Catholicism’s Conundrum By Terry James Let me start by saying I have family and friends…
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
By Stephen Meehan
We are all familiar with the nursery rhyme that begins with those opening words, but the intent of this article is to highlight the vast differences between the Mary of Scripture, versus the Mary that has been created by Roman Catholicism. When presented side by side—their teachings laid out against what the Bible has to say about her, we are left looking at two completely different beings. Simply put, the attributes and qualities that the Catholic Church ascribe to their Mary are contrary to what the Bible reveals to us about her.
So the question becomes: should we believe what God has told us in His holy inspired Word concerning Mary (“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” – 2 Timothy 3:16). Or, do we believe the teachings of Man, through the Church of Rome? Does it make any difference?
The proclamations that Roman Catholicism have made about Mary are varied and most of the characteristics that they have attributed to her cannot be supported by the Holy Writ. For starters, Rome contends that Mary remained a perpetual virgin after the birth of Christ, but Scripture is clear that Mary had other children after Jesus was born, and thus could not have remained a virgin:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18).
“And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name JESUS” (Matthew 1:24, 25). [A virgin until Jesus was born.]
“And Mary said unto the angel, how shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). [No sexual relations up to that point.]
The Bible also differentiates between Elizabeth, who had only one child, versus Mary who had multiple children: Elizabeth “brought forth a son” instead of Mary who “brought forth her firstborn son.”
“Now Elizabeth’s time was fulfilled that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son” (Luke 1:57).
“And she (Mary) brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). [The first of her children.]
Mary’s other children are even named in Scripture:
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” (Matthew 13:55, 56).
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended in him” (Mark 6:3).
“After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days” (John 2:12).
“His brethren therefore said unto him, depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou do” (John 7:3).
“For neither did his brethren believe in him” (John 7:5). [Jesus’ own family didn’t believe in Him until after His Resurrection.]
“But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.” (John 7:10).
As seen above, three men gospel writers—Matthew, Mark, and John, who were contemporaries of Jesus, attest to the fact that Mary had other children, and so she could not have remained a virgin. The apostle Paul, who became a converted Christian after Jesus’ resurrection, even writes of the brothers of Jesus and names James (of the book of James) as the Lord’s brother:
“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:14). [After the Cross.]
“But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19).
“Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” (1 Corinthians 9:5).
Rome likes to counter the notion that Mary had other children by claiming that these are cousins of Jesus, and not his half brothers and sisters. If that is the case, then why wasn’t John the Baptist listed here, who actually was the cousin of Jesus. Jesus referred to John as the greatest man ever born of a woman (Luke 7:28), so without a doubt, if these were in fact cousins of Jesus, John would have been included foremost among them – but he is not.
Why does Rome feel compelled to deny Mary of her other children? Does that make her any more virtuous or a better role model to women? Aren’t children a blessing from the Lord? It is abundantly clear through God’s Word that Mary did in fact have other children and to suggest otherwise is tantamount to calling God a liar.
What other claims does Rome make about her? They also insist that Mary was born without sin and remained sinless throughout her life. However, Scripture says otherwise:
“But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Galatians 3:22).
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). [The Scripture doesn’t say all BUT Mary.]
Mary even recognizes her lowly estate and the need she has for a savior:
“And Mary said, behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38 9).
“And Mary said, my soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49).
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:21-24).
Under the Mosaic Law, as a Jewess, after the birth of Christ, Mary was required to make a sin offering. If she was born sinless as Roman Catholicism teaches, a sin offering would not have been required; there would have been no need for one. Again, Rome’s contention that Mary was sinless and remained so is baseless, and conflicts with what The Holy Bible tells us. Only Christ was sinless and to suggest that someone else lived in that state or condition robs Jesus of the uniqueness of His sinless life and His glory.
Rome goes to great lengths to elevate the status of Mary, well above that which God in His Word says of her. Jesus even has to rebuke the crowd when they try to raise her level of prominence and on a couple of occasions has to correct their thinking:
“While he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, seeking to speak to him. And one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking to speak to thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).
