Welcome, visitors from James White’s blog. Please feel free to comment on this or any other post; however, I ask that you keep your comments respectful and charitable. Also note that you do not need to be registered to comment, but the first time you comment the blog will hold your comment in moderation until I approve it; subsequent comments are posted immediately. Thank you and God bless.
I posted previously about James White emitting a lot of heat but not much light for people searching for the fullness of the truth in their Christian faith, and recently he made a blog post ridiculing a blog post made by his sister, Patty Bonds, where she asked people to pray for her brother, including St. James and several other saints.
The sad personal issues between them are none of my business, though they are well-known as they have been made public some time back; it is enough to know that James White is a fairly popular (Reformed Baptist) Protestant apologist while his sister Patty converted to the Catholic Church some years back–obviously such a situation would be trying for many families even in the best of circumstances.
In his post, Mr. White says:
I have always wondered just what these saints are supposed to do. Do they “send grace” to folks on earth by some magical means? … Or if someone prays to Paul for my conversion, would Paul send down some kind of grace that would contradict all the taught in Romans and Galatians? Yes, I know…what the Scriptures say doesn’t really matter, and it is all a matter of what “the Church” teaches (as interpreted in the myriad of ways exhibited by Roman Catholics around the world), but it is still striking to ponder how far from the mindset of the inspired writers modern Roman Catholicism truly is.
His remarks are disingenuous, for he well knows as a professional Protestant apologist what the Catholic Church teaches about the communion of saints, yet instead of accurately portraying that belief, he deliberately caricatures it.
We ask a saint in Heaven to pray for us, and by God’s Providence and facilitation, they can hear us and respond by praying to our Father. It is not much different than asking a fellow Christian to pray for you.
It is not “magical” when you pray for me and God hears and answers by giving me grace–it is wonderful and amazing and beautiful, but it is not some kind of conjuring; rather, it is how God has created the world and us and made it possible for us to be in communion with one another.
One obvious objection is that the canonized saints in Heaven are all dead people, and surely dead people can’t hear us, so it is at best a waste of time and at worst some kind of sorcery to ask them to pray for us. However, in Luke 20:38, Jesus says in his reply to the Sadducees that “he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Further, in Matthew 17 suddenly Moses and Elijah appear before Jesus during the Transfiguration: “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.” Connecting the two Biblical dots here can tell us that by God’s grace and power human death does not end communication (or communion) between them and God and living persons. These are only two of the many passages in the Bible which directly or indirectly support the communion of saints.
As for this being some invention of “modern Roman Catholicism”, history is against Mr. White. My friend Tom posted a few months back about one example from the 7th century of praying for those who have died.
So what is one to do? Avoid polemical apologists like Mr. White and find charitable and reasonable persons with whom to engage in dialogue. (Update 7/22/09: As James White has left a forthright and charitable comment on this blog post as well as made a non-polemical reply on his blog, I retract this above statement. I hope that we will be able to have a reasoned and charitable discussion and so, in spite of the contentiousness in discussions which have taken place between him and some Catholic apologists, as he has been respectful here, I honor that.)
Oh, and definitely pray for James White and ask the saints to pray for him.