Archive for July, 2009

This article in the National Post by Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College in Vancouver, may well be the only sensible thing that has been written on Prime Minister Steven Harper’s recent communion “controversy”.

This is odd and unsettling to put it mildly. Read the news article “Latvians prepared to sell their souls for quick cash” here. If the Kontora loan company thought it was simply being funny, it thought wrong. Kudos to the Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches for standing together in their condemnation of this spirtually-bankrupt economic quick-fix.

Plans are apparently in the works to have G.K. Chesterton put on the long road towards canonization by the Roman Catholic Church, reports The Catholic Herald (UK) [see here] and The National Catholic Register (USA) [see here].


Canonization in the Roman Catholic Church is an extremely complex process, frequently taking many years to complete. A bishop must first open an investigation into the life of the deceased [generally no sooner than five years after the date of death], which results in a very thorough study of his/her life. This involves the critical reading of all his/her writings, the gathering of eyewitness accounts of his/her life, and the writing of a detailed biography of the person. The person is eventually recognized as “venerable”, meaning that s/he exhibited a faithful, virtuous life. Then, the person is declared “beatified” or “blessed” meaning that there is strong evidence to believe they have entered heaven. A martyr can be directly declared beatified. All others must first have one miracle officially recognized as having occurred as the result of the deceased’s intervention. If a second miracle is officially recognized, the “beatified” can be recognized as a “saint.” Catholics would also want to remind us that canonization is not in their theology about making someone into a saint, but rather recognizing them as a saint.


Quite a lengthy process, eh? It’s interesting to note that, from a Protestant perspective, we could skip all this rigmarole and just go ahead and proclaim him a saint. In fact, why don’t I? I hereby proclaim G.K. Chesterton a saint.


Confused? Let me explain.


In most of the history of the Church, the term ‘saint’ has always been used to mean ‘Christian’. That means that any Christian, any member of the entire Christian Church, living or dead, can be referred to in this way. Sainthood is not related to our piety or holiness, but rather to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Those called by Christ are made holy through Him – sainted, if you prefer. The very word for ‘saint’ in Latin (sanctus) is related to the concept of being ‘sanctified’. And as it is written of Christians in 1 Corinthians, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (6:11). The Holy Spirit washes, sanctifies and justifies all Christians. Therefore, all Christians are sancti – all of us saints. And all of it, by God’s grace.


Was G.K. Chesterton a Christian? Most assuredly. Are Christians saints? Absolutely. Was Chesterton a saint? Undeniably.


So praise God for Chesterton. Praise God for all the saints. Praise Him for those who have gone on before us, who have left us strong examples of faith and courage. And praise God for all the saints still on earth, the Church on earth.


For all the saints who from their labours rest,

Who Thee, by faith, before the world, confessed

Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Allelluia! Alleluia!


O blest communion, fellowship divine.

We feebly struggle; they in glory shine.

Yet all are one in Thee for all are Thine.

Alleluia! Alleluia!


William W. How, 1823-1897