Praying to dead saints, icons, relics

Most of Jordan Cooper’s videos are very good (I just disagree with him on Baptism and his views against Reformed theology, but on other historical theology and church history issues, and justification by faith alone, he is great!) Especially this one about prayer to the saints who have died and the early church fathers. The Quotes from Martin Chemnitz (Lutheran theologian, historian, who came after Martin Luther and wrote extensively on the Council of Trent – 1545-1563); and early church fathers such as Epiphanius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and Augustine, are especially good.

But if it belong to none other than God to bless and to deliver, and none other was the deliverer of Jacob than the Lord Himself and Him that delivered him the Patriarch besought for his grandsons, evidently none other did he join to God in his prayer, than God’s Word, whom therefore he called Angel, because it is He alone who reveals the Father. Which the Apostle also did when he said, ‘Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’ For thus the blessing was secure, because of the Son’s indivisibility from the Father, and for that the grace given by Them is one and the same. For though the Father gives it, through the Son is the gift; and though the Son be said to vouchsafe it, it is the Father who supplies it through and in the Son; for ‘I thank my God,’ says the Apostle writing to the Corinthians, ‘always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you in Christ Jesus’ And this one may see in the instance of light and radiance; for what the light enlightens, that the radiance irradiates; and what the radiance irradiates, from the light is its enlightenment. So also when the Son is beheld, so is the Father, for He is the Father’s radiance; and thus the Father and the Son are one.

Athanasius, Discourse Against the Arians, 3, 25, 13

Listen to Dr. Jordan Cooper’s analysis of the context in Athanasius. The context shows that the “Angel” who reveals Himself in the OT is many times, pre-incarnational manifestations of Jesus Christ Himself. Notice the phrases, “it belongs to none other than God to bless and to deliver” and “none other did he join to God in his prayer”.

This demonstrates that the Roman Catholic rosary is wrong, because it mixes prayers to God with prayers to Mary, thus violating the principle that Athansius so clearly communicates. Don’t pray to dead saints, even though they are alive in heaven.

23. Moreover if, as the heretics hold, the Son were creature or work, but not as one of the creatures, because of His excelling them in glory, it were natural that Scripture should describe and display Him by a comparison in His favour with the other works; for instance, that it should say that He is greater than Archangels, and more honourable than the Thrones, and both brighter than sun and moon, and greater than the heavens. But he is not in fact thus referred to; but the Father shews Him to be His own proper and only Son, saying, ‘Thou art My Son,’ and ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.2348’ Accordingly the Angels ministered unto Him, as being one beyond themselves; and they worship Him, not as being greater in glory, but as being some one beyond all the creatures, and beyond themselves, and alone the Father’s proper Son according to essence2349. For if He was worshipped as excelling them in glory, each of things subservient ought to worship what excels itself. But this is not the case2350; for creature does not worship creature, but servant Lord, and creature God. Thus Peter the Apostle hinders Cornelius who would worship him, saying, ‘I myself also am a man2351.’ And an Angel, when John would worship him in the Apocalypse, hinders him, saying, ‘See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the Prophets, and of them that keep the sayings of this book: worship God2352.’ Therefore to God alone appertains worship, and this the very Angels know, that though they excel other beings in glory, yet they are all creatures and not to be worshipped2353, but worship the Lord. Thus Manoah, the father of 361Samson, wishing to offer sacrifice to the Angel, was thereupon hindered by him, saying, ‘Offer not to me, but to God2354.’ On the other hand, the Lord is worshipped even by the Angels; for it is written, ‘Let all the Angels of God worship Him2355;’ and by all the Gentiles, as Isaiah says, ‘The labour of Egypt and merchandize of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thy servants;’ and then, ‘they shall fall down unto thee, and shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee, and there is none else, there is no God2356.’ And He accepts His disciples’ worship, and certifies them who He is, saying, ‘Call ye Me not Lord and Master? and ye say well, for so I am.’ And when Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God2357,’ He allows his words, or rather accepts him instead of hindering him. For He is, as the other Prophets declare, and David says in the Psalm, ‘the Lord of hosts, the Lord of Sabaoth,’ which is interpreted, ‘the Lord of Armies,’ and God True and Almighty, though the Arians burst2358 at the tidings.

Athanasius, Discourse Against the Arians, 2, 16, 23

Athanasius demonstrates through quoting Scripture and argumentation that we should not be bowing down to humans or statues or venerating icons or relics. bowing down with worship = “do not do that”. Worship God alone. See also Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9. Therefore, bowing and kissing images, icons, statues and praying to Mary or other dead saints is wrong.

I hope to add more commentary to this over time. For more references and discussions of these things and related issues (icons, images, relics, praying to dead saints), see the videos by Gavin Ortlund also on prayer to the saints, and also on icons and relics; and see the debate that James White had with Patrick Madrid on prayers to saints and the issue of latria (worship, adoration) vs. dulia (respect, honor, veneration) and hyper-dulia (special higher honor given to Mary, the mother of Jesus).

Venerating Icons, by Gavin Ortlund

Dr. White’s debate vs. Patrick Madrid

Relics, by Gavin Ortlund

About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
This entry was posted in Apologetics, early church history, Eastern Orthodoxy, Icons and relics, Prayers to Mary, Roman Catholic False Doctrines, Roman Catholic false practices, Roman Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Praying to dead saints, icons, relics

  1. Jesse says:

    Hello Ken,

    Does Young’s Literal Translation seem like something that you would use in study?:

    • Ken Temple says:

      Since I learned Greek and Hebrew in seminary; I don’t use those types of tools much, although I have heard of “Young’s Literal Translation” (many years ago) – I have not looked at that in a long time. I would rather go straight to the Greek and Hebrew in my Accordance Software or pull out the books, the old fashioned way.

      But it has been around for a long time . . .

      Been blessed by having more time to look at some of your older articles on Roman Catholicism.

      Keep pressing on in the true vine, Jesus – John 15:1-16; Philippians 3:7-14

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