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Old 02-12-2001, 08:44 PM   #1
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Any biblical justification for a cult of saints? Or is that just another extra-biblical thing that some Christian churches had gotten into?

And I note that the lives of the saints are generally considered to be largely fictional; even the medieval Church had realized that to some extent, given that it had invented the position of "Devil's Advocate" for the purpose of criticizing candidates for sainthood.

It would be interesting to judge the Bible by the same criteria used to judge saint biographies; I wonder how the Bible would hold up under such scrutiny :-)

Finally, sainthood seem like deification; venerating saints seems like worshipping saints under some other name.

And I found William Sierichs, Jr.'s commentary really funny -- as he points out, there is no shortage of "evidence" for the deities of Mt. Olympus.
 
Old 02-12-2001, 09:17 PM   #2
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I have never understood why the Roman Catholic church holds this theology.

I guess the critical question is "what is a god?" Catholics probably define it as an already established deity like Vishnu or Krishna (or Baal and Dagon), or gods that actually replace "God." But it seems like their practice of turning saints and Mary into objects to which one prays to in order to "intercede" on ones behalf is an awful lot like "making other gods" (Ex. 20:23, Deut 13:13). And if that is true, then even REVERING other gods is clearly prohibited (2 Ki 17:38) as is "calling the name" of one.

Maybe Catholics have learned from fundamentalist Christians. If fundamentalists can define "likeness" or "generation" or "iniquity" in a way that suits them, why can't Catholics change the implications of the Tanakh's prohibition against making other gods or "calling the name of other gods..."

BTW, Did you know that even SAYING the name of another god was prohibited by the Bible (Exodus 23:13)? Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians can't even say "Krishna."
 
Old 02-12-2001, 10:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
[B]Any biblical justification for a cult of saints? Or is that just another extra-biblical thing that some Christian churches had gotten into?

And I note that the lives of the saints are generally considered to be largely fictional; even the medieval Church had realized that to some extent, given that it had invented the position of "Devil's Advocate" for the purpose of criticizing candidates for sainthood.

It would be interesting to judge the Bible by the same criteria used to judge saint biographies; I wonder how the Bible would hold up under such scrutiny :-)

Finally, sainthood seem like deification; venerating saints seems like worshipping saints under some other name.

</font>
First, the Catholic church distinguishes between 'dulia' and 'latria'(both Greek) in worship. It is the second of these that Protestants would usually understand by worship and this is not given to saints and is qualitatively different from dulia. Latria is usually translated adoration and dulia as veneration. Dulia should be understood as honor rather than worship and is equivalent to saluting the flag or an official. In so honoring the saints one is seen as honoring God himself. Another example of this sort would be complementing a painter for a particular painting. The admiration for the painting can be seen as also admiration for the painter.


Second, the idea of saint is bound up with the idea of purgatory. According to Catholic doctrine, not all Christians go to heaven directly but many spend some time in purgatory 'burning' off the excess pondage of sin. Those who make it to heaven are then saints. While waiting in purgatory, the church believes, those souls have no power to petition God. Once in heaven, however, the soul may petition God and meet requests. If someone on Earth requests a dead person to petition God on their behalf, the meeting of the petition is seen as being evidence of the dead soul being in heaven and hence the dead soul can be declared a 'saint'.


Third, the saints are seen as being good examples of Christianity being acted upon in different walks of life and times in history. Though some say that Christ's example is sufficient, it is really rather limited when it comes to particulars (e.g. how does a mother or married man act Christlike?). Saints are seen as concrete examples.

Having said all of this, it must be admitted that in practice pagan customs did influence the particular manifestations of the cult of the saints. Often a saint who was thought to have particular interest in a particular 'sphere' of life was substituted for a similiar pagan god. Santeria and other religious traditions can be clearly used to illustrate this.




[This message has been edited by not a theist (edited February 12, 2001).]
 
Old 02-13-2001, 10:52 AM   #4
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The concept of the saints is a very feudal one. In a feudal society, the peasant does not speak to the king, but rather goes to one of the king's vassals, and asks them to speak to the king on their behalf. This parallels with the concept of saints nicely; they are seen as having more clout with God, because (a) they're already up in Heaven with Him, and (b) asking for their intercession has worked in the past.

As far as I know, there is no Biblical basis for saints, but then again, the Roman Catholic Church does not hold the Bible to be the sole source of divine revelation.
 
Old 02-13-2001, 10:54 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comparison to fuedal age. That is an interesting point.
 
Old 02-13-2001, 10:55 AM   #6
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The distinction between "dulia" and "latria" seems like hairsplitting to me, because they are hard for me to distinguish. It's like Ex-President Clinton claiming that oral sex does not count as sex.

And the idea of saints interceding with God -- that seems rather bureaucratic.

I certainly agree about how many saints are ripoffs of pagan deities -- Jesus Christ's mother got turned into the Christian Mother Goddess, as it were.
 
 

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