Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Response to Jack Lake’s Bachelor’s Thesis Defending Mariolatry


By Keith Thompson


Roman Catholic apologist Jack Lake has written a bachelor’s thesis in response to my critique of the Catholic teaching of Mary being “Maternal Mediator” i.e., coredemptrix, advocate and mediatrix of all graces. He also defends Romish worship of Mary at the end (Jack Lake, “A Systematic Rejoinder to the Calvinist Polemicist Keith Thompson Concerning the Intercession, Invocation, Universal Mediation of Grace, and Cultus or Veneration of the Most Holy Mother of God,” Bachelor Diss. Christendom College, 2018). My criticisms of Mariolatry on these issues are found in the documentary Reformed Answers on the Roman Corruption of Christianity and in these two [1, 2] essays which basically contain the same points. In the present essay I intend to thoroughly address Lake’s thesis. It is well written and quite impressive as to its length and some of the historical research that went into it. Yet, because of all the errors of fact, erroneous arguments, and false conclusions, I must take major issue with its content and respond accordingly. 
 
Mistakes in the Introduction 

There are a number of errors in introduction of the thesis I will point out. This will be done so that Lake does not repeat such mistakes in his future work, so as to prevent others from using such problematic statements to discredit his future materials. 

Lake identified Chris White, a reviewer of my documentary film on Catholicism, as a Calvinist (p. 3). However, he is not Reformed. Chris aligns more with the Baptist tradition. Another error is that Lake asserts I make “attacks upon the Mother of God” (p. 4). This is a common sound-bite talking point made by Catholic polemicists. They think anyone who denies their idolatrous doctrines not found in divine revelation are “attacking” Mary (A Catholic apologist who calls himself “Father Mateo” even wrote a book called Refuting the Attack on Mary). But the truth is Protestants are actually protecting her from the idolatrous Catholic lies about her. It would pain her so much if she knew all these Catholics were idolizing her with statues, praying to her, lighting candles to her, excessively bowing to her, entrusting their souls and eternal salvation to her, and giving her roles, titles and offices which belong only to God according to divine revelation (e.g. immaculate conception, a New Covenant heavenly efficacious mediator or advocate i.e., propitiator, mediatrix of all graces, “peacemaker” between sinners and God, “the Helper,” the deliverer from hell, “our life,” the crusher of the serpent’s head, and the recipient of saintly devotion in heaven with Jesus, etc.). So, I do not attack Mary. I, along with many other followers of God’s actual revelation, refute the satanic, man-made, idolatrous teachings Romanism has sinfully foisted upon her.

It is also falsely claimed that I and others “even go so far as to claim that the Patristic Church adhered to ‘Reformation Christianity’” (p. 6). However, this is not exactly correct. My position is if you read the works of Oden and Needham on sola fide, the works of Webster and King on sola scriptura, Gill’s work on the five points of Calvinism, and the work of Gibson et al on particular redemption (Thomas Oden, The Justification Reader, (Eerdmans, 2002), Nick Needham, “Justification in the Early Church Fathers,” in Bruce McCormack (ed), Justification in Perspective, (Baker Academic, 2006), William Webster and David King, Holy Scripture, 3 vols., (Christian Resources, 2001), John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth, (1738), David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson (eds.), From Heaven he Came and Sought Her, (Crossway, 2013), one can see strands of Reformation thought in the early church fathers. But, I would not go as far as saying the fathers were Reformation Christians, just as I would not say they were Roman Catholics. There is clearly development on both sides. Yet, I am convinced Reformed theology is ultimately faithful to divine revelation unlike Romish doctrine. So, here Lake is guilty of misrepresentation. 

Mary as Coredemptrix

In my critique on Mary being maternal mediator, one of the doctrines I examined was the idea Mary is coredemptrix. This is the belief her suffering (or “death in her heart”) at the foot of the cross actually contributed to Jesus’ sacrificial redemption in a saving way. On the one hand I was disappointed that in his thesis Lake failed to defend this globally popular Catholic teaching. But on the other hand, I appreciated he admitted it is without basis in divine revelation. He writes, “we will not here be responding to Thompson’s objections concerning . . . her Coredemption, since we actually agree with him concerning that controversy” (p. 5). He continues,

“Our private opinion is that the Blessed Virgin may be said to have cooperated in the objective redemption only in a remote or mediate sense, i.e., insofar as she brought forth Christ. We therefore reject the opinion of those theologians who propose that the Virgin also directly and immediately cooperated in the very sacrifice of Christ by means of her suffering, against which opinion Thompson contends” (p. 5 n. 13).

It is a positive thing that Lake rejected this evil Catholic teaching. The doctrine is indeed very troubling and quite blasphemous. To say Mary cooperated in the redemption of humanity by suffering at the foot of the cross is a serious error since scripture affirms only Christ’s sufferings accomplished the expiatory and propitiatory New Covenant sacrifice (Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 13:12). Only Jesus’ sufferings could and did satisfy God the Father’s justice and wrath (Isaiah 53:3-5, 10; Romans 3:25; 1 Peter 1:18-19). This is never said of Mary in divine revelation. The notion actually detracts from the sufficiency and glory Jesus alone deserves for perfectly accomplishing the redemption at the cross. And Christians know God is jealous and will not have the glory He alone deserves given to others (Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). Also, blood was required for the redemption (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus spilled His. Mary did not spill hers. Thus, she did not participate in the redemption at the cross in a saving way.

I enjoy the fact Catholic scholars like Raymond Brown, Joseph Fitzmyer, John P. Meier, and Hans Kung would often admit when Catholic doctrine is not supported by scripture and the primitive church materials. This is a breath of fresh air on the matter of academic religious honesty (compared for example to the fundamentalists of Catholic Answers who always falsely assert every Roman Catholic teaching is biblical and primitive). But with Lake’s admission comes a major conundrum he failed to address in his thesis. 

He now has to grapple with the fact that since at least the eleventh century A.D., starting with Arnold of Chartres and Bonaventure, Roman Catholic leaders and popes have clearly affirmed this wicked doctrine. Bernard of Clairvaux, Albert the Great, John Tauler and many other prominent Catholic leaders can be added to the list (Mark I. Miravalle, Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1993), p. 13). Roschini and Carol provided a fuller list of Catholic authorities who supported this doctrine from the Middle Ages into the modern period (Roschini, Maria Santissima Nella Storia Della Salvezza p. 179; Carol, De Corredemptione Beatae Virgininis Mariae, p.151; Idem, (ed.) Mariology, Volume 2, (Bruce, 1957), pp. 397-398). Pope Leo XIII went as far as to say Mary died with Jesus in her heart (Leo XIII, Jucunda Semper, 1894). Benedict XV boldly claimed because of her suffering near the cross “we may rightly say that she together with Christ redeemed the human race (Benedict XV, Inter Sodalicia, 1918). Other popes can be added to the list as teaching this false doctrine as well, such as Pius X, Pius XI, Pius XII, and John Paul II (For their quotes affirming this doctrine, see Mark I. Miravalle, Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1993), pp. 14-23). Even the Second Vatican Council affirmed it:

There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, suffering grievously with her only begotten Son. There she united herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 58). 

“She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him in suffering as he died on the cross” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 61).

I have previously argued Vatican II documents like Lumen Gentium must be considered infallible by Catholics. This brings us to the issues Lake must now address. Although this teaching is not supported by an ex cathedra papal statement, I argue it is dogmatic for Catholics because of Vatican II. Moreover, various Mariologists and Catholic leaders argue it is an official Catholic dogma on basis of the ordinary universal magisterium. That is, it was taught for so long by so many Catholic leaders and popes that it could not be incorrect since the Catholic Church could not propagate error for so long on such a large scale. Now, if, as Lake believes, this teaching is not dogmatically valid for Catholics but was nevertheless affirmed by many of Lake’s most famous and respected Catholic leaders and popes, what kind of infallible guide would the Roman church actually be? How can Lake just swipe aside a teaching which has been accepted by Catholic leaders, masses and popes for so many hundreds of years? The fact so many Catholic leaders and popes taught this doctrine is enough for me to know it is a religion comprised of unregenerate leaders. No regenerated person would ever believe a doctrine which so detracts from the glory and sufficiency of Christ. Another line of questioning is also in order: if Lake is free to believe this doctrine (even though he does not think it is dogmatic), why doesn’t he? Does he think he is smarter than the popes and Catholic leaders who believe(d) it is true? Is he ashamed of the doctrine? Does he, like Protestants, recognize it is an evil doctrine? Why the hesitancy if he is free to believe it (as many authorities before him have)? Is he willing to clearly state that all of those Catholic leaders and popes who affirmed the doctrine were deceived to believe and propagate a false teaching?

Does Divine Revelation Affirm Dead Saints in Heaven Intercede for Believers on Earth?

In trying to defend the Catholic teaching of the dead saints (like Mary) interceding for believers from heaven, Lake’s first argument is an appeal to a text we do not even agree is scripture. He argues, “The first and clearest of these texts is 2 Macc. 15:12-16, which states that Judas Maccabeus saw a vision of Onias and Jeremiah, who were already dead, praying for the people of the Jews” (p. 13). But notice, although this apocryphal text does affirm dead saints interceding, it does not affirm the other aspect of this doctrine, i.e., believers on earth first praying to dead saints. Moving forward, Lake argues a dozen or so church fathers from Tertullian onward affirmed the canonicity of 2 Maccabees (p. 14). However, this does not prove 2 Maccabees is part of belief-worthy divine revelation or canon. The patristics are not the ultimate authority for doctrine, especially when they wrote as late as Tertullian (i.e., early third century). Lake failed to mention earlier fathers like Melito of Sardis did not regard apocryphal books like 2 Maccabees as canonical scripture (F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), p. 71). The same is the case with fathers like Athanasius (Ibid., 78-79) and Jerome who both said the apocrypha were good for edification, but were not to be viewed as canon upon which doctrine is based (Athanasius, Letter 39:2-7; Schaff and Wallace, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1954), Vol. 6, Jerome, Preface to Jerome’s Works, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, Daniel, pp. 492-493). I could go into detail on other fathers who denied the apocrypha are canon (see e.g. William Webster, Holy Scripture, Vol. 2, (Battleground, WA: Christian Resources, 2001), pp. 333-434). But why does their rejection of the apocrypha not count as evidence, but certain fathers’ approval of the apocrypha does? This is a major inconsistency in Catholic apologetics. 

Uninspired church writers who wrote hundreds of years after Christ and the apostles aside, there are some straightforward, academic ways to demonstrate this book is not canonical scripture. As I pointed out in my previous materials, in 2 Maccabees 14 the author praises a Jew named Razias for committing suicide (vv. 37-38, 41-42). No Spirit-inspired author would praise someone’s suicide. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says the body is God’s temple and that those who destroy the body will be destroyed by God. In scripture those who commit suicide are always noted for their wickedness, not their righteousness (e.g. Abimelech in Judges 9:54; Saul in 1 Samuel 31:4, Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17:23, Zimri in 1 Kings 16:18, and Judas in Matthew 27:5). Lake responds by noting Augustine held the suicide “is not praised as a morally good or holy act, but rather one of bravery” (p. 14). But it is praised as a morally good act since it is called “noble” (v. 42). And again, Razias is called “of good report” (v. 37) and “pure” (v. 38) in the immediate context. Is Lake really suggesting the suicide was religiously noble or brave but also immoral at the same time? That is a contradiction. What is more, it is clear the route Razias took was the easier one and not the “brave “one (contra Lake), even according to the text. Verse 42 says he committed suicide rather than "fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth.” It would have been braver to accept such suffering, torture and martyrdom by his enemies as Jesus and certain apostles did. Is Lake suggesting Jesus and the inspired apostles were not as brave as Razias since they did not just commit suicide like he did, but instead endured torture and murder at the hands of their enemies? There are other problems Lake must address as well. For instance, in 2 Maccabees 15:38-39 the author asks its readers to forgive the book of its shortcomings. It says, “I also will here make an end of my narration. Which if I have done well, and as it becometh the history, it is what I desired: but if not so perfectly, it must be pardoned me” (2 Maccabees 15:38-39). This is not something a book inspired by the infallible and inerrant Holy Spirit would contain. The Holy Spirit does not worry about making mistakes or shortcomings, and would never ask to be “pardoned” on such matters. 2 Maccabees also commits a serious historical error which an inspired scripture would not contain. As Metzger notes, “The author now follows with an account of the purifying of the Temple under the guidance of Judas, and the inauguration of the Feast of Dedication (10:1-9). By an error of chronology, this is said (10:3) to have taken place two years (instead of three years, see I Macc. 4:52, compared with 1 Macc. 1:54-59) after the alter had been desecrated” (Bruce Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 144). In sum, it is very problematic to bring in 2 Maccabees as evidence for Lake’s doctrine, much less one’s “first and clearest” evidence.

Next Lake discusses the twenty-four elders of Revelation. Revelation 5:8 says, “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8). The Catholic position is these elders are dead saints who intercede for believers on earth. The problem is there is no evidence in the text of Revelation that saints on earth first pray to these elders, who then bring such prayers to God. Moving on, in Revelation 7:13 these elders ask the identity of the triumphant multitudes in heaven (i.e., all the redeemed saints). But this question would not need to be asked if these elders were part of that group. Moreover, there are no other humans mentioned in Revelation chapter 4. Mounce and Roloff also point out the elders match well with the angelic heavenly council in OT texts like 1 Kings 22:19-22, 2 Chronicles 18:18, and Isaiah 6. And, Revelation 8:3-4 likewise has an angel (not a deceased human saint) having believers’ prayers and bringing them to God. In my previous material I was very sympathetic to Mounce’s argument that Revelation was written in light of the Jewish background contained in texts like Tobit 12:15 and 3 Baruch 11 which state believers on earth pray to God and then angels serve as intermediaries who then bring those prayers up to Him (Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation: Revised, (NICNT, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1997), p. 135). These intermediaries are not first prayed to (as in Romanism) in those extrabiblical citations. I am convinced this is what is going on with these twenty-four elders in Revelation. They are angelic intermediaries who take up to God the prayers which believers made to God. Since these elders are not human saints and are not prayed to, the text cannot be used as justification for the Catholic doctrine of praying to saints or dead saints interceding for believers on earth. Lake did not refute the aforementioned crucial background basis for my view of the text (i.e., Tobit 12:15 and 3 Baruch 11), even though the background matches Revelation very well. Instead, he chose to merely offer other arguments for the position the elders are human saints. 

Concerning Revelation 5:9 (where these elders in question are speaking), Lake argues the popular reading of “by your blood you ransomed [people] for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (reading 1) is wrong and should instead read “by your blood you ransomed us for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (reading 2). Because there is a textual variant here in the manuscript tradition, Lake maintains his reading is correct and thus the twenty-four elders are the “us” (i.e., human saints) who were ransomed by Christ. He claims the exclusion of “us” (ἡμᾶς) in reading 1 is only supported by one ancient Greek manuscript (p. 15). But he is wrong since it is supported by both Codex Alexandrinus and P115 (Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008), p. 825; Idem. and Barrett The Text of the Earliest Ne Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2001), p. 667). Also important to mention is the Ethiopian version (eth) likewise supports it. Lake failed to grapple with the technical reasons most text critics, the Nestle-Aland 28, the vast majority bible translations (including Catholic ones like the NJB, NABRE, NRSV-CE, etc.), and commentators favor reading 1. I will quote the commentators Osborne and Beale, as well as the text critic Metzger on some of the main arguments for this position:
“. . .the shorter reading best explains the longer. Later scribes provided an object to tell the reader who was ‘purchased for God,’ so the original most likely was simply ‘purchased for God.’ Moreover, if ‘us’ is part of the text, then the four-living creatures as well as the elders (5:8) would have been redeemed, and the living creatures are certainly celestial beings” (Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, (BECNT, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), p. 268).

“. . .the shorter reading is the more difficult, not having as precise an object. It is more likely that a scribe would attempt to clarify the direct object rather than the opposite. This stylistic abruptness is another expression of the Semitic influence that is characteristic of Revelation (e.g. note especially other primitive expressions with ἐκ [“from”] introduced like that of v 9b: 2:10; 3:9; 5:7; 11:9; in all these cases the ancient versions and even modern translations supply a more specific direct object). Secondly, “us” is not consistent with αὐτοὺς (“them”) in what follows in v. 10 (“he made them to God” . . .; nor is ‘us’ in v 9 harmonious with third person plural βασιλεύσουσιν [‘reign’] in v 10)” (G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, (NIGTC, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1999), p. 360).

“. . .this reading best accounts for the origin of the others. Wishing to provide ἠγόρασας with a more exactly determined object than is found in the words ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς καὶ, some scribes introduced ἡμᾶς either before τῷ Θεῷ (94 2344 al) or after τῷ Θεῷ (א 046 1006 1611 2053 al), while others replaced τῷ Θεῷ with ἡμᾶς (1 2065* Cyprian al). Those who made the emendations, however, overlooked the unsuitability of ἡμᾶς with αὐτοὺς in the following verse” (Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd edn., (Ger: Deutsche Biblegesellschaft, 1994), p. 666).

For one of the best technical defenses of reading 1, see also N. B. Stonehouse, The Elders and the Living Beings in the Apocalypse, in Arcana Revelatam, (Kampen, 1951), pp. 139-143. In light of the best arguments favoring reading 1, I therefore maintain my view of Revelation 5:9 is correct and that it does not indicate these elders were dead saints, despite what Lake and anyone else claims.

