Is Praying to the Saints Idolatrous?

Bartolomeo Caporali, Ss. Nicholas, Laurence, Peter the Martyr and Anthony Abbot (15th c.)
Bartolomeo Caporali, Ss. Nicholas, Laurence, Peter the Martyr and Anthony Abbot (15th c.)

Last week, I wrote two posts on praying to the Saints. One of my old college roommates responded by asking what to make of the objection that these sorts of prayers are idolatrous:

To summarize what I was taught/raised with, prayer to the saints is essentially idolatry or supplementing (or replacing) Christ with the deemed-appropriate saint.

Granted, I haven’t had or taken the time to check the scriptures you referred to regarding supplications and intercessions. Do you have a response to that objection to saints?

The best way to approach this question is to ask: why, specifically, might prayer to the Saints be idolatry?

First, because you’re “going to someone other than Christ.” After all, Christ is the “sole Mediator between God and man” (1 Timothy 2:5), so if you want ask for someone’s help, or want someone to intercede for you, you should just go to Him.

This argument relies on a Biblical distortion. Evangelical author Greg Koukl has written about how we should “never read a Bible verse.” His meaning is that Scripture has to be read in its proper context. It’s easy to take an isolated phrase out of context and distort its meaning, like saying that Scripture says that “there is no God” (cf. Psalm 14:1). There’s a similar (albeit less extreme) sort of distortion at play here. That famous “sole Mediator” line is taken from half a sentence in St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy. But in context, Paul is teaching in favor of intercessory prayer, not against it (1 Timothy 2:1-6) :

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.

So Christ’s singular act of Mediation, par excellence, is the Cross. Paul doesn’t conclude from this that we shouldn’t pray and intercede for others, but that we should, since God desires that all men be saved. So it’s not wrong for me to pray for you. But is it wrong for you to ask me to pray for you? Clearly not. St. Paul does exactly that with the Roman Christians in Romans 15:30-32, writing,

I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.

So if going to someone other than Christ for help is idolatry, then St. Paul is an idolater.

A second reason praying to the Saints might be idolatry is that we overdo it. For example, a decade of the Rosary contains ten Hail Marys and only one Our Father. So the problem isn’t that we’re going to Mary or the Saints, but that we’re going to them excessively.

This is an unbiblical scrupulosity. Taken seriously, you would have to count up the number of minutes you spent speaking to your spouse or spending time with your kids, and make sure that you were spending at least that much time in prayer to God… otherwise, you worship your spouse or kids! There’s a reason that nobody acts this way outside of the context of prayer to the Saints: it’s obviously wrong. You don’t limit how much you love your neighbor because you think that it might make God jealous. Obeying the second Great Commandment doesn’t threaten your fidelity to the first (see Matthew 22:36-40); instead, your love of neighbor flows from your love of God. So prayer to the Saints isn’t idolatry just because we’re going to someone other than God for help; nor is the fact that we might choose to do so often.

Rosary with pomander, from Barthel Bruyn the Elder, Diptych with Portraits of the Pilgrum couple (1528)
Rosary with pomander, from Barthel Bruyn the Elder, Diptych with Portraits of the Pilgrum couple (1528)

A third reason it might be idolatry is that it’s worship by definition. We’re “praying” to the Saints, and some definitions of prayer define it as worship. But the English word “prayer” has two other relevant meanings: to ask for something (e.g., “pray tell,” “we pray this Court for relief,” etc.), and to venerate someone. We pray to the Saints in the latter two of these senses, but in the first one. Here, an important distinction needs to be made:

In Roman Catholic faith and practice, God alone is the object of worship (latria). However, veneration (doulia) is given to saints who have “run the race”, “finished the course”, and have received “a crown of life”. It is also important to realize that no Catholic has an obligation jure divino of venerating either relics, icons, or saints. While this kind of devotion is not necessary for salvation, the Church recognizes the usefulness of such forms of devotion, recommends them to its members, and resists any condemnation or contempt of such practices (cf. Council of Trent, Session 25).

So Catholics and Protestants agree that worshiping the Saints is idolatry. But that doesn’t prove that venerating the Saints is. We see honor and veneration given to the Saints in Scripture: for example, the entirety of Hebrews 11, praising various Saints who came before us, and holding them up as encouragement that we might emulate them (Heb. 12:1-3).

Fourth, it might be worship because it seems to involve “contacting the spiritual world.” This would serve as an objection against praying either to angels or the Saints in glory. But it would also seem to require saying that the Incarnation was founded upon idolatry, since that began with the Virgin Mary’s conversation with the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38). Zechariah actually speaks to an angel while in the Holy of Holies (Luke 1:8-22), which would seem to leave him particularly vulnerable to the Protestant charge that this sort of prayer distracts from God.

John actually goes further, speaking both to angels (Revelation 10:9, etc.) and to one of the elders (Rev. 7:13-14) in Heaven. And as I’ve mentioned recently, we’ve got the example of the man praying to Abraham in Luke 16:23-24, as well as the conversation in 2 Maccabees 15:12-16. Scripture paints all of these conversations positively, and as distinct from worship. We see this contrast most clearly in Revelation, when John is twice rebuked when he goes to worship at the feel of an angel (Rev. 19:10, 22:8-9). Speaking to creatures (including angels and elders) in Heaven isn’t wrong: worshipping them is.

In the past, when I’ve made these kinds of responses to this argument, I’ve encountered two curious objections. The first is that the people in these examples can see the angels or Saints to whom they’re praying. That detail is irrelevant. When Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, “the LORD’S messenger called to him from heaven,” and Abraham responded (Genesis 22:11). In any case, why would being able to see the person to whom you’re praying make it less like idolatry? After all, “the idols of the nation are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not, they have eyes, but they see not, they have ears, but they hear not, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Like them be those who make them! – yea, every one who trust in them!” (Psalm 135:15-17).

The other objection to this point is that, in each of the cases mentioned above, the angel or Saint initiates contact. But again, how is this detail relevant, and where does this logic lead? If Gabriel speaks to Mary, that’s okay, but if she speaks to him first, she’s an idolater? Where is this “you can’t speak to angels/Saints unless first spoken to” rule coming from, exactly? It’s neither logically nor Scripturally sound. In fact, it’s contradicted in at least two of the cases mentioned: the rich man initiates the contact with Abraham (Luke 16:23-24), as does John with one of the angels (Revelation 10:9).

These are the biggest reasons that I know of for why praying to the Saints might be idolatry. As you can see, none of them hold up. Scripture shows us that it’s okay to go to other people for help, Hebrews 11 venerates the Saints, and several places in Scripture show that speaking to the heavenly Saints and angels is okay, and not the same as worship or idolatry. But perhaps you’re still uncertain about praying in this way. Let me offer two counter-points that might help to bring you around.

Bartolomeo Caporali, Ss. Francis of Assisi, Herculan, Luke, and James the Greater (15th c.)
Bartolomeo Caporali, Ss. Francis of Assisi, Herculan, Luke, and James the Greater (15th c.)

Counter-Point 1: Scripture Praises Prayer to Mary

This is a point that I’ve made before, but it bears repeating. The Holy Spirit is outside of time, and knows all of history perfectly. This means that He knew that for centuries, everyone from popes and kings to the lowest peasants would venerate Mary and entrust themselves to her prayer and protection. He knew that they would write hymns praising her for her purity and faithfulness, and that the greetings offered by the angel Gabriel and by Elizabeth would be turned into a prayer on lips throughout Christendom throughout history.

And what does He do about this? What does He have to say about all of this future prayer and veneration? Does He inspire Mary (or any of the Apostles, or anyone in Scripture) to warn future generations against honoring Mary too much? Quite the opposite. Instead, Mary foretells and praises the veneration that future generations will pay to her (Luke 1:46-49):

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth, all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Protestants tend to want to interpret this in a cautious, minimalist manner, but that’s just not how most generations of Christians honored Mary. And that matters, since Mary affirms the praise given her by “all generations,” not just the carefully limited honor paid her by generations of Protestants after the Reformation. And instead of saying that Marian veneration threatens God’s holiness, she says that it’s on account of the Holiness of His Name and the great things He has done for her that this veneration occurs in the first place. Honoring Mary honors the God who blessed her beyond all women.

When it comes to Marian veneration, Protestantism wants to give us a red (or at least a yellow) light where the Holy Spirit has already given us a green light. That doesn’t mean that you’re obliged to pray to Mary or the Saints, but it means that you’re free to: “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Bertolomeo Caporali, Virgin and Child with Angels (1477)
Bertolomeo Caporali, Virgin and Child with Angels (1477)

Counter-Point 2: Praying to the Saints is the Opposite of Idolatry

Finally, it’s not just that praying to the Saints isn’t idolatry. It’s that it’s the opposite of idolatry.

That’s because all idolatry is premised upon the belief that God isn’t enough. You don’t give God everything, and you don’t trust Him completely, because you still think that something else is necessary for your happiness. That’s why one of the chief Scriptural arguments against idolatry is that it’s ineffective. The prophet Samuel warns the people, “you must not turn from the LORD, but must worship him with your whole heart. Do not turn to meaningless idols which can neither profit nor save; they are nothing.” (1 Samuel 12:20-21) You turn away from God to try to get God plus, and end up with nothing.

This is also why Scripture speaks of covetousness and greed as idolatry. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul admonishes, “put to death therefore what is earth in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). Christ likewise speaks of greed as a form of idolatry (Matthew 6:24): “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Don’t write these off as mere figures of speech: greed really is a form of idolatry. You’re not getting on your knees and offering sacrifice to it: you’re just treating it like another Good besides God. And in both cases, you’re saying the same thing to God. Whether you’re worshiping Baal, or accumulating enough money to live a “worry-free” life, you’re telling God that He is too weak or too unloving to satisfy you, and so you have to turn elsewhere. So at the heart of idolatry is an idea of God’s impotence or inadequacy.

Contrast this with prayer to the Saints. When we ask Mary or the Saints or the angels to pray for us, we’re not saying, “God is too powerless to answer my prayers on His own, can you help?” Quite the opposite. If God were impotent, the prayers of Mary, the Saints and the angels would be worthless. So prayer to the Saints is built on the belief that God is mighty to save. It’s a total rejection of the idolatrous claims about God’s insufficiency. This is why it’s such a delight when atheists and agnostics ask us to pray for them: because just in coming to us, they’re confessing something (or at least the possibility of something) about God. So it is when we go to the Saints and ask them to pray for us: undergirding the whole thing is a confession of God’s sovereignty.

Idolatry relies upon the idea that God is impotent, or at least not powerful or loving enough. Prayer to the Saints relies upon the idea that God is sovereign, and powerful or loving enough to answer the prayers we’re asking the Saints to make for us.  So the logic of prayer to the Saints and the logic of idolatry are diametrically opposed. That’s why we don’t need to worry about the one turning into another, and more than we need to worry about miracles (which work through God) devolving into magic (which seeks to work around Him). They might look similar on the surface, but they’re actually opposites.

Conclusion

The idea that veneration of the Saints is idolatry is built upon a series of weak arguments, none of which survive serious examination. Veneration and worship aren’t the same thing, and they’re treated quite differently in Scripture. Moreover, the Bible gives us examples of people going to others with their problems, of the just interceding on behalf of others, and of people speaking to angels and at least one elder in Heaven. Finally, Scripture encourages Marian veneration, and prayer to the Saints is the opposite of idolatry.

There is one remaining hurdle: gut feeling. For many Protestants and former Protestants, praying to the Saints just feels wrong. It’s a feeling that cuts deeper than rational argument, and their conscience just isn’t at peace with the idea. Here, mutual respect and love are called for. In the early Church, converts from Judaism couldn’t bring themselves to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Even if they logically knew it wasn’t idolatry, it still felt wrong. Paul’s reaction (in Romans 14-15 and elsewhere) was to call both sides to stop judging each other. He acknowledged that everything had been made clean, but still called upon the Gentiles to respect the scruples of their Jewish brethren; likewise, the Jews couldn’t force their scruples upon the Gentiles (Rom. 14:2-4). All were entreated to follow their conscience, since violating conscience is a sin (Rom. 14:5, 14, 23).

