Discussion with a follower of a Free Church

Edelweiss

Sparrow
Orthodox Inquirer
Hi,

as a catholic and an orthodox enquirer, I was having a chat with a follower of a free church (a German evangelical denomination).

And those were the arguments used, when I mentioned my interest in Orthodoxy (he had told me that Catholicism does not lead to salvation, to which I said that what matter is faith in Christ and not the denomination, but that I agree about Catholicism hence my interest in Orthodoxy, to which he replied with the following:

"What matters is the true faith and the validity of the Bible alone as a standard.
Unfortunately, the Orthodox also practise saint worship and the cult of Mary, which is idolatry and thus speaks absolutely against God's Word.
I am a free church Christian.
The Word alone and by grace alone as it is written."

What do you guys think of those arguments?
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
I think the accusation is not true and is slanderous, but enough of commentary from me, lets see what the saints have to say about Mary, the Mother of God, while commenting on Luke chapter 1:

Luke 1:26-38

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

Saint Gregory the Dialogist, AD 604 "To the virgin Mary was sent, not any one of the angels, but the archangel Gabriel; for upon this service it was meet that the highest angel should come, as being the bearer of the highest of all tidings. He is therefore marked by a particular name, to signify what was his effectual part in the work. For Gabriel is interpreted, ;the strength of God.; By the strength of God then was He to be announced Who was coming as the God of strength, and mighty in battle, to put down the powers of the air.

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.


Saint Gregory of Nyssa, AD 394 "Far different then to the news formerly addressed to the woman, is the announcement now made to the Virgin. In the former, the cause of sin was punished by the pains of childbirth; In the latter, through gladness, sorrow is driven away. Hence the angel not unaptly proclaims joy to the Virgin, saying, Hail"

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.


Saint John Chrysostom, AD 407 "But he who earns favor in the sight of God has nothing to fear. Hence it follows, For you have found favor before God. But how shall any one find it, except through the means of his humility. For God gives grace to the humble. But since it seems shocking or unworthy to some men that God should inhabit a body, is the Sun, I would ask, the heat whereof is felt by each body that receives its rays, at all sullied as to its natural purity? Much more then does the Sun of Righteousness, in taking upon Himself a most pure body from the Virgin's womb, escape not only defilement, but even show forth His own mother in greater holiness. Now He assigns to the present house of Jacob all those who were of the number of the Jews that believed on Him. For as Paul says, They are not all Israel which are of Israel, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed."

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?


Saint Ambrose of Milan, AD 397 "Here Mary seems to have disbelieved, unless you pay close attention, for it is not right that she who was chosen to bear the only begotten Son of God should seem to have been without faith. And how could this be? Although the prerogative of the Mother, on whom a greater prerogative is straightway to be conferred, is intact, how could it be that Zechariah who had not believed was condemned to silence, but Mary, if she had not believed, would be exalted by the infusion of the Holy Spirit? But with a greater prerogative, also a greater faith must be reserved for her. But Mary must both believe, and not so heedlessly usurp. She must believe the angel and not usurp divine things. Nor is it easy to know “the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God,” which the higher powers could not know either. Nevertheless she did not deny the faith, she did not refuse the duty, but she conformed her will, she promised obedience. For truly when she said, “How shall this be?” she did not doubt concerning the outcome but sought the nature of this same outcome."

Saint Augustine of Hippo, AD 430 "Indeed, her virginity was itself more beautiful and more pleasing, because Christ, in his conception, did not himself take away that which he was preserving from violation by humanity; but, before he was conceived he chose one already consecrated to God of whom he would be born."

Saint Gregory of Nyssa, AD 394, "O blessed is that womb which because of the overflowing purity of the Virgin Mary has drawn to itself the gift of life! For in others scarcely indeed shall a pure soul obtain the presence of the Holy Spirit, but in her the flesh is made the receptacle of the Spirit. Or he says, overshadow you, because as a shadow takes its shape from the character of those bodies which go before it, so the signs of the Son's Deity will appear from the power of the Father. For as in us a certain life-giving power is seen in the material substance, by which man is formed; so in the Virgin, has the power of the Highest in like manner, by the life-giving Spirit, taken from the Virgin's body a fleshly substance inherent in the body to form a new man. Hence it follows, Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you."

