There are few better examples of the chasm between Biblical Protestantism and Romanism than the area of sainthood. We have discussed this issue on several occasions, but the canonisation of the late Cardinal John Henry Newman in the Vatican on 13 October 2019 has reminded us of the issue again. Newman is one of the best-known clerical figures in British church history. He began as a minister in the Anglican church but was heavily influenced by high-church Anglicanism and defected to Rome in October 1845. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1847 and made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879.
Newman, who died in 1890, had been tracked for sainthood over a period of several years. The process is long and complex, but he was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham on 19 September 2010 after a “miracle” attributed to Newman’s intercession involved the complete and inexplicable healing of a deacon from a disabling spinal condition.
Canonisation is the final stage of the process, and a further “miracle” paved the way. It concerned the healing of Melissa Villalobos, a 42-year-old mother of seven from USA, in 2013. A couple of years before her “miraculous” experience, her husband brought home some of Cardinal Newman’s holy cards. “I would pass his picture in the house and I would say little prayers to him for whatever our family’s needs were at the time — the children, my husband, myself. I really started to develop a very constant dialogue with him,” explained Villalobos. Two years later, she was pregnant with her fifth child but there were concerns both for her and her unborn baby as she was suffering from bleeding. On one occasion, she collapsed in the bathroom. In fear, she began praying to Newman. She said, “Please, Cardinal Newman, make the bleeding stop…those were my exact words. Just then, as soon as I finished the sentence, the bleeding stopped.” After extensive scrutiny by a team of clerical “experts”, but seemingly with no outside impartial assessment or verification, it was decreed that this “miracle” met the criteria. Newman’s canonisation therefore took place at the Vatican in October 2019. Prince Charles represented HM The Queen at this celebration of spiritual darkness and confusion.
Once again, we have been reminded how far Rome is from God. The Bible makes it very clear that good works can never save. Even if we were able to perform a whole range of wonderful miracles, they would still be as filthy rags in the sight of God. We are made saints, not by any good works or efforts on our part, but by faith alone in Christ alone. Once Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us by faith, then we become saints, and we desire to live the life of a saint. Paul wrote to the saints in the various churches. They were sinners saved by grace. We reject and repudiate the Roman nonsense surrounding sainthood with all its works-based theology, its “miracles” from beyond the grave and its uncertainties. If Newman is only now a saint, where has he been since he died? The woman who claims to have been healed by him says she spoke to him but the Bible warns against communicating with the dead. It is all quite sad and pathetic.
Friends, we urge you to trust in Christ today. Then you will become a saint, and when death comes, you will immediately go to meet Him and be with Him forever.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?