Mariolatry on prime time’s “60 Minutes”

The Sunday, December 18 edition of the CBS television news magazine, “60 Minutes,” featured a 14-minute segment titled, “Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes: Investigating medically unexplained cures.” Hmm, I was curious to see what tack the show would take regarding the Lourdes “phenomenon” and watched it. But first, some historical background.

In 1858, fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes, France claimed that Mary appeared to her eighteen times at the Massabielle Grotto next to the Gave de Pau River. Later that same year, Catherine Latapie of nearby Loubajac traveled to the Lourdes grotto and claimed to have been cured of paralysis of two fingers due to the intercession of Mary. The Roman Catholic church subsequently endorsed the “miracle” and the Lourdes apparitions and set about building an immense, 126-acre pilgrimage shrine with many imposing structures (three basilicas and twenty-five chapels). French officials and entrepreneurs in turn set about building transportation and accommodation resources at Lourdes to process the pilgrim throngs. Three-point-five million pilgrims per year (9589 per day) flock to Lourdes seeking a blessing or miracle from Our Lady of Lourdes. Blessed “holy water” from a spring at the grotto, purported to have miraculous healing properties, is sold throughout the world. Although Lourdes has only 14,000 inhabitants, its 350 hotels and 40,000 hotel beds make it second only to Paris in tourist accommodations in France. There are 200 souvenir shops in Lourdes selling Marian tchotchke. Marian apparitions are big business.

In the 14-minute “60 Minutes” segment below, it is claimed that 70 medical miracles have occurred at Lourdes since 1858. Let’s use a conservative estimate and say 100,000 of the 3.5 million pilgrims who visit Lourdes each year seek a medical miracle. That would work out to a total of 16,400,000 people who have traveled to Lourdes since 1858 hoping for a medical miracle. The actual number is probably much higher, but based on our conservative estimate, 70 confirmed cures in 164 years works out to only a .0004 percent cure rate. The human body is a miraculous creation. Illnesses deemed incurable and/or terminal have been reversed and cured by the body’s own immune system. The mind also plays a large, sometimes unexplainable role in health. Alleged “miracles” may not be miracles, especially when the scrutinizing medical experts are connected to the RCC. Missing in all of this is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Genuine salvation in Christ is the only cure for mankind’s sin problem.

Marian apparitions and Marian worship/veneration contradict the teaching of Scripture. The Roman Catholic church syncretically adapted pagan mother-goddess worship into the worship of Mary beginning with the Collyridians of Arabia in the 4th century. The Collyridians got their name from the collyris (Greek: “cakes”) offered to mother Mary.

Check out the 14-minute “60 Minutes” segment below. If you are a born-again Bible believer the idolatry will grieve your soul. It’s revealing that Jesus Christ is mentioned only once during the course of this 14-minute segment and only as a “possible” source of a mystical “inner-voice” communication. For an objective examination of how the Lourdes scam became a national and international sensation, see my review of “The Happening at Lourdes: The Sociology of the Grotto” by Alan Neame, here.

“60 Minutes” presented a Catholic-biased view of the Lourdes apparitions and “miracles.” Why didn’t the journalism show demonstrate some balance in its approach and include a critique from an evangelical minister? Perhaps evangelical ministers who take a critical approach regarding Romanism are getting harder to find these days?

Above: One liter of Lourdes blessed “holy water” sells for $60 at Amazon.
Above: The large Gare de Lourdes train station processes thousands of pilgrims to and from Lourdes each day.
Above: A map of the grandiose, 126-acre Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes shrine visited by 10,000 credulous pilgrims every day.

An infallible Catholic dogma based upon a blatant translation error?

Every once in a while I come across a fact about Roman Catholicism that’s STUNNING in its implications, like the one below.

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I’m currently reading an interesting examination of Roman Catholicism – “Exodus from Rome: A Biblical and Historical Critique of Roman Catholicism” (2014) by Todd Baker. A review of the book will be forthcoming, but Baker brings to light a very interesting circumstance that deserves a post of its own.

On July 18, 1870, the First Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic church issued the doctrinal constitution, Pastor Aeternus (“Eternal Shpherd”), which declared the pope is infallible under certain limited conditions. The doctrine of papal infallibility asserts that the pope cannot err or teach error when he speaks on matters of faith and morals, ex cathedra, or “from the chair” of the Apostle Peter—that is, in his role as supreme teacher of the church. The RCC asserts the Holy Spirit directly assists/guides the pope when “he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals.”

Some non-Catholics and even Catholics mistakenly believe the doctrine of papal infallibility applies to everything the pope says, but it’s supposedly only when he speaks ex cathedra, in his capacity as supreme teacher of the church, is the pope alleged to be infallible. So when has the pope spoken ex cathedra? Although the Roman Catholic church has been in existence for 1500 years, Catholic theologians can only agree on two papal declarations as being ex cathedra and infallible: Ineffabilis Deus (“Ineffable God”) of 1854 in which pope Pius IX defined the immaculate (free from original sin) conception of Mary and Munificentissimus Deus (“The most bountiful God”) of 1950 in which pope Pius XII defined the assumption of Mary bodily into Heaven.

