Is Roman Catholic Doctrine Biblical? Canonising Saints

Stained GlassHow does a person become a saint?

That is a valid question. The Bible speaks of saints – people who are sanctified, made holy by the blood of Jesus through faith in Him.

Saints alive!
Paul, in his letters, addresses the saints at various cities in the Asian regions he evangelised. An outstanding characteristic of these saints is that they were living, although he also spoke of saints whom he said were ‘sleeping’, that is, had died in Christ, and were awaiting the resurrection of the Church.

The key truth, though, is that they became saints whilst they were living, and not after they had died.

Interestingly, Paul even addresses the saints in Rome.

Romans 1:7-12
“To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established–that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”

Clearly Paul is writing to saints who are alive, whom he hopes to visit soon, whom he is praying for, whom he longs to see to encourage. To the Corinthians he writes “All the saints greet you”, speaking of the saints he was with at the time, not those in heaven.

Paul was one of the ministers given responsibility for teaching, training and equiping the saints.

Ephesians 4:11-13
He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…

We are made saints through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is nothing of oursleves. We are made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus through believing on Him, the work of His cross and resurrection. Sainthood means to be made holy. Sanctification is holiness, but not our own holiness through our own works, but His holiness through faith in Him accredited to us as result of His grace, or favour, towards us.

We cannot become saints by our own goodness or works. If we did we might boast on our own works, or holiness, or even on the greatness of others as more holy than than others, which is what the Roman Catholic Church, in essence, has done.

Different concept of sainthood
The Roman Catholic Church sees sainthood completely differently to Paul and New Testament scripture, and has devised a doctrine which is completely at odds with what the Bible says, not only in the passages I have added here, but throughout the canon, in a long, drawn out process called canonisation, according to the Catholic Education Centre.

The Process of Becoming a Saint
Fr William Saunders

The official process for declaring someone a saint is called canonization. Prior to the year 1234, the Church did not have a formal process as such. Usually martyrs and those recognized as holy were declared saints by the Church at the time of their deaths. Before the legalization of Christianity in the year 313 by Emperor Constantine, the tombs of martyrs, like St. Peter, were marked and kept as places for homage. The anniversaries of their deaths were remembered and placed on the local Church calendar. After legalization, oftentimes basilicas or shrines were built over these tombs.

As time went on, the Church saw the need to tighten the canonization process. Unfortunately, sometimes figures of legends were honored as saints. Or once, the local church in Sweden canonized an imbibing monk who was killed in a drunken brawl — hardly evidence of martyrdom. Therefore, in the year 1234, Pope Gregory IX established procedures to investigate the life of a candidate saint and any attributed miracles. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V entrusted the Congregation of Rites (later named the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints) to oversee the entire process. Beginning with Pope Urban VIII in 1634, various Popes have revised and improved the norms and procedures for canonization.

Today the process proceeds as follows: When a person dies who has “fame of sanctity” or “fame of martyrdom,” the Bishop of the Diocese usually initiates the investigation. One element is whether any special favor or miracle has been granted through this candidate saint’s intercession. The Church will also investigate the candidate’s writings to see if they possess “purity of doctrine,” essentially, nothing heretical or against the faith. All of this information is gathered, and then a transumptum, a faithful copy, duly authenticated and sealed, is submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

Once the cause is accepted by the Congregation, further investigation is conducted. If the candidate was a martyr, the Congregation determines whether he died for the faith and truly offered his life in a sacrifice of love for Christ and the Church. In other cases, the congregation examines to see if the candidate was motivated by a profound charity towards his neighbor, and practiced the virtues in an exemplary manner and with heroism. Throughout this investigation the “general promoter of the faith,” or devil’s advocate, raises objections and doubts which must be resolved. Once a candidate is declared to have lived life with heroic virtue, he may be declared Venerable.

The next step is beatification. A martyr may be beatified and declared “Blessed” by virtue of martyrdom itself. Otherwise, the candidate must be credited with a miracle. In verifying the miracle, the Church looks at whether God truly performed a miracle and whether the miracle was in response to the intercession of the candidate saint. Once beatified, the candidate saint may be venerated but with restriction to a city, diocese, region, or religious family. Accordingly, the Pope would authorize a special prayer, Mass, or proper Divine Office honoring the Blessed.

After beatification, another miracle is needed for canonization and the formal declaration of sainthood.

So the process is lengthy, can only occur after a person’s death, includes good deeds, or works-based righteousness, and is challenged by an opposing argument. Hence the phrase ‘devil’s advocate’! It’s part of the initiation required for sainthood for the bringer of the cause for sainthood to be challenged by someone who plays the devil.

So, for the Roman Catholic, sainthood is a exercise only for a few, who have, by their own works and good deeds, or through martyrdom, or because of a miracle after they have died, done something outstanding from all other believers.

