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Mary's Role in Redemption & Prayer: A Sinless Virgin with Unlimited Power?Mary's Role in Redemption & Prayer: A Sinless Virgin with Unlimited Power?

The Glory of Mary: 
A Study of the Authority, Honor, and Power of the Mother of Christ

Was Mary a sinless perpetual virgin having unlimited power and authority as the Mother of God? Does she mediate in prayer and offer redemption and grace of forgiveness to sinners? Should we kneel or bow before her image? Mariology of Roman Catholicism compared to the Bible.

Was Mary born without original sin (the Immaculate Conception), and did she live a sinless life? Was she always a virgin even after Jesus' birth (Perpetual Virginity)? Does she have unlimited power and authority as the Mother of God and Queen of the Church? Is she a Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix who can dispense the grace of forgiveness to sinners? Should people kneel or bow before her image in prayer and dedicate their lives in her honor? How does the Mariology of Roman Catholicism compare to the Bible?

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Introduction: 

Perhaps no other woman in history played such an important role in God's plan as did Mary.

By the grace of God she was greatly honored to be chosen as Jesus' mother. Surly, all people should appreciate Mary and imitate her good qualities.

Nevertheless, there is disagreement regarding the role or status of Mary. This issue remains one of the main differences between the Roman Catholic Church and other churches.

The purpose of this study is to examine the view held by the Roman Catholic Church regarding Mary and compare it to the teaching of the Bible.

We intend no ill will toward any individual. On the contrary, we simply seek to obey God's command to examine all teaching in light of the Scriptures (Acts 17:11; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). We seek to imitate Jesus by defending the truth in love and helping people avoid error (Ephesians 4:15; Jude 3; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; John 7:7).

When we describe the Catholic view, we will quote directly from Catholic sources, all of which have been approved for Catholics to read (see bibliography for more details). All Bible quotes are from the St. Joseph "New Catholic" Confraternity Edition of the Bible. (Special emphasis has, at times, been added by this author.)

Please consider what the Bible teaches about Mary.

I. Mary's Innocence

We have every reason to believe that Mary was a godly woman. Surely God would not choose an evil woman to bear and raise Jesus. But does this mean that Mary was sinless?

A. Was Mary Immaculately Conceived so She Escaped Original Sin?

The teaching of the Catholic Church

The doctrine of original sin says that all people were born guilty of sin because we inherit Adam's sin. However, Catholicism says Mary was an exception.

"The Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin in view of the merits of her Divine Son; and this privilege is called her Immaculate Conception" - Baltimore Catechism, p. 36 (see also Catechism for Adults, pp. 27,41).

This doctrine was defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX (Question Box, pp. 358,359). Regarding this doctrine, the Catholic Dictionary says (p. 430):

"A Catholic is bound to hold that [this] doctrine ... was contained in the faith once delivered to the saints by the Apostles. On the other hand, he is under no obligation of believing it possible to produce cogent historical proof (over and above the Church's decision) that the doctrine was so contained."

So Catholics need not believe that the doctrine can be proved by history (either tradition or the Bible). But they still must believe the doctrine is true, because the church teaches it!

The teaching of the Bible

The Bible teaches that no one inherits sin. The whole concept of inherited guilt is without Scriptural warrant.

Ezekiel 18:20 - The son will not be charged with the guilt of his father.

2 Corinthians 5:10 - Each one will be judged for his own works.

All children are born innocent and without guilt - Psalm 105:37,38 (Psalm 106:37,38 in the KJV); Matthew 18:3; 19:14.

So Mary did not inherit original sin, but this is nothing special. All people are born innocent.

B. Did Mary Live A Sinless life?

"By a special privilege of Almighty God, Our Blessed Mother was free throughout her life from all actual sin, both mortal and venial" - Baltimore Catechism, p. 36.

"Catholics believe that the Blessed Virgin was free from all actual sin because of divine tradition confirmed by the Council of Trent." - Question Box, p. 360.

But the Bible teaches:

Deity is sinless.

Deuteronomy 32:4 - God is faultless and right in all His deeds (cf. Apocalypse 15:3,4 or Revelation 15:3,4 in KJV).

Jesus is sinless - 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:22.

But all human beings sin.

Romans 3:10,12,23; 1 John 1:8,10 - All sin. If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar.

