Prayer to departed saints (PTDS) and Mariolatry

Why is praying the saints in Heaven wrong? The Bible tells us to pray for each other.

The issues are what prayer is, and its object, and the spiritual relation that exists between God and man in the spiritual realm, and the separation of realms which God manifests as between the two.

The foundational issue regarding PTDS is that of Scriptural warrant and conflation.

The Bible teaches abundantly on prayer, and in order to warrant PTDS (praying to departed saints in heaven) one must find an approved example or teaching of it, and some insufficiency in Christ or as regards immediate directly access to Him. Yet the Bible provides just the opposite and clearly so, as in all the multitudes of prayers in the Bible, the Holy Spirit provides zero examples of any believers praying to anyone in Heaven but the Lord, and the only persons who do make offerings and supplication to the departed are pagans. (Jer. 7:17-19).

In addition, nowhere in any instructions on prayer is any believer directed to pray to anyone but the Lord (not “our mother who art in Heaven”). Nor is any other intercessor in Heaven mentioned, and rather than any insufficiency in Christ, the Holy Spirit explicitly exalts His unique position and attributes, in which He alone is uniquely able to help us because He alone was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin, and alone is exalted as Lord and High priest, and is set forth as the One believers have immediate access to in seeking grace. (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:13-16

Moreover, the holy of holies in which believers have boldness to enter through the blood of Jesus Christ, (Heb. 10:19) which the Old Testament type exampled, was never a place in which one was met with secretaries, but the high priest communed directly with God, and as Christ is our high priest, through Him believers have direct access by one Spirit unto the Father. (Heb. 10:19-22; Eph. 2:18)

In light of this the advocate of PTDS has no real support or warrant from Scripture, and is left seeking to extrapolate this out of analogy between earthly communications, supposing a complete correspondence to that between earth and heaven, and or a "God can do anything" hermeneutic, but which is a strained and problematic exegesis which cannot overcome the weight of evidence against it, and such attempts are typical of cults when faced with the same.

But Jesus Himself prayed to Lazarus (Jn. 11) when he was dead, and Abraham and the rich man in conversed after death. (Lk. 16:19-31)

While these stories are used to justify speaking to saintly “secretaries” in Heaven making intercession to God, yet Abraham was not in Heaven yet, and the communication in this account is described as being oral, like as persons converse on earth, while the Lord simply simply spoke to Lazarus in the grave. Moreover, to be able to hear and respond to potentially billions of prayers simultaneously is an attribute of Deity which the departed are never shown to have been given.

It is also of note that linguistically, the word which is uniquely used for prayer in the NT (87 times, and mostly in Luke), “proseuchomai” (Gk.) is not used not in for the communication between Christ and Lazarus or Abraham and the rich man, or for any communication between persons. The more general word used in Lk. 16:27, erōtaō, can be used for prayer, but is only used by John for prayer to the Father in Heaven, (Jn. 14:16; 16,26; 17:9,15,20) that being personal intercession by Christ in Heaven, and to the resurrected Lord Jesus in Heaven possibly twice, (Jn. 16:23; 1Jn. 5:16) for a total of 7 times out of 58.

While erōtaō is not excluded from denoting prayer, it is not as as definitive as proseuchomai, being also used for things like “desired, etc.) and its use in Lk. 16:27 does not define that as properly being the spiritual practice of prayer from earth to God in Heaven.

For related issues, such a third postmortem location, you may find to this exchange helpful between a Roman Catholic trying to argue for a Scriptural basis for purgatory and my responses.