Probationary progression of Roman Catholic sainthood
They have a procedure called canonisation, which involves the intervention of men, apparently authorised to choose who can become a saint and who cannot, according to their own contrived devices, which have no bearing on scripture, including that of Paul and the other writers of the Epistles, where there is enough information on sainthood to make it plain for any ear to hear. This despite the clear Biblical information we have on who is a saint and how.

The process takes from God the power to accredit righteousness to a man or woman on the merit of His grace and their faith. It removes the entire need of faith as a means to sanctification, and declares a person beatified or sanctified only after certain criterion are realised, which, by their own admission, were devised by the Roman Catholic Church.

So, rather than correcting the error made by early Christians, up to the thirteenth century, of creating saints out of martyrs and venerating them and their shrines and gravestones, the Roman Catholic Church fashioned a completely unbiblical approach to sainthood which elevated dead people above the living, and gave the living the license to pray to and through these saints.

It was in their power to teach basic Biblical doctrine on how a person becomes a saint through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and not through any process induced by men. But they failed in this, and have perpetuated a myth which has caused huge confusion across the Body of Christ, even amongst Christians who are not in any way connected to Roman Catholicism.

The media in particular takes the Roman Catholic line that saints are special people who have died and had at least one miracle take place through pray to them, or through them.

Commercial value of Roman Catholic saints
Of course, this inevitably led to an industry of fabricating images and icons of canonised saints which the people could set up in their homes, and priests could erect in their churches and church yards, so that the faithful had a point of focus for their prayers. Wether this is acceptable or merely tolerated by the Vatican is neither here nor there. They created the anomaly, but have done little to remove it from the people of their church.

The official Vatican website has nothing about Biblical sainthood. Its procedure for nominating saints has 33 clauses, each with a number of subclauses, which go somehting like this:

1. a) The petitioner advances the cause of canonization. Any member of the People of God or any group of the faithful recognized by ecclesiastical authority can exercise this function.

b) The petitioner handles the cause through a legitimately appointed postulator.

2. a) The postulator is appointed by the petitioner by means of a mandate written according to the norm of law, with the approval of the Bishop.

b) While the cause is being handled at the Sacred Congregation, the postulator, provided that he be approved by the Congregation itself, must reside in Rome.

And on and on, but nothing to do with anything to do with the Bible in any way shape or form.

One Australian saint!
To put this into context, an astonishing thing to take into consideration is that, in Australia, from 1788  to 2010, the nation did not have one single actual saint, according to Roman Catholic doctrine. Even the British media lauded the arrival of Australia’s first saint.

BBC News
Pope Benedict XVI has officially recognised Australia’s first saint, Mary MacKillop, a Melbourne-born nun who worked with needy children.

This means that for 222 years of British colonisation of Australia there was not a single saint created on the entire continent, according to the Roman Catholic See, until Mary McKillop, who remains the sole saint.

Of course, this is a nonsense, since sainthood is through the new birth, and not through works or even martyrdom, or a selection process by priests. There have always been Australian saints. Some of them arrived on the first ships.

Embrace the truth
For those who want to know the truth and live it, the solution is simple.

Abandon such folly and embrace the truth of scripture.

Give your life to Jesus if you haven’t already done so. The moment you accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour you will become a saint of God, not by your own merits or deeds, but because of the finished work of the cross, and because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead and you can be alive with Him today as a saint of the Most High God.

There is no other way!

Posted by Steve


58 thoughts on “Is Roman Catholic Doctrine Biblical? Canonising Saints

  1. Seeing JPII being shot from a cannon would be well worth us encouraging the RC to finish the pointless process of making him a saint.

  2. “[…] to the Roman Catholic a saint is not the same as a believer […]”.

    The reason for that is that roman catholics are themselves unbelievers, and therefore they have not the slightest clue what they are talking about. They are heretics who are destined for a fitting end.

    “It is right to venerate or honour those who have gone before us who have shown special example in their holiness or life as a Christian. It is not worship – veneration is far from worship.”

    Prayers to saints (or alleged saints) are prayers to the dead. Do you know what God thinks of necromancy?

  3. “So the Pope, through a process of examination is quite correctly authorising […]”.

    To authorise one must first have authority, and the pope has none whatsoever – unless you count his place in the hierarchy of the worldly forces arrayed against God. He is demon-possessed, and he acts and speaks as he is impelled by an anti-christ spirit.

  4. “thanks for your input Zorro – quite edifying and certainly helpful to the discussion”

    No worries, Greg. I’m always happy to assist in getting to the heart of a matter by cutting through the nonsense to state plain truths in a plain manner.

    “[…] do you accept the line in the creeds […]”

    You can learn creeds or you can learn of God. Which do you think is preferable?

  5. You make a good point Greg, that the RC church selects its most virtuous devotees and puts them up as examples for people to follow and emulate. The whole process is rather tortuous wouldn’t you agree? Canonisation, beatification and sainthood, like climbing the corporate ladder, and there can be many years in between each stage. Surely, you’re worthy of copying or not. And don’t you have to have carried out some identifiable miracle?

