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Dan-Romania
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« on: April 27, 2009, 12:45:58 PM »

I`m interested in finding the roots of this dogmatic . When was it initialised , and by who, in wich year , and how did it became a dogma ? What is the history of this dogmatic?Why is it good to venerate saints , and why do we need to pray to saints ? I`m interested in the matter of "Veneration" from saints to icons , even Mary and the roots of it , was it something practicated by the early Church ? How can we make the difference between proper veneration and overreacting ?
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2009, 01:47:12 AM »

I`m interested in finding the roots of this dogmatic . When was it initialised , and by who, in wich year , and how did it became a dogma ? What is the history of this dogmatic?Why is it good to venerate saints , and why do we need to pray to saints ? I`m interested in the matter of "Veneration" from saints to icons , even Mary and the roots of it , was it something practicated by the early Church ? How can we make the difference between proper veneration and overreacting ?

John of Damascus discusses it at some length in his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. I haven't gotten that far into it yet.  I think veneration of the saints may have started with Elizabeth's respectful greeting to the Theotokos in Luke 1 "and how is it that the mother of my Lord has come to me?"  Honor those to whom honor is due. These I think are foundational items.

In the book of Revelation we see the saints under the altar crying out "how long, Lord, holy and true?" indicating they are very much aware of what is going on here. 

Aside from that, as a Protestant, I really cannot comment on it.  It is something I intend to closely examine.  I have read a number of Catholic defenses and explanations on it, but nothing specifically Orthodox.  There isn't a whole lot that Presbyterians have written that you would find useful, to understate matters.
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Dan-Romania
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2009, 05:15:37 AM »

I see in many orthodox churches not just honouring but adoration of relics , saints , icons , cross , etc . I consider this type of veneration incorrect and a way of departing of the true God who is worthy of adoration and worship . Sometimes people overreact with veneration it changes from honour to worship . They are reminded maybe more than God , and they receive the same honour of God . I see the Church sometimes is preocupated with the Tradition too much , and even use bad tradition , for rituals of veneration. I see the proper veneration to be as a sign of respect and honour , but not overreacting an adoration . For example on the day of the Cross while i was at the cathedral i was unhappy with the priest sermon about the Cross and his explanations , he , himself maybe didn`t knew what the Cross means , and the veneration of the Cross turn into an adoration of the wood . The wood itself has no power in it , it the old Testament it says : cursed is he who hangs of the three . The wood was blessed by Jesus and the cross signifies God`s great power , but not trought the object itself , represents the power of God , by reversing the curse into blessing , and the transit from death to life . The Cross represents the reason why Jesus came into the world and represents the mysteries of His birth , life , death and resurrection as the prophet Isaia said : "6Isa49:24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?  6Isa49:25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children." Represents the breaking of power wich ruled over us , our worst enemy (death) defeating it by it`s own strenght wich is death , by his tough arm in wich he confide , and wich kept us all captives . Cause from the sin of one man death passed to all men . Represents the inversion of death into life ( a passing from death to life) and the inversal of the death to Jesus enemies : The second death wich is the lake of fire , where the Devil and all who hate God will go . My opinion is that some orthodox parishes overreact with veneration . Wich is the proper veneration for Icons , relics of saints , saints and Theotokos . I think not rising the statute of the homage paid to the same statute paid to God . What are your opinions about this ?
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2009, 09:18:05 AM »

I see in many orthodox churches not just honouring but adoration of relics , saints , icons , cross , etc . I consider this type of veneration incorrect and a way of departing of the true God who is worthy of adoration and worship . Sometimes people overreact with veneration it changes from honour to worship . They are reminded maybe more than God , and they receive the same honour of God . I see the Church sometimes is preocupated with the Tradition too much , and even use bad tradition , for rituals of veneration. I see the proper veneration to be as a sign of respect and honour , but not overreacting an adoration . For example on the day of the Cross while i was at the cathedral i was unhappy with the priest sermon about the Cross and his explanations , he , himself maybe didn`t knew what the Cross means , and the veneration of the Cross turn into an adoration of the wood . The wood itself has no power in it , it the old Testament it says : cursed is he who hangs of the three . The wood was blessed by Jesus and the cross signifies God`s great power , but not trought the object itself , represents the power of God , by reversing the curse into blessing , and the transit from death to life . The Cross represents the reason why Jesus came into the world and represents the mysteries of His birth , life , death and resurrection as the prophet Isaia said : "6Isa49:24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?  6Isa49:25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children." Represents the breaking of power wich ruled over us , our worst enemy (death) defeating it by it`s own strenght wich is death , by his tough arm in wich he confide , and wich kept us all captives . Cause from the sin of one man death passed to all men . Represents the inversion of death into life ( a passing from death to life) and the inversal of the death to Jesus enemies : The second death wich is the lake of fire , where the Devil and all who hate God will go . My opinion is that some orthodox parishes overreact with veneration . Wich is the proper veneration for Icons , relics of saints , saints and Theotokos . I think not rising the statute of the homage paid to the same statute paid to God . What are your opinions about this ?

