Protestant "Saints"


As a former Evangelical/Charismatic Christian, I know the zeal and dedication of my “Separated Brethren.” In no way would I deny their love for Christ, desire for truth, and dedication to His will, as they understand it.

Bearing that in mind, something that continues to intrigue me is the seemingly unparalleled dedication of Catholic Saints. When I study the lives of Mother Theresa, Saint Francis of Assisi, Padre Pio, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint John Vianny, and hundreds others, I am awstruck! Their dedication rivals (if not surpasses), the dedication of the apostles.

In part, I suspect this dedication is largely as a result of the graces given through the Sacraments, particularly graces that lead to holiness. I was wondering if there are any Protestant “Saints” with the same zeal and dedication (keeping theological matters aside)?

Keep in mind I’m not talking about “saints” as merely Christians who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. We all agree that those who truly love God are His children. I’m focusing on zeal, dedication, holiness, and sacrificial love. Who are the biggest heroes in Protestantism, relfecting these things? (Dedication, Holiness, Sacrificial Love)

I thought this would be an interesting issue because these Christians are the “heroes” of the faith. We should be inspired by them, and in many cases across church lines.

(Please ask me before you have any assumptions here.)


I can remember only one person who was held in universally high regard in the evangelical churches I’ve attended, and that’s Jim Elliot. He was an evangelical missionary to Ecuador who was killed while trying to evangelize one of the tribal groups of that country.


God rest his soul! He was a dedicated man of God - certainly to be admired!

However, even though he appears to be more dedicated than I currently am, he does not appear to be a match for the Catholic Saints.

We will most certainly be put him in the hero category though.


Oh, I agree, but I was just giving an example of one person who was held in very high regard by evangelicals (rightly so, I might add).

Other names I remember are Corrie ten Boom (a Dutch Christian who helped Jews escape the Holocaust) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a German Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis).


Another some Protestants consider a saint (at least the Anglican Church does, I believe) is C. S. Lewis. His life and writings inspired millions and still do today.


That may be true, but I can’t say that the evangelicals I’ve known held him in nearly as high regard as they did Eliot, Bonhoeffer and ten Boom. While Lewis was admired for his intellect and writing abilities, the latter three were admired for their willingness to put themselves in danger to do the right thing.

  1. Corrie Ten Boom, her father Kaspar, her sisters Nollie and Betsie, and her brother Willem. There was another young nephew, too, but I can’t remember his name. Four members of this ten Boom family gave their lives for the Jews during the Holocaust.

  2. Cameron Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

  3. Many missionaries from many denominations who died while trying to bring the Gospel to unreached peoples in the world. e.g., Chet Bitterman, a young Wycliffe Bible translator who was shot and killed overseas because he was a Christian.

  4. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

  5. The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King

  6. Dr. Paul Brand, who devoted his life to lepers abroad and here in the United States.

  7. William Wilberforce worked to end slavery in England

  8. C.S. Lewis–one of the greatest Christian apologists ever

  9. Ethel Waters–a great musician who glorified God in the secular and Christian music world.

  10. Rev. Eugene Pitney, a pastor in our city who devoted his entire life to working with the homeless, the derelicts, and the alcoholics. He founded our city’s Rescue Mission, which even our Catholic parish contributes to, and he helped to rehabilitate thousands of the “dregs of the earth.” His work continues today in our city long after his death.

  11. Lots and lots of nameless people who simply “did the work of the Lord,” helping the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners, and taking care of orphans and widows. They may not have been Catholic, but they demonstrated their belief in Christ by living out Matthew 25: 31-46.


I don’t know how evangelicals view him, but I’ve always admired Dirk Willems. He was going to be executed for participating in a Believer’s Baptism, and somehow managed to escape from prison before his execution. As he was running to get away, the person following him fell through ice, and was going to drown. Willems went back to save him even though he knew it would mean that he would be exectued.

I just really admire that split second decision to go back and save someone’s life, even though it meant he would die. I really wonder if I would have done the same thing in that situation. Definitely someone who I admire!


That’s like blaming St Thomas Aquinas for not being martyred by Muslims like Blessed Ramon Lull :slight_smile: , or faulting Anna Maria Taigi for not having the theological wisdom of St. Augustine. If he had been living at a time & in a place in which he had been called on to do as they did, & had failed to, there would be some sense in the criticism of him. But he wasn’t, so there isn’t. One might as well blame St.Philip Neri for not being St. Francis Xavier.

Each is given the measure of grace God Wills, & the vocation God Wills. No everyone is called to be an Apostle, martyr, founder, Doctor, bishop, priest, layman, or whatever: so it makes no sense to expect it. The Church would be incredibly dull if all of us were fourth-century Egyptian monks, or 16th-century Japanese martyrs. It would suggest that God had run out of ideas & creativity.

