Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #39: “We Are the Saints”

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 installment, the Catholic apologist completes his five-chapter section on “The Saints” as he attempts to counter Protestants’ assertion that “We Are the Saints.”

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The Roman Catholic church almost exclusively uses the term, “saint,” in association with those whom it officially canonizes. Canonized saints are recognized as being in Heaven and worthy of “veneration” and qualified to be intercessory mediators.

“Showing devotion and respect to Mary, the Apostles, and the martyrs, who were viewed as faithful witnesses to faith in Jesus Christ. Later, veneration was given to those who led a life of prayer and self-denial in giving witness to Christ, whose virtues were recognized and publicly proclaimed in their canonization as saints.” – from “Veneration” in the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

In counterpoint, evangelical Protestants cite such passages as Colossians 1:2 to show that all genuine believers are saints:

“To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”

In this verse, Paul addresses all of the born-again believers in Colossae as saints. Broussard attempts to counter Protestant objections with three arguments:

(1) Broussard begins by informing us that the Greek word used in the Septuagint and the New Testament for “saint,” hagios, means “sanctified,” “set apart,” or “holy.” He presents multiple examples from the Bible to show the word is used to signify believers, angels, and even God. Broussard concludes, “(since) there is no single biblical use of the term hagios, (that) gives Catholics some freedom to decide how they want to use the term” (p.211).

(2) Broussard then states that the Roman church readily concedes that it’s technically appropriate to categorize “all baptized Christians” as saints (CCC 1475, 948), “but it in a narrower and more formal way, the Catholic church also uses the word to refer to those individual Christians who are perfected in the heavenly kingdom” (p. 212).

(3) Broussard concludes by arguing that “it’s reasonable for the Church to use the term saint as a title of honor for those Christians in heaven because of their perfected state” (p. 212).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

 (1) It’s certainly true that the Bible uses hagios to refer to believers, angels, and God. Because of the variance in application, Broussard claims Catholicism has the “freedom” to apply the term as it sees fit. Does that rationalization hold water? Let’s continue.

(2) After having attempted to establish Catholicism’s prerogative to use hagios according to its own whims, while still conceding that the term can theoretically be used to refer to all “baptized saints,” Broussard acknowledges that the Roman church almost exclusively uses the term to refer to those it has canonized.

(3) Broussard concludes, once again, with Catholicism’s “reasonable/fitting” argument, i.e., (A) If a certain extra-Biblical theological hypothesis is reasonable and fitting (according to Catholic arguments), then (B) it is true. Hence, Roman Catholicism’s designation of super-Catholics as “saints” is deemed appropriate because the RCC says it is.

The Roman Catholic church teaches it has the God-given ability to discern if certain individuals are in Heaven and are worthy to be venerated as intercessors by the faithful. It claims to be able to make that determination via its scrupulous canonization process.* It alleges its saints obtained a place in Heaven due to sacramental grace (baptism, eucharist, confession, confirmation, last rites, marriage, ordination) and their abundant meritorious works and piety.

There is a fundamental and irreconcilable difference between the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone and Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Gospel Christians take the Biblical view, that the saints are all those who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. The RCC’s usage of “saint,” as referring to a “Super Catholic,” aligns with and perpetuates that church’s false notion of works-righteousness salvation.

Postscript: No one is really sure how many individuals have been canonized by the Catholic church. However, the RCC states the first saint to be formally canonized was Ulrich of Augsburg in 993 AD by pope John XV. Why were no saints canonized prior to 993? Like most Catholic “sacred traditions,” this saint business evolved over time. There is no mention of canonization or praying to saints in the New Testament. Popular culture parrots the Catholic notion of “sainthood” and even believers get caught up in this error: “Sally helped me out so much. She is an absolute saint.”

What are Christian saints according to the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/saints-Christian.html

*The canonization process usually takes decades, if not centuries, of dogged persistence on the part of the devotees of a particular candidate. However, the RCC has shamelessly “fast tracked” famous and socially relevant personages (e.g., pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and recently, token African-American Catholics) in order to exploit their popular appeal.

