One Mediator Between God and Men

March 24, 2013 | 19 comments

A surface reading of I Timothy 2:5 would seem to eliminate the idea of Christians “mediating” graces to one another: “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” Protestants will argue, “If Jesus is our one mediator, then Christ alone mediates grace. In saying anyone else can, Catholics are usurping and thereby denying Christ’s singular role as mediator. That’s blasphemy!”

THE CATHOLIC RESPONSE:   

Much to the surprise of many Protestants I have spoken to over the years, the Catholic Church actually acknowledges Christ to be our one and absolutely unique mediator who alone can reconcile us to the Father in a strict sense. In his classic, The Catholic Catechism, Fr. John Hardon explains:

… the Incarnation corresponds to mediation in the order of being, and the Redemption (remission of sin and conferral of grace) is mediation morally.

This kind of mediation is incommunicable. No one but the Savior unites in himself the divinity, which demands reconciliation, and the humanity, which needs to be reconciled.

Protestants generally agree with us on this point. However, Fr. Hardon goes on to say:

Nevertheless, lesser and subordinate mediators are not excluded. The question is what purpose they serve and in what sense do they mediate. They can help the cause of mediation in the only way that human beings (or creatures) can contribute to the work of salvation, namely, by their willing response to grace; either better disposing themselves or others for divine grace, or interceding with God to give his grace, or freely cooperating with grace when conferred.

The “lesser and subordinate mediators” is where the trouble starts. And yet, the context of I Timothy 2:5 demonstrates Fr. Hardon’s point. In the first two verses, St. Paul commands “supplications, prayers and intercessions to be made for all men...” Intercession is a synonym for mediation. Hebrews 7:24-25 refers to Jesus acting as our one mediator at the right hand of the Father and refers to him as intercessor:

But [Christ] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently, he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Christ is our one mediator/intercessor, yet, St. Paul commands all Christians to be intercessors/mediators. Then notice the first word in verse five: “For there is one God and one mediator…” And then in verse seven he says, “For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle.” What is an apostle if not a mediator? The very definition of apostle, according to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, is “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” That’s an essential part of what a mediator is. In short, St. Paul says we are all called to be mediators because Christ is the one mediator and for this reason he was called to be a mediator of God’s love and grace to the world!

Is this a contradiction? Not at all! The fact that Jesus is our one mediator does not preclude him from communicating this power by way of participation. The Bible also declares: “But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher, (Gr. – didaskolos) and you are all brethren.” This text cannot be any clearer, yet James 3:1 and Ephesians 4:11 tell us we have many teachers (Gr. – didaskoloi) in the Church. The key is to understand that the many teachers and mediators in the body of Christ do not take away from Christ as the one teacher and mediator because they are, in a sense, Christ on this earth and they serve to establish his offices of teacher and mediator in him. As members of the body of Christ graced with a specific task by Christ they can say with St. Paul in Galatians 2:20, “It is not I, but Christ who [teaches] in me…”

And remember, we are not talking about necessity here. The Church is not claiming Christ couldn’t get the job done so he needed help. Of course not! He could do it all—and all by himself—if he wanted to. He could come down here right now and write this blog post much more effectively than I ever could. But he chooses not to do everything himself, strictly speaking. He delights in using his body to communicate his life and love to the world.    

THE BODY BEAUTIFUL

Perhaps the most important image for the People of God in Scripture for understanding our topic, whether we are talking about the “mediation of all grace” with reference to the Mother of God, or the mediation of graces through the prayers and sufferings of other members of the Church, is given to us in I Corinthian 12, when St. Paul describes the Church as a body. CCC 753:

In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations of a profound them: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body. Around this center are grouped images taken from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage.

The Old Testament has beautiful images for the People of God. They are shown to be God’s bride (cf. Jer. 3:1-14); They are children of a God who is revealed to be their “father” (cf. Mal. 1:6), and more. But with the advent of Christ these analogies were brought to a whole new level unthinkable to the Old Testament mindset (cf. CCC 239-240).   

God was revealed to be “like” a father in the Old Testament. In the New, he is revealed to be Father within the eternal relations of the godhead. Through our mystical union with Christ through baptism, we become sons and daughters of God whereby we can truly call God “Abba”—father (cf. Gal. 4:4-7). We become brothers and sisters of Christ and true sons of Mary (cf. Romans 8:14-17; John 19:27—Rev. 12:17). The concept of “bride” reaches new heights when we speak of the Church as the “bride” of Christ (cf. Eph. 5:24-32). But even more radically, “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5), whereby we are caught up into the very inner life of God as members of Christ’s body by grace (cf. Eph. 2:5-6), and by virtue of that fact we have been made to be “partakers of the divine nature” as II Peter 1:4 says.

