An Ignorant View

Friends,

I just read that Joy Behar recently made these comments on The View:

“Now that we have all of this medication available to us, you can’t find a saint anymore,” she said on ABC’s daily chatfest.”

“That’s why Mother Teresa had issues. Let’s not forget, she didn’t really believe 100 percent like those saints who were hearing voices. She didn’t hear voices,” Behar said.

“So the church said ‘OK, she does good deeds. Let’s make her a saint.’

“In the old days it used to be you heard voices. You can’t do that anymore.”

Admittedly, I have no context for these statements, and I’m not going to bother reading a transcript. All I wish is that people who wish to make comments about Christianity would at least take the time to read the Scripture. If they did, they might find this statement by the Apostle Paul:

To the holy (saints) and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse.

&

We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints

There is no such thing in the Bible as a special class of Christians known as ‘saints.’ The word ‘saints’ means ‘holy ones.’ There are more Scriptures too, but consider what Peter said:

But just as the one who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy because I am holy.'”

We are to be holy (saints) by a conscience decision of our own will, and we are not saints because we have been ‘beatified’ by some council of the church. The Church doesn’t make the decision as to who is and is not. We either are or are not by virtue of our relationship to Christ. So the Catholic ‘contributor’ Jonathan Morris who said, in response to Behar:

Nobody is beatified or canonized because they hear voices. People are declared saints because they have first of all exemplified a heroic living of Christian virtue.”

is no more correct than Behar. ‘Sainthood’ is a declaration of the life of a Christian. It is God who calls Christians saints, not a church council. It is is the Christian who makes a decision to be a saint, not a council who makes it for them. It is the sinner who decides he/she wishes to belong to Christ and thus become a saint by virtue of that connection to Christ. In other words, the little old lady whose name is never mentioned anywhere outside her local church is just as much of a saint (‘holy one’) as the woman of Calcutta (RIP) whose name is known everywhere on the planet. The only difference is that, apparently, the woman of Calcutta has to wait until someone in a church hierarchy declares it to be so while the the lady in the local church is because God has declared it so in Scripture.

I really wish people would learn how to read the Scripture before they presume to talk about it as if they know about it. Morris is just as ignorant as Behar and he doesn’t have an excuse.

Behar, in her ignorance, does not see that there are saints all around her, perhaps even Elizabeth Hassleback sitting next to her.

Morris, in his ignorance, thinks that sainthood is the end of Christian faith, or the goal we are striving towards. Evidently, he thinks sainthood is more precious than Christ himself.

I disagree with both of them.

Soli Deo Gloria!

jerry

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  1. Should we call the Gospel writers, “Saint Matthew”, “Saint Luke,” or “Saint John”? Do they occupy a special category or are they like me and you: saints with little s’s”?

  2. Jon D.

    Jerry,

    I agree that Joy Bahar is misguided but what else is new?

    I have been looking at scripture and have found the word “saint” used in the new testament (Acts, Corinthians, Matthew) and in the King James Version only. However, I find no real definition of “saint” in scripture. I am left with the context of the passages and to me mean saints = Christians. Is there a better reference point from scripture to determine what a saint means?

    As far as the Catholic contributor Jonathan Morris’ comments, I’m not sure that he is correct either in his explaination of the Cathoic view of saints. From what I read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says: “Saint: the “holy one” who leads a life in union with God through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life.” p898 Also, “The Church, then, is “the holy People of God,” and her members are called “saints” p218

    I can’t see much of a difference in the Catholic definition of “saint” compared to what I deduced from reading scripture.

    Where I do seem to see some confusion is when the Catholic church “canonizes” a saint. I does this (right or wrong) to propose those saints as models becasue they “…practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace,..”p219

    Glory to Jesus Christ!

    Jon D.

  3. Jason,

    I am sitting here at my desk looking at my copy of The Greek New Testament, 3rd ed, ed by Aland, Black Martini, Metzger, and Wikgren. At the heading of the Gospels you reference it says, in Greek: Kata Mattaion, Kata Lukan, Kata Ioannen. Never once do the writers refer to themselves as ‘saint’ anyone. And there are no other modifiers attached to their names–even we even know who wrote these books (I accept the traditional, historical understanding). It is, perhaps, a sign of respect to call them ‘saint _______’, but it is nowhere expected or commanded.

