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CATHOLIC TEACHING ABOUT MARY
Victor M. Eskew
The Bible explicitly teaches that Mary was the mother of Jesus. “And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16). The angel Gabriel told Mary “that the holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The selection of Mary to give birth to the Christ-child was to bring her blessings throughout every generation to come. Mary herself declared: “…from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).
With these facts before us, we can also make these assertions: 1) The Bible nowhere refers to Mary as “the Mother of God;” 2) The Bible nowhere records any occasion when Mary was worshiped; and 3) After speaking of her presence in the upper room, divine inspiration removes Mary from its divine pages.
The Roman Catholic Church is responsible for exalting Mary to a status never afforded to her in the Word of God. They see her as “the Mother of God,” or “theotokos.” She is an object of devotion and worship. The teachings of the Catholic Church concerning Mary have exalted her to a height equal to, and even above, the Son of God Himself. Catholics would deny this, but their teachings and practices involving Mary prove otherwise. In this article, we will be looking at several things the Catholics teach about Mary. It is important to note that all of our quotes come from a book which bears the imprimatur of the Catholic Church. This book was copyrighted in 1994. Its title is Catechism of the Catholic Church.
One Catholic doctrine about Mary that is sorely misunderstood is her Immaculate Conception. Most think that this has to do with the conception of Jesus. The doctrine really centers upon the conception of Mary herself. Mary, it is said, was conceived without the taint of original sin. Pope Pius IX put it in these words: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was from the first moment of conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin” (Catechism, 138). Original sin is a man-made doctrine that declares that the stain of Adam’s sin has been passed on from generation to generation. In the course of normal affairs, Mary should have been stained by the original sin, but she was not according to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Since Mary was not stained by original sin, when she gave birth to Jesus, He was not tainted either. It is interesting that there is not one mention of Mary’s conception and birth in the Bible. This is a doctrine that was devised by the mind of man in order to explain how Jesus was born without original sin, a false doctrine itself (See Ezek 18:20).
In addition to Mary’s not having the blemish of original sin, Catholic doctrine also teaches that Mary was sinless her entire life. On page 138 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read: “The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God ‘the All-Holy’ (Paragia) and celebrate her as ‘free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.’ By the grace of God Mary remained free from every personal sin her whole life long.” If Mary were free from sin, she did not know it. In her “Magnificant,” she praised God her “Savior.” “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). If Mary had been sinless and perfect, she would not have needed a Savior.
The most well-known doctrine about Mary as taught by the Catholic Church is her perpetual virginity. Mary was not only a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus, but, it is said, she remained a virgin for the rest of her life. The Catechism states: “The deepening faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it. And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the ‘Ever-virgin’” (pp. 140-141). Two passages of Scripture easily refute this doctrine. One of them is Matthew 1:24-25. “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” If Mary were a perpetual virgin, she never had sexual relations with her husband Joseph. Matthew 1:25 reveals that they did have sexual relations after the birth of Jesus. The word “know” refers to sexual intercourse. Joseph knew her not “till” she brought forth her firstborn son. After Jesus was born, Joseph did know her. In fact, he knew her many times for they had numerous children. Matthew 13:55-56 names four brothers of Jesus. The passage also speaks of “his sisters.” “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” The force of these passages is undeniable to an honest mind. Mary did not remain a virgin. She lived in a wholesome relationship with Joseph and bore him many children.
Another Catholic doctrine about Mary concerns her assumption. Catholics do not believe that Mary died. They believe that she was miraculously taken up into heaven to be with her Son Jesus Christ. On page 276 of the Catechism, we learn: “The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body.” Again, not one word is said about this in the pages of the New Testament. The last we see of Mary is when she is gathered with the small band of disciples in the upper room on Pentecost Day (Acts 1:16). She then slips from the pages of divine inspiration. There is not one hint that she was “assumed” into heaven. This comes from the fanciful thinking of mere men.
The last Catholic doctrine of Mary that we will discuss is based upon her Assumption. In heaven, Mary is said to act as an advocate and mediator. “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation…Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix” (Catechism, 275). We have already shown that Mary was not taken up into heaven. Therefore, she cannot be a mediator. If she were there, and performed a mediatory role, she would be at odds with the teaching of the apostle Paul. He wrote: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). Paul says there is one mediator. The Catholics claim there are at least two mediators, Jesus and Mary. Both cannot be right. Surely an inspired apostle speaks the absolute truth.
The doctrine of Mary is very important in Catholic theology. It is based upon a wrong interpretation of Luke 1:48, which states: “…from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” Calling Mary blessed has turned into devotion and worship and praise for Mary. This praise is sinful. It involves the worship of a human being. Dear readers, Mary is to be blessed, but only God is to be worshiped. It was Jesus Himself who said: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).