What do Protestant really believe about the Catholic Church?


I’m sorry, my questions weren’t very clear.
What is the earliest attested occurrence of prayer to a Saint outside scripture.
Why do Protestants object to it.

Edited for clarity


Outside of scripture, here is an example. https://www.catholic.com/tract/the-intercession-of-the-saints


Reasons range from it’s not spelled out explicitly in Scripture (as in Matthew 45:2 says "And Jesus said to His disciples, “Amen, amen I say to you, you can pray to the Saints in heaven.” And yes, I know Matthew 45 doesn’t exist), to erroneously believing it’s necromancy.


I’ll squeeze in one last, final post. The elders’ connection to the prayers would seem to be similar to the connection of the angels in Revelations to the wrath of God that they poured out of their vessels onto the earth. The angels were not the party to whom the wrath of God was directed, but were simply administering it. Likewise it appears that the Elders were not the party to whom the prayers of God’s people were directed, but they were simply administering prayers made to God by His people (e.g. Psalm 58:8b) as part of their spiritual duties before the Heavenly Throne.

In any event, I do not believe this passage can be relied on as evidence from the Scriptural record of the validity of prayers to saints.

I am aware of the alternate translations of the term presbyter, and I am fine with use of term “priest” being applied to a New Covenant presbyter.

The Scriptural examples–the cited Psalms are broad invocations for all creation to praise God, not only the heavenly host, but also the non-living creation, like the “sun” and “moon”. These do not serve as grounds for invoking the aid of specific angels or saints.

As for the extra-scriptural sources, we do not have any evidence of prayers to the saints until the 4th century century (or the 3rd century at the earliest). And the records from the Church Fathers do not contain or approvingly reference prayers to Mary or other saints until the 4th century. Methodius is cited in the link, but scholarship indicates that these words regarding Mary are more accurately traced to the 9th century. Cyprian is cited on the link, but his is simply a request to those present to continue to pray for the Church after their death (as I am quite confident that my brothers and sisters who have departed from this world are faithful to do).

The statements by the fathers and writings preceding Cyprian are likewise not indications of prayers to saints, but additional examples of the largely uncontroversial belief that the departed saints are praying for those of us here on earth. Also, when the context is taken into account, the citation from the Shepherd of Hermas likewise provides no ground for the practice of praying to angels (or saints).


I’m not coming at this from a knee-jerk anti-Roman Catholic standpoint. While I’m Protestant (if we’re going to go around putting labels on ourselves :slight_smile: ), I have a high view of Tradition, Sacraments, etc. and I have a great respect for the RC faithfulness to Scripture and Tradition on birth control and other important issues in our day. Have a blessed Christmas season all.


What keeps you from being Catholic yourself?


Hello Guanophore, the most significant reason is the affirmation of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church required for (good faith) entry into the Roman Catholic Church. Despite my agreement with the RCC on many issues, there are other issues where I have fundamental disagreement on the basis of Scripture and Tradition with the RCC (for instance, prayers to saints and angels). Thanks for the question and have a blessed Advent Season. Unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to provide any follow up discussion at this time…


Praying for each other is intercessory prayer.

Re: intercessory prayer https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/intercessory-power

Earliest in the field was the cult of martyrs, the heroes of the faith whom Christians held to be already in God’s presence and glorious in his sight. At first it took the form of the reverent preservation of their relics and the annual celebration of their ‘birthday.’ From this it was a short step, since they were now with Christ in glory, to seeking their help and prayers, and in the third century evidence for the belief in their intercessory power accumulates" (Early Christian Doctrines [1979], 490).

intercession can’t be discounted


This is a very interesting comparison, and I think bears witness. In the same way, our prayers are directed toward God, but facilitated by the saints. And speaking of bearing witness, Heb. 12:1 comes to mind. After an entire chapter devoted to the exploits of the saints who have gone before us to their heavenly reward, it is written;

“12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” Heb. 12:1 .

One of the first hermeneutical principles I was taught was “when you see a therefore, look and see what it is there for”. In this case, we are admonished to persevere in faith based upon the perseverance of the saints who preceded us. We are reminded that we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”. This could be translated martryrs, though not all in the description died for their faith. It is notable that they are described in the present tense as witnesses by whom we are presently surrounded, as if to say that we are in communion with those who have passed on before us, and they also witness us as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

This is the basis for the communion of saints, that those in Christ live forever, and that even death cannot separate either of us from the love of God, or from one another.


Bishop Sheen: “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be."


