I nearly didn’t post this Bible Discussion. Nothing you’ll read below is meant to make my Catholic friends feel less.
Mary gets a lot of attention in the Catholic church, but sometimes I think the Protestants threw out the baby with the bathwater. Mary deserves our esteem. We don’t know much about her, but Luke gives us a bit of an insight.
I believe Luke interviewed Mary. Luke 1 & 2 hold too may details for Paul’s friend to have gotten them from someone else. So let’s start with what we know:
Mary was Highly Favored
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God – Luke 1:26-30
Mary Trusted God
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. – Luke 1:38
She was aware God was working
Even though she may not have understood everything that was happening, she watched what God was doing and kept them in mind.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
. . .
51 Then he [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. – Luke 2:19-51
Jesus listened to His Mother
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Mother, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” – John 2:1-5
Besides Matthew 1 & 2 and Luke 1 & 2, the only places Mary is mentioned are those verses in John and Mark 6:3, John 19:25-26, Acts 1:14
Obviously Mary deserves our respect. God chose her to be the mother of His Son. Protestants should probably give her more credit, but below you’ll find a list of reason so many non-Catholics dismiss her.
What do Catholics Believe About Mary?
- Theotokos: Mary is the Mother of God.
- Perpetual Virginity: Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Jesus.
- Immaculate Conception: Mary was conceived without original sin.
- Assumption: Mary was taken body and soul into heaven.
- Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate: Mary plays a unique role in redemption.
And that same website gave this explanation on Praying to Mary:
“Think of it in this way: If you got sick and asked a friend to pray for you, they probably would. Our relationship with Mary operates under this same principle. We believe that Mary (and the saints) are dead to this world, but we also believe they live on with God for eternity in the next world.Dynamic Catholic
And we believe that their prayers are just as powerful now that they are in heaven—even more powerful—than they were when they were here on earth. “
Now, in this list from Dynamic Catholic, we agree on #1. Mary was the mother of Jesus. However, after that, we have a few discrepancies.
2 There are a couple verses that mess with the theory of Mary being a perpetual virgin. Matthew 1:22-23 assure us of Mary’s virginity prior to her finding herself pregnant.
But verse 24-25 put doubt as to whether she remained a virgin:
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. – Matthew 1:24-25
Matthew makes it sound as if Joseph and Mary took care of her virgin state following the birth of Christ. In addition Mark 6:3 says Jesus had four brothers and at least 2 sisters.
Now, I have no proof these weren’t children Matthew’s to a previous marriage as some assume; however, there’s no scriptural evidence to support that assumption.
3 I have heard the phrase “Immaculate Conception” however, I had always assumed this meant that Mary’s pregnancy was immaculate, not her life. I can not prove what’s not in scripture, but I can find nothing that would make me think Mary lived a completely sinless life.
Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” I think if Mary had been excluded from this Paul would have let us know.
4 Prior to studying for this, I had no idea anyone believed Mary was taken to heaven like Enoch and Elijah. Again, I’d just like to see some scriptural evidence.
The website I used referenced Revelation 12:1, but this is a vision from John, so I don’t see it at actual evidence of Mary’s bodily ascension.
5 To think Mary has any part in redemption might cause the mother of Christ to shake her head. And scripture is very clear
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. -Acts 4:12
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 5:9
In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace – Ephesians 1:7
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:24
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14
So, I’m not certain how anyone can give Mary credit for redemption. As far as I can see, only Christ can save us.
As far as praying to Mary, or any of the saints, here are a few statistics from scripture:
In the Old Testament
Prayer – mentioned 115 times – always to Yahweh
Praying – mentioned 10 times – always to Yahweh
Prayed – mentioned 33 times – always to Yahweh
Pray – mentioned 32 times – always to Yahweh
Call on – mentioned 42 times – all but 4x to Yahweh (see below)
1 Samuel 28:15 (Saul called on Samuel, but against God’s plan)
1 Kings 18:24 (The followers of Baal called on their gods – 3x)
In the New Testament
Prayer – mentioned 60+ times – always to Yahweh or Jesus
Praying – mentioned 20+ times – always to Yahweh or Jesus
Prayed – mentioned 19 times – always to Yahweh or Jesus
Pray – mentioned 60+ times – always to Yahweh or Jesus
Call on – mentioned 12 times – always God or Jesus
First, I can’t find anyplace in scripture where God gives us the authority to pray to anyone but Him. And Psalm 14:4 makes it sound like those who pray to anyone other than God is an evildoer.
Will evildoers never understand? They consume My people as they consume bread; they do not call on the Lord. – Psalm 14:4
When Christ died, the veil separating the common place of the temple and the Holy of Holies was torn in two. No longer did humans need to go through the priests to get to God.
Now, first, I don’t believe humans in heaven can hear us or see us. Jesus talked about a huge chasm and Revelation says they’ll be no tears in heaven.
Second, even if my Catholic friends are correct and Mary and the saints can hear them, why would I go through one of them when I have direct access to the most powerful person in all of creation.
Consider the biggest star you know. Bodyguards won’t let you get near. If somehow you managed to get an all access pass, would you really communicate to them through their mother or best friend?
Mary deserves our admiration and respect, but I’ll save my prayers for God, and trust Christ for my redemption.