Text: Luke 11:27-28
I. Many of the world’s denominations share common beliefs. They do not accept all beliefs; each has its own unique mix, but there are many common threads found in the denominational world.
A. The Roman Catholics, largest of the world’s denominations, does have a belief that is unique to itself – the glory they bestow upon Mary, the mother of Jesus
B. More Catholic church buildings are named after Mary than any one else, including the Godhead
C. A whole series of prayers are offered up to Mary.
D. I was taken to task by one young Catholic man for stating that Catholics, for all intents and purpose, worship Mary. “We don’t worship Mary. We honor Mary for the birth of Jesus and prayers to her are asking her to pray for us sinners. If you ask me to pray for you, does that mean you are worshiping me? No, I am helping you relay a message to God.”
II. What constitutes worship?
A. Most references to worship in the Old Testament come from the Hebrew word shachah and in the New Testament from the Greek word proskueneo. Both words refer to a person who willingly bows himself to the ground before someone greater.
1. While it is sometimes used of bowing before a man in a greater position, it is generally used in regards to giving honor and respect to a divine being.
2. This is why worship of man and angels is rejected
a. Cornelius trying to worship Peter - Acts 10:25-26
b. John trying to worship an angel - Revelation 19:10
B. The Greek word for prayer, proseuchomai, is related to the word for worship. It means to beseech or ask favors of a divine being
1. When a person prays to something or someone, there is an implication that the thing or being prayed to is divine.
C. In other words, a word came is going on.
1. “I’m not worshiping. I’m just praying.”
2. But prayer is a form of worship
III. Is praying to Mary similar to asking someone to pray for you?
A. We are to offer prayers on behalf of others - James 5:16
B. But I don’t go into my room and pray to a friend across town to offer a prayer on my behalf.
1. My friend wouldn’t hear my prayers - I Corinthians 2:11
2. Only God knows the mind of men - Psalm 139:1-2
3. Thus to claim that Mary can hear prayers is to say she is divine
C. But then again Mary died quite a while ago. The dead are unaware of events on the earth - Ecclesiastes 9:5-6
IV. What Catholics teach about Mary
A. Mother of God (Dogma)
1. The myths regarding Mary grew from a simple, but faulty line of thinking
a. Mary was Jesus’ mother
b. Jesus was God
c. Thus Mary is the mother of God
2. “She is exalted above the angels, for surely God’s mother is nearer to him than the angels” [Catholic Dictionary, page 554]
3. From there it was extended that if she is Jesus’ mother then in a sense she is basically God’s companion, so she is also called “Queen of the Universe.”
4. The fatal flaw is that Mary is never called the Mother of God in the Scriptures
a. She is the mother of Jesus - John 2:1
b. The mother of my Lord - Luke 1:43
c. Jesus is God - John 1:1
(1) As God he pre-existed the world - John 8:58
(2) For Mary to be the Mother of God would she have to pre-exist her son?
(3) Since this cannot be the case, the title “Mother of God” is not proper.
5. Mary was blessed to have been chosen to bear the Son of God - Luke 1:43
a. But it doesn’t afford her any special status - Luke 11:27-28
B. Perpetual Virgin (Dogma)
1. “The doctrine of Mary’s ‘perpetual virginity’ ... first appeared in the second century, among the silly and imaginary fables of the Apocryphal writings, in connection with dogmatic consideration of the superior sanctity of celibacy” [Halley’s Bible Handbook]
2. The fact is that Mary had other children according to the Bible - Matthew 13:55-56
3. The idea of denial of the flesh is a false doctrine - Colossians 2:20-23
C. Immaculate Conception (Dogma)
1. Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854, decreed Mary to be free from sin.
2. Since Catholics believe that sin is inherited, they needed a way to explain how Jesus, who knew no sin, was born without sin.
a. To accomplish this, they declared that Mary’s birth was a miracle and she was born without sin.
b. But then why not just say Jesus was born without sin directly?
c. If it takes sinless parents to create a sinless child, then wouldn’t Mary’s parents be without sin?
d. Continue the idea and soon no one is born in sin, which happens to be the truth anyway.
