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Roman Catholicism
"Just Another Expression of Christianity"?

Mary

Edited and expanded extracts from the book by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald,
Alpha - the Unofficial Guide: World, (2003), Part Two, Chapter 6


Roman Catholicism: Index of Articles


 

Introduction

In this article we will briefly assess the position Mary holds, and the devotion accorded her, within the Catholic belief system.  Of course, not everyone in the Catholic Church holds to all the teachings of Rome, but the fact that the following instructions about Mary represent firm dogma - i.e. they must be accepted by anyone wishing to be a member of the Roman Church - means that any treatment of Rome would be very incomplete without a look at her.  There may, too, be aspects of Rome's teaching on Mary of which the reader is not currently aware...

 

Mother of God and Sinless Blessed Virgin

The first point to note is that Rome refers to Mary as the "Mother of God" and the "Perpetual Virgin".  Catholicism teaches that Mary was "Immaculately conceived" (i.e. born free from sin) so that she was not subject to death:

"[S]he is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God..." [Vatican II] [1].

"[Mary is] ... the Mother of God, ever Virgin" [Vatican II] [2].

"She was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life" [Catholic Catechism] [3].

"[P]reserved free from all guilt of original sin, the Immaculate Virgin was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory upon the completion of her earthly sojourn" [Vatican II] [4].

So strongly does Rome maintain these beliefs that any person not holding to them will, she claims, "incur the wrath of Almighty God".  Consider the following copper-bottomed statement from her:

"We pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.  Hence, if anyone, which God forbid, should dare wilfully to deny or call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic faith ... It is forbidden to any man to change this, Our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it.  If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God..." [Pius XIII] [5].

Unfortunately, we can find no unambiguous support for these teachings in the Bible.  Although Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ when He was on the Earth it is not possible for her to have been the "Mother of God", since Father, Son and Holy Spirit all existed before her:

"Before the mountains were brought forth, ... even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God" (Psalm 90:2).

"Art Thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, ...? (Habakkuk 1:12a).

"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am" (John 8:58).  See also Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:13-17, John 1:1, etc.

"God has no mother.  God has always existed.  God Himself is the Creator of all things.  Since a mother must exist before her child, if you speak of a 'Mother of God' you are thereby putting someone before God.  And you are therefore making that person God ... Mary would weep to hear anyone so pervert the truth as to call her the mother of her Creator" [6].

Mary also bore other children and so she was not a perpetual virgin:

"And he [Joseph] knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" (Matthew 1:25).

For some details of her other offspring, see Mark 6:3 and Mark 15:40.  (If any of our readers feel that it is inappropriate to investigate Rome's teaching on Mary, may we remind them that John Paul II confirmed his belief in all of Rome's Marian dogmas.)

Although Mary was righteous, and found favour in God's sight, she, like us all, was still in need of a Saviour:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).  See also Romans 3:9-12, 19-20, 23.

"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour..." (Luke 1:46-47).

As additional proof of this, Mary was not exempt from making the required sin offering after Christ's birth (Luke 2:22-24, c.f. Leviticus 12:2-8).

 

Co-Redeemer

Scripture notwithstanding, Rome goes further and claims that Christ Jesus was not our sole Redeemer, but that Mary is actually "co-redemptrix" with Him:

"[In 1995] Pope John Paul began a lengthy catechesis on the Blessed Virgin Mary ... culminating ... with his instruction on Our Lady's active participation in the Sacrifice of Calvary.  This active participation of Our Lady at Calvary is called the co-redemption.  Already in 1982 and 1985 Pope John Paul II used the term 'co-redemptrix' in reference to our Lady in public addresses ... Since the time of Pope Benedict XV, this terminology was under review by the Holy See [papal office]; [Pope John Paul's] usage is a confirmation of this traditional view of Mary's role in salvation history" [7].

Yes, Mary was present at Christ's crucifixion.  But if we start going down the road described above then we would have to say that the malefactor on the cross next to Jesus was also a co-Redeemer, due to his 'active participation' in the crucifixion scene.  But Scripture says no such thing about Mary or anyone else.  The Lord Jesus Christ alone was beaten, lashed and crucified.  He alone is sinless, and therefore He alone is able to save:

"Jesus Christ of Nazareth ... Neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:10,12).

"For there is one God, and one mediator [or 'reconciler'] between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

"God ... hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom ... by Himself purged our sins" (Hebrews 1:1-3).  See also 1 John 2:2, Romans 3:23-25, John 1:29 & 3:17.

The word 'Redeemer' can be found eighteen times in the Bible.  In each case the surrounding text confirms that there is only one redeemer.  The plural version of the word never occurs.

