I suppose given the polemical nature of this brief paper that it might be helpful to reveal a little bit of my own personal history. Our history, after all, does often shape our views and our interests.

I was raised a Roman Catholic in Massachusetts. I was the ‘practicing’ kind of Catholic. My family was regular in our church attendance. I was baptized. I received first communion. I was confirmed. After my marriage, both of my children were baptized into the Roman Catholic Church.

On March 10th of 1991 I became a born-again Christian. (Jn.3:1-9, I Pt.1:23, Titus 3:5)  Shortly after I was converted to Christ, I came to embrace the Bible as the perfect word of God and the only rule for my Christian faith and practice. (2 Tim.3:14-17) As I grew in this Bible-alone form of Christianity I began to see and then to reject many of the Roman Catholic teachings of my youth as contrary to God’s holy word. (Mk.7:1-13)

The objection.

My primary dispute with the Roman Catholic Church was not on secondary things, such as church government, feast days, liturgy, and the like.

My irreconcilable departure from Rome is on the gospel of salvation. I believe that the Bible teaches that all men are dead in their sins and trespasses. (Rom.3:9-18, Eph.2:1-3) And by God’s grace alone and through faith in Christ alone (apart from any good works) are we justified. I believe this doctrine of justification is the cornerstone of the gospel of salvation. (Eph.2:1-9, Jn.3:16, Rom.5:1-10, 3:28, 4:1-25, 11:6, Gal.2:16-21, Phil.3:9)

The Bible teaches that no man will be justified by works of the Law. And for those that seek to add their good works to Christ’s Good work – they destroy the grace of God. This is to reject Christ and His salvation.

I realize that this is a key dispute between the Roman Catholic Church and the magisterial Protestant reformers. Rome says faith in Christ plus our good works justifies us before God. The Reformers say our faith alone in Christ alone justifies.

I trust only in Christ’s work for my justification. My best deeds are filthy rags before a holy God.

It is not my intention here to defend the reformed Protestant view on justification.  Nor is it my purpose to refute Peter as the first pope or the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper becoming the unbloody body and blood of Jesus. These are the more usual debates that Roman Catholics and Protestants have. (James 2:14-26, Mt.16:15-19, Jn.6:48-56)

The purpose.

My purpose is simple and specific. I intend to show that the Roman Catholic church teaches and promotes idolatry as regards to Mary.

You see when Protestants seek religious unity with the Roman Catholic Church they often say things like this, well Rome has a Biblical view of the Trinity, they have a Biblical view on the two natures of Christ therefore we can treat them as true brothers and sisters in Christ. Notwithstanding Rome and the Reformers have different gospels.

We miss the elephant in the room, the idolatry of Mary. Whatever true sounding things a church may teach, if they teach idolatry, they are a false church.

Churches or Christians that promote institutionalized idolatry are no true church nor are they true Christians. The Bible says that idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor.6:9-11, Rev.22:15, Gal.5:19-21, Exod.20:1-6)

Committing idolatry with Mary or with anyone or anything else is not secondary. It is not like debating how much water should be applied in baptism.

Committing habitual unrepentant idolatry reveals that one is not born again, not in Christ, not saved, still dead in their sins, and in great danger of dying Christless and spending eternity without Him.  

My desire is to keep my fellow Bible-Christians, Protestants, from committing idolatry by either falling away to the Roman Catholic Church or to think of Rome as just another denomination of true Christians like a Baptist or a Presbyterian or a Lutheran. They are not.  Those that commit idolatry need to be evangelized not fellowshiped with. (Titus 1:9, I Cor.15:33-34, 2 Jn.1:10, Col.2:6-23)

It is not my intention to bring unnecessary sorrow upon Roman Catholics that will take this paper as hurtful and unchristian. I love my Roman Catholic family. And I desire that all people see the danger of their sin and the beauty of the only Sin-Bearer Mediator Christ. Lies are not loving. The truth of God’s word spoken in love is loving. Only the truth of God’s word will set us free. (2 Cor.6:14-18, Rev.18:2-4, WCF 29.2, 25.6)

Idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God. The Roman Catholic Church attributes names, titles, works, and worship to Mary which are due to Christ alone. This is idolatry. We must reject it and cling to Christ alone as He is revealed in the Scripture alone.

