Mary the Goddess? Response to Spaniardviii

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In September of 2016, Spaniardviii published (Part 1) Mary: A goddess In Disguise (link at bottom of page), an article summarizes the usual heretical claims Protestants make against the Mother of God.

Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he says:

966 ‘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.’

“I’m sorry but the Mary of the Bible was stained with original sin (Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God), (Luke 1:49-47 46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, 47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,). Only Jesus Christ was free from all stain of original sin (1 John 3:5 You know that He was revealed so that He might take away sins, and there is no sin in Him.

“For all have sinned, and have fallen short of the glory of God.”

Is this a rule with absolutely no exceptions? Everyone has sinned? Well, no “Christian” would say that Christ sinned. He is a major exception. What of children below the age of reason, those who do not know what sin is? Have they voluntarily sinned? Have aborted babies sinned? Have the mentally retarded sinned, even though they cannot comprehend sin itself? There seems to be many exceptions to what Paul is saying. It appears that there are exceptions to this rule. The only point here is that, with all obvious exceptions to “all have sinned”, one cannot conclusively say that it is impossible for Mary to be free of sin.

The Immaculate Conception does not mean that Mary did not need Christ as her Savior. All men, after the Fall needed Christ as their Savior, including Mary, as she says in Luke 1:47.

Catholic Apologist Tim Staples explains:

“Not a few Protestants are surprised to discover the Catholic Church actually agrees that Mary was ‘saved.’ Indeed, Mary needed a savior! However, Mary was ‘saved’ from sin in a most sublime manner. She was given the grace to be ‘saved’ completely from sin so that she never committed even the slightest transgression. Protestants tend to emphasize God’s ‘salvation’ almost exclusively to the forgiveness of sins actually committed. However, Sacred Scripture indicates that salvation can also refer to man being protected from sinning before the fact:

‘Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever.’ (Jude 24-25)

“Six hundred years ago, the great Franciscan theologian Duns Scotus explained that falling into sin could be likened to a man approaching unaware a deep ditch. If he falls into the ditch, he needs someone to lower a rope and save him. But if someone were to warn him of the danger ahead, preventing the man from falling into the ditch at all, he would be saved from falling in the first place. Likewise, Mary was saved from sin by receiving the grace to be preserved from it. But she was still saved.” (1)

Spaniard goes on to say:

“The Catholic Church is trying to exalt a created creature of God to the same status of Jesus Christ the creator. Now they claim that Mary was taken up to heaven the same way Jesus was taken up to the Father but there is no evidence in scripture to support this outrageous claim (Acts 1:9-11 9 After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. 10 While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. 11 They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.’) I’m sorry but Mary does not have the same qualities as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the creator of heaven and earth.”

Actually, no my friend. Catholics do not claim that Mary was taken to Heaven the same way as Christ. Christ ascended into Heaven through His own power. Mary was assumed into Heaven by Christ’s power, not her own. You are correct, Mary is not almighty like God the creator of Heaven and earth.

Spaniard continues:

“Mary was not and is not exalted by the Lord as Queen of heaven. Jesus Christ was and is exalted at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19 Then after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.) The title “Queen of Heaven” (pagan goddess) is actually a demonic title as seen in Jeremiah 7:18 which says, ‘The sons gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven, and they pour out drink offerings to other gods so that they provoke Me to anger.’ The Lord has nothing to do with demonic titles.”

Again, Tim Staples explains:

 “But the truth is: this text has absolutely nothing to do with the Blessed Mother as Queen of Heaven for at least three reasons:

“1. Jeremiah here condemns the adoration of the Mesopotamian goddess Astarte (see Raymond Brown, S.S., Joseph Fitzmeyer, S.J., Roland E. Murphy, editors, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1968, p. 310).  She is in no way related to Mary. In fact, “she” did not and does not exist in reality. Mary, on the other hand, was a real historical person who was—and is—a queen by virtue of the fact that her son was—and is—the king.