To substantiate that PTDS is Scriptural, one needs to, from the Bible (and basically in order of importance)

1

Provide just one example, among the multitude of prayers in the Bible, where anyone besides heathen (Jer. 44:19) prayed to or addressed anyone else in heaven but the Lord.*

Example, descriptions, instructions. See Bible prayers here

Gen. 15:2; 17:18; 18:23; 18:23-32; 24:12-14; 32:9-12;

Ex. 25:22; 32:11-13; 33:12-19;

Num. 6:23-26; 10:35-36; 11:11-16; 12:13-14; 14:13-19; 27:15-18;

Dt. 3:23-25; 9:25; 9:26-29; 21:7-9; 26:5-10;

Josh. 7:7-9; Jdg 6:13; 6:15; 6:15-17; 6:36-37; 6:39; 13:8; 16:8;

1Sam.1:10-11; 2:1-10;

2Sam. 7:18-29; 24:17;

1Ki. 3:5-61; 17:20-21; 18:25-26; 18:27-37; 19:4;

2 Ki. 6:17-18; 19:15-19;

1Chr.4:10; 29:9-19; 14:11;

2Chr. 6:40; 14:11; 20:6-12; 30:18-19;

Ezra 8:3; 9:5-15;

Neh. 1:4,5; 1:4-11; 4:4-5; 9:5-38;

Job 22:27;

Ps. 4:1; 5:3; 6:9; 17:1; 35:13; 39:12; 42:8; 54:2; 55:1; 61:1; 64:1; 65:2; 66:19,20; 69:13; 72:15; 80:4; 84:8; 86:1,6; 86:6; 88:2,13; 90:1; 102:1,17; 109:4,7; 141:2,5; 142:1; 143:1;

Prov. 15:8,29; 28:8;

Is. 37:4; 38:2,3,5; 56:7;

Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 26:19;

Lam. 3:8,44;

Ezek. 9:8; Dan. 9:3-19;

Jonah 2:1-9;

Hab. 1:12-17; 3:2-18;



Mat. 6:9-13; 11:25-27; 17:21; 21:22; 26:39; Lk. 1:9,13; 6:12; 18:10-13; 19:46; 23:30; 23:34; 23:46; Jn.11:41-42; 17:1-22; 17:1-26;

Acts 1:14,24-25; 3:1; 6:4; 9:6; 10:2,31; 12:5; 16:13,16;

Rm. 10:1; 12:12;

1Cor. 1:2; 7:5;

2Cor. 1:1; 9:14; 12:8;

Eph. 1:16-22; 3:13-21; 6:18;

Phil. 1:4,9-11,19; 4:6;

Col 1:9-13ff; 4:2;

1Thes. 3:10-13; 5:23,24;

2Thes. 1:10-12; 2:16-17;

1Tim. 4:2;

2Tim. 4:16;

Heb. 2:18; 4:15,16; 7:25; 10:19-22; 13:20-21;

James 5:16,17;

1Pt. 4:7;

Rev. 6:16-16; 22:2022:20

2

Provide one place where exhortations, commands or instruction or descriptions on prayer directed believers to pray to departed saints or angels. ("i.e. "After this manner pray, Our mother, who art in heaven...")..

3

Show where any insufficiency exists in Christ regarding immediacy, ability, or compassion that would require or advantage another intercessor in heaven between Christ and man, besides the Holy Spirit. (Ex. 25:22; Eph. 2:18; Heb. 2:18; 4:15,16; 7:25; 10:19-22; etc.)

4

Show where believers in Christ do not have direct access to God in heaven, that having “boldness to enter into the holiest” (Heb. 10:19) means one may choose to meet a type of secretary rather than in Christ directly having access by one Spirit unto the Father.** (Eph. 2:18)

5

Show where departed souls in heaven are taking prayer requests addressed to them.

6

Show where the departed are given the Divine attribute of omniscience, so they can hear and process an infinite amount of prayer. (Ps. 65:2; 139:4; Prov. 15:3)

7

Provide where any communication between believers on earth and heavenly beings besides God took place apart from a personal visitation, either by men being caught up to heaven or by angels coming to earth. (Jdg. 13; Mk. 9:2-9; Rev. 4:1ff;)

8

Show where anyone else is called "Queen of heaven" other than Jer 44:17 (“But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven”), who was a heavenly object of devotion and prayer.

9

If believers can pray to the departed saints for help in their Christian life, then show why they cannot call upon saints for salvation, and where the Bible supports that.

