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Volnutt
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« on: June 14, 2011, 03:13:45 AM »

http://www.tektonics.org/lp/pwsaints.html

It's interesting that the Protestant author, whom I greatly respect, reaches the conclusion that the saints do in fact pray for us-though he takes an "unproven/too risky in light of necromancy prohibition" stance on whether we should pray to them.

Anyway, I was searching in vain for a response online, though mostly for an interpretation of the allegedly anti-prayer to Saints patristic quotes by the guest author in the bottom section.
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2011, 04:27:01 AM »

The first author seems quite strained in his response. He seems to be saying "Sure, the dead are alive. Sure they pray for us. Sure there are references that seem to indicate prayer exchanges, even. But until the Bible says "Pray to dead people" or "ask dead people for prayers" in the most explicit manner, I'm going to be a stubborn reductionist."  Wink

The second guy seems to be making very odd inferences into texts that aren't dealing with his topic.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 04:30:38 AM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2011, 05:30:02 AM »

The first author seems quite strained in his response. He seems to be saying "Sure, the dead are alive. Sure they pray for us. Sure there are references that seem to indicate prayer exchanges, even. But until the Bible says "Pray to dead people" or "ask dead people for prayers" in the most explicit manner, I'm going to be a stubborn reductionist."  Wink
Well, he's mostly afraid of violating the anti-necromancy passages.

On the usual Orthodox argument about those passages, Holding says:

Quote
The explanation here seems ingenious, but is, I must say, a rather forced argument based on the assumption that when the OT spoke of the "dead" it excluded certain persons who would now be called the "living". In this case, one must note that at the time YHWH spoke at the burning bush, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be among those "living" and not dead; yet we see no evidence that the law, some years later, gave exceptions to talk to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or any other faithful person.
So, if a medium couldn't have conjured up Abraham back then, we can't pray to him now.

The second guy seems to be making very odd inferences into texts that aren't dealing with his topic.
The Orthodox co-writer points out that Lactantius is speaking of a condemnation of idolatry, but it just doesn't seem clear to me that this is enough to exclude the fact that he just says, "the dead" without qualification as the second Protestant points out:

Quote
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."

Then we have Tertullian clearly seeming to deny the saints hear us.
Quote
Paradise, the place of heavenly bliss appointed to receive the spirits of the saints, severed from the knowledge of this world (The Apology, 47)

I don't think I'm persuaded by the second Protestant's use of Athenagoras, however.
Quote
Because the multitude, who cannot distinguish between matter and God, or see how great is the interval which lies between them, pray to idols made of matter, are we therefore, who do distinguish and separate the uncreated and the created, that which is and that which is not, that which is apprehended by the understanding and that which is perceived by the senses, and who give the fitting name to each of them,-are we to come and worship images?...For if they differ in no respect from the lowest brutes (since it is evident that the Deity must differ from the things of earth and those that are derived from matter), they are not gods. How, then, I ask, can we approach them as suppliants, when their origin resembles that of cattle, and they themselves have the form of brutes, and are ugly to behold?
Given the Incarnation and divinized humanity, it seems like Athenagoras can't be used against veneration (it's funny how the second Protestant quotes praise to the Theotokos as if he thinks it is some great secret that the Orthodox don't just ask the Saints to pray for them).

I guess given theosis, we could say Lactantius is just being ignorant when he says:
Quote
I have shown that the religious rites of the gods are vain in a threefold manner: In the first place, because those images which are worshipped are representations of men who are deadand that is a wrong and inconsistent thing, that the image of a man should be worshipped by the image of God, for that which worships is lower and weaker than that which is worshipped
But I'm always concerned when I see patristic quotes like this, because doesn't it indicate veneration, at the very least of icons, was not practiced in Lactantius' area (which seeing as how he was St. Constantine's advisor, would have been substantial). I mean, I know Lactantius was kind of dense at times, but wouldn't he have noticed Christians venerating the dead?

His quote from Ireneaus doesn't seem relevant:
Quote
Nor does she [the church] perform anything by means of angelic invocations, or by incantations, or by any other wicked curious art; but, directing her prayers to the Lord, who made all things, in a pure, sincere, and straightforward spirit, and calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, she has been accustomed to work miracles for the advantage of mankind, and not to lead them into error....The altar, then, is in heaven (for towards that place are our prayers and oblations directed)" (Against Heresies, 2:32:5, 4:18:6)
He doesn't say they only pray to Christ, though the denial of invoking angels might be problematic.

