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Author Topic: 1.Samuel and the Saints  (Read 4070 times) Average Rating: 0
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Neander
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« on: April 30, 2004, 05:50:23 PM »

Hi, I just signed up to this forum as a new member because I am trying to find some solid traditional feed-back on things the pastors usually don't preach about.

I am not orthodox yet, but feel drawn to the orthodox faith and have visited a number of liturgies with the Russian Orthodox amd the Byzantine Catholic Church. The non-catholic way speaks more to me though.

I read all the posts about the chrismation and I am wondering: What exactly is the difference between 1.Samuel 28 where Saul speaks to the deceased Samuel who feels himself being disturbed in his rest, and speaking to a deceased Saint of the Church? I was taught as a child never to call upon or speak to a dead person.

Sorry for this strange topic, but I really would like to get some clarity about this. Thank you all for answering. I can't wait to hear you Smiley

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By the way, what does the line 'now listening to' refer to?
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2004, 07:17:45 PM »

Well, I'm pretty new to all of this as well, but I'll venture a response.

All Christians are called to pray for each other and intercede for anyone who asks it, as well as for those who don't ask it.  When we ask for a Saint to pray for us, we're merely asking him or her to do the same thing that we ask our brothers and sisters who are still with us in the flesh to do.  The only thing is, the Saints can pray for us a lot better than we can pray for each other; they've had a lot more practice doing it and they're a lot closer to Christ than we are.

Oh, and they're not dead.  They're the ones who are truly alive. Smiley

Peace.
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2004, 08:22:26 PM »

Well, I understand we're supposed to pray for each other.
But wasn't Samuel a righteous man and he certainly was not in hell. So how could a person 'bring him up' had he not been alive, too? Aren't we 'bringing up' the Saints if we call on them?

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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2004, 09:12:43 PM »

Not that I'm an expert on this, but I think an important consideration in all this is intent.  In having the witch conjure up the spirit of Samuel (that is how this happened, no?), Saul clearly did not have the same intent that Christ had in conversing with Moses and Elias upon the holy mountain and that Orthodox Christians have in invoking the prayers of the saints.
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2004, 06:35:14 AM »

Neander,  I think you got a point with your question. It would be interesting to find out where in the Bible or in the Traditional Writings  it talks about praying to the Saints? Even the angel was saying to John (I believe - sorry can't think of the reference right now) that he was just a servant and that it wasn't right to worship him.

Shiloah, looking for answers

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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2004, 08:39:32 AM »

But you are confusing praying to the saints with worshipping them.  

It is too early, and I've gotta go to work, but I believe there is a passage in Revelation where the saints in heaven offer the prayers of those on earth to God in the form of incense.  Anyone know what I'm talking about?  In addition, there are inscriptions on tombs in the catacombs invoking the prayers of the early martyrs, and this is from really early on in Christian history.

Praying to the saints would not be a problem with a proper grasp of the concept of the Communion of Saints.
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2004, 09:26:55 AM »

[What exactly is the difference between 1.Samuel 28 where Saul speaks to the deceased Samuel who feels himself being disturbed in his rest, and speaking to a deceased Saint of the Church? I was taught as a child never to call upon or speak to a dead person.]

According to the Bible, the martyrs and other departed Saints are not dead but alive in God (4 Macc. 16:250.  To God, all the Saints are still alive, even the dead (Lk. 20:38).

1 Pet. 3:12 (quoting from Ps. 33[34]:15) says that God listens to the prayers of the righteous.  Whose prayers would you ask for?  The prayers of a living believer, whose heart you cannot read for certain, or the prayers of a departed believer (such as a martyr, whose faith is known to all by his testimony)?

There are explicit examples in the Bible of departed Saints offering prayers for us:

In 2 Macc. 15:14 the Prophet Jeremaih after his death "prays much for the people" of Israel.
In the worship conducted in heaven, the departed elders offer to Christ "the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:Cool ...notice the wording here; the departed elders offer not "their own prayers" but "the prayers of the saints."  "Saints" means the Christian believers, both living and departed.  These elders are deceased Saints (not angels) because 'elders' in the Bible refers to men (1 Tim. 5:17, Tit. 1:5), not angels.  in all the commentaries on Rev. 4:4 written by the Church Fathers or early Christian writers, these elders are interpreted as deceased elders who have pleased the Lord.

 We know that deceased Saints can hear our prayers because Christ tells us of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.  Abraham was able to hear the requests of the rich man despite the vast, impassable chasm that separated the two.

