Among all the
women in history, none have been more venerated than Mary, the mother of
Jesus. However, this veneration can be almost exclusively attributed to
the influence of the Catholic Church. For example, one of the most
powerful men in the world today is Pope John Paul II. In his new book,
Crossing the Threshold of Hope, which has sold in the tens of
millions of copies, he refers to his "total abandonment to Mary" and to
having chosen the following slogan as the motto for his papacy, "Totus
Tuus" ("I am completely yours, O Mary").1
But who is
Mary, according to the Bible? Mary is the young virgin woman who was
chosen by God to bear the Messiah into the world (Mt. 1:18-25; Lk.
1:27-32, 39-41). Although Mary was "greatly troubled" (Lk. 1:29) by the
angel’s announcement of her chosen role, she faithfully submitted to
God’s will: "May it be to me as you have said" (Lk. 1:38). Throughout
her life, she was amazed at the privilege God had given her. When she
visited Elizabeth and heard Elizabeth prophesy amazing things about her
child, she said, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in
God my Savior" (Lk. 1:46–47). When Jesus was born and the shepherds
worshipped Him and told of their angelic visitation (what the angels had
told them about Jesus), "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered
them in her heart" (Lk. 2:19). At Jesus’ dedication in the temple, she
was even more awed over the prophecies given about her child (Lk. 2:23).
biblical portrait of Mary is of a godly woman who was, not surprisingly,
often taken aback in her role as Jesus’ mother. But was she in any way
unique or different from the rest of the human race? According to the
Bible, she was different only in her earthly role as Jesus’
mother; otherwise, she had no special graces, powers, or abilities.
Catholic Church has a billion followers and claims that it accepts
biblical teaching, we find in Scripture just the opposite of what the
Catholic Church teaches about Mary. The Catholic Church teaches that
Mary was sinless, but Mary is clearly said to be a sinner like all of us
(Lk. 1:47; Rom. 3:23). The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was a
perpetual virgin, but the Scripture teaches she had at least six other
children (Mt. 13:55–56).
gave the appropriate respect to Mary as His mother, He never set her
apart as the Catholic Church has. According to Rome, Mary has been more
blessed by God than any other mortal. In the words of Pope Paul VI,
citing Vatican II, "The place she occupies in the Church [is] ‘the
highest place and the closest to us after Jesus.’"2 But
according to Luke 11:27–28, Jesus Himself denied Catholic views when He
taught that those who obey God are actually far more blessed
than Mary—than if they had given birth to the Messiah Himself: "As Jesus
was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is
the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed
rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’"
Catholic Church views Mary as 1) Co-redemptrix, 2) Mediatrix, and 3)
Queen of Heaven. As Co-redemptrix, she cooperates with Christ in the
work of saving sinners. As Mediatrix of all graces, she now dispenses
God’s blessings and grace to the spiritually needy. As Queen of Heaven,
she rules providentially with Christ, the King of Heaven. Thus, "There
is one Mediator between Christ and men, the Holy Mother Mary. Mary is
the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to Jesus but by Mary."3
(Cf. 1 Tm. 2: 5–6)
As a result of
such teaching, the Catholic Church logically teaches Mary’s right to
veneration by faithful Catholics. Because of her role in the economy of
salvation, Mary is worthy of special adoration.
theology places Mary very close to Christ Himself can be seen from the
Mother of God
Sinless (immaculate conception)
Ascended (assumed bodily into heaven)
Queen of heaven
Co-redemptrix in the salvation of man
Son of God
Born of a virgin
Ascended bodily into heaven
King of heaven
Dispenser of all redeeming grace to mankind
Redeemer and Savior of man
In light of
this, it is difficult to deny the response of Protestants that Mary has
been elevated from the status of a creature into, in Berkouwer’s words,
"the supernatural perfection of the life of God" or that "Mary’s role is
often delineated by Catholicism in a way that the gospels ascribe
exclusively to Christ."4 In our book, Protestants and
Catholics: Do They Now Agree? (1994 edition), we documented the
Church’s official position, citing numerous popes and official texts.
