9 11 2011

I have often been accused of being “against Catholics” yet nothing could be farther from the truth. I love Catholics dearly. I’m not against the homosexual simply because I believe his lifestyle is sinful. In fact I have had many good friends who were gay and we got along just fine. In the same way I have catholic friends and we get along fine.

I’m not against the person simply because I’m against the Roman superstition. In fact I love them dearly and want them to find the truth. I have faced the question what is my “Mariology.” I intend in this lesson to search it out for myself and find the answer. I don’t want to stop at mine however since my catholic friends always claim they don’t rely on the uninspired writings of the church fathers more than the Scriptures and they claim not only that their beliefs are in Scripture but that Peter the apostle was the first pope of the catholic church, I want to find out Scripture’s Mariology as well as the Mariology of Peter, Paul, and Jesus.

My Mariology is based entirely on Scripture, not on tradition or by making stretches in interpretation of Scripture but it rests in the clear meaning of Scripture. The story of Mary is told primarily in Luke 1:26-56. She was a young woman who was faithful to God, and God chose her to be the vessel by which His Son would enter the world. I believe she married and had other children as Scripture teaches (Psalm 69:8, Matthew 12:46, 13:54-56, John 2:12, 7:2-10, Acts 1:12-14) Scripture teaches and I believe that she did not remain a perpetual virgin (Matthew 1:25) I do believe she was blessed by God and is to be honored, as are many people in Scripture.

In short my Mariology I suppose is that Mary like many others in Scripture was faithful to God and blessed by God in being allowed to have a part in God’s redemptive plan just as others before her had. She remained faithful to the Lord and is in Heaven today as part of the great assembly of the firstborn.

My next question is, what is Scriptures Mariology? Well Catholics often try to make connections to the Old Testament that are simply a stretch in interpretation(see my lesson on Rome’s Marian Errors) As far as the New Testament goes she is not mentioned at all beyond Acts 2. We see no mention of her in Peter’s books, or in all the writings of Paul. You can hardly listen to a catholic speak or a catholic mass take place without hearing Mary’s name dozens of times and yet in all the New Testament writings that describe the church, it’s offices, and instructions to believers there is no mention whatsoever of Mary. If emphasis was to be placed on her surely the sacred text would have done so. Catholics rely on the uninspired writings of church fathers not on Scripture since Mary is absent beyond Acts 2 which shows her with the apostles at Pentecost and that’s it.

Moving on I would like to see the Mariology of Jesus. Surely if she is His Queen, the new Eve, who helped Him redeem mankind, and who today intercedes with Him for mankind then surely He in all of His teachings must have had many good things to say about her. Well let’s look at the first instance which is when He was 12 years old and she scolded Him for wandering off after they found Him teaching in the Temple. He responded by saying, “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.”(Luke 2:49-50) He pointed out to her that His Father’s business was the priority and even though He did submit himself to them as parents they clearly had to understand that He had a mission. It also points out that she didn’t understand what He meant which is interesting since Catholics insist she was fully a part of redemption yet here she seems oblivious to His mission.

The next point is when she and His brothers come to talk to Him. “But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!” (Matthew 12:48-49) Here He has an opportunity to glorify and magnify her in the sight of all present and yet He says that those who do the will of His Father are His mother and brothers or basically those who obey are His family. He actually shines attention away from her and says all who obey are to Him as His mother. Wow! What a different picture than Rome paints of Mary’s position.

The next point comes from the famous wedding in Cana. His mother comes to Him and asks Him to help since the wedding party is out of wine. He does help with the wine but His response to her is less than glorifying, “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” (John 2:4) at no time in any passage of Scripture does Jesus glorify Mary or encourage us to do so. Rome says pray to Mary and Christ will answer your prayer better than if you pray directly to Him but Jesus said, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14) When He taught His disciples to pray He did not tell them to call on Mary or some other saint, or angel. He told them to call on the Father. (Matthew 6:9) Christ’s intention is not to glorify His earthly mother but His Heavenly Father (John 17:1).

What is the Mariology of Peter? According to Rome Peter was the first pope(although he did not claim this title, was married, did not write most of the New Testament including rules for Christian conduct, church offices, church ordinances etc.) You can hardly hear the pope speak without him referencing Mary in fact most popes speak often about Mary. How many times did Peter reference Mary in his 2 Epistles? The answer is a big fat 0!!!! He mentions Jesus 9 times in just the first chapter of the first epistle.

What is the Mariology of Paul? Paul wrote most of the New Testaments 14 out of 27 books, he wrote and outlined rules of conduct for believers, offices of the church and the mystery of God. In all his writings he fails to mention Mary even once! That’s right not even once. You can’t listen to a catholic teach today without hearing of Mary more than of Christ and yet Paul did not mention her once. He did write in Colossians 1:18 that in all things Christ was to have the preeminence. That is surely not true of the Roman church today. One person said “we Catholics always get accused of worshiping Mary.” Well if the accusation is there then something must be there to warrant it.

