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Monday, October 29, 2012

Isn't Praying to the Saints Un-Biblical?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

In light of our Church's celebration of the Feast of All Saints, I thought it was important to address this question that is often posed to Catholics.

The objections to praying to the saints are many and look like this:

  1. Saints are dead.  How can they hear us?
  2. Jesus is the ONLY mediator.  So why do Catholics elevate saints to mediators?
  3. How can people in heaven hear all the simultaneous prayers of billions of people? 
  4. Where in the Bible does it say we're supposed to pray to saints?
  5. Why not go directly to Jesus?
Regarding objection #1 that saints are dead, that is easily refuted by John 3:16:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  This verse proclaims that those in heaven have not "perished", but rather have "eternal life". Thus, the saints in heaven are not dead but are ALIVE in Christ.  Even more ALIVE than we are here on earth!


Regarding #2, the objection that Jesus is the ONLY mediator is actually not found in the Bible. What the Bible actually says is that Jesus is the ONE mediator.  For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human-1 Tim 2:5.  That's a distinction that's important.  Jesus is, indeed, the ONE mediator, but through our union with him, we are all participants in this mediation.  Thus, Jesus is not the ONLY mediator.  We are ALL mediators, including the saints in heaven, who intercede for us eternally before the throne of heaven.

Incidentally, non-Catholics like to bring up that verse in 1 Timothy about Jesus being the One Mediator, but what's interesting is just a few verses earlier St. Paul tells us this:  First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone--1 Timothy 2:1, which is a request for us to be mediators for each other, isn't it?

Regarding #3 asking how they could hear a multitude of prayers simultaneously, we know that Scripture tells us, Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, nor has it entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him--1 Cor 2:9.  What those who are rejoicing with God in heaven, joined eternally as the Body of Christ, can do is not limited by our finite and limited reasoning. 

Regarding #4 which asks where it can be found in the Bible, there's the standard response:  why do we have to find everything we believe in the pages of the Bible? Where does the Bible state that?  (Answer:  no where. That's a man-made tradition that many have been duped into believing).  Also, we can ask the non-Catholic, "Where does it say in the Bible that we can't pray to saints in heaven?" 

Objection #4 segues nicely into a question that I like to pose to Protestants who ask me, "Where is Doctrine X  in the Bible?"  The question I pose is this:  "If it's not in the Bible does that mean it's allowed, or does that mean it's prohibited?"

The question is troubling for most Bible-alone Christians because they will see their inconsistency.  On the one hand, they will say, for things such as praying to the saints,  "Well, if it's not in the Bible then it's not allowed. You can't pray to saints because it's not in the Bible."  But on the other hand, they will say, for things such as contraception, "Well, if it's not in the Bible then it is allowed.  So you can use the Pill because it doesn't say you can't in the Bible."

In other words, the Bible-alone Christian needs to be consistent.  Either follow this paradigm: "Where the Bible is silent on an issue, it is forbidden."  OR!  follow this paradigm, "Where the Bible is silent on an issue it is permissible."  But they ought not pick and choose when to apply these paradigms. 

Finally, regarding objection #5 on why not go to Jesus Directly.  2 words:  Prayer Chains.

In other words, almost all non-Catholic Christians who object to praying to the saints because they believe we should go to Jesus Directly also have Prayer Chains.  If they really believed that we should go to Jesus Directly then they wouldn't have prayer chains.  They would simply, individually, pray for their own private intentions directly to Jesus.  But they understand the power of the prayers of a righteous man and thus ask for the intercession of others through the Prayer Chain.

Praying to the saints is nothing more than a Prayer Chain, extended to the Heavenly Body of Christ!

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Any Friend of God's is a Friend of Mine
 


"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

26 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Russell, I appreciate your comments, but I regret that I cannot post them as it includes a reference to another website. It is my policy to not allow folks to refer to other websites that I do not endorse.

    Thanks for your charitable comments, however.

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  3. Ok, we’ll try it again without the link. Sorry about that. I was unaware that certain links were not allowed on your blog:

    Greetings,

    Concerning the five objections that you addressed in your article, some of these objections, even I as a Protestant, would not use to refute the concept of praying to saints / angels / Mary. There are better Protestant objections than those that were offered.

    But to answer the title’s question, “Isn’t Praying to Saints Unbliblical?”, I would say, “Absolutely!”, for it is indeed NOT a scriptural doctrine. Not only is it not in the Bible, it is AGAINST biblical principles. You imply that it is a biblical teaching, but you offered no actual biblical evidence that points to this concept in your article.

