Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Protestant Views of the Communion of Saints

Prodigal daughter has a nice post about saints on her blog which brought to mind something I had just read:

"When in his frailty, a man invokes the saints, he invokes Christ, and without fail he will reach Christ whenever he calls upon their names, for wherever they are, they are in Christ and Christ is in them, and their name in Christ's name and Christ's name in their name."

This quote was from the early 16th century. How far we have gotten away from this concept! Back then, one could invoke the saints and not be accused of necromancy! It was not uncommon for a pious Christian to ask saints for intercession because it was common practice and had been part of the Church since the earliest days. The Apostles Creed probably written shortly after the last of the apostles died states "We believe in the communion of saints." The early church understood this to be an interaction on the saint's part for those of the body of Christ still left here on earth.
I like what Protestant minister Rev. James Dodd DD (1890) says about the Communion of Saints:
"Death separates the soul from the body, but it does not cut off the dead from communion with the Father or the Son. He who is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is the God not of the dead, but of the living. Of the whole family of the saints, some are in heaven and some on earth, and, between those who are there and those who are here, there is communion. Since the heavenly Church received Abel as its first member, there has been unceasing fellowship between militant and glorified saints. Those who are here are shut out by the tabernacle of the body from personal intercourse with the souls of the departed, but are yet in a fellowship with them that is very real and precious. The holy dead act upon the living, and, it may be, are reacted upon in ways we do not understand. Of Abel we are told that "being dead, he yet speaketh."[196]
Boy if that doesn't sound Catholic to me! By the way, the first quote was from an individual who is the spiritual father of our separated brethren, none other than Martin Luther in 1522.
(5 years after he posted his theses on the door of that Catholic Church)

So, if the father of Protestantism believed in the Communion of Saints, why do our separated brethren oppose this creedal belief so vehemently?


Blogger Magister Christianus said...

I remember being told by a relative when I was a child that whereas Catholics had to go through a priest to pray to God, we, i.e. Protestants, could pray to Him directly. I think this same line of reasoning undergirds thoughts about praying to the saints. As a Protestant who has been dipping his toes in the Tiber by reading and annotating voraciously the stories of those who have made the swim, I can say that not to ask those who have gone before us to pray on our behalf is to have a thin notion of what life everlasting means. Each individual Protestant acts as if it is just he and God, but if he takes seriously our Lord's statement that God is God of the living and not the dead, then surely those who have gone before are alive with Him and just as capable of praying for us as those earth-dwelling neighbors and relatives that we so typically and frequently ask to do so.

Thank you for your blog. It is quite helpful.

June 28, 2009 9:32 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

MC said: "Each individual Protestant acts as if it is just he and God"

I think that the saddest fruit of the reformation was to cause a "great divorce" between the Church and God. The reformation allowed the development of the
incorrect notion that you only need your faith and a bible, and the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Many, not all Protestants, view Church as an add on, something that is there as part of their spiritual journey, and oftentimes, and impediment to their journey.

Christ never intended us to "go solo" without His Church because it was in His Church that He provided for us the funnels of His grace, ie the sacraments. Or as one saint has called them, the "kisses of God."

But as we minimize the role of the Church here on earth, we must also need to cast off the involvement of the Church triumphant as well. Hence we now have the the loss of understanding and appreciation for the communion of saints, an apostolic teaching passed on through the Church from the earliest days.

Thanks for your comments, they inspire me for more posts! God bless your Lord's Day.

June 28, 2009 11:21 AM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

"So, if the father of Protestantism believed in the Communion of Saints, why do our separated brethren oppose this creedal belief so vehemently?" I've been wondering the same thing, TJ! They're also vehemently opposed to "idols" and "statues" the entire year, except for Christmas when they adorn their lawns with them!! Not very consistent is it? As a Methodist in my youth, we'd recite the Nicene Creed in church, and the "communion of saints" line was just empty wordage to me. No one ever spoke of the Saints as Saints that were and are still ALIVE! Very curious. Strange and sad.The GREAT DIVORCE indeed! And as we know, God HATES divorce...yet Christians keep splitting and splitting to merely "have it their way." Burger King Christianity run amok!

June 30, 2009 6:54 AM  
Blogger jogomu said...

Is there a reference for the Luther quote? I can't find one, and I hate to pass it along without...

August 23, 2010 11:50 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

sorry jogomu, I probably googled martin luther and the communion of saints and found it.
God bless

August 24, 2010 8:34 AM  

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