Rome’s Marian Errors

2 10 2011

Where the Roman church often gets it wrong is when they take the Scriptures and add to them to create a doctrine. They claim many titles for Mary that simply are not in Scripture. They claim her to be a perpetual virgin, the spouse of God the Holy Spirit, Queen of Heaven, Mother of all the faithful, Co-redemtrix of mankind, The bridge between the Old and New Testaments, the only human unstained by sin, and the Mediatrix of mankind who intercedes for mankind. Let’s examine each of these claims briefly.

Is she a perpetual virgin? Matthew 1:25 says of Joseph, “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” Of course the knew her spoken of in the King James English is speaking of sexual relations. It does not say he never knew her but that he did not UNTIL she brought forth her firstborn Son. We see several verses where it speaks of the brothers and sisters of Jesus. Most Romans pass that off by saying the word used could also mean cousin but since that’s only a possibility I wouldn’t place an entire doctrine on the hope that a verse doesn’t mean what it says it means. Luke does use the word cousin in his Gospel. Others say it could be that they are children of Joseph but we see no evidence of Joseph being either divorced, widowed, or having multiple wives. This is once again an add on to the Scriptures. We can also take note how Scripture calls Jesus her FIRSTBORN son.

The doctrine of her perpetual virginity is a widely spoken doctrine in catholic circles and yet one would imagine the Holy Scriptures would not only declare it out right but give it much space, however it is silent on the subject. We don’t see the doctrine until the 2nd century. There was no full consensus on the doctrine of perpetual virginity within the early Church by the end of the second century, wider support for the doctrine began to appear within the next century. By the 4th century, the doctrine of perpetual virginity had been well attested. We must keep in mind that the church was already becoming increasingly corrupt, in fact the church of Ephesus was reprimanded in Revelation during the lifetime of the apostle John because it had left it’s first love. The decline and corruption in the church was well underway by the 2nd century when we see this topic arise.

Is she the spouse of God the Holy Spirit? On the website of Opus Dei, a Catholic institution, dated August 4th, 2003 the entry says, “On August 15, the Church celebrates the feast of the Assumption. “Think of Holy Mary, who is full of grace, Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit. Her Heart has room for all humanity and makes no distinction or discrimination. Every person is her son or her daughter” (St. Josemaría, Furrow,801). Monsignor Charles M. Mangan stated on “Our Blessed Mother Mary is the Immaculate Mediatrix who is the Chosen Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Our Lady is so intimately linked to the Holy Spirit—the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity—through her profound love and obedience that we can attest without a trace of exaggeration that she is the Spouse of the Paraclete.”

This is a perversion of Scripture and as close to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit as you can get. Before you say, “well that is some catholic fanatics that believe that but not the church itself” look at how high this goes. May 9th, 1897 Pope Leo VIII said, “Unite, then, Venerable Brethren, your prayers with Ours, and at your exhortation let all Christian peoples add their prayers also, invoking the powerful and ever-acceptable intercession of the Blessed Virgin. You know well the intimate and wonderful relations existing between her and the Holy Spirit, so that SHE IS JUSTLY CALLED HIS SPOUSE.” Pope Pius XII on July 13, 1958 said, “There is a Woman, –you know it, — upon whom God willed to fix His eyes with infinite tenderness, as He had destined her to be His Mother. His all-powerful love kept her virginal glory intact, and in addition HE BESTOWED ON HER THE CROWN OF A SPOUSE AND THE DIGNITY OF A MOTHER.” Pope Pius XII also taught: “And Paradise recognized that she [Mary] WAS REALLY WORTHY OF RECEIVING HONOR, GLORY AND RULE, because she is full of grace, holier, more beautiful, more exalted, incomparably more so than the greatest saints and angels, taken individually or all together; because, as the FIRST-BORN DAUGHTER of the Father, the PERFECT MOTHER of the Word, the BELOVED SPOUSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, she is related in virtue of the Hypostatic Union to the whole Most Holy Trinity….”

Is Mary Queen of Heaven? This teaching at least has a Scripture for it but it’s using a perverted interpretation of the passage to arrive at this doctrine. They use Revelation 12 as the basis. “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”(Vs. 1) The 12 stars help identify the woman but I will go on before naming her. “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” (Vs. 5) Mary did give birth to Jesus who is the man child spoken of here but when you go on in the passage it speaks of her fleeing from persecution, and hiding in the desert. Mary never did those things, the woman is Israel which is why her head is crowned with 12 stars, Jesus may have been Mary’s Son but was was also the root and offspring of David of the tribe of Judah. Not just national Israel but true Israel. Believers have always been persecuted and Satan has always been in battle against true Israel, and Israel is spoken of in Scripture as a woman, the wife of God, and Christians are called the Bride of Christ.

