Monday, April 07, 2014

Abercius And Prayer For The Dead

I received the following request in an email:

One quick request - could you perhaps dedicate a post to the "Inscription of Abercius"? It's the epitaph from a 2nd C Bishop requesting prayers to himself post-mortem.

I can't find a single protestant article online that addresses it as support for a historical "Prayer for the Dead" doctrine.

My response:

The Abercius inscription is insignificant for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Abercius had the inscription put up while he was still alive. His requests that people pray for him (not to him) may have been intended for the remainder of his lifetime, not intended to continue afterward. Secondly, even if the prayers were offered after Abercius' death, the inscription doesn't specify any type of prayer that would be inconsistent with Protestantism. There's no reason for a Protestant to oppose all forms of praying for the dead. For example, there's nothing wrong with asking that a deceased friend be remembered for the kindness he showed you or asking that his legacy bear as much good fruit as possible. What's objectionable is a type of praying for the dead that involves something like a false view of the afterlife or a false view of the individual being prayed for. The Abercius inscription doesn't specify anything along those lines.

And see here regarding the evidence against Purgatory.

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