None of the above is Biblical, but now that we’ve gotten the papal infallibility basics out of the way, we can get to RC-ism’s papal infallibility very-sticky-wicket that Todd Baker pointed out.

In Ineffabilis Deus, pope Pius IX declared that Mary was conceived without sin and lived a sinless life thereafter. Pius IX appealed to Genesis 3:15 as his primary Scriptural proof-text. However, Jerome (d. 420 AD) had mistranslated Genesis 3:15 as part of his Latin Vulgate. Below is the translation of Genesis 3:15 from the 1899 edition of the Douay-Rheims English Bible (formerly the official RC English translation), which was based upon Jerome’s Latin Vulgate mistranslation:

“I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

Jerome’s interpretation had Mary as the victor over Satan. However, Jerome had mistranslated the masculine Hebrew pronouns as feminine.

The RCC eventually acknowledged its interpretation of Genesis 3:15 was incorrect. The New Revised Standard Version Catholic Bible (1989) translates Genesis 3:15 as:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

The verse prophetically declares that Jesus Christ, not Mary, will strike the head of/defeat Satan. Yes, RC Bible scholars now acknowledge that Jerome mistranslated Genesis 3:15.

Let’s now get back to Pius IX. In Ineffabilis Deus, Pius appealed to Jerome’s mistranslation of Genesis 3:15 in support of Mary’s alleged immaculate conception as sinless co-victor with Christ over Satan. He wrote:

“Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot. – for the full text of Ineffabilis Deus see here.

This is important, folks. Understand this. There is no ambiguity. What we have here is an allegedly infallible decree by an allegedly infallible pope that was at least partially-based upon an admittedly erroneous translation of a Scriptural text. It’s crystal clear from the evidence that Pius IX was not under divine guidance when propagating the dogma of the immaculate conception. His argument was a false premise partially-based upon an erroneous translation. If Pius IX had been infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit as the RCC claims, he would have certainly discerned that his church’s interpretation of Genesis 3:15 was faulty. The evidence is irrefutable. Ineffabilis Deus and Pius IX are proven to be fallible beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I’m indebted to Todd Baker for alerting me to this papal infallibility sticky-wicket. Of course, the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary is altogether un-Biblical as I’ve addressed many times in the past (see here). Today, I just wanted to focus on how this Genesis 3:15 mistranslation quandary absolutely debunks the RCC’s claims of papal infallibility.

Postscript: The painting above is just one example. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of Catholic paintings, statues, and illustrations depicting Mary standing victoriously upon Satan/the serpent, all based upon Jerome’s mistranslation of Genesis 3:15.

Throwback Thursday: Critique of Mariolatry quickly turns into ecumenical hug fest

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 1, 2016 and has been revised.

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The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary
By Elliot Miller and Kenneth B. Samples
Baker Book House, 1992, 188 pages

1 Star

“The Cult of the Virgin” is a semi-interesting examination of Roman Catholic Mariolatry. Catholicism’s elevation of Mary to semi-deity as Mediatrix and (unofficially) Co-Redemptrix has absolutely no scriptural foundation and seriously detracts from the work of Jesus Christ. I especially found interesting the chapters on Medjugorje and the other alleged Marian apparitions.

However, a serious problem with this book is that the authors, Elliot Miller and Kenneth Samples, approach Roman Catholicism as a legitimate branch of Christianity. Both authors are connected with the Christian Research Institute (CRI), an evangelical apologetics ministry that researches cults and non-Christian religions. The founder of CRI, Walter Martin, stated in 1980 that “if any Catholics are saved they are saved not because of the Roman Catholic Church, but in spite of it.” Since the death of Martin in 1989, CRI has progressively softened its stance toward Catholicism. Despite Rome’s many unscriptural doctrines, CRI declines to categorize Catholicism as a heretical church. Hank Hanegraaff,* Martin’s successor, believes that while Rome teaches several doctrinal errors, it is, at its core, a Christian church. There’s a recording of Elliot Miller, co-author of this book, on YouTube stating it’s possible for Catholics to be saved by following official Catholic doctrine (see here).

But for many evangelicals who remember the reasons for the Reformation, it’s still quite clear that the gospel of Rome is fundamentally different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ of the New Testament. For Rome, salvation comes by receiving its clergy-administered sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!). In contrast, evangelical Christians believe the Biblical message of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Is justification by faith or by works? It can’t be both (Romans 11:6). Yes, Rome does espouse a few orthodox doctrines, but its position is wrong on so many others, most importantly regarding justification and salvation, that it doesn’t warrant the respect and legitimacy offered by Miller and Samples.

