September 21, 2020

Open Mic At The iMonk Cafe: Soli Deo Gloria?

It appears to me that the most misunderstood of the solas is “sola deo Gloria.” I’m especially interested in the Catholic take that God “shares” his glory with the saints.

Do reformation Christians really believe that “glory” belongs to God alone? Or do we, like our Catholic friends, believe that God shares his glory with those who are “glorified?” What is the relationship between the “sola” glory of God and a “glorious” anything else? (Like the universe, for example?)

Question: What does it mean to say “Glory to God alone?” And how do we practice it?


  1. Dennis–that’s my understanding too. Through baptism/grace we become the adopted children of God–we are transformed. I think this connects with the different positions of Catholics and Protestants on our nature after baptism: Luther said that are like dung covered by snow (we still are dung though; the Catholic position states that we truly become a child of God and that baptism and on-going grace bring about greater and greater glorification. It is God’s work not our own though.

  2. Sorry for the quotation–but at least it isn’t from canon law.

    Christ is alive in Christians. Our faith teaches us that man, in the state of grace, is divinized-filled with God. We are men and women, not angels. We are flesh and blood, people with sentiments and passions, with sorrows and joys. And this divinization affects everything human; it is a sort of foretaste of the final resurrection. “Christ has risen from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also comes resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made to live” (1 Cor 15:20-22).

    Christ’s life is our life, just as he promised his Apostles at the last supper: “If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him”( Jn 14:23). That is why a Christian should live as Christ lived, making the affections of Christ his own, so that he can exclaim with St Paul: “It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20; Non vivo ego, vivit vero in me Christus).”

    (Blessed Josemaria Escriva, Christ is Passing By nn. 102-103)

  3. I’ll take Luther on that one guys 🙂 (Though I think that was an illustration about justification by Christ’s righteousness, not a reductionist statement that human beings are garbage.)

  4. My understanding of it is this: glory = virtue = grace = mercy = love = faith, etc. It is all from God — it all is God. None of it is ever separate from God or His Christ.

    But we are one in Him as He is in us as we all are together one in the Father. Because part of the revelation of the Son of God in the Catholic experiential tradition is that some of the faithful that have passed on have some kind of active participation in the Communion of the Saints can in no way be used to intimate that God’s glory is being shared beyond what Scripture teaches within Catholic dogma. One just need look at the writings of these Holy Ones to see that none of them would have it otherwise.

    They would not be considered “Saints” if they would have it so.

  5. Is actually becoming like God, by and through the Grace of God, seen as something we can eventually brag about?? I mean, the concept of a human being having been created “like God” in reality – having lost it – then regained it because of God’s mercy and Grace – is that somehow seen as humans would covet like Simon Magus coveted the power flowing through the Apostles? I honestly don’t get the aversion to actual transformation into the Image of Christ. If someone, in this scenario, would actually become renewed inside and out, they would then BE like Christ – their desires would be humble and grateful and full of Love. They wouldn’t be patting themselves on the back, saying, “look at ME, at what I have done, at how great I am” – never. So yeah, I don’t get it.

  6. Well you’ll love this Alan. I think in actual cases, your team does come out with more humility, and my team brags about their piety until I want to puke.

    But I still can’t put it together, because the idea of “becoming like God” in myself simply fits nothing about my life. Occasionally I get a couple of things right, but it’s a miracle, and generally motivated by fear, guilt or pride in their somewhere. My righteousness is poisoned at the well and I can’t look at it without despair.

    Luther had to be talking about somebody 🙂 I’m pretty sure it was me.

  7. To use a math analogy, are some of the Reformers saying that glory is a zero-sum situation? That is if anyone else other than God has any glory does that diminish God’s glory? Is there a fixed amount of glory so that shared glory means diminished glory to the One who shares?

    I rather like the Reformers, since the Orthodox have many of the same critiques of some of the Roman Catholic doctrines as the Protestants. So, my question is not a slam on the Reformers. But, does sola dei gloria mean that no one else may have any glory but God? I know that people have talked about reflected glory. But, it still seems to me that some of the basic argumentation is that if anyone but God has some glory then God’s glory is diminished.

