How do you explain to Protestants that we do not Worship St Mary?

edited December 2013 in Faith Issues
I know loads of protestants who keep on bashing me and my family because they think that we worship St Mary.

I told them that saying "Hail Mary" isn't worshipping.

They told me that we are talking / praying to saints who have passed away.

How do you answer them?


  • That question reminds me a bit of this discussion, its a bit long, but was quite interesting..
  • Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

    The Cloud of Witnesses is the Church(i.e. Body of Christ, i.e. People who made it to the Lord.) in paradise awaiting the second coming. These saints are not dead but alive. St. Paul even says that they surround us. Here's the punchline: If they are with the Lord, awaiting Heaven, how can they be dead? In this Body, the Body of Christ, there is no death. Only Life.

    I am the Way the Truth and the Life. John 14:6

    Pray for me. And Pray for those people who attack you.

    Abba Zeno said, ‘If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks.’

    Hope this helps.
  • edited December 2013

    We *are* actually talking to saints that passed away, but they are not dead, but truly alive and part of the Church. "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but the living".
  • Find a venerable figure among Protestants and give them the same accusation:

    "Why are you worshipping Martin Luther King?"

    Then when they say we don't pray to MLK, reply:

    "Well, I pray you to pray for me before God."

    I usually keep it short and simple and then let them ruminate on these words. If of course they continue in saying, "these saints of your's are dead people," then use some of the Bible verses above. I usually become provocative and say, "ya, just like your grandmother is a dead woman. She will never pray for you to Christ. She's not enjoying the bosom of Abraham. She's just dead and God is just a god of the dead." And then I make them even angrier, and I end with,

    "Why then if you are angered by my comments on your own grandmother, why do you insist to insult the mother of Jesus?"
  • edited December 2013
    Then they'll tell you, "But I don't need to pray to them. I pray directly to Jesus. There's no mediator between me and Jesus."

    To which I usually reply, "Then don't ask me to pray for you. Because you assume that your own grandmother or me don't listen to your requests to pray for you, then don't talk to me again. Talk to Christ. If you need some food, don't ask your spouse, ask Christ. If you want health, don't go to the doctor. Ask Christ."

    I'm very impatient with Protestants :P

    The point with my provocative nature is to insight a bit of the same way of forming accusations they form against us. If they continue to misconstrue my prayer to the Theotokos, I will continue to misconstrue their lack of saints as devoid of love to their own grandmother, and a dead woman who does not live and love after death.
  • edited December 2013

    Question: As only God is omnipotent, then if (for example) one
    hundred people are speaking to Mary at any one time, then how can she
    hear everybody's request?


    Only one person could have spoken to Mary. The other ninety-nine are
    unwittingly praying to someone, or something else. This is why I believe
    that communicating with people who have passed away is wrong. Demons have been known to
    impersonate real people. Intercession is meant to be done by living
    people on behalf of other living people. I could ask you to pray for me,
    and you could ask me to pray for you, but nobody should ever ask
    anybody who has died to intercede on their behalf.

    I could pray to St.Anthony tomorrow but would he hear me, especially if a dozen monks are trying to speak to him at the same time?

  • Truthseeker, it's good to hear from you again. I hope you will contribute more.

    Why do you believe only one person can pray to St Mary and 99 will not be heard? You are applying the laws of physics on a metaphysical world. St Paul says our bodies will be sown in corruption and it is raised in incorruption; it is sown natural and it is raised spiritual. Therefore, the body we will have after death is not subject to the laws of physics. (As we can see Christ entering locked rooms and disappearing and appearing at once.) One does not have to be omnipotent to hear thousands, millions or billions of people in the resurrected state. If God has designed the spiritual body with "superhuman" powers, it doesn't make saints with the spiritual body omnipotent. The caveat is that every saint in heaven is limited, while God alone is unlimited. It is God who gives us a "superhuman" body in heaven by grace, while He Himself is beyond limit in Himself.

    Demons and angels are known to hear millions of people at once. It is part of their nature and they are not omnipotent. Our human nature will become greater than theirs in the resurrection as we see in the entire book of Revelation.

    As I said before, our faith in intercessions is directly connected to our faith in the Resurrection of the dead. 