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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2004, 10:57:49 AM »

Nice synopsis of Scr., Orthodoc!

I'd also add, Neander, that Samuel was in a very different state in the OT than were/are the NT believers departed this life.

The OT prophets and holy ones were in Hades (not the same as hell), awaiting the Messiah.  After the Resurrection, the departed saints are raised from their rest, as it were, and are brought to heaven w/Christ, where you see the picture in Rev. that Orthodoc painted.  So we're not really "bringing them up" anymore, as they've already been raised with Christ!

Another thing is this: It was apparently possible in the OT for departed prophets like Jeremiah to pray FOR us, and men such as the Maccabees prayed FOR the departed soldiers who had idolotrous medals on them at the time of their deaths...it appears, however, that the full communion of the Church militant (us) and the Church triumphant (the departed saints) was not realized until Christ had risen and trampled down death.

Way to go in terms of asking honest questions, though, Neander.
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2004, 11:12:49 AM »

Also, how is asking for someone's prayers "bringing them up"? The problem with necromancy is that it is asserting _power_ over the spirits of the dead. This would only work with Samuel because he was still in Hades (the world of the dead, not "hell") waiting for the coming of Christ. I don't think a witch would have any power over Samuel's spirit now. When we ask for the prayers of the saints we aren't conjuring or commanding them, we are calling on them as our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. That is a very different thing.

In Christ,

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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2004, 11:54:57 AM »

Thank you all for answering to my question.

Hey, Pedro, why do you say "Way to go in terms of asking honest questions, though, Neander."

this was an honest question, because I want to know why people pray to Saints and how that fits together with biblical teaching. When the Disciples asked the Lord to teach them how to pray, He answered with "Our Father, who art in heaven ..."  And I have been taught that we have to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus.

then I learn that it is o.k. to pray to Saints, living and dead, or what you call the Church militant and the Church triumphant, which I think, is a very neat definition, by the way.

So, Mor Ephrem mentioned the concept of the Communion of Saints. Can anybody point me to an article, on this forum or elsewhere on the web, or explain with their own words a little bit about this concept? And that is an honest question, too.  Is there something like an orthodox dictionary on the web that expounds on such issues?

Again, thanks to all who answer. I agree I have ways to go, but we all start as babies, don't we? Even Jesus on earth had to learn to walk, and He probably was holding His Mother's hand doing so. You as members of the Church are like my spiritual mother now teaching me how to walk. If you would, please Smiley

Neander, limping
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2004, 12:34:08 AM »

Neander--

I just mean that some folks, when they are interested in Orthodoxy, don't always allow themselves to REALLY challenge some of their existing views; I've known several (and even did this some myself in my catechumenate) who get so enamored with "infallible fuzzies" that they don't really even bother to ask themselves honestly, "Hey!  Do *I* even really buy all this?"  You seem to be doing that, and that's a good thing.

Anyway, regarding your question about the Communion of Saints check out the following link:

http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Intercession_of_Saints.php?inquire=QAT-IntercessionMenu.html

It has some of the information Orthodoc posted, plus some other stuff.  Basically, the idea behind Communion of Saints is what is referred to as the "great cloud of witnesses" in Heb. 11; we are not separated by our departed brethren by death...death no longer holds us back from the life beyond.  We pray for them, they pray for us...the Saints commune on both sides of eternity, just as the saints still on earth commune in love with one another.  Makes no difference, for "all are alive" to God (Lk 20:38).

Hope this helps.
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2004, 07:20:07 AM »

thanks for the link, Pedro. I read it ( www.orthodoxconvert.info/Inter...php?inquire=QAT-IntercessionMenu.html ) and am giving it some thought.

I realize that at the time when the disciples asked the Lord to teach them how to pray, there were no saints in heaven yet, so all He could answer them was to pray to the Father.

But when the Church Fathers put together the Canon of the bible, why didn't they pick some of those writings that are more explicit about the intercession of angels and saints? If they considered those books they chose for the Canon the most important ones and the most significant ones, didn't they do so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and therefore their choice can be regarded as God's will for us?

I'm just trying to evoke some more answers from the readers here. At the time of the Early church there were many false teachings and doctrines going round . Even Paul and the other Epistle writers warn about those. So how can a lay person today distinguish what thought and practise comes from a false teaching and what doesn't? The only safe ground here is the books of the Bible.

look at all the concersions going on all over the world with people giving their life to the Lord and going through martyrdom for His name's sake. You think they're all going to hell because they didn't get 'saved' through the Orthodox church?

