Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Criticism of Saint Intercession: We Should Only Pray to God

Criticisms of Saint Intercession:
We Should Only Pray to God

When early Jews and Christians asked the biblical Patriarchs and their own parents to “seek mercies” on their behalf, they were not “praying” to them in the modern sense of that word. 

Protestants in particular bristle at hearing people use the term “pray to saints” because the verb “to pray” has evolved in English to mean “speak to God.” And so on their ears the phrase “pray to saints” sounds like Catholic and Orthodox have made the saints into minor deities, which is not at all the case. 

In older English, “to pray” merely meant “to ask.” Shakespeare repeatedly used the phrase “I pray thee” in dialogue between two humans, with the meaning simply of “I ask you.” 

Even so, clearly the verb “to pray” has now taken on a divine connotation, and that is why in this book I carefully describe asking the deceased to pray for us using exactly those words “asking the deceased to pray for us.” 

And so, for the record, Saint Intercession is not prayer to a deity. There is One God. If someone’s understanding of English insists that the verb “to pray” means only “to talk to God, then we do not “pray” to Saints! When we ask the departed to pray for us, we are doing the same thing as when we ask a living person to pray for us. A valid criticism would indeed involve whether that dead human can even hear the request for prayer. But it is not fair to condemn Saint Intercession on the grounds that it is turning the dead into gods.

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