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Author Topic: Pray to the Saints....confusion in orthodoxy?  (Read 2666 times) Average Rating: 0
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TruthSeeker
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« on: November 04, 2005, 12:26:30 AM »

I believe in intercessory prayer.....BUT.....why is the bible completely silent on this subject of praying to saints to ask their help
.
In the book of Revelation we read about the saints (Christians) on earth praying to God. The incense that is offered to God by the angel and the elders symbolizes their prayers.
It must be emphasized that the incense represents the prayers of the saints that is, the prayers of Christians on earth. Twice we are told that the incense is 'the prayers of the saints.' Therefore the incense does not represent the intercessory prayers of the angel or the elders in heaven. Moreover, these prayers were addressed to God, and not to the elders in heaven or to the angel, for the incense ascended up before God. The saints on earth were praying to God; they were not asking the angels or saints in heaven to pray for them.

So if you are honest with yourself you must admit that NOTHING is said about praying to departed saints in the entire bible.........

If anything the bible says NOT to pray to departed saints....
From the dawn of human existence, when men begun to call upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26), to the last prayer recorded in the Bible (Revelation 22:20), the consistent example of all Gods people was to address their prayers to the Lord. Jesus teaches us by His example to pray to God (Luke 6:12). Jesus also teaches us to address our prayers to 'our Father in heaven.' The apostles and the disciples prayed to the Lord. We are taught to pray 'for' (not 'to') all saints, that is, we should pray for the needs of the living Christians on earth (Ephesians 6:18).

Communication with the dead is the practice of pagan religions and the occult, and not the Judeo-Christian faith as recorded in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah tells us:   And when they say to you, Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter, should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? NOW grant it the Orthodox do not seek "mediums or wizards" but what of the follow up,.... "should not a people seek their God? SHOULD THEY SEEK THE DEAD ON BEHALF OF THE LIVING?"

Now all that said I want to assure you that I am NOT here to try to hammer away at orthodoxy in a  negative way. I am here to DIG for truth as many times in the past I thought I knew it all and God showed me that I know nothing.

All I have is the Bible and thank God I can now accept the testimony of the very early Fathers. I have yet to accept all from the latter fathers as I am worried that "wrong tradition" might have crept into the church...as it did in the church of Rome. After all you have to accept orthodoxy with some faithto belive that  NOTHING of vain tradition has crept in. After all the church of Rome says the same thing about orthodoxy....that it is not the true church.

Now the gates of Hell have not prevailed and I am sure that those that find final salvation will see many heterodox in the antichamber of Heaven and latter in Paradise itself with a new incorruptible body. The church has to be made up of some heterodox even though they do not follow the way in the orthodox way.



SO after all that ....can someone please give me some quotes from the early father on this subject.......and quotes from those saints in the first couple centuries would be ideal.

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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2005, 01:27:34 AM »

I found some stuff that isn't promising...

From Lactantius, an early church writer: "it is manifest that those who either make prayers to the dead, or venerate the earth, or make over their souls to unclean spirits, do not act as becomes men, and that they will suffer punishment for their impiety and guilt, who, rebelling against God, the Father of the human race, have undertaken inexpiable rites, and violated every sacred law." (The Divine Institutes, 2:18) They also noted that Tertullian writes of "Paradise, the place of heavenly bliss appointed to receive the spirits of the saints, severed from the knowledge of this world" (The Apology, 47). The implication seems to be that deceased believers wouldn't be able to receive our prayers.
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2005, 09:26:22 AM »

TruthSeeker,
I do not mean to be dismissive here, but your first post seems to be based on what we call Sola Scriptura proof-texting - and that done by an individual , not by the Church (Holy Apostolic Tradition). Others here may give a fuller answer, I am short of time this morn.

