Monday, September 21, 2015

Is Reverence of Mary Justifiable?




Catholics Revere Mary

            Catholics claim they do not worship Mary but worship God alone. Catholics supposedly revere or honor Mary [1]. They justify their reverence through verses such as Genesis 37:7–9, 49:8; Exodus 18:7; Romans 13:7; 1 Timothy 5:17 et al.

            Catholic.com justifies reverence of Mary, “…there certainly can be no argument against giving honor to saints whose lives are done and who ended them in sanctity…” [2].  

            Mary’s statue is a familiar sight in Catholic Church. But Catholics claim that they do not worship statues, “The fact that someone kneels before a statue to pray does not mean that he is praying to the statue…” [3]. Catholics justify presence of statues in their churches through Numbers 21:8-9; 2 Chronicles 3:10-14 et al.

            Catholics believe in four Marian dogmas [4]:

            Immaculate Conception declares that Mary was conceived without original sin by the grace of God. This dogma has no Scriptural foundation.

            Divine Motherhood refers to Mary’s role as the mother of Jesus, who is God incarnate. This is the most acceptable of Marian dogmas.

            Perpetual Virginity implies that Mary never had sexual intercourse with a man and was a virgin till her death. Thus, her purity from original sin and personal sin is implied. This is a hotly contested dogma.

            The Assumption declares Mary’s elevation or assumption into heaven by God’s grace and power. Similar to Immaculate Conception, the Assumption has no Scriptural foundation.

Is Marian Reverence Justified??

            The Infancy Gospel of James (a.k.a. Protevangelium of James) offers the notion that Mary was a perpetual virgin. However, this apocryphal book is erroneous for the following reasons [5]:

            1. It was a late text written in the 2nd century (140-170AD).

            2. The author of Protevangelium of James claims to be Christ’s half -brother (son of Joesph from a prior marriage) but appears ignorant of Jewish customs of 1st century.  

            3. Textual critics claim that the author of Infancy Gospel of James could not have been James. This gospel takes much of its content from gospels of Matthew and Luke.

            Apostle James’ death at the hands of Ananias occurred in AD 62, whereas gospels of Matthew and Luke were authored after AD 62. Hence the author of Protevangelium of James could not have been James, the brother of Christ.  

            4. The Infancy Gospel of James was first mentioned by Origen in 3rd century, who, in his commentary on Matthew, rejected this gospel as heretical and untrustworthy. (At one stage, in his homily on Luke 7: 4, Origen held to the view of perpetual virginity of Mary.)

            5. Pope Gelasius condemned Infancy Gospel of James in his 5th century “Gelasian Decree” and advised Catholics to avoid this book.

            6. The Infancy Gospel of James contradicts the Bible [6].

             The Bible categorically states that Mary had sons and daughters other than Christ (Matthew 12:46-50, 13:55-56; Mark 3:32-35, 6:3; Luke 8:19-21; Acts 1:12-14; Galatians 1:19). However, Catholics dispute these verses by claiming that these siblings of Christ were not born of Mary but were Christ’s stepbrothers, stepsisters, cousins or distant relatives.

            The Greek words for cousin and relatives are “anepsios” and “suggenes,” respectively. These words were not used by the New Testament writers while referring to Christ’s brothers and sisters. Instead, Matthew and Mark used the words “adelphos” and “adelphe” terming them as Christ’s own brothers and sisters – born of Mary.

            Claiming that Christ’s siblings mentioned in the Bible were not born to Mary is to argue from silence. The Bible does not offer any indication to this effect. So the Catholic teaching that Christ’s siblings were not born of Mary is erroneous, and should be discarded.

            Significantly, perpetual virginity of Mary is unnecessary for her veneration by the Catholic Church. Christ’s brothers and sisters were born to Mary and Joseph within the sanctity of their marriage. Hence, Mary did not commit a sin while bearing her children.

            Perpetual virginity of Mary has a dubious reasoning and an invalid source. Mary was a mere subject chosen by God to bring forth Christ in human form.

            The dogmas of Immaculate Conception and Assumption are Catholic fabrications. These dogmas have no Scriptural foundations.

            The Bible neither mentions that Mary was preserved from original sin nor does it state that Mary was taken up into heaven à la Enoch and Elijah. The Bible does not accord a special place in heaven for Mary.

            The Catholic Church reveres saints and prays through them. The fundamental problem with the Catholic dogma is elevating human beings as mediators between God and man.

            The Catholics justify their reverence of saints by hermeneutically twisting verses such as 1Timothy 2: 1 - 4 and James 5: 16. These verses refer to people on earth and not those in heaven.

            There is a marked distinction between prayers with fellow believers and prayers through fellow believers. Prayers with fellow believers constitute Christian fellowship in the precincts of the Church. But prayers through fellow believers elevate people to a co-equal status with Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man (1Timothy 2: 5).

            It is a sin when man is elevated to status of God. Reverence for Mary or other saints cannot be justified. Therefore, Mary need not be glorified or venerated.

Conclusion

            Protestant churches are not pure in comparison to Catholic church. 

             Divisions within Christianity are not God’s intent but God’s sanction of man’s corrupt freewill. When we point one finger there are three fingers pointing at us.  So, at the most, this article is an instance of pot calling kettle black.

            Protestants should be well aware of the failures in the protestant worship system. Some Protestant churches worship in vacuum to lead believers away from Christ.

            False teachings are abundant. For instance, prosperity or health & wealth gospel is a dangerous phenomenon. Some churches teach that Christ is unnecessary for salvation and that the Bible need not be trusted.

            Worship songs in which Jesus, God, and Christ are never mentioned are sung in churches these days. How could these songs draw people closer to Christ other than the fact that these are sung in the church? These so-called worship songs if sung in the context of a Hindu temple or a mosque could well relate to their worldviews.