Even when talking to Catholics I have found that they claim it’s talking about Mary only in the first part but later when she flees then they agree the subject is not Mary. You cannot interpret Scripture that way. The vision did not change nor did the subject. The woman at the end of the chapter is identical to the woman in verse 1. The queen of heaven is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. “The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger.” Jeremiah 8:7, we also find her mentioned in Jeremiah 44: 15-18 and there again she is a pagan goddess.

Is Mary mother of all the faithful? The Scripture they use for this is “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” John 19:25-27. The Roman church claims that when Jesus told John “Behold thy mother” John was a type of all Christians and therefore Mary is the mother of all Christians.

First of all that is not clearly stated in the text and that conclusion is not arrived at by simply reading the text. It is an example of misusing a passage for their own teaching. This is the same kind of abuse of Scripture we see from the pre-tribulational rapture folks when they say John was a type of all Christians in Revelation 4:1. It’s simply not there. It was custom at that time to leave your mother in the care of someone else and since His brothers did not believe in Him, He left her in the care of the disciple “whom He loved.” This is proven to be a literal gesture not a symbolic one by the end of verse 27, “And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”

If Mary is indeed the mother of all believers then Paul was blasphemous when he said, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (Galatians 4:26) I can’t imagine any respected catholic making a statement like this today. The “mother of all the faithful” is similar to numerous historically pagan mother goddesses, including modern religions such as the LDS church which believes in a “Heavenly Mother” figure as counterpart to the Heavenly Father.

Is Mary the co-redemptrix of mankind? The Roman church teaches that Mary by allowing herself to be part of the virgin birth came into spiritual union with Christ and participated in His redemption. This is not a dogma which means Catholics can take it or leave it which seems odd that the “one true church” has a system where people can decide if something is true to them, a kind of relative truth. If this doctrine is true then Joseph is a co-redemptor for his role and on and on. The Scriptures do not give any such glory or title to Mary. If this were true would we not see some mention of it at least in the writings of Paul? The only way you can hold to this teaching is to believe that Scripture is not the authority and that doctrines that the church comes up with are just as valid as those in the Bible.

A similar title given to Mary is co-mediatrix. This doctrine teaches that Mary participates in Christ’s mediation for mankind. Once again this is not expressed directly or indirectly in Scripture. They cite the story in John 2:1-11, which tells of the marriage at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine when Mary pointed out that they had no wine. There are several issues with drawing this doctrine from this story. First, just because she interceeded to get them wine can you really stretch that to saying in Heaven she intercedes for the needs, and sins of mankind? It’s quite a stretch. Second, you can use the same logic in the story of the Roman Centurion that interceeded for his ill servant and say “police officers are the ones who interceed for sick people” of course thats a stretch but not much different from the one that Rome makes with this passage. Thirdly, the response of Jesus was not very becoming of someone speaking to the future “queen of heaven” He said, “And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”(John 2:4)

Was Mary the bridge between the Old and New Testaments? I read a few catholic teachings that say that the entire Old Testament is a pre-figuration of the “Blessed Mother” and that O.T. figures are a shadow of Mary in the N.T. This is once again not found in Scripture. The O.T. does pre-figure someone and O.T. figures are a type of someone but it’s not Mary, it’s the person Catholics push to the background: Jesus Christ! The O.T. laws, sacrifices, Temple, prophets, etc. all pointed to Jesus. He was the fulfillment of all types and shadows.

Paul said that the O.T. law was to point us to Christ, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24) Paul tells us in Galatians 4:22-31 that Abraham having two sons one with a slave woman and one with a free woman happened to point us to Christ and show us that we are free in Christ. In Hebrews 10:10-13 describes how the priest having to stand in the Temple was pointing to a time when sacrifice would cease and the Great High Priest would sit down in Heaven having completed His work. We see in Hebrews 7 that Melchisedec pointed to Christ. Hebrews 4:1-11 tells us that the sabbath day itself was only a foreshadow of Christ who is our Sabbath rest. Hebrews 3:1-6 tells us that Moses was a foreshadow of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 tells us that what happened to the Israelites happened as a foreshadow of us today, and that just as Moses smote the rock and out came water so that too points to Christ who was smitten by God and from Him flows spiritual water. Christ Himself says that the O.T. points to Him. In Matthew 5:17, and John 5:39 Christ points to Himself as the fulfillment of the O.T. what is the bridge between the Old and New Testaments? It is Jesus Christ!

