Saints in Non-Catholic Churches

What role do saints play in Protestant churches? Do they canonize new saints, or do they only recognize the ones in existence before that specific church was founded?

There are a lot of Protestant churches with a lot of different beliefs, so it’s hard to give an answer that encompasses all of them. That said, I’ve never encountered a Protestant strain of Christianity that recognized any saints at all.

Most evangelical Christians define “saint” as a believer, thus we (believers) are all saints.

Then why are there Protestant churches named for saints? (St. Stephen Episcopal Church, St. Luke Lutheran Church, St. Philip Presbyterian, just to name a few a Google search turned up)

It is common for Anglican churches (including Episcopal churches in America) to be named after saints.

I live near St. James Episcopal Church and an All Saints Episcopal Church is close by.

I’ve asked several Anglican friends this same question and they’ve generally given the answer that you suggest: the Anglican church recognises pre-Reformation saints but doesn’t canonise new ones. The justification for this position that I’ve been given varies:

  • some have said that it’s simply an issue of practicality. The Anglican church doesn’t have the necessary machinery to canonise new saints or the centralised authority required to ensure universal acceptance of their canonisation.
  • others have said that it accords more closely with the Anglican church’s general theological position (viz via media, “half-in/half-out”).

I don’t have a cite, but my rough understanding as someone raised in the Church of Scotland, its particular position is as follows:

[ul]Those saints from the early church are unambiguously deserving of the status. Modern churches are frequently named after such saints, including the title, and I’d guess that the majority of Scottish churches are actually so named, with St. Andrew obviously being particularly popular.[/ul]
[ul]At some point - in keeping with the view that the medieval church needed reforming - canonisations start being regarded as a bit iffy. Someone like Thomas Aquinus is recognised as a significant intellectual figure, but somewhat suspect. Only a few extremists are likely to object to him being referred to as St. Thomas Aquinus, but you just won’t now get a church named after him.[/ul]
[ul]After the Reformation, there are no recognized mechanisms for declaring saints and so that’s your lot. There are then all sorts of informal rules as to whether people are referred to by the title, often depending on whether they’re primarily famous as a Catholic saint. Thus no presbyterian is likely to say “St. Thomas More”. He’s just plain, if the very famous and obviously devoutly Catholic, Sir Thomas More. On the other hand, “St. Teresa of Avila” would be taken as more neutral; there’d be no suggestion that the writer was endorsing the granting of the title and, as a matter of convenience, not using it would only lead to confusion.[/ul]

To repeat what I said in the other saints thread, the Church of England has never added a new saint to the list. However, many other national Anglican churches, while not formally canonizing them, informally recognize them by the simple process of adding them to the calendar. C.S. Lewis was added in 2003, for example.

Anglicans generally accept the more “universal” and the English among the saints from before the Reformation – certainly all the Christian figures of the New Testament, and people like Benedict, Francis of Assisi, John Chrysostom, the two Augustines as well. The “homegrown” saints like Alban, Aelred, Aidan, Wilfred, are also recognized.

As a Methodist kid, I was taught that we used “saint” to refer to the Twelve Apostles, the other two Evangelists (Mark and Luke), and to Paul and Barnabas.

In Orthodoxy, if I’m not mistaken, the process is for popular piety to recognize the sanctity of a recently deceased individual, and then for the Metropolitan or Patriarch and Synod of his church to formally recognize that person as a saint. One rather famous recent Orthodox saint is St. Tikhon, the 19th century Patriarch of Moscow who spent a great deal of time in Alaska (of which he was bishop), San Francisco, and New York before becoming patriarch. Orthodox saints tend to be little known in the West, because they are people like a 6th century Cappadocian monk, a 13th century Montenegrin bishop, etc.

A hard-core, born-again co-worker of mine states that anything the saints did can be done by anyone who truly belives and is faithful.

Even the Virgin Mary and the Apostles are no better than you or I.

It’s the “being faithful” part that separates the sheep from the goats.

Seriously, I am of the opinion that saints were human beings who made mistakes and were imperfect. I think St. Paul and St. Peter owned up to that.

Just to confuse things, the LDS church uses the term “saint” much more broadly 9as you’d expect from their name), and Saint George, Utah wasn’t named after the Cappadocian kinight usually shown fighting a dragon, but after Joseph Smith’s relative, George Smith.

Thanks for the answers. You can always count on Dopers when there’s a question of religious doctrine.

{quote]Saint George, Utah wasn’t named after the Cappadocian kinight usually shown fighting a dragon

I don’t recall him being Cappadocian. That’s a land in modern Turkey, IIRC. I though he was believed to be Italian, or at elast from around the Alps.

Indeed, I believe that all religions which acknowledge saints note that they were mere mortals. They were particularly faithful ones. In fact, my native Catholicism notes that technically, all who enter the kindgom of heaven are saints, as are all the angels. The ones we publicly acknowledge are those of whom we have some proof and evidence of their divine association.

I got that from A Penguin Dictionary of Saints, among other sources, which I highly recommend for the many strange and wondrous things you encounter.
Check the Wikipedia reference:

You mighta been thinking of all those Italian paintings of him.

And from the Golden Legend:

I thought that some Anglican churches “canonized” people by adding “Blessed” to the beginning of their name? Am I wrong here?

Note 1: does not apply to the “Blessed Virgin Mary”

Note 2: As mentioned, some people (like CS Lewis) are simply added to the Kalendar and don’t end up witgh “Blessed” status.

Note 3: Whether I’m right or wrong, Anglican churches do not consider any of their “saints” to be saints in the same sense as a “Roman” saint, because (as mentioned), there’s no mechanism in Anglicanism for doing so.

I had always heard that St. George was named after George Washington, especially considering the fact that it’s the county seat of Washington County. I’d be interested in a cite that it was named after George A. Smith.

I believe that “Cappadocean” in this context is the name of a religious order within Catholicism, not a direct reference to Cappadocea.

From my experience and reading, it seems that mainstream Protestant churches traditionally use the appellation “saint” for the Four Evangelests and the Apostles, and sometimes for Joseph, the father of Jesus. So they do have saints, but not the hundreds and hundreds recognized by Catholicism.