3 Kings 8:46 (1 Kings 8:46 in KJV) - There is no one who sins not.

Luke 1:46,47 - God is Mary's Savior. But if she had no sin, why would she need a savior?

So Mary should be respected as a godly woman. Yet she was human, and all humans sin. Like all humans, Mary needed a Savior to forgive her sins. The claim of the Catholic Church that Mary was sinless is an attempt to place her above humans by attributing to her a quality that only Deity possesses.

II. Mary's Virginity

The Bible does teach the Virgin Birth. This means that Mary was a virgin until Jesus' was born (Matthew 1:18,23,25; Luke 1:27,34,35). But did she remain a virgin afterward?

"Mary ... remained a virgin not only in the conception of Christ but also in His birth and during the rest of her life" - Baltimore Catechism, p. 49 (cf. Faith of Our Fathers, p. 138).

"Nor does the New Testament ever imply that Mary ceased to be a virgin; on the contrary, it confirms, though it nowhere states, the Catholic dogma of her perpetual virginity." - Catholic Dictionary, p. 555.

A. The Union Of Man and Wife Is Pure and Holy.

The doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity is another attempt to exalt Mary to a position above other people. It is based on the idea that virginity is more holy and pure than marriage. This is the same reason why the church forbids priests to marry.

Genesis 2:18-24; 1:28 - Marriage and human procreation were part of God's creation from the beginning. So, like everything God made, they are very good (1:31).

Hebrews 13:4 - Marriage is honorable in all, and the marriage bed is undefiled. So the physical union is honorable and pure within Scriptural marriage. This includes the physical relationship between Mary and Joseph.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 - To forbid marriage (as Catholicism does with its priests) is apostasy and is based on an unscriptural attitude toward marriage. (Cf. Psalm 127:3).

B. Jesus Had Brothers and Sisters.

Mark 6:3 - The Bible expressly mentions Jesus' sisters and even names his brothers (see also Matthew 12:46-50; John 2:12; 7:3-5; 1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:19; Acts 1:14). How could Mary be a virgin if Jesus had brothers and sisters?

Catholics argue that "brother" here means cousin, but the only evidence offered to defend this view is tradition and unproved speculation. The facts are:

* The word for "brother" is never used for a cousin in the New Testament. (It is used for a fellow-countryman, but that cannot be the meaning in these contexts.)

* The word for "sister" in the New Testament, used physically, always means a member of the same immediate family, never a cousin or more distant relative. Catholic scholars almost universally ignore the sisters of Jesus.

* Catholics strongly emphasize the fact that Mary was the physical mother of Jesus. But the terms "brother" and "sister" are used in the same contexts that say Mary was Jesus' "mother." If in these contexts "brother" means cousin, why can't mother" mean "aunt"? But if "mother" refers to an immediate family member, why not conclude that the brothers and sisters likewise refer to immediate family members?

The only fair conclusion is that Mary and Joseph had other children. There would be no reason to deny this except that Rome is determined to make Mary superhuman.

C. Man and Wife Should Fulfill the Physical Union.

1 Corinthians 7:2-5 - A married couple must fulfill one another's sexual needs. To refuse is to tempt ones spouse to commit fornication. This relationship can be withheld only by mutual consent and only temporarily ("for a time"). [Cf. Proverbs 5:15-20]

Note that the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity contradicts the doctrine of Mary's sinlessness. If Mary obeyed God's instruction for married people to fulfill the sexual union, then she did not remain a virgin. But if she did remain a virgin, then she sinned and cannot have been sinless. At least one of the doctrines must be false. The truth is that both are false.

Once again, absolutely without doubt Mary was a virgin till the time of Jesus' birth. But the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity is another attempt to exalt Mary above other humans. The doctrine contradicts the Scriptures, belittles the marriage relationship, and accuses Mary of refusing to fulfill her God-given marital obligations to Joseph.

III. Mary's Power and Authority

A. Statements of the Catholic View

On the one hand Catholic writers admit that Mary is a human, not Deity, yet on the other hand they say the following about her:

Mary is the "Mother of God," so Jesus will obey her; as a result Mary is practically unlimited in power.

"She is exalted above the angels, for surely God's mother is nearer to Him than the angels who stand before the throne" - Catholic Dictionary, p. 554.