Luke 1:42-48 shows that God the Father permits Mary to be called "blessed" for "all generations" because He chose her to bear the Lord Jesus Christ.  She was a faithful and godly Israelite woman, and hers was a unique role, but other women in Scripture are also called "blessed" (e.g. in Genesis 24:60, Judges 5:24, and Ruth 3:10).

 

Mediator

Following on from the teaching that Mary is co-redemptrix, Rome insists that she is also the mediator between us and her Son, the Lord Jesus - and as such is to receive the prayers of the faithful:

"[T]aken up to Heaven, she did not lay aside this saving role, but by her manifold acts of intercession continues to win for us gifts of eternal salvation.  By her maternal charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth ... [T]he Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate [Intercessor], Auxiliatrix [Assistant], Adjutrix [Adjudicator], and Mediatrix [Go-between]" [Vatican II] [8].

"Let all the children of the Catholic Church ... continue to venerate [9], invoke and pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin ... [S]he presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner.  What she asks, she obtains" [Pius IX] [10].

But only a High Priest - a male - can intercede with God on our behalf.  The Bible just mentions one mediator between the Father and us:

"My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).     See also Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25-26.

There is no mention in Scripture of our needing to reach the Lord Jesus through prayers to Mary.

"How dishonouring it is to Christ to teach that He is lacking in pity and compassion for His people, and that He must be persuaded to that end by His mother!  When He was on earth it was never necessary for anyone to persuade Him to be compassionate.  Rather, when He saw the blind and the lame, the afflicted and hungry, He was 'moved with compassion' for them and lifted them out of their distress.  He had immediate mercy on the wicked but penitent thief on the cross, and there was no need for intercession by Mary although she was there present.  His love for us is as great as when He was on the earth; His heart is as tender; and we need no other intermediary, neither His mother after the flesh, nor any saint or angel, to entreat Him on our behalf" [11].

"For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Ephesians 2:18).

For us to pray to anyone but God is wrong (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Matthew 6:6, Luke 11:2).  If people were reaching the true Mary then she would admonish them for disobeying God.  Since this is not happening, whom are people really contacting?  And what of the increasingly frequent 'Marian apparitions' occurring around the world?  Despite there being no examples of Marian apparitions in the Bible, nor any scriptures prophesying that Mary would reappear, growing numbers of Catholics believe that the apparitions are images of the true Mary.  But the messages being given by this 'angel of light' reveal her true identity:

"Each religion is worshipping ... the same Creator! ... All religions are ... inspired by the Creator.  All words which have been written in the Holy Books have been written by men in unity with the Creator" [12].

"One religion ... is not better than another" [13].

"Allah and God are the same spirit" [14].

These teachings are from Babylon.  Indeed, the Babylonians too worshipped a woman whose image reappeared after her demise.  An example of this is referred to in Acts 19:35.  The enemy is easily capable of producing such 'lying signs and wonders' (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) and Paul warned us to be on our guard against this (Galatians 1:8).

Of course, large numbers of people believe in the errors we have cited above.  But any reader who imagines that "a billion people can't all be wrong" should consider the pattern throughout Scripture where it was indeed the majority who were usually in the wrong.  It was often just a tiny remnant that overcame Satan's temptations and deceptions and remained true to God's Word.  Among the large numbers of examples we could list: Only two people (out of the estimated two million escapees from Egypt) made it to the Promised Land, because the rest did not maintain a living faith in the God of Israel; only a very small proportion of the people in Elijah's day stayed true to the Lord; and only an infinitesimal fraction of the exiles from Israel ever returned.

 

Ave Maria

One of the ways in which Catholics believe they can pray to Mary is by recitation of the 'Hail Mary' (or Ave Maria in Latin):

"The Hail Mary is probably the most popular prayer known by Catholics outside the Mass.  It forms part of the rosary ... In the rosary it serves as a mantra, a repetitive sequence of words, thoughts and rhythms..." [15].

This contradicts the Lord's express command to us:

"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: ... Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Matthew 6:7-8).

Incidentally, the 'Holy Rosary' (used also by Muslims and others, and composed of a string of beads each of which is 'counted off' as the relevant prayer is recited) did not originate with Rome.  It is of pagan origin, having been used for millennia in the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism:

"[I]n the Hindoo sacred books reference is made to it [the Rosary] again and again.  Thus, in an account of the death of Sati, the wife of Shiva, we find the rosary introduced: 'On hearing of this event, Shiva ... beheld lying the body ... holding a rosary in her hand.' ... [T]he very idea of such a thing is thoroughly pagan.  It supposes that a certain number of prayers must be regularly gone over; it overlooks the great demand which God makes for the heart, and leads those who use them to believe that form and routine are everything, and that 'they must be heard for their much speaking [Matthew 6:7]'" [16].

