Baptists don't believe in Saints?

That’s what I was told—is this a true statement and I wonder why if true?

I was raised Southern Baptist; converted to the Catholic faith nearly 25 yrs ago. As a Baptist growing up we were told “Baptists dont pray to dead people”. There was no belief in communion of the saints---- it was akin to conjuring up the dead, which is forbidden in the Old Testament. This was my experience.

I always like to remind these folks that Jesus said, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” Mark 12:27

We should have a like button on this forum.

Baptists typically believe that the NT term “saint” (hagios) applies to all believers. Now in a sense they are obviously right–Paul does use the term that way, sometimes clarifying it by the phrase “called to be saints.” In a Catholic understanding, all believers are saints by calling but most of us aren’t there yet.

In the most common Baptist understanding, at least in the U.S. (Baptists are very diverse, especially worldwide), holiness is a present possession by faith. In other words, where other Protestants will say that justification is by faith but sanctification by works (through the power of the Holy Spirit, just as in Catholic theology), many Baptists argue that sanctification is totally by faith too. Hence, while most Protestants are dubious about Catholic devotion to the saints and about what they see as the differentiation among believers created by labeling some dead believers “saints,” many Baptists go further and reject the idea entirely.

Another, more universal if less technically theological factor is the egalitarianism of Baptists and their concern, deriving from the early Reformation, not to elevate some things or people or places as holier than others. When my parents and I first visited Romania, one of our contacts was a Baptist seminary professor whom we had met when he visited the U.S., so we stayed in the Baptist seminary in Bucharest quite a bit. Right next to that seminary is an Orthodox church. As I learned more about the history of Romanian evangelicalism, I discovered that this very church was important in the history of “neo-Protestantism” in Romania. The Orthodox priest of that parish, in the early 20th century, had become influenced by Western evangelical literature (mostly Plymouth Brethren) and had wound up as the founder of one of the major Romanian evangelical movements. I told this excitedly to a Baptist student, thinking he’d find it very cool that he was studying right next to such a historic spot. But he responded dismissively that this wasn’t important because one place was no holier than another.

On the other hand, I knew a fundamentalist Independent Baptist in the U.S. who went on pilgrimage (though he didn’t call it that) to the grave of a famous missionary and intercessor, John Nelson Hyde, and spent the entire night praying there, clearly in the hope that some of Hyde’s spirit of intercessory prayer would pass to him. So these kinds of practices keep popping up even among Baptists:p

Edwin

The idea that “one place is no holier than another” is to some extent part of the reaction against what they call the Catholic sacramental system; for instance, that a building is “holier” because it contains what Catholics call the Blessed Sacrament. They also object to the very idea of “shrines” or pilgrimages.

I think one big exception for Evangelicals is Israel - yes, the “Holy Land”. In theory God is no more present in the Jordan River than in the Mississippi, but those who can afford it do go there, more often than they would travel to other places, as individuals or a group from a local church. Technically the “saints” who lived there have all died; (Christ rose, but ascended to Heaven). When I hear about Evangelicals visiting the Holy Land, I don’t notice a particular priority to meet with the saints (or solid Christians) who currently live there. So there is something beyond just historical sight seeing here.

But in general, Baptists tend to look at the holy people who have gone before as role models (which Catholics also do). They avoid using the word “saints” for dead people because they don’t want to get mixed up with the Catholic practice of seeking intercession through the saints, especially Mary.

It looks like this: :smiley:

I’m fairly certain Baptists do believe saints exist, they believe any “believer” is a saint.

I doubt it was any kind of intercessory spirit, probably just asking God to let the missionary be an example to himself.

The southern baptist church i was raised in never talked about saints in heaven, but they often would say things like “when i am standing in front of St Peter at the gates to heaven” So they do believe that St Peter is up there or at least stuck outside on guard duty. :smiley:

I’m not Baptist, but someone in my fam is a Baptist preacher; Baptists would believe

  1. All believers are saints, those living on earth and also those in Heaven
  2. We can, and should, hold up certain people as models of faith
  3. We can, and should, pray for each other, but that the saints in Heaven are not to be spoken to in a way that is similar to the way we speak to each other here
  4. That those that have passed away are just as much a part of the body of Christ as those living

C. S. Lewis (respected by Baptists) was against any kind of use of the saints for “lobbying” to get what you want. But then he opened the door that perhaps, just as we or others joined our prayers with those of John when he was living, maybe we might now join our prayers with John’s prayers, since he certainly is praying after he has passed on. But this was just a guess, or hypothesis, not anything he was claiming as definite Christian doctrine.

