Mary, the Saints, and Idols

I was recently speaking to a friend and colleague about religion and the Catholic faith. He attends a Mennonite Brethren church and of course had many misconceptions about Catholicism. I am hoping he will do some research on his own, but he seems to have the belief that, while there is only one Truth, there are various ways to get to this Truth, and that any Christian has the fullness of Truth as long as they put Christ at the center of their life. (I also think that putting Christ as the center is the most important thing, but of course to do this in the fullest sense would be to become a member of the Catholic Church…)
One of the issues that came up was Mary and the saints. He believes that he needs no mediation between himself and God, and that “praying to” saints is wrong. Of course, I went a typical route: “Do you think it is okay to pray for others and to ask for others to pray for you?” “Yes.” “Well, we believe that we are all members of the Body of Christ and thus our relationship doesn’t end at death, so we are not worshiping Mary or the saints, we are asking them to pray for us, just like I would ask you to pray for me.” He conceded that this might be okay, if in fact our relationship does not end at death; although, he was not convinced this is the case. He thinks that, while they might still be connected somehow, that they cannot hear us, nor do they pray for us, nor would it matter. In the end, he said that maybe all that is okay, but the difference between asking for prayers from someone who is alive versus someone who is no longer with us on earth, is that we are more likely to deify someone who is dead because they are not here in front of us. I was not really prepared for this, though I asked if he really thought that people would not deify another living person–he said no. So I asked who people generally ask for prayers–we agreed, they are generally ministers or church leaders of some kind (for various reasons, namely they might have a better understanding of God than we do). After reflecting on this, he conceded that maybe you could deify another person (we also discussed the fact that people tend to deify all sorts of things, including inanimate objects), but it was still more likely that you would deify someone who is dead.
Has anyone fielded this argument before? If so, how did you or would you respond? In addition to the deification concern, how would you support the idea that our relationship to each other does not end at death?

He’s just making the fallacy of gratuitous assertion, that a person is more likely to deify someone in heaven. But even if that were true (which is unsubstantiated) it would not make it wrong. Is a man more likely to commit adultery if he interacts with other females? Yes. Does that mean a married man can never interact with other females? Of course not.

Of course, all the more should we ask for the prayers of heavenly members of the body of Christ because the prayer of the righteous availeth much (James 5:16). Revelations 5:8 and 8:4 also show that the heavenly members of the body pray contrary to what you describe your friend as saying.

If he’s willing to look at 2 Maccabees 15: 12-16 that would be helpful.

JUDAS HAS A VISION:
12 What he saw was this: Oni′as, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. 13 Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. 14 And Oni′as spoke, saying, “This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God.” 15 Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave it he addressed him thus: 16 “Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries.”

Onias and Jeremiah were both dead, but this passage shows they were aware of what was going on with the Jews on earth, and they were ready, willing and able to help their people from heaven. Jeremiah even handed Judas a weapon from God, so Jeremiah and Onias were acting as intercessors here.

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus Christ Himself relates what appears to be the true story, since, unlike all His other parables, one of the people involved is named, of a rich man and the beggar Lazarus, who both died. Lazarus went to the comfort of Abraham’s bosom but the rich man went to a place of torment. Jesus tells us that even from his place of torment the dead rich man was still concerned about his living brothers, that they might not end up in that place of torment too, and asked dead Abraham to intercede for those brothers by sending Lazarus to them. Although Abraham refused this particular request, it still shows two things: 1) that the dead are still concerned about the living and 2) that they intercede for the living. This is perhaps even more the case of the righteous dead who, since Jesus’ death and resurrection, are now in the presence of God in heaven. (Hebrew 12:23)

=NightFisher

Evangelization FORUM CAF

Mary, the Saints, and Idols


[quote]I was recently speaking to a friend and colleague about religion and the Catholic faith. He attends a Mennonite Brethren church and of course had many misconceptions about Catholicism. I am hoping he will do some research on his own, but he seems to have the belief that, while there is only one Truth, there are various ways to get to this Truth, and that any Christian has the fullness of Truth as long as they put Christ at the center of their life. (I also think that putting Christ as the center is the most important thing, but of course to do this in the fullest sense would be to become a member of the Catholic Church…)

REPLY: 1st, welcome to CAF
Your friend’s position is a common one, but not supported biblically or logically.

Because there is only One true God
One True God can logically hold ONLY one set of Faith beliefs on defined issues
God; both Yahweh and Christ always without exception held to this truth: One Chosen People gave way to just One Church founded, guided, guarded and desired by God.

