Mary occupies a unique place in biblical history. She conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then she bore the Messiah. Among women, she is most blessed (Luke 1:42) and all who claim to be Christian acknowledge her as a chosen vessel of God. While Christians admit Mary's uniqueness, the Catholic church has, in its own words, "clarified her position and nature through Sacred Tradition." Through the centuries, more and more doctrines concerning her have been revealed. For example:1
|1.||Mary is called the Mother of God.||AD 431|
|2.||Prayers offered to Mary||AD 600|
|3.||Immaculate Conception (that she was sinless)||AD 1854|
|4.||Assumption of Mary||AD 1950|
|5.||Mary Proclaimed Mother of the Church||AD 1965|
An article appeared in Newsweek Magazine (8/25/97, p. 49) which examined an issue developing in Catholicism where petitioners are requesting the Pope to exercise papal infallibility to proclaim Mary as "Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate for the People of God." To its credit, the Catholic church rejected this request. But it is a telling statement of the Catholic adoration of Mary--even when that adoration exceeds biblical boundaries.
Some of the many titles of Mary
Works of Mary
- By Mary's prayers, she delivers souls from death (par. 966).
- " . . . when she [Mary] is the subject of preaching and worship she prompts the faithful to come to her Son . . . " (Vatican Council II, p. 420). Quote in Context.
- "This mother . . . is waiting and preparing your home for you" (Handbook for Todays Catholic, p.31).
- She remained a virgin after the birth of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 510).
- "The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, are an epitome of the whole Gospel," (par. 971).
- Mary, " . . . when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven . . . " (par. 974).
- "Mary has by grace been exalted above all angels and men to a place second only to her Son" (Vatican Council II, p. 421).
- "Preserved free from all stain of original sin" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 966).
As you can see, Mary holds an exalted position in Catholic theology. Because of her exalted position in heaven, she is able to approach the Son with requests and petitions from her followers. She is prayed to, adored, and sought by millions of devotees.
Mary is Most Blessed Among Women
Mary is undoubtedly blessed among women (Luke 1:42). But, is it appropriate to attribute to her such titles as "Our Queen, Our Mother, Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope"? I cannot see how it is. Was she sinless? It would seem not since she said she needed a savior in Luke 1:47, "And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." Did she remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus? Again, it seems not since Matt. 1:25 says that Joseph, ". . .kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus." Does she mediate and intercede for sinners? Again, the scriptures seem to contradict this when it states that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). Is she exalted above all angels? There is no scripture stating so. Can she simultaneously hear the prayers of countless people all over the world in different languages? Again, there is nothing in God's word to lead us to believe this.
Please understand that CARM is not attacking Mary or her wonderful position in history. Rather, it seeks to examine her position according to biblical revelation and answer the questions just posed. Hopefully, faithfully, and according to God's word, we can look at Scripture to find the answers.
- 1. These dates were taken from, Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1962, p. 7-9.