of God and kept it better than Mary that God chose her to be the mother of his Son; he didn't just scour the world looking for an incubator and say "That Jew will do."    

LBK and others have given you a lot of Scripture and a lot of ideas from Scripture to consider.  If you are really interested, interact with that material, as others in this thread have, who may not understand at first but are willing to ponder and learn.  No one expects you to understand or believe immediately, but there's a way to seek understanding and then there's simply the obstinate refusal to believe nothing but your own wisdom.  Don't do the latter.

When LBK wrote about the role of the Queen Mother in the OT, I couldn't help but think of the Wedding at Cana (cf. Jn. 2.1-11).  When Mary approaches Jesus with the problem of the lack of wine, he at first doesn't seem disposed to do anything about it: he tells her that it's not their concern, and that his hour has not yet come.  But Mary's insistent plea for her Son's help takes on another form, as she prepares the servants to "do whatever he tells" them.  And Christ, even though his hour had not yet come, advances that hour--alters his schedule and plan, as we might say--to provide wine for a wedding (relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things), because it meant so much to his mother that he help.  He advanced his approach to Calvary in order to answer the seemingly insignificant request of his mother.  Are we to believe that he won't listen to her when she asks for even more important things?  

And at Calvary, on the cross, he thought of his mother: "When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!'  Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!'  And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home" (Jn. 19.26-27).  Now, we believe that this "beloved disciple" was John himself, but it's surely not an accident, but the intention of the Holy Spirit, that he is not named, but is simply "the disciple whom Jesus loved".  Jesus gives his mother another son: his beloved disciple.  And the beloved disciple receives a mother: Jesus' own mother.  If we would be another of Jesus' beloved disciples, how can we ignore the gift he gave us in his mother, his dying gift to us from the cross?  If we would be another of Jesus' beloved disciples, how can we not but take his mother into our own homes and lives as immediately as that beloved disciple did?  

As Fr Thomas Hopko taught in a podcast I can't recall right now, "Mary is a mystery of the Church".  Only when one has truly accepted Christ with faith and repentance and become a member of his Body through baptism and the Eucharist can they understand Mary.  She doesn't make sense to those outside the Church, to those who are not members of Christ's Body; maybe that's why the Devil and his children hate her with such passion.  If you are not Christ's, then Mary will never make sense to you, and that is your choice (i.e., to remain outside the house instead of joining the family).  But don't think you can get away with ridiculing things as important as Mary just because you don't understand them.  No man likes it when you insult his mother, much less the God-Man, and I wouldn't recommend annoying him: "Your mama" jokes always end badly.  

Edited to add a citation.  
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 26, 2013, 02:53:06 PM
Mary is a sinner in need of a saviour just like the rest of mankind.

Hi Rachel,

I don't know you; forgive me if this sounds harsh, but there's no pleasant sounding way to warn a swimmer of a shark.

All of your harping would be so boring and long-winded if it weren't so dangerous.  From the first pages of Scripture, God has announced the enmity between the serpent and "the woman", between the serpent's seed and the seed of "the woman" (cf. Gn. 3.15).  And every time I see Protestants, out of their zeal for the worship of the one God, drag down into the mud and stomp upon the dignity of the Mother of Jesus (the only woman with seed because of her ever-virginal motherhood), I can't help but hear Christ's words directed toward them: "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (Jn. 8.44).

No one denies that Mary needed a Savior.  She said so herself (cf. Lk. 1.47).  But, typically, even if we see others sinning, we don't call them sinners or think badly of them, because we recognize, as Paul did, that each of us ourselves is the foremost among sinners (cf. I Tim. 1.15).  So why do you think you have the right to take your eyes off your own spiritual misery and heap insults on Jesus' Mother?  Do you think Jesus is impressed?

No, he's not impressed.  He is impressed when a woman cries out in a crowd "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed", and rather than contradict those words, he amplifies them by declaring blessed those who hear the word of God and keep it (cf. Lk. 11.27-28).  No one in Scripture heard the word of God and kept it better than Mary, who heard God's word with the ears and heart of faith and brought it forth in her manner of life even before she heard God's word through the angel with the same ears and heart of faith, bringing forth God's Son made flesh, flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone, blood of her blood.  It was because there was no one who heard the word of God and kept it better than Mary that God chose her to be the mother of his Son; he didn't just scour the world looking for an incubator and say "That Jew will do."    

LBK and others have given you a lot of Scripture and a lot of ideas from Scripture to consider.  If you are really interested, interact with that material, as others in this thread have, who may not understand at first but are willing to ponder and learn.  No one expects you to understand or believe immediately, but there's a way to seek understanding and then there's simply the obstinate refusal to believe nothing but your own wisdom.  Don't do the latter.

When LBK wrote about the role of the Queen Mother in the OT, I couldn't help but think of the Wedding at Cana (cf. Jn. 2.1-11).  When Mary approaches Jesus with the problem of the lack of wine, he at first doesn't seem disposed to do anything about it: he tells her that it's not their concern, and that his hour has not yet come.  But Mary's insistent plea for her Son's help takes on another form, as she prepares the servants to "do whatever he tells" them.  And Christ, even though his hour had not yet come, advances that hour--alters his schedule and plan, as we might say--to provide wine for a wedding (relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things), because it meant so much to his mother that he help.  He advanced his approach to Calvary in order to answer the seemingly insignificant request of his mother.  Are we to believe that he won't listen to her when she asks for even more important things?  

And at Calvary, on the cross, he thought of his mother: "When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!'  Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!'  And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home" (Jn. 19.26-27).  Now, we believe that this "beloved disciple" was John himself, but it's surely not an accident, but the intention of the Holy Spirit, that he is not named, but is simply "the disciple whom Jesus loved".  Jesus gives his mother another son: his beloved disciple.  And the beloved disciple receives a mother: Jesus' own mother.  If we would be another of Jesus' beloved disciples, how can we ignore the gift he gave us in his mother, his dying gift to us from the cross?  If we would be another of Jesus' beloved disciples, how can we not but take his mother into our own homes and lives as immediately as that beloved disciple did?  

As Fr Thomas Hopko taught in a podcast I can't recall right now, "Mary is a mystery of the Church".  Only when one has truly accepted Christ with faith and repentance and become a member of his Body through baptism and the Eucharist can they understand Mary.  She doesn't make sense to those outside the Church, to those who are not members of Christ's Body; maybe that's why the Devil and his children hate her with such passion.  If you are not Christ's, then Mary will never make sense to you, and that is your choice (i.e., to remain outside the house instead of joining the family).  But don't think you can get away with ridiculing things as important as Mary just because you don't understand them.  No man likes it when you insult his mother, much less the God-Man, and I wouldn't recommend annoying him: "Your mama" jokes always end badly.  

Edited to add a citation.  

I seriously love you and your wisdom from God! You better come to Sweden and marry me whether you or the church like it or not, haha :P

When I became orthodox 2 years ago and dived into a sea of mystery and truth, one thought always gave me comfort.

That one day, standing before the glory of the Holy and Living One, shaking and sweating because I, the greatest sinner, won´t dare to even pronounce His name. In that moment, where I can´t even handle the glory of our Lord and Savior, his Mother will step forth with a comforting hug and say that She, the most Blessed One, have prayed for me many times. Maybe then will I dare to say what is most truthful and merciful, please O' Lord, your will be done, just your will be done...

You Mor Ephrem, give a whole other dimension to the fullness of Gods grace and love. I can´t thank you enough, please forgive me for that :(
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 26, 2013, 03:28:46 PM
Mary is a sinner in need of a saviour just like the rest of mankind.

Hi Rachel,

I don't know you; forgive me if this sounds harsh, but there's no pleasant sounding way to warn a swimmer of a shark.

All of your harping would be so boring and long-winded if it weren't so dangerous.  From the first pages of Scripture, God has announced the enmity between the serpent and "the woman", between the serpent's seed and the seed of "the woman" (cf. Gn. 3.15).  And every time I see Protestants, out of their zeal for the worship of the one God, drag down into the mud and stomp upon the dignity of the Mother of Jesus
Where have I dragged Mary down in the mud or stomped on her dignity?
Quote
(the only woman with seed because of her ever-virginal motherhood)
Are you suggesting that the other children she bore were likewise conceived?
Quote
I can't help but hear Christ's words directed toward them: "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (Jn. 8.44).
Quite so. And who told you that Mary could forgive sins, be a mediator between us and Christ etc?

Quote
No one denies that Mary needed a Savior.  She said so herself (cf. Lk. 1.47).  But, typically, even if we see others sinning, we don't call them sinners or think badly of them, because we recognize, as Paul did, that each of us ourselves is the foremost among sinners (cf. I Tim. 1.15).  So why do you think you have the right to take your eyes off your own spiritual misery

Am I a sinner? Yes. Am I in spiritual misery? No because Christ has died for my sins and I stand clothed in his righteousness and indwelt of the Holy Spirit. I can rejoice because of what Christ has done for me.
Quote
and heap insults on Jesus' Mother?

What insults have I heaped on Jesus' mother?


Quote
LBK and others have given you a lot of Scripture and a lot of ideas from Scripture to consider.  If you are really interested, interact with that material, as others in this thread have, who may not understand at first but are willing to ponder and learn.  No one expects you to understand or believe immediately, but there's a way to seek understanding and then there's simply the obstinate refusal to believe nothing but your own wisdom.  Don't do the latter.
Well that works both ways.

 

Quote
As Fr Thomas Hopko taught in a podcast I can't recall right now, "Mary is a mystery of the Church".
I quite understand what God's word has to say about Mary.
Quote
Only when one has truly accepted Christ with faith and repentance and become a member of his Body through baptism and the Eucharist
Well God's word does not say that baptism and the Eucharist are part of salvation but that is another debate - perhaps for another thread.
Quote
can they understand Mary.
Where do you get this idea from? What God's word has to say about Mary is perfectly clear. You seek to add to this.
Quote
She doesn't make sense to those outside the Church, to those who are not members of Christ's Body; maybe that's why the Devil and his children hate her with such passion.
I think you'll find that it is Christ and his death and resurrection that Satan hates with such a passion as it is by this alone that we are reconciled to God.
I think by this that you wish to infer that I am a child of Satan and hate Mary. Nothing that I have said regarding Mary suggests this. Please cite what I have said that suggests this?
Quote
If you are not Christ's, then Mary will never make sense to you, and that is your choice (i.e., to remain outside the house instead of joining the family).  But don't think you can get away with ridiculing things as important as Mary just because you don't understand them.
Well that's a lot of assumptions. You again make wild allegations that I have ridiculed Mary. Please cite where I have done so.

