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Catholic “Inventions”: Worshiping Mary

September 6, 2011

This topic is one of the most difficult stumbling blocks for people of faith regardless of church association.  I made a very simply video which shows Scripturally where we get the Hail Mary prayer.  Another good video to check out is one that covers some of the typography regarding Mary which I also encourage readers to view.  It can be a bit superfluous in its beginning argument but hang in there and I believe it will challenge you to some insights that perhaps you had never considered before.

I Pray Thee

So where does the Church come up with this idea of giving so much prominence to Mary that she seems to hold the level of a goddess in the eyes of the Church?  Certainly Catholics have, throughout the span of Christianity, overstepped appropriate bounds of honor and awarded her significant abilities and titles which elevate her to an incorrect or inappropriate place in her role among Christian belief.  Even from other Catholics the Magisterium has had to devote time and effort to ensure that correct views of Mary are carried throughout the Church.  Not to mention the countless amounts of time and effort spent by her apologists to refute the legions of anti-Marion’s across the board.

So let us start with the very source of the matter.  Let us start with the Catholics themselves.  What do Catholics say when asked, “Do you worship Mary?”  Moreover, and the source that really matters, what does their official teaching authority (The Magisterium – Latin for ‘teaching office’) say about Mary and how she is to be viewed?  As I mentioned before, the Church and her apologists have spilled countless gallons of ink clarifying, in minutiae, this subject matter.  However, we’ll start off simple and work up to that by giving the straightforward and honest answer, “No.  We do not now, nor have we ever, worshiped Mary.  Nor do we consider her worthy of worship.  Worship is for and to God alone.”

Passing along on this course we soon come to a diversionary bump in the road with what constitutes ‘worship’.  More issues could be resolved so much more easily if terms and definitions were cleared up beforehand so as to avoid confusion in ideas.   The major issue here is that Protestants and Catholics see worship in two entirely different ways.  For Protestants prayer IS worship.  Prayer should be directed to God alone with Christ as the sole mediator and because of that fact, prayer = worship.  To direct prayer to anyone else is to direct worship to another individual.

Catholics have an entirely different approach to the term ‘worship’ and what that entails.  Catholics wholeheartedly endorse the fact that God alone should be worshiped.  That is an undisputed belief.  However, what Catholics do not acquiesce to is the theological idea that prayer = worship.  Herein lies a major difference of understanding.  Prayer simply means to make a request of an individual.  In fact, this idea has a long historical etymological root.  This was commonly spoken in Shakespearean Old English, and one could see the use of the word ‘pray’ to enjoin an individual with a request, “I pray thee, Mercutio, let’s retire.”  This language can even been seen in the Bible itself, “I pray thee, Job, hear my speech and harken (or listen) to my words.” (Job 33:1) That is how it is even written in most Protestant Bibles.

“I ask of you, Job.  Here what I say.  Here my words.”

The English term “worship” has narrowed in meaning to refer to God only very recently as has the word ‘pray’.  Therefore, Catholics have continued to assert that to ‘pray’ is simply to ask for someone’s help with a request.  It hasn’t now, nor ever referred to a worship of someone.  Therefore, the Catholic Church maintains the meaning of the word as it has always been used in the English language (and is still applied – even in most Bible translations).  This leads into the argument of Catholics ‘praying to’ saints or Mary, which means only that we’re requesting their help in obtaining a petition.  (This is a fantastic blog entry about the mediatorship of Christ and this guy helped me to see it in context as it’s written in the Bible.)

The Pagan Connection

The ancient world was full of pagan faiths which held many similarities.  Aphrodite and Zeus were known also by their Roman names of Venus and Jupiter.  There have also been many near-eastern and indo-european religions that had similar goddesses to those made most famous by the Greco-Roman gods.  There is often much made of the Egyptian goddess Isis (whom some identify with the Greek god Aphrodite/Roman Venus) and her child Horus.  Several portraits or statues show her sitting on a throne nursing  the young Pharaoh god Horus.

These examples from early history have lead many evangelical Protestant scholars to denounce the concept of Mary as one and the same as these ancient pagan goddesses, with merely a Christian label slapped on it.  The most prominent of theories stems from a book written by a man called Rev. Alexander Hislop called, The Two Babylon’s.  It contains a story told about a minor Biblical character of Nimrod in the ancient Babylonian culture.  I’ve heard this story carved out in very general bits and recycled in countless Evangelical writings.  The mythological-like story, as I understand it, states that Nimrod set himself up as a god.  He also set his wife up as a goddess (according to some stories).  He was slain and the woman conceived a child whom she said was given her through her deceased husband Nimrod, and was thus a divine son.  Hence, mother/son worship was born and spread to all the other cultures.  Eventually, making its way to Rome.  The Roman emperor Constantine, upon legalizing Christianity in the 4th century incorporated this worship in the forms of the Roman gods Venus and Jupiter, Isis and Horus, etc. into Christianity and hence the worship of Mary along with Jesus.