  8. Fr. E,

    A subtle distinction, but yes. In salvation particularly- because that’s what the solas are about- the ultimate and all sufficient glory is God’s alone, and it’s perception anywhere else, including in glorified persons, creation, etc is derived FROM God.

    I believe the scripture teaches there is creaturely glory, but in salvation, it is SDG.

  9. Imonk’s last post (10:49 PM) nails it. All this talk of glory here and glory there, and whose glory, and is it reflected glory etc. etc., misses the point. SDG in the Reformation refers to God’s work in salvation and is an affirmation of divine monergism in the salvation God has wrought for His creation.(Sorry, Father Ernesto)

  10. Well, I’m pretty pitiful myself, but that’s neither here nor there. Process is huge in this thing. I am becoming – not I already am.

    It’s seriously, analogously, like I had a son, Conor, who somehow screwed up and got his DNA degraded in some way – lost his normal human brain function, reasoning and decision-making abilities – just became a sub-human thing-boy. This would tear me up. I would be sad and would do all I could to heal Conor – to bring him back to his original form. OK, I found the way – I have the vaccine, the healing for his DNA – but there’s a bit of a boy still there. I can sort of give him the vaccine, but there is a cooperation with it’s effects that he has to say yes to for it to work completely.

    I could just say that I love Con the way he is, in all his screwed up, ugly, weirdo, twisted sub-human self – and I would love him. But what do I want for my son? I want him to be the son I originally fathered, my fully human son again, with all his original human abilities restored.

    This is how I see salvation – what it is in it’s essence – God giving us the vaccine and then following up by continuing to give us what is required to fully and completely restore us to our original Human form.

    A couple of things from your response: One thing – when you said, “‘becoming like God’ in myself” is something I would never say in relation to what I’m talking about. Another thing you said about when you do anything right – “it’s a miracle” you said. Exactly, I say. That’s exactly it – it IS a miracle – one which has both instantaneous as well as long-acting components.

    Anyway, just hashin’ it out. Peace.

  11. I banning myself from this discussion —

    Splitting hairs gives me a headache …. 🙂

  12. Memphis Aggie says


    I’ve rethought this question and I think IOU a better answer and that I made two errors. First it is incumbent on Catholics to explain this problem and second it is a more serious than the language at first glance might indicate and in fact this division is probably much wider than it was during the Reformation.
    First an observation that if you hear a criticism over and over from multiple sources it probably has some basis in fact even if you know it to be exaggerated or a half truth. So when Protestants criticize Catholics saying you worship Mary it’s our job to examine the critique and explain it. Let’s be honest, we don’t worship her but our veneration does indeed look a lot like worship. If you came to my house and saw my statue of Mary and the garden dedicated to her and compared it to say the worship of Gonesh by Hindus (I had a friend from Madras who was devoted to him) it really wouldn’t look very different. Protestants who say “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then …” are really being reasonable. We owe an explanation
    that we understand Mary is human and her glory is gift of God and that her actions are always subordinate and in harmony with God etc. So, only because of an interior invisible but crucial understanding of the lesser created state of Mary, is veneration clearly distinguished from worship.
    We do, however, in fact believe that God does delegate graces and blessings to Mary and that she is empowered to bestow them on us. We believe of course that her will is so united with her Son’s and in full obedience to God the Father that the blessing coming from her hand is also a gift of God that He permits and approves. We believe that Jesus has honored Mary in this way as revealed by various Saints – not through the Bible. I’ll not pretend that I think these honors are described by the Bible, there are some Marian honor passages but nothing so clear cut on this point (obvious point of division there). Although I don’t think it’s written out dogmatically, and must not be confessed to be Catholic in so many words, this belief still has real visible influences on the Church. For example the dogma of the Immaculate Conception arises from the visions of some of these same Saints.
    I wear a Miraculous Medal of Saint Catherine Labouré with an icon of Mary bearing rings on both hands from which are depicted beams of colored light which are understood to be blessings she bestows through the power granted to her from God. Interestingly not all of the rings have active beams and this is because Mary is said to have graces no one asks for. In fact Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, author of the Story of a Soul and Doctor of the Church (no higher Saintly title exists) famously prayed for the these unclaimed graces herself. Also of note this same medal has the inscription certain to cause any real Protestant problems: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Yep this is a big division
    and all of this additional Miraculous Medal discussion is post-Reformation.