10

Show where another basic necessary practice has zero positive examples and is contrary to any actual need.***


"O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come." (Psalms 65:2)

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. {15} For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, {20} By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; {21} And having an high priest over the house of God; {22} Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19-22)

"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. " (Galatians 4:6)


*That is, the Father and the Son. It is clear that souls did call upon Jesus in prayer, (Acts 7:59; 1Cor. 1:2; 2Cor. 12:8; Rm. 10:13) as only He is the mediator between God and man, (1Tim. 2:5) that being uniquely His honor and ability, and is Lord of all, (Acts 10:36) and to pray to the Lord Jesus is to pray to the Father, as through Christ (by His blood) we have access by His Spirit to the Father. (Eph. 2:18) Praying to the Holy Spirit is not recorded, as it is He who effects prayer, and cries to the Father, (Gal. 4:6) not a “mother.” The Spirit can impress upon others to pray, but only Divinity is the direct object of spiritual intercession.

**Some try to use Rev. 5:8 and 8:3,4 to support praying to the departed, but this does not signify angelic intercession on behalf of saints awaiting to be hear by God, but in the first instance refers to prayers as a pleasing sacrifice, which Christ Himself was, “as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” (Eph. 5:2) In the second, incense is offered with their prayers as a memorial sense, and which testifies to the wickedness of the earth, and which prayers affirms its judgment which the text goes on to describe. (cf. Rev. 6:10)

***It is argued that PTDS is not forbidden, yet necromancy is. And while there is no express command against consensual cannibalism (whoever dies first we will have for dinner), its basic prohibition is justly derived from Gn. 9:3,5,6 which establishes the source of man's food. Yet is it true that in keeping with the foundational law of love, in dire circumstance of necessity it might be allowed (and with the Andes survivors). However, the Scriptures not only exhort and example prayers to the Lord alone as regards a heavenly object, but clearly established Christ as being the all-sufficient intercessor, both in terms of ability and accessibility.



Mariolatry

Why don't Protestants honor Mary as Catholics do?

Protestants, at least those who hold that Scripture is the supreme authority on doctrine, are to indeed honor Mary by honoring her as the Bible does, as a holy women being a recipient of great grace in being chosen to be the vessel to bear the Son of God in taking upon flesh, for the Father had prepared a body for Him to do so. (Heb. 10:5) The Scriptures express that Mary was a faithful mother and disciple to the Messiah, and the last thing recorded of her was that of being part of the disciples in Acts 1:14, “who continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”

However, God is faithful in the Scripture to provide notable aspects of key characters, and we are admonished not to think of men above that which is written, (1Cor. 4:6) and attributing to Mary such things as being sinless, and crowned and enthroned as the Queen of Heaven, hearing an infinite number of prayers, and whose prayers are like command to God, and to being the dispenser of all grace, is not warranted by Scripture and is contrary to it.

Such excess is something that developed, and is part of the Rome's assimilation of paganism. Monsignor J.D. Conway, who supports such excess honor, does admit, that “It seems manifest that Christians simply adapted the art of pagan Rome to their religious need.” (Monsignor J.D. Conway/ Imprimatur of Ralph L. Hayes,, New York; Harper and Brothers; 1962; p. 218)

The Catholic Encyclopedia explains below (emphasis mine) the development Marian devotion, and that one aspect seen among a couple church fathers was the idea the martyrs, that since by their death they,

could obtain graces and blessings for others, naturally and immediately led to their direct invocation.

A further reinforcement, of the same idea, was derived from the cult of the angels, which, while pre-Christian in its origin, was heartily embraced by the faithful of the sub-Apostolic age. It seems to have been only as a sequel of some such development that men turned to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. This at least is the common opinion among scholars, though it would perhaps be dangerous to speak too positively. Evidence regarding the popular practice of the early centuries is almost entirely lacking, and while on the one hand the faith of Christians no doubt took shape from above downwards (i.e. the Apostles and teachers of the Church delivered a message which the laity accepted from them with all docility)”

Thus the substantiation for what came to beyond what is written is asserted to surely have (nebulous oral) tradition as its source, thus effectively Rome holds to an open canon, as does Mormonism, while its supreme authority is its self-proclaimed assuredly infallible magisterium, which is the foundational issue, as by it all things are established. Thus regarding those who disagree that Mary was preserved sinless, the Pope presumes to pronounce,