The reference to Clement of Alexandria certainly does to me seem to define prayer as communication with God, perhaps exclusively:
Quote
"But if, by nature needing nothing, He delights to be honoured, it is not without reason that we honour God in prayer; and thus the best and holiest sacrifice with righteousness we bring, presenting it as an offering to the most righteous Word, by whom we receive knowledge, giving glory by Him for what we have learned....For the sacrifice of the Church is the word breathing as incense from holy souls, the sacrifice and the whole mind being at the same time unveiled to God. Now the very ancient altar in Delos they celebrated as holy; which alone, being undefiled by slaughter and death, they say Pythagoras approached. And will they not believe us when we say that the righteous soul is the truly sacred altar, and that incense arising from it is holy prayer?...Prayer is, then, to speak more boldly, converse with God. Though whispering, consequently, and not opening the lips, we speak in silence, yet we cry inwardly. For God hears continually all the inward converse. So also we raise the head and lift the hands to heaven, and set the feet in motion at the closing utterance of the prayer, following the eagerness of the spirit directed towards the intellectual essence; and endeavouring to abstract the body from the earth, along with the discourse, raising the soul aloft, winged with longing for better things, we compel it to advance to the region of holiness, magnanimously despising the chain of the flesh. For we know right well, that the Gnostic [believer] willingly passes over the whole world, as the Jews certainly did over Egypt, showing clearly, above all, that he will be as near as possible to God." (The Stromata, 7:6-7)
Likewise Tertullian:
Quote
Tertullian takes The Lord's Prayer to be representative of all prayer. The object of all prayer, then, is God:

"God alone could teach how he wished Himself prayed to. The religious rite of prayer therefore, ordained by Himself, and animated, even at the moment when it was issuing out of the Divine mouth, by His own Spirit, ascends, by its own prerogative, into heaven, commending to the Father what the Son has taught." (On Prayer, 9)

Notice that Tertullian refers to "the religious rite of prayer", meaning that he's referring to all prayers, not just some. All prayers are "commended to the Father", following the pattern of The Lord's Prayer, according to Tertullian.

He explains that prayer is a sacrifice to God, which would exclude praying to anybody else:

"We are the true adorers and the true priests, who, praying in spirit, sacrifice, in spirit, prayer,-a victim proper and acceptable to God, which assuredly He has required, which He has looked forward to for Himself! This victim, devoted from the whole heart, fed on faith, tended by truth, entire in innocence, pure in chastity, garlanded with love, we ought to escort with the pomp of good works, amid psalms and hymns, unto God's altar, to obtain for us all things from God." (On Prayer, 28)

The citations at the end from Hippolytus, Origen, and Cyprian seem to similarly narrow the definition of prayer. I know we have catacomb prayers from around this time and the Sub Tuum Praesidium in Origen's backyard, but the passage quoted makes it sound like he is unaware of it.
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2011, 06:41:58 AM »

I really enjoy hearing Protestants sing the Christmas carol "Angels We Have Heard on High" when they get to this verse:]
    See Him in a manger laid
    Jesus Lord of heaven and earth;
    Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
    With us sing our Saviour's birth.

Many of them also sing every Sunday:
    Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
    Praise Him, all creatures here below;
    Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
    Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

I wonder who they think they are singing to? Quite frankly, I never thought much about it until I became Orthodox and it seems so very clear now.
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2011, 07:56:18 AM »

You say its an author you respect, but I clicked around the website and I can't figure out who it is.  Also, it would have been more helpful if you'd made the subject of this thread more obvious (sorry to be so grumpy but it's a pet-peeve of mine). 
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2011, 08:24:49 AM »

Well, he's mostly afraid of violating the anti-necromancy passages.

How can it be necromancy if we've already established the saints are not dead?

And necromancy specifically seeks an apparition. We are to be skeptical of apparitions and not desire to see them. If we do, we are to hold them suspect.

Quote
So, if a medium couldn't have conjured up Abraham back then, we can't pray to him now.

