Understanding Roman Catholicism
Praying For The Dead
Can the living help the dead by praying for them? According to Catholic doctrine, they can:
"Communion with the dead. In full consciousness of this communication of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and because it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins she offers her suffrages for them. Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective." Pg. 250, #958
Three statements here contradict the Bible. Let's look at each:
1. "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead."
According to God's Word, it is neither holy nor wholesome to pray for the dead. Christians are instructed to pray for the living, but not one example exists of true Christians praying for the dead. This is another tradition of men.
2. Praying for the dead can help loose them from their sins.
Here is a tradition built upon a tradition. The Scriptures never suggest that this statement is true. As we have already learned, one must be loosed from their sins before death.
3. Our prayers make their intercession for us effective.
Like building blocks, they keep piling, tradition on top of tradition, all without any scriptural foundation. Now, we have reached a peak, where our prayers are supposedly capable of:
"...making their intercession for us effective."
The obvious question is: Why do we need others interceding for us? Isn't it enough to have God the Son interceding for us? Does the Creator of the Universe need the help of mortal men and women to persuade the Father on our behalf?
What a degrading attitude towards Jesus Christ. The Catholic position insults the Lord by portraying Him as an incapable, powerless bystander who needs the help of anyone He can grab to persuade the Father. This is not the picture of Jesus presented in the Bible. Jesus declared of Himself:
"...All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18
Here's another Biblical portrait of Jesus Christ:
"Which he (God) wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church," Ephesians 1:20-22
How different this is from the Catholic picture of Jesus, which reduces the Lord to a spiritual weakling devoid of power and authority. Dear Catholic friend, Jesus Christ does not need help from anyone! He is well able to do the job:
"Wherefore he (Jesus) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25
Before you pray for another deceased loved one, please understand that these are all man-made rules. God never asked you to pray for the dead, nor did He promised it would do any good.
As a young Catholic, I always assumed that all these rules were somehow coming from God. But they' re not! Read the Bible and see for yourself. The Catechism teaches traditions of men, not commands of God.
The Same Pattern
Surely, you have noticed that Jesus has taken yet another serious demotion. From the One and only Divine Intercessor at the Father's right hand, Jesus is hurled down into the crowd of dead humans and is relegated to being one of many intercessors. Why does the Catholic religion keep doing this to the Lord Jesus Christ?
Once again, you are faced with several important decisions:
- Will you continue praying for the dead, knowing that it is a tradition of men and not a command of God?
- Will you cling to a doctrine which degrades the Lord Jesus Christ so that church tradition can be exalted?
- Will you knowingly reject the Word of God to follow man' s traditions?
These are decisions you must make. As you ponder these things, remember the words of Jesus:
"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:9
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Understanding Roman Catholicism © 1995 by Rick Jones