In Rosary of Mary, Pope Leo XIII said the "Mother of God ... is placed on the highest summit of power and glory in Heaven..." (pp. 1,2). She is "surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven" (p. 113). So, the "power thus put into her hands is all but unlimited" (p. 130).

The Legion of Mary declares, "...by the ordinance of God, her power is without limit" (Legio Mariae, p. 11). So, "'In practice the Catholic Church looks upon the Mother of God as being an unbounded power in the realm of grace.'" (p. 317).

Various Catholic saints and authorities are quoted as having said:

"'At the command of Mary, all obey, even God' ... God grants the prayers of Mary as if they were commands... 'Yes, Mary is omnipotent...for the queen by every law enjoys the same privileges as the king ... the power of the Son and that of the mother is the same, a mother is made omnipotent by an omnipotent Son' ... Since the Mother, then, should have the same power as the Son, rightly has Jesus, who is omnipotent, made Mary also omnipotent ... whatever the Mother asks for, the Son never denies her." - Glories, pp. 154-156 (cf. pp. 18,12,71,87).

So, God "declared her Sovereign of heaven and earth; and commanded the angels and all creatures to acknowledge her as their Queen, and as such to serve and obey her." - Glories, p. 391.

She rules as Queen of the Church and Queen of the Apostles.

Pope Leo XIII in Rosary of Mary said: "She was, in very truth, the Mother of the Church, the teacher and Queen of the Apostles ..." (p. 129). So the infant church was "directed ... by her" (p. 115) [116].

St. Antoninus is quoted as saying: "God has placed the whole Church, not only under the patronage, but even under the dominion of Mary." - Glories, p. 155 [pp. 11,12]

B. Bible Teaching On This Subject

It is true that Mary is called "the mother of Jesus" and "the mother of my Lord" - John 2:1; Acts 1:14; Matthew 12:46-50; John 19:25; Luke 1:43. But the Bible never calls Mary the "Mother of God." By calling her "Mother of God," Catholicism leads itself into false concepts about her position.

As a human, Mary was below angels, never above them.

Psalm 8:5,6- Man was made lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:6,7). Since Mary was a human, it follows that she was below the angels. Only Deity is above the angels. So, to claim that Mary is above the angels, as Catholicism does, is to exalt Mary to a position that should be attributed to no one except Deity.

Omnipotence (unlimited power) is a quality of Deity, not of humans.

Matthew 19:26 - With God all things are possible (Job 42:1,2; Jeremiah 32:17; Mark 14:36).

Jesus is all-powerful because He possesses Deity, and He is exalted above all because He offered Himself for our sins - Matthew 28:18; Philippians 3:20,21; Ephesians 1:19-23; Apocalypse (Revelation in KJV) 19:16; 17:14; John 3:31; Romans 9:5.

Yet several Catholic sources claim that Mary is omnipotent (all-powerful) or virtually so. What Scripture so teaches? She was a human, so she was limited in power like all humans. She had authority over Jesus only when He was a youth subject to His parents (cf. Luke 2:51; Ephesians 6:1-3). No passage anywhere indicates that she had authority or power beyond what other humans have or that she had power over Jesus when He was grown.

Jesus possessed Deity from eternity and became incarnate in the flesh by the power of God. At no point did Mary share in His divine characteristics.

John 1:1-3,14 - Jesus existed in the beginning with the Father, and even then He possessed Deity. So Jesus possessed the characteristics of Deity long before Mary became His mother. (Philippians 2:6-8; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2,10-12)

Luke 1:35 - Jesus was the "Son of God" because of the Holy Spirit, not because of His relationship with Mary. This is the significance of the Virgin Birth.

A child can possess a characteristic in common with one parent but not with the other. The child's eyes may be the same color as one parent but not the other, etc. So Mary gave Jesus His human flesh. But His Deity He shared in common with His Heavenly Father, not with Mary!

As King, Judge, Mediator, etc., Jesus is not in any way obligated to obey His mother. She has no control over His decisions.

Since Jesus is Mary's son and He possesses great authority and honor, Catholicism reasons back to the conclusion that Mary must have similar authority and honor. This leads them to many conclusions which, not only are not stated in Scripture, but actually violate Scripture.

A parent does not share in the privileges of an office held by his/her adult offspring. If a man becomes the President of the USA, does His mother share in his power and exercise authority with him?