Non-sequitur.

Souls are not under the Devil's control. A departed soul cannot be conjured up. Any apparition of this kind is a demon imitating a person. Ghosts do not exist. The saints can appear at the will of God, but it has nothing to do with magic spells.

The fathers do not agree completely on this point, but many believe the witch of Endor showed Saul a demon, not a departed person. And even if it wasn't a demon, then God sent him to appear. It has nothing to do with the medium, that's for sure.

So in summary, we aren't necromanists because the saints aren't dead and we don't seek apparitions in our prayers.

If a Protestant wants to argue against prayer to the saints, they should argue whether we can ask living people for help - because that's all it is.
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NicholasMyra
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2011, 10:44:39 AM »

Quote
The explanation here seems ingenious, but is, I must say, a rather forced argument based on the assumption that when the OT spoke of the "dead" it excluded certain persons who would now be called the "living". In this case, one must note that at the time YHWH spoke at the burning bush, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be among those "living" and not dead; yet we see no evidence that the law, some years later, gave exceptions to talk to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or any other faithful person.
So, if a medium couldn't have conjured up Abraham back then, we can't pray to him now.
The righteous dead were also in Sheol, though. As for Elijiah, who was "taken up into heaven"... well, check out how Jews venerate him to this day.  Wink

it is manifest that those who either make prayers to the dead,[/b] 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."

Ancestor worship isn't the same thing as asking for the prayers of the living dead, though. The OT stipulates against "marking oneself for the dead" in a similar fashion.
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2011, 10:51:19 AM »


Then we have Tertullian clearly seeming to deny the saints hear us.
Quote
Paradise, the place of heavenly bliss appointed to receive the spirits of the saints, severed from the knowledge of this world (The Apology, 47)

See, I have a disturbing feeling that if one weren't looking to read an anti-intercession bias into certain texts, one wouldn't get that reading. I would never have read this text and thought "oh, it must mean that the dead are cut off from the living."

First, we'd have to think about what "world" means. To us English speakers, "world" means "realm". That's why the Protestant, who is used to world meaning "physical world" and "spiritual world" theologically, interpreted it that way.

 In the NT, "world" is usually a translation of "Kosmas" (Fallen order) or "Aeon" (Age). Greeks say "unto ages of ages." Latins say "saecula saeculorum" (literally: "worlds of worlds") because secular used to mean something like "of this [fallen] age." So Tertullian could be read as saying, "They have no knowledge of this age [which is passing away]." This interpretation sheds a very different light on the meaning of the passage: The saints are already experiencing something of the reality of the eschaton, the final aeon which is the Lord being all in all; they are no longer part of this fallen age. But not yet, as I believe St. Paul says, experiencing the fullness of the reward of the eschaton which they shall experience with all the righteous at the final age.


The reference to Clement of Alexandria certainly does to me seem to define prayer as communication with God, perhaps exclusively:
Quote
"But if, by nature needing nothing, He delights to be honoured, it is not without reason that we honour God in prayer; and thus the best and holiest sacrifice with righteousness we bring, presenting it as an offering to the most righteous Word, by whom we receive knowledge, giving glory by Him for what we have learned....For the sacrifice of the Church is the word breathing as incense from holy souls, the sacrifice and the whole mind being at the same time unveiled to God. Now the very ancient altar in Delos they celebrated as holy; which alone, being undefiled by slaughter and death, they say Pythagoras approached. And will they not believe us when we say that the righteous soul is the truly sacred altar, and that incense arising from it is holy prayer?...Prayer is, then, to speak more boldly, converse with God. Though whispering, consequently, and not opening the lips, we speak in silence, yet we cry inwardly. For God hears continually all the inward converse. So also we raise the head and lift the hands to heaven, and set the feet in motion at the closing utterance of the prayer, following the eagerness of the spirit directed towards the intellectual essence; and endeavouring to abstract the body from the earth, along with the discourse, raising the soul aloft, winged with longing for better things, we compel it to advance to the region of holiness, magnanimously despising the chain of the flesh. For we know right well, that the Gnostic [believer] willingly passes over the whole world, as the Jews certainly did over Egypt, showing clearly, above all, that he will be as near as possible to God." (The Stromata, 7:6-7)
When you ask for the saint's intercession, you aren't praying to them. You're praying in the sense that you're "requesting" but you aren't praying in the sense of seeking absolute communion with the true God. To pray in that sense to a saint would be blasphemous. Clement is spot on.

