LIVING in Alpharetta, GA, Jason runs a small software development company and loves to study the bible and the writings of the early church

Day 47: Summa Logica - Part 2

This is the 2nd part in a series of posts answering the misconception that most Catholic positions are held without Biblical support, early Church support or solid logic & reasoning. If you want to catch up, please start here.

To recap, there are 3 basic precepts that all Christians take for granted:

  1. That the Apostles Creed is true.

  2. That the manuscripts that make up the Bible are Inspired and Inerrant.

  3. The validity of the Dogma of the Holy Trinity.

We showed yesterday that if you believe the above then you must also agree with the below:

  1. There are Holy Relics of the Saints that contain Grace, given by God, bestowed upon the original bearer, and these Relics have the power to heal.

If you disagree, go read yesterday’s post which I linked above and come back when you do agree.

Today, we’ll stick with another easy to prove, yet controversial topic: “The Intercession of the Saints”.

As with yesterday, we start with our core assumptions, listed above.

With that bit of “house keeping” out of the way, let’s get going:

The most common Protestant objection to The Intercession of the Saints is that Catholics are practicing “necromancy” as in “trying to raise the dead”. This is explicitly forbidden in Deuteronomy 18:10-12.

We see Saul attempt this in 1 Samuel 28 when he uses the witch of Endor to conjure up Samuel who is already dead. Samuel does appear and is quite angry that he has done this (meaning Saul was able to converse with Samuel).

This is an honest and sincere concern. But it’s totally not at all what the “Intercession of the Saints” is about.

The Intercession of the Saints is defined in the Catholic Catechism by paragraph 956 as follows:

[The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."]

As you can see, the Intercession of the Saints simply means that they are petitioning God on our behalf to help us in our trials and tribulations, to help us struggle through our weakness. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

As a Protestant, there is a logistical concern that needs to be addressed: “How can the Saints see us if they are in heaven”. If you read Hebrews 11 we see Paul talking about the great Saints of the Jewish people who have gone before us. He mentions Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham by name. Then he begins Chapter 12 with this statement (12:1)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,..” 

“Therefore…” which means a conclusion of the previous thought. (I’m beginning to believe the worst thing Christianity ever did to the Bible was add chapter and verse designations..sigh).

These great believers who have gone before us, the Saints, are in the arena with us!! It says it right there in Hebrews.

Therefore, we can make our first conclusion: Our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ, who have achieved Sainthood, surround us and can see what we say and do.

To disagree with the above is to declare the Bible errant when you have already affirmed that it is not.

Now we have undeniably established that the Saints, our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ, can see us and hear us, then how do we know that we can talk to them?

Because the Bible has several examples of this:

In Psalm 103: 20, we see David petition the Angels of Heaven to Praise the Lord (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, etc).

In Luke 16:19-31, we see the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Rich Man, from hell, asks Abraham to directly intercede first for him and then for his family. Abraham refuses both requests but that does not mean that Abraham could not hear nor consider the petition.

Some may try and argue that this is just a parable, but would Jesus be teaching something that is doctrinal heresy in his parable? I think not. (Also, if it is a parable, this is the only parable where actual names are used.)

Lastly, Jesus spoke to Elijah and Moses during the transfiguration, as documented in Luke 9.

Therefore, we can make our second conclusion: There is no barrier, between the Saints in heaven, and believers on earth, preventing us from communicating with them.

To disagree with the above is to declare the Bible errant when you have already affirmed that it is not.

One last objection may be: “How do we know the Saints are offering prayers to God?”

Because the Bible tells us they are. In Revelation, 5:8-14 we read the below:

“The twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints … the elders fell down and worshipped “

And again in Revelation 8:3-4 we read:

“And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.”

Therefore, we can make our third conclusion: The Saints offer up prayers to God.

To disagree with the above is to declare the Bible errant when you have already affirmed that it is not.

There is one minor point of contention, perhaps remaining and that would be: “How do we know that the Saints are taking OUR petitions to the father?”

That’s just pure reason: “Would they be our brothers and sisters, united in the Spirit of God, which is Love, and be able to ignore our cries for help?”

The obvious answer is “no”. (Which is exactly why the Memorare states that no one has ever been known to be left un-aided when making righteous and contrite petition to our Holy Mother..more on that later maybe).

So before we do a summary conclusion, let’s reference some of the Church fathers

Clement of Alexandrea in the mid 2nd century wrote:

In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping, and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]. 

Origen, in the early 3rd century wrote:

But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep.    

And in the Rylands Papyrus, which originates from Egypt in approximately 250 AD we read:

Under thy compassion we take refuge, O Mother of God (Theotokos). Do not despise our petitions in the time of trouble, but from dangers ransom us, singularly holy, singularly blessed.  

In summary we can draw a logical conclusion: You can pray to the Saints in heaven, and ask them to petition the Father on your behelf

To disagree with this is to disagree with the examples we see in scripture as well as the teachings of Christ himself and the writings of the early Church.

Tune in tomorrow for another topic.

Peace Be With You!

  

Day 41: Summa Logica - Part 3

Day 48: Summa Logica - Part 1