    One of your responses to objection #3 is a common one, and it is about what God “could” do if He wants to; for example, He “could” give special powers to saints in Heaven to see and know everything going on here on earth, etc. But the ability of God is not the issue here. It is not about what God COULD do for the saints in Heaven; it is about what He actually DID or DIDN’T do for them. And He did not make them objects of prayer. In the Bible, we see absolutely no one (with God’s approval) praying to anyone other than God. Biblical prayer is ALWAYS properly directed to God alone, and biblical prayer is always an act of worship. Therefore, prayer directed to anyone else is idolatry.

    Asking, “Where does the Bible say that we CAN’T pray to the saints” (objection #4) is silly. This is like saying, “Where does the Bible say that we CAN’T slash our neighbor’s tires?” The Bible doesn’t specifically address either of these questions, but we do know from biblical principles that neither of these is right.

    You posed a sort of Sola Scriptura dilemma to Protestants to show their inconsistency, namely that if something is not mentioned in the Bible, is it “allowed” or is it “prohibited”? But as long as a teaching does not contradict any principles of Scripture, it can be acceptable.

    Just wanted to give everyone some food for thought. Thanks for hearing me out.

    In His Name,
    Russell

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    1. Thanks for your comments sans your link, Russell.

      In response to your comment, "Not only is it not in the Bible, it is AGAINST biblical principles" I must ask: what Biblical principles does praying to the saints contradict?

      As far as Scriptural evidence for praying to the saints, here are a few:

      Matt. 18:10 - the angels in heaven always behold the face of God. We venerate them for their great dignity and union with God.

      Matt. 15:4; Luke 18:20; Eph. 6:2-3 Exodus 20:12; Lev. 19:3; Deut. 5:16 - we are instructed to honor our father and mother.

      Luke 1:28 - the angel Gabriel venerates Mary by declaring to her "Hail, full of grace." The heavenly angel honors the human Mary, for her perfection of grace exceeds that of the angels.

      Romans 13:7 - we are to give honor where honor is due. When we honor God's children, we honor God Himself, for He is the source of all honor.

      1 Cor. 4:16 - the most important form of veneration of the saints is "imitating" the saints, as Paul commands us to do.

      1 Cor. 11:1 - again, Paul says, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." The ultimate objective of veneration is imitation.

      Phil. 2:25-29 - Paul teaches us to honor Epaprhoditus who almost died for the faith. How much more honor is owed to the saints that did die for the faith!

      Phil. 3:17 - Paul says to imitate him and others, which is the goal of veneration. Veneration is not worship.

      1 Thess. 1:6 – Paul says to the Thessalonians, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord.” This is the goal of veneration.

      2 Thess. 3:7 - Paul says that the Thessalonians should imitate him and the other bishops.

      Hebrews 3:3 - Jesus is worthy of "more" glory and honor than Moses. This does not mean that the saints are worthy of no glory and honor. Instead, it proves that saintly people are worthy of glory and honor out of God's goodness.

      Heb. 6:12 – the author teaches us to be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

      Heb. 13:7 - we must imitate the faith of our faithful leaders. We ask for their intercession and venerate them for their holiness.

      James 5:10-11 – James teaches us to take heart in the examples of the prophets and Job, who endured suffering.

      1 Peter 2:17 - Peter teaches us to honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the emperor. Don't those living with Christ in heaven deserve honor? Catholics believe they do, and honor them with special feast days, just as we honor those living by celebrating their birthdays.

      Gen. 19:1 - Lot venerates the two angels in Sodom, bowing himself with his face to the ground.

      Gen. 42:6 - Joseph's brothers bow before Joseph with the face to the ground. This is veneration, not worship.

      Exodus 28:2 - it is especially important to honor religious leaders. Sacred garments for Aaron give him dignity and honor.

      Lev. 19:32- we should also honor "the face of an old man." When the elderly die in Christ, we should continue honoring them, because death does not separate them from us or the love of Christ.

      1 Sam. 28:14 - Saul bows down before Samuel with his face to the ground in veneration.

      2 Chron. 32:33 - Hezekiah was honored at his death. We honor our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

      Sir. 44:1-2 - we should praise and give honor to those who the Lord apportioned great glory. It is our family in Christ. source: http://scripturecatholic.com/saints.html#saints-IV

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    2. You wrote: "In the Bible, we see absolutely no one (with God’s approval) praying to anyone other than God. Biblical prayer is ALWAYS properly directed to God alone, and biblical prayer is always an act of worship. Therefore, prayer directed to anyone else is idolatry".

