The Gospel of Rome
Part 16: Mary:

The Roman Catholic Church teaches the following about Mary:

  • Immaculate conception: She was conceived without original sin
  • She is all holy, and lived a sinless life
  • She was perpetually a virgin
  • She is the mother of God
  • She is the mother of the church
  • Assumption: She was taken directly to heaven after her death
  • She, with Jesus, is a co-mediator
  • She is the queen of heaven
  • She redeemed the human race with Jesus

We shall analyze each of these, one-by-one.

Immaculate Conception:

The Bible teaches the doctrine of "original sin." In Romans 5:12, the Bible clearly states, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Also, in the Old Testament, Psalm 51:5 says, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin. [133]

Of this point, the Bible agrees.

In addition to teaching that all mankind inherit Adam's "original sin," the Bible teaches that our Lord Jesus was born via an "Immaculate Conception," meaning that He was unique in that He was born without the stain of "original sin." Non-Roman Catholics and Roman Catholics agree on this point. However, when the Roman Catholic Church speaks of the "immaculate conception," they are typically not referring to Jesus' Immaculate Conception, but of Mary's alleged Immaculate Conception! The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary, in addition to Jesus, also was born without "original sin."

The Catechism states:

To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role." The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace. [134]

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. [135]

Pope Pius IX described Mary with these words:

Immaculate in every respect; innocent, and verily most innocent; spotless, and entirely spotless; holy and removed from every stain of sin; all pure, all stainless, the very model of purity and innocence; more beautiful than beauty, more lovely than loveliness; more holy than holiness, singularly holy and most pure in soul and body; the one who surpassed all integrity and virginity; the only one who has become the dwelling place of all the graces of the most Holy Spirit. God alone excepted, Mary is more excellent than all, and by nature fair and beautiful, and more holy than the Cherubim and Seraphim. To praise her all the tongues of heaven and earth do not suffice. [136]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary "was redeemed from the moment of her conception." Not only was Jesus born without "original sin," but according to Rome, Mary was as well.

What the Bible Says about Mary's Immaculate Conception:

Luke chapter 1 records Mary's response to the news that she would bare the Son of God. "And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." (Luke 1:46-47, emphasis mine)

Former Nun, Mary Ann Collins appropriately asked:

If Mary were sinless, then why would she need a savior? [137]

She also pointed out:

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was first introduced by a heretic (a man whose teachings were officially declared to be contrary to Church doctrine). For centuries this doctrine was unanimously rejected by popes, Fathers and theologians of the Catholic Church. (William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, pp. 72-77) [138]

Mary Was Sinless:

Not only does the Roman Catholic Church teach that Mary was born without "original sin," but they proclaim even further than she continued to be without sin her whole life.

The Catechism says:

Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ's victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life. [139]

The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), 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 of every personal sin her whole life long. [140]

Notice Rome's clear teaching that Mary "committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life."

What the Bible Says about Mary Being Sinless:

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary never sinned in her life. In contrast to that, the Bible teaches, however,

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, emphasis mine).

Please note that "all have sinned." This includes Mary.

"Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest" (Revelation 15:4, emphasis mine).

The Bible teaches that God alone is holy. Mary is excluded.

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10, emphasis mine).

Is Mary sinless? Not according to the Bible.

Mary Ann Collins pointed out:

Jesus is the only person who is referred to in Scripture as sinless. Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 1 Peter 2:22 says, "Who did no sin , neither was guile found in his mouth".

In contrast, Mary said that God is her Savior. (Luke 1:47) If God was her Savior, then Mary was not sinless. Sinless people do not need a Savior.

In the Book of Revelation, when they were searching for someone who was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll, the only person who was found to be worthy was Jesus. Nobody else in Heaven or on earth (including Mary) was worthy to open the scroll or even look inside it. (Revelation 5:1-5) [141]

Mary's Perpetual Virginity:

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary remained a virgin her whole life; that is, she never had sexual relations. The Catechism teaches:

the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the "Ever-virgin". [142]

Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus", are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other Mary". They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression. [143]

According to the Catechism, Mary was an "Ever-virgin," and the "brothers of Jesus" mentioned in the Bible are not literal brothers, but "close relations."

What the Bible Says about Mary's Perpetual Virginity:

Mary Ann Collins provided thoughtful insight regarding this matter:

Matthew 1:24-25 says, "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." "Till" (until) means that after that point, Joseph did "know" (have sexual relations with) Mary. (See Genesis 4:1 where Adam "knew" Eve and she conceived and had a son.)