Lake then (pp. 116-117) appeals to the arguments of André Feuillet that various features within Revelation allegedly point to the twenty-four elders being dead saints and not angels (André Feuillet, Johannine Studies, trans. Thomas E. Crane (New York: Alba House, 1964), pp. 185-194). However, there are serious problems with Feuillet’s arguments. He reasoned since the elders are depicted as wearing white (4:4), this favors them being humans rather than angels, since in Jewish background literature and Revelation itself, it is allegedly mostly humans who are depicted like this. However, I will argue angels and supernatural entities are depicted as wearing white just as often in the extrabiblical Jewish, OT and NT literature, including in Revelation and John’s other writings. In Psalms 104:1-2, Daniel 7:9, and 1 Enoch 14:20-21 God himself is depicted as wearing white. During the transfiguration in Matthew 17:2, Jesus’ clothing is turned white as light. In the Jewish pseudepigraphal work the Testament of Levi 8:2 seven angels are depicted as being dressed in white. In the empty tomb narratives of the gospels (including John’s Gospel which has the same author as Revelation), the angel(s) wears white (Mark 16:5; Matthew 28:2; Luke 24:4; John 20:12). In Acts 1:10 two angels wear white. In 1 Enoch 71:1, 3, 87:2, and 90:31 angels are depicted as wearing white. In Revelation God himself has a white throne, white face, white hair, white horse, and is on a white cloud (1:14-16; 14:14; 19:11; 20:11). Finally, the armies of heaven who battle alongside Jesus are depicted as wearing white (19:14). This army is comprised of both saints (Revelation 17:14) and angels (Zechariah 14:5, Matthew 13:41; 26:53, Revelation 12:7-9; cf. 2 Enoch 17, and Testament of Levi 3:3). Thus, my conclusion is the relevant materials depict both humans and angels/supernatural beings as wearing white basically at the same frequency. So, the elders in question wearing white conclusively favors neither Lake’s position nor mine. It is therefore a faulty argument.

We are then presented with Feuillet’s claim that since the elders wear crowns (4:4, 10), they must be humans because in Revelation and in other NT texts it is victorious saints who are commonly given crowns. However, in Revelation 14:14 Jesus himself has a crown and he is not a saint. He is a supernatural person who took on a human form, having two natures. Also, in Revelation 9:7 supernatural beings have gold crowns. And in surrounding Jewish background literature angels and supernatural beings can be depicted wearing crowns (e.g. 2 Enoch 14:2; 3 Enoch 12:3; 13:1; 21:4). So, the matter of crowns is inconclusive as well. Lake then uses Feuillet’s argument that only saints and not angels are called “elders” in scripture (p. 17). But in Isaiah 24:23 angels are in fact called “elders.” The Hebrew word for elder used here is זְקֵנָ֖יו and was often used in the OT of Jewish people in leadership (W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996), p. 68 notes, “The ‘elder’ was recognized by the people for his gifts of leadership, wisdom and justice.”). Scholars debate if these beings here designated as “elders” are angels or Israelite men. I am persuaded of the former view (For the best technical defense of this position see Timothy M. Willis, Yahweh's Elders (Isa. 24,23): Senior Officials of the Divine Court,ZAW 103 (1991): 375-385). The best way to understand the elders of v. 23 is to look at the mention of God punishing the hosts of heaven in v. 21. Many scholars point out these hosts of heaven are rebellious, celestial powers or angels (e.g. Geoffrey W. Grogan, “Isaiah” in Isaiah-Ezekiel, Frank E. Gaebelein (ed.), (EBC, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986), pp. 155; Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 206). These kinds of heavenly, angelic beings (some good and some evil) are also mentioned in Deuteronomy 32:8, Daniel 10:13, 20, Ephesians 6:12, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6, and Revelation 20:1-3. In fact, the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 24:21 for these punished “hosts” of heaven is צְבָ֥א, which is the very same word used of angelic beings in 1 Kings 22:19 and 2 Chronicles 18:18. So, my view is when the Lord punishes the rebellious angels in v. 21 (i.e., the “hosts” of heaven), this is restated in another way in v. 23, i.e., His glory will be manifested before these “elders” or “ancient ones” (v. 23). Thus, God is glorified when punishing these angelic “elders.” We therefore do have an example of angels being identified as elders. Suffice it to say, there is a body of scholarly material Lake needs to interact with before claiming angels are never called elders in scripture.

Another erroneous argument Lake appeals to is that “the overwhelming majority of the Fathers interpret the elders as being men” (p. 17). He cites Clement of Alexandria, Victorinus, Andreas of Caesarea, Oecumenius, Primasius, and Bede (Ibid.). However, the “overwhelming majority” of fathers do not affirm this. The earliest and thus most methodologically important church fathers did not even comment on the matter, i.e., Ignatius, Clement of Rome, Papias, Polycarp, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Shepherd, Tatian, Athenagoras, Melito of Sardis, Dionysius of Corinth, Hegesippus, and Irenaeus. A more logical statement would therefore be: the majority of fathers who actually commented on the matter (which are few and late methodologically irrelevant writers) say these elders were men. But note Bede lived in the eighth century and Oecumenius lived in the tenth century! I do not find it determinative if a handful of men writing hundreds of years (some almost a thousand years!) after Jesus and the inspired apostles interpreted a verse a certain way. That is not a sound authority with which to base doctrine. Lake will respond by noting I often quote church fathers to refute Catholicism, or demand Catholics have church father support for their doctrines and interpretations. However, the reason I demand Catholics find support from the church fathers, and why I will often quote church fathers affirming doctrines and interpretations contradicting Romanism, is only because Rome falsely claims these men were Romanists, and because Rome often talks about her teachings being supported by the “unanimous consent of the fathers.” However, my view is not and never has been that if some church fathers affirm a Catholic doctrine, then that doctrine is true (I will never grant that methodology). What can be determined from God’s infallible divine revelation or closed deposit of faith through valid hermeneutics is the authority for Christians. And as an historian, Lake has not demonstrated the interpretation of the fathers he quoted derives ultimately from the orally transmitted doctrine of the inspired apostles (which the Roman church often appeals to). In sum, all but one of Feuillet’s arguments on this matter are faulty. The one decent argument Lake did present from him is listed below. But when we compare the remaining standing arguments of Lake with mine, I strongly feel my position has a lot more to offer and is therefore correct. I will conclude my discussion of the twenty-four elders of Revelation with this juxtaposition:

Standing arguments for my position:
- Mounce notes the elders bringing up to God the prayers of believers directed to God matches well with the Jewish idea of intermediary angels who were said to do the same, as in Tobit 12:15 and 3 Baruch 11.
- Mounce and Roloff point out the elders match well with the angelic heavenly council in OT texts like 1 Kings 22:19-22, 2 Chronicles 18:18 and Isaiah 6.
- In Revelation 7:13 the elders ask the identity of the triumphant multitudes in heaven (i.e., all the redeemed saints). But this question would not need to be asked if the elders were part of that group.
- There are no other humans mentioned in Revelation chapter 4.
- Revelation 8:3-4 likewise has an angel (not a deceased human saint) having believers’ prayers and bringing them to God.
- On 5:9, the textual evidence and arguments favor the variant that implies the elders are not the redeemed saints. And if we accept the variant that indicates they were redeemed saints, then the “four living creatures” in v. 8 would also have to be redeemed saints, which is impossible since they are supernatural creatures and not redeemed saints. 
 Standing arguments for Lake’s position
- Feuillet notes the elders sit on thrones which is something saints commonly do in Revelation and in other scriptures.
- Along with Clement of Alexandria’s third century interpretation, five other much, much later, methodologically irrelevant writers also interpret the elders to be humans (two such writers being from the eighth and tenth centuries!).
Next, Lake raises 2 Peter 1:15 which says, “And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” Lake notes, “Chrysostom interprets Peter’s words as being a promise to pray for the living after his death” (p. 17). But the truth about this text, which can be exegetically demonstrated, is that Peter meant his letter, 2 Peter, would itself be the reminder of what he taught them even after his death, not that his alleged post-mortem prayers would. Bauckham has pointed out the Greek for “And I will make every effort” (σπουδάσω δὲ καὶ ἑκάστοτε) “is elsewhere used of diligence or eagerness to write a letter (Barn. 1:5; 4:9; 21:9; cf. Jude 3) and may be an instance of epistolary style. Especially striking is the fact that an equivalent expression is found in 2 Apoc. Bar. 78:5 (Baruch’s “testamentary” letter): “I have been even more careful to leave you the words of this epistle before I die” (Richard Bauckham, Jude-2 Peter, (WBC, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983), p. 201). Thus, Gundry notes, “By having survived the death of Peter, this very letter of his counts as an ongoing reminder” (Robert H. Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), p. 958). Even the Roman Catholic Bible commentator George Haydock admitted Lake’s interpretation “does not seem the true and literal sense” (Haydock Commentary on the Bible, 2 Peter 1:15). There is nothing in the text about Peter praying for believers after his death to help them be reminded. That is eisegesis or reading things into the text which are not there. It is not exegesis or drawing out the original meaning of the text using valid hermeneutics or principles of interpretation. Citing one or two later church fathers’ opinions where they read things into the text is not a valid academic hermeneutic. It is the opposite and serves as a clear evidence that Lake has fallen into idolizing or relying on the opinions of later men too credulously, instead of submitting to the actual meaning of the holy scripture as drawn out by good, fact-based methodologies. Later church father eisegetical interpretations are not the ultimate authority for Christians.

Lake brings up Luke 16:27-28 where the rich man in hell prays for the salvation of his brothers on earth. To a much greater extent, therefore, must the saints in heaven, who are inflamed with charity, pray for the salvation of us, their fellow brothers in Christ” (p. 18). The problem is this is an argument from autonomous fallen, fallible reasoning as opposed to an argument from divine, reliable, infallible revelational confirmation. Scripture does not make the argument that since those in hell pray for humans on earth, therefore those in heaven must pray for those on earth. And this is the problem with many of Lake’s arguments throughout his thesis. The problem is man’s mind is tainted with sin (i.e., the noetic effects of sin). This means reasoning, unless it is based squarely on God’s divine revelational confirmation, is fallen, untrustworthy and inclined towards sinfulness and error rather than righteousness and truth (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:4, 11; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 3:18-21; 1 John 3:20). Indeed, in scripture Christians are warned to not lean on their own understanding but are instead commanded to submit to God (Proverbs 3:5; 28:26). As a matter of fact, scripture reveals  concerning doctrinal issues, reasoning from within and apart from submission to God’s divine revelational confirmation results in false teachings and ideas from non-believers and believers alike (Mark 2:6-8; Luke 3:15-16). Moreover, 1 Corinthians 1:21 confirms the world using its autonomous wisdom divorced from special revelational confirmation did not lead them to the truth about God. So, why does Lake think his autonomous reasonings which go beyond divine revelational confirmation (and add to it) are reliable? These texts prove it is very unwise and unreliable to do this as a basis for establishing doctrine (i.e., Lake’s assumption that people in hell pray for believers, therefore saints in heaven must pray for believers). God did not confirm that conclusion in divine revelation. And it is not something which necessarily follows from scripture. God’s revelation which is perfect and infallible (unlike the fallen human mind) needs to be consulted for confirmation on these matters if one wishes to reliably and surely come to doctrinal truth. The thoughts/reasonings of Lake here are not found in God’s divine revelation. And God says, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). So, it is unwise to rely on such imperfect thoughts/reasonings for doctrine. Every time Lake uses the hermeneutical fallacy of autonomous fallen reasoning as a valid authority to establish a doctrine in his thesis (thereby adding to divine revelation), as opposed to relying on divine revelational confirmation and that which necessarily follows from it, I will have to call him out on it. It is unbiblical, unchristian and offensive to God who is the ultimate authority. He must be the one we submit to as the measure of truth for doctrine. Man and his imperfect thoughts/reasonings are not the measure of truth.
Excursus on “Implicit” Biblical Evidence

On texts like Luke 16:27-28 (above) Lake will falsely claim he is drawing out the “implicit” meaning of scripture in such arguments. And since I have conceded not every true doctrine is explicit in scripture, but that some are only implicitly taught therein, he will try to get me to concede his aforementioned argumentation on Luke 16:27-28 is valid. He argues, “Thompson elsewhere concedes that things taught by the Fathers or Tradition but not explicitly contained within Scripture can still be true, provided that they do not contradict Scripture, and are at least implicitly taught therein” (p. 16). The problem is Lake is misunderstanding what the Reformation tradition means by implicit scriptural support. We define it as that which follows from good and necessary consequence of scripture, even if it is not directly stated in any one verse (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:6). For instance, the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. And there is no single verse stating God exists as three eternally distinct persons sharing the one essence. But we can go to implicit texts on the matter (i.e., individual texts which separately affirm the Father is God and eternal, the Son is God and eternal, the Spirit is God and eternal, and yet all of them are distinct from one another). This would be considered a valid implicit basis for the doctrine of Trinity which follows from good and necessary consequence of scripture, though is not directly stated in any one verse. But Lake’s conclusion based on his reading of Luke 16:27-28 is not a good and necessary consequence of scripture. It could be that damned people in hell pray for people and yet God forbids righteous people in heaven from doing so because Jesus is the sufficient, efficacious heavenly mediator/advocate (my view which will be demonstrated later based on John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). So, Lake is not doing the same thing as Protestants. And his appeal to us allowing implicit scriptural support reveals he misunderstands what we mean by that.
Lake continues with this faulty approach where man is viewed as the measure of what is true instead of God’s divine revelation (and that which necessarily follows from it) being the measure of what is true: “The fifth text is Apoc. 6:9-10, where the martyrs in heaven ask for Divine judgment against their persecutors. Much more, therefore, must they ask for Divine mercy upon us, their fellow Christians” (p. 18). Since in divine revelation God never says anything from which it follows from good and necessary consequence that martyrs must pray for believers, Christians cannot give Lake’s conclusion any weight. Again, it could be that while martyrs pray for judgement against those who murdered them, God forbids them from attempting to be heavenly mediatorial intercessors for the salvation of earthly believers because Christ is the sufficient, efficacious heavenly mediator/advocate who believers are to depend on for that (as I will argue below based on John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Thus, Lake’s conclusion does not follow from Revelation 6:9-10 as a good and necessary consequence. So why should anyone believe it? Because his fallen, imperfect mind thinks it? Catholics clearly do not care if their doctrine actually originates with God himself. If it comes from their own fallible, fallen minds, that is idolatrously sufficient for them. Lake commits the same fallacy again on the same page: “It [the doctrine of saintly intercession from heaven] is proven secondly from those passages of Scripture which teach that the good angels intercede or pray for us, and have care for our salvation (e.g., Tob. 12:12,15; Ps. 34:9; 91:11; Dan. 10:13,20-21; Zech. 1:12-13; Matt. 18:10; Apoc. 8:3-4), whence it follows that the human saints do the same” (pp. 18-19). However, none of these texts even say angels pray for humans. Lake lied when he wrote that. Tobit 12:12, 15 says Tobit and Sarah prayed to God, and the angel Rafael then brought that prayer to God as an intermediary. Rafael did not himself pray for Tobit and Sarah. And Zechariah 1:12-13 is about the pre-incarnate divine Son of God praying to the Father for believers on earth, which Protestants agree takes place (see below where I discuss in depth how the Angel of the Lord is actually God Himself). Christians affirm Christ is our sufficiently efficacious divine mediator, intercessor or advocate. Thus, Zechariah 1:12-13 does not refute our position. And Revelation 8:3-4 does not say the created angel there prays for humans on earth. It says he has their prayers and brings them to God (though it does not say earthly saints first prayed to that angel). Despite the fact none of Lake’s references actually say angels pray for humans on earth, they do show angels care about humans on earth. But, so what? Just because angels care about humans on earth, it does not follow from good and necessary consequence that dead saints in heaven must therefore pray for humans on earth. It could be that God forbids that, again, because Christ is the sufficient, efficacious heavenly mediator/advocate believers are to depend on for this (as I will argue below based on John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Next, we read, “It [the intercession of saints in heaven] is proven thirdly from Scripture’s teaching that believers on earth ought to pray or intercede on the behalf of others, as may be gathered from innumerable texts [texts listed]. . . . Whence it follows that the saints, having once prayed for others while they were alive on earth, continue to do so now that they are in heaven” (p. 19). Again, the fallacy of autonomous fallen, fallible reasoning as a valid authority since Lake’s conclusion does not follow as a good and necessary consequence of scripture. It could be that while believers on earth pray for other believers on earth, saints in heaven do not intercede for the salvation of earthly believers because that heavenly advocate role is designated to the efficacious Christ (as I will argue below based on John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). It could be that while God allows earthly believers to pray for other earthly believers, He forbids prayer to human saints since His way of thinking is not identical to Lake’s (Isaiah 55:8). The opinions of many late church fathers on the matter of the intercession of the dead (including Mary) are then presented (pp. 19-38). Lake falsely claims “the unanimous consent of the ancient Fathers. . . teach that the Virgin and the other saints in heaven intercede or pray for men on earth” (p. 19). The problem is Lake begins with Cyprian, then continues to Origen, Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, and so on. So, the earliest father (Cyprian) he can muster on this is from the third century. He wrote roughly 230 years after Jesus and the inspired apostles. This means Lake is not able to quote the earliest and thus most methodologically important fathers who actually had contact with the apostles (i.e., apostolic fathers) like Ignatius, Clement of Rome, Papias, Polycarp, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, or those right after the apostolic fathers like Aristides, Justin Martyr, Shepherd, Tatian, Athenagoras, Melito of Sardis, Dionysius of Corinth, Hegesippus, and Irenaeus (though we must be tentative with Irenaeus since in Against Heresies 2.22.5, he falsely claimed he received from the apostles the idea Jesus died between the ages of forty and fifty, which can be shown to be factually inaccurate and unapostolic). Thus, Lake’s claim of possessing “the unanimous consent of the ancient Fathers” on the matter is a lie. The earliest and thus most methodologically important ones do not confirm this doctrine. If Lake wishes to contend the apostles handed this doctrine on orally (because they sure didn’t teach heavenly intercession of saints in the NT), these are the early fathers Lake would need to consult as an historian. But when we consult their writings, we do not see them affirming this idea. Lake could have saved himself a lot of time. Instead of spending nineteen pages quoting men who wrote 230 years after Jesus as well as ones much, much later, he could have just said “quite a few fallible, uninspired men writing many hundreds of years after Jesus and the inspired apostles affirmed this doctrine, even though the earliest and thus most methodologically important ones do not.” To that I would have said, “correct.” But that does not prove the doctrine is part of the first century faith once-for-all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) (i.e., divine revelation which even Rome inconsistently admits is the only basis for doctrine and morality because of Jude 1:3. See Vatican I, First Dogmatic Constitution, section 4, ed. Vincent McNabb, The Decrees of the Vatican Council, [Burns and Oates, 1907], p. 45; The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Charles George Herbermann, (Robert Appleton Company, 1912), Volume 13, p. 4). If Lake cannot trace this teaching to the apostolic fathers and those immediately after them, but can only begin with Cyprian (i.e., 230 years after Jesus), that means he does not have a valid historical basis to assert the teaching is part of transmitted “apostolic oral tradition.” If such a tradition was passed on, surely some of the most primitive, extrabiblical apostolic fathers and second century apologists would have received and affirmed it somewhere in their voluminous writings. But, they do not. The fact Lake can only begin 230 years after Jesus and apostles is evidence the doctrine originated from the later minds of fallible, uninspired men. Starting with Cyprian does not prove the doctrine comes from the inspired apostles. Christians are concerned with what God revealed through the prophets, Jesus and apostles (i.e., the deposit of divine revelation which was finalized in the first century). We want to believe those truths. We do not submit to what fallible, uninspired men wrote hundreds of years later if it is not confirmed in belief-worthy divine revelation. Finally, not only do the early and thus most methodologically important apostolic fathers and second century apologists nowhere affirm the false doctrine of heavenly intercession of the saints, but it is interesting to note that the fourth and fifth century Vigilantius, like Protestants, also rejected the doctrine. So, even after this novel, false teaching infected the church, people like Vigilantius and his supporters can nevertheless be cited as opposing it even as late as the beginning of the Middle Age.