      My response: Perhaps, Russell, it would be helpful if you removed the idea that "praying TO" someone = worship.

      There are numerous examples in English of the use of the word "pray" to mean "petition" or "asking".

      "What tidings send our scouts? I prithee, speak. " - Henry VI part 1

      That's simply the olde English way to say, "I pray you, please speak!". Here, there is no worship, but only a request.

      So prayer to the saints is nothing more and nothing less than asking for their intercession.

      And what could be wrong with that? It's quite Biblical--in fact, we are COMMANDED to pray for one another, right?!!

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    3. Finally, in response to your comment, "The Bible doesn’t specifically address either of these questions, but we do know from biblical principles that neither of these is right."

      You are begging the question here, Russell.

      You have not yet established that the Bible says that praying to saints is wrong.

      And if there's no Scriptural injunction against praying to the saints, why do you object to it?

      If it's not forbidden (and it's not!), then why can't we do it?

      In response to your comment, "You posed a sort of Sola Scriptura dilemma to Protestants to show their inconsistency, namely that if something is not mentioned in the Bible, is it “allowed” or is it “prohibited”? But as long as a teaching does not contradict any principles of Scripture, it can be acceptable"...

      I give a hearty amen!

      It just has not been established that praying to saints contradicts any principle of Scripture.

      For if praying to saints contradicts Scripture, then what do you make of your church's prayer chains? If your church's practice is acceptable, then it ought to be just as acceptable to ask our brothers in heaven, who are ALIVE in Christ, to pray for us poor souls here on earth!

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  4. Hi Amateur Apologist,

    Thanks for your response to my comments.

    You said:

    “I must ask: what Biblical principles does praying to the saints contradict?”

    Throughout the Bible, we see God consistently depicted as faithful, merciful, just, eternal, etc. This is the norm. Not once do we see an example of Him being UNfaithful, UNmerciful, UNjust, or NON-eternal. Everyone would agree that this is a consistent PATTERN in all of Scripture. Therefore, it is a biblical PRINCIPLE. In the same way, there are hundreds of passages / references concerning prayer in the Scriptures, yet we see person after person, time after time, throughout the whole Bible come ONLY to God in prayer. When a person is in prayer (except in the case of Baal worship, etc.) it is ALWAYS to God. Once again, this is the norm. That’s the biblical pattern for prayer. We are never encouraged to pray to others. We have no examples of prayer to angels, saints, or anyone else. This is so obvious that those who are familiar with Scripture shouldn’t even have to ask whether praying only to God is a biblical principle or not. So, praying to saints does indeed violate and contradict this concept, this pattern, this biblical principle.

    If this pattern means nothing, then this opens the door to some real problems. If you feel it is ok to pray to saints (even though this violates the biblical pattern), then what is to stop you from taking this farther and praying to those who are not saints? Or praying to objects, animals or to the moon, etc.? You see, failure to stick to the biblical pattern is a slippery slope.

    In your attempt to prove that prayer to saints is biblical, you gave over 25 Bible verses and they all talk about honoring those to whom honor is due, acknowledging angels, being an imitator of Paul and other godly people, etc., but not a single one of those passages even comes close to mentioning praying to saints. This is certainly not biblical proof for your case.

    Yes, we are to honor those to whom honor is due, but PRAYING TO a person is to go far BEYOND honor.

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  5. (Part 2 of 2)

    You said:

    “My response: Perhaps, Russell, it would be helpful if you removed the idea that ‘praying TO’ someone = worship.”

    Do you have biblical grounds for saying this? If it’s not worship, then what is it? Is it “dulia”? Is it “hyperdulia”? But even the Catholic Church considers these to be forms of worship (see the online New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, under “Beatification and Canonization”)

    You said that to pray means simply to ask. But if that’s true, then Jesus’ words, “Ask in prayer” (Matthew 21:22) would just be redundant. And “olde English” phrases (like, “I pray thee”) do not determine or override the meaning of biblical prayer.

    You said:

    “So prayer to the saints is nothing more and nothing less than asking for their intercession.”

    So, if I ask you to intercede for me, am I PRAYING to you?

    Although asking is one aspect of prayer, Catholics should be well aware that the biblical concept of prayer cannot be reduced to merely asking, since prayer can include praise, thanksgiving, meditation, etc.

    Also, the language involved in some of the common prayers to the saints certainly seems to be more than just “asking for prayer.” A brief search on the internet will reveal that much of the language used in praying to the saints seems to contain excessive devotion, and oftentimes appears to be asking the saint himself / herself to fill the need (instead of God), especially some of the prayers directed to Mary. After reading a number of these, it would become easy to completely miss the idea that one is simply “asking them to pray.”

