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