“2.  Jeremiah condemned offering sacrifice to “the queen of heaven.” In Scripture, we have many examples of the proper way we should honor great members of the kingdom of God. We give “double honor” to “elders who rule well” in the Church (1 Tim. 5:17). St. Paul tells us we should “esteem very highly” those who are “over [us] in the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:12-13). We sing praises to great members of the family of God who have gone before us (Psalm 45:17). We bow down to them with reverence (1 Kings 2:19). We carry out the work of the Lord in their names (Matt. 10:40-42, DRV), and more. But there is one thing we ought never to do: offer sacrifice to them. Offering sacrifice is tantamount to the adoration that is due God alone. And this is precisely what Jeremiah was condemning. The Catholic Church does not teach—and has never taught—that we should adore Mary (see CCC 2110-2114; Lumen Gentium 66-67; CCC 971). Catholics offer sacrifice exclusively to God.

“3.   To the Evangelical and Fundamentalist, the mere fact that worshipping someone called “queen of heaven” is condemned in Jeremiah 7 eliminates the possibility of Mary being the true Queen of Heaven and Earth. This simply does not follow. The existence of a counterfeit queen does not mean there can’t be an authentic one. This reasoning followed to its logical end would lead to abandoning the entire Christian Faith! We could not have a Bible because Hinduism, Islam, and many other false religions have “holy books.” We could not call Jesus Son of God because Zeus and Hera had Apollo, Isis and Osiris had Horus, etc. The fact that there was a false “queen of heaven” worshipped in ancient Mesopotamia does not negate the reality of the true queen who is honored as such in the kingdom of God.” (2)

Spaniard concludes with:

“The doctrine of the Catholic Church has replaced Jesus Christ as the only true God to be worshiped for Mary, as their new god. The Catholic Church is paganism repackaged with Christian terminology.”

Um, no, sorry. No true Catholic worships Christ’s mother. Catholics worship the Trinity, in case you didn’t know.

— Patrick E. Devens


Source: (Part 1) Mary: A goddess In Disguise

(1) https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/hail-mary-conceived-without-sin

(2) https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/is-there-a-queen-in-the-kingdom-of-heaven

 

Mary and the Saints – for Protestants

“Many Protestants believe that we worship Mary, in particular, and the saints to a lesser extent. I know – that’s what I used to believe, because that’s what everybody said. To the contrary, when we pray to a saint, including Mary, we are asking them to pray for us, usually for specific intentions. Everyone of faith, Protestant or Catholic, asks their friends to pray for them. It is so common and well-accepted no one disputes the propriety of it. Many Protestants only count those on earth among the communion of the faithful and, thus, properly to be asked for prayers. Catholics consider all the faithful, both in this world and in the next, to be among the communion of the faithful. If it is proper and fruitful to ask friends here to pray for you, how much more fruitful to ask those who already behold the Face of God?”

Source: Mary and the Saints – for Protestants

Blessed Mary, Ever-Virgin

Many Protestants, in an unhistorical and unbiblical manner, try to prove that Mary, the Mother of God, had other children after Jesus. This argument is most certainly unhistorical, as the Early Christians (otherwise known as first Catholics), believed the same doctrine as the Roman Catholic Church of today does: that Mary was perpetually a virgin, and Jesus Christ was her only child.

The  Protoevangelium of James, a document written what is to be considered roughly 60 years after the conclusion of Mary’s earthly life, near 120 AD, contends for Mary’s virginity. From reading the Protoevangelium, one can conclude that it was believed that Mary had professed a vow of virginity.

“And Annas the scribe came to him [Joseph] . . . and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest and said to him, ‘Joseph, whom you did vouch for, has committed a grievous crime.’ And the priest said, ‘How so?’ And he said, ‘He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord and has married her by stealth’”

(Protoevangelium of James 4, 15).

“And the priest said, ‘Mary, why have you done this? And why have you brought your soul low and forgotten the Lord your God?’ . . . And she wept bitterly saying, ‘As the Lord my God lives, I am pure before him, and know not man’

(Ibid.)

Origen, in his writings, cites the Protoevangelium:

“The Book [the Protoevangelium] of James [records] that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word . . . might not know intercourse with a man after the Holy Spirit came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the firstfruit among men of the purity which consists in [perpetual] chastity, and Mary was among women. For it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the firstfruit of virginity”

(Commentary on Matthew 2:17 [A.D. 248]).