    The title is also unfortunate in that the Jesus says that we are to call no man ‘Father’, ‘Teacher’ etc, and ‘Saint’ would come into that category of giving someone a title with a capital letter. There are only men and women of faith – all saints (ie the elect).

    Then there is the praying to Saints, and assigning them patron duties. Although I did hear that the only thing to have stopped a bout of hiccoughs that someone had experienced for years was a prayer to St Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, so perhaps we should invoke the dead more often (only kidding).

  6. Interesting explanation, Greg, but not really helpful because the Roman Catholic determination on sainthood has completely intruded on Biblical evidence.

    For the genuine believer sainthood is acquired through God’s grace, not after death, not as a result of works or deeds, and not as a reward for martyrdom or special ability.

    To claim that I am measuring this through semantics is diminishing the role of Rome in muddying the waters on what it means to be a saint.

    One of the arguments put forward by Hislop is that humans have a religious tendency to deify anyone or anything that impresses them, which is why we have hero worship today. Who was Hero?

    The RC concept of sainthood is another example. It has almost defeated the purpose of God’s way to sainthood. That is what really counts. What does God say?

  7. @ Greg

    Tell me something Zorro – do you accept the line in the creeds that speaks of the communion of saints? If you do, what do you think it means – what exactly is ‘the communion’ of saints? Steve – your input on this question would be welcome as well.

    A rare breed on this forum. A voice of sanity. Greg you must realise that the first Christians were either Calvinist Reformers or raging Pentecostals, despite the evidence to the contrary.

    And stop asking hard questions.

    Someone might have to think.

  8. ”A rare breed on this forum. A voice of sanity.” Honestly, Bones, slinging mud as the rest of us as well? You do a disservice to 95% of posters here.

    Greg, the answer to your question should be clear to all. That ‘communion’, ie fellowship, community, is between the believers, not specially selected Christian superstars. Perhaps the RC sainthood process was the first ‘Rome’s Got Talent’-style worship of celebrity. D’ya reckon it’s possible?

  9. The question “Is Roman Catholic doctrine Biblical?” is essentially pointless. It is applying the standards and authority of one church to judge the actions of another.

    To the Protestant, there are many elements of Roman Catholic doctrine that are not found in scripture. And if the Protestant holds to “Sola Scriptura” then he/she finds them useless or even evil. The Protestant holds that the source of authority in matters of faith is solely the Bible.

    For the Catholic however, the source of authority is not just the Bible, but the Catholic church itself. They believe that the church was established by Christ and that He taught some things to the Apostles which are not recorded in scripture – and that He continues to guide the church throughout history. They believe that the scripture came into being through the church – ie. the church decided which letters and books would become part of the canon. And this is essentially true.

    It is all a matter of whether you believe the church or scripture is the final authority on earth to which to appeal for settling questions of faith. And this is a matter of faith alone.

  10. Perhaps the RC sainthood process was the first ‘Rome’s Got Talent’-style worship of celebrity. D’ya reckon it’s possible?

    Yeah that was it. You got it. Had nothing at all to do with being martyred, burned alive, skinned alive, thrown to wild animals. Meh, so what, big deal, that happened to pagans too. Nor living a life of total devotion to their Saviour and bringing the Gospel to other lands. Bah, that sounds like works.

    They should have been more like others on here instead.

  11. “[The question ‘Is roman catholic doctrine Biblical?’] is applying the standards and authority of one church to judge the actions of another.”

    No, it’s not. It’s applying the standards and authority of God to judge a false religion.

  12. wazza,
    The question “Is Roman Catholic doctrine Biblical?” is essentially pointless. It is applying the standards and authority of one church to judge the actions of another.

    The Bible isn’t a Church, or the Church, or a denomination, or a class of believer. It is a set of values written and presented to us as determining factors in establishing correct codes of conduct and teaching for the Body of Christ.

    In fact, I have, in the posts, defined New Testament teaching as that of Christ, Paul, and Jesus’ Apostles according to the scriptures they handed down to us through time, and accepted by all churches and denominations as evidence produced which we can utilise for correct, reliable and systematic teaching.

    The problem for Catholics, and their supporters here, is the contradictions in the traditions with the writings of Paul, James, John, Peter and the recorded words of Christ, in context with the Old Testament writings, which all accept as reliable for contextualisation of the New Testament texts.

    The reason for the Protestant movement was entirely to Biblically combat the extraordinarily contradictory stance taken by the Roman Catholic hierarchy over a sustained period of time, which, in many ways, removed from the true Church, accuracy of doctrinal teaching.

    Believers gave their lives to bring basic truths back to the genuine Church, and even to bring translation of scripture to the people so they could read in their own languages the truths God bequeathed to them, but, up to that point, had been kept in ignorance by a Rome based church which used their traditions over the scriptures to oversee the masses, control kings and nations, and discouraged the interpretation of the Bible to maintain their dominance, even to the point of excommunicating, imprisoning, putting to trial, and sentencing to death those who opposed them by seeking truth according to the gospels and not tradition, sometimes by burning alive, those who courageously sought to bring truth to the people.

