Saturday, November 19, 2011

Can A Living Person Be Called A Saint? "Why are you calling yourself a saint when you are still alive?"

St. Arrey of Ntenako

The word saint has been misused. The word saint appears in the bible only three times: Ps 106:16; Dan 8:13; Philippians 4:2, and in all three occasions, it referred to a living person. The Psalmist and Daniel use it to qualify Aaron as a holy person, some one “set apart“. Paul uses it to refer to the Philippians as the most “holy thing;” people set apart for the Lord. The word in its plural form is used 96 times and in every occasion is used for the living as you can see in I Cor 1:2.

It is logical for the title to be used on the living as the dead can no more be set apart. The living are set apart for holiness. That is why when anyone says they are Christians, they are required to live a holy life. They may not be perfect, but they must strive to holiness and do not condone sin as a lifestyle.

Since the word saint simply means set apart, God calls sinners unto repentance and sets them apart for holiness and righteous living. From the etymology, one does not need to be called a saint for them to assume the title of a saint; it comes by virtue of the fact that they have been “set apart” for the Lord. The only danger is that canonizing a living person as a saint could become a subject of raillery if he or she goes astray.

Sainthood began in the early church where the martyrs were canonized for their righteous and sacrificial lives that led to their death. It was an attempt to recognize their endeavors in Christendom. It was a tradition but not a biblical recommendation. That tradition after some time deviated from honoring and calling the living saints unto honoring only the dead with the blessings of the Catholic Church.

It is actually chronicled that the living were called saints. In Acts 9: 41, the bible in reference to Peter’s resurrection of Tabitha from death says, “ And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.” How do you call the dead and widows to present them something or somebody if they are not alive and present? Neither the word saint nor present is used as an apostrophe.

This practice has become rampant and is limited to the dead only. However, the Catholics argue that it is important to canonize some as a saint only when they are dead so that they are not worshiped and also because it gives the committee time to study his works and make a final decision. If you look at why people are canonized as saints by the Catholics, it because of their impact in Christianity.

Therefore, without equivocation, every genuine Christian is a saint. It is now incumbent upon them to live by their nomenclature. If every Christian was a genuine believer, he or she should be called a saint. Saints were not governors or demigods to be worshiped. There is no indication by inference or example where a saint was worshiped or ordered to be worshiped. Not even in the Catholic Church were saints worshiped. The practice today could be deviating to that, but Catholic scholars have often vehemently contended that they do not worship saints as that will be idolatry which is a breach of the First and Second commandments.

As a result, there is no lacuna with that thought as those who are called Christians and who live the life of Christ are worthy to be called saints whether they live or die. That is why I prefer to be recognized while alive as Saint Arrey of Ntenako.

Consequently, if anyone calls herself or himself a saint, she or he must live by the dictates of a saint. That means, they must live like someone who is set apart. I am called Saint Arrey. I was called like that in Yaoundé, by the students who lived with me and saw my lifestyle. So you may be doing yourself and myself a disservice if you do not call me saint (a man set apart) and have to wait for me to die before you call me saint.

There is no indication in the Bible that all holy men or saints should only be in heaven. Heaven is their final destination or abode, but they prep their way while on earth. If one is called a saint by virtue of their salvation which was given to them by Christ, and by their persistence and abiding in the faith, there is no doubt that while on the trump of God the dead in Christ shall rise first, we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.

Until then, if the living be called saints, they must live like saints.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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