All Saints…

Compared to many of my colleagues from Princeton, I am a somewhat amateur theologian.  I fully admit it.  Yet like so many amateurs, I tend to make a lot of theological pronouncements.

Here’s one of them.

The ecclesiastical calendar tells us that today is “All Saints’ Day.”  It is a time to remember all those who are “saints” in the eyes of the Church.  Roman Catholics and Episcopalians are often most enthused about this day.  Wikipedia even tells me that it is a holiday in some Roman Catholic countries.

As with many Catholic practices, the more Protestant one gets the less one tends to like or care about them.  This is the case, I think, with the saints.  Growing up in my Pentecostal/Evangelical world, it was not uncommon to hear any idea of saints being relegated to superstition at best and a kind of hierarchical idolatry at worst.  A common response was to claim that ALL believers are saints, implying we ought not to elevate one above the other.  This is understandable, but seems rather cold.

It is also somewhat hypocritical, since even the most devoted Protestants do tend to revere those in their midst and history who seem to be specially gifted, powerful, or spiritual.  They just don’t call them saints.  The list is long: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Billy Graham, Joyce Meyer, and Rick Warren…to name a few.

While it is true we are all equal, as they say, “at the foot of the Cross,” not everyone is equally gifted and focused in life as these heroes of the faith.  Their stories and words can serve to inspire us and goad us on to further greatness  in our own journeys of faith.

We do not “pray” to them, build statues of them (for the most part), or elaborately discuss their beatification…but we do revere them.  While they are alive we seek them out and ask them to pray for us, listen to their words, buy their books, and point to them as heroes.  With the exception of seeking their prayers, much is the same after they shuffle off this moral coil.

Long story short: we all have saints.  So rather than react against today as something negative, let us honor one of them  with our attention.

Who are your saints of the faith?

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