The author Ralph Woodrow eventually authored a more streamline version of this book called Babylon Mystery Religion.  In it, as in The Two Babylon’s, the author presents pagan parallels to rites and teachings of the Catholic Church thereby attempting to show that, due to its parallels the one is born from the other.  Ralph Woodrow has since removed the book from publication and has even written an article for the Catholic Answers magazine This Rock refuting the error of this line of thinking by simply stating,

“My reason for pulling the original book out of print was quite basic: Citing similarities between Catholic practices and pagan practices proves nothing if there is no actual connection.  One could take virtually anything – even McDonald’s golden arches – and do the same:  The Encyclopedia Americana (article: “arch”) say the use of arches was known in Babylon as early as 2020 B.C.  As Babylon was called “the golden city” (Is. 14:4 KJV), can there be any doubt about the origin of the golden arches?  As silly as this is, this is the type of proof that has been offered again and again about the supposed pagan origins of the Catholic Church.”

He goes on to mention that many things stemming from the Bible are found in pagan practices as well and that going by that logic we would have to discount a lot of Biblical practices as well.  I would also mention that to this day we have and celebrate many things with pagan customs.  Wedding rings are pagan, for example, and that is used in every solemn Christian marriage ceremony out there.  The sensationalism of Alexander Hislop’s “novel” was fact checked by Ralph Woodrow and in all his research Ralph couldn’t find a single connection between Nimrod and his supposed wife Semiramis.  In fact, shallow fact checking will reveal that Constantine did much to suppress the pagan religions and eliminate them entirely.  In fact, early Christian history will reveal that not only did the early Christians not tolerate pagan ideas, they denounced ideas that are common belief among Protestants today!

So What’s the Verdict?

Understanding the etymology of  word usage and the historical relationship theories leaves us with the question: So what is the truth?  Where did this idea of holding Mary in such high esteem come from?  In order to answer that question we must turn to the source of the claim for veneration:  The Church.  The formula of understanding Church theology is to know that the Church bases its beliefs on a three-fold structure.  Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium.  Therefore, we start with the first of those, the Bible.

There is very little written about Mary in the Bible, but what we do know, primarily from the Gospel of Luke, is that she was called “full of grace”, “blessed among women”, and “the mother of [our] Lord”.  Right there, (esp if you watched my above video) is the majority of the Hail Mary prayer.  She was present at the foot of the Cross when Jesus said to John, “Behold your mother.  Mother behold your son.”  She was also present at the beginning of the Church since she was in the Upper Room with the other disciples praying when the Holy Spirit descended upon them.  She is the only person named along with the Apostles.

From this we move into Tradition and history.  In the catacombs of Priscilla we find many examples of some of the traditions the Catholic Church uses today.  We find an icon or image of Mary and her Son Jesus drawn about 150 AD.  It is the first example found that depicts Mary and it was drawn about 200 years before Constantine made Christianity legal.  One of the oldest extant prayers is one to Mary called Sub Tuum Praesidium.

“Beneath your compassion, We take refuge, O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble: but rescue us from dangers, only pure, only blessed one.”

That was composed about 25o AD.  A full 100 years before the legalization of Christianity.

Some of the most notable Fathers of the Church write about Mary in strikingly “Catholic” terms.

“Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair, there is no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother.” – Ephraem, Nisibene Hymns, 27:8 (A.D. 370)
“Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain of sin.” – Ambrose, Sermon 22:30 (A.D. 388)
“We must except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin.” – Augustine, Nature and Grace,4 2[36], (A.D.415)
“The friends of Christ do not tolerate hearing that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin” – Basil, Homily In Sanctum Christi generationem, 5 (A.D. 379)
“It was fitting …that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory …should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God.” – Theoteknos of Livias, Homily on the Assumption (ante A.D. 650).
“You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.” – Germanus of Constantinople, Sermon I (PG 98,346), (ante A.D. 733).

Even the Protestant Reformers, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli all believed the tenants about Mary professed by the Catholic Church (even before things like her Immaculate Conception were pronounced as dogma – yet have always been believed).

We finally come to the teaching office, the Magisterium, regarding why and how those tenants were created.  Taking together the verses of the Bible and the historical traditions of belief held in the Church from the beginning, the Church began to define what exactly it meant to regard Mary.  From this we received the four dogmas of Catholic faith regarding Mary.