    Furthermore, the simple fact that Catholics recognize different levels of prayer (dulia, hyperdulia, and latria) destroys this silly notion that “pray just means ask.”

    You said:

    “For if praying to saints contradicts Scripture, then what do you make of your church's prayer chains?”

    “Prayer chains” are fine, because interceding for others is biblical. There is nothing wrong with asking others on earth to pray for you. But prayer chains have nothing to do with praying TO people.

    You claimed that the concept of praying to saints is a biblical one, that is, it is either explicitly in the Bible, or the concept’s principles can be found in the Bible. I believe that I have demonstrated that neither one is the case.

    In His Name,
    Russell

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    1. Russell, would it be more appealing to you if I just removed the "praying to" part and said that Catholics ask for the saints in heaven to pray for them eternally before the throne of heaven?

      Would that be something that you could ascribe to?

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  6. Amateur Apologist,

    No, watering it down to “just asking” (versus “praying to”) the saints would still not be acceptable. You would still be communicating with someone (other than God) who is in another realm. Again, we see nothing like this (that is approved by God) in the Scriptures. The closest example we have of this is when King Saul visited the Witch of Endor, who called forth the prophet Samuel. But this was an example of necromancy (calling up the dead).

    I’m not saying that this example is the same thing as Catholics praying to saints. I’m just saying that communicating with the saints who are not on earth is unbiblical. We’ll just have to wait to talk to them when we get into their realm (Heaven).

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    1. Ok. So you are saying that "If it's not in the Bible it's forbidden" is your paradigm?

      Because it seems as if earlier you were saying that "If it's not CONTRADICTED in the Bible, then it's permitted" is your paradigm.

      If it's truly the former, then you'll have to show me where having altar calls, outdoor weddings, contraceptives, steeples on churches, bible studies are in the Bible. Those are all practices that that are not in the Bible and should therefore be forbidden.

      If your paradigm is the latter, then you'll have to show me what Bible verse asking the saints in heaven to pray for us contracts. And you'll have to show me how those in heaven can't hear our prayers, when the Transfiguration clearly shows that those in heaven are alive.

      And, I just happened to read Psalm 27:3 today which states, "I believe I will see the Lord in the land of the living." Clearly, heaven is described as the land of the LIVING.

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  7. Amateur Apologist,

    Concerning topics in the Bible, there are far too many possible things to talk about than the Bible has room to deal with SPECIFICALLY, but it can certainly deal with many (if not most) things IN PRINCIPLE. You are trying to force me into one paradigm or the other, when in reality, they are two sides to the same coin; they are saying the same basic thing in two different ways… but I’m emphasizing PRINCIPLES in both:

    1) If a concept / teaching is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but it lines up with the Bible’s principles, it can be acceptable, and
    conversely,

    2) If a concept / teaching is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, and it does NOT line up with the Bible’s principles (that is, it contradicts it), then the concept should be rejected.

    The concept of praying only to God applies to the first, while the concept of praying to saints applies to the second.

    One coincides, one contradicts.

    You said:

    “… you’ll have to show me what Bible verse asking the saints in heaven to pray for us contracts [I think you meant “contradicts” here]. And you’ll have to show me how those in heaven can’t hear our prayers...”

    No, you are making a positive claim that prayer to saints is biblical. Therefore, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that from Scripture. It is not my responsibility to prove the NEGATIVE of your claim (for example, to show where the Bible specifically tells us NOT to pray to saints). You bear the burden of proof, but have not yet delivered… because I don’t think it is possible to prove your point.

    Concerning those in Heaven being alive, I’ve never denied that, but this really doesn’t help your case, anyway. Their being “alive” still doesn’t make prayer to saints biblical.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Russell.

      You said, " You are trying to force me into one paradigm or the other, when in reality, they are two sides to the same coin;"

      My response: this is the problem, isn't it, with attempting to have a dialogue with a Bible-Alone advocate (BAa). When a Catholic points out a particular practice or principle that's not found in the Bible that a BAa
      does, he will say, "Well, it doesn't contradict anything in the Bible, so it's permitted!".

      But, curiously, when this particular BAa sees a Catholic practice that he doesn't enjoin, the paradigm switches to, "Well, you can't do this, Catholic, because it's not found in the Bible!"

