12-1-1 Opening Statement By Duncan Heaster: False Worship Of Mary

According to the Bible, the mediation of God’s grace and salvation to human beings is through Jesus Christ- not Mary, as Catholics claim. Not until the 4th century is there any mention of Mary worship; the early tradition of the church did not consider her worthy of worship. It is surely inappropriate to reason that later, some church tradition demanded her worship; for this would imply that her actual status changed once the church claimed she deserved worship. If church tradition is to guide our views of who Mary essentially is, then we have a problem- for that tradition changed over time. The only unchangeable source of authority is the Bible alone- the word of God rather than the changing word of men.

The Bible is very clear that Jesus was the seed or son of Abraham and David. The first verse of the New Testament makes this point (Mt. 1:1), and Paul says that this is crucial to the Gospel of Jesus (Gal. 3:8,16). Jesus was made of the seed of David (Rom. 1:4), and this was only possible because His mother Mary was also a literal descendant of David and Abraham. He had to be of our human nature in order to be able to manifest God in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16), to show us God in human terms; and in order to do battle with our human sin. On account of this, He became our Saviour from sin, because He was truly our representative (Heb. 2:14-18; 4:15,16). Mary’s humanity is brought out by the way Lk. 1:42 calls her blessed among women- not above women.

“Mother Of God”

This phrase first occurred in 431AD, at the Council of Ephesus. Until then there had been no mention of this phrase, neither in the Bible nor in church writings before that date. One wrong doctrine lead to another, just as a mistaken interpretation in any area leads to further erroneous understanding. The idea of the trinity, with its supposition that Jesus is God, lead to the assumption that Mary must therefore have been the mother of God. And this does indeed logically follow, if indeed Jesus is God. It likewise follows that Joseph was the step-father of God, Elizabeth was God’s aunty, John the Baptist was God’s cousin, Heli was God’s grandfather etc. All this is rejected by Protestants and Catholics alike. And yet it is the logical inference from the idea that ‘Jesus is God’. The difference between Catholic and Protestant views is therefore, in my opinion, hard to understand. They both alike made the basic mistake of adopting the unbiblical doctrine of the trinity; and were left with the logical corollary that therefore, Mary was the mother of God. Protestantism just blindly denies it, whereas Catholicism accepts it. I have shown elsewhere that Jesus is not God Himself, and that the Bible knows nothing of the word ‘trinity’. The Biblical title of Mary is the “mother of Jesus”, but not the mother of God. Note too that Jesus never called Mary “mother” but rather “woman”. All worship was to Jesus, not to Mary- even when she was present [note especially Mt. 2:11, and the gifts of the wise men to Jesus, not Mary). Repeatedly, God’s people refused worship that was offered to them and redirected it towards God (Acts 10:25,26; 14:14,15; Rev. 22:8,9).

When Constantine made ‘Christianity’ the official religion of the Roman empire, he faced a problem. The people preferred to worship their existing pagan gods. And so he turned their pagan worship into Christian worship. Thus the feast of December 25th was turned into the celebration of the supposed birth of Jesus, even though Jesus was not born on that day. The pagan people of the time had many beloved female deities- Isis, Ishtar, Diana, Athena, Aphrodite etc. These were simply transferred to Mary. The statues to them became statues to Mary. And to this day, Catholicism continues to absorb local heroes as saints, and turns local goddesses into the image of the Madonna. An example would be how the Virgin of Guadalupe, worshipped by pagan tribes in Mexico, was turned into the Virgin Mary. This is why the statues to her there show her without the babe in her arms, to heighten the similarity with the previously worshipped Virgin of Guadalupe. It is significant that Catholics call Mary “Queen of Heaven”, when the only reference to this in the Bible reveals that this was a pagan goddess of fertility, Astarte- and Israel were condemned for praying to her (Jud. 2:13; Jer. 7:18; 44:17-19,25).

The following table seeks to express how far the Catholic view of Mary is in direct contradiction to the Bible text, quoting from The Glories of Mary by Cardinal Alphonse de Ligouri (Brooklyn, NY: Redemptorist Fathers):

Catholic View of Mary

Biblical View of Mary

“She is truly a mediatress of peace between sinners and God. Sinners receive pardon by…Mary alone…Mary is our life” (pp. 80-83)

“There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ…I am the way…the life…Christ…our life” (1 Tim. 2:5; Jn. 14:6; Col. 3:4)

“Mary is called…the gate of Heaven because no one can enter that blessed Kingdom without passing through her” (p. 160)

“I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (Jn. 10:1,7,9)

“The way of salvation is open to none otherwise than through Mary…our salvation is in the hands of Mary” (p. 160,169)

“No man cometh to the Father but by me…neither is there salvation in any other” (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12)

“All power is given to thee in Heaven and on earth [so that] at the command of Mary all obey…even God” (pp. 180,181)

“All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth…in the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Mt. 28:19; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:18).

Mary is “the advocate of the whole human race” (p. 193)

“We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 2:1,2; Jn. 16:23,24)

“Mary is the peacemaker between sinners and God” (p. 197)

“In Christ Jesus, you, who were sometimes afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace…” (Eph. 2:13,14)

The obvious conclusion from all this is that Catholicism has replaced the unique Priestly achievement of Jesus with their traditions about Mary. But how did this travesty develop? It seems to me that the Catholic image of Jesus is of a grim faced, suffering body, tortured in order to appease the wrath of an angry God. Mary is then presented as the balance to this- a sweet faced, merciful, saintly woman who can turn the hearts of an otherwise angry and dissatisfied Father and Son toward us. But this is all based on an unbalanced reading of the Bible text. God is angry with sin, but He is a God who delights to forgive and who takes no pleasure in punishing sin. The whole Old Testament portrays God as something of a ‘softie’, countless times showing quite undeserved mercy to His people. And the Lord Jesus did suffer of course, but with the half glance of imminent victory surely in His face, as the athlete straining to victoriously finish the race. Biblically, He is portrayed as the joyful victor, generously sharing the prize with us the unworthy. His love and the Father’s grace is quite enough- it needs no kindly Madonna to balance it out. Jesus Himself was “moved with compassion” during His ministry- He hardly needs Mary to prompt Him to be more merciful, as Catholic theology teaches. Likewise, He is the only Mediator with God- it doesn’t need Mary to do this, because of the implication that He isn’t sympathetic enough (1 Tim. 2:5; Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12; Heb. 7:25; 9:15; Rom. 8:34; 1 Jn. 2:1). This travesty of understanding all arises from a refusal to accept that Jesus was truly of our nature, and for this reason He can be compassionate on our weaknesses (Heb. 2:14-18; 4:15,16). A sacrifice is needed to atone for sins and to mediate with God- and Jesus, not Mary, was this sacrifice. This is why Jesus was our only saviour. Yet Popes Benedict 15 and Pius 11 both call Mary the “co-redeemer” of humanity, along with Jesus. This to my mind is the most fundamental problem with Catholic Mariolatry- the fundamental and unique work of Jesus has been denied by it.

Duncan Heaster

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