Quote
No man likes it when you insult his mother, much less the God-Man, and I wouldn't recommend annoying him: "Your mama" jokes always end badly.
You keep alleging that I have insulted Mary or made jokes about her. Please cite where or stop making such allegations.
At the same time I would be grateful if you could show me where in scripture it says the following about Mary:
Priest: Our most gracious Queen, our hope, O Theotokos, Who receivest the orphaned and art the intercessor for the stranger; the joy of those in sorrow, protectress of the wronged, see our distress, see our affliction! Help us, for we are helpless. Feed us, for we are strangers and pilgrims. Thou knowest our offences; forgive them, and resolve them as Thou dost will. For we know no other help but Thee, no other intercessor, no gracious comforter, only Thee, O Theotokos to guard and protect us for ages of ages. Amen. 
Where in God's word does it say that Mary is:
queen?
our hope?
our intercessor?
our protectress?
Where does it say:
that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?
that she can forgive sins?
that we have no other help but her?
that we have no other intercessor?
that we have no comforter than her?
That she can guard and protect us?

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: biro on May 26, 2013, 03:36:25 PM
Neo-Protestants like to wipe Mary off the books. That way, they don't have to have reverence for anyone except themselves.

Even though it's the Bible that calls Mary 'the mother of my Lord' and says 'every generation shall call me blessed.'

Go figure.  ::)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Shiny on May 26, 2013, 03:49:33 PM
rachel does the rare feat of being both a bore and boor.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 26, 2013, 06:01:53 PM
Hi Rachel,

I'm not going to engage in a line-by-line debate on your points.  It's always easier to make an error than to correct one, and your approach is ample proof of that. 

You ask where you've trampled upon the dignity of Mary (in my estimation), and I quoted one of your statements to show that.  You see, I've listened to Evangelical preachers on TV or radio who speak very well of Mary (when they ever speak of her).  I wish I had the recordings myself or knew how to access them, but I've heard very orthodox sermons about Mary from the mouths of people like Billy Graham, Charles Swindoll, and James MacDonald (all of whom, I trust, meet your "Bible-believing" standards).  They are able to speak well of her, even if they don't believe everything we do about her or practice our devotional practices.  They're able to do that because they're not insecure in their belief.  They don't have to prove it to anyone.  They believe it speaks for itself, and so they share it in love.  And if they were questioned on it by someone like me, we may study the issue and still not see eye to eye, we may disagree, and that would be that; but sometimes, one or the other of us might learn something more of the truth, and when that happens, it is a good thing.  But people who have an ax to grind do what you do, which is quote statement after statement by different posters and ask the same trolling questions in order to see if one of us will succumb and say "You know what, you're right, we are idol and goddess worshipers."  I repeat: Jesus is not amused.

Many of your questions regarding the wording of our prayers, the ever-virginity of Mary, the doctrine of salvation, the intercessory ministry of the saints, etc. have been covered in other threads or even in this thread by other worthy posters and myself.  Some of the doubts you raise I've already addressed in previous posts in this thread; quite frankly, I don't feel like answering your questions when you don't want to consider our answers.  Something about pearls and swine I once read somewhere... 

Oh, and by the way, "God's word" = Jesus Christ (cf. Jn. 1.1, 14).  As important as the Bible is for us, the text of the Bible is "God's word" in the sense that it testifies to the Word of God made flesh.  The Bible itself is not some magic oracle that can be quoted chapter and verse to support a particular case and be correct just because "it's God's word"; separated from the Word of God, Jesus Christ, it can be twisted to support any number of ideas.  That's why even the Devil knows and is able to quote Scripture, but to no avail (cf. Mt. 4.1-11).  Only in union with Christ as a member of the Body of Christ does the Bible make sense, and the Body of Christ is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth (cf. Col. 1.18; I Tim. 3.15).  When you identify "God's word" exclusively with the Bible, you're certain to trip up somewhere, because that very idea is not biblical. 
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 26, 2013, 06:06:50 PM
I seriously love you and your wisdom from God! You better come to Sweden and marry me whether you or the church like it or not, haha :P


Well, I'm not a priest, nor do I expect to become one anytime soon, so I don't think I could marry you; I'd be happy to attend the wedding if invited, though.  :)
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 26, 2013, 06:55:46 PM
I seriously love you and your wisdom from God! You better come to Sweden and marry me whether you or the church like it or not, haha :P


Well, I'm not a priest, nor do I expect to become one anytime soon, so I don't think I could marry you; I'd be happy to attend the wedding if invited, though.  :)

Forgive me for my bad jokes brother, sometimes I try and fail as hard :P
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 26, 2013, 07:00:21 PM
If anyone is interested, take a look. Displays the beauty of orthodoxy in a wonderful way, Glory to the Lord.

Couldn´t find the thread where to post videos of this kind. Forgive me (Admin) if I posted in the wrong neighborhood.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=saWJUZ6TKNg#!
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on May 26, 2013, 07:43:16 PM
Quote
Where in God's word does it say that Mary is:
queen?
our hope?
our intercessor?
our protectress?
Where does it say:
that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?
that she can forgive sins?
that we have no other help but her?
that we have no other intercessor?
that we have no comforter than her?
That she can guard and protect us?

The Holy Spirit told me this.  Checkmate.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 26, 2013, 07:53:18 PM
Quote
Where in God's word does it say that Mary is:
queen?
our hope?
our intercessor?
our protectress?
Where does it say:
that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?
that she can forgive sins?
that we have no other help but her?
that we have no other intercessor?
that we have no comforter than her?
That she can guard and protect us?

The Holy Spirit told me this.  Checkmate.

Pwned. 
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 26, 2013, 07:57:05 PM
Forgive me for my bad jokes brother, sometimes I try and fail as hard :P

Better to try and fail at making jokes than to try and succeed at becoming one...there's nothing to forgive.  But if you insist, your penance is one economy class, round trip plane ticket to Sweden.  :P
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 26, 2013, 07:58:20 PM
Quote
Are you suggesting that the other children she bore were likewise conceived?

Rachel, where in the Bible does it say that the Mother of God bore more children?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on May 26, 2013, 09:48:47 PM
Quote
Where in God's word does it say that Mary is:
queen?
our hope?
our intercessor?
our protectress?
Where does it say:
that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?
that she can forgive sins?
that we have no other help but her?
that we have no other intercessor?
that we have no comforter than her?
That she can guard and protect us?
I would then say, where in Gods Word does it say we are to only use God's Word?

PP
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Armchair Theologian on May 27, 2013, 11:05:59 PM
I'm starting to get the feeling that this whole "Do what the Holy Spirit is telling you" think is really a cover up for many peoples' personal feelings and emotions. After all, many people have believed that the voices inside of their heads were of "the Holy Spirit" or of some other religious thing  ;)

True, but how can it be proven that many of the so-called fathers of the Orthodox Church don't fall under the same category. How can we be assured that they were inspired by God when they began to write out the foundations of these sorts of Marion prayers and devotions? What if they were misguided by their own fancies and imaginations? or worse, totally diluted by pagan philosophy and mysticism, completely led astray from then true teachings of the apostles as reflected in Scripture? For that matter, how can we know the later reformers weren't being led by the Holy Spirit when they chose to throw out all of these extraordinary devotions to Mary?

I'm not saying this is how it is, I'd just like some clarity. Why is the Orthodox view better? How do we know?  
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 28, 2013, 12:30:46 AM
I'm starting to get the feeling that this whole "Do what the Holy Spirit is telling you" think is really a cover up for many peoples' personal feelings and emotions. After all, many people have believed that the voices inside of their heads were of "the Holy Spirit" or of some other religious thing  ;)

True, but how can it be proven that many of the so-called fathers of the Orthodox Church don't fall under the same category. How can we be assured that they were inspired by God when they began to write out the foundations of these sorts of Marion prayers and devotions? What if they were misguided by their own fancies and imaginations? or worse, totally diluted by pagan philosophy and mysticism, completely led astray from then true teachings of the apostles as reflected in Scripture? For that matter, how can we know the later reformers weren't being led by the Holy Spirit when they chose to throw out all of these extraordinary devotions to Mary?

I'm not saying this is how it is, I'd just like some clarity. Why is the Orthodox view better? How do we know?  

All this presupposes that the Church was fatally led astray for 1500 years, only to be rescued by the reformers. It's the Great Apostasy fallacy, which makes a liar out of Christ Himself: Upon this rock (of faith) I will build My Church, and  the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 28, 2013, 12:39:57 AM
I'm starting to get the feeling that this whole "Do what the Holy Spirit is telling you" think is really a cover up for many peoples' personal feelings and emotions. After all, many people have believed that the voices inside of their heads were of "the Holy Spirit" or of some other religious thing  ;)

True, but how can it be proven that many of the so-called fathers of the Orthodox Church don't fall under the same category. How can we be assured that they were inspired by God when they began to write out the foundations of these sorts of Marion prayers and devotions? What if they were misguided by their own fancies and imaginations? or worse, totally diluted by pagan philosophy and mysticism, completely led astray from then true teachings of the apostles as reflected in Scripture? For that matter, how can we know the later reformers weren't being led by the Holy Spirit when they chose to throw out all of these extraordinary devotions to Mary?

I'm not saying this is how it is, I'd just like some clarity. Why is the Orthodox view better? How do we know?  

All this presupposes that the Church was fatally led astray for 1500 years, only to be rescued by the reformers. It's the Great Apostasy fallacy, which makes a liar out of Christ Himself: Upon this rock (of faith) I will build My Church, and  the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Building upon this, it is also a matter of the reception of these texts by the Church.  Individual authors and hymnographers may compose prayers and hymns, but when they are incorporated into the Church's liturgical prayer, the Church bears witness that those compositions reflect her faith so accurately that we make their compositions our common prayer to God or, in this case, to the Mother of God.  We speak those prayers with one mouth and one heart; they become the voice of the Church.  There are lots of compositions that have not been received into the liturgy of the Church, just as there are lots of books that never made it into the NT.  Whether the "rejects" are Orthodox or not, we know for sure that the "winners" reflect the faith of the Church. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: katherineofdixie on May 28, 2013, 10:16:40 AM
I'm starting to get the feeling that this whole "Do what the Holy Spirit is telling you" think is really a cover up for many peoples' personal feelings and emotions. After all, many people have believed that the voices inside of their heads were of "the Holy Spirit" or of some other religious thing  ;)

True, but how can it be proven that many of the so-called fathers of the Orthodox Church don't fall under the same category. How can we be assured that they were inspired by God when they began to write out the foundations of these sorts of Marion prayers and devotions? What if they were misguided by their own fancies and imaginations? or worse, totally diluted by pagan philosophy and mysticism, completely led astray from then true teachings of the apostles as reflected in Scripture? For that matter, how can we know the later reformers weren't being led by the Holy Spirit when they chose to throw out all of these extraordinary devotions to Mary?

I'm not saying this is how it is, I'd just like some clarity. Why is the Orthodox view better? How do we know?  

Well, it rather puts one in the uncomfortable position of having to decide precisely when the Church (you know, the Church that Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against?) went astray, became apostate - oh, and it might be nice to back it up with a little more than "because it doesn't agree with what I believe/have been taught."
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on May 28, 2013, 12:36:48 PM
Quote
I'm starting to get the feeling that this whole "Do what the Holy Spirit is telling you" think is really a cover up for many peoples' personal feelings and emotions
+1,000,000.