    Frankly however I think the sola itself is merely an assertion in reaction to practice, a straight out rejection and that neither view can be proved to the other sides satisfaction. It’s an article of Catholic faith, although not explicitly part of the creed, about the workings of Heaven that God allows servants to bestow graces in His name. It’s the basis of intercessory prayer.

  13. Jumping in cold:

    Wouldn’t a corollary of Luther’s famous “God’s righteousness is to make others righteous” be “God’s glory is to make others glorious”?

    This wouldn’t mean we shouldn’t ascribe glory to God alone, for two reasons. First, just as Christ ascribed glory to the Father, rather than claiming it for Himself, so too we should ascribe glory to Christ rather than claiming it for ourselves. But second, we should always claim that our glory, though glory indeed, comes because God created, and then came into creation. So a statement like “Mary is so great that she turns God’s wrath into mercy” would (if meant without the qualification that her mercy comes from God) be failing to ascribe glory to God, since it seems to put Mary in opposition to God. But a statement like “God so fully consecrated the Theotokos by sending His Spirit on her, that she now is a greater Moses, and turns aside God’s wrath against his people” would, however false it may be, would not be a failure to ascribe all glory to God.

  14. Memphis,

    Dude,despite your best effort to explain the veneration of Mary, your very explanation confirms in my mind the correctness of the Protestant view of the Catholic doctrine concerning Mary. We view the distinction between “veneration” and worship as a false distinction. As I put it to a Cathloic friend badgering me to “come home to Rome”, “could you sell that distinction to remote tribes in the Amazon or Africa being evangelized in Catholic missions?” The obvious answer is no.

  15. Michael,

    I know I posted just a second ago, but here’s my understanding of Protestant reasoning for something much like the Catholic doctrine. (I’m Protestant.)

    God’s Word is effective. What He says happens. When he said “Let there be light” there was light. He spake the word, and there came all manner of flies and lice in all their quarters. He said “Let my people go.” And His people go.

    And if He says “Glorify the Theotokos” the Theotokos is glorified. Which means that the Protestant difference with the Catholic is not whether a creature can receive the honor the Theotokos does, but whether God has prophesied to the Wind “Glorify the Theotokos so much that the prayer ‘Most Holy Theotokos save us’ is not idolatrous.”

    What cannot be, is that the Theotokos is so glorified without the Word of command. So, granted for the sake of argument that God has prophesied to the Wind “fill the Theotokos with all the fullness of your glory”, idolatry would not be in the degree of honor due to the Theotokos–for she is worthy of all honor–but to do so in a way that fails to acknowledge that she is all glorious because of the Word of God which sent the Spirit upon her–or worse asserts the contrary.

    And if God has so elevated her, it would not be a failure to ascribe all glory to God to so glorify her, because the glorification would implicitly acknowledge that such great glory for her is the work of God, and hence would be praise of God by praising his work.

    (This distinction between kinds of worship is perhaps behind some of the Orthodox objections to the portrayal of the Theotokos without her Son.)

    The question then is to what degree God has glorified the Theotokos. (For it seems to me that the fact that God glorifies creatures is indisputable. “Glorious things of thee are spoken Zion city of our God…” Similarly, I do honestly think that the “God’s glory is to glorify” is a proper corollary to Luther’s “God’s righteousness is to make righteous.” Or at least that a denial of the first is a denial of the second, for righteousness is glorious. But whatever glory is in a creature, it must not be treated as Glory independent of God, but as glory from God.)