He explains that prayer is a sacrifice to God, which would exclude praying to anybody else:

"We are the true adorers and the true priests, who, praying in spirit, sacrifice, in spirit, prayer,-a victim proper and acceptable to God, which assuredly He has required, which He has looked forward to for Himself! This victim, devoted from the whole heart, fed on faith, tended by truth, entire in innocence, pure in chastity, garlanded with love, we ought to escort with the pomp of good works, amid psalms and hymns, unto God's altar, to obtain for us all things from God." (On Prayer, 28)

Look at what he says. "We are the true adorers and the true priests, who, praying in spirit" This obviously indicates prayer to God, because only God receives adoration. It does not exclude prayer requests of others. Once again, it would be improper to use "pray" (as to a deity) when referring to "prayer" (really, requests of intercession) to the saints. I think the linguistic issue we have in English is around the word "prayer" (I pray thee, sir, lend me a spot o' bread!) which has become used exclusively for worship prayer.

Also, it's normally a warning sign if an author's prooftexts don't seem to come from a context having anything directly to do with the subject at hand.  Wink Once again, I would have probably never seen anything referring to saint intercession in these texts had the article not brought that up.
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2011, 11:15:35 AM »

You say its an author you respect, but I clicked around the website and I can't figure out who it is.  Also, it would have been more helpful if you'd made the subject of this thread more obvious (sorry to be so grumpy but it's a pet-peeve of mine). 
Oh, sorry. James Patrick Holding is an apologist. He's not exactly famous outside another website I go to. I thought the articles still had by-lines.

I don't know who the other two authors of that article are, one Orthodox or at least sympathetic and one Protestant. I have my hunches but all I could give you would be a list of screenames.

As for the subject, I thought it was clear, sorry.
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2011, 11:16:19 AM »

Check this out, Volnutt:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah#Elijah_in_Jewish_observance

Remember, this was the guy in the OT who was taken up into heaven, not sent down to sheol with the other righteous dead.
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2011, 11:45:27 AM »

Check this out, Volnutt:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah#Elijah_in_Jewish_observance

Remember, this was the guy in the OT who was taken up into heaven, not sent down to sheol with the other righteous dead.
This is very interesting, thanks.

I see what you mean as well, Bogdan.
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2011, 11:56:25 AM »

See, I have a disturbing feeling that if one weren't looking to read an anti-intercession bias into certain texts, one wouldn't get that reading. I would never have read this text and thought "oh, it must mean that the dead are cut off from the living."

First, we'd have to think about what "world" means. To us English speakers, "world" means "realm". That's why the Protestant, who is used to world meaning "physical world" and "spiritual world" theologically, interpreted it that way.

 In the NT, "world" is usually a translation of "Kosmas" (Fallen order) or "Aeon" (Age). Greeks say "unto ages of ages." Latins say "saecula saeculorum" (literally: "worlds of worlds") because secular used to mean something like "of this [fallen] age." So Tertullian could be read as saying, "They have no knowledge of this age [which is passing away]." This interpretation sheds a very different light on the meaning of the passage: The saints are already experiencing something of the reality of the eschaton, the final aeon which is the Lord being all in all; they are no longer part of this fallen age. But not yet, as I believe St. Paul says, experiencing the fullness of the reward of the eschaton which they shall experience with all the righteous at the final age.
But don't they need some knowledge on what we go through here in order to really pray for us, for example prayers which speak of the Theotokos' sympathy for us?

When you ask for the saint's intercession, you aren't praying to them. You're praying in the sense that you're "requesting" but you aren't praying in the sense of seeking absolute communion with the true God. To pray in that sense to a saint would be blasphemous. Clement is spot on.
So dulia is to be separated from prayer? Aren't they kind of inextricably linked, to say nothing of hyperdulia to the Theotokos? Sorry, if that's a non sequitur, I'm just used to thinking of them as linked.