Centuries later, Augustine teaches the same doctrine of Mary’s virginity.

In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave”

(Holy Virginity 4:4 [A.D. 401]).

Even the Father of the Protestant Revolt, Martin Luther, believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity. Luther held this belief even after he left the Catholic Church.

Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that.”

{Luther’s Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan (vols. 1-30) & Helmut T. Lehmann (vols. 31-55), St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House (vols. 1-30); Philadelphia: Fortress Press (vols. 31-55), 1955, v.22:23 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539)}

Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that ‘brothers’ really mean ‘cousins’ here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers.”

{Pelikan, ibid., v.22:214-15 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539)}

Editor Jaroslav Pelikan, a Lutheran, concludes that Luther did in fact, still believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity, after leaving the Catholic Church.

Luther . . . does not even consider the possibility that Mary might have had other children than Jesus. This is consistent with his lifelong acceptance of the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary.”
{Pelikan, ibid.,v.22:214-5}

Protestant “Reformer” Ulrich Zwingli believed the same as Luther:

“I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.”

(Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 1, p. 424.)

How can the majority of Protestants today deny Mary’s perpetual virginity? It was a belief held since the early centuries! Even Luther, the Father of Protestantism, held this belief.

Many Protestants, in light of their tradition of Sola Scriptura, (Latin for by Scripture Alone), tend to ignore and discount historical sources such as the early Church, and instead refer to the Bible alone as the source of their argument.

Dr. Robert Schihl, in his article The Perpetual Virginity of Mary, summarizes the usual arguments Protestant challengers make:

“1) The Bible frequently speaks of the “brothers” and “sisters” of Jesus.

“First it is important to note that the Bible does not say that these “brothers and sisters” of Jesus were children of Mary.

“Second, the word for brother (or sister), adelphos (adelpha) in Greek, denotes a brother or sister, or near kinsman. Aramaic and other semitic languages could not distinguish between a blood brother or sister and a cousin, for example. Hence, John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus (the son of Elizabeth, cousin of Mary) would be called “a brother (adelphos) of Jesus.” In the plural, the word means a community based on identity of origin or life. Additionally, the word adelphos is used for (1) male children of the same parents (Mt 1:2); (2) male descendants of the same parents (Acts 7:23); (3) male children of the same mother (Gal 1:19); (4) people of the same nationality (Acts 3:17); (5) any man, a neighbor (Lk 10:29); (6) persons united by a common interest (Mt 5:47); (7) persons united by a common calling (Rev 22:9); (8) mankind (Mt 25:40); (9) the disciples (Mt 23:8); and (10) believers (Mt 23:8). (From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson, Publisher.)” (1)

The loose usage of the term “brother” in the Scriptures makes it that one cannot conclusively say that Jesus had several “blood” brothers.

“For example, in Gn 13:8 and 14:1416, the word <adelphos> was used to describe the relationship between Abraham and Lot; however, these two men did not share a brother relationship, but one of uncle and nephew. Another instance is that of Laban, who was an <adelphos> to Jacob, not as a brother, but as an uncle. (In the New American translation, “kinsman” or “relative” will be used in these Old Testament cases; I do not know why this is not true in the English translation of the Gospel.) The same is true for the word sister.

“Actually, the confusion originates in Hebrew and Aramaic, the languages of most of the original Old Testament texts and of Christ. In these languages, no special word existed for cousin, nephew, half-brother, or step-brother; so they used the word brother or a circumlocution, such as in the case of a cousin, “the son of the brother of my father.” When the Old Testament was translated into Greek and the New Testament written in Greek, the word< adelphos> was used to capture all of these meanings. So in each instance, we must examine the context in which the title is used. In all, the confusion arises in English because of the lack of distinct terms for relatives in the Hebrew and Aramaic, and the usage of the Greek <adelphos> to signify all of these relations.” (2)

The supposed blood brothers of Jesus very well could have been mere cousins or friends. It is hard to say that they were certainly His actual brothers. By doing so, one would be ignoring the many possibilities created by the difference of language.

