The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom – Critique – Part 2


“By the intercessions of the Theotokos, Savior, save us”

I believe Orthodox people believe that the intercession of Mary on behalf of believers is not the same as Christ’s (you can correct me on this), so I will not go to all the Scripture that speaks of Christ as the intercessor and only mediator between God and man. But from what I understand Orthodox belief is that just as we pray for each other, and ask each other to pray for each other, so we can ask Mary, as well as any other Saint who is now past from this life into the next. I have a problem with this.Here are my problems: First – the Bible NEVER states that we should ask those who have died and gone on to the next life to pray on our behalf.

Second, while it is true that I ask my fellow saints to pray for me, I do so by actually speaking to them or writing to them, NEVER by asking them in prayer to pray for me. The belief that saints who have past from this life into the next have the capability to hear everyone’s prayer is TOTALLY different than me asking a friend to pray for me who is still living on this earth. By teaching that saints in the next life can hear us when we ask them to pray on our behalf gives them a status that the Bible gives only to the Godhead. God is the one who hears our prayers. “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14) God hears us, not the saints in the next life. Saints in the next life are never said to have the capability to hear thousands of requests for them to pray from those on earth.

The Orthodox Church makes it seem like when they ask a saint to pray on their behalf it is just like me asking a friend who is still on earth to pray for me. But it is in no way the same – for if I, right now, in my mind, ask one of my fellow brothers who is alive to pray for me, they will not hear me.

It is not the same.

Asking a saint in the next life to pray for you is blasphemy, making them equal with God. They are not equal – they are human.

Our salvation is not on the basis of works, our salvation is based on Christ – so it is with our prayers – God hears us because of Christ, my being “super-holy” gains no favor with God when I come to him in prayer. A saint who is in the next life has no more “power” in prayer than a saint here on earth – for it is God who works, not man. God answers prayer according to His will, not the will of men.

And third: The litergy asks that we would be saved BY the intercessions of Mary.  The Bible explicitly states we are saved BY grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).  “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

I am not saved BY the prayers of anyone.  Their prayers are NOT the power unto salvation – God is the power behind the Gospel.  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

Mary has nothing to do with anyone’s salvation – she was a sinner, in need of a savior (Luke 1:47).  Salvation is of God, not by the prayers or by the “intersession” of Mary or anyone else.  Yes, we pray that men might be saved, but it is God who saves, NOT our prayers.

Why would I want to go to Mary, when through Christ, I have direct access to God, on the throne of grace?

14 Responses to The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom – Critique – Part 2

  1. Ben says:

    There’s a difference between the prayers of Elijah and the prayers of Ahab. “The prayer of a righteous man is effective” … of course, you already know what I think about monergism.

    I don’t think asking saints to pray for you is that big a deal. Just like with ever-virginity, it is something that is neither explicitly stated nor explicitly denied in the NT.

  2. Lee says:

    Ben – er, what?? :-)

    I guess I don’t see your point w/ Elijah vs. Ahab in the context of this post.

    Also, wherever one comes down on monergism, why would Mary have anything to do with one’s salvation?

  3. Ben says:

    Our salvation is not on the basis of works, our salvation is based on Christ – so it is with our prayers – God hears us because of Christ, my being “super-holy” gains no favor with God when I come to him in prayer. A saint who is in the next life has no more “power” in prayer than a saint here on earth – for it is God who works, not man. God answers prayer according to His will, not the will of men.

    This equates to “unconditional election” for prayers. That is, no one person’s prayers are more or less effective than any other’s, because no one person is really any holier than another, just another lump of the same clay. Hence monergism.

    I did not address the alleged salvific aspect of the discussion.

  4. Michael O. says:

    I tried to find all your reasons for thinking that asking a departed saint for prayer is totally different than asking a live person for prayer and such (points 1 and 2 below). I found less than I expected, so if I missed any please draw my attention to them.

    1-“…if I, right now, in my mind, ask one of my fellow brothers who is alive to pray for me, they will not hear me.” I can see this as being an objection in a couple ways. A. One could take it as: if you asked (regardless of whether verbally or in your mind) a brother not present with you, that brother would not hear you. Sure, the brother would not hear you because the brother is not present. However, departed saints are present, they are a “cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Heb. 12:1). B. One could take it as: if you asked a brother in your mind specifically, not verbally, then they would not hear you. If this is the objection, it seems like a bit of a reach since we pray to saints verbally rather than in our minds. If there was some circumstance that necessitated praying to a saint in one’s mind it’s certainly possible for God to allow those thoughts to be revealed to the saint, for starters; indeed, there are many stories of God revealing the thoughts of one man to another man elsewhere.