In sum, Lake has failed to convincingly demonstrate divine revelation confirms the saints and Mary intercede from heaven on behalf of believers. This means his position is unworthy of acceptance for the Christian.

Does Divine Revelation Permit Praying to Dead Saints in Heaven?

It is argued by Lake that in scripture human prayer to angels is sanctioned by God. Therefore, in his mind it is fine to pray to dead saints in heaven as well. He argues, “In Gen. 48:16, for example, the patriarch Jacob, blessing the sons of Joseph, said, The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; which angel Origen, Basil, Chrysostom, and Theodoret interpret to be a created angel” (p. 39). There are two problems: (1) The Angel of the Lord (who appears in numerous scriptures) is actually God Himself and not a created angel. This is proven by the fact that when we go back to Genesis 31 where this Angel initially interacted with Jacob, we discover the Angel explicitly said, “I am the God of Bethel” (Genesis 31:13).  Lake needs to study the scholarly materials demonstrating many texts prove the Angel of the Lord is God Himself (e.g. Robert Morey, The Trinity: Evidence and Issues, (Christian Scholar’s Press), pp. 138-166; James Borland, Christ in the Old Testament, Revised edn., (Mentor, 2010); Keith Thompson, Jesus as God Before Paul: Old Testament, Pre-Christian Jewish, and Apostolic Evidence [1]; Anthony Rogers, The Malak Yahweh, [Parts 1, 2, 3a, 3b]. That the Angel of the Lord is actually God is a view shared by many more early fathers than Lake was able to cite. Anthony Rogers (Malak Yahweh, Part 1) cites:
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 58, 59, 60, 61, 76, 86, 116, 126, 127, 128; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.6.1-5, Fragments, 53; Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 16, De Carne, 14, Against Marcion 2.27, 3.9; Novatian, On the Trinity, 18, 19, 31; Apostolic Constitutions, 5.3.20; Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 1.7; Eusebius, The Proof of the Gospel, 1.5, 4.10, 5.10, Church History, 1.2.7-8, Preparation for the Gospel, VII. 5, 14-15; Origen, Contra Celsus, 5.53, 8.27; Methodious, Symposium, 3.4; Melito, New Fragments, 15; Ambrose, Exposition of the Christian Faith, 1.13.83; Athanasius, Against the Arians, 3.25.12-14; Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 11.3).
Another clear proof the Angel of the Lord is God is that He appeared to Gideon and then Gideon made a sacrifice to Him (which my interlocutor admits should only be done to God. On p. 105 Lake said, “sacrifices . . . belong to the supreme cultus of God alone”). In fact, Gideon feared he would die after seeing the Angel of the Lord (Judges 6:19-23). Gideon thought this because the Jews believed if you saw God face to face you would die (Exodus 33:20; Genesis 32:30). Thus, Gideon affirmed the Angel was God. Now, the reason Gideon survived was because although the Angel is God, He is not the same person as the Father. He is Jesus Christ (as those aforementioned studies, and a great many of supposedly Romanist early church fathers affirm). (2) Praying to a created angel and crediting it with redeeming you from all evil would be forbidden worship due to God alone. This is because prayer is worship according to scripture. In Acts 3:1 Peter and John pray to God in the house of worship (the Temple). And Luke 2:37 explicitly mentions, “worshiping with fasting and prayer.” With this in mind, in Colossians 2:18 Paul condemns the “worship of angels,” from which it necessarily follows that praying to them is forbidden. And in Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9 an angel refuses the worship of John (bowing in a religious context) and tells him to instead do that to God. So, since prayer is a form of worship, and the worship of created angels is condemned in scripture, Lake’s claim that Jacob prayed to a created angel is heretical. Also, crediting a created angel with redeeming you from all evil would be the sin of giving to a created being the glory God alone deserves (That God is jealous and will not have the glory He alone deserves given to others, see Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). For, it is God who is the redeemer from evil in biblical theology (2 Samuel 4:9; 1 Kings 1:29; Job 19:25; 33:28; Psalms 19:14; 130:8; Isaiah 41:14; 48:17; Jeremiah 50:34; Titus 2:14).

Lake then argues “in Job 5:1, after Job had lost his family and possessions, his friend Eliphaz told him, Call now, if there is any that will answer you. And to which of the holy ones will you turn?; which holy ones Augustine interprets to be angels” (p. 39). The problem is Job’s friends are not always correct. In fact, they are wrong much of the time. As OT scholar Elmer Smick notes, “. . . we must keep in mind that the overall purpose of the book includes the concept that the counselors were basically wrong . . . Fullerton (pp. 326-27) rightly warns that while on the surface the speech is orthodox and is given with ‘dignity and sobriety’ in contrast to Job’s ‘almost ungovernable outbursts,’ yet there is ‘a subtle overtone’ of flaws that can be easily missed by a casual reading” (Elmer B. Smick, “Job,” in 1 & 2 Kings – Job, Frank E. Gaebelein (ed.), (EBC, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), p. 894). Job 42:7 confirms God got angry with the false remarks of Eliphaz (whom Lake trusts so much): “The LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has’” (Job 42:7). Thus, it is unwise to derive doctrine from Eliphaz’s often incorrect assertions in Job, especially when Colossians 2:18 taken together with Luke 2:37, Acts 3:1, and Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9 condemns prayer to creations like angels as worship due to God.

The final argument for praying to dead saints Lake puts forth is that quite a few fallible, uninspired, later church writers starting with Ephrem the Syrian (fourth century) did so and stated it was correct to do so (pp. 41-55). He mentions, “the ancient Fathers, who unanimously teach that the other saints in heaven may be invoked by the Christian faithful (p. 41). The problem is Lake begins with Ephrem, then continues to Ambrose, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and so on. So, the earliest father (Ephrem) Lake appeals to is from the fourth century. He wrote about 300 years after Jesus and the inspired apostles. This means Lake is not able to quote the earliest and thus most methodologically important church fathers who actually had contact with the apostles like Ignatius, Clement of Rome, Papias, Polycarp, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, or those right after the apostolic fathers like Aristides, Shepherd, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Melito of Sardis, Dionysius of Corinth, Hegesippus, and Irenaeus (though again, we must be tentative with Irenaeus since in Against Heresies 2.22.5 he falsely claimed he received from the apostles the idea Jesus died between the ages of forty and fifty which can easily be shown to be factually inaccurate and unapostolic). Thus, Lake’s claim of possessing “the unanimous consent of the ancient Fathers” on the matter is another lie. The earliest and thus most methodologically important ones do not confirm this doctrine. If the Romanist wanted to demonstrate their doctrine is a result of apostolic oral tradition, (because they sure didn’t teach this in scripture, as even Lake conceded earlier: “While Scripture does not contain direct examples of the invocation of the human saints in heaven. . .”), these are the early fathers they would need to consult as historians. But when we consult such primitive writings, we do not see them affirming this later, novel teaching. Lake could have saved himself a lot of time. Instead of spending fourteen pages quoting men who wrote 300 years after Jesus, as well as ones much, much later, he could have just said “quite a few fallible, uninspired men writing many hundreds of years after Jesus and the inspired apostles affirmed this doctrine, even though the earliest and thus most methodologically important fathers do not.” To that I would have said, “correct.” But that does not demonstrate the doctrine originated from the oral tradition of the apostles. If Lake cannot historically document the teaching is part of apostolic oral tradition by finding it in the earliest and thus most methodologically important fathers, then as an historian he cannot appeal to apostolic oral tradition as the origination of this doctrine. Starting with Ephrem does not prove the doctrine comes from the apostles. If such a tradition was passed on, surely some of these primitive, extrabiblical apostolic fathers and second century apologists would have received and affirmed it somewhere in their voluminous writings. But, they do not. Christians are concerned with what God revealed through the prophets, Jesus and apostles (the deposit of faith or divine revelation). We want to believe those truths. We do not submit to what fallible, uninspired men wrote many hundreds of years afterwards, as that is dangerous and not honoring God who is the authority for what constitutes true doctrine. Protestants can trace their doctrines to scriptural revelation. Thus, we do not suffer from this methodological problem of not being able to find doctrine in scripture, resulting in the need to trace it to apostolic oral tradition. In sum, Lake’s quoting of later church fathers here does nothing to prove the doctrine actually originates from the tradition of the inspired apostles. Lake and other Catholics clearly idolize the opinions of later church fathers and are content with trusting their fallible, uninspired opinions even though they have no divine revelational confirmation for their doctrine.

Finally, not only do the early and thus methodologically important apostolic fathers and second century apologists nowhere affirm praying to the dead, but it is interesting to note that the fourth and fifth century Vigilantius, like Protestants, also rejected the practice. So, even after this novel, false teaching infected the church, people like Vigilantius and his supporters can nevertheless be cited as opposing it even as late as the beginning of the Middle Age. In sum, Lake has failed to convincingly demonstrate divine revelation sanctions the wicked and idolatrous practice of praying to dead saints (i.e., forbidden worship due to God alone).

Lake’s Critique of my Objections on Prayer to and Intercession of Dead Saints

In attempting to address my criticism that scripture contains neither an example of, nor even an exhortation to pray to Mary or the other dead saints in heaven, he argues it is allegedly “implicit” in scripture because in scripture men on earth talk to other men on earth (p. 56). However, I already I demonstrated Lake misunderstood the Protestant notion of affirming that which necessarily follows from implicit biblical evidence (see my above “Excursus on ‘Implicit’ Biblical Evidence”). He does not engage in that valid methodology but instead employs an autonomous rationalistic standard as a basis for doctrine which does not actually follow from scripture (it adds to it). Thus, to claim his methodology is compatible with mine is incorrect. Secondly, although men talk to other men on earth, it does not necessarily follow praying to dead saints in heaven is thus lawful in God’s sight. It could be that while God allows human-to-human communication on earth, he forbids prayer to dead saints in heaven and considers that worship (Colossians 2:18 taken together with Luke 2:37 and Acts 3:1). Thus, this is again the fallacy of autonomous fallen reasoning as a valid authority. No Christian would be content with submitting to that which is derived from the imperfect, fallible, uninspired reasonings/thoughts of men like Lake, as opposed to that which is derived as a necessary consequence from that which is θεόπνευστος (“God breathed”) (2 Timothy 3:16). This is again because reasoning from within and apart from divine revelational confirmation for doctrine is unreliable (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:4, 11; 1 Cor. 1:21; 3:18-21; 1 Jn 3:20; Mk 2:6-8; Luk 3:15-16) and condemned (Prov. 3:5; 28:26).

He then attacks sola scriptura claiming it is invalid to view scripture as the ultimate, sufficient authority (i.e., to require scriptural support for a doctrine). He argues, “Thompson’s incessant demand for Scriptural evidence for every doctrine or practice of Christianity is itself fallacious, since Scripture in no wise imposes such a restriction upon the Church of Christ. Moreover, the early Christians believed that many doctrines and practices from the Apostles were not written down within Scripture, but were instead transmitted orally through Tradition” (p. 57). In light of these false assertions, Lake must now address my arguments that scripture affirms it is the ultimate, materially sufficient authority, upon which all doctrine and morality must be based. He must also contend with the fact many of the early church fathers (who he views as authorities and claims were Roman Catholic) taught these fundamental components of sola scriptura (again material sufficiency and ultimate authority). Although they believed in the concept of tradition (as I also allow for), only a small handful believed the Council of Trent’s later partim-partim theory of tradition Lake espouses which is that divine revelation was given partly in scripture and partly in tradition, so that some doctrines might not be in scripture but only in apostolic oral tradition. A vastly larger number of early fathers rejected that, however, since they state doctrine must ultimately be confirmed by scripture. On the biblical teaching of scripture being the ultimate and materially sufficient authority upon which all doctrine and morality must be based, I have put forth and exegeted Matthew 15:2-9, John 20:31; 1 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Acts 15, and Acts 17:11-12. And I have also refuted [1, 2] the Catholic objections to this doctrine. In another essay I covered the many church fathers who denied Rome’s partim-partim theory of tradition and instead affirmed scripture is the ultimate and materially sufficient authority upon which doctrine must be based. These include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Athanasius, Ambrose, Cyril of Jerusalem, Lactantius, etc (One can also consult the three-volume set by Webster and King called Holy Scripture where they demonstrate even more church fathers affirmed this). So, Lake’s claim that “the early Christians” believed his Tridentine view of tradition is a lie. He only mustered three church fathers who he feels support that unbiblical and ahistorical notion (p. 57). And that is not a determinative argument for Lake’s position. He must now interact with all the counter evidence I provided which undermines his position. The fact is Lake has no divine revelation for his belief in praying to dead saints and for them interceding for believers. Thus, there is no reason to believe it. Scripture does not confirm it, not even by implicit necessity. Nor can he demonstrate he has apostolic oral tradition from God affirming it. For, he is unable to, as an historian, show the apostles handed this teaching to the apostolic fathers, and then them to the second century apologists, etc. If such a tradition was passed on, surely some of the primitive extrabiblical apostolic fathers and second century apologists would have received and affirmed it somewhere in their voluminous writings. But, they do not. All he can do is quote much later, irrelevant men writing hundreds of years after the deposit of faith closed. And that is a form of idolatry.

Hence, my view is there is no divine revelation affirming Mary and other saints in heaven intercede or pray for believers on earth. My second argument Lake attempted to respond to is that praying to Mary and asking for her advocacy, whereby she temper’s God’s justice and appeases God’s wrath for believers on earth, is pointless and unbiblical since scripture says we can and should go directly to Christ for this as he sufficiently propitiates God’s wrath with His perfect sacrifice and continual heavenly intercessions or presentations of that sacrifice to the Father (John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Lake responds by claiming it would follow from my position that saints on earth cannot pray for other saints on earth (pp. 58-59, 62). But that does not follow at all. It only follows that New Covenant saints on earth cannot be looked to as propitiators who temper God’s justice and wrath concerning the believer’s sin (I address Moses and other OT prophets doing this in the obsolete Old Covenant below). That is the sense in which Christ is our unique New Covenant intercessor or advocate in Protestant theology. We allow for humans to pray to God and humbly request He give others understanding, physical healing and even saving grace, etc. But there is nothing in the New Covenant texts affirming that in the New Covenant salvation program (based on Jesus’ new and perfect sacrifice), that such earthly, human prayers temper God’s justice or appease His Wrath over the person’s sin, which is what Romanism claims Mary does for people on earth.

The problem is when it comes to the New Covenant salvation program which God laid out in the NT writings, scripture teaches we should, by faith, go to Jesus who alone accomplishes this with His divine expiatory/propitiatory sacrifice and heavenly intercession for believers where, as the perfect High Priest, He continually presents His perfect sacrifice to the Father on our behalf which appeases God’s wrath (John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Mary is never said to perform this heavenly, propitiatory function in divine revelation. Christ is presented as sufficiently accomplishing it. And Lake’s appeal to Moses turning away God’s wrath from OT Israel, or other OT prophets doing the same (pp. 58-59, 62) is irrelevant since we are not in the obsolete Old Covenant program (Hebrews 8:13). Instead we are in the New Covenant salvation program which was instituted at Jesus’ death (Luke 22:20). And the texts providing New Covenant instruction on how salvation through Jesus’ new, perfect sacrifice works (listed above) are clear that Christ and His work are sufficient for propitiation or advocacy. The reason Moses and other OT prophets turned away God’s wrath from people even after propitiatory sacrifice was made for them, was because the instituted sacrifices were imperfect and temporary (as Hebrews references listed above state). However, the above scriptures also state Jesus’ New Covenant propitiatory sacrifice is superior to the old sacrifices and mediatorial system in that it saves believers completely, secures eternal redemption, and forever positionally sanctifies true believers, unlike Mosaic sacrifices. It follows that now we do not need creatures to propitiate God’s anger for us anymore as it was in the obsolete, Old Covenant. In divine revelation neither the saints nor Mary are ever said to perform this function in the New Covenant context, and Lake cannot offer one shred of proof they do. Because Rome assigns Mary and the saints to this already and sufficiently accomplished role, Christians can easily discern Rome has a false gospel and theology. Still, Catholics nevertheless falsely present Mary as the one who, from heaven, appeases God’s wrath for believers and temper’s God’s justice because Rome does not care about adhering to what God actually affirmed in divine revelation (see below for the proof Rome teaches this about Mary). They are content with believing what fallible, uninspired men invented hundreds of years after the divine deposit of faith closed.

