Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Monday, August 27, 2007

    Mother Theresa's Letters (Part II)

    Questions for Catholics concerning the beatification and canonisation of Mother Teresa:

    1. Why is it that the Catholic church goes through such a laborious process to try to make one a saint, when the term saint (hagios = holy, set apart, sanctified, consecrated, etc.) is regularly bestowed upon all believers?

    Does not Paul write "to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi" (Philippians 1:1); "to all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints" (Rom 1:7); calling God's people to "be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Eph 6:18); 1 Cor 14:33; Col 1:12; 2 Cor 13:13; Rom 15:25; Rom 8:27; Eph 3:18; etc.? Does not David in Psalm 30:4 say "Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name."? Do you think it might be that Catholic tradition by redefining sainthood as something other than Scripture defines it is leading to the problems it now is dealing with?

    2. Where in the Bible do you find that it's necessary for one to perform a miracle (or two), or to be martyred, to become a saint?

    3. Why is it that in all the years of the biblical record including the time of the prophets and the apostles you don't find the practice of beatification and canonisation? Why not... even among those who possess heavenly affirmation of their miracles, of their spiritual gifts, of their fruitful lives, of their exemplary service, of their martyrdom? Men and women such as Moses, Abraham, Elisha, Daniel, Stephen, Peter, Paul, John, etc.? While it's admitted that there's ecclesiastical growth and advancement that takes place in the church, if this issue was meant to be all that it's come to be today in the Catholic church, isn't it somewhat surprising that on such a "significant" issue, it did come about until its practice in the Catholic church?

    4. While there's a place for remembering the Lord's servants and their service, where do you find in Scripture authority given to church leaders to determine what perfection, degree, or amount of virtue is needed to deem one worthy of public veneration (and to deny others of recognition)? The greater question is does not the current Catholic practice draw more attention to the individual than to the Lord, in whom, and through whom we have all things?

    5. When it comes to mediators and intercession, would even intercession offered by the redeemed be acceptable apart from their acceptance in Christ?

    While tradition can be a good thing, tradition itself needs to be examined in light of God's Word.


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