Also, it's normally a warning sign if an author's prooftexts don't seem to come from a context having anything directly to do with the subject at hand.  Wink Once again, I would have probably never seen anything referring to saint intercession in these texts had the article not brought that up.
Yeah, it is important not to jump on a context just because it looks similar.
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2011, 12:02:19 PM »

I really enjoy hearing Protestants sing the Christmas carol "Angels We Have Heard on High" when they get to this verse:]
    See Him in a manger laid
    Jesus Lord of heaven and earth;
    Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
    With us sing our Saviour's birth.

Many of them also sing every Sunday:
    Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
    Praise Him, all creatures here below;
    Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
    Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

I wonder who they think they are singing to? Quite frankly, I never thought much about it until I became Orthodox and it seems so very clear now.

Well, I guess they could say it's just a poetic apostrophe like I'm guessing the Anglicans do for the BCP addresses to Mary, but perhaps this is just a cop out in a religious context. I don't know.
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2011, 02:38:39 PM »

See, I have a disturbing feeling that if one weren't looking to read an anti-intercession bias into certain texts, one wouldn't get that reading. I would never have read this text and thought "oh, it must mean that the dead are cut off from the living."

First, we'd have to think about what "world" means. To us English speakers, "world" means "realm". That's why the Protestant, who is used to world meaning "physical world" and "spiritual world" theologically, interpreted it that way.

 In the NT, "world" is usually a translation of "Kosmas" (Fallen order) or "Aeon" (Age). Greeks say "unto ages of ages." Latins say "saecula saeculorum" (literally: "worlds of worlds") because secular used to mean something like "of this [fallen] age." So Tertullian could be read as saying, "They have no knowledge of this age [which is passing away]." This interpretation sheds a very different light on the meaning of the passage: The saints are already experiencing something of the reality of the eschaton, the final aeon which is the Lord being all in all; they are no longer part of this fallen age. But not yet, as I believe St. Paul says, experiencing the fullness of the reward of the eschaton which they shall experience with all the righteous at the final age.
But don't they need some knowledge on what we go through here in order to really pray for us, for example prayers which speak of the Theotokos' sympathy for us?
I was thinking of it more like "the knowledge of this age" as in the fallen concerns of this age, like the fallen knowledge of adam and eve. But when one builds up a communion with the eschatalogical cloud of witnesses, the Christian is entering a communion outside of the fallen age. So they would know details about life here, it wouldn't be like the saints are in some tranquilized ignorant bliss. Revelation's mention of the prayers of the martyred souls who pray about what's going on on earth is a good evidence against this.
Quote
When you ask for the saint's intercession, you aren't praying to them. You're praying in the sense that you're "requesting" but you aren't praying in the sense of seeking absolute communion with the true God. To pray in that sense to a saint would be blasphemous. Clement is spot on.
So dulia is to be separated from prayer? Aren't they kind of inextricably linked, to say nothing of hyperdulia to the Theotokos? Sorry, if that's a non sequitur, I'm just used to thinking of them as linked.
From wikipedia (the most reputable of sources, of course): "Church theologians have long adopted the terms latria for the type of worship due to God alone, and dulia for the veneration given to saints and icons."

I think that when one communes properly with the saints, veneration passes to God and God is adored because of his work in that saint.
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« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2011, 02:52:07 PM »

I was thinking of it more like "the knowledge of this age" as in the fallen concerns of this age, like the fallen knowledge of adam and eve. But when one builds up a communion with the eschatalogical cloud of witnesses, the Christian is entering a communion outside of the fallen age. So they would know details about life here, it wouldn't be like the saints are in some tranquilized ignorant bliss. Revelation's mention of the prayers of the martyred souls who pray about what's going on on earth is a good evidence against this.
So maybe one could say they've forgotten what sin feels like and it doesn't tempt them anymore?

From wikipedia (the most reputable of sources, of course): "Church theologians have long adopted the terms latria for the type of worship due to God alone, and dulia for the veneration given to saints and icons."

I think that when one communes properly with the saints, veneration passes to God and God is adored because of his work in that saint.
Yeah, that makes sense.
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« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2011, 04:04:32 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

http://www.tektonics.org/lp/pwsaints.html

It's interesting that the Protestant author, whom I greatly respect, reaches the conclusion that the saints do in fact pray for us-though he takes an "unproven/too risky in light of necromancy prohibition" stance on whether we should pray to them.