The method.

In order to represent the Roman Catholic view on Mary fairly I will quote from their primary sources. And I will give the reference for those that wish to do further study.  I will try to keep my commentary brief so as to let the Roman doctrine speak for itself.

Most of the quotes come from Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, Liguori Publications – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN – 0-89243-566-6.  I have listed first the paragraph number and then the page number.

Given my underlying belief that the Bible alone is the only true rule for Christian truth and practice, I will give the Scriptures proofs that show that the Bibles says, thus God says, that Christ alone is due divine names, titles, works, and worship as our only Mediator between God and Man. (1 Tim.2:1-7)

The principle.

Rome says Mary and Christ are inseparably connected. (See: Catholic Catechism, 502-506, pp.127-128)

What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ. (ibid, 487, p.122)

This is a very important statement and should not be glossed over.

This the basis of Rome’s idolatry.  What Christ is, Mary is. Christ is immaculately conceived. Mary is immaculately conceived. Christ is sinless. Mary is sinless. Christ was assumed into heaven. Mary was assumed into heaven. Christ is a Mediator. Mary is a Mediatrix. What Christ does, Mary does. Christ saves the church. Mary saves the church. As Christ is prayed to and worshiped. Mary is prayed to and worshiped.

The rest of the paper will reveal how consistently Rome applies this principle.  

The salvation.

As we said earlier the issue is not minor but rather one of eternal salvation. The Roman church teaches that Mary shares in the saving work of Christ Jesus. This strikes against Christ alone meriting the redemption of His people.  

Holy Church honors the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, with a special love.  She is inseparably linked with her son’s saving work.  In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption. (Companion to the Catechism, sacrosanctum concilium 103, p.983)

In fact, the Roman Church refers to Mary as ‘the Gate of Heaven’. She is the door through which people arrive at heaven.

This is a title Christ gives to Himself and to Himself alone. (Jn.10:1-18)

The mediator.

Inseparably linked means more than Mary birthed Christ after the flesh. This attributes some linking or sharing with Jesus in His work of salvation. The idea is that she like Christ is a mediator of salvation to us.

Rome says Mary like Christ is a mediator of God’s merciful love expressed in salvation. Rome calls Mary the Mediatrix of all Graces, meaning all of God’s saving grace to sinners comes through Mary.

Finally through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God’s merciful love (Lk.2;14) into communion with Christ. (725, p. 191)

Mary is also the Mother of Mercy because it is to her that Jesus entrusts his Church and all humanity.  At the foot of the Cross, when she accepts John as her son, when she asks together with Christ, forgiveness from the Father for those who do not know what they do. (Lk.23:34)  Mary experiences, in perfect docility to the Spirit, the richness and the universality of God’s love, which opens her heart and enables it to embrace the entire human race.  Thus Mary becomes the Mother of each and every one of us, the Mother who obtains for us divine mercy.   (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical letter – The Splendor of Truth, p.143)

Mary did not ask for the Father to forgive those that crucified Christ. This is not true. This robs Christ of His own words. Christ alone prayed this prayer from the Cross. (Lk.23:34)

For Mary to ‘embrace the whole human race’ this would require attributes of Deity, such as omniscience and omnipotence. Attributing attributes of Deity to a mere human being is idolatry.

The Bible says that Christ alone carries out the work of salvation. No one shares with Christ saving His church. Christ bore the curse of the sins of His people alone. Christ does not share His glory with any man (or woman) in this. (Isa.42:8)

Matthew 1:21. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

2 Corinthians 5:19. namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Christ alone is our Mediator. The Bible says so.

I Timothy 2:5. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  

The sinlessness.

Rome says Mary like Christ was and is sinless.

