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Switch to Forum Live View Implicit Truth and the Intercession of Saints
5 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2010 - 8:00PM #1
Thomas
Posts: 2

In "The Trinity: A Case Study in Implicit Truth" Ron Rhodes established five criterion for establishing valid implicit truth from the Bible, such as the Trinity. (The article can be read here: www.equip.org/articles/the-trinity-a-cas...) They are:


- Implicit truth must be built on the foundation of explicit truth
- Implicit truth must not contradict any explicit truths—or other legitimate implicit truths—found in the Bible
- Implicit truth is legitimate to the extent that it accurately embraces and explains all the relevant biblical facts
- Implicit truth must be congruent with accurate interpretation of biblical texts
- Implicit truth should be able to withstand objections


Presbyterians do not accept the intercession or invocation of saints. However, I believe there is sufficient explicit truth to point to the implicit truth of saintly intercession. The explicit truths are:


1. God is the God of the living, who are alive in Christ (Luke 20:38, John 11:25, Romans 8:38-39)


2. The dead can pray for the living (Luke 16:19-31, cf. Jeremiah 15:1)


3. Angels and saints offer prayer to God in Heaven (Revelation 5:8, 8:3)


4. After death, believers partake of the divine nature, being equal with angels (1 John 3:2, Luke 20:36, 2 Peter 1:4)


5. Prayer is offered to God's angels (Psalm 103:20-22, Psalm 148:1-2)


6. Believers are encouraged to intercede on each other's behalf (1 Timothy 2:1-4, James 5:16, Job 1:5)


7. Through God, the dead can hear the living (Acts 9:40, Luke 1:37, 7:14)


It's not worship any more than asking friends to pray for us is, so it cannot be considered idolatry, and it's not necromancy any more than Elijah and Moses appearing during the Transfiguration was, because we are ultimately counting on God to make intercession possible. What objections are there to this?


 



The Trinity:  A Case Study in Implicit Truth


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5 years ago  ::  Mar 07, 2010 - 12:41AM #2
CalKnox
Posts: 330

What you call “implicit truth” is referred to in the Westminster Confession of Faith I:6 as “by good and necessary consequences.”  However, God nowhere commands us, explicitly or implicitly, to ask saints or angels to pray for us.


Psalm 103 and 148 do not establish a warrant to pray to angels.  These are poetic language, actually God’s command, for angels to continue doing what they always do anyway, perfectly praise God in heaven.  These Psalms no more pray to angels than they do to the sun, moon, stars, sky and waters in Ps. 148:3-4.


On the other hand, believers are clearly commanded to pray for one another.  Saints in heaven may pray for the church triumphant remaining on earth.  But, there is no example of command for saints remaining to make requests of those departed.  Nor is there any basis for us to think the departed saints have any knowledge of the particular needs of those here.  To attribute such knowledge to them is to imply they are omniscient, a divine attribute, and to give part of God’s glory to a creature.  Such is idolatrous. Thus, what you propose violates your own standard by which “implicit truth” can not violate what is plainly known from scripture.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2010 - 3:15PM #3
sterrettc
Posts: 89

I think it comes down to this: I don't know whether the departed saints pray for the living or not.  If they do, I am grateful, for, as I have often said, I can use all the prayers I can get.  But I do know that we, the living, are to pray to no one other than God.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 11, 2010 - 2:43PM #4
CalKnox
Posts: 330

Sterr: We're in complete agreement on this.


WLC:


Q. 178. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit; with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.


Q. 179. Are we to pray unto God only?
A. God only being able to search the hearts, hear the requests, pardon the sins, and fulfill the desires of all; and only to be believed in, and worshiped with religious worship; prayer, which is a special part thereof, is to be made by all to him alone, and to none other.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2010 - 7:24PM #5
Thomas
Posts: 2

@CalKnox: How is this different than asking a fellow believer to pray for you? It does not diminish Jesus' role as the sole mediator between God and man, and does not detract from the worship due only to God. The word "prayer" here means "earnest request" not "worship." (The saints themselves do nothing but pray, it is God who answers the prayers as always.) Believers are one in the body in Christ, even death cannot seperate them from each other. If they hear the requests of us here on Earth, it is not because they are omniscient, it is because God causes this to happen.(He IS omiscient, AND omnipotent.)