I’m just curious if anyone has mentioned the early Church fathers and saints like St. Polycarp, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Jerome, St. Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr and the like when talking about the Catholic Church…There’s a whole history and tradition that dates back LONG before Luther and the Protestant Reformation (and even the Nicaean Councils), but no one talks about this much…There are many writings, though, if one is interested to know more…If more people knew the REAL history of the Church (and the connections of those early Church fathers to the Apostles and those who knew Jesus), maybe there wouldn’t be so much animosity…The only way to counter misinformation is with truth in a loving way…


Thanks for your message guanophore. I agree that those who have gone before us in the faith are a great cloud of witnesses presently, and that we have real communion with these saints through the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, we have no indication from Scripture or the first centuries of the Church (as noted above) that we may invoke a deceased brother or sister in Christ or otherwise speak with or to them. Rather, I would argue that the opposite is the case per the Scriptural commands to never attempt to communicate with those who have passed from this life, whether they are the souls of brothers and sisters who are alive with God (as Abraham and Samuel) or the souls of those eternally separated from God.

Likewise, we are in communion with all the saints presently on earth through the Holy Spirit, the vast majority of whom we will never communicate with (or have the opportunity to communicate with) in this life. I probably won’t have an opportunity to follow up until after Christmas, so we’ll have to agree to disagree at this time. Have a blessed Christmas.


Hello steve-b, I agree that the cult of the martrys assisted in bringing about the initiation of or normalization of a practice that is absent from the writings of the Apostles or the Old Testament Prophets, namely, invoking the souls of our deceased brothers and sisters. As the quote you provided indicates, the evidence is that the practice is a later innovation and was not practiced by any of the pillars of our faith, e.g. St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, etc. With the many prayers and allusions to prayer the Apostles and Old Testament prophets have left us in their writings, it seems remarkable to think that the invoking of the godly deceased was for them an accepted and utilized practice (let alone a central feature of prayer life as it is for many in this day) when they did not leave a single example of its use in their writings.

Rather, the only references in Scripture to communications with the unseen souls of brothers and sisters that have passed from this life are exclusively negative.

All that said, even the Calvinist John Owen in his commentary on Hebrews 12:1 speaks to the shared intimate walk and encouragement we have from the blessed departed (without any need to invoke or communicate directly with their souls):

[QUOTE]For in the whole verse the apostle doth, as it were, represent believers in their profession as striving for victory as upon a theater. Christ sits at the head or end of it, as the great agonothetes, the judge and rewarder of those that strive lawfully, and acquit themselves by perseverance unto the end. All the saints departed divinely testified unto stand and sit on every side, looking on, and encouraging us in our course; which was wont to be a mighty provocation unto men to put forth the utmost of their strength in their public contests for victory.

For when a great multitude do encompass men, in any cause, drawing about them, and near unto them, to give them encouragement, they cannot but greatly countenance and further them in their way. So doth this cloud of witnesses them that do believe.[/QUOTE]

As I noted in my post to guanophore, I likely won’t be able to follow up until after Christmas. Have a blessed Christmas season.


Without being cheeky, nor cruel, but simply succinct, and in charity (1 Cor. 13), my answer is Roman Catholicism itself in its theology, faith (pistis/fides; such as ‘immortal soul/spirit theology’, ‘eternal torment in hellfire theology’, ‘papal see’, ‘immaculate conception dogma’, ‘perpetual virginity’, ‘assumption’, ‘theotokos’, ‘transubstantiation’, ‘sunday sacredness’, etc. (there’s literally over 100 things)) and practice (praxis; such as the ‘mass’).

It does not keep God’s Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) as Jesus said to do (John 14:15; Exodus 20:6), but substitutes another law, it’s own law, in the Law of God’s place, as may be seen here (as was foretold, Daniel 7:25) - http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/command.htm

Roman Catholicism (“ism”) is clearly identified in Daniel 7, 8, 11, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, and Revelation 13 and 17 and is one of the reasons I was called out of and left Roman Catholicism, after 30 years of having been born into and raised in it, confirmed, etc., worked in a specialized ministry thereof briefly (as EWTN stated, ‘experts in their field’), and whose family still work with the local bishop in the city in which I reside presently, etc.

It was/is the apostasy (the “falling away”) that was prophesied to take place.

The Truth has set me forever free of said system. I have found, by the grace of God, the Truth, Revelation 12:17, 14:6-12.