Saint John of Damascus, AD 749 "And through the invocation the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost becomes a rainfall for this new cultivation. For just as all things whatsoever God made he made by the operation of the Holy Ghost, so also it is by the operation of the Spirit that these things are done which surpass nature and cannot be discerned except by faith alone. “How shall this be done to me,” asked the blessed Virgin, “because I know not a man?” The archangel Gabriel answered, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you.” And now you ask how the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine and water the blood of Christ. And I tell you that the Holy Ghost comes down and works these things which are beyond description and understanding."

Saint Leo of Rome, AD 461 "Each one is a partaker of this spiritual origin in regeneration. To every one, when he is reborn, the water of baptism is like the Virgin’s womb, for the same Holy Spirit fills the font, who filled the Virgin, that the sin, which that sacred conception overthrew, may be taken away by this mystical washing."

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.


Saint Ambrose of Milan, AD 397 "Behold now the humility, the devotion of the virgin. For it follows, But Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord. She calls herself His handmaid, who is chosen to be His mother, so far was she from being exalted by the sudden promise. At the same time also by calling herself handmaid, she claimed to herself in no other way the prerogative of such great grace than that she might do what was commanded her. For about to bring forth One meek and lowly, she was bound herself to show forth lowliness. As it follows, Be it to me according to your word. You have her submission, you see her wish. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, signifies the readiness of duty. Be it to me according to your word, the conception of the wish."

Eusebius of Caesarea, AD 339, "Not only having obtained what he wished, but wondering at her virgin beauty, and the ripeness of her virtue."

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, AD 202, "So the Lord now manifestly came to his own. Born by his own created order that he himself bears, he by his obedience on the tree renewed and reversed what was done by disobedience in connection with a tree. The power of that seduction by which the virgin Eve, already betrothed to a man, had been wickedly seduced was broken when the angel in truth brought good tidings to the Virgin Mary, who already by her betrothal belonged to a man. For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against his Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word. The former was seduced to disobey God and so fell, but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of Eve. As the human race was subjected to death through the act of a virgin, so was it saved by a virgin was precisely balanced by the obedience of another. Then indeed the sin of the first formed man was amended by the chastisement of the First Begotten, the wisdom of the serpent was conquered by the simplicity of the dove, and the chains were broken by which we were in bondage to death.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.


Also commenting on Luke 1, Saint Bede the Venerable in AD 735 writes,
Mary is blessed by Elisabeth with the same words as before by Gabriel, to show that she was to be reverenced both by men and angels. This is the fruit which is promised to David, Of the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne. From this place we derive the refutation of Eutyches, in that Christ is stated to be the fruit of the womb. For all fruit is of the same nature with the tree that bears it. It remains then that the virgin was also of the same nature with the second Adam, who takes away the sins of the world. But let those also who invent curious fictions concerning the flesh of Christ, blush when they hear of the real child-bearing of the mother of God. For the fruit itself proceeds from the very substance of the tree. Where too are those who say that Christ passed through the virgin as water through an aqueduct? Let these consider the words of Elisabeth who was filled with the Spirit, that Christ was the fruit of the womb. It follows, And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? . Nor is it to be wondered at, that our Lord, about to redeem the world, commenced His mighty works with His mother, that she, through whom the salvation of all men was prepared, should herself be the first to reap the fruit of salvation from her pledge. But every soul which has conceived the word of God in the heart, straightway climbs the lofty summits of the virtues by the stairs of love, so as to be able to enter into the city of Juda, (into the citadel of prayer and praise, and abide as it were for three months in it,) to the perfection of faith, hope, and charity.
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
What about the "saint worship" also mentioned in the original post?
Especially that all the quotes in your post about the Virgin Mary are from Saints.
Isaiah 6:8 "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."