She is Mother of God
(seen firstly in Luke 1:43) since Jesus is God.

She was immaculately conceived.
That is, from the moment of her conception, God removed all stain of Original Sin from her and preserved her from sin.  This is from the understanding of the term “full of grace” which, coupled with the understanding of the Greek term used here means ‘completely full permanently’ and all of the early writings speaking always of Mary as being immaculately conceived.  By the way, most people call Jesus’ birth the immaculate conception.  This is incorrect.  Jesus’ birth is the Virgin Birth (of Jesus) and Mary’s is the Immaculate Conception.

She is an ever-virgin.
Countless writings of the early Christians always call her a permanent virgin.  The Greek word used in the original manuscripts of the Bible is adelphos which means close kinsmen or ‘cousins’ and is used in the verses referring to “the brothers” or “sisters” of Christ. (cf. Gen. 14:14; Gen. 29:15; 1 Chr. 23:21–22; Deut. 23:7; Neh. 5:7; Jer. 34:92 & Kgs. 10:13–14 for further examples).

Mary was Assumed into Heaven.
Meaning that at the completion of her earthly life, she was raised into the glory of Heaven.  Aside from the examples we have in the Bible of people being assumed into heaven (ie – Elijah, Enoch, and possibly others) we also have the practices of the early Church where, when a holy, revered person was martyred or died, the Christians would usually keep the spot of their burial as a holy site worthy of pilgrimage, honor, and ultimate protection.  Ultimately when they were able to, the Christians built churches on the site of these holy deceased.  We can track almost all of the early revered Christians.  Only Mary’s remains are unaccounted for.  Does it not make sense that she would at least be worthy of honor and reverent respect being the mother of Our Lord Jesus?

Even more than the honor and veneration (not worship) we give to the Saints (dulia) we regard her with the highest honor and veneration (hyperdulia) because of her example to us, but we do not give her what belongs to God alone (latria). Coupled with the ancient practice of praying to those in Heaven (as seen with the Sub Tuum Praesidium) we come to understand that Catholics are not worshiping Mary by praying to her, we’re asking for her help.  We aren’t worshiping her because we call her “blessed amongst women” (Luke 1:28) we’re fulfilling her own statement that, “from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

Mary as Mother

A wise priest once said to me, “Mary doesn’t force anyone to come to her, but she patiently waits to help her children with all they ask.”  Like any good disciple, Mary points the way to her Son.  Most frequently the story one hears from converts to Catholicism regarding their first prayer to Mary goes something like, “God I hope this doesn’t make you mad” or “God forgive me if this is wrong or if this isn’t the right thing…”  I myself said something similar the first time… and even many years later at the rawest moment of my life.  However, I have come to see Mary as a beautifully soft motherly figure who delicately nurtures me even closer into the heart of Jesus.  I don’t worship Mary and any Catholic worth their salt would tell you the same.  A good writer once said, “People should start taking Catholics at their word when they say they don’t worship Mary.  They deserve to be believed and they ought to know what they’re talking about.”

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Manfred permalink
    January 25, 2013 9:32 am

    I can understand the importance of tradition and the veneration of Mary but, when I listen to 10 Hail Mary’s to a single mention of Jesus (other than in the rosary) I have to wonder where the trust is being placed. In other words, take Mary out of Catholic prayer and what are you left with? It is hard for a non-chatholic to objectively listen and come away thinking the most important person to catholics is Mary. Where would we be if we did not have Mary to pray for us. Why is there no evidence among the apostles writings of veneration of Mary.

    • January 25, 2013 9:18 pm

      Well, you’ve definitely asked a mouthful with your questions. My response could be another blog entry in itself since it is such an extremely complicated subject, (and as of this moment has taken me a good long while to respond to.) I will try to address each of your points one by one although I can’t give them the most complete attention possible due to the constraints of it being placed in the ‘comments’ section.

      Manfred: I can understand the importance of tradition and the veneration of Mary but, when I listen to 10 Hail Mary’s to a single mention of Jesus (other than in the rosary) I have to wonder where the trust is being placed.

      Me: In this I assume that rather than saying “other than in the Rosary” you mean within the Rosary itself with a 10 to 1 comparison of prayers. In actuality the entire five decades of every Rosary, with the exception of two decades, is actually centered on Jesus and His life. The entire decade is a meditative exercise about the different events of Jesus life. Therefore, my focus is actually concentrated on what Jesus did and accomplished. The Rosary doesn’t lean upon placing trust in any individual, rather it was given to us in order for us to meditate on the life of our Savior.