Schihl continues:

“2) A second objection to Mary’s virginity arises from the use of the word heos in Matthew’s gospel. “He (Joseph) had no relations with her at any time before (heos) she bore a son, whom he named Jesus” (Mt 1:25, NAB).

“The Greek and the Semitic use of the word heos (until or before) does not imply anything about what happens after the time indicated. In this case, there is no necessary implication that Joseph and Mary had sexual contact or other children after Jesus.” (3)

The use of ‘until’ does not mean that after a certain point, Mary and Joseph had marital relations. The same usage is found in 2 Samuel 6:23:

“Michal the daughter of Saul had no children till the day of her death.”

This passage is not to imply that a woman gave birth to a child after her death. The word ‘until’ doesn’t necessarily imply that an action took place after a certain time. The following passages exhibit the same principle.

  • I Timothy 4:13: “Until I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching.”

Does this mean Timothy should stop teaching after St. Paul comes? Certainly not.

  • I Corinthians 15:25: “For he [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”

Does this mean Christ’s reign will end? By no means! Luke 1:33 says, “[H]e will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

Father James Buckley FSSP (a friend of mine), in his pamphlet Defined Doctrines of Our Lady, focuses on St. Jerome’s rebuttal of the heretic Helvidius, who used the above argument. The ‘Buck’ comments:

Saint Jerome counters that in Scripture both “to know” and “until” have a double meaning. The saint acknowledges that ‘to know’ can denote sexual relations but points out that it can also denote knowledge (e.g…The child Jesus remained in Jerusalem and his parents knew it not” (Lk 2:43).

‘Until’ can indicate either a definite time or an indefinite time. Therefore, it does not always mean that something that did not take place up to a prescribed time took place afterwards. One of his many examples comes from God’s address to His prophets: ‘I am, I am, and I am till you grow old’ (Is. 46:14). He then asks, ‘Will God cease to be after they grow old?’ “

Schihl concludes with:

“3) A third objection to the perpetual virginity of Mary arises from the use of the word prototokos, translated ‘first-born’ in Luke’s gospel.

“But the Greek word prototokos is used of Christ as born of Mary and of Christ’s relationship to His Father (Col 1:25). As the word does not imply other children of God the Father, neither does it imply other children of Mary.

“The term “first-born” was a legal term under the Mosaic Law (Ex 6:14) referring to the first male child born to Jewish parents regardless of any other children following or not. Hence when Jesus is called the “first-born” of Mary it does not mean that there were second or third-born children.” (4)

Personally, I can’t wrap my head around this particular argument. So what if the text says that Christ was Mary’s ‘firstborn’? That doesn’t mean she had other kids. As the eldest child of my family, I am the firstborn. I would still have been the firstborn even if the birth of my siblings didn’t follow. It is as simple as that.

I will add an argument that I ran into a while ago, in conversation with a Protestant. He cited Psalm 69:8 as a prophecy proof that Mary had other children than Jesus. The psalm, he said, was referring to Christ. The text reads:

“I have been a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother’s sons.”

Now, a literal interpretation of this verse leads to problems. A few verses earlier reads:

“O God, thou knowest my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from thee”

Jesus did not sin, and so the passage cannot be taken literally. Verse 8 appears to refer to how Christ’s brethren, the Jews, did not accept Him.

Now, having looked at the usual objections, let’s look at why Catholics believe in Mary’s perpetual Virginity. Catholic Apologist Tim Staples summarizes it quite neatly.

1. In Luke 1:34, when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, she asked the question, literally translated from the Greek, “How shall this be, since I know not man?” This question makes no sense unless Mary had a vow of virginity.

“When we consider Mary and Joseph were already “espoused,” according to verse 27 of this same chapter, we understand Mary and Joseph to then have had what would be akin to a ratified marriage in the New Covenant. They were married! That would mean St. Joseph would have had the right to the marriage bed at that point. Normally, after the espousal the husband would prepare a home for his new bride and then come and receive her into his home where the union would be consummated. This is precisely why St. Joseph intended to “divorce her quietly” (Matt. 1:19) when he discovered she was pregnant.