  16. Patrick,

    I’ll be the first to admit that there are some Catholics out there who take the veneration of Mary to the extreme point of potentially being worship and that’s wrong.

    The Catholic teaching isn’t so. We are called to ask Mary to pray for us. We’re asking her to intercede to Jesus for us.

    Elizabeth acknowledges that she’s blessed (Luke 1:42) and Mary herself acknowledges that all ages will call her blessed (Luke 1:48).

    The Catholics by praying the Hail Mary are upholding Scripture. Luke 1:48 has no meaning without veneration.

    Regardless, to stay on topic, the Hail Mary doesn’t take away from God’s glory. It enhances it all the more. It’s admiring God’s work.

  17. Memphis Aggie wrote: “We do, however, in fact believe that God does delegate graces and blessings to Mary and that she is empowered to bestow them on us.”

    Some saints have written things like this, but I don’t think it’s doctine. Some people believe it, but it’s an allowed belief not a required belief. My impression has been it’s cautiously okay to think of Mary as Mediatrix of Graces, but be careful where you take it.

  18. Some quotes from St.Alphonsus, who I think non-Catholics should read for a good understanding of Catholic thought. His writing keeps a good balance of popular piety and sophisticated theology.

    It is a deceit of the devil, which makes us think that it is a mark of pride to desire to become saints. It would be pride and presumption, if we trusted in our own works or intentions; but if we hope for all from God, he will give us that strength which we have not.

    And also:

    As he himself has loved us so abundantly, he desires to reign alone in our hearts, and to have no companions there, who may rob him of a portion of that love which he desires to have wholly to himself; and, therefore, it displeases him to see us attached to any affection which is not for him.

    Hardly statements of an idolator and yet, as was mentioned before, he is one of the most Marian saints in history.

  19. Michael, I am sorry if I seemed to be saying Protestants deny that glory comes down. I was trying to say I think the emphases are different between Catholics and the Reformation SDG.

    Maybe the Pope’s talk on St. John Damascene from today’s General Audience (courtesy of the ever-wonderful Amy Welborn) will help illustrate:

    “We see that, because of the Incarnation, matter appears as divinized, is seen as the dwelling place of God. This is a new vision of the world and material realities. God has become flesh and flesh has become truly the dwelling place of God, whose glory shines forth in the human face of Christ. Therefore the invitations of the doctor of the East are even today extremely current, considering the great dignity that matter has received in the Incarnation, able to come to be, in faith, efficient sign and sacrament of man’s encounter with God.

    …After a series of references of this type, Damascene could serenely deduce, therefore:”God, who is good and superior to all goodness, did not content himself with the contemplation of himself, but rather wanted there to be beings benefited by him who could come to be participants in his goodness: For this he created out of nothing all things, visible and invisible, including man, a visible and invisible reality. And he created him thinking of him and making him a being capable of thinking (ennoema ergon) enriched by the word (logo[i] sympleroumenon) and oriented toward the spirit (pneumati teleioumenon)” (II, 2, PG 94, col. 865A).”

  20. St. John Damascene is talking about the veneration of icons (very current to him because Islam was starting to take off and they were opposed to the use of images in worship) but it also, I think, applies to the veneration of the saints:

    “United to these underlying ideas, John Damascene also places the veneration of the relics of the saints, on the base of the conviction that holy Christians, having been made participants in the resurrection of Christ, cannot be considered simply as “the dead.” Enumerating, for example, those whose relics or images are worthy of veneration, John specifies in his third discourse in defense of images: “Before all (we venerate) those among whom God has rested, the only holy one who dwells among the saints (cf. Isaiah 57:15), such as the holy Mother of God and all the saints. These are those who, inasmuch as possible, have made themselves similar to God with their will and by the indwelling and help of God, [and] are really called gods (cf. Psalm 82:6), not by nature, but rather by contingence, as red-hot iron is called fire, not by nature, but by contingence and through participation in the fire. It is said, in fact: “You will be holy because I am holy” (Leviticus 19:2)” (III, 33, col. 1352 A).”

