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Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Question on veneration of the Saints

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  • Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth
    Christopher Orr wrote:
    Message 1 of 24 , Feb 28, 2009
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      Christopher Orr wrote:
      <<Orthodoxy does not teach her own to petition "the saints for aid of some
      sort with the expectation that they, themselves, would / could provide it",
      if by that you mean a saint is acting somehow autonomously from God.>>

      That is good.

      <<It is the same with the power of the saints - they have power only insofar as their God works through them. It is them, but not without God; it is God, through His saints because he is "wondrous in His saints".>>

      That too is good.

      But Orthodox *do* pray to saints asking them to do certain things for them, right? There is the Theotokos prayer that has been quoted in this thread. There is the Greek Orthodox senior I know who told me the other day that she lost her pillowcase, prayed to St. Anthony to help her find it, found it and is convinced that St. Anthony answered her prayer. So, it's not that St. Anthony was expected to help find the pillowcase by his own powers (as a demi-god) but by the power of his God who "really" found the pillowcase, or caused it to be found? Why bother with St. Anthony, or any other, at all? It often seems that Orthodox so desperately *want* to pray to saints that they will rationalize a way to explain it that makes it acceptable. Idolatry or not, it just doesn't seem necessary -- certainly not commanded or even suggested in Scripture.

      Christopher, I very much appreciate the fullness of incarnational theology and communion with Christ, even theosis that you use to explain / justify prayer to the saints -- I accept the premises -- I just can't swallow the conclusion.

      Jon

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      "He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not
      the Church for his mother." - St. Cyprian of Carthage

      "O wondrous mystery! One is the Father of all, one also
      the Word of all,and the Holy Spirit is one and the same
      everywhere. And there is only one Virgin Mother;I love to
      call her the Church." - St. Clement of Alexandria

      Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth

      The Lutheran Church of Christ the King
      14 Pine Drive Pawling, NY 12564

      Office 845.855.3169
      Home 845.855.2616
      E-Mail didache@...
      E-Mail pawlinglutheran@...
      Web http://www.pawlinglutheran.org
      Blog http://www.lesteverymanbeblind.blogspot.com

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Christopher Orr
      Your why bother question is as easily posed regarding prayer of any kind - why bother praying when God already knows what you need and will give it to you
      Message 2 of 24 , Feb 28, 2009
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        Your why bother question is as easily posed regarding prayer of any kind -
        why bother praying when God already knows what you need and will give it to
        you regardless of whether you pray for it or not? Why bother asking anyone
        you know to pray for you? I don't deny it is all nonsensical and
        impractical - your prayer, my prayer, asking others to pray, asking the
        saints for their prayers - if one needs practicality as a judge of the
        things of God.

        All such things proceed from the lex orandi of the Church. It's unanimous,
        consistent testimony is for the invocation of the saints, of prayer to the
        saints as saints (not gods). Any lex credendi we may come up with is based
        on that. We do not formulate dogma and then write our prayers, hymns, etc.,
        but vice versa.

        I should also remind you that this is a forum to answer questions of the
        Orthodox about Orthodoxy and not a forum to critique beliefs and practices
        you do not believe in. Comparing and contrasting in the service of
        understanding (not necessarily agreeing) is always welcome, of course, and
        this is best expressed with a question, not a debate. I know it is perhaps
        a fine distinction, but I am trying to maintain that distinction on this
        list so that it doesn't devolve into something unpleasant and judgmental.

        Christopher



        On Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 9:21 PM, Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth <
        didache@...> wrote:

        > Christopher Orr wrote:
        > <<Orthodoxy does not teach her own to petition "the saints for aid of some
        > sort with the expectation that they, themselves, would / could provide it",
        > if by that you mean a saint is acting somehow autonomously from God.>>
        >
        > That is good.
        >
        > <<It is the same with the power of the saints - they have power only
        > insofar as their God works through them. It is them, but not without God; it
        > is God, through His saints because he is "wondrous in His saints".>>
        >
        > That too is good.
        >
        > But Orthodox *do* pray to saints asking them to do certain things for them,
        > right? There is the Theotokos prayer that has been quoted in this thread.
        > There is the Greek Orthodox senior I know who told me the other day that she
        > lost her pillowcase, prayed to St. Anthony to help her find it, found it and
        > is convinced that St. Anthony answered her prayer. So, it's not that St.
        > Anthony was expected to help find the pillowcase by his own powers (as a
        > demi-god) but by the power of his God who "really" found the pillowcase, or
        > caused it to be found? Why bother with St. Anthony, or any other, at all? It
        > often seems that Orthodox so desperately *want* to pray to saints that they
        > will rationalize a way to explain it that makes it acceptable. Idolatry or
        > not, it just doesn't seem necessary -- certainly not commanded or even
        > suggested in Scripture.
        >
        > Christopher, I very much appreciate the fullness of incarnational theology
        > and communion with Christ, even theosis that you use to explain / justify
        > prayer to the saints -- I accept the premises -- I just can't swallow the
        > conclusion.
        >
        > Jon
        >
        > +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        >
        > "He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not
        > the Church for his mother." - St. Cyprian of Carthage
        >
        > "O wondrous mystery! One is the Father of all, one also
        > the Word of all,and the Holy Spirit is one and the same
        > everywhere. And there is only one Virgin Mother;I love to
        > call her the Church." - St. Clement of Alexandria
        >
        > Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth
        >
        > The Lutheran Church of Christ the King
        > 14 Pine Drive Pawling, NY 12564
        >
        > Office 845.855.3169
        > Home 845.855.2616
        > E-Mail didache@... <didache%40earthlink.net>
        > E-Mail pawlinglutheran@... <pawlinglutheran%40verizon.net>
        > Web http://www.pawlinglutheran.org
        > Blog http://www.lesteverymanbeblind.blogspot.com
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • randall hay
        The term pray means to ask somebody to do something....it was often shortened to prithee in previous generations. Its use is not necessarily in relation
        Message 3 of 24 , Feb 28, 2009
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          The term "pray" means to ask somebody to do something....it was often shortened to "prithee" in previous generations. Its use is not necessarily in relation to God. This can even be seen in the KJV translation....for example, in Acts 8:34 the eunuch says to Phillip "I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet?"

          Ecclesiastical language is the slowest to change (hence we still use "thees" and "thous" in church), and when Orthodox say something about "praying to" a saint it's in this older sense.

          It is our practice to seek prayers from all Christians...not just the saints. This includes, certainly, the departed as well as the living. Those who "finished their course" faithfully are more alive than we are. As Scripture goes to such pains to point out, Christ came to unite heaven and earth, Jew and gentile, man and angel, living and "dead"---all His creatures---into one church...



          Eph 1:9-10 "For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." Any barrier between us and the departed is in our fallen minds, not reality. In Christ our love should extend to �all the saints� (2 John 1; Ephesians 1:15; Colossians 1:4; Ephesians 6:18)...

          I might point out that Dr David Scaer, chairman of the dept of systematic theology at Concordian Seminary Ft Wayne, has recently pointed out in writing that the LCMS does operate based on living tradition:

          "Through the controversies of the historical content of the Bible, the LCMS espoused a sola Scriptura theology and lived off its own traditions.
          ...The LCMS tradition was the one reason which allowed for the LCMS to survive its own Armageddon in the 1970's...
          By relying on its own tradition the LCMS operates according to a catholic principle...."
          ("The Metamorphisis of Confessional Lutheranism," Concordia Theological Quarterly, July/Oct 2007, pp 205-6)

          The whole article is an excellent one, and applies, I think, equally to all confessional Lutheran bodies. (I have great respect and admiration for the man; at sem I took all his classes I could.)
          When I was in the LCMS I found ethos, this tradition Scaer discusses, was the hardest thing to overcome in seeking more reverent, historical worship.



          In Christ,
          Subdeacon Randy






          ________________________________
          From: Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth <didache@...>
          To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 12:33:43 PM
          Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Question on veneration of the Saints


          Randall Hay wrote:
          <<These verses above are not quite asking the saints and angels to pray for
          us; but if you can talk to them, there's certainly no objection to aksing
          them to pray for us.>>

          No, the verses you quoted do *not* ask the saints and angels to pray for us.
          Further, that we can talk to them is certainly not denied or denounced in
          Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions (the Te Deum Laudamus is a fine
          example of our joining in worship with angels, saints, apostles, and
          martyrs; as is the Proper Preface "...therefore with angels and archangels
          and with all the company of heaven *we* laud and magnify you..."). There
          should not be a Lutheran objection to asking the Saints to pray *for* us,
          *with* us -- since they *do*.

          This is all something very different from asking the Saints to *aid* us or
          *answer* us -- There is a difference between asking a Saint to *pray* for us
          and *praying to* the Saint. You wrote that we *talk* to them and *ask* them
          to pray for us -- but I imagine that you would define *praying* as being
          somewhat more than talking or asking?

          Saints and angels, etc. pray *with* us and *for* us -- this is taught in
          Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. That we should *pray to* saints and
          angels, etc. -- this is forbidden by Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

          And, for the record, a Lutheran pastor and / or congregation (LCMS) is not
          bound to the "popular mind", "living tradition", or even to "practice", but
          to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions which must norm our
          doctrine and practice. There are those in the LCMS who continually work to
          restore and to even enlarge to the fullest and most faithful expression of
          the Church in accordance with these two confessional standards.