      Manfred: In other words, take Mary out of Catholic prayer and what are you left with?

      Me: Now if what you’re actually referring to in all this is a so called “Mary centered theology” then I will answer this specific question by saying first of all that prayers that do not involve Mary make up a MUCH more VAST number of our focus than Marion prayers do. Also an extremely essential point to realize is that a Catholic is not required to do anything at all which involves Mary. Catholics aren’t required to pray a Rosary, pray for Mary to intercede for them, or make any other intentions toward her (as long as they do not reject the Church’s dogmatic beliefs regarding her). Therefore, if you ask what you’re left with if you take Mary out of Catholic prayer, the answer would be, quite a lot actually. A Catholic’s devotion to Our Blessed Mother is (outside of the four dogmatic statements) completely voluntary.

      Manfred: It is hard for a non-chatholic to objectively listen and come away thinking the most important person to catholics is Mary.

      Me: This I can understand completely. As a convert to Catholicism one of the hardest things for me to reconcile (and many converts for that matter – and even some Catholics) was/is the role of Mary in Theology. The truth is, however, that Mary isn’t THE most important person for Catholics, however, she is ONE of the most important people to many Catholics. Only in relation to Jesus/The Trinity does she hold a degree of lesser importance. (I would invite you to research and study the place of “Latria”/Hyperdulia/Dulia” in Catholic theology.) She is not a part of the Godhead, but as the Mother of the Savior she holds a special place of respect to Catholics. She not only gave a body to Christ, but also did everything the Lord asked of her throughout the duration of her life. We know this because she remained with the Apostles and was visited by Church Fathers who did write about her. She was especially known to the Apostle John and they would and did see and report this as well as Mary having told them this herself.

      Manfred: Where would we be if we did not have Mary to pray for us.

      Mary is a non-requirement to Salvation so even if we don’t ask Mary to pray for us we are still capable of obtaining Salvation. Separated brethren (non-Catholics) are still capable of obtaining Salvation and they don’t actively seek Mary to pray for them. Although, I will say that having such an extremely strong advocate like the Virgin Mary to pray for you is incredibly efficacious and there are far too many examples of this truth to be posted here.

      Manfred: Why is there no evidence among the apostles writings of veneration of Mary.

      Me: There is in the Gospel of St. Luke itself the very words of the angel Gabriel, Mary herself, and Elizabeth which show veneration (ie – a high regard) for and to Mary.
      The angel Gabriel says, “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.” Nobody else in the entire Bible is greeted like that “full of grace”. (I’d invite you to research the Greek word translated as “full of grace”, κεχαριτωμένη (kecharitōmenē which only occurs this one time in the Bible and “refers to a past action sustained in the present of being filled completely with grace in a permanent way.” That is no small coincidence that it is used for only her here and gives indication of the regard of the author, St. Luke, of her.)
      Elizabeth tells Mary, “”Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?… And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
      Mary herself says, “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”
      In Revelation, written by St. John the Apostle we’re told of the magnificence of Mary in heaven with her description in chapter 12 so we know she’s worthy of praise and honor (as any victorious Christian is – all the more because of what she did for Christianity. Without Mary’s ‘yes’ there would be no Jesus.) Outside of the Bible we find in the very earliest writings of great Church Fathers like Ignatius speak very clearly about the Virgin Mary because he was taught by the Apostle John himself. Ignatius writes to the Apostle John and says,
      “If it is made possible, I intend to come to you in order to see the faithful gathered in Jerusalem, and especially the Mother of Jesus: they say of her that she is honorable, affable, and arouses wonder in all, and all wish to see her. But who would not wish to see the Virgin and to converse with her who bore the true God?…With us she is glorified as the Mother of God and the Virgin full of grace and virtue. They say of her that she is joyful in troubles and persecutions, does not grieve in poverty and want, and not only does not get angry with those who offend her but does good to them still more… All who see her are delighted.”
      As I mentioned before it is a difficult subject for someone to wrap their head around. Especially if they’re trained to look at the Bible alone for all the answers. The subject is so extensive that it’s impossible to thoroughly cover all points in a comment response, but even if you ultimately don’t agree with the viewpoint, hopefully this will provide more insight as to the foundational reasons behind why we believe what we do.

