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FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Is the Catholic faith essentially polytheistic?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16543points) October 17th, 2010

The Oxford Dictionary defines a god as “A superhuman person who is worshipped as having power over nature and the fortunes of mankind; a deity.”

To qualify as a saint, under Catholic doctrine, a person must have at least two verified miracles to their name. If sainthood and performing of miracles is not a status applicable to all (or at least a significant proportion of) humans, then it is superhuman, and performing miracles is having power over the fortunes of mankind.

As such, are saints superhuman enough to qualify as gods? If the Catholic faith says that prayer to saints is not blaspheme, does that make them polytheistic?

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38 Answers

Deja_vu's avatar

It’s God that works through the saints (e.g. miracles). They are examples of being pure and good. Catholics don’t pray to saints, they ask the saints to pray for them, they ask for guidance. The saints were human. That’s what catholics believe. geez

fundevogel's avatar

I say yes, but I would say the same of most versions of Christianity. I don’t buy the trinity argument. 3 =/= 1 in my book.

I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that the saints are gods. I thought they were just emissaries.

Deja_vu's avatar

and it’s 3 miracles not 2.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Deja_vu In what way do Catholics talk to saints if not by prayer? Can you just chat to them without it qualifying as prayer? Thanks for the correction on the number of miracles.

@fundevogel Hermes was an emissary, but the Greeks considered him to be a god.

Deja_vu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh yes…. you’ll just ask to pray for us. Kind of like thinking of you dead aunt or something. Saints come with stories with lessons. They are admired not worshipped, and yes there is a difference between those two.

DominicX's avatar

What @Deja_vu said. Mary and the Saints are intercessors, they pray to God for you; that’s all they can do. They are not gods and they are not worshiped per se.

Deja_vu's avatar

Sure there’s statues and pictures of saints, those aren’t idols. It’s like having pictures of your family in your house, or having a picture of your parents. You don’t love the picture of your parents you love them. You have pictures of you friends as a momento. Same thing.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Deja_vu Thanks for explaining it. Likening it to my dead aunt doesn’t make it any more familiar though, since I believe (and always have) that dead people simply decompose, and are unconscious and unable to interact with humans.

Deja_vu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh It’s good question to ask.
You don’t think i’s possible that even our energy can’t continue beyond life and have a life of it’s own?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Deja_vu Absolutely not; but that is another discussion for another time.

Harold's avatar

Maybe not polytheistic, but the idea of God needing helpers etc is farcical, and certainly not biblical. Catholicism is a sad perversion of true Christian teaching, and is responsible for abhorrent misrepresentations of God such as hell, purgatory, immortality of the soul, celibacy of priesthood, and intercession of saints.

It has been so sad today to see so many of my own countrymen and women venerating a decomposed corpse, with the so-called canonisation of a dead nun, and the pope believing that he can tell God who should be a “saint”. No wonder so many intelligent people reject Christianity, if this is what they think it involves.

Deja_vu's avatar

@Harold Catholicism is a sad perversion of true Christian teaching ??? Catholicism is the origin of Christian teaching. Do some homework. Why hate on the Catholics??? really?

Harold's avatar

Ah, no it’s not. The Roman Catholic church began when some of the early Christians compromised with emporer Constantine to avoid persecution. It then became the first Roman Catholics who started to persecute those who remained true to the real version of Christianity.

I think, with all due respect, you need to do the homework. For the record, I don’t hate Catholics. I have many Catholic friends, and there are good and bad in Catholicism, as in any other belief system. I simply resent the way its perverted teachings misrepresent Christianity and God. Which teachings? The ones I mentioned above, amongst many others.

Deja_vu's avatar

@Harold Thank Constantine for popularizing Christianity. Even if it was for war propaganda in the begining. I know my history. Regardless of how it was done, he also forced non believers to believe in Christ. He brought Christianty to the masses. Granted in life he never believed in Christ, but historically on his death bed he repented. Persecution??? That’s a load. He need the Christians to win his battles. He embrassed the Christains.

meiosis's avatar

What is the Roman Catholic position on Mary? Is she worshipped and/or prayed to?

