Why Protestants Don't Pray to Saints

(A Brief History of Prayer to Saints)

 

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By: Philip Schaff

Excerpted from: "History of the Christian Church": Volume III, Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity, A.D. 311-390 Chapter VII, P. 428-442 (§ 84.) (Edited for Length)

 

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"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;" -I Timothy 2:5

Protestants follow the New Testament usage for the term "saints", as referring simply generally to all Christians, but for the purpose of this discussion we here follow the later traditional Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic usage of the term "saints" for a Christian of especially exemplary life who has gone home to be with the Lord, and may even be officially so designated.  Protestants in fact consider many of these exact same people (like those shown above) to be some of their greatest "Heroes of the Faith".

Note: The purpose of this webpage is not to present information "against" any Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox who are fellow believers in Christ, but rather to inform those who are Protestants of their heritage, their distinctive beliefs, and why these are held.  If you are Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox and are offended by hearing about beliefs differing from your own, you are welcome to skip this page.

Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and even Protestant visitors to this Website sometimes have all exactly the same question: "Why don't Protestants pray to the Saints? (or even seek their intercession on one's behalf?)

The easy, short answer is that it would not usually even occur to Protestants to do this, they not being taught to do so either in the New Testament or in their Churches (and in the back of their minds they may well be hearing the scripture verse: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;" -I Timothy 2:5).  

The question then turns around and presents itself as: "Why do the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches offer such prayer?"  ...and perhaps even more to the point, if such prayer is mentioned neither in the Gospels, nor in the Letters of the Apostles, when and how did this type of prayer enter into the history and practice of the Church? 

We present the answer to all of the above questions by here posting below an excerpt from Philip Schaff's excellent eight-volume work, "History of the Christian Church" (Volume III, Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity A.D. 311-390, P. 409-427). 

Published in 1866, and written for an audience of Protestant Seminary students, Doctoral candidates studying for the ministry, the author does not always use the softening of terms and tactful consideration that we of our own era might prefer or wish for, especially to a mixed-Christian-Communion general public audience as we have in the many tens of thousands of daily visitors to our website, and we apologize in advance if there be any offence taken, for none is intended to our Christian brothers and sisters in any Christian Communion. 

It should also be pointed out that the official teaching of both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Communions is not to offer "worship" (Greek: "latreia") to "the Saints", which they agree with Protestants should only be offered to God alone, but rather "veneration" (as Philip Schaff himself makes clear further below in his text).  The official teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church is also not to seek answers to prayer directly from "the Saints", but rather only to seek their intercession on one's behalf for one's prayers to God.  Protestants of course do not do even this.

§ 84. The Worship of Martyrs and Saints.

I. Sources: The Memorial Discourses of Basil the Great on the martyr Mamas (a shepherd in Cappadocia, † about 276), and on the forty martyrs (soldiers, who are said to have suffered in Armenia under Licinius in 320); of Gregory Naz. on Cyprian († 248), on Athanasius († 372), and on Basil († 379); of Gregory Of Nyssa on Ephraim Syrus († 378), and on the megalomartyr Theodorus; of Chrysostom on Bernice and Prosdoce, on the Holy Martyrs, on the Egyptian Martyrs, on Meletius of Antioch; several homilies of Ambrose, Augustine, Leo the Great, Peter Chrysologus Caesarius, &c.; Jerome against Vigilantius. The most important passages of the fathers on the veneration of saints are conveniently collected in: The Faith of Catholics on certain points of controversy, confirmed by Scripture and attested by the Fathers. By Berington and Kirk, revised by Waterworth."  3d ed. 1846, vol. iii. pp. 322–416.

