Eastern Orthodox believers will pray to those who have passed away, especially the Virgin Mary, because they believe that some people who have passed away can be deification. By deification means that a person can be treated as sacred. The Third General Council of the Oriental Orthodox Church in Ephesus, 431 AD, concluded that Mary was the mother of God, and agreed with the Roman Catholics‘ assertion that Mary was a virgin all her life. However, the Eastern Orthodox Council did not accept the Roman Catholic Church’s statement that Mary is innocent, perfect and flawless.
The Eastern Orthodox Church emphasizes that the Virgin Mary is only an intercessor, and praying to the sanctified should not be considered as worship. At the same time, the Eastern Orthodox Church displays colorful icons such as statues, signs, and portraits of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostles, Mary and other people who have been sanctified, etc., and use them to decorate the walls and interiors of the Eastern Orthodox churches. These types of activities and behaviors have led evangelical Christians to equate these as idol worshipping. The Eastern Orthodox Christians deny that their worship is focused on statues and signs, but rather in the Lord Jesus Christ and the sanctified people depicted in the pictures or displays. The Eastern Orthodox believers insist that this is one of the ways the church can use to teach their members. To explain and defend these curious practices, they would say that when worshippers enter the church, they would see what they need to know in order to understand their beliefs.
The Eastern Orthodox views on sin and salvation differ somewhat from those of Protestants or Catholics. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that although the fall of man causes man to plunge into sin, man is not completely corrupted. They do not accept that man is guilty because of the rebellion of Adam, the first ancestor. But Romans 5:19 (NIV84) clearly says: “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”
Evangelical Christian scholars believe that the Eastern Orthodox emphasis on salvation through deification has caused them to ignore the important truth of "justification by faith." Brothers and sisters, as 2 Peter 1:3 says: "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” In other words, our salvation is the one God has prepared by His own power and given to us freely. The only thing we need to do is to know and accept the Lord Jesus Christ, who has called us by His own glory and goodness. May we rely on Jesus to grow our spiritual life. May our daily living in Christ also be full of godliness as well. Amen!