I think those evangelists and missionaries are doing an awesome job and they are fulfilling the great commission. Where are the Orthodox saints to do the follow up for the new converts with the 'right' or 'orthodox' teaching?   Actualy this prompts me to start a new topic right now.

But please answer to this post. I mean this as thought provoking and because I would like to get some orthodox views to my thinking.

Thanks in advance,
Neander
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2004, 04:00:26 PM »

Neander wrote:
"...You think they're all going to hell because they didn't get 'saved' through the Orthodox church?"


Neander, I just read one of those nice little booklets by Conciliar Press. It is called "What About The Non-Orthodox?" by Father David Tillman.

It is a very gracious approach of the subject.

It also recommends to keep in mind 1.Cor.12:3 which says: "....that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (Sorry for taking this out of contxt. I'm just quoting it from the booklet.) We are to walk in love, not in condemnation.

Also, may I offer a thought here. The great commission speaks to all of the believers, not just to the 'priests'. We are all considered a holy priesthood and ambassadors for Christ (please correct me if I got this wrong  Smiley )We are all called to go and take the Gospel to those who don't know it yet, and by our lifestyle we will be either convincing or not. If we argue among ourselves all the time, have schisms and splits left and right, and walk in a presumtuous attitude, nobody is going to be interested in what we got. It's by our fruit that we will be judged.

so far my humble opinion for the moment. Don't get discouraged, Neander, get  closer to the fire so that you will catch on fire, too, and be a light to this world,

Shiloah
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2004, 04:12:21 PM »

At the time of the Early church there were many false teachings and doctrines going round . Even Paul and the other Epistle writers warn about those. So how can a lay person today distinguish what thought and practise comes from a false teaching and what doesn't? The only safe ground here is the books of the Bible.

Ah, but before they were codified as "the books of the Bible", how could one know whether a particular book was safe ground or shaky ground?  You have to look to the Church.
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2004, 09:02:34 PM »

I, too, think Orthodoc did an excellent job on the subject of asking the saints to intercede in prayer for us.

I would like to add an observation.

When our Lord was crucified, some of the Jews thought He called upon Elijah to rescue Him (see Mt. 27:45-49).

Of course, they were mistaken, but why would they think He had called upon Elijah if there were no such practice?

Taken together with the evidence supplied by Orthodoc, the Jews' mistake makes perfect sense.
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« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2004, 09:12:14 PM »

Neander -

(YOU WROTE:) "But when the Church Fathers put together the Canon of the bible, why didn't they pick some of those writings that are more explicit about the intercession of angels and saints?"

   -- Ah, but they did!  This is what I didn't understand as a Protestant; the early Church held to the Septuagint, or Gk translation of the Hebrew OT, which included what we call the Deuterocanonical Books, aka the Apocrypha, in which are included said "writings that are more explicit."  In fact, this was one of the main differences between the Christians and the Jews of the first several hundred years AD.  Origen put it this way:

"When we notice [discrepancies between the Hebrew and Greek OT's], [are we] forthwith to reject as spurious the copies in use in our Churches, and enjoin the brotherhood to put away the sacred books current among them, and to coax the Jews, and persuade them to give us copies which shall be untampered with, and free from forgery[?] Are we to suppose that that Providence which in the sacred Scriptures has ministered to the edification of all the Churches of Christ, had no thought for those bought with a price, for whom Christ died...?"

      You see, Neander, the Greek Septuagint (LXX -- so called because 70 (LXX) rabbis supposedly translated it identically) was the OT that the NT writers quoted from, not the Hebrew Masoretic text (Masor.), when referring to prophecies about Jesus (prophecies which are NOT THERE in the Hebrew).  Since it was the OT of the Apostles, it became the OT of the first believers by default...and it included the Apocrypha, which was quoted AS SCRIPTURE by many of the Church's first bishops!  

The Masor. (w/out Apocrypha) was decided on later, BY THE JEWS, as a reaction to the Church's insistence on Messianic prophecies being fulfilled via the LXX.  The Church cared not a whit what unbelievers said in matters of faith and doctrine, and were happy to stay with what they had been given, as Origen said.  The reason Protestants traditionally reject the Deuterocanonical books is because Martin Luther, going against 1500 years of uniformity within the Church, supposed that the "Jews should know their own Scriptures" and took out the Apocrypha because it didn't go with his beliefs.

(YOU WROTE:) "At the time of the Early church there were many false teachings and doctrines going round...how can a lay person today distinguish what thought and practise comes from a false teaching and what doesn't? The only safe ground here is the books of the Bible."