Lake responds by claiming he does not actually have to defend the popular and blasphemous Catholic idea that Mary appeases God’s wrath and temper’s God’s justice because it is allegedly neither ex cathedra nor part of the ordinary universal magisterium (p. 61). But then he inconsistently defends it anyway (pp. 62-63) and so I refuted his apologetic on this matter. The fact he is not willing to commit to it even though he is privately free to according to his system (as many of his Catholic leaders and popes have), tells me he realizes deep down it is a false doctrine. Be that as it may, in Lumen Gentium, 62 Vatican II did identify Mary as “advocate” (see my article on papal infallibility for reasons why Vatican II documents like Lumen Gentium must be considered infallible by Catholics). An advocate is someone who is a proponent to God on the believer’s behalf. And when we go back and examine how popes and popular Catholic leaders historically understood Mary being a proponent to God on the believer’s behalf (i.e., how they understood Mary as “advocate”), it clearly involved the ideas of appeasing God’s wrath and tempering His justice (demonstrated below). So, despite Lake’s claim, this is an official, dogmatic Catholic teaching in light of Vatican II. And this brings us to the other evidence demonstrating this doctrine is also dogmatic for Catholics on the basis of it being part of the ordinary universal magisterium (contra Lake).

Lake has actually assisted me by providing a number of later, fallible, uninspired church writers (Chrysostom, Augustine, Valerian, and Ephrem) who falsely taught saints or Mary do appease God’s wrath for others in the New Covenant context (pp. 63-65). How sad that they would depart from biblical theology on this point. This helps show the doctrine is dogmatic for Catholics on the basis of the ordinary universal magisterium since Romanism claims these writers were vital Catholic leaders. I also found that in the eighth century, Ambrose of Autpert wrote in a prayer to Mary that, “we find no one more powerful in merit to placate the wrath of the Judge than you” (Ambrose of Autpert, ASS. (PL, 39, 2134) quoted in Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2009), p. 131). Also in the eight century, Germanus of Constantinople taught in Jesus’ presence, Mary has boldness and strength, and on this basis her advocacy rescues believers from eternal punishment (Germanus of Constantinople, Homily on the Cincture). Catholic scholar Elizabeth Johnson thus mentions in the late Middle Age, “Mary had a maternal influence over God, that she could turn away Christ’s just anger and obtain mercy for sinners” (Elizabeth Johnson, “Blessed Virgin Mary,” ed. Richard P. McBrien, The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, [HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995], p. 833). Richard of St. Lawrence stated, “We would be in a very bad way indeed, sinners as we are, if we did not have this great Advocate, who is so powerful and merciful, so prudent and wise, that the Judge, her Son, cannot condemn the guilty when she defends them” (Richard of St. Lawrence quoted in Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, (Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852), p. 159). Bernard of Clairvaux likewise remarked, “Thou desirest an advocate with Him? Have recourse to Mary; the Son will graciously hear His Mother” (Bernard of Clairvaux quoted in Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, (Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852), p. 544). And, “[We] need a mediator with the Mediator, and there is no one more efficacious than Mary” (Sermon on the Twelve Stars, 1). Bonaventure taught, “as the moon is between the heavens and the earth, so does Mary continually place herself between God and sinners in order to appease our Lord in their regard” (Bonaventure quoted in Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, (Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852), pp. 167). After this period Alphonsus Liguori then blasphemously wrote, “. . . take courage, O wretched sinners; this great Virgin who is the Mother of your God and Judge, is also the Advocate of the whole human race: fit for this office, for she can do what she wills with God; most wise, for she knows all the means of appeasing Him” (Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, (Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852), p. 161). And, “there was no one who could thus dare to restrain the arm of God. But now, if God is angry with a sinner, and Mary takes him under her protection, she withholds the avenging arm of her Son, and saves him (Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, (Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852), p. 93). The popular booklet Devotions in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Liguori Publications, June 1, 1982), quoting a very popular Catholic prayer, says,
“Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners who have recourse to thee; come, then, to my help, dearest Mother, for I recommend myself to thee. In thy hands, I place my eternal salvation and to thee do I entrust my soul. Count me among thy most devoted servants; take me under thy protection, and it is enough for me; for, if thou protect me, dear Mother, I fear nothing; not from my sins, because thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them; nor from the devils, because thou art more powerful than all hell together; not even from Jesus, my Judge Himself, because, by one prayer from thee, He will be appeased.”
Notice how Jesus is actually paralleled with sin and the devil in this blasphemous Roman Catholic prayer. Countless Mariologists and theologians have and still affirm Mary’s propitiatory heavenly advocacy. Many popes have also affirmed the doctrine, which solidifies its dogmatic status on the basis of the ordinary universal magisterium. To give examples, I can list Popes Leo X (1520), Sixtus V (1587), Clement IX (1667), Clement XI (1708), Pius X (1903), and John Paul II (1987) as identifying Mary as “advocate” just as Vatican II did (For the references see Edward Sri, “Advocate and Queen,” in Mariology, (ed.) Mark Miravalle, (Goleta, CA: Seat of Wisdom Books, 2007), p. 489 n. 46; p. 491). But there are others as well who clearly expatiate the meaning of Mary being “advocate,” which should (along with the medievals quoted above) serve as a working definition with which we understand Vatican II and the aforementioned popes. Pope Pius VII stated Mary, as advocate for the earthly saints, actually “commands” Jesus’ while He is in His throne (Pope Pius VII, Apostolic Constitution, Tanto Studio, 19 February 1805, Aur 7, 511). Pope Leo XIII taught Mary pleads the believer’s case to God which implies this leads to God once again favoring the believer (Pope Leo XIII, Jucanda semper, 1894). Pope Pius XI identified Mary as “advocate for sinners” (Pope Pius XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, 1928) and said Mary “will be our advocate before divine goodness and mercy at the hour of our passing” (Pope Pius XI, Allocution, August 15, 1933). This implies Mary will turn away God’s wrath and help believers escape judgement and receive mercy at the time of their death. Pope Pius XII proclaimed, “Our Advocate, placed between God and the sinner, takes it upon herself to invoke clemency of the Judge so as to temper His justice” (Pius XII, papal allocation at the Canonization of Blessed Louis Marie Grignon de Monfort, 21 July 1947, AAS 39, 408). Thus, Lake is incorrect that all I can muster to show this is official Catholic dogma is Pope Pius XII (p. 61). In light of all this background from popes and major Catholic theologians, how must we understand the title “advocate” as dogmatically ratified in Vatican II and as taught by other popes who employed the term without expatiating on it? The meaning is Mary allegedly temper’s God’s wrath and justice as a propitiatory figure. Catholics like Lake must therefore affirm the doctrine as dogma, otherwise they would have to admit these papal leaders and popes were deceived to believe and propagate false teaching for many hundreds of years and on a massive scale. If that were the case, what kind of infallible guide would the Roman church be? Lake’s claim he does not have to defend this teaching is therefore incorrect.

Let us imagine for a moment the doctrine is not dogmatic by Catholic standards (even though I strongly feel it is) and that it is merely a personal view they are free to believe (because past popes and Catholic leaders did), even though it has no support from divine revelation. If this is the case, why won’t Lake affirm it? He is free too, right? Many of his popes and influential Catholic leaders he looks up to did (as do many modern Catholic Mariologists and theologians). So, there should be no reason not to believe this teaching. Is Lake smarter than those Catholic authorities and popes who affirmed the doctrine? Is he ashamed of the doctrine? Does he recognize it is evil as Protestants do? The fact Lake chooses not to affirm it tells me there may be hope for him, that he may be experiencing conviction by God that this commonly held Catholic belief is immoral, and that he is not as blind as the popes and Catholic leaders before him who did boldly proclaim this satanic, blasphemous, teaching which detracts from the sufficiency and glory of Christ.

Moving on, Lake claims I asserted belief that Mary’s heavenly advocacy turns away God’s wrath comes centuries after the fourth century (p. 65). But I never said that. I merely said the teaching “comes into church history even later [than the fourth century].” By “later than the fourth century” I meant it is not until after that century that this doctrine picks up significant steam. And this is true. Only one church father from the fourth century can be cited as affirming this false teaching, i.e., Ephrem. But I was already aware of this, as I even quoted Kelly in the same context noting this kind of Mariology “is almost, though not entirely, non-existent in the first four centuries” (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, (HarperOne, 1978), p. 491). The reason I jumped to the eighth century Latin translation of the Theophilus Legend (which is a silly mythical story affirming Mary appeases God’s wrath), was not because I thought it was the earliest example of people believing the false teaching (I’m aware Ephrem and a small handful of post-Nicene and early medieval writers also did). Rather, I jumped to it because it was a major basis for this teaching’s acceptance and spread throughout the West in the late Middle Age. As I noted, Catholic scholar Elizabeth Johnson admitted, “Translated into Latin in the eighth century, this story exercised great influence on the West’s notion of Mary’s power to save” (Elizabeth Johnson, “Blessed Virgin Mary,” ed. Richard P. McBrien, The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, [HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995], p. 833). Lake has therefore misunderstood and misrepresented me. And he has not shown why citing Ephrem and a handful of post-Nicene and medieval writers affirming the doctrine would make it valid.

Lake then proposes we may actually have evidence prior to the fourth century for the belief that Mary or saints appease God’s wrath for others. He quotes the third century Origen who said Angels “seek His [God’s] favour on their [other humans’] behalf; with their prayers they join their own prayers and intercessions for them” (Origen, Against Celsus, 8 ch. 64). Lake comments, “Origen, who expressly states that the angels and departed saints not only “with us pray to and supplicate” (συνεύχονται καὶ συναξιοῦσιν) God, but also “propitiate” (ἐξευμενίζονται) Him on our behalf” (p. 65). On the contrary, this text discusses how humans pray to God concerning themselves (not concerning others), with the help of angels. It does not mention humans praying for other humans with the help of angels. So even if propitiation was in view, you would only have a human getting propitiation for himself, with the help of an angel. Thus, it would not support saints or Mary securing propitiation for other humans. Nothing in the quotation or immediate context suggests saints procure this for other saints, much less Mary. What is more, Origen and Ephrem et al are, again, not the final authority for doctrine (Origen even taught the heresy of universalism). We must affirm, as even Lake’s church admits, that which derives ultimately from divine revelation (i.e., the deposit of faith which closed in the first century, Jude 1:3). Yet, Lake failed to demonstrate what Origen and Ephrem said comes ultimately from apostolic oral teaching, because it sure does not come from scripture.

In my previous material I argued it is evil for Rome to say Mary needs to turn God’s wrath from believers and protect them from Jesus or God (e.g. again as quoted above: Richard of St. Lawrence, Bernard of Clairvaux and Alphonsus Liguori in The Glories of Mary, [Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852], pp. 93, 159, 544; Bernard of Clairvaux in Sermon on the Twelve Stars, 1; the popular booklet Devotions in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Liguori Publications, June 1, 1982); Pope Pius VII, Apostolic Constitution, Tanto Studio, 19 February 1805; Pope Pius X, Virgine sanctissima, Papal Prayer on the Fifteenth Anniversary of the definition of thee Immaculate Conception, 8 September 1903; A.A. 1, p. 97; Pope Leo XIII, Jucanda semper, 1894; Pope Pius XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, 1928; idem. Allocution, August 15, 1933; Pius XII, papal allocation at the Canonization of Blessed Louis Marie Grignon de Monfort, 21 July 1947, AAS 39, 408, Catechism of the Catholic Church, [Doubleday, 1994], par. 968 p. 274; par. 966, p. 274, etc.). I contend this is an attack on the loving character of God insofar as by faith, Jesus sufficiently propitiates God’s wrath for believers through His perfect sacrifice and continual High-Priestly presentation of that sacrifice to the Father (John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Many of the above texts state God is no longer angry or wrathful toward believers anymore because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice and heavenly intercessions. Thus, when justified, true believers sin, scripture confirms God, as the loving Father, only disciplines them to bring them back to the path of holiness (Hebrews 12:7-11). This means He does not again become alienated, hateful and wrathful towards them whereby they are suddenly in need of Mary’s supplementary prayers and propitiatory advocacy which allegedly “restrains the arm of the Lord.” This Romanist idea is based on a denial of the above scriptures. Lake responds to this line of argument by saying in the Old Covenant Moses and some prophets turned away God’s wrath from believers (p. 62). The error of this response, again, is the failure to understand the sacrifices of the Old Covenant which expiated sin and turned away God’s wrath were temporary and imperfect (unlike Christ’s), which is why Moses and others had to also supplimentarily turn God’s wrath from believers with their intercessions. But under the New Covenant, Jesus’ sacrifice is everlasting and perfect whereby it saves believers completely, secures eternal redemption, and forever positionally sanctifies true believers, unlike obsolete, Old Covenant sacrifices which were imperfect and temporary (John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Thus, Christ does not require supplementary propitiatory advocacy of Moses, saints and Mary on behalf of believers in the New Covenant program. So, citing Moses as propitiating God’s wrath in the obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), imperfect Old Covenant system as an argument for Mary being able to propitiate God’s wrath in the New, displays a fundamental ignorance of the superior and perfect New Covenant salvation program.

Next, one of my arguments against Catholic reliance on Mary as advocate or intercessor is that Rome often applies to Mary blasphemous language whereby she is presented as co-savior or even the one who actually saves people from Jesus (e.g. again as quoted above: Richard of St. Lawrence, Bernard of Clairvaux and Alphonsus Liguori in The Glories of Mary, [Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852], pp. 93, 159, 544; Bernard of Clairvaux in Sermon on the Twelve Stars, 1; the popular booklet Devotions in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Liguori Publications, June 1, 1982); Pope Pius VII, Apostolic Constitution, Tanto Studio, 19 February 1805; Pope Pius X, Virgine sanctissima, Papal Prayer on the Fifteenth Anniversary of the definition of thee Immaculate Conception, 8 September 1903; A.A. 1, p. 97; Pope Leo XIII, Jucanda semper, 1894; Pope Pius XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, 1928; idem. Allocution, August 15, 1933; Pius XII, papal allocation at the Canonization of Blessed Louis Marie Grignon de Monfort, 21 July 1947, AAS 39, 408, Catechism of the Catholic Church, [Doubleday, 1994], par. 968 p. 274; par. 966, p. 274, etc.) This popular Catholic sentiment is very offensive to the regenerated Christian. For, in Acts 4:12 we read in reference to Christ: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Revelation 7:10 says, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10). Divine revelation nowhere presents Mary as the heavenly one who delivers souls from death, restores supernatural life to souls, gives eternal salvation, or saves people from Jesus. Salvation is by Christ alone.

Lake is not persuaded by this evidence that we are witnessing a Romanist assault on the sufficiency and glory of Jesus as the perfect savior. He therefore ignores all this data and just falsely claims “the Virgin is not said to deliver or restore life to us absolutely, as God or Christ alone is able to do, but only through her prayers” (p. 66). However, (1) Rome teaches Mary is a savior through her prayers and her propitiatory advocacy as I demonstrated earlier in this essay, not just the former and (2) divine revelation does not say she saves through her prayers and propitiatory advocacy, so the Catholic beliefs here are not sanctioned by God. Jesus is presented as sufficiently occupying that heavenly High Priestly office. Lake responds (pp. 66-67) by presenting five NT texts which allegedly show men save other men (Romans 11:14; 1 Corinthians 9:22; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 5:19-20; Jude 1:22-23). But, when in Romans 11:14 Paul says σώσω ἐξ αὐτῶν (“shall save some of them”), he is simply affirming his preaching (Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 692 n. 47) would lead unbelievers to the sufficient sacrifice and intercessions of Jesus which is the basis of eternal salvation, clear notions in this letter and his other letters (Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22). Only in that sense is Paul “saving” them. The same basic backdrop is behind the other four texts Lake quotes. The difference is in Popery Mary is not just some women on earth whose prayers or preachings lead to people coming to the sufficient sacrifice and intercessions of Christ so they can be saved (and in that she “saves” people as Paul does, etc.). No, in Popery Mary is actually in heaven doing additional acts supplementing and supplanting Jesus’ sacrifice and intercessions with her own prayers and propitiatory advocacy with God. We know this, again, because Catholics commonly teach when believers sin, God’s wrath comes upon them again, whereby they need Mary to then save believers from Christ with her propitiatory advocacy (e.g. again Richard of St. Lawrence, Bernard of Clairvaux and Alphonsus Liguori in The Glories of Mary, [Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852], pp. 93, 159, 544; Bernard of Clairvaux in Sermon on the Twelve Stars, 1; the popular booklet Devotions in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Liguori Publications, June 1, 1982); Pope Pius VII, Apostolic Constitution, Tanto Studio, 19 February 1805; Pope Leo XIII, Jucanda semper, 1894; Pope Pius XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, 1928; idem. Allocution, August 15, 1933; Pius XII, papal allocation at the Canonization of Blessed Louis Marie Grignon de Monfort, 21 July 1947, AAS 39, 408, etc.). Thus, in popular Catholic belief Mary’s propitiatory advocacy supplements Jesus’ previous, “ineffective” propitiatory work which initially made the believer right with God, but which, after the believer sins, must be added to so the person can be saved from Christ Himself. The problem for Lake is the NT apostles who “save” are never said to do that. They always “save” in the sense of pointing people to the sufficient and perfect sacrifice and intercession of Jesus, thereby not detracting from the sufficiency and glory of Christ as the perfect savior. Hence, Lake’s citing of those five texts misses the point and does not justify the Romish position on Mary as savior/advocate. Finally, Lake claims when the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church says Mary is “restoring supernatural life to souls” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, [Doubleday, 1994], par. 968 p. 274), that this is allegedly “harmonious with Divine Revelation” (p. 67). To try to establish this incorrect assertion, he cites 1 John 5:16 which says, “he [a believer] shall ask, and God will give him [another believer] life.” But the difference is in 1 John 5:16 it is actually God who restores supernatural life to souls, while in the Catechism Mary herself is said to restore supernatural life to souls. So, the texts are not harmonious after all. The latter is going beyond and thus adding to divine revelation.