    I have given, so far, four instances of doctrine which cannot be sustained in scripture – the Mass, Immaculate Conception of Mary, Purgatory and Canonisation of Saints.

    Apart from a brief flurry into the possible erroneous explanation of the daily sacrifice of the literal blood and body of Christ, no scriptural defence has been given to explain the value, worth or accuracy of these doctrines of the Catholic Church, none of which are either exclusively from another time and replaced, or recanted by the Vatican.

    So the standard I have set is very simple and clear. If doctrine countermands the writings of the gospels, epistles and instructions of Christ or his directly appointed Apostles, it should be called into question, especially when measured against the Old and New Testaments, which complement one another, and are held as the basic standard for formulating doctrine for all Christians and Churches.

  13. Bones,

    The martyred saint has his or her reward, a crown of glory, as does a missionary saint. As Paul wrote, “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain!” Is there a greater honour than to be with Christ?

    Of course we respect and honour people for their Christian work on earth, their dedication, their enterprise and faith.

    But we don’t worship them. We certainly don’t pray to them, or through them.

    Why do we need to pray to anyone but God?

    Even Jesus told us this. We pray the Father in Jesus’ name.

  14. Bones, Greg,

    A reminder about the wisdom and reason of the world vs the foolishness of the cross…

    …the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

    Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age?

    Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe… 1Corinthians 1:18-21

    When the message of the cross is compromised by human reason or man’s traditions the gospel is hindered for those who are caught up in corrupted religious systems, no matter how often their priests invoke the name of Jesus in their ceremonies.

  15. “Even Roman Catholics believe the creeds and believe in the communion of Saints”.

    The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Isa 29:13.

    Your ignorance of the Scriptures is showing, Greg.

  16. Your ignorance of the Scriptures is showing, Greg.

    Yes well, I could use that scripture to condemn anyone. Pentecostals, Protestants, Millenialists, Catholics, liberals, fundamentalists, reformed.

    And you know that every Catholic heart is far from Him?

    Are you God?

  17. Oh, Greg, that is so neat, I could almost be convinced, but, oh, it is so not correct.

    Hebrews’ chapter 12 reference is to the crowd of witnesses from chapter 11. Paul is using a metaphor to encourage us on to the same level of faith, but the one we look to is Jesus, not the saints.

    We Pentecostals almost fall into the same understanding when we claim they are cheering us on from the sidelines, and, in a way, they are, but, yes, though they live on in Christ, they have not yet ascended. They sleep in Christ. They are not yet resurrected.

    1 Thessalonians 4
    13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
    14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
    15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
    16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
    17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
    18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

    And…

    1 Corinthians 15
    12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
    13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
    14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
    15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up–if in fact the dead do not rise.
    16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.
    17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
    18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
    19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
    20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
    21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
    22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
    23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
    24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
    25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
    26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

    And…

    51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–
    52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
    53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
    54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
    55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
    56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
    57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    So, whilst we are alive in Christ when this body dies, we sleep in Him until the resurrection of the Church, which fractionally precedes the resurrection of those who are alive when He comes for the Church.

    And…

    Revelation 6
    9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
    10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
    11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

    Those martyrs are resting until the Day of Christ when He comes for the Church, before the Great Day of the Lord, when His wrath will be poured out on the world.

    The cloud of witnesses in Hebrews is given the attribute of a great crowd in an Olympic Stadium cheering on those who run the race, as fellow saints we can respect and look up to, but not as fellow saints we can pray through, or even ask to pray for us in heaven, rather as examples of those who went before and lived a life of faith, whose lives cheered us on ahead of our time, who encourage us with their acts of fearless continuance.

    The one we are admonished to look to is Jesus, who ran the race before us.

    Hebrews 12
    1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
    2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  18. I don’t believe every Catholic’s heart is far from Christ. In fact I can demonstrate from scripture that they are not, and so could Bones if he would take a cold shower, cool off, think hard enough, and calm down for five minutes.

    I am certain many Catholics love Jesus as much as anyone I know and are genuinely faithful to him.

    What I am pointing out is the error in their doctrine which is so wildly misleading, and could have been corrected any time in the last century, and would have changed many things for many people, and led the Roman Catholic church into the 21st century with a billion strong congregation of fervent believers.

    That they have patently failed to do so is very concerning, because their recent popes had the opportunity to put things right, but, rather, chose to up the ante on Mary worship (and they do encourage full blown worship of their ‘primary’ saint, Greg, despite your claims), pronouncement of saints (John-Paul created more saints under his tenure than the entire saint pool of all previous popes (extending the stadium, perhaps)), purgatory, indulgences, relics (hot to sell after John-Paul’s death) and the continuation of the Mass, which still separates the priesthood from the people.