In the above verse, the Prophet Isaiah is in the heavenly council, himself included with the angels. They have access to God, and they are aware of what is happening on Earth, given the context. In Daniel Chapter 10, Daniel is met by an angel who was delayed by the "prince of Persia," but aided by the Archangel Michael. This is how closely angels work for and with us, and how aware they are of the happenings on the earth. They literally fight demons for us. We ask for saints to pray for us because they have access to God, being in his divine council among the angels.

I recommend reading "The Religion of the Apostles" by Fr. Stephen de Young, it addresses all of the questions you have asked quite directly, and shows how they were not just the practice of the early Church, but also of the ancient Israelites.

We don't worship saints, full stop. That's absurd. We ask for them to pray for us because they are literally in Heaven. The Prophet Elijah was taken into heaven on a flaming chariot. Are we to believe he isn't actively at work in Heaven right now interceding for us as he did while with us on the earth? If he is, are we to believe that the literal Mother of God, the Theotokos, isn't alive and actively working in Heaven right now and praying for us?

Regarding Mary once more, we especially ask for her prayers, as Christ listens to his mother. He turned the water into the wine at her request despite saying it wasn't his time yet.
 
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Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
The Saints are glorified through Christ, so in venerating them you are not worshipping the person, you are venerating the person based on what Christ has done through them. The glory for every good and great thing done by the Saints belongs to Christ. It is simply a matter of giving Christ His due glory. Failure to acknowledge that Christ can lead people to greatness, and make them worthy of veneration is to not give Him His glory.

In regards to the Theotokos, it is slander to not give her full veneration. Think of all the great acts throughout all the people recorded in the Bible, and in history. Of all the great and worthy deeds done by mankind, none come anywhere close to what the Virgin Mary did for us. Her action of bearing the Saviour was the most unique, blessed, and greatest thing any human has done in the entirety of history, excluding the actions of Christ Himself. This is why she is worthy of honour and veneration, her greatness is beyond anything else achieved by men or angels.

As Christ's mother she has a unique closeness to Him and that means she is a powerful intercessor with Him. All of this makes perfect sense if you actually think about the beliefs of Christianity. 'Every generation shall call her blessed' is not just 'she did something good, but she was otherwise just basically ordinary' it means that in every generation before, or since there will be no one as blessed as she, she is the vessel through which God became incarnate. How dare anyone not give her due respect!

We don't worship her as a God, we just give appropriate recognition and veneration to her because of the magnitude of what she did for all of us.
 

lskdfjldsf

Pelican
Orthodox Catechumen
Gold Member
It seems the bigger issue is this part: "The Word alone and by grace alone as it is written". The veneration of the Saints and Mary preceded the Bible and was practiced/continued by the same Apostolic authority that made the Bible.

I don't think you'll get very far convincing him otherwise as long as he rejects the legitimacy of the early Church. It's admittedly a tough concept to grasp when surrounded by examples of people who take it to an extreme (saw this firsthand in many Trad Cath parishes) but the rationale is clear-cut historically.
 
In Catholicism Mary is considered to be the Ark of the New Covenant. I'm not sure what the Orthodox position is? I know that the Orthodox also honour her as the Theotokos. If you can show your friend the BIBLICAL parallels between Our Lady (the Ark of the New Covenant) and the original Ark of the Old Covenant then you might be able to make some headway (he's an evangelical so this might be somewhat of a challenge).
 

ToBe

Chicken
No matter how we view it. Bible is very specific about the woman regardless who she is. As long as we live in the fallen world there is no exemption. Only the devil would make one believe otherwise. As it changes the narrative all the time of the bible to suit its needs throughout the centuries.

Born in sin through the mother.
Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Born again in the heavenly father god .
1 John 5:4
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Masculine vs Feminine the struggle the conflict, the war. In the Fallen world.

For some reason after New Testament some groups decided to venerate the woman Eves offspring.
It wasn't until Jesus was born in the Father, then he was saved. Same rules applied to him as with anyone else who are born of this world.