Consider a few
excerpts: "Nothing according to the will of God comes to us except
through Mary. . .nobody can approach Christ except through the Mother";
"With Jesus, Mary has redeemed the human race"; "[Mary] offered him
[Jesus] on Golgotha to the eternal Father. . .for all the children of
Adam."5 These statements from Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI and
Pope Pius XII were reiterated at Vatican II and by modern Catholic
theologians. Vatican II declared, "Taken up to heaven, she did not lay
aside this saving role, but by her manifold acts of intercession
continued to win for us gifts of eternal salvation."6 In
The Catholic Catechism we read, "Alongside her Son, Mary has become
part of this plan [of salvation] by contributing her share to the
justification of the human race, beginning with herself and extending to
everyone ever justified."7
the Catholic Church’s exaltation of Mary at the theological level has
resulted in her worship at the grass-roots level. This is why Carson
remarks, "The [historical] development of Mariology has been accompanied
by an ever increasing tendency to accord Mary a worship that, in much
popular devotion, is indistinguishable from that offered to God alone."8
Although the Catholic Church technically distinguishes latria
(adoration due to God alone) from hyperdulia (special veneration
given only to Mary), one can only wonder how such fine distinctions are
to be maintained in actual Catholic practice when one is attempting to
give hyperdulia to Mary but not latria? We agree with
noted theologian R. C. Sproul who remarks, "I think, however, for all
practical purposes, that I can say without fear of ever being proven
wrong, that millions of Roman Catholic people in this world today
worship Mary, and in doing so, believe that they are doing what the
Church is telling them to do."9 The late noted expert on
comparative religion, Dr. Walter Martin concluded, "This is indeed the
elevation of a creature to Deity. . . ."10
documented in Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?, even
Catholic authorities confess that there is no scriptural warrant
for their unique teachings on Mary and that Catholic views are a result
of the evolution of Church tradition and papal pronouncement.11
however, there is also a logical connection between the Catholic
Church’s exaltation of Mary and the occult revelations from Marian
apparitions throughout the world.
cannot deny that Catholic Mariology approaches, and, in practice often
constitutes, idolatry. We think such idolatry is a principal reason for
the worldwide occult activity associated with official Catholic
around the world there are literally hundreds of sites of Marian
apparitions encompassing thousands of messages from "Mary" given to
Catholic believers. Revelations from "Mary" have occurred in almost all
of the 50 states and dozens of countries. No one can deny the fact of
these supernatural manifestations, whether they are personal visions,
apparitions, materializations, or channeled revelations. Nor can one
deny that the messages these revelations bring are opposed to the
teachings of the Bible. In fact, they consistently conform to
Catholic theology as we documented in our book.12
messages of these apparitions in general, leading Catholic Mariologist
Father John Lozano affirms, "the devotion to the Immaculate Heart [Mary]
appear as a means of salvation."13
In other words, devotion to Mary is taught as a way of salvation.
that these worldwide Marian apparitions could not come from the biblical
Mary can be seen in the teachings the occult "Mary" gives. Mary not only
presents herself as a savior,14
but Satan allegedly fears Mary "more than God Himself."15
The individual Catholic teachings that Mary has consistently supported
in her apparitions and revelations include the necessity of penance,
Marian devotion, belief in purgatory, participation in the
Mass and the Rosary.16
But all of these are wrapped up in the Catholic doctrine of salvation by
works and none of this is biblical as we have documented in Catholics
and Protestants: Do They Now Agree? (1995 edition).
John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (NY: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1994), 213-215.
Paul VI, Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Washington, DC:
U.S. Catholic Conference, 1974), 20.
from an official Catholic source in Walter Martin, The Roman
Catholic Church in History (Livingston, NJ: Christian Research
Institute, 1960), 49.
4. G. C.
Berkouwer, The Conflict With Rome (Philadelphia, PA:
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1958), 174; and The Second Vatican
Council and the New Catholicism (1965), 239.
Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford, IL: Tan, 1974),
213-214; R. C. Sproul, "The Virgin Mary" lecture transcript 5, 6, (on
file) emphasis added.
M. Abbot, ed., The Documents of Vatican II (NY: Guild Press,
Hardin, The Catholic Catechism: The Contemporary Catechism of the
Teachings of the Catholic Church (Garden City, NY: Doubleday,
8. H. M.
Carson, Dawn or Twilight? A Study of Contemporary Roman Catholicism
(Leicester, England: InterVarsity, 1976), 128.
9. R. C.
Sproul, transcript, 12, emphasis added.
Ankerberg, John Weldon, Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now
Agree? (Chattanooga, TN: ATRI, 1994), 186.
Ankerberg, John Weldon, (chapter 11).
Thomas Petrisko, "The Significance of Fatima to Today’s Apparitions,"
Our Lady Queen of Peace (Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh Center for
Peace), Winter 1993, 120.
Ireland Gallery, Mary vs. Lucifer: The Apparitions of Our Lady
(Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing, 1960), 2, 105-107.
and Weldon, 206-207.