  21. Off-topic, but I really like the way that Bible references posted in comments turn into links 🙂

  22. JoanieD says
    For anyone interested I see you can read a chapter from the book, Mary and the Christian Life: Scriptural Reflections on the First Disciple, by Amy Welborn.

    I haven’t read the book myself, just this chapter. I keep hearing good things about Amy Welborn and check in on her blog which is on beliefnet from time to time.

  23. iMonk if all that SDG means is that the glory that we have is ultimately derived from God, then I can see why it is hard to explain the difference between Roman, Protestant, and Orthodox views on this subject, as there would really be none.

    Moreover, I have heard more than one Pentecostal/Charismatic sermon that dwells on the idea of our having glory like Moses and of growing from glory to glory. As Peterson pointed out, an obvious corollary of Luther’s statement is to say that God’s glory is to make others glorious. It is not anti-Protestant to say that redeemed human beings can express glory derived from God’s redeeming activity.

    And, if all that SDG means is that all glory for our salvation belongs to God, then there appears to be no conflict.

    However, given how the discussion has gone into a discussion of the Theotokos, I suspect that SDG means more than my above two statements.

    But, given your original question and comments, I would suggest that SDG, in and of itself, would be shared among all Christians, if it means only what I said above. In the same way, solo Christo, depending on how it is defined could be a shared sola among Christians.

    It is all in the definition, is it not?

  24. Some quotes from Isaiah: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8). “But now, this is what the Lord says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine… For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;'” (Isaiah 43:1-3). “Before me no god was formed; nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed…” (Isaiah 43:11-12) “This is what the LORD says–Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it… I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you… for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.” (Isaiah 44).

    All glory properly belongs to God, who redeems and saves. And the right theology is the one that gives God all glory.

  25. Here is another question. Does giving only God the glory make us unable to praise people, or to give any honor to them? In reading the comments again, it seems that glory is being overly tied up with the ideas of praise and honor.

    If so, I would like to point out that there are several New Testament Scriptures that speak to that.

    Jesus praises the woman from Tyre and Sidon for her faith.

    Jesus is amazed and commends the centurion for his faith, then heals his servant.

    Jesus praises St. Peter for listening correctly to the Holy Spirit and calling him the Son of God.

    Archangel Gabriel says that generations of people will call the Virgin Mary blessed and will honor her.

    St. Elizabeth gasps and honors Our Lady when she says who is she to have the mother of her Lord visit her.

    But, it appears to me that some of the posts on glory seem to almost be saying that we cannot praise or honor anyone other than God, yet the New Testament seems to show otherwise!

    Can a misapplied doctrine of SDG lead to either false humility or the inability to give sufficient praise and honor to others?

  26. “My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is his name.”

    What does Mary, theotokos, do? She turns the praise to God, where it belongs. (This is why she is great.) We can call her blessed. In fact, I am blessed, too, and certainly you, too. I should give you a list of my blessings, which really would be honoring God.

    Praising “faith” is also not praising a person, per se. Faith is trust in God and a gift of God. Faith is good, faith is commanded, faith is what God wants and sees. It can be acknowledged. But this faith is in God, who is good. Faith is just begging and waiting, it is not an accomplishment.

    My husband and I sometimes go to awards banquets and recognition dinners, because he is on the board for our local luth. college, and they are wonderful, helpful, events. These events showed me how people have led their lives and accomplished things and persevered through struggles. They are encouraging.

    This is all good, although you can see people rightly struggle with this recognition. When they get up to reply they will turn it all back to God. They were blind but he led. They barely knew what they were doing but God provided the people, the help, the direction, the word, the encouragement, the miracles they needed. He bore them through it all.

    I often recall something Luther mentions from some ancient Christian (forget who it was, you might know who). This ancient Christian had the habit of
    making a cross with his fingers under his robes, whenever he was praised or criticized to remember that his sins were covered and that the praise belongs to Christ. I think that’s a great attitude and image.

