Could you please provide me with scriptures to explain why 1st communion
is non Biblical and scriptures about workshiping “saints” “virgin mary”
“etc.” I am currently engaging a catholic family and I would like to have
scriptures at hand to over with them.
I do not have any scriptures about these topics. This is why they are not
biblical. There is no justification from scripture for having a first
communion or for worshipping saints or the Virgin Mary.
Now, just because something is not biblical does not necessarily make it
bad or wrong to do it. For example, there is no example in the Bible of
having Sunday School. Yet, it is OK for us to have Sunday school. There
are three kinds of traditions. One of them is perfectly fine, a second
category is dangerous, but not necessarily sinful, depending on what you
do with it, and a third kind of tradition which is just plain wrong.
1. We cannot worship God without at least some use of tradition. All
Christian groups have at least some traditions. If they do not, the
worship can be downright confusing. For example, some do a song service
before a sermon and so forth. The order of service is not prescribed in
the Bible. One is free to develop traditions for expediency without
violating any command or even any principle in the Bible.
2. There is a second kind of tradition which can become bad, even if it
is not in and of itself sinful. This is the tradition which is taught as
if it were the commandment of God when it is not. Matthew 15:3-9 is a
good passage to help us understand this concept. Jesus quotes Isaiah as
he admonishes the people, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are
but rules taught by men. There is nothing wrong with tradition, per se.
In fact tradition can, in some cases, be helpful for worship. However,
when our tradition comes to be taught as if it were from God, then it
becomes an evil thing. It is easy to pick on Catholics in this regard.
The church calendar, the first communion, the altar rail, having only
“priests” do baptisms and almost an unlimited number of traditions which
are “but rules taught by men.” I believe it is not wrong to have a formal
“first communion” ceremony, but this is not a New Testament practice. We
should be wary of traditions which can morph over times into unwritten or
even written doctrines. The Catholics may be the worst examples of this,
but many Christian groups have multiple examples of this same behavior.
You should watch yourself and your church group to guard against moving
too far from tradition toward doctrine.
3. There is a third and even more insidious type of tradition. This is
the tradition which, if practiced, will cause us automatically to be in
disobedience to God. Your first example (first communion) is not sinful
per se, but worshipping “saints” and “the Virgin Mary” are examples of
this more insidious sort of tradition. If one worships saints or if one
says a rosary or bows down toward a statue of Mary one is sinning. If
Mary were alive today she would be absolutely mortified at what is
commonly done in Catholic gatherings. The same can be said for the
“saints.” Catholics claim that they do not actually worship the saints
and Mary, but their practices belie this claim. They say they use the
saints as an aid to prayer. They pray “through” the saints, not to the
saints. This, too, is a violation of biblical teaching. 1 Timothy 2:5 is
useful in this connection. “There is one God and one mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all
men.” To use a saint or Mary as a mediator (or a priest for that matter)
is not simply an unbiblical tradition. It is a sinful act. If we pray to
a priest or through Mary we are denying the mediating power of Jesus.
Catholics may not see it that way, but they are wrong. There are many
examples of this more insidious tradition, which includes belief in
Purgatory, practice of infant baptism, the existence of a separate
priesthood and the like.
The next question is what you should do about this. This depends on who
you are talking with. You may want to be careful and respectful in how
you approach these topics. You will do better to build up the truth
about Jesus than to attack another person?s religion. Nevertheless, in
the end, you may have to be straightforward and point out to these people
that their practices are simply not Christian. I suggest you start by
sharing your excitement about Jesus, your purity of life, the reality of
true biblical repentance and your zeal to evangelize for Jesus. You are
more likely to win people by your loving and devoted life than by
condemning the wrong religious practices of these people. Once they are
made “open” by seeing your life, they are far more likely to listen to the
material I have presented above. I hope this helps.
John Oakes, PhD