Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Charles Hodge on Intercession of Saints

Charles Hodge
on
Intercession of Saints
(extracted from his Systematic Theology)

There is but one Mediator between God and man, and but one High Priest through whom we draw near to God. And as intercession is a priestly function, it follows that Christ is our only intercessor. But as there is a sense in which all believers are kings and priests unto God, which is consistent with Christ's being our only king and priest; so there is a sense in which one believer may intercede for another, which is not inconsistent with Christ's being our only intercessor. By intercession in the case of believers is only meant that one child of God may pray for another or for all men. To intercede is in this sense merely to pray for. But in the case of Christ it expresses an official act, which none who does not fill his office can perform. As under the old economy one Israelite could pray for his brethren, but only the High Priest could enter within the veil and officially interpose in behalf of the people; so now, although we may pray, one for another, Christ only can appear as a priest before God in our behalf and plead his merits as the ground on which his prayers for his people should be answered.

Protestants object to the intercession of saints as taught and practised in the Church of Rome.

1. Because it supposes a class of beings who do not exist; that is, of canonized departed spirits. It is only those who, with the angels, have been officially declared by the Church, on account of their merits, to be now in heaven, who are regarded as intercessors.

This, however, is an unauthorized assumption on the part of the Church. It has no prerogative to enable it thus to decide, and to enroll whom it will among glorified spirits. Often those thus dignified have been real enemies of God, and persecutors of his people.

2. It leads to practical idolatry. Idolatry is the ascription of divine attributes to a creature. In the popular mind the saints, and especially the Virgin Mary, are regarded as omnipresent; able at all times and in all places, to hear the prayers addressed to them, and to relieve the wants of their worshippers.

3. It is derogatory to Christ. As He is the only and sufficient mediator between God and man, and as He is ever willing to hear and answer the prayers of his people, it supposes some deficiency in Him, if we need other mediators to approach God in our behalf.

4. It moreover is contrary to Scripture, inasmuch as the saints are assumed to prevail with God on account of their personal merits. Such merit no human being has before God. No man has any merit to plead for his own salvation, much less for the salvation of others.

5. The practice is superstitious and degrading. Superstition is belief without evidence. The practice of the invocation of saints is founded on a belief which has no support from Scripture. It is calling upon imaginary helpers. It degrades men by turning them from the Creator to the creature, by leading them to put their trust
in an arm of flesh, instead of in the power of Christ. It, therefore, turns away the hearts and confidence of the people from Him to those who can neither hear nor save.

*** End of Hodge's Comments ***

-TurretinFan

4 comments:

natamllc said...

[[1. Because it supposes a class of beings who do not exist; that is, of canonized departed spirits. It is only those who, with the angels, have been officially declared by the Church, on account of their merits, to be now in heaven, who are regarded as intercessors.]]

And of course to these words I would only add that this is the age old story of error, remember?

Here is where this idea first began where a human prayed to a spirit:::>

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
Gen 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
Gen 3:3 but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
Gen 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
Gen 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."


As I study and come into the knowledge of the culture of Abram in his day, I realize that this reality is only going to go away when God sends Christ back "a second time" for the Salvation of our lives, our lives, those remaining on the earth when it happens:::>

Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Yes Lord! I do eagerly wait!!

I find this verse's phrase, verse 28, "a second time", so similar to this one where we see the phrase "a second time" before now that Abram is now Abraham:::>

Gen 22:15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven
Gen 22:16 and said, "By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,
Gen 22:17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,
Gen 22:18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice."

There is a "second" death for those who are not called and elected to serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in these days!

Nevertheless:

Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Turretinfan said...

Whether or not prayer - communication with unclean spirits is something that should have one objective: to drive them out.

As we learn in the New Testament, however, our grandmother Eve was deceived.

-TurretinFan

Bob said...

I find this an interesting approach to take, and whether what is stated is true or not...
Much of what is said is assuming a false attitude towards the saints, which may all too often be present. This is not however a cause to assume it is a bad thing.
1) The Church states some Saints that are in Heaven. Yes it may have made errors (another topic) but the Church never says that anyone isn't in Heaven. But you say they do not exist? Interesting...
2) It leads to idolatry. If it does for you, don't do it! But this is not the aim, and very often not the result.
3)Yes I missed 3
4)Merit, merit, merit. No, that's not what they beleive get's people to heaven. Faith and works - which I think everyone can at last agree upon. Dead conversation.
5) Anything you beleive without evidence is superstituous? Prove to me the trinity...

turretinfan said...

"1) The Church states some Saints that are in Heaven. Yes it may have made errors (another topic) but the Church never says that anyone isn't in Heaven. But you say they do not exist? Interesting... "

a) Yes, the category of "saints" as distinct from ordinary believers is a make-believe category.
b) Also, though Hodge does not get into this, some of the so-called saints are themselves fictional characters. "St. Veronica" of the stations of the cross fame, for example, is no more real than Harry Potter.

"2) It leads to idolatry. If it does for you, don't do it! But this is not the aim, and very often not the result. "

a) It very often is the result, particularly with respect to Mary the blessed, that she's given divine qualities.
b) If something often leads to idolatry, that's a good reason for a *church* not to promote it, even if an individual could avoid the idolatry.
c) But Rome actually officially declares Mary to be sinless and encourages veneration of Mary.

"4)Merit, merit, merit. No, that's not what they beleive get's people to heaven. Faith and works - which I think everyone can at last agree upon. Dead conversation. "

a) Hodge is not talk about the problem in Roman theology of merit getting people into heaven.
b) Hodge is talking about the problem in Roman theology of people pleading the merits of the saints in intercession (I understand that most RCs today don't understand this basis for the practice.).
c) And, of course, actually "works" is merit.

"5) Anything you beleive without evidence is superstituous? Prove to me the trinity..."

Like all the orthodox fathers, I believe that the Scriptures teach the trinity. Do you deny this?