Thats what it all boils down to. Emotion.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 04:58:08 AM
Neo-Protestants like to wipe Mary off the books. That way, they don't have to have reverence for anyone except themselves.
Firstly no protestant wants to 'wipe Mary off the books.' No one is denying what the bible has to say about Mary. Where have I suggested that I reverence myself?

Quote
Even though it's the Bible that calls Mary 'the mother of my Lord' and says 'every generation shall call me blessed.'
Absolutely. I have no problem with the above.

Quote
Go figure.  ::)
I suggest you go figure where all your Mary worship came from. It is in direct contradiction to scripture that says we are to worship God alone. Both cannot be true. So either the bible is in error or your church. You have to make a decision - but there is error in one or the other. Both claim absolute truth yet this CANNOT be. So choose you this day whom you will believe and serve.

Take the claim that Mary can forgive sins. The bible is clear, only God can forgive sins. Indeed we read in scripture where the scribes called Jesus a blasphemer when he said to the paralytic, 'your sins are forgiven.'
So, the bible says God alone can forgive sins. The Orthodox church says God and Mary can forgive sins. Both CANNOT be true. One has to be in error. So which will you stake your eternal destiny on? Go figure.
Mark 2
5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,  7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”




























 
 
 
 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Arachne on May 29, 2013, 05:20:37 AM
I suggest you go figure where all your Mary worship came from. It is in direct contradiction to scripture that says we are to worship God alone. Both cannot be true. So either the bible is in error or your church. You have to make a decision - but there is error in one or the other. Both claim absolute truth yet this CANNOT be. So choose you this day whom you will believe and serve.

Please, learn the difference between worship and veneration, already. :-\
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 06:56:43 AM

I have asked:
Where in God's word does it say that Mary is:
queen?
our hope?
our intercessor?
our protectress?
Where does it say:
that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?
that she can forgive sins?
that we have no other help but her?
that we have no other intercessor?
that we have no comforter than her?
That she can guard and protect us?

The Trisagion wishes to say that the Holy Spirit told him. Well does the Orthodox church wish to claim that the Holy Spirit would contradict himself?
The bible says:
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness


Let's take the reference to Mary being the 'queen of heaven.'
When we read in Jeremiah of reference to a queen of heaven it is in reference to paganism which Jeremiah condemns. God also says that he will share his glory with no-one.

Regarding the idea of Mary being our hope. This too is not scriptural. Our hope is in God alone.
1 Timothy 1:1
 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope
1 Peter 1:3
[ A Heavenly Inheritance ] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
1 Peter 1:13
[ Living Before God Our Father ] Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ
1 Peter 1:21
who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Then the claim that Mary is not only 'our intercessor' but we have 'no other intercessor.'
This too is against scripture. Scripture tells us that there is only one intercessor between God and man and that person is Christ. So both cannot be true.
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
Hebrews 9:15
And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 12:24
to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

The notion that Mary is our protectress and that she can guard and protect us is found nowhere in scripture. Instead scripture is full of references to God being our shield and protector.
Psalm 115:11
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.
Hebrews 13:6
So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

We are told to put on the whole armour of God for our protection:
Ephesians 6
13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
 


that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?

There is NOTHING in scripture to suggest that Mary did not die like everyone. Nowhere in scripture are we told that the dead can see us, help us or feed us.
Before Jesus left the earth he promised to send his holy Spirit to help us. Not the Holy Spirit plus Mum.


The notion that Mary can forgive sin is blasphemous. The bible is very clear that ONLY God can forgive sin.
Mark 2
5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,  7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Acts 5:31
Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 13:38
Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;
Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace


Let's look at the claim that 'we have no comforter than her.' This is NOT what scripture says.
According to scripture it is the Holy Spirit who is our comforter.
John 14
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

So these beliefs that the Orthodox hold about Mary are, at best not in scripture and at worst are directly in opposition to scripture. BOTH CANNOT BE TRUE. So choose you this day who you will believe and serve. For either God's word is in error or the Orthodox church is.




Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 07:14:59 AM
I suggest you go figure where all your Mary worship came from. It is in direct contradiction to scripture that says we are to worship God alone. Both cannot be true. So either the bible is in error or your church. You have to make a decision - but there is error in one or the other. Both claim absolute truth yet this CANNOT be. So choose you this day whom you will believe and serve.

Please, learn the difference between worship and veneration, already. :-\
That is pure semantics.

From the feast of the Dormition:

... she who is higher than the Cherubim hastened towards heaven. With them we venerate her as she intercedes for our souls...
 come, let us garland the Church with songs as the Ark of God goes to her rest...
 For today heaven unfolds its bosom as it receives the one who gave birth to Him whom nothing can contain...
 while she who gave birth to the Prince of life is translated from life to life. Let us all worship her as we beg: ‘Sovereign Lady, do not forget your ties of kinship with those who celebrate with faith your all-holy Dormition’...
 by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.

and also:

Priest: Our most gracious Queen, our hope, O Theotokos, Who receivest the orphaned and art the intercessor for the stranger; the joy of those in sorrow, protectress of the wronged, see our distress, see our affliction! Help us, for we are helpless. Feed us, for we are strangers and pilgrims. Thou knowest our offences; forgive them, and resolve them as Thou dost will. For we know no other help but Thee, no other intercessor, no gracious comforter, only Thee, O Theotokos to guard and protect us for ages of ages. Amen.

That is usurping Christ's place and claiming it for Mary. It is against scripture.

You cannot hold both to be correct because scripture and Orthodox doctrine  are in contradiction of each other. So you will have to choose which one you wish to put your faith in.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 29, 2013, 07:17:37 AM
Rachel, you so staunchly rail against any belief or teaching which is not in the Bible, which, of course, includes the NT. Was Apostle John a liar when he wrote this in Chapter 21 of his Gospel?

24This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.


Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on May 29, 2013, 07:19:51 AM
Quote
That is pure semantics
So the love you feel for your parents and the love you feel for your friends is pure semantics as well then?

Quote
Let us all worship her
English is a very inaccurate language. Nobody worships Mary (Latria), nor should we.

Its not semantics. Get educated in what you are talking about and come back.

PP
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 07:37:11 AM
Quote
Are you suggesting that the other children she bore were likewise conceived?

Rachel, where in the Bible does it say that the Mother of God bore more children?

Matthew 12:46
While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.
Matthew 13:55
Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
Also you appear to wish to suggest that Joseph never consummated the marriage!
Matthew 1
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,  25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.[d] And he called His name Jesus.
Note also that Jesus is referred to as her firstborn son not her only son.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Arachne on May 29, 2013, 07:41:55 AM
And nowhere is it mentioned that those brothers were Mary's sons.

If she had other children, why would Jesus need to entrust her care to one of his disciples?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 07:46:54 AM
Rachel, you so staunchly rail against any belief or teaching which is not in the Bible, which, of course, includes the NT. Was Apostle John a liar when he wrote this in Chapter 21 of his Gospel?

24This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.



I have no problem with this. But you wish to:
a] suggest that these  things would include things that contradict scripture, such as your doctrines regarding Mary. Do you have no concept of absolute truth? Two opposing ideas cannot both be true. If ONLY God can forgive sins then ipso facto Mary CANNOT.
b] I believe that it was the guidance of the Holy Spirit that decided what should be included in the bible. Therefore we can confidently put our faith in God's word. We should rightly question and reject any doctrine that does not agree with scripture.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 29, 2013, 07:50:01 AM
Rachel, you so staunchly rail against any belief or teaching which is not in the Bible, which, of course, includes the NT. Was Apostle John a liar when he wrote this in Chapter 21 of his Gospel?

24This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.



I have no problem with this. But you wish to:
a] suggest that these  things would include things that contradict scripture, such as your doctrines regarding Mary. Do you have no concept of absolute truth? Two opposing ideas cannot both be true. If ONLY God can forgive sins then ipso facto Mary CANNOT.
b] I believe that it was the guidance of the Holy Spirit that decided what should be included in the bible. Therefore we can confidently put our faith in God's word. We should rightly question and reject any doctrine that does not agree with scripture.

Yet the books which became the NT were written several decades after Christ trod the earth. How do you think the early Christians knew what was true belief, teaching and practice, if there was nothing written down for so long?
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 29, 2013, 07:50:24 AM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?

Only God can forgive sins, yet the apostles can = Contradiction in scripture.

I´m sorry dear sister, but you´re treating the orthodox church as if these things have been avoided or ignored. You´re blindfolding yourself with ideas that the orthodox church has never believed.

So now please, I asked you many times on topics of abortion and masturbation. With love and respect to you in any case, but you didn´t answer them by scripture. Just by saying "What´s the Holy spirit telling me". That was not what i asked for, so these 2 questions remain.

Now I ask about John 20:23, how can God only forgive sins and yet say that if the apostles forgive any sins, they´re forgiven?

The orthodox church got an answer to this and always had, which of course includes the blessed Mother.

But with a scriptural basis only, how do you explain that only God can forgive sins, but yet the apostles could?

Once again take notice: No theologyclass apart from scripture, as you did regarding abortion and masturbation. I use your standard for the sake of truth, you please do it as well.

1: Abortion and masturbation
2: Only God forgive sins and yet the apostles can.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on May 29, 2013, 07:52:54 AM
Quote
suggest that these  things would include things that contradict scripture, such as your doctrines regarding Mary. Do you have no concept of absolute truth? Two opposing ideas cannot both be true. If ONLY God can forgive sins then ipso facto Mary CANNOT
They dont contradict scripture. The 2 words are completely different. Just because you ignore that fact does not mean it is not valid.

As for forgiveness, read Mat. 18:18 and John 20 and get back to me about forgiveness of sins.

Quote
I believe that it was the guidance of the Holy Spirit that decided what should be included in the bible
Is this before or after Luther got some books removed? Who was right? Which group was guided by the Holy Spirit? It cant be both.

PP
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 08:00:56 AM
And nowhere is it mentioned that those brothers were Mary's sons.
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?

Quote
If she had other children,
See above.
Quote
why would Jesus need to entrust her care to one of his disciples?
We are not told what his reason was. What you are clearly told is that he had brothers and sisters.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on May 29, 2013, 08:05:22 AM
Quote
The Trisagion wishes to say that the Holy Spirit told him. Well does the Orthodox church wish to claim that the Holy Spirit would contradict himself?
The bible says:
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
I fail to see how this verse in any way negates the Holy Spirit's direction in venerating the Theotokos.  No where in that verse does it say that ONLY Scripture is given by inspiration.

It has been commonly accepted not just by Catholic and Orthodox, but by the majority of Protestants throughout the ages that "the brothers" referenced there were children of Joseph and Jesus' half siblings.  Of course, I suppose you will tell us that the Holy Spirit has directed you differently.  ::)


Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 29, 2013, 08:08:29 AM
And nowhere is it mentioned that those brothers were Mary's sons.
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?

Quote
If she had other children,
See above.
Quote
why would Jesus need to entrust her care to one of his disciples?
We are not told what his reason was. What you are clearly told is that he had brothers and sisters.

Is this not the carpenter’s son?


