Mary Worship (Part 3 of 4)
By Dr. David Reagan
During this Christmas season, how should we deal with Mary, the mother of Jesus? Should she be worshiped or respected? Adored or ignored? Magnified or belittled?
For a fresh, fascinating, and biblical viewpoint, I was delighted to interview on Christ in Prophecy Pastor Glenn Meredith of the Brookhaven Church located in McKinney, Texas. Glenn is one of the most anointed and gifted preachers I have ever encountered, and so I am sure you will be challenged by the answers he gave to these questions concerning the adoration of Mary.
Was Mary a perpetual virgin all of her life?
Glenn Meredith: That claim always surprises me. Mary certainly started out as a virgin. The Bible clearly teaches that she was a virgin when she conceived and birthed the Lord Jesus Christ. All Christians should believe that with all of our hearts, for that’s what the Bible teaches.
But, does the Bible teach Mary remained a perpetual virgin? Certainly not!
According to Catholic doctrine, Mary remained a virgin at Christ’s conception, during the birth, and then on afterwards for the remainder of her life. And yet, just look at the Scriptures. The Scriptures in Matthew 1:24-25 clearly explains, “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.” This “did not know her” means Joseph did not have sexual relations with Mary until after Christ’s birth. The text specifically says that.
Also, brothers and sisters of Jesus are mentioned later in the Scriptures. Five references in the New Testament specifically say that Jesus had brothers and sisters. The Bible names his brothers James, Simon, and Jude. In fact, Jesus’ half-brother James became a supreme believer after Christ’s resurrection and went on to head the Church in Jerusalem.
People will argue by trying to explain away these references to brothers and sisters, as if these were nephews and nieces. Just look at the Greek language, though, for the words for nephew and niece are very different than the Greek words for brothers and sisters. To argue that Mary remained a perpetual virgin is simply a denial of what the scriptures really teach about this.
Once again, I believe the Catholic Church has clearly ignored the Bible in the effort to deify Mary.
Did Mary undergo an assumption up to Heaven?
Glenn Meredith: The Assumption of Heaven is the Catholic belief that Mary was both in body and spirit raptured up to Heaven. Sure, some believe that she may have died and then her body was resurrected and glorified while she was taken up to Heaven, but most others believe she ascended to Heaven without dying. Therefore, this doctrine teaches that Mary never died.
Dr. Reagan: This train of thought was developed over hundreds of years by the Catholic Church, but it was not until 1950 that Pope Pius XII declared Mary’s assumption to Heaven as an official doctrine of the Church. But, the Pope evaded the question of whether she died or not. He simply said that she was “assumed into heaven.” Whether or not she died, Pius just didn’t say. He just said she was assumed into Heaven, though in later years people began to believe she never died.
I have actually visited the tomb of Mary. The tomb of Mary is in a place most people would not suspect. It can be found in Ephesus, which today lies within Turkey. Remember that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, He committed the care of his mother to the Apostle John. John, according to Church tradition, cared for Mary the rest of her life. John later became the Bishop of Ephesus, and that is supposedly where she finally died. You can go and see her tomb there.
Glenn Meredith: Right, the Catholic Church has continued to make comparisons between Jesus and Mary. By claiming Mary was born without sin and that she lived a sinless life, they can now equate her with Jesus. Catholics have been slowly moving Mary up to the same level as Jesus.
An example of the Catholic propensity to equate Mary to Jesus in status is to grant her the title of Queen of Heaven. Remember, Mary was assumed to have been caught up to Heaven. They go on to claim that once she arrived in Heaven she was given a special position — the Queen of Heaven. As the Queen of Heaven she supposedly offers special mercy and compassion which she pours out on all of God’s children. She even supposedly intercedes for all of God’s children.
Dr. Reagan: The Church of the Annunciation displays a huge mural on its front. The center point of the mural is Mary, with Jesus portrayed on one side and God the Father symbolized on her other side. The focus of the mural is clearly Mary, the Queen of Heaven.
This doctrine was again something that has been developed over time, as early even as the Council of Ephesus in the Fifth Century, when the Catholic Church declared her to be the Queen of Heaven. This view was not declared an official doctrine of the Catholic Church until 1954 with Pope Pius XII.
The Catholic Church continues to lift Mary up to the point of godhood, even calling her a co-redemptrix with Christ.
Glenn Meredith: This belief claims Mary has been acting as a co-redeemer with Jesus. To be fair, many Catholics certainly don’t believe Mary is necessarily equal to Jesus when it comes to redemption, but many do go as far as claiming she plays a part in our salvation.
Dr. Reagan: Mary as co-redemptrix is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, but many Catholics believe in it, and there has been tremendous pressure on the Pope to declare this as an official dogma. I think that he has backed off because he knows that there would be no hope whatsoever of trying to bring Evangelicals back to the “mother church” as they are trying to do as of late if he were to declare that. After all, to actually claim that Mary intercedes for us along with Jesus to the Father, that is almost certainly blasphemous. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is the one and only intercessor between Man and God (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12; Heb. 7:25).
Glenn Meredith: Long has Mary been called the Mother of God, which if they are referring obviously to the fact that she is the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ who Himself is of course the eternal God, then we wouldn’t have a problem with that. But, what Catholics mean by that in their doctrine is that she’s not just the mother of Jesus on earth. They don’t think she created Jesus in a sense that way, but that she is the mother of Jesus because we are the Body of Christ, therefore she is the Christian’s mother as well. As our mother, the Mother of God, and the mother of God’s children, she therefore can be the one who protects and provides for us. So many people misunderstand this and pray to Mary, looking for her to meet their needs and to protect them and their loved ones, instead of turning solely to Jesus Christ. Because the New Testament teaches that Jesus is the one and only intercessor, equating Mary as a co-redemptrix is purely unbiblical.
In the fourth and last segment of my interview with Pastor Glenn Meredith concerning Mary’s position in Christianity, we will explore if Protestants should place more of an emphasis on Mary.