Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #36: “Invoking the Dead Is an Abomination”

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. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on “The Saints” as he counters evangelical Protestants’ objections that “Invoking the Dead Is an Abomination.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches its members to pray to Mary and its canonized saints for assistance in meriting their salvation and other needs:

“The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were ‘put in charge of many things.’ Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.” – CCC 2683

Regarding the practice of praying to the dead, evangelical Protestants cite Deuteronomy 18:10-12:

“10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.”

It’s clear from this passage and many others (see here) that God commands believers to refrain from invoking the dead, i.e., necromancy.

Broussard seeks to rebut Protestant objections with two arguments:

(1) Broussard attempts to distinguish between the necromancy specifically condemned in Deut. 18:11 and the invocation of the saints as taught by the Roman Catholic church. First, he presents a definition of necromancy, i.e., “the conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events.” Broussard follows with the Greek roots of the word, “necromancy”: nekros (“dead person”) + manteia (“oracle”/”divination”). Broussard then places v.11 in context with the entirety of Deuteronomy 18:9-21 to assert that the prohibition against necromancy “has to do with seeking secret knowledge apart from God” (p.198).

(2) From the above argument, Broussard concludes that petitioning the saints is not necromancy, because invoking the saints involves “giving information to the dead by making our requests known to the departed soul” (p.198), in alleged contrast to necromancy, the goal of which, he states, is to gain secret knowledge from the departed souls.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

We can use the information provided by Broussard to swiftly and successfully rebut his sophistical apologia. One of the purposes of necromancy, according to Broussard’s own definition, is for “influencing the course of events.” Catholics certainly do pray to Mary and the saints in the hopes that they can influence the course of future events!

Last week, we discussed how praying to saints is idolatry because it ascribes to them powers and glory that belong to God alone (see here). Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere in the Old or New Testaments is there an example of an obedient believer praying to anyone other than God.

No need to debate this specific topic further. Broussard has unwittingly debunked his own argument.

What does the Bible say about praying to the dead?
https://www.gotquestions.org/praying-to-the-dead.html

Next up: “The Dead Know Nothing”

43 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #36: “Invoking the Dead Is an Abomination”

  1. This is what Augustine says to Broussard,

    Augustine (354-430): For prayer is not righteous except through Christ, whom he sold in his atrocious sin: but the prayer which is not made through Christ, not only cannot blot out sin, but is itself turned into sin. NPNF1: Vol. VIII, Exposition on the Book Psalms, Psalm 109, §9.

    Why doesn’t Broussard be upfront and tell everyone that they call on the “saints” because of the treasury of merits, according to their official teachings?

    CCC 956 The intercession of the saints. “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.”495
    Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.496
    I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.497

    CCC 1476 We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church’s treasury, which is “not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy.”88
    CCC 1477 “This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body.”89

    The bottomline is why bother with the “saints” when a Muslim or Atheist can be saved by being “good”?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the good references, SB! Yes, the “intercession” of the saints is linked to their supposed “merit,” although the current crop of Catholic apologists downplay meritorious works as the means to salvation. Not David Anders, though. He unabashedly promotes meritorious works as the path to Heaven.

      RE: why bother with the “saints” when a Muslim or Atheist can be saved by being “good”?

      Exactly!

      Like

      1. I used to engage in polemical discourse against Romanists before I moved on to Islam. Roman apologists are amateurish compared to the sophistry of Muslim evangelists.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes. Roman apologists typically come from the more conservative factions. We share common assumptions including the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture.

        How do you think the average Evangelical or Roman layman would respond if a Muslim said:

        1. The Bible is corrupted
        2. The “orthodox” party in the early centuries won a political battle with other “Christians” like the Ebionites, Marcionites, Gnostics, so the Gospels are the books of the winning party (Bauer thesis)
        3. There is not one single verse that teaches the trinity and 1 John 5:7-8 was found to be a corruption
        4. Most Christian scholars nowadays believe the Gospels to be anonymous and a product of generations of redaction of oral stories and fables
        Etc etc

        Roman polemics are very highly tailored to seduce the average low church evangelical,
        asking, “How do you know you have the correct interpretation?”. Muslims take that one level higher and ask “How do you know you that you are actually following Jesus and not Paul, Pope XYZ, ____(insert name of teacher other than Jesus)?”

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for the encouragement, sister! Scraped windows for two hours on top several other chores. We have lots of latticework in our windows so painting and scraping them “is a real bear.” Is that expression used in Australia?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Prepping and painting latticework is sooooo tedious. The inner windows and lattice are protected by storm windows so, thankfully, I don’t have to paint them often.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Another excellent post, Tom. Regarding your sentence, “We can use the information provided by Broussard to swiftly and successfully rebut his sophistical apologia.” This is exactly what I was thinking as I was reading his explanation. He condemned himself with his own “defense.”

