Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five (actually one-hundred and four) Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.
*I’m sure you’ve already noticed from today’s heading that we’re actually exceeding the ninety-five passages that Armstrong had advertised for this book. It was obviously important to Armstrong to cite ninety-five passages to match the number of theses that Martin Luther nailed to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Saxony in 1517, but there are actually five more passages in the book beyond the five we’re covering today for a total of one-hundred and four. What happened? Armstrong didn’t number each passage in his book, so 1) he either used some passages more than once, which I believe I would have caught in my analyses or 2) he lost count and his editor didn’t catch the error. That being said, we’ll continue.
Today, we will examine Armstrong’s arguments for Catholicism’s teaching of Mary’s alleged immaculate conception and sinless life and based almost entirely upon one, single verse:
#95) Luke 1:28: “And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one (Greek: kecharitomene) the Lord is with you!” (RSVCE – Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). Armstrong notes that the RSVCE also translates kecharitomene (“favored one”) as “full of grace.”
The doctrine of the sinlessness of Mary cannot be found explicitly in the Bible, so as the Marian cult began attracting followers in the 4th-century, supporters had to struggle to find some kind of Scriptural evidence and focused on Luke 1:28. By translating kecharitomene as “full of grace,” Mariolaters conjectured the word meant Mary was sinless and extrapolated from that the doctrines of her immaculate conception, sinless life, assumption into heaven, and her ongoing role as spiritual mediator for Catholics.
In order to initially gain agreement with his Protestant readers, Armstrong presents the two hyperlinked verses below to show that grace is essential for salvation:
#96) Romans 6:14
#97) Ephesians 2:8-10
With that in mind, Armstrong then posits the following deductive argument:
- The Bible teaches that we are saved by God’s grace.
- To be “full of” God’s grace, then, is to be saved.
- Therefore, Mary is saved.
- The Bible teaches that we need God’s grace to live a holy life, free from sin.
- To be full of God’s grace is thus to be so holy that one is sinless.
- Therefore Mary is holy and sinless. (p.184)
Armstrong then offers the two hyperlinked verses below as “proof” that not all believers are “full of grace” as Mary was.
#98) 2 Peter 3:18
#99) Ephesians 4:7
Word-for-word, literal translations of the Bible such as the NASB and ESV translate kecharitomene in Luke 1:28 as “favored one.” Luke 1:26-38 simply tells the story of how the angel Gabriel visited Mary and informed her that God had chosen her to bear the Messiah. Building an entire Marian theology out of a fanciful interpretation of kecharitomene in Luke 3:18 is blatant eisegesis.
Jesus certainly loved his mother, but she was a sinner who also needed to repent of her sin and trust in the Savior, like everyone else. In the following two passages, Jesus confronts those who attempted to exalt Mary and accord to her a privileged status:
“While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12:46-50
“As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” – Luke 11:27-28
I posted about Catholicism’s claims for Mary’s alleged sinlessness only two months ago. See here.
For more information on Catholicism’s purposeful misinterpretation of Luke 1:28 as the basis for the doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness and resulting Mariolatry, see the article below:
Mary, Full of Grace, and Luke 1:28