If Mary's relation to Jesus means He must submit to her, so she becomes an all-powerful sovereign (Queen of the Universe, etc.), by the same logic why wouldn't Mary likewise be required to obey the wishes of her mother, etc.? So ultimately Jesus (and the church) must obey everyone in His ancestry!

Matthew 22:41-46 - Rather than sharing in Jesus' authority, His earthly ancestors, including David, are subject to His Lordship. So Jesus did not receive His Divine authority from His earthly ancestors; rather, He had power over His ancestors. So like David, Mary has no authority over Him, but is subject to Him.

Colossians 1:15-18 - Jesus is King of the Kingdom, not by inheritance through Mary, but by right of Deity and because of His sacrifice on the cross. (Ephesians 1:22,23; Philippians 2:6-11).

Luke 2:48-50 - Mary did not possess the superior wisdom that Catholicism attributes to her. Even when He was a child, Jesus had a better understanding of His purpose than Mary did. So why should He be obligated to follow the requests of one who is inferior in wisdom? (3 Kings 8:39; cf. 1 Kings 8:39 in KJV; 1 John 5:14)

Mary has no authority over the church, nor is she our spiritual Mother.

Catholicism reasons that Mary is Jesus' mother, and Christians are Jesus' spiritual brothers and sisters; so Mary must be our mother, and the church must submit to her. But this carries a Bible illustration beyond the point God intended.

Matthew 12:46-50 - We are Jesus' brothers and sisters because of our relationship to Jesus' Father (not His mother). We must obey the will of the Father. But does the fact Mary is Jesus' mother prove that she is the wife of God the Father? No, and neither does the fact we are Jesus' adopted brothers and sisters prove that Mary is our spiritual mother nor that we are subject to her authority.

Catholicism confuses physical relationships and spiritual relationships. Mary is Jesus physical, earthly mother. But God is His spiritual Father. That is why Mary is not the wife of God. In the same way, God is our spiritual Father. Jesus' physical mother does not thereby become my mother, any more than the earthly mother of any other brother in Christ is my mother.

Ephesians 5:22-25 - Jesus is Head of the church like a man is head of his wife. When a man marries, should his mother rule his wife and family? Absolutely not! Genesis 2:24 says he must leave father and mother and cleave to his wife. His earthly parents have no authority over his wife, and neither has Mary any authority over the church, the bride of Christ.

1 Timothy 2:11,12 - Women in the church must be subject to the men (1 Corinthians 14:34,35). This is why all the apostles and elders in the church were men (cf. 1 Timothy 3;1ff).

So as a woman, Mary could not be the "Queen of the Apostles." Nor could she have dominion or make laws or give commands to any men in the church. If she was a godly, faithful woman, then like other women she should be subject to the men in the church.

Catholic reasoning regarding Mary is flawed in many ways. But the major error is that Jesus possessed authority, not because of His relationship with Mary, but because He is Deity and died as our sacrifice. Neither Mary nor any other of Jesus' ancestors shared in these powers or acts.

So, while denying that Mary possesses Deity, Catholicism exalts her to a position as close to Deity as they can. The result violates many Bible principles.

IV. Mary's Role in Prayer and Forgiveness

A. Statement Of the Catholic View.

Mary is a Mediatrix and Advocate for man to God.

Pope Leo XIII said of Mary: "To thee we lift our prayers, for thou art the Mediatrix ... of our salvation" - Rosary, p. 121; (cf. p. 58,117,130,131,151).

Saint Bernard said: "...the Eternal Father ..., besides giving us Jesus Christ, our principal Advocate with Him, was pleased also to give us Mary, as our Advocate with Jesus Christ" - Glories, p. 169 (see also p 127,92,56,84,95,171,162,166,89).

Mary also is Co-Redemptrix with Christ, having power to dispense forgiveness to sinners as she wills.

"Because of her consent to accept the office of Mother of the Redeemer, and also because of her merits in intimately sharing the sufferings of her Divine Son for the salvation of mankind, the Blessed Virgin is given the title of Co-Redemptrix of the human race" - Baltimore Catechism, p. 49.

Pope Pius XI said: "[W]hen her beloved Son was consummating the redemption of mankind on the altar of the Cross, she stood at His side, suffering and redeeming with Him" - Legio Mariae, p. 170,171.