Was Mary the only sinless one? This title is often given to her under the title of the “New Eve.” Of course if Adam and Eve were husband and wife then for Christ and Mary to be the new ones they would have to be both husband and wife as well as mother and son. Scripture does give Christ the title of second Adam(Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45) For Mary of course they argue once again Scripture only alludes to it but does not say it.

Was she born sinless? This is given to us under the mane of the “immaculate conception” that is to say she was born without original sin and never sinned in her life(even though she called Christ her Saviour). Jesus was sinless because He was God. If Mary were sinless would she not be a god or goddess? Jesus said, “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18) Jesus was claiming Himself to be God in that verse and yet Catholics claim Mary is good…better than good, sinless.

I want to quickly address one other Marian error of Rome and that is the connection to the Ark of the Covenant. They make the connection because Mary bore in her body Christ who is called the Word, and who rose from the dead connecting her to Aaron’s rod that budded, and because the ark held manna and Jesus is that Bread that came out of Heaven. I understand the stretch they make to connect those things but many people and teachers such as the famous Harold Camping take Biblical things and connect one event to another or one person to another, or one number to another and come up with all sorts of doctrines. It does not mean they are right.

The Ark was only powerful for what dwelt on it not in it. The Spirit rested on it, once the Spirit departed it was worthless. This is a picture of the believer in whom dwells the Holy Spirit. If you could make the connection to Mary then it is only during those 9 months but that is a stretch and once again it is not stated in Scripture only assumed and read into it. In fact the teaching didn’t even arise until the 4th century.

Since it was called the Ark of the Covenant then if Mary were the “new ark” then that would make her the mediator of the New Covenant but Scripture clearly says, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and when he says your come to Mount Zion, and Jesus etc. the writer makes no mention of Mary, Queen, Blessed Mother, Immaculate Conception or anything. Strange in light of the emphasis on her today.

Was Peter The First Pope?

8 09 2011

The Catholic Catechism states, “When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.” Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.”

881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.” This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”  “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

Are these claims true? Was Peter the first Pope and is the Pope the true vicar of Christ, leader of the Church on earth? Well I want to examine the above statement in light of Scripture. Let’s start with their claim that when Christ instituted His apostles He “constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly.” This is no where stated in Scripture, and in fact other apostles beside the twelve are mentioned in Scripture. Barnabas(Acts 14:14)  Paul(2 Timothy 1:1) Matthias( Acts 1:26) Apollos(1 Corinthians 4:6-9) James the brother of Jesus(Galatians 1:19) Judas(Acts 15:22) and Silas(Acts 15:22). To say that Jesus formed the twelve into a college that would have successors in future generations and be permanantly leading the church is taught only in Romans doctrine not in Holy Scripture. There were many apostles that shared in the authority that the twelve had including others that may or may not have been apostles such as Erastus, Timothy, Titus, Junia, and Andronicus.

They say that when Jesus instituted the apostles “at the head of which he placed Peter.” Did Jesus really place Peter as the head of the apostles? Well Romans doctrine says yes but Scripture has not spoken. What does Scripture say? Jesus did tell Peter to strengthen his brethren(Luke 22:32) but this is a far cry from saying “your the leader.” When Saul is converted and tries to join the other apostles it says they are ALL afraid of him(Acts 9:36) and I find it strange that God did not reveal to Peter if he was head of the church that a new apostle was joining them and that it was the great persecutor. In fact only Barnabas has discernment enough to accept him. When the Lord had one apostle spared from martyrdom and live to see the and record in Scripture the second coming He chose John not Peter.

When God chose one apostle to pen most of the New Testament and almost all the instructions for doctrine and living He chose Paul not Peter who as pope would have been the one to declare church dogma and practices. When a council was held to discuss what should be expected of Gentile converts although Peter was present James sat over the council and gave the deciding declaration(Acts 15: 1-20) Peter as pope would have been ruler over the entire church yet Paul is called the apostle to the Gentiles( Romans 11:13) Paul even exerts authority over the Roman church in Romans 1:5-6, and 16:7 even though Peter as pope would have been the Bishop of Rome.

Paul mentioned Peter but never gave him any special title. Paul was appointed an apostle and Peter had no say. Paul wrote 13 or 14 epistles with 2023 verses, Peter the “supreme pontiff, vicar of Christ and head of the church” wrote only 2 epistles with 166 verses. Paul not Peter oulined the offices of the church and made no mention of the papacy. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul claimed he was behind the chiefest apostles in nothing. In Galatians 2 Paul rebuked Peter with no reference to Peter’s supremecy in faith and morals. In fact in Galatians 2:9 Paul talked of those who seemed to be pillars in the church and mentions James, Cephas, and John, thus giving Peter no primacy.

