Saturday, July 27, 2019

Debunking Proof Texts That Roman Catholics Use In Defending Saintly Intercession

  • Discussion:
          -This article is essentially a continuation of another post that was written a few years back on the subject of praying to Mary and the saints. It is a rebuttal to a number of proof texts for this practice which are cited by Scripture Catholic:

          "Rom. 8:35-39 – therefore, death does not separate the family of God and the love of Christ. We are still united with each other, even beyond death."

          People enter into the supernatural realm at the moment of physical death. So in that sense, believers on earth certainly are separated temporarily from those present in heaven. 

          We should not expect Christians in heaven to be able to hear our prayer requests for the same reason that we cannot expect Christians across the globe to hear them.

          "Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30 – Jesus converses with “deceased” Moses and Elijah. They are more alive than the saints on earth."

          The point of the transfiguration was to show the preeminence of Jesus Christ. He was speaking to Moses and Elijah in His glory. These verses do not say anything in regard to prayer. Are there even any Roman Catholics who offer prayers to Moses and Elijah?

          "Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38 – God is the God of the living not the dead. The living on earth and in heaven are one family."

          Just because a saint is very much alive in the presence of God in the heavenly sanctuary, does not mean that he or she is capable of answering or being a recipient of prayers.

          "Luke 15:7, 10 – if the angels and saints experience joy in heaven over our repentance, then they are still connected to us and are aware of our behavior."

          Angels rejoicing over a conversion cannot simply translate into support for them receiving our prayer requests because they most probably know when a soul is added to the Book of Life.

          Even if saints and angels in heaven were conscious of events on earth, could hear prayers, and had the ability to pray for somebody on earth, these scenarios would still not grant biblical justification for people offering prayer petitions to entities other than God. The prophets and the apostles never once mentioned entrusting prayer requests to saints and angels in heaven. Neither do we see in Scripture God approving of such activity.

          Satan is without a doubt conscious of events taking place in this world. Yet no Roman Catholic would ever suggest prayer to him.

          "Heb. 12:1 – the “cloud of witnesses” (nephos marturon) that we are surrounded by is a great amphitheatre of witnesses to the earthly race, and they actively participate and cheer us (the runners) on, in our race to salvation."

          The context of this passage much more relates to viewing the Old Testament saints as good moral examples. We are all united into a spiritual family by faith. There is nothing in that which would even remotely suggest prayer to these witnesses.

          "James 5:16; Proverbs 15:8, 29 – the prayers of the righteous (the saints) have powerful effects. This is why we ask for their prayers. How much more powerful are the saints’ prayers in heaven, in whom righteousness has been perfected."

          The prayer of the righteous man does indeed avail much, but these passages of Scripture say nothing regarding prayers to or for deceased believers. Also, it is pure speculation to assert that the prayers of the saints in heaven are more effective than ours on earth. God is, after all, no respecter of persons.

          "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."

          This is a huge stretch in logic. It is more sensible to interpret this as referring to armies of angels. It is speaking of heavenly hosts, not deceased believers.

          "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.)"

          This simply means that God allowed saints in heaven to "handle" the bowls of prayers. The text says nothing about prayers being directed to saints or angels in heaven, nor gives us permission to do so. The text does not indicate how these saints would be aware of our prayers. The prayers were directed to God alone.

          "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."

          The passage does not say that we can pray to saints or angels in heaven. The Apostle John was transported to heaven, and the souls under the altar are very much alive and not dead men's bones.

          Some Roman Catholics argue that they do not pray directly to the saints, but only "ask" them to intercede (intervene on behalf of another) for prayers. In other words, it is claimed that Mary and the saints are only "asked" to pray for those who request their spiritual support. However, a person would have to pray to the saints if he or she asks them for something because they are not physically present. Furthermore, it would be rather illogical to ask somebody in heaven for support when they are in turn going to ask God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Roman Catholics do indeed pray to the saints in heaven (CCC # 2679). The Hail Mary, Hail Holy Queen, and Memorare are examples of prayers to Mary. The language employed in these petitions sound much as if they were directed toward some goddess!

          Others may argue that prayer is not a form of worship, but is just asking (in the same sense that a student would request assistance from a teacher). On the contrary, the biblical concept of prayer is always a form of worship. In Scripture, people always worshiped through prayer. And those petitions were always directed to God alone. We never see followers of God praying to other entities for any reason. While it is true that asking is a component of prayer, the biblical concept of prayer cannot simply be watered down to "just asking somebody" because it also encompasses other factors such as praise, adoration, thanksgiving, repentance, and mediation (Psalm 23; 25; Matthew 6:6-14; Luke 18:9-14).

          "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."

          Bowls of wrath are mentioned in Revelation 16. Should we conclude that they were directed to the saints in heaven because they also carried them?

           The text does not command believers on earth to pray to or through angels. It does not say that prayers were made to angels or saints in heaven. It states that the angel was to add incense to the prayers in the golden censer containing the prayers of the saints.

          "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."

          The Psalmists are simply telling all creations in all places to praise God's name. Creation is a reflection of His glory. These passages do not in any way exhort us to honor or pray to beings other than the Lord.

          In Psalm 103:22, inanimate objects are told to praise God. In Psalm 148:3, the sun, moon, and the stars are also told to praise God. Should we pray to these things, as well?

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