Her act of submitting to become Jesus' mother was "the most heroic act ever performed in the world - such that in all ages no other creature but she could have performed it." Had she refused, "Redemption has never come on earth for" us. So, "Redemption is the joint gift of the Father and of Mary" - Legio Mariae, pp. 311,312.

Saint Bernard said: "He has placed the whole price of redemption in the hands of Mary, that she may dispense it at will." - Glories, p. 85 (see also p. 84,104,141,3,4,8,13,14,131,127,128).

Mary's mediation is so necessary that we cannot be saved without her.

Pope Leo XIII again said: "Thus, as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother" - Rosary, p. 58. Again, "'...none, O Mother of God, attains salvation except through thee; none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee'" (p. 131).

She is "the dispenser of our Lord's Blood" - p. 129. Again, God "has no children but by her, and communicates no graces but by her ... and through her alone does He dispense His favours and His gifts" - Legio Mariae, p. 169.

Saint Bernard said: "...Christ is the only mediator of justice...but because men...fear the Divine Majesty...it was necessary to assign us another advocate to whom we might have recourse with less fear and more confidence, and this advocate is Mary" - Glories, p. 169f. (See also 170,145,103f).

Saint Bonaventure said: "If my redeemer rejects me on account of my sins, and drives me away from His sacred feet, I will cast myself at those of His beloved Mother Mary, and ...she will engage her Son to pardon me." - Glories, p. 90. "...this great Advocate, who is so powerful...that the Judge, her Son...cannot condemn the guilty who are defended by her." - Glories, p. 169.

This concept of Mary's mediation is justified by passages that talk about God's people praying for one another. Examples are James 5:16; Genesis 20:7,17; Numbers 14:13; Job 42:8; Ephesians 6:18,19; 1 Timothy 2:1,2; Acts 8:24; etc. - (See Question Box, p, 369).

Catholicism claims to believe Jesus is the one mediator between God and man, yet they hold views that exalt Mary as close to His level as they can. And in practice they claim she can do things for people that Jesus Himself will not do.

B. The Bible Teaching

No Scripture actually authorizes prayer to Mary and saints.

Close study of the passages listed above will confirm these points. Consider James 5:16:

* Prayer is offered to God, not to people. Requesting others to pray for us is never called "praying" to saints.

* Prayer is offered for one another, not by dead Christians, but by living ones.

* Other Christians pray with or for us. We do not pray through them or to them. There are our equals, not our superiors.

* Praying for one another is mutual and reciprocal. We pray for others and they pray for us. Is this what is practiced in Catholicism? Does Mary pray to us and ask us to pray to God for her?

* Forgiveness is determined by God and comes through Jesus. No human has the power to dispense Divine forgiveness to others as they will.

* The sinner himself must still go to God by Jesus in prayer for forgiveness. He cannot simply ask others to pray for him (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9; Matthew 6:9-13).

The effect of Catholic teaching is to exalt Mary and saints above other Christians. On the contrary, the effect of the Bible teaching is to show that we are all equals before God.

Dead people cannot communicate with the living.

Ecclesiastes 9:5,6 - Neither Mary nor any dead "saint" has any part in anything done on earth. Yet Catholicism says Mary's role is so vital that it is essential to our salvation.

Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man.

1 Timothy 2:5,6 (1 John 2:1,2) - Note that there are as many mediators as there are Gods. We could as easily have two gods as two mediators between God and man.

Jesus serves as mediator because He died as our ransom. No one can serve as our mediator unless he died as the sacrifice for our sins. That eliminates Mary and every one but Jesus.

Catholicism justifies their view by claiming that Mary is a lower advocate. But their practice still makes two mediators, not one. And one of those mediators did not die for us.

Jesus is our only mediator in salvation and in prayer. To say Mary also mediates, exalts her to a role the Bible expressly says belongs only to Jesus. Such is clear violation of Scripture.

Only God can dispense forgiveness of sins.

Mark 2:5-12 - Jesus could forgive sins because He is Deity. To say that Mary can do so is to elevate her to a position only God can hold. Only God can dispense forgiveness, and only He can determine who meets the conditions of grace (Isaiah 43:11,25; 12:2; Psalm 36:39 - 37:39 in KJV- Jeremiah 17:5,7).