   -- OK, granted, but which Bible?  More to the point, whose interpretation of which Bible?  

      As Mor Ephrem stated, the Canon of the NT itself was all OVER the place until around 325 when it was uniformly accepted in its present form.  That answers "which Bible."

      St. Vincent of Lerins answers the "which interpretation" question by asking, "since the canon of scriptures is complete, and is in itself adequate, why is there any need to join to its authority the understanding of the church? Because Holy Scripture, on account of its depth, is not accepted in a universal sense. The same statements are interpreted in one way by one person, in another sense by someone else, with the result that there seem to be as many opinions as there are people...Therefore, on account of the number and variety of errors, there is a need for someone to lay down a rule for the interpretation of the prophets and the apostles in such a way that it is directed by the rule of the catholic church."
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« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2004, 09:15:43 PM »

For an idea of the formation of the Canon, see this link:

http://www.protomartyr.org/first.html
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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2004, 04:31:22 AM »

Christos Anesti!  Christ is Risen!

I may be wrong, but what I understood regarding 1 Samuel 28 is that is was not the spirit of Samuel but a demon impersonating him.

John.
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« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2004, 09:58:02 AM »

I've heard the "demon impersonation" theory as well, mostly among evangelicals. I find it totally unconvincing--there is nothing in the text itself that even hints at such a thing. I don't know if the theory has any support among the Fathers or not, but it seems to me that if we hold to the teaching of Tradition that the OT saints were in the world of the dead until the coming of Christ, then the passage poses no serious problems. If you think that Samuel went straight to heaven, as some evangelicals do, then of course you have to believe that what the witch called up was not the real Samuel.

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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2004, 10:03:29 AM »

Is there something like an orthodox dictionary on the web that expounds on such issues?

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article8049.asp
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« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2004, 02:00:59 AM »

Christos Anesti!  Christ is Risen!

I've heard the "demon impersonation" theory as well, mostly among evangelicals. I find it totally unconvincing--there is nothing in the text itself that even hints at such a thing. I don't know if the theory has any support among the Fathers or not, but it seems to me that if we hold to the teaching of Tradition that the OT saints were in the world of the dead until the coming of Christ, then the passage poses no serious problems. If you think that Samuel went straight to heaven, as some evangelicals do, then of course you have to believe that what the witch called up was not the real Samuel.

Thanks Edwin. More of my old baggage to discard Smiley

John.
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« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2004, 12:33:25 AM »

Christos Anesti!  Christ is Risen!

I may be wrong, but what I understood regarding 1 Samuel 28 is that is was not the spirit of Samuel but a demon impersonating him.

John.

Another reason to discard that theory:  a demon would have lied, whereas Samuel (still faithful) told the truth.  

If you go back to that passage and read slowly and carefully, you might notice a couple of things.  When the witch saw Samuel, she screamed, and immediately suspected that her customer was King Saul.  Does it occur to you that the witch did not actually expect to see a dead person?  (Notice also that the witch needed Saul's help to confirm that it was Samuel.)  Necromancy, or the occult practice of "contacting the dead," has always been a deception perpetrated on people in duress over the death of a loved one or one upon whom they depended (as in Saul's case).  I've never seen any evidence that it was anything but trickery used to feed on the misfortune of others - a lie and an abomination.
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« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2004, 01:50:20 AM »

Hello,

I was passing through and this thread popped out at me. Wink  I was reminded of my brief tenure as a Seventh Day Adventist, during which I was told that it was not Samuel, but a demon.
Quote
Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
(1Sa 28:11-12)
Mediums work through familiar spirits, that is, demons.  Due to their age (they've been deceiving since the Garden) and intense communication network, it is nothing for a familiar spirit to collect information to feed to the Medium, which will keep the client hooked (present day example - Crossing Over with John Edward).

Anyway, we see in the account that the woman instantly shrieked in fear.  Why?  Because she was doing what she always did, expecting the familiar spirit to tell her something for the client.  The results of this summons, however, was different because God allowed the real spirit of Samuel to appear!

Regards,
ETL
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« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2004, 01:57:13 AM »

Thankyou everyone for clearing up a question I didn't know I had Smiley

John
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« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2004, 10:49:23 AM »

Thankyou everyone for clearing up a question I didn't know I had Smiley

John

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(I hope you don't mind very much; we just thought it was interesting.  I remember that "aha" moment when it finally hit me why she screamed.  Then thinking "Well duh, Dianne, only God can really raise the dead!" )
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