    Such a sad and foolish doctrine; such a sad and foolish “defense” of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, David! I appreciate your good thoughts. Broussard desperately attempted to distinguish between Deut. 18:10-12 and Catholicism’s invocation of dead saints, but ended up shooting himself in the foot. I really like it when Broussard does my work for me.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is one of those topics that either gets devoted RC’s heated with me or is brushed off by less devoted RC’s. It’s difficult to talk to them about it either way, so I greatly appreciate your effort in explaining this, brother!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the thoughtful comments. Is it okay to ask a family member or friend to pray for us during a difficult time in life, or ought we go straight-on to Christ Jesus at all times? I have, asked for the prayers of others in the past. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Daniel. God’s Word definitely encourages believers to pray TO GOD for each other. Ephesians 6:18 is just one of many such verses. But nowhere in the Bible are believers instructed to invoke dead souls. Catholics say praying to saints for intercession with God is similar to asking living believers to pray to God, but such a claim is without Biblical foundation.

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  4. There is something wrong with this because the entire chapter he refuted himself whether he wants to believe it or not. This really does become irritating and I appreciate Papa Tom that you are not a jerk because after while, I would really get ticked off with this stuff. The Bible cannot mean what it did not mean to the original authors and recipients, how the RCC defends their tradition over Scripture is just appalling. I really do my best to live peaceably with others to the greatest extent possible; however, this is just much too much! Do you and Corinne have plans for this weekend?!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comments, Mandy! Over the years I’ve become very “used to” Catholic apologetical sophistry. I’ve seen all of Broussard’s arguments many times before from other Catholic sources. Broussard gave me a gift this chapter by providing too much information and sinking his own ship.
      I just completed the post for next Friday and Broussard uses Catholic apologists’ and theologians’ favorite argument for un-Biblical Catholic traditions – the “fittingness” claim, i.e., “We both can agree that God “could” do X, and it would be reasonable and fitting if God did X, therefore God did X.
      RE: weekend
      I did some more painting today. The way things are shaping up, I’ll be painting a good chunk of the day tomorrow and finishing up (I hope!) on Sunday (caulking and scraping paint off of windows).
      What do you and Nathan have planned?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am praying that God will help you finish your painting! Nathan is out cat fishing right now. Had he given me more notice I may have went with him. We will go hiking and fishing/boating this weekend. Nathan and I both enjoy communing with God in nature. Do you like to fish?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for your prayers, Mandy! After a solid week of painting, I’m seeing the light at he end of the tunnel. Sounds like a fun weekend! Enjoy! Corinne loves the water and always wanted a house or cottage on the water with a boat.
        RE: fishing
        My Dad was strictly a suburbanite non-outdoorsman so I was never introduced to that pastime. Corinne used to fish with her father when she was very young and treasures the memories. She was six when he died at the age of 47. Heart attack. I referred to “The Omen” (1976) in my previous comment. After we saw the movie and the reference to Revelation and the number of the anti-Christ, 666,, we rushed home to search her father’s Protestant Bible that he carried with him throughout WWII. That was the first Bible I ever leafed through and that prompted me to buy my own Bible, etc., etc. It took another seven years before we were saved.
        Sorry! I digress! Have a great weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s a tragically beautiful story! Thank you SO much for sharing this! I look forward to your weekend round up if you’re writing one!! I am a suburbanite as well! I said that just yesterday at dinner to Nathan and Mom! U. My mom howled and said, “Mandy is more than I am!” Nathan just shook his head. I am a sporty chick, I like being out in nature but not one with nature. I will not sleep in a tent! If I were Jewish my least favorite festival would be the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths. Anyway, that is probably more than you wanted to know about me!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks! And I’ll be putting the finishing touches on the round up right after this.
        RE: Sheltered suburbanite
        I enjoyed the anecdotes! I played outside all day as a kid, but cutting the lawn became the extent of my “outdoorsiness” after we got married. After we bought this house 16 years ago, Corinne gradually coaxed me into sitting out on the back patio during the clement seasons.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Good point of how his own definition of necromancy makes how own view of praying to the saints problematic! Also for such an important doctrine you think if asking dead saints for help is true that the Scriptures would have taught it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!
      RE: Scriptures would have taught it
      Absolutely true!
      Imagine if you can one of the Old Testament prophets stumbling upon some ignorant Jew or Israelite who was praying to Abraham or Moses! Imagine apostle Paul praying to Stephen the martyr. So ridiculous.

      Liked by 1 person

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