“This background is significant, because a newly married woman would not ask the question, “How shall this be?” She would know! Unless, of course, that woman had a vow of virginity! Mary believed the message but wanted to know how this was going to be accomplished. This indicates she was not planning on the normal course of events for her future with St. Joseph.” (5)

The next reason has always been a most interesting one for me.

2. In John 19:26, Jesus gave his mother to the care of St. John even though by law the next eldest sibling would have the responsibility to care for her. It is unthinkable to believe that Jesus would take his mother away from his family in disobedience to the law.

“Some will claim Jesus did this because his brothers and sisters were not there. They had left him. Thus, Jesus committed his mother to St. John, who was faithful and present at the foot of the cross.

“This claim reveals a low and unbiblical Christology. As St. John tells us, Jesus “knew all men” (John 2:25). If St. James were his blood brother, Jesus would have known he would be faithful along with his “brother” Jude. The fact is, Jesus had no brothers and sisters, so he had the responsibility, on a human level, to take care of his mother.” (6)

If Jesus actually did have blood brothers, why did He place Mary in John’s care? It wouldn’t make any sense to give His mother to a non-relative when He had siblings. It almost seems selfish.

Staples closes with:

3. Mary is depicted as the spouse of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. When Mary asked the angel how she was going to conceive a child in Luke 1:34, the angel responded:

“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.

“This is nuptial language hearkening back to Ruth 3:8, where Ruth said to Boaz “spread your skirt over me” when she revealed to him his duty to marry her according to the law of Deuteronomy 25. When Mary then came up pregnant, St. Joseph would have been required to divorce her, because she would then belong to another (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jeremiah 3:1). When St. Joseph found out that “the other” was the Holy Spirit, the idea of St. Joseph having conjugal relations with Mary would not have been a consideration for a “just man” like St. Joseph.” (7)

Joseph was not just any random fool. He knew that Mary was special. He knew that Jesus was special. He knew that she had conceived Christ through the Holy Spirit. Would he dare to defile the Spirit’s sacred vessel?? I think not.

Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, God, the Second Person of the Trinity. After giving birth to Him, would she just go about having children with Joseph, disregarding the fact that her womb had bore God? Why would she want to disfigure it by allowing another child, under the curse of Original Sin, do take shape there? Not exactly logical.

That about sums it up. I hope this has been a decent explanation for the belief of the Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary.

Dios este contigo

— Patrick E. Devens


 

(1) https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryc2.htm

(2) http://www.ewtn.com/library/answers/brosis.htm

(3) https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryc2.htm

(4) Ibid.

(5) https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/how-we-know-mary-was-a-perpetual-virgin-0

(6) Ibid.

(7) Ibid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May: the month of Mary, the Theotokos

All Along the Watchtower

May is the month of Our Lady for Catholics. To the poorly-educated, the prejudiced and the ignorant, this will raise the issue of Catholics ‘worshipping’ her, so it is as well to say at the outset, that this is nonsense. Catholics, like all Christians, worship only God. To say that a Catholic ‘worships’ Our Lady by kissing a statue of her, would be like claiming a Protestant ‘worshipped’ the Bible by kissing it. It is the sort of pernicious sectarian tosh that has no place in Christian dialogue.

For as long as we can look back, Christians have had a veneration for Our Lady. One of the most popular non-canonical texts was the so-called Evangelion of St James, which dates to the mid or late second century, and shows that by then, the intense interest in her was being satisfied by a steady supply of imaginative literature. Nor is…

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The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus on December 8, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.” (1)

The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply (conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul. (2)

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, as formally defined by Pius IX, states that Mary was sinless her entire life from the beginning of her conception. This doctrine proves to be a “stumbling block” for many non-Catholics, as they counter with the statement that God alone is sinless.

If God alone were sinless, this means that either Mary could not have been sinless, or she would have been God, correct?