A rosary is also to be seen around the neck of the Ephesian 'goddess' Diana (also known as "the Mother of the gods"), the worship of whom Paul thoroughly denounced in Acts 19:24-28 [17].

 

Queen of Heaven

Although Mary was respected by the people of her day, Christ Jesus took every opportunity to refute the idea that she was to be 'adored', emphasizing instead that all who hear and obey the Lord God are blessed:

"A certain woman ... said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bear Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked.  But He said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it" (Luke 11:27b-28).

From the scriptures below it can be seen that there were actually some occasions when Mary was obstructing Jesus' ministry, for which He needed to reprove her:

"While He yet talked to the people ... one said unto Him, Behold, Thy mother ... [is] desiring to speak with Thee.  But He answered ... Who is My mother? ... [W]hosoever shall do the will of my Father Which is in Heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother" (Matthew 12:46-50).

"Jesus saith unto her [Mary], Woman, what have I to do with thee?..." (John 2:4a).

In fact Jesus, while naturally respectful toward Mary, did not hesitate to correct her wrong thinking concerning His actions - even as a child of twelve:

"His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? ... And He said ... How is it that ye sought Me?  Wist [knew] ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:48b-49).

Despite all of this, Rome adores her as 'Queen':

"...She was exalted by the Lord as Queen of all..." [Vatican II] [18].

"From the earliest ages ... the Catholic Church ... has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven ... Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother's solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen" [Pius XIII] [19].

There is only one passage in Scripture in which reference is made to 'veneration to', or adoration of, a "Queen of Heaven" - and such behaviour is shown to be an abomination to the Lord:

"[T]he women knead their dough, to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven ... that they may provoke Me to anger ... Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, Mine anger and My fury shall be poured out upon this place ... Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, ... I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: ... until there be an end of them" (Jeremiah 7:18-27).

The "Queen of Heaven" is the Babylonian goddess, Semiramis (also known as Ishtar or Easter [20] etc in different countries, plus Astarte - the plural of which is Ashtaroth) who, along with her husband Nimrod (Bel or Baal - plural Baalim) and her child Tammuz, formed the false trinity worshipped by Israel during times of apostasy:

"And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, Which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.  And they forsook the LORD and served Baal and Ashtaroth.  And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel..." (Judges 2:11-14).

"Samuel spoke unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines ... And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth" (1 Samuel 7:3 & 12:10).

Note that the true Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost have various titles (e.g. Jehovah, Adonai, Tree of Life, Lamb of God, Comforter, Spirit of Truth etc) and are described in Scripture in various ways and forms (e.g. as a Judge, a King, a Shepherd, a High Priest, a burning bush, an angel, a voice from Heaven, a smoking furnace, and so on).  In a similar way, the members of the false trinity were each given various names and 'identities'.  When we discover these names and characters, a number of seemingly impenetrable scriptures referring to these 'gods' suddenly make sense [21].

The original name of the son in the false Babylonian trinity was Tammuz.  Like Christ, Tammuz dies young.  Hence:

"He said also unto me [Ezekiel], Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.  Then He brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:13-14) [22].

Rome teaches that Mary:

"has been appointed by God to be the Queen of Heaven and earth" [Pius IX] [23].

But according to God's own Word, the Queen of Heaven is an "idol" and an "abomination".  It is pertinent to note that the Babylonian goddess, Semiramis, was also called "the Virgin Mother" and the "Mother of the gods".  The 'Mary' that Rome worships is not the Mary of the Bible but the goddess of Babylon.  (This would explain why most images of 'Mary' look nothing like the face of a Jewess.) [24].

Rome claims that the 'type' of worship given to Mary is different from the 'type' that God should receive.  The Bible, however, does not make a distinction.  ANY type of worship to anyone other than God is a terrible act in the eyes of our wonderful, holy, jealous Lord (Exodus 20:1-5, Matthew 4:10).  In practice, Mary holds the central place in the hearts of many Catholics regardless.

What the scriptures say about Mary is more than sufficient to know (a) she was a sinner like us all, (b) she wasn't always helpful to the Lord's ministry, (c) she wasn't a perpetual virgin, (d) she wasn't co-redemptrix, (e) she isn't a mediator, and (f) she is not 'Queen of Heaven'.

It is also apparent that, if Mary is meant to be so central to the Christian Faith then this fact would be made very plain in the Bible - instead of her receiving just a few brief mentions.  When this observation is put to Catholics, some suggest that the discrepancy is due to parts of the Bible going missing over the years.  Patently this is not so.  If the Lord God created the scriptures would He not ensure their preservation?  Indeed He has promised to do so:

For ever, O LORD, Thy Word is settled in Heaven ... Thy Word is true from the beginning: and every one of Thy righteous judgments endureth for ever" (Psalm 119:89 & 160).