We would do well to follow that model. Praying to Mary and the Saints is Biblically sound, and spiritually beneficial, but it’s not obligatory. If someone’s conscience won’t allow them to do so, be gentle and generous with them. Protestants, don’t force your scruples on your Catholic brethren. Catholics, don’t needlessly scandalize your Protestant brethren. Love one another.

47 Comments

  1. This another case of both/and. I view prayer to God through saints and each other including the saints as exercising the second great commandment. God’s love is diffusive, not stove piped. As a second great commandment activity, it just needs to be ordered to the first. If you only pray directly to God, then you fail to exercise and capture His love as disseminated through and for our neighbors.

  2. The issue with idolatry is that it seldom seems like idolatry at first. Yes, I acknowledge this is already a slipper slope argument. Any thing can become idolatry when it overtakes or replaces an authentic faith in God. This is from the Catholic Catechism:
    “2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.”
    Even faith can become an idol! When people pray more to saints than God, then it is idolatry. How many Catholics have given up many more Hail Mary’s than Our Fathers? Once veneration and prayers to the saints takes hold, then it will eclipse authentic faith in the true God. This is the slippery slope fear of many Protestants.

    1. Rev. Hans,

      1. The idea that anything can become an idol might be true (although it seems more like you’re assuming this than showing it from Scripture), but if it is, it can’t just be because we spend a lot of time on it. And if you’re right that we should avoid praying to the Saints because everything can be abused, well, that’s an argument against everything, apparently including faith.

      2. What CCC 2113 is saying seems to be the exact same thing that I’m pointing out in Counter-Point 2: “Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.” Prayer to the Saints doesn’t reject (or even threaten) the unique Lordship of God. Asking the Saints to pray to God for you only makes sense given God’s Lordship. So the entire logic of praying to Saints runs in the exact opposite direction as what you’re worried about.

      3. The idea that “Even faith can become an idol” seems to be flatly contrary to the Gospel, and I’m not grasping how that would work, logically. Can you support this claim?

      4. “When people pray more to saints than God, then it is idolatry.” Why? Again, you’re just sort of stating a conclusion. I addressed this particular argument above (it was #2 of the four reasons).

      But to recap: if talking to the Saints more than God automatically equals idolatry, why stop there? If you spend more time speaking with your wife or coworkers than praying to God, why not call that idolatry? If you spend more time at work or asleep than in prayer, why not call those things idols? In other words, why would we condemn spending lots of time on something spiritually beneficial (praying to the Saints) and not on all of the spiritually-neutral-or-worse parts of our lives (chit-chat, watching TV, sleeping, working etc.)? Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that this would be a good argument against sleeping. I’m just saying it’s a worse argument against praying to the Saints.

      It strikes me as strangely legalistic to measure idolatry in the number of Hail Marys vs. the number of Our Fathers. It also just doesn’t make sense to me. If I go to you and say, “pray for me” that’s a holy impulse. But by your logic, if I spend more time/words asking you for prayers than I spend praying on my own, then I worship you. Where is this coming from? Where does Scripture lay out anything remotely like this?

      By this logic, think of people who have never prayed, and who ask for prayers as they contemplate conversion. Their count is “asking others for prayers: 1, praying directly to God: 0,” which would make them (by the reasoning of your last comment) idolaters. Does that conclusion make sense to you?

      I.X.,

      Joe

      1. Always good food for thought, Joe. I freely acknowledge that my point was a slippery slope argument. You went down that slope for your first objection. I found it interesting the Catholic Catechism would be so open about how idols could come from any source. On a side note, Luther’s own take on idolatry is inline with this as well. It should be no surprise then to hear that Luther thought that faith of the church in his day did turn people towards distractions and away from God to the point where they were idolatrous. This should surprise no one.

        I knew that you would jump all over my statement at the end about praying more to the saints than to God. Yes, I throwing chum in the water. I really like your response. “It strikes me as strangely legalistic to measure idolatry in the number of Hail Marys vs. the number of Our Fathers. It also just doesn’t make sense to me.” I want to print this and frame it on my wall. Yes, any time we set a mathematical formula about faith then we are starting to get into legalism.

        A better approach might be to look at this issue as something that might be possible but not as beneficial. I have heard most Protestants take the position of “just go right to the source” on this topic of prayer. “Going right to the source” would be praying to God. God is big enough to hear all of our prayers, which I hope is something that we can all agree upon. St. Paul wrestled with many problems in the church in Corinth and gave them some great wisdom. “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Cor 10:23 and 6:12) I do not see the benefit in it when I can go right to God. The image of asking others for prayer is a great image because so few of us are willing to ask for help and prayers from other people. There is some of the American individualism that seeps into our faith life and the church, which separates us and hinders us from praying for each other. It is not part of my piety to pray to/for saints so it is hard for me to see the benefit for it when I know that God always hears my prayers.

        On a completely different topic, there is an article about Daredevil’s Catholic faith that you might enjoy. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2015/04/netflix_s_daredevil_show_understands_that_catholicism_is_the_superhero_s.html

        1. Hi Rev,

          What Protestants forget or don’t understand, is that we are in a New Covenant with new dispensations. We walk with the Saints.

          Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

          There was no one in heaven in the Old Testament. Therefore, no one to whom the Jews might pray besides God.

          But in the New Testament, heaven is filled with men whose faith makes them alive with Christ:

          John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

          And these men are all subject to God’s will and more than that, obedient to God’s will:

          1 Timothy 2:2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

        2. Hello Rev,

          The thing is that Protestants do not recognize the New Dispensation to which we are privileged in the New Testament. It is a New Covenant with better promises.

          You see, the Jews had no one in heaven to which they might pray. Heaven was empty of saints.

          Hebrews 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

          And even if there were Angels there, God did not permit the Jews to communicate with them through prayer:

          Hebrews 12:18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake

          But that is no longer the case. In the New Testament, we live amongst those who by faith, inherited eternal life:

          Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

          And they who have been made perfect are under the same obligation to do the will of God:

          1 Timothy 2: 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

          Jesus Christ, Himself, gave us the example of the communion of Saints:

          Mark 9:4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

          Therefore, in the New Testament, we are permitted to communicate with our brethren who have preceded us in Christ.

  3. On the first point, going to someone other than Christ, your article does not address the fundamental concern: praying to dead people for intercession. You give examples of going to people on earth for intercession but fail to provide evidence in the NT of going to people that we assume are in heaven (what if you are praying to someone in hell?). When you attempted to address that in the section about contacting the spiritual world, your examples were, to say the least, awful. In Revelation John went to heaven in the Spirit and was standing in front of the angel he was speaking with (hard to say that is a prayer). The next example you provided was a parable of a man in hell looking up to see Abraham in heaven. The guy is already a part of the spiritual world and he sees Abraham. Hardly evidence that men on earth are to be speaking with people in the spiritual realm. It is curious that you do not have a single OT or NT example of someone (living on earth) praying to a saint or angel. Furthermore, can you show any evidence in scripture that the people you think are in heaven can hear your prayers?

    On the second point, we might overdue it because we pray to Mary too much. Never in the OT or NT is idolatry achieved by the number of prayers. I think it says a lot on where you place value — you find praying to Mary more valuable than praying to Jesus but that is not, by definition, how the bible defines idolatry. Idolatry is committed when a person worships something or someone other than God, regardless of how many times it is done. The Catholic Church distinguishes between the worship of God (latria) and the worship (you call it veneration) of saints and angels (dulia). The problem with this distinction is twofold: 1.) the original Greek words were synonyms, and 2.) Catholics don’t seem to be able to explain the practical difference between the two. If I am venerating Mary, how do I know when my veneration (my hyper-dulia) has become (latria)? Answer: I don’t. And the Catholic church makes no effort to assist me in that regard.

    On your last point, idolatry is saying God is not enough, that is exactly what praying to saints and angels says. Christ is our mediator, we have access to God the Father only through Him. Praying to Mary says that you need something more than Christ for your prayers to be heard. Some Catholics have even said that her requests before God cannot be denied because she has the power of being His mother (pure idolatry).

    1. Frank,

      As I mentioned at the outset of this post, it’s the third in a series of posts on praying to the Saints. I don’t expect you to have read those first two posts, but most of the arguments you’re making here were preempted and answered there. So to avoid needlessly multiplying my words (this reply is plenty long enough), I hope you don’t mind if I just refer you to those posts at the relevant points.

      1. “On the first point, going to someone other than Christ, your article does not address the fundamental concern: praying to dead people for intercession.

      You’re right that I don’t try to address that concern (and wrong, later on, when you said that I “attempted to address that in the section about contacting the spiritual world”). The mistake that you’re making (in writing the Saints in Heaven off as “dead people”) is the very first point that I address in my first post, on “Three Things You’re Probably Getting Wrong About Praying to the Saints.” I refer you to that post for a more in-depth answer.

      2. “You give examples of going to people on earth for intercession but fail to provide evidence in the NT of going to people that we assume are in heaven

      I did, in fact: both Luke 16 and the Book of Revelation. But I address this in more depth in the second post in the series, “Does Scripture Teach Us to Pray for the Departed, and to Pray to the Saints?”

      3. “what if you are praying to someone in hell?

      What if you ask your friend to pray for you, and it turns out that he’s a secret worshiper of the demon god Cthulu? What if you call for help, but the person you’re calling to has just died and gone to hell?
      Nothing. Nothing happens to you. What sort of unloving and legalistic God would punish you for a totally innocent mistake?

      On that point, also: what do you think happened to Abraham after he spoke to the rich man in torment?

      This is an important point, because this objection exposes the difference between what Catholics believe about praying to the Saints, and what Protestants think Catholics believe about praying to the Saints. We’re not going to the Saints via some power that they have apart from God. Rather, like Paul in Romans 15:30-32, our appeal to them is through Christ. It’s one part of the Body in communion with another part of the Body. If that other part of the Body fell off and rotted, nothing is communicated.

      So we’re not saying that necromancy is okay as long as you’re conjuring somebody holy. If you refuse to believe that we’re not teaching this, understanding the Catholic view will be impossible.

      4. “In Revelation John went to heaven in the Spirit and was standing in front of the angel he was speaking with (hard to say that is a prayer).

      What? Why? Why is it not prayer if you see the being that you’re speaking to? And why is it prayer if you don’t? If Mary is speaking with Gabriel, that’s not prayer, but if Gabriel disappears while she’s mid-sentence, it then becomes prayer? Where is this definition of prayer coming from?

      By this standard, Abraham speaking to the messenger in Heaven in Genesis 22:11 was idolatry, but the Israelites worshiping the golden calf wasn’t. That’s a bizarre standard.

      And how far do you apply this standard, anyways? If it’s prayer to speak to someone you can’t see, why aren’t phone calls considered idolatry?

      5. “The next example you provided was a parable of a man in hell looking up to see Abraham in heaven. The guy is already a part of the spiritual world and he sees Abraham.

      Same answer as #4. You’re applying an “it’s okay if you see them” standard that is just nowhere in Scripture, and it’s not a rational standard.

      6. “It is curious that you do not have a single OT or NT example of someone (living on earth) praying to a saint or angel.

      I give those in the second post. But even if Scripture were silent, it wouldn’t make you right. You’re suggesting that people on earth are held to a different set of rules than angels, or people in Heaven, or (apparently) people in Hell. If you’re going to say that what’s okay for them to do – speak with spiritual beings – is immoral for us to do, the burden is on you to give positive Scriptural support for this double-standard.

      You can’t approach Scripture with “prohibition by silence,” particularly where Scripture clearly permits the general practice. If I said, “it’s wrong to ask Germans for intercessory prayer,” and gave as my evidence that none of the people asked for intercession in Scripture are Germans, you would rightly see that as a bad argument. If Scripture were silent on the specific case, we would expect the same rules to govern as govern generally. You’ve flipped this presumption on its head. Scripture presents one standard, giving us several examples of conversations with Saints and angels. But because you don’t see specific examples of people on earth praying to Saints and angels, you assume that this is silently forbidden.