Next up: “Today You Will Be with Me”

47 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #39: “We Are the Saints”

  1. “After having attempted to establish Catholicism’s prerogative to use hagios according to its own whims …” And this is the key for all those who seek to bend the Bible to match their already established notions. Sadly, this extends to all branches of Christendom, not just the RCC.

    Excellent post, Tom.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. This is the worst yet! Personally, I do NOT mess with the holiness of God. God is Holy and Holiness is one of His attributes. It is egregious that Broussard neglects to explain the Hebrew meaning of holy, set apart. Broussard mentions Lev 20:26 and that the Israelites are holy and called saints, quotes NT as “Jesus being Holy One of God” and that “God is Holy One of Israel“ but Broussard fails to mention that the reason why they are holy and set apart and to be holy is because the Lord God Himself is holy (Lev 11:44-45, 19:2). 1 Peter 1:16 affirms believers are to be holy because the Lord is holy. Isaiah 6:3 and Rev 4:8 both testify “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord!” I realize that Broussard is talking about the deceased being saints. My point in all of this is that when we talk about saints (whether dead or alive) being separated, holy, set apart and wholly other, we MUST start that conversation with God and who He is. God makes us holy, and we work out our holiness/sanctification through our obedience!! Sanctification/growing in holiness is a life long process. While I agree there are levels to hagios I vehemently object to Broussard’s statement “since there’s no single term hagios gives Catholics some freedom to decide how they want to use the term.” God states that He is Holy in Lev 11:44-45. All of Israel would have seen the quick, sudden and severe demise of Nadab and Abihu for not worshiping the Lord properly (Lev 10). Therefore, while there again are levels to holiness we most certainly do and cannot decide for ourselves how we will use the term. May we be holy saints because our Triune God is holy.

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    1. Thanks for all of your good thoughts! I really appreciate your train of thought here. Our (genuine believers’) hagios is totally derived from/based upon God’s Hagios. We are hagios only when we follow Hagios God’s prescribed salvation plan. Nadab and Abihu, Cain, and all religionists who attempt to circumvent God’s plan cannot be hagios. So the irony is that the RCC claims these deceased religionists are hagios when they tried to establish their own righteousness instead of submitting to God’s righteousness in Christ. Romans 10:3

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      1. Exactly!!! Thank you for tracking with me!! Everything you just said is exactly what I was thinking and you did it in so few words! Someday I will be more like you and David E!!

        While this is off topic per say, it may give you insight into my passion, love, obsession with God’s holiness!!! My first major research paper in Seminary was one where we had to trace a Biblical theme from Gen to Rev. I chose “purity.” Now remember in regards to study, I am the Bible Jesus read and taught kind of girl, so I focused extensively on the Ceremonial Laws, Ritual Laws, Clean/Unclean, Dietary, Moral Laws etc Priesthood, Holiness Code and the Temple (purity in place) so that I could bring to life Jesus’s teachings in Mark 7, Acts 10 and discuss how Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension abolished purity in place person and ushered in purity in person by the sending of the Holy Spirit. Long story short, I learned VERY quickly that my paper wasn’t a purity paper but a holiness paper. God gave me a line that I repeated extensively in that paper (after all repetition is the key to learning!) and it’s a line that I will NEVER forget and live my life by, “purity is a manifestation of holiness and only a holy people can live with Holy God.”

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      2. Thanks for your good thoughts re: Holy God and the purity and holiness of believers. I guess I could spend all day contemplating via Scripture God’s perfect Holiness. As a young Christian, going to an IFB church, God’s Holiness was continuously used as a baseball bat to shame the members. From that place, I’ve since understood He’s my loving Shepherd always cheering and exhorting (and sometimes admonishing) me to follow Him in holiness. Whoops! I’m lapsing into “stream of consciousness” verbosity! I’m driving Corinne around to various places today (urgent care, drug store, etc) because our dog bit her on the hand once again so I’m dialoguing with Mandy as I sit in each parking lot! 🚙 📱👆🏻😊