It is this image of “the Body of Christ” that aids us in understanding how one member of the body can aid another in the communication of the divine life to one another without diminishing the role of "the head." For example, if I pick up a pen here on my desk would we say “the head,” or “I,” would have had nothing to do with it? “Oh no, your hand did that, Tim, not you!”    

So it is with Christ and his Body. Eph. 1:22-23 goes so far as to say the Church is, “The fullness of him who fills all in all.” Thus, the Church is Christ in this world. This does not take away from Christ's unique mediation; it establishes that unique mediation. Different members of the Church mediate various graces in accordance with their respective gifts while the whole body functions to bring Christ to the world. Romans 12:4-6 says:

For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.

And this radical union with Christ and with the other members of the Body of Christ does not cease at death. Romans 8:35-38 tells us, among other things, “neither death nor life… shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ.” Thus, those alive on earth can still benefit from—they are still connected to—the other members of the Body of Christ in heaven.

Is Christ our one, true mediator? Absolutely! And it is this same Christ who has chosen to use his Body to mediate God’s grace to the world in and through him.


Tim Staples is Director of Apologetics and Evangelization here at Catholic Answers, but he was not always Catholic. Tim was raised a Southern Baptist. Although he fell away from the faith of his childhood, Tim came back to faith in Christ during his late teen years through the witness of Christian...

God's Perfect Plan: Purgatory And Indulgences Explained
In God's Perfect Plan: Purgatory And Indulgences Explained, his dynamic five-part audio course, Tim Staples takes on two of the most controversial and misunderstood teachings of the Church.

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  julia ford - campbelltown, New South Wales

What I don't understand is this ,why would you be converted to Catholicism isn't there one body and we may worship in different ways but isn't it Christ we are converted to .And I think you are saying a lot of words that might stop some questions but we all ,who are Christ's have His Spirit leading and teaching us and we all have different gifts of ministering in the love of God ,for through this we become like Him ,experiencing His heart .But my problem is this ;why would you give any option other than going straight to God in a personal way ? Surely this should be encouraged in all the body .For there is nothing else that compares with that relationship .The presence of God is always with us for He indwells us ,we are to know Him intimately.It is the churches obligation to cultivate this .Jesus will say to many on that day I never knew you to many.It will be very sad .God wants relationship with us ,He walked with Adam before sin and we have access to Father through the precious blood.This is eternal life prayed Jesus to know you Father.It starts now we don't need anyone but the name of Jesus to come to the Father.

August 26, 2013 at 12:57 am PST
#2  Tricia Heath - Hammond, Indiana

Let me tell you what blasphemy is....it's adding to the Word and God to twist it to meet your needs. God gave us His word to live by, not to change it to make us feel better. God does use His children to help other people and to pray for then but He did not give the power to forgive sins and absolve people of their punishment for sin to another human being!!! The Catholic priests have no Heavenly power to forgive sin, therefore going to a priest for confession is not taught in the Bible. Going to any man of God for counsel and direction is one thing, going to one in the expectation that he can forgive you the sin is wrong, misleading and many good people will be in hell because they thought the priest had the power to forgive and, thereby allowing them into Heaven.
So, there is only ONE MEDIATOR between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ! Not a Catholic priest or a Baptist Pastor or any other man on this earth. For the Catholics to teach their people any different is wrong.
All human being are sinners, including the Pope and any other Catholic priest:
Romans 3:10
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:23
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I will take what the Bible says over what some human says every time. God is the only one I can trust for my eternal salvation.

September 13, 2013 at 2:35 pm PST
#3  Jose Santana - Dayton, Ohio

Tricia, how do you then explain John 20:23? -- "If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

September 16, 2013 at 10:47 pm PST
#4  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Julia and Tricia, the Catholic Church has never taught that we cannot "go to God directly and in a personal way." However, we also acknowledge that God chooses to use men to communicate his message as well as his mercy, even though those men are sinful. God works through sinful men! As Jose said above, we see that clearly in John 20:21-23 in the forgiveness of sins. We can see that in the New Testament that we read. God used sinful men like St. Peter and St. Paul to communicate his inspired word of God to us. It is not somehow lessened because God used men as his messengers.
The reason why I am Catholic is because, as a matter of historical fact, the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus Christ established to be "the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." To hear the Church is to hear Christ. To reject the Church is to reject Christ (see Luke 10:16; Matt. 10:40; Matt. 18:15-18; Matt. 16:18-19; Eph. 3:10; I Tim. 3:15).

October 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm PST
#5  Eryn Kane - El Cajon, California

Speaking as a Protestant, the most useful illustration I have been offered on this viewpoint is this: we as Christians don't think twice about going to our fellow brothers and sisters and asking them to pray for us. Why? Is it because we don't think that God has heard our own prayers through Christ? No. But we know that "the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." So the more righteous people you have praying for you, the more will be accomplished! The gap that so many of my fellow Protestants are unwilling to cross is the recognition that death does not separate us from those saints that have gone before us. It stands to reason that we are not going to find a more righteous believer than the ones that are already in heaven! Why wouldn't we want their prayers??