What passage of Scripture anywhere says that Mary has the power to dispense or distribute God's mercy or grace to others?

We need no mediator who is more merciful and loving than Jesus.

Ephesians 1:7 - Salvation and redemption are in Jesus (2:13-18; Colossians 1:13,14; Hebrews 7:25; Titus 2:11-14). What passage says salvation and redemption are in or through Mary?

Hebrews 4:14-16; 2:17f - Catholicism says we need someone more merciful and compassionate than Jesus. Yet the Scriptures explicitly state that Jesus came to earth to show us that He is a merciful High Priest, so we will come to Him with confidence.

We are told it would be an insult to fear Mary as an advocate (Glories p. 170). If so, how much more insulting is it if we fear to come to Jesus? One of the most repulsive aspects of the Catholic teaching is that it says, even though our Lord loved us so much He gave His life for us, yet He lacks mercy and compassion, so we need someone else! Instead of appealing to Him, we are told to appeal to one who did not die for us!

John 15:13 - There is no greater love than dying for ones friends. Jesus showed that love. Did Mary? If not, then why should she be viewed as more loving than Jesus?

Jesus alone is our Redeemer. No human can share in being the source or dispenser of redemption.

A fundamental error of Catholicism is that it takes the good or evil done by one person and gives credit for it to another person. Their doctrine of original sin says all men are held guilty for the sin Adam committed. Their doctrine of indulgences claims that other people can be credited with the good deeds of Jesus and saints.

So Catholicism tries to give Mary a share in the credit for Jesus' sacrifice.

The argument implies: (1) No one but Mary could have served as Jesus' mother. (2) Mary knew Jesus was going to die for our sins. (3) She willingly allowed Him to die for us. (4) Had she refused to cooperate, God's purpose would have been defeated and we would all be lost. So they conclude that she is essential to our salvation and has the right to dispense salvation.

Yet what Scripture teaches any of this? None! Why could God not have chosen another woman than Mary? What proof is there she understood all this? The other disciples did not understand. And she did not understand Jesus' role even when He was partly grown (Luke 2:48-50), so why should we believe she understood even before He was conceived? And further:

The fact remains that it was not Mary but Jesus who died on that cross.

Ezekiel 18:20 - "...The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father, nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his son. The virtuous man's virtue shall be his own, as the wicked man's wickedness shall be his." It is contrary to God's will to give the parent credit for what the son did, good or bad. Mary must not be given credit for what Jesus did.

In fact, Mary could not have died for mankind because she was guilty of sin (as previously discussed). Only Jesus could have been our sacrifice, because the sacrifice had to be sinless (see 1 Peter 1:18,19; 2:21-24; 3:18; Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus died to save all mankind from sin (1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9; John 3:16). That includes Mary! Mary was a sinner like the rest of us. She shared, not in the giving of Jesus' sacrifice, but in the receiving of it. She is not the dispenser of redemption, but a recipient of it, just like all the rest of us. Mary is not co-redemptrix. Rather, Jesus died to redeem her!

Instead of placing Mary with Jesus as co-redemptrix, she should be viewed with the rest of sinful mankind receiving the forgiveness that only Jesus can offer! The fundamental error of Catholicism is that it repeatedly places Mary where only God belongs, instead of placing her with mankind where she really belongs.

If Mary's mediation is so vital to our salvation, why do the Scriptures never call Mary a mediatrix? Why does no one ever pray to her? Why does no one ever ask her to save them, give them grace, or obtain forgiveness for them? Why are these things never found in the Scriptures?

V. Mary's Honor

Catholicism admits that Mary is entirely a "creature" - a human being, not Deity (Glories, p. 131). Nevertheless, consider what they say about her:

A. The Teaching of the Catholic Church

Catholics pray to Mary and bow or kneel before images or pictures of her.

Besides praying to God, "You may also pray to the Blessed Virgin, the angels and the Saints" - Catechism for Adults, p. 15.

"It is ... well to say the rosary kneeling, before an image of Mary" - Glories, p. 508.

Men dedicate their lives to serve and obey her as the "Queen of Heaven."

Pope Leo XIII called her "the most glorious Queen of Heaven" - Rosary, p. 125

The Legion of Mary encourages people to make it their goal to be "so closely united to Mary that in all things and everything we act as instruments of Mary..." and "make our life one of entire subjection to her" We must be "dependent utterly upon her..." and look to her "to guide us" - Legio Mariae, p. 13,14.