Lake then attempts to respond to my appeal to Deuteronomy 18:10-11 and Isaiah 8:19 as evidence Catholic prayer to dead saints is condemned. The texts read, “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). And “when they say to you, ‘Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,’ should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19). The word here for “necromancer” in the Hebrew is וְדֹרֵ֖שׁ. OT scholar Earl Kalland notes it refers to “(‘[one] who consults the dead’) is one who investigates, looks into, and seeks information from the dead” (Earl S. Kalland, Deuteronomy, (ed.) Frank E. Gaebelein, (EBC: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, p. 121 n. 11). When Catholics pray to dead saints and Mary, they often “consult” or “seek information” from them by praying for wisdom, understanding, help, or a sign, etc. Thus, these texts condemn the Catholic practice of praying to the dead. Lake responds by attempting to restrict and redefine the meaning of ancient necromancy to “solicit[ing] information about the future” (p. 70). But, as my appeal to the learned OT exegete Earl Kalland demonstrated, that is not all those who engaged in necromancy sought. They also sought general information about the present. And this is exactly what Catholics do. So, Lake’s restrictive redefinition is erroneous and dishonest. We have evidence of OT necromancer’s trying to gain information from the dead, and the information they gain is not limited to the future. For instance, while cut off from God (v. 18), Saul unapprovingly sought the witch of Endor in order to talk to the deceased Samuel. Samuel was summoned and Saul asked him for information or wisdom, not concerning future predictions, but about what he should do in the present in his battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 28:6-17). So, the question is: Do Catholics consult dead saints and Mary and seek information from them? Yes. Again, they pray to them for wisdom, understanding, help, or a sign, etc. This means Catholic prayer to dead saints is condemned (Deuteronomy 18:10-11) and they should instead be consulting God Himself on such matters (Isaiah 8:19).

It is claimed by Lake the reason necromancy is condemned in the Bible is because it is “divination wherein mediums, through the agency of devils, attempt to summon the dead” (p. 70). However, scripture’s emphasis is not just about how one goes about reaching the dead, but also about consulting and seeking information from them in-and-of-itself also being sinful and unnecessary. Isaiah 8:19’s whole point is it makes no sense to inquire of the dead when one can inquire of God himself. This is a large part of the basis for consulting or seeking information from the dead being condemned in scripture. Although Catholics may not knowingly use the agency of devils or mediums to contact the dead, they nevertheless take their place and do that themselves (thereby becoming “functional necromancers”), and it is the communicating and information seeking itself which is no doubt a large part of what is condemned in scripture. Thus, Catholics still fall under the condemnation of Deuteronomy 18:1-11 and Isaiah 8:19.

Lake then claims a number of later church fathers agree with him that praying to saints is not condemned by Deuteronomy 18:11-12 and Isaiah 8:19. However, it is interesting to note the fourth and fifth century Vigilantius and his supporters affirmed it is condemned by those biblical texts. Lake’s later writers he appeals to are not the ultimate authority for Christians (neither is Vigilantius for me). I do not view their later, fallible opinions as at all determinative. But here Lake claims, “Thompson regularly demands that Catholics must have Patristic support in order for our interpretations of Scripture, such as Lk. 1:47, Isa. 22:19-22, and Apoc. 12:1-5, to be true” (p. 71). He says this in order to be able to use later church fathers’ interpretations as justification that his interpretations are valid. But this is not a method I anywhere confirmed. Here Lake is distorting my past remarks. My position has always been that Rome often claims her dogmas were always accepted by the church (i.e., “unanimous consent of the fathers”) and that the early fathers were Roman Catholics. Thus, they should be able to show the church fathers affirmed Catholic dogmas, or interpreted scriptures in accord with said dogmas. This is why I will present many cases where church fathers disagree with said Catholic dogma or scripture interpretation. However, I never (as Lake falsely accuses me) said if some church fathers agree with the interpretation of Catholicism on a verse, then the Catholic interpretation of that verse is “true” That is, again, a faulty hermeneutic which idolatrously relies on late, fallible, uninspired men too credulously. I also frequently point out if a Catholic dogma or interpretation of a verse is going to be claimed to originate ultimately from the transmission of apostolic oral tradition, then Catholics must, as historians, demonstrate apostolic fathers and second century apologists affirmed the same interpretation or dogma (because they lived quite close to the time of the inspired apostles and often had contact with the them or their students). I argue: If a later Romanist tradition was passed on by the apostles, surely some of the primitive extrabiblical apostolic fathers and second century apologists would have received and affirmed it somewhere in their voluminous writings. But, they do not.

The common Catholic appeal to Matthew 22:32 as a response to Deuteronomy 18:11-12 and Isaiah 8:19 is then explained by Lake (pp. 68-69). Indeed, in my previous materials I noted Catholics will argue thus: since that Matthean text identifies the departed saints in heaven as “the living,” the condemnation of consulting and seeking information from the “dead” in the aforementioned OT texts does not apply to Catholic prayer to departed saints and Mary. The problem is, as Lake rightly shows he understands, scripture still identifies deceased believers as “dead” numerous times. I cited Joshua 1:2 and Acts 20:9 to establish this, and Lake cites (p. 69) 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Revelation 14:13 which do the same. It follows the scriptural condemnation still falls on Romish practice. Lake tries to get around this serious problem by claiming Mary is in her assumed, resurrected state and is not therefore in the class of “the dead.” But he does not meaningfully argue that her being glorified would mean she is no longer considered dead in any sense according to divine revelation. Where does divine revelation say that? Even if this reasoning was granted (which I do not), it would mean although Mary is an exception, the saints are not yet resurrected and are still considered dead, from which it follows it is still condemned to pray to them. Another problem is there is no valid support from divine revelation that Mary was assumed into heaven at the end of her life. Lake would need to refute my lengthy refutation of that false doctrine (In my documentary Reformed Answers on the Roman Corruption of Christianity, or in my essay with the same points).

I will now add that 1 Timothy 2:5 is further evidence one cannot look to and communicate with the deceased Mary as a heavenly efficacious mediator. The verse reads, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). When this text calls Jesus our one “mediator,” the next verse (v. 6) lets us know Paul is defining mediator as a heavenly soteriologically efficacious mediator (i.e., Jesus is our “ransom” who was ascended at the time Paul wrote and is thus “heavenly”). This is in opposition to the surrounding culture which often viewed other heavenly beings as mediators in a soteriologically efficacious sense. For instance, Plutarch noted in a mystery cult, Mithras was considered the “mediatrix” (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 46). In first century Gnosticism there was the belief in many heavenly soteriologically efficacious mediatorial aeons, angels and firmaments (See the early Gnostic document Eugnostos which is dated to the first century in D. M. Parrot, “Eugnostos and the Sophia of Jesus Christ,” ABD, vol. 2, (ed.) D. N. Freedman (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1992), pp. 668-669 and his other relevant works which do the same). And in some strands of Judaism angels were seen as heavenly soteriologically efficacious mediators (e.g. Philo, On Dreams, 1.142-143). This seems pretty clearly to be the cultural background Paul was confronting. Thus, when the Romanist comes along waving his hands saying, “Mary is a soteriologically efficacious mediator since she suffered at the foot of the cross contributing to the redemption, and from heaven she now turns away God’s wrath from believers securing their salvation, and that she mediates all divine saving graces from heaven,” the Christian will respond by pointing the Romanist back to 1 Timothy 2:5. The Catholic will then point to Moses being considered a mediator in the Old Covenant. True, but that covenant is now obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) and the New Covenant scriptures tell us Christ is now the one perfect, heavenly soteriologically efficacious mediator in the New Covenant salvation program (John 14:14; Romans 3:25; 5:1; 10; 8:1; 34-35; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12; Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10; Hebrews 7:23-25; 8:12; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10, 14, 17; 12:7-11; cf. John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). The Romanist will retort that in scripture believers are told to pray for one another, so that makes them mediators. But again, 1 Timothy 2:5 defines a mediator as a heavenly soteriologically efficacious mediator. The praying saints on earth in scripture do not occupy this office. Rather, they only request that Jesus or God efficaciously redeem or ransom sinners. So, they would not be considered mediators in the sense that Paul defines mediator 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 (and from which it is defined based on the cultural background of this text). On the other hand, if as Rome claims, Mary contributed savingly  to the redemption by her suffering at the foot of the cross, mediates all divine saving graces from heaven, and turns away God’s wrath as advocate in heaven, then she would be considered a heavenly soteriologically efficacious mediator (Thus, Bernard of Clairvaux in his very popular Sermon on the Twelve Stars, 1 explicit said we ”need a mediator with the Mediator, and there is no one more efficacious than Mary”). Hence, Rome’s view is condemned by 1 Timothy 2:5. When the verse was written, Mary was already deceased and, according to Popery, in heaven doing these things. So, if Paul was a Romanist, why does 1 Timothy 2:5 affirm Christ is the one and only heavenly soteriologically efficacious mediator between man and God? It is because Paul knew nothing of later Romish theology. He did not believe like Catholics do. Catholics often respond by saying although the text says, “there is one mediator,” there can still be comediators or submediators who share in Jesus’ mediatorship in a lesser sense. But if the one mediator can have lesser comediators, then it follows that when the same verse says “there is one God,” there can likewise be lesser gods who share in His deity. But this would be heretical polytheism which is condemned all over scripture (Exodus 20:23; Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; 32:39; 1 Chronicles 16:26; Psalms 96:5; Isaiah 37:16; 43:10; 44:6-8; 45:6, 21-22; Acts 19:26; 1 Corinthians 8:4). It follows 1 Timothy 2:5 is another text which prohibits communication with the deceased Mary on the basis of her alleged heavenly soteriologically efficacious mediatorship. Lake did not respond to 1 Timothy 2:5 in his thesis even though I have cited it in my initial critiques on Mariolatry.

In my criticism of Catholic prayer to Mary and saints, I pointed out Revelation 21:4 presents the heavenly saints as never mourning, crying or being in pain. But if the saints were in heaven receiving all the prayers from Catholics around the world concerning all of their problems, tragedies, and illnesses etc., they would surely be grieved and in much pain. Hence, it is not possible that Mary and the saints in heaven are aware of those prayers, or that they intercede in light of them. Lake responds by presenting the views of the fifth and sixth century Catholic philosopher Boethius (p. 73). Boethius argued since the bad fortunes of believers on earth are actually “absolutely good” because they are just God’s method of lovingly chastising believers, this means the heavenly saints would not view the bad fortunes of believers as something to mourn, cry or be in pain over. But this assumes that if a believer’s child is, for example, raped and murdered or dies of cancer, that heavenly saints who heard about it through prayer would have the divine wherewithal to block out the horrific and tragic element and instead fully focus on the metaphysical super-understanding of it being ultimately good. But where in divine revelation are we told the heavenly saints will possess this level of metaphysical super-knowledge? This is a very shaky argument based on unproven assumptions. Secondly, in heaven God still grieves, mourns, and experiences pain as well as righteous anger and hate as a result of the misfortunes and sins of men (e.g. Genesis 6:6; Deuteronomy 9:22; 32:36; Judges 2:18; Psalms 5:5; 7:11; 11:5; 78:40; 135:14; Proverbs 6:16; Romans 1:18). So, Boethius’s reasoning that human misfortune should not affect saints in heaven because it is ultimately good, is refuted on the basis that it still affects God. Revelation 21:4 does not state God does not mourn or experience pain, it only says heavenly saints will not. The only conclusion, therefore, is the saints must be protected from such knowledge of human misfortunes, as well as earthly prayers involving such. If they were not, they would indeed experience mourning and pain over them just as God does.

Lake then affirms the Catholic understanding of the beatific vision whereby upon seeing God face-to-face in heaven, the saints share in God’s essence which allegedly has no negative emotion. On this basis he argues “if the knowledge of our problems, tragedies, illnesses, etc., necessarily disrupts the saints from their peaceful contemplation of the Divine essence, then it logically follows that the same knowledge, which God indubitably possesses, disrupts Him from His contemplation of Himself.” To this I answer by rejecting the unbiblical Catholic understanding of God’s impassibility, again noting God does experience grieving, mourning, pain as well as righteous anger and hate (e.g. Genesis 6:6; Deuteronomy 9:22; 32:36; Judges 2:18; Psalms 5:5; 7:11; 11:5; 78:40; 135:14; Proverbs 6:16; Romans 1:18). Therefore, saints experiencing the essence of God would not preclude them from likewise experiencing grieving, mourning, pain as well as righteous anger and hate. So, since the saints do not experience such negative emotions (Revelation 21:4), that means they are protected from that aspect of God’s knowledge and the misfortunes and sins of believers on earth (and thus Catholic prayers involving such). I affirm the position developed by Hodge, Warfield et al., that God has emotions, it is just that he doesn’t experience them in the same way humans do in terms of mood swings. God’s emotions are instead rooted in his nature. The problem here is Lake, like the misled Papist scholars before him such as Anselm and Aquinas, affirms a false understanding of God’s impassibility whereby He has no emotions whatsoever and is not at all affected by His relationship to creation (developed by certain church fathers and then later by medieval Romish theologians). But this is again refuted by the scriptures I listed above.

He also argues since angels are aware of human misfortune (which I grant scripture affirms in Psalms 91:11), and yet they still experience beatific vision according to Matthew 18:10, it follows “there is no necessary incongruity between the knowledge of our problems, tragedies, illnesses, etc. and the beatific vision” (p. 75). The problem is Lake is again assuming his unbiblical misunderstanding of God’s impassibility and the beatific vision. God experiences emotions rooted in his nature over the misfortunes and sins of men (e.g. Genesis 6:6; Deuteronomy 9:22; 32:36; Judges 2:18; Psalms 5:5; 7:11; 11:5; 78:40; 135:14; Proverbs 6:16; Romans 1:18). Thus, Lake’s arguments here stem from unbiblical assumptions about God’s nature.  

The story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 is then presented by Lake as evidence both the damned (the rich man) and the redeemed saints in heaven (Lazarus) have memory of past events in the world. Therefore, Lake argues since the saints’ knowledge of past world events does not cause them to mourn, cry or feel pain (as Revelation 21:4 says they do not), then neither would them possessing knowledge of present sufferings of saints on earth (as well as their prayers involving such) (pp. 75-76). But here Lake is assuming the content and exchanges in Jesus’ illustrative parable here actually occurred in history. This is the problem with taking illustrative parables literally and then deriving doctrine them. If Lake was consistent, he would also have to interpret Jesus’ parable of the Ten Minas in Luke 19:12-17 as representing a literal, factual, historical dialogue between Jesus and three actual followers. The problem is this episode is in the context of the return of Christ at the end of the world! So, it is not a literal, factual, historical conversation Christ had. It is an illustrative fictional conversation average first century folk could understand as conveying important lessons, but was not meant to be seen as having historically occurred in every respect. Since this is common in Jesus’ parables, it is hermeneutically irresponsible to take them literally. It is methodologically invalid to hold the conversation between a rich man and Lazarus was historical and thus in all respects reflective of reality (i.e., that dead saints are aware of past earthly events, and that they talk with the damned in hell, etc.). Another example proving my point is the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:3-9. It would likewise be naïve to assume Jesus was actually talking about the historical activities of an actual first century seed sower or farmer and not just providing an imaginative illustrative scenario to convey a lesson.

Isaiah 66:24 is then presented as evidence “the saints, either after the final resurrection or also prior thereto, behold the sufferings of the damned in hell [texts listed]. . . . if it does not disrupt the joy of the beatific vision to see the sufferings of the damned, neither does it necessarily disrupt it to see the sufferings of the living” (p. 76). However, the wicked who fought against God being in hell is not something to mourn, cry or be in pain over in the first place. Saints witnessing that divine justice is not the same as them receiving prayers from righteous about their heartfelt illnesses, problems, and tragedies, etc. So, this is not analogous at all. In fact, Revelation 18:20 says the saints will actually rejoice at such divine judgement of the wicked, not mourn, cry or be in pain over it.

Lake then notes Irenaeus, Tertullian, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and Bede believed heavenly saints have memory of past earthly events, or that they behold the sufferings of those in hell (pp. 75-76). First, I already noted I agree heavenly saints will witness God-haters being justly tormented in hell. But again, Revelation 18:20 says the saints will rejoice at such divine judgement of the wicked, not mourn, cry or be in pain over it. Secondly, Irenaeus and Tertullian do not take such things to mean it is lawful for earthly believers to pray to dead saints as Lake does. They nowhere taught that. Thirdly, just because certain later church fathers Lake quoted held to certain ideas, that does not in-and-of-itself prove said beliefs are true and part of divine revelation. Lake never tells us why he often relies so heavily on such men as a basis for doctrine. Not everything Irenaeus said was derived from Polycarp who then derived it from the Apostle John. Similarly, not everything Tertullian taught was derived from students of the apostles. For, Irenaeus again falsely taught he received from the apostles the idea Jesus died between the ages of forty and fifty which is easily shown to be factually inaccurate and unapostolic (Against Heresies 2.22.5). And Tertullian ended up affirming the heretical doctrines of the Montanist cult which are clearly in opposition to apostolic oral preaching. So, if Lake wants to demonstrate the views of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and Bede on this or that issue derive ultimately from transmitted oral tradition of the apostles, he has to do some hard, historical work and not just assume that. This is the difference between being faithful to God’s truth and idolizing the later opinions of fallible, uninspired men. Christians do the former. Catholics do the latter.

