Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lost in the crap

Great article by John Cooney in today's Irish Indo on a recent RTÉ radio phone-in where Wallace Thompson, chief aide to Nigel Dodds - but demeaning Ulster Prods purely in a personal capacity - called the Pope the anti-Christ.

<shaking head> Another blow for Jesus, eh? </shaking head>

I suggest Mr Wallace re-reads the book of Revelation! The Roman church may have bent some aspects of Biblical theology - and invented others - but that doesn't make its members unchristian, or its figurehead the anti-Christ.

Wallace slams the Church of Ireland for selling rosaries in St Patrick's cathedral. There's nothing unbibical about the idea of running beads through your fingers to help you remember what to pray for!

Just when he's getting right up our noses, though, Wallace - by now in full fury - says Catholics are wrong to pray to the Virgin Mary. Er, wait up!. Actually that's quite true by Biblical standards, and quite a few Anglicans - especially in England - should take note too. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Mary was anything other than a woman who found God's favour. She was not divine, she had no superhuman powers, and the idea - as put about by the Roman Catholic church - that she ascended into heaven like Jesus is not supported anywhere in scripture. She was a sinner loved and blessed by God, but nothing more, and praying to her is as pointless as praying to me will be in 100 years' time.

Being pointless, though, doesn't make something wrong. What makes praying to Mary or other saints wrong is that it takes our focus away from God - the one with the power, and to whom Jesus died to give us direct, unhindered access.

So praying to a dead human is (a) pointless, (b) unglorifying of God and (c) demeaning Jesus' ultimate sacrifice.

Excuse the blunt comparison, but when it comes to your life insurance would you not call the company direct rather than talk to a dead insurance broker with no qualifications other than being pally with the CEO?

Anyway, back to the subject. Whatever theological differences Protestants may have with RC doctrine, this Wally's outburst is just embarrassing because in an era where the Catholic church's vice-like grip on Éire politics has loosened and continues to slide into irrelevance, Protestants across Ireland need to be building bridges and seeking to influence, not repel.

We need to be conduits of God's love, gently pointing out the joys of Reformation theology (much of which mainland European Catholicism has now adopted anyway) rather than being some self-appointed punishment squad. Surely that's the work of the anti-Christ.


At 7:57 p.m., Anonymous perci said...

spot on the money

At 11:37 p.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...

Not exactly Perci

"What makes praying to Mary or other saints"

Catholics do not pray to Mary or Saints, we ask them to pray for us.

Ever hear of intercession???

It's the same as someone asking you to say a prayer for them, or is that not something that Protestants do?

It does have biblical authority

1 Timothy 2

"First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth."

Just in case you try to tell me that they can't pray for us in heaven I also have authority for that

Revelation 5:8 and Revelation 6:9 both speak about the "Prayers of Saints"

James 5:16 tells us "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

Those in heaven are perfectly righteous!

I expected better John

At 11:39 p.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...

Just to prove it John

Hail Mary

"Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
PRAY FOR US sinners now,
and at the hour of death."

(My emphasis added)

At 2:37 p.m., Blogger B.U. said...

Hello Chris. Glad you're thinking about such things, and encouraging me to as well. The New Testament states that the saints and the angels are always praising and praying in Heaven, quite right.

The issue is about whether we can or should be interacting with them. I see no evidence or encouragement of that in Scripture.
In the Paul's NT writings, living believers (any believers!) are referred to as saints. It was only after the RC church invented beatification that it has been possible to read Rev 5:8 the way you've mentioned.

I've seen no evidence in the NT of anyone talking to dead mortals, except the Transfiguration which involved a direct manifestation of Elijah and Moses, and then only the Lord Jesus had the right to interact with them.

I think the need to ask dead saints to pray for us - and the emphasis this is given in the RC church - has been required to fill the gap left by millennia of playing down the possibility and importance of a direct relationship between human individuals and God. You see, even before the Roman church claimed to be the sole repository of knowledge of God or - through the use of Latin - denied the ordinary unschooled to right to hear the Scriptures in ways they could internalise - Jesus died to give dirty sinners like you and me direct access to God - not through priests as in the OT, or through super-Christians who've died before us - but direct, face-to-face contact. An always-on relationship. When people grasp the reality of this, and the priceless value of it, asking dead people to pray for us takes on, with respect, a certain superfluity.

I agree that the population of Heaven is perfect, without blemish, and I look forward to meeting you there. I'll be the big guy at the Guinness stand, and we won't be the least concerned about theology because that will belong to the past. We'll be in the presence of the Lord himself. God bless you.

At 5:24 p.m., Blogger Chris Gaskin said...


As a Catholic I love the rich tapestry of my faith, I love the Hail Mary (although I don't know it in English, I prefer it as gaelige). I love the history, the art, the general ambiance of the mother church.

I would find protestant churches and indeed many parts of the faith cold and barren.

That's just me though.

When I left for England my mother gave me a prayer to put in my wallet. It was a prayer to St Michael the Archangel.

Angels and Saints are very important in my family’s faith, my mother and late aunt put great faith in their intercession.

Catholics do pray to our lord directly. When I attend my local chapel I always light candles in front of a statue of the holy mother, I ask her to pray for my dead relatives and for my family and any other intentions.

I then light a candle in front of our lord, when I speak to him it is for me. I may seek guidance, strength etc

That's just the way that I pray

At 5:37 p.m., Blogger B.U. said...

Chris, I know exactly what you mean about Protestant churches being bare and barren. In fact, in the reactionary post-reformation days that was intentional as a means of keeping worshippers' attention on our unseen God. Personally I love the sense of wonder and awe I get in most RC churches, and that's no bad thing if it reminds us of how rich - and how utterly different - Heaven is from the world we're spending a bit of time in. And then I go off and hear a cracking Baptist sermon, get all inspired and realise we're just denominations of the one Church, each with emphasis that shows different aspects of the same truth. I just wish we'd all stop beating each other up unnecessarily.

At 6:13 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

Hear! Hear! (I find the concept of dead mortals mildly interesting).

At 3:26 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

One small point - surely its time unionists stopped referring to the Republic of Ireland as Eire. Ireland, Southern Ireland, The South or the Republic of Ireland shouldn't really be that difficult.

At 4:21 p.m., Blogger B.U. said...

(a) If you meet a Unionist, ask him/her, not me.
(b) Art. 4 of Bunreacht n hÉireann states "The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland."


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