  2. Vincent Long permalink
    March 18, 2013 9:41 am

    It saddens me to read what you have written in this article. You have skillfully chosen little bits of historical writings to make the worship of Mary sound Godly. How could someone who has your knowledge of Scripture do such a thing. The history of the Catholic Church speaks for its self. This is your comment. Quote : The Greek word used in the original manuscripts of the Bible is adelphos which means close kinsmen or ‘cousins’ and is used in the verses referring to “the brothers” or “sisters” of Christ. (cf. Gen. 14:14; Gen. 29:15; 1 Chr. 23:21–22; Deut. 23:7; Neh. 5:7; Jer. 34:92 & Kgs. 10:13–14 for further examples). End quote : I notice that all of the verses you have used are from the old Testament which was written in the Hebrew language, if the new Testament was written in the Hebrew language then your argument would have some basis. But as it was not your argument is completely wrong. However, the New Testament is written in Greek, which is an extremely precise language. It makes a clear distinction between the words used to describe family relationships. There is a Greek word which refers to people who are relatives but not of the immediate family, such as aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins. There are other Greek words which refer specifically to a person’s brother or sister within a family. Let me assure you that according to the oldest Greek manuscripts in existence there is no doubt that The Lord Jesus Christ did indeed have Half brothers and sisters. So this throws the doctrine of the Catholic Church of Mary been ever virgin straight out the window. Now can you explain to me please why the Catholic Church has taken the second commandment of God, which God gave Moses on two tablets of stone, Exodus Chapter twenty, and discarded it completely. The reason is simple and very clear because the second commandment strictly forbids not just the worship of idols but also the making of idols. Let me quote it correctly for you.
    Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
    4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
    5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
    6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. Now just in case there is any doubt in your mind about this let me quote you another passage of Scripture.
    De 4:15 “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire,
    16 “lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female,
    17 “the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air,
    18 “the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth.
    19 “And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage. This leaves no doubt that praying to anyone other than God is idolatry and forbidden by God Himself. But lets take a brief look at Catholic Church history, you might ask why do this. The answer is simple because history speaks for its self and cannot be contradicted.The Spanish inquisition springs to mind, this is where the Catholic Church sent out is army and slaughtered 10 thousand Bible believing Christians in one day because they would not bow the knee to Rome and the Pope. Dose this sound like the Church of God to you, I don’t think so. Lets have a look at the Popes themselves. Counting the new Pope just elected in the last few weeks {Today’s date is 18/3/2013} there should be 294 Popes in total. History states that just about all of them were very evil men. Many of them had mistresses, some had mistresses as young as 11 and 12 years old, can you imagine men who carried the title: Vicar Of Christ : abusing and raping little girls and little boys. But of course that practice was passed all the way down to the present day as we all well know. The thing that worries me most is not the few thousand priests throughout the many countries of the world that have been caught. But the many many thousands that have not been caught. Can any sane minded person really believe that the Catholic Church is the Church of God; surely not. I tell you truly that the Catholic Church is with out doubt the Church of Satan himself, for not only Scripture but history itself proves this. I challenge anyone to show me a three month period in the last sixteen hundred years of Catholic Church history that has not been vile and evil. My advise to everyone who reads this is to leave the Catholic Church and find a bible believing fellowship, that believes in and teaches the Word of God and not the word of Rome. The only way to be saved is through the word of God and by the Son of God the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot be saved through the Catholic Church because it is not the Church of God but the Church of Satan Scripture proves this to be true and history confirms it to be true.

    • March 18, 2013 12:46 pm

      “It saddens me to read what you have written in this article. You have skillfully chosen little bits of historical writings to make the worship of Mary sound Godly.”

      Firstly, the worship of Mary is entirely ungodly and is heretical and blasphemous. As I clearly spell out in my blog, only God can be worshipped. Also, I can only include so much of the historical writings in one blog. Anyone can read the historical works for themselves to see that every single extant historical Christian author and Church Father has a perfect consensus on honoring Mary and subscribing to the Dogmatic pronouncements about her. I don’t have to skillfully carve out chosen little bits to make her sound like more than she is. The entire library of historical writings supports my position. Even the fathers of the Protestant Revolt agree with Catholic position.

      “How could someone who has your knowledge of Scripture do such a thing. The history of the Catholic Church speaks for its self. This is your comment. Quote : The Greek word used in the original manuscripts of the Bible is adelphos which means close kinsmen or ‘cousins’ and is used in the verses referring to “the brothers” or “sisters” of Christ. (cf. Gen. 14:14; Gen. 29:15; 1 Chr. 23:21–22; Deut. 23:7; Neh. 5:7; Jer. 34:92 & Kgs. 10:13–14 for further examples). End quote : I notice that all of the verses you have used are from the old Testament which was written in the Hebrew language…”

      The verses that I cite from the Old Testament are, if you will notice, further examples of where the term “brother”/“sister”/”kinsmen” is used where there is not a uterine connection. In the sentence I said, “The Greek word used… in the verses referring to “the brothers” or sisters” of Christ. Obviously since I’m talking about Christ, I’m talking about the New Testament verses in which “brothers” or “sisters” of Christ are referred. The Old Testament verses with which I refer are further reference points that the general term “brother” is used to address a relationship between individuals who are not uterine siblings. Also, the Old Testament version most often used by the early Church was the Greek Septuagint.