      The BAa paradigm is NOT 2 sides of the same coin, but rather a convenient hermeneutic utilized at whim to support what he wants to support and forbid what he wants to forbid. Based on his fallible pastor's interpretations of Scripture.

      The honest answer would be to pick one paradigm and apply it equally to his own practices as well as the Catholic's.

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    2. Regarding your comment, "No, you are making a positive claim that prayer to saints is biblical. Therefore, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that from Scripture."

      Fair enough.

      I've already provided a multitude of Bible verses. Here are some more:

      Matt. 5:44-45 - Jesus tells us to pray for (to mediate on behalf of) those who persecute us. God instructs us to mediate.

      Matt. 17:1-3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30-31 – deceased Moses and Elijah appear at the Transfiguration to converse with Jesus in the presence of Peter, James and John (these may be the two “witnesses” John refers to in Rev. 11:3). Nothing in Scripture ever suggests that God abhors or cuts off communication between the living in heaven and the living on earth. To the contrary, God encourages communication within the communion of saints. Moses and Elijah’s appearance on earth also teach us that the saints in heaven have capabilities that far surpass our limitations on earth.

      Matt. 26:53 – Jesus says He can call upon the assistance of twelve legions of angels. If Jesus said He could ask for the assistance of angel saints, then so can we, who are called to imitate Jesus in word and in deed. And, in Matt. 22:30, Jesus says we will be “like angels in heaven.” This means human saints (like the angel saints) can be called upon to assist people on earth. God allows and encourages this interaction between his family members.

      Matt. 27:47,49; Mark 15:35-36 – the people believe that Jesus calls on Elijah for his intercession, and waits to see if Elijah would come to save Jesus on the cross.

      Matt. 27:52-53 - at Jesus' passion, many saints were raised and went into the city to appear and presumably interact with the people, just as Jesus did after His resurrection.

      Mark 11:24 - Jesus says that whatever we ask in prayer, we will receive it. It is Jesus, and also we through Jesus, who mediate.

      John 2:3 - Jesus knew the wine was gone, but invites and responds to Mary's intercession. God desires our lesser mediation and responds to it because He is a living and loving God.

      John 2:5 - Mary intercedes on behalf of those at the wedding feast and tells them to do whatever Jesus tells them. Because Mary is our perfect model of faith, we too intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

      John 2:11 - in fact, it was Mary's intercession that started Jesus' ministry. His hour had not yet come, yet Jesus responds to Mary's intercession. Even though He could do it all by Himself, God wants to work with His children.

      Acts 12:7 – an angel strikes Peter on the side and wakes him up, freeing him from prison. The angel responds to Peter’s prayers.

      Rom. 15:30 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for him. If we are united together in the one body of Christ, we can help each other.

      2 Cor. 1:11 - Paul even suggests that the more prayers and the more people who pray, the merrier! Prayer is even more effective when united with other's prayers.

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    3. Cont'd

      2 Cor. 9:14 - Paul says that the earthly saints pray for the Corinthians. They are subordinate mediators in Christ.

      2 Cor. 13:7,9 - Paul says the elders pray that the Corinthians may do right and improve. They participate in Christ's mediation.

      Gal. 6:2,10 - Paul charges us to bear one another's burdens, and to do good to all, especially those in the household of faith.

      Eph. 6:18 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for each other.

      Eph. 6:19 - Paul commands that the Ephesians pray for him. If there is only one mediator, why would Paul ask for their prayers?

      Phil. 1:19 - Paul acknowledges power of Philippians' earthly intercession. He will be delivered by their prayers and the Holy Spirit.

      Col. 1:3 - Paul says that he and the elders pray for the Colossians. They are subordinate mediators in the body of Christ.

      Col. 1:9 - Paul says that he and the elders have not ceased to pray for the Colossians, and that, by interceding, they may gain wisdom.

      Col. 4:4 - Paul commands the Colossians to pray for the elders of the Church so that God may open a door for the word. Why doesn't Paul just leave it up to God? Because subordinate mediation is acceptable and pleasing to God, and brings about change in the world. This is as mysterious as the Incarnation, but it is true.

      1 Thess. 5:11 - Paul charges us to encourage one another and build one another up, in the body of Christ. We do this as mediators in Christ.

      1 Thess. 5:17 - Paul says "pray constantly." If Jesus' role as mediator does not apply subordinately to us, why pray at all?

      1 Thess. 5:25 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for the elders of the Church. He desires our subordinate mediation.

      2 Thess. 1:11 - Paul tells the family of God that he prays for us. We participate in Christ's mediation because Christ desires this.