The Church needs martyrs, & Doctors: not the one or the other. Doctrine may not be as “glamorous” as martyrdom, but without someone somewhere to bother about it, the very concept of martyrdom would be lost to the Church; no one would be able to say how it differed from suicide, terrorism, or selfish exhibitionism, because no one would have thought about it. Apart from anything else, it can be as heroic to take blame for something one has not done, as to be burnt, shot, hanged, gassed, drowned, or decapitated for Christ. What man sees is not what matters - what God sees, is. :slight_smile:

Toyohiko Kagawa was a Japanese Anglican who has been referred to as possibly a saint -

There is also the Sadhu -

& the “other” Martyrs of Uganda - St. Charles Lwanga had more than 21 companions :slight_smile:


That’s amazing - it really is. That is Christ-like, surely; unlike what he was subjected to. :frowning:


I’ve always admired John Newton, who wrote the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. He was a former slave trader who converted to Christianity and became a great anti-slavery advocate in Britain.


I think of the story of Gladys Aylward…Her story is available as the book “The Small Woman”, & fictionalized in movies as “Inn of the 6th Happiness”…
Miss Aylward was a simple maidservant in London between the World Wars, when she felt called to be a missionary in China. No one would send her, because all the missionary boards wanted someone with specail training. (She never, I believe, managed to learn more than a small amount of Chinese, & not to read it at all).
She worked & saved, & paid her own way there. She was ministering in whatever way she could to the children both physically & spiritually, when the Japanese invaded China. The many Chinese children she cared for were in grave danger, & she took off across the mountains with them, & walked all the way, saving every single child from death or enslavement.
She later said, she believed that God wanted her there precisely because He needed a :slight_smile: “good strong housemaid who wasn’t afraid of hard work” for the physical rigors of the trip.
She died & is buried in Taiwan…


John and Charles Wesley
Eric Liddel (Chariots of Fire and missionary to China)
Corrie ten Boom
Billy Graham
Brother Andrew (God’s Smuggler)
David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz (more recently)
RC Sproul

Pentecostals will like David du Plessis, Kathryn Kuhlman (a little controversial) and the black pastor at Azusa Street whose name escapes me at the moment.

My take is that Protestants tend to “canonize” their “saints” while they are still alive and forget them once they’re gone.

Whoever is on TV is the “hot” ticket of the day…


I have an admiration and love for the anabaptist martyrs myself. If I had any guts, I’d be a Mennonite.

Another one is Michael Sattler.

There was a movie I saw about him a long time back.


This is correct. Much to Lewis’s probable chagrin, the Episcopal church HAS added him to their calendar! The prayer assigned for his date in the Episcopalian calendar goes like this:

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike. Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Another martyr of Uganda: Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwu,. martyred under the evil regime of Idi Amin:

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


There is no question all these individuals are heroic. I mean that with the utmost sincerity. I could only hope to have their zeal and dedication!

That being said, I still don’t think they have the same degree of zeal as Catholic Saints. Their degree of holiness and willingness to suffer seems to me unparalleled. (Perhaps some Eastern Orthodox Saints fit the bill) Far fewer Protestants remained celibate and reject all personal possessions.

For example, for all the good Billy Graham has done, he is a very wealthy man. I would not be surprised if Almighty held that against him in a serious way; for we know what the Bible says about the love of money. (But I can’t look into his heart. Neither am I judging.)

My point is that who compares to Catholic Saints? I don’t think anyone. I largely attribute that to graces given through the Sacraments, the intercession of the Saints (especially the Blessed Virgin), and our understanding of justification (infused righteousness - ideas have consequences).



Be careful how you judge the wealth of Rev. Graham! The Bible specifically says that the *love *of money is the problem, not money itself. I see no reason why Rev. Graham’s presumed wealth should be held against him.


They’ve already been listed, but the obvious choices are Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, John and Charles Wesley.

If you want to get controvesial, I suppose you could add Martin Luther! :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:


Many of these were on my list also. Although not sure about RC Sproul!!! (Yikes!)

I also thought of Amy Carmicheal who went to India to save girls from temple prostitution. I do not believe she ever married, so definately gave up family for God’s work.

I also agree that there is a lot of "cannonization’ of Protestant leaders while they are alive. Of course, this becomes a BIG problem when indescretions are revealed! Of course, a Protestant could remember a dead person fondly, but wouldn’t hold them up the way we do since they don’t believe the ‘communion of saints’ being beyond death also.

There are several books for children about Protestant heros. I know of a series of fictionalized stories–the person’s life is historical, but the books include a fictional child character who witnesses their life. Also a set of short life-sketches, I think called “Heros of the Faith” or something along those lines. Of course those books include people like Tyndale and Luther.

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