Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #38: “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

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 attempts to counter Protestants’ objections that “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

capture30

In examining Broussard’s three previous chapters on this topic, I pointed out that Catholicism teaches that its saints have deific abilities to receive and comprehend prayers. In counterpoint, evangelical Protestants often cite 2 Chronicles 6:30 to show that God alone knows the hearts of men and women:

“Then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind.”

Broussard responds to this objection with two arguments:

(1) Firstly, Broussard posits that an all-powerful God is certainly able to grant limited omniscience to the saints. He appeals to Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologiae:

“God alone of himself knows the thoughts of the heart: yet others know them, insofar as these are revealed to them, either by their vision of the Word [Second Person of the Trinity] or by any other means.”

(2) Next, Broussard contends that there is Scriptural precedent for the notion of saintly omniscience. He cites Daniel 2 where God revealed King Nebuchadnezzar’s private dreams to Daniel in a vision. He also cites Revelation 5:8 with its mention of “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” as an alleged example of how “God reveals the interior thoughts of men to created intellects, particularly to souls in heaven” (p.208).

Let’s now answer Broussard.

(1) I certainly don’t regard Thomas Aquinas as a reliable theological authority, but I do acknowledge from examples in Scripture that God is almighty and all-powerful and can and has chosen, in unique circumstances, to reveal the interior thoughts of others to His prophets and select individuals.

(2) Yes, Mr. Broussard, God did reveal the interior thoughts of Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel. No, Mr. Broussard, Revelation 5:8 doesn’t indicate that the souls in Heaven know the details of believers’ prayers.

Broussard has once again used the Catholic “reasonable/fitting” argument to “prove” the validity of praying to saints. He posits that (A) since God has revealed the interior thoughts of people to prophets, then (B) it’s reasonable to assume that God enables saints to know the interior thoughts of those who pray to them, therefore (C) God grants limited omniscience to the saints in order for them to receive prayers.

Roman Catholicism has likewise extrapolated many other specious, extra-Biblical doctrines and traditions using its reasonable/fitting argument. While God did reveal the interior thoughts of people to prophets, there is not a single example in either the Old or New Testaments of a faithful believer invoking the dead. Not one. God would NOT empower souls in Heaven to be spiritual mediators because He would be contradicting His Word, which states believers are to pray directly to God the Father through Jesus Christ, our only Mediator.

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven…'” – Matthew 6:9

Jesus DID NOT instruct His disciples to pray to saint so-and-so. He instructed His disciples to pray to God the Father.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

The writer of Hebrews, under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, exhorts Christians to pray to God, NOT to pray to saints X, Y, and Z.

Next up: “We Are the Saints”

33 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #38: “God Alone Knows Our Hearts”

  1. Again, what’s the point of praying to the saints, if a Muslim, Atheist, Hindu, ______(insert belief) can be saved by being “good”?

    Augustine agrees that praying to the saints is worthless.

    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.

    Augustine (354-430): Let not our religion be the worship of dead men. If they lived pious lives, it must not be supposed that they seek divine honours. They want us to worship him, in whose light they rejoice to have us as sharers in their merit. They are to be honoured by imitation and not adored with religious rites. If they lived evil lives, wherever they now are, they are not to be worshipped. John H. S. Burleigh, trans., The Library of Christian Classics, Augustine: Earlier Writings, Of True Religion, lv, 108 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953), p. 254.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, Papa Tom! What I find fascinating is that the Skeptic that Jimmy faithfully refutes relies solely on the internal biblical text, while Broussard uses predominantly exterior sources or Scripture twists the Word to create skepticism of what the Bible means. I have a greater appreciation for both of you and how frustrating this must become.

    With that said, the editor in me was annoyed when I saw the typo that Broussard said “Joseph” instead of Daniel when he started his Daniel 2 section. Both Joseph and Daniel gave God credit for their ability to interpret dreams, it did not come from themselves. I think it is wrong of Broussard to omit that. Like you, I strongly disagree with Broussard’s interpretation of the 24 elders.

    I have known that Catholics pray to the saints but I never knew where it came from. I have a good friend in Peru and they have a statue/shrine to some saint in their house and I have had to stand in front of this thing numerous times as they have prayed. They know I am not Catholic. Whenever COVID relents, my friend wants me to come and stay with them for a few weeks. The more I learn about this the more uncomfortable I get. They believe in Jesus and the Bible but as my friend has incredulously said of my Protestant faith, “where are the rules?!” How are you and Corinne? Is the rioting near your home? I am extra praying for y’all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Re: where are the rules?