            Protestants strive not to commit similar errors as Catholics. This was the purpose of the reformation. But as sinful humans, Protestants commit novel errors that are equally deplorable. By no means is a Protestant worship more proximal to God than Catholic worship.

            However, a minority of Protestant churches remain true to Christ. Errors in worship, in these churches, are minimal in comparison to the other churches.            

            Our worship systems may have systemic inconsistencies and errors but every honest Christian ought to consider if he/she believes in Christ as the only way to heaven and if he/she remains in Christ to love, honor and glorify HIM. 

            God has given much to both Catholics and Protestants. HIS salvific mind, knowledge and future plan for mankind is adequately revealed in the Bible.

            So let us ensure that our worship is acceptable to God. This verse should ring loud in the ears of both the Catholics and Protestants, “…from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12: 48b, NIV).  



Endnotes:

[1] http://www.catholic.com/tracts/saint-worship, last accessed 21/Sep/2015.         

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/mary/general-information/the-four-marian-dogmas/, last accessed 21/Sep/2015.

[5] http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-shouldnt-we-trust-the-non-canonical-gospels-attributed-to-james/, last accessed 21/Sep/2015.


[6] https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/is-the-perpetual-virginity-of-mary-a-biblical-view/, last accessed 21/Sep/2015. 

42 comments:

Soc Wor said...

Catholics do not worship Mary nor saints. Mary and saints do not intercede witj God the Father on our behalf. This role is done by Jesus. They intercede with Jesus just as we ask other christians to pray for us.

Raj Richard said...

Dear Soc Wor,

Please accept my apologies for a very delayed response.

When we have a direct access to Christ, why do we need intermediaries? This is my contention.

When we ask other Christians to pray for us, we do so from within the visible or the invisible precincts of the church. This is an act of Christian fellowship.

Contacting the dead is not a biblical means of fellowship.

Thank you for your comments.

Remain blessed.

Soc Wor said...

Good question. When we have direct access to Christ why do we need intermediaries? Why do we ask others to pray for us when we can pray directly to Christ. Because we have all benefited from others prayers. Even St Paul asked others to pray for him.
Regarding Mary she was a close follower of Christ right from conception to ministry to the cross and at pentecost. Her prayers on our behalf are even more effective to lead us closer to Christ.
Mary is not dead. If she is dead then we do not follow a living God but a dead God. Because if such a close follower is dead then we also will be dead. But our God is a living God and whoever believes in Him will never die. Mary and all the saints who have passed from this world are alive with Christ and their prayers on our behalf are effective to help us.

Soc Wor said...

How did so called dead persons Moses and Elijah appear to Christ and the apostles (Mt 17:1-9) . How about Mt 27: 52 -53? Arent they alive. ? What about Mk 12: 27?

Soc Wor said...

Also see Lk 16 : 19- 31. The dead man is concerned about his family on earth. Revealation 6:9-11 and 5:6-8 and 8:3-4 the saints pray for the church on Earth. This is to fulfill 1 cor 12:12-27.

Raj Richard said...

Thank you for your response, Soc Wor.

Why do we ask others to pray for us when we can pray directly to Christ?
This refers to people who are living. We who are living ask others who are living to pray for us. This is intercession, as you may well know.

Where does it say in the Bible that Mary's prayers are more effective than ours? Nowhere.

Mary is not dead? By death, we mean, again as you may well be aware, a passing away from this mortal existence. So by this definition, Mary is dead. Apostle Paul is dead, and so are all the saints mentioned in the Bible.

Where in the Bible has it been mentioned to contact the dead for prayers? Nowhere!

So in effect, reverence for Mary is unbiblical.

Raj Richard said...

Soc Wor,

You are conflating issues here.

We are discussing about prayer and you are bringing in transfiguration account (Mt 17:1-9), judgment (Rev 6:9-11), worship of the Lord Jesus (Rev 5:6-8) and resurrection (Mt 27: 52-53 & Mk 12:27).

Even if Rev 8 refers to the prayers of those saints in heaven, it does not mention that they are praying for those on earth. Even if they pray for those on earth, once again, nowhere does the Bible say that we who are living should pray to these saints.

Just to clarify, the question we are asking is: Is it right to pray to dead people? (Mary, Paul, Peter etc.) Nowhere the Bible asks us to pray to the dead.

But you are conflating the matter here by saying that people who die do live. This is not incorrect.

But the distinction that we need to keep in mind is that while you are talking about those who are living post their death, I am referring to people who are living prior to their death. In other words, we can ask fellow Christians who are living to pray for us but not those who are dead and do not live amidst us, even though they may be living in eternity.

Let me complicate the matter for you now. Your pope believes that Muslims will inherit heaven. So if you pray to Mary then you can also pray to Muhammad. Would you agree?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Andrew Rodrigues said...

The basic fact is that Mary was a channel to bring in Jesus into this world as per God's plan. She later was united in flesh with Joseph and had more children. She was not taken up to heaven with body and soul, as the Bible doesn't say so, but some Catholic doctrine and people of the faith believe to be so. We go by the inspired Word of God.

Back to our point, it is believed that Mary died and like her all other saints too, as we cannot intercede to them. If we contact/consult/intercede to them it is a sin against God (read Deuteronomy 18: 11). We have only one Mediator/intercessor and that is Jesus! Period!

Soc Wor said...

As per the logic of your comments , Moses and Elijah are dead and Jesus was discussing with dead people at the transfiguration. If Jesus can discuss with dead people we can also ask them to pray for us.
Rev 8 the saints in heaven are praying for their needs and for their salvation. Sorry for being sarcastic. But what needs do saints have in heaven?
If your question is it it right to pray to dead people? the Catholic Church says no as they are not God. But we can ask them to pray for us.
Regarding pope,'s view about muslims you are wrong. Catholics believe Jesus died for all humans and Jesus can save anyone irrespective of religion by the blood He has shed. Salvation is only through Jesus blood but not restricted to Christians. Some Christians who think they are saved by faith but do not follow Jesus commandments may not make it.
Regarding praying to Mohammed he died in his sins and catholics consider him as dead . Catholics do not ask dead people to pray for them. (Spiritually dead)

Soc Wor said...