“And there come his mother and his brethren; and, standing without, they sent unto him, calling him. And a multitude was sitting about him; and they say unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, and said, who is my mother and my brethren? And looking around on them that sat around about him, he said, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mark 3:31-35).
“And there came to him his mother and brethren, and they could not come at him for the crowd. And it was told him, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. But he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these that hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:19-21). [Again, three different gospel writers attest to her other children and that it is more important to do God’s will than to elevate anyone’s status.]
“And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the breasts which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:27, 28).
It would seem to be a pretty important point that Jesus is making there: we are to hear the Word of God, keep it, trust in it and don’t ever add anything to it. It is far more expedient to live as a Christian in God’s way, than to make up things that are not scriptural and to teach those false errors to others. Why Rome insists on doing this with Mary repeatedly is beyond comprehension. Gross errors in theology will never supplant the correct means of salvation.
Rome also gives the title, “Mother of God” to Mary. Is this correct?
Can a created being become the mother of God? A human created being can become the mother of deity? Maybe only in Greek mythology perhaps.
While it is true that Mary was the vessel chosen by God to bring forth Jesus in His human manifestation, Jesus Christ existed all throughout eternity—before the creation of the world and mankind (as a matter of fact, Jesus created it all as God as told in John chapter 1). So, it was Jesus as God, who created Mary for her special role. Mary is not the Mother of God. God has no mother or father.
Rome also claims that Mary is the “Mother” of all Christians. The verse they like to use to substantiate this teaching is this:
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then said he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:25-27).
Only the gospel of John records this incident and it only applied to John. He was at the time a very young man and may have been motherless. She became his mother and he took care of her. Christians do not have a universal mother and are not in need of one. The Father provides for us and this is just another in a long line of Rome’s teachings that denies God His glory.
Is Mary the Queen of Heaven, like Roman Catholicism proclaims? Does she reign and rule along with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit? Is she deity? Is it a Triune God and a single Queen of Heaven that governs the affairs of men and the universe?
Here is what Scripture says of a “Queen of Heaven”:
“The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger” (Jeremiah 7:18).
“Do they provoke me to anger? says the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?” (Jeremiah 7:19).
The Queen of Heaven was a pagan deity who was worshipped during Old Testament times, as recorded by Jeremiah the prophet. God despised this false worship of a false being. He compared it to being in a state of confusion. The Israelites were led astray in worshipping this false pagan queen and suffered terribly for it. We are never to put a false object before the Lord; that is idolatry. He alone is to be worshipped and praised. No one else exists anyway, to watch over us, guide us, provide for us or save us.
And yet, the people of that time didn’t care if God was happy with their style of worship. They were going to worship the way they wanted and to whomever they chose. Do not the words below describe exactly to a tee the response Rome seems to give in worshipping this Queen of Heaven? (We don’t care what God’s Word says, we will worship who we choose to and however we want to):
“But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil” (Jeremiah 44:17).
“But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine” (Jeremiah 44:18).
“And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” (Jeremiah 44:19).
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows” (Jeremiah 44:25).
Incredible as it may seem, an organization like Roman Catholicism that identifies herself with Christianity, and in fact calls herself the Mother of all Churches (she loves the Mother title), is more in line with a pagan style of worship in insisting on praying to and worshipping a Queen of Heaven. God detests that activity, but Rome promotes it. Who is right?
Is there a difference between the Mary that Rome offers up versus the scriptural Mary that we read about in the Bible? Clearly there is.
The Mary of God’s Word tells us who to believe and in who to trust:
“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there” (John 2:1).
“And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said unto him, they have no wine. Jesus said unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. His mother said unto the servants, whatsoever he says unto you, do it” (John 2:3-5).
We as Christians are all servants of Christ. As Mary proclaims in this passage, Whatever He says, you do it! What the Bible says about salvation, you trust it. What it claims about Mary, you can believe it. Was she favored? Yes. Was she blessed? Yes. Was she a role model? Yes. Do we trust in her for our salvation or to get needs met? No! But Rome would tell us otherwise.