    2-“By teaching that saints in the next life can hear us when we ask them to pray on our behalf gives them a status that the Bible gives only to the Godhead.” Why would it gives them such a status? Is your reason for thinking this in your next few sentences: “God is the one who hears our prayers. ‘This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.’ (1 John 5:14) God hears us, not the saints in the next life. Saints in the next life are never said to have the capability to hear thousands of requests for them to pray from those on earth.” First off, the verse you quote is not even speaking of “hearing” prayers in terms of merely knowing the request. When we request something not according to God’s will, He still “hears us” in the sense that He knows what was asked –He’s ignorant of nothing. But it’s when we ask according to His will that we can be confident He “hears us” in the sense of accepting and answering the request. Secondly, if you pray in front of me that you are starving and need food, I can both hear your prayer and answer it by giving you a meal. Does that put me on equal status with God? If not, why should it the departed? There is much that God does which nearly all Christians agree the departed saints also do, but that doesn’t make them of equal status; so saying God does x, y, and z doesn’t in itself mean humans alive or departed can’t do them also without confusing creatures with Creator.

    3-“Why would I want to go to Mary, when through Christ, I have direct access to God, on the throne of grace?” Why would you ask anyone to pray for you then, whether dead or alive? When someone asks you to pray for them, do you scold them and tell them to stop wasting their breath on you because they can go to God directly right then?

    4-Your paragraph about those more holy having no more favor and power in prayer seems to run counter to scripture. “The prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jam. 5:16). Moses interceded much for Israel because God would often accept his prayers where He would not accept others requesting the same thing.

    5-As to praying for salvation through the intercessions of the Theotokos I will post some comments from another discussion (that can be found here:
    http://www.oodegr.com/english/ekklisia/praktikes/panagia1.htm):

    “If you are annoyed by the words of Orthodox psalms that the Holy Mother ‘saves,’ you must also be annoyed at the words of the Apostle Paul, who also ‘saves.’ Check for example verse 14 in Romans Ch.11 : ‘…if somehow I can inspire those of my flesh, so that I might save some of them’. Check also Ch.9 of Corinthians I ‘To the weak, I became weak in order to gain the weak; I became everything to everyone, so that I might save some in every way.’ If, therefore, we Orthodox presume that the Holy Mother is a God because she can ‘save,’ then Paul in the same way must have considered himself a God, because he also said that he wanted to ‘save some’ … If however you tell me that Paul speaks of a ‘relative salvation,’ then we too speak of a relative salvation in the Church. You should therefore apply the same measures here and not judge with different measures whatever you consider is to your benefit, and different measures when they are not to your benefit.”

    I’m sure you may have some responses, but I’d also like to know if there were any other points made in the post that I overlooked.

  5. Lee says:

    Ben (and Micahel with respect to your point 4) – don’t you think that the proper understanding of James 5:16 is through:

    James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

    and

    John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
     16” You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

    etc.? “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” because those prayers are said by one who is abiding in Christ, and in whom Christ’s words abide. Clearly James intends to encourage his readers in their prayers – immediately after 5:16 he gives the example of the great Elijah, and says that Elijah was just like us! How did Elijah’s righteousness work into the equation? His righteousness allowed him to pray for what God desired to do through him. Don’t you remember the introduction to Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal?

    1 Ki. 18:1 Now it happened after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.”

  6. Michael O. says:

    Lee,
    I may be missing exactly what you wish to draw out by these verses, but James 4 seems to indicate the need not just for asking for the same things with the same words but having the right motivation and not being driven by our passions, i.e., the need for righteousness to make prayer more effective. Also, in John 15, righteousness is seen to empower prayers as well, since righteousness affects our abiding in Christ (it’s in part a matter of keeping the commandments -v. 10) and our having the words of Christ abiding in us (this is true of Elijah also), and in v. 16 the bearing of fruit is the prerequisite for more effective prayer. Also, James says Elijah was a “man” just like us (that is, he had no special privilege by virtue of being God, an angel, or other heavenly creature), but James does not say he was righteous just like us. What you then say of Elijah’s righteousness working “into the equation” seems to support the notion of the righteousness making one’s prayers more effective.