James 5 .6 or 16 The prayers of the righteous are effective. Catholic understanding of dead are the spiritual dead. Those in hell. Catholics request righteous people to pray for them . Those who are spiritually alive on earth , in heaven and those who are on the way to heaven in purgatory.

Soc Wor said...

Catholics do believe that Mary was conceived without original sin that she was sinless and saved by Christ from falling into sin. Word of God A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. The sinless one has to be born from a person without sin.Just as God created Adam and Eve without sin. So he made the new Adam Jesus and new Eve Mother Mary without sin. Being sinless her body did not corrupt after death but was raised by God to heaven. She remained a virgin throughout . The brothers of Jesus are sons of Joseph by his first marriage.
Regarding Deut 18.11 consulting the dead is wrong but asking the living Mary to pray for us is not wrong. Why did Jesus talk to Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration? Will you accuse Jesus of consulting the dead? You have been taught hakf baked Bible truths.If you want the complete truth and Word of God it is in the Catholic Church which you have left.

Soc Wor said...

At the cross, Jesus gave his mother to John. Why would he do that if Mary had other sons? On your death bed, would you ask you mother to go and live with your best friend when you have brothers/sisters of your own?

Raj Richard said...

Dear Soc Wor,

Thanks for continuing to participate in this discussion.

1. Transfiguration is a spiritual state, not physical. So it does not apply to our context which occurs in physical state and not spiritual. Then again, Jesus died on the cross, so if I have to go by your logic then you and I should also die on the cross, right? But it is not to be. So your logic fails.

Moreover, Jesus did not pray to Moses or Elijah, so once again you are contextually incorrect. If you imply that Jesus prayed to either of them, then you are robbing Christ of his divinity, which is blasphemy.

2. I did not say that Saints in heaven are praying for their needs. So while you focus on being sarcastic, I suggest that you do not dream (apologies for my sarcasm!). Then again, you seem to have a very narrow view of prayer. Prayer is not only to express our needs, prayer is also to worship God - adore HIM.

3. I think you need to read catholic catechism before making statements such as my views on Pope is wrong. Please refer to CCC #841.

4. Give me verses in the Bible that says that we can pray to people who are spiritually alive i.e. those who are physically dead and spiritually alive. James 5 refers to those in the physical world not spiritual.

5. Where in the Bible is mentioned that Mary is pure without original sin? This is a Catholic lie.

6. To say that Christ gave his mother to John implies that Mary did not have other children is an argument from silence - a fallacy. (But for the sake of an argument, let me indulge you in this, I think Christ may have given his mother to John for HE would have known that the John would take care of Mary better than the other children. Have you not known instances where children discard their parents?)

Are you not aware of the verses in the Bible that speaks about Christ's brothers and sisters?

Keep on...

Soc Wor said...

Dear Raj,
1. If transfiguration was a spiritual state then why did Peter want to make 3 tents ? He did this because he could see 3 people alive.
2. Jesus did not pray to them He talked to Moses. Catholics do not pray to saints. We ask them to pray for us.
2. Agreed that the prayer of the saints could be worship also. But the saints would be more concerned about our salvation also.Again it is not mentioned in the Bible. Thats why we have the Catholic Church to guide us to avoid misinterpreting the Bible and have a consistent interpretation.
4. CCC 841 also expresses the same thoughts which I expressed above that Jesus died for all people.
4. James 5 never mentions physically alive also. That is the interpretation of the Apostles and early church fathers of the first 3 centuries.
5. Interpretation of the early church fathers.
6. Jesus brothers were also his followers. How can they disobey the 4th commandment to honor their mother. Because Mary was not their mother but aunt.
7. In Jewish culture as also Indian culture cousin brothers are only calked as brother. Abraham called lot his brother even though he was a cousin. The apostles called the church brothers dies it mean they were born of the same mother. Run a search of brother in the Bible and not many have the same mother.

Soc Wor said...

I am ready to call you brother if you give me a share in your inheritance. Haha. I am ready to give you a share in my spiritual inheritance which is heaven.

Raj Richard said...

Hello Soc Wor,

1. Spiritual state refers to our bodies. Christ spoke about mansions in heaven. Having said that, the spiritual mansions need not be built using bricks and cement.

2. Catholics pray to the saints asking them to pray for you. If its not mentioned in the Bible what is the catholic church interpreting from? Obviously from their own sources, which are fallible and erroneous.

3. Jesus died for all but only those who believe in Christ can go to heaven. Muslims do not believe in Christ's atoning death. So they cannot go to heaven. If the Catholic church posits heaven for Muslims then the Catholic church denies Christ.

4. I am sorry to say that your Bible study skills need great improvement. James 5 is all about physical state and not spiritual. Consider these verses, do they refer to those on earth or heaven?
"13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

5. Interpretation of early church fathers about Mary's purity is a lie and a figment of their own imagination.

6. Jesus' brothers need not have disobeyed the 4th commandment. In fact, Christ giving Mary to John need not imply that John would have taken Mary to his home. Are you aware that John lived his last in the island of Patmos? Mary would obviously not been there.

7. Ref. your #7, please read my blog where I have explained that.

8. My inheritance is granted by the Lord and not by any human being. Please save your sarcasm and bring some more substance into your arguments.

Thank you

Soc Wor said...

Dear Raj,

Substance it is.
The historic Christian practice of asking our departed brothers and sisters in Christ—the saints—for their intercession has come under attack in the last few hundred years. Though the practice dates to the earliest days of Christianity and is shared by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, the other Eastern Christians, and even some Anglicans—meaning that all-told it is shared by more than three quarters of the Christians on earth—it still comes under heavy attack from many within the Protestant movement that started in the sixteenth century.



Can They Hear Us?