      I would have showed them this passage from the Bible:

      2 Timothy 3:16‭-‬17 ESV
      All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

      And a so called “doctor of the church”:

      Augustine (354-430): However, if you inquire or recall to memory the opinion of our Ambrose, and also of our Cyprian, on the point in question, you will perhaps find that I also have not been without some whose footsteps I follow in that which I have maintained. At the same time, as I have said already, it is to the canonical Scriptures alone that I am bound to yield such implicit subjection as to follow their teaching, without admitting the slightest suspicion that in them any mistake or any statement intended to mislead could find a place NPNF1, Vol. I, Letters of St. Augustine,, Letter LXXXII, Chapter 3, Sections 24–25, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, p. 799

      Augustine (354-430): For holy Scripture setteth a rule to our teaching, that we dare not ‘be wise more than it behoveth to be wise;’ but be wise, as himself saith, ‘unto soberness, according as unto each God hath allotted the measure of faith.’ Be it not therefore for me to teach you any other thing, save to expound to you the words of the Teacher, and to treat of them as the Lord shall have given to me. NPNF1, Vol.3, Augustin, On the Good of Widowhood [De Bono Viduitatis.], Section 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 947

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey Mandy! I truly appreciate your weekly reaction to this book!
      That’s a good observation about how Broussard regularly appeals to Catholic sources that have zero authority for Gospel Christians.
      Glad you caught his erroneous Joseph reference. I had skimmed over it. I’ve encountered several serious errors and typos in this book; kind of surprising for an apologetics book.
      I found this particular chapter to be one of his more challenging apologias. As we know from Scripture, it’s certainly true that God revealed the interior thoughts of individuals to His prophets. But to then extrapolate from that an extra-Biblical case for saints in Heaven serving as mediators and intercessors is totally groundless and even anti-Scriptural.

      I know what you mean about being with Catholics when they practice their religion. I have declined to attend relatives’ infant baptisms, first communion parties, etc., which caused bad feelings. I have attended Catholic family weddings and funeral services in which I stayed in the back and prayed for everyone.
      RE: “where are the rules?”
      Catholics feel the authority of their institutional church stems from its institutionality if you get what I mean. They see the non-centralized patchwork quilt of evangelicalism and cannot imagine anything legitimate coming from that. The reality is Scripture is our sole authority while Roman Catholicism has untethered itself from Scriptural authority by making Sacred Tradition and its Magisterium equal to Scripture. So your friend asks “where are the rules?” while her church has added extra-Biblical rule upon rule and extra-Biblical tradition upon tradition over the centuries.
      Thank for your prayers! The rioting was in Rochester city center, which is about 8 miles from our house. Our oldest son drives through the impacted area daily on his way to and from work. He’s an unbeliever and all of this social chaos is unnerving him. Corinne and I have used this upheaval to share the Gospel and point to Jesus.
      What are you guys planning for the weekend?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tom, I am praying for your son! I am sorry for my delay in responding! We are taking a young couple out boating tomorrow and then on Sunday we will do some house/yard work. Monday is going to be a day of R&R for Nathan! What are you and Corinne up to?! Do you grill on Labor Day?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mandy, thank you for your prayers for our son!
        Have a good time tomorrow. I will totally finish painting tomorrow and will have additional yard work. Corinne wants me to pull bushes but I’m dragging my feet. Nothing big planned for Labor Day for us. The days all meld together now being unemployed for a year (me) and on disability (Corinne). What will you guys be grilling on Labor Day?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Congrats with being done painting! If we lived closer, Nathan would chain your bushes to his truck and they will come right on out! I understand what you mean about days melding together. Now that some of my housing projects are coming to an end I have been wondering what God wants me to do with my life since I withdrew from the PhD program. I have looked at others schools online, I don’t know what to do so I will wait and pray for direction and/or clarity. We will probably have some kind of turkey sausage and burgers for Labor Day. Have you been able to go for any walks?!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. RE: painting
        Thank you! Great to be almost done.
        RE: bushes
        Our bushes our mature and a bit overgrown. Corinne wants them out but we plan on selling in a couple of years and mature bushes are better than nothing to my way of thinking. But the conversation is daily so I’ll take them out for the sake of peace.
        I pray the Lord helps you decide your next steps. I went to night school at the age of 41 for a degree I really didn’t want for a job I really didn’t want. I got the job and did it for ten years but dreaded going to work every day. I doubt most people love their jobs but it makes a difference doing something you enjoy.
        Enjoy your cookout! I’ll do something on the grill that day…and serve it with some Rochester meat hot sauce! 😊

        Like

  3. It occurred to me as I read your post this morning that the RCC practice of praying to “saints” is akin to King Saul working with a witch to conjure up the Prophet Samuel. King Saul couldn’t hear from G-D, so went, sorta, behind His back.

