Saints are essential to the Church and society because they set good examples for others to emulate. Most Churches, Protestant and Catholic, are named after saints to honor them for their commitment to their relationship with God. Despite the two denominations having differing views about who qualifies as a saint, it is not uncommon to find Protestant and Catholic Churches named St. Paul or St. Peter, but do Protestants believe in saints?
Protestants believe every committed Christian is a saint, alive or demised. Protestantism is opposed to the belief that the term saints only applies to canonized and codified persons, like in Catholicism.
What do Protestants think about saints? Do Protestants define the term ‘saints’? What do Protestants believe is the role of saints? Read on to learn more!
What do Protestants think about saints?
Protestants believe a saint is anyone committed to their relationship with God or any born-again Christian. Protestants honor living and late staunch believers whom they consider saints. They do so by reading their biographies and writings, receiving inspiration from their faithfulness and courage in God, and learning from their stories.
However, Protestantism does not affirm the veneration of saints like in Catholicism for several reasons. The first is that Protestants are of the point that there is nowhere in the Bible that the practice of veneration of saints is mentioned.
|Are they holy and sanctified believers?||Yes||Yes|
|Have some believers lived exceptional and holy lives?||Yes||Yes|
|Should such persons be consecrated or canonized?||No||Yes|
|Should Christians pray through or to such believers?||No||Yes|
|Is praying through canonized persons a disregard for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross?||Yes||No|
|Is trying to communicate with the deceased paganism?||Some say no, some say yes.||No in the way the Church practices it.|
|Should sculptures of saints be used in worship?||No||They can be|
Protestants believe that the origin of the doctrine of sainthood in Catholicism does not reflect the Bible’s teaching. According to Christian historians, veneration of saints in Catholicism originates from the early church practice of worshipping God at or near the gravesites of martyred believers but is not a practice drawn from the Bible.
It is out of this practice that believers in the early Church picked up worshipping God at the resting site of any believers honored for their faithfulness and commitment to their dedication to God.
What stands out in the next stage of the development of the doctrine of sainthood is the early Church’s use of relics and images in church services and meetings, which brought together honoring sanctified believers and worshipping God. Most Protestants believe it is wrong to use any relics and images during worship because it is against the 2nd commandment about making and using graven images.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth,” Exodus 20:3-4.
Protestant theology is firmly against using images and relics of any kind in the Church; this includes corpses, possessions, or body parts of sanctified believers. However, some denominations believe that the relics harbor blessings and grace that filled consecrated believers during their time on earth.
Owning or touching this possession or caressing it during worship and prayer is thought to conjure whatever spiritual force the item holds. The spiritual energy will then be transferred to the individual soliciting blessing and favor from the object. Protestantism teaches that using relics akin to idolatry, as the Holy Scriptures describe in 1 John 5:21 and 1 Cor. 10:14.
Do Protestants define the term ‘saints’?
Protestants firmly believe that the term saint in the Bible refers to all believers, not just those canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as worthy of veneration. Protestants point out that when the term saint is used in the Bible, it describes staunch believers who are still alive. Examples are;
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus,” Revelation 14:12.
“Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you,” Philippians 4:21.
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” Ephesians 4:12.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:” Ephesians 1:1.
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” 1 Corinthians 1:2.
“Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness,” Psalms 30:4.
“To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Roman 1:7.
The word translated into the term saints in the New Testament is hegiasmenois. This term refers to individuals who have been sanctified because of their commitment to their relationship with God. It is used in Acts 26:18 and Acts 20:32, which refer to those who are set apart or sanctified.
Protestants are of the point that the word “saints” is used in the Holy Scriptures to refer to all believers, not just people who have been set apart from and consecrated. They also believe only God, through Christ, can make people saints. Therefore, according to Protestants, the Church cannot name someone a saint.
What do Protestants believe is the role of saints?
Protestants believe that saints have a unique role in society. However, to understand their role, knowing who qualifies as a saint in Protestantism is crucial. Protestants believe that all believers committed to their relationship with God are saints.
Like in Catholicism, in Protestantism, saints act as model Christians. A model Christian honors the Church’s beliefs, values, and practices, receiving the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Holy Communion. They are also good to others; they share their little with those who do not have and seek forgiveness from people they wrong or offended.
Other members of the society emulate the good deeds and faithfulness of the saints in their relationship with God. As a result, society becomes a better place as the majority focus on doing good. However, unlike Catholics, Protestants do not believe in the veneration of saints. Catholics believe that saints act as mediators between God and the people; therefore, they pray through them. Protestants do not affirm veneration of saints. They believe that through His death on the cross, Jesus Christ redeemed the human race and gave them direct access to God. Therefore, in Protestantism, praying through saints is seen as disregarding Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. In Protestantism, saints are instead given the unique role of praying for the Church.
boards. ie. (n.d.). Do Protestants believe in saints? Retrieved December 30, 2022
kingjamesbibleonline.org. (n.d.). King James Bible online. Retrieved December 30, 2022
northminsterpdx.org. (2022). Can Protestants pray to saints? Retrieved December 30, 2022
thewitness.org. (2022). Do Christians believe in saints? (2022). Retrieved December 30, 2022
voice.dts.edu. (2020). 7 key differences between Protestant and Catholic doctrine. Retrieved December 30, 2022
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