One charge made against it is that the saints in heaven cannot even hear our prayers, making it useless to ask for their intercession. However, this is not true. As Scripture indicates, those in heaven are aware of the prayers of those on earth. This can be seen, for example, in Revelation 5:8, where John depicts the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God under the form of "golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." But if the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God, then they must be aware of our prayers. They are aware of our petitions and present them to God by interceding for us.

Some might try to argue that in this passage the prayers being offered were not addressed to the saints in heaven, but directly to God. Yet this argument would only strengthen the fact that those in heaven can hear our prayers, for then the saints would be aware of our prayers even when they are not directed to them!

In any event, it is clear from Revelation 5:8 that the saints in heaven do actively intercede for us. We are explicitly told by John that the incense they offer to God are the prayers of the saints. Prayers are not physical things and cannot be physically offered to God. Thus the saints in heaven are offering our prayers to God mentally. In other words, they are interceding.



One Mediator

Another charge commonly levelled against asking the saints for their intercession is that this violates the sole mediatorship of Christ, which Paul discusses: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).

But asking one person to pray for you in no way violates Christ’s mediatorship, as can be seen from considering the way in which Christ is a mediator. First, Christ is a unique mediator between man and God because he is the only person who is both God and man. He is the only bridge between the two, the only God-man. But that role as mediator is not compromised in the least by the fact that others intercede for us. Furthermore, Christ is a unique mediator between God and man because he is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15, 12:24), just as Moses was the mediator (Greek mesitas) of the Old Covenant (Gal. 3:19–20).

The intercession of fellow Christians—which is what the saints in heaven are—also clearly does not interfere with Christ’s unique mediatorship because in the four verses immediately preceding 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1–4). Clearly, then, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something "good and pleasing to God," not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.

Soc Wor said...

Another charge commonly levelled against asking the saints for their intercession is that this violates the sole mediatorship of Christ, which Paul discusses: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).

But asking one person to pray for you in no way violates Christ’s mediatorship, as can be seen from considering the way in which Christ is a mediator. First, Christ is a unique mediator between man and God because he is the only person who is both God and man. He is the only bridge between the two, the only God-man. But that role as mediator is not compromised in the least by the fact that others intercede for us. Furthermore, Christ is a unique mediator between God and man because he is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15, 12:24), just as Moses was the mediator (Greek mesitas) of the Old Covenant (Gal. 3:19–20).

The intercession of fellow Christians—which is what the saints in heaven are—also clearly does not interfere with Christ’s unique mediatorship because in the four verses immediately preceding 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1–4). Clearly, then, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something "good and pleasing to God," not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.



"No Contact with the dead"

Sometimes Fundamentalists object to asking our fellow Christians in heaven to pray for us by declaring that God has forbidden contact with the dead in passages such as Deuteronomy 18:10–11. In fact, he has not, because he at times has given it—for example, when he had Moses and Elijah appear with Christ to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3). What God has forbidden is necromantic practice of conjuring up spirits. "There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. . . . For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed" (Deut. 18:10–15).

God thus indicates that one is not to conjure the dead for purposes of gaining information; one is to look to God’s prophets instead. Thus one is not to hold a seance. But anyone with an ounce of common sense can discern the vast qualitative difference between holding a seance to have the dead speak through you and a son humbly saying at his mother’s grave, "Mom, please pray to Jesus for me; I’m having a real problem right now." The difference between the two is the difference between night and day. One is an occult practice bent on getting secret information; the other is a humble request for a loved one to pray to God on one’s behalf.

Soc Wor said...

Some objections to the concept of prayer to the saints betray restricted notions of heaven. One comes from anti-Catholic Loraine Boettner:

"How, then, can a human being such as Mary hear the prayers of millions of Roman Catholics, in many different countries, praying in many different languages, all at the same time?

"Let any priest or layman try to converse with only three people at the same time and see how impossible that is for a human being. . . . The objections against prayers to Mary apply equally against prayers to the saints. For they too are only creatures, infinitely less than God, able to be at only one place at a time and to do only one thing at a time.

"How, then, can they listen to and answer thousands upon thousands of petitions made simultaneously in many different lands and in many different languages? Many such petitions are expressed, not orally, but only mentally, silently. How can Mary and the saints, without being like God, be present everywhere and know the secrets of all hearts?" (Roman Catholicism, 142-143).

If being in heaven were like being in the next room, then of course these objections would be valid. A mortal, unglorified person in the next room would indeed suffer the restrictions imposed by the way space and time work in our universe. But the saints are not in the next room, and they are not subject to the time/space limitations of this life.

This does not imply that the saints in heaven therefore must be omniscient, as God is, for it is only through God’s willing it that they can communicate with others in heaven or with us. And Boettner’s argument about petitions arriving in different languages is even further off the mark. Does anyone really think that in heaven the saints are restricted to the King’s English? After all, it is God himself who gives the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Surely those saints in Revelation understand the prayers they are shown to be offering to God.

The problem here is one of what might be called a primitive or even childish view of heaven. It is certainly not one on which enough intellectual rigor has been exercised. A good introduction to the real implications of the afterlife may be found in Frank Sheed’s book Theology and Sanity, which argues that sanity depends on an accurate appreciation of reality, and that includes an accurate appreciation of what heaven is really like. And once that is known, the place of prayer to the saints follows.

Soc Wor said...

Some may grant that the previous objections to asking the saints for their intercession do not work and may even grant that the practice is permissible in theory, yet they may question it on other grounds, asking why one would want to ask the saints to pray for one. "Why not pray directly to Jesus?" they ask.

The answer is: "Of course one should pray directly to Jesus!" But that does not mean it is not also a good thing to ask others to pray for one as well. Ultimately, the "go-directly-to-Jesus" objection boomerangs back on the one who makes it: Why should we ask any Christian, in heaven or on earth, to pray for us when we can ask Jesus directly? If the mere fact that we can go straight to Jesus proved that we should ask no Christian in heaven to pray for us then it would also prove that we should ask no Christian on earth to pray for us.