    I hope this helped.
  • Yes, that was helpful, thank you.
  • One more thing Truthseeker,

    You said, "Intercession is meant to be done by living people on behalf of other living people." That is exactly why we ask for the saints intercessions. It is because they are alive in the Resurrection that intercessions make sense. You kind of answered your own question before my explanation. 

    Keep on contributing.
  • But why do we need an intercession? Does it make our prayer more heard? If we say "Thy will be done", how can asking for prayers from 30 saints, angels and tetas change the will of God?
  • edited December 2013
    You said, "Intercession is meant to be done by living people
    on behalf of other living people." That is exactly why we ask for the
    saints intercessions. It is because they are alive in the Resurrection
    that intercessions make sense. You kind of answered your own question
    before my explanation. 

    By living people, I meant people that have not passed away, that are still in fleshly bodies on this Earth. Please don't confuse the issue by using semantics!!
  • Please do not mess around with semantics in order to distort my question. By living people, I mean people who have not passed away. They are still in their fleshly bodies!!!!!!!!
    You know what I mean.
  • Truthseeker, 

    I can understand why you might think I am distorting your comments. I understand your definition of living people is different than my definition. But if one limits the phrase "living people" to those who have not passed away, then how do you explain Matthew 22:32? "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” How do you understand the phrase "living" in the last sentence? It cannot be limited to those who have not passed away since Abraham, Isaac and Jacob already passed away when Christ said these words.

    This is not semantics. When the Sadducees challenged Christ, he insisted that faith in the resurrection was paramount. He could have easily ignored the question or replied that he did not want to get involved in semantics. In the remaining part of this very same chapter in Matthew, Christ challenged the Pharisaical and authority's challenges as well as the people's common misunderstanding of things like the resurrection of the dead, the law, the Son's relationship with David. It was not simply semantic argument, even though it can be perceived as semantic argument.
  • The point is - you knew what I meant. I deliberately used the term 'passed away' so as to avoid confusion. My point was that a person who is still alive (in the fleshly body) should not try to communicate with those who have left the fleshly body. (Is that better?)
  • Not really. The point is incorrect. A person who is still alive in a fleshly body SHOULD communicate with those who have left the fleshly body (assuming they are saints living in the resurrection) because those saints are living members of the living body of Christ who left this temporal world, not a dead run-of-the-mill-joe-smith annihilated at death ceasing to have any importance, not dead at all (since death is defeated in Christ's resurrection), not demons, not anything else. 

    It is precisely because "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living", that we should communicate with saints who have left the world. It is precisely because these saints live in many mansions in His Father's kingdom that we pray for their intercessions. "If it were not so, [Christ] would have told us so." 

    It is not that we are confused by your meaning of death. It is your meaning of death that confuses the truth of the scriptures. 
  • Its fairly simple, we venerate St. Mary as the mother of God. They are often confused by the language and because they are unaware of what worship actually means they view veneration as worship. I think comparing their veneration of the bible, which in actuality is more akin to idol worship since it is their interpretation of the bible they venerate. If it comes down to "Its not in the bible" then nicely explain to them that neither is sola scriptura. If you wish to be more harsh then you can reply to them, "Oh ok, so you wont believe it if its not in the bible?" to which they always say "Yes, of course" then you hand them the bible and ask "Find sola scriptura in the bible." 

    Remember, it always depends on the individual you are conversing with, if they are sincere, then be sincere because they are honestly searching for truth. If they are looking to "win" then by all means pull no punches.
  • I agree with Ioannes
    It depends on the kind of people that you are talking to. For those who are seeking truth you can tell them what you learnt in sunday school. If they ask more questions that you can't answer, go to your church, ask a priest and tell them the answer.
    The rest of them who want to argue for the sake of winning...just stop the conversation...they are not worth the time you spend or the words you speak...
  • I find an astonishing deflection from the truth here, twisted words and an attempt to make out that I am the one who is denying scripture. I have asked simple questions and made it very clear that those alive in the flesh should NOT attempt to communicate with deceased, but all I get is arrogant replies suggesting that I do not understand scripture.
    Intercession of the Saints is a HERESY. Why are you people so blinded by your own pride that you cannot see that?

    1/ Ordinary men do NOT have the right to decide who is a saint and who isn't. Only Jesus is the judge of that.
    2/ You are not meant to communicate with the dead. The Bible makes that very clear.
    3/ The Church will be judged in the End Times for preaching heresies and blasphemies. That includes you - Orthodox and Catholics.