  27. Fr. Ernesto,

    Do you read Fr. Stephen’s blog? I think what he calls the “two story universe” comes into play here. We’re fine giving honor and glory to people so long as we remain on this story, and the glory isn’t Glory; but when we go into the second story and approach “God things” we can’t give honor or glory to people, only to God.


    But there’s also passages like John 17:22, and we really cannot take the Isaiah passage to mean that God does not share his glory period, but that it isn’t divided up with idols, first because Christ says he gives God’s glory to us, but also because otherwise we would have to say that God doesn’t share his glory with Christ.

  28. And also II Corinthians 3:18

  29. Those passages would say to me that the glory coming from God is still His glory and that we would be acknowledging him, just as at the awards dinner, or the Magnificat, neither of which deals directly with justification and redemption.

    If this has to do with theosis, this is too complicated for me just now. I did find an article on Luther and Theosis here:

  30. Matthew, I think you and Fr. Stephen have a point about the difference between glory and Glory. In all this, my concern has been that it is all too possible to be overly protective about God in a way that inappropriately diminishes both man and the creation.

    I say inappropriately because it was God Himself who declared all of the creation to be good. I have no problem in admitting that humans are fallen and damaged. But, more and more I appreciate the Orthodox emphasis on the idea that the image of God has not been lost, only the likeness of God.

    On this blog there has been more than one comment made on other posts on the damage some people have felt because they have felt diminished by their religious experience. That is, it is one thing to truthfully say that we can never earn our salvation, but it is another thing to fail to praise people for progress made or fail to recognize the positive changes in people’s lives.

    I have no problem in saying that God is the origin of all good things. Scripture says that. Holy Tradition says that. I have a problem with those (as was cited by one of the posters above) who are incapable of simply saying a humble thanks for praise received because if they dare to say such a thing, they might be misinterpreted as diminishing God’s Glory.

    I have no problem with Sola Dei Gloria as a theological concept. I have a problem with any application of SDG that aggressively diminishes people created in the image of God because to praise them too much is to somehow do wrong to God. More than that, an overly aggresive application of SDG effectually drifts into hyper-Calvinism. What do I mean? An overly aggressive application of SDG, by refusing to give any credit whatsoever to human free will, seems to drift into a hyper-TULIP thought pattern. It fails to recognize that in many situations God’s glory shines precisely because a human being made a correct decision. It is “both/and” not “either/or.”

  31. Brigitte,

    I think you think we Catholics disagree with you on this and I don’t think we do. I agree with what you say. All glory is God’s. As my love for my wife is actually a reflection of my love for God, any praise that I would give Mary would be God’s as well.

    We are in agreement.

    You do realize that your Isiah 42:8 line is in direct conflict with the John 17:22.

    I’m not disagreeing with you it’s just what you’re saying isn’t as fleshed out as you believe it is which I think is the point of this post.

  32. Brigitte

    I missed you post about the awards dinner etc. it went up at the same time as mine after it did.

    I think we have to be careful exactly what we say about faith and works. It is surely true that without the Holy Spirit we cannot, as Augsburg says, work the righteousness of God; and (which is to say the same thing) nothing we do can bring God down from heaven. That said, God has come down from heaven, and we really do have the Holy Spirit. Thus the Solid Declaration of Concord “the question at present is not…also not what sort of a free will he will have in spiritual things after he has been regenerated and is controlled by God’s Spirit, or when he rises from the dead. But the principal question is only and alone, what the intellect and will of the unregenerate man is able to do in his conversion and regeneration from his own powers remaining after the Fall.”

    In short, Soli Christi Gloria does not assert that God does not give true glory to us after our baptism, nor indeed that after regeneration our wills do not cooperate with grace (I seem to remember reading that the regenerate will cooperates with grace somewhere in the Book of Concord, but I can’t find it.)

    Also, we have to be careful that we don’t say that just because someone receives the promise through faith, that they are not to be commended. Romans 4:13 says that Jesus [note that “seed” is singular] was justified by faith, and not works: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Moreover, we should read Romans 4:3-5, Christologically. As John makes clear, Christ did not seek to save Himself, but trusted God. Though his body was good as dead, He did not seek to save Himself, but trusted Himself, believing that God could even raise the dead.

