Two Views on Intercession

Yesterday we had a Mid-Day Dialogue of Faith at the law school on the subject of intercession.

In light of the positive response to the mid-day dialogue Mark Osler and I had on the subject of creeds last spring, we decided to hold two Dialogues this academic year. The idea is to focus on one particular area on which there is disagreement between Catholics and Protestants (or among Protestants) and engage in a dialogue that will help deepen everyone’s understanding of the views of those outside of their own faith tradition. We also hope, by these discussions, to model how people with very different views can engage in respectful and meaningful dialogue with each other.

In our discussion yesterday, Mark and I will focused on questions such as: What do Catholics understand to be the intercessory role of Mary and/or the saints? Why do they think intercession is important or valuable? Why are Protestants uncomfortable with the idea of intercession?”

Our perspectives on this issue are very different. While I don’t think the intercession of Mary or the saints is necessary, I do think there is value in seeking their assistance (just as I think there is value in asking my friends to pray for me…or in praying for them). And I don’t believe that the intercession of the saints interferes with the intimacy of my relationship with God. Mark is much more suspicious of intercession, both because he is concerned with how it impacts the primacy of our personal relationship with God and because it is not Biblically based.

We each set forth our views and responded to the others. We then opened it up for wider discussion, during which one of the things that came out was that, at least in part, our difference in views reflects the greater emphasis in Christianity of all of our being united as part of the Body of Christ.

You can access a recording of the program here or stream it from the icon below. (The podcast runs for 49:31.) Although we left the recorded running during comments from the audience, it may be hard to hear some of their questions. Hopefully our answers will be clear nonetheless.

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2 thoughts on “Two Views on Intercession

  1. As a Protestant minister of the gospel, I can say unequivocally, that the folks I have ministered to and with are NOT uncomfortable with the idea of intercession. They view intercession as “standing in the gap, praying for another.” There is a vast difference between what I just stated and requesting Mary or a “saint” to pray for some one. I agree totally with Mark’s position on how it may “confuse” the man – God connection in people’s eyes. Why introduce a third party (Mary and/or a “saint”) when we, as children of God, can go directly to the throne of grace and speak with Him? That kind of thinking can easily begin to create the situation where someone may not feel worthy to go directly, thus I need Mary of someone else to intercede for me (who are no longer here, but dead). We then need an “intercessor” for the intercessor! It complicates a process which couldn’t be simpler; God desires to hear from His children DIRECTLY, no other voice is required or necessary.

  2. The beauty of intercession is just that, “…no other voice is required or necessary.” Prayer and reflection are inseparable – the entrance of the Holy Spirit often a whispered response we beseech.

    When our hearts and minds remain open to His word, blessings are extended through more than scripture and prayer. Called to be His presence in the world is an invitation to be teacher occassionally, student continually.

    The “confessors” in our life are more precious than we may comprehend, their counsel and comfort embraced and nurtured – and through prayer and meditation the lives of those who have gone before us are often as, if not more, inspiring and influential.

    As we continue to seek His love and grace, emulating and calling upon others for counsel, guidance and intercession – increased blessings have come to many who offer, share and pray in ways more than are “required and necessary.”

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