Harold's avatar

Yes, he embraced the Christians who were prepared to give up some of their beliefs in order to have peace. Those Christians, he used to win his battles. The ones who remained true to the teachings of Christ continued to suffer persecution. This pattern was continued through the dark ages and middle ages, with such abominations as the Spanish Inquisition, the crusades, persecution of the Waldenses, and burning of “heretics”. They used their power to keep the masses ignorant, and didn’t want them to have the bible in their own language as they were scared they’d find out they’d been duped when they saw what the bible really said. That is why people such as John Wycliffe were hounded for translating Scripture. The Roman church hated him so much, they dug him up and burned his bones many years after his death.

Deja_vu's avatar

@meiosis Catholics believe that Mary was also born immaculately (though not of virgin born). She was Christ mother and that’s something that’s special. In the Hail Mary it’s not a prayer to her. It’s asking to pray for us. It’s in the words

Deja_vu's avatar

@Harold What beliefs did they sacrifice??? give up??? I hate it when people judge Catholics with no real knowledge about the faith it’s self.

fundevogel's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh “Hermes was an emissary, but the Greeks considered him to be a god.”

Yeah, but he wasn’t a god because he was an emissary. He was a god because because his daddy was Zeus and his mommy was a smokin’ hot mountain goddess.

Deja_vu's avatar

@fundevogel a Demi-God, your right

fundevogel's avatar

@Deja_vu No, both of his parents were gods. He just wasn’t an A-lister.

Deja_vu's avatar

@fundevogel derrr. I’m sleepy

fundevogel's avatar

@Deja_vu It’s cool. As far as gods go he was a pretty dull one. .

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@fundevogel My point was simply that being an emissary does not preclude a being from being a god, so the miracles and prayer are more appropriate criteria.

fundevogel's avatar

@fundevogel “My point was simply that being an emissary does not preclude a being from being a god, so the miracles and prayer are more appropriate criteria.”

@FireMadeFlesh I never said it did. But gods aren’t the only supernatural things in a lot of religion. There’s demons, angels, djinns, nymphs and none of them get god status just because they can work a bit of magic. Why should saints be the exception?

I think the problem here is that there is not a consensus on what makes a god a god rather than some other sort of super dude. Until people can actually agree on what a god is we probably won’t be able to find a very satisfying answer.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@fundevogel My mistake. The way I read your original answer seemed to imply that emissaries are not quite on the same level as gods. I totally agree that we need a more waterproof definition of a god.

thekoukoureport's avatar

The roman catholic church practices idolitry on a daily basis. I’m pretty sure thats on of those pesky commandments that Moses brought down from on high. There was a poll done recently regarding this subject. They asked believers who they prayed to, and Jesus was like Fifth!
The muslims continue to follow that one for their beliefs as they have no representations of any kind but the Roman Catholics nope they missed that part in the ten commandments.

@Harold Keep up the good work! reach one teach one.

Deja_vu's avatar

Idolitry? That whats said about catholics, like stories that aren’t true. Make believe.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Deja_vu I think the idolatry reference is to statues and the commandment regarding graven images.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Like idol worship. Their are more idols in a catholic church than in a Disney giftshop. Everywhere you turn you can pray to an idol.
The sations of the cross.
The saints in the stain glass.
The Virgin mother Isis… I mean Mary.
And of course the man of the hour taking center stage…. Jesuuuuuuss of Nazareth!
and if thats not enough lets pray to our inanimate godss
The body and blood! (a wafer and a cup)

Deja_vu's avatar

People say much about Catholics and really have no clue. It’s disturbing at times. I have no problem with someone that disagree’s with catholics but there’s alot of BS out there about the Catholic faith and the beliefs and it’s weird and wrong. Catholics get treated like shit. I’m sick of it. People say all sorts of things and think it’s true and its not and I’m just fed up. CAN“T PEOPLE JUST BE HAPPY WE BELIVE IN THE SAME GOD AND GOOD THINGS AND STOP HATING! It’s not idol worship… Ignorant people have no clue about a faiths they condem. your answers come out of hate. I gave my answers about saints…. read it!!!!