    And as Philippians (and many other passages say) it is precisely for this that we praise and glorify Christ. He did not seek to glorify Himself, and therefore He has received all glory.

  33. Oh…and thanks for the link.

  34. We also have Luke 17:10. Jesus says: “So you also when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” (Even while God says in other places: “Well done good and faithful servant.”)

    In fact, I was at an awards banquet last Saturday. A “Christo et ecclesia award” was given to our former president of Lutheran Church Canada. He had four consecutive terms, he is involved with our missions in Nicaragua, etc. etc. What does he say: “I’ve only done what I was called to do. And when I look back not as well as I would have liked. I am so glad that I preach the forgiveness of sins.” (Pretty close to the Luke 17:10). Another award was for a little old lady, who had spent her life visiting and praying, etc. She said: “What comes to my mind as a response to this is: See how they love one another.”

    I think you can say “thank you” honestly to a compliment, encouragement, reward, in a humble way. It’s always in the way everything is done, is it not? I’ve heard rather triumphalistic “thank you’s” by someone I consider rather narcissistic. But you can also say “thank you” with looking someone in the eyes and realizing that they are being kind and brotherly (“see how they love one another”). Just to be noticed is a kindness, as by sinful nature we are blind to everything but ourselves.

    This glory in John 17:22, is like this, we are to be one in the Lord through the Spirit. And when we look at Christianity, we are always sad that we don’t agree on everything. Yet, the discourse is also stimulating and keeps us growing. But as the Una Sancta we still have this brotherly love and love of the Lord that is the reflection of His first loving us. But only through his Spirit and giving of himself are we brothers and sisters and have some glory of unity.

    As to the veneration of Mary. I’ve not been exposed to much of it and can’t comment on it too much. As a Lutheran attending Catholic convent school, I sat during the Hail Mary’s that were only said during the month of May, but said the Lord’s Prayer with the others all the rest of the year. In the Hail Mary it’s the “Pray for us now and in the hour of our death” that is like a prayer to Mary and we don’t believe that praying to any dead person has a scriptural mandate. (In Bavaria, we had many Crucifixes, but I don’t recall many statues of Mary. Usually, when I see statues of Mary around here, I’m a little embarrassed for her. They tend to be so gaudy on top of it.)

    I’ve watched Mary closely at times in the Bible, especially lately as I just also lost my only son. I like her very much. I love her faith. But I have faith, too, and without having seen. She is my sister and I have unity with her in waiting for the Son of God, her Savior and mine. That was the whole reason of “Theotokos” and of “Mother of God”: it was to say that Jesus Christ is God. That’s the point.

  35. MAJ Tony says


    I think the key thing with intercession of saints, especially Mary, is that the Saints are not dead (physically, their bodies, yes, but spiritually they are very much alive) As we know saints in heaven are certainly more righteous than the best of sinners on earth, and we also know that James 5:16b says The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. This is the basis for the intercession of saints, who ALWAYS pray for us in Jesus’ Holy Name.

    Mary and all the Saints point us to Jesus. They also help bring Jesus to us, by their example, and by their prayers. If the angelic hosts unceasingly proclaim Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, the God of Hosts likewise does the Communion of Saints, only with more authority, because men (neut) who are made in the image and likeness of God, are higher even than the host of Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim.

    If the angels can hear us, who is to say the Saints do not?

  36. I know the reasoning MAJ Tony. And we understand intercession. We still have no mandate to ask those in heaven for intercession. We can’t just make this up how we like. In heaven we have an intercessor at the right hand of God, the one who died for us, the one who says: forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.

    Meanwhile, I will gladly ask my fellow Christians here for intercession and also take their requests. On Sunday we pray for each other in the service. It makes more sense, too, because this way we have the caring fellowship and love on earth that we need along with God’s help. (Bear one another’s burdens). This praying for each other, a fellow Christian in my circle of friends and acquaintance, prompts us to love and do something.