Catholic authorities are quoted as saying: "...all those who are not thy servants, O Mary, will perish" and "He who neglects the service of the blessed Virgin will die in his sins" - Glories, p. 196 (cf. pp. 656,655,642.)

A prayer in the catechism is as follows: "O Mary ..., I give myself entirely to You. And to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to You ... my whole being without reserve. Wherefore, since I am yours, O Living Mother, keep me and guard me as your property and possession" - Morning Prayers, Catechism for Adults, p. 136.

Catholics exalt Mary with a form of veneration, but in a lesser sense than they worship God.

They distinguish three kinds of "veneration or worship." The highest is for God, and the lowest (called dulia) for saints and angels. For Mary they offer "hyperdulia," which is the highest veneration they give to mere creatures, but much lower than what is given to God. (From the Catholic Dictionary, pp. 238,239; and Baltimore Catechism, p. 49).

"O most pure Virgin Mary, I worship thy most holy heart..." - Glories, p. 104.

Yet they apply to Mary expressions that the Bible applies only to Deity.

Saint Antoninus said: "If Mary is for us, who shall be against us?" - Glories, p. 74. Compare Romans 8:31.

"Jesus Christ says ... 'No one comes to me unless my Father draws him.' Thus also does Jesus address His Mother ... 'No one comes to Me unless My Mother first of all draws him...'" - Glories, p. 141, 142. Compare John 6:44,45.

And Saint Peter Damian "addresses her [Mary] in these words: 'All power is given to thee in heaven and on earth, and nothing is impossible to thee'" - Glories, p. 154; compare Matthew 28:18. (See also pp. 14,73,388,233.)

B. The Bible Teaching On This Subject.

Matthew 4:10; Romans 1:23,25 - We may worship only God, not any creature.

To worship created things is idolatry. (John 4:24; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20)

1 Corinthians 1:12,13,29-31; 3:21 - We must not exalt and glory religiously in humans.

It is possible to sin by exalting humans too much, even if we do not call it worship. We must glory in the Lord. In particular, we must not glory religiously in anyone unless it is proper to be baptized in his name or if he was crucified for us. This eliminates Mary.

Specifically, it is wrong to exalt people religiously by wearing their names, or to identify ourselves religiously as followers of humans. Yet this is exactly what is done to Mary in the quotes above. Also many Catholic churches names themselves after Mary or various saints ("St. Mary's..." or "Our Lady of ...").

Acts 10:25,26; Apocalypse 22:8,9 (Rev. 22:8,9; 19:10 - KJV) - We must not bow as an act of religious honor to any created being.

No matter what it is called, Scripture expressly forbids it. Yet this is exactly what Catholics are encouraged to do in honoring Mary, saints, and angels.

Jeremiah 44:15-17 - The term "Queen of Heaven" describes a pagan goddess (cf. v19; 7:18).

People who burn incense and give offerings to the queen of heaven are not listening to what has been said in the name of the Lord!

It is not coincidence that this practice is found both in heathen idolatry and in Catholicism. It is a known fact that Catholicism took much of its worship and ceremony from heathen idolatry. Nearly all heathen religions worship and exalt female goddesses. This role is served in Catholicism by exalting Mary. But God has never approved or authorized it. Only God is ruler of the universe. There is no "queen" of the universe.

Matthew 6:24; Acts 5:29 - We have only one Master (Ruler). (Matthew 23:10)

We have only one master in the sense of total dedication, doing all He says without reservation. We serve people only by doing what God says is best for them. But since fallible men may ask us to do things that are not best, we must not allow them to rule us absolutely. This includes Mary. So Catholic doctrine urges people to exalt Mary in ways expressly forbidden in Scripture.

Luke 11:27,28; Matthew 12:46-50 - The honor of Mary is not as great or important as the honor all people can receive if we obey God.

How then can Mary be so far above other people as Catholicism implies? How can she have a position worthy of special exaltation for us to bow to her, pray to her, etc.? If we are faithful and she is faithful, then she is our equal, our sister in Christ.

Isaiah 42:8; 48:11 - God will not share His honor with anyone else.