Your second post above: Lactantius was referring to PAGAN practises , not those of the Church. Besides, I think you've got the "implication" wrong - should read those deceived believers offer invalid prayers.
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2005, 09:37:24 AM »

It is impossible for wrong tradition to creep into the Church, as Christ told us that He would be with us even unto the end of the age and that His Spirit would lead us to truth.

....and besides...Lactantius is a known liar and Tertullian a known heretic. 
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2005, 12:45:28 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=7510.msg97548#msg97548 date=1131110782]
TruthSeeker,
I do not mean to be dismissive here, but your first post seems to be based on what we call Sola Scriptura proof-texting - and that done by an individual , not by the Church (Holy Apostolic Tradition). Others here may give a fuller answer, I am short of time this morn.

Your second post above: Lactantius was referring to PAGAN practises , not those of the Church. Besides, I think you've got the "implication" wrong - should read those deceived believers offer invalid prayers.
[/quote]



I see your point.
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2005, 12:52:29 PM »

It is impossible for wrong tradition to creep into the Church, as Christ told us that He would be with us even unto the end of the age and that His Spirit would lead us to truth.

....and besides...Lactantius is a known liar and Tertullian a known heretic. 


What... are you sure?......especially Tertullian/ Can you explain this please?

About the impossibility of wrong tradition ceeping into the church........could it not be possible for perhaps vain tradition to creep in? Vain tradition and not outright wrong tradition even though essentials of truth are still kept.
As I stand right now I do not think asking departed saints to pray for us is really a "bad" thing but rather vain. But I'm considering the orthodox stance, honestly I am. I cannot make this choice, or any choice really, unless the Holy Spirit reveals.

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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2005, 04:20:53 PM »


What... are you sure?......especially Tertullian/ Can you explain this please?

Lactantius was known to lie/exaggerate in his "Life of Constantine"....Tertullian became a Montanist.



........could it not be possible for perhaps vain tradition to creep in


no....impossible
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2005, 05:23:02 PM »

Evangelical: How can you know if the saints can even hear you?

Orthodox: The experience of the Church confirms that they do. God has been pleased to grant many miracles and blessings by the intercessions of the saints. The prayers of a righteous person are just as effective after death as they are before, if not even more so. God glorifies his saints in the Holy Spirit (cf. John 17:22). A holy Russian monk, Silouan, explained it like this: "Once upon a time I did not understand how it was that the holy inhabitants of heaven could see our lives, but . . . I realized that they see us in the Holy Spirit and know our entire lives . . . In the Kingdom of Heaven the holy saints look upon the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ; but through the Holy Spirit they see too the sufferings of men on earth." It is through their intimate union with God that the saints see us, hear us, and know us. Jesus showed that the departed can be aware of events on earth when he asserted "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it and was glad" (John 8:56).

Evangelical: At any rate, such a practice is unknown in the Scriptures and the early Church.

Orthodox: Scripture makes it clear that some men were especially powerful intercessors with God (Jas. 5:16-18, Job 42:Cool. Yet this is not limited to this life only.  In the second book of Maccabees, dropped by the Protests from the Bible a thousand years later, the prophet Jeremiah is represented as constantly praying before God for the people of Israel (II Macc. 15:14). This doctrine was known and accepted in the early church as well; inscriptions on early Christian tombs ask the prayers of the departed, and documents such as "The Martyrdom of Polycarp," testify to it. Church Fathers that are often revered by Protestant Evangelicals, such as St. Augustine, St Athanasius, and St. John Chrysostom, all accepted this catholic and orthodox practice.
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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2005, 05:25:18 PM »

On Traditions...

Evangelical: The Orthodox Church Follows Many Traditions not found in Holy Scripture.

Orthodox: The Orthodox Church does keep traditions that are not expressly found in the Scriptures. St. Paul wrote: "Hold to the traditions you were taught by us, whether by word of mouth or letter" (II Thess. 2:15). The Orthodox Church adheres to the complete Apostolic teaching, whether this is contained in the Bible or comes to us by oral tradition in the Church. The Apostle Paul did not write "Don't hold any traditions unless they are found in Scripture."

