It is the 6th of September 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.

A Happy Labor Day to those who observe, my gift to you is a trip to the mailbag.

Nathan in Birmingham sent me a nice message filled with some questions and I responded personally to him for some, but here is a little subset of those questions that we’re gonna take a crack at today:

“It seems that you are inconsistent with who you refer to as a “saint”. Sometimes you refer to the disciples as “St” and sometimes you don’t (for example “St. Paul” or Paul). St. Augustine seems to get the “saint” added but Aquinas does not. Does anyone refer to Luther or Calvin as St. Luther or St. Calvin? Do non-Catholics still have saints? This is probably too many questions, LOL, but I would love to hear your answer.”

First, I am assuming that this is Birmingham Alabama- home of the Birmingham Bears AA team that Michael Jordan famously played on during the years he was secretly suspended from the NBA. And if you are in Birmingham my guess is that you are a Protestant as Birmingham Alabama has a greater ratio of Protestants to population than any city in America. Good times.

  1. I am inconsistent- and sometimes for good reason.
  2. Saint comes from Sanctus (Latin) which comes from Hagios (Greek)- one set apart (see “sanctified). Who is set apart and holy? The anointed one, or “the messiah”. And then- this is the Gospel- we are united to him in Baptism and faith and thus set apart and made holy. Christians can disagree on the process- but this is the whole ballgame.
  3. I have never heard of someone calling Calvin or Luther a saint, but that would probably be less embarrassing than some of the weird culty stuff some Prots can do. I have found that Lutherans love to dress up like Luther- a brown friar's robe, hammer, and piece of paper. Hahaha…whatevs.
  4. Do non-Catholics have saints? Of course. Heroes of the faith? Martyrs? But what about popular or “branded” pastors and ministries among other such idols….

Why are saints, broadly understood, so popular?

1. A sense of history and place

2. Another advocate (although this can be dicey, of course)

3. Relics of the saints as tools for politics and tourism

Oh, relics… hahaha. Except as I am recording I am looking at a Rams hat from the 1980s signed by Eric Dickerson. My wife keeps the teeth that fell out of my boy's heads when they were small. Marcia Brady said she would never wash her hand again after Davy Jones from the Monkees kissed it. Broadly speaking, it is what humans do. The question can then become particular (should we call this so-and-so a saint? Should we put flowers on Wesley’s grave, etc… etc… have some deeper conversations embedded).

Thank you Nathan, and please remember to send me your questions in the ways that people send questions to other people (danv@1517.org, @almanacpodcast or @dan_vanvoorhis)

The last word for today is from the Gospel according to St. Matthew- appropriate for this Labor Day- this is from chapter 11:

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 5th of September 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.

The show is produced by a Monkees aficionado who knows the it was really Peter Took driving the band. He is Christoper Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man who wonders if Baptists in Minnesota call their capitol just plain “Paul”. I’m Dan van Voorhis.

You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.