The Bible teaches:
One God
One Faith
& One Church as God’s desire

NOTE the singular tense chosen by Christ in these teachings [space in limited on CAF so I can’t copy them for you]** Mt. 10:1-8; Mt. 16:15-19; Mt. 18:18; John 17:11-26; & Mt. 28:16-20 PROVE this. **

One of the issues that came up was Mary and the saints. He believes that he needs no mediation between himself and God, and that “praying to” saints is wrong. Of course, I went a typical route: “Do you think it is okay to pray for others and to ask for others to pray for you?” “Yes.” “Well, we believe that we are all members of the Body of Christ and thus our relationship doesn’t end at death, so we are not worshiping Mary or the saints, we are asking them to pray for us, just like I would ask you to pray for me.” He conceded that this might be okay, if in fact our relationship does not end at death; although, he was not convinced this is the case. He thinks that, while they might still be connected somehow, that they cannot hear us, nor do they pray for us, nor would it matter. In the end, he said that maybe all that is okay, but the difference between asking for prayers from someone who is alive versus someone who is no longer with us on earth, is that we are more likely to deify someone who is dead because they are not here in front of us. I was not really prepared for this, though I asked if he really thought that people would not deify another living person–he said no. So I asked who people generally ask for prayers–we agreed, they are generally ministers or church leaders of some kind (for various reasons, namely they might have a better understanding of God than we do). After reflecting on this, he conceded that maybe you could deify another person (we also discussed the fact that people tend to deify all sorts of things, including inanimate objects), but it was still more likely that you would deify someone who is dead.
Has anyone fielded this argument before? If so, how did you or would you respond? In addition to the deification concern, how would you support the idea that our relationship to each other does not end at death?

REPLY on Mary

I suggest the following

READ Exo. 25:18, & Num. 21:8-9 and we discover that God Himself commanded Moses to build IDOS. Both of which were to be “prayed too.” So it is the USE of the item, NOT the item itself that determines its merit. Anything that can lead one to God is good; anything that leads one away from God is BAD.

This too applies to Mary and the Saints.

While it is correct to claim that we pray “to” Mary and the Saints; it is FAR more correct to understand that we are praying THROUGH them, to God. ALL prayer is intended for God. Mary and the Saints act as intercessors, and add their own prayers on top of our and personally present them on our behalf.

The CC does not demand or command prayers to Mary and the Saints, that is a form of personal piety; highly recommended, but not mandated.

God Bless you
Patrick PJM} here on CAF
[/quote]

He’s just making the fallacy of gratuitous assertion, that a person is more likely to deify someone in heaven. But even if that were true (which is unsubstantiated) it would not make it wrong. Is a man more likely to commit adultery if he interacts with other females? Yes. Does that mean a married man can never interact with other females? Of course not.

Of course, all the more should we ask for the prayers of heavenly members of the body of Christ because the prayer of the righteous availeth much (James 5:16). Revelations 5:8 and 8:4 also show that the heavenly members of the body pray contrary to what you describe your friend as saying.

Those are good points. I actually thought about Revelations after we had parted ways.

If he’s willing to look at 2 Maccabees 15: 12-16 that would be helpful.

I might try this in the future, but knowing how our Protestant brothers and sisters feel about Maccabees, I doubt that he will accept this. Though if I ever talk to him about these things again, I might bring up these “extra books” as they call them. :wink:

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus Christ Himself relates what appears to be the true story, since, unlike all His other parables, one of the people involved is named, of a rich man and the beggar Lazarus, who both died. Lazarus went to the comfort of Abraham’s bosom but the rich man went to a place of torment. Jesus tells us that even from his place of torment the dead rich man was still concerned about his living brothers, that they might not end up in that place of torment too, and asked dead Abraham to intercede for those brothers by sending Lazarus to them. Although Abraham refused this particular request, it still shows two things: 1) that the dead are still concerned about the living and 2) that they intercede for the living. This is perhaps even more the case of the righteous dead who, since Jesus’ death and resurrection, are now in the presence of God in heaven. (Hebrew 12:23)

Honestly, I had not thought about some of this. These are good points that I will keep in mind in the future.

PJM: Thank you for your reply and PM. I actually mentioned that it was not mandatory to pray to Mary and the saints, but the fact that many Catholics do, makes him uneasy. If we entertain more dialog in the future, I will bring up some of these points. I also had thought about making the point that there is really only one faith, but I figured it was best to take baby steps, and sometimes the best way to open somebody up is to not come down on what they’ve lived with for their entire lives.

I appreciate all of your replies. I know that I will talk to this friend again (I mean, we are friends and all), but it was a rare occasion that religion came up. I will be much better prepared in the future if the opportunity presents itself.

Did our Lord not defeat death on the cross? If so, how can then can the relationships He established by virtue of His redemption be ended by death?

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