Monday, January 16, 2012
I know a guy who knows a guy: Sticking up for the Saints...
Another day another encounter with an anti-Catholic who thinks they know it all about our faith. It was a Facebook discussion with a pastor based in the USA; I'm going to show it to you here with his name changed (I'll call him "Caecus" for all intensive purposes) to as to avoid any embarrassment on his end. And why am I being that kind to him? Well he is, after all, the pastor of some church in the USA and you'll notice throughout the dialogue his repeated requests to debate via email. What has he got to hide, I wonder? I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed taking part in this lively discussion. By my own admission, I was a tad aggressive in this discussion, but I pictured myself as an impassioned boxer jumping out of the corner pumped up and landing kidney punches on an opponent shielding their face. Anyway, you be the judge. I'd appreciate your feedback.
Caecus: Roman Catholics do pray to saints. They are taught that they, those who pray, are not worthy to approach God themselves, so they, Roman Catholic Church followers, are taught to pray to the saints to intercede for them. But, you know what? I believe that in God's infinite mercy, He hears their prayers because they are not responsible for what they are taught. "No one goes beyond what they are taught."
Stephen Spiteri: Caecus, where are you getting that information from? I'm a Catholic and it's complete news to me. As Catholics we are fully aware that it is God alone who hears all and answers all prayers, but this does not mean that we cannot have others praying for us. We are, as we read in Hebrews, "... surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses..." (Hebrews 12:1) and who are these "witnesses"? They are they angels and the saints; those who are fully united with Christ in Heaven. And how do they pray for us? God allows them to, for God is God of the living, not the dead (Luke 20:38). Does St. Paul no ask others to pray for him in his letters to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-8)? If mere earthly men have the power to pray for others, then why should there be an impediment to those united with Christ in Heaven to pray for us also?
Caecus: Stephen, I'm sorry if I offended you. It wasn't my intention. I lived in a Roman Catholic boarding school upstate NY and in the Dominican Republic. I know all about Roman Catholicism. My information comes from experience. I am not surprise all of this "is complete news to you." Incidently, we are all "catholics," but we are not all Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic & I respect it and identify with you because I was one once as well and most devoted. I was an altar boy throughout all of my childhood and came to a knowledge of God's Word via a Roman Catholic priest. There's a big difference between being "catholic" and being a "Roman Catholic.". We have doctrinal differences in reference to the cloud of witnesses and all that. email me & I will tell you more about our doctrinal differences.
Stephen Spiteri: Btw, I've been to Norway but that doesn't make me an expert on things Norwegian. When it comes to Catholicism, I've been a Catholic all of my life, I have a degree in theology and I teach theology. Wouldn't it be more fair on someone to learn about Catholicism from someone with these sort of credentials as opposed to a person with mere "experience"? And I say that will all due respect; no offense intended.
Caecus: Stephen, my most deared brother in Christ, I too have a degree in theology and I am an ordained minister. But, please,I much welcome a topical discussion on doctrine via email, not of FB. And you are right, I may not have the Roman Catholic based training/credentials. but wouldn't your guidance be biased as opposed to instructions from someone who has uh.. experiencial knowledge on Roman Catholicism and an extensive knowledge on Scripture?
Caecus: Please email me Stephen. Thanks.
Stephen Spiteri: I'm not going to accuse a doctor of being biased when he's trying to figure out what's wrong with me, Caecus; all I want is accuracy and consistency.
Stephen Spiteri: P.S. My knowledge of scripture is also quite extensive.
Caecus: I know. I think it would be profitable for us to communicate (via email) and discuss these issues inteligently and calmly. I choose to believe there is enough respect between us to be able to agree to disagree if not change thinking patterns when the obvious is logically and intelligently presented.
Stephen Spiteri: I understand what you're asking, Caecus, but here's what's puzzling me: you keep making requests to discuss matters of doctrine in private via email, yet you were rather acute and transparent in discussing doctrine pertaining to the Catholic understanding of the saints, furthermore you make Catholics sound oblivious and ignorant with comments such as "He hears their prayers because they are not responsible for what they are taught".
Stephen Spiteri: You've misrepresented the Catholic faith publicly, and I made an effort to correct that representation publicly.
Caecus: Misrepresented? That is not the term I would use to describe how I ansewerd a question presented on a public forum.
Stephen Spiteri: If you're speaking for someone (or a group of people) and if the information you have presented is false or inaccurate, then that - in my humble opinion - warrants a misrepresentation.
Caecus: I am not speaking on behalf of any group. And it is YOUR opinion my information is false and inacurate. Why would I need a saint to speak to God on my behalf when I can & much rather do it myself. I only need & have one advocate Jesus Christ (I John 2:1)
Stephen Spiteri: To be very frank, Caecus, it is YOUR opinion that the information you have supplied is true and accurate, but let me entertain your question for a moment. Based on that premise, you shouldn't then ask any of your friends, family, loved ones, etc. to pray for you for anything since you they seem to interfere with Christ's advocacy.
Stephen Spiteri: And Caecus, I say this will all due respect, but when you effectively say "... this is what Catholics do/believe" you ARE speaking on behalf of all Catholics. Don't be naive, sir.
Caecus: email me Stephen, email me.
Stephen Spiteri: What do you have to hide, Caecus? What do you have to say that cannot be said here?
Caecus: It is your opinion the information is false and inacurate. Why would I need a saint to speak to God on my behalf when I much rather and can do it myself? The only advocate I need and have is Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1)
Stephen Spiteri: I can play the copy and paste game too, Caecus. As Catholics we are fully aware that it is God alone who hears all and answers all prayers, but this does not mean that we cannot have others praying for us. We are, as we read in Hebrews, "... surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses..." (Hebrews 12:1) and who are these "witnesses"? They are they angels and the saints; those who are fully united with Christ in Heaven. And how do they pray for us? God allows them to, for God is God of the living, not the dead (Luke 20:38). Does St. Paul no ask others to pray for him in his letters to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-8)? If mere earthly men have the power to pray for others, then why should there be an impediment to those united with Christ in Heaven to pray for us also?
Caecus: Now you are being offensive.
Stephen Spiteri: And for the record: NO Catholic is explicitly taught or told that they MUST pray to the saints. We believe it is efficacious to but it is not mandatory. "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (James 5:16).
Caecus: Hide? you are being offensive. The definition or Roman Catholic rendering of the word "saints" is different from the Biblical definition.
Stephen Spiteri: There are two different understandings/uses of the word "saints". There are the living saints - Christians - whose desire it is to be sanctified in the Lord; and then there are the saints in Heaven who HAVE been sanctified in the Lord and made fully holy in communion with Christ.
* * * * *