January 3, 2014 at 2:36 pm PST
#6  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Wow, Eryn! You're sounding Catholic! But I think your reference to Romans 8:35-38 and "death does not separate us from those saints that have gone before us" is right on. I would only add that we also need to meditate about what it means to be members of "the body of Christ" as St. Paul describes it in I Cor. 12 and Romans 12. "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you' (I Cor. 12:21)." We do not cease being members of the body of Christ when we die, so of course we have need of the prayers of the members of the body of Christ who are in heaven.

January 18, 2014 at 8:13 am PST
#7  john Ap - Monteverde, Florida

Tim, I think you are making some steps that are not biblical. Your main argument that we can pray to others apart from God is the 1) "Body argument" 2) that the Scripture refers only to a "Greater mediator", and that less mediators can be prayed to. On argument (1) What it means to be body is that Christ is the Head (no-one else can be, not Mary, not any of the other saints- that is Biblical). Other parts are arms, legs, etc. That means we have different functions. In the NT, it is explicit- that the functions other people have in the Bible, are to pray for one another to help one another, but that our focus is on God. It is Him alone who can step in the spiritual "gap" (as described in the Bible). To seek anyone else to do that. Here's the challlenge from the Bible, every single instance of the word pray: http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=pray&version1=NKJV&searchtype=all&limit=none&wholewordsonly=no&resultspp=500&displayas=long&sort=bookorder . I lay down the challenge to you: can you find a single instance in which prayers are rightheously directed at anyone else apart from God, from Jesus in the Bible? No, it is not there. That is different from me saying "I will pray for you". Yes, I can pray and mediate for you in that sense, but this difference is that 1) I am alive 2) We are commanded not to contact people who have passed into the next life. Deuteronomy 18:9-11 says that to contact people who are dead is an abomination. That's because the source of our prayers (whether you pray for someone, or I pray for them) spiritually, is God alone, who is the Head. You should not seek someone else who is not the Head to perform the function of the Head. Your second argument that there is a greater mediator and lesser and subordinate mediators is tantamount to interpretations that "Hear O Israel the Lord Our God, the Lord is One" (Deut 6:4) means that there is a Greater God and then lesser gods (the Jehovah Witness, in blasphemy, interpret John 1 to mean that Jesus was a lesser god by the way). Its not the case in either situation. The Bible is clear. One Mediator. Any cursory looking at anywhere in the New Testament, and you realise: the focus spiritually is on Jesus, on God. Don't you know, the reason Catholics look to saints and Mary to stand in the gap, to mediate, when the Bible explicity forbids idolatry, forbids anyone else to be mediator? It is because when the first Roman Emperor came over to Christianity and declare the Roman Empire Christian (you cannot declare people Christian of course!), then all the pagans incorporated pagan practises into Christianity, substituting their gods and godesses for the saints and Mary to pray to (see article: http://www.gotquestions.org/origin-Catholic-church.html ). That's why you have these practises which are so alien to the Bible, yet in practise by the Catholic and Orthodox church. Go back to the Bible, and you will see its not there. The whole focus is on Jesus, on God, on the Head. There are so many verses from the Bibel that talk about this, but here's one from Ephesians 4:15 " Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Notice the very important words "from him" and in other translations it says it is He who "causes" this growth. Of course we support one another whilst on this earth, that is Biblical, but to look for support outside this world other than God is not Biblical- the whole focus has to be "from Him". I encourage you to get rid of these idols. I did, I used to go to Catholic church. When I did, I saw amazing blessing in my life.

April 10, 2014 at 8:24 am PST
#8  john Ap - Monteverde, Florida

Moreover, the word that there is "one" mediator used in 1 Timothy 2:5 is exculusionary of all others. We know that because it is the same word used in the same verse to say there is "one" God. Now, if we don't disagree that there is exclusively only one God, then we should not agree that there is exclusively only one Mediator of the type Jesus is. But (as you rightly say) alive people can pray (in some sort of meaning of the word mediation) for you. What is the difference? The answer (although shown elsewhere many times in the Bible) is shown explicitly in that same passage: it says there is "one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus". What this means is, explicitly, only one can mediate specifically between you and God: Christ Jesus. Not the saints (which the bible says everyone is who has believed in Jesus by the way), not Mary (Jesus had the opportunity to elevate her to that position in the Bible when he was asked about her, but he didn't do that). The Bible is explicit- we should follow God's words, not the doctrines and traditions which came afterwards which conflict with God's word, and are not from Him.