    The other thing that sets the hairs on my neck standing straight up is the idea that some institution selects those it thinks, deems, to be ‘saints.’ We are all Priests, Saints, Children of G-D, if we have turned to His Call through Yeshua Jesus.

    Keep up the work you’ve been assigned, Tom. I’m sure it isn’t easy at times. I do not believe you labor in vain. When you get to Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s study in Romans Chapter Ten, he speaks of a precise knowledge of G-D. comparing it to a general knowledge. Apostle Paul applied it to his Jewish brethren, but it could equally be applied to RCC and other cults.

    L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jonah! Good point about Saul “going around” God’s prescribed Law by invoking Samuel via the witch. Yes, Catholics do something similar by invoking saints. One of the Catholic explanations I’ve read is that God is a harsh Judge and that Mary and the saints are more empathetic mediators.
      RE: Institution selects saints
      I definitely understand your point, although a knowledgeable Catholic would object to your wording. It’s not that the RCC selects those it deems to be saints. They would argue that God manifests to the church who is in Heaven and able to serve as a mediator. But this notion of acknowledging certain people to be “super-Christians” who merited their way to Heaven with goodness to spare is anti-Scriptural. Revealingly, the RCC “fast tracks” well-known individuals through its canonization process in order to leverage their popularity.

      Thanks, Jonah. The Lord puts it in my heart to continue to reach out to Catholics and educate evangelicals about the RCC. Looking forward to Romans 10 with MLJ. We’re still in chapter 1 because we listen to other pastors besides MLJ.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Re: using Aquinas

      That’s because Romanists idolize Aquinas. Even good old Thomas had a higher view of scripture than modern day Romanists.

      Thomas Aquinas (1225/27-1274) on John 21:24-25: It should be noted that though many might write concerning Catholic truth, there is this difference that those who wrote the canonical Scripture, the Evangelists and Apostles, and others of this kind, so constantly assert it that they leave no room for doubt. That is his meaning when he says “˜we know his testimony is true.´ Galatians 1:9, “œIf anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema!” The reason is that only canonical Scripture is a measure of faith. Others however so wrote of the truth that they should not be believed save insofar as they say true things.
      Latin text: Notandum autem, quod cum multi scriberent de catholica veritate, haec est differentia, quia illi, qui scripserunt canonicam Scripturam, sicut Evangelistic et Apostoli, et alii huiusmodi, ita constanter eam asserunt quod nihil dubitandum relinquunt. Et ideo dicit Et scimus quia verum est testimonium eius; Gal. I, 9: Si quis vobis evangelizaverit praeter id quod accepistis, anathema sit. Cuius ratio est, quia sola canonica scriptura est regula fidei. Alii autem sic edisserunt de veritate, quod nolunt sibi credi nisi in his quae ver dicunt.” Thomas Aquinas, Super Evangelium S. Ioannis Lectura, ed. P. Raphaelis Cai, O.P., Editio V revisa (Romae: Marietti E ditori Ltd., 1952) n. 2656, p. 488.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Broussard is definitely doing damage by defending and propagating Rome’s false gospel. I imagine that most “evangelicals” today would not even want to know about a book like this, which unapologetically defends works-righteousness salvation, because they have no stomach for a debate over doctrine. Billy Graham said Catholics are Christians and that’s good enough for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I began reading a book entitled “ The Knowledge of the Holy” (AW Tozer) half way through the second chapter he mentions a Catholic Spanish Mystic Miguel De Molinos.
        At this point I discarded the book.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Crissy. About a year ago, I wrote a post about how Alistair Begg had disappointingly commended a book written by Catholic clergyman and “mystic,” Brother Lawrence (1614-1691), to his congregation. I did some research and found out that it was Tozer who was initially responsible for introducing and recommending the writings of Brother Lawrence and other Catholic “mystics” within evangelicalism.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you, sister! The Lord puts the desire in our hearts to serve the Body and reach out to the lost. I’m grateful for your posts as well! I look forward to them. They are great encouragement as I start my day.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, sister! I truly appreciate the encouragement! These chapters are a challenge each week, but the Lord helps me wade through it with the encouragement of sisters and brothers!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s