Why do born again Christians not believe in saints and images of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
We will consider your question about the saints first and then the issue of images of Mary.
Born again Christians do believe that there are saints. In fact, everyone who has ever believed and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior be a saint according to the apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit who wrote through Paul. The book of Ephesians is a great example of this truth. Here is the first verse of the book,
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus . . . (NASB) Eph. 1:1
Notice the word “saints.” It included all of the born again Christians in the church at Ephesus.The Old Testament believers were called saints as well in Matthew 27:52. The term saints is used throughout the scriptures to refer to those who believe and accept Jesus Christ (Ps. 16:3; Ps. 34:9; Acts 9:13, 32, 41; Acts 26:10; Rom. 12:13; Rom. 15:25-26; Col. 1:26). What is the point? Born again Christians do believe in saints but they do not believe in “saints” in the same way that Roman Catholics do.
The apostle Paul has told us only Jesus Christ can and will intercede between God and men.
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. (NASB) 1 Tim. 2:5-8
A mediator is one who comes between two people and helps with communication. A mediator’s primary role is to bring people or groups together. If the individuals are in conflict, the mediator usually tries to bring peace. Jesus Christ is the mediator who brings peace between God and men and women.
The Bible tells us that we can pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9-15) and Jesus Christ (Acts 7:59-60). But we are never told that we can or should pray to anyone else, including the special group of people who are labeled as “saints” by the Roman Catholic church. Nor does the Bible tell us to pray to Mary. Neither the saints nor Mary can intercede for us. Only Jesus Christ. Therefore, praying to them is pointless, since Jesus is the only mediator.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that individuals such as St. John, St. Blasé, St. Lucy, St. Francis, and others will intercede for us with God the Father. Supposedly, St. John is very helpful for persons with heart problems. St. Blasé is especially helpful with throat ailments. St. Monica is more effective in helping mothers. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that some saints are more effective than others in helping in certain areas. Again, it is important to remember that the Bible rejects this practice when it says that there is only one mediator between God and men – Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Savior, Lord, King, Prophet, Priest, and Mediator – and God (Luke 2:11; John 18:37; Matthew 21:11; Heb. 3:1; 1 Tim. 2:5-8).
Images of Mary
In Exodus 20:4-5 God warns us not to make any graven image.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me . . . (NASB) Ex. 20:4-5
This commandment prohibits us from making images for religious worship. Later in Deuteronomy and then in the gospels by Jesus Christ we are warned to worship God and only God. We are also prohibited from worshipping anyone but God Himself.
You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. (NASB) Deut. 6:13
Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'” (NASB) Luke 4:8
The following quote reveals that the Roman Catholic Church understands that Exodus 20:4-5 prohibits the making of images and yet has chosen to ignore the Bible by citing custom and tradition.
They do not forbid images of Christ and the saints. But to make and honor the images of Christ our Lord, of His holy and virginal Mother, and of the Saints, all of whom were clothed with human nature and appeared in human form, is not only not forbidden by this Commandment, but has always been deemed a holy practice and a most sure indication of gratitude. This position is confirmed by the monuments of the Apostolic age, the General Councils of the Church, and the writings of so many among the Fathers, eminent alike for sanctity and learning, all of whom are of one accord upon the subject.
This is unfortunate because one can use such logic and means to invalidate any statement in the Bible. It occurs all the time in books and on the internet. But even the apostle Peter (later known as St. Peter by the Roman Catholic church0 prohibited a man from worshipping him in Acts 10,
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. Acts 10:26 But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” (NASB) Acts 10:25
To pray to images of the saints and Mary is to deflect worship away from God the Father and to engage in idolatry (Isaiah 44:17; Isaiah 45:20). Isaiah 44:17 and Isaiah 45:20 describe people who make images and then pray to them. Such conduct displeases God.
If only God the Father and Jesus Christ can answer our prayers, why pray to saints or Mary? Why make religious images? I would encourage you to read the book titled, “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McGCarthy for more information. It will provide some excellent information and help answer questions.
1. John A. McHugh, O.P., and Charles J. Callan. O.P., translators, The Roman Catechism: The Catechism of the Council of Trent (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1982), pp. 372-376..
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