What Is the Unique
Role of Mary in Roman Catholicism
and Is It Biblical? - Part 4
by Dr. John
Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon
The Mary of
Catholic teaching has nothing whatever to do with the Mary of the New
Testament. Given Mary’s supreme importance in the Catholic Church, one
is amazed at the complete absence of even the mention of her name in the
New Testament epistles.
Acts 1:14, she is mentioned nowhere else outside the Gospels. And even
in the Gospels, her spiritual power and authority are non-existent.
Neither Jesus Christ, nor Paul, nor any other biblical writer ever gave
Mary the place or devotion the Catholic Church has given her for a
thousand years. This is all the more incredible when we consider that
the New Testament letters were written specifically for the spiritual
guidance of the Church, and that they have a great deal to say about
both doctrine and worship. How then is it possible if Mary really
performs the many vital spiritual functions we have just
discussed, that Mary’s name could be entirely absent from the very heart
of the New Testament teaching—exactly where one would expect her to be
are forced to confess that scriptural support for all these doctrines of
Mariology is lacking. For example, concerning Mary’s assumption into
heaven, Keating writes, "Where is the proof from Scripture? Strictly,
there is none."1
And concerning Mary’s role as Mediatrix he comments, "Mary is the
Mediatrix of all graces because of her intercession for us in heaven.
What this means is that no grace accrues to us without her
intercession…. True, scriptural proofs for this are lacking."2
Dr. Ludwig Ott in
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma also frequently confesses that
scriptural support for Rome’s traditions on Mary are not forthcoming.
For example, "The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not
explicitly revealed in Scripture,"3 and "The direct and
express scriptural proofs [of Mary’s bodily assumption] are not to be
had,"4 and concerning Mary as Mediatrix and an intercessor in
heaven, again, "express scriptural proofs are lacking."5
does the Bible teach about Mary? Since Mary is nowhere said to be
sinless, the Bible assumes that Mary was a sinner like the rest of us.
Why? Because the Scripture emphasizes that all men and women,
universally, are sinful (Romans 3:10, 11-32; Psalm 51:5;
Galatians 3:22; Romans 3:23; 5:12, etc.). Therefore, Mary’s
prayer in Luke 1:46 ff that God is her "Savior" rings true.
there are numerous statements in Scripture that declare only Christ was
perfect and without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22;
Hebrews 7:26, etc).
If it were
true that Mary were without original sin and hence sinless throughout
her life, isn’t it reasonable to expect we would find at least some
indication in Scripture? But we find not a trace.
Luke 1:28 says
simply that Mary was favored by God for being chosen to bear the
Messiah. A unique and profound privilege indeed, but God never says
that, as a result, she has become omnipotent and can now bestow favors
and grace upon all mankind.
13:55-56 and many other places we see that Mary was not a
perpetual virgin because she had at least six other children after
Jesus: "Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary,
and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his
sisters with us?... (Matthew 13:55-56).
There is no
justification for the Catholic response that must assume Mary’s other
children were really cousins, or more distant relatives or perhaps even
adopted or through another marriage. The best Catholic apologists can do
is offer a series of arguments from silence.6 (See also
Matthew 12:46; John 2:12; 7:3-5; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5.)
Bible is also entirely silent on Mary’s alleged bodily ascension into
heaven and her subsequent coronation as Queen.
tells us that apart from her role as bearer and mother of the Messiah,
she was not unique or especially blessed In fact, by Jesus’ words, "on
the contrary" we see that those who obey God are more blessed
than if they had given birth to Jesus. Here we find it is almost
as if God were speaking to Catholic dogma: "…one of the women in the
crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore
you, and the breasts at which you nursed,’ but he said, ‘On the
contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.’"
similarly in Matthew 12:46-50, again denying Mary a special status. When
she wished to see Him, He told the crowd that His true mother, brother
and sister—i.e., His true family—was "whoever shall do the will of my
Father who is in heaven." In John 2:4 Jesus told Mary, "Woman, what do I
have to do with you?"
How can the
attitude of Jesus Himself be reconciled with Catholic teaching? Jesus
often referred to Himself as "the Son of Man," but never once, as
Catholics do, as "the Son of Mary."
Nor can Mary
be a mediator in any sense between God and man because, "There is one
mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
In contrast, consider the conclusions of an official publication of
the Church: "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."7
by equating tradition with Scripture, the Roman Church will find Jesus
saying the same words to it as He did to those who held to Jewish
tradition and placed it above Scripture: "Why do you transgress the
commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" and, "But in vain do
they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men"
(Matthew 15:3,9) and, "Thus you nullify the word of God by your
tradition that you have handed down" (Mark 7:13).
All this is
why the Apostle Paul himself warns us to "See to it that no one takes
you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on
human tradition… rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
There is one
final consideration. In dozens of countries around the world Marian
devotion has become mixed with occult phenomena. There are seemingly
endless revelations that have come from apparitions and physical
materializations of "Mary" throughout the world—revelations which
universally support unbiblical Catholic teachings. As we discuss in our
next chapter, the most logical explanation for these thousands of
supernatural manifestations is not that the biblical Mary herself has
appeared in order to lend her support to the Church of Rome, but rather
that supernatural powers are imitating Mary to lead people into false
teaching. Having read a good deal of Marian revelations, we have yet to
find one that is in accord with biblical teaching and authority.
despite Catholic denials, the Church’s teaching on Mary not only casts a
lengthy shadow over the saving efficacy of Jesus Christ but it takes
away from the worship due Him alone.
who loves Jesus Christ can accord to Mary the spiritual privileges and
functions granted her by the Catholic Church.
1 Robert C. Broderick, ed.,
The Catholic Encyclopedia, revised and updated (NY: Thomas
Nelson Publishers, 1987), p. 275.
2 Ibid., p. 279, emphasis
3 Ludwig Ott,
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and
Publishers, 1974), p. 200.
4 Ibid., p. 208.
5 Ibid., p. 214.
6 Karl Keating,
Catholicism and Fundamentalism, The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible
Christians" (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1988), pp.
7 Walter Martin, The
Roman Catholic Church in History (Livingston, NJ: Christian
Research Institute, Inc., 1960), p. 49, emphasis added.
Copyright 2006, Ankerberg Theological Research Institute