So, Jesus must have been fathered by Joseph. It's there in the Bible, as plain as day!  :P

As for brothers and sisters, the opening word in many a sentence in the NT, especially the Epistles, begins with brethren (brothers). Either St Paul had many, many siblings, or the word brethren has more than one meaning.

Which meaning do you choose, Rachel?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on May 29, 2013, 08:12:18 AM
Quote
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?
The word for brother is the same one used for Lot and Abraham. So, are they brothers as well? What about David and Jonathan? Same word.

Quote
We are not told what his reason was
Yes, we are. You just deny reality. Such a thing would be inconceivable if Jesus had blood brothers.

PP
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 08:16:28 AM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.

Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on May 29, 2013, 08:21:22 AM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.



It's funny that a Bible note can infallibly interpret Scripture, but the Church can't.  ::)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on May 29, 2013, 08:23:58 AM
Quote
Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven
I fail to understand how you use this for an argument. Nobody forces God to forgive anyone. Its working in cooperation with His will. I fail to understand your argument here.

BTW Im still waiting for you to address the comment from before about Christ's "brothers". The same word is used for David and Jonathan and Abraham and Lot. Were they brothers as well? Or is this more
of your "semantics"?

PP
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 29, 2013, 08:26:54 AM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.


Then what of the Lord's Prayer? And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us .... Was Christ lying?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Arachne on May 29, 2013, 08:27:27 AM
We are not told what his reason was.

We are not told because anyone with two brain cells to rub together can figure out that a good son would not leave his mother alone in the world. ::)

What you are clearly told is that he had brothers and sisters.

Who are nowhere referred to as Mary's sons and daughters. If they were, you'd have found the reference already. :P

I do not wish to deny the Bible's words. It's only your nonsensical twisting of them that I deny.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on May 29, 2013, 08:47:45 AM
I won´t disturb you anymore Rachel, please forgive me if I did.

I didn´t get the answer I expected, and I´ve had enough of theologyclasses from persons who want to reject that and be strictly scriptural. When the same standard is used, you burst out into everything but not scripture. Take care, all the questions I asked can be answered within the church, for the persons who wants them.

I wish you very well, please write to me if I, a great sinner, could help you in any way my dear sister. For example giving answer on abortion, masturbation and John 20:23, both on scriptural basis, and on what has always been taught.

Or else I ask for forgiveness dear friend, if you believe that you can forgive them, if I´ve offended you in any way.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 29, 2013, 09:08:49 AM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.



It's funny that a Bible note can infallibly interpret Scripture, but the Church can't.
 ::)

THIS!!!
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Ansgar on May 29, 2013, 10:36:00 AM
Rachel, if you don't mind, I would like to ask you a question. Do you know what the word "pray" means?

Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on May 29, 2013, 12:01:11 PM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.


Rachel, there's something odd about this verse that I don't understand, and I hope you can help me.  What's the point of giving the Apostles the power to forgive and retain sins if it's already been forgiven or retained by God. It seems here Christ is just waisting His breathe.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: GabrieltheCelt on May 29, 2013, 12:24:45 PM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.



This is why Orthodox Christians believe that Sola Scriptura doesn't exist.  Martin Luther, who was the proponent of Sola Scriptura, went on to the write many books explaining what the Scriptura meant and thus, negating his own teaching.  In fact, every single pastor who preaches Sola Scriptura contradicts themselves by going on to write books explaining what the Bible says. 

You see, Rachel, when the tomb stone was rolled away, the Holy Bible wasn't laying where Jesus had been; it was written, compiled and given to us by The Church and it is The Church that explains what it means.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: GabrieltheCelt on May 29, 2013, 12:40:42 PM
Forgive me if this has already been covered, Rachel, but when we pray that Mary intercede for us, it's the same as when we ask a family member to pray for us. 
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 29, 2013, 01:02:22 PM
Forgive me if this has already been covered, Rachel, but when we pray that Mary intercede for us, it's the same as when we ask a family member to pray for us. 

You don't require forgiveness, and according to some, we're incapable of offering it even if you did.  You'd do well to join the discussion forum where God posts and ask him about it.   

Many of these things have already been covered in the six pages of this thread, but not everyone is interested in discussion, exchange, learning.  Some are just interested in repeating talking points without engaging anything. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 01:52:31 PM
Quote
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?
The word for brother is the same one used for Lot and Abraham. So, are they brothers as well? What about David and Jonathan? Same word.
Read the context. From this it is clear that blood brothers is what is meant.

Quote
We are not told what his reason was
Quote
Yes, we are. You just deny reality. Such a thing would be inconceivable if Jesus had blood brothers.

Not inconceivable at all.

Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 02:00:57 PM

Then what of the Lord's Prayer? And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us .... Was Christ lying?

Me personally forgiving someone who has wronged me does not equate to putting something right between that person and God.
We are told that the wages of sin is death. We are also told that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.
If mankind has the power to forgive sin then Christ need not have died.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Ansgar on May 29, 2013, 02:09:14 PM
Only God forgives sin, but Christ also said:  "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained."
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Romaios on May 29, 2013, 02:10:38 PM

Then what of the Lord's Prayer? And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us .... Was Christ lying?

Me personally forgiving someone who has wronged me does not equate to putting something right between that person and God.

"If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to him; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23)

His relationship to Abel was the problem with Cain's sacrifice. Putting things right between ourselves is essential for being right with God: "for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:20)

We are told that the wages of sin is death. We are also told that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.
If mankind has the power to forgive sin then Christ need not have died.

"Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church." (Colossians 1:24)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on May 29, 2013, 02:13:50 PM
We are not told what his reason was.

We are not told because anyone with two brain cells to rub together can figure out that a good son would not leave his mother alone in the world. ::)

I have the amount of brain cells God gave me Arachne. But please feel free to continue personal insults.

 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Arachne on May 29, 2013, 02:22:21 PM
We are not told what his reason was.

We are not told because anyone with two brain cells to rub together can figure out that a good son would not leave his mother alone in the world. ::)

I have the amount of brain cells God gave me Arachne. But please feel free to continue personal insults.

Not everything here is about you. ::)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: genesisone on May 29, 2013, 02:40:59 PM
Quote
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?
The word for brother is the same one used for Lot and Abraham. So, are they brothers as well? What about David and Jonathan? Same word.
Read the context. From this it is clear that blood brothers is what is meant.
No. It is not clear. But it is clearly what you want it to mean. The same people who called James, Joses, Simon, and Judas his brothers and some unnamed women as sisters also called Jesus the carpenter's son. Are you insisting on a biological relationship there, too?
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Romaios on May 29, 2013, 02:55:35 PM
We are told that the wages of sin is death. We are also told that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.
If mankind has the power to forgive sin then Christ need not have died.

This might be lacking in your Bible - the prayer of Azaria, one of the three children in the fiery furnace, who prays that their sacrifice be received as atonement for the sins of the people:

Quote from: Daniel 3:37-40
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins. We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you. But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; as though it were burnt offerings of rams and bulls, or tens of thousands of fat lambs, so let our sacrifice be in your presence today and find favour before you.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on May 29, 2013, 06:48:38 PM
Quote
Read the context. From this it is clear that blood brothers is what is meant
Its clear? What bible verse did you get that from? Remember, everything must come from the scriptures, so you better have an AWESOME concordance.

Its only clear to you because you have a narrative you're trying to push. Nowhere is it clear that blood brothers are what meant. Scholars from your own traditions have backed that up....on the record. Including one who invented this sola scriptura nonsense in the first place (Luther), Latimer and even Calvin said that denying the perpetual virginity is impious speculation, and noted the exact verses that you did stating that it cant be used as sufficient evidence. So, who is being led by the Holy Spirit? Luther, Calvin, et al? Or you, and your private interpretation, using a translated scripture with zero knowledge about the societies and language that the scriptures were written in?

Or is it the Church, whose teachings were handed down by the apostles themselves?


I'd also love to get your opinion on the Eucharist (communion).

PP
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on May 29, 2013, 07:22:56 PM
Quote
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?
The word for brother is the same one used for Lot and Abraham. So, are they brothers as well? What about David and Jonathan? Same word.
Read the context. From this it is clear that blood brothers is what is meant.
No. It is not clear. But it is clearly what you want it to mean. The same people who called James, Joses, Simon, and Judas his brothers and some unnamed women as sisters also called Jesus the carpenter's son. Are you insisting on a biological relationship there, too?

Indeed. I note that Rachel has yet to address my related post on Christ's paternity, and the biblical use of the word brethren.

How about it, Rachel?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on May 29, 2013, 07:26:50 PM
Quote
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?
The word for brother is the same one used for Lot and Abraham. So, are they brothers as well? What about David and Jonathan? Same word.
Read the context. From this it is clear that blood brothers is what is meant.
No. It is not clear. But it is clearly what you want it to mean. The same people who called James, Joses, Simon, and Judas his brothers and some unnamed women as sisters also called Jesus the carpenter's son. Are you insisting on a biological relationship there, too?

Indeed. I note that Rachel has yet to address my related post on Christ's paternity, and the biblical use of the word brethren.

How about it, Rachel?

Oh stop being hung up on technicalities!  :P
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on May 29, 2013, 07:52:13 PM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.


Rachel, there's something odd about this verse that I don't understand, and I hope you can help me.  What's the point of giving the Apostles the power to forgive and retain sins if it's already been forgiven or retained by God. It seems here Christ is just waisting His breathe.

I just wanted to add what I find really odd with the verses.  The verse on forgiveness for instance for any general person states:

Quote from: Matthew 18
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Very clearly, when there's a personal matter with a neighbor or brother or sister, I am called to unceasingly be forgiving.

But then Christ seems to say something else to Peter earlier:

Quote from: Matthew 16
17 Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

How blasphemous of Christ to allow Peter the power to bind and loose things in heaven!!!!

And then the nerve of our Lord to do the same for the rest of the disciples:

Quote from: John 20
Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

WO! Let me pause there.  The Disciples have taken Christ's place!!!!  Now, they're going to do all those things Christ did.  Do miracles, forgive sins ("Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven")...or GASP...even "SAVE" PEOPLE:

Quote from: Romans 11
"I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them."

Quote from: Jude
save others by snatching them from the fire

How dare the Bible allow mere human beings to actually administer forgiveness of sins and salvation to people!!!!
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on June 02, 2013, 08:18:33 AM

  In fact, every single pastor who preaches Sola Scriptura contradicts themselves by going on to write books explaining what the Bible says. 
Not so. If one writes a book explaining scripture that is not synonymous with writing a book with new doctrine and then claiming it as God's word.

Quote
You see, Rachel, when the tomb stone was rolled away, the Holy Bible wasn't laying where Jesus had been;
Quite so.
 
Quote
it was written, compiled and given to us by The Church and it is The Church that explains what it means.
Not so. God's word says it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that he will lead us into all truth.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on June 02, 2013, 08:20:26 AM
We are not told what his reason was.

We are not told because anyone with two brain cells to rub together can figure out that a good son would not leave his mother alone in the world. ::)

I have the amount of brain cells God gave me Arachne. But please feel free to continue personal insults.