Jesus had brothers and sisters. The Bible even tells us their names. Matthew 13:54-56 says, "And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hatch this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 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?"

Other Scripture verses which specifically refer to Jesus' brothers are: Matthew 12:46; John 2:12; John 7:3; Acts 1:14; and Galatians 1:19.

I was always taught that "brothers" and "sisters" were general terms that really could refer to any kind of kinsman, including cousins. This is true in the Hebrew language. However, the New Testament is written in Greek, which is an extremely precise language. It makes a clear distinction between the words used to describe family relationships. There is a Greek word which refers to people who are relatives but not of the immediate family, such as aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins. There are other Greek words which refer specifically to a person's brother or sister within a family. [144]

Mary the Mother of God:

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary is not only the mother of Jesus in His humanity, but in His deity as well. Mary is often referred to as "the mother of God."

The Catechism says:

The Virgin Mary... is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer [145]

From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,'... The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. [146]

Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, "And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God [147]

What the Bible Says about Mary Being the Mother of God:

The above citations from The Catechism show that the Roman Catholic Church teaches error regarding the doctrine of the incarnation.

The Incarnation means that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. Mary was only the mother of Jesus as man, and not the mother of Jesus as God. According to the Bible, the world was created through Jesus. This was long before Mary was born. 

Hebrews 1:1-2 says, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds ".

Colossians 1:16-17 says, "For by him [Jesus] were all things created , that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things [including Mary] were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things [including Mary] , and by him all things consist".

John 8:58 says, "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am ." Jesus existed before Abraham was born. That means that He also existed before Mary was born. In John 17:5, Jesus says, "And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was ." So Jesus existed even before the world began. Jesus came first - not Mary. [148]

Mary the Mother of the Church:

The Roman Catholic Church ascribes to Mary the title, "the mother of the church."

The Catechism says:

She is 'clearly the mother of the members of Christ' . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head." "Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church." [149]

We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ. [150]

What the Bible Says about Mary Being the Mother of the Church:

The Bible paints no such place of preeminence for Mary.

Acts 1:13-14 gives a picture of a group of people praying together. Mary is mentioned as one of them, but nothing indicates any special prominence.

"And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Phillip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

Mary was probably in the Upper Room when the tongues of fire fell upon the 120 disciples. However, she is never mentioned again in the Book of Acts, which is our only historical record of how the Church was born. She is also not specifically identified in the epistles. Paul did send greetings to "Mary", but that was a common name. (In the Gospels and in the Book of Acts, she is referred to as "Mary the mother of Jesus" to distinguish her from other women named Mary.)

It is notable that John, who took Mary into his home after Jesus was crucified, does not mention her in his epistles, and he only mentions her on two occasions in his Gospel (the wedding at Cana and the crucifixion of Jesus). John mentions Mary Magdalene more than he mentions Jesus' mother. [151]

Mary's Assumption:

For years I naively assumed that when Roman Catholics referred to "The Assumption," they were referring to Jesus' assumption; i.e. the fact that Jesus was taken back into heaven after His resurrection. However, many times when a Roman Catholic talks of "The Assumption," they are referring to Mary's assumption!

The Catechism states:

Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death. [152]

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. [153]

What the Bible Says about Mary's Assumption:

When one searches the pages of Scripture for the assumption of Mary, one finds silence:

There is no biblical reference to the assumption of Mary. The Gospel of John was written around 90 A.D., which is more than 100 years after Mary was born. (Surely Mary was more than ten years old when Jesus was conceived.) If Mary had been supernaturally assumed into Heaven, wouldn't John (the disciple that Mary lived with) have mentioned it? When Enoch and Elijah were taken up to Heaven, the Bible recorded it. With Elijah it was recorded in some detail. (See Genesis 6:24 and 2 Kings 2:1-18.)

The Assumption of Mary was officially declared to be a dogma of the Roman Catholic faith in 1950. This means that every Roman Catholic is required to believe this doctrine without questioning it. However, as we will see, the teaching of the Assumption originated with heretical writings which were officially condemned by the early Church.

In 495 A.D., Pope Gelasius issued a decree which rejected this teaching as heresy and its proponents as heretics. In the sixth century, Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary.

The early Church clearly considered the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary to be a heresy worthy of condemnation. Here we have "infallible" popes declaring something to be a heresy. Then in 1950, Pope Pius XII, another "infallible" pope, declared it to be official Roman Catholic doctrine. (William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, pp. 81-85) [154]

Mary Is a Co-Mediator:

Christians believe that Jesus is our mediator to God, but Roman Catholics add that Mary also is our mediator. They refer to her as a "co-mediator."