    But the individuals of the Church, those who are ignorant of what it really mens to be a Bible-based Christian, who are led by their blind priests, they certainly have an affection for Christ, but don;t seem to know enough about how to get out if the system they’re in, or the necessity.

    I even know Bishops who have been in it all their lives, wonderful men who love Christ, one a charismatic in his eighties, but has never seen the disharmony with Christ’s teaching, Paul’s doctrine, the general epistles of the Apostles, Acts, or any other aspect of what we are encouraged to follow as disciples of Christ.

    The key though, isn’t knowing doctrine, but knowing Christ, faith in Jesus of Nazareth. I would never judge a man or woman on the place they attend to worship, apart form one or two obviously warped cults.

    But I do think we have the license and should have the integrity to test every spirit whether it be of Christ, and to measure dogma against scripture.

    No, the Word is on our lips and in our heart, the Word of Faith that has been preached. That is how close He is.

  19. I’ve been around too many Christians from different denominations and movements to think that God can’t penetrate the most whacky of dogmas and snatch a soul from the gates of hades.

    I draw the line at groups like the JWs because I think they possibly deliverance, and their doctrine so so anti-christ it puts a wall between truth and the person overcome with their error. I think that is what John means by testing every spirit. There’s is so full-on deception they openly deny Christ as He is even whilst speaking his name.

    Secondly, no denomination has a full handle on truth. We all lack something, add something, misinterpret something, misrepresent something.

    But some dogma is inexcusable and should be exposed. If it is not it will perpetuate the error. Denying it is wrong is joining the throng.

  20. We Pentecostals almost fall into the same understanding when we claim they are cheering us on from the sidelines, and, in a way, they are, but, yes, though they live on in Christ, they have not yet ascended. They sleep in Christ. They are not yet resurrected.

    But how did Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus at the Transfiguration?

  21. I draw the line at groups like the JWs because I think they possibly deliverance, and their doctrine so so anti-christ it puts a wall between truth and the person overcome with their error. I think that is what John means by testing every spirit. There’s is so full-on deception they openly deny Christ as He is even whilst speaking his name.

    That’s why creeds have been important in the past. To distinguish what Christians believe. They are articulations of the Christian Faith. It’s interesting how elaborate they became, the further Christianity moved away from the events in the first century.

    From the Apostles Creed, to the Nicene Creed, to the Creed of St Athanasius, even maybe to the Westminster Confession, Belief became more complex.

    Personally I think the Apostles Creed is a fair summation of Christian belief.

  22. The key though, isn’t knowing doctrine, but knowing Christ, faith in Jesus of Nazareth. I would never judge a man or woman on the place they attend to worship, apart form one or two obviously warped cults.

    But I do think we have the license and should have the integrity to test every spirit whether it be of Christ, and to measure dogma against scripture.

    No, the Word is on our lips and in our heart, the Word of Faith that has been preached. That is how close He is.

    Agreed.

  23. ”But how did Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus at the Transfiguration?”

    Just because apparition-like images of Moses and Elijah, who seemed to talk with Jesus, were seen by the disciples does not make a strong case for a pre-resurrection non-embodied afterlife.

    So, Steve, from your post at 08.40am are you saying that the dead ‘sleep’ in unconsciousness and those in Christ to be resurrected at his advent, or do you subscribe to a non-physical state intermediate state?

  24. “And you know that every Catholic heart is far from Him?”

    I know that the roman catholic religion is a demonic counterfeit. It doesn’t take a lot of understanding or discernment to see that.

  25. Just because apparition-like images of Moses and Elijah, who seemed to talk with Jesus, were seen by the disciples does not make a strong case for a pre-resurrection non-embodied afterlife.

    Interesting. Are you saying that it wasn’t necessarily Moses and Elijah?

    The Disciples were seeing things?

    If it was Moses and Elijah (granted he was apparently taken to heaven without dying) then Moses must have been resurrected.

  26. I know that the roman catholic religion is a demonic counterfeit. It doesn’t take a lot of understanding or discernment to see that

    Yeah. I get the point. You don’t like Pentecostals much either. Nor liberals.

    Do you want to add anyone else?

  27. ”The Disciples were seeing things?”

    Well that’s what the bible says in Matt 17:9 NKJV ”9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” ”.

    The vision had a clear purpose, in the same way that the sheet Peter saw which contained the many animals was used to open his mind. There was no actual piece of cloth in mid-air covered with animals. Likewise, on the mountain, God chose to 1) demonstrate his pleasure in Jesus; 2) give a glimpse of his heavenly glory so underscoring his Sonship; 3) impart a prophetic word regarding Jesus heading to Jerusalem; 4) open their minds to the ancient prophecies about Elijah; 5) link the Mosaic law and Pentateuch to Jesus to reinforce his credentials as the one who came to fulfill the Law.

    The transfiguration VISION is not to be read as an example of the pre-resurrection afterlife any more than Jesus’s PARABLE about Lazarus and the rich man is a picture of any intermediate state.