Many Protestants err when they think that ‘immaculate conception’ refers to the virgin and sinless birth of Jesus Christ. By this Rome means Mary’s immaculate conception.  

(Mary was) preserved immune from all stain of original sin. (Catholic Catechism, 491, p.124)

By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. (ibid. 493, p.124)

This again is significant because it diminishes the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as exclusive Savior. Christ alone is the fit Savior of sinners because He alone is the sinless spotless Lamb of God. (I Pt.1:19, Jn.1:29, Heb.2:17, I Jn.3:5, 2 Cor.5:21, Heb.4:15)

You see by maintaining the sinlessness of Mary, Rome thus qualifies her as a co-savior of sinners.

The Bible teaches everyone except Christ has sinned.

Ecclesiastes 7:20   Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. 

Romans 3:10-12  THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;  11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;  12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”  

Romans 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  

2 Corinthians 5:21  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  

Hebrews 4:15   For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

The Bible says that the (real) Mary of the Bible owned herself as a sinner needing Christ as her Savior. Only sinners need saviors. (Lk.19:10)

Luke 1:46. And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

The exclusive fitness for salvation by Christ is subverted by attributing sinlessness to Mary.

The church.

Rome says Mary like Christ spiritually begets the church. Rome gives Mary the title “The Mother of the Church”.

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. (ibid, 963, p.251)

Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it.  This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to His death…there she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, joining herself with His sacrifice in her mother’s heart. (ibid, 964, p.251)

By pronouncing her “fiat” at the Annunciation and giving her consent at the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish.  She is the Mother wherever He is Savior and Head of the Mystical Body. (973, p.254)

The Bible never calls Mary the mother of the church. The Bible never says that Mary brings about the birth of believers.  The new birth of Believers is attributed to the person and the work of the Holy Spirit. (Jn.3:1-9) 

Mary could not endure the intensity of Christ’s suffering for sins and live. This would require attributes of Deity, to suffer God’s wrath and live. Mary has no attributes of Deity. This is idolatry. Christ alone as fully God and fully Man could and did endure the wrath of God for us. He died. He rose again.

The holiness.

Rome says in Mary like in Christ the Church is holy.  

But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness.  And so they turn their eyes to Mary, in her the Church is already the all-holy. (Roman Catholic Catechism, 829, p. 220)

The Bible says Christ is our holiness.

I Corinthians 1:30.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

Christ does not entrust His church to Mary. The Holy Spirit does not draw us to or through Mary. Mary is not a mediator of salvation. Christ alone is The Mediator of salvation.

There is no such thing as being ‘in’ Mary. One is either in Adam that is to say represented by Adam. Or one is in Christ represented by Him as the Second Adam. (Rom.5:11-21) The Bible says Christ alone purchased His church. We are brought savingly to Christ, not to Mary.

Ephesians 5:25.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Acts 20:28. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

The exemplar.

Rome says Mary like Christ is the exemplar for our life. 

Mary is the radiant sign and inviting model of the moral life.  As Saint Ambrose put it…the life of this one person can serve as a model for everyone…who can be more noble than the Mother of God…by the gift of herself, Mary entered fully the plan of God…she became the model of all those who hear the word of God and keep it. (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical letter – The Splendor of Truth, p.143)  

It is not the obedience of Mary that procures our salvation.  It is the obedience of Christ submitting to the work given to Him by His Father for which we owe our eternal life. (Jn.17:1-17)

Christ is the great example of our life. The apostles Peter and Paul tells us to follow in the steps of Christ.

I Peter 2:21. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,

Ephesians 5:1. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  

The assumption.

Rome says Mary like Christ was assumed into heaven. 

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. (Rev.19:16)  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 do 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. (ibid, 966, p.252)

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. (ibid, 974, p.254)

 

The intercession.

Rome says Mary like Christ now lives to make intercession. 

Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us gifts of eternal salvation…Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. (ibid, 969, p.252)

We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continue in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ. (ibid, 975, p.254)

The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion.  From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of “Mother of God”, to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. (971, p. 253)

This is gross idolatry.  This is blasphemy.  This is flies in the face of holy Scripture. This robs Christ of the glory due to His singular work.  

The coronation.

Rome says Mary like Christ is invoked with divine mediatorial titles and attributes.  Rome says Mary is the Queen of heaven.

Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us gifts of eternal salvationTherefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. (ibid, 969, p.252)

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. (Rev.19:16) (ibid, 966, p.252)

The Bible only uses the term, the queen of heaven, for a pagan false goddess. (Jer.7:18, 44:17-25)  

There is only a king in heaven no queen.  Christ alone is king of His church. (Rev.19:16)  

Revelation 19:13. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God…16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Jn.18:36, Isa.9:6-7, Eph.1:20-21, Dan.7:13-14, I Tim.6:13-15, Heb.1:3-4) 

As an aspect of her queenship Roman painters often present Mary standing on the head of the serpent, a picture of her defeat of the devil.  The Bible says that it is Christ alone that crushed the head of the serpent. (Gen.3:15, Rom.16:20) Do you see how Rome replaces Christ with Mary?  

The worship.

My final proof that Rome commits idolatry with their false view of Mary is by their worship of Mary. And worship is due to God alone. To worship the creature is idolatry.

The Roman church uses a threefold distinction for worship. Latria is worship offered to the Triune God. Hyperdulia is worship reverence for the virgin Mary and the saints. Dulia is veneration for whom honor is due. This is a distinction without a difference. In other words, this is wise sounding or pious sounding trickery.  In practice the worship given to Mary grants to her attributes and reverence of Deity.

Prayers containing petitions and praises are certainly part of worship.

Rome teaches its adherent to pray to Mary attributing to her attributes of Deity. Such as, omniscience, she can hear our prayers and omnipotence, she can answer our prayers. This is idolatry.

The “rosary” is an officially recognized prayer practice of the Roman Church. (Marialis Cultis, 43)  Mary is ascribed the titles and worship due to the God-Man Christ Jesus alone. This is a portion of the rosary on the coronation of Mary as the Queen of Heaven and Earth:

Hail holy queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.  To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.  To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.  Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us.  And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.  Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.  (How to recite the Holy Rosary, www.newadvent.org)

Notice the same usurpation of Christ’s divine and exclusive rights by the prayers ‘to’ Mary.  She comforts those in distress, she dries tears of the suffering Church. Again this requires Deity.

Pope John Paul II on August 6, 1993 makes the following prayer to Mary: O Mary Mother of Mercy watch over all people, that the cross of Christ may not be emptied of its power, that man may not stray from the path of good or become blind to sin. (Encyclical Letter of John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth, p.145)

Please notice the pope pleads with Mary to keep the efficacy of Christ’s Cross from being diminished.  John Paul does not say, Mary could you speak to Jesus for me.  He does say, Mary, hear my prayer to you.  This is idolatry, by the supposed vicar of Christ.

Moreover if Mary is required to keep the cross of Jesus Christ from being emptied of its power, who is the superior and who is the subordinate? This is one of the reasons that quite often in Roman paintings depicting Mary and Jesus, Jesus is depicted as an infant in the arms of Mary. Or Mary is holding the globe of the earth with a small cross on it. The imagery is undeniable. Mary the superior. Christ the subordinate. Idolatry.

John Paul II devoted his life to Mary.  He writes in Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994, p.212) a book written to answer catholic questions for journalists, he explains his devotion to Mary – his prayer opens, totus tuus Maria! (completely yours – completely Mary’s). This is idolatry by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Beloved, trust only in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. He alone is Savior. (Jn.3:16)

Believe God’s word against idolatry.  

Leviticus 19:4. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the LORD your God.

I Corinthians 10:7. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.”  (Jonah 2:8, Rev.9:20, Ps.135:15-18, Isa.44:9-20)

Galatians 5:17. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

I John 5:21. Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

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