  7. Lee says:

    Michael,

    Yes, I think we agree on motivation being at the core here. Improper motivation is seen in James 4:1-3, and a proper motivation (obtained by virtue of abiding in Christ and His words abiding in you, whereby His goals become our goals) in John 15. But is the righteousness a byproduct of the motivation, or the cause of it? And was it Elijah’s righteousness which affected his prayer which produced the rain (which a first glance at James 5 would seem to imply), or was it Elijah’s cooperation with God’s agenda which produced the rain (see 1 Kings 18:1)?

  8. MG says:

    Nathan–

    A few things to consider.

    You wrote:

    “I will not go to all the Scripture that speaks of Christ as the intercessor and only mediator between God and man.”

    The verse you refer to is presumably 1 Timothy 2:5 where Paul says there is one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.

    1. Paul says Christ is the one mediator while in the same breath affirming that we ought to intercede.

    2. Whatever Paul means here, it doesn’t seem like we can let it contradict Galatians 3:19, which calls Moses a mediator. It seems best to think of Christ’s unique mediatorship not as something that excludes lesser kinds of mediation (subordinate mediation) but as something that sums them up and makes them possible.

    3. I am curious (I promise this is relevant to the discussion): do you think that sections in the Gospel of John that introduce concepts or events with new creation themes can be paradigmatic of the age that Christ inaugurates?

    You wrote:

    “First – the Bible NEVER states that we should ask those who have died and gone on to the next life to pray on our behalf.”

    While this is true, I’ve never seen what’s so problemmatic about it, even when I was a Protestant. The fact that it isn’t exactly and explicitly and unambiguously mentioned doesn’t mean it can’t be consistent with Scripture, implied or alluded to in Scripture, or supported by principles taught in Scripture. And I think all three are true of intercessory prayer to saints. That’s a fairly decent biblical basis. We shouldn’t be legalistic about biblical interpretation, right? Requiring that we only do or believe in what is word-for-word taught in Scripture seems to imply a preoccupation with letter, not spirit…

    You wrote:

    “Second, while it is true that I ask my fellow saints to pray for me, I do so by actually speaking to them or writing to them, NEVER by asking them in prayer to pray for me.”

    “Pray” just means ask. Prayer is just asking. What is the difference between the kind of praying that you do to your friends and the kind of praying that we do to ours?

    You wrote:

    “Saints in the next life are never said to have the capability to hear thousands of requests for them to pray from those on earth.”

    Here’s something interesting to think about. Lets assume, like you do, that there’s no intercessory prayer by those on earth to those in heaven–no asking the glorified saints to make requests on our behalf. Now think about what’s happening in the book of Revelation where the angels in heaven offer the prayers of the saints on earth to God (Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4). If you’re right, then the people on earth are not praying to those angels; they are just praying to God. By implication, we can infer that the angel-saints in heaven in Revelation who proceed to offer those prayers can hear what those on earth are praying to God. So apparently angels in heaven can hear what we are praying to God for, and can offer those prayers to God. That’s even more creepy (from a Protestant point of view) than them being aware of what we’re asking them. And it certainly doesn’t sit well with your insistence about the inability to hear the requests of many people on earth.

    You wrote:

    “The Orthodox Church makes it seem like when they ask a saint to pray on their behalf it is just like me asking a friend who is still on earth to pray for me. But it is in no way the same – for if I, right now, in my mind, ask one of my fellow brothers who is alive to pray for me, they will not hear me.”

    1. First of all, its a huge exaggeration to say that it is in no way the same. For there are many features in common between these two practices.

    2. Doesn’t the fact that your friends won’t hear you just mean they aren’t like those in Revelation who can see from the perspective of heaven what is happening on earth? It just seems like the most natural way to communicate with those who are with Christ in heaven that we would think in our minds and say verbally our requests that they pray to God.

    You wrote:

    “Asking a saint in the next life to pray for you is blasphemy, making them equal with God. They are not equal – they are human.”

    1. How is this possibly blasphemy? At most its an exaggerated view of the awareness of those in heaven. That doesn’t at all imply that they are equal with God.

    2. Also, aren’t Christians not merely human, but also divine? Don’t they participate in God? For instance (this is just one of many many examples in the NT) what do you make of 2 Peter 1:4 where we are called partakers of the divine nature? Sure, we’re not numerically identical to the whole of God; but yet we do participate in his goodness, glory, holiness, power, grace…

    You wrote:

    “Our salvation is not on the basis of works, our salvation is based on Christ – so it is with our prayers – God hears us because of Christ, my being “super-holy” gains no favor with God when I come to him in prayer. A saint who is in the next life has no more “power” in prayer than a saint here on earth – for it is God who works, not man. God answers prayer according to His will, not the will of men.”

