|PRAYING FOR DEAD ("POMANA").
"And so it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment"
"Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You?"
"For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin"
The idea of praying for the souls of dead people had firstly appeared in church
about the VI century and in the VII it gained the form of a dogma. The thought
about such a prayer was publicly expressed by pope Gregory the Great. He has written
a book about it, containing naive, sometimes incongruous stories, which do not
have anything common with the Bible or Christianity.
Dogma about the prayer for dead people came in practice of church only when
the pope was John XVIII in 978. The holiday of dead, connected with this dogma,
was set up in 1011. In more than five hundred years Trident council (which was
summoned in Trident in 1545 by the emperor Karl V; as a result the doctrine of
the catholic church was formed once and for all. The council was continuing with
brakes till 1564) decided to make this custom obligate rule of faith for all churches
of the West. Praying and petitioning for them went together with the development
of the doctrine about "the purgatory". In "the purgatory",
as the west church thinks, are staying all souls, slowly getting cleaned and getting
prepared for the Heaven. The God decides how long a soul should stay in this "the
purgatory". The Bible says nothing about the existence of such a "purgatory".
There are no mentions about it in The Old Testament, the same as in The New Testament.
The true Christians of the first four centuries didn't know any ways of salvation,
except the God's way - justification through the belief in the expiatory sacrifice
of Jesus Christ, who suffered for the whole world and who saves "all that
come to Him". The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus "bore our sins in
His own body on the tree" and that "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son
cleanses us from all sin" (Peter2:24; 1John1:7). The doctrine about "the
purgatory" belittles the power and necessity of the expiatory sacrifice of
Christ, that's why it is against the truth and spirit of apostolic preaching.
The doctrine of "the purgatory" says that Calvary sorrows and Jesus'
blood, spilled for us sinners are not enough for the justification of a believer,
and that's why for the full salvation the purifying by the fire of "the purgatory"
is necessary. The doctrine about "the purgatory" directly contradicts
to the Bible.
Recall the parable about a rich man and Lazarus. In this parable Christ opened
the secret of the world beyond the grave. If there were any purgatory, Jesus would
never say that Lazarus' soul "was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom"
(Luke 16:22). Or: "where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). Recall
the case with the robber on a cross. He definitely needed "the fire of the
purgatory" but Christ told him "assuredly, I say to you, today you will
be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Read the messages of apostles. Apostle Paul would never write with such distinctness
that salvation is accessible for every sinner here on Earth, already. That "There
is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ" (Rom.
8:1). Apostle John would never write: "Blessed are the dead who die in the
Lord from now on" (Rev. 14:13).
Besides all that was said above we shouldn't forget that the doctrine about
the purgatory, which had entered the church about 600 A.D. and got the full recognition
almost a millennium after that (on the Trident council), during all history of
the Western Church was an illegal source of money and abuses of clergy. Millions
of "faithful" still have to pay the tax, set by the church, for the
prayers for dead, for pacification of souls, who are in the purgatory now, for
the shortening of the time of being stayed in the purgatory and for other petitions
for dead people. Poor people, who have no possibilities to pay for funeral services,
cannot count on any relieving of sorrows of the purgatory or shortening of the
time of being stayed there. What an unnatural idea of Christ! He has always been
on the side of poor, and this is strikingly underlined by Him in the above-mentioned
parable about a rich man and Lazarus. But if in the western church the prayers
about dead are based on the purgatory, then in the Eastern Church these prayers
are based on even more fragile basement. Refusing the doctrine about the purgatory
and accepting the existence of the "great gulf between the souls of dead
believers and nonbelievers," Orthodox Church teaches that hell is beaten
by the sorrows of Christ, that by death of Christ a free passage from Hell to
Paradise is opened, but "those who want to pass" cannot use this passage
themselves. That's why the God made alive people responsible for dead humans'
eternal fate. Those, who are on the Earth, must take part in salvation of their
relatives and close friends by praying for them. It seems that such a peculiar
"theological interpretation" is not enough even for the church itself.
That's why it is vainly trying to "strengthen" its interpretation by
other considerations like: "The final Judgment of dead people is not accomplished,
yet" - the changes are possible, the only thing is needed is someone who
will take care of it… Souls of dead people are "always alive" in front
of God. That's why that love, which we feel to dead, love, which "never ends",
we should reveal in prayers for dead, for those, who wait for their eternal fate
(There is nothing known about the place, where they waiting for it)…
The Orthodox Church teaches that almost all dead brothers have done "sins
not leading to death", that's why it is said:"pray for one another","and
He will give him life" (James 5:26; 1John 5:16)."So we, orthodox Christians,
pray for them", - the church teaches. But what does the Bible say about this?
Hell still exists, the "great gulf" still exists and "those who
want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us".
The God's word is invariable! Condemned rich man (in parable) asks Abraham not
to use the prayers of five alive brothers, but to give notice to brothers about
eternal death, waiting for them. The rich man tells Abraham: "I beg you therefore,
father, that you would send him (Lazarus) to my father's house, for I have five
brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment"
(Luke 16:27-28). [[It is important to recall that orthodox apologists arrogate
a sin to the rich man - abuse of the Holy Spirit, that's why he cannot pass to
the paradise, but which sin did those who have no access to hell?! The gulf didn't
appear because of sins during man's life, but set up by God forever.]]
