In response to THIS post on how praying to Mary brings our focus to Christ, Steve responded with a series of off-topic questions and some claims. Since he jumped off topic right off the bat, I decided to make his reply a separate post and will respond to it point-by-point here. His words will be in italics, mine will be in bold.
IS PRAYING TO DEAD PEOPLE A SIN?
-This question is irrelevant to the topic, Steve [see link above to original post]. Catholics don’t pray to the dead, we pray to the living. Don’t you remember what Christ said when correcting the Scribes in Mk 12:26-27? He said "God is God of the LIVING, not of the dead". If you are trying to suggest that praying to saints is the same as praying to the dead, you are making the same mistake as the Scribes. Or perhaps you are purposefully trying to mislead the readers to believe something false about the Catholic Church? You aren’t trying to do that are you Steve?
Is it a sin to pray to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints?
-Steve, this question makes the same mistake as the one above. Here you are assuming that those who passed on before us are “dead”. The problem here is that this line of thinking is contrary to Scripture. Christ corrected the Scribes in Mk 12:26-27, but Paul also tells us that those witnesses who have gone before us are like “a cloud of witnesses” for us as we run our race (Hb 12:1). In Mk 9:4, we see Jesus conversing with Elijah and Moses who are both fully alive, yet have passed from this world. In Lk 23:43, the good thief is assured by Christ Himself that he will be with Christ “this day”. Well, we know the thief died on the cross. Is the thief “dead” with Christ? Or is he “alive” with Christ in Paradise? If he is with Christ, who is God, then we must believe he is "alive" because God is God of the "living". And what about the martyrs under the altar in Rev 6:9-11? Does John describe them as being “dead”? No, he records them as appealing for earthly vindication. We also have Lk 16:19-30 where the departed rich man intercedes for his brothers, and Rev 20:4 where the souls of the beheaded are seen alive, and Wisdom 3:1-6 where the souls of the just are in the hand of God…alive because God is God of the living, not of the dead. Steve, why do you portray the saints in Heaven in a way that contradicts God’s Word?
Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go Satan! For it is written,' "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.' "
Praying to any person or anything is worship.
-Steve, why do you believe that “praying” is equal to “worship”? The Bible does not say that, so why do you believe it? The definition of “pray” is “to request or plea”, or “to implore or exhort”. Well, Paul “implores” and “exhorts” his audience in his Epistles to pray for him. Is Paul worshiping the Romans, Colossians, Ephesians or the Thessalonicans when he “requests” that they pray for him (cf. Rom 15:30, Col 4:3, 1Thess 5:25, 2Thess 1:11, Eph 6:18-19, etc…)?
WORSHIP DEFINED: To revere, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion. Adoring reverence or regard.
Any worship of anyone or anything other than God is sin.
-We’ll agree that worship of anyone/thing other than God is a sin. But you should know that the word “worship” did not always mean what it does in modern English. The “worship” that was shown in Scriptures to be for God alone, that “adoration”, is call “latria”. This is distinguished from the type of “worship” or “honor” that people give to their peers when they say “yes, Sir”, or “I beg your pardon”, or “Your Honor [speaking to a Judge or member of Office]”, or when they bow before a King, etc… That form of worship, which today is known as “respect” and “reverence” was called “dulia”. In our modern tongue, we tend to not distinguish between the definitions anymore, but such was not always the case. So, if you want to use the modern sense, then no, Catholics do not worship anyone other than God. Is it your intention, Steve, to be intellectually honest and recognize this? Or do you intend to falsely portray Catholics as “worshiping” others because we pray to them as Paul did, even though you have no Biblical basis upon which to claim that prayer = worship?
The Virgin Mary is not God…
-No one claimed she was, so I’m not sure what your point is. Are you suggesting that asking Mary to intercede for us is like calling her God? Again, to condemn Catholics for this, you also have to condemn Paul who asked for prayers from others. Is it your intention to condemn Paul for petitioning others for prayers and intercessions? If not, why would you condemn a Catholic for doing the exact same thing as what is modelded for us in Scripture?
…nor does she have the power to grant petitions of prayer.
