It's well known that Protestants reject the doctrine of Intercession of Saints. According to Wikipedia:

With the exception of a few early Protestant churches, most modern Protestant churches strongly reject the intercession of the dead for the living, but they are in favor of the intercession of the living for the living according to Romans 15:30.

When it comes to arguing for the rejection of the doctrine of Intercession of Saints (specifically, the intercession of the dead for the living), what are the strongest apologetic arguments according to Protestants? Are there compelling reasons that should be able to dissuade any rational believer from seeking intercession support from departed Saints?

Note: the counterpart question can be found at What are the strongest apologetic arguments in defense of the veracity of the doctrine of Intercession of Saints?

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    @depperm But you can have an apologetic argument for the belief in the non-intercession of saints (I say this as a Catholic).
    – Null
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 20:05
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    Apologetics is a two way process. And its progression depends on the ability, capacity and intellect of the two parties as to how it progresses. These kind of questions attempt to 'freeze in time' a two-way, progressive development.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 20:23
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    @NigelJ - answers can be edited though, and new answers can always be posted.
    – user50422
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 20:24

2 Answers 2


For those denominations that take the Bible fairly literally, everyone that has ever died (with one notable exception) is still dead and buried and awaiting resurrection.

For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, … — Ecclesiastes 9:5

No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, … — John 3:13

Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. — Acts 2:29

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. — 1 Thessalonians 4:14

Given the belief that the dead are unconscious and are sleeping until their resurrections at the end of the age, there's not much need of further argument to show that someone that is dead, buried, and unconscious is incapable of intercession of any kind.

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    Up-voted +1 for a thoroughly comprehensive, yet astoundingly succinct, statement.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 20:59
  • This position would need to take into account such passages as Luke 16:19-21, Revelation 6:9-11, and Philippians 1:23. It would also need to adequately explain how the possible anthropocentric language of Ecclesiastes can be synthesized in the desired way; how Ephesians 4:8 cannot possible mean that people ascended to heaven when Christ ascended after Christ's statement in John 3:13; etc Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 13:02
  • @MattThomas, consider Luke as a parable, and Revelation like ML King figuratively crying out to those that pass his tombstone. I don't get the Philippians and Ephesians references, perhaps they belong as part of an answer to the (as yet unanswered) companion question: catholicism - What are the strongest apologetic arguments in defense of the veracity of the doctrine of Intercession of Saints? - Christianity Stack Exchange. Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 17:32
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    Taking the following into consideration: Hebrews 9:27 "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." And also 1Corinthians 5:8 - "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." -- shows that we are with the Lord once we die and are not sleeping Although we are disembodied at that time.
    – dezkev
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 13:11
  • @dezkev says "shows that we are with the Lord once we die and are not sleeping". I don't see how it shows that. "after that" doesn't have to mean "immediately after that", and "prefer to be" doesn't even imply elapsed time at all. Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 22:15

On an official German protestant website exactly this question was answered with the following arguments (loosely summarized in English by me):

  1. Protestants do not have a hierarchy of the deceased. None of us is so good that they are immediately by the side of God after they have died; we all will need God's forgiveness at judgement day. On the upside, we Christians are all holy: We are equal parts of a "community of the holy" in our faith.

  2. By becoming human in the shape of Jesus God established a "direct contact" to us. Circumventing Jesus by praying to saints belittles Jesus.

  3. As opposed to the Catholic church which knows a hierarchy of levels of access to God, protestants consider all believers equal. Neither priests nor saints nor popes have special access rights. (Generally, the exclusive access to God through office-holders is one of the central dogmas distinguishing Catholics from Protestants.)

An additional reason is, ironically, provided by a page on the non-official catholic.com, if only in order to refute it: Some critics consider it a form of polytheism because addressing saints in prayer de facto treats them as assistant gods, even if the Concil of Trent drew a fine line in the sand between veneration (allowed) and adoration (forbidden).

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