    I shall be praying for you all to come to your senses. Believe only in scripture. Believe that Jesus, the Son of God died on the cross and was resurrected to pay for all our sins and to give salvation to all those who asked for it. Only worship Jesus, not saints. These are false idols.

    STOP communicating with the deceased. This is a blasphemy.

    STOP referring to your priests and your Pope as Father. The Bible makes this very clear that you should call nobody father except the Lord.

    Matthew 23:9

    STOP calling everybody who disagrees with you a Protestant, as if Protestants have walked away from God, whereas in reality Protestants protested against the Church because they discovered that it was full of heresies. Your conceit is astounding.
    Remember the conceit of the pharisees who rejected Jesus because their pride blinded them to the truth!
    I serve only Jesus and not mere men with their fancy titles and their pride.

  • Hi Truthseeker

    Christ is among us. Might I suggest a blog by Fr Stephen Freeman which could help with your concerns?

    Here are some posts which address the question of Saints

    Another two posts which are very good:

    Orthodoxy vs Christian Materialism


    Christianity in a One Storey Universe

    Fr Stephen once said in a podcast that for many ex-protestants (including himself) there is often a period of unlearning Protestan notions about God and even a period of atheism in order to eventually encounter the Living God worshipped and encountered by the Orthodox Church and her saints. This constant metanoia is what all Christians (Orthodox or not) are challenged with daily. That of course is a scary notion especially if it means we have to constantly learn and know and be humbled by the Living God but many have walked that path before and found Orthodoxy true, rich and beautiful.

    May Christ our God bless and guide you in your pursuit of Truth and may all things bring you in deeper union with God and reveal the joys of partaking in the divine life of the Holy Trinity.
  • Why so many insults?
  • you say "believe only in scripture" can you find that in scripture for me?

  • Truthseeker,

    Based on references from Mt 22:32, I asked a question from Scripture that you did not answer in my December 2013 response. I gave you an explanation that our faith in intercessions is directly related to the Resurrection and you simply ignore that reason. If you reject intercessions of the dead, then you must reject the resurrection of the dead. 

    You tells us to believe in scripture only, yet you complain when we give scriptures that don't fit your interpretations. So then you yourself do not believe in a sola scriptura method of response. Why do you hold us to a standard that you yourself do not hold to?

    1/ Ordinary men do NOT have the right to decide who is a saint and who isn't. Only Jesus is the judge of that.

    Correct. Jesus judges who is a saint, and we are praying for the intercession of the saints whom Jesus calls saints. Romans 1:7, 1 Cor 1:2, 1 Cor 16:15, Eph 2:19, 2 Thes 1:10, Rev 8:4, Rev 14:12, Rev 20:9.

    2/ You are not meant to communicate with the dead. The Bible makes that very clear.

    We are not communicating with the dead. We are communicating with the living who have left the earth. Revelation 6:9, 10, "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Obviously these are saints who died but are alive in the resurrection. By your definition, they have no importance whatsoever. However, in heaven, the prayers of these saints are offered on the altar in Revelation 8:3, "Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood atthe altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne." Why offer the prayers of the saints, if praying to saints has no efficacy? 

    3/ The Church will be judged in the End Times for preaching heresies and blasphemies. That includes you - Orthodox and Catholics.

    Yes, the Church will be judged for heresies. You want to come on an Coptic Orthodox forum, insult and judge the Coptic Orthodox for her faith in prayers of the saints and threaten us with eternal punishments because you don't like the answer you were given.  You have not proven our faith in praying to saints is a heresy. You have not even responded to our scripture based reasons for praying to dead. And we didn't even give a sample of the plethora of patristic writings that support and vindicate our faith. Simply not fitting into your theology is not grounds for a condemnation of heresy. Talk about astounding conceit.  

    One more thing, you wrote, "STOP referring to your priests and your Pope as Father. The Bible makes this very clear that you should call nobody father except the Lord. Matthew 23:9."

