Re: Intercession of the Saints
- Shlomo l-kulkun.
Thank you for this Shroro article by Michel Issa & Johan Andersson which explains the practice of asking the saints to intercede for them. Congratulations on your efforts to explain the faith to protestants. I really support what you are trying to do. I think many Protestants would be interested in these articles.
I come from a Protestant background, but these days my beliefs are much closer to the Syrian orthodox faith than they are to Protestantism. I have studied the Syriac language and the Syriac fathers for about 9 years now and so, I understand Syriac and something about the Syrian orthodox beliefs and where these beliefs come from. I am also very well aware what Protestants believe and why they believe it based upon decades of study and first-hand observation.
In my opinion, Protestants have two problems understanding and accepting the intercessions to the saints. You may wish to address these two issues in a future Shroro article? If you do, you will be addressing the core problems Protestants have understanding this part of the Syrian Orthodox faith. Protestants are very keen on the scriptures, (this is one of their strengths). So, to assist Protestants, you first need to explain how some of their Protestant beliefs get in the way and then explain the scriptures upon which your beliefs are built, then explain how your faith is practised based upon those scriptures.
Problem number 1:
Protestants do not understand the following teaching of Mar Ephrem:"It is not the case, therefore, that all who are living are alive, nor are all those who are buried dead." Ephrem, Commentary on the Diatessaron, XV, section 12
This teaching is true, I believe, since it is founded well upon the teaching of Isho` in at least two places recorded in three gospels; Mt8.22=Lk9.60 and Jn11.25-26
Instead, protestants believe along with Martha (Jn11.24) that the dead will remain wholly dead until the resurrection on the last day.
Protestants have no place in their theology to understand the subtle difference in the reply Isho` made to her, (Jn11.25-26) that they could have spiritual life before and after they die physically. This means that protestants have no tools to understand either spiritual life being given to us now, nor can they understand how their spiritual lives could continue after their death, but before the resurrection when they will get new everlasting bodies.
Problem number 2:
Many Protestants do not have a very broad understanding of the scripture. Their faith is based on a small number of proof texts which are emphasised. These proof texts are then allowed to filter everything else they read in the bible. One particular proof text taught to Protestants is 1Timothy 2.5 "There is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." This verse is interpreted to mean that it is not permitted to pray to anyone in the spiritual domain other than Christ. It is permitted for them to ask other people around to pray for them and so they do fulfil the scriptural commands to pray for one another to that extent. The problem with 1Timothy 2.5 is that Protestants take it as a general principle and they ignore the context in the following verse, in verse 6, which significantly changes the meaning: Hence in the wider context, 1Timothy 2.5-6, Paul is saying that only Isho` has died as a ransom and so only he can mediate our salvation. Protestants also believe that Isho` is the only way of salvation from another proof text in John14.6, but they interpret 1Timothy 2.5 differently as I just explained.
There are other related issues, to do with iconography sometimes used during intercessory prayer to the saints. I myself have a problem with the use of icons. I am also concerned that ordinary Syrian Orthodox believers may not understand the subtle difference between worship and intercession in practice. Hence, if intercession to a saint becomes veneration of a saint, then I myself would ask you to explain what scriptural basis that has?
Best regards, // Fush bashlomo
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Michel Issa & Johan Andersson wrote:
> Intercession of the Saints
> by Michel Issa & Johan Andersson
> Sometimes the question arises from our protestant brothers and
> sisters: "do you not worship the Saints and the Virgin Mary?" This
> article wants, by Gods grace, to be educating, explaining and guiding
> all those who have come across this question. We, the Syrian-Orthodox
> Church, have many riches that we delightfully share with all those who
> wants to receive them.
> To read more:- http://www.socdigest.org/articles/01dec08.html
- Dear Fellow Readers,
Wishing you all blesssings of the Holy Season & A Joyful 2009 !
I found it 'worthy' reading the article by Michael Issa & Johan Andersson in our periodical 'SHRORO' to confirm us, specially 'the doubting Thomases', in our faith and traditions. The subjects of Intercession of Saints and Praying for the Departed are debated constantly among peers of our young generation these days. Some of our young faithful are already stuck in the nets of the so called non-
denominational cults for lack of satisfactory answers to their curious questions on the subjects. I plead to the parents and the kin who read this message may please encourage your children, brothers and sisters to spare few minutes for going over the above well explained article. I remember one of my postings in this Forum Message#7169) which narrates not a made up story but an experience in my own humble life and the message is reproduced below for your ready reference:
JACOBITE MOVEMENT - Message# 7150 of Ann George
After reading your latest message I feel proud of you as an
inspiring individual who seeks answers on our belief and traditional
practices to withstand the peers who act like bible experts. I am
sure that there are thousands out there keeping quiet and getting
stumbled in a regular basis. Ann, you deserve to be a member of
this Forum as the moderators advised you couple of times. You must
bring up all your questions and concerns so that those can be well
answered by the scholars among our members. This will, not only make
you expert in what you believe and practice as a Jacobite, but also
help others out there to achieve knowledge in our church doctrines.