Anyway, I was searching in vain for a response online, though mostly for an interpretation of the allegedly anti-prayer to Saints patristic quotes by the guest author in the bottom section.

The premise that praying towards the Saints is necromancy is a poorly thought out concept based upon the outdated premise that human Death is final.  Since Christ came, Death has evolved into the temporal Sleep rather than final Death.  Before Christ came, we had no access to those who had departed, as they were trapped in the bounds of Death and Hell, forever estranged from all aspects of Life and Living.  However, since Christ came, those in Hell were transferred so that we are now one united Church Triumphant and Church Militant.  Those who have reposed are neither Dead nor silenced, but are one and the same in unison with we the living branch of the Church here in this realm of Earth.  Since those Saints are abiding with the Church Triumphant, they are able to access us in the Spirit, and just as we the living are able to share in each others' infirmities and pray for each other out of love, so to do the Saints pray on our behalf.

I think theologically it would be better to say in English that we "pray with the Saints" rather than "pray to the Saints" and this semantic clarification I think could go a long way to clear up these misunderstandings that the Protestants have towards the Saints.  Whenever I reason with Protestants they always make a point to bring up Our Lady or the Saints, but its out of their misunderstanding.  When I say to them, "Would you have a theological problem with me asking you to pray for me or for asking your own mother or relatives to pray for you?" They generally reply, "No."  To that point I then interject that we in the Church believe in the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant, that is that those in Heaven and those on the Earth are united as the organic Body of Christ, and as such, they can equally pray for us as logically as can anyone here in this present, seemingly living realm.  While it doesn't necessarily convince them outright, it does drive the point in home that we are not worshiping the Saints, rather we are venerating them as being in the same state of living as we think of those we share this current life with.
I think this connects well with the idea expressed in another thread about the Ontological differences between Orthodox and Rome (and also Western Protestants) as we in Orthodox conceptualize an entirely different understand of the Universe than do other mindsets.  The major difference between Orthodox and other Christians is the concept that Heaven and Earth are united in Christ Jesus through the Incarnation and the Union of the Human and Divine Nature.  The Saints stand in Heaven and pray on our behalf, just as our monks here on Earth equally stand in praye constantly for the sake of the world.  Our prayer is united, as cosmologically the gulf and gap which previously separated us has been forever bridged through the Flesh and Blood of Our Lord.  Protestants see Communion as a symbol and also see this world as somehow being inherently separate from God, which is generally quite foreign to the Orthodox mind.

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie
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« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2011, 04:34:39 PM »

I was thinking of it more like "the knowledge of this age" as in the fallen concerns of this age, like the fallen knowledge of adam and eve. But when one builds up a communion with the eschatalogical cloud of witnesses, the Christian is entering a communion outside of the fallen age. So they would know details about life here, it wouldn't be like the saints are in some tranquilized ignorant bliss. Revelation's mention of the prayers of the martyred souls who pray about what's going on on earth is a good evidence against this.
So maybe one could say they've forgotten what sin feels like and it doesn't tempt them anymore?

Or perhaps they are now separate from separation from God and corruption. I feel that the word "knowledge" implies a presence in this context, not mere sensory or intellectual experience.

I'm also curious about the syntax of "severed from the knowledge of this world". It could be read "something that this world does not know about" instead of "the saints don't know about this world".
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 04:38:49 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2011, 10:25:28 PM »

Oh yeah. I didn't think of that.
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« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2011, 10:36:36 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

http://www.tektonics.org/lp/pwsaints.html

It's interesting that the Protestant author, whom I greatly respect, reaches the conclusion that the saints do in fact pray for us-though he takes an "unproven/too risky in light of necromancy prohibition" stance on whether we should pray to them.

Anyway, I was searching in vain for a response online, though mostly for an interpretation of the allegedly anti-prayer to Saints patristic quotes by the guest author in the bottom section.

