Mother Teresa (born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, 1910-1997) is scheduled to be canonized as a Roman Catholic saint at a ceremony at the Vatican on September 4th. Hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world are eagerly anticipating the canonization. The Time magazine special edition on the life of Mother Teresa is already in place at the grocery store check out lines (see photo). I’ve put together a little question and answer exchange below to shed some light on Mother Teresa’s upcoming canonization.
What does it mean when the Catholic church canonizes someone?
Through a vetting process including the evidence of two intercessory miracles, the church determines a dead person is a “saint” who merited entry to Heaven and declares they can act as mediators between God and people. Normally the canonization process takes multiple decades if not centuries, but it’s in the church’s best interests to capitalize on Mother Teresa’s high popularity. The New Testament doesn’t teach anything about “saints” being super-spiritual people who merited their way to Heaven more quickly than most works religionists. The Bible refers to “saints” as all those who accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are sanctified in Him.
But doesn’t the Bible say there’s only one Mediator between God and people and that’s Jesus Christ? [1 Timothy 2:5-6]
Nowhere in the Bible does a believer pray to someone other than God. Teaching that dead people can hear any prayers let alone the prayers of thousands and even millions simultaneously assumes they have powers that only God possesses. As someone who has accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I can come directly to the throne of grace. [Hebrews 4:16] To teach there are other mediators between God and mankind is blasphemous and repugnant to all those who have accepted Christ and been bought with the blood of our Precious Savior.
Why is Mother Teresa so famous? Other people have been deeply involved in charity work.
Influential British journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, brought Mother Teresa to the world’s attention in 1967 and her reputation snowballed. Pastors – both Catholic and Protestant – held Mother Teresa up as THE standard of “Christian” charity.
Did Mother Teresa believe in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone?
No. It’s clear from her many statements (see the article below) that Mother Teresa followed the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit. She also supported her church’s teaching that people of all religions and even atheists can merit Heaven if they obey “the light they’ve been given” and are “good.”
If Mother Teresa followed a gospel of sacramental grace and works then why do so many evangelical pastors point to her as the standard of Christian charity?
Good question. We’re seeing the compromise and betrayal of the Gospel of grace by some in the cause of “Christian unity.” Notice that the forward to the Time magazine special edition commemorating Mother Teresa’s canonization was written by “America’s Pastor,” Rick Warren. That was no afterthought.
Isn’t it uncharitable to speak negatively about Mother Teresa?
I love all Roman Catholics and I pray they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Mother Teresa symbolizes a religion that teaches a person must merit their salvation. It’s much more charitable to be honest with Catholics and to point them to Jesus Christ than to remain silent about the unbiblical and spiritually deadly doctrines that were upheld by Mother Teresa.
I’ve posted Tim Challies’s informative article below on Mother Teresa a couple of times but here it is again for anyone who hasn’t seen it:
The Myth Of Mother Teresa