I have already discussed the unbiblical nature of Catholic sainthood. Here, I will refute the argumentations used to support this false belief. For example a Catholic apologist wrote:
“If it is objected that the dead saints cannot hear us, we reply that God is fully able to give them that power – with plenty of supporting biblical evidence: 1) the “cloud of witnesses” that Hebrews 12:1 describes; 2) in Revelation 6:9-10, prayers are given for us in heaven from “saints”; 3) elsewhere in Revelation an angel possesses “prayers of the saints” and in turn presents them to God … The saints in heaven are clearly aware of earthly happenings. If they have such awareness, it isn’t that much of a leap to deduce that they can hear our requests for prayer, especially since the Bible itself shows that they are indeed praying” (The One Minute Apologist p. 121).
The first problem with this argumentation is that it lacks any Biblical evidence whatsoever. The reply “that God is fully able to give them that power” is an unsound stick. The issue here is not about what God is able to do or not. If He wanted He could have made saints intercede on our behalf as a Christianized pantheon of gods in heaven, but He hasn’t. So the real question is: has God given the saints the power to hear prayers? The answer is no.
Prayer is an act of worship, and is to be offered to God only. To pray to any other being in heaven or on earth is a violation of the first commandment-acknowledging another God. We are also forbidden to contact spirits of the dead.
Before I examine the “proof texts” presented, let me digress a bit. In another Catholic work, this apologist wrote that:
“Protestants try to explain this away, because they seem to fear the notion that saints in heaven and earth have an organic connection. They want simply to ‘go straight to God’ and bypass all the mediating functions of the saints (The Catholic Verses, p. 136)
It is actually Catholics who attempt to explain away what God has made very clear in His Word that there is only “one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ” (1Tim. 2:5). The idea of “mediating functions” of saints is totally unbiblical. God has “reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ” (2Cor. 5:18) and “through him [Jesus] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18).
Therefore, every Believer can have a close fellowship with God, not through “saints” but through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. This simple truth blows the heresy of an “organic connection” between the dead and the living into pieces.
1) Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and sin which so easily entangle us…”
It is assumed that the “cloud of witnesses” here refers to saints in heaven observing events on earth. This passage comes after Hebrews 11 where faithful men and women of old were referred to. First of all, the term ‘witness’ does not imply one who is observing events, but one who testifies, witnesses by their life.
The passage was simply saying that the faithful of old have witnessed to God’s faithfulness by their own lives, and, since we have their testimonies, we are to run the race with patience and joy. There is no justification to make this teach that saints in heaven are watching and hearing us.
When Catholics say “the Greek word witnesses is martus from which the word martyr is derived,” you must understand that they didn’t arrive at this from Scripture, rather from their own theology which they read back into Scripture. Some Evangelical preachers also misuse this Bible verse to teach this same heresy.
One popular preacher wrote that Hebrews 12:1 is saying that “all the other believers who have ever died are watching us from the grandstands in Heaven as we run our spiritual race.”
No one who takes Heb. 12:1 in its context, without a preconceived idea of dead saints watching over us from heaven will arrive at this conclusion. You can’t juxtapose the words “witnesses” and “spectators” together. The Expositor’s Greek New Testament (IV: 365) comments:
“Martu,rwn [meaning] ‘witnesses,’ persons who by their actions have testified to the worth of faith. The cloud of witnesses are those named and suggested in chap. xi; persons whose lives witnessed to the work and triumph of faith, and whose faith was witnessed to by Scripture … It is impossible to take ma,rturej as equivalent to qeatai [spectator]. If the idea of ‘spectator’ is present at all, which is doubtful, it is only introduced by the words tre,cwmen … The idea is not that they are running in presence of spectators and must therefore run well; but that their people’s history being filled with examples of much-enduring but triumphant faith, they also must approve their lineage by showing a like persistence of faith.”
2) Revelation 6:9-10 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
From this passage, did you come across anything like “prayers [that] are given for us in heaven from saints” like that Catholic apologist want us to believe? The passage is speaking of cry of the martrys asking for the vengeance and justice of God. And in response they were given a white robe and told to wait a little longer for the rest of the tribulation saints that will be martyred (vs. 11).
You can see that these Believers didn’t need to pass through purgatory before becoming pure to be in Heaven. It is indeed a giant leap to surmise from this passage that the dead in heaven are observing the events on earth. Where is the evidence here that they have knowledge of what is happening here on earth? What they know is that God is just and will punish sin, which we too also know here on earth, since God’s Word says it (Gen. 18:22, Ps. 9:8).
And the fact that they were informed that there will be more martyrs to join them tells us that they didn’t have this information naturally. They would have known this if they were observing events on earth. This also shows us that if they had any foreknowledge of the future, it would be the same as what we know.
The third place in Revelation where this “apologist” speaks of the prayers of the saints (8:4) holds no water. That the prayers of the saints ascends to God means that He alone is the hearer of prayer. It was actually an angel that was presenting the prayers of God’s people before Him. Nothing here or elsewhere supports praying to saints who are neither omniscient nor omnipotent.
Have you observed that all these Catholic arguments are not compelling to any serious Bible student? They are not meant to be. They are just meant to have enough appeal to keep an average Catholic who wants to believe the lies of Rome in a state of faith.
Lastly, these modern Catholic apologists are digging a pit for themselves whether they realize it or not. On one hand they attack private interpretation of the Bible which we hold on to, and tell us only Rome can interpret the Bible for us. And on the other hand, they trot out verses (which by the way are a-contextual) from their own private interpretation which their church has never infallible interpreted.
So when a Catholic throws out these “proof texts,” a good question to ask is: Has your church “infallibly” defined these texts for you?