      7. “Furthermore, can you show any evidence in scripture that the people you think are in heaven can hear your prayers?

      Yes. I did in the first two posts. In the first post, I addressed this as the second common mistake, under the header: “The Saints in Heaven are Witnesses, not Sleeping or Ignorant.” The second post then gave specific Scriptural examples.

      8. “On the second point, we might overdue it because we pray to Mary too much. Never in the OT or NT is idolatry achieved by the number of prayers.

      I agree with you. As you can see, Rev. Hans (a Lutheran pastor) disagrees with us.

      9. “I think it says a lot on where you place value — you find praying to Mary more valuable than praying to Jesus but that is not, by definition, how the bible defines idolatry. Idolatry is committed when a person worships something or someone other than God, regardless of how many times it is done.

      Actually, I disagree here. If Catholics really did think that Mary was more valuable than Jesus, that would absolutely be idolatry. This happens to be a false accusation (and one that I doubt you would apply to yourself: do you really spend more time praying to Jesus than anything else?), but if it were true, it would be damning. Read my Counter-Point 2: it explains why Scripture speaks of greed and coveting as idolatry, even though they don’t meet your definition. The Scriptural evidence is against you here.

      10. “The Catholic Church distinguishes between the worship of God (latria) and the worship (you call it veneration) of saints and angels (dulia). The problem with this distinction is twofold: 1.) the original Greek words were synonyms,

      This is a bad etymological argument. It would be like me saying that since you use “justification,” which means “to make just,” you must deny forensic justification. Many theological terms mean something precise that differs from their original or popular meaning.

      For example, the Greek terms hypostasis and ousia used to be synonyms, which would make the Trinitarian definition “3 hypostases in 1 ousia” a contradiction. The Latin persona (“Person”) used to refer to a mask that one speaks through, and was used by modalist heretics. But in affirming the Three Persons of the Trinity, we’re not saying that they’re just masks. The terms took on a new meaning. Likewise, St. John calls Christ the Logos, but he doesn’t mean the exact same thing as the earlier Greek philosophers. Theological terms often acquire a specific, technical meaning. So it is here.

      11. Catholics don’t seem to be able to explain the practical difference between the two. If I am venerating Mary, how do I know when my veneration (my hyper-dulia) has become (latria)? Answer: I don’t. And the Catholic church makes no effort to assist me in that regard.

      We reject the whole premise of that objection, that the difference between loving or honoring someone and worshiping them is a difference of degree. It’s not. It’s a difference in kind. I’d again point you to Counter-Point 2. It explicitly addressing the idea that going to the Saints borders on or leads to idolatry. Going to the Saints is the opposite of idolatry, so of course it doesn’t reach a point where it becomes idolatry.

      The New Testament repeatedly calls us to honor others: parents (Ephesians 6:2), wives (1 Peter 3:7), widows (1 Timothy 5:3), clergy (1 Tim. 5:17), masters (1 Tim. 6:1) and civil authorities (1 Pet. 2:17). We’re also called to honor holy men (Philippians 2:29-30) and others in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:23-26). Paul specifically calls us to “love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). He doesn’t worry about this turning into idolatry, because it can’t.

      It’s like asking how good of friends you have to be with someone before you worship them as your god. That just misunderstands worship. If your worship of God is just a slightly-better version of the honor you pay to His Creatures, you’re not giving Him the worship that He’s due. Conversely, if you are giving Him the worship He’s due, then this whole panic over honoring His creatures is seen for what it is.

      And what’s more, if you were right, why don’t see these neuroses reflected in Scripture? Why aren’t the New Testament authors constantly fretting about against loving one another too much, honoring each other too much, etc.?

      12. “On your last point, idolatry is saying God is not enough, that is exactly what praying to saints and angels says. Christ is our mediator, we have access to God the Father only through Him.

      That’s the perversion of 1 Timothy 2 that I address at the top of the post.

      13. “Praying to Mary says that you need something more than Christ for your prayers to be heard.

      No, it doesn’t. Does Paul asking the Romans for prayers mean that he didn’t think he could go to God on is own? When he tells us (in 1 Timothy 2!) to pray for others, if he saying that they can’t go to God on their own?

      14. “Some Catholics have even said that her requests before God cannot be denied because she has the power of being His mother (pure idolatry).

      Saying that “some Catholics” said something bad doesn’t exactly disprove the Catholic Church’s position, does it?

      In any case, I suspect that you’re not understanding the position of whoever these Catholics were. No Catholic who knows anything about their faith has ever worshiped a Saint. None, ever. Mary doesn’t have power over God in the sense of being stronger than Him. She has standing with Him because of her justness and faithfulness, and pretty much the reasons she lays out in the Magnificat.

      So we can speak of Mary as being powerful with God, just as James 5:14 can speak of the prayers of the righteous man as being “efficacious.” He’s not saying that the just man’s prayers force God’s hands against His Will. He’s saying that God Wills to grant the prayers of the righteous. This is all the more true of the woman He chose from all history to be the Virgin Mother of His Son.

      If we were asking God to pray for us to Mary, you would immediately and rightly recognize that as idolatry. You would say, “See! You think Mary is more powerful than God, which is why you’re asking Him to go to her!” And you would be right… if we believed that. But we don’t do that. We do the opposite. We ask Mary to go to God, which pretty well clarifies which of the two of them we think is God and capable (on His own) of answering prayers.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      1. I do not intend to comment on all of that, just a single point (I just got off work and I am tired): “The terms took on a new meaning. Likewise, St. John calls Christ the Logos, but he doesn’t mean the exact same thing as the earlier Greek philosophers. Theological terms often acquire a specific, technical meaning. So it is here.”

        Point understood but this is an evasion. It does not address the fundamental issue. The Catholic church created the terms latria and dulia; yet, it has utterly failed to give any practical way to distinguish between the two. Catholics are encouraged to give hyper-dulia to Mary but are technically forbidden to give latria to Mary; that is idolatry. Understood. Now, as a Catholic, how do I determine when I have crossed that line? How do I know when my hyper-dulia becomes idolatrous latria? Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, are silent on the issue. The Catechism of the Catholic church is silent on the issue. When I read books like, “The Glories of Mary”, or “John Paul II Book of Mary”, I see idolatrous worship; but you call it veneration (hyper-dulia). What the heck is the difference, practically speaking?

        Please do not give me a generic, broad, answer. For example: hyper-dulia is veneration only for saints and latria is worship given only to God. That is a technical difference not a practical one.

        1. Frank says:
          April 23, 2015 at 11:04 pm
          I do not intend to comment on all of that, just a single point (I just got off work and I am tired): “The terms took on a new meaning. Likewise, St. John calls Christ the Logos, but he doesn’t mean the exact same thing as the earlier Greek philosophers. Theological terms often acquire a specific, technical meaning. So it is here.”

          Point understood but this is an evasion. It does not address the fundamental issue. The Catholic church created the terms latria and dulia; yet, it has utterly failed to give any practical way to distinguish between the two.

          That is a personal issue for you. Most Catholics understand the difference without a detailed explanation.

          Latria means worship.
          Dulia means reverence.

          What’s so hard?

          Catholics are encouraged to give hyper-dulia to Mary but are technically forbidden to give latria to Mary; that is idolatry. Understood. Now, as a Catholic, how do I determine when I have crossed that line?

          Easily. When you begin to pray to give Mary credit for creating the universe with one word, then you will be proclaiming her to be Goddess of the universe.

          However, if you simply realize that she is God’s most perfect creature, then, you are in line with Catholic Teaching.

          Do you need more?

          How do I know when my hyper-dulia becomes idolatrous latria? Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, are silent on the issue.

          Because it is such a simple issue. Only children need guidance in this matter. A grown man with normal intelligence should be able to distinguish between prayer to God and prayer to a Saint.

          The Catechism of the Catholic church is silent on the issue.

          On the contrary, the Catechism speaks in great detail about prayer to and with the Saints. Look up communion of saints and prayer to Mary:

          957 Communion with the saints. “It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself”498:

          We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!499

          2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word.” By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.”
          Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.

          When I read books like, “The Glories of Mary”, or “John Paul II Book of Mary”, I see idolatrous worship; but you call it veneration (hyper-dulia). What the heck is the difference, practically speaking?

          Idolatry is the worship of creatures as gods.
          Dulia and hyper-dulia is recognizing the Saints of God:

          Hebrews 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

          Please do not give me a generic, broad, answer. For example: hyper-dulia is veneration only for saints and latria is worship given only to God. That is a technical difference not a practical one.

          In your opinion. But it is a very practical answer to everyone else. The problem seems to be that you disagree with the practice and therefore no answer will be satisfactory to you.

          You simply do not want to accept the truth. But the truth is true whether you believe it or not.

        2. Frank,

          Sorry for my delay in responding to you. You asked when dulia (or hyper-dulia) “becomes idolatrous latria.” This is a bit like asking, “When does loving my neighbor become worshiping him?” It doesn’t.

          We reject the whole idea that dulia can become latria, because the difference between the creature and the Creator is (a) infinite, and (b) a difference of kind, not degree. In other words, no amount of praising the Mona Lisa would have offended Da Vinci. You’re not saying that the painting is so good that it doesn’t need a painter (that would be incoherent); you’re saying that the painting is good because of the excellence of the painter. The Virgin Mary is the greatest creature the Lord ever made, and it can’t possibly offend Him for us to celebrate this fact. Quite the contrary. If you want to offend Da Vinci, be stingy in your praise of his creations.

          Asking someone to pray for you never becomes worshiping them, and the force of this argument doesn’t depend on whether the person is in Heaven or on earth. Asking for intercession relies upon the Sovereignty and omnipotence of God. Idolatry relies upon denying the Sovereignty and omnipotence of God. No amount of affirming God’s Sovereignty leads to denying it.

          Everything that Mary has comes from God. Her greatness doesn’t come from herself, but from her lowliness. She tells us as much in the Magnificat. She faithfully pours herself out, while God constantly fills her with graces. Moreover, her entire life is referential: we care about Mary entirely because of her relationship to Christ. She draws us towards Him. All of this is 180 degrees opposed to idolatry, which looks for something other than, and apart from, God.

          Is it idolatry to say “the Lord gave you a lot of talents” or “you did a great job making use of the talents that God gave you”?

          Recall God’s praise of the Saints in Matthew 25:21: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.” Or Christ’s words to the Apostles: “You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:28-30). Or Revelation’s depiction of the Mother of God in Heaven, “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1). We can’t hope to honor Mary or the Saints more than God already has, and continues to honor them. And we’re certainly not going to hell for emulating God in this regard.

          Here again, the worst thing that we can do is bury our talents, or pretend that our talented brethren in Christ aren’t really that talented.

          So to summarize: just as loving your kids won’t make your wife angry, neither will loving your neighbor offend your God. Honoring the Saints glorifies the Lord who first bestowed honor upon them. Mary is most Blessed, but God is the one doing the Blessing. All that she has comes from Him. There’s no degree to which recognizing the graces and blessings that God has poured out upon her that turns into us denying the Giver of all Good Gifts.

          When we talk about Mary’s prayers being powerful and efficacious, we’re saying nothing more than James 5:14 already says. We’re not saying that Mary actually overpowers God, except in the sense that God lets Himself be “overcome” in prayer – as He did in wrestling with Jacob and haggling with Abraham.

          Basically, you’re speaking about Mary’s glory as if it’s a rival sun to the light of Christ that risks outshining Him… so we have to make sure that the dimmer switch is on. But her glory is that she’s a moon clothed with the sun/Son, reflecting His rays. All of her luminescence is His, as her soul magnifies her Lord. The brighter Mary shines, the more she demonstrates the glory of God. And that’s true for all of us: we shouldn’t be afraid of the glory of sanctity (or acknowledging these traits in our brethren) for fear that this will somehow upset the Sanctifier.