God’s position on who Jesus was and is clear: we are to trust in Him and no one else for our salvation and we have no need to seek any other source:
“And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him” (Luke 9:35).
Do we need to worship anyone else, other than God (and of course, Jesus is God)? Even the so-called wise men from the East, when they came from afar to worship Christ, worshipped Him only. They didn’t then turn to Mary to worship her:
“Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
Neither are we to worship anyone else. It is forbidden as a Christian or even an angel to receive worship that is due to God alone. The apostle John, in the book of Revelation, was overwhelmed by the vision he witnessed in heaven, of the 24 Elders, the Heavenly Host and the Lord Jesus. He was reprimanded for attempting to worship an angel, versus giving glory to God alone:
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things” (Revelation 22:8).
“Then said he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Revelation 22:9).
It is more than evident throughout all Scripture that only God is worthy of our praise and worship. Never are we allowed to elevate anyone else to that status. The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ as the sole means of salvation. The Old Testament points out our sinfulness and foretells of a future Redeemer. The New Testament gives us the words and examples of Jesus and points us back to what He alone has accomplished.
The entire message of the Holy Bible can be encapsulated in one verse:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
There is no mention in there of Mary. She served the Lord in her special role and with the exception of the verses cited above and a few others, the scriptures are relatively quiet about her after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. She is to be honored and remembered and does act as a role model on how to live, but what Rome has done with her is reprehensible.
Mary wasn’t sinless; didn’t remain a virgin; isn’t the Mother of God; is not a Queen of Heaven and is not to be prayed to. Jesus taught us to pray directly to the Father; Mary is not a co-redeemer, nor a co-mediatrix. (Does God really need a human being’s help in saving us or acting as a go-between for Man and God?) We don’t bow down before images of her or parade around behind those images, and she doesn’t come to us in Marian apparitions—that is demonic activity.
Mary wasn’t immaculately conceived (born without sin; only Christ was); she wasn’t bodily assumed into heaven; she can’t keep a person out of a fictitious place called purgatory by wearing a scapular of her; she can’t hear or answer prayer from anyone around the globe at all times (only God can); nor can any of the other things that Rome has invented over the centuries which they have attributed to her. This is all false and it flies in the face of God and biblical Christianity.
There is a monumental difference between the Mary of the Bible and the aberration of Mary that Rome has concocted. Why deceive their followers? Isn’t God’s Word sufficient in describing how she was? Do we need to embellish her characteristics? Who gains by doing that? Is God honored by that activity? Is this what Christians should do, invent things that hugely displease the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord?
A thousand times no! Their inspiration for doing such things and teaching perversity comes from a different source than the Bible or the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t take much imagination to consider what source is providing such gross errors. The enemy would much rather keep our focus off Christ and instead, look to a “Mary,” dead saints, popes, bishops, cardinals, icons, relics, wafers, statues or anything else that seems religious. None of those other things or beings come close to acting as a substitute for Jesus—and Satan knows it.
If Rome’s teachings about Mary are contrary to what God has said about her in His Holy infallible Word—the Bible, what other errors do the Catholics teach? This is only one subject of Roman Catholic theology that opposes what is written in Scripture on how to be a saved Christian. The others are too numerous to list here.
If you’re a Catholic, like I was, get out. If you’re not a Catholic, witness to Catholics and don’t assume that they are Christians. Roman Catholicism is a huge mission field; they are being deceived. Rome is leading their flock astray.
Rome’s version of Mary is just one avenue of false teaching along their broad highway of false doctrine. The Roman Catholic system of salvation is full of potholes of error, idolatry, blasphemous practices which continually robs the glory due to Jesus Christ alone.
“Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – no one comes to the Father but by him” (John 14:6).
He is the narrow way, the true path. Don’t substitute a relationship with the King of kings and Lord of lords for a false system of salvation. Please seek the Holy Spirit’s help and discernment in seeing just how wrong the Roman Catholic system of salvation truly is.
Footnote: All Scripture emphasis is added by the author.