Praying for each other is simply part of what Christians do. As we saw, in 1 Timothy 2:1–4, Paul strongly encouraged Christians to intercede for many different things, and that passage is by no means unique in his writings. Elsewhere Paul directly asks others to pray for him (Rom. 15:30–32, Eph. 6:18–20, Col. 4:3, 1 Thess. 5:25, 2 Thess. 3:1), and he assured them that he was praying for them as well (2 Thess. 1:11). Most fundamentally, Jesus himself required us to pray for others, and not only for those who asked us to do so (Matt. 5:44).

Since the practice of asking others to pray for us is so highly recommended in Scripture, it cannot be regarded as superfluous on the grounds that one can go directly to Jesus. The New Testament would not recommend it if there were not benefits coming from it. One such benefit is that the faith and devotion of the saints can support our own weaknesses and supply what is lacking in our own faith and devotion. Jesus regularly supplied for one person based on another person’s faith (e.g., Matt. 8:13, 15:28, 17:15–18, Mark 9:17–29, Luke 8:49–55). And it goes without saying that those in heaven, being free of the body and the distractions of this life, have even greater confidence and devotion to God than anyone on earth.

Also, God answers in particular the prayers of the righteous. James declares: "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit" (Jas. 5:16–18). Yet those Christians in heaven are more righteous, since they have been made perfect to stand in God’s presence (Heb. 12:22-23), than anyone on earth, meaning their prayers would be even more efficacious.

Having others praying for us thus is a good thing, not something to be despised or set aside. Of course, we should pray directly to Christ with every pressing need we have (cf. John 14:13–14). That’s something the Catholic Church strongly encourages. In fact, the prayers of the Mass, the central act of Catholic worship, are directed to God and Jesus, not the saints. But this does not mean that we should not also ask our fellow Christians, including those in heaven, to pray with us.

In addition to our prayers directly to God and Jesus (which are absolutely essential to the Christian life), there are abundant reasons to ask our fellow Christians in heaven to pray for us. The Bible indicates that they are aware of our prayers, that they intercede for us, and that their prayers are effective (else they would not be offered). It is only narrow-mindedness that suggests we should refrain from asking our fellow Christians in heaven to do what we already know them to be anxious and capable of doing.

Soc Wor said...

The Bible directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. Thus in Psalms 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!" (Ps. 103:20-21). And in Psalms 148 we pray, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!" (Ps. 148:1-2).

Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, we read: "[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God" (Rev. 8:3-4).

And those in heaven who offer to God our prayers aren’t just angels, but humans as well. John sees that "the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8). The simple fact is, as this passage shows: The saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.

Raj Richard said...

Dear Soc Wor,

Once again your arguments are weak. A supposed majority believing in something as right does not make that something right. I hope you understand the weakness of your argument, if not here is a short clarity. You are not positing an objective argument, rather you are positing a subjective argument, which can instantly be nullified by another subjective argument i.e. I [subjectively] do not need to believe what majority believe.

Tf you still have the courage to deny my position, then you should relinquish Christianity, for the majority of the world (67%) do not believe in Christianity.

Similarly saying that what has been practiced since time immemorial has to be right is a weak premise. Sin has been practiced since time immemorial, so if your argument is right, then you need to endorse sin.

Praying to the dead is unbiblical. Period. I have dealt with this earlier, so I will refrain from flogging a dead horse.

Thank you for your thoughts.

Soc Wor said...

Dear Raj

Also i am adding below what the early church have to say about this.
As the following passages show, the early Church Fathers clearly recognized the Biblical teaching that those in heaven can and do intercede for us, and they applied this teaching in their practice.
Hermas

"[The Shepherd said:] 'But those who are weak and slothful in prayer, hesitate to ask anything from the Lord; but the Lord is full of compassion, and gives without fail to all who ask Him. But you, [Hermas,] having been strengthened by the holy angel [you saw], and having obtained from Him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lord understanding, and receive it from Him?'" (The Shepherd 3:5:4 [A.D. 80]).
Anonymous

"Hail, Mary!" (inscription at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth [A.D. 200]).
Clement of Alexandria

"In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]" (Miscellanies 7:12 [A.D. 208]).
Origen

"But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep" (Prayer 11 [A.D. 233]).
Cyprian of Carthage

"Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father's mercy" (Letters 56 [60]:5 [A.D. 253]).

Soc Wor said...

Cyril of Jerusalem

"Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition . . . " (Catechetical Lectures 23:9 [A.D. 350]).
Hilary of Poitiers

"To those who wish to stand [in God's grace], neither the guardianship of saints nor the defenses of angels are wanting" (Commentary on the Psalms 124:5:6 [A.D. 365]).
Ephraim the Syrian

"Remember me, you heirs of God, you brethren of Christ; supplicate the Savior earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day" (The Fear at the End of Life [A.D. 370]).
Ephraim the Syrian

"You victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Savior, you who have boldness of speech toward the Lord himself, you saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us that so we may love him" (Commentary on Mark [A.D. 370]).
The Liturgy of St. Basil

"By the command of your only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of your saints . . . by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of your holy name" (Liturgy of St. Basil [A.D. 373]).

Soc Wor said...

http://shoebat.com/2015/09/06/bombshell-to-be-messianic-is-to-be-catholic-not-hebrew-roots/

Raj Richard said...

Dear Soc Wor,

As a Catholic you are wasting your time praying to Mary & Saints when you can pray directly to God or Christ. This is common sense. When I have 24x7 access to the CEO of an organization, why on earth would I waste my time with an irrelevant manager?

Does this make sense to you or not?

If this does not make sense to you, then probably nothing else will. You can continue in your conscious and voluntary theological blindness.

Cheers!

Soc Wor said...

