Thursday, August 7, 2008

Prayer For the Dead

Jimmy Akin discusses prayer for the dead over at his blog.

I therefore would question whether citing Maccabees is "not enough" as proof of prayer for the dead. It may not be enough for Protestants, because this book was removed from their Old Testament precisely in order to get rid of the passage dealing with prayer for the dead, but since this passage remains in the Catholic Bible, it should be enough for Catholics.

A Catholic thus might say to an Evangelical, "This passage is in my Bible. I accept it. So it is enough for me. It may not be enough for you because you do not find it in your Bible, but you should think about why that is: The reason is that your religious forebears took this passage out of the Protestant Old Testament precisely because they didn't like what it said."

A Catholic might continue by pointing out that prayer for the dead was a practice rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition even before the time of Christ, as witnessed by the passage in 2 Maccabees, that Jews still pray for the dead today, and that the vast majority of Christians (i.e., Catholic plus Orthodox and other Eastern Christians) pray for the dead. It is only Protestants who do not.

Therefore, one could argue that if we accept that the Judeo-Christian tradition represents the line of religious belief that, in its broad outlines, is true and that God has worked with to shape, and if a particular practice is acknowledged by the great majority of this tradition, then it would seem that it should be those who do not accept the practice in question should have to argue for why it should not be accepted.

He also goes into a question that I've always had:

Thus ask the Evangelical: "What is your biblical argument that we should not pray for the dead? In particular, in view of St. Paul's emphasis on Christian liberty, where is your biblical proof that Christians should not have the liberty to pray for their departed loved ones?"

What would the reason be to not pray for the dead? People have told me that there is just no point, because everything is already decided. Maybe it is, but there is no way to know that for sure. Don't we pray for a miraculous recovery for people in circumstances where there is no hope? With God, there is always hope.

Is God going to somehow punish us for praying for souls out of Christian love and concern? I know that God is a God of mercy, and even if our prayers for the dead are of no effect, then it is still the merciful thing to do, in case they do have an effect.

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kritterc said...

Great post - I am in the process of reading 1st Maccabees right now. Thanks for all of your defense of the Catholic Church. Peace and Blessings.

Sal said...

A good one from a fellow-traveler:

Putting that question in my file...
Thanks, Kelly!

Kelly said...

That was a great blog post, sal, he really said how I feel a lot of times. I guess we all share the frustration!