3. All people sin - Romans 3:23
4. Jesus Christ is the only exception - II Corinthians 5:21
D. Bodily Assumption (Dogma)
1. From The Question Box, 1929:
a. Question: “Is there any biblical or historical proof of the ascension of the Virgin Mary into heaven?”
b. Answer: “The dogma of the Assumption means the Blessed Virgin’s entrance into heaven, body and soul by the power of God. The active term Ascension is used only of Jesus Christ’s entrance into heaven by His own divine power. The doctrine has never been defined by the Church, although its wide acceptance since the sixth century renders it a certain doctrine, that cannot be denied by Catholics without rashness. It cannot be proved from the Bible or from contemporary historical witness, but it rests on such solid theological principles, that many Bishops have written the Apostolic See, requesting as a dogma of faith.”
c. The answer goes on to explain that the earliest reference to a belief that Mary was assumed into heaven by St. Gregory of Tours in 539 A.D. who wrote “The Lord has the most holy body of the Virgin taken into heaven, where, reunited to her soul, it now enjoys with the elect, happiness without end.”
(1) This book, In Gloriam Martyrum, is essentially a mythological tale of how Jesus and His angels appear at Mary’s death and carries her off to heaven.
(2) Tanis in his book What Rome Teaches says, “There is no more evidence for the truth of this legend than for the ghost stories told by our grandfathers.”
d. What, then are the theological principles that this assumption of Mary is supposed to be based?
(1) Well, if we had continued reading we would find the author saying “It certainly seems most fitting ...”
(2) We see this argument throughout Catholic writings.
(3) “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that she, who has seen her Son upon the Cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow, which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to Him should look upon Him as He sits at the right hand of the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her son, that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the Handmaid of God.” [John of Damascus, Homily 2 on the Assumption, 8th century]
(4) In other words the “solid theological principles” is merely that they thought it was fitting. Or, it seems like it ought to be true, therefore we are declaring that it is true.
2. “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that 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” [Pope Pius XII, November 1, 1950]
E. Mediatrix and Advocate
1. “Whoever asks and wishes to obtain graces without the intercession of Mary, attempts to fly without wings” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 189]
2. The Catholics argue that since everyone listens to their mother, if Mary argues on behalf of a soul, why then Jesus, being a faithful son, would give place to her.
a. “What poor sinners we should be if we had not this advocate, so powerful and so merciful, and at the same time so prudent and so wise, that the judge, her Son, cannot condemn the guilty, if she defends them. ... Precisely the same thing does Mary continually in heaven, in behalf of innumerable sinners: she knows so well how to appease the divine justice with her tender and wise entreaties, that God himself blesses her for it, and as it were thanks her, that thus she restrains him from abandoning and punishing them as they deserve” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 220]
b. “Now He lifts His eyes to her, knowing that she is His mother. At every nod of her eyes He plays the part of the 'subdeacon' and grants her every wish” [Borgmann, New Interpretations of the Mass, page 57]
3. Jesus is the only mediator - I Timothy 2:5
4. Only Jesus is referred to as our Advocate - I John 2:1
F. Co-Redemptrix or Co-Redeemer
1. As Mary “ was in a special way close to the Cross of her Son, she also had to have a privileged experience of his Resurrection. In fact, Mary’s role as co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son.” [Pope John Paul II, Allocution at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guayaquil, Jan. 31, 1985]