Evangelical: Jesus condemned the Pharisees for following the traditions of men instead of the Words of God (Mark 7:13). Doesn't the Orthodox Church do the same thing?

Orthodox: Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees merely for having traditions; he rejected the false traditions that the Pharisees practiced (cf. mark 7:9-13) and condemned them for making the observance of certain legitimate traditions more important than following the teachings of God's Word (cf. Matt. 23:23). The Pharisees were obsessed with practicing external observances in meticulous detail, while at the same time neglecting God's commandments. Jesus taught his disciples to keep the legitimate traditions, but to avoid being hypocritical as the Pharisees were (cf. Matt. 23:1-3). This is exactly the position of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church rejects traditions that are at variance with the Scriptures, and practices only those which are proper expressions of the Christian Faith. The Orthodox faithful are warned in the services of the Church not to fall into the same errors as the Pharisees did.

Evangelical: Some Orthodox traditions are paganistic, like worshiping the Virgin Mary as the "Mother of God."

Orthodox: First of all, Orthodox Christians do not worship Mary. Worship is reserved for God alone. However, Mary is greatly esteemed and honored as the one chosen by God to bring forth His Only Begotten Son into the world. Because of this, she is the most exalted of all creatures. She herself prophesied "All generations shall call me blessed" (Luke 1:48).

Jesus Christ is an eternal, divine Person who took on a complete human nature through the Virgin Mary (cf John 1:1, 14). He is expressly called "God" in Scriptures (cf. John 20:28). As Mary gave birth to and nurtured a divine Person, she is rightly called the "Mother of God." This, of course, does not imply that she is the mother of God the Father. Many of those who question the title "Mother of God" (Theotokos) are those who also doubt the full divinity of Jesus Christ. There is nothing paganistic in the Church's veneration of the Mother of Our Savior.
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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2005, 05:43:55 PM »

In the book of Revelation we read about the saints (Christians) on earth praying to God. The incense that is offered to God by the angel and the elders symbolizes their prayers.  It must be emphasized that the incense represents the prayers of the saints that is, the prayers of Christians on earth....these prayers were addressed to God, and not to the elders in heaven or to the angel, for the incense ascended up before God. The saints on earth were praying to God; they were not asking the angels or saints in heaven to pray for them.

Well, in all fairness, it never actually SAYS who the prayers were addressed to, iirc.  BUT, by your own description, "[t]he incense...is offered to God by the angel and the elders."  If the saints play no part in how our prayers approach the Lord, then why this reference?  If we don't need to ask the saints to pray for us--i.e., if our prayers can do just fine on their own--then why do we not see the incense ascending on its own instead of being carried to the Throne by angels and elders?  Surely we can all concede that there is some sort of intermediary help going on here.

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So if you are honest with yourself you must admit that NOTHING is said about praying to departed saints in the entire bible.........

Allow me to quote from the deuterocanonical book of Tobit:

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(Raphael the angel speaking to Tobit) And so when you and your daughter in law Sarah prayed, I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One....I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One.

And from II Maccabees:

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He (Judas Maccabeus) armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision, which was worthy of belief.  What he saw was this:  Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews.  Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority.  And Onias spoke saying, "This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah the prophet of God."

I encourage you to read this thing right here for a great essay on the witness to the Communion of Saints in Scripture, Jewish apocryphal writings, and the Church Fathers of the first few centuries (Pre-Nicaea).

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If anything the bible says NOT to pray to departed saints....

Well, I disagree, based on the above, but where is a specific verse telling us not to ask for the prayers of the righteous departed in Christ?

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From the dawn of human existence, when men begun to call upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26), to the last prayer recorded in the Bible (Revelation 22:20), the consistent example of all Gods people was to address their prayers to the Lord. Jesus teaches us by His example to pray to God (Luke 6:12). Jesus also teaches us to address our prayers to 'our Father in heaven.' The apostles and the disciples prayed to the Lord.