      2 Thess. 3:1 - Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for Him, Silvanus and Timothy so that they may be delivered.

      1 Tim. 2:1-3 - Paul commands us to pray for all. Paul also states that these prayers are acceptable in the sight of God.

      2 Tim. 1:3 – Paul says “I remember you constantly in my prayers.”

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    4. Cont'd

      Philemon 22 - Paul is hoping through Philemon's intercession that he may be able to be with Philemon.

      Heb. 1:14 – the author writes, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”

      Hebrews 13:18-19 - the author strongly urges the Hebrews to pray for the elders so that they act desirably in all things.

      James 5:14-15- James says the prayer of the priests over the sick man will save the sick man and forgive his sins. This is a powerful example of men forgiving sins and bringing a person to salvation with the sacrament of the sick.

      James 5:16 - James instructs us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another so that we may be healed.

      James 5:17-18 - James refers to God's response to Elijah's fervent prayer for no rain. He is teaching us about the effectiveness of our earthly mediation.

      1 John 5:14-15 - John is confident that God will grant us anything we ask of God according to His will.

      1 John 5:16-17 - our prayers for others even calls God to give life to them and keep them from sinning. Our God is a personal and living God who responds to our prayers.

      3 John 2 - John prays for Gaius' health and thus acts as a subordinate mediator.

      Rev. 1:4 – this verse shows that angels (here, the seven spirits) give grace and peace. Because grace and peace only come from God, the angels are acting as mediators for God.

      Rev. 5:8 - the prayers of the saints (on heaven and earth) are presented to God by the angels and saints in heaven. This shows that the saints intercede on our behalf before God, and it also demonstrates that our prayers on earth are united with their prayers in heaven. (The “24 elders” are said to refer to the people of God – perhaps the 12 tribes and 12 apostles - and the “four living creatures” are said to refer to the angels.)

      Rev. 6:9-11 – the martyred saints in heaven cry out in a loud voice to God to avenge their blood “on those who dwell upon the earth.” These are “imprecatory prayers,” which are pleas for God’s judgment (see similar prayers in Psalm 35:1; 59:1-17; 139:19; Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 18:19; Zech.1:12-13). This means that the saints in heaven are praying for those on earth, and God answers their prayers (Rev. 8:1-5). We, therefore, ask for their intercession and protection.

      Rev. 8:3-4 – in heaven an angel mingles incense with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne of God, and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. These prayers “rise up” before God and elicit various kinds of earthly activity. God responds to his children’s requests, whether made by his children on earth or in heaven.

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    5. Cont'd
      Old Testament

      Gen. 20:17 - God responds to Abraham's intercession and heals Abimelech, and also his wife and slaves.

      Gen. 27:29; Num. 24:9 - blessed be everyone who blesses you. If we bless others in prayer, we are also blessed.

      Exodus 32:11-14, 30-34; 34:9; Num. 14:17-20; 21:7-9 - these are many examples of God's response to Moses' saintly intercession.

      1 Sam. 12:23 - Samuel says that he would be sinning against God if he didn't continue to intercede for the people of Israel.

      1 Sam. 28:7-20 – the deceased prophet Samuel appears and converses with Saul, which is confirmed by Sirach 46:13,20).

      1 Sam. 28:7; 1 Chron. 10:13-14 - Saul practiced necromancy. He used a medium, not God, to seek the dead and was therefore condemned. Saul's practice is entirely at odds with the Catholic understanding of saintly mediation, where God is the source and channel of all communication, and who permits His children to participate in this power.

      2 Chron. 30:27 - the prayers of the priests and Levites came before God's holy habitation in heaven and were answered.

      Tobit 12:12,15 - angels place Tobit and Sarah's prayers before the Holy One. This teaches us that the angels are also our subordinate mediators. We pray to the angels to take up our prayers to God.

      Job 42:7-9 - Job prayed for three friends in sin and God listened to Job as a result of these prayers.

      Psalm 34:7 – the angel of the Lord delivers those who fear him.

      Psalm 91:11 – God will give His angels charge of you, to guard you in all your ways.

      Psalm 103:20-21; 148:1-2 – we praise the angels and ask for their assistance in doing God’s will.

      Psalm 141:2 - David asks that his prayer be counted as incense before God. The prayers of the saints have powerful effects.

      Isaiah 6:6-7 - an angel touches Isaiah's lips and declares that his sin is forgiven. The angel is a subordinate mediator of God who effects the forgiveness of sins on God’s behalf.

      Jer. 7:16 - God acknowledges the people's ability to intercede, but refuses to answer due to the hardness of heart.