Hence, if anyone shall dare which God forbid to think otherwise than has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment, that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith, that he has separated from the unity of the Church and that furthermore by his own action he incurs the penalties established by Law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the error he thinks in his heart.” (Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854)

While Catholics deny that they worship Mary, it is difficult to distinguish between latria, dulia and hyperdulia as such is of the heart. One Roman Catholic commentator states,

Although (technically) Mary is not to be worshiped in the same sense that God is worshiped, she is to be granted devotion and worship in a lesser sense. And if the fine distinctions made by Catholic theologians "are usually not reflected in the practice of the faithful," idolatry would seem to be a distinct possibility in the lives of the faithful. Thus, "By the sixteenth century, as evidenced by the spiritual struggles of the Reformers, the image of Mary had largely eclipsed the centrality of Jesus Christ in the life of believers." (Robert C. Broderick, ed., The Catholic Encyclopedia, revised and updated; NY: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987pp.32,33),

In the Bible, while bowing down normally denotes worship of God, and hence bowing down to idols is forbidden, there are a few times when it occurs toward man in a sanctioned way which denotes respect, or obeisance and submission due to one's position, such as Abraham (Gn. 23:12) and toward Jacob and Joseph, (Gn. 27:29; 37:10; 42:6; 43:28) and to worship (proskuneō, trans. worship elsewhere in KJV) before faithful Christians because Jesus love for them. (Rev 3:9)

However, what is lacking in such is the manner of adulation on steroids given to holy Mary above that which is written. Thus, rather than Mary being remembered and honored as a holy women who was blessed above women because of whom she was privileged to mother, she is lauded as being intrinsically superior to every women that lived, with an adulation that befits Christ not man, and is made like Him is many ways beyond what Scripture reveals, with Divine functions and privileges being ascribed to her.

In the Mariolatry of Roman Catholicism, as Jesus is sinless, so is Mary; as He shed His sinless blood for our sins so Mary did by Him, and as He redeemed the word so Mary is made co redemptorist (the logic behind which can lead back to Eve); she being “the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. (Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus haereses 3:22) As Jesus rose bodily to glory so did Mary, and as souls come to God by Him so they come by Mary to Jesus, and as Jesus can hear prayers unlimited and constantly makes intercession so does Mary, and one may obtain through her what they could not by coming directly through Christ, or sooner; and as Jesus is the dispenser of grace so Mary, and the so forth. This is not what is evident Biblical, and its extremes can only be extrapolated the same way Mormonic doctrine is, with its beginning starting with a little extra-Biblical leaven which leaven the whole lump, with extra-Biblical tradition being the substance for such, justified through the Catholic science of development of doctrine.

Of course, not all the extremes of Marian devotion are officially sanctioned by the church, wisely so, but too many are (what is written in encyclicals is generally understood to be infallible, and some hold all are):

The foundation of all Our confidence, as you know well, Venerable Brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.” — Pope Pius IX, in Ubi Primum (On the Immaculate Conception), Encyclical promulgated on February 2, 1849, #5.

The power thus put into her (Mary’s) hands is all but unlimited. How unerringly right, then, are Christian souls when they turn to Mary for help...How rightly, too, has every nation and every liturgy without exception acclaimed her great renown, which has grown greater with the voice of each succeeding century. Among her many other titles we find her hailed as ‘our Lady, our Mediatrix,’(St. Bernard, Serm.II in Adv. 4) ‘the Reparatrix of the whole world,’ (St. Tharasius, Orat. in Praesentatione) ‘the Dispenser of all heavenly gifts.’ (On Off. Graec., 8 Dec.).” Pope Leo XIII, in Adiutricem (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 5, 1895, #8. —
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13adiut.htm

O Virgin most holy, none abounds in the knowledge of God except through thee; none, O Mother of God, attains salvation except through thee; none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.’”Pope Leo XIII, in Adiutricem (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 5, 1895, #9. —
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13adiut.htm

With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother....Mary is this glorious intermediary...” — Pope Leo XIII, in Octobri Mense (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 22, 1891, # 4. —
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13ro1.htm