Dear Raj
What you said above makes perfect sense.
1. Catholics do pray to the Trinity. We do not pray to Mary or the saints. We ask their prayers.Ratio at Catholic mass is 99 % spent on prayer to trinity to 1% asking saints to pray for us.
2. Reason we ask saints for prayer.The intercession of fellow Christians—which is what the saints in heaven are—also clearly does not interfere with Christ’s unique mediatorship because in the four verses immediately preceding 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1–4). Clearly, then, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something "good and pleasing to God," not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.

Soc Wor said...

Dear Raj,
Catholic Church does not believe all muslims are saved. God's plan is for all humans to be saved which includes christians , muslims, Hindus, atheists everyone . Christ died for all. But not all are saved as they reject God by sin. Christians are saved by faith through God's grace and they need to stop rejecting God by committing sin. If they do sin they need to repent. If they continue in sin their faith may not save them.Non christians who are ignorant of Christ but yet assisted by God's grace and mercy , if they do not reject God by sin can be saved. God may apply Christ 's death to them in unknowing ways beyond our comprehension. For eg Catholic Church says apart from baptism with water there is a baptism by blood and desire. There are non christians who desire baptism but cannot be given due to persecution.They are killed before baptism but desire Christ. Will not God save them? This is considered as baptism by desire and baptism by blood. Refer CCC.

Raj Richard said...

Dear Soc Wor,

Flogging a dead horse (trying to justify Mary reverence) would not transform a lie to truth. I am not going to rehash.

Just try using your common sense. Try praying to God directly (a biblical practice) without asking any heavenly humans to pray for you (totally unbiblical).

You are a saint, are you aware of this? Check your Bible....As a saint, be assured that God will hear your prayers and if your prayers are according to HIS will, HE will answer.

Remain Blessed

Raj Richard said...

Dear Soc Wor,

Thank you for your thoughts about universalism.

Only faith in Christ will save man. Every human is a sinner, so none can say that he/she is sinless.

That God may apply Christ's atoning sacrifice in ways unknown is not a biblical tenet. CCC is a Catholic tenet and much in CCC contradicts the Bible.

Thank you

Soc Wor said...

Dear Raj,
Asking saints to pray for us is a Biblical practice. Show me a Bible verse which speaks against it ? Regarding praying to God directly, I too pray to them and have a personal relationship with the Trinity. But asking other people physically living or dead in no way diminishes my personal relationship with the Trinity but only enhances it especially during trials and temptations.
I know the Bible verse which calls the Church saints. All the dead who are saved either in heaven or purgatory are saints. The Church on earth also are saints those who are in grace and communion with God. But if they fall into serious sin such as murder etc they lose communion with God and are no longer saints. If they repent and reconcile with God their saint status is restored.Only such saints will be saved. Thats why we pray with fear and trembling for our salvation. Because not everyone who says Lord Lord will be saved but those who do the Will of the Father.
You are right when you say that God answers our prayers if we pray according to His will. But also at the same time God does not listen to sinners and who on earth can claim to be sinless. Also we ask other saints to pray for us both physically living and dead.

Soc Wor said...

Dear Raj,
Faith in Christ will definitely save man , as long as, the man's life does not contradict His faith, by living in serious unrepented sin.
However God's mercy is limitless and He may apply Christ death when people in ignorance of Christ obey the law of God in their heart. However it is difficult if not impossible for those who are ignorant of Christ to obey the law. Such non christians muslims hindus etc will be few.
Christians have the Holy Spirit to assist them to fulfill the law. Thus it is all the more our duty to evangelise non christians so that receive faith in Christ and are assisted by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the law. Christians with the power of the Holy Spirit renounce every small sin also and gradually journey to the perfection of heaven. Those who are not perfected here will be purified in purgatory so that no sin enters heaven.

Soc Wor said...

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The Necessity of Baptism
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Christians have always interpreted the Bible literally when it declares, "Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:21; cf. Acts 2:38, 22:16, Rom. 6:3–4, Col. 2:11–12).

Thus the early Church Fathers wrote in the Nicene Creed (A.D. 381), "We believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins."

And the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Lord himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation [John 3:5]. . . . Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament [Mark 16:16]" (CCC 1257).

The Christian belief that baptism is necessary for salvation is so unshakable that even the Protestant Martin Luther affirmed the necessity of baptism. He wrote: "Baptism is no human plaything but is instituted by God himself. Moreover, it is solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved. We are not to regard it as an indifferent matter, then, like putting on a new red coat. It is of the greatest importance that we regard baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted" (Large Catechism 4:6).

Yet Christians have also always realized that the necessity of water baptism is a normative rather than an absolute necessity. There are exceptions to water baptism: It is possible to be saved through "baptism of blood," martyrdom for Christ, or through "baptism of desire", that is, an explicit or even implicit desire for baptism.

Thus the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized" (CCC 1281; the salvation of unbaptized infants is also possible under this system; cf. CCC 1260–1, 1283).

As the following passages from the works of the Church Fathers illustrate, Christians have always believed in the normative necessity of water baptism, while also acknowledging the legitimacy of baptism by desire or blood.

Soc Wor said...

Tertullian

"Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life. . . . [But] a viper of the [Gnostic] Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism—which is quite in accordance with nature, for vipers and.asps . . . themselves generally do live in arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes after the example of our [Great] Fish, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water. So that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes—by taking them away from the water!" (Baptism 1 [A.D. 203]).

"Without baptism, salvation is attainable by none" (ibid., 12).

"We have, indeed, a second [baptismal] font which is one with the former [water baptism]: namely, that of blood, of which the Lord says: ‘I am to be baptized with a baptism’ [Luke 12:50], when he had already been baptized. He had come through water and blood, as John wrote [1 John 5:6], so that he might be baptized with water and glorified with blood. . . . This is the baptism which replaces that of the fountain, when it has not been received, and restores it when it has been lost" (ibid., 16). Catechumens who suffer martyrdom] are not deprived of the sacrament of baptism. Rather, they are baptized with the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood, concerning which the Lord said that he had another baptism with which he himself was to be baptized [Luke 12:50]" (ibid., 72[73]:22).