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      3. Thank you! We have a 40-pound labradoodle that just turned 13 and gets more ornery by the day. Do you guys have a dog? After urgent care and CVS I drove Corinne to Wegmans for yogurt (to replace the good bacteria killed by the antibiotic) and then to Trader Joe’s so she could pamper herself with favorite treats. Lots of parking lot down time for me. I could whine about my 8 years in the IFB all day. I’m grateful for you and Nathan and our good discussions! Thanks for this morning’s fantastic discussion! We just got home and I now have to get caught up on my domestic duties. Bye for now!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ah, yes! I remember your dog now! (I actually “liked” that post back when). He’s a very cute little guy and I bet he never bites! Corinne is doing fine now with a big bandage around her hand. Thanks!!! She was actually rearranging the living room furniture after we returned home (and asking me to help) instead of chilling after this morning’s chaos, but THAT’S my bride!
        RE: Wisdom
        Thanks, Mandy! The sentiment is mutual. I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Lord! It’s good for us “seasoned saints” to hang out with younger saints who have some spring in their step!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You and Corinne are MORE than welcome to join us for dinner! We are grilling burgers, I will even give you one of my turkey maple apple burgers (although you may prefer Nathan’s bacon and cheddar one! Nathan tried my burger once and said it’s breakfast sausage in the size of a burger, he got the look!!!). Corinne is a woman after my own heart! If there’s one thing I don’t do is sit well! Are y’all going on any road trip/drives this weekend?!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. The burgers sound delish! I took out the surplus enchilada filling I had in the freezer and whipped up a new batch of enchiladas for dinner. I’ve perfected my enchiladas over the years.
        Corinne and I are polar opposites in many ways. I sit very well! Nope, no road trips. We’re going over to our son’s house tomorrow night to celebrate our daughter-in-law’s b-day. What do you two have planned?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, sister! When it comes to this bogus saint business, we ex-Catholic believers know whereof we speak! I’ve had people call me a “saint” because I did a good deed and I was able to answer I was just a sinner saved by grace! 😊

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  3. Chrysostom commenting on Col 1:2 said faith in Christ made one a saint. I can’t help but think that if Chrysostom saw it as it is today, he would anathemize Rome.

    John Chrysostom (349-407): “To the saints which are at Colossæ.” This was a city of Phrygia, as is plain from Laodicea’s being near to it. “And faithful brethren in Christ.” (Col. iv. 16.) Whence, saith he, art thou made a saint? Tell me. Whence art thou called faithful? Is it not because thou wert sanctified through death? Is it not because thou hast faith in Christ? Whence art thou made a brother? for neither in deed, nor in word, nor in achievement didst thou show thyself faithful. Tell me, whence is it that thou hast been entrusted with so great mysteries? Is it not because of Christ?

    “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” Whence cometh grace to you? Whence peace? “From God,” saith he, “our Father.” Although he useth not in this place the name of Christ.

    I will ask those who speak disparagingly of the Spirit, Whence is God the Father of servants? Who wrought these mighty achievements? Who made thee a saint? Who faithful? Who a son of God? He who made thee worthy to be trusted, the same is also the cause of thy being entrusted with all.

    For we are called faithful, not only because we have faith, but also because we are entrusted of God with mysteries which not even angels knew before us. However, to Paul it was indifferent whether or not to put it thus. NPNF1 Vol 13, Homilies on Colossians, Homily I, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids, MI Pg 454-455

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dropping by with a hi! Answering your question its 85 F here and extremely smoggy and smokey. The fire is now 9 miles away and if I look two blocks away you see a lot of smoke with the visibility; how’s your day?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! 9 miles isn’t far. I pray the firemen control it. This morning our dog bit Corinne on the hand, nothing real serious, but that tied up a big chunk of the day going to urgent care, CVS, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, she’s doing well, thanks! Urgent Care just cleaned it up, bandaged it, and prescribed an antibiotic. She leaves food on the table and walks away. The dog then tries to get the food and she returns and tries to push the dog away and ends up getting bit. It’s happened 4 or 5 times. I remind her not to leave food and not to expose her arms and hands to the dog in that situation but to no avail. Too trusting.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. She’s doing good, thanks brother! Hope your day’s off to a good start. We’re at the vets for the dog’s ear infection before going to a birthday party for our daughter in law later on.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, in his epistles, Paul uses “saints” 29 times to refer to all those in the Body of Christ so the Catholic concept is antithetical to God’s Word. This RC concept of a “saint” being a super-good person who deserves Heaven permeates society.

      Liked by 1 person

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