    1. How does saying that God hears our prayers because of Christ imply that we don’t play any part? And isn’t one way that “God could hear our prayers or work according to his will because of Christ” through the fact that some Christians participate more in Christ and his righteousness than others, hence their requests to God are more powerful and effective? (as people above have alluded to)

    2. If God works in salvation in a way that excludes or opposes human effort, then what do you make of Christ, whose two natural wills are the very image of synergy–divine/human cooperation?

    3. Also this idea that salvation is not on the basis of works seems awkward with the language of Scripture. Surely it isn’t by works apart from God’s working that we can be saved; but it seems like in, for instance, Philipians 2:12-3 God energizes us to will and energize. We perform activity in the salvation process too; its just that God starts the process and makes every step possible. And there are numerous other Scriptures that teach works are in some sense instrumental to salvation.

    You wrote:

    “Salvation is of God, not by the prayers or by the “intersession” of Mary or anyone else. Yes, we pray that men might be saved, but it is God who saves, NOT our prayers.

    Why would I want to go to Mary, when through Christ, I have direct access to God, on the throne of grace?”

    I think the points brought up above by Michael O. about all of this are very good. Why can’t we take the language of Paul when he says that he wants to

  9. MG says:

    oops didn’t post it all. Why can’t we take the language of Paul and other holy writers when they say that we “save” those around us or ourselves at face value and say that it means that we participate in Christ’s saving work by his grace? To list some examples (including what’s been mentioned above): Rom 11:13-4, 1 Cor 7:16, 1 Cor 9:22, 1 Tim 4:16, James 5:20, Jude 22-23, Proverbs 16:6. These all suggest the idea that we can participate in Christ’s saving work; why should we not read them this way?

  10. Michael O. says:

    Lee,
    Sorry I never answered your previous questions. I’ve fallen off the earth for a few weeks but am sojourning again so I’ll say, with regards to the efficacy of Elijah’s prayer being chalked up to either his righteousness or being in line with God’s agenda: First, to be clear, neither personal righteousness nor being in line with God’s agenda will guarantee the response to the prayer; I don’t think you were missing that piece, but I guess it just felt like it should be said. So, as to whether more is due to righteousness or agenda-fitting, can’t it be both? Interestingly, regarding the righteousness/agenda dichotomy, Christ granted Mary’s request at Cana though it did not fit His agenda (“My time has not yet come”).
    Cheers!

  11. nathanwells says:

    MG:

    “Why can’t we take the language of Paul and other holy writers when they say that we “save” those around us or ourselves at face value and say that it means that we participate in Christ’s saving work by his grace?”

    Because – Paul is dead.
    Mary is dead.

    I believe it to be quite a different thing for me, while I am alive, to save someone, than it is for someone who is dead to save someone – because it assumes supernatural power and influence on the soul. But if we take Scripture as a whole, my own participation in someone’s salvation is only presenting the Gospel, never supernatural or some special influence on the soul of another. God does that.

    But then again, you might believe you have some special supernatural influence in and of yourself because of your view of salvation.

    But regardless – I still think there is a difference between speaking face to face with someone and someone who has died.

    ““Pray” just means ask. Prayer is just asking. What is the difference between the kind of praying that you do to your friends and the kind of praying that we do to ours?”

    No it doesn’t. Biblical prayer, the praying we are called to as Christians, is ALWAYS directed at GOD! NEVER to another human.

  12. Lee says:

    Michael,

    No problem! I had anticipated having a lot of time during vacation to devote to writing new posts on my own blog and catching up with threads I hadn’t had time to follow on the various blogs I follow, but, alas, I was too sanguine! (I hope your “falling off the earth” just had to do with general busy-ness…)

    In response to your first statement about the prayer (that righteousness and being in line with God’s agenda are not guarantees) – I recently revisited an interesting essay by C.S. Lewis on the 2 different types of prayer we are given patterns for–the “Thy will be done” type, and the “ask whatever you will and it will be granted” type–and the fact that it doesn’t seem possible to follow both patterns simultaneously. (The essay is “Petitionary Prayer: a Problem Without an Answer”, which you can find in Christian Reflections.) He appears to have a point – Christ Himself exhorts us to and/or models both types of prayers, yet how is is possible to follow both models in a single prayer?