          Finally, I would put this to a simple experiment. Ultimately, each of us are making empirical claims: you’re saying that Marian devotion draws us away from Christ into idolatry. I’m saying the opposite: that Marian devotion draws us deeper into the heart of Christ. So it seems to me that an easy way to settle this is to look at the life of sanctity of Ligouri, John Paul II, Kolbe, etc. For example, St. Maximilian Kolbe (to take one of countless examples) gave up his own life at Auschwitz, allowing himself to be starved to death, to save the life of a fellow prisoner. Is that kind of sanctity possible without grace? Are these the fruits of the tree of idolatry, or the Tree of Life? Read about the lives of these men, and tell me if you don’t see, without exception, men radically committed to Jesus Christ.

          I.X.,

          Joe

          1. If you can vaguely apprehend God in your mind, while your mindless behavior is idolatrous false worship (by this I mean a lukewarm “Christian” who obsesses with money), then can’t one vaguely apprehend God while implementing mindless behavior that is false worship by being a lukewarm Christian and obsessing about the rosary?

            Frank is that what you were getting at?

          2. Can we both agree that idolatry is ascribing to a creature the praise, position, or acclaim (credit) for works done? Idolatry is making a creature to appear as God, either through works or praise.

            Let me give you an example of blatant idolatry that ascribes to Mary the work of God.

            “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16

            GOD loved the world… that HE gave HIS only Son. The results of this work is that we have eternal life.

            Here is an excerpt of “veneration” of Mary: (has the full imprimatur of the Catholic church”
            “The second occasion when Mary became our spiritual Mother was on Calvary. Here she offered to the Eternal Father — with such bitter sorrow and suffering — the life of her beloved Son… Mary exposed her own soul to death to save many other souls. That is to say, to save us she sacrificed the life of her Son…”

            This is not asking for intercessory prayer… this is clearly ascribing to Mary the works of God alone.

          3. Frank,

            1) You ask, “Can we both agree that idolatry is ascribing to a creature the praise, position, or acclaim (credit) for works done?”

            No. By that definition, any praise of creatures would be idolatry, and we see such praise throughout Scripture.

            It would be idolatry to worship a creature, to give them what is due to God alone. But simply to say that they participate in the Divine economy isn’t idolatrous, regardless of whether that claim is right or wrong. There are countless ways in which we all participate in the Divine economy.

            2) Your “proof” of idolatry seems to turn on the idea that since God gave His only Son (John 3:15), Mary didn’t. So since Jesus is God’s Son, it’s idolatry to say that He is the Son of Mary? This shows the problem with your definition.

            3) As for the paragraph you object to, not only is it not idolatry, it’s drawn directly from Scripture. First,it says that Mary became our spiritual mother: that’s John 19:26-27 and Revelation 12:17. Second, that Mary sacrifices her Son for us, by offering Him to the Father. That’s what’s going on in the cryptic conversation between Jesus and Mary at the Wedding of Cana. It’s there that we see Mary “let go” of Christ, so to speak, so that He might embark on His public ministry – a ministry that He warns her will lead to “His hour,” which is to say, His Passion. I wrote a post on this on Monday.

            I.X.,

            Joe

            P.S. Archbishop Fulton Sheen has some excellent exegesis on this passage. He’s a dynamic speaker, too, so if you have to choose between listening to him and reading me, choose him!

      2. I agree with Joe’s responses to Frank, except this one:

        Question was asked:

        3. “what if you are praying to someone in hell?”

        The response:
        What if you ask your friend to pray for you, and it turns out that he’s a secret worshiper of the demon god Cthulu?

        Although I see the point that Joe is making. I would add that we have better assurance than that. Because we don’t pray to Tom, Dick or Harry simply because we believe they are in heaven. We pray to those whom the infallible Catholic Church has tested and determined are in heaven because of their proven history of a faith filled life.

        1. De Maria,

          That’s the case for canonized Saints, and a good point to add. But those people are canonized, in part, because the faithful already have a devotion to them. So we also pray to those who aren’t yet canonized, in which case your point doesn’t apply.
          I.X.,

          Joe

    2. “On the first point, going to someone other than Christ, your article does not address the fundamental concern: praying to dead people for intercession.”

      Joe addresses that in other articles. http://shamelesspopery.com/does-scripture-teach-us-to-pray-for-the-departed-and-to-pray-to-the-saints/ and http://shamelesspopery.com/three-things-youre-probably-getting-wrong-about-praying-to-the-saints/

      And we’re not praying to dead people. We’re praying to live people. He addresses this.

      “You give examples of going to people on earth for intercession but fail to provide evidence in the NT of going to people that we assume are in heaven (what if you are praying to someone in hell?)”

      There’s no harm in praying to someone in hell. They won’t hear you because they are dead. One can never assume that a person is in hell anyway. That would be placing oneself in the position of the Great Judge. We are called to hope that persons who have never been declared saints are in heaven. And Joe addresses why praying in hope is actually a good thing when he talks about Maccabees.

      “Furthermore, can you show any evidence in scripture that the people you think are in heaven can hear your prayers?”

      Please read his other articles.

      “If I am venerating Mary, how do I know when my veneration (my hyper-dulia) has become (latria)? Answer: I don’t. And the Catholic church makes no effort to assist me in that regard.”

      I’m not sure how you are confused. Joe already addressed how asking a saint or the BVM to pray to God on your behalf can’t be possibly construed as latira. I guess my best analogy would be asking your mother to talk to your father on your behalf. Mothers can put things in a different perspective. Does this mean your father is being disrespected? Is your father being replaced? No. Same thing.

      “On your last point, idolatry is saying God is not enough, that is exactly what praying to saints and angels says. Christ is our mediator, we have access to God the Father only through Him. Praying to Mary says that you need something more than Christ for your prayers to be heard. Some Catholics have even said that her requests before God cannot be denied because she has the power of being His mother (pure idolatry).”

      No. Praying to saints and angels is saying that YOU are not good enough. Having them pray on your behalf is an act of charity. I’m baffled as to what else it could be. Of course Christ is our mediator. Saints and angels are praying to Christ and God the Father too. Just like people on earth will pray for you. Mary wouldn’t pray for something that is against the Will of God so I’m not sure why God wouldn’t honor her prayers. You seem to be implying that the saints and the BVM would try to change the Will of God through their prayers. That simply isn’t the case. You can ask them to pray on your behalf, but that doesn’t mean that they will pray exactly as you desire. They aren’t genies in lamps. This is much like me asking you to pray for me to be granted something that is sinful. It’s pointless. I don’t expect you to do that. It’s more reasonable to think you’d pray for my salvation or perseverance through this life. I always ask for God’s Will to Be Done and I expect that the saints understand no matter what I request that I ultimately only desire to follow the Will of God.

      1. “And we’re not praying to dead people. We’re praying to live people. ”

        This seems to be a favorite argument of Catholics; it is nothing more than semantics. The person you are speaking to has physically died; their body has, or is in the process of, returning to the dust. They are dead. If you would like to quibble that their soul is still alive then your next argument about those in hell being dead, falls flat. Of course, if you really wanted to quibble you could then turn and say, “No, eternal punishment is the second death…” Or, instead of chasing that rabbit trail, we can just settle on, the person has physically died.

        “That would be placing oneself in the position of the Great Judge.” So we only place ourselves in the “position of the Great Judge” if we assume they are in hell; however, assuming they are in heaven is perfectly okay?

        “Please read his other articles.” This comment repeated over and over does not help.

        “No. Praying to saints and angels is saying that YOU are not good enough.”

        Christ died on the cross because I am not good enough… praying to saints says He is not enough for you. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:15-16) ““Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13) “for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Eph. 2:18-19).

        “Of course Christ is our mediator.” Actually, if you pray to Mary and the saints, Christ is ONE of your mediators. Mary is called the Mediatrix in Catholic theology…

        1. Sure I’ll agree that a person has physically died….at least in the time frame I live in. God dwells outside of time.

          Your comment about judgements on heaven and hell is actually a complex one and quite possibly outside the scope of the original post. I’ll try to summarize as best as I can. The Church has the authority to declare people saints. If a person is declared a saint, then as a Catholic I’m obligated to believe that they are a saint. So in some cases yes, there are people I can judge to be in heaven. It’s not however a personal judgement call.

          For cases in which there’s no Church pronouncement, we are urged to hope. We hope that they are in heaven and not in hell. We believe in the Mercy of God. We don’t assume in those cases that they are definitely in heaven. Make sense?

          I only keep repeating to read his other articles because the questions you pose are within the scope of those articles and not this one. This one discusses praying to saints being construed as idolatry and doesn’t discuss the particular reasons to pray to or for saints.

          You must have misunderstood my comment. Peoples prayers are sufficient. Otherwise we wouldn’t ask others to pray for us. That said angels are superior to man and saints see Christ more distinctly that people on earth do (cf Cor). You’re comment was that to pray to a saint was to say that Christ was insufficient. And I’m arguing that having people/angels pray for you who know the Will of God better is a plus. I guess my best analogy is that I can cook but I’m not a gourmet chef. Asking a gourmet chef for help would stand to reason that whatever I cook is enriched. Revelations states that the prayers of saints rise up like incense. I’m truly confused why you would object to having saints pray for you but don’t object to people on earth doing so. They are both biblical.

          And now whose going on about semantics? A mediator in the loosest definition is one who acts as a go-between. If you truly believe that only Christ mediates in any sense of the word, then you would argue to also get rid of people praying for you, ministers, etc since all of those parties also mediate for you. Yet ministers and praying for each other is scriptural. I think you need to go back and re-read that bit about Christ being a mediator and see it in context. Just scroll back up and read this post again. Joe has it quoted at the top.

        2. Frank says:
          April 23, 2015 at 11:34 pm
          “And we’re not praying to dead people. We’re praying to live people. ”

          This seems to be a favorite argument of Catholics; it is nothing more than semantics. The person you are speaking to has physically died; their body has, or is in the process of, returning to the dust. They are dead. If you would like to quibble that their soul is still alive then your next argument about those in hell being dead, falls flat. Of course, if you really wanted to quibble you could then turn and say, “No, eternal punishment is the second death…” Or, instead of chasing that rabbit trail, we can just settle on, the person has physically died.

          So, do you deny that when we are justified and born again in Christ, we walk amongst the Saints?

          Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

          Show me where Scripture says that those who die in Christ are simply dead. Because here is what Jesus said:

          John 11:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

          Well, do you believe this? That is the question Jesus asks and we, Catholics, resoundingly answer, “Yes!”

          “That would be placing oneself in the position of the Great Judge.” So we only place ourselves in the “position of the Great Judge” if we assume they are in hell; however, assuming they are in heaven is perfectly okay?

          The thing which Protestants miss is that Scripture tells us that Christ is our Judge and that the Church speaks for Christ. Add the two together and you will see that the Church has Christ’s authority upon this earth. Therefore, if the Catholic Church says they are in heaven, guess what? They are in heaven:

          1 Corinthians 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

          2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

          “Please read his other articles.” This comment repeated over and over does not help.

          “No. Praying to saints and angels is saying that YOU are not good enough.”

          Christ died on the cross because I am not good enough… praying to saints says He is not enough for you.

          Non sequitur. If you pray to your friends….Oh no! Did I say “pray”? to your friends?

          Yeah, if you pray to your friends that they pray for you to God, you are, by the same logic, saying that Jesus is not good enough for you.

          And yes, it does make sense that I use the word “pray” there. Because, with regards to the Communion of Saints, the Catholic Church still uses the archaic (i.e. ancient) meaning of the word. Have you not heard in old movies when someone might say, “I pray thee, pass the salt”.

          Or perhaps you don’t have a King James Bible:

          Genesis 13:8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

          “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:15-16) ““Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13) “for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Eph. 2:18-19).

          That is one verse. Do you think it contradicts this one?

          James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

          Do you see how the Scripture tells you to seek out the righteous man that his prayer may be answered on your behalf?

          This is a very clearly taught biblical principle:
          Job 42:8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept:

          “Of course Christ is our mediator.” Actually, if you pray to Mary and the saints, Christ is ONE of your mediators. Mary is called the Mediatrix in Catholic theology…

          If you ask your fellow man for prayer, then Christ is one of your mediators. This is what the Scripture says:

          1 Timothy 2:1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

          So, how can you obey the Scripture without making Christ simply one of the mediators?