Christ acquired eternal atonement on Calvary: "that whoever believes
in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), but not
built a bridge from Hell to Paradise for unrepentant sinners to avoid God's fair
judgment. Apostle Paul says: "For if… every transgression and disobedience
received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"(Heb.
2:2-3). "Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony
of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will
he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood
of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit
of grace?" (Heb. 10:28-29).
God nowhere and never made relatives or close friends of an unrepentant sinner
responsible for his eternal fate. In the question of salvation every person is
responsible for himself. Our prayers, even the strongest ones, are not enough
to save ourselves, how can they assist in saving of other people? If prayers can
save, Christ's death is useless, his expiatory sacrifice is useless. However,
the God's word says that "Nor is there salvation in any other" (Acts
Eternal fate of a person, ultimate and permanent, defines here, on Earth.
The thought that "for dead people there was no final judgment, yet",
- is baseless. The whole Bible testifies that the person can be ensured in his
salvation or death here, on Earth. Christ calls people to repentance and birth
from on high, to that necessary change without which the person cannot enter the
kingdom of God: "unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God"
(John 3:3). Anyone, who came to believe in Christ and left his sinful life gets
forgiveness of his sins and everlasting life from God here, on Earth. Christ says:
"he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life,
and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John
5:24). "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John
3:16). Change of heart, change of spoilt nature of human must take place before
death. After death there is no repentance, no forgiveness, changes are impossible.
That's why God "now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30),
adding that "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment"
(Heb. 9:27). Christ confirms this true by a parable: "So it was that the
beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also
died… and being in torments in Hades…" (Luke 16:22-23).
Christ told the robber: "today you will be with Me in Paradise".
About unbelievers we read as follows: "he who does not believe is condemned
already" (John 3:18), "who does not believe in the Son shall not see
life" (John 3:36), "for a long time their judgment has not been idle,
and their destruction does not slumber" (2Peter 2:3). At last command of
Apostle John to pray for those, who did "sins not leading to death",
does not apply to dead people at all. This command cannot even be applied to alive
unbelievers, who rejected God's grace… "I do not say that he should pray
about that", adds Apostle John (1 John 5:16).
The message was written by Apostle John to members of Christian communes that
means to believers, who has already got the gift of Christ's salvation, to saved
people. Sins "not leading to death", which apostle mentions, were sins,
which testified about unholy life of a person, justified and saved by Christ's
grace. As for sin in common, there is no sin which would not lead to death, because
"For the wages of sin death" (Romans 6:23).
We, humans, can neither pray up, nor atone even the smallest sin, but at the
same moment, even if we appear to be great sinners, if we accept Jesus Christ
as a sacrifice of propitiation for our sins, we can say: "He Himself bore
our sins in His own body on the tree" and "by whose stripes we were
healed" (1Peter 2:24), "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us
from all sin" (1John 1:7). Christ accepts every repenting sinner, Christ
forgives him, gives him the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, insurance and
joy of salvation. Saved sinner takes the path of holiness and following Christ.
But while following Christ, the forgiven one because of his lack of experience
can make some omissions, blunders and falls. But these mistakes are not leading
to death. "Who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does
not touch him" (1John 5:18), and "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate
with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation
for our sins" (1John 2:1-2).
In am unrepentant sinner's life every sin is "leading to death."
A man, who didn't accept forgiveness which God offers him through Jesus Christ,
accomplishes an unforgivable sin. For these sinners we should pray while they
are alive, leading all our efforts to reconcile them with God, because after death
- "weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:12). Prayer about sin
"not leading to death" in believer's life is necessary, because "we
all stumble in many things" (James 3:2), but if a saved person dies, then
together with his death stops the path of Christian consecration. That's why our
prayers about him are useless: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord"
(Revelation 14:13). Death of a believer is the beginning of everlasting bliss.
Blessed! What prayers do they need? When "God will wipe away every tear from
their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying"…
[[The God is insulted when we want to buy something from Him. And this is
not only an insult, but a sin! : "And when Simon saw that through the laying
on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying,
"Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the
Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because
you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither
part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought
of your heart may be forgiven you." (Acts 8:18-22). God says in the Holy
Scripture that forgiveness of sins and everlasting life is God's gift (Romans
6:23). That's why when we want to gain this gift for ourselves or other people,
the God calls it a sin!
In the Holy Scripture we find a talk of Abraham with one person in Hell: "'I
beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I
have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place
of torment.' "Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let
them hear them.' "And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them
from the dead, they will repent.' "But he said to him, 'If they do not hear
Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the
dead.'" (Luke 16:27-31). In this example we conclude that talks of orthodox
people with supposedly come from the world beyond are fruit of fantasy or tricks
of the dark spirit world! Also we read that our dead saint ancestors are not going
to help, but attract our attention not to legends but to the Holy Scriptures.