“The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.” Is this statement true? Well once again let’s look to the Scriptures. They take this from Matthew 16:13-19 but it makes no mention in that passage of Peter being put as shepherd over the whole church. Jesus did call him “Petros” which means small stone, but Jesus said upon this “Petra” meaning bedrock, He would build His church. He was not saying that He would build it upon Peter but upon the confession Peter made that He was the Christ, Son of the living God. Peter did not even see himself as being the foundation of the church. Peter said in 1 Peter 2:5-8 that believers are all small stones that are made into a temple of God with Jesus not Peter as the chief cornerstone. Paul did not see Peter as the foundation of the church for he said in 1 Corinthians 3:11 that Christ is the cornerstone upon which the church is built.

Is the Bishop of Rome really Peter’s successor? Well first of all we have no real evidence Peter was the Bishop of Rome. When Paul wrote his letter to the Roman church he made no mention of Peter or greeting to Peter, and when Paul was in Rome in Acts 28 we see no mention of Peter coming to see him. Augustine said of Peter, “He had not the primacy over the disciples but among the disciples. His primacy among the disciples was the same as that of Stephen among the deacons” (Ibid., p. 176).  Irenaeus and Eusebius wrote that Peter ordained Linus, and Tertullian states that he ordained Clement.The Catholic Church states that these were Peter’s successors. How could they be his successor while he was still alive?

It is important to realize that not only was Peter not known as the head of the church but the Bishop of Rome was not considered to be the head of the church until the 6th or 7th century. Prior to that the church had been growing increasingly corrupt until in the 6th or 7th Century men were ready to declare a human as the head of the church. The Patriarchs of Alexandria assumed the title of pope long before the Bishop of Rome took it. The term pope was first used in a letter from the Bishop of Rome to Pope Heraclas of Alexandria. Pope Gregory wrote, “First, anyone who would use such a title would have fallen into pride, equal to the anti-Christ. He wrote: “I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is by his pride, the precursor of anti-Christ, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of anti-Christ; for as that wicked one wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would call himself sole bishop exalteth himself above others” He wrote this in response to his concern that the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. John the Faster, had accepted the title of Ecumenical (or Universal) Patriarch. He condemned any such title.

Gregory believed that such a title would be perilous to the Church. “It cannot be denied that if any one bishop be called universal, all the Church crumbles if that universal one fall.” He refused the title for himself because he believed that he was equal with and not superior to his fellow Patriarchs. He wrote to the Bishop of Alexandria these words: “Your Holiness has been at pains to tell us that in addressing certain persons you no longer give them certain titles that have no better origin than pride, using this phrase regarding me, ‘as you have commanded me.’ I pray you let me never again hear this word command; for I know who I am and who you are. By your position you are my brethren; by your virtue you are my fathers. I have, therefore, not commanded; I have only been careful to point out things which seemed to me useful. Still I do not find that Your Holiness has perfectly remembered what I particularly wished to impress on your memory; for I said that you should no more give that title to me than to others; and lo! in the superscription of your letter, you gave to me, who have proscribed them, the vainglorious titles of Universal and Pope. May your sweet holiness do so no more in the future. I beseech you; for you take from yourself what you give excess to another. I do not esteem that an honor which causes my brethren to lose their own dignity. My honor is that of the whole Church. My honor is the unshakable firmness of my brethren. I consider myself truly honored when no one is denied the honor due to them. If Your Holiness calls me Universal Pope, you deny that you are yourself what I should be altogether. God forbid! Far from us be words that puff up vanity and wound charity”

It is interesting to understand that even some very illustrious Roman Catholic theologians today recognize that the Papacy as it now exists is of late origin. W. DeVries admits, “…throughout the first ten centuries Rome never claimed to have been granted its preferred position of jurisdiction as an explicit privilege” (Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism by Methodios Fouyas, p. 70). Avery Dulles considers the development of the Papacy to be an historical accident. “The strong centralization in modern Catholicism is due to historical accident. It has been shaped in part by the homogeneous culture of medieval Europe and by the dominance of Rome, with its rich heritage of classical culture and legal organization” (Models of the Church by Avery Dulles, p. 200).

Martin Luther while still a catholic priest in 1521 said, “Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of Scripture or evident reason (for I do not believe either Pope or councils alone, since it is certain that they have both erred frequently and contradicted themselves)…I neither can nor wish to revoke anything.” “No enlightened Catholic holds the pope’s infallibility to be an article of faith. I do not; and none of my brethren, that I know of do.” (This was said by Bishop John Purcell in the Campbell-Purcell Debate on the Roman Catholic Religion in 1837. Before the decree of papal infallibility.) “Therefore, to resume, I establish: (1) That Jesus has given to His apostles the same power that He gave to St. Peter. (2) That the apostles never recognized in St. Peter the vicar of Jesus Christ and the infallible doctor of the church. (3) That St. Peter never thought of being pope, and never acted as if he were pope…I conclude victoriously, with history, with reason, with logic, with good sense, and with a Christian conscience, that Jesus Christ did not confer any supremacy on St. Peter and that the bishops of Rome did not become sovereigns of the church, but only confiscating one by one all the rights of the episcopate.” (This, along with many arguments against papal infallibility, was said by Bishop Joseph Strossmayer in his speech before the Vatican Council in 1870).

