[For Lutherans] Early Church condemning invocation of the Saints?

To address the invocation of the saints.

This is another accepted and time honored practice that goes all the way back to the earliest days of the Church. By invocation; we Catholics mean we pray to the saints in Heaven for them to pray for us. Since we know the prayers of the righteous man avail much; we can be confident that saints, the dead who are holy enough to be in Heaven with God; are more righteous than us here on Earth and thus we know their prayers are more powerful than ours. Thus, we pray to the saints.

Little is it known among Protestants, but; the invocation of the saints is a Biblical practice that goes all the way back to Old Testament times. We can see in 2 Maccabees the story of Onias interceding for the Jewish rebels and the soldiers of the Maccabean army praying for the souls of dead Jewish collaborators whose bodies are found wearing pagan amulets.

Fun fact: Luther and his fellow rebels cut 7 books from the Old Testament and thus: You don’t see the Biblical supporting evidence for the invocation of the saints and prayers for the dead in shortened Protestant Bibles.

Thus, we see the Biblical precedent for both of these pious, perfectly acceptable and time honored practices.

I do know, from private experience I might add; that in Lutheran communities, when the word saints or the communion of saints comes up; the meaning is typically applied to the members of the congregation and the communion among the congregation. And somehow communion is emphatically not with the dead in Heaven. Purgatory was completely cut out. Purgatory is a Biblical concept as well, found in the Gospels. But, that’s material for a later time.

In the Church, Saints are the holy dead who made it to Heaven and the communion of saints is the communion of the saints in Heaven, the dead in purgatory and the living on Earth. We’re all still one Body of Christ and still pray for each other.

Hope this all helps.

God bless you, Jon.

Any properly catechized Lutheran knows the Communion of Saints includes the Saints in Heaven. It is even in the Liturgy of the Sacrament.

Then they were poorly catechized. That isn’t what Lutheranism teaches.

Yes. The Lutheran Confessions reference this.

Amen. See recent document:

“At the moment of judgment we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy.”214. 196. This teaching makes clear that the Catholic doctrine of purgatory and the Lutheran teaching of the self being purified by death-and-resurrection intend to describe the same reality: the process by which the self, distracted during this life by sin and the remnants of sin, is turned fully to Christ, purified of all that would hinder perfect communion with God, Christ, and the saints that will be the life of heaven. Juridical categories of satisfaction and debt, which helpfully emphasize our personal responsibility for sin, are not denied in this picture, but they are contextualized and integrated within a more comprehensive picture of the power of God’s love to transform the justified into persons fit for the kingdom.

If Purgatory can be described as “the moment of judgement ” as Pope Benedict does in the quote, then I have no problem with the concept.

So, this means that you want to continue name calling. I was hoping that Lutherans and Catholics would follow their theologians in getting past that.
Continue as you wish. I won’t follow you.

Jon, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not “ name calling “. I’m just being clear and truthful. Calling Luther and his fellows “ reformers “ would be a grave misnomer.

Reformers stay within the system and change it from within; as we can see with the saints that I mentioned. Rebels try to overthrow, revolutionize or break away from the system.

How is that name calling?

Please see my above point.

If one refers to others in a way they do not prefer, that’s name calling. The terms you mentioned, along with some others, I would never use to describe my Catholic siblings. I would never refer to Pope Benedict, as an example, as The “Anti-Christ”.
But you make your own choices.

Please, Jon. What unfair terms do you believe I’m using?

As for the Antichrist reference; I pointed that out as illustrating my point about Luther not being a genuine reformer. If he genuinely sought to reform the Church, as I believe he honestly sought to before his rejection and excommunication; why would he be so vile and insulting? As we can see amongst ourselves; name calling only angers the other person and puts them on the defensive.

Sorry, I thought I tagged you.


1 Like

I see.

You reiterated your statement; while not answering my question.

I have another question: Are you holding off on further dialogue until I satisfy your desire for me to name Luther what I cannot in all truth name him?

:thinking: I see.

Please see my above point.

Not me. I don’t work that way. As I said, I won’t follow your example.

Okay, Jon. Please help me to understand your thinking.

This darn tagging feature’s tricky!!


Thinking about Invocation of the Saints? For me?
Luke 15:7 I say to you that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance.

For me, I need evidence that the saints in Heaven are aware to some degree of events on Earth. Luke 15 provides it. So, I do not reject the practice, though I tend to follow a more Lutheran approach, being asking God to listen to the prayers of His saints on our behalf.

:thinking: I see.

I’m glad you accept the practice; thanks be to God.

Please help me to understand the… as you put it; more Lutheran approach. From my reading in Lutheran theology and my experience with the ELCA; I’m not understanding how invocation of the saints is acceptable in your tradition.

Hahahahaha there it goes again!!

I’ll take this opportunity to ask you a question.
With your quote on the one sinner who does penance is my inspiration.

How does your tradition understand penance?

From what I gather; Luther taught that sincere contrition of heart is required for forgiveness from God. This we Catholics can agree with on Luther. In fact: If the person making Confession isn’t sincere in his/her contrition for sin; that Confession is invalid and Absolution isnt conferred.

Penance, as we understand it; is the act of making it up to God. Penance, what the priest commands us to do as part of a good and valid Confession; is the act of demonstrating to God that we are sorry. Not just in word; but in deed.

I wasn’t speaking for the tradition. I was speaking for me.
A more Lutheran approach is addressing prayers to God. Asking Him to hear the prayers of His saints in Heaven is no different than asking him to hear the prayers of His saints on Earth.

:thinking: I see. Sorry I misunderstood.

Again; I’m glad to hear you accept invocation of the saints in principle. Thank God.

I remember you saying that Papal authority needed to be challenged in Luther’s day. What causes you to believe that?

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