II. The later Literature: (1) On the Roman Catholic side: The Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists, thus far 58 vols. fol. (1643–1858, coming down to the 22d of October). Theod. Ruinart: Acta primorum martyrum sincera et selecta. Par. 1689 (confined to the first four centuries). Laderchio: S. patriarcharum et prophetarum, confessorum, cultus perpetuus, etc. Rom. 1730. (2) On the Protestant side: J. Dallaeus: Adversus Latinorum de cultus religiosi objecto traditionem. Genev. 1664. Isaac Taylor: Ancient Christianity. 4th ed. Lond. 1844, vel. ii. p. 173 ff. ("Christianized demonolatry in the fourth century.")

The system of saint-worship, including both Hagiology and Hagiolatry, developed itself at the same time with the worship of Mary; for the latter is only the culmination of the former.  The New Testament is equally ignorant of both. 

The expression a{gioi, sancti, saints, is used by the apostles not of a particular class, a spiritual aristocracy of the church, but of all baptized and converted Christians without distinction; because they are separated from the world, consecrated to the service of God, washed from the guilt of sin by the blood of Christ, and, notwithstanding all their remaining imperfections and sins, called to perfect holiness. The apostles address their epistles to "the saints" i.e., the Christian believers, "at Rome, Corinth, Ephesus," &c.

After the entrance of the heathen (population) into the church the title came to be restricted to bishops and councils and to departed heroes of the Christian faith, especially the martyrs of the first three centuries.  When, on the cessation of persecution, the martyr’s crown, at least within the limits of the Roman empire, was no longer attainable, extraordinary ascetic piety, great service to the church, and subsequently also the power of miracles, were required as indispensable conditions of reception into the Catholic calendar of saints. 

The anchorets especially, who, though not persecuted from without, voluntarily crucified their flesh and overcame evil spirits, seemed to stand equal to the martyrs in holiness and in claims to veneration.  A tribunal of canonization did not yet exist.  

The popular voice commonly decided the matter, and passed for the voice of God.  Some saints were venerated only in the regions where they lived and died; others enjoyed a national homage; others, a universal.  The veneration of the saints increased with the decrease of martyrdom, and with the remoteness of the objects of reverence. 

"Distance lends enchantment to the view;" but "familiarity" is apt "to breed contempt."  The sins and faults of the heroes of faith were lost in the bright haze of the past, while their virtues shone the more, and furnished to a pious and superstitious fancy the richest material for legendary poesy.

Almost all the catholic saints belong to the higher degrees of the clergy or to the monastic life.  And the monks were the chief promoters of the worship of saints.  At the head of the heavenly chorus stands Mary, crowned as queen by the side of her divine Son; then come the apostles and evangelists, who died a violent death, the protomartyr Stephen, and the martyrs of the first three centuries; the patriarchs and prophets also of the Old Covenant down to John the Baptist; and finally eminent hermits and monks, missionaries, theologians, and bishops, and those, in general, who distinguished themselves above their contemporaries in virtue or in public service. 

The measure of ascetic self-denial was the measure of Christian virtue.

 Though many of the greatest saints of the Bible, from the patriarch Abraham to Peter, the prince of the apostles, lived in marriage, the (Roman Catholic) ethics, from the time of Ambrose and Jerome, can allow no genuine holiness within the bonds of matrimony, and receives only virgines and some few vidui and viduae into its spiritual nobility.  In this again the close connection of saint-worship with monasticism is apparent.

To the saints, about the same period, were added angels as objects of worship.  To angels there was ascribed in the church from the beginning a peculiar concern with the fortunes of the militant church, and a certain oversight of all lands and nations.  But Ambrose is the first who expressly exhorts to the invocation of our patron angels, and represents it as a duty.  In favor of the guardianship and interest of angels appeal was rightly made to several passages of the Old and New Testaments: Dan. x. 13, 20, 21; xii. 1; Matt. xviii. 10; Luke xv. 7; Heb. i. 14; Acts xii. 15. But in Col. ii. 18, and Rev. xix. 10; xxii. 8, 9, the worship of angels is distinctly rebuked.