Absolutely.  As the Author of our life and Finisher of our Faith, He is the only one we should pray to in a worshipful manner and the only one who, ultimately, can grant us anything.  Yet there's also the fact that "pray" just means, "ask for."  When St. Paul says in Romans 12:1 "I beseech ye, therefore brethren etc.," it's been translated as "I pray ye, therefore etc."  So to ask for prayers and action from the saints, especially as they do the service of the Lord, is nothing to be startled about.  See here for my own, inferior, thoughts on the subject.

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We are taught to pray 'for' (not 'to') all saints, that is, we should pray for the needs of the living Christians on earth (Ephesians 6:18).

And yet, we are to make petitions on behalf of all in the Church.  Were they to ask US to pray for them, would we turn them away, saying that they should just pray to God instead of "praying" to us?  For that matter, then, since the departed ARE still alive as the Lord says in St. Luke's gospel, they are still a part of the one Body of Christ and are still under this command of St. Paul to pray for all the Church.

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but what of the follow up,.... "should not a people seek their God? SHOULD THEY SEEK THE DEAD ON BEHALF OF THE LIVING?"


This was written in the context of people seeking the dead INSTEAD of God.  We don't see the saints as a replacement for God, but rather as a complement, an allied (and subordinate) force of the Most High God.  Nor do we ask them to tell us what will happen in the future, as these in the Old Testament did.  We wouldn't even think to ask GOD that!  It's none of our business, frankly.

And, again, remember that, according to St. Luke 20:38, the righteous dead are not really dead but alive in God.  So to equate those unrighteous spirits of the Old Testament with the righteous, spirit-filled inheritors of the resurrected Life of Christ seems a bit much.

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Now all that said I want to assure you that I am NOT here to try to hammer away at orthodoxy in a  negative way. I am here to DIG for truth as many times in the past I thought I knew it all and God showed me that I know nothing.

Hey, it's cool. ÂÂ I had to go through all this, too. ÂÂ I used to be a Southern Baptist, so I've come a ways! ÂÂ  Grin

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All I have is the Bible and thank God I can now accept the testimony of the very early Fathers. I have yet to accept all from the latter fathers as I am worried that "wrong tradition" might have crept into the church...as it did in the church of Rome. After all you have to accept orthodoxy with some faithto belive that  NOTHING of vain tradition has crept in.

We would say that, if the ENTIRE Church embraced and taught a vain tradition then the gates of hell prevailed and Christ lied.  That's a pretty serious charge.

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I am sure that those that find final salvation will see many heterodox in the antichamber of Heaven and latter in Paradise itself with a new incorruptible body. The church has to be made up of some heterodox even though they do not follow the way in the orthodox way.

You're confusing two issues that we keep (somewhat) separate.  God alone knows if heterodox will be in heaven.  That is His to decide.  I can't imagine that there WOULDN'T be heterodox there, but again, that's not my department.  So there's the matter of eternal destiny, but there's ALSO the matter of "what the Church is made up of."  The Orthodox Church IS the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, full stop.  If heterodox make it into heaven, it will be due to God working outside the bounds of His Church.

We say it this way: God is not bound BY His Church--He can do whatever He pleases--but He IS bound TO His Church--meaning that whatever His one Church (the Orthodox) binds is bound, and whatever they loose is loosed, and that She alone has all that is necessary for salvation and will be guided in all truth until the end of time--according to His promise.

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SO after all that ....can someone please give me some quotes from the early father on this subject.......and quotes from those saints in the first couple centuries would be ideal.

Check that article I referenced above (not my blog) for plenty of 'em.  God bless, man.
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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2005, 07:28:24 PM »

Truthseeker,

I don't have time tonight to read through the whole thread, so I apologize if I repeat something that was already said, but a few thoughts on the following...

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So if you are honest with yourself you must admit that NOTHING is said about praying to departed saints in the entire bible.........