    Consequently, I am with Steve on Hebrews 12. The image the writer is conveying is: ‘these guys went through tough times following God without knowing Christ. Now you who know Christ, follow their example and be encouraged by their faith.’ They are not really looking down on us. We have to be very careful here because our view of the afterlife and whether we possess immortal spirits/souls that can ‘see’ into the physical realm will colour hugely how we perceive these scriptures and whether we can indeed interact with those ‘spirit beings’.

    So, sorry Greg, love ya like a brother, but we are in territory I hold pretty tightly to, and it doesn’t include offering prayers to the dead for they would have to possess God-like omnipresence. I can come into the throne room myself with my heart cleansed by the blood of Jesus and present my petitions to the ONE intermediary, Jesus, in whose name I pray. No saints required. 🙂

  28. By the way Bones, Jesus is the only person to have walked this earth and also stand in heaven. Ergo, Moses and Elijah can have been only visionary images, much as was Samuel when called up by the medium of Endor.

    John 3:13 refers.

  29. So when Luke says ‘Behold, two men appeared’ in Luke 9:30 we are to take that as a vision and that these were only ‘images’ not the real people?

    What about Luke 24:4 where, on the third day after the crucifixion, at the tomb, while the women were puzzling about the disappearance of Jesus’ body, ‘behold, two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them’? Were they real?

    Or in Acts, when Jesus had ascended, to the bewilderment of the onlooking disciples, ‘they were looking intently up into the sky … when behold two men dressed in white stood beside them’ (Acts 1:10). Were they real?

    Are these all visions too?

    Also in reading Matthew 17, Luke and Mark 9, they all write as if it is a real event and want the reader to understand they were actually there.

    Seems like you’re trying to read into the text what you want it to say.

  30. and what of 2 Peter 1:16-18

    16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[b] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

    And I read Hebrews as it is written. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses…Hebrews 11 recounts the great men and women of faith in the Old Testament and commends each one for their faith. From Abel, to Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Rahab.

    The writer of chapter 11 finishes:

    32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

    39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

    Hebrews 12:1 continues on. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses….

    Reading that in context with Hebrews 11, the witnesses are those in faith who have gone before us.

  31. Bones, I hear what you are saying, and it’s gratifying to see you in the scriptures. Are you saying that there has already been a resurrection apart from Christ, and another before Christ? Are you discussing a bodily resurrection?

    Jesus led captivity captive. Were they the souls of the dead who were preached to in prison, that is, the grave? Some of the OT saints were seen in Jerusalem when Jesus died on the cross, according to Matthew.

    Matthew 27
    50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
    51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,
    52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;
    53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

    Does this speak of the resurrection of the bodies of the dead, or was it a sig to the people of Jerusalem that Christ was raised, and he led the dead souls of those who sleep?

    Could it be the bodies, since the bodies of the saints are yet to be raised at the last trumpet, when Christ comes for the Church?

    The two men at Jesus’ graveside were angels. No problem with solving that one.

    The Mount of Transfiguration is very interesting indeed. Jesus appears as He will be when He is glorified, and yet He is not yet glorified, not until He has been raised. Moses appears before the dedicated time for the resurrection of the saints, and before the time of Christ’s death and resurrection. Elijah also appears. The difference between Moses and Elijah is that one died and one did not. Moses died, and satan contended with the Archangel Michael for his body. Elijah was caught up to the Lord in a chariot.

    They met with the Lord in the air in a glorified state.

    To me this is a foretaste of the resurrection of the Church, when Christ, in His glorified state, will come for the Church, and the dead i Christ, those who sleep, will rise first, followed by those who are alive at His coming.

    Moses is a type of those who sleep and and will be the first ot be raised. Elijah represents the living at Hs coming.

    All will be changed in the twinkling of the eye, in an atomic second, and will receive glorified bodies.

    No saint yet has a glorified body as far as I can make out in scripture. They have not been resurrected because the coming of Christ at the resurrection of the Church is yet to take place.

    The whole of nature groans awaiting the redemption of our bodies, the last things to be changed, when we will be called out of our graves, those who sleep in Christ at the last trump, and those who live will follow.

    John 11
    25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
    26 “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

    Again Jesus speaks of two different kinds of saints, those who die in Him, and those who live in Him.

    Saints who die sleep in Christ. Do their souls go to be with Him? I think so. Do their bodies? I don’t think so, because they await the redemption of the bodies of the saints.

    It is an interesting area I would like to research and discuss further.

    However, what you have said does not produce evidence for praying to saints. Honouring the faithful as a crowd of witnesses and examples, yes, but not naming them saints or canonising them.

  32. ”Seems like you’re trying to read into the text what you want it to say.”

    As could you. The Transfiguration scriptures vary slightly from writer to writer, but the sense of being overwhelmed and confused by the vision is palpable. Jesus, in a glorified state, conversing with 2 men does not equate to a dead Moses being transported down from paradise/heaven/Abraham’s bosom – they appeared to be men, just as Peter’s vision looked like a sheet with animals in it.

