Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Intercession Of The Saints

Since I've been a protestant most of my life it's about time I examined what that means. Through my religious affiliation I have been taking a stand against the catholic belief in intercession of the saints. So it is wise that I personally examine the issue from both side and determine if this belief is something I wish to personally protest.

Let's take a look at a protestant explanation of this issue:
http://www.gotquestions.org/prayer-saints-Mary.html

I think this is helpful to our understanding on the issue.
"The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that asking saints for their prayers is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for you. However, the practice of many Catholics diverges from official Roman Catholic teaching. Many Catholics do in fact pray directly to saints and/or Mary, asking them for help – instead of asking the saints and/or Mary to intercede with God for help."
It may be true that many catholics don't follow all their teachings, that may be an issue, but I want to focus now on the question of what the catholic church teaches on this issue.

GotQuestions.org make the argument that
"The Bible nowhere instructs believers in Christ to pray to anyone other than God. The Bible nowhere encourages, or even mentions, believers asking individuals in Heaven for their prayers."
This in itself does not mean it is a sin to ask individuals in Heaven to intercede for us. If the Bible is silent on a topic, it does not mean it is necessary a sin.

GotQuestions.org then quotes Hebrews 4:16
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
I don't think catholics would disagree with this verse. Catholics don't think we can only gain access to God through the saints, but they believe they can ask saints to pray on their behalf.

GotQuestions.org then quotes 1 Timothy 2:5
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,"
Is this verse saying that we can not ask a friend to pray for us if we are struggling? I don't think so. We often ask others to pray for us, and we should be praying for each other's needs. Even a few verses earlier in 1 Tim. 2:1–5 we are told "that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone".

GotQuestions.org says:
"The Bible nowhere describes anyone in Heaven praying for anyone on earth. (2) The Bible gives absolutely no indication that Mary or the saints can hear our prayers."
There is the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). It is actually not someone in Heaven, but Lazarus in Hades interceding on behalf of his brothers to Abraham - I'm not sure if this story defends either side well, but it is an example from the Bible of someone who is dead trying to intercede on behalf of family members still alive. Even without this example, just because the Bible does not describe it, does not mean it is necessarily false. The Bible does not say those in heaven do not pray for those on earth. There is also Revelation 5:8 to consider.
"the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."
Catholics use this verse to defend that the saints (elders) can at lease hear our prayers.

GotQuestions.org says:
"Whenever the Bible mentions praying to or speaking with the dead, it is in the context of sorcery, witchcraft, necromancy, and divination."
What about Matt. 17:3? Jesus was speaking with the dead? Also catholics would argue there is a difference between speaking to dead saints who are with the Lord, and having a seance where one asks the dead to speak through you.

Again, I find myself at a point where I don't think the differences here are big enough for me to personally continue the protest.

Further reading:
http://www.gotquestions.org/prayer-saints-Mary.html
http://www.catholic.com/library/praying_to_the_saints.asp
http://www.catholic.com/library/Intercession_of_the_Saints.asp

2 comments:

Tiffany Jenkins said...

I have just never understood why we would want to ask the 'Saints' to pray on our behalf. To what gain? If I'm going to actively make a request why not directly to God?

Asking friends to pray on our behalf has benefits I do think, its unifying and a part of bearing one anothers burdens. Why turn to the deceased, unknown to you personally saints, to intercede on your behalf?

If its out of belief that they have a better access to God, it seems to put them on an unhealthy pedestal imo.

I've never protested against the concept, just never seen the benefit or support for it.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Yes, they have better access, in so far as we know them to be holier, and therefore better friends with God.

No, the piede'stal is not unhealthy for them at all, since they are already with God in Heaven, it can no longer hurt them.