A week ago or so I came across this specific source that tries to attack certain reasons which Catholics use to justify praying to deceased saints and others.
Now,I haven’t really come across anything that specifically tries to refute these arguments by the Protestant since the arguments are too specific,so that is why I am going to lay out his arguments here to see if anyone can refute this and answer all of these claims:
''Tertullian held a complex view of the afterlife that doesn’t completely align with any of the mainstream views today.
If Tertullian was mistaken about Paradise being surrounded by a fiery region, that can be taken up with Tertullian. Disputing it doesn’t refute my citation of the passage as many people try to say. I do think that the passage that is cited can be interpreted in other ways, but asking whether Tertullian viewed Heaven as being surrounded by Hell doesn’t make the case.
Later in this letter, I’m going to give further context from Tertullian supporting my conclusion that he didn’t believe in praying to the deceased.
Lactantius discusses idolatry in the larger context and is addressing pagans. How do such facts refute my use of the passage?
When the early Christians criticize pagans for aborting their children or committing fornication, do we conclude that things like abortion and fornication are sinful only if you’re a non-Christian? Should we think that it’s acceptable for Christians to engage in such behavior?
The argument adds qualifications to Lactantius’ comments that Lactantius himself doesn’t include. The most natural reading of the passage is that praying to the dead is sinful, without the arbitrary qualifications.
I want to give some further context regarding the fathers’ view of praying to the dead. As with all historical questions, different pieces of evidence carry different weight.
But I think that the overall balance of the evidence is strongly against praying to the deceased.
Even if some of these passages from the fathers could possibly be interpreted in other ways, not all of them have a reasonable alternate interpretation, and the general thrust of the data is clear.
First, I want to briefly address Revelation 5:8. Early patristic commentators on Revelation 5:8 refer to the prayers as being offered to God, not to the elders. We see this in Irenaeus (Against Heresies, 4:17:6-4:18:1), Origen (Against Celsus, 8:17), and Methodius (The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, 5:8).
If other beings are involved in the transmission of our prayers, but aren’t the recipients of those prayers, how does that situation support the Catholic and Orthodox practice of having dead people as an object of prayer? It doesn’t.
Athenagoras suggests that prayers shouldn’t be addressed to created beings:
“Because the multitude, who cannot distinguish between matter and God, or see how great is the interval which lies between them, pray to idols made of matter, are we therefore, who do distinguish and separate the uncreated and the created, that which is and that which is not, that which is apprehended by the understanding and that which is perceived by the senses, and who give the fitting name to each of them,-are we to come and worship images?..For if they differ in no respect from the lowest brutes (since it is evident that the Deity must differ from the things of earth and those that are derived from matter), they are not gods. How, then, I ask, can we approach them as suppliants, when their origin resembles that of cattle, and they themselves have the form of brutes, and are ugly to behold?” (A Plea for the Christians, 15, 20)
“Nor does she [the church] perform anything by means of angelic invocations, or by incantations, or by any other wicked curious art; but, directing her prayers to the Lord, who made all things, in a pure, sincere, and straightforward spirit, and calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, she has been accustomed to work miracles for the advantage of mankind, and not to lead them into error…The altar, then, is in heaven (for towards that place are our prayers and oblations directed)” (Against Heresies, 2:32:5, 4:18:6)
Clement of Alexandria defines prayer as communication with God.
He refers to Christians “passing over the whole world” in order to commune with God alone in prayer. He describes it as a form of worship to God. Apparently, he had no concept of praying to the dead:
"But if, by nature needing nothing, He delights to be honoured, it is not without reason that we honour God in prayer; and thus the best and holiest sacrifice with righteousness we bring, presenting it as an offering to the most righteous Word, by whom we receive knowledge, giving glory by Him for what we have learned…For the sacrifice of the Church is the word breathing as incense from holy souls, the sacrifice and the whole mind being at the same time unveiled to God.
Now the very ancient altar in Delos they celebrated as holy; which alone, being undefiled by slaughter and death, they say Pythagoras approached. And will they not believe us when we say that the righteous soul is the truly sacred altar, and that incense arising from it is holy prayer?..Prayer is, then, to speak more boldly, converse with God. Though whispering, consequently, and not opening the lips, we speak in silence, yet we cry inwardly.
For God hears continually all the inward converse. So also we raise the head and lift the hands to heaven, and set the feet in motion at the closing utterance of the prayer, following the eagerness of the spirit directed towards the intellectual essence; and endeavouring to abstract the body from the earth, along with the discourse, raising the soul aloft, winged with longing for better things, we compel it to advance to the region of holiness, magnanimously despising the chain of the flesh.’’