Re: ASA Statement of faith

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Sat Jun 21 2003 - 22:37:09 EDT

  • Next message: Peter Ruest: "Re: ASA Statement of faith"

    Regarding this notion of prayers to/from Mary and the saints in the catholic
    tradition, in _The Catechism of the Catholic Church_ there is an attempt to
    set the notion of "Maria mediatrix" within the context of Christ's unique
    mediation. Quoting from the Vatican II document "Lumen gentium," the
    Catechism states (paragraph 970): "Mary's function as mother of men in no
    way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows
    its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men...flows forth
    from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation,
    depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it." "No creature
    could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just
    as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers
    and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different
    ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does
    not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a
    sharing in this one source" ("Lumen gentium," 60, 62).

    If what is being mediated is grace, then I must say that I believe, because
    I have seen it and experienced it, that we human beings may become means
    through which the grace of Christ is showered upon others; that Christ may
    work through us in that way that the mystery of God's actions and our human
    words and actions cooperate in the work of grace, not unlike that described
    in the final clause of the last sentence quoted above. This is aside from
    the issue of whether "the communion of saints" is to be understood to
    include those who may stand before the Throne of Grace and participate, in
    some way hidden in mystery, in the common prayer and praise of the "Body of

    In my Anglican tradition, the collects for the feast days of saints are
    careful in their language: they praise and thank God for their lives and
    examples but do not invoke their aid. Yet there is in the catholic
    tradition of Anglicanism the notion that those of us in the fellowship of
    believers yet alive may be "aided by their prayers" as one general
    thanksgiving for the saints in the BCP (p. 504) puts it. It is another
    example of that Anglican ambiguity that drives some Christians to
    distraction, but pleases others, like myself.

    Bob Schneider

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "George Murphy" <>
    To: <>
    Cc: <>
    Sent: Saturday, June 21, 2003 8:17 AM
    Subject: Re: ASA Statement of faith

    > Peter Ruest wrote:
    > >
    > > George Murphy wrote:
    > > > Peter Ruest wrote:
    > > > > a) How does "one _and only_ Mediator" go beyond what I Tim.2:5 says?
    > > > > b) How does it go beyond biblical teaching in general?
    > > >
    > > > If the passage in the old Statement of Faith is understood as
    a reference to I
    > > > Tim.2:5, the addition of "and only" is interpretive. While this verse
    clearly speaks of
    > > > a unique mediatorial role for Christ, it cannot be understood to mean
    that there can be
    > > > no other mediator in any sense - specifically, in the sense of one
    human being praying
    > > > to God on behalf of others...
    > >
    > > The "and only" clearly is an addition to the Greek text. But I consider
    > > it a quite legitimate interpretation, faithfully reflecting Paul's (and
    > > God's) intention. I never understood it to exclude humans praying (to
    > > God!) on behalf of others (an interpretation that looks odd to me), but
    > > to exclude any creature from being elevated to a mediatorial position
    > > like Christ's (such as "Maria mediatrix"...).
    > Certainly the idea of Mary as co-mediatrix is wrong even if carefully
    > formulated, even more so in much popular piety. (I recently heard a
    prominent lay Roman
    > Catholic in my area give a rationale for praying to the Blessed Virgin as,
    "If you get
    > in trouble with Dad, the best thing to do is go talk to Mom.") But simply
    the idea of
    > asking a departed saint to intercede with God for one, as I might ask you
    to pray for
    > me, doesn't _in itself_ introduce the problem of idolatry. One difficulty
    with the
    > practice is that it assumes that those who have died are able to hear such
    prayer. We
    > simply don't know that & there are serious reasons to doubt it, &
    "whatever is not of
    > faith is sin."
    > > > ... My point here was not to argue for the invocation of departed
    saints, but to
    > > > note that the previous statement had language which seemed to
    exclude - unfortunately in
    > > > my view - some Christians. & if one's intention is in fact to make a
    > > > protestant statement, some more fundamental issue ought to be the
    > > > This & related issues were discussed extensively in the 8th
    round of US
    > > > Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue. Papers can be found in H. George
    Anderson et al.
    > > > (eds.), _The One Mediator, the Saints, and Mary_ (Augsburg, 1992).
    > >
    > > Would you care to give me some thoughts of your own re. my second
    > > question? I don't care about "distinctively protestant", but about
    > > "biblical".
    > Prayer is - or should be - an expression of trust that the one to whom
    > are directed wants us to pray and wants to help those who pray. There are
    > invitations & commands in scripture to pray to God & none to pray for
    departed saints.
    > & petitionary prayer to departed saints, and even living people who are
    thought to be
    > especially holy," almost inevitably takes on a quality different from that
    of asking a
    > friend to pray for oneself because in the former case the person to whom
    the petition is
    > addressed is thought to be closer (& maybe more accessible) to God.
    > So I believe that the Reformers were right in rejecting the invocation of
    > (departed) saints. Any positive features that this may have - e.g.,
    > encouraging awareness of the unity of believers on earth & in heaven - is
    far outweighed
    > by the fact that it encourages people to put their trust in the wrong
    > But I would return to my original point: I don't think it's wise to
    > Roman Catholics from ASA membership because of this issue, even though I
    > they're wrong. There are theological differences among "protestants" that
    are more
    > serious than that (e.g., concerning the sacraments) & there are no
    attempts to makes
    > distinctions on these grounds. Again, ASA is not a church.
    > Shalom,
    > George
    > George L. Murphy

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