Not everything here is about you. ::)

Nothing here is about me, Arachne. It is all about Jesus, crucified and risen.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on June 02, 2013, 08:32:11 AM

 it was written, compiled and given to us by The Church and it is The Church that explains what it means.
Not so. God's word says it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that he will lead us into all truth.

It is the Holy Spirit, not a book, which will lead us into all truth. The book known as the Bible is not equal or - gasp! - greater in knowledge and wisdom than the Holy Spirit who, after all, is God. Sola scriptura elevates the Bible to be equal to God.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: rachel on June 02, 2013, 09:31:38 AM

 it was written, compiled and given to us by The Church and it is The Church that explains what it means.
Not so. God's word says it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that he will lead us into all truth.

It is the Holy Spirit, not a book, which will lead us into all truth. The book known as the Bible is not equal or - gasp! - greater in knowledge and wisdom than the Holy Spirit who, after all, is God. Sola scriptura elevates the Bible to be equal to God.

The bible is not God but it is his word to us inspired by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

You have scant regard for this. You have added traditions which are in direct contradiction to scripture which you elevate above God's word.

Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Ansgar on June 02, 2013, 10:17:25 AM

 it was written, compiled and given to us by The Church and it is The Church that explains what it means.
Not so. God's word says it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that he will lead us into all truth.

It is the Holy Spirit, not a book, which will lead us into all truth. The book known as the Bible is not equal or - gasp! - greater in knowledge and wisdom than the Holy Spirit who, after all, is God. Sola scriptura elevates the Bible to be equal to God.

The bible is not God but it is his word to us inspired by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

You have scant regard for this. You have added traditions which are in direct contradiction to scripture which you elevate above God's word.



No, we just interpret scriptures in another way than you do.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Fotina02 on June 02, 2013, 10:44:52 AM
By the Holy Spirit.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: biro on June 02, 2013, 01:20:54 PM
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jn.%201:1-20&version=DRA

This is what the Word of God is:

Quote
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.

4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.

8 He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.

9 That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.

13 Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 02, 2013, 02:43:20 PM

 it was written, compiled and given to us by The Church and it is The Church that explains what it means.
Not so. God's word says it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that he will lead us into all truth.

It is the Holy Spirit, not a book, which will lead us into all truth. The book known as the Bible is not equal or - gasp! - greater in knowledge and wisdom than the Holy Spirit who, after all, is God. Sola scriptura elevates the Bible to be equal to God.

The bible is not God but it is his word to us inspired by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

You have scant regard for this. You have added traditions which are in direct contradiction to scripture which you elevate above God's word.



Just and FYI, we believe this verse.  We take it to heart and accept it for what it says, NOT WHAT YOU TRY TO READ INTO IT.  There is no part of that verse that we disagree with in the slightest.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: genesisone on June 02, 2013, 03:04:51 PM
Quote
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?
The word for brother is the same one used for Lot and Abraham. So, are they brothers as well? What about David and Jonathan? Same word.
Read the context. From this it is clear that blood brothers is what is meant.
No. It is not clear. But it is clearly what you want it to mean. The same people who called James, Joses, Simon, and Judas his brothers and some unnamed women as sisters also called Jesus the carpenter's son. Are you insisting on a biological relationship there, too?
Rachel, this is a serious question. Please answer. Or simply let us believe that you call Joseph the biological father of Jesus.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: walter1234 on June 03, 2013, 07:36:41 AM
queen?
our hope?
our intercessor?
our protectress?
Where does it say:
that she sees our distress?
that she can help us?
that she can feed us?
that she knows our offences?
that she can forgive sins?
that we have no other help but her?
that we have no other intercessor?
that we have no comforter than her?
That she can guard and protect us?



I am interested in it as well. I can understand why theotokos is our queen, our hope, our intercessor,our protectress, and how she see our distress, help us, know our offence, forgive sin and guard and protect us. However, I  have some questions  on ‘ feed us, no other help, no other intercessor but theokotos  no comforter than her’


Queen: Theotokos is called as Queen because  She is Mother of Jesus ( our King ).

Hope:THeotokos is called as our hope because she gave the birth of our God. This is definitely a miracle. God perform this great miracles and give hope to the world through her life.Ultimately, We give all glory to God by honoring Theotokos as our hope.

Intercessor: According to Scriptures, everybody in the Christ will never die. According to the Book of Revelation, the dead who is in Christ is still alive and can still pray to God.

Protectress, help us, guard us, protect us: Theotokos can protect, help and guard us through her prayesr, just like our brothers /sisters/ parents/ friends on earth help and protect us through their prayers.

sees our distress, know our offence: Theotokos is still alive in Christ. Thus, she can see our stress. Just like brothers /sisters/ parents/ friends on earth can also see our distress and our offence. Besides, God can reveal her our distress and our offence when she is praying for us.

Forgive our sin: Gospel of St. Matthew and St John also tell us that the Apostles can also have the power to forgive sin, but not only God. And St James also ask us to pray with each other and so our sins can be forgiven.





---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
How do Orthodox understand that Theotokos is feeding us? How Orthodox understand Theotokos is our comforter?
And how Orthodoxy understand that there is no other help, no other intercessor but theotokos ? Isn’t Jesus, the Saints , the brother and sisters in heaven and on earth, angels also intercede for us, help us through their prayers?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on June 03, 2013, 07:56:05 AM
Quote
Matthew 13:
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.  54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas?  56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?”  57 So they were offended at Him.

Matthew 12
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.  47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!  50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Do you wish to deny what the bible says?
The word for brother is the same one used for Lot and Abraham. So, are they brothers as well? What about David and Jonathan? Same word.
Read the context. From this it is clear that blood brothers is what is meant.
No. It is not clear. But it is clearly what you want it to mean. The same people who called James, Joses, Simon, and Judas his brothers and some unnamed women as sisters also called Jesus the carpenter's son. Are you insisting on a biological relationship there, too?
Rachel, this is a serious question. Please answer. Or simply let us believe that you call Joseph the biological father of Jesus.
Must be just more "semantics......"

PP
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 03, 2013, 09:41:25 AM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.



This is why Orthodox Christians believe that Sola Scriptura doesn't exist.  Martin Luther, who was the proponent of Sola Scriptura, went on to the write many books explaining what the Scriptura meant and thus, negating his own teaching.  In fact, every single pastor who preaches Sola Scriptura contradicts themselves by going on to write books explaining what the Bible says. 

That would not be sola scriptura.

Luther exegeting Scripture and providing a theoretical framework for his hermeneutical approach hardly violates his understanding of sola scriptura. Perhaps it violates your understanding. Perhaps the understanding of the three fingered maniac I had as a preacher as a kid. Nevertheless sola scriptura is rarely what anyone colors it to be around here.

Isa's hilarious Luther joke aside.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 03, 2013, 09:45:25 AM

 it was written, compiled and given to us by The Church and it is The Church that explains what it means.
Not so. God's word says it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that he will lead us into all truth.

It is the Holy Spirit, not a book, which will lead us into all truth. The book known as the Bible is not equal or - gasp! - greater in knowledge and wisdom than the Holy Spirit who, after all, is God. Sola scriptura elevates the Bible to be equal to God.

The bible is not God but it is his word to us inspired by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

You have scant regard for this. You have added traditions which are in direct contradiction to scripture which you elevate above God's word.

I had eggs for breakfast this morning.

If you heard from someone else that I also had bacon and I indeed did have bacon but did not tell you, does that render the witness incorrect?

This all turns frankly on a incredibly different understanding on your part of what the Orthodox mean when they talk about the Church. You don't seem to care to understand that, which is fine, but until you do, you will be blowing in the wind.

In short, Rachel, your apologetics here are weaker than your opponents who might be correct if for the wrong reasons.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: GabrieltheCelt on June 03, 2013, 01:41:05 PM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.



This is why Orthodox Christians believe that Sola Scriptura doesn't exist.  Martin Luther, who was the proponent of Sola Scriptura, went on to the write many books explaining what the Scriptura meant and thus, negating his own teaching.  In fact, every single pastor who preaches Sola Scriptura contradicts themselves by going on to write books explaining what the Bible says. 

 Nevertheless sola scriptura is rarely what anyone colors it to be around here.



 Why don't you tell us what you think it means?  You can PM your understanding if you'd like.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on June 03, 2013, 03:42:34 PM
Quote
How do Orthodox understand that Theotokos is feeding us? How Orthodox understand Theotokos is our comforter?
And how Orthodoxy understand that there is no other help, no other intercessor but theotokos ? Isn’t Jesus, the Saints , the brother and sisters in heaven and on earth, angels also intercede for us, help us through their prayers?

Wonderful question dear brother Walter, hope I can give a answer that will provide some basis on the deep and humble veneration of the Theotokos. Forgive me please,  a sinner, if something is unclear.

To understand the depth and affection of our blessed Lady towards Christ we must understand, through the lens of orthodoxy, why this even is a necessary thing to us sinners. Through the eyes of Christ, we may ask for what little reason he has to pour out his grace on us? One might answer, pure love. But in the end we break our part of being loving towards God, in words, thoughts or deeds. Time upon time we engrave the response from God in a way that clearly informs God that maybe we don´t even want Christ to be our intercessor between us and God, nor the one feeding us with the life giving bread. We maybe don´t say it explicitly, but our hearts can unintentionally give that message to God. In those times, God keeps on pouring out more of his mercy, his love, his truth and peace unto our hearts. For what reason one may ask? As we here on earth through many situations don´t even want to receive the light of God upon us.

The deep humility, love and prayer from all our Saints, brothers and sisters, and finally The blessed Theotokos are then the last source for God to look upon, to give us what they always keep on asking for. In that sense, with regards to the position of our Lady, one can understand why Gods grace is keeping on coming when our own will don´t even want it. It´s because She is feeding, helping and interceding through her prayers when we intrinsically reject Christ from doing that. But his grace grows strong, loving and mighty in the light of all the prayers offered on our behalf.

When Christ turned water into wine his time was not yet. But rather than the guests begging Christ with the request the people had, they asked the Blessed Mother, her loving request to her Son was something they in cowardice didn´t ask for themselves, therefore rejecting the grace that Christ otherwise would offer them. But God answered the humble request of our Lady, because she gave all her effort to let Christ decide upon her will, not theirs. He answered by changing that which was not yet his time, to a given grace by God through the miracle of Christ.

To understand the impact our Blessed Theotokos has, we must first realize that we´ve rejected Christ in thousands of ways, not always intentionally. We´ve said NO to Christ, while the Theotokos asks as a Mother to Christ, please grant them your truth, not because they will so, but because I will.

That´s why many of the prayers in the orthodox church ends with.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of our Blessed Theotokos and your holy Saints, save me, a sinner.

Sometimes we ask for something that we deep inside don´t really want. Then the Theotokos and all the Saints gives us what we in the first placed asked for, through their constant praying.

Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Jovan on June 03, 2013, 03:43:18 PM
Please forgive me, a sinner, if I made it unclear brother.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 03, 2013, 03:47:56 PM
John 20:23
If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

This was directed to the apostles right after the resurrection of the Lord. My point would now be, in the uttermost clear text you wrote Rachel, how do you take this into consideration?
From bible note:
Literal translation is:"Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven."
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do. Rather, those who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearers accept or reject Christ.