April 10, 2014 at 11:47 am PST
#9  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

John,
In response to your #7:
I do not believe Jesus is "the greater mediator," nor do I believe St. Paul teaches Christ to be "the greater mediator" in I Tim. 2:5. That is not what the text says. I believe Jesus is "the one mediator between God and men."
As Paul said in II Cor. 3:5-6, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our sufficiency is from God, who has qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant..." This principle applies to any "ministry" in Christ. We can only mediate grace because we are in Christ, the one mediator. We do not take anything away from Christ's mediation anymore than my hand takes away from me when I use it to pick up my coffee cup sitting here beside my computer.
I agree with you that each member of the body of Christ has "different functions," but what you are not seeing is that it is the one mediator, Jesus Christ, who acts through each of those members so that they can bring anything of eternal value to another, or as St. Paul says, so that they might be able to "save souls" (I Cor. 9:22; I Tim. 4:16, Rom. 11:14, I Cor. 7:16; Col. 1:24; II Cor. 1:6; cf. James 5:19-20, etc.).
As far as no one being "the head" goes; it is true no one can replace Christ. But St. Paul tells us that just as there are visible "hands" and "feet," there is also a visible "head" as well (see I Cor. 12:21), when it comes to Christ extended into this world. But whether we speak of the visible head or other members of Christ, all are efficacious only because of Christ.
You say there are no "prayers" directed at anyone except God. That is not true. Revelation 5:8 and 8:2-5 reveals prayers being communicated to both men and angels. Hebrews 12:18-24 tells us that we "approach" or pray to "an innumerable company of angels" as well as "spirits of just men made perfect" in heaven. Jesus himself communicated with those who have gone before us as well (that's all prayer is, essentially, when we are talking about prayer to the saints) in Luke 9:30-31.
These texts don't use the "term" prayer, but these Scriptures give us the concept, much like the word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, but the concept is.
Deuteronomy 18:9-11 is not speaking of praying to saints; it is speaking of going to mediums and such. The Church condemns this.
As far as your "greater of lesser" argument goes. Scripture teaches, and Jesus taught, that children of the covenant are "gods," but only because they are in the one true God (see John 10:35-Psalm 82:6). This does not mean they are "lesser gods." It means they participate in God by grace. Jesus is "the only begotten Son" (John 1:18; 3:16), but that does not mean Christians are not truly "sons of God" (Gal. 4:4-6; Romans 8:14-17) and "begotten of God" (I John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1). This does not mean we are "lesser sons of God," it means we are in the one, true and "only begotten Son." We could say the same of "teachers" (Eph. 4:11; James 3:1) in the "one teacher" (Matt. 23:8), "leaders" (Heb. 13:17) in the one "leader" (Matt. 23:10), "bishops" (I Tim. 3:1; Acts 1:20) in the one "bishop" (I Peter 2:25), "shepherds" (Eph. 4:11), in the "one shepherd" (I Peter 2:25), etc.
We do not commit idolatry with regard to the saints, we just recognize that we are a body and Scripture says we need each other (I Cor. 12:21). We need the intercession of the saints in heaven and we must honor them for the great men and women that they are (I Tim. 5:17; Rev. 5:8; I Thess. 5:12-13; Luke 1:48).
There were no pagan practices that contradict Scripture that were introduced into the Catholic Church. That is a popular myth propagated by the "reformers," but it has no basis in reality.
We agree with you that Christ is the head of the Church. But what you fail to see is that he established the body of Christ, his Church, that is the whole Christ (who is invisible to us) extended into this world visibly (Eph. 1:22-23).
You say "we [Christians] support one another whilst on this earth" and claim we don't after we die. That is another myth. Romans 8:35-39 tells us that death does not separate us from Christ, nor does it separate us from the body of Christ. We support one another in accordance with our needs whether in the body or out of the body (meaning, on the earth or in heaven).
I would encourage you to consider the true Faith that you left. It is obvious you did not know it to begin with. When I investigated the Catholic Faith from Catholic sources, instead of from the perspective of my Protestant bias, I found the truth and the Scriptures were opened to me like I had never known. And the peace of Christ has inundated my life and my family's life ever since.

April 13, 2014 at 9:23 pm PST
#10  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

John,
See above for the response to your #8. You simply repeated what was in #7.
God Bless!