I am suspending an opinion on this until I know more: the actual Orthodox belief and practice, the iconoclastic controversy, and the Reformed position on this.  I would like to see the Orthodox debate this.
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2009, 11:31:01 AM »

We honor (not worship) the saints. We ask for their intercessions on our behalf. They are not dead for God is a God of the living and not the dead. "I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob." These precious ones are in His presence and are living testimonies to His victory over death. They intercede for us continually, for the bible commands this of all believers (1Tim.2:1,2). Honoring the saints is demonstrated in Hebrews 11:17-40 in which these precious ones are commemorated for their faithfulness and in many cases, martyrdom. And of course Hebrews 12:1 tells us that they are witnesses of our struggles here on earth. James 5:10,11 tells us that these faithful ones are models for us in how to practice suffering and patience. Consequently Christians from the NT era even till today have honored (or venerated) the prophets-indeed, all the saints-counting them blessed.

~~some of the above is taken from the Orthodox Study bible and some from the Missionary Handbook
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Dan-Romania
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2009, 08:07:42 AM »

So when was this dogma initialised on wich Council ?
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2009, 08:42:15 AM »

I can't say I recall that a particular council "dogmatized" it, it almost seems that the practice was so embedded into Holy Tradition that it didn't need to be hashed out overly much, and combined with the references made in the Holy Scriptures (pointed out above) which suggest a much more tightly knit and time-transcending Church than is comfortable for the intellect, and thus I think many protestants, to grasp.

The whole worship, veneration, adoration is a tricky one, in my experience as a protestant we tend to lump them all together for fear of divesting God His due. Of course this faces some problems; we adore our children- and yes, no matter what we stumble and say, I'm sorry, but there is adoration when you look into the face of your newborn- call it what you want. For us Americans who seem to be particularly iconoclastic their is one area where we do venerate an icon almost uniformly, we will stand for it, salute it, get very distressed when it's desecrated- and ironically we will tell you in a jumbled way reminiscent of a certain Saint from Damascus that our "honor" or "respect" (it feels better to say respect of course, but that changes little) passes from the icon (we daren't call it that, but it certainly is a type of icon) to the prototype. I speak, of course, about the American flag.

So, when such uniform reverence is shown, when such liturgical acts are undertaken, have we worshiped it?

For this and other things I've begun to see the value of venerating the things of God, Saints and their Icons, Relics, etc. Whether a person has truly crossed the line into worship must ultimately be judged by God, my interpretation of someone's physical acts is shaky at best- whereas God knows the Heart.
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Dan-Romania
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2009, 11:39:23 AM »

From what i`ve heard the jewish did not make any veneration , except for God . And there are many more texts in the Scripture that contradicts veneration of anything other than God . Maybe if it was not dogmatised is not something vital. I will just mention one : Coloseans 2:17-18 .
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2009, 11:46:48 AM »

And there are many more texts in the Scripture that contradicts veneration of anything other than God . Maybe if it was not dogmatised is not something vital. I will just mention one : Coloseans 2:17-18 .
Colossians 2:17-18 (New King James Version)
17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not[a] seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind...

First of, Paul uses worship here. Which is what I think you are not understanding. When we speak of venerating we are saying this:

venerate
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): ven·er·at·ed; ven·er·at·ing
Etymology: Latin veneratus, past participle of venerari, from vener-, venus love, charm — more at win
Date: circa 1623
1 : to regard with reverential respect or with admiring deference
2 : to honor (as an icon or a relic) with a ritual act of devotion

Venerating something has nothing to do with Worshipping. Worship is for God alone, as you have stated previously. One could argue, and I think quite well, that the Jews in the Old Testament, probably venerated King David, etc. Just my 0.02
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2009, 11:47:24 AM »

From what i`ve heard the jewish did not make any veneration , except for God . And there are many more texts in the Scripture that contradicts veneration of anything other than God . Maybe if it was not dogmatised is not something vital. I will just mention one : Coloseans 2:17-18 .