Lake then cites and quotes a number of later church fathers and medievals who affirmed heavenly saints are aware of human tribulations and prayers involving such (pp. 76-80). But the points I just made would apply to this argument from late patristics as well. Moreover, Lake’s assertion that on this issue the church fathers “uniformly hold” the teaching he argues for is another lie. Here again the earliest and thus most methodologically important fathers do affirm this position. The materials of Ignatius, Clement of Rome, Papias, Polycarp, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Shepherd, Tatian, Athenagoras, Melito of Sardis, Dionysius of Corinth, and Hegesippus do not provide evidence this doctrine comes from apostolic oral tradition and thus divine revelation. Quoting a number of writers, starting with the fourth century fathers Ephrem and Basil (as Lake does here), does not prove the doctrine is part of the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints in the first century (Jude 1:3). If Lake cannot historically document the teaching is part of apostolic oral tradition by finding it in at least some of the primitive and thus most methodologically important apostolic fathers and second century apologists, then as an historian Lake cannot claim the basis for his doctrine is transmitted apostolic oral teaching. Thus, Lake cannot demonstrate it is part of belief-worthy divine revelation from God. The opinion of Protestant apologist Matt Slick is then presented where he said he has no problem with saints in heaven hearing what is said on earth (p. 80). However, Slick is basing this off Revelation 5:8-14 which I already argued earlier refers to an angelic order possessing the earthly saints’ prayers to God, and not dead saints possessing them. So, I and many others would disagree with Slick’s comment on scriptural grounds (this is not to take away from the brother’s other fine materials which I often consult and respect).

Next, in my previous materials I asserted the earliest evidence of direct invocation of heavenly saints we possess are the Sub tuum praesidium prayer and Ephrem’s fourth century prayers. I pointed out the historian Maxwell Johnson affirmed certain scholars opt to date the Sub tuum praesidium later than the common A. D. 250 dating of it (i.e., certain scholars will date it to the early fourth century), but that even so it would remain “the earliest marian prayer in existence” (Maxwell Johnson, Praying and Believing in Early Christianity, (Liturgical Press, 2013), p. 80). Here Lake asserts, “other scholars indeed opt for a post-Nicene, fourth century dating, [but] they do so without any foundation aside from the Protestant presupposition that the invocation of the Virgin could not have existed before Nicaea” (p. 82). This is incorrect. One of the reasons Maxwell notes for dating it to the early fourth century is the use of the term Theotokos in the prayer which many scholars feel was not widespread enough in the mid-third century (Maxwell E. Johnson, Praying and Believing in Early Christianity, [Liturgical Press, 2013], p. 79). Although Origen and Dionysius of Alexandria employ it in the mid-third century, that is it (hopefully Lake does not claim the Liturgy of Mari and Addai is third century since “liturgists date [it] to the early fourth century” (Stephen Shoemaker, Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016), p. 70). Lake claims (p. 82) Stephen Shoemaker supports a mid-third century dating of the Sub tuum praesidium. But he actually says it “seems to date from the end of the third century” (Stephen Shoemaker, Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016), p. 69). And while Lake states Edgar Lobel and Marek Starowieyski opt for a mid-third century date on paleographic grounds, Shoemaker nevertheless points out “some others have continued to prefer a fourth-century date” (Stephen Shoemaker, Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016), p. 71) and he cites Forster (Forster, “Zur alesten Uberlieferung,” pp. 188-189) who gives various examples of modern scholars dating it to the early fourth century for various reasons. Thus, I take the safe position of placing it sometime between mid-to-late third century. I will not, as Lake does, try to force a mid-third century dating because scholars still debate this.

Lake then cites Arthur Barnes’ 1913 study on alleged first-to-third century Christian burial inscriptions which invoke dead saints (p. 81). Lake quotes eight examples of these. I have argued the first invocation of Mary and the saints is the mid-to-late third century Sub tuum praesidium prayer. This would be proven incorrect if some of the inscriptions Lake cites do indeed conclusively date to the first or second centuries as he claims. But citing a dating of these inscriptions from a study conducted in 1913 is unsatisfying (I would not stick with Schaff’s dating of every document for instance). On the contrary, J. N. D. Kelly places such funerary inscriptions in the third century, i.e., the same century as the Sub tuum praesidium (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1978), p. 490). Lake failed to demonstrate with modern scholarship any of these are first or second century. And third century inscriptional prayers from fallible people are not evidence divine revelation confirms such a practice. None of the ones Lake quoted which I could reliably date with modern scholarship were first or second century. For instance, the Gentianus inscription Lake quotes is third century since we know his friends Victoricus and Fuscian were third century (Bridgitte Meuns, “Martyrs, Relics, and Holy Places,” in Paganism in the Middle Ages, (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2012), p. 122). And the Matronata Matrona and Atticus inscriptions Lake mentions are both third or fourth century (Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder (eds.), Documents of the Christian Church (eds.), 4th edn., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 91). So, until Lake can demonstrate with up-to-date conclusive argument and scholarship that any of these are actually first or second century, he has not provided a valid refutation of my position.

Lastly, Lake takes issue with my quote of Schaff saying the fourth century patristic and later invocation of saints are similar to paganism. Schaff noted church practice “degenerated into a form of refined polytheism and idolatry. The saints came into the place of the demigods, Penates and Lares, the patrons of the domestic hearth and of the country” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, [Hendrickson, 2011], p. 432). Lake responds by saying since such later church fathers often denounced paganism in their writings, they would not have knowingly adopted paganism (p. 83). However, Schaff was not arguing the later patristics intentionally fell into error and adopted paganism, but that in reality their practice was very similar to paganism (which it is). Such later fathers therefore mistakenly thought the practice was based on divine revelation, despite the fact it is not and is instead only similar to pagan practice (which many were inundated by in their culture). So, here Lake has misrepresented Schaff and I. In sum, Lake has failed to convincingly demonstrate the inaccuracy of my scriptural and historical critiques against praying to dead saints as well as their alleged heavenly intercessions.

Does Divine Revelation Affirm Mary is Mediatrix of all Graces?

In my critiques I took major issue with the common Catholic idea that Mary mediates all graces from heaven. I provided various arguments why she does not physically apply all graces to men. Here Lake correctly notes there is a debate among Catholic Mariologists as to whether or not Mary is the dispenser of all graces in the sense that she physically applies them to men herself (physical causality), or if she only morally does so (moral causality) in that her heavenly prayers lead to God physically dispensing all graces. Lake notes (pp. 86-89) most modern Catholic Mariologists held to moral causality (e.g. Merkelbachm Godts, Bittremiex, Heris, de Aldama, der Meersch, Gickler, Friethoff, Terrien, de la Broise, Bainvel, de la Taille, Lemnerz, Carol). He then points out a limited number of them affirmed physical causality (e.g. Hugon, Lepicier, Garrigou-Lagrange, and Roschini who Lake interestingly elsewhere on pp. 89, 96-97 called “eminent” and “one of the greatest Mariologists of the twentieth century”). 

This picture is in a sense correct but it leaves out some important facts. Much of my previous criticism addressed the latter notion which Lake attempts to just discredit as a minority opinion worth overlooking. Yet, it must be strongly stressed it was actually affirmed by various later Catholic medievals and those proceeding them (For numerous references see Alessandro Apollonio, “Mary Mediatrix of All Graces,” in Mariology, (ed.) Mark Miravalle, (Goleta, CA: Seat of Wisdom Books, 2007), pp. 440-444). For instance, St. Bernadine of Siena said, “Every grace granted to men has three successive steps: By God it is communicated to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and from the Virgin it descends to us” (St. Bernadine of Siena quoted in Pope Leo XIII, Jucunda semper, 1894).  Liguori then clearly said all graces “should be dispensed by the hands and through the intercession of Mary” (Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, (Tucker, Printer, Perry’s Place, 1852), p. 129). And it is affirmed by multitudes of Catholic worshipers/laymen around the world who are unaware of the debate between physical and moral causality as regards this doctrine. Moreover, it appears in 1892 Pope Leo XIII supported physical causality when he said, “She dispenses grace with a generous hand from that treasure with which from the beginning she was divinely endowed in the fullest abundance” (Pope Leo XIII, Octobri mense, September 22, 1891). He, again, even approvingly quoted Bernadine of Siena’s affirmation of physical causality (Pope Leo XIII, Jucunda semper, 1984). What is more, many Popes call her the dispenser of graces or “dispensatrix” without explaining if they affirm this in a physical or moral sense (Mark I. Miravalle, Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1993), pp. 40-46). So various other popes most likely affirmed physical causality as well. This does not mean physical causality is dogmatic in Papalism (It is not affirmed enough for that to be the case). Yet, it can be argued the general idea is dogmatic on the basis of the ordinary universal magisterium (As Miravalle does in Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary, (Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., 2006), p. 111). With that said, Lake himself rejects physical causality and so does not wish to defend it. This is an important admission that various Catholic medievals, Mariologists, theologians, popes and multitudes of Catholics around the world were/are deceived to believe and propagate physical causality which Lake admits is a false doctrine. Yet, he does affirm moral causality which will therefore be the topic of discussion for the rest of this section.

In order for Mary to be the moral cause of God’s distribution of all graces, she would need to possess knowledge of the billions of people who require the grace of God and to be able to understand all the languages of people praying to her concerning required graces. But omniscience is a divine attribute only God possesses (e.g. 1 John 3:20). Lake responds by saying Mary possesses super-knowledge on such things not because she is herself omniscient, but because “God manifests them unto her” (p. 94). However, if God has to reveal to her the knowledge of the billions on earth who require grace in order for her to then pray to God concerning their need for grace, then Mary’s alleged role becomes inessential or unrequired. Secondly, divine revelation nowhere affirms God grants Mary knowledge concerning the billions who require grace, or that he gives her the ability to understand all the world’s languages (which prayers are made in). So, here again it is demonstrated Lake believes a doctrine which does not come from God’s perfect, infallible divine revelation, but instead comes from man’s imperfect and fallible mind. Such a methodology is not honoring to God at all.

Lake then notes how in the past I argued there is no patristic affirmation of the physical causality aspect. But then he says I am incorrect because Ephrem taught moral causality (p. 94. That Ephrem taught moral causality is affirmed by Lake when on pp. 94, 99 he interprets him as teaching, “no man can receive graces without her intercession” and: “Ephrem indubitably means to convey that God is the physical cause of our receiving graces, i.e., that He is the one who literally or actually bestows graces to men”). However, Lake cannot argue Ephrem taught moral causality as a basis for refuting my argument he did not teach physical causality. That is fallacious and dishonest. Moreover, Lake claims I insinuated Catholics only have one quote of Ephrem speaking on this topic (p. 96). But I never insinuated anything of the sort. All I said was that Catholics state Ephrem does in fact teach this idea in a quote I provided. But I never stated it is the only relevant quote from him on the matter. I am quite aware he had much to say on the topic. The quote I provided reads, “After the Mediator, you [Mary] are the Mediatrix of the whole world” (Ephrem, Oratio IV, Ad Deiparam). I then argued there is nothing in context indicating Ephrem taught the physical causality aspect whereby Mary actually applies grace to man physically. Oddly, Lake disagrees and says the context does support this notion (p. 97). But in so doing he contradicts himself since he already interpreted Ephrem as only affirming moral causality (pp. 94, 99). I then noted scholars do disagree with the notion that here Ephrem was affirming the physical causality aspect (as Lake himself does on pp. 94, 99). But then he contradicts himself and cites those in the minority position like Rischini who think Ephrem was affirming physical causality. Lake cannot have his cake and eat it too.

My opponent then quotes the eighth century Germanus of Constantinople and Andrew of Crete as supporters of Mary being mediatrix of all graces. However, showing the Ephrem, Germanus and Andrew and Crete believed this teaching is not a valid basis to say it is part of divine revelation and thus true. This teaching cannot be demonstrated to come from divine revelation (i.e., scripture and the oral teachings of the apostles). Yet, Lake still believes it because he does not truly care about affirming that which comes from God himself. He is content with affirming that which comes from the much, much later minds of fallible, uninspired men. I then provided quotations of Clement of Alexandria, Chrysostom, and Jerome in essence denying the physical causality aspect and affirming it is God who physically applies graces to man. Here Lake responds by saying these fathers disagreed with me on other doctrines (pp. 101-102). I do not contest that. But I do not see how it is relevant. It is the Roman church which is known for claiming “unanimous consent of the fathers” or saying fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Chrysostom, and Jerome were Roman Catholics. Therefore, it is relevant for me to show all the instances in which they affirm that which modern Rome denies, or disbelieved that which modern Rome affirms. But it is not relevant for Lake to point out they can disagree with my beliefs because I do not claim they were Protestants or that I have “unanimous consent of the fathers” for my teachings. I affirm many of these later men clearly departed from divine revelation and thus Reformation was essential.

In my past materials I repeated church historian Alister McGrath’s point that the Latin Vulgate translation mistranslated Luke 1:28 to mean Mary was “full of grace” (gratia plena) which later Catholics used as support for the idea Mary was a reservoir full of grace which could be drawn upon at a time of need. However, the sixteenth century Catholic scholar Erasmus and others then pointed out that was a faulty translation and that the original Greek term just meant “favored one” (Alister E. McGrath, Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought, (John Wiley & Sons, 2012), p. 97). Here Lake does not contest McGrath’s point. He only says people like Ephrem, Germanus and Andrew of Crete were not dependent on the Latin Vulgate translation of Luke 1:28 for their views of Mary’s mediatorship of graces. However, I never stated they were. I simply pointed out later Catholics did in fact use this mistranslation to argue for the idea. So, Lake is arguing against strawmen.

This is basically all Lake wrote on the topic of Mary being mediatrix of all graces. Suffice it to say, he failed to demonstrate it is part of divine revelation that all graces dispensed by God are because of Mary’s intercessions. He did not even offer a scriptural case for this notion.  And the earliest writer he was able to muster was the fourth century Ephrem. Thus, his best historical evidence for his doctrine appears in church history nearly 300 years after Jesus and the inspired apostles. That is an inadequate basis to justify his view that the belief originates with apostolic oral tradition. Again, Rome cannot, as historians, demonstrate her false teachings come from Jesus and the inspired apostles (i.e., the first century deposit of faith), even though it claims they do. Papalism clearly too often relies on the later views of fallible, uninspired men for their teachings which is dangerous and not honoring to God.

Lake’s Case for the Catholic Worship of Mary and Saints

In this part of his thesis, Lake attempts to offer a defense of the Roman Catholic practice of worshipping Mary and the saints the way they do, i.e., by excessively bowing to statues of them, lighting candles around them, and praying towards them, etc. The question is: does divine revelation sanction this practice? Or does divine revelation identify it as forbidden, false worship? Lake explains (pp. 103-105) the Catholic practice and moves to his defense.

Catholics claim they only give dulia (Latin) to creatures and statues of creatures like popes, the saints and Mary. They define dulia as acceptable veneration. The Latin word dulia which Catholics say they validly give to saints is based on the Greek word δουλεύω which is found in the LXX and NT. The same is the case with the alleged hyper-dulia Catholics give to Mary. The Latin word latria Catholics claim they give only to God comes from the Greek λατρεύω as found in the LXX and NT. However, these distinctions do not work biblically. Although it is true λατρεύω is worship which is only to be given to God according to scripture, δουλεύω is not restricted to human veneration or devotion, but is actually considered divine worship when done in religious contexts. In Matthew 6:24 δουλεύω is used in reference to serving God as one’s Master. The same is the case in Romans 12:11 where the word is used of serving the Lord, and in Romans 14:18 as regards serving Christ. Hence, when it comes to religious settings of spiritual devotion, δουλεύω is forbidden worship only to be given to God alone. In fact, Galatians 4:8 condemns giving δουλεύω to statues or idols as Rome does. Thus, Catholics are in error for giving δουλεύω in religious contexts to creatures. The position confirmed by divine revelation is that bowing is fine when it is not in a religious context. For example, paying general homage or obeisance to a king of a state or leader would be acceptable as an ancient Israelite form of cultural greeting or respect. However, religiously bowing in an excessive manner is condemned. This is why for example bowing to angels is condemned in scripture and identified as worship due only to God (Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9). It is also why Peter forbad Cornelius to bow before him and identified it as worship due only to God (Acts 10:25-26). These are religious contexts.

Lake argues in divine revelation it is fine to religiously prostrate to created angels. He cites Numbers 22:31 where Balaam bowed to the Angel of the Lord (p. 106). However, I already provided evidence earlier that the Angel of the Lord is God Himself, and many early church fathers affirmed this, even though Lake’s church falsely identifies them as Romanists and often claims their practices enjoy “the unanimous consent of the fathers.” So, this would not support religiously prostrating to created angels. What is more, Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9 again forbid bowing down to angels in a religious context and identifies that as worship due to God alone. Thus, Lake’s practice is condemned. But he cares not if scripture explicitly contradicts his misinterpretation of Numbers 22:31. This is because, again, Catholics are not devoted to what God revealed. They instead stand by what later, fallible, uninspired men taught and then impose that teaching on scripture even if it results in scripture contradicting itself. Lake then offers Joshua 5:13-14 as evidence it is okay to וַיִּשְׁתָּ֔חוּ (prostrate) to a created angel (p. 106). But the being Joshua bowed to here is a divine theophany of God Himself. The text reads, “13When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, Are you for us, or for our adversaries? 14And he said, No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, What does my lord say to his servant? (Joshua 5:13-14). For in depth cases these kinds of texts are theophanies, see Vern Poythress, Theophany: A Biblical Theology of God’s Appearing, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018); Robert Morey, The Trinity: Evidence and Issues, (Las Vegas, NV: Christian Scholar’s Press), pp. 106-137; James Borland, Christ in the Old Testament, Revised edn., (Mentor, 2010); Scotty Neasbitt, “God the Son in Select Theophanies of the Old Testament,” in The Journal for Trinitarian Studies and Apologetics, (Jan 2013), pp. 119-129). Quickly I will note the next verse demonstrates this being is God since He says, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy” (Joshua 5:15). This is something God requires when He is present (Exodus 3:4-5; Acts 7:32-33; cf. 2 Peter 1:18). The interpretation of Origen (who Rome falsely claims was a Catholic) is in accord with mine. He said the being in Joshua 5:13-14 was Jesus (Origen, Hom. 6). As it stands, the earliest patristic interpretation of this text opposes Lake’s Romish interpretation. What is more, the being in Joshua 5:13-14 had a sword in His hand. Interestingly so did the Angel of the Lord in Numbers 22:23 who is actually God (and the Angel of the Lord likewise had a sword in 1 Chronicles 21:16, “stretched out over Jerusalem”). This is evidence the being in Joshua 5 was the same Angel of the Lord who I earlier on provided evidence is God Himself. Next, Lake finally gets to a text about an actual, created angel (p. 106). He cites Daniel 8:17 which says, “So he [Gabriel] came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end (Daniel 8:17). However, as OT scholar Stephen Miller notes, “this reaction most likely was due to the presence of God in the place (“one who looked like a man”, v. 15), not the fear of Gabriel” (Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, (NAC: Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 1994), p. 231). He provides the evidence: “Daniel does not seem to have feared angels (cf. 7:16), not even Gabriel (cf. 9:21ff), but in v. 17 he exhibited extreme terror and fell on his face. Such fear is characteristic of those who have found themselves in the presence of the Holy God (cf. Isa. 6:5; Ezek 1:28; Rev 1:17)” (Ibid.). For further evidence the being in vv. 15-16 who looked like a man and summoned Gabriel was actually God himself, see again the works on theophanies I cited above. In sum, none of the texts Lake offered support the Catholic practice of bowing to creations in a religious context (which is actually forbidden worship according to divine revelation).