The Catechism teaches:

Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. "In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace." [155]

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. [156]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary is our "Mediatrix" because she makes "manifold intercession" to bring about for us "the gifts of eternal salvation."

Pope Leo XIII said:

With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother. [157]

Here the Catholic position is even clearer. "Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother."

Saint Alphonsus Liguori wrote:

"On this account it was," says St. Bernard, "that the Eternal Father, wishing to show all the mercy possible, besides giving us Jesus Christ, our principal advocate with Him, was pleased also to give us Mary, as our advocate with Jesus Christ. There is no doubt," the saint adds, "that Jesus Christ is the only mediator of justice between men and God; that, by virtue of His own merits and promises, He will and can obtain us pardon and the divine favors; but because men acknowledge and fear the divine Majesty, which is in Him as God, for this reason it was necessary to assign us another advocate, to whom we might have recourse with less fear and more confidence, and this advocate is Mary, than whom we cannot find one more powerful with His Divine Majesty, or one more merciful towards ourselves." The saint says, "Christ is a faithful and powerful Mediator between God and men, but in Him men fear the majesty of God. A mediator, then, was needed with the mediator Himself; nor could a more fitting one be found than Mary. [158]

According to Rome, Jesus is our mediator to God, but because Jesus is harsh and mean, we get to Jesus by way of the mediator known as Mary. Said another way, Jesus is our mediator to God, but Mary is our mediator to Jesus.

What the Bible Says about Mary Being a Co-Mediator:

The Bible is quite clear that we indeed can and must approach Jesus directly and boldly.

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-22, emphasis mine).

We are invited to draw near to God directly without the need of a human mediator! Ephesians 3:12 says, "In whom [Jesus} we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."

1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus : Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

Hebrews 7:25 says, "Wherefore [Jesus] is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."

The Bible is clear: There is only one mediator and that is Jesus. Mary is not even mentioned.

If Jesus is constantly interceding for us and He is able to save us "to the uttermost," (utterly, completely) then He doesn't need Mary's help. If we can approach God with "boldness" and "confidence" because of our faith in Jesus, then we don't need Mary's help either. [159]

Mary the Queen of Heaven:

The Roman Catholic Church ascribes the title "Queen of Heaven" to Mary.

The Catechism says:

Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things... [160]

"All generations will call me blessed": The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship. [161]

According to Rome, Mary is "Queen over all things" and our devotion to her ought to be "intrinsic to Christian worship."

What the Bible Says about Mary Being Queen of Heaven:

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the King, and teaches nothing similar about Mary.

Psalm 148:13 says, "Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent ; his glory is above the earth and heaven." This makes it quite clear that only God's name (not Mary's) is to be exalted. (In Catholic Bibles the numbering of the chapters and verses of some of the Psalms is slightly different.)

When people tried to give Mary special honor and pre-eminence because she was His mother, Jesus corrected them.

"And it came to pass, as he spake 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 paps 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)

In chapters four and five of the Book of Revelation, we are given a quite detailed picture of Heaven. God is seated on the throne, surrounded by 24 elders and four living creatures. The Lamb (Jesus) is standing in the center of the throne. 

Thousands upon thousands of angels circle the throne, singing God's praises. And Mary is not in the picture at all. [162]

Mary Is the Co-Redeemer:

Perhaps most blasphemous of all of Rome's many errors concerning Mary is this one. Rome teaches that Mary redeemed mankind along with her Son.

Pope Benedict XV said:

With her suffering and dying Son she suffered and almost died, so did she surrender her mother's rights over her Son for the salvation of human beings, and to appease the justice of God, so far as pertained to her, she immolated her Son, so that it can be rightly said, that she together with Christ has redeemed the human race. [163]

This Pope said that Mary, "together with Christ has redeemed the human race."

Pope Leo XIII said:

By the fullness of grace which confers on her the most illustrious of her many titles, the Blessed Virgin is infinitely superior to all the hierarchies of men and angels, the one creature who is closest of all to Christ. "It is a great thing in any saint to have grace sufficient for the salvation of many souls; but to have enough to suffice for the salvation of everybody in the world. is the greatest of all; and this is found in Christ and in the Blessed Virgin." [164]

Mary not only had enough grace to merit her own salvation, but she also had enough grace to merit the salvation of the whole of humankind!

What the Bible Says about Mary Being the Co-Redeemer:

Shutting the door on this blasphemy are the perfect words of scripture:

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:1-3, emphasis mine).

Our Lord did not need help, nor did He enlist the help of Mary or anyone in securing the salvation of His elect. He "had by himself purged our sins."

Next: Dead Saints

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