Deja_vu's avatar

Catholic don’t idolize saints… it’s a misunderstanding from people outside the church. They don’t understand cause there’s alot of art in catholicism. I’m a Catholic and I don’t worship or pray to Saints and I don’t know any Catholic that does! sorry to get so upset but I’m used to Catholics getting hated on when people really have no clue, so many people dog on catholics they don’t care to really know anything about the faith, they just hate

thekoukoureport's avatar

With the destructive history of the catholic church, I hope you can see how Non-believers would cast aspersions on your fair religion. I certainly admire your passion. Take heart as you read these words Jesus said;
5:10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

5:11 “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

5:12 Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

So as you can see I am just helping you get to heaven.

POLY meaning multiple. father (1) son(2) holy spirit(3) or as its more commonly referred to as the TRINITY! or three, which would fall under Poly more so than Mono wouldn’t you think?

whitenoise's avatar

I understand the Bible itself refers to other gods as well as recognizes them. After all, God demands that no other god should be held before Him, since He is a jealous god? For that commendment to make sense, there should be other gods.

That recognition in itself, however, doesn’t make the bible polytheistic, I feel, since there is only one God that should be worshipped.

Similar reason I feel Catholicism to be monotheistic, since they worship only one God and all other things they cherish are derivates of that one God.

Harold's avatar

@Deja_vu – Really, you don’t seem to get the point that people are questioning Catholic teachings, without questioning the people who follow them. You asked what things the early Christians gave up, so here goes:
1. Marriage for the clergy
2. Belief in the unconscious state of death
3. Belief in prayer to God only
4. Belief in the bible as thesole source of inspiration
Now lets look at what they added:
1. Eternal punishment
2. Infallibility of the pope
3. Veneration of saints and images
4. Purgatory and limbo
5. The sale of indulgences
6. Murder of innocent people who dared to think differently (millions of them)
7. Transubstantiation
8. Immortality of the soul
9. Original sin

I think I’ve made my point. Please don’t think that I am insulting you, or any other Catholic. As I said, I know many Catholics who are fine people, just like I know atheists who are fine people. However, as I said before, Roman Catholicism is a perversion of Christianity, and it simply makes a joke out of it. Many people are turned off Christianity because they think we all hold to the ridiculous superstitions taught by the pope and his followers.

Paradox's avatar

No they are still considered monotheistic like other Christian denominations because they still believe in the Trinity like most of the other denominations do in which a single god takes on three different forms: The Father, The Son and Holy Spirit. Catholics have their own belief system on earning salvation and the afterlife but they still believe in a single God.

There are many, and I really mean many debatable issues here relating to the origins of the Catholic Church and time period but in my opinion nothing has been proven to me on either side of this issue. Now you have one religion/denomination condemning another as being false or a cult and this seems to never end. I don’t really feel like getting into religious arguments here but I was both a Catholic and Protestant myself at one time before disassociating myself with all religions for good, now I just believe in God.

incendiary_dan's avatar

It’s borderline. Technically the praying to saints is a form of ancestor-worship, just worshipping culture-heroes rather than personal ancestors. But as others have said, they’re just considered intermediaries.

problemlikemaria's avatar

Ok, I’ll try to explain this as best I can.
Firstly and most importantly Catholics are not polytheistic. We worship one God, the same as any other Christian denomination. As far as the trinity goes, still one God. I’ve heard it likened to a shamrock. Three leaves, still one shamrock. Three persons, still one God.
As far as saints go, the respect Catholics give to them is called dulia, as term which means to recognize, or honor them. This different from latria, the worship given to God alone. Catholics ask saints to intercede for them. They don’t pray to them as having power of their own.
In Catholic theology, a saint is anyone who has made it to heaven. There are the recognized saints (those your hear referred to as “Saint _______”) who have the three miracles credited to them. This is merely evidence that they are in fact in heaven and therefore are with God, able to ask him to help someone here on earth that has asked the saint for their intercession. It’s the same concept as asking a friend to pray for you, only a really nice friend with unlimited time who is literally in God’s presence eternally.
That’s the best I can explain it. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if I was unclear. My object was to provide information, not to pose any arguments.

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