    I don’t know where you are coming from since it is difficult to discern tone on a blog, but the short answer to your question is: 1) no we shouldn’t and 2) yes they are. If you refer to Peter or Paul or Luke or John as a ‘saint’ for writing these books, I will gladly refer to you as ‘saint Jason’ for reading them. There is no special category, this is a misunderstanding of the Greek for no apparent reason, or at least none that I can discern. In the eyes of God and according to Scripture those who belong to Christ, all who belong to Christ, are his ‘holy ones’ or ‘saints.’

    jerry

  4. Jon,

    Thanks, I don’t really have any problem with what you said. My issue is with the whole notion of canonization. It places the glory you speak in the wrong place. If someone lived such a life that is so worthy of recognition, the glory belongs to Jesus Christ, not a person. I suppose there is nothing necessarily heretical about it, but I still think it demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of the Greek term ‘hagios’ and its general use in the New Testament.

    jerry

  5. I simply do not have a problem canonizing people as saints. I have found my Christian life to be fed by the stories of their heroism for the faith and their willingness to follow God. Maybe the problem is not that they have been canonized as saints but that most of the rest of us do not live the kind of Jesus-focused lives that are worthy of canonization. I am not a Roman Catholic, but my son is named after Saint Maximilian Kolbe who died as a martyr in Auschwitz. Saint Max’s dedication to Jesus Christ is something that I hope will be lived out in my own son’s life whose name is also Maximilian Kolbe.

  6. Jason,

    And I simply have no problem with your no problem. I named my sons after ‘famous’ people too, but that does not mean that those people were any more saintly in their Christian walk than anyone else. And I still contend that the idea of canonization and use of the word ‘saint’ in this way, is simply a great misunderstanding of the Biblical use of the word ‘hagios’ (n) which means ‘set apart to or by God, consecrated; holy; morally pure, upright; God’s people, the sanctuary, most sacred.’ (The verb form isn’t much different in meaning at all.) (Why are no OT testament people called ‘saint’? ‘Saint Moses’, or ‘Saint David.’ They are just as integral to Christian faith as Peter, Paul, or John.

    Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate other points of view even if I don’t happen to agree with them. Godspeed!

    jerry

  7. Moses is referred to as a prophet. These were obviously a class of men who were set apart by God to perform special tasks. Could it be that this Old Testament idea of the “prophet” can help us understand why we refer to some believers as “Saints”? I don’t have an answer to that; just pondering the thought.

  8. Jason,

    I see your point and I am not at all opposed to using the word ‘saint’ in such a way. What I am opposed to is creating a special class of people that Scripture does not create. I don’t think Moses referred to himself as anything other than Moses. But I see your point.

    jerry

  9. matcoker

    Hi St. Jerry!

    Interesting thoughts here. Just wanted to make a quick comment about your original post.

    I’m a Protestant Christian and so naturally I agree with most of what you have said. Interestingly, I have a bunch of Catholic friends and they seem to use the word “Saint” in two senses. On the one hand they agree with the Biblical definition of Saint. So they think that everyone is a Saint in that sense. However, they also understand “Saint” in the canonization sense of the word (the sense that Protestants do not agree with).

    Now, maybe they are going against their church tradition by saying that we are all Saints, but all in all I think Catholics just use the word in both senses.

    Maybe people would benefit more from drawing this kind of “sense distinction” rather than just saying that Catholics are wrong about what it means to be a Saint. Because, on the one hand they are right and on the other hand they are not.

    Just something to consider.

  10. Matt,

    Thanks for the reply. Interestingly, I don’t think I was commenting on Catholics as much as I was commenting on the ignorant view of the host of the View. In fact, it appears that in my post I only used the word “Catholic” once and that in reference to a man who contributed to the story.

    Neither do I think I have missed the ‘sense distinction’ as if I am unaware of it. However, in this story, they were not commenting on the ‘sense distinction’ that you are referring to.

    PS–I have a lot of Catholic friends too!

    jerry




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