Well we can go one step further than icon veneration and find that relic veneration was practiced by the early Christians. In the martyrdom of Polycarp (2nd c.) it is stated that the devil, "...proceeded to do his best to arrainge that at least we should not get possession of his (St. Polycarp's) mortal remains, although numbers of us were anxious to do this and to claim our share in the hallowed relics." Tertullian asserts that St. Polycarp was appointed by the apostle St. John, he was known by St. Ignatius (who was known by St.Paul), and highly revered by St. Irenaeus whose words our inquisitor has used in attemp to undermine holy tradtion. So what does he know from the Bible of what is holy tradition vs. the tradition of man?
Only proves we cannot go far from the apostles, if we are to learn what they believed.
Because what they received, what they taught, what they passed on, what we stand firm in, what raditions we hold which were taught by the Apostles, whether by word, or by letter (II Thessalonians 2:15), what we-remembering them in all things, receiving their praise-hold firm, what traditions, even as the Apostles delivered to us (I Corinthians 11:2), because THAT differs from what those who walketh disorderly millennia after, and not after the Tradition which he received of the Apostles-Or rather, such novelties differ from the 'Faith of the Apostles-because of that differnce we are to hide our eyes from the unbroken cloud of witness which surround the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, so we can don the veil of Moses and walk in the way of the Pharisees? So we can follow someone who not only has not seen the light of Christ, but refuses to behold the radience of God's glory and look in the face of Christ, the icon of the invisible God
and the express image of His person
, and see the Father? (John 14:9; 2Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3)?
No thank you.
Mat. 15:14 "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." Or into hellfire, whose gates shall never, by the divine word of God the Word, prevail against the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church.
2Cor. 4:4But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the icon of God
, should shine on them. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
So, for us who have received the Apostles, we withdraw, as the Apostles commanded, from those that walk disorderly, and from those who do not walk after the Tradition which were received of the Apostles. II Thessalonians 3:6.
The Apostolic See of Smyrna doesn't have to prove its links to the Apostles, and you cannot prove yours. The Lord knows her works, and tribulation, and poverty, and knows she is rich, knowing the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. She has feared none of those things which she has suffered: behold, the devil has cast some of her chldren into prison, that she may be tried; and she had tribulation ten days. From the tme of St. Polycarp to the Holocaust of 1922, she has been faithful unto death, and He has given her a crown of life.
"Claim our share," neither can the ghoulish practice of dismembering the dead be found in the New Testament. When Jesus died, they no one "claimed their share" of body parts.
I Corinthians 10:14Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. 15I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. 22Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
11:1Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 23For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
Heb. 13:10"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle."
Have you even READ the NT?
Btw, to get back to St. John:
Behold, then, matter is honoured, and you dishonour it. What is more insignificant than goat's hair, or colours, and are not violet and purple and scarlet colours ? And the likeness of the cherubim are the work of man's hand, and the tabernacle itself from first to last was an image. ' Look,' said God to Moses, ' and make it according to the pattern that was shown thee in the Mount,' and it was adored by the people of Israel in a circle. And, as to the cherubim, were they not in sight of the people ? And did not the people look at the ark, and the lamps, and the table, the golden urn and the staff, and adore ? It is not matter which I adore; it is the Lord of matter, becoming matter for my sake, taking up His abode in matter and working out my salvation through matter. For the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt amongst us. It is evident to all that flesh is matter, and that it is created. I reverence and honour matter, and worship that which has brought about my salvation. I honour it, not as God, but as a channel of divine strength and grace. Was not the thrice blessed wood of the Cross matter ? and the sacred and holy mountain of Calvary ? Was not the holy sepulchre matter, the life-giving stone the source of our resurrection ? Was not the book of the Gospels matter, and the holy table which gives us the bread of life ? Are not gold and silver matter, of which crosses, and holy pictures, and chalices are made ? And above all, is not the Lord's Body and Blood composed of matter ? Either reject the honour and worship of all these things, or conform to ecclesiastical tradition, sanctifying the worship of images in the name of God and of God's friends, and so obeying the grace of the Divine Spirit. If you give up images on account of the law, you should also keep the Sabbath and be circumcised, for these are severely inculcated by it. You should observe all the law, and not celebrate the Lord's Passover out of Jerusalem. But you must know that if you observe the law, Christ will profit you nothing. You are ordered to marry your brother's wife, and so carry on his name, and not to sing the song of the Lord in a strange land. Enough of this!
The Iconoclasts did not deny Christ in the Eucharist, unlike you (and the Muslim iconoclasts), which is another reason why Eucharistic adoration never caught on: no one in the East denied the Eucharist since the time the Gnostics died out, so the emphasis needed in the West to combat heresies which denied the Eucharist. It also heighted veneration of icons, as those who would not venerate icons, would adore the Euchaist.
When James was stoned, same thing. Not once in the NT do we see the ghoulish superstition.
No, we don't see your ghoulish supersition. We behold Apostolic practice and teaching. Indeed, Angelic practice:
John 19:38And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
Jude8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. 9Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses
, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
Mat. 9:20And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: 21For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. 14:35And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
Mark 6:56And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.
43And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. 45And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 46And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. 47And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. 48And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
Acts 5:12And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. 13And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. 14And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 15Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them
. 16There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. 19:11And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12So that from his body
were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. 13Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Who are ye, who wear the veil of Moses, that you dare to take the handkerchiefs and aprons of the Apostles from us?