I assume LETTERS TO MALCOLM, Letter 3.

I usually hesitate to attribute the voice in MALCOM, necessarily to Lewis himself, without further evidence. Which would seem to be found in this case in Vol III of the COLLECTED LETTERS, p. 752 and Supplement, pp. 1591-1592. Sounds like the true voice. He does distinguish between devotion to and invocation of Saints, but not favoring them himself.

GKC

"So they do believe that St Peter is up there or at least stuck outside on guard duty. "

dee burk: Thanks for that statement it really gave me a chuckle.

I find it interesting that Mark 12:27 in the KJV states Jesus said:" He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err." … from the King James Bible Online (KJV Bible).

I wonder how Baptists would interpret this being bible Only types. Assuming they are.

Thank you everyone for your input.

Baptists do believe the saints are living. There are saints living in Heaven, and saints living on earth.

Then where is the problem in asking for their intercession, just as we ask for each other’s intercession here on earth?

Flawed theology on their part. They think Christ’s power over death only applies to some finite level.

I guess I’d answer that with a question; is there any difference between those in Heaven and those on earth? I’d say the answer has to be “yes.”

The issue in asking them would be that those in Heaven are indeed physically dead, we are not. We are in the land of the physically alive, there is a gap between us and them. As outlined in the OT, we aren’t to try to call up or talk to those that have passed on. Further, we see no one in the NT directing their prayers to anyone but God in Heaven. Further, the prayer modeled for us begins “Our Father,” we are given no instruction to pray to those living in Heaven. We are not told the capabilities of those that have gone before us. There is no reason to supposed they are omniscient, nor omnipotent, nor omnipresent.

On the flip side, most of us protestants don’t see our not talking to the physically dead as meaning to insult them in anyway. And, I would add that I do believe there are misunderstandings about the official teaching and practice in the Catholic church of asking for a Saint’s intercession.

There is no gap in the “Body of Christ”. Do you not believe that we on earth and those in heaven are “one body” in Christ. How can “one body” be separated?

Deuteronomy speaks against necromancy; the practice of conjuring up the dead through wizards and mediums and the like. The Catholic Church speaks against this as well. Deuteronomy does not condemn praying to saints for the purpose of asking for their intercession.

Try Revelation 5:8. John’s vision shows us the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God: “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

And yet, according to John, they bring our prayers to God. How can they know what those prayers are if they cannot hear us? And how do you know what people in heaven can hear and not hear? We are told that “we will be like him”. If we will be like Jesus and Jesus can hear our prayers then why not the saints? And if Christ’s prayer model excludes the saints in heaven from praying for us then it excludes those on earth from praying for us as well.

The right hand of a body doesn’t directly communicate to the left hand, it goes through the head. Most protestants see it as a matter of respect to, when communicating “with Heaven,” to communicate to, or through, the Head. Again, we are indeed all of the body, but how we are told to operate is the question.

Deuteronomy speaks against necromancy; the practice of conjuring up the dead through wizards and mediums and the like. The Catholic Church speaks against this as well. Deuteronomy does not condemn praying to saints for the purpose of asking for their intercession.

Again, Baptists would not agree with that interpretation.

Try Revelation 5:8. John’s vision shows us the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God: “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

There is nothing there that says someone was praying to those saints, nor who collected them, nor how they were collected.

And how do you know what people in heaven can hear and not hear? We are told that “we will be like him”. If we will be like Jesus and Jesus can hear our prayers then why not the saints? And if Christ’s prayer model excludes the saints in heaven from praying for us then it excludes those on earth from praying for us as well.

I’ve already touched on all of that, and understand you don’t agree with the Baptist POV, nor do they agree with the RCC POV, that wasn’t really the topic of the thread.

As to your last point; that is denying that there is an obvious difference between the physically dead and the physically alive, of course there is a difference even just by definition.

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