If man or woman has the power to forgive sins then Christ did not need to die.



This is why Orthodox Christians believe that Sola Scriptura doesn't exist.  Martin Luther, who was the proponent of Sola Scriptura, went on to the write many books explaining what the Scriptura meant and thus, negating his own teaching.  In fact, every single pastor who preaches Sola Scriptura contradicts themselves by going on to write books explaining what the Bible says.  

 Nevertheless sola scriptura is rarely what anyone colors it to be around here.



 Why don't you tell us what you think it means?  You can PM your understanding if you'd like.

It's really not that difficult. Read Luther. Heck the wiki might be fine for a pedestrian. It doesn't mean nothing exists within understanding outside of the text of Scripture. That is stupid. Dumb. And foolish.

Luther might have been as foolish as many of us, but no one here is giving him a run in the intelligence department.

Heck many RCs and guess what . . . Orthodox find themselves in agreement with Luther when it comes to his exegetical system. It is a matter of proportion, which I am going to keep typing, since most around here who type the loudest seem to lack it.

What does the wiki say just for fun (first sentences of the page):

Quote
Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_scriptura

You start mixing that with the other solas and the ones folks don't see fit to mention and all the sudden you have a sane and reasonable and caring approach to reading. Really Luther ain't doing a lot hermeneutically that St. Augustine didn't flesh out.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on June 03, 2013, 03:59:18 PM
The use of "no other" as mentioned earlier is hyperbole.  It's a knee-jerk expression of love to someone you are indebted to.  If a pastor brings you to Christ, that pastor "fed you", and "no other" comforter or intercessor would have brought you to Christ the way he did.

But of course hyperbole is one thing, and dry, non-poetic, straightforward, and logical phrases are another.

Nevertheless, you can imagine, NO OTHER person was chosen in whose flesh was used for the incarnation than her.  She is truly indeed the "No Other", in whom Christ confided for the salvation of the world.  Through her, we received Christ and the plan of salvation being paved by "No Other" forerunner than John, "No Other" evangelizers than the Apostles and their successors, each one by their name, who though tools, we all as Christians are forever indebted to, with the first and foremost "No Other" being the Virgin Mother of God herself.  We thank her and all the saints for bring us Christ our Savior.

There is of course No Other ultimate source of grace and salvation for all mankind than Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, who chose No Other woman than Mary to be the vehicle in which the grace and salvation may be brought to all mankind.

The Only-Begotten Son of God, who is No Other than God Himself became man, that each and everyone of us become No Other for others.  If there's no veneration of saints, then Christ would be in trouble of laziness for not evangelizing the world Himself, rather then relying on the flesh and motherly kindness of Mary and the witnessing of John the Forerunner and the Apostles.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Altar Server on June 04, 2013, 04:42:53 AM
Rachel,

I feel as is someone should point this out to you "God's Word" or the bible came out of Holy Tradition, the church had already been around for almost 400 years when the books where codified by the council of Hippo and the Tradition of the church, and it's bishops decided which books should be included.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on June 04, 2013, 09:54:07 AM
Orthonorm,

I agree with you about your view on sola scriptura, but the issue is, Luther violated his own understanding of it by editing scripture (and I mean more than removing books, which is in-and-of itself a violation). He changed some of the words in more than a few verses (mainly in the new testament). Although I personally believe he did it for valid reasons, it doesnt change the fact that he did it, and violated his own understanding of it.

PP
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 04, 2013, 11:47:13 AM
Orthonorm,

I agree with you about your view on sola scriptura, but the issue is, Luther violated his own understanding of it by editing scripture (and I mean more than removing books, which is in-and-of itself a violation). He changed some of the words in more than a few verses (mainly in the new testament). Although I personally believe he did it for valid reasons, it doesnt change the fact that he did it, and violated his own understanding of it.

PP

I didn't say he wasn't a fool. Still, I came to like the guy late in life, outside any religious context.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 04, 2013, 11:50:17 AM
Orthonorm,

I agree with you about your view on sola scriptura, but the issue is, Luther violated his own understanding of it by editing scripture (and I mean more than removing books, which is in-and-of itself a violation). He changed some of the words in more than a few verses (mainly in the new testament). Although I personally believe he did it for valid reasons, it doesnt change the fact that he did it, and violated his own understanding of it.

PP

I didn't say he wasn't a fool. Still, I came to like the guy late in life, outside any religious context.

Plus, he was one of the best R&B artists of all time.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 04, 2013, 11:54:49 AM
Orthonorm,

I agree with you about your view on sola scriptura, but the issue is, Luther violated his own understanding of it by editing scripture (and I mean more than removing books, which is in-and-of itself a violation). He changed some of the words in more than a few verses (mainly in the new testament). Although I personally believe he did it for valid reasons, it doesnt change the fact that he did it, and violated his own understanding of it.

PP

I didn't say he wasn't a fool. Still, I came to like the guy late in life, outside any religious context.

Plus, he was one of the best R&B artists of all time.

You've no idea how many first dances I had hear that guy sing over.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Shiny on June 04, 2013, 12:10:58 PM
Orthonorm,

I agree with you about your view on sola scriptura, but the issue is, Luther violated his own understanding of it by editing scripture (and I mean more than removing books, which is in-and-of itself a violation). He changed some of the words in more than a few verses (mainly in the new testament). Although I personally believe he did it for valid reasons, it doesnt change the fact that he did it, and violated his own understanding of it.

PP

I didn't say he wasn't a fool. Still, I came to like the guy late in life, outside any religious context.

Plus, he was one of the best R&B artists of all time.
honestly getting named checked in Slow Jamz, is the best thing he ever did
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: GabrieltheCelt on June 04, 2013, 01:11:58 PM
Quote

 Why don't you tell us what you think it means?  

It's really not that difficult. Read Luther. Heck the wiki might be fine for a pedestrian. It doesn't mean nothing exists within understanding outside of the text of Scripture. That is stupid. Dumb. And foolish.

Luther might have been as foolish as many of us, but no one here is giving him a run in the intelligence department.

Heck many RCs and guess what . . . Orthodox find themselves in agreement with Luther when it comes to his exegetical system. It is a matter of proportion, which I am going to keep typing, since most around here who type the loudest seem to lack it.

What does the wiki say just for fun (first sentences of the page):

Quote
Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_scriptura



 Well, shucks.  I guess my understanding has been wrong all along.  My apologies to Rachel, Orthonorm, etc...  If that wiki quote is what Luther taught, then I reckon he might have been right.  Still, it's the Church that gave us the Scriptures and the meaning of them.  Plus, I think  Primuspilus had some good points.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 04, 2013, 01:20:19 PM
Quote

 Why don't you tell us what you think it means?  

It's really not that difficult. Read Luther. Heck the wiki might be fine for a pedestrian. It doesn't mean nothing exists within understanding outside of the text of Scripture. That is stupid. Dumb. And foolish.

Luther might have been as foolish as many of us, but no one here is giving him a run in the intelligence department.

Heck many RCs and guess what . . . Orthodox find themselves in agreement with Luther when it comes to his exegetical system. It is a matter of proportion, which I am going to keep typing, since most around here who type the loudest seem to lack it.

What does the wiki say just for fun (first sentences of the page):

Quote
Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_scriptura



 Well, shucks.  I guess my understanding has been wrong all along.  My apologies to Rachel, Orthonorm, etc...  If that wiki quote is what Luther taught, then I reckon he might have been right.  Still, it's the Church that gave us the Scriptures and the meaning of them.  Plus, I think  Primuspilus had some good points.

I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not, but one major deficiency in Sola Scriptura is the belief of sufficiency which states (and I quote from the much esteemed wikipedia article): The Bible contains everything that one needs to know in order to obtain salvation and to live a Christian life.[29] There are no deficiencies in Scripture that need to be filled with by tradition

There are indeed topics that are not addressed in Scripture that tradition advises us of.  I wouldn't call them "deficiencies" because the Bible was never meant to be a systematic theology textbook.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 04, 2013, 02:03:24 PM
Quote

 Why don't you tell us what you think it means?  

It's really not that difficult. Read Luther. Heck the wiki might be fine for a pedestrian. It doesn't mean nothing exists within understanding outside of the text of Scripture. That is stupid. Dumb. And foolish.

Luther might have been as foolish as many of us, but no one here is giving him a run in the intelligence department.

Heck many RCs and guess what . . . Orthodox find themselves in agreement with Luther when it comes to his exegetical system. It is a matter of proportion, which I am going to keep typing, since most around here who type the loudest seem to lack it.

What does the wiki say just for fun (first sentences of the page):

Quote
Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_scriptura



 Well, shucks.  I guess my understanding has been wrong all along.  My apologies to Rachel, Orthonorm, etc...  If that wiki quote is what Luther taught, then I reckon he might have been right.  Still, it's the Church that gave us the Scriptures and the meaning of them.  Plus, I think  Primuspilus had some good points.

I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not, but one major deficiency in Sola Scriptura is the belief of sufficiency which states (and I quote from the much esteemed wikipedia article): The Bible contains everything that one needs to know in order to obtain salvation and to live a Christian life.[29] There are no deficiencies in Scripture that need to be filled with by tradition

There are indeed topics that are not addressed in Scripture that tradition advises us of.  I wouldn't call them "deficiencies" because the Bible was never meant to be a systematic theology textbook.

It's irony, I don't Gabriel is trying to hurt my feelings, so it ain't sarcasm.

Again, I would challenge you to read Luther and his exegetical program and explain to me how it is fundamentally flawed and how anyone reads anything nowadays in a fundamentally different manner than how Luther elucidated. (Not that I think hermeneutical investigation stopped at Luther, but I think most which followed was simply an expansion of his insight which was in turn an expansion of St. Augustine's understanding. I don't know enough about Origen to be able to locate his approach within the tradition.)

My quoting the first lines of the wiki were in for fun.

And really, you can interpret those words quite easily to maintain an Orthodox worldview.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 04, 2013, 02:43:09 PM
I don't necessarily have a problem with Luther's belief when it comes to Scripture other than to say his belief in the Church being nothing but an invisible body of believers forces him to the postion he takes. I'm not sure if Luther ever even used the phrase sola scriptura (at least, I have never come across it in my reading of his writings).

I don't think it can plausibly be denied that modern Christianity has taken his views to a radical extreme.  One need only to read Rachel's posts on this forum or any number of modern evangelical writings to see that a more fideistic approach has been the norm and Church history has been ignored.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: primuspilus on June 05, 2013, 08:48:14 AM
Speaking of Rachel...where'd she go? Im still waiting for an actual answer to my question about where it is obvious to see in the scripture that Jesus and his brothers were meant as blood brothers, but Abraham and Lot were not......

PP
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on June 05, 2013, 08:53:27 AM
Speaking of Rachel...where'd she go? Im still waiting for an actual answer to my question about where it is obvious to see in the scripture that Jesus and his brothers were meant as blood brothers, but Abraham and Lot were not......

