Thoughts after reading Proven Truth: How Paganism and Idolatry Started in the Church
This post, in no way, is intended to admonish the author Giselle. It is simply the thoughts that came to mind as I read through her work. More specifically inspired by the following exert:
“One of the ‘Apostolic Fathers’, Emperor Julian of the Western Empire, had a problem with the worship of the martyrs — those who died because of the prior persecution. They were raising them to the level of Jesus. He noted that people were worshiping the tombs of the Peter and Paul in Rome. He quotes Jesus where he said in Matthew 23:27…
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” Matthew 23:27 NLT
“He was basically saying that tombs are unclean. Stop worshiping them!
“Worship of saints and martyrs still goes on.”
I do not disagree with Giselle on the point of contention regarding the practice “Intercession of the Saints”, however, many who argue on this are missing a key point on the subject: The saints are not considered dead. According to practitioners, they are alive in Heaven.
Clearly, a different approach is needed to dispute this. Though, the most simple answer (at least in my mind) has a gapping hole in the logic. When I considered this topic, my first thought was “Well this is simple, they can’t be alive, because Enoch, Elijah and Christ are the only ones we know who were taken up to Heaven…”. They were full body experiences, that is- even if we had their exact DNA sequence on file somewhere, we would never be able to find their bones…because they are not here on Earth. Using this logic would force us to acknowledge that since the New Testament, there have been no confirmed cases where someone was taken up to Heaven while they were still drawing breath here on this Earth. The Catholics might have a case with Mary, but the story of Mary’s Assumption is dodgy.
This sounds like a great argument…until you consider the Transfiguration of Jesus. Unless the disciples mistook Enoch for Moses, my argument goes out the window. And it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t have been corrected by Jesus if this is the case- as one of the disciples (Peter?) specifically asked to create a tabernacle for each by name. There’s a thin line that Jesus just ignored the comment out of hand, not really thinking too terribly on the matter- but still the passages describing Moses being there throw a wrench into the discussion.
Why? Because Numbers actually tells us that God buried Moses somewhere in Moab. Meaning his bones are somewhere still on Earth. Unless God resurrected him prior to Christ’s death on the cross, and brought him into Heaven in the same fashion as He did Christ.
One of the reasons I’m working through the Apocrypha, is so I can see if there is anything else which supports the narrative of “Intercession of the Saints”. The “strongest” argument I am aware of comes from Tobit, where Raphael is described as praying for two of the characters prior to assignment to assist them. And if you’ve read my analysis of this book as I was working through it- you’ll know that I cannot possibly include it as evidence in support of “Intercession of the Saints”.
Maybe there is evidence for it, I’m don’t like to make decisions until I have all the information in front of me. But if there is none at all, I’m afraid that the kinds of arguments which ignore the practitioners belief these Saints are still alive only illustrate Protestant ignorance to the discussion. And this ignorance will only serves to push practitioners of “Intercession of the Saints” further into ungodly practices.
Together, I believe we Christians can find a stronger argument to dispute Intercession of the Saints. But it takes effort and time. And if we find, at the end, that we’re actually the ones who are wrong, that the Catholic faith had it right this whole time…we have to be willing to turn towards it and accept our own spirits were leading us away.
I’ll admit it if it turns out the evidence is strongly in their favor…but until then I’m an unabashed Protestant.
In case you want to look over my notes on Tobit, you can find each entry here.