Hi Dan

Those verses to which you refer are essentially a prohibition against false spirituality and have little to do with Christian veneration. St Paul was "countering the practices of heretics in Colosse  with the practices of the apostolic Church: true mysticisim (vv. 1-4), true asceticism (vv. 5-14) and true liturgical experience (vv. 15-17). ~~taken from the OSB

Honor/veneration while having an appearance of worship is not the same thing. And certainly honor for objects as well as for persons is demonstrated throughout the scriptures. (what Nicholas said! I think our posts criss-crossed and he obviously expressed himself better than I)
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Dan-Romania
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2009, 12:05:04 PM »

What about "all honour and grace are yours God" ? Let`s be honest and sincere here , veneration and worship is almoust the same thing . I think for people from America is hard to notice this maybe , and looks normal , judgeding the fact of the histeria there is in America for the celebrities , they are like gods for people , we even have the term in our days :" he/she is my idol" etc . I think veneration and worship are the same or almoust the same , the difference is that "we say" one is for saints and objects , and the other for God. Let`s see something in developed in more essence from the Scripture or fathers about this , not VERY interpretable things .
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2009, 12:15:35 PM »

What about "all honour and grace are yours God" ? Let`s be honest and sincere here , veneration and worship is almoust the same thing . I think for people from America is hard to notice this maybe , and looks normal , judgeding the fact of the histeria there is in America for the celebrities , they are like gods for people , we even have the term in our days :" he/she is my idol" etc . I think veneration and worship are the same or almoust the same , the difference is that "we say" one is for saints and objects , and the other for God. Let`s see something in developed in more essence from the Scripture or fathers about this , not VERY interpretable things .

Dan... I appreciate what you are saying. But I have to tell you... from my personal experience I do not worship the Saints. I honor them and I recognize that they were sinners just like me. When our flag is raised, when the pledge of allegiance is made... we place our hands on our hearts as a sign of honor/respect for our country and for our flag. We do not worship either. I would rise to greet a woman who entered the room to show her respect but no worship is intended. I kiss the icons out of a sign of respect for the person depicted on them. I definitely do not worship the persons depicted nor the icons on which they are written.
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« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2009, 12:43:48 PM »

What about "all honour and grace are yours God" ? Let`s be honest and sincere here , veneration and worship is almoust the same thing . I think for people from America is hard to notice this maybe

I think it's just the opposite in fact. I think Americans in general tend to NOT see any difference between veneration and adoration. I think other cultures around the world, especially middle eastern cultures have a better grasp of these differences.

Quote
, and looks normal , judgeding the fact of the histeria there is in America for the celebrities , they are like gods for people , we even have the term in our days :" he/she is my idol" etc .


 truthfully, I've never met anyone, even the most loyal American Idol fan ever say or give the impression they think their favorite singer is a god. That's just over stating the reality of the American mindset. Even when you see people with signs that say "so and so is a god" they don't mean it literally.


Quote
I think veneration and worship are the same or almoust the same , the difference is that "we say" one is for saints and objects , and the other for God.

The same and "almost the same" are not the same. Smiley But I think I know what you mean.

Now, I DO agree with you, I think there are some Orthodox who probably do not really distinguish between the two concepts and may very well "worship" a saint. I've known a few  Orthodox who probably do cross the line. And yet, even for them, I'm positive they don't see the saint in the same way they view God. Even for those who possibly slip in this area ocassionally they never put a saint, or a relic on the same level they put God. (for them to do so would be unthinkable) But this IMO comes down to poor teaching of the faith, not that there is something inherently wrong with the faith.

I remember once being told a story about catechumens who at first were really uncomfortable with icons, but one day they saw the ladies of the church decorating an icon with flowers, and then afterwards proceeded to put the icon in the fridge to keep the flowers fresh for the service the next morning....this pretty much eased their minds that these people were not worshiping icons or the saints. Smiley (who would put their god in the fridge after all?) Wink

With all that said, I'm also positive there are some protestants who worship their bibles. As a former protestant, I've seen a few people slip into bible worship, (or come very near) and I know I came close, in retrospect. Was it deliberate? No. Did it make me a bad person? No. But I only say that to show "crossing" the line is pretty easy for Americans because we no longer have a concept of differentiating between honor and worship. We don't know what "honor" means, and assume honor is worship, but it's not. Otherwise "honor Thy father and mother" would be a command of idolatry.

I also think it's important to put things into context. You might not be aware, but the concept of honoring "saints", visiting their graves, and even asking them to interceed for those on earth is NOT a Christian invention, but it is a very Jewish concept. We don't think of it as such because most Christians don't really know much about Judaism, other than what people like John Hagee teach, but of course he doesn't know either. Pre-Christian Judaism had such concepts and even asked for the intercessions of those who have passed on, and in fact, despite popular opinion, Judaism still teaches it today.