“It has now become quite clear that the conception of continuity, authority, infallibility of the Church and the Church’s teaching, on which there has not been sufficient reflection, has led the Catholic Church into a dangerous tight corner.” (This, alone with other doubts regarding papal infallibility, was said by Hans Kung, a prominent Catholic theologian, in his book, “Infallibility, An Inquiry,” 1971). In the books of men, the following titles are commonly used with reference to a man: “Pope,” “Holy Father,” “Vicar of Christ,” “Sovereign Pontiff.” All of these are titles that rightly belong only to the Lord Jesus Christ and to God the Father. There is not a single instance in the Scriptures where any of the above titles are applied to a man. The term, “Holy Father” is used only once in the entire Bible, and it is used by Jesus in addressing God the Father. (John 17:11)

The Pope is said to be the Vicar of Christ. The term Vicar means one serving in place of or as a substitute for. In fact all priests are known as “alter Christus” which means “another Christ. Only one verse in the Bible mentions this, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

“According to the will of Christ, all its members profess the same faith, have the same worship and Sacraments, and are united under the one and same visible head, the Pope.” (Father Smith Instructs Jackson, by John F. Noll and Lester J. Fallon, p. 42) Scripture declares, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18) Eph. 5:23-25 shows that Christ is the only head of the church. “Let wives be subject to their husbands as to the Lord; because a husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church, being himself savior of the body. But just as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things.” Consequently, the wife is subject to her husband as the church is to Christ. Just as the wife is subject to only one head–her husband, the church is subject to only one head–Christ. Just as the husband does not send a substitute to rule over his wife, Christ does not authorize a substitute to rule over His bride, the church.

One of the greatest arguments against the primacy of Peter is the fact that the apostles had an argument among themselves as to which of them should be the greatest in Luke 22:24-26. This text shows that the apostles had no knowledge of Peter having primacy among them. The Lord settled the argument, not by stating that He had already made Peter head, but by declaring that the Gentiles have their heads, “But not so with you.” Thus, Jesus very plainly taught that no one would occupy any such place as a Benefactor (or Pope) to exercise authority over the others. The Church was never intended to be an institutional government that is ruled with worldly power.

Is Salvation Found In Mary?

23 06 2011

“O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou art the dispenser of every grace that God grants us in our misery; it is for this cause that He hath made thee so powerful, so rich, so kind, that thou mightest assist us in our miseries. Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners, if they but come unto thee; come once more to my assistance, for I commend myself to thee. In thy hands I place my eternal salvation; to thee I entrust my soul. Enroll me among thy most faithful servants; take me under thy protection and it is enough for me: yes, for if thou protect me, I shall fear nothing; not my sins, for thou wilt obtain for me their pardon and remission; not the evil spirits, for thou art mightier than all the powers of hell; not even Jesus, my Judge, for He is appeased by a single prayer from thee. I fear only that through my own negligence I may forget to recommend myself to thee and so I shall be lost. My dear Lady, obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance and the grace to have recourse to thee at all times, O Mother of Perpetual Help.”   Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

We are always told that catholics are trusting in Jesus for their salvation but that they only honor Mary. We are told that they don’t see Mary as greater than Christ but that they honor Christ by honoring Mary. From the prayer we have just seen this is a lie. They call Mary not Jesus the dispenser of God’s grace, they say that God made her powerful to help us and yet Jesus said, “All power is given unto me.” The prayer says Mary is the Advocate of sinners and yet Scripture ascribes that position to Jesus as well. The prayer says, “I commend myself to thee.” Not to Jesus but to Mary.

The prayer goes on to say that in her hands we place our eternal salvation, not in the hands of Jesus. The prayer says that Mary protects us and with her protecting us we will fear nothing. Does Christ not want to protect us? Should we still fear if we ask Him for protection? It says we won’t fear our sins because she not Jesus obtains pardon and remission of sins.It goes on to say that she is mightier than all the powers of hell even though Jesus claims to have the keys of hell. It goes even further into blasphemy by saying we won’t even fear Jesus because He is appeased by one prayer from her. Wow!! To say that Jesus is mean and angry and we should be afraid of Him unless His good sweet kindhearted mother calms Him down. They see her as nicer than Jesus.