When Jesus cried out, "Eloi eloi lama sabachthani", the people around him thought he was calling to Elijah. This points to a belief among the Jews that dead prophets can intervene in human affairs, and this is confirmed in the non-canonical 2 Maccabees 12:42-45, and heavily implied in verses like Jeremiah 15:1. What did Jesus say about the Pharisees? "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them." Then, or at any other point in the New Testament, would have been a perfect time to denounce the belief in intercession, as he did with his teachings on divorce, the sabbath, selling things in the synagoges, and ritual washing. Instead he is silent on the matter, giving it approval through absence of disapproval.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 15, 2010 - 8:55PM #6
sterrettc
Posts: 89

Mar 13, 2010 -- 7:24PM, Thomas wrote:


How is this different than asking a fellow believer to pray for you? It does not diminish Jesus' role as the sole mediator between God and man, and does not detract from the worship due only to God. The word "prayer" here means "earnest request" not "worship."



It is true that there is a use of the word "pray" which does not imply worship.  One example would be in James Leigh Hunt's poem Abou Ben Adhem in which Abou says to an angel "I pray thee, then, write me as one who loves his fellow men."  There usually is a grammatical difference in that the person to whom the "earnest request" goes appears as the the direct object of the verb.  When it is used in terms of worship, God is the object of the preposition "to."  In that context, it might be okay to pray the saints to pray to God for you, but not to pray to the saints.


It might have been arguable that one could pray to the saints without worshiping them, however that does not seem to be the case in practice.  The reverence that has been given to Mary cannot be construed as simply asking her to pray to God on your behalf, however earnestly.


However, within the context of religious practice, prayer has come to mean worship.  The Second Helvetic Confession is witness to the understanding at the time of the reformation that the word prayer was used for worship and not for earnestly requesting: "Let all the prayers of the faithful be poured forth to God alone, through the mediation of Christ only, out of faith and love. The priesthood of Christ the Lord and true religion forbid the invocation of saints in heaven or to use them as intercessors." (BOC 5.218)


When Jesus cried out, "Eloi eloi lama sabachthani", the people around him thought he was calling to Elijah. This points to a belief among the Jews that dead prophets can intervene in human affairs, and this is confirmed in the non-canonical 2 Maccabees 12:42-45, and heavily implied in verses like Jeremiah 15:1.



Whether the people might have mistakenly thought so or not, this passage does not say that Jesus was calling out to Elijah.  Jesus was calling to no one but his God.


Our Directory for Worship lists six functions of prayer, (not claiming that the list is exhaustive): Adoration, Thanksgiving, Confession, Supplication, Intercession, and Self-Dedication.  (BOO W-2.1002) In Confession, we earnestly request forgiveness.  In Supplication, we make earnest requests for ourselves and the gathered community.  In Intersession, we make earnest requests for others.  In Self-Dedication, we earnestly request that God accept us and aid us in serving God.  However, what are we earnestly requesting in Adoration or Thanksgiving?  Is it your contention that these are not prayer?

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4 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2010 - 10:23PM #7
CalKnox
Posts: 330

The Bible tells the saints, and gives examples, of their praying for one another and requesting prayer for themselves.  However, all these examples are of the living praying for the living.  There is not one biblical example or exhortation to pray for the dead or to ask the dead to pray for us. 


Though an omnipotent God may make the dead to know temporal events, scripture does not give us any basis for knowing if they may be aware of our desires or requests for their prayers. Such hope and practice is based upon extra biblical speculation.  Christian prayer is to based upon the certain truth of God’s revelation.


Regarding Christ’s words on the cross: the observers present assumed he was calling upon Elijah because of the biblical expectation Elijah would return before the Messiah, based upon Malichi 4:5.


Jesus’ exhortation to observe what the scribes and pharisees bid was not an endorsement of everything they taught.  Elsewhere, he says they make void the word of God by their tradition.  In the sermon on the mount he over and over says, “You have heard it said, but I say...”  The scribes and pharisees possess authority to the extent they accurately taught the word of God.  They did hold some orthodox views, which Jesus endorsed.  The pharisees, for example, taught a bodily resurrection; Jesus agreed with them against the sadducees. But, where they taught man made tradition as a command, Jesus condemned them.


Prayer for or to the dead is a man made tradition; a form of false piety, idolatry.  We can only approach God by the means he commanded.

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