-Steve, what do you mean by that? Do you mean that Mary cannot answer prayer by her own power? If so, Catholics will agree heartily with you. If you mean that God cannot work through Mary and answer prayers through her, I'm going to have to disagree. I believe that God is able to use all of us in ways that He chooses; I believe that He allows us to pray for one another, ask prayers of one another, and that He grants petitions through our prayer for one another. This is what Scripture shows us, so I believe it. Your statement carries the message that God does not listen to our prayers for one another. Steve, do you believe that God does not listen to our intercessory prayers for each other? Or do you believe that our prayers for each other are rendered useless after we have passed on from this life and are with God in Heaven, as though being with God after our earthy death makes us less alive than we are now, and less able to pray for each other? (Remember to provide the pertinent Scriptural evidence for your assertions, Steve.)
If men could pray to dead saints and get them answered, then why not pray to saint Moses, saint John The Baptist, saint Abraham, saint Job, saint Enoch, saint The Thief on The Cross or any other dead saint?
-What makes you think they are “dead” when Christ has said they are “living”? Why do you continue to contradict Christ’s Words? And what makes you think Catholics don’t ask for the intercessions of any of the above?
Dead people cannot hear your prayers and if they could they would not have the power to answer them.
-Dead people might not, but alive people can, just as we see in Revelation and the other references I showed above. As to the power to answer them, well, that’s up to God to decide isn’t it? Do you suppose, Steve, that you can determine what God can and cannot allow or to whom God can give power to? God gave power to Elisha’s bones to restore life (2Kgs 13:20-21). Do you think God can’t grant that a person can answer a simple prayer request? Do you think it’s more miraculous for a saint in Heaven to answer a prayer for healing [by God’s Power] than it was for Peter’s shadow to grant healing (Acts 5:15-16)? Do you think it’s more unlikely to have a prayer [to any given saint] answered than it was to be cured by one of Paul’s facecloths (Acts 19:11-12)?
Prayer is worship and only God deserves our worship.
-Again, Steve, you’ll need to provide some Scriptural evidence to back that up. Your statement here contradicts a great deal of the NT writings that act as prayers in themselves. Why should anyone accept your personal definition of prayer which is not reflected in Scripture?
God knows our every thought. God is aware of every sin we commit. God knows our every move.
-Amen, Steve! We have some common ground between us! Did you know that God also uses us to help each other and allows us to be active participants in his Gospel message?
God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Those are the attributes of God and what you would need in order to answer prayer.
-Why would a person need all those attributes in order to answer a prayer? I have none of those attributes and I’ve answered prayer before. One time someone prayed of me to help them with the dishes. I did so and didn’t need any of those attribute to do it. You are also limiting God, by this statement of yours, by saying that God cannot allow anyone to answer a prayer because only God has these attribute. Are you saying that God is not able to allow answered prayer through those who don’t have these attributes? Are you limiting God in what God can do, Steve? Was that you intention?
Neither the Virgin Mary, Moses, John The Baptist nor any other dead saint has the attributes of God.
-No one said any of those people had such attributes. But again, why do you keep calling them “dead” when Christ calls them “living”? Why are you contradicting Christ and the Scriptures?
They cannot hear you nor can they answer YOUR PRAYERS.
-Why not? What I am asking here is for some ACTUAL reason instead of the fallacious reasoning you have already given that, because a person doesn’t have certain attributes, they therefore can’t answer prayer. You have yet to establish that a person requires certain attributes in order to answer prayer. You’re going to have to explain away a lot of Scripture to attempt that, however. Do you suppose Paul’s facecloth has the attributes of God when it cured people of their ailments? Did Elisha’s bones have these attributes? Did Peter’s shadow?
YES, TO PRAY TO ANYONE OTHER THAN GOD IS A SIN!
-That’s not what God’s Word says. Why should anyone reading this accept Steve’s words over God’s Word? Why should anyone reading this accept Steve's personal definition of prayer, even though it conflicts with the prayer we see in Scripture?
Steve,, I hope you will take the time to answer each question. I want you to know that I sincerely am seeking answers to each question I asked. I also want you to know that if you come here just to post off-topic rants about things that mis-represent the Church and her teachings, I'm probably just going to delete them instead of taking the time to post them and answer them as I have the last 2 times. If you are actually interested in Christian dialog, I expect you to address everything I posted above with clear distinct answers to each question I asked, just like I provided for each of yours. Thank you for taking interest in my Christian blog, Steve. It means alot to me. :)