Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Intercession of the Saints, Part I

Today and tomorrow, we will be reading about how saints have been elevated by the Roman church to an improper role - a role that is reserved for Christ alone. This is a practice still prevalent today. It really is sad to me to see these saints become distractions to Christ and our true access to the Father.

Calvin states clearly, "Regarding the saints who, having died in the flesh, live in Christ, if we attribute any prayer to them, let us not even dream that they have any other way to petition God than through Christ, who alone is the way, or that their prayers are accepted by God in any other name." Something that Calvin did not mention (at least not in today's reading) that I thought of was Matthew 27:51, "Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom..." This was a sign that we no longer needed to communicate with God through the use of the temple priests, but we now had direct access to Him through the Son. Why would the Roman church then decide to add another layer between God and us by praying to saints instead of through the true Mediator? Calvin writes, "...they dishonor Christ and strip him of the title of sole Mediator, which, as it has been given to him by the Father as a unique privilege, ought not to be transferred to another." Calvin has a wonderful quote from Ambrose, "He is our mouth, through which we speak to the Father; he is our eye, through which we see the Father; he is our right hand, through which we offer ourselves to the Father. Unless he intercedes, there is no intercourse with God either for us or for all saints."

Once people begin praying to saints, they are lead into even more error. These saints then take on other qualities which are reserved for God alone. People have setup a division of labor among the saints, "for a diversity of business sometimes one intercessor would be called upon, sometimes another." What becomes the most dangerous use of the saints is "there are very many who do not refrain from the horrid sacrilege of calling upon the saints now not as helpers but as determiners of their salvation." Even the Council of Carthage in 397 condemned the practice of praying to the saints, but the Roman church still adopted it as a common practice.

Calvin makes the distinction between departed saints and angels. He uses Scripture to show that the saints are not the same as the "ministering spirits to whom is appointed the task of looking after our salvation, to whom was assigned the task of guarding us in all our ways, 'who surround us', who warn us and cheer us, who stand and watch for us." These departed saints have not been granted these roles by God. "No one will dare perform the office of an advocate before an earthly judge unless admitted to the bar. Whence, therefore, have worms such great license as to force upon God pleaders to whom we do not find the office assigned in Scripture?" The departed saints no longer have any earthly cares, therefore they have no contact with us nor do we have contact with them. He writes, "they do not abandon their own repose so as to be drawn into earthly cares; and much less must we on this account be always calling upon them!"

Tomorrow's reading: 3.20.25-3.20.27

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