Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – # 80: Veneration/Worship of Saints? – Part 2

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week, we will continue our examination of chapter ten of Armstrong’s book that we began last week, in which he presents passages that allegedly support veneration/worship of “saints.”

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

Beneath this passage, Armstrong writes, “Catholics believe that the saints in heaven are aware of happenings on the earth. They are not isolated and removed from earthly realities, but intimately involved in them, as Hebrews 12:1 strongly suggests.” – p.135.

The Roman church teaches that deceased Catholics that have been canonized as “saints” are in Heaven, and they are also able to hear prayers/petitions directed to them by their earthly devotees and then able to forward those prayers/petitions to God. Armstrong presents Hebrews 12:1 as a proof text that the “saints” observe what is happening in the temporal world and stand at the the ready to assist Catholics as part of the “communion of saints.”

As we discussed last week, Catholics accord deific powers to their saints, claiming that they are omniscient and omnipresent, as God alone is, and able to hear the prayers of their petitioners throughout the world.

Does Hebrews 12:1 support this doctrine? In Hebrews, chapter 11, the author cites sixteen individuals (and the unnamed prophets) from the Old Testament who were trusting in God by faith alone when they died, although they had not yet attained the ultimate gift of salvation through the promise of the Messiah (vvs. 13-16). The author’s point in Hebrews 12:1 is NOT that these Old Testaments saints are semi-deific, omniscient and omnipresent witnesses of what is happening in the temporal world, but that they are witnesses of the true faith according to their testimony in the pages of the Old Testament:

Witnesses. The deceased people of chapter 11 give witness to the value and blessing of living by faith. Motivation for running ‘the race’ is not in the possibility of receiving praise from “observing” heavenly saints. Rather the runner is inspired by the godly examples those saints set during their lives. The great crowd is not comprised of spectators, but rather is made up of ones whose past life of faith encourages others to live that way.” – John MacArthur, The MacArther Bible Commentary, p. 1873.

With the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them and with Jesus Christ as their sole Mediator, all those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior by faith alone can go directly to God’s throne of grace in prayer. There is no need for any other intermediaries.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

But do Christians who go home to Heaven know what’s going on with their family and friends back in the temporal world? Scriptures are silent on this specific question, but there’s nothing to indicate they are granted the deific powers of omniscience and omnipresence.

For more information on Hebrews 12:1 and the “cloud of witnesses,” see the informative articles below:

Who are “the cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews 12:1?

Do those in heaven know what is happening on earth?

11 thoughts on “Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – # 80: Veneration/Worship of Saints? – Part 2

  1. Good post Brother! I like your observation: “Catholics accord deific powers to their saints, claiming that they are omnipresent, as God alone is…” That alone refutes the twisting of Hebrews 12 given it gives attribute of God to creatures. I also wonder if Catholicism call those who are in Hebrews 11 “saints.” I suspect they don’t for all of them. Still, the biggest problem is being aware of earthly happening does not necessitate omnicience nor omnipotence!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brother! I need to add to the post that Catholics attribute omniscience to the saints as well as omnipresence.

      RE: Old Testament “saints”

      Good question! Catholics do consider most of those mentioned in Hebrews 11 to be saints but don’t refer to them as such. We never prayed to saint Moses or saint David. Very strange inconsistency. Here’s a Catholic priest’s explanation that I found:

      Why do we not say Saint Moses?

      There is no real specific answer to this question other than its simply the manner in which the traditional use of the word evolved. For whatever reason, in Western Christian tradition, Old Testament persons are not referred to as saints (other than the names of angels mentioned in the OT). The word was applied to early Christians who were considered extremely holy and just never evolved into being used for pre-Christian persons. Clearly certain Old Testament figures are considered to be among the saints of heaven. Moses and Elijah, after all, were seen at the transfiguration of Jesus. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes: **61 **The patriarchs, prophets and certain other Old Testament figures have been and always will be honoured as saints in all the Church’s liturgical traditions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Also just FYI today’s post didn’t appear on my reader for some reason; it was similar to last week’s Monday installment of the “Answering Alleged 95 Catholic Bible verses” series

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Caroline. Yes, Catholic apologists are very much aware there are no Scripture passages that directly support praying to saints so must attempt to build their case by roundabout extrapolation.

      Liked by 2 people

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