The prayer goes on to say that if we don’t recommend ourselves to her we will be lost. It then asks Mary to obtain the forgiveness of our sins even though Scripture clearly says “whosovever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It even says that she gives us final perseverance even though Scripture says it is Jesus who is able to keep us from falling. The answer is clear, the Roman superstition teaches that salvation is found not in Jesus Christ but in Mary.

Do Roman Catholics Believe Jesus Saves?

4 05 2011

This post is based on a discussion between Franklin Graham an evangelical minister, and Bill O’Reilly who is a faithful Roman catholic. I have argued for years that Catholics believe in salvation by works, and not entirely on the merit of Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the cross. This is why they make a continual sacrifice called the mass. They don’t believe the work of Christ is finished. In this discussion which started off on the subject of Rob Bell’s new book where he abandons the doctrine of hell for complete universalism. During the conversation Franklin Graham pushes the idea that without Christ people will perish. He is emphasizing the historic orthodox position of the church that salvation is found only in Jesus. Jesus Himself taught this, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”(John 14:6) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”(John 5:24)

The Bible also makes it clear that salvation CANNOT be achieved through our efforts, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”(Ephesians 2:8-9) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”(Titus 3:5) “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”(Romans 9:13) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”(John 1:12-13)

The Scriptures teach emphatically that salvation is only found in Jesus Christ, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”(Acts 4:12) Bill O’Reilly tries to argue that all the “good people” who were killed during the holocaust must have gone to Heaven even if they rejected Jesus. This is not an unlearned catholic in fact he even went to catholic school. He is teaching a position that most in the Roman superstition believe and that is salvation is earned by our good works and those who are good people, christian or not, must be going to Heaven. This is a position rejected by Scripture. I applaud Rev. Graham for standing true to the word of God, and for being so adamant to include a Gospel presentation in the interview. He was sure to get that in there and did not get distracted from that point. Most Christians stick to the subject but he sees the opportunity to give the Gospel to millions of viewers and is not shy about it. That is what I call, “doing the work of an evangelist.”(2 Timothy 4:5)

Is Praying to Saints Scriptural?

23 04 2011

The issue of Catholics praying to saints is one that is full of confusion. It is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church that Catholics do not pray TO saints or Mary, but rather that Catholics can ask saints or Mary to pray FOR them. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that asking saints for their prayers is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for you. However, the practice of many Catholics diverges from official Roman Catholic teaching. Many Catholics do in fact pray directly to saints and/or Mary, asking them for help – instead of asking the saints and/or Mary to intercede with God for help. Whatever the case, whether a saint or Mary is being prayed to, or asked to pray, neither practice has any Biblical basis.

The Bible nowhere instructs believers in Christ to pray to anyone other than God. The Bible nowhere encourages, or even mentions, believers asking individuals in Heaven for their prayers. Why, then, do many Catholic pray to Mary and/or the saints, or request their prayers? Catholics view Mary and saints as “intercessors” before God. They believe that a saint, who is glorified in Heaven, has more “direct access” to God than we do. Therefore, if a saint delivers a prayer to God, it is more effective than us praying to God directly. This concept is blatantly unbiblical. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we, believers here on earth, can “…approach the throne of grace with confidence…”

1 Timothy 2:5 declares, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There is no one else that can mediate with God for us. If Jesus is the ONLY mediator, that indicates Mary and saints cannot be mediators. They cannot mediate our prayer requests to God. Further, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ Himself is interceding for us before the Father, “Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25). With Jesus Himself interceding for us, why would we need Mary or the saints to intercede for us? Who would God listen to more closely than His Son? Romans 8:26-27 describes the Holy Spirit interceding for us. With the 2nd and 3rd members of the Trinity already interceding for us before the Father in Heaven, what possible need could there be to have Mary or the saints interceding for us?

Catholics argue that praying to Mary and the saints is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for you. Let us examine that claim. (1) The Apostle Paul asks other Christians to pray for him in Ephesians 6:19. Many Scriptures describe believers praying for one another (2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:19; 2 Timothy 1:3). The Bible nowhere mentions anyone asking for someone in Heaven to pray for them. The Bible nowhere describes anyone in Heaven praying for anyone on earth. (2) The Bible gives absolutely no indication that Mary or the saints can hear our prayers. Mary and the saints are not omniscient. Even glorified in Heaven, they are still finite beings with limitations. How could they possibly hear the prayers of millions of people? Whenever the Bible mentions praying to or speaking with the dead, it is in the context of sorcery, witchcraft, necromancy, and divination – activities the Bible strongly condemns (Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10-13). The one instance when a “saint” is spoken to, Samuel in 1 Samuel 28:7-19, Samuel was not exactly happy to be disturbed. It is plainly clear that praying to Mary or the saints is completely different from asking someone here on earth to pray for you. One has a strong Biblical basis, the other has no Biblical basis whatsoever.