      “However, the New Testament is written in Greek, which is an extremely precise language. It makes a clear distinction between the words used to describe family relationships. There is a Greek word which refers to people who are relatives but not of the immediate family, such as aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins. There are other Greek words which refer specifically to a person’s brother or sister within a family.”

      Cite me your examples of instances where another Greek word is used to refer to non-immediate family members. The example I sited where the term “brothers” of Christ is used in the Bible uses the Greek word, “Adolphos” which can be used to describe no less than four types of relationships between people. Tell me where the New Testament clearly uses a different Greek word to describe family relationships outside of rarely using the Greek word, “anepsios” which specifically means cousin.

      “Let me assure you that according to the oldest Greek manuscripts in existence there is no doubt that The Lord Jesus Christ did indeed have Half brothers and sisters.”

      Where in the world do you come up with a factual basis for this statement? By what authority do you even pronounce this as a truth? Besides, regardless of how old the manuscript is, the Greek is still the same. The Greek manuscripts to which you refer are the same that countless scholars have analyzed and translated and it doesn’t change, in the slightest, the fact that the word ‘adelphos’ is used when referring to Jesus’ “brothers” always. This is true even in Protestant Bibles and Protestant concordances.

      “So this throws the doctrine of the Catholic Church of Mary been ever virgin straight out the window.”

      Not only does it not, but you haven’t even proven to me where in the Bible it proves that the doctrine of the Catholic Church of Mary having been an ever virgin is null and void. Prove to me, from the Bible alone, where it specifically states that those men were uterine brothers of Christ and not just close kin since I already pointed out that “adelphos” can mean four different things and whenever “brothers” of Christ is used, that is the Greek word that is used.

      “Now can you explain to me please why the Catholic Church has taken the second commandment of God, which God gave Moses on two tablets of stone, Exodus Chapter twenty, and discarded it completely. The reason is simple and very clear because the second commandment strictly forbids not just the worship of idols but also the making of idols. Let me quote it correctly for you.”

      First, again, we don’t worship statues or images. That is blasphemous and heretical. Also, the verse you quoted doesn’t say, “idol”, it says, “carved images”. Therefore, can you explain to me, then why God later clearly commands Moses to make a “carved image” of a bronze serpent [Numbers 21:9] (which btw, is something to which Christ Himself is compared to later Jn 3:14) especially if he also forbids it in Deuteronomy? Can you also explain then why looking upon this bronze serpent had the ability to heal people? Why the duality in God if no carved images were to be made? Precisely because, as the it states in the Bible later, when the Israelites began to worship the thing, it was destroyed. Catholics don’t worship statues nor pray TO a statue. That’s idolatry and that we do not do.

      “This leaves no doubt that praying to anyone other than God is idolatry and forbidden by God Himself.”

      What you just cited me has nothing to do with praying to anyone other than God. It had to do with making graven images. This is a classic “rapid-fire” approach used by anti-Catholics.

      “But let’s take a brief look at Catholic Church history, you might ask why do this. The answer is simple because history speaks for its self and cannot be contradicted…”

      Once again, nothing to do with the subject at hand, it’s just another tactic of the “rapid-fire” approach to pepper the Catholic with a litany of their “errors” and using faulty and misguided “facts” that have no basis in history as “proof” that the Catholic Church is evil and not Christ founded at all without a single solitary reputable citation of source. It’s simply a way to spew venomous hatred about the Church… and this from a “real and genuine” Christian who, I’m sure, is using the language and an attitude Jesus would be proud of.

    • david stegemoller permalink
      January 30, 2017 11:12 am

      My wife has fallen for this man-made maryology crap and prays to mary for her prayers to be heard by Christ. The common sense of this idealology is pretty dark. What a breeding ground for the birth of anti-christ.

