Mary, Mother of GodThis is reason No. 1 in my series “30 reasons why I left Rome.” Please read my introduction and explanation here.
Far and away, for me and many other ex-Catholics, one of the primary doctrinal disputations with the Roman Catholic Church is its treatment of Jesus’ mother Mary. She is given credit and prominence greatly exceeding what is taught of her in Scripture, and in opposition to what is taught of Christ. This has the effect of cheating God out of praise and glory that is rightfully due him.
Mary’s role in God’s plan of restoring man’s broken relationship with himself, according to the Bible, was simply to be the bearer and contributor to Jesus’ human flesh. After his birth she is seldom mentioned, and is never credited with any supernatural work, be it redemption, mediation, expiation (the atoning work for sins), or any other of the divine responsibilities given her by the Catholic Church. What she is credited with is:
- willingly submitting to God’s call to be the bearer of his Son’s human body
- taking him to Jerusalem as a baby according to the commandment to dedicate the firstborn to God
- caring for the boy, and searching diligently for him when he chose to stay in the Temple in Jerusalem instead of returning to Nazareth with his parents
- calling Jesus’ attention to the lack of wine at the marriage at Cana
- going with Jesus’ brothers to where he was preaching and asking to see him, and effectively getting rebuffed by him
- standing by the cross as he hung dying on it
- and joining with his disciples in prayer after Jesus had rose and ascended into Heaven.
From this very limited, human, and subordinate role in Jesus’ life and ministry, the Roman Catholic Church has extrapolated a designation of Mary as:
- Mother of God…not just mother of Jesus, the man, but “theotokos” – Mother of God, divine (495)
- united “with the Son in the work of salvation”…”enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice” (964)
- “Queen over all things” (966)
- “participat(ing) in her Son’s Resurrection”, who “by (her) prayers, will deliver our souls from death” (966)
- “Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix” (969)
- the one “to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs” (971)
- “head of the Mystical Body” (973) “Mother of the Church” (963)
- sinless from the moment of conception and throughout her whole life (508)
- and “the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race” (494)
All the designations above are official Catholic teaching, taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1994, with the numbers in parentheses referencing the source paragraph. But her exaltation is promoted in numerous other paragraphs within it, as well as in countless other Catholic publications, some of which are plainly idolatrous in their description of her.
Catholics insist that they do not worship Mary, only venerate her. But if they are building and kneeling at shrines to her, praying to and expecting spiritual favors from her, engaging in ritual ceremonies and feast days devoted to her, writing and singing songs to her, and claiming that she is the sinless Mother of God…what are they NOT doing that would make it worship? That’s worship, and only God is deserving of it.
Certainly Mary is a model of humility and obedience and we would do well to emulate her. But she is not divine, and the Catholic Church treats her as a goddess. However and whenever the Mariolatry began, it is wholly unsupportable by Scripture and, I believe, very grievous to God.
…and yet, we who love Jesus, are wise and display our affection for him the more we are willing to suffer for his name’s sake as Mary did. She knew she could be stoned when people found she was expecting a child tho not wed.
Well said, Peg. Thank you.
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Isn’t Christ a God in your view?
No, Jesus Christ isn’t “a” God. He is the one and only God.
There are various errors in the post (I say this as an evangelical and former Catholic):
1) the council of Ephesus occurred in 431, but the term theotokos appears before in the letters of Cyril to Nestorius.
2) Theotokos does not mean “mother of God” but the One who gives birth to God and if it is true that Jesus is true God and true man then Mary (as Elizabeth “mother of my Lord”) is also mother of God, but not only because recalling only the Tehotokos contradicts the Council of Chalcedon (451)
The rest of the titles are post-school, but the real reflection with Catholicism is: Is Christ’s salvation exclusive or inclusive and diffusive?