Out of the old Biblical notion of guardian angels arose also the idea of patron saints for particular countries, cities, churches, and classes, and against particular evils and dangers. Peter and Paul and Laurentius became the patrons of Rome; James, the patron of Spain; Andrew, of Greece; John, of theologians; Luke, of painters; subsequently Phocas, of seamen; Ivo, of jurists; Anthony, a protector against pestilence; Apollonia, against tooth-aches; &c.

These different orders of saints and angels form a heavenly hierarchy, reflected in the ecclesiastical hierarchy on earth.  Dionysius the Areopagite, a fantastical Christian Platonist of the fifth-century, exhibited the whole relation of man to God on the basis of the hierarchy; dividing the hierarchy into two branches, heavenly and earthly, and each of these again into several degrees, of which every higher one was the mediator of salvation to the one below it.

These are the outlines of the saint-worship of our period.  Now to the exposition and estimate of it, and then the proofs.

The worship of saints proceeded originally, without doubt, from a pure and truly Christian source, to wit: a very deep and lively sense of the communion of saints, which extends over death and the grave, and embraces even the blessed in heaven. 

It was closely connected with love to Christ, and with gratitude for everything great and good which he has done through his instruments for the welfare of posterity.  The church fulfilled a simple and natural duty of gratitude, when, in the consciousness of unbroken fellowship with the church triumphant, she honored the memory of the martyrs and confessors, who had offered their life for their faith, and had achieved victory for it over all its enemies.  

She performed a duty of fidelity to her own children, when she held up for admiration and imitation the noble virtues and services of their fathers.  She honored and glorified Christ Himself when she surrounded Him with an innumerable company of followers, contemplated the reflection of His glory in them, and sang to His praise in the Ambrosian Te Deum:

"The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee;

The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee;

The noble army of Martyrs praise thee;

The holy church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;

The Father, of an infinite majesty;

Thine adorable, true, and only Son;

Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

Thou art the King of glory, O Christ;

Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb;

When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers."

In the first three centuries the veneration of the martyrs in general restricted itself to the thankful remembrance of their virtues and the celebration of the day of their death as the day of their heavenly birth.  This celebration usually took place at their graves. 

So the church of Smyrna annually commemorated its bishop Polycarp, and valued his bones more than gold and gems, though with the express distinction: 

"Christ we worship as the Son of God; the martyrs we love and honor as disciples and successors of the Lord, on account of their insurpassable love to their King and Master, as also, we wish to be their companions and fellow disciples."  Here we find this veneration as yet in its innocent simplicity.

But in the Nicene age it advanced to a formal invocation of the saints as our patrons (patroni) and intercessors (intercessores, mediatores) before the throne of grace, and degenerated into a form of refined polytheism and idolatry.  The saints came into the place of the demigods, Penates and Lares, the patrons of the domestic hearth and of the country. 

As once temples and altars to the heroes, so now churches and chapels came to be built over the graves of the martyrs, and consecrated to their names (or more precisely to God through them).  People laid in them, as they used to do in the temple of Aesculapius, the sick that they might be healed, and hung in them, as in the temples of the gods, sacred gifts of silver and gold.  Their graves were, as Chrysostom says, move splendidly adorned and more frequently visited than the palaces of kings. 

Banquets were held there in their honor, which recall the heathen sacrificial feasts for the welfare of the manes.  Their relics were preserved with scrupulous care, and believed to possess miraculous virtue.  

Earlier, it was the custom to pray for the martyrs (as if they were not yet perfect) and to thank God for their fellowship and their pious example.  Now such intercessions for them were considered unbecoming, and their intercession was invoked for the living.

This invocation of the dead was accompanied with the presumption that they take the deepest interest in all the fortunes of the kingdom of God on earth, and express it in prayers and intercessions.  

This was supposed to be warranted by some passages of Scripture, like Luke xv. 10, which speaks of the angels (not the saints) rejoicing over the conversion of a sinner, and Rev. viii. 3, 4, which represents an angel as laying the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne of God. 

...the New Testament...furnishes not a single example of an actual invocation of dead men...