The Zohar tells us that if it were not for the intercession of the pure souls above, our world could not endure for even a moment. Each of our lives is strongly impacted by the work of our ancestors in that other world. Grandma’s still watching over you.

Why should souls basking in divine light above be at all concerned about what’s happening in your mundane life below? Because, there they feel the truth that is so easy to overlook while down here, that this lowly, material world is the center-stage of G-d’s purpose in creating all that exists.
-taken from: http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/215,95/Do-Jews-believe-in-Life-After-Death.html


there is another brief article on that website about this topic of asking specific saints to pray for those on earth in particular but I couldn't find it. (but it is there)

and an article about Jewish saints from this website:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=49&letter=S&search=saints

You'll see the idea is not foreign to the Jewish people or Judaism, at the time of Jesus, (remember Jesus mentions something about the tombs of the prophets which Jews visited) or even today. It's just not that well known.

True they don't use icons etc...(anymore, but Judaism DID use icons in their synagogues up intil the 3rd  century, google "Dura Europos synagogue" and you'll see all sorts of pictures)......but due to the Incarnation, we can make Icons of Christ, and the saints...again St. John of Damascus explains it really well.

You're right, for some people it probably can cross into worship, or at least perhaps more honor than is properly due, but this can happen with anything in any religion. Just because something can be abused doesn't make the thing itself wrong.

That's my take on the issue anyways.....I agree it's a tough and tricky subject, and I'm not going to pretend there aren't Orthodox, Catholic and even Protestants who don't "slip up" from time to time......but I think the bigger danger is worshiping things that we never expect, like ourselves, or pleasure, or things that aren't quite as concrete. In fact, in  a strange way, having icons may actually prevent idolatry because it makes it much harder for ones mind to wander and imagine all sorts of weird things. With an Icon, we look and SEE that this is a holy man, or woman, but in the end just a human. without the icon I'm sure some people would tend to imagine them being something "more" than human. But that's just my take, and could be an utterly American POV.



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« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2009, 03:37:05 PM »

The veneration of the Saints began when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead and when many Saints arose from the Dead in Jerusalem with the Resurrection of Christ.
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2009, 03:42:42 PM »

Furthermore,St. John the Apostle, Evangelist and Theologian in the Spirit heard the veneration of Saints being made when he heard "as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints (Rev. 19:6-10).
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« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2009, 03:10:23 AM »

Here's a short transcript of the Second Council of Nicea concerning icons:


 Council of Nicaea (787), which dealt largely with the question of the religious use of images and icons, said, "[T]he one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy Catholic Church . . . promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, ‘I am with you every day until the consummation of this age.’ . . . To this gracious offer some people paid no attention; being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning . . . and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols."

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« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2009, 08:32:59 AM »

We honor (not worship) the saints.

Semantics come into it.  Speakers of British English can still speak of the worship of the Saints without falling into the error of adoring them.

"Worship"?

Cached by The Wayback Machine at
http://web.archive.org/web/20001203142000/orthodox.co.uk/worship.htm

Christian communities formed in the Reformation rejected the worship of the Mother of God, of the saints and angels and of icons and relics. Indeed, the Reformation was accompanied in many places by a widespread outbreak of iconoclasm. Sculptures, paintings, relics all made their way to the flames. Sacred images which had been worshipped for centuries by devout Christians came to be seen as idols. They were not merely removed, they were treated as abominations, shattered, hacked in pieces, or burned. Not surprisingly, communities which resisted the Reformation often hid their sacred images, and restored them to use when the opportunity arose, as it did, for example, during the reign of Mary Tudor in England.

The Reformers deployed the same biblical texts to justify their destruction of images as the Eastern iconoclasts had done centuries before.

The Reformation rejection of worship of the Theotokos, the saints and angels, the icons and relics, had an odd consequence for the Protestant use of the English language. Since God was now for Protestants the sole object of Christian worship, the word "worship" gradually began to be treated as a synonym of "adore."

The English word "adoration" translates the Greek word "latreia" or the Latin "adoratio" or "adoratio latriae". Adoration is due to God and to God alone. Adoration is a mode of worship that springs from the acknowledgement of our absolute dependency on God and on our mere contingency as created beings.

Adoration is a mode of worship.