      • January 30, 2017 6:05 pm

        Well, aside from you using a random Catholic blog as your verbal vomiting ground I assume the real reason you’re lashing out is because you’re honestly hurt that your wife has gained understanding of something you’re wholly against. Now I’m no psychiatrist but my understanding and experience of human interactions and behavioral actions tell me that your reaction to her newfound understanding of faith (especially if you’ve shared all of these angry verbally abusive words with her) is that you’ll only drive her further away and only cause her to hide it from you and separate herself and her faith from you as much as possible. Given the divorce rate in this country I’d say that doesn’t bode too well for your chances. You’re going about it the wrong way and your hatred is only going to drive her away from you. My marital advice for you is to take a different approach before you’re served papers and to keep trying to understand, even if you don’t agree with it. Keep reading Catholic sources to try to learn what it is that we’re doing and why. Throw out all your Protestant sources trying to tell you what we’re doing and why. I know those arguments and their sources and I promise you it will only cause further dissension and aggravation between you and her. The Catholic Church has been around 2,000 years. We trace our leaders all the way back to the Apostles themselves. It’s a pretty impressive track record for a Church so if we’ve had 2,000 years of existence and the gates of Hell haven’t overtaken it, just as Christ promised, I think I can safely assume we aren’t going to breed the Anti-Christ. That’s certainly an uncharitable, un-Christian comment to make on your part which doesn’t lend itself much to your brand of Christianity. Best of luck on your research into the Church and I pray your heart will yield itself to be lead by Christ into all Truth.

  3. Timothothy Guy permalink
    June 10, 2013 12:04 pm

    Vincent… you are not jesus. and being taught the bible in a fundamentailst church week after week and reading only fundamentaist books does not make you a divine prophet of God.

    “”I tell you truly that the Catholic Church is with out doubt the Church of Satan himself””

    Actually this is nothing but your own psyche speaking having been charged up on endlessly programmed emmotional religious zeal.

    I was an evangelical funadmentalist christian, pastor and bible teacher for 20 years. Now i am more or less an Orthodox Christian. If you take the time to read real church historyand real church fathers you will quickly come to the truth that western fundamentalist evangelical christianity is the red headed stepchild of the church not the other way around.

    That does not mean i think everything in roman catholosism or Orthodox Christianity is correct nor that everything in western fundamentaism is wrong.

  4. dgoold150David permalink
    November 8, 2015 8:59 pm

    I was raised Protestant but just as critical of some of there beliefs as well. Regarding mother Mary and praying: my wife is catholic and I have many close catholic friends and have attended catholic church, Many of them seem that there is more of a infatuation though not short lived, Mary than God and or Jesus. I have Friends that have statue of Mary and do not consider Jesus in there prayers.

    I wonder what God thinks when he sent his Son down to earth to die for us to reconcile us with him and we feel we have to pray to someone else to reach him. Its like adam and eve hiding in the bushes because there naked.

    I am not disputing your argument praying verses worship but there are many Catholics that don’t understand this and worship her and having statues where they light candles, flowers and offerings promotes this misunderstanding and prevents them from having a closer relationship with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.

    If you don’t think I am right here is a prayer I received from a catholic worshiper there is no mention for request to intercede on our behalf to god.

    My Queen, My Mother, I offer
    myself entirely to thee.
    And to show my devotion to thee,
    I offer thee this day, my eyes,
    my ears, my mouth, my heart,
    my whole being without reserve.
    Wherefore, good Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, guard me as thy property and possession.
    Amen.

    • November 9, 2015 2:39 pm

      Thank you for your comment. There is a lot in your question and it’s a big, big topic to be sure. I’ll try to give you a direction to contemplate but I don’t know if I can comprehensively detail everything about it. Please feel free to email me if you’d like though.
      I will say I can agree that any Christian can take any matter of faith too far and make too much of it. Evangelicals, for instance, can put too much emphasis on Scripture Alone to the exclusion even of other Bible verses. I will say that there are far too many Catholic Christians that do not have a complete understanding of their faith and may mistake what the Church believes about Mary and the Saints or many other ideas they falsely believe to be Catholic. It’s unfortunate and sad that they hold these thoughts when anti-Catholic sentiment is prevalent even among other Christians. I have been told that some Catholic do mistakenly believe we “worship” Mary and that’s so blatantly wrong. I don’t blame the statues, flowers, offerings, etc. as being the source or precipitation of the problem. I blame the religious education courses these Catholics were supposed to have received which is supposed to comprehensively explain exactly what the Church teaches and the guidelines and perimeters of worship. The Church has had religious statues and images in their places of worship from the very beginning, even in the catacombs, and it never seemed to hinder their ability to understand Mary’s or the the Saints relationship to God. For well-formed Catholics having a relationship with the Mother of God and the friends of God doesn’t in any way diminish the relationship with Him any more than my having a close relationship with any Christian on earth. Most people find their stories inspirational and worth imitating and it inspires them to grow closer to God.
      This follows the same vein of praying to them. A properly catechized Catholic would tell you that we don’t have to pray to anyone to reach the Holy Trinity. Just as we would ask members of our Christian Community on earth to pray for us, we ask those in Heaven to pray for us too and we consider their prayers much more efficacious because they are standing right in front of God wholly purified and perfect and many of them struggled with things that we are struggling with specifically in this life. However, there are prayers, especially to Mary, which simply express our love to her and, like the prayer mentioned above, to ask for her to watch out for us. She’ll never contradict the will of God and in asking for her love as well anything we ask from her she only obtains through the will of her Son first. A close relationship with Mary can’t ultimately exclude Jesus because Mary only points the way to her Son. Just as all prayer to God is not petition, not all prayers prayed to Mary or the saints are intercessory. Sometimes they’re “conversational”.
      Can that be taken out of context? Absolutely! Can people misinterpret and misunderstand their roles in our faith? SURE! Overall, though, I would say the Catholic needs to make themselves more well-informed.