The premise that praying towards the Saints is necromancy is a poorly thought out concept based upon the outdated premise that human Death is final.  Since Christ came, Death has evolved into the temporal Sleep rather than final Death.  Before Christ came, we had no access to those who had departed, as they were trapped in the bounds of Death and Hell, forever estranged from all aspects of Life and Living.  However, since Christ came, those in Hell were transferred so that we are now one united Church Triumphant and Church Militant.  Those who have reposed are neither Dead nor silenced, but are one and the same in unison with we the living branch of the Church here in this realm of Earth.  Since those Saints are abiding with the Church Triumphant, they are able to access us in the Spirit, and just as we the living are able to share in each others' infirmities and pray for each other out of love, so to do the Saints pray on our behalf.

I think theologically it would be better to say in English that we "pray with the Saints" rather than "pray to the Saints" and this semantic clarification I think could go a long way to clear up these misunderstandings that the Protestants have towards the Saints.  Whenever I reason with Protestants they always make a point to bring up Our Lady or the Saints, but its out of their misunderstanding.  When I say to them, "Would you have a theological problem with me asking you to pray for me or for asking your own mother or relatives to pray for you?" They generally reply, "No."  To that point I then interject that we in the Church believe in the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant, that is that those in Heaven and those on the Earth are united as the organic Body of Christ, and as such, they can equally pray for us as logically as can anyone here in this present, seemingly living realm.  While it doesn't necessarily convince them outright, it does drive the point in home that we are not worshiping the Saints, rather we are venerating them as being in the same state of living as we think of those we share this current life with.
I think this connects well with the idea expressed in another thread about the Ontological differences between Orthodox and Rome (and also Western Protestants) as we in Orthodox conceptualize an entirely different understand of the Universe than do other mindsets.  The major difference between Orthodox and other Christians is the concept that Heaven and Earth are united in Christ Jesus through the Incarnation and the Union of the Human and Divine Nature.  The Saints stand in Heaven and pray on our behalf, just as our monks here on Earth equally stand in praye constantly for the sake of the world.  Our prayer is united, as cosmologically the gulf and gap which previously separated us has been forever bridged through the Flesh and Blood of Our Lord.  Protestants see Communion as a symbol and also see this world as somehow being inherently separate from God, which is generally quite foreign to the Orthodox mind.

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie
Yeah, there's no "two-story universe" in Orthodoxy, true. Fr. Stephen Freeman actually has a new book out about that.

Holding's response to the point that the Church is an organic unity is that just like we don't have to ask our lungs to keep breathing, so we shouldn't have to ask the Saints to pray for us. I suppose one rebuttal could be that loving friends and relatives (and the monastics) will be praying for us anyway. But then we would need to tell them about specific concerns. I would think the Holy Spirit would make sure that the Saints know our specific needs-especially our Patron Saint, Guardian Angel, and the Theotokos.
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« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2011, 12:01:40 AM »

Holding's response to the point that the Church is an organic unity is that just like we don't have to ask our lungs to keep breathing, so we shouldn't have to ask the Saints to pray for us. I suppose one rebuttal could be that loving friends and relatives (and the monastics) will be praying for us anyway. But then we would need to tell them about specific concerns.
I've heard similar arguments against asking God for forgiveness more than once in your life, or asking God for help, or prayer at all.
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« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2011, 01:18:55 AM »

I've heard similar arguments against asking God for forgiveness more than once in your life, or asking God for help, or prayer at all.
So have I, now that I think about it. I need to quit posting tired.  laugh
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« Reply #21 on: June 15, 2011, 03:26:52 AM »

I've heard similar arguments against asking God for forgiveness more than once in your life, or asking God for help, or prayer at all.
So have I, now that I think about it. I need to quit posting tired.  laugh
I actually encountered a very kind and good gentleman at a Campus Crusade meeting once, who told me that it is silly to ask God for forgiveness. He already forgives us, so why bother annoying Him?  Wink
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« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2011, 05:24:38 AM »

I've heard similar arguments against asking God for forgiveness more than once in your life, or asking God for help, or prayer at all.
So have I, now that I think about it. I need to quit posting tired.  laugh
I actually encountered a very kind and good gentleman at a Campus Crusade meeting once, who told me that it is silly to ask God for forgiveness. He already forgives us, so why bother annoying Him?  Wink
eek
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« Reply #23 on: June 15, 2011, 08:10:55 AM »

So, if a medium couldn't have conjured up Abraham back then, we can't pray to him now.

We don't hold seances where we try to conjure up anyone, with or without a medium.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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