PP

You're not the only one who's been left hanging. I'm waiting for her answer to whether Jesus was Joseph the carpenter's son. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 05, 2013, 09:39:19 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on June 05, 2013, 09:46:56 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

Plenty of other folks with yellow dots still post. It just takes longer for the posts to show up.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 05, 2013, 09:50:20 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

Plenty of other folks with yellow dots still post. It just takes longer for the posts to show up.

I know, but she seems to just like blasting out lots of unsubstantiated posts condemning Orthodoxy.  That is a bit harder to do when you are moderated.  If, on the other hand, she wanted to actually make thoughtful posts that actually answered peoples questions, then she would probably still be here.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Arachne on June 05, 2013, 09:50:36 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

Plenty of other folks with yellow dots still post. It just takes longer for the posts to show up.

Those folks have things to say that can make it through moderation.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 05, 2013, 09:52:47 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

She also didn't seem consumed by the place anyhow, content to stop by to post-bomb occasionally.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 05, 2013, 09:56:11 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

She also didn't seem consumed by the place anyhow, content to stop by to post-bomb occasionally.

I wonder why people like Rachel show up here?  Orthodoxy isn't quite the target of Protestant's ire like RCs are.  It is one thing if you are interested in Orthodoxy, but it is quite another if you just show up for an argument, which Rachel readily admitted to doing.  I think several people asked her why she was here, but of course, did not get an answer.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 05, 2013, 09:59:20 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

She also didn't seem consumed by the place anyhow, content to stop by to post-bomb occasionally.

I wonder why people like Rachel show up here?  Orthodoxy isn't quite the target of Protestant's ire like RCs are.  It is one thing if you are interested in Orthodoxy, but it is quite another if you just show up for an argument, which Rachel readily admitted to doing.  I think several people asked her why she was here, but of course, did not get an answer.

Few people are here due to an interest in Orthodoxy JTBF. And I would imagine those who primarily are quickly find better ways of meeting their interest.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Ansgar on June 05, 2013, 10:04:51 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

She also didn't seem consumed by the place anyhow, content to stop by to post-bomb occasionally.

I wonder why people like Rachel show up here?  Orthodoxy isn't quite the target of Protestant's ire like RCs are.  It is one thing if you are interested in Orthodoxy, but it is quite another if you just show up for an argument, which Rachel readily admitted to doing.  I think several people asked her why she was here, but of course, did not get an answer.

Few people are here due to an interest in Orthodoxy JTBF. And I would imagine those who primarily are quickly find better ways of meeting their interest.

I would rather say that few people are here solely for that reason. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 05, 2013, 10:23:17 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

She also didn't seem consumed by the place anyhow, content to stop by to post-bomb occasionally.

I wonder why people like Rachel show up here?  Orthodoxy isn't quite the target of Protestant's ire like RCs are.  It is one thing if you are interested in Orthodoxy, but it is quite another if you just show up for an argument, which Rachel readily admitted to doing.  I think several people asked her why she was here, but of course, did not get an answer.

Few people are here due to an interest in Orthodoxy JTBF. And I would imagine those who primarily are quickly find better ways of meeting their interest.

I don't know what JTBF means, but I think most people here have a passing interest in it at least or they would be on some other forum debating many of the same inane arguments that we have here about abortion, homosexuality, etc.  ;)
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: GabrieltheCelt on June 05, 2013, 10:56:52 AM
Quote

 Why don't you tell us what you think it means?  

It's really not that difficult. Read Luther. Heck the wiki might be fine for a pedestrian. It doesn't mean nothing exists within understanding outside of the text of Scripture. That is stupid. Dumb. And foolish.

Luther might have been as foolish as many of us, but no one here is giving him a run in the intelligence department.

Heck many RCs and guess what . . . Orthodox find themselves in agreement with Luther when it comes to his exegetical system. It is a matter of proportion, which I am going to keep typing, since most around here who type the loudest seem to lack it.

What does the wiki say just for fun (first sentences of the page):

Quote
Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_scriptura



 Well, shucks.  I guess my understanding has been wrong all along.  My apologies to Rachel, Orthonorm, etc...  If that wiki quote is what Luther taught, then I reckon he might have been right.  Still, it's the Church that gave us the Scriptures and the meaning of them.  Plus, I think  Primuspilus had some good points.

I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not, but one major deficiency in Sola Scriptura is the belief of sufficiency which states (and I quote from the much esteemed wikipedia article): The Bible contains everything that one needs to know in order to obtain salvation and to live a Christian life.[29] There are no deficiencies in Scripture that need to be filled with by tradition

There are indeed topics that are not addressed in Scripture that tradition advises us of.  I wouldn't call them "deficiencies" because the Bible was never meant to be a systematic theology textbook.

It's irony, I don't Gabriel is trying to hurt my feelings, so it ain't sarcasm.

Didn't mean to sound sarcastic; it's sometimes hard to tell on a forum. 

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 05, 2013, 11:00:16 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

She also didn't seem consumed by the place anyhow, content to stop by to post-bomb occasionally.

I wonder why people like Rachel show up here?  Orthodoxy isn't quite the target of Protestant's ire like RCs are.  It is one thing if you are interested in Orthodoxy, but it is quite another if you just show up for an argument, which Rachel readily admitted to doing.  I think several people asked her why she was here, but of course, did not get an answer.

Few people are here due to an interest in Orthodoxy JTBF. And I would imagine those who primarily are quickly find better ways of meeting their interest.

I don't know what JTBF means, but I think most people here have a passing interest in it at least or they would be on some other forum debating many of the same inane arguments that we have here about abortion, homosexuality, etc.  ;)

Just to be fair.

I think the motives are beyond an interest in Orthodoxy. Talking about Orthodoxy is one of the behaviors. Anyway, who cares.
Title: Re: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 05, 2013, 11:02:06 AM
Quote

 Why don't you tell us what you think it means?  

It's really not that difficult. Read Luther. Heck the wiki might be fine for a pedestrian. It doesn't mean nothing exists within understanding outside of the text of Scripture. That is stupid. Dumb. And foolish.

Luther might have been as foolish as many of us, but no one here is giving him a run in the intelligence department.

Heck many RCs and guess what . . . Orthodox find themselves in agreement with Luther when it comes to his exegetical system. It is a matter of proportion, which I am going to keep typing, since most around here who type the loudest seem to lack it.

What does the wiki say just for fun (first sentences of the page):

Quote
Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_scriptura



 Well, shucks.  I guess my understanding has been wrong all along.  My apologies to Rachel, Orthonorm, etc...  If that wiki quote is what Luther taught, then I reckon he might have been right.  Still, it's the Church that gave us the Scriptures and the meaning of them.  Plus, I think  Primuspilus had some good points.

I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not, but one major deficiency in Sola Scriptura is the belief of sufficiency which states (and I quote from the much esteemed wikipedia article): The Bible contains everything that one needs to know in order to obtain salvation and to live a Christian life.[29] There are no deficiencies in Scripture that need to be filled with by tradition

There are indeed topics that are not addressed in Scripture that tradition advises us of.  I wouldn't call them "deficiencies" because the Bible was never meant to be a systematic theology textbook.

It's irony, I don't Gabriel is trying to hurt my feelings, so it ain't sarcasm.

Didn't mean to sound sarcastic; it's sometimes hard to tell on a forum. 



Like I would mind . . . I just don't care for when people label irony more specifically as sarcasm, as some people do care about sarcasm and it goes to someone's less than charitable motives.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: GabrieltheCelt on June 05, 2013, 11:02:24 AM
  Orthodoxy isn't quite the target of Protestant's ire like RCs are. 

 That's because they haven't heard much about us yet.  Now that we're beginning to grow, Protestants are beginning to take notice.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: PeterTheAleut on June 05, 2013, 11:52:23 AM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

Plenty of other folks with yellow dots still post. It just takes longer for the posts to show up.

Those folks have things to say that can make it through moderation.
As long as rachel refuses to make any effort to fulfill the requirements I've placed upon her HERE (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,51355.msg926739.html#msg926739), most of what she posts will likely NOT make it through moderation. Anything she posts that does satisfy my requirements, though, will likely be approved.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: orthonorm on June 05, 2013, 12:38:02 PM
Probably because she was put on moderated status for calling Orthodoxy heretical.

Plenty of other folks with yellow dots still post. It just takes longer for the posts to show up.

Those folks have things to say that can make it through moderation.
As long as rachel refuses to make any effort to fulfill the requirements I've placed upon her HERE (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,51355.msg926739.html#msg926739), most of what she posts will likely NOT make it through moderation. Anything she posts that does satisfy my requirements, though, will likely be approved.

Good grief.

How much do we pay you to do this amount work?

Whatever it is, I say a raise is in order.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Happy Lutheran on June 05, 2013, 06:50:53 PM
I don't necessarily have a problem with Luther's belief when it comes to Scripture other than to say his belief in the Church being nothing but an invisible body of believers forces him to the postion he takes.

First off I am here from a genuine interest in Orthodoxy and even though there are some disagreements I feel I am pretty respectful and fair.

To your point on Luther, he said:

"For, thank God, today a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd."

Since no man can come to the Father unless drawn (John 6:44) I'm not sure how anyone can disagree with Luther on this point. Saying the Church is only in the visible walls of the Orthodox hierarchy puts a limit on God and who he calls. It excludes all kinds of great charitable Christians and I can not believe a God of love and grace who wishes we are all saved operates that way.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on June 05, 2013, 08:29:07 PM
Since no man can come to the Father unless drawn (John 6:44) I'm not sure how anyone can disagree with Luther on this point. Saying the Church is only in the visible walls of the Orthodox hierarchy puts a limit on God and who he calls. It excludes all kinds of great charitable Christians and I can not believe a God of love and grace who wishes we are all saved operates that way.

Why stop there?  Why not be concerned about the exclusion of all kinds of great, charitable non-Christians? 

Our Lord Jesus Christ knows who and how to save, and in that we hope, but that should not prevent us from proclaiming the gospel as he handed it to us.  And that includes the Church he established: not some amorphous aggregation of "good people", but a congregation of people incorporated into himself through baptism and the Eucharist--the Body of Christ, as "real", as "physical", as his own human body. 
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Happy Lutheran on June 05, 2013, 08:44:44 PM


Why stop there?  Why not be concerned about the exclusion of all kinds of great, charitable non-Christians? 

I don't and I am

However, God has instituted and ordained that we have faith in Christ Jesus and that we are to be Baptized.

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved"

Jesus Christ

Quote
Our Lord Jesus Christ knows who and how to save, and in that we hope, but that should not prevent us from proclaiming the gospel as he handed it to us.  And that includes the Church he established: not some amorphous aggregation of "good people", but a congregation of people incorporated into himself through baptism and the Eucharist--the Body of Christ, as "real", as "physical", as his own human body. 