Anyone who can see. Knows the wicked corrupt since people are born in the mother"feminine spirit/emotions/erratic" and since very few return to the father god masculine which is divine love.
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Mary was special but she was still the offspring of Eve and a woman of this world. No matter how the human ego wants to twist it.
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Mary was special but she was still the offspring of Eve and a woman of this world. No matter how the human ego wants to twist it.

The Orthodox do not teach the immaculate conception.

She was "special" you make it sound like she was just talented or something. Can you think of anyone in history who did anything remotely close to what she did? She bore and nursed God incarnate, our Saviour. She is the Mother of God. A bit more than just "special" she is in a category of her own.
 
@ ToBe

To understand the Ark of the New Covenant (Mary) we have to understand the Ark of the Old Covenant. Below is an explanation of the original Ark of the Covenant from a Jewish website:

"As a general rule, Judaism rejects physical manifestations of spirituality, preferring instead to focus on actions and beliefs. Indeed, the story of Judaism begins with Abraham who, according to ancient sources, shattered the idols that were the conventional method of religious observance at the time. Worship of graven images is harshly condemned throughout the Torah, and perhaps the greatest sin the Israelites collectively committed was the construction of the Golden Calf (in Ex. 32), intended to serve as a physical intermediary between them and God. Today, Jews do not venerate any holy relics or man-made symbols....But in the history of the Jewish people, there was ONE EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE. One man-made object was considered INTRINSCIALLY HOLY - the Ark of the Covenant (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-ark-of-the-convenant)

In Catholic Christianity Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. This is a completely BIBLICAL teaching. Go to YouTube and type in Mary the Ark of the New Covenant and you will find lots of videos which explain this idea (along with the the biblical texts which support this belief).
 

NickK

Kingfisher
Orthodox
It wasn't until Jesus was born in the Father, then he was saved. Same rules applied to him as with anyone else who are born of this world.
Not being content with blaspheming our beloved Lady, you dare utter such blasphemies against our Lord God also?
Your heresies are worse than Arius' and even worse than Jehova's "witnesses". Repent or leave.
 

soli.deo.gloria

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
Hi,

as a catholic and an orthodox enquirer, I was having a chat with a follower of a free church (a German evangelical denomination).

And those were the arguments used, when I mentioned my interest in Orthodoxy (he had told me that Catholicism does not lead to salvation, to which I said that what matter is faith in Christ and not the denomination, but that I agree about Catholicism hence my interest in Orthodoxy, to which he replied with the following:

"What matters is the true faith and the validity of the Bible alone as a standard.
Unfortunately, the Orthodox also practise saint worship and the cult of Mary, which is idolatry and thus speaks absolutely against God's Word.
I am a free church Christian.
The Word alone and by grace alone as it is written."

What do you guys think of those arguments?

You will get a lot of really well thought out and well supported facts and explanations on this forum and that is wonderful, but keeping things simple will probably help you to explain it to your friend more effectively.

1. Orthodox don't worship Saints and Icons, we venerate them. Which is entirely appropriate and not remotely the same thing. Look up the definition of the words.

2. Regarding Mary, see point one.

3. If someone claims points 1 or 2 are against God's word, provide an example and/or a source (you can't).

4. "Word or grace alone" is a fallacy, see points 3, 5, & 6.

5. Regarding point 1, the Bible was written by many of those very same Saints and Church elders whom we remember and venerate. Is it logical to reject their authority and/or contribution to Christianity but then turn around and say that the words they wrote are the infallible word of God? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

6. As was rightly pointed out above, many of the historical memories and traditions of the Orthodox Church, both written and verbal, pre-date the Bible as we know it. And many of those things were never written down in the Bible or elsewhere, but they still happened. So how can you only reference the Bible? And see point 5 again.

You really don't need to quote a lot of scripture and stuff to explain why your friends position doesn't hold up. Good luck in convincing them though. Maybe you can give them the link to the thread.
 
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