Yet clearly the Catholic view of Mary gives her glory that should be given only to God. Regardless of intent or understanding, according to the Scriptures such conduct constitutes idolatry and thereby profanes the true God.

If honoring Mary is as important as Catholicism says, why is it that no one in the Bible ever bows to her, no one ever calls her "Queen of Heaven," etc.?

Conclusion

Mary was greatly blessed and honored by God to be chosen to serve as Jesus' mother. She was surely a godly woman, so we should appreciate her and imitate her good qualities (Luke 1:28,48).

But the Catholic view of Mary exalts her to positions that only God can occupy. It views her as sinless, a mediatrix who forgives sin, virtually all-powerful, one who receives prayers and honor that should be addressed only to God. Again, regardless of intent, from the viewpoint of Scripture such acts constitute idolatry. Many aspects of the Catholic view of Mary are not only absent from the Bible, they directly contradict the Bible. (See also Matthew 15:9; 2 John 9).

Bibliography

Baltimore Catechism No 3, New Confraternity Edition Revised; Benziger Brothers, Inc., New York, 1949.

Catechism for Adults, William Cogan, 1975 Edition; ACTA Foundation, Chicago, 1975.

Catholic Dictionary or the Universal Christian Educator and Popular Encyclopedia of Religious Information, William E. Addis and Thomas Arnold; Christian Press Association Pub. Co., New York, (no date).

Catholic Faith, Based on the Catholic Catechism, Book Three; Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C., 1938.

* Faith of Our Fathers, James Cardinal Gibbons, 110th Edition; P. J. Kenedy and Sons, New York, 1917.

** Glories of Mary, Alphonsus Maria De Ligouri, 2nd Edition; P. O' Shea, 45 Warren Street (only address given), 1890.

Holy Bible, Saint Joseph "New Catholic Edition"; Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1962,

Legio Mariae (The Official Handbook of the Legion of Mary), 7th American Ed.; Concilium Legionis Mariae, Louisville, KY, 1955.

Question Box, Bertrand L. Conway, 2nd Edition; The Paulist Press, New York, 1929.

Rosary of Mary, The (Translations of the Encyclical and Apostolic Letters of Pope Leo XIII), collected by William R. Lawler; St. Anthony Guild Press, Paterson, NJ, 1944.

*Note: We have restricted our citations to Catholic sources having an official indication that they were approved by the Catholic Church with the exception of Faith of Our Fathers, and it was written by a Cardinal in the Catholic Church.

Note further that terms such as "Pope" and "saint" are used in this study to refer to what Catholicism means by those terms. This does not mean that the author agrees with the Catholic usage of them.

** Regarding Ligouri's Glories of Mary, note the following information:

One of the respected Roman Catholic authorities on Mariology is Alphonsus Mary de Liguori (1696-1787), who was canonized as a saint by Pope Gregory XVI on May 26, 1839. He was declared a "Doctor of the Church" in 1871 by Pope Pius IX. Liguori has his own special day on the Roman Catholic calendar, that being August 1st. On this day, the official prayer to be made by Catholic people on behalf of Liguori asks God that they may be "taught by his admonitions." ...
 Liguori's book remains authoritative today, and it does represent official Catholic doctrine. Liguori's works underwent a rigorous examination and received the unqualified approval of the Catholic Church. His works were tested 20 times by the rules of Urban VIII and Benedict XIV, and the resulting judgment was that they did not contain "one word worthy of censure." The Glories of Mary was pronounced to be without error by Pope Pius VII in 1803 and by Pope Leo XII in 1825. - http://www.wayoflife.org/index_files/1dfabac4d2fda12e9cdb9ff87d57e5fd-80.html 

Note: If you would like to study further about related Bible topics, we have a number of other study materials on our web site that should interest you. Please see the links listed below.

(C) Copyright 2012, David E. Pratte
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Topics for further Bible study

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The Church and Worship
Catholicism in Light of Scripture
The Papacy: Was Peter the First Pope?
Divine Authority vs. Human Authority
Tradition as Religious Authority
Preservation of the Bible
Should Babies Be Baptized?
Transubstantiation: The Elements in Communion
Original Sin and Inherited Depravity
The Bible vs. Denominational Creeds
Can We Understand the Bible?
Observance of Religious Holy Days
How Can You Find & Identify Jesus' Church?

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