April 13, 2014 at 9:25 pm PST
#11  john Ap - Monteverde, Florida

Thank you very much for a considered and detailed reply. I will try and address your points in order. I understand now that you do not view Jesus as being the “Greater Mediator”. You said I cannot see that it is Jesus “who acts through each of those members so that they can bring anything of eternal value to another, or as St. Paul says, so that they might be able to "save souls"”. No, I do see that, and I agree with you. I do believe that it is Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit alone who can work in our lives to bless others. It is a good point you mention. It is also good that you mention all members are only “efficacious only because of Christ”- I agree with you, and I think that as Christ is the Head, our direction, efficacousness (not a word I know!), provision and guidance ultimately only come from Him and Him alone.
About prayers not being directed at anyone apart from God, you cite to verses to me. You first cited Revelation 5:8 to me, which states “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints”. This verse does not indicate that prayers were directed at the angels, it simply states that the living creatures had bowls of prayers. This reminds us what the Bible says is the ministry of angels- they minister to us (Hebrews 1:14) and guard us (Psalm 91:11). But the Bible never commends praying to angles. The whole focus is on praying to God, which is mentioned countless times. If there is an odd verse that is perhaps ambiguous in its meaning to a person, it should not be used to justify an approach that goes against what the rest of the Bible is clearly mandating. Take the Psalm 91:11 verse again, even though it says angels guard us, the idea is that the command comes from God, and that He sends the angels. Take Acts 16 when Paul and Silas are freed by an angel. Were they praying to the angel? Certainly not. Verse 25 says they were “praying and singing hymns to God”. You next cite Hebrews 12:18-24 which does mention that we have come “to an innumerable company of angels”, but the focus again is on the One Mediator in verse 24, Jesus, and in verse 25 we are specifically told not to refuse “Him who speaks”. Nowhere in those verses in Hebrews is there anything said about praying to angels, the understanding is that we are in their presence, that we are their brethren (Revelation 22:9- which also specifically instructs us not to worship angels). Again, if there is ambiguity between “approaching” and “praying” (which I personally cannot see in the text), then I advise following the approach from the other many hundreds if not thousands of verses of the Bible on praying to God. You made an analogy with the ambiguity of the Trinity, but that is an incorrect one to make I suggest. The Trinity is stated in no uncertain terms in the Bible (eg. John 10:30 and John 14:11).
You are right that Deuteronomy 18:9-11 says we should not use mediums, but it also ADDS “one who calls up the dead”. Anyone calling on a human being who has died is doing something that is “detestable” before God according to verse 12. The Bible is stating this is no uncertain terms!
You then wrote about us participating in the divine grace and being sons of God through Jesus, and the other examples of ministries in the church (eg. teachers, bishops etc). I agree with you on that and that we are a body and need one another, but 1 Corinthians 12, which you cite, specifically refers to the church working as a community, helping one another physically and spiritually- the only reference here is of people alive, in this world, not those who “sleep in death” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) (indeed how could a person who is asleep in death perform the functions of 1 Corinthians 12?)
You make further arguments that we should pray to saints who have died based on 4 verses, but none of these support your argument I suggest. 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 do not refer to dead people, but to people who are alive. Luke 1:48 quotes Mary saying all generations will henceforth call her blessed. Indeed, I say she was blessed, as do other Evangelicals and Protestants. That does not mean we pray to her, and neither does Scripture anywhere say that we should. Jesus had a unique opportunity to tell people to view Mary in the way the Catholic Church does in Luke 8:20-21, and He specifically diverted the attention away from her. That does not detract from the fact that she was so blessed (due to carrying Jesus and mothering Him) and a wonderful example to us of obedience. But I digress. The 4th verse you mention is Revelation 5:8. I already mentioned at the beginning to show that this verse does not mean we should be praying to angels or saints, especially when considered with the rest of Scripture.
You say no pagan practices were incorporated the “Church” following Constantine. I suggest you search for the terms “paganism” and “Catholicism” to get a better idea of that, and look for the first results from a non-Catholic source. I am not catholic bashing here. We are dealing with fallible humans here- and we should not pretend that pagans who were suddenly decreed Christian by the Roman Empire would have adopted Christianity foolproof. There have been practices which other non-Catholic churches have done which are not of the Bible here as well. We are all sinners, and there is always the potential to err. But the point is, when such concerns do arise, true believers should come back to the Bible for reproof and correction as 2 Timothy 3:16 says clearly. People may be infallible but God’s word is not (Isaiah 40:8).
You wrote I fail to see the body of Christ, his Church or understand that is the whole Christ (who is invisible to us) extended into this world visibly (Eph. 1:22-23). No I don’t fail to understand that. I also don’t claim there will be no support after death, as we know the Bible says there will come a point when the dead will be raised to life and the saved will all reign together in eternal life. But, that point has not come yet- some are still “asleep”. You use Romans 8:35-39 to say that death shall not separate us from Christ. You are truly right. But that does not mean they have not suffered a physical death, and that we are still not awaiting for our final enemy of death to be defeated. By your interpretation of Romans 8:35-39, 1 Corinthians 15:26 would make no sense- but what it is saying is that death cannot keep us from Christ.. That does not mean that we do not experience a physical death in which we are then “asleep”, and in which we will then need to be resurrected.
I have not left the True Faith. I am in Christ, and have experienced, after doing many religious activities- going to church, taking communion etc- still being lost and separated from God, and then I experienced being “born again” according to John 3:3, and the experience of no longer living by works but according to the Spirit as Romans 8 says. I was made a new creation in Christ as per 2 Corinthians 5:17 outside the Catholic church. This new creation who I am does not have to live by law anymore, as Paul laboured to write through the Holy Spirit in Romans 6-8. Moreover, I know I have not left the True Faith as you write because I “declare with (my) mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in (my) heart that God raised him from the dead, (I) will be saved” according to Romans 10:9. I have done that, I have experienced being born again, having His love transform me according to 1 John, living now a life by the Spirit. Feel free to let me know what, as a believing Christian (who no longer goes to a Catholic church but an evangelical one), I am lacking? I should add, I do believe that it is possible for a Catholic to experience all of what I just wrote, and still be termed Catholic. I don’t believe God is as interested in nametags as He is in reborn human hearts which lead to good works by nature. But that doesn’t mean we can’t correct one another in humility and according to the Scripture in His Spirit, which the is one thing that can unify us under Christ. Finally, Protestant or Catholic or whatever other bias does not interest me so much as investigating the faith according to God’s Word, the Bible. God bless you.