The issue of scriptural prostration towards humans is then raised by Lake. He quotes 1 Kings 18:7 which says, “And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, Is it you, my lord Elijah?” (1 Kings 18:7). However, in ancient Israelite culture, falling down on your face before a human simply represented a sign of obeisance in the form of a greeting or recognition like how modern women would do a curtsy, etc (Alec Basson, Divine Metaphors in Selected Hebrew Psalms of Lamentation, (Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2006), p. 128). It cannot be seen as a being equivalent to Romanists of today religiously devoting themselves to statues or angels with prayers, candles, and excessive religious bowing, etc. These are two different worlds. Mere cultural obeisance is not the same as the idolatry Rome engages in. Jacob Neusner gives the contrast as regards 2 Samuel 9:6: “Mephibosheth came to King David and fell on his face and did obeisance. He did not worship David” (Jacob Neusner, Religion, Literature and Society in Ancient Israel, (University of America Press, 1987), p. 103). The Romanist practice is worship (as Lake admits below). The same response applies to Lake’s appeal to 2 Kings 2:15 and 1 Samuel 28:14 (pp. 106-107). The fact is Exodus 20:5 condemns this excessive papal practice which goes well beyond ancient Israelite cultural greeting and respect: “You shall not bow down to them or serve them (i.e., a carved image, v. 4), for I the LORD your God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5).

Lake then brings up the early church fathers. He claims Justin Martyr was a student of Polycarp, who was a student of John the Apostle. However, there is no evidence Justin Martyr was a student of Polycarp. The best we have is Justin may have been familiar with the document Martyrdom of Polycarp (Robert Grant, Greek Apologists of the Second Century, (SCM Press, 1988), pp. 53–54). But that does not demonstrate Justin knew Polycarp or was his student. Lake may have confused Justin Martyr with Irenaeus because Irenaeus was indeed a student of Polycarp (Irenaeus, Letter to Florinus quoted in Eusebius, Church History, 5.20.4-8). But, lo and behold, Irenaeus does not affirm the Romish practice of worshipping creatures. Be that as it may, Lake quotes (p. 107) Justin saying: “But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth” (Justin Martyr, Apology, 6, ANF translation). The way Lake interprets Justin would have him saying it is fine to venerate angels with the same veneration believers offer to God, which is “worship.” Thus, here Dods and Reith rightly translate σέβομαι and προσκυνέω as “worship” and “adore” in the first volume of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. That Lake has misinterpreted Justin as supporting the worship of angels is demonstrated by various points (Here I rely on my own research and some of the findings of Robert Alan King, “The Worship of Angels in Justin Martyr: Reassessing 1 Apology 6:1,” Scholarly Study of the Church Fathers, (King and Associates, 2017)). Justin read the book of Revelation (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 81; Eusebius, Church History, 4.18) which clearly condemns the worship of angels in two instances (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). Elsewhere Justin states Christians worship God alone (Apology, 16, 17) and is clear that angels are not God (Dialogue with Trypho, 128:4). In the same work Justin makes a parallel comment about the worship of God, Christ and the prophetic spirit, and there he does not include angels (Apology, 13). Justin gives no indication he believed angel worship in other relevant, congruous places (Apology, 16, 61). What is more, scholars have pointed out two other understandings of Justin’s words here which contradict Lake’s interpretation. The first possibility is that Justin was simply saying the Son taught “us these things,” as well as taught the angels these things (i.e., a loose, parenthetical remark). The second possibility is that Justin meant the Son taught Christians about the angels themselves (i.e., another loose, parenthetical remark). The Ante-Nicene Fathers translation I used allows for both understandings. These interpretations are also allowable on the basis of translations of Apology, 6 done by other scholars as well (e.g. Jacob Bryant, "Observations on a Controverted Passage in Justin Martyr; also on the Worship of Angles" CJ 27 (1823), p. 262; William Cave, Primitive Christianity, ed. John Brewster (London: C. and J. Rivington, 1825), p. 5; John Kaye, The First Apology of Justin Martyr (Edinburgh: John Grant, 1912), p. 8). As historian and patristic scholar Bernhard Lohse confirmed, “The rendering in ANF 1, 164, does not imply angel worship. In translating we have reproduced the author’s literal rendering of the passage -[Translator]” (Bernhard Lohse, A Short History of Christian Doctrine, (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1985), p. 43). These interpretations are also affirmed by the studies of various other scholars (e.g. W. Trollope (ed.), Justini: Philosophie et Martyris: Apologia Prima, (Cambridge, Macmillan, 1845), I. pp. 28-29; Marcus Dods and George Reith, The First Apology” Vol. 1, The Ante–Nicene, Nicene, and Post–Nicene Fathers, (eds.) Alexander Roberts et al, (New York: The Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885), p. 164 n. 3. See also the survey of scholars who held these two positions in Carl Gottlob Semisch, Justin Martyr: His Life, Writings, and Opinions, vol. 2, trans. Jonathan E. Ryland (Edinburgh: Thomas Clark, 1843), pp. 253-256). I am ultimately persuaded one of these two options is best in light of the aforementioned arguments, and the fact Justin elsewhere was fond of including loose, disruptive, parenthetical thoughts in the middle of his sentences (e.g. King notes, “There is even a greater disruption caused by additional thought in the middle of a passage where Justin makes mention of the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit(1 Apol. 61:10–13)). So, while I withhold judgement on which of the two interpretations is ultimately correct, I affirm one of them has to be because Lake’s interpretation is refuted by too much evidence.   

It is very interesting Lake affirms the worship of angels on the basis of his false understanding of Justin Martyr’s above words. Elsewhere Lake actually admits he worships Mary and the saints as well. He says he affirms the “the dogma of the cultus, i.e., honor, veneration, or worship, which is due to the Blessed Virgin and the other saints” (p. 103). Thus, he has openly rejected divine revelation which clearly condemns the worship of anything or anyone other than God. Along with Exodus 20:5, Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9 command believers to “worship God” as opposed to worshipping creations like angels. In Romans 1:25 Paul condemns the pagans who “worshiped and served the creature” (Romans 1:25). What is more, in Luke 4:8 Jesus said “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve (Luke 4:8; cf. Matthew 4:10; Exodus 2:3-5). Moreover, in Acts 3:1 Peter and John pray to God in the house of worship (the Temple). And Luke 2:37 explicitly mentions, “worshiping with fasting and prayer.” With this in mind, in Colossians 2:18 Paul condemns the “worship of angels,” from which it necessarily follows praying to them is also forbidden. By admitting he and his church pray to and, in other ways, worship creations like angels, saints and Mary, Lake admits he rejects divine revelation and openly rebels against it in favor of the novel, man-made traditions later men came up with hundreds of years after the divine deposit of faith closed.

Lake then (pp. 107-108) brings up the well-known fact that Origen, Cyprian, and Carthaginian churches affirmed commending the memory of martyrs in churches (Origen, Homilia 3; Cyprian, Epistola, 34, 37). However, this is not the same thing as modern Romanists creating statues of saints, lighting candles to them, praying to them, and excessively bowing to them, etc. Origen and Cyprian did not affirm such wicked practices. So, citing them is not really relevant to the controversy at hand. Lake then (p. 108) continues to the fourth century with Eusebius, Basil, and so on, wherein we begin to see the emergence of the explicit Catholic practice of worshipping dead saints the way modern Rome does (Lake also lists other later writers affirming this on pp. 109-118). However, this just confirms what Schaff noted long ago: “In the first three centuries the veneration of the martyrs in general restricted itself to the thankful remembrance of their virtues and the celebration of the day of their death as the day of their heavenly birth. . . . But in the Nicene age it . . . degenerated into a form of refined polytheism and idolatry” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, [Hendrickson, 2011], p. 432). I have to again note quoting such men writing hundreds of years after Jesus and the inspired apostles is not evidence the idolatrous practice comes from divine revelation. So, why does Lake use such quotations as primary evidence for his position? Is Lake not actually committed to affirming that which God revealed in the deposit of faith which closed in the first century? Is he content with affirming that which emerged from the fallen, uninspired minds of later men and which cannot be historically demonstrated as originating from apostolic oral tradition? The earliest and thus most methodologically important fathers, many of which had contact with the apostles or their students, did not affirm this practice (i.e., Ignatius, Clement of Rome, Papias, Polycarp, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Shepherd, Tatian, Athenagoras, Melito of Sardis, Dionysius of Corinth, Hegesippus and Irenaeus (though again, we must be tentative with him). Thus, as an historian, Lake cannot argue his practice originates in apostolic oral tradition. If such a tradition was passed on, surely some of the primitive, extrabiblical apostolic fathers and second century apologists would have received and affirmed it somewhere in their voluminous writings. But, they do not.

Lake’s Answers to my Criticisms Against Catholic Worship of Mary and Saints

In my previous materials I noted that Catholics often claim they only give Latin dulia to saints (and hyper-dulia to Mary), but that they do not give them latria which they say is worship due to God alone. Dulia again comes from the Greek word δουλεύω as found in the LXX and NT. And latria comes from the Greek λατρεύω, which is likewise found in the LXX and NT. In past essays I responded to this Catholic argument from word distinction by noting it does not hold up scripturally, and therefore cannot be used as a basis for Catholic practice. For, in scripture δουλεύω is often employed to refer to divine worship due to God (Matthew 6:24; Romans 12:11; 14:18; cf. Colossians 3:24), and it is also forbidden to be given to anyone but God in religious contexts (e.g. Galatians 4:8; cf. Judges 10:10; 1 Kings 9:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). It follows this Catholic argument from word distinction is invalid according to divine revelation. Lake responds by claiming certain later fathers who worshipped the dead did not depend on this argument from word distinction (pp. 120-121). However, I never said they did. I would refute them on other grounds. He then claims this later medieval Catholic argument from word distinction is valid because it was fine for the Romish scholastics to “later adapt its [the word douleúō] meaning so as to signify a distinct cultus of the saints” (p. 121). Yet, to the Christian in submission to God’s perfect revelation as the authority, this is not fine. It is a rejection of the fact that according to sacred scripture, δουλεύω is not to be given to creatures in religious contexts because that would make it divine worship due to God alone. Lake attempts to parallel the later medieval Romish scholastic distortion of the meaning of δουλεύω as a basis to legitimize their perverse, idolatrous practices, with the fourth century Athanasius allegedly redefining the word ὁμοούσιος (“of one substance”) which the heretic Sabellius used previously in his defense of Modalism (p. 121). However, Athanasius was correct since ὁμοούσιος does not in fact support Modalism at all. Sabellius originally falsely employed the term. But God being of one substance does not actually preclude there being three distinct persons who can share in it. Thus, Athanasius was not incorrectly redefining the word as late medieval Romanists did with δουλεύω, thereby rejecting the true, scriptural meaning. This means Lake’s analogy is erroneous.

Revelation 19:10 is brought up which says, “Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God’” (Revelation 19:10; cf. 22:8-9).  This text proves according to divine revelation, falling down at a creature’s feet in a religious context is considered worship due to God alone. It is therefore forbidden to be done to saints and Mary (or statues of them) as Catholics do. Lake then posits the eisegetical opinions of later church writers who tried to resolve the dilemma in light of their novel, unbiblical adoption of creature-worship. He quotes Augustine’s (Augustine, Quaestiones in Genesim, q. 61) early medieval opinion that “John mistook the angel to be God and adored him as such” (p. 122).  However, even if this were the case, it would not resolve the fact the angel commands John to stick to worshipping God (i.e., bowing in religious contexts). This therefore precludes worshipping angels (i.e., bowing in religious contexts) and so does not actually solve the problem. If Lake was correct, we would expect the angel to allow the religious bowing while simply noting he was not God. But he did not. Instead he said, “you must not do that!” (i.e., religiously bow). Gregory the Great’s erroneous views (Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, lib. 27, cap. 11) are then provided. He claimed the angel was not opposed to being religiously bowed to in-and-of-itself, because in Genesis 19:1 and Joshua 5:14, created angels are allegedly bowed to. However, I already demonstrated in Joshua 5:14 the being is not a created angel but is actually God Himself (see above in this essay). As for Genesis 19:1 which mentions “two angels” being bowed to by Lot, Genesis 18:1-2a confirms the three angels in question who originally appeared to Abraham right before this, were in fact “Yahweh” Himself. It says, “And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him” (Genesis 18:1-2a). The three angels were therefore the Trinity (Luther, Ellicot, Natan). Thus, when Lot bowed to two of them in Genesis 19:1, he was bowing to two members of the Trinity and not two created angels. That the three angels in Genesis 18-19 are actually God is demonstrated by other considerations as well. In Genesis 18:20-21 Yahweh says He will go to Sodom. However, it is the two angels who go to Sodom while one Yahweh stays behind talking with Abraham (Genesis 18:22; 19:1). Thus, the two angels are also Yahweh since they went to Sodom when it was Yahweh who said He would go there. As for Gregory the Great’s meager claim that “because Christ, in becoming incarnate, thereby elevated human nature, the angel had a certain reverence for men, and refused to be bowed down to by one, especially one who was an Apostle (pp. 122-123),” this is merely an eisegetical remark not drawn from the verse or immediate context itself. Neither Revelation nor any other NT book states the incarnation “elevated human nature” in this sort of way. This assumption (which is not derived from divine revelation) is just read into the text (eisegesis) and is thus underserving of credence. The inescapable fact is the angel was opposed to being bowed to in a religious context since he identified that as worship. Lake then claims none of the church fathers interpreted these two texts in Revelation as Protestants do (p. 122). However, Cyprian’s comments on 22:8-9 indicate he believed religious bowing was worship due to God alone, and that this was ordained for the Son to receive: “God the Father ordained His Son to be adored; and the Apostle Paul, mindful of the divine command, lays it down, and says: God has exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things heavenly, and things earthly, and things beneath [Philippians 2:9-10]. And in the Apocalypse the angel withstands John, who wishes to worship him, and says: Do it not; for I am your fellow-servant, and of your brethren. Worship Jesus the Lord” (Cyprian, Treatise 9, On the Advantages of Patience). Cyprian nowhere defends the action of John, with the added corrective Lake offers (i.e., just to not confuse the angel with God).  Interestingly my interlocutor failed to mention this exposition which undermines his claim of patristic support (and wasn’t Cyprian allegedly a Romanist?).

Acts 10:25-26 is then brought up which says, “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, Stand up; I too am a man’” (Acts 10:25-26). This text again demonstrates bowing in a religious context is considered worship due to God alone. Thus, it must not be done to creatures or statues of creatures as Rome does. Lake cites Jerome’s statement (Jerome, Contra Vigilantium, cap. 5) that Cornelius thought Peter was a god and worshipped him as one. But, Lake argues, Catholics are not allowed to worship creatures as gods or as though there was “something divine” in them (p. 123). However, even if this were granted, it would still follow bowing in a religious context was considered by Peter to be worship due to God alone. If bowing in a religious context was acceptable as long as the bower did not consider the person being bowed to as divine, we would expect Peter to say “continue bowing just do not view me as God.” But instead he commanded Cornelius to “stand up.” This indicates Peter was opposed to the religious act of bowing itself.

Lake moves to the matter of titles of God which Rome has sinfully applied to Mary without revelational confirmation. Such titles include: “our life,” all-holy one,” “peace-maker between sinners and God,” “Helper,” “crusher of the serpent’s head,” and “a name after that of thy Son above every other name, that in thy name every knee should bow, of things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth,” etc. These are all applied to God alone in scripture (1 John 5:11-12; Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3; Ephesians 2:14-16; John 14:26; Galatians 1:4; Genesis 3:15; Philippians 2:10). Lake argues (pp. 124-125) in scripture God Himself will sometimes give to believers certain titles He has used (e.g. Father, Teacher, Judge, Rock, etc.). However, just because God Himself has the authority to apply some of His titles to His redeemed creatures, that does not mean God sanctions Rome’s practice of applying other titles of God to Mary which He Himself did not sanction in divine revelation. This is the proof by example fallacy in logic. Rome inconsistently admits all doctrine and morality must come from the closed deposit of faith or divine revelation because of Jude 1:3 (Vatican I, First Dogmatic Constitution, section 4, ed. Vincent McNabb, The Decrees of the Vatican Council, [Burns and Oates, 1907], p. 45; The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Charles George Herbermann, (Robert Appleton Company, 1912), Volume 13, p. 4). Yet, divine revelation does not confirm it is sanctioned by God to apply to Mary the specific titles of God Rome applies to her. Here again we observe how Rome does not care about sticking to divine revelation. It is content with believing what fallible, uninspired men came up with hundreds of years after the fact on all sorts of matters.