          In Christ's Peace
          Jon

          ++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ ++++++++

          "He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not
          the Church for his mother." - St. Cyprian of Carthage

          "O wondrous mystery! One is the Father of all, one also
          the Word of all,and the Holy Spirit is one and the same
          everywhere. And there is only one Virgin Mother;I love to
          call her the Church." - St. Clement of Alexandria

          Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth

          The Lutheran Church of Christ the King
          14 Pine Drive Pawling, NY 12564

          Office 845.855.3169
          Home 845.855.2616
          E-Mail didache@earthlink. net
          E-Mail pawlinglutheran@ verizon.net
          Web http://www.pawlingl utheran.org
          Blog http://www.lestever ymanbeblind. blogspot. com




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • randall hay
          One other thought, while it is true that Scripture doesn t tell us to ask those who have fallen asleep in Christ to pray for us, it doesn t tell us NOT to ask
          Message 4 of 24 , Feb 28, 2009
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            One other thought, while it is true that Scripture doesn't tell us to ask those who have fallen asleep in Christ to pray for us, it doesn't tell us NOT to ask them to pray for us either.

            In fact as far as I can recall, Scripture doesn't even tell us to ask the "living" to pray for us. It tells us to pray for each other, which to Orthodox obviously includes the "dead"... but not to ask others to pray for us. It's implicit, certainly; the question is whether to differentiate the "living" and "dead."

            R.





            ________________________________
            From: Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth <didache@...>
            To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 12:33:43 PM
            Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Question on veneration of the Saints


            Randall Hay wrote:
            <<These verses above are not quite asking the saints and angels to pray for
            us; but if you can talk to them, there's certainly no objection to aksing
            them to pray for us.>>

            No, the verses you quoted do *not* ask the saints and angels to pray for us.
            Further, that we can talk to them is certainly not denied or denounced in
            Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions (the Te Deum Laudamus is a fine
            example of our joining in worship with angels, saints, apostles, and
            martyrs; as is the Proper Preface "...therefore with angels and archangels
            and with all the company of heaven *we* laud and magnify you..."). There
            should not be a Lutheran objection to asking the Saints to pray *for* us,
            *with* us -- since they *do*.

            This is all something very different from asking the Saints to *aid* us or
            *answer* us -- There is a difference between asking a Saint to *pray* for us
            and *praying to* the Saint. You wrote that we *talk* to them and *ask* them
            to pray for us -- but I imagine that you would define *praying* as being
            somewhat more than talking or asking?

            Saints and angels, etc. pray *with* us and *for* us -- this is taught in
            Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. That we should *pray to* saints and
            angels, etc. -- this is forbidden by Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

            And, for the record, a Lutheran pastor and / or congregation (LCMS) is not
            bound to the "popular mind", "living tradition", or even to "practice", but
            to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions which must norm our
            doctrine and practice. There are those in the LCMS who continually work to
            restore and to even enlarge to the fullest and most faithful expression of
            the Church in accordance with these two confessional standards.

            In Christ's Peace
            Jon

            ++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ ++++++++

            "He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not
            the Church for his mother." - St. Cyprian of Carthage

            "O wondrous mystery! One is the Father of all, one also
            the Word of all,and the Holy Spirit is one and the same
            everywhere. And there is only one Virgin Mother;I love to
            call her the Church." - St. Clement of Alexandria

            Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth

            The Lutheran Church of Christ the King
            14 Pine Drive Pawling, NY 12564

            Office 845.855.3169
            Home 845.855.2616
            E-Mail didache@earthlink. net
            E-Mail pawlinglutheran@ verizon.net
            Web http://www.pawlingl utheran.org
            Blog http://www.lestever ymanbeblind. blogspot. com




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • tantuslabor
            Pr. Ellingworth, I note that you grant that the saints do pray for us. Your contention seems to be that it may be idolatrous, and is certainly not necessary,
            Message 5 of 24 , Mar 3, 2009
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              Pr. Ellingworth,

              I note that you grant that the saints do pray for us. Your contention
              seems to be that it may be idolatrous, and is certainly not necessary,
              since there is no command or promise found in Scripture for the
              practice. Does that sum it up?

              If so,

              * Concerning idolatry: The God who is "wondrous in his saints" is the
              true, Triune God. Idolatry is to worship a God who isn't...a false
              God. May I be so bold as to suggest that a Christ who is a bodiless
              Head is a false Christ, and a God whose energies are not distinct from
              his essence is a false God? We do not worship the saints, or view them
              as having any power apart from the divine energies God has given them.
              But to deny those divine energies is to deny the God who gave
              them...and to risk embracing a God who isn't.