April 24, 2014 at 10:40 am PST
#12  Kevin Nelson - Wylie, Texas

I'll assume for a moment that all prayers to saints are ONLY prayers to ask the saint to pray for you and not asking the saint to do any kind of divine intervention, which only God could do. If I assume that to be the case, then I think I could ALMOST justify it using your explanation.

However, let's say that me and 10,000 other people all pray to the same saint at the same time. Which prayer does the saint hear? I can assume God would hear my prayer because He is omniscient and omnipresent. However, would it not be blasphemy to give these attributes to a saint? Thus, even if you only ask the dead saints to pray for you, which is the only conceivable prayer I could justify with the above argument, the very act of praying to them bestows upon them God-like attributes that they do not have.

How is this particular problems answered?

May 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm PST
#13  robe verdejo - Main Street, Dorset

asking the dead to pray? asking Mary to pray? aren't you already praying and is that what Jesus thought us? Is that why Catholics pray more to Mary than to God who created Mary and the saints? Do you know who's your Father and will you still insist there's nothing wrong when you know in your hearts that There is only one God who is holy and will not share his glory to another...for man have fall short, that doesn't except Mary or your Idols, do you need someone else to back you up if grace is not of our own but is given to us through WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE on the cross, Jesus, and did somebody died for you so you may live? Drink from your own cistern, your saints cannot save you, you who say You trust God but in your testimonies you say it's the Saint. Blinded! You have made your prayer as your doctrine, You memorize what you pray instead of meditating his Words to bring you light, There's no freedom in your lies, therefore you are still captives of the Deceiver, your father Satan!

Fear the Lord and you will not delete this message.

May 25, 2014 at 1:26 am PST
#14  Harriet Smith-Martin - Las Cruces, New Mexico

I remember memorizing questions and answers for my confirmation. Most of them have stayed with me for over 50 years. Very simplified, one was: Q. "What is the role of the priest? A. The priest is the mediator between God and man." Did anyone else ever have to memorize this? Has this been modified?

September 7, 2014 at 1:27 pm PST
#15  Harriet Smith-Martin - Las Cruces, New Mexico

I am adding to my above comment/question (#14) I recently discovered on another Catholic link or blog that the definition of sacrament was "sort of" changed from my original memorization, too. I learned that a sacrament was an outward sign instituted by Christ/God to give grace. According to the link, that has been modified in definition. So, that is why I ask about the priest being mediator between God and man, above. A lot of what is coming across on the internet links seems to veer a bit from what I learned in Catholic grade school and Catholic high school (in a very large diocese.)

September 7, 2014 at 1:39 pm PST
#16  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

John,

In answer to your #11:

You say "I agree with you" that the members of the body of Christ can bless others. That's a good start. You agree that each member is only efficacious because of Christ the head. Very good. Now we've got to get you to take the next step and understand that this "efficaciousness" includes "saving souls," both our own and others, in accordance with the Scriptures (I Cor. 9:22; I Tim. 4:16; I Cor. 7:16; James 5:19-20; Romans 11:14, etc.). And we have to get you to understand that those who die in Christ die physically, but their souls continue to live in and with God, and they are not separated from God or from the body of Christ (Romans 8:35-39, I Cor. 12:12-27). No where does the Bible teach that those who die in Christ are no longer members of the body of Christ. But first, to the rest of your comment.
You said I claim we can direct prayers to others "apart from God." That is a misrepresentation of what I said and a misrepresentation of what the Catholic Church teaches. We can only pray to saints because they are IN GOD, not "apart from God."
You then claim the Rev. 5:8 that presents both angels and saints (elders in heaven) as possessing "the prayers of the saints" "does not indicate that prayers were directed at the angels (and I will add the 24 elders, who are human beings)." That seems to me absurd. How can someone "grab a hold" of prayers? Prayers are purely spiritual realities. There is nothing to "grab a hold of." The image of "incense" is just that, an image. In order to possess those prayers, they must be comprehended intellectually. If these people are praying silently, without even moving their lips, how do these angels and saints do this? They do it the same way God does; they are directly and intellectually intuited. The fact that they are empowered by God to be able to comprehend these prayers indicates that the prayers are being directed to them. Or are you saying that they are intercepting these prayers that are directed to God?
Now then, why would these angels and saints in heaven be intercepting prayers that are not intended for them? What is the purpose? You quote Heb. 1:14 that says angels are "messenger spirits sent to the heirs of salvation." That says nothing about them intercepting prayers that are not intended for them. That simply says they are "sent" to us to help us. You then quote Psalm 91 that tells us they "guard" us. That says nothing about them intercepting prayers that are not directed to them. In the words of Ricky Ricardo, you got some 'splainin' to do!
The truth is, the fact that they possess these prayers indicates that they were intended for them. As Hebrews 12:22-24 says, we can approach them analogous to the way we approach God in prayer (though we only adore, or worship, God). As Catholics, we accept and believe what the Bible says and we take Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-5 for just what they say. Angels and saints are intercessors to whom we can approach and ask to pray for us and that is precisely what they are doing.
You say the Bible never says to pray to angels, but you haven't refuted the texts I cited that don't agree with you.
We agree that "the whole focus is on praying to God." That is without question. But that does not mean we cannot ask each other to pray for each other. God wills for us to do that.
Heb. 7:24-25 tells us that Jesus "ever lives to make intercession for us at the right hand of God," so why would I waste my time asking anyone else to intercede for me when I could spend that same time asking Jesus to do so? The reason is God wills it. God wills to use angels and saints in intercession as well as in being sent to protect and guard us. That is what Scripture teaches. As Catholics, we go with the Scriptures over the traditions of the various sects started by men over the last 480 years.
You say, "If there is an odd verse that is perhaps ambiguous in its meaning to a person, it should not be used to justify an approach that goes against what the rest of the Bible is clearly mandating," but you never show how praying to saints and angels for them to intercede for us is "against what the rest of the Bible is clearly mandating."
The fact that Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God does not mean that none of their prayers were directed to angels. The text simply does not say. But even if they were, that is wonderful. We Catholics believe in praying to God and singing hymns to God. But that does not somehow eliminate all of the other verses of Scripture that teach us we need other members of the body of Christ to intercede for us as well, like I Cor. 12:21, I Tim. 2:1-2, Matt. 18:19, etc.
You then claim Hebrews 12:18-24... does mention that we have come “to an innumerable company of angels”, but you fail to mention that it also adds "the spirits of just men made perfect" in heaven as well.
You claim "the focus again is on the One Mediator in verse 24," but you failed to cite the text and how that "focus" is portrayed. I don't see it. The inspired author here is actually not "focusing" on any of these; rather, he mentions all of them as being legitimate for us to "approach" in prayer.
Of course the end of all prayer is God through Jesus Christ, but we have to be careful not to read into texts something that is not there. The inspired author is encouraging us to "approach" all of the above. We go to other texts that make clear there is an hierarchy integral to our prayers. We only worship God, etc. But we do not ignore the plain context of Heb. 12:18-24 because of some pre-conceived bias.
The longer I am Catholic, the more I see that the Catholic Church is the only Church that really takes all of Scripture to heart and does not exclude some texts because of biases towards others. We believe them all.
You say there is nothing about "praying to angels," but I disagree. The word prayer is not mentioned, but neither is it used of God or Jesus in this text (Heb. 12:18-24). So would we say we can't "pray" to God or to Jesus because this text only says we "approach" them? That would be ridiculous. We "approach" God in prayer. And so do we approach the angels and "spirits of just men made perfect."
You have an interesting way of approaching the Bible. If there is one text you don't understand like is the case in Heb. 12, you say, "I advise going with the hundreds... of verses on praying to God." As Catholics, again, we take all of what God says, not just some of it. Jesus only gave us the form for baptism once in Matt. 28:19, but that doesn't mean we don't follow it. How many times does God have to tell you something before you will believe it and obey it?
You claim "the Trinity is stated in no uncertain terms in the Bible" and you cite John 10:30 (I and the Father are one), and John 14:11 (I am in the Father and the Father in me). If you really think those verses "plainly state" the Trinity, try them on a good and knowledgeable JW and see how far you get.
There is no "ambiguity" between "approaching" and "praying" as you claim. The Bible never says that.
You claim "anyone calling on a human being who has died is doing something 'detestable' before God" according to your misunderstanding of Deut. 18. Then Jesus was "doing something detestable" when he spoke to Moses and Elijah on Mount Tabor in Luke 9:31-32. You make no sense. I am going to go with Jesus rather than you.
Jesus was not conjuring up spirits nor do Catholics. We approach them the way the Bible tells us to in Heb. 12:22-24 and the way Jesus did. Why? Because they are alive and well in God (Luke 20:38; Romans 8:35-39) and they are members of the body of Christ, and we need them (I Cor. 12:12-27).
You say how could someone who is "asleep in death" perform the functions of I Cor. 12. They can because death does not separate them from Christ or from us (Romans 8:35-39, Matt. 17:1-3).
You claim I made an argument that we should pray to saints based on four verses of Scripture (I Tim. 5:17; I Thess. 5:12-13; Luke 1:48; and Rev. 5:8). I said nothing of the sort. The first three verses I used to show that we are to honor members of the body of Christ. We honor our elders, and according to Revelation 5:8, we have elders in heaven as well.
Revelation 5:8 does show that we can pray to saints. That is true.
In Luke 8, Jesus emphasizes what the Catholic Church has emphasized for 2,000 years about Mary. She is not only blessed for being the Mother of God, but even more so, she is blessed for hearing the word of God and keeping it. No where does he "divert attention away from [Mary]" as you claim. You are just making stuff up now. He is focusing on what is most important: Hearing the word of God and keeping it. In fact, on the cross he told St. John to "Behold, Your Mother" referring to Mary. And according to St. John's own writing in Rev. 12:4-5; 17, Mary is depicted as more than just the mother of John, but the mother of "all those who keep the commandments and bear testimony to Jesus Christ."
When I was Protestant, I used to make the same claim you do. Constantine incorporated all sorts of pagan practices in the Church. The only problem with that is there has been no substantive change in the Catholic Church since its inception 2,000 years ago. That is an historical fact. I researched it on my own when I was Protestant. That is one reason why I am Catholic.
Constantine never "decreed pagans to be Christian." That is a myth.
I Cor. 15:26 is talking about death being finally defeated so that there will be no more death. That does not mean that people who die are not now alive and well in the Spirit as Jesus taught in Luke 16:19-31, Luke 20:38, and as Scripture demonstrates in Rev. 6:9, Heb. 12:22-24, Rom. 8:35-39, etc.
You are confusing the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul. When we die our soul continues to live as St. Paul indicates in Phil. 1:21-23, and as I have already pointed out. The resurrection will be at the end of time where our bodies will be reunited with our souls and we will then be "resurrected from the dead." Death does not separate us from Christ because those who are in God are alive and well (Luke 16:19-31; 20:38).
Just because you have confessed Christ does not mean you can now reject his word without consequences. We must be "faithful unto death" in order to gain the crown of life according to Revelation 2:10, Matt. 10:22, etc.
What are you lacking, you ask? You are lacking the Church that Jesus established, the Eucharist, the truth about the nature of salvation, Mary, the saints, death, life in Christ, and much more.
I appreciate the fact that you claim to seek God's word. That is great. And that is why I believe one day you will return to the Church Jesus established, the Catholic Church.
And God bless you, too.

