Every Sunday, millions of Christians around the world recite the Creed, professing their belief in the “communion of saints.” Few realize the importance of this phrase, which is sandwiched between other deep mysteries of the faith.
The Catholic understanding is denounced by many Protestants as “unbiblical.” It’s a bitter irony that the very doctrine of Christian unity has itself become a barrier to unity. The controversy revolves around the question, “Is it biblical to ask the saints in heaven to pray (intercede) for us?”
Catholics say yes. Since Christians are united with each other through Christ, and are commanded to love and pray for one another, Christians on earth can ask Christians in heaven for their prayers.
Protestants say no. They say that praying to saints undermines Christ’s unique mediatorship, pointing to 1 Timothy 2:5: “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” Theythink asking the saints to intercede for us is in direct conflict with this verse. The Anglican Reformers, under the leadership of Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said, “The Romish doctrine concerning . . . [the] invocation of saints is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but is, rather, repugnant to the Word of God” (39 Articles of Religion, article 22). Vatican II gave the Catholic position . . . (click to continue reading)