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    6. Cont'd

      Jer. 15:1 – the Lord acknowledges the intercessory power of Moses and Samuel.

      Jer. 37:3 - king Zedekiah sends messengers to ask Jeremiah to intercede for the people, that he might pray to God for them.

      Jer. 42:1-6 - all the people of Israel went before Jeremiah asking for his intercession, that he would pray to the Lord for them.

      Baruch 3:4 - Baruch asks the Lord to hear the prayers of the dead of Israel. They can intercede on behalf of the people of God.

      Dan. 9:20-23 - Daniel intercedes on behalf of the people of Israel confessing both his sins and the sins of the people before God.

      Zech. 1:12-13 - an angel intercedes for those in Judea and God responds favorably.

      2 Macc. 15:12-16 – the high priest Onias and the prophet Jeremiah were deceased for centuries, and yet interact with the living Judas Maccabeas and pray for the holy people on earth. source for all of the above taken from http://www.scripturecatholic.com/saints.html#saints-III

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  8. Hello again Amateur Apologist,

    You said that I should just pick ONE paradigm and apply it to both Protestants and Catholics. But what I described in my last post is true and about as simple as I can make it. Your request to choose only one would be like saying, “I want a quarter with only a ‘heads’ side, and no ‘tails’ side.” The quarter comes with BOTH.

    Like I said, this is the two sides of the same coin. Said another way:

    “Teaching X” is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. But this teaching’s principles will either agree with biblical principles or it won’t. If there is agreement, it is acceptable. If not, then we must reject “Teaching X.” This is not hard to understand, and it coincides with the idea that we must “test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

    You have previously given many Scripture verses that you believe support the concept that prayer to saints is a biblical idea. Your last 6 posts consist of tons more Scripture verses by a popular (and presumably, seasoned) Catholic apologist on the same topic. But NONE of this multitude of verses supports the idea of praying to saints in Heaven. The verses presented are about praying for each other, with which I have no problem. But they are a far cry from proving your case. It seems that you are just throwing a bunch of Bible verses out there in hopes that the sheer volume will be convincing for your argument. But it doesn’t help you, since NONE of them actually apply to prayer to saints. I really don’t want to sound unkind when I say this, but this just shows how biblically bankrupt the Catholic concept of prayer to the saints is.

    The closest thing to supporting your case that was mentioned was perhaps the Scriptures in Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, which show an angel in Heaven holding the prayers of the saints (on earth) in golden bowls. But this does not mean that the saints on earth prayed to the ANGELS. Nothing in the context suggests that the prayers were directed to them. God just allowed them to “handle” the bowls. If the contents of the bowls (in this case, prayers) were directed to THE ANGELS in this passage, then the contents of the bowls in Revelation 16:1-12 (which was WRATH) must ALSO have been directed to the angels in that passage. But it would be absurd to believe that. So, neither do these verses in Revelation work for your case.

    Obviously, if the Catholic Church believed that they had better Bible verses for this teaching, they would have no doubt brought them forth. But after taking a good, honest look at both sides of the debate, one is forced to admit the weakness of the Catholic arguments.

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    1. Very good, then, Russell. From what I understand in your comment: "Teaching X” is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. But this teaching’s principles will either agree with biblical principles or it won’t. If there is agreement, it is acceptable. If not, then we must reject “Teaching X.” This is not hard to understand, and it coincides with the idea that we must “test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)"

      I understand you to be saying that your paradigm is "If it doesn't contradict something in the Bible it's permitted." That leaves room for you to practice artificial birth control, altar calls, and Wed evening Bible studies...

      but curiously, it doesn't allow for divorce and re-marriage.

      (I am wondering if your pastor allows couples to marry in your church who have already been married?)

      As far as the praying to the saints agreeing with Biblical principles, well, I think I've provided quite enough meat in the form of Scripture verses for any reader to chew on. Clearly, the Bible supports praying to saints, who are alive in heaven and intercede for us, just as our prayer warriors here on earth intercede for us. It is our divine command to pray for one another...and there is NOTHING in Scripture which declares that those in heaven ought not or cannot pray for us.

      Thus, praying to saints is not only supported by Scripture...but it also contradicts not a single verse of Scripture.

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  9. Amateur Apologist,

    I want to thank you for the friendly discussion and for allowing me to defend what I believe. I think that we both made our points and I don’t want to be guilty of rehashing what we said already.

    At this point, I will just say, let’s let the reader decide whose side is more reasonable (and Scriptural). I pray that God will give to us (and to your readers) grace, wisdom, discernment and understanding. Thanks again.

