Neglecting the Saints
If this is your first time to visit the blog, I am a Christian. I attend almost exclusively Church of Christ congregations. We are a group that get our roots from a couple of guys who lived in the 1800s who had a hope to create a Bible Only movement that would unite all denominations once again. Instead, it just created one more. But, we have our roots in greater Protestantism. A brief and vague history.
I will say that I am a supporter of the Protestant Reformation. I agree with Martin Luther that many church practices in his time were not what Jesus would have seen his church do. I agree.
One of the sad things that came out of the Reformation, and has trickled down to today, has been the push away of ALL things Catholic and extra-biblical traditions. This would include, in my mind, the Saints.
I love the saints. Now, I do not worship them as some would suggest Catholics do. But I love their stories and I love their example. But, I spent 18 years of my life in a small town with no Catholic church, as well as four years in a religious college associated with the church of Christ, and it wasn’t until I took a small class called Church History that I learned anything about the saints. I feel that this is a shame.
The saints are excellent pillars of teaching on faith. Many of them began profound movements that are still relevant today:
Saint Antony feeling that Christians were becoming too attached and comfortable in their new empire began the first monastic community in Egypt. Christian Monastic Communities are still doing great things today in the United States and Abroad.
Saint Francis started a group of monks who similarly shook off worldly possessions in order to have nothing tying them down from ministering and preaching to anyone who had not heard the gospel. This included crossing the straights of Gibraltar to go to Morocco and minister to Muslims.
Eventually Franciscans started calling the church out on some of the things it was doing. To get back at them, the church tried to make them a little more worldly by forcing them to own land.
Saint Polycarp was an old man who had been a Christian for 86 years before being brought before a council and asked to save himself by denying Christ. He said, “86 years I have been with my Lord. How can I blaspheme him now? Bring forth what thou will.” Which is just a really cool way of saying, “Jesus has got my back. What do you have? Bring it on.” He was burned alive.
These are just three. The calendar is full of holidays for great men and women knows as saints in the Catholic and Eastern traditions.
The reason all this comes up is because of a book that I keep putting down and restarting called The Lure of The Saints by Jon M. Sweeny which is a good read about ignored saints in a Protestant world as well as how these characters can still speak to us today. I encourage all to check it out.