God does not answer prayers based on who is praying. God answers prayers based on whether they are asked according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). There is absolutely no basis or need to pray to anyone other than God alone. There is no basis for asking those who are in Heaven to pray for us. Only God can hear our prayers. Only God can answer our prayers. No one in Heaven has any greater access to God’s throne that we do through prayer (Hebrews 4:16).

The Roman Catholic Church teaches, “”The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives… They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.”(Catholic Catechism Second Edition #2683) Can saints in Heaven really intercede for mankind? That is the wording they used. Well Scripture disagrees with them for Paul declared, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”(1 Timothy 2:5)

They also teach in the Roman church that communion with the dead brings us closer to Christ, “Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ.”(Catechism #957) This is also taught no place in Scripture, in fact throughout the Old Testament communing with the dead was strictly forbidden, only the pagan religions did such things which is further evidence that modern day Roman catholocism is old time paganism in new wrappings.

Who are saints according to the Roman Church? “By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.” (Catechism #828) So only a select few who were already dead, and did really good works in life are considered to be saints and only by election of the pope. What saith the Scripture on this? “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”(Romans 1:7) “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints,is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”(Ephesians 3:8) “…Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,” (Jude 1:14) “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

“Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem….And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.”(Acts 9:13, 32) “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”(Romans 8:27) Other references include Acts 26:10; Romans 12:13; 15:25; 15:26; 15:31; 16:2; 16:15; 1 Corinthians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1. So it is obvious that the Roman Church and the New Testament writers had different definitions of saints. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, Jesus told them to direct their prayers to the Father in Heaven. This is the only Scriptural method of prayer. All doctrines of praying to saints, or angels are heresy and ought to be condemned as such.

Bless the Mother of Jesus, but Mainly Be the Mother of Jesus

26 12 2010

The veneration given to Mary in the Roman Catholic church is beyond what is warranted by the New Testament. In fact, it is astonishing how little we see of Mary in the New Testament. Let us honor her unique motherhood. Let us count her blessed as the mother of our incarnate Lord. But let us not put her on a pedestal that neither she nor Jesus would have approved of.

After she turns up with the disciples praying in the upper room in Acts 1:14, she is never mentioned again in the New Testament. This is astonishing to anyone who thinks that the veneration of Mary was an essential part of early church life. It was not important enough to be mentioned in any of the New Testament books after Acts.

In fact, in the one place where Paul comes close to mentioning Mary, he chooses not to, and simply speaks of generic “woman”: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Galatians 4:4).

And when she is mentioned in Acts 1:14, she is “Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” This inclusion of the brothers has the effect of minimizing any emerging elevation of Mary as having significance only in being the mother of Jesus, rather than the mother of his brothers as well.

Mary is unique among all women in being a virgin when she gave birth to her firstborn son. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (Matthew 1:23). When she asked the angel how this can be, he answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

Yet amazingly this fact—the virgin birth of Jesus by Mary—is never mentioned again in the New Testament. That doesn’t mean it is untrue or unimportant. It simply means that it was not prominent in the life of the church. Celebrating it was not an essential part of the worship of the New Testament church. Otherwise, it would have been mentioned somewhere in the letters to those churches.

When Mary is referred to during the adult life of Jesus in the Gospels, she is not treated in a way that sets her apart in any unusual way. At the cross, for example, Matthew refers to her without even mentioning that she is Jesus’ mother: “There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Matthew 27:55–56).

Calling Jesus’ mother “the mother of James and Joseph” is striking. We know that this is Jesus’ mother because of Matthew 13:55, “Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?” “James and Joseph” are the sons in both Matthew 27:56 and 13:55. So Matthew refers to Mary without calling her the mother of Jesus, and a few verses later, he simply refers to her as “the other Mary” (27:61).

Most striking of all is the way Jesus intentionally deflects a certain kind of honor from his mother. Once a woman 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 Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27–28). Jesus ranks obedience to the word of God above the special veneration of his mother.

Similarly Jesus was once told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But Jesus answered, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:20–21). Again Jesus ranks obedience above the standing of his mother.

Mary was a magnificent person.

  • Her humility shines (“He has looked on the humble estate of his servant,” Luke 1:48).
  • Her faith was profound (“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord,” Luke 1:45).
  • Her suffering was deep (“A sword will pierce through your own soul,” Luke 2:35).
  • Her God was sovereign (“He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones,” Luke 1:51–52).
  • And her meditations were full of truth (“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart,” Luke 2:19).

Therefore, remember her. Admire her. Bless her. Be inspired by her. But do not go beyond what the New Testament portrays. Our calling is to be the mother of Jesus more than to venerate her (Luke 8:21).

Loving and learning from Mary with you,

Pastor John

Written By: John Piper Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church

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