Lately there is an undercurrent going on among our concerned
faithful who wanted to have improvement in the knowledge of church
history, practices and doctrines as well as biblical issues rather
than being bookish worshippers and blind believers. I hope the
remedy should be here sooner, rather than later.
Let me concede that I am not a scholar at all, but a meek and
subservient. I want to express my opinion, from what I believe, on
couple of your concerns. If anyone can correct me they are most
PRAYING FOR THE DEAD:
We don't pray for the dead, Ann. We pray for the departed
souls like we pray for everyone far and near. We don't pray just
for the mortal body but for the soul we can not see through our
mortal eyes. Please find out where the departed souls are, from 2
Cori. 5:1-10. Verse 6: "Therefore we are always confident, knowing
that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the
Lord". That means, when the soul leaves the body it is with the
Lord. Now, why we pray for the soul that is already with the Lord:
Lord! be merciful to the souls on the judgment day and console them
in the laps of your chosen ones. Read verse 10. "For we must all
appear before the judgment...."(we believe that all our departed
souls are alive)(dead can not appear). So, we don't pray for the
dead but for the departed and live souls.
INTERCEDE THROUGH ST.MARY,MOTHER OF GOD:
A little story for you Ann. I had a friend in my childhood.
His dad was a very serious & strict in person and a prominent one in
society. My friend was a naughty one and most of the time getting
caught and punished for his misdeeds by the father. But sometime he
got away from punishments, you know how? His mother was so close to
his dad and "dad's only weakness". Dear Ann, think how he got away.
I was seeking employment at the company of my friend's dad.
I was not well qualified for the job but filled up the application
any way. I wrote a petition to my friend's mother detailing my
hardship without a job along with the application. I was sure that
if I had put my application directly to the company the result could
have been disappointing. My friend's mother was the chosen one and
closer one to the heart of his dad. So guess what happened.
It is simple as that. When we sinners feel our inability to
stand before the fiery throne of the Almighty we seek intercession
of His chosen one. What is wrong with that?
WHY WE TURN TO EAST WHEN PRAYING:
We turn to east to see the glory of God that appears from
the east. Read Ezekiel Chapter 43. Here we learn as to why we go
to church to pray and why our fathers insist that the church
buildings are supposed to be constructed in east-west direction. The
sanctuary is always meant to be at the east side.
WHY WE KNEEL DOWN AND KISS THE GROUND WHILE PRAYING:
See Acts 7:49. God declares: " Heaven is my throne and earth
is my footstool ." By kissing the ground we kiss His feet in awe.
Ann, dear, don't be puzzled at your peers' piercing comments
or questions. Our Holy Church is fort of comfort for all our
concerns. Tell those ignorant that the church was there before the
Holy Bible which was given to the world by the church fathers.
Those Holy Fathers knew what they were practicing according to the
Holy Bible. So much happened before and during the compilation of
the bible other than described in it and the Holy Fathers handed
down their traditional practices to us through generations about
which we are proud. Here I quote the words of our Catholicose of
India, His Beatitude Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I :
"Holy Bible is the Deed of our Holy Church and
our Lord Jesus Christ is its foundation".
May God bless us.
Babu Jacob Nadayil,
There are many Holy Bible verses as basics of faith & traditions of the Syriac Orthodox Church on subjects such as:
Why we kneel while praying - Acts of Apostles 7:49-50
Why our females cover their
heads while at church or
in prayers - 1 Corinthians Chapter 11
Don't be yoked with
non-believers - 2 Cori. 6:14
Why we turn to East to pray - Ezekiel Chapt.43 & 44
Intercessional Prayers - Psalms 106: 22-23
Why we go church to pray - 2 Chronicles Chapt.6
Praying for Departed - 2 Cori. 5:1-10
remains & relics - Exodus 14: 18-22
AND THERE ARE MANY MANY MORE...
With best regards,
Babu Jacob Nadayil