Dead are not sent to alive and do not help them in anything! Also we read that
a talk between a man from Paradise and a man from Hell is possible, but no one
prays for him in Paradise and no one asks alive people to do the requiem. And
to proceed from orthodox apologists' words, as if Protestants do not love their
dead close friends and relatives because do not pray for them, we can accuse Abraham
of absence to his neighbor because he does not express any love to a man in Hell
and to five brothers of the suffering one! This example of Jesus Christ shows
that everything is decided during our life on Earth (Luke 16:25).
The God even in The Old Testament accented that gives us everything for free,
but we want to touch Him with our offerings: "Not for your righteousness,
or for the uprightness of your heart, do you go in to possess their land; but
for the wickedness of these nations Yahweh your God does drive them out from before
you, and that he may establish the word which Yahweh swore to your fathers, to
Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob" (Deut. 9:5).
"Return, Yahweh. Deliver my soul, and save me for your loving kindness'
sake. For in death there is no memory of you in Sheol, who shall give you thanks?"
(Ps 6:4-5). We have a prayer of a man who definitely knows that after death cannot
solve his questions with God, that's why he asks God for mercy while he is alive.
"I have not eaten of it in my mourning, neither have I put away of it,
being unclean, nor given of it for the dead: I have listened to the voice of Yahweh
my God; I have done according to all that you have commanded me" (Deut. 26:14).
Even in The Old Testament we read that people were tempted and meet situations
to give for dead. But Ioan Smolin (orthodox deacon) shares with such an idea:
he didn't give for dead from tithe; it means he gave from other nine parts. But
following his logic we ask: do we have do give the tithe in cleanness, but the
other nine parts divided in uncleanness?
POMANA for dead as early as The Old Testament was a sin: "They joined
themselves also to Baal Peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead" (Ps. 106:28).
Any Jew never communicated with dead, didn't give for them and didn't ask
for them. Ioan Smolin wants to teach Protestants by the men's wisdom that Jews
asked for dead in many cases: Maria asked for Lazarus (John 11:32), Jarius asked
for his daughter (Luke 8:41). But is it so? Of course not! Sisters asked for their
brother only when he was alive, but when came - Lazarus was dead. And sisters
didn't ask for him anymore and even tried to stop Jesus, because Lazarus was in
a coffin for a long time. When Jarius came to Jesus his daughter was alive and
in one moment someone tells him: "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the
teacher any further?", that means that they expected possible help while
a person is still alive! God Christ didn't help dead people raising them from
the dead, but helped alive people in their grief. He returned back to life the
only son of a widow, not because she asked for dead, but the Lord took comparison
upon mother left alone. We can say even more: by The New Testament all saint people
are waiting for the meeting with the God, testifying about wonderful life beyond
the grave (2 Cor. 5:8; 12:1-4), that's why all cases with resurrection are not
asking prayers for dead, but consolation and help for alive people!
Funeral of Ananias and Sapphira.
"Then Ananias, haring these words, fell down and breathed his last. So
great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose
and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. Now it was about three hours
later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered
her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for too much?" She said, "Yes,
for too much." Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed
together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried
your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Then immediately
she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and
found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband" (Acts 5:5-10).
In this example we see how simply people were buried in apostles' times. If Apostle
Peter buried people this way, why cannot we do the same? This family paid for
their sin by their death, others pay by suffering of losing blessings, but we
cannot say that Ananius and Sapphira were not saved, and cannot call the funeral
pagan. We do not read neither about candles on their deathbeds, nor about crosses,
nor about priest's service, nor about funeral repasts after funerals. And one
more - the husband was buried without his wife! On today's orthodox funerals we
must carry out many rituals, to give for the soul, but where does the Bible demand
it? Peter knew that: "…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like
silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without
spot" (1Peter 1:18-19). Also he remembered the words of the Lord Jesus: "…what
will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:37). That's why for dead
he never arranged any processions with crosses and different rituals, knowing
that a human as a personality leaves his body after death (2Peter 1:13-15).
Of course, it is difficult to ask the following question in the end of this
theme: Can we do without prayers for dead, because Protestants are accused of
lack of love to their dead neighbors. Then we can accuse Abraham of lack of wish
to help a man in Hell and his brothers. It means the he also didn't love people.
Here comes the main question of existence on the Earth: What is the purpose of
your life, if your eternal fate can be determined also after death? Also disappears
the possibility of individual answer in front of God for your life, if it doesn't
entirely depend on my walking in the face of God, especially if it begins to entirely
depend on alive people on Earth.
Don't we pray for dead because we don't love them and everything is possible
for a believer? Then let's accuse all the saints in Heaven of praying for us not
enough and of doing too little by their faith. We work here because we want to
eat, but is it so hard for them to pray by faith for anyone to get to Paradise?
Then why the Protestants are accused, who know and believe that everyone can get
to Paradise only by his faith, but not public!
"None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give God a ransom
for him. For the redemption of their life is costly, no payment is ever enough"
(Ps. 48:7-8). If it is impossible to give redemption for his brother to live a
long live here, on Earth, then how possible is to give something to God for everlasting
life?! Would we expiate our brothers from "the purgatory"?]]