But the New Testament expressly rebukes the worship of the angels (Col. ii. 18; Rev. xix. 10; xxii. 8, 9), and furnishes not a single example of an actual invocation of dead men; and it nowhere directs us to address our prayers to any creature.  Mere inferences from certain premises, however plausible, are, in such weighty matters, not enough. 

The intercession of the saints for us was drawn as a probable inference from the duty of all Christians to pray for others, and the invocation of the saints for their intercession was supported by the unquestioned right to apply to living saints for their prayers, of which even the apostles availed themselves in their epistles.

But here rises the insolvable question: How can departed saints hear at once the prayers of so many Christians on earth, unless they either partake of divine omnipresence or divine omniscience?   

And is it not idolatrous to clothe creatures with attributes which belong exclusively to Godhead?  Or, if the departed saints first learn from the omniscient God our prayers, and then bring them again before God with their powerful intercessions, to what purpose this circuitous way?   Why not at once address God immediately, who alone is able, and who is always ready, to hear His children for the sake of Christ?

Augustine felt this difficulty, and concedes his inability to solve it.  He leaves it undecided, whether the saints (as Jerome and others actually supposed) are present in so many places at once, or their knowledge comes through the omniscience of God, or finally it comes through the ministry of angels.  

He already makes the distinction between latreiva, or adoration due to God alone, and the invocatio (douleiva) of the saints, and firmly repels the charge of idolatry, which the Manichaean Faustus brought against the catholic Christians when he said: "Ye have changed the idols into martyrs, whom ye worship with the like prayers, and ye appease the shades of the dead with wine and flesh."  

Augustine asserts that the church indeed celebrates the memory of the martyrs with religious solemnity, to be stirred up to imitate them, united with their merits, and supported by their prayers, but it offers sacrifice and dedicates altars to God alone.  

Our martyrs, says he, are not gods; we build no temples to our martyrs, as to gods; but we consecrate to them only memorial places, as to departed men, whose spirits live with God; we build altars not to sacrifice to the martyrs, but to sacrifice with them to the one God, who is both ours and theirs.

But in spite of all these distinctions and cautions, which must be expected from a man like Augustine, and acknowledged to be a wholesome restraint against excesses, we cannot but see in the martyr-worship, as it was actually practiced, a new form of the hero-worship of the pagans. 

Nor can we wonder in the least. For the great mass of the Christian people came, in fact, fresh from polytheism, without thorough conversion, and could not divest themselves of their old notions and customs at a stroke.  

The despotic form of government, the servile subjection of the people, the idolatrous homage which was paid to the Byzantine emperors and their statues, the predicates divina, sacra, coelestia, which were applied to the utterances of their will, favored the worship of saints. 

The heathen emperor Julian sarcastically reproached the Christians with reintroducing polytheism into monotheism, but, on account of the difference of the objects, revolted from the Christian worship of martyrs and relics, as from the "stench of graves and dead men’s bones."  

The Manichaean taunt we have already mentioned.  The Spanish presbyter Vigilantius, in the fifth century, called the worshippers of martyrs and relics, ashes-worshippers and idolaters, and taught that, according to the Scriptures, the living only should pray with and for each other. 

Even some orthodox church teachers admitted the affinity of the saint-worship with heathenism, though with the view of showing that all that is good in the heathen worship reappears far better in the Christian. 

Eusebius cites a passage from Plato on the worship of heroes, demi-gods, and their graves, and then applies it to the veneration of friends of God and champions of true religion; so that the Christians did well to visit their graves, to honor their memory there, and to offer their prayers.  

The Greeks, Theodoret thinks, have the least reason to be offended at what takes place at the graves of the martyrs; for the libations and expiations, the demi-gods and deified men, originated with themselves. Hercules, Aesculapius, Bacchus, the Dioscuri, and the like, are deified men; consequently it cannot be a reproach to the Christians that they—not deify, but—honor their martyrs as witnesses and servants of God. 