Sounds like Luther, he just wouldn't concede to you that you are the [only] church or called out assembly, the ekklesia. The called out assembly are those that hear the voice of their shepherd.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 05, 2013, 09:02:07 PM
I'm not saying they aren't Christians or followers of Christ.  I'm saying, they aren't the Church.  There were followers of God in the OT who were outside of Israel, and there were Israelites who were not followers of God, but God spoke and illumined the world through Israel just as He does today through the Church.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on June 05, 2013, 11:22:26 PM
Sounds like Luther, he just wouldn't concede to you that you are the [only] church or called out assembly, the ekklesia. The called out assembly are those that hear the voice of their shepherd.

Of course he wouldn't, but that means little to me (lots of people here wouldn't concede that mine is the only Church! :)).  His beef is with the Acts of the Apostles and St Paul. 

The Church as "those that hear the voice of their shepherd" is too vague a definition to really mean anything, IMO.  It's not biblical, even if the imagery is.   
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Happy Lutheran on June 06, 2013, 07:14:54 AM

The Church as "those that hear the voice of their shepherd" is too vague a definition to really mean anything, IMO.  It's not biblical, even if the imagery is.   

No, it is very Biblical and comes from the mouth of Christ himself:

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me"

If we are his sheep, and we follow him, and he knows us, then clearly we are members of his ekklesia - the called out assembly.

and Paul:

Ephesians 2:16
and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Ephesians 3:6
that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

We are quite off topic though, I just wanted to clarify Luther's position since it was brought up by another poster.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: walter1234 on June 06, 2013, 08:23:42 AM

Ephesians 2:16
and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Ephesians 3:6
that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,


Protestant,Catholic and Orthodoxy do not have the same understanding on the cross.  They do not believe in the same gospel as well.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Happy Lutheran on June 06, 2013, 09:32:04 AM
Protestant,Catholic and Orthodoxy do not have the same understanding on the cross.  They do not believe in the same gospel as well.


1 John 4:2
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

Of course all three groups believe this, and thus, are from God. If they are from God, they are part of his called out assembly

2 Timothy 2:8
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel

All three believe this.

1 John 4:15
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

2 Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Philippians 1:18
What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.



Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: TheTrisagion on June 06, 2013, 09:46:57 AM
Yay! Bible verse lists!  Here are my contributions.  ;D

Psalm 137:9
“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

2 Kings 18:27
“But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”

Deuteronomy 21:18-21
“If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

Judges 3:19-24
“But he himself turned back at the idols near Gilgal and said, ‘I have a secret message for you, O king.’ And he commanded, ‘Silence.’ And all his attendants went out from his presence. And Ehud came to him as he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, ‘I have a message from God for you.’ And he arose from his seat. And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out. Then Ehud went out into the porch and closed the doors of the roof chamber behind him and locked them. When he had gone, the servants came, and when they saw that the doors of the roof chamber were locked, they thought, ‘Surely he is relieving himself in the closet of the cool chamber.’“

Deuteronomy 23:1
No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

Ezekial 23:19-20
Yet she increased her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth when she engaged in prostitution in the land of Egypt. She lusted after their genitals as large as those of donkeys, and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions.

Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on June 06, 2013, 09:52:19 AM
You are one sick puppy.  :laugh:
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Happy Lutheran on June 06, 2013, 09:57:19 AM
Yay! Bible verse lists!  Here are my contributions.  ;D

Deuteronomy 23:1
No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

Ezekial 23:19-20
Yet she increased her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth when she engaged in prostitution in the land of Egypt. She lusted after their genitals as large as those of donkeys, and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions.



 ;D

The cornerstone of my Sunday School teaching
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Mor Ephrem on June 06, 2013, 10:11:04 AM
No, it is very Biblical and comes from the mouth of Christ himself:

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me"

If we are his sheep, and we follow him, and he knows us, then clearly we are members of his ekklesia - the called out assembly.

Sure, but in the same place he also speaks of the wolves that are capable of scattering the sheep, how he has other sheep who do not belong to the fold that he must call into the fold so that there is one flock and one shepherd, etc.  And, if the parable of the lost sheep is to be believed, sheep can often enough do their own thing.  I agreed that the imagery being used was biblical, but I rejected that the teaching itself (or your understanding thereof) was biblical.   

It's too simplistic to believe that everyone who "follows Christ" is part of an amorphous thing called the Church.  Which Christ?  There are many Jesuses (Jesii?) being preached out there.  Before the NT was written, Christ was only prefigured in the OT...it was the Church who made him known, and from which the NT flowed.  And that was a distinct body.  I'm not saying that the Upper Room of Acts 2 had a sign on it saying "St Mark's Syrian Orthodox Church" or anything like that (though now it does :)), but it was still a distinct body with a distinct leadership, succession, membership, etc.  In the passage where a man is casting out demons in Christ's name, and the apostles ask Jesus if they should stop him since "he's not one of us", he doesn't deny that he's not "one of us", even if he tells them not to stop him because whoever does good works in his name will not easily speak evil of him...they may be allies in some sense, but they're still not "one of us".  Being Jesus' BFF isn't enough.  

Quote
and Paul:

Ephesians 2:16
and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Ephesians 3:6
that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

We are quite off topic though, I just wanted to clarify Luther's position since it was brought up by another poster.

"One body" or "same body" only mean what you think they mean here if you take Luther's presupposition.  If you read Eph 2 and 3 in context, it's talking about how the Gentiles who were alienated from Israel have been brought near, incorporated into one body with the (believing) Jews, through Christ.  Israel was not some "YHWH fan club", it was a distinct body with a distinct leadership, succession, membership, etc.  That doesn't just disappear into an amorphous blob when Christ comes along, but he reveals what that distinct body foreshadowed.  Israel is God's firstborn son, according to the prophets...it's an icon of Christ's body, the Church.  In the dispensation of Christ, it doesn't transform into a cloud or a ghost, but remains a concrete reality, as Christ's own human flesh was.  When St Ignatius of Antioch writes about certain schismatics who rejected the Eucharist, he uses this sort of incarnational argument: they reject the Eucharist because they reject Christ's incarnation, but if they celebrate it, they must believe that he took flesh, and so have no excuse for separating themselves from the visible Church.        

I appreciate that you were just trying to clarify a point and not trying to sidetrack the discussion; I don't want to do that either.  My issue is with Luther.  I don't think that identifying and defining the Church as the NT does--as a visible, concrete body--and identifying that body in history with the Orthodox Church necessarily excludes a lot of great charitable Christians or puts limits on God.  It doesn't do that anymore than your assertion that Christian faith and baptism are necessary.  God can and will save whomever he wants, but he does that through Christ's body, both in terms of the paschal mystery and in terms of the (visible) Church.  "The saved" are connected in some way to that body, whether we are aware of it or not, whether it takes the form of a faithfully lived Christian life as a regular member of Ss Anargyroi on Fifth St or in some seemingly unconnected way.  But just as you say that Christian faith and baptism are necessary according to the Scriptures, we would argue the same: we know what God has revealed to us, we know that "this way" works, and so while we can hope optimistically for others' sake, that doesn't absolve us of the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel and inviting people to become members of Christ's body.  Salvation is God's business, and he can figure it out, but we know what he wills for man, what he has revealed to us as necessary, and that includes the visible (Orthodox) Church.      
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: walter1234 on June 06, 2013, 10:55:54 AM
Protestant,Catholic and Orthodoxy do not have the same understanding on the cross.  They do not believe in the same gospel as well.


1 John 4:2
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

Of course all three groups believe this, and thus, are from God. If they are from God, they are part of his called out assembly

2 Timothy 2:8
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel

All three believe this.

1 John 4:15
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

2 Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Philippians 1:18
What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.





Cross:Protestant believes Jesus was tortured and killed by God on the cross, while Orthodox believe Jesus entered and defeated the death through the cross

Gospel: The gospel that Protestant preaches is that the Father was angry on everybody and wanted to hate and torture them all forever.However, Jesus love all men and want to save them. Finally, the Father killed and tortured His only begotten son(e.g. Jesus) on cross, so He no longer want to kill and torture the believers forever anymore.

The gospel that Orthodox preaches is that sin is the cause of the death. God love us so much and does not want us suffering , so He come to the world and save us.Finally, He defeated the sin and death through His death and resurrection.



It is clearly two different crosses and gospels.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: PeterTheAleut on June 06, 2013, 01:06:35 PM
Back on topic, everyone. If you don't know what the topic is, then refer back to the OP. Thanks.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: minasoliman on June 17, 2013, 10:33:14 PM
I hope Armchair Theologian is still with us.  :)  I enjoy your respectful discussion of these matters.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: mabsoota on August 05, 2013, 05:27:50 PM
In the OT, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the jar of manna, the budding rod of Aaron, and the tablets on which the Law (Ten Commandments) were written, were the holiest objects to the Hebrews, and were treated with the utmost respect and honor. To even touch the Ark meant instant death, so great was its holiness.

The Ark, and all it contained, were, in God's wisdom, prefigurations of the immense and incomprehensible mystery, that of the Mother of God. She is the true Ark (in whom the infinite and immaterial God was contained), the Burning Bush (the fire of Divinity she carried in her body not only did not destroy her, but it purified her and preserved her virginity), the rod of Aaron (budded and sprung forth from barren and aged parents), the jar of manna which is fulfilled in the fruit of her womb, the very Bread of Life, Christ our God.

If the ark of old was so sacred, then how much more glorious and holy is the woman who is the very fulfillment of the type and shadow?

ok, back on topic! (although i got a laugh out of the random Bible quotes)
 :)
i have gone back and read the rest of the thread as now saint mary's fast is about to start for those of us on the old calendar and i am being asked those usual protestant questions again.
this post from LBK was one of my favourites (i loved all those images when i first heard about them a few years ago), but can you point me to any patristic references for this?

thanks. and thanks to saint mary for all her prayers and good example.
and thanks to God who chose her and brought us His very great salvation.
 :)
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: mabsoota on August 05, 2013, 05:32:58 PM
oh, and i just have to share this, one of my favourite coptic songs about the burning bush!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5euKtDII6_0

in the last 2 churches, i attended we sang it a bit faster with lots of cymbal noise, it's a really joyful song, and explains a lot of the old testament images.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: LBK on August 05, 2013, 07:08:45 PM
this post from LBK was one of my favourites (i loved all those images when i first heard about them a few years ago), but can you point me to any patristic references for this?

The imagery I listed in my post is found in the hymns and prayers of the Church, which represent the mind of the Church and the consensus of the Fathers, who were inspired to recognize these elements in the OT as prefigurations of the Mother of God.

The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God is stuffed full of such imagery.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: mabsoota on August 06, 2013, 02:24:50 AM
yes, and thanks for that. i love it and believe it, but i wonder if anyone can direct me to some of the sources.
(still working on explaining to my protestant friend about the church deciding the books of the Bible, not the other way round).
i remember someone mentioned saint ireneus - do anyone know which of his writings i should look at?
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Gayle on August 16, 2013, 05:39:22 PM
The Theotokos was chosen by God him self not the others, they came of their own accord.(after Jesus was born)When he called them.
Title: Re: The Theotokos
Post by: Gayle on August 16, 2013, 05:46:47 PM
The OT profits only beheld God,through other means,ie.. Dreams.The Theotokos had God literally in side her and cared for him.