Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. This week, we begin our examination of the Catholic apologist’s five-part section on “The Saints.” With this first chapter, he attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ objection that there is “One Mediator.”
The Roman Catholic church teaches its members to pray to Mary and the saints for spiritual intercession: “We can and should ask (Mary and the saints) to intercede for us and for the whole world” (CCC 2683). However, evangelical Protestants cite 1 Timothy 2:5 to show that Jesus alone is Mediator and Intercessor:
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Broussard attempts to rebut the Protestant view with three arguments:
(1) Broussard agrees that Scripture affirms the uniqueness of Jesus Christ’s office as Mediator, but also points out that Scripture teaches the validity of intercessory prayer of fellow Christians, one for another. He remarks that in v.1 of the same chapter, Paul urges “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” and in v.3 (Broussard mistakenly credits v.4) Paul writes that such intercession “is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” Broussard argues that, (A) since asking fellow Christians to intercede for us in prayer is Biblical, then (B) asking Christians in Heaven to intercede for us must be valid as well.
(2) Broussard argues that while Scripture affirms Jesus’s unique roles as Teacher (Matthew 23:8) and High Priest (Hebrews 3:1), he contends that Scripture also affirms that Christ shares those ministries with His disciples (Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 2:5,9). Broussard posits that, (A) since Christ shares his intercessory ministry with living Christians according to Scripture, then (B) “it’s at least possible that Jesus could share his intercessory ministry with Christians in heaven, too” (p.194).
(3) With his last argument, Broussard’s attempts to connect the dots. He posits that, (A) since all Christians, both on Earth and in Heaven, are united as members of the mystical Body of Christ, and (B) because “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16)” with regards to the intercessory prayer of the saints on Earth, therefore, (C) “the saints in heaven are perfected in righteousness, (and) their prayers will bear much fruit” (p.195).
Let’s now respond to Broussard.
Gospel Christians certainly believe, as the Bible teaches, that we are to pray to God for each other. However, the Catholic argument that petitioning deceased Christians to pray/intercede for us is the same as asking living Christians to pray to God for us presupposes several un-Biblical and anti-Biblical doctrines:
- Praying to saints semi-deifies deceased human beings – In order to hear prayers throughout the world, saints would have to have the ability to be omnipresent and omniscient (able to perceive the private thoughts of petitioners). Catholics claim that God grants these powers to the saints in Heaven. Some Catholics will claim that they don’t actually pray to Mary or the saints, but that is lexical sophistry.
- Praying to saints is idolatry – By ascribing deific, god-like powers to deceased human beings, the Catholic church presents these “saints” as de facto minor gods and prayer to them is a form of worship. This robs God of the worship that He alone deserves. Nowhere in the Old or New Testament is there a sanctioned example of a living person praying to a deceased person. Studious readers of the Bible know this to be absolutely true. Communication with the dead (i.e., necromancy) is strictly forbidden by Scripture. Broussard will attempt to address the subject of saints and necromancy next week.
- Praying to saints is nonsensical – Even if it were possible, there would be absolutely no need or advantage to praying to an intermediary when we can pray directly to God the Father through the ONE AND ONLY Mediator, God the Son.
- Praying to saints impugns Jesus’s role as Sole Mediator – While Catholics insist that they fully acknowledge and respect Jesus’s singularly unique role as Savior and Mediator between God and man, they betray their lip service with their actions by addressing their prayers to Mary and the saints for their salvation and for other needs and requests.
- Praying to saints and the notion of patron saints is a syncretic adaptation of paganism – After Christianity was adopted as the official state religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD, it became increasingly institutionalized and adapted many pagan beliefs and practices. Ancient Greece and Rome had their pantheons of major and minor gods and goddesses with their alleged patronage of various trades and occupations. From this model, Roman Catholicism created its pantheon of patron saints. See my relevant post here.
With this introductory chapter, Broussard attempted to the persuade the reader of at least the possibility of saintly mediation/intercession. He’ll build on this anti-Biblical foundation in the four chapters that follow.
Is prayer to saints / Mary biblical?
Next up: “Invoking the Dead Is an Abomination”