    To answer your question “can’t it be both?”, I’d say yes, it could indeed be both, sort of in the way that faith without works is dead. A righteousness which is not produced by God’s grace working in me to align me with His agenda (both for my life and towards the advancement of His kingdom) is not a righteousness we are exhorted to strive for.

    But to get back to Elijah and his prayer for rain… What I was trying to communicate earlier was that God directed Elijah concerning the rain:

    1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.” (NKJV)

    And thus, armed, Elijah prayed following God’s stunning demonstration of His power over that of Baal. So what role exactly did Elijah’s righteousness play in this prayer and its granting? God told him what was going to happen.

    Undoubtedly, Elijah had to have an amazing faith in God in order to go through with the test on Mt. Carmel – a test which we have some evidence that God instructed him to set up:

    1Kings 18:36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” (NKJV)

    And you know what follows that prayer…

    So what is the nature of Elijah’s righteousness, then? Based on these two examples from 1 Kings 18, both of which are absolutely stunning, I’d have to say that Elijah’s righteousness equated to his faith that God would be true to His word, and that “all” he needed to do was obey and pray….

  13. MG says:

    Nathan–

    Thanks for the response. I am curious what you have to say in response to my longer comment that is above the one you responded to.

    You wrote:

    “Because – Paul is dead.
    Mary is dead.”

    Sure, this is true. But at the same time, there is a real sense in which those who are awaiting the resurrection are alive, right? For instance, it seems like 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 present the idea that we can have faith and please God “whether we are at home or away” from the body or from the Lord (in a disembodied state). And if faith brings justification (Romans 3:28, etc.) and justification brings *life and dominion* (Romans 5:17), we had better say there is some sense in which those whose souls have been separated from their bodies are alive.

    In addition to such activities as “having faith” and “pleasing God” and “having dominion”, and divine gifts such as “life” and “righteousness”, it seems that those in heaven can (and constantly do) pray, as I argued briefly in my above comments. What do you think of this fact? This seems to be especially significant because prayer can bring salvation, as I will argue briefly below. Doesn’t this imply that those who are in heaven can save others?

    You wrote:

    “I believe it to be quite a different thing for me, while I am alive, to save someone, than it is for someone who is dead to save someone – because it assumes supernatural power and influence on the soul. But if we take Scripture as a whole, my own participation in someone’s salvation is only presenting the Gospel, never supernatural or some special influence on the soul of another. God does that.”

    You say that it assumes supernatural power and influence on the soul to be able to save someone who is alive if you are dead. This makes me wonder: do those glorified human saints in heaven perhaps have power or influence over the universe? Notice that in Revelation, all throughout the later chapters, angels exercise power over the universe (the elements, manifestation of glory, etc.). Why rule out the possibility that other saints–even humans perhaps–could have similar such powers? Interestingly, John the baptist is not only called an angel/messenger (Matthew 11:10, Luke 7:27, Mark 1:2) but has incredible responsibilities and powers (baptizing God…). And if he is less than the least in the kingdom of heaven, then why should we be surprised if humans in heaven can exercise actual influence on the earth?

    Again, it seems like you demand explicit statements or deductive arguments from Scripture before a view can be held. But then what are we to do about things like the perpetual virginity of Jesus? Or women taking the Eucharist? Isn’t this sort of legalistic?

    It seems to me like there are some examples of salvation coming through something other than just preaching the gospel and evangelization. Take James 5:13-16, where prayer is connected to salvation and forgiveness. That seems to go a lot further than what you were initially saying–that its just preaching. Also, in terms of supernatural power over someone’s soul, what do you think of forgiveness of sins (John 20:22-23)?

    “But then again, you might believe you have some special supernatural influence in and of yourself because of your view of salvation.”

    Those who participate in Christ’s glorified humanity–in other words his Body, the Church–take on the powers of that glorified humanity. This is why in Scripture the Body of Christ can judge with divine authority, can suffer salvifically, can mediate God’s presence, and is indestructible/immortal, etc. The members of Christ’s supernatural body are supernatural, so they have the supernatural influence of God mediated through them. So its not in and of yourself–its in yourself because you are in God’s body, and God confers power to his Body that you can access. All of this is strongly biblically supportable, I think.

    “But regardless – I still think there is a difference between speaking face to face with someone and someone who has died.”

    Sure. But what is the nature of that difference? And why is it the kind of difference that rules out the possibility of the dead having influence on the world through their acts?