    As to your other references, they are angelic visitations and quite probably looked like real men with a physical presence eg Heb 13:2 – ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.’ But angels are of a different creative order to humans.

    And in the passage from 1 Peter, he recalls the key point: God’s voice reinforcing the person of Jesus as his son, not Elijah and Moses.

    ‘And I read Hebrews as it is written.’ So, Bones, do you read Revelation as it is written too, or the many scriptures that use allegory, illustration, stories and hyperbole to get a message across? Is everything totally literal?

  33. Greg, your comment on God being the God of the living not the dead could be taken to be Jesus pointing out that when his listeners believe in him, they become alive to the ‘real’ God, not the one viewed through the lens of Temple, Law and Levites.

    That sits more comfortably, I think, than all in God remaining alive; that’s what the resurrection and judgement is for ie to separate and reward those who will live forever from those who won’t.

  34. ”Saints who die sleep in Christ. Do their souls go to be with Him? I think so. Do their bodies? I don’t think so, because they await the redemption of the bodies of the saints.”

    Steve, this is interesting and so central to how we will perceive and understand vast swathes of the bible. If you subscribe to a body and separate spirit/soul, which lives on and remains alive in some location, I can see how you would write what you did. I then have to ask, if there are disembodied souls existing in some heavenly place, why couldn’t they be acting as Greg and Bones suggest and be looking down on us and even engage in our lives? Is there such an impassable gulf between physical and spiritual realms? I don’t think so.

    If, however, you think in terms of the whole person (body and mind along with that God-given awareness of eternity) as a soul (OT ‘nephesh’), when they die, and were Christian believers, they are deemed ‘blessed’ by those alive because of the likelihood of their qualification for resurrection. They don’t have to go anywhere to be blessed, or ride out the time to the believers’ resurrection somewhere. They ‘rest’, not aware of the time span, as a sleeper is not aware of the passing of night.

    That is why Paul’s phrase in Phil 1:23, ‘For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better’ is no more an authoritative support for dis-embodied life after death than, say, the thief on the cross verse. How you view the nature of man first will lead to your interpretation of these passages.

    There is much more that can be said on all this, albeit off-topic.

  35. I looked at a few options for discussion. I understand that they sleep in Christ until the resurrection.

  36. So, Bones, do you read Revelation as it is written too, or the many scriptures that use allegory, illustration, stories and hyperbole to get a message across? Is everything totally literal?

    Actually I thought your explanation was an interesting understanding which I haven’t heard before.

    And I would take the passage literally but if it was a dream/allegory the point is still there. Jesus is glorified (cf Moses meeting God), and He meets with Moses and Elijah signifying I think the fulfillment of the Law and Prophecy. That’s what the writers were trying to convey.

    I suppose the danger is when we try to make scripture fit our suppositions. But we all do it. As for the resurrection of believers. I don’t have a clue although I know what the Bible says. I’m very wary as to how the Bible portrays future events (which are mysteries) and they are not things I would be dogmatic about.

    I don’t get hung up on whether the events in the Bible actually happened as written. More what do the writers want us to understand. Hence I don’t look at Genesis, Jonah and Revelation as literal accounts.

    There is much more that can be said on all this, albeit off-topic.

    It’s not off topic.

  37. “Yeah. I get the point. You don’t like Pentecostals much either. Nor liberals.

    Do you want to add anyone else?”

    Your lack of understanding is leading you to have the problem here, but your problem is not with me and what I say – it’s actually with God and what He has said:

    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

    The way into God’s presence is narrow – God’s kingdom is exclusive, not inclusive. Many people will be dismayed to discover this too late, to their great and eternal cost:

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

    Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” – like the roman catholics, like the pentecostals, like the liberals. Theology, whether orthodox or not, will not save anyone at all. Outward conformity – including holding to creeds or even confessing Jesus as Lord – will not save anyone. God requires truth in the inmost parts, and only those who love Him and humble themselves to come to Him on his terms – who have been born again by the miraculous transformation that can be wrought only by the Holy Spirit – are able to enter.

    God is who He is, and the Gospel is what it is. You can’t change those things, no matter how much you may wish to, or how hard you may try.

  38. Yes, I knew you would reply with that. I was waiting for the ‘Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ quote. Very predictable.

    And that miraculous transformation can only happen to Reformed believers I gather.

    Does that go for Calvinists and Arminians as well?

  39. ”Hence I don’t look at Genesis, Jonah and Revelation as literal accounts.”

    Actually, you’ll think this bizarre, but I’m more inclined to a literal Genesis than Revelation. I used to think that Revelation was a chronological journey through the last 7 years or so of history, and each event could be ticked off according to current affairs. I now regard that view as somewhat simplistic and not very historically accurate either. It is odd, come to think of it, that I am happy with a literal pair of trees, but not 1/3 of the earth’s fish being wiped out at a stroke. More to ponder.

