Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Drunken Dream of Our Brain

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 3 of 4 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ

Chapter 20 - Prayer as exercise of faith and way we receive God's benefits
Sections 21-27 - Rejecting intercession of saints
21. Departed saints can only petition God through Christ, like us - John 14:6. Appealing to saints takes honor from Christ, whose role it is to intercede for us. They do so thinking Jesus either insufficient (not true) or too severe (He is our Elder Brother).

22. God rebuked Israel for having a god for each city - Jer 2:28; 11:13 - yet Rome teaches us to pray to a different saint, depending on the need. The Carthage Council of 397 forbade praying to saints from the altar.

23. Rome confuses the role of angels - Heb 1:14; Ps 91:11; 34:7; Eph 3:10 - with that of departed saints. They claim Jer 15:1 - "Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me..." but they did not intercede, in an ultimate sense. Ezek 14:14.

24. Prayers to departed saints would disturb their own repose from earthly cares. We commend one another on earth by praying for each other - 1 Tim 2:1-2; James 5:15-16 - but "He has left us no contact with them - Eccl 9:5-6 - and as far as we can conjecture, not even left them any with us."

25. They claim Gen 48:16, where Jacob invokes Abraham and Isaac, but he only asks God to remember His promises to his ancestors, "not thinking about any intercession but paying attention to the benefit of the covenant." See Isa 63:16-17. Now that we have Jesus, we need put forward no other name. They claim Ps 132:10 - "for David's sake" - but thus "is the covenant considered, rather than the man, and under a figure the sole intercession of Christ is declared."

26. "Some are obviously influenced by the fact that we often read of the prayers of the saints being heard. Why? Because they prayed, of course." See Ps 22:4-5; James 5:17-18. We are to pray, as they did, and we will be heard, as they were - Ps 142:7; 52:6; 64:10; 34:6; 32:6.

27. "Faith grounded upon the Word is the mother of right prayer." See Rom 10:14, 17. "What pertains to the office of intercession... is peculiar to Christ." "We have nowhere read that [the dead] have been bidden to pray for us." See James 5:16. Appealing to saints "leaves nothing for Christ to do."

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