Regarding the New Testament documents, it is important to remember that they do not mean to give a complete outline of the theology of the Church, and actually quite the opposite is the case, so that even in the 4th century you still had Christians talking about oral traditions that hadn't been written yet. Sts. Basil and Cyril of Jerusalem, and later saints like John of Damascus go into this. There was, in fact, a secrecy about the early Church that we don't really take into account enough today. The Church not only had non-Christians leave in the middle of the service, but she did not even reveal the baptismal creed and some points of Christian theology to catechumens until just shortly before their baptism. I believe it was St. Cyril who said in his catechetical lectures that he was hesitant to say anything about the sacraments, lest the words fall into the hands of non-believers. This idea is probably hard for us to understand, living as we are in an age and place where everyone thinks that they have a right to read everything (actually, one of the things that attracted me to Orthodoxy is that she still doesn't cater to this false mindset).

So did the Church not talk about it because it didn't come up as part of a dispute (that's the reason that many things first got discussed in writing)? Did they not talk about it because they feared that their converts would relapse into polytheism, anscestor worship, etc. (very possible, St. Gregory the Theologian even goes so far as to say that the Deity of the Holy Spirit was obscurely spoken of in the New Testament so as to ease people into Christian truth)? Did they not bring it up because they didn't want pagans to hear about it and misrepresent them (as happened with other beliefs, such as the eucharist)? I don't know. I don't have an answer that I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. I also can't prove the consubstantiality of Jesus with the Father, or that polygamy is wrong, or that slavery is wrong, or that leaving a abusive spouse is ok... I mean, there's a lot of things I don't claim to be able to prove from Scripture and the first couple centuries. There really isn't a lot of stuff from that time period... not such that it touches all the points of Christian theology. Even works written centuries later (e.g., Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, by St. John of Damascus), which was intended to present the Christian faith, does not touch on all points.

I really don't think anyone can ask for all their believes to be proven explicitly from Scripture, not even Evangelicals who believe in sola scriptura believe that (they usually, wisely, insert something about their being exceptions where God's will is implied in the text without being explicitly stated). I think evidences can be given, from both Scripture and early Tradition, to show that the Orthodox is not, well, unorthodox. I think that's the best we can do though.
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2005, 08:00:40 PM »

One last thing, before I leave. Regarding the title of this thread... "Pray to the Saints....confusion in orthodoxy?"  Please do not think that finding one or two fathers (or a 100 for that matter) who disagree with the Orthodox view means that there is division, confusion, etc. You could find dozens of Fathers who didn't say "Free your slaves," for example, yet if someone said today "Free your slaves" (as there is, sadly, still slavery in the world) then they would not be contradicting those earlier Fathers, but would be speaking in an Orthodox manner. All people make mistakes, including saints. Even saints as well respected as Bl. Jerome, Bl. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Ireneaus, etc. made theological errors. So even if fellows like Lanctantius, Tertullian, etc. were saints, that wouldn't change Orthodox theology a single bit. People in the Church might change what words we use to talk about theology, or how fast the subject gets discussed, or to what extent... but it is the assertion of the Orthodox Church that the very core of her beliefs, the essence, is from God, and does not change based on what 1 or even 100 people (even if they are saints) say. So, in some cases you will find that you are told that the Orthodox Church believes X, and yet find out that certain people (even saints) actually believe Y. But the Church doesn't say that you will find otherwise; she doesn't claim that everyone inside her speaks infallibly, or speaks the exact same things.
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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2005, 08:08:48 PM »






Thank you and to all.

All your replies are good one.

It is very hard to de-learn some of the protestant tradition.

May the Holy Spirit do to me as me as he wills in his teaching. And may my sinful mind and preconceived opinion be of no avail.


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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2005, 08:28:53 PM »

May the Holy Spirit do to me as me as he wills in his teaching. And may my sinful mind and preconceived opinion be of no avail.

Amen.
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