There are no scriptural prohibitions with regard to the Church. Jesus clearly taught that those who are in Him will live for ever. Nothing can separate them from Him, just as nothing can separate those who are still in this life from Him. We are all One Body in Christ. There is no reason that we would ask our siblings in Christ for our prayers, yet when they go home to Him, stop asking their prayers.

Of course, prayers to those souls separated from God, or other principalities and powers in the heavenly places (demons) are inappropriate.

It is not good to put limits on God, who transcends time and space. Catholics pray for others all around the world, and ask for their prayers also.

I wonder if the man from Macedonia that Paul saw in a vision was an actual person.

Acts 16:9 During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

Clearly God could communicate the desire of Cornelius to Peter, so that Peter would go to his home and tell him the Gospel.

The history of our faith is full of these kinds of visions, related to those still on this earth, and those who are not.


As Catholics we observe Lex Orandi lex credendi, meaning, we pray as we believe. The prayers to the saints have been included since the earliest liturgies because the Church has always prayed as she believed.

It is likely absent from your OT prophets if you are missing Maccabees. I am not sure what you mean by “invoking”?

You seem to believe that all practices to be espoused by Christians would be found in the Scriptures. The Scriptures were never intended to be a full compendium of the faith.

Actually, the contents of the liturgies they used are not enumerated until the second century. To say that the pillars of our faith did not practice one thing or another because it is not explicitly detailed in Scripture seems like quite a stretch. There are many important elements of our faith that are not found in the pages, such as the word Trinity, the hypostatic union, the Theotokos, and dyothelitism.

Why to Christians celebrate Christmas? That is not in the Bible either. Jesus was born on a certain day, of course, but we have no idea which day it was. The date chosen for the celebration of Jesus birthday is actually much later than the practice of asking intercession of the saints.

Why do we worship on Sundays? There is no proscriptive for it.


Since you don’t have Maccabees, you are missing one example, but I think the primary reason that the evidence is light is because they did not have the understanding of these eternal matters that was brought by Christ. There were Holy Ones who experienced visions of heaven and conversed with angels (like Daniel) but the clarity to understanding the state of the soul after this life and the nature of the communion of saints was not understood until after Christ.

The righteous dead went to a place of “rest” called the bosom of Abraham. This is where Jesus preached the gospel to them after His death on the cross. They were imprisoned, since the Gates of Heaven were still closed. After the Ascension, the Gates of Heaven were opened, so that righteous souls could immediately be in His presence.

No one can “see” a soul in the first place, so I am not sure what you mean by “unseen souls”. I think you are referring to those who have gone before us. Do you think that the appearance of Moses and Elijah to Jesus is “negative”?

Do you think the prayers of the saints taken to God by an angel are “negative”?

If it was not common for communication with the unseen to occur, why did the believers in Acts think that Peter’s angel was at the door, rather than Peter?

Acts 12:15 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.”

It made more sense to them that Peter’s guardian angel would appear as they prayed for him, than he would physically arrive at the door!

Have you ever had an intimate walk and had encouragement without any communication? That doesn’t even make common sense!


That sounds like quite a lot! You realize, do you not, that nothing you have mentioned here is “Roman Catholic” per se? All of these beliefs and practices exist in each of the Churches planted by the Apostles. They are all things we share with the Eastern Orthodox, many of who have no love lost on “Rome”.

I think you lost me here. Are you saying that the CC has “substituted” the 10 commandments? That they are not the same 10 commandments that are in Exodus? Perhaps you think this because they are arranged differently.

When did this happen? And do you believe that all the other Apostolic Churches that espouse the beliefs and practices to which you object also apostacized? If so, when did the Eastern Orthodox depart from the One Faith?

I was not able to access anything on the link you posted about the “falling away”. I am not sure what this means.

I am also curious what you mean by “system” here?


Re: the article I quoted above

When it says the belief accumulates in the 3rd century, that does NOT mean the belief began then.

When John writes about the 24 elders (presbuteros) in heaven (Rev 5:8) taking prayers of the saints on earth to God, John is writing about something that is and has already been going on in heaven and on earth.

John in writing Revelations makes no mention about the quality or style of prayer being taken by the presbyters to God nor that it is prohibited activity.

May I suggest his commentary doesn’t make the point we’re talking about.


To me there is a huge difference between what I believe about the Catholic Church and what I believe about everyday Catholics. I know many Catholic individuals who I call friends and some are family. I pray that God opens their eyes to the truth about the Catholic Church / Papacy but free will is our ultimate gift from God.

This is what I believe about the Catholic Church / Papacy.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.