The ancients saw nothing censurable in such worship of the dead.  The saints, our helpers and patrons, are far more worthy of such honor.  The temples of the gods are destroyed, the philosophers, orators, and emperors are forgotten, but the martyrs are universally known.  The feasts of the gods are now replaced by the festivals of Peter, Paul, Marcellus, Leontius, Antonins, Mauricius, and other martyrs, not with pagan pomp and sensual pleasures, but with Christian soberness and decency.

Yet even this last distinction which Theodoret asserts, sometimes disappeared.  Augustine laments that in the African church banqueting and reveling were daily practiced in honor of the martyrs, but thinks that this weakness must be for the time indulged from regard to the ancient customs of the pagans.

In connection with the new hero-worship a new mythology also arose, which filled up the gaps of the history of the saints, and sometimes even transformed the pagan myths of gods and heroes into Christian legends.  The superstitious imagination, visions, and dreams, and pious fraud famished abundant contributions to the Christian legendary poesy.

The worship of the saints found eloquent vindication and encouragement not only, in poets like Prudentius (about 405) and Paulinus of Nola (died 431), to whom greater freedom is allowed, but even in all the prominent theologians and preachers of the Nicene and post-Nicene age. It was as popular as monkery, and was as enthusiastically commended by the leaders of the church in the East and West.

The two institutions, moreover, are closely connected and favor each other.  The monks were most zealous friends of saint-worship in their own cause.  

The church of the fifth century already went almost as far in it as the Middle Age, at all events quite as far as the council of Trent; for this council does not prescribe the invocation of the saints, but confines itself to approving it as "good and useful" (not as necessary) on the ground of their reigning with Christ in heaven and their intercession for us, and expressly remarks that Christ is our only, Redeemer and Saviour.  

This moderate and prudent statement of the doctrine, however, has not yet removed the excesses which the Roman Catholic people still practise in the worship of the saints, their images, and their relics.  The Greek church goes even further in theory than the Roman; for the confession of Peter Mogilas (which was subscribed by the four Greek patriarchs in 1643, and again sanctioned by the council of Jerusalem in 1672), declares it duty and propriety ("crevo") to implore the intercession (mesiteiva) of Mary and the saints with God for us.

We now cite, for proof and further illustration, the most important passages from the church fathers of our period on this point.  In the numerous memorial discourses of the fathers, the martyrs are loaded with eulogies, addressed as present, and besought for their protection. 

The universal tone of those productions is offensive to the Protestant taste, and can hardly be reconciled with evangelical ideas of the exclusive and all-sufficient mediation of Christ and of justification by pure grace without the merit of works. 

But it must not be forgotten that in these discourses very much is to be put to the account of the degenerate, extravagant, and fulsome rhetoric of that time.  

The best church fathers, too, never separated the merits of the saints from the merits of Christ, but considered the former as flowing out of the latter.

We begin with the Greek fathers.  Basil the Great calls the forty soldiers who are said to have suffered martyrdom under Licinius in Sebaste about 320, not only a "holy choir," an "invincible phalanx," but also "common patrons of the human family, helpers of our prayers and most mighty intercessors with God."

Ephraim Syrus addresses the departed saints, in general, in such words as these: "Remember me, ye heirs of God, ye brethren of Christ, pray to the Saviour for me, that I through Christ may be delivered from him who assaults me from day to day;" and the mother of a martyr:"O holy, true, and blessed mother, plead for me with the saints, and pray: ’Ye triumphant martyrs of Christ, pray for Ephraim, the least, the miserable,’ that I may find grace, and through the grace of Christ may be saved."

Gregory of Nyssa asks of St. Theodore, whom he thinks invisibly present at his memorial feast, intercessions for his country, for peace, for the preservation of orthodoxy, and begs him to arouse the apostles Peter and Paul and John to prayer for the church planted by them (as if they needed such an admonition!). 