The Reformation rejection of the cult of the saints and of their relics and of the sacred images left no other mode of worship in Protestant and Reformed communities. No distinction came to be made by Protestants between adoration and the other lesser, relative modes of worship, since none of them survived in their religious practice. Nonetheless, the older, broader concept of worship still survived and survives. In England we call the mayor "your Worship," without any suggestion we are acknowledging her or him as the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. In the old version of the Marriage service the bridegroom said to his bride "with my body I thee worship," the pledge of allegiance made by a lord declared himself the monarch's "man of earthly worship." Neither monarch nor bride was expected to interpret this as an act of adoration, of latreia. And whatever objections there may be to Christians joining Masonic lodges, it would be utter silliness to argue that reference to a senior officer of the Lodge as the "Worshipful Master" is idolatrous.

Roman Catholic communities in Great Britain both retained the pre-Reformation cult of the Blessed Virgin, the saints, their relics and the sacred images, and kept alive the older use of the word "worship" as the generic term of which adoration is the supreme mode, but not the only mode.

Worship has a variety of modes. All forms of worship have a cognitive aspect - a recognition that reverence and honour are due to the object of our worship by reason of its relation to God - as well as a practical aspect, the words, gestures and postures that represent the honour and reverence we pay to the object of our worship.

Adoration is the unique mode of worship offered to God alone. We adore none other. Adoration involves acknowledgement of God as Creator and Sustainer of all that is, as our ruler and shepherd and as the sole source of our salvation. It involves more than mere acknowledgement of the reality of our relation to the Almighty: adoration involves praise and thanksgiving, celebration and petition.

A unique degree of veneration and reverence is due to the Theotokos. We worship her as the Mother of God, as uniquely close to him and as sharing in the work of God in a unique way and to a unique degree. Whenever we think of her we are drawn to think of her Son. Worship of the Mother of God, far from being an obstacle to worship of God, places us before the Signpost that points the way to Him who is the way, the truth and the life. It is her unique relation to God as the Theotokos that makes her the worthy object of our worship. It is her relation to God as His creature that absolutely forbids us to adore her.

We worship the Mother of God, but we do not adore her. We prostrate ourselves before her in prayer, kiss her icon, offer incense, flowers and lights, celebrate festivals and sing offices in her honour, but we do not adore her, since she is no less a creature than are we. She shows us human nature as fully deified as is possible to us, but she remains a creature. We love, venerate, celebrate, reverence, honour and serve her, but we do not adore her.

We worship the angels as beings above us in the order of nature, as servants and messengers of God and as our powerful protectors and helpers. Our worship begins from acknowledgement of what they are in relation to Him and in relation to us.

We worship the saints as members of our own human family who have truly "put on Christ," as icons of Christ, as exemplars of deified humanity. We worship them with profound reverence and respect.

We worship the saints and angels not for their own sake, but in virtue of their relationship to God.

We worship icons and relics not as painted wood, skilfully assembled chips of stone, and collections of ancient bones. Far from it. Even the wood of the Cross and the Life-Receiving Tomb are worshipped only because of their role in Christ's saving work. The images and the relics of the saints are worshipped as modes of their presence to us and ours to them. They are worshipped not for their own sake, but as a means of worshipping the person whose icon or relic each is, and that holy person in turn is worshipped because of her or his relationship to God.

All acts of worship draw us ultimately to the worship of God. We begin by venerating the icon of a saint, and are drawn eventually to the adoration of the God whose work the saint is, and in Whom the saint is glorified.

We revere and venerate a dead parent's photograph, we bring flowers to the grave. We treat the photographs of those we love with reverence and respect. We may place them in a special place, even put flowers before them. But the worship we offer the sacred images is rather different.

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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2009, 10:00:32 PM »

From what i`ve heard the jewish did not make any veneration , except for God . And there are many more texts in the Scripture that contradicts veneration of anything other than God . Maybe if it was not dogmatised is not something vital. I will just mention one : Coloseans 2:17-18 .

Actually around the time of Christ's earthly ministry and well into the life of the early church there is evidence of Jewish temples dedicated to or venerating the prophets, such as Elijah, Moses, etc., almost identical to how the Christians did it (as Northern Pines pointed out below). This definitely went on into the 7th century, because this is what Mohammad encountered and this is why he accuses the Jews of being idolaters as well as the Christians.

What is often forgotten is that the Orthodox Church believes in both the visible church (all of us) and the invisible church (Christ, His saints, and those who have passed in general). The saints are our brothers and sisters in Christ who have passed on and are now used in the invisible church. I often ask Protestants if they ever believed that God worked through people (be they family, doctors, pastors, etc) to help them, then asked why it was so hard to believe that God worked through the saints to assist people. Remember that death is not the end - Christ is eternal life, and when we die we aren't just rotting corpses.
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