That Polycarp is relevant to what the apostles taught is not disputed, someone writing about him in the 2nd century, is.
Someone not sent by the Apostles nearly two thousand years later disputes what St. Polycarp, disciple of the Aposltes and their successor, taught his flocks (plural, as the letter indicates that the Martyrdom was distributed), and his successor in the succusion from the Apostles and the continuation of their line: the colophon (I forget, you don't, coming so lately, know about manuscripts: a colophon is where the copyist writes the history of the copying of the manuscript) states: "These things Caius transcribed from the copy of Irenæus (who was a disciple of Polycarp), having himself been intimate with Irenæus." That Irenaeus is the same St. Irenaeus you quoted above as an authority. And indeed he is.
Paul we know and John we know and Polycarp we know, and Irenaeus we know, but who are ye?
We know St. John, as he knew the Apostles:
Of old they who did not know God, worshipped false gods. But now, knowing God, or rather being known by Him, how can we return to bare and naked rudiments ? I have looked upon the human form of God, and my soul has been saved. I gaze upon the image of God, as Jacob did, though in a different way. Jacob sounded the note of the future, seeing with immaterial sight, whilst the image of Him who is visible to flesh is burnt into my soul. The shadow and winding sheet and relics of the apostles cured sickness, and put demons to flight. How, then, shall not the shadow and the likeness of the saints be glorified ? Either do away with the worship of all matter, or be not an innovator. Do not disturb the boundaries of centuries, put up by your fathers. It is not in writing only that they have bequeathed to us the tradition of the Church, but also in certain unwritten examples. In the twenty-seventh book of his work, in thirty chapters addressed to Amphilochios concerning the Holy Spirit, St. Basil says, 'In the cherished teaching and dogmas of the Church, we hold some things by written documents ; others we have received in mystery from the apostolical tradition.' Both are of equal value for the soul's growth. No one will dispute this who has considered even a little the discipline of tlic Church. For if we neglect unwritten customs, as not having much weight, we bury in oblivion the most pertinent facts connected with the Gospel. These are the great Basil's words. How do we know the Holy place of Calvary, or the Holy Sepulchre ? Does it not rest on a tradition handed down from father to son? It is written that our Lord was crucified on Calvary, and buried in a tomb, which Joseph hewed out of the rock ; but it is unwritten tradition which identifies these spots, and does more things of the same kind. Whence come the three immersions at baptism, praying with face turned towards the east, and the tradition of the mysteries ? * Hence St Paul says, Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have learned either by word, or by our epistle. As, then, so much has been handed down in the Church, and is observed down to the present day, why disparage images ?
St Basil says, ' Honouring the image leads to the prototype.' If you raise churches to the saints of God, raise also their trophies. The temple of old was not built in the name of any man. The death of the just was a cause of tears, not of feasting. A man who touched a corpse was considered unclean, even if the corpse was Moses himself. But now the memories of the saints are kept with rejoicings. The dead body of Jacob was wept over, whilst there is joy over the death of Stephen. Therefore, either give up the solemn commemorations of the saints, which are not according to the old law, or accept images which are also against it, as you say. But it is impossible not to keep with rejoicing the memories of the saints. The Holy Apostles and Fathers are at one in enjoining them. From the time that God the Word became flesh He is as we are in everything except sin, and of our nature, without confusion. He has deified our flesh for ever, and we are in very deed sanctified through His Godhead and the union of His flesh with it. And from the time that God, the Son of God, impassible by reason of His Godhead, chose to suffer voluntarily He wiped out our debt, also paying for us a most full and noble ransom. We are truly free through the sacred blood of the Son pleading for us with the Father. And we are indeed delivered from corruption since He descended into hell to the souls detained there through centuries and gave the captives their freedom, sight to the blind, and chaining the strong one.* He rose in the plenitude of His power, keeping the flesh of immortality which He had taken for us. And since we have been born again of water and the Spirit, we are truly sons and heirs of God. Hence St Paul calls the faithful holy ; hence wo. do not grieve but rejoice over the death of the saints. Ye are then no longer under grace, being justified through faith, and knowing the one true God. The just man is not bound by the law. We are not held by the letter of the law, nor do we serve as children, but grown into the perfect estate of man we are fed on solid food, not on that which conduces to idolatry. The law is good as a light shining in a dark place until the day breaks. Your hearts have already been illuminated, the living water of God's knowledge has run over the tempestuous seas of heathendom, and we may all know God. The old creation has passed away, and all things are renovated. The holy Apostle Paul said to St Peter, the chief of the Apostles: * ' If you, being a Jew, live as a heathen and not a Jew, how will you persuade heathens to do as Jews do ?' And to the Galatians : ' I will bear witness to every circumcised man that it is salutary to fulfil the whole law.'
How can you reproach me because I honour those who honour God and show Him service ? Tell me, is it not fitting to worship the saints, rather than to throw stones at them as you do? Is it not right to worship them, rather than to attack them, and to fling your benefactors into the mire ? If you loved God, you. would be ready to honour His servants also. And if the bones of the just are unclean, why were the bones of Jacob and Joseph brought with all honour from Egypt? How was it that a dead man arose again on touching the bones of Eliseus ? If God works wonders through bones, it is evident that He can work them through images, and stones, and many other things...