Well, it isn’t as simple as that. For instance, any “Christian” will have to admit that God is not the only being to have ever been sinless, when taking a look at Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were created by God, and for a time, before their Fall, were sinless creatures. They were sinless, and yet they were not God.

Angels presently in heaven are not God, and yet they are sinless creatures. They were created without sin, and have remained sinless ever since. A person cannot just simply say that God alone is sinless, when there have been and are other sinless creatures.

Catholic Apologist Patrick Madrid says of the Immaculate Conception:

“The Immaculate Conception emphasizes four truths: (1) Mary did need a savior; (2) her savior was Jesus Christ; (3) Mary’s salvation was accomplished by Jesus through his work on the Cross; and (4) Mary was saved from sin, but in a different and more glorious way than the rest of us are.” (3)

After hearing something like this, many non-Catholics ask, “Why would Mary need a Savior if she was sinless?”

The Immaculate Conception does not mean that Mary did not need Christ as her Savior. All men, after the Fall needed Christ as their Savior, including Mary, as she says in Luke 1:47.

Catholic Apologist Tim Staples explains:

“Not a few Protestants are surprised to discover the Catholic Church actually agrees that Mary was “saved.” Indeed, Mary needed a savior! However, Mary was “saved” from sin in a most sublime manner. She was given the grace to be “saved” completely from sin so that she never committed even the slightest transgression. Protestants tend to emphasize God’s “salvation” almost exclusively to the forgiveness of sins actually committed. However, Sacred Scripture indicates that salvation can also refer to man being protected from sinning before the fact:

” ‘Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever.’ (Jude 24-25)

“Six hundred years ago, the great Franciscan theologian Duns Scotus explained that falling into sin could be likened to a man approaching unaware a deep ditch. If he falls into the ditch, he needs someone to lower a rope and save him. But if someone were to warn him of the danger ahead, preventing the man from falling into the ditch at all, he would be saved from falling in the first place. Likewise, Mary was saved from sin by receiving the grace to be preserved from it. But she was still saved.” (4)

Pat Madrid goes on to add:

“Mary needed Jesus as her savior. His death on the Cross saved her, as it saves us, but its saving effects were applied to her (unlike to us) at the moment of her conception. (Keep in mind that the Crucifixion is an eternal event and that the appropriation of salvation through Christ’s death isn’t impeded by time or space.)” (5)

The usual counter argument made by non-Catholics is in reference to Romans 3:23 which says:

“For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God.”

Is this a rule with absolutely no exceptions? Everyone has sinned? Well, no “Christian” would say that Christ sinned. He is a major exception. What of children below the age of reason, those who do not know what sin is? Have they voluntarily sinned? Have aborted babies sinned? Have the mentally retarded sinned, even though they cannot comprehend sin itself? There seems to be many exceptions to what Paul is saying. It is either there are exceptions or he was not speaking of literally the entire human race.

It might be that it refers not to absolutely everyone, but just to the mass of mankind, which would allow the exceptions listed above. If not that be the case, then perhaps he is referring to everyone being subject to Original Sin, which would still have a few exceptions. (6)

The only point here is that, with all obvious exceptions to “all have sinned”, one cannot conclusively say that it is impossible for Mary to be free of sin.

After dealing with a few arguments using logic, one must wonder what is the biblical basis for the Immaculate Conception. A Catholic Life blog elaborates:

“As we look at the Hail Mary we see part of the Archangel Gabriel’s address in the exclamation: “full of grace”. Grace is defined as a supernatural gift from God’s infinite goodness given by God to His sinful people for their eternal salvation. Mary is addressed as “full of grace” which shows that she must be in complete favor of God to have earned the fullness of God’s grace. This particular instance is a special one, in which God chose Mary to be conceived sinless to make her a house for God to dwell within.” (7)

In Luke 1:28, Gabriel greets Mary with “hail, full of grace”, the Greek being kecharitomene. If Mary is full of grace, then how can she be sinful? One cannot have Christ’s life of grace within them while being in the state of sin.