He relates with satisfaction that the people streamed to the burial place of this saint in such multitudes that the place looked like an ant hill.  In his Life of St. Ephraim, he tells of a pilgrim who lost himself among the barbarian posterity of Ishmael, but by the prayer, "St. Ephraim, help me!" and the protection of the saint, happily found his way home. 

He himself thus addresses him at the close: "Thou who standest at the holy altar, and with angels servest the life-giving and most holy Trinity, remember us all, and implore for us the forgiveness of sins and the enjoyment of the eternal kingdom."

Gregory Nazianzen is convinced that the departed Cyprian guides and protects his church in Carthage more powerfully by his intercessions than he formerly did by his teachings, because he now stands so much nearer the Deity; he addresses him as present, and implores his favor and protection.  

In his eulogy on Athanasius, who was but a little while dead, he prays: "Look graciously down upon us, and dispose this people to be perfect worshippers of the perfect Trinity; and when the times are quiet, preserve us—when they are troubled, remove us, and take us to thee in thy fellowship."

Even Chrysostom did not rise above the spirit of the time.  He too is an eloquent and enthusiastic advocate of the worship of the saints and their relics.  At the close of his memorial discourse on Sts. Bernice and Prosdoce—two saints who have not even a place in the Roman calendar—he exhorts his hearers not only on their memorial days but also on other days to implore these saints to be our protectors: 

"For they have great boldness not merely during their life but also after death, yea, much greater after death.  For they now bear the stigmata of Christ [the marks of martyrdom], and when they show these, they can persuade the King to anything."  

He relates that once, when the harvest was endangered by excessive rain, the whole population of Constantinople flocked to the church of the Apostles, and there elected the apostles Peter and Andrew, Paul and Timothy, patrons and intercessors before the throne of grace.  Christ, says he on Heb. i. 14, redeems us as Lord and Master, the angels redeem us as ministers.

Asterius of Amasia calls the martyr Phocas, the patron of mariners, "a pillar and foundation of the churches of God in the world, the most renowned of the martyrs, who draws men of all countries in hosts to his church in Sinope, and who now, since his death, distributes more abundant nourishment than Joseph in Egypt."

Among the Latin fathers, Ambrose of Milan is one of the first and most decided promoters of the worship of saints.  We cite a passage or two. 

"May Peter, who so successfully weeps for himself, weep also for us, and turn upon us the friendly look of Christ.  The angels, who are appointed to guard us, must be invoked for us; the martyrs, to whose intercession we have claim by the pledge of their bodies, must be invoked.  

They who have washed away their sins by their own blood, may pray for our sins.  For they are martyrs of God, our high priests, spectators of our life and our acts.  We need not blush to use them as intercessors for our weakness; for they also knew the infirmity of the body when they gained the victory over it."

Jerome disputes the opinion of Vigilantius, that we should pray for one another in this life only, and that the dead do not hear our prayers, and ascribes to departed saints a sort of omnipresence, because, according to Rev. xiv. 4, they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.  

He thinks that their prayers are much more effectual in heaven than they were upon earth.  If Moses implored the forgiveness of God for six hundred thousand men, and Stephen, the first martyr, prayed for his murderers after the example of Christ, should they cease to pray, and to be heard, when they are with Christ?

Augustine infers from the interest which the rich man in hell still had in the fate of his five surviving brothers (Luke xvi. 27), that the pious dead in heaven must have even far more interest in the kindred and friends whom they have left behind.  

He also calls the saints our intercessors, yet under Christ, the proper and highest Intercessor, as Peter and the other apostles are shepherds under the great chief Shepherd.  In a memorial discourse on Stephen, he imagines that martyr, and St. Paul who stoned him, to be present, and begs them for their intercessions with the Lord with whom they reign.  

He attributes miraculous effects, even the raising of the dead, to the intercessions of Stephen.  But, on the other hand, he declares, as we have already observed, his inability to solve the difficult question of the way in which the dead can be made acquainted with our wishes and prayers. 