    In His Name,
    Russell

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  10. Amen!

    And I invite you to join the Catholic Answers Forums in which there is a better opportunity to dialogue with people regarding Catholicism and other religions.

    http://forums.catholic.com/index.php

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  11. I recently posted something on my own Facebook page asking for prayers for my father (for whom this may be the beginning of the end). I included a note that St. Jude has helped me out many times over the years and then I typed out the St. Jude Novena which I say.

    I got one person who came in with a "better than thou" attitude who typed out 5 paragraphs chiding me for praying to this saint. She started off by saying, " Where does it say in the bible that we have to pray to St. Jude?" and then proceeded to bash the saint. I can only think that this is ignorance on her part.
    There were a lot of quotes from the bible along with the chapters and verse numbers.

    Well, I'm not directly going to get into a flaming war online and I considered just deleting her post quietly. But then I found your blog and read the post about why we ask the saints for help in our prayers and posted this on my page. I love the thinking of praying for the saints help as a "prayer chain." That sounds like a great way to think of it and defend it. Thank you! :)

    I wrote:
    But where does it say in the Holy Bible that we can't pray to the saints in heaven? Praying to the saints is nothing more than a Prayer Chain, extended to the Heavenly Body of Christ. Christ does indeed hear us as we pray with the saints in heaven. We ask the heavenly saints for their prayers just as I ask my earthly friends to help me pray. It's a divine prayer chain and an earthly prayer chain.

    This is the post which has sort of been bothering me and to which I felt I needed to defend my saying the novena:

    Where does it say in the bible that we have to pray to St. Jude? Almost nothing is known about Jude’s life. Early in the ministry of Christ Jesus, Jude may have been among those saying: “He has gone out of his mind.” (Mr 3:21) In any event, Jude and his other brothers did not then exercise faith in Christ Jesus.—Joh 7:5.
    But who was Jude? The opening words tell us that the letter was written by “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, but a brother of James, to the called ones.” Was Jude, or Judas, an apostle, since 2 of Jesus’ original 12 apostles were named Judas? (Luke 6:16) Jude does not speak of himself as an apostle, but instead he speaks of the apostles in the third person as “they,” manifestly excluding himself. (Jude 17, 18) Moreover, he calls himself “a brother of James,” evidently meaning the writer of the letter of James, who was a half brother of Jesus. (Vs. 1) As one of the “pillars” of the congregation in Jerusalem, this James was well-known, and hence Jude identifies himself with him. This makes Jude also a half brother of Jesus, and he is listed as such. (Gal. 1:19; 2:9; Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3) However, Jude did not make capital of his fleshly relationship with Jesus, but he humbly placed the emphasis on his spiritual relationship as “a slave of Jesus Christ.”—1 Cor. 7:22; 2 Cor. 5:16; Matt. 20:27.
    The entire Scriptural record testifies that "Jehovah" is the One to whom prayer should be directed (Ps 5:1, 2; Mt 6:9), that he is the “Hearer of prayer”.
    Acceptable prayer must be made to the right person, Jehovah God; on right matters, those in harmony with God’s declared purposes; in the right manner, through God’s appointed way, Christ Jesus; and with a right motive and a clean heart.
    Jesus Christ is therefore the one and only “way” of reconciliation with God and approach to God in prayer.People “of all flesh” may come to the “Hearer of prayer,” Jehovah God. (Ps 65:2; Ac 15:17)
    As the sole Mediator Christ Jesus became “the way.” He said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Joh 14:6, 13, 14)

    Was I wrong to respond? Did I respond correctly?

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    1. Hi, Lee Ann. Thanks for your post! And prayers for your father, for you and for your family going up right now.

      One quick thought: there is a great forum for chatting called the Catholic Answers Forum. There's an almost immediate response, typically, when you type in questions. And it generates some good discussions.

      Here's the website, and a thread that deals specifically with praying to saints:
      http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=902651

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    2. Regarding the post on Facebook: best response is: "We are not commanded to pray to St. Jude. No Catholic ought to be professing that we MUST pray to St. Jude. Only that we can."

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    3. Finally, you could point out that the verses that were offered by your Facebook friend tell us that WORSHIP is made to God alone.

      Catholics give a hearty amen to that!

      But prayer to a saint is not the same thing as worshipping the saint. It is simply a means of interecession. Just like...a heavenly prayer chain.

      And if your Facebook friend has no problem with earthly prayer chains....

      he ought not have problems with heavenly prayer chains. :)

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