"The law of the LORD is perfect..." (Psalm 19:7).

"The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations" (Psalm 33:11).

"[T]he Word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8).

"[T]he Word of God ... abideth for ever ... [T]he Word of the Lord endureth for ever" (1 Peter 23-25a) [25].

 

 

Endnotes

[1]  Walter M. Abbott, S.J., Gen. Ed., The Documents of Vatican II, (Geoffrey Chapman, 1966), The Church, point 53, p86.  (See also point 66, p94.)

[2]  Abbott, Documents, point 69, p96.

[3]  Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part One, Section Two, Chap One, Article 1, Para 7, point IV, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm#IV as at 14 march 2013.

[4]  Abbott, Documents, The Church, point 59, p90.  (See also point 56, p88.)

[5]  The Decree of Pope Pius XII on the Assumption of Mary, From the Bull Munificentissimus Deus (A.D. 1950), Quoted in William Webster, Saving Faith: How Does Rome Define it? (Christian Resources Inc., 1995), pp35-36.

[6]  Marcus Meyer, No Mother, quoted in Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1962), p135.

[7]  The Holy Father - Pope John Paul II - Teachings, http://www.theworkofgod.org/JonhPll/JohnPaul.htm as at 14 March 2013.  See also Abbott, Documents, The Church, point 56, p88, and point 58, pp89-90.

[8]  Abbott, Documents, The Church, point 62, pp91-92. See also point 66, p94 and point 69, p96.

[9]  As David Cloud points out, the word “venerate” primarily means “to solicit the goodwill of a god, [to] worship” [Webster’s College Dictionary, Random House].

[10]   Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX, December 8th, 1854, quoted in Pagan Sun Worship and Catholicism: The Sunburst Image, the Queen of Heaven and Baal, www.aloha.net/~mikesch/sunburst.htm as at 02:Nov:2002.

[11]  Boettner, Roman Catholicism, pp147-148. 

[12]  Annie Kirkwood, Mary’s Message to the World, (Perigee, 1991), p45 as quoted in Roger Oakland, New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, (Understand the Times, 2002), p311.  Note that Lourdes is one of the places the Vatican has confirmed as a site of ‘genuine’ Marian apparitions.  (These famously occurred in 1858 to Bernadette Soubirous, and five million pilgrims now visit there yearly.)

[13]  Kirkwood, Mary's Message, p154, as quoted in Oakland, New Wine, p311.

[14]  Kirkwood, Mary's Message, pp40-44, as quoted in Oakland, New Wine, p312.

[15]  Paul Turner, Hail Mary, www.rpinet.com/ml/2304bi2.html as at 02:Nov:2002.

[16]  Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, (Loizeaux Brothers, 2nd ed., 1959), pp187-188.

[17]  One danger of importing pagan practices into the church is that pagan faiths which continue to use those practices can, with time, appear to be ‘church-like’ and ‘on the right track’ to Christians who have adopted those same practices and think them to be of Christian origin.

[18]   Abbott, Documents, point 59, p90.

[19]  Ad Caeli Reginam, Encyclical of Pius XII on Proclaiming the Queenship of Mary, October 11, 1954, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_11101954_ad-caeli-reginam_en.html as at 02:Nov:2002.

[20]  The Babylonian festival of ‘Easter’ is a pagan fertility festival – hence the preponderance of rabbits and eggs in Easter celebrations.  Please see Easter, Passover, and the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

[21]  For example, Bel is another name for Nimrod – the man behind the tower of Babel where the Lord confounded the speech of the people, so we get: “Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded … [Babylon’s] idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces” (Jeremiah 50:2).

[22]  Incidentally, the annual forty days of bewailing (a form of self-punishment) for the Babylonian god Tammuz has been adopted into the church, through Rome, and renamed ‘Lent’.

[23]  Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX, 1854, quoted in The Sunburst Image, www.aloha.net/~mikesch/sunburst.htm.

[24]  There can now be no doubt too that the ‘Jesus’ which Catholics reach through ‘Mary’ is a different person from the Lord Jesus Christ – as per 2 Corinthians 11:4a.  (This would likewise shed light on why Rome’s pictures and statues of Christ do not look Jewish either.)  See Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, Chapter 2, Section 3 for a very comprehensive treatment of the subject of Mary and Semiramis.

[25]  As an aside, if the reader feels that 66 is a rather odd figure as a total for the number of books in the Bible and is tempted to think that four might be missing - because seventy is a much more 'biblical' number - it is worth remembering that the Psalms comprise 5 books on their own, bringing the actual total to 70.

 

Elizabeth McDonald
March 2013

 

 

 

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