          Easy. You simply understand the Word of God according to the Spirit and not the letter.

          Christ is the ONE mediator because He is the only one who enters into the heavenly Temple and stands before the Father.

          Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

          Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

          Do you see anyone standing there beside the Lamb? I don’t. And yet, the Word of God urges us to pray and make supplications for all mankind. Do you deny it?

        3. Frank,

          In your response to Deltaflute, you said that “we’re not praying to dead people. We’re praying to live people” is “a favorite argument of Catholics” but is really “nothing more than semantics.” I disagree, and more importantly, so does Jesus. He makes this “semantic” distinction in Mark 12, and describes a failure to grasp it as evidence of not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God (Mk. 12:24).

          “Have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, ‘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 of the living; you are quite wrong” (Mk. 12:26-27).

          You’re right, of course, that the Saints in Heaven (excluding Enoch and Elijah) have died. But as Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

          The point isn’t to be pedantic about language, but to make sure that the question is framed correctly. It’s not a question of necromancy or consulting the dead. It’s a question of asking the glorified members of the Body of Christ to pray for us. Obviously, there’s a huge difference between those two frameworks, and Christ’s words about the souls of the just make it clear which is the right one.

          Christ died on the cross because I am not good enough… praying to saints says He is not enough for you.

          This is an ugly falsehood, without basis in fact. If “praying to saints says He is not enough for you,” why wouldn’t this be true of praying to the saints on earth? By your logic, every prayer request we ever make to anyone other than Christ would be sacrilegious … including the prayer requests that Paul makes.

          I have a suggestion: when you go to make an argument against praying to the Saints in Heaven, ask yourself: “would this argument disprove all intercession between Christians?” If the answer is yes, as here, it’s a bad argument.

          I.X.,

          Joe

          1. Talking to the person standing in front of me is not prayer. Merriam-Webster defines prayer as, ” an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought (said a prayer for the success of the voyage).”

            In Mark, Jesus was not discussing prayer. Yes, our spirits will continue to live after our physical bodies have died; however, that was true when the OT laws of necromancy were written. God did not make a distinction there and say, “Well, if you are communicating with people that you THINK are in heaven… go ahead and communicate with those that have died.” The abolition was firm and unwavering. We pray to God (in keeping with the definition) and we can ask those here on earth (who have not died) to pray for us (to God); furthermore, we can pray for them.

          2. Frank,

            (1) The English word “prayer” comes from the Latin for “entreaty” or “request,” as Merriam-Webster’s acknowledges. But more to the point, the idea that we should draw our theology from Merriam-Webster’s is a dubious proposition at best.

            Nevertheless, let’s consider the definition that you’ve supplied. You seem to think that it proves that “talking to the person standing in front of me is not prayer.” But of course, that’s false. People pray to idols in front of them, petitioning them as gods. More importantly, people prayed to Christ during His earthly ministry, addressing and petitioning Him as God. When St. Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God!” that was a prayer, even though he was talking to the Person standing in front of him.

            So visibility/invisibility isn’t part of any definition of prayer, since it makes no sense. A definition of “idolatry” that excludes praying to idols is a bad definition.

            Also, by this definition, Catholics don’t pray to Saints, because we don’t address them as gods. I point this out in my point # 3 above. If by “prayer” you mean “worship” (which is the only sense of “prayer” that you acknowledge), we don’t pray to Saints. But there are at least two other relevant senses of “prayer” that you’re not addressing, and you’re not addressing the distinction between doulia and latria.

            (2) You claim that under the Old Covenant, there was a “firm and unwavering” prohibition against communicating with anyone who had physically died, and that it was all treated as necromancy. As a matter of Jewish history, this just isn’t true. For example, 2 Maccabees shows such communication with no hint of condemnation.

            More relevantly, at the Transfiguration, Jesus is communicating with Moses and Elijah. By your definition, Christ is guilty of necromancy. Based on your prior arguments, I anticipate that you’ll find it somehow relevant that Christ could see Moses. It’s not. Saul and the witch of Endor were guilty of necromancy when they could see Samuel (1 Samuel 28:15). Besides that, you’re not claiming that communicating with “the dead” is wrong when they’re invisible.

            So if necromancy really means what you’re claiming it means, then there’s no difference between Samuel speaking to Saul and Jesus speaking to Moses. But since that conclusion is obviously heretical, you need to revisit your assumptions about what “necromancy” is.

            I.X.,

            Joe

  4. “So if going to someone other than Christ for help is idolatry, then St. Paul is an idolater.”

    C’mon! 🙂 You know that’s not where Protestants stand!

    Let’s simplify this issue,

    Catholics claim when they venerate the saints and pray to them, it is akin to asking someone else in your church to pray for you for something.

    Protestants claim that the veneration of saints is necromancing or something of the sort.

    Let’s look at the former and how it is practiced. There are saints, some real (i.e. Anthony) and some imagined (i.e. Christopher). People pray to these saints to get certain kinds of prayers answered (finding stuff, safe travel, etcetera.)

    I think there are two problems with this (imaginary saints aside.) First, there is not an Anthony in my church who I ask to pray for me when I lose stuff, because his prayers for lost stuff work better. Yet, this is what lay people do with a dead saint, Anthony. What logic dictates his prayers for us on our behalf help us find stuff better? Why just him?

    Second, there is the problem of human knowledge. The saints, though real Christians and in heaven praying for the Church, are still human beings. They don’t know all of Earth’s 7 billion people simply because it is beyond human comprehension, and not being Jesus Christ lack the divine nature in which would grant the omniscience to know that many people at once. So, someone cannot pray for you personally without super-human powers. I see no indication in Scripture, or the early church, that the saints gain super-human intelligence in which they could receive prayers from million of people at once, know who those people are, and then pray to God about all of these people.

    So, what we see in the modern veneration of saints is something very different than what we see in ancient liturgies and tombs in which very generalized prayers and praises were offered on behalf of the dead and to the dead. What we see today is an elaborate system which is only true if all the presumptions that go into it are likewise true. So, I suppose saints need super-human intelligence and special roles (childbirth, finding things, transportation, etc) which is not completely impossible, but unheard of in the ancient church.

    1. Craig,

      I know that Protestants don’t think St. Paul was an idolator. My point is that some of the arguments against prayer to the Saints (e.g. that it’s wrong to ask others to pray for us, since Christ is our sole Mediator) would lead to that obviously-false conclusion.

      You raise three objections. One of them, the issue of patron Saints, is worth addressing in a separate post. The short answer is that it’s tied to the different roles we all play in the Body of Christ, and the unique spiritual gifts that we receive (cf. 1 Cor. 12). But that’s a distinct issue, or sub-issue, from the general question of whether it’s idolatrous to pray to Saints. So that’s a good objection (and one that I’ve intentionally not addressed, since it needs to be distinguished from the general question), but one that I think has a good answer.

      The second objection, on human knowledge, is weaker. It sounds convincing at first: if the Saints are going to hear us “all at once,” they need superhuman knowledge, right? But this ignores their spiritual state: both that they are disembodied souls, and that they are outside of the flow of time as we experience it on Earth, and that they are in the presence of God. Even using language like “all at once” smuggles in unsupported assumptions about the passage of time in eternity.

      The objection carries with the very sorts of presuppositions that I tried to get at in the first post (especially the second part). If you were right that the heavenly Saints witness things like we do here below, it would mean that they couldn’t see or hear anyone since we observe everything through our senses (and hence, need our bodies). But Hebrews describes the Saints in Heaven as a “crowd of witnesses” surrounding each of us.

      If they’re able to witness anything, we need to throw out the assumptions that you’re working with. And if we’re surrounded by a crowd of Saints, we know that they’re not stretched thin in the way that you’re describing.[This point particularly applies to to the time in which Hebrews is written, given the ratio of Christians living on earth vs. Saints in Heaven. Obviously, that balance has since tilted quite a bit. But even then we each were surrounded by a crowd].

      I don’t think that we need to debate the particulars of the metaphysics of what the Saints experience in Heaven, except to say that they’re able to serve as a crowd of witnesses for each of us, and aren’t presented in Scripture as being bound by time, place, or language.

      (Going a little deeper into this answer, I’d point to Gabriel’s line about how he stands in the presence of God always, even as he stands in Zechariah’s presence, and Christ’s description of guardian angels in Matthew 18:10, in which they appear to be simultaneously before the face of God and overseeing their charges. Granted, those two examples involve angels, but I think understanding these points requires understanding something about Heaven.)

      The third objection is just that we don’t see these features in the early Church. On “super-human intelligence,” it’s because you’re positing a theory that I don’t think the evidence supports. I would say that it’s through seeing God face-to-face, rather than through super-human intelligence, that Saints can witness all that they do. So it’s not just the early Church: I think we still don’t see Catholics talking about the “super-human intelligence” of the Saints. But that’s because I think that this element is wrong.

      On patron Saints, though, we actually do see that quite early. Originally, it’s tied to places. Christians of Rome would have a special devotion to the Saints of Rome, Christians of Corinth with the Saints of Corinth, etc. But it also emerges (fairly early, I believe) with professions: doctors invoking St. Luke’s assistance, etc. The more attenuated instances develop from there, but the same logic is at work.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      P.S. I think that there may be a tension between your first and second objection. Your first objection seems to treat the Saints as too parochial to be universally accessible: that they’re incapable of understanding what 7 billion people around the world are saying. But your second objection seems to be against the particularity of the Saints: that they would intercede in a special way for their countrymen and coworkers. Those two objections seem to sit uneasily with each other.

      1. “The short answer is that it’s tied to the different roles we all play in the Body of Christ, and the unique spiritual gifts that we receive (cf. 1 Cor. 12).”

        So, let’s say Anthony was really good at finding things. However, that’s not why I pray to him…theoretically, I pray to him to pray to the Father on my behalf. His talents are inconsequential. So, I think the spiritual gift argument is irrelevant.

        “…if the Saints are going to hear us “all at once,” they need superhuman knowledge, right? But this ignores their spiritual state: both that they are disembodied souls, and that they are outside of the flow of time as we experience it on Earth, and that they are in the presence of God.”

        Well, you make several presumptions.

        One, that when we die before the second resurrection we are in a realm outside of time. Based upon what? Speculation?

        In 2 Maccabees (going by memory), doesn’t Jeremiah appear to Judas? In 1 Samuel, doesn’t Samuel appear to Saul? Don’t Moses and Elijah appear to Jesus in the presence of three disciples? In the Martyrdom of Polycarp, doesn’t Polycarp appear to Pionius and relate to him the story of his martyrdom by unveiling an almost lost manuscript transcribed by a man named Caius? All of these accounts are accepted in Catholic tradition and all are at least suggestive that these saints exist in time. Now, this is far from smoking gun evidence, but where this indication that they are outside of time?

        Second, that an eternity of time and presence with God gives the saints the ability to answer millions of prayers at once, because I suppose in an eternity even a trillion prayers is a drop in the bucket. However, this is ridiculous, because if you give me a million lifetimes, I won’t be Einstein. My mind simply cannot do it. So, you are forced to speculate that there is not only an eternity of time, but a significant increase of cognitive development. So, even if saints did not gain omniscience, they would have intellectual capacities far greater than what they knew on Earth. Again, not impossible but not found in the Scripture or in the tradition of the ancient church. None of the saints’ post-death appearances appear to show super-intelligence. So, it is a baseless assumption, and a necessary baseless assumption in order to make the whole idea work.

        Third, on a somewhat off-topic note, I think it is worth bringing up that the saints want to hear the prayers of perfect strangers. I know this is weird, but in human relation we don’t pray personal prayers of people we do not know. Sure, we pray for people we hear in the news or large people groups, but not the sort of minutia that are presented to the saints. Now, they very well with an eternity of time take a keen interest in the details of our lives, but we just do not know that they do.