2. If Mary can advocate without interference, why then she is involved in saving people’s souls!
a. Mary is called “the gate of heaven, because no one can enter that blessed kingdom without passing through her.” [St. Bernard, 1090-1153]
b. “But now, if God is offended with any sinner, and Mary undertakes to protect him, she restrains the Son from punishing him and saves him” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 133]
c. “Very glorious, oh Mary, and wonderful, exclaims St. Bonaventure, is thy great name. Those who are mindful to utter it at the hour of death, have nothing to fear from hell, for the devils at once abandon the soul when they hear the name of Mary” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 163]
d. “The devils have presented my sins before the tribunal of the Lord, and already they were dragging me to hell, but the holy Virgin came and said to them: 'Where are you taking this youth? What have you to do with one of my servants who has so long served me in the congregation?' The devils fled, and thus I have been saved from their hands” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 667]
e. “Thou, then oh Mary, being Mother of God, canst save all men by thy prayers, which are enforced by a mother's authority” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 211]
f. “Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man’s salvation through faith and obedience. For as St. Irenaeus says, she being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert with him in their preaching ... ‘death through Eve, life through Mary.’ This union of the mother with the son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death.” [Vatican II, Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Chapter 8, “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and the Church,” pages 380-381]
3. Notice the claim that Mary became the cause of salvation for herself - Jeremiah 10:23
4. In prophesying of the need for a Savior, God noted that a Savior cannot arise from among man - Isaiah 59:16
5. Speaking of Jesus, Peter said there is no salvation in any other - Acts 4:12
6. There is no other way to God - John 14:6
G. Position and Authority
1. “Mother of God ... is placed on the highest summit of power and glory in heaven ... [She] has a favor and power with her son greater than any human or angelic creature has ever obtained or ever can gain” [Pope Leo XIII, Rosary of Mary, page 1-2]
2. She is “surpassing in power all the angels and saints in heaven.” Hence, the “power thus put into her hands is all but unlimited” [Pope Leo XIII, Rosary of Mary, page 113, 130]
3. “By the ordinance of God, her power is without limit” [Legio Mariae (The Legion of Mary), page 11]
4. “She possesses, by right, the whole kingdom of her son” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 280]
5. “Mary whom He has made sovereign of heaven and earth, general of His armies, treasurer of His treasures, dispenser of His graces, worker of His greatest marvels, restorer of the human race, mediatrix of men, exterminator of the enemies of God, and the faithful companion of His grandeurs and His triumphs” [DeMontfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, page 15]
6. “In practice, the Catholic church looks upon the Mother of God as being an unbounded power in the realm of grace ... Mary is simply ... the most universal supernatural power in heaven and on earth, outside the three divine persons” [Legio Mariae (The Legion of Mary), page 317]
7. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. If she can overrule God in matters of judgment, well then, who is greater?
a. “God is also subject to her will” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 201]
b. “And therefore, says St. Peter Damian, the Virgin has all power in heaven as on earth” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 201]
c. “St. Bernardine of Sienna does not hesitate to say that all obey the commands of Mary, even God himself” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 202]
8. Thus the Catholic church deifies Mary
a. “Holy Virgin, Mother of God, succor those who implore thy assistance. Turn to us. But, having been deified, as it were, hast thou forgotten men?” [Liguori, Glories of Mary, page 331]
b. “The divine Mary is the terrestrial Paradise of the New Adam ...” [DeMontfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, page 2-3, 40-41, 59, 117, and 129]
9. A direct contradiction of Jesus’ own statement - Matthew 28:18
10. Paul noted that Jesus rule continues until death is conquered - I Corinthians 15:24-28
11. In running with human philosophy and poor logic, the Catholic church has created for itself another god - I Corinthians 8:4
V. Not all Catholics agree
A. “It seems to put her on an equal footing with Christ that just won’t do” [John Roten, director of the International Marian Library, Dayton, Ohio]
B. “Mary is the model of our faith, but she is not divine. There is no mediation or co-redemption except in Christ. He alone is God.” [Rene Laurentin, a French monk and a Mary scholar]
C. Like the Pharisees of old, traditions of men are elevated above the word of God - Matthew 15:8-9
D. But since the Catholic church believes it, not God’s word, is the source of truth and that it has the right to change truth, where else will things go but downhill?