Lake then zeroes in on some (though not all) of the specific titles of God Rome has sinfully and without divine sanction applied to Mary. He claims the title “our life” does not detract from God being the ultimate source of spiritual life (pp. 125-127). However, the point is divine revelation does not give Mary this title. It gives it to God alone. Therefore, applying it to Mary when it belongs to God alone is unlawful.  The divine title “all-holy one” is then examined. Lake claims it is acceptable to apply it to Mary because (1) saints are called “holy” in scripture; (2) she and other saints receive grace to be holy; and (3) she was allegedly sinless during her life. However, (1) saints are called “holy” but never “all-holy one” which belongs to God alone; (2) just because saints and Mary receive grace to be holy does not give Rome the right to apply to Mary the divine title “all-holy one,” since divine revelation never does so and instead reserves it for God alone; and (3) the immaculate conception is unbiblical and ahistorical as my essays [1, 2] on the matter demonstrate. Lake claims because Ambrose, Augustine et al taught Mary did not sin during her life, this title is appropriate. However, as my essays I just cited demonstrate, this is refuted by scripture which teaches she sinned at times, and by the church fathers like Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Cyril of Alexandria, Basil of Caesarea, and Chrysostom who taught she sinned at times (church fathers which Rome falsely claims were Romanists and which Pope Pius IX falsely claimed affirmed Mary’s immaculate conception in Ineffabilis Dues). The bottom line is divine revelation does not identify Mary with the divine title “all-holy one,” and so it is unlawful to apply it to her, as that title serves to glorify God alone in divine revelation. Concerning the title “peacemaker between sinners and God,” Lake claims it is acceptable because Mary intercedes for believers and obtains pardon for sins in the subjective redemption (p. 129-130). However, above I already refuted Lake’s case for Mary’s alleged heavenly intercession and demonstrated divine revelation does not support the doctrine. But the bottom line again is “peacemaker between sinners and God” is a title applied to Christ alone in divine revelation and so applying it to a creature without God’s sanctioning from divine revelation is unlawful and offensive. The final title Lake looks at is “the Helper” which belongs to the Holy Spirit alone in divine revelation. Lake tries to justify this title being applied to Mary on the basis that sometimes saints are said to “help” others (e.g. Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:10-11). However, in divine revelation none are given the title “the Helper” in light of this. Only God is because He is the perfect Helper and is thus the only one truly deserving of the glorious title. Hence, again Rome exceeds the bounds of acceptable biblical theology by applying to Mary a title which serves to glorify God alone and which God never sanctioned should be given to creatures. Lake failed to defend other titles of God which Rome unlawfully applies to Mary, such as “crusher of the serpent’s head,” and “a name after that of thy Son above every other name, that in thy name every knee should bow, of things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth,” even though I mentioned those in my past work.

The topic of Vatican approved Marian apparitions is then focused on. These are some of the most blasphemous things to ever come out Romanism. I quoted them in a past essay showing how they (1) detract from the glory God alone deserves; and (2) contain theology which is utterly opposed to divine revelation. Whatever this creature in these apparitions was (either a demon or Satan), it, in the 1917 Fatima, Portugal apparition, said things like: people need to make sacrifices (i.e., “bearing suffering” and “reparation for sins for the conversion of sinners and as atonement for “sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary”), because there is allegedly no one to do so (what about Christ’s sacrifice which perfectly and sufficiently atones for sin and saves according to divine revelation?). It also promised salvation to those who devoted themselves to it, claimed to be people’s refuge, and demanded a chapel be built for its honor. I pointed out how the redeemed Mary would never contradict scripture and say such unbiblical things since divine revelation states Jesus provided the once-for-all, perfect, eternal, and sufficient sacrificial atonement for sins and people’s salvation (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; Hebrews 7:25; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:12, 14). Moreover, those with the Holy Spirit glorify God and do not instead request temples be built in their own honor (John 16:14). Earlier in the demonic 1531 apparition in Guadalupe, Mexico, this wicked entity requested a temple be built to it so that it could have people seek it as a remedy from miseries, afflictions, sorrows and distress. However, Mary would never request a temple be built to her so she could do things which divine revelation says God does from His Temple (i.e., remedy distress, etc). In Psalms 18:6 David looks to God in His Temple as a remedy from distress. What is more, it is actually the antichrist who wants a temple built to it so it can be glorified and seen as the one who provides remedy for such things (2 Thessalonians 2:4). And again, those with the Holy Spirit glorify God and do not instead request temples be built to them in their own honor (John 16:14).

Lake attempts to defend these blasphemous and demonic manifestations. He says these were true apparitions of Mary because Catholics around the world believe they are, and the Catholic church could not be wrong on such a large scale (p. 133). However, if the Roman church was cut off and had its lampstand removed long ago thereby making it a false church (as Romans 11:18-22, 25 and Revelation 2:5 warn can happen, and as I will argue below did happen), then it could easily be that it is universally deceived about demonic apparitions. That the Roman church fell, was cut off and had its lampstand removed as a system, I argue for in a past essay on the basis of its satanic abominations century after century. Historically Roman popes murdered other popes and cardinals, popes sold their papal office for gold, popes were controlled by the wicked pornocracy family, popes had orgies in the Vatican, Rome created deceptive forgeries to bolster the power of the papacy such as the donation of Constantine and Pseudo-Isidorian decretals, bishops and priests have consistently molested children in staggering numbers, leading to popes, bishops and priests then covering up such molestations on a massive and global scale, popes sold indulgences for money to be able to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, popes sanctioned the idolatrous worship of fraud relics, popes put corpses of past popes on mock trial and mutilated them, popes sanctioned the brutal inquisitions for many centuries, popes murdered and deposed other popes, Pope John XII mutilated a priest, committed homicide and adultery, violated virgins and widows, turned the pontifical palace into a brothel, lived with his father’s mistress, drank to the health of the devil and invoked pagan demons like Jupiter and Venus at the gambling table, and the Roman church ordained the idolatrous worship of statues and denied the very gospel message of salvation (sola fide) itself at the council of Trent. Clearly the Roman church did not take heed to the warnings found in Romans 11:18-22, 25 and Revelation 2:4 and was therefore cut off from God as a system. This is why Reformation was essential and why it is not difficult to maintain the Roman church is universally deceived to believe false apparitions. Before the gates of hell could totally prevail over the church (Matthew 16:18b), God sovereignly ordained the Reformation to prevent such a catastrophe (as I argue in Reformed Answers on the Roman Corruption of Christianity 5:14:35 – 5:20:10).

Lake then claims the apparitions are valid because miracles allegedly accompanied them (pp. 133-134). He claims that noting Satan does false miracles to deceive is similar to how the Pharisees denied Jesus’ miracles. However, Old and New Covenant scripture (including Jesus’ own ministry teachings) are clear that Satan can and often does do counterfeit miracles to deceive the gullible and unsaved, and so believers are to be very vigilant and discerning and not just believe every purported miracle after Jesus’ ascension (Exodus 7:22; 8:7; Deuteronomy 13:1-2; Job 1:7; Mark 13:22; Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 13:11-15; 18:23; 19:20). Moreover, to parallel Jesus with the abominable Roman church and its blasphemous, unbiblical, and demonic apparitions is an offense to God for the reasons specified above. Lake moves on and claims although the entity stated men need to do sacrifices for sinners, since there is allegedly no one to sacrifice for them, this is not an attack on Christ because the entity was not denying Jesus made a sacrifice (p. 135). However, to rely on sacrifices made by humans (i.e., “bearing sufferings” and reparation for sins for the conversion of sinners and as atonement for “sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary,”) as the basis for sinners receiving salvation, and then for the entity to claim there is no one to make such a sacrifice, is an overlooking and thus denial of Jesus’ perfect and sufficient sacrifice which saves and atones (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; Hebrews 7:25; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:12, 14). By approving this apparition, Rome is also guilty of this treacherous error against Christ, even though elsewhere it inconsistently claims to affirm the sacrifice of Christ (to appease the gullible). Lake claims (p. 135) Tertullian affirmed the same concept as this entity in that human sacrifices could lead to the salvation of other humans. He notes Tertullian said Christian sacrifices to God are made for the salvation of the emperor (Tertullian, Ad Scapulam, cap. 2). However, again the entity claimed the sacrifices which saved consisted of “bearing sufferings” and reparation for sins for the conversion of sinners which atone for “sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” But Tertullian did not affirm this wicked concept. In fact, in the immediate context (i.e., later on in the very same sentence which Lake did not quote), he defined such metaphorical sacrifices as “simple prayer” for others (Ibid.). Tertullian did not believe prayers bore sufferings or atoned for sins as the wicked entity claimed. So, Lake citing Tertullian as supporting this heresy is inaccurate. Christians believe in praying for the salvation of others whereby Jesus’ perfect and sufficient expiatory and propitiatory sacrifice forever removes their sin and God’s wrath, while Catholics believe in order to obtain such a salvation and atonement, creatures must bear suffering for other creatures and atone for others’ sins (as the Vatican approval of this wicked apparition demonstrates).

Lake comments (p. 135) on how this wicked entity promised salvation to those who devoted themselves to it and notes Paul said he prayed for people’s salvation (Romans 10:1). However, the two statements are not at all analogous. Paul never promised salvation to those who devoted themselves to him. Paul knew this was glorious language to be applied to God alone. Again, Paul believed orthodox doctrine later found in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else [other than Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), John 14:6, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6), 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9), and Revelation 7:10, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10). Never would the blessed Paul blasphemously state he promised salvation to those who devoted themselves to him in light of divine revelation’s clear opposing language.

Concerning this entity glorifying itself the way I specified above, and requesting temples be built for it and to its honor, Lake claims it did not do so to honor itself as vainglory, but instead to honor Christ (pp. 135, 136, 137). But why then did it say “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor” instead of saying “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in Christ’s honor”? And why did it say it wants “a temple be built to me” and not “a temple be built to Christ”? Lake’s polemic is refuted by the very words of the entity itself. It clearly did want personal honor as a result of the temples. Lake then argues the entity wanted the temples built to itself because God instructed it to say that, and we should not question God. He cites (p. 135) Romans 9:20 which says, “who are you, O man, to answer back to God” (Romans 9:20)? First, how does Lake know God instructed the entity to say this? Did his church declare that to be the case ex cathedra? Is it part of the ordinary universal magisterium? Is it in divine revelation that God confirms He would do this in 1917? Where is Lake getting his certainty that God instructed the entity to say this? Second, it is curious why Lake would employ Romans 9:20 when its original purpose was to combat those who would question God as to why He still finds fault with the hard-heartedness of unbelievers when they are just carrying out what God predestined and created them to do (Romans 9:3-19). Yet, this is exactly how Romanists like Lake, as well as Arminians, argue for their pagan-originated (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 3:1-2a; 5:1113b, 9, 10-13; Epicurus, Epicurus to Menoeceus, 133-155, idem. Principle Doctrines, 4; Epictetus, Doctrines, 1.1; idem. Discourses of Epictetus, 1.1; 4.1; Cicero, Of the Nature of the Gods, 3:237) doctrine of freedom from God. They argue: “How can men be held accountable for their sin against God if they are not free and if God just predestined and created them to be the way they are”? Paul is actually combatting this Catholic and Arminian argument in Romans 9:20, and he would say to Lake just as he said to free will heretics long ago: “who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Paul would have thus refuted Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 3:1-2a who likewise argued, “praise and blame arise upon such as are voluntary”). Hence, the very text Lake erroneously and presumptively employs to defend his blasphemous position, which Paul would never agree with, actually ends up condemning his pagan anti-Calvinistic theology of man’s freedom from God. Lake then provides passages which either show saints receive glorification from God Himself, or that Mary should be called “blessed.” He cites 1 Samuel 2:30, John 12:26, Romans 2:10, Luke 1:48, and I agree with all of this. However, none of those texts say Mary or anyone else should have temples built to them in their honor. That would actually be divine worship, as only God is honored in and by a Temple according to divine revelation (Psalms 18:6; 48:9; Luke 24:53; Revelation 11:1). It is never sanctioned for anyone else in divine revelation.

Lake then tries to justify temples being built to and in honor of saints on the basis that starting with Emperor Constantine building one for the apostles, we then see various church fathers affirming the practice later in history (pp. 138-140). However, there is a debate if Constantine actually built this edifice, or if it was built later as others suggest (Vered Shalev-Hurvitz, Holy Sites Encircled: The Early Byzantine Concentric Churches of Jerusalem, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 205-206). But let us assume Eusebius was correct that Constantine did build it. The problem would be Constantine was a fence-sitting Pagan/Christian who continued to affirm paganism in many aspects during his life (only on his deathbed did he truly convert to Christianity and receive baptism). In pagan Rome, the heathen often sinfully built temples to gods or human heroes to honor them. Thus, if Constantine (who was not a good theologian) built one to the apostles and to honor them, this would be residual pagan practice from his heathenistic background. G. P. Baker notes, “He was not willing to seem too obviously to take a side. His chief efforts had all his life been bent upon the task of conciliation and peace-making. In accordance with this plan, he avoided any action that seemed like too plainly classifying himself. To his pagan subjects he had conducted himself as an enlightened pagan-very much, in fact, as his father had done. . . . Such a position on the fence was technically allowable so long as Constantine refrained from receiving baptism. . . . Once he received baptism, his actions would necessarily be much more limited” (G. P. Baker, Constantine the Great, (New York, NY: Cooper Square Press), p. 308). He was not a true Christian theologian and so was unaware that building temples to creatures and in their honor was incompatible with divine revelation since, again, it is clear that would actually be divine worship, as only God is honored in and by a Temple according to divine revelation (Psalms 18:6; 48:9; Luke 24:53; Revelation 11:1). It is never sanctioned for anyone else in divine revelation. Just because certain later church writers followed the false tradition originated by the Pagan/Christian Constantine’s pagan-originated practice, gave it legitimacy, and were seemingly unaware that it was inconsistent with divine revelation for the reasons specified above, that does not mean this practice is valid. They clearly departed from divine revelation on this point and instead followed the novel, pagan tradition started hundreds of years after Jesus and the inspired apostles completed the divine deposit of faith. Something is valid if it is taught by God in divine revelation. If you can only appeal to men writing hundreds of years after divine revelation was already completed, then you do not have a solid foundation to legitimize your position. Christians follow God. Romanists follow men.

We now approach the two final arguments in Lake's thesis. The first one is his attempted rebuttal to my use of Psalms 16:6 which again says David sought God in His Temple as a remedy for his distress. This shows what the entity in the apparition said it could do in its temple, was actually something divine revelation says believers should look to God for in His Temple. Thus, the being attempted to detract from the glory and sufficiency of God. Lake responds by again claiming the entity was really just seeking to ultimately glorify God (p. 141). However, why then did it say “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor” instead of saying “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in Christ’s honor”? And why did it say it wants “a temple be built to me” and not “a temple be built to Christ”? Lake’s rebuttal is refuted by the very words of the entity itself. Also, why did the entity then claim to do what divine revelation says believers should look to God to do? As regards my use of 2 Thessalonians 2:4 which says it is actually the antichrist who wants a temple built for him so he can be glorified, Lake argues the antichrist will claim to be God. And since the entity in the apparition did not claim to be God, Lake argues these cases are dissimilar. However, the being in the apparition put itself in the place of God by (1) wanting a temple built for it and for its honor when divine revelation confirms only God has Temples built to Him and for His honor; (2) by claiming it could do things in the temple which divine revelation says one should look to God to do in His Temple; and (3) claiming it promises salvation to those who devote themselves to it when divine revelation affirms people are saved by devoting themselves to God Himself (e.g. Acts 4:12, John 14:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and Revelation 7:10 ). Thus, it is clear these points demonstrate the entity was putting itself in the place of God just as the antichrist is predicted to do in divine revelation.

Conclusion

On the matters of the intercession of Mary and the saints, prayer to Mary and the saints, Mary being mediatrix of all graces, and the worship of Mary, Lake has failed to, as an historian, demonstrate these doctrines are derived from divine revelation (i.e., the closed deposit of faith). He also failed to adequately refute the arguments demonstrating such doctrines are contrary to divine revelation. Instead, he was only able to find actual support for his doctrines in the fallible, uninspired writings of men who wrote hundreds of years after the closing of the deposit of faith. Yet, he did not attempt to historically demonstrate the teachings found in such later patristic writings derive ultimately from apostolic oral tradition. He was unable to find a stream of said doctrines being passed to the apostolic fathers and second century apologists, and so on (when at least some of them should have received, believed and affirmed these supposedly apostolic doctrines in their voluminous writings). Thus, as an historian he is unable to state the doctrines found in later patristic writings he relies on reflect what the inspired apostles taught. He may have blind faith the apostles handed on such teachings orally, but he cannot demonstrate it in a scholarly manner (biblical faith is never in falsehoods or in things which cannot be substantiated). My interlocutor also committed countless errors in his interpretations of scripture and in his interpretations of the patristics which I highlighted. He also relied on an autonomous rationalistic methodology as a basis to add to scripture and then confused that approach with the Reformation principle of drawing out that which necessarily follows from the text. But I demonstrated these two approaches are not at all the same and why Lake’s is unreliable and rejected by divine revelation. My response to Lake’s thesis reveals that Rome looks to Mary for that which Christ sufficiently and perfectly provides. 

It is my hope and prayer that Lake will abandon Roman Catholicism, its creature worship and its false gospel. I pray he instead submits to what God actually revealed in divine revelation. Although these interactions can be heated, that does not minimize my desire for his salvation. Jesus paid for sin on the cross. That expiatory and propitiatory sacrifice is received by trust or reliance in Christ and his saving work (the gospel, i.e., “good news”). By faith one receives that perfect sacrifice (Romans 3:25; Ephesians 2:8-9; cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 1:16; 10:9; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 15:1-6) and foreign righteous standing (Romans 4:2-5; Philippians 3:9; cf. Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:19) credited to their account, wiping away all their sin, removing God’s wrath, and making one acceptable in God’s sight. If only Lake and other Catholics would submit to God’s righteousness instead of trying to establish their own by means of Mary and others (Romans 10:3). I will end with a passage from the letter to the Hebrews which is relevant both to the Marian controversy discussed in this essay, as well as the saving gospel message itself: “He added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:9-14).