        Fourth, there is the presumption that it even can work (i.e. dead men hear prayers.) We know God hear’s prayers, and we know that living men do not hear prayers (i.e. I cannot pray to you to pray for me, I would have to ask you like a normal person). So, there is this presumption that saints gain a God-like ability to actually hear prayers. Is there proof that this is the case? Not from Scripture or ancient tradition. It is just a presumption that must be made for the whole thing to work. Ironically, one of the Scriptural proofs you use is a parable which arguably does not give us an accurate look into the afterlife: the rich man and Lazarus. The parable shows how the rich man in health can call out to Abraham and Abraham can speak back. Of course, this is not a prayer but a conversation. However, it shows the more normal mode of asking a saint for intercession…literal conversation. There is not any evidence that there are people praying to people they cannot see, those people hear the prayers, and then present them to God so that the prayers can be answered.

        “Hebrews describes the Saints in Heaven as a “crowd of witnesses” surrounding each of us.”

        And I am sure that they pray for the Church and for divine justice. This much we can gather from the Scripture. The four presumptions I listed above, not so much.

        “If they’re able to witness anything, we need to throw out the assumptions that you’re working with.”

        Not really. Read the context of the quote. The witnesses are the men of faith in Heb 11. Their historical witness is their faith in spite of suffering. There is nothing there that implies these saints witness what we are literally doing. So, they are witnesses to a common Christian experience (God disciplining those that He loves.) So, your misunderstanding of the use of the term witness is significant, because it leads you to conclude that by necessity that the saints witness specific events in our lives with extreme clarity.

        The fact that in Rev and in 1 Cor 11 churches have angels leads me to believe that what you presume but cannot find in the Scripture is actually true of angels, who I am sure actually do report upon such things.

        “I would say that it’s through seeing God face-to-face, rather than through super-human intelligence, that Saints can witness all that they do.”

        Again, this is simply speculation. Seeing God might give us the fullness of God to our capacity to understand it, but it does not by necessity give these other aptitudes and capacities foreign to the human experience.

        “I think we still don’t see Catholics talking about the “super-human intelligence” of the Saints. But that’s because I think that this element is wrong.”

        No one does, because no one actually carefully considers how it all works, because if they were to, it would become obvious they are essentially deifying the saints. This is why protestants reject the notion.

        “Originally, it’s tied to places. Christians of Rome would have a special devotion to the Saints of Rome, Christians of Corinth with the Saints of Corinth, etc.”

        This is tied into the local grave sites of martyrs. Prayers were usually for thanks and celebrating their lives, sometimes being parties. Augustine painfully describes in Book VI of the Confessions how Ambrose was put off by Monica’s standard way of celebrating the saints. Augustine, in his mother’s defense (apparently alcoholism was a problem she dealt with earlier in life) noted how much she watered down the wine and how subdued the celebration was. Being that Monica is someone we know on a first name business due to her Godliness, what’s that mean of other Christians not quite as strong as her? Just fun to think about anyway.

        Nonetheless, in these recollections there is not a developed idea of the dead saints interceding for saints here on earth. Even the earliest Marian prayer which asks for her intercession, is from the fourth or fifth century (though some Catholics claim third century based upon “handwriting,” a dubious method at best.) So, this idea can only be found in one ancient manuscript, specifically to Mary, and not found for any of the other saints. Something supposedly the widespread practice of the Church for all time doesn’t crop up in one prayer in the fourth century, then a few in the fifth and sixth, and then by the seventh it’s common.

        God bless,

        Craig

        1. I can’t help but notice you use the word “presumption” over and over again when referring to conclusions of history and theology. Two can play at that game. Why do you presume that hyper-intelligence is required to pass on a prayer that someone might find his lost keys? Why do you presume that no reasonable person would pray for a perfect stranger?

          1. Agreed. Presumptions all around. Quite frankly, we do not know if it even works (point number 4 in my reply) and it is entirely absent in Scripture and almost entirely absent in the ancient church aside from the “sub tuum praesidium” which in part says, “do not despise our petitions in time of trouble, but deliver us from danger.”

            This short prayer, without similar contemporary prayers to compare it to, certainly appears to offer support behind the medieval and modern catholic view. However, it does not reflect a personal prayer, it is clearly communal without any particulars. It does not present a developed notion of what exactly Mary’s intercession even is, or how early Christians envisioned it. It is a solitary early witness from the fourth or fifth centuries, certainly not the third despite the claims based upon hand writing.

            So, to base an entire doctrine, and tons of presumptions, where there is a complete absence of Scripture and patristic witnesses and only one, uncredited, prayer from the same period is not sound historically. The reason it carries weight is because the modern Church has beliefs in the present that would accord with it. However, Joe is trying to argue that this is an ancient practice and that it theologically makes sense. I just think that lack of Biblical support and ancient expounding on the idea means that this cannot be so.

          2. There is no absence of Scripture, Craig. You simply deny the Scripture that is there, preferring the traditions of men to the Sacred Traditions of Jesus Christ which are taught by the Catholic Church.

          3. Craig Truglia says:
            April 28, 2015 at 8:50 pm
            No, I honestly don’t think so…..

            That is the difference between Catholic and Protestant.

            Catholics believe that Christ speaks to us through the Church. Therefore, we lean not upon our own understanding. But rely upon the Teaching of Jesus Christ through the Church.

            Whereas, you rely upon your own understanding. You replace Christ with yourself.

          4. I’m not making myself an authority on anything. The fact you cannot actually respond to what is written but instead lament that because I am not the Catholic Church, I am by default wrong, reflects a circular logic. You can verify that whether I am apostate or you are, because verification means nothing to you. The sole authority is the Catholic Church, regardless of what earlier Catholics have written, what the Scripture says, or the internal logical consistency of present-day Catholic teachings (here prayers for the dead.) Decrying that I am not Catholic and therefore my opinion is invalid does not prove anything and it is an argument that only impresses the ignorant.

          5. Craig Truglia says:
            April 29, 2015 at 2:11 am
            I’m not making myself an authority on anything.

            Yes, Craig, you are.

            Let me explain, from Scripture.

            Ephesians 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

            Do you deny that Scripture is teaching, in this verse, that the Church is the Teacher of God’s word?

            2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

            Do you deny that in this verse, Scripture is teaching that Christ speaks through His Church?

            See, Craig, you are asking us to set Christ aside and listen to you. Because Christ speaks through His Church. Therefore, if you want us to set the Church aside and listen to you, you are asking us to set Christ aside.

            The fact you cannot actually respond to what is written but instead lament that because I am not the Catholic Church, I am by default wrong, reflects a circular logic.

            It is circular logic to you because you would never dream of NOT leaning upon your own understanding. But we obey Scripture:

            Proverbs 3:5-6
            Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

            The truth is that, unless Protestants think they understand a doctrine, they won’t believe it. They, you, wouldn’t dream of accepting a doctrine unless you can quantify it in your own mind.

            But we believe the Church whether we understand the Doctrine or not, because we believe Jesus Christ is speaking through the Church.

            You can verify that whether I am apostate or you are, because verification means nothing to you.

            On the contrary, we have verified that you contradict the Catholic Church and that means that you contradict Jesus Christ who speaks through His Church.

            The sole authority is the Catholic Church, regardless of what earlier Catholics have written, what the Scripture says, or the internal logical consistency of present-day Catholic teachings (here prayers for the dead.)

            The sole authority is God who established the Catholic Church and speaks through Her. It is she who wrote the New Testament based upon the Traditions passed down by Jesus Christ.

            Decrying that I am not Catholic and therefore my opinion is invalid does not prove anything and it is an argument that only impresses the ignorant.

            We don’t decry that you aren’t Catholic. We decry that you put yourself in authority over the Word of God. We decry that you put yourself above Jesus Christ.

            We aren’t Protestants with whom you can quibble about the meaning of this and that word in Scripture. We aren’t Protestants with whom you can discover the meaning of the Scripture. We aren’t Protestants with whom you can invent new meanings to the Word of God.

            We are Catholics. The true sons of Abraham. Who believe the Doctrines of Jesus Christ which have been passed down by the Catholic Church for 2000 years.

            I hope you’re not insulted.

        2. Craig,

          You accuse me of making four different “presumptions” about the Saints in Heaven. At the heart of this is the question: is the Saints’ experience more-or-less like what we experience here below? Or are they radically transformed in a way that configures them to Christ without diminishing their humanity? I think it’s worth exploring this theme through each of your four objections:

          1: I’m not saying that the Saints are altogether outside of anything like time. I’m saying that it’s an unfounded and false assumption to imagine that they experience time or cognition in the same way that we do. We can prove this through each of the three traditional sciences: physical science, philosophy, and theology.

          From physics, we know that even fast-moving objects experience time differently than we do here on Earth. Einstein’s famous twins hypothetical (now supported through empirical testing) points to this. If even different parts of the material world experience time differently, this shows the rashness of assuming that the spiritual and material realm experience time the same way.

          From philosophy, we know that we experience time and cognition as mediated by the senses. Everything begins at the level of the senses, and the intellect relies upon the senses to present it with information. This obviously isn’t the case for the faithful departed, as they have no bodies. So they can’t experience time the way that we do, because we experience it corporeally as well as spiritually. At this point, we are left with two possibilities: either the Saints can’t learn anything, or cognition works in a radically different way, without the encumbrances of the body. [To get a sense for this latter option – which will prove to be the correct one – consider the way that time passes in dreams, when the mind isn’t anchored in materiality in the ordinary way.]

          From theology, we know that the Saints do continue to know things after death. Your own examples on this point prove this: all of the Scriptural evidence suggests that the Saints know about events that happened after their death. In at least one case, they know of an event that has yet to happen: “two men talked with [Jesus], Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31). So theology tells us which of the two possibilities is the correct one.

          All of this is to say that the Saints don’t experience time or cognition the way that we do, but instead experience it an enhanced way. In saying this, I’ve tried to keep as light as I can on metaphysics, so I haven’t gotten into questions like aeviternity (which the Scholastics defined as “the mean between time and eternity,” the quasi-temporal state enjoyed by angels, e.g.). In keeping it light, I think it’s coming off as mere assumption-making, but I’m trying to show that even with just a “mere Christian metaphysics,” we can see that the standard assumption that Heaven is something like “Earth but longer” is Scripturally, theologically, and philosophically off-kilter.

          2. Your whole notion of “cognitive development” is premised off of learning working the way that it does here on Earth, only over a longer span of time. But again, this is a faulty projection of our earthbound limitations onto the Saints. See #1.

          3. I pray personal prayers for people that I don’t know. When I’m perfected in charity, I am sure that I will do it much more. Here’s the clearest difference between the Saints in glory and us now: they can’t sin, and aren’t limited by their sinful natures in the way that you and I are right now. So the points in #1 apply again. Also: read what the Fathers and Scripture have to say about Divinization. We will be like God, for we will see Him as He is. You can’t have that and be selfish and stingy with prayer.

          4. I’m not sure that I understand your distinction between “conversation” and “people praying to people they cannot see.” Is this the same “it’s idolatry if you can’t see the other person” point? You say that it’s not clear that the Saints can even hear our prayers… but you’ve just provided (in #1) a list of examples that show them well aware of the goings-on on Earth. In at least one case, Onias and Jeremiah appear to Judas Maccabeus in his dream, which is something I can’t currently do to people. So the Saints are shown to be more powerful than we here below.

          Finally, you suggest that this requires a “God-like power,” and “deification.” I’d answer that what’s needed instead is divinization (or “theosis”), which isn’t the same thing. It’s rarely preached, but it’s clearly taught in the Bible and the unanimous witness of the Church through the ages.

          In other words, in each of your four objections, presented as if you were rebutting “presumptions” that I’m making, you’re making the same common mistake: envisioning the Saints in Heaven as experience what I would call “Earth but longer,” in which everything is basically as it is here and now. But that’s not how Scripture describes Heaven, nor is that vision of Heaven logically coherent (since it’s not neither accounting for the role that our body plays, nor the difference between our bodies now, our glorified bodies later, or our bodilessness in between those two points).