September 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm PST
#17  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Kevin,

In answer to your #12, check out my blog post at here:

http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/are-catholics-god-makers

I answer all of your questions. Let me know if you have another question I may not have addressed.

I'll assume for a moment that all prayers to saints are ONLY prayers to ask the saint to pray for you and not asking the saint to do any kind of divine intervention, which only God could do. If I assume that to be the case, then I think I could ALMOST justify it using your explanation.

However, let's say that me and 10,000 other people all pray to the same saint at the same time. Which prayer does the saint hear? I can assume God would hear my prayer because He is omniscient and omnipresent. However, would it not be blasphemy to give these attributes to a saint? Thus, even if you only ask the dead saints to pray for you, which is the only conceivable prayer I could justify with the above argument, the very act of praying to them bestows upon them God-like attributes that they do not have.

How is this particular problems answered?

September 9, 2014 at 7:34 pm PST
#18  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Kevin,

I accidently cut and pasted your comment above. Oops!
Oh well, again, check out this post:

http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/are-catholics-god-makers

I answer all of your questions there.

September 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm PST
#19  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Harriet,
In answer to your #14 and #15, Catholic dogma does not change. The definitions may be deepened, but they never change. A priest is a mediator between God and men. In fact, Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizadek and that is why he is the "one mediator between God and men" according to I Tim. 2:5.
However, Jesus established his body as a "kingdom of priests" (see I Peter 2:5-9). This does not take away from Christ as our unique mediator; rather, it establishes he mediation through his body, the Church, which according to St. Paul is Jesus Christ extended in this world (see Eph. 1:22-23).
Jesus also established a ministerial priesthood among the faithful for the proclamation of the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins, and to be judges concerning various matters in the Church (see Matt. 16:18-19, John 20:21-23, Luke 20:29-32, Matt. 18:15-18). This again, does not contradict Christ's priesthood; it establishes it on earth in Christ.

September 9, 2014 at 7:43 pm PST

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