Thus is confirmed that law of merciful meditation of which We have spoken, and which St. Bernardine of Siena thus expresses: Every grace granted to man has three degrees in order; for by God it is communicated to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and from the Virgin it descends to us.” Pope Leo XIII, in Iucunda Semper Expectatione (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 8, 1894, #5.
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13ro5.htm

All gifts which the Author of all good (God) has deigned to communicate to the unhappy posterity of Adam, are, according to the loving resolve of His Divine Providence, dispensed by the hands of the Most Holy Virgin.” Pope Benedict XV (AAS 9, 1917, 266) (quoted in “About Our Lady, our Blessed Mother”, by Our Lady’s Warriors).
http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/abtmary.htm

When therefore we read in the writings of Saint Bernard, Saint Bernardine, Saint Bonaventure, and others that all in heaven and on earth, even God himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin, they mean that the authority which God was pleased to give her is so great that she seems to have the same power as God. Her prayers and requests are so powerful with him that he accepts them as commands in the sense that he never resists his dear mother’s prayer because it is always humble and conformed to his will....St. Louis de Montfort, in Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #27, 246. http://www.ewtn.com/library/Montfort/TRUEDEVO.HTM

In conclusion: we may say that, in virtue of the divine salvific counsels ordaining a most perfect redemption, our Lady as Coredemptrix is included with Christ, the One Mediator.” — Rev. Fr. Peter Damian M. Fehlner, F.F.I., professor of Catholic Theology, in Immaculata Mediatrix Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption.
http://www.voxpopuli.org/book_2_10.php

Pope Pius XII explains in an address on the Queenship of Mary, ‘when the glorious Virgin Mary entered triumphantly into heaven and was elevated above the choirs of angels to the throne of the Most Holy Trinity.’ And then Christ ‘placed a triple crown of glory on her head, presented her to the heavenly court, seated her at his right hand and pronounced her Queen of the Universe.’... Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, Formation Letter, “Mary - ‘Regina Angelorum’”, April, 2000.
http://www.opusangelorum.org/Formation/Maryregina.html

As Medievalist author Andrew Taylor explains,

Mary's role as its intercessor was spelled out in the 12th century by theologians, such as Eadmer, (c. 1124) and St. Peter Damian, and was popularized in collections of her miracles. Mary placates the judge. According to Eadmer (A.D. 1060–1124), an English monk and student of Anselm, “sometimes salvation is quicker if we remember Mary's name then if we invoked the name of the Lord Jesus...[who] does not at once, answer anyone who invokes him, but only does so after just judgment. But if the name of his mother Mary is invoked, her merits intercede so that he is answered even if the merits of him who invoked her do not deserve it.”

In the world says Anselm, through her “the elements are renewed, the netherworld is healed, the demons are trodden underfoot, men are saved and angels are restored.” in the margins out, Smithfield decretals, began again, for over a hundred folios, Mary asserts her power over devils-and sometimes also over Jews. Andrew Taylor, “Textual situation, Three medieval manuscripts and their readers,” University of Pennsylvania press; page 173

The late Walter Martin noted,

I have in my library hundreds of pamphlets, manuscripts and books all published with the official imprimatur of the Roman Catholic Church. In every one of them, language which is applied to God alone in Scripture is applied to the Virgin Mary. She is worshipped: she is given almost every title of Christ. Thus, they are subtly but systematically raising her to a place of equality with our Lord.... Worship, prayers, shrines, and even altars in churches have been consecrated to her around the earth. The healing grottoes are seldom dedicated to Jesus of Nazareth, but to "Our Lady of Lourdes," "Our Lady St. Anne de Beaupre," "Our Lady of Fatima," etc. The statues which are seen in Roman Catholic homes are invariably of Mary. The largest niches in Roman Catholic churches are occupied by images of Mary. The preponderance of prayers are to Mary, and the "Hail, Mary" is repeated in the Rosary continually. (Walter Martin, The Roman Catholic Church in History (Livingston, NJ: Christian Research Institute, Inc., 1960), p.54)