  5. November 9, 2015 6:24 pm

    Hi There!

    (Sorry for the long post, but I thought you might not mind given the length of your own replies.)

    A super interesting article, thanks a lot for painstakingly setting out some very helpful information. And also thank you for your very patient replies to Manfred and Vincent, whom I think you answered with more grace than the questions deserved. I had a similar question in mind to dgoold150David but found your response quite helpful, although I think there are many prayers to Mary that are not regarded as extreme by the Catholic Church and yet seem to come very close to more than prayer, to put it mildly. For example, Pope Pius XII praying, “O Conqueress of evil and death, inspire in us a deep horror of sin…Then tenderly, O Mary, cover our aching wound. Convert the wicked, dry the tears of the afflicted and the oppressed, comfort the poor and humble, quench hatred, sweeten harshness, safeguard the flower of purity, protect the holy Church.” And there seem to be many, many examples from venerated saints, popes and in liturgies. But this wasn’t exactly why I started writing this.

    I’m a Baptist (please don’t scream and run just yet; we’re quite a different breed here in South Africa) but have over the last year or so been refreshed as I’ve learned more about the history of Western Christianity, as well as a bit of our often forgotten Eastern Orthodox side of history. A better understanding of Church history is something that is frighteningly lacking in Protestant and evangelical circles, and I think a more honest and open approach by us “separated brethren” would go a really long way in helping to build shared understanding and possibly one day more ecclesial-Catholic unity. Two of the most fascinating things I’ve been learning about have been Mariology and the Intercession of the Saints more broadly, although I’m still searching for satisfactory answers on a few points. Perhaps you could share some of your thoughts or point me to resources or books that you think might be particularly helpful.

    First, why think that those who have died are able to hear and respond to our prayers? Are they not “sleeping” as St. Paul says? This need not refer to being completely unconscious, but could it not speak of a blissful rest in which the departed wait in comfort for Christ’s return to earth? I know there are the elders in Revelation 5, but that is very metaphoric language and so hard to say that it refers to something actually happening or having happened in heaven, although I’d respect your view if you wanted to place a high emphasis on this passage.

    Second, directed towards the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, what was the purpose of Mary and Joseph’s marriage? Was it only so that Mary could give birth to our Saviour without causing a scandal in the community? That would seem like a weak reason. Would they not do what couples normally do in a marriage? Would one who is as blessed as Mary not be the best person to raise many godly children with her husband? In short, why believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity?

    Third, and quite troubling for me, is the question of why Mary is regarded as sinless? I realise that most Protestants have quite a different view of original sin to Catholics, but, even so, does the Catholic Church really regard Mary as never having sinned, and if so, why?

    If I could reciprocate in any way by considering one or two questions you might have about Protestant/evangelical beliefs or theology, please shoot. Although I doubt my answers would be quite as good as the ones you’ve offered others.

    • September 23, 2016 6:56 pm

      I would also add as a belayed follow-up to your question the verse which many cite as the understanding of the “state” of those who have “fallen asleep in Christ” (which was used in the Bible to differentiate between those who were “dead” as the “dead” were the lost, so since the Christians believed in the Resurrection – and life eternal – the euphemism “the fall asleep” was used to indicate they’d rise again) is that God is the God of the living, not the dead. Those who have fallen asleep in Christ, in other words, gained the eternal reward of Heaven are capable of hearing our prayers since Revelation tells us they, as well as angels, stand before the Throne of God and offer him the prayers of the saints mixed with incense. If you’d like, you can read my entry about praying to the the saints and why Catholics believe it is licit to do so. God Bless and thanks!

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