          I.X.,

          Joe

          P.S. You’re right, in part, that I misread Hebrews 11. The passage does point to the communion of the Saints, but that conclusion doesn’t hinge upon the meaning of “witnesses.”

          P.P.S. Since you mention Augustine and Monica, it’s worth recalling what the former says of the latter in Book IV, Chapter 11 of the Confessions: “And inspire, O my Lord my God, inspire Thy servants my brethren, Thy sons my masters, who with voice and heart and writings I serve, that so many of them as shall read these confessions may at Thy altar remember Monica, Thy handmaid, together with Patricius, her sometime husband, by whose flesh Thou introducedst me into this life, in what manner I know not. May they with pious affection be mindful of my parents in this transitory light, of my brethren that are under Thee our Father in our Catholic mother, and of my fellow-citizens in the eternal Jerusalem, which the wandering of Thy people sigheth for from their departure until their return. That so my mother’s last entreaty to me may, through my confessions more than through my prayers, be more abundantly fulfilled to her through many prayers.”

          In other words, he’s simultaneously affirming the efficacious value of intercessory prayers and asking for prayers for his mom.

          1. It’s been a while since I wrote that reply, so I’ll do my best to answer your objections.

            “…is the Saints’ experience more-or-less like what we experience here below?”

            Who knows? How can we find out the details?

            “Or are they radically transformed in a way that configures them to Christ without diminishing their humanity?”

            WHat’s that even mean? What evidence do we have that is the case? Of course, in order to make modern Catholic theology pertaining to the saints work they would have to be radically transformed. At the same time, in order to avoid overtly teaching heresy, they wouldn’t lose their humanity. Of course, it begs the question, why speculate any of this? We have no reason to actually believe that it is true where we would even have to speculate how it could be made possible.

            Concerning not losing humanity, Christ is God and He was fully man at the same time. So, that the saints are fully man, is not exactly difficult for God. The difficult part would be to get someone fully human to take on non-human characteristics. For Christ that is easy, He is God after all. For saints? What are they God-human hybrids? No, that would be heresy of course! It appears to me the whole idea has not been thought out.

            “1: I’m not saying that the Saints are altogether outside of anything like time. I’m saying that it’s an unfounded and false assumption to imagine that they experience time or cognition in the same way that we do.”

            Okay, so instead of being altogether outside of time and outside the capacity of human beings, they are sort of outside of time and regular human limitations? How is this not anything more than a diet-Coke version of the presumption that I accused you of having? So, I think my point stands.

            “If even different parts of the material world experience time differently, this shows the rashness of assuming that the spiritual and material realm experience time the same way.”

            Honestly, you’re going way beyond me on this. The point is that there is no valid reason to even speculate that saints are outside of time, have new immortal powers, and anything of the sort. You speculate that they do because you have an idea (Saintly intercession) that necessitates the existence of these characteristics.

            However, notice what’s missing: anything in the Scripture or the first few centuries of the Church that would show that anyone believed that such characteristics even exist. It appears to me that practices revolving around praying to the saints evolved, and as they evolved they grew more specific as to what to pray to the saints for, and as it became clear that these saints can be prayed for to intercede, THEN it becomes necessary to speculate as to how a human being can now do things that human beings in this life cannot.

            There is no need for speculation if we kept to the bare bones, early-Church version of praying to saints where nothing in the prayers would necessitate the sort of understandings that you must have to make the modern version work.

            “This obviously isn’t the case for the faithful departed, as they have no bodies. So they can’t experience time the way that we do, because we experience it corporeally as well as spiritually.”

            How do you know that is true? Not having a corporeal body does not necessitate not having physical senses. For all we know, senses are accentuated without physical bodies.

            “[E]ither the Saints can’t learn anything, or cognition works in a radically different way, without the encumbrances of the body. ”

            Or we don’t know becaause we have nothing authoritative that would gives us reason to even speculate about it. It would be like guessing how many trees are on the fourth planet revolving round the Dog Star. As long as the answer is not zero (which would be a pretty good presumption 😉 ) there is simply no way of knowing and thereby not worth speculating over.

            So, if I simply say “there are probably no trees on the planet” just like I say “there are probably no saints that can intercede for individual needs,” these would be pretty safe assumptions given the evidence. What you would need to prove your point is evidence that would show that it is even worth speculating that the saints can and how that would work. I just don’t see in early prayers to the saints, as generalized as they were and none of them asking for intercession, why I would even have to speculate how a saint would even hear my specific prayers.

            “From theology, we know that the Saints do continue to know things after death.”

            They sure do, as surely as they knew things on Earth!

            “[A]ll of the Scriptural evidence suggests that the Saints know about events that happened after their death.”

            They sure do, as surely as we know about events that go on every single day, their days are without end!

            “In at least one case, they know of an event that has yet to happen: “two men talked with [Jesus], Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31).”

            Because they understood the prophecies and were hanging out in heaven with Jesus before He was incarnate, why wouldn’t they know. GOd is in all ways glorified in heaven, I’m sure the crucifixion and resurrection, the very focal point of history, would come up in conversation 🙂 .

            “2. Your whole notion of “cognitive development” is premised off of learning working the way that it does here on Earth, only over a longer span of time. But again, this is a faulty projection of our earthbound limitations onto the Saints.”

            Not really. We say here on Earth “you learn something new every day.” I’m sure that is true in heaven. However, we have no evidence to show that saints gain whole new mental aptitudes and faculties that they didn’t have before. Thereby, sorting through millions upon billions of prayers, even with endless time, certainly does stretch this without presuming an increase in mental faculties, which again is a presumption.

            “3. I pray personal prayers for people that I don’t know.”

            Yes, but you don’t hear them praying to you to pray that prayer.

            “We will be like God, for we will see Him as He is.”

            So are we like God as we are without sin, or are we like Mormons and become gods ourselves…you are bordering very close to the deification of the saints, which is exactly what Protestants oppose.

            “4. I’m not sure that I understand your distinction between ‘conversation’ and ‘people praying to people they cannot see.'”

            It is a simple distinction. The rich man saw Abraham in Hades, he spoke to Abraham, Abraham spoke back. That’s a conversation. You run into someone in Church, you want wisdom in making a decision. He hears your concern and prays for you. That’s a conversation with a prayer in the end. Praying to Mary to pray to God to do something for you is not a conversation. It is a prayer for a prayer. So, citing Jesus’ parable about the rich man and lazarus does nothing to substantiate the sort of system you lay out (praying for prayers.)

            “You say that it’s not clear that the Saints can even hear our prayers… but you’ve just provided (in #1) a list of examples that show them well aware of the goings-on on Earth.”

            Knowing “what’s going on” does not mean they hear every conversation. I know what’s going on but I don’t know every single detail…only God knows every single detail.

            “In at least one case, Onias and Jeremiah appear to Judas Maccabeus in his dream, which is something I can’t currently do to people.”

            True, and he handed a sword. But it was a dream, so we do not know exactly what it was. Even presuming that Jeremiah himself did go into the dream (something that is probably the case anyhow), God could have surely organized it and made it happen. Just how does it work? Being that dreams are neuro-chemical reactions in our head, it isn’t that Jeremiah literally appeared in his head…it was like a divine video chat I suppose.

            “So the Saints are shown to be more powerful than we here below.”

            Actually, you did not show that at all, if the Jeremiah example is the only thing you have, I don’t think you can build a whole edifice on top of that.

            “I’d answer that what’s needed instead is divinization (or “theosis”), which isn’t the same thing. It’s rarely preached, but it’s clearly taught in the Bible and the unanimous witness of the Church through the ages.”

            Being that it is rarely preached, and I have not heard of it, i cannot comment on specifics. However, it sounds like the deification of the saints, even if it is not called as much.

            “P.P.S. Since you mention Augustine and Monica, it’s worth recalling what the former says of the latter in Book IV, Chapter 11 of the Confessions: “And inspire, O my Lord my God, inspire Thy servants my brethren, Thy sons my masters, who with voice and heart and writings I serve, that so many of them as shall read these confessions may at Thy altar remember Monica, Thy handmaid, together with Patricius…”

            These are typical prayers of remembrance for the dead, the issue we have has to do with intercession.

            “That so my mother’s last entreaty to me may, through my confessions more than through my prayers, be more abundantly fulfilled to her through many prayers.”

            Hmm, if Augustine’s mother is praying for people in heaven, why does Augustine refer to her “last entreaty?” Wouldn’t her entreaties in heaven continue, especially for her own son? This would appear to me the smoking gun that modern Catholicism’s view of the practice obviously differs with the ancient practice.

            God bless,

            Craig

  5. What if you are not the real Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox are? Or the Protestants are? And all others are Apostate? Does calling yourself Catholic does not make you Catholic.

    So, you may disagree with me and quote Irenaeus, Scripture, and Church Tradition that you’re not Apostate, they and I are apostate.

    What, trying to jam your interpretations down my throat? Sorry, you just made yourself your own authority!

    1. Craig Truglia says:
      April 29, 2015 at 12:09 pm
      What if you are not the real Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox are?

      We can discern all these things by comparing their teachings to Scripture. For instance, the Eastern Orthodox do not believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. What does Scripture say?

      John 20:22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

      Therefore, Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. And this is Catholic Teaching.

      Or the Protestants are?

      Lol! You are truly floundering. The Eastern Orthodox are almost carbon copies of the Catholic Church. Except for a few doctrines. And you are willing to consider them a true church alongside Protestants.

      Only those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ remain Protestant. Protestantism teaches that Jesus Christ failed to establish a Church that would not prevail against the gates of hell as He promised in Matt 16:18-19. Again, we can also go through Scripture and see that where ever Protestants disagree with Catholic Teaching they also contradict the Scriptures. Case in point:

      Protestants teach that traditions are no longer binding.

      But Scripture says:

      2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

      And all others are Apostate?

      As I understand it, an apostate is one who renounces a faith completely. Protestants are heretics. They hold erroneous teachings. EO’s are schismatics. They refuse to submit to the Pope.

      Does calling yourself Catholic does not make you Catholic.

      But living a Catholic life, does.

      So, you may disagree with me and quote Irenaeus, Scripture, and Church Tradition that you’re not Apostate, they and I are apostate.

      What, trying to jam your interpretations down my throat? Sorry, you just made yourself your own authority!

      Lol! Craig, are you upset because we don’t accept your teachings?

      Because I don’t accept your teachings doesn’t mean that I set myself up as an authority. It means that I point you to the true authority of the Catholic Church which was established by Jesus Christ.

      Don’t be angry. I’m just trying to explain to you that we won’t replace the authority of Jesus Christ for yours or anyone else’s.

  6. I wrote: “So, to base an entire doctrine, and tons of presumptions, where there is a complete absence of Scripture and patristic witnesses and only one, uncredited, prayer from the same period is not sound historically.”

    You wrote in response: “we lean not upon our own understanding…Whereas, you rely upon your own understanding. You replace Christ with yourself.”

    I wrote back: “What if you are not the real Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox are? ”

    You reply: “We can discern all these things by comparing their teachings to Scripture.”

    So much for not relying upon one’s own understanding. Your hypocrisy is obvious.

  7. Craig Truglia says:
    April 29, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    You reply: “We can discern all these things by comparing their teachings to Scripture.”

    So much for not relying upon one’s own understanding. Your hypocrisy is obvious.

    Lol! You’re still upset.

    No, the problem is that we, Protestants and Catholics, read Scripture differently.

    Catholics are taught to read Scripture within the parameters of Sacred Tradition:

    113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (“. . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church”81).

    Therefore, I don’t lean upon my own understanding. But upon that which is taught by the Church.

    Whereas, you read Scripture within the parameters of your personal imagination.

    Example:

    When I became Catholic, I still did not understand that the Eucharist was the body of Christ. But I accepted the Teaching by faith.

    Whereas, unless you understand something, you won’t accept it. Am I right?

    Who’s the hypocrite?

