Archive for the ‘Saints’ Category

Papal Priorities: Biblical Study or Saint Veneration?

September 12, 2016

Roman Catholics often raise the topic of authority and claim that we need an infallible interpreter to interpret Scripture.  This, they say, means we need the papacy.  But what does the papacy actually do or care about?

When pressed, however, Roman Catholic apologists typically acknowledge that an allegedly infallible interpretation has been provided for fewer than 20 verses (see this document from Roman Catholic apologist and pilgrimage promoter Steve Ray).  Moreover, when you dig into the claims about those verses, most of the interpretations are actually the alleged interpretations of ecumenical councils, rather than popes.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic church also teaches that infallibility is exercised in the designation of a deceased person as a “saint.”  How often is this alleged gift of infallibility exercised? John Paul II canonized 482 saints in 26 years (apparently a record number).  Benedict XVI canonized 45 saints in 7 years.  Francis has canonized 29 saints plus 812 companions of one of those, in his three years so far as pope.

I think it’s fair to say that papal priorities are revealed by papal actions. In this case, the priority of the papacy is clearly on the veneration of the deceased, rather than on the study and interpretation of Scripture.  In the lifetime of most of my readers, the popes have never once infallibly interpreted Scripture but have allegedly infallibly canonized saints literally hundreds of times.

Roman Catholic apologists may say we need the popes to understand the Scriptures, but Roman Catholic practice demonstrates that announcing saints for veneration is far more central to the actual papal role.

St. Josaphat aka Buddha

April 9, 2013

At page 88 of The Myth of Persecution, Dr. Moss drew attention to a particularly glaring case of false saints in the case of St. Josaphat. The story of “Barlaam and Josaphat” became popular in Europe after being translated into Greek, probably around the 11th century.

The name “Josaphat,” as it turns out, is derived from Arabic Yūdhasaf or Būdhasaf, which is derived from the title Buddha (enlightened one) and refers to Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563-483 B.C.).  The story is essentially a retelling of the life story of the Buddha.

The story was popular and eventually Josaphat managed to get assigned a day in the calendar not only in the Roman church, but also in the Greek and Slavic churches.

You have to wonder if the Serpent was laughing at professing Christians unwittingly asking Buddha to “ora pro nobis.”  While the fact that Josaphat = Buddha was not discovered until the 19th century, the Reformers warned against the veneration of saints, not only on the general grounds that such veneration is wrong, but also on the specific ground that many of the saints were not true believers.

Thomas Newton, in the 18th century, expressed it this way (source):

It is impossible to relate or enumerate all the various falsehoods and lies which have been invented and propagated for this purpose; the fabulous books forged under the names of apostles, saints, and martyrs; the fabulous legends of their lives, actions, sufferings, and deaths; the fabulous miracles ascribed to their sepulchres, bones, and other relics; the fabulous dreams and revelations, visions and apparitions of the dead to the living and even the fabulous saints who never existed but in the imagination of their worshippers. And all these stories the monks the priests the bishops of the church have imposed and obtruded upon mankind it is difficult to say whether with greater artifice or cruelty with greater confidence or hypocrisy and pretended sanctity, a more hardened face or a more hardened conscience.


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