    And how would any of this imply that Christians are divine in an objectionable sense?

    You wrote:

    “No it doesn’t. Biblical prayer, the praying we are called to as Christians, is ALWAYS directed at GOD! NEVER to another human.”

    Perhaps the strict language of the text would say this, but it begs the question as to the range of what “prayer” should be: is it just those acts that are explicitly called prayer? Or is it more generally any kind of request or asking?

    How would the application of this kind of criteria affect the Protestant doctrine of justification? Isn’t the only place where Scripture says “faith alone” preceded by a “not by” and followed by “but by works also”? I don’t want to get into a debate on justification here, but I am wondering about your consistency. If we are being strict about language in one location, and loose in another, then is this really problematic if Orthodox and Catholic Christians want to widen the semantic range of “pray”?

    And obviously many requests are made of human beings in Scripture. If I’m using the word prayer a little bit differently (to refer to both requests for intercession and requests from a helper), then what’s the big deal? What matters is content, not form, right? After all, the style of worship in evangelical churches is a huge break with anything that an ancient person could have conceived of or plausibly permitted. If form is really important, then yikes… you’d better get back to the good ole’ liturgy like Saint Peter and Saint Paul did in Acts, going into the temple and all that…

  14. nathanwells says:

    Hi MG,

    I’m not sure which longer comment you are referring to…I replied to one part of the January 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm comment, is that the one you mean?

    I’ll try to respond a little more (though not to everything):

    I am curious (I promise this is relevant to the discussion): do you think that sections in the Gospel of John that introduce concepts or events with new creation themes can be paradigmatic of the age that Christ inaugurates?

    Meaning that Christ didn’t actually create anything in the beginning (not sure if I understand you)? No. To me “Ἐν ἀρχῇ” (“in the beginning) makes that pretty clear. It is speaking of the past.

    The fact that it isn’t exactly and explicitly and unambiguously mentioned doesn’t mean it can’t be consistent with Scripture, implied or alluded to in Scripture, or supported by principles taught in Scripture.

    To some degree what you say is true – for instance, what car I should buy is not told explicitly to me in Scripture. But you take it too far – because you are doing so with things that I believe the Bible gives ONLY to God, and where the Bible does explicitly teach about prayer. What a major oversight, if praying to saints really is a useful tool, for the Bible to leave out, when it says so many things about prayer, and gives us so many examples!

    If God works in salvation in a way that excludes or opposes human effort, then what do you make of Christ, whose two natural wills are the very image of synergy–divine/human cooperation?

    Yes, it is a mystery. But I think there is something that you are missing. Jesus never did anything by his own initiation, or his own will, but he always submitted to the Father’s will (“not my will, but your will be done”). It is not “synergy” it is following/abiding.

    Yes, Christ had to submit of his own will – but even He did not change the Father’s will, for in fact, their wills were one (in saying this I must be careful, because there is much mystery in the incarnation – and Jesus’ prayer in the garden is one of the deepest).

    And now some from your more recent post:

    Sure, this is true. But at the same time, there is a real sense in which those who are awaiting the resurrection are alive, right?

    Yes, they are alive – but the Bible also does make a distinction, especially in the OT (Deuteronomy 18:11 “one who calls up the dead” – 1 Thessalonians 4:17 “we who are alive”)
    But you are right, there isn’t much weight there.

    And how would any of this imply that Christians are divine in an objectionable sense?

    Because prayer is only spoken of in Scripture as an act towards God, or towards a false god. I’m surprised that doesn’t scare you.

    Our views of tradition are different. And I think I have shown that the belief that the saints are able to hear prayers, or that we should pray to them is wholly extra-biblical. And in my book, it is enough. It might not be for you. But for me, I just can’t trust a human’s opinion, nor do I believe I should – but that is my belief because I have a more central view of Scripture than you. There has been much heresy throughout the ages, and many opinions on traditions – but I believe majoring where the Bible majoring and minoring where the Bible minors is important. And since the Bible speaks nothing of praying to saints, I do not. If anything prayer to someone other than God is looked at as idolatry.

    There is actually one recorded instance of “prayer” to a saint in the Bible. I didn’t mention it before, but I’ll mention it now. Samuel and Saul. That example has a HUGELY negative connotation.

    Praying to saints is not biblical – that’s all I’m saying. You have to infer it.

    And I think there is enough biblical weight and specific teaching about prayer and how and to whom we are to pray that it should NOT be inferred.

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