Catholic Answers, in its article Immaculate Conception and Assumption comment:

“The traditional translation, “full of grace,” is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of “highly favored daughter.” Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that (and it never mentions the word for “daughter”). The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind.Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning “to fill or endow with grace.” Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence.”  (8)

The next piece of biblical evidence in found in Genesis.

“We see a crucial statement in Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he will crush your head, and you will strike at his heel.” This passage is especially significant in that it refers to the “seed of the woman,” a singular usage. The Bible, following normal biology, otherwise only refers to the seed of the man, the seed of the father, but never to the seed of the woman. Who is the woman mentioned here? The only possibility is Mary, the only woman to give birth to a child without the aid of a human father, a fact prophesied in Isaiah 7:14. If Mary were not completely sinless this prophesy becomes untenable. Why is that? The passage points to Mary’s Immaculate Conception because it mentions a complete enmity between the woman and Satan. Such an enmity would have been impossible if Mary were tainted by sin, original or actual (see 2 Corinthians 6:14). This line of thinking rules out Eve as the woman, since she clearly was under the influence of Satan in Genesis 3.” (9)

If Mary were not free of sin, why should the angel Gabriel call her “full of grace”? By being under sin, how could there be enmity between Mary and Satan? One cannot merely look over these verses.

The Immaculate Conception is reasonable from a logical stand point. If God was to be born as a man, why would he be born in a creature of sin? God’s eyes can’t stand evil (Habukkuk 1:13). How could he be created within a creature under Satan’s power? Does that even seem logical?

If you were to create your own mother, as God the Son did, would you not make her perfect? That’s what God did.


“O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy dwelling place for Thy Son…”

(Collect for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1962 Roman Missal)


(1) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm

(2) Ibid.

(3) http://patrickmadrid.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Madrid_ark_newcov.pdf

(4) https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/hail-mary-conceived-without-sin

(5) http://patrickmadrid.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Madrid_ark_newcov.pdf

(6) https://www.catholic.com/tract/immaculate-conception-and-assumption

(7) http://acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2005/10/immaculate-conception.html

(8) https://www.catholic.com/tract/immaculate-conception-and-assumption

(9) http://patrickmadrid.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Madrid_ark_newcov.pdf

 

Christ’s Divinity and Mary’s Maternity

In the year 431 A.D., the Council of Ephesus affirmed the title “theotokos“, that is, “The God-bearer”, to Blessed Mary. The Council of Ephesus was formed after the spreading of the Nestorian heresy, which taught that Mary was mother to only the “human” Jesus Christ. The Nestorians taught that only after Christ’s birth was His Divine nature united to His human nature, therefore making the claim that Mary could not be the mother of God.

The Council stated:

“Whoever does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God, and therefore the Blessed Virgin truly the Mother of God, let him be anathema.”

I want to use this article to explain the reasoning behind the Council’s teaching, and why I believe that the teaching is correct, pertaining to Jesus’ divinity, and Mary’s divine maternity. Let’s hit up Christ’s divinity first.

By teaching that Jesus Christ at one time did not possess a divine nature, one teaches that Jesus Christ was not always God. The Nestorians taught as such; attempting to split the person of Christ apart. Jesus Christ was eternally the Son of God, which means that he always possessed a Divine nature. This nature did not disappear when he became man in the womb of Blessed Mary.

Father Mateo, in his book Refuting the Attack on Mary, concurs:

Before His Incarnation and from eternity, the Word is God and pure Spirit, as are the Father and the Holy Spirit. But in his Mother’s womb he took human nature and the God-man, Jesus Christ. The titles ‘Mother of Jesus’, ‘Mother of the Lord’, and ‘Mother of Christ’ can be correctly and devoutly used. But the history of doctrine shows that each of them has been misunderstood by some to suggest that Jesus was in some way less than God. Only ‘Mother of God’ leaves the hearer in no doubt about Christian belief in his full divinity.” (1)

Unlike what the Nestorians claimed (and some perhaps may still claim) Jesus Christ is only one Person. He is not two persons, divine and human. However, Jesus Christ has two natures: the nature of God, and the nature of man.