Cyril of Jerusalem

"If any man does not receive baptism, he does not have salvation. The only exception is the martyrs, who even without water will receive the kingdom.
. . . For the Savior calls martyrdom a baptism, saying, ‘Can you drink the cup which I drink and be baptized with the baptism with which I am to be baptized [Mark 10:38]?’ Indeed, the martyrs too confess, by being made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men [1 Cor. 4:9]" (Catechetical Lectures 3:10 [A.D. 350]).



Gregory Nazianz

"[Besides the baptisms associated with Moses, John, and Jesus] I know also a fourth baptism, that by martyrdom and blood, by which also Christ himself was baptized. This one is far more august than the others, since it cannot be defiled by later sins" (Oration on the Holy Lights 39:17 [A.D. 381]).

Soc Wor said...

Ambrose of Milan

"But I hear you lamenting because he [the Emperor Valentinian] had not received the sacraments of baptism. Tell me, what else could we have, except the will to it, the asking for it? He too had just now this desire, and after he came into Italy it was begun, and a short time ago he signified that he wished to be baptized by me. Did he, then, not have the grace which he desired? Did he not have what he eagerly sought? Certainly, because he sought it, he received it. What else does it mean: ‘Whatever just man shall be overtaken by death, his soul shall be at rest [Wis. 4:7]’?" (Sympathy at the Death of Valentinian [A.D. 392]).



Augustine

"There are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptism, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance; yet God does not forgive sins except to the baptized" (Sermons to Catechumens on the Creed 7:15 [A.D. 395]).

"I do not hesitate to put the Catholic catechumen, burning with divine love, before a baptized heretic. Even within the Catholic Church herself we put the good catechumen ahead of the wicked baptized person. . . . For Cornelius, even before his baptism, was filled up with the Holy Spirit [Acts 10:44–48], while Simon [Magus], even after his baptism, was puffed up with an unclean spirit [Acts 8:13–19]" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:21:28 [A.D. 400]).

"That the place of baptism is sometimes supplied by suffering is supported by a substantial argument which the same blessed Cyprian draws from the circumstance of the thief, to whom, although not baptized, it was said, ‘Today you shall be with me in paradise’ [Luke 23:43]. Considering this over and over again, I find that not only suffering for the name of Christ can supply for that which is lacking by way of baptism, but even faith and conversion of heart [i.e., baptism of desire] if, perhaps, because of the circumstances of the time, recourse cannot be had to the celebration of the mystery of baptism" (ibid., 4:22:29).

"When we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body. . . . All who are within [the Church] in heart are saved in the unity of the ark [by baptism of desire]" (ibid., 5:28:39).

"[According to] apostolic tradition . . . the churches of Christ hold inherently that without baptism and participation at the table of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and life eternal. This is the witness of Scripture too" (Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 1:24:34 [A.D. 412]).

"Those who, though they have not received the washing of regeneration, die for the confession of Christ—it avails them just as much for the forgiveness of their sins as if they had been washed in the sacred font of baptism. For he that said, ‘If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he will not enter the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5], made an exception for them in that other statement in which he says no less generally, ‘Whoever confesses me before men, I too will confess him before my Father, who is in heaven’ [Matt. 10:32]" (The City of God 13:7 [A.D. 419]).

Soc Wor said...

The Fathers likewise affirm the possibility of salvation for those who lived before Christ and who were not part of Israel, the Old Testament People of God.

However, for those who knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church), no salvation would be possible until they repented and returned to live in Catholic unity.

Soc Wor said...

Francis made headlines (May 2013) with his non-scripted comments during his morning Mass (where he speaks without notes). He said:

"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!" Source

Many are concerned that the Pope was saying that all people are saved and do not need Jesus. Although Pope Francis does not perhaps speak with the same level of precision that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had, he was actually theologically correct.

An important distinction is found between the words "redeemed" and "saved". Jesus redeemed all of humanity with his blood. It would be a heresy for any Christian to say otherwise. The Pope didn't say all are "saved". Catholics believe that someone is saved through baptism and by confessing that Jesus is Lord. It the activation of Jesus' redemption through belief that we are saved.

On a similar topic (some time ago), we got an email pointing to a website that said:

Many people think that Arinze, the Pope's Deputy for Outreach, is heir apparent to John Paul II. But even if he is not, his comments are chilling and revealing....An illustration of Roman Catholic ecumenism, which ices out the Gospel and makes mockery of the ministry of Jesus Christ, is found in Arinze's answer to the question, "Can you still get to heaven without accepting Jesus?" His answer, not surprising, but chilling and ominous, is: "Expressly, yes!"

The website quoted above pulls Catholic statements from their original context and hurts ecumenical dialogue.

Soc Wor said...

Can non-Christians be saved?

The Catholic Church makes it absolutely clear that anyone who willfully turns his back on Christ will be denied salvation. So why does the Church say that some people who have not surrendered their life to Christ ("born again") might make it to heaven? To begin this conversation let us take a tour through the Old Testament.

What about non-Christians before Christ's time... can they be saved?

Let us look at King Hugh, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. They never knew Christ. They never asked Jesus to be their personal Saviour. Some Evangelicals will say that these guys are not in heaven and never will be because they didn't make a "personal decision for Christ" during their life.

These Old Testament prophets cause some problems for many Evangelicals because the prophets did not meet the requirement of "making a personal decision for Jesus" while living. Some Evangelicals side step this issue and say, "I don't know where the Old Testament prophets are today, no one knows." But these same Evangelicals claim there are only two places for humans after they die, heaven or hell. They also claim that the only way into heaven is to claim Christ as your personal Saviour while you are living. That seems to leave only one place for the prophets, hell. It makes no sense to us that someone who wrote the Bible would be in hell. We must say that thankfully, not all Evangelicals follow this logic. Some Evangelicals follow the thinking of the Catholic Church on this matter.