    Perhaps we could find an article on the nature and composition of man and have that discussion, but I’m not sure it sits in a thread on the canonisation of particularly pious Catholics 😉

  40. “Yes, I knew you would reply with that. I was waiting for the ‘Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ quote. Very predictable.”

    It’s predictable because it is both relevant and true. If I asked you “What is one plus one?”, should I then complain because you answer “two”? All Scripture is inspired by God, but your comment seems to indicate that you don’t hold it in particularly high regard. If this is indeed the case, then it constitutes a serious error of judgement on your part.

    “And that miraculous transformation can only happen to Reformed believers I gather.

    Does that go for Calvinists and Arminians as well?”

    So many classes and categories and groups and labels. Do you know how God divides us? In His sight we are either sheep or goats. Which are you, Bones?

  41. In His sight we are either sheep or goats. Which are you, Bones?

    Neither, probably an ass. It is Interesting that you used that analogy to divide believers, given that Jesus divides them according to how they lived their lives (ie their response to their fellow human beings), not their doctrine.

    I hold scripture in high regard. I don”t hold those in high regard who wish to use it to condemn others and hold that their way of reading it is the only and right way. JWs do that as well.

  42. Zorro, you’re not related to Anonymous are you?

    I hear where you’re coming from, but clobbering folk with those 2 verses generally doesn’t reap a positive harvest.

  43. “It is Interesting that you used that analogy to divide believers, given that Jesus divides them according to how they lived their lives (ie their response to their fellow human beings), not their doctrine.”

    That’s not an analogy at all; that’s from Scripture – and, in fact from the very words of Jesus himself:

    ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.’

    “I hold scripture in high regard. I don”t hold those in high regard who wish to use it to condemn others and hold that their way of reading it is the only and right way.”

    You don’t understand how Scripture is intended to be read. It can only be understood according to the light shed upon it by the Holy Spirit – this is part of how He leads us into all truth. So it’s not a case of “my way” or “your way” or anyone else’s way, but rather a case of what God reveals by the Spirit.

    On the subject of who is saved and who is not, here are two questions for you:

    Do you think there will be anyone in heaven who does not love God?

    Do you think there will be anyone in hell who does love Him?

  44. You left the rest of Matthew 25 out.

    34Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. 36I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’

    37″Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 38When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ 40″The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

    41Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; 43I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

    44″Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’ 45″Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ 46These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

    Don’t see anything there that is antiCatholic nor antiPentecostal. We will be judged on our response to our fellow man. For how we treat others is how we treat Jesus.

    Which ties in with 1 John 4:20

    If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

    Which ties in with 1 Corinthians 13. If I have not love, what am I?

    How do you know if someone is a disciple of Christ?

    John 13:35

    By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

  45. Do you think there will be anyone in heaven who does not love God?

    Do you think there will be anyone in hell who does love Him?

    I’ll go with no and no.

    So my questions then are:

    Can a Catholic/Pentecostal love God?

    On what basis did Jesus cast the goats into eternal punishment?

  46. ”Do you think there will be anyone in heaven who does not love God?

    Do you think there will be anyone in hell who does love Him?”

    Wrong questions imo Zorro? My answers fwiw:

    1. No-one’s going to be in heaven.

    2. No-one’s going to be in hell.

    There, that’s better.

  47. We will dwell in the New Jerusalem, when it comes down from heaven to the new earth, and God will make his dwelling with us. All believers are citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

    Philippians 3
    20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
    21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

    Of course, zeibart, you are right about hell, any version you like, Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus, which will be swallowed up in the Lake of Fire, and all its citizens will follow their god Satan into that place.

  48. That’s interesting, Greg, you even moved all your commentary from the thread.

    How could you do this without interfering with ‘my’ post? So you have not only obliterated everyone else’s commentary from your now defunct posts, but completely rendered the work of other posters incoherent.

    I’m at a loss to even begin to think what kind of person would do this.

    We’ve moved on, apparently, I know, but this was quite a shock to discover.

    Can you explain why you did this?

    Are there other threads similarly affected?

  49. For what it’s worth Steve, most of my posts on just about any subject are delete worthy. Which probably means I should think more before I type ….

    but,
    “but completely rendered the work of other posters incoherent”
    is a valid concern. Maybe you guys who run this blog could come to a decision about past posts and comments, and then decide on a policy for the future?

    Just a thought.
    Personally, I give you permission to delete all of mine.

  50. Q.
    Don’t undersell yourself because you have been criticised. Your commentary is generally thoughtful and well nuanced.

    As John Wayne would say, “Never apologise, son!”

  51. Steve, you don’t take drugs do you…? 🙂

    No, it’s not because I’ve been criticized. I obviously think my commentary is thoughtful 🙂 like all of my fellow egotists here …but it’s either age, keyboards, or living in a non-English speaking country, but my sentences are mangled, and i don’t just do typos with letters, but with whole words! It’s a credit to the people here that they understand what I am trying to say.

Comments are closed.