steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

When the saints go marching in

I was wondering about this in the small hours. I know Protestants don’t generally do intercession. Also, they don’t seem to have any machinery for creating (or perhaps we should say officially recognizing) new saints, in the way the Catholic church does. No one talks of St Thomas Cranmer or St John Wesley, nor are they likely to start. So what is the general line on saints within Protestantism?

16/17th century Puritan texts often refer to all true believers as “the saints” – which is fine, and I can see where it’s coming from, but why wasn’t this interpretation retrospective? Why, for example, do we still find references to St Paul or St John, rather than to the more demotic John bar-Zebedee? Doesn’t that imply that they were somehow more saintly than other believers? Is it just a question of tradition/inertia, or is there some theological point at stake here?

I kind of miss the days when any Cornish hermit with a penchant for standing up to his neck in freezing water could be pretty certain of sainthood and a shrine, but I guess they're never coming back...
Tags: maunderings
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