    1. I’m actually not angry, I am just surprised you are not aware that you are accusing others of relying upon their own understanding, and then you go about conveying your understanding as to why the Catholic Church is self-authenticating. It’s not only hypocritical, but a logically inconsistent stream of thought that at the same time disproves the very notion you are defending. But, if you want to keep repeating it in sight of all, I suppose that is fine, it just does not bode well for your fellow Catholics who can see what the logical conclusion of your argument is.

      “Whereas, unless you understand something, you won’t accept it. Am I right?”

      Not at all. I don’t understand the resurrection. I don’t understand why the Scripture is any more God-breathed than the Quran. I don’t ultimately understand how there’s really a God. But I accept all of these things by faith and by faith I accept the Scriptures as true, and by faith I accept that the Church has accurately preserved these Scriptures.

      “Who’s the hypocrite?”

      THis isn’t a name calling contest. Your position actually is hypocritical. The position you accuse me of (requiring understanding to accept something) actually is not hypocritical, it is a consistent standpoint. Even in Book VI of the COnfessions, Augustine at length conjectures as to the nature of faith and based upon reasonable evidence, the rationality behind accepting something by faith:

      “From this, however, being led to prefer the Catholic doctrine, I felt that it was with more moderation and honesty that it commanded things to be believed that were not demonstrated (whether it was that they could be demonstrated)…what a multiplicity of things which I had never seen, nor was present when they were enacted, like so many of the things in secular history, and so many accounts of places and cities which I had not seen…now of those, which unless we should believe, we should do nothing at all in this life….[T]hose men were not to be listened unto who should say to me, How do you know that those Scriptures were imparted unto mankind by the Spirit of the one true and most true God? For it was the same thing that was most of all to be believed, since no wranglings of blasphemous questions, whereof I had read so many among the self-contradicting philosophers, could once wring the belief from me that You are—whatsoever You were, though what I knew not—or that the government of human affairs belongs to You.

      …I had now begun to believe that You would by no means have given such excellency of authority to those Scriptures throughout all lands, had it not been Your will thereby to be believed in, and thereby sought. For now those things which heretofore appeared incongruous to me in the Scripture, and used to offend me, having heard various of them expounded reasonably, I referred to the depth of the mysteries, and its authority seemed to me all the more venerable and worthy of religious belief, in that, while it was visible for all to read it, it reserved the majesty of its secret within its profound significance, stooping to all in the great plainness of its language and lowliness of its style, yet exercising the application of such as are not light of heart; that it might receive all into its common bosom, and through narrow passages waft over some few towards You, yet many more than if it did not stand upon such a height of authority, nor allured multitudes within its bosom by its holy humility.”

      I can go into much more detail, but I think what I just said is sufficient. Having faith can be reasonable and understandable, just not every detail.

      1. Craig what logical fallacies are you talking about. Is this some random Sophratic accusation or do you have substance?

  8. Craig Truglia says:
    April 29, 2015 at 9:43 pm
    I’m actually not angry, I am just surprised you are not aware that you are accusing others of relying upon their own understanding, and then you go about conveying your understanding as to why the Catholic Church is self-authenticating.

    I suppose you are surprised because you are accustomed to only defending your own thoughts and can’t imagine that someone would defend the Teaching of an authority outside of himself and superior to himself.

    It’s not only hypocritical, but a logically inconsistent stream of thought that at the same time disproves the very notion you are defending.

    It is neither hypocritical nor logically inconsistent. Why would I replace the Teaching of Jesus Christ with yours? Are you greater than He?

    If I did not believe the Scripture which says:

    2 Corinthians 5:20King James Version (KJV)

    20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    Or the one that says:

    Ephesians 3:10King James Version (KJV)

    10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

    Then it would be hypocritical. But I do believe them.

    However, you claim to believe Scripture, but you reject the idea that God can speak through His Church. You reject the idea that the Church can teach the Word of God infallibly. Therefore, it is you being hypocritical.

    But, if you want to keep repeating it in sight of all, I suppose that is fine, it just does not bode well for your fellow Catholics who can see what the logical conclusion of your argument is.

    I shout it from the rooftops! Jesus Christ speaks through the Catholic Church and I will not replace Him for anyone on earth!

    “Whereas, unless you understand something, you won’t accept it. Am I right?”

    Not at all. I don’t understand the resurrection.

    Then your a hypocrite, like me.

    I don’t understand why the Scripture is any more God-breathed than the Quran. I don’t ultimately understand how there’s really a God. But I accept all of these things by faith and by faith I accept the Scriptures as true, and by faith I accept that the Church has accurately preserved these Scriptures.

    Sounds as though we have a breakthrough.

    Now do you begin to believe that God speaks through His Church?

    “Who’s the hypocrite?”

    THis isn’t a name calling contest. Your position actually is hypocritical.

    On the contrary, it is yours. You claim to believe the Scriptures. But you deny the Church which wrote the Scriptures and canonized the Bible. Your position is hypocritical.

    The position you accuse me of (requiring understanding to accept something) actually is not hypocritical,

    Aha! So you lied above. You actually do require understanding before you accept something.

    it is a consistent standpoint.

    But you are inconsistent, since you, and I quote, “I don’t understand the resurrection. I don’t understand why the Scripture is any more God-breathed than the Quran. I don’t ultimately understand how there’s really a God. But I accept all of these things by faith and by faith I accept the Scriptures as true, and by faith I accept that the Church has accurately preserved these Scriptures.”

    Will the real hypocrite please stand up?

    Even in Book VI of the COnfessions, Augustine at length conjectures as to the nature of faith and based upon reasonable evidence, the rationality behind accepting something by faith:

    “From this, however, being led to prefer the Catholic doctrine, I felt that it was with more moderation and honesty that it commanded things to be believed that were not demonstrated (whether it was that they could be demonstrated)…what a multiplicity of things which I had never seen, nor was present when they were enacted, like so many of the things in secular history, and so many accounts of places and cities which I had not seen…now of those, which unless we should believe, we should do nothing at all in this life….[T]hose men were not to be listened unto who should say to me, How do you know that those Scriptures were imparted unto mankind by the Spirit of the one true and most true God? For it was the same thing that was most of all to be believed, since no wranglings of blasphemous questions, whereof I had read so many among the self-contradicting philosophers, could once wring the belief from me that You are—whatsoever You were, though what I knew not—or that the government of human affairs belongs to You.

    …I had now begun to believe that You would by no means have given such excellency of authority to those Scriptures throughout all lands, had it not been Your will thereby to be believed in, and thereby sought. For now those things which heretofore appeared incongruous to me in the Scripture, and used to offend me, having heard various of them expounded reasonably, I referred to the depth of the mysteries, and its authority seemed to me all the more venerable and worthy of religious belief, in that, while it was visible for all to read it, it reserved the majesty of its secret within its profound significance, stooping to all in the great plainness of its language and lowliness of its style, yet exercising the application of such as are not light of heart; that it might receive all into its common bosom, and through narrow passages waft over some few towards You, yet many more than if it did not stand upon such a height of authority, nor allured multitudes within its bosom by its holy humility.”

    I can go into much more detail, but I think what I just said is sufficient. Having faith can be reasonable and understandable, just not every detail.

    About what? You’re just spinning your wheels. Did you offer that as evidence that St. Augustine believed in Scripture alone? Where does he say such a thing? All Catholics hold the Scriptures in high reverence. But we do so just like St. Augustine, recognizing that the Catholic Church brought about the Scriptures by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (c. 400)

    “Those which we keep, not as being written, but as from TRADITION, if observed by the whole of Christendom, are thereby understood to be committed to us BY THE APOSTLES themselves or plenary Councils, and to be retained as instituted.” (Ep 118).

    “But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the Apostles themselves or by plenary [ecumenical] councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church” (Letter to Januarius [A.D. 400]).

    “And if anyone seek for Divine authority in this matter, though what is held by the whole Church, and not as instituted by Councils, but as a matter of invariable custom, is rightly held to have been HANDED DOWN by APOSTOLIC authority.” (On Baptism 24 speaking of infant Baptism).

    “[T]he custom [of not rebaptizing converts] …may be supposed to have had its origin in Apostolic Tradition, just as there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the Apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings” (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:23[31] [A.D. 400]).

  9. YOu’re simply throwing a bunch of random much against the wall and hoping it sticks. What does Sola Scriptura have to do with this conversation? As for hypocrisy, I seriously don’t think you understand what you are even saying. I know you think you are defending the Catholic CHurch, and the Catholic CHurch has supposedly maintianed the truth faith and, in fact, is the true faith. I get that.

    The point is, if I bring you to task to prove the claim, you go about trying to prove it by quoting authorities. Hence, by trying to prove it by interpreting authorities, you have according to your own standards made yourself your own authority, as you are offering your own interpretation. This makes you no different than the Protestant critic, here me, who quotes authorities to disagree with the current conclusions of the Catholic Church.

    So, the hypocrisy is saying that I am my own authority by quoting authorities, when to defend your own right to say that you go on and quote authorities and offer interpretations.

    If you still do not understand this, then I am spent, I give you the last word and I really don’t want to make you angry and make this a fruitless argument. There are better things that both of us can devote our time to.

    God bless,
    Craig

  10. Craig Truglia says:
    April 30, 2015 at 2:51 am
    YOu’re simply throwing a bunch of random much against the wall and hoping it sticks. What does Sola Scriptura have to do with this conversation?

    Its your presumption, Craig. Whether you realize it or not, you are arguing against the Catholic Church because you believe in that false doctrine.

    Do you deny it?

    As for hypocrisy, I seriously don’t think you understand what you are even saying. I know you think you are defending the Catholic CHurch, and the Catholic CHurch has supposedly maintianed the truth faith and, in fact, is the true faith. I get that.

    Obviously not. It is true that the Catholic Church has maintained the true faith. But it is Scripture which I have provided to tell you that the Church is infallible, but you reject those verses.

    The point is, if I bring you to task to prove the claim, you go about trying to prove it by quoting authorities.

    Listen to what you just said.

    You bring me to task.

    I provide outside authorities.

    What is the claim you made earlier?

    Craig Truglia says:
    April 29, 2015 at 2:11 am
    I’m not making myself an authority on anything.

    Obviously, you do make yourself an authority. Who do you think you are that you can bring anybody to task? I at least provide Church authorities. But you portray yourself as an authority. All you bring forth and by your own admission, is your own opinion.

    Hence, by trying to prove it by interpreting authorities, you have according to your own standards made yourself your own authority, as you are offering your own interpretation.

    That is better than you. I have at least provided someone else. You provided only your own opinions.

    This makes you no different than the Protestant critic, here me, who quotes authorities to disagree with the current conclusions of the Catholic Church.

    You have brought forth nothing but your own opinions. And the “authorities” which we have discussed, you have misunderstood. St. Augustine vs Manichaeus is a case in point.

    As for your conversation with me, I can recall not one outside authority brought forth by you. All you have done is try to pass off your interpretation of Scripture as authoritative.

    So, the hypocrisy is saying that I am my own authority by quoting authorities, when to defend your own right to say that you go on and quote authorities and offer interpretations.

    My interpretations are based upon the Teaching of the Catholic Church. Your interpretations are based upon your own understanding.

    If you still do not understand this, then I am spent, I give you the last word and I really don’t want to make you angry and make this a fruitless argument. There are better things that both of us can devote our time to.

    I’m not the one who is angry. I’ve had this discussion thousands of times with many Protestants. Your reaction is typical. Protestants don’t understand that Catholics do not quibble about the Word of God. We accept Catholic Teaching. Whereas, you want us to react as you do. You want us to consider your arguments against Catholic Teaching as though we were actually taking them into account.

    Listen and understand. We have found the Pearl of Great Price. We won’t trade it in for anything in the world. We will not trade Jesus Christ for Protestant novelty. Never!

    Perhaps that makes you angry. Perhaps it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter either way.

    God bless,
    Craig

    God bless you as well.

    If you need any help in your effort to exegete Romans, let me know. I’ll give you the Catholic perspective, gladly. St. Paul’s epistles are eminently Sacramental and pre-eminently Catholic. I bet you didn’t know that, since Protestants seem to erroneously believe that St. Paul was the first Protestant.

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