    Isaiah must be lying to us when he calls Abraham our father in Isaiah 51:2, "Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.”. And of course, the Archangel Gabriel was lying to Virgin Mary when he called David the Father of Christ in Luke 1:32, "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David."  You take Matthew 23:9 out of context and apply it a way that is absolutely ridiculous. By your logic, all those teachers we have had throughout the years - from elementary school to college and post graduate universities whom we ourselves have called teachers - cannot be called teachers. For in the very next verse Mat 23:10, it says, "And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ." Do you honestly think Christ is telling us not to call them teachers? Or we have sinned by calling them teachers? Or maybe your scripture-only theology is simply wrong, flawed and heretical? 

  • edited July 2014
    Anyone who understands Semitic culture, understands hyperbole. Christ used it a whole lot of times. It's amazing I see Protestants who love to follow the idea that they should not call "anyone on earth father" as the Scriptures says, and yet they still call their own father father. t's amazing I see Protestants not plucking their right eye off, or cutting their right hand off, or castrating themselves, or hating their own father, mother, sister, brother, wife, son, etc. I don't see Protestants forgiving 490 times.

    My dear friend, HH Pope Shenouda wrote a great and simple book about comparisons with Orthodox and Protestants called "Comparative Theology", available online somewhere. But I ask you dear friend, a food for thought if you will concerning the dead. My grandmother has left behind her flesh. There is no denying that. But there is no longer a death, but a departure. How is it that Christ can speak of Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham? Why didn't Christ speak of Lazarus in the comfort of YHWH? Because Semitic culture did in fact recognize the departured as people who are still concious. Christ in refuting the Saducees challenged them if God is God of the living, how can He be the God of Abraham? Is your great grandmother dead or departed? Does she not wish to pray for her beloved Truth Seeker? Does not she wish for her grandson to be in her bosom after he passes from this life? My dear friend, are you a Saducee or are you a Christian?

    Whoever said seeking the prayers of those departed in Christ's faith a blasphemy is a strange belief. It's as if you're calling Christ the King of Beelzebub. I'm taken aback at how you deny God being the God of the departed alive in Christ. Meanwhile, it is we who are in our flesh deceased from the world in our baptism. So if communicating with me is blasphemy, then you deny the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Here's Comparative Theology by HH Pope Shenouda III
  • Look, he said "believe only in scripture" and I want him to find that in scripture, otherwise where is this belief from if not found in scripture? Let him answer.
  • "Believe only in Scripture" turns the Bible into the Quran.  Protestants who are Sola Scriptura believe it is more important that God became a book rather than God becoming a man.  It's not the Word of God incarnate that they believe in; it's the word of God with pages.  If "only the Scriptures" saves, there's no need for the Incarnation, and it becomes a tit-for-tat on whose holy book is holier than the other.  It's the type of ridiculous discussions I've seen Protestants and Muslims engage in, and not in central theological thought and its result in a person's spiritual life.
  • Mina this is a very good point
  • @Ioannes
    He didn't answer my question on the use of the phrase living and its connection to the Resurrection of the dead from December 2013, don't expect him to answer you on this question. 

    In his mind, it is not "only the Scriptures" that he his basing his condemnation of the Copts since we only gave him scriptures as a defense for the Coptic theology. It is his Protestant bias that he refuses to acknowledge. He believes we preparatively called him protestant without justification but refuses to realize his own words show a Protestant or protesting, anti-Orthodox bias only interested in "saving" us poor Orthodox from his perceived heresies of the Church. He cares nothing of the topic of intercessions and resurrection of the dead. And I don't think he cares for sola scriptura either. He seems to only care that we all become non-denominational, like himself.  In this sense, Mina is absolutely right. He is no different than Muslims who insist everyone must be like them (including their interpretation of the Quran) or they are on the path to eternal hell.
  • edited July 2014
    Is Truth Seeker non-denominational?  He seemed to be defending Protestants in his last post.

    As he said, "STOP calling everybody who disagrees with you a Protestant, as if Protestants have walked away from God, whereas in reality Protestants protested against the Church because they discovered that it was full of heresies."  Sounds like he implicitly admits he's Protestant.
  • edited July 2014
    Forgive me, but does it matter whether he be a Protestant, non-denominational or any other? From the following passage I believe to understand that we simply need to understand the person in front of us and his beliefs. St. Paul became the person in front of him and seemed to try to fully understand their ways in order for them to come to the knowledge of the truth. In my opinion, the labelling is unecessary in comparison to the need to understand and become the person we are discussing with.

    "19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you."
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