Gerard M. Gaskin, in his article Jesus Christ, the Person, explains:

“The Church teaches that Jesus Christ is one person having two natures. This, itself, is contrary to our human experience. We see everything around us as having a nature, but only one nature: the tree has the nature of a tree, the man has the nature of a human being, a rock has the nature of a rock. The nature of a thing indicates the kind of thing it is. Logically, every created thing has one nature, its own particular nature. No created thing has two natures or it would be two things at one time, which is impossible.

“Accordingly, the tree does not have the nature of a man, nor the man a rock’s. Nevertheless, we are taught by the Church that Jesus has two distinct natures in one person. We are taught that Jesus Christ has a Divine nature, as God; and a human nature as man. Just as the tree is not a rock, so the natures of man and God are distinct, not blurred together. Yet the Church teaches that in one person, in all time, since His conception in the womb of a human mother, these natures are united by being in the person of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus possesses fully the nature of God and the nature of man we can describe Him as true God and true man.” (2)

Jesus Christ, as God the Son, always possessed His divine nature. But He took on His human nature when he was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. After Christ stepped into time as man, His two natures became inseparable; this being defined by the term: hypostatic union.

This, in a nut shell, is the meaning of the person and nature of Christ. This article cannot give an in-depth study of the person and natures of Christ, as it is a complex mystery, but is summarizes the Catholic belief.

In connection to the person and natures of Christ is the motherhood of Mary. The nature of Mary’s motherhood was under attack centuries ago by the Nestorians, and it is again under attack by Protestants of today. Some argue that while Mary is Christ’s mother, she is not the Mother of God, and this title should not be applied to her. How is this possible?

Blessed Mary gave birth to the Savior of the universe, Jesus Christ, God the Son. How is it incorrect to say that Mary is the Mother of God? Jesus is God, is He not? Now, it should be noted that the phrase “Mother of God” pertains to God the Son, not the entire Trinity. This phrase does not mean that Mary is “older” than God, but it means that she is the mother of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. When explained, the title makes sense.

In Luke 1:43, Elizabeth greets Mary and wonders how it is that the “mother of my Lord cometh to me?” What does the word “Lord” mean? God, of course. Elizabeth asks how the mother of her God came to visit her. The phrase “Mother of God” is even used in Scripture! How can this title be denied? Mary did not say to Elizabeth, “No, I am only the Mother of Christ’s human nature”, did she?

It is laughable to say that Mary is merely the mother of only the “human” nature of Christ, as Christ’s natures cannot be separated, as He is one person. Is my mother the mother of only my human nature? No, she is the mother of myself, my person. A person is conceived and born, not a nature.

Even the Protestant Revolutionist Martin Luther affirms the title:

“She is rightly called not only the mother of man, but also the Mother of God…It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God.” (3)

The Protestants of today have an extremely different view of Blessed Mary than what the major Reformers thought of her. Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli held many Catholic views of Mary even after they left the Catholic Church. This just goes to show you that even what was started by the Reformers has been reformed again over time.

I pray that all non-Catholics recognize the reality of Christ’s divinity, and Mary’s Divine maternity, as the Mother of God.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Footnotes

(1) Fr. Mateo, Refuting the Attack on Mary, Catholic Answers, Inc.: El Cajon, CA, 1993, p. 4.

(2) https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/incaa3.htm

(3) Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], volume 24, 107.

 

Martin Luther on the Blessed Virgin Mary

Martin Luther

Mary the Mother of God

“She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God … It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God.”  

(Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], volume 24, 107.)

Mary the Perpetual Virgin

“It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a Virgin.”

(Martin Luther, op. cit., Volume 11, 319-320.)

The Immaculate Conception

“But the other conception, namely the infusion of the soul, it is piously and suitably believed, was without any sin, so that while the soul was being infused, she would at the same time be cleansed from original sin and adorned with the gifts of God to receive the holy soul thus infused. And thus, in the very moment in which she began to live, she was without all sin…”

 (Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Volume 4, 694.)

Honor to Mary

“The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.” 

(Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works (Translation by William J. Cole) 10, III, p.313)

“Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honoured? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent’s head. Hear us. For your Son denies you nothing.”

(Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Volume 51, 128-129.)