              * Concerning its non-necessity: If the Holy Scriptures teach us that
              we ought to ask others to pray for us, and that those who have
              departed in faith are not dead but alive, how can it be said that
              there is no command or promise in Scripture concerning the invocation
              of the saints?

              Are we not commanded to pray for each other, and to ask for each
              others' prayers? Was the promise of Christ that God is the God of the
              living meant only for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or for all his
              faithful? (If you would be consistent, you ought never to ask anyone
              to pray for you, for any argument against the invocation of the saints
              is either an argument against all intercessory prayer, or an argument
              against the resurrection.)

              No Orthodox would have you abandon the precious Holy Scriptures. We
              would have you embrace them in their fullness, including those "odd
              bits" like Peter walking on the water, and the shadows and cloths of
              the apostles bringing healing to those who are afflicted, and the
              relics of Elisha raising a dead man.

              The unworthy priest,

              Fr. Gregory

              --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, "Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth"
              <didache@...> wrote:
              >
              > Christopher Orr wrote:
              > <<Orthodoxy does not teach her own to petition "the saints for aid
              of some
              > sort with the expectation that they, themselves, would / could
              provide it",
              > if by that you mean a saint is acting somehow autonomously from God.>>
              >
              > That is good.
              >
              > <<It is the same with the power of the saints - they have power only
              insofar as their God works through them. It is them, but not without
              God; it is God, through His saints because he is "wondrous in His
              saints".>>
              >
              > That too is good.
              >
              > But Orthodox *do* pray to saints asking them to do certain things
              for them, right? There is the Theotokos prayer that has been quoted in
              this thread. There is the Greek Orthodox senior I know who told me the
              other day that she lost her pillowcase, prayed to St. Anthony to help
              her find it, found it and is convinced that St. Anthony answered her
              prayer. So, it's not that St. Anthony was expected to help find the
              pillowcase by his own powers (as a demi-god) but by the power of his
              God who "really" found the pillowcase, or caused it to be found? Why
              bother with St. Anthony, or any other, at all? It often seems that
              Orthodox so desperately *want* to pray to saints that they will
              rationalize a way to explain it that makes it acceptable. Idolatry or
              not, it just doesn't seem necessary -- certainly not commanded or even
              suggested in Scripture.
              >
              > Christopher, I very much appreciate the fullness of incarnational
              theology and communion with Christ, even theosis that you use to
              explain / justify prayer to the saints -- I accept the premises -- I
              just can't swallow the conclusion.
              >
              > Jon
              >
              > +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
              >
              > "He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not
              > the Church for his mother." - St. Cyprian of Carthage
              >
              > "O wondrous mystery! One is the Father of all, one also
              > the Word of all,and the Holy Spirit is one and the same
              > everywhere. And there is only one Virgin Mother;I love to
              > call her the Church." - St. Clement of Alexandria
              >
              > Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth
              >
              > The Lutheran Church of Christ the King
              > 14 Pine Drive Pawling, NY 12564
              >
              > Office 845.855.3169
              > Home 845.855.2616
              > E-Mail didache@...
              > E-Mail pawlinglutheran@...
              > Web http://www.pawlinglutheran.org
              > Blog http://www.lesteverymanbeblind.blogspot.com
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
            • Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth
              Fr. Gregory wrote:
              Message 6 of 24 , Mar 3, 2009
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                Fr. Gregory wrote:
                <<Pr. Ellingworth, I note that you grant that the saints do pray for us. Your contention
                seems to be that it may be idolatrous, and is certainly not necessary,
                since there is no command or promise found in Scripture for the
                practice. Does that sum it up?>>

                Let me scream it from the mountaintops: The saints DO pray for us. Yes!

                I have NEVER suggested that it is idolatrous that the saints DO pray for us.

                What *may* be idolatrous is that we pray to them. Perhaps it is OK to ask them to "pray for us" -- since they do that anyway. But, the concern is in praying to saints PETITIONING them for aid (other than their ongoing prayers).

                Jon

                +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

                "He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not
                the Church for his mother." - St. Cyprian of Carthage

                "O wondrous mystery! One is the Father of all, one also
                the Word of all,and the Holy Spirit is one and the same
                everywhere. And there is only one Virgin Mother;I love to
                call her the Church." - St. Clement of Alexandria

                Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth

                The Lutheran Church of Christ the King
                14 Pine Drive Pawling, NY 12564

                Office 845.855.3169
                Home 845.855.2616
                E-Mail didache@...
                E-Mail pawlinglutheran@...
                Web http://www.pawlinglutheran.org
                Blog http://www.lesteverymanbeblind.blogspot.com

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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