At all events, in Augustine's practical religion the worship of the saints occupies a subordinate place.  In his "Confessions" and "Soliloquies" he always addresses himself directly to God, not to Mary nor to martyrs.

The Spanish poet Prudentius flees with prayers and confessions of sin to St. Laurentius, and considers himself unworthy to be heard by Christ Himself.

The poems of Paulinus of Nola are full of direct prayers for the intercessions of the saints, especially of St. Felix, in whose honor he erected a basilica, and annually composed an ode, and whom he calls his patron, his father, his lord.  He relates that the people came in great crowds around the wonder-working relics of this saint on his memorial day, and could not look on them enough.

Leo the Great, in his sermons, lays great stress on the powerful intercession of the apostles Peter and Paul, and of the Roman martyr Laurentius.

Pope Gregory the Great, at the close of our period, went much farther.

According to this we cannot wonder that the Virgin Mary and the saints are interwoven also in the prayers of the liturgies, and that their merits and intercession stand by the side of the merits of Christ as a ground of the acceptance of our prayers.

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aball1i.gif (324 bytes) Addenda: Some Additional reasons (besides I Timothy 2:5) why Protestants don't pray to Christians now in Heaven (the Saints, including Mary) or even ask them to intercede on their behalf:

  • God does not tell us in His Word (the Holy Scriptures) to do so.

  • Protestants don't see any evidence in the Bible that believers who are now in Heaven can even hear us.

  • The Apostles in the New Testament never teach that Christians should pray to Mary, or even ask her to intercede for us., nor do even the Church Fathers do so during nearly the entire first 400 years of the Christian Faith.

  • There is no recorded example of anyone asking for Mary's intercession until the late 4th century---possibly as early as 379 A.D. (by Ephraim the Syrian, however this is disputed) but definitely in 389 A.D. (when Gregory of Nyssa in his writings mentions, not himself, but only someone named Justina doing so.)  The numerous writings of some of the most important Church Fathers: John Chrysostom, Athanasius, Augustine, and Basil the Great, furnish no example of an invocation of Mary (Excerpted from: "History of the Christian Church" by Philip Schaff: Volume III, Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity, A.D. 311-390 Chapter VII, P. 409-427).  For more details on this, see: Why Protestants Don't Pray to Mary).

  • Why pray to someone who wouldn't seem to even know who you are, instead of to God the Father Himself and in Christ's name ("For God so loved the world...and Christ, who you know loved you enough to actually die for you)? 

  • Can the Saints (including Mary) hear millions of prayers simultaneously?  Are they omniscient like God?  There is no Biblical teaching to support these contentions, or any other related arguments that have so far been put forward.

  • And perhaps most importantly: Protestants don't want to disobey Christ's own clear teaching on how Christians should pray.

Protestants don't want to disobey Christ's own clear teaching on how Christians should pray:

When the disciples (who would later become the apostles) asked the Lord Jesus to teach them how to pray, Christ taught them (and all Christians) to pray our prayers to God the Father: 

Christ taught us to Pray to God the Father...

"In this manner therefore pray: Our Father, who art in Heaven..." -Matthew 4:6

...in His (Christ's) Name...

Later Christ clarified his teaching to pray to God the Father by saying that we should do so in His (Christ's own) Name---

"...I go unto my Father.  And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.  If ye love me, keep my commandments."  -John 14:12-15

...Christ Himself being our only mediator...

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;" -I Timothy 2:5 _____________________________________________________________

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A Word of Explanation:

Firstly, as an Interdenominational Christian Organization, our stated policy on this website is not to take stands on most non-essential (to Salvation) doctrines.  

Secondly, another stated policy is to present "Prayer Teaching and Resources" for all Christians.   And thirdly, we were founded as a Protestant Religious Order, and as such are especially dedicated to only offer Prayer to God in Jesus' Name.  

We therefore gave much prayer and thoughtful consideration before making this posting, as this very prayer-related subject in a non-essential area (to Salvation) seems to fall into an overlapping area of conflict between the two policies and the three positions. _____________