Catholics believe on the day Jesus died, He descended to the realm of the dead (hell in English, Sheol in Hebrew, Hades in Greek). He descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there (1 Peter 3:18-19).

He did not do this to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him...And therefore Jesus' redemption extends to all men of all times and all places. (Catechism 633, Council of Rome 745AD)

Catholics think there is redemption for some faithful who seek God, but have never met Christ.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Heb 11:6)

The important word here is "seek." The Old Testament Prophets sought after God and were rewarded.

Soc Wor said...

St. Paul then goes on walk us through the entire Old Testament. He speaks about

Noah... Abraham... Isaac...Jacob... Rehab the prostitute... Moses, Sarah... Gideon... Barak... Samson...Jephthah...Hugh...Samuel and the prophets who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained, promised, shut the mouths of lions (Heb 11:7-12:1)

None of them knew Christ, none of them were "born again." Yet Paul does not at all suggest they are in hell. In speaking about them, he says "we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses." This does not sound like hell.

Christ made it clear that Moses and Elijah are doing fine and are not in hell (Mat 17:2) and that Abraham is doing fine also (Lk 16:22). None of these guys made a personal decision for Christ while they were alive. Obviously, these faithful souls pleased God. We think it was their honest search for truth and faith in God that saved them. We got an email that said:

the thing is,the old testament people believed the gospel, they believed the prophecies so even before jesus was born, they had already believed ...that soon emmanuel will be real...and the book that they read was actually what we now have as the bible.

Yes that is true, but modern Jews believe in the OT prophets and are expecting the Messiah to come. They just don't think he's come yet. So they are not Christian, and that presents a logic puzzle for this well meaning person.

Of course we believe all those Old Testament prophets are in Heaven. Jesus descended to the dead to go get them out of Sheol, during the 3 days after the crucifixion. However, by nature of their own logic, those who claim that it is impossible to get to Heaven without confessing Jesus with the lips before dying, would have to conclude that the prophets of the Old Testament are not saved.

Soc Wor said...

What about non-Christians (after Christ's death)...can they be saved?

We work with people with disabilities. Some of them are so hit by cognitive disability that they are not capable of honestly surrendering to Jesus. They just don't have the mental capacity to consciously choose Christ. With all the compassion that Jesus showed to people with disabilities We don't think he will damn them to hell. He is a merciful God. That's the cool thing about Catholic baptism. We didn't choose to be born into a human life yet received the grace of life. Catholics believe a person can also receive the grace of eternal life before actually choosing it. The expectation of the Holy Spirit is that we will make a personal commitment to Christ if and when that is cognitively possible.

Jesus brought a girl back from the dead. It is doubtful that she had previously turned her life over to Jesus. (Mt 9:18) He is a God of mercy.

If someone has never been exposed to the Gospel message before he dies, yet believes in God and is searching for truth, Catholics believe the culpability falls on us as Christians for never having reached him.(1 Cor 9:16) That is why all Christians must evangelize. If an upright African guy believes in God and seeks him but never hears about the Gospel in an authentic way, you and me better get on our knees and ask for God's mercy. "Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). We are responsible for getting the word out.

It is not because of his non-Christian religion that a person above could be saved. It would be because Catholics believe Jesus judges the heart of each individual. It would be cruel to believe that God would create this soul, and then condemn him to hell even though he believed and sought God. It would be through no fault of his own that he never heard the Gospel. It would be our fault. The Church teaches that it is by the mercy of Christ that people are saved, even if they may not realize it at the moment of death. Jesus is the only Saviour. The Catholic Church makes it clear that those who refuse Jesus, after having been presented the Gospel in an authentic way, will spend an eternity in hell. (Cat 846)

Part of the reason that Catholics have confidence that some honest seekers who never meet the Lord will be saved is because we believe in Purgatory. There is a similarity to what Jesus did when He went down to Sheol to preach to the Old Testament faithful there (1 Peter 3:18-19) and what he will do for honest seekers who were never evangelized in an authentic way here on earth. Catholics believe these people will go to Purgatory (a step before heaven). Jesus is present in Purgatory, and everyone there will accept Jesus as the Saviour before they enter into heaven.

It would be easy to say, "hey the Catholics think all non Christians are going to get evangelized and saved in purgatory." That is not so. The Catholic Church teaches that Purgatory is not for those who willfully reject Christ or never seek God in this life. Those who reject Christ will not enter Heaven or Purgatory, they will go to hell. If you have never made a personal decision for Christ, we beg you to do so now. It was the best thing we ever did. Here is an article that shows you how to do that.

Raj Richard said...

Dear Soc Wor,

As much as I appreciate discussing with you, I am not appreciative of seeing elaborate cut-paste snippets in your comments. It's tiring!

Reg. reverence upon Mary:

1. Mary is an ordinary woman, not even to the status of the apostles. She is not a perennial virgin. Ascribing reverence to Mary is a catholic lie - unbiblical.

2. Bible says that we do not need to pray or seek the dead. Period.

3. When I can pray to God directly, I do not need to pray to saints to intercede for me. Period.

4. Catholics such as yourself operate on salvation by works, which is unbiblical.

Are you being humorous in stating that God would hear only the sinless?
Do you mean to say that the moment you repent of your sin, you would not commit another sin?
Do you know who called himself the chief of sinners in the Bible and do you know when he called himself that?
Please, I implore you to get a better understanding of the Bible.

Raj Richard said...

Dear Soc Wor,

This blog is about reverence upon Mary.

I have written about the Catholic fabrication on universalism. PLease visit that blog and then comment. The link to that blog is "http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2014/11/catholic-church-endorses-universalism.html."

Let's not flood this article with themes that do not belong here.

Request your understanding.

Thanks