The accommodating authors even go so far as to include a short rebuttal from popular Jesuit priest, Mitch Pacwa! They introduce Pacwa by asserting that his “manner of life evidences a strong personal relationship with Christ” (p.161). Hmm. As a Catholic priest, Pacwa teaches the Catholic faithful that they must merit their salvation by receiving the sacraments and by refraining from mortal sin. Even one unconfessed “mortal” sin dooms a Catholic to an eternal hell. How does that square with having a “personal relationship with Christ” who came to save sinners, not self-righteous, works-religionists? Pacwa is a fiercely conservative Catholic apologist who has frequently debated evangelical Christians and appears regularly on the conservative Catholic EWTN cable network. I have personally witnessed Pacwa on EWTN promoting the Catholic doctrine of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Search Amazon for books authored by Pacwa and you’ll find he has written many, many titles which promote Catholicism’s standard, unbiblical doctrines, unchanged since the Reformation. By embracing Pacwa as a “brother in Christ,” Elliot and Miller are burying their heads in the sand since Pacwa and his church clearly teach a “different gospel” of sacramental grace and merit. Speaking as an ex-Catholic who left religious ritualism and legalism for the GOOD NEWS! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, I am perplexed by Elliot’s and Miller’s blindness.

Rome has changed none of its core doctrines since the Reformation, so why do some evangelicals now embrace it? Co-author Samples has pointed elsewhere to theologian Peter Kreeft** as an example of a Catholic who allegedly “holds the Reformation in high regard” and supposedly believes the Gospel of grace. As a Catholic, Kreeft is obliged to believe God’s salvific grace is dispensed through the sacraments like water from a tap. Search Amazon for books authored by Kreeft and you’ll find an amazing number of titles written by him which all promote Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and works-righteousness.

The authors openly confess that “The Cult of the Virgin” is an effort to promote “ecumenical dialogue.” Miller, Samples, Norman Geisler (who wrote the forward to this book), and other compromising evangelicals can quibble with Catholics over issues like Mariolatry, but the bottom-line issue for evangelicals is Catholicism’s works-based justification, which is antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, Catholic apologists object to accusations that their religion teaches works-righteousness. They claim their teachings on salvation are also based on faith and God’s grace. But the truth of the matter is Catholics believe God’s grace, supposedly infused into their souls via the sacraments, enables them to perform meritorious works and avoid sin in order to merit their way to heaven. Despite the sophistry it all boils down to works and merit.

Hanegraaff and CRI have devoted a large amount of energy and resources to confronting the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and smaller groups, but the number of souls led astray by these cults are but a tiny fraction compared to the billions of souls deceived by the legalism of Rome.***

Notes from 2022:

*In 2017, supposed “evangelical” Hanegraaf “converted” to the Greek Orthodox church.

**I reviewed Catholic apologist, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am a Catholic” in a series of posts from 2021 to 2022. You can find the index here. Throughout that book, Kreeft disparaged the “easy believism” of the genuine Gospel.

***This book is a blatant example of approaching the RCC “atomistically,” as Dr. Leonardo De Chirico and his associates at Reformanda Initiative have discussed in their podcasts that we’ve been reviewing recently. Adherents to the atomistic approach, such as Elliot, Miller, and Geisler, will often criticize aspects of RC-ism, but embrace it as a whole. In contrast, a “systemic” examination of RC-ism reveals that the institution is heretical at its core (propagating a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit) and that these secondary doctrines/practices, e.g., Mariolatry, are but dead branches extending from a dead trunk.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #34: “‘Queen of Heaven’ Condemned”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next installment, the Catholic apologist completes his five-chapter section on Mary as he disputes evangelical Protestants’ arguments that the notion of a “‘Queen of Heaven’ (is) Condemned.”

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The myth that Mary was crowned as “Queen of Heaven” following her “assumption” gained traction within Roman Catholicism in the 13th through 15th centuries. In his 1954 encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam (“To the Queen of Heaven”), pope Pius XII formally defined the belief. Catholics believe Mary is co-ruler of Heaven, reigning beside Jesus Christ, as well as being Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix. Protestant evangelicals object to this glorification/semi-deification of Mary as “Queen of Heaven” and often cite Jeremiah 7:17-18:

“Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.”

God was angered by the Jews of prophet Jeremiah’s time who committed idolatry by worshiping a pagan goddess (most probably Ashtoreth) as the “queen of heaven.” Evangelicals contend that Catholics commit similar idolatry by worshiping Mary as the “Queen of Heaven.”

Broussard responds with three arguments:

(1) Broussard posits that God’s disappointment with the Jews for their idolatrous worship of the pagan “queen of heaven” cannot be applied in the case of Catholics and Mary. Broussard claims that Catholics rightly “honor,” not worship, Mary, because of her “exalted place” as the “Mother of the Savior.” Broussard cites 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 as Biblical precedents for rightly honoring individuals.

(2) Broussard then reasons that (A) just because a pagan goddess was illegitimately referred to as “queen of heaven,” (B) it doesn’t prove that Catholics can’t legitimately refer to Mary using the same title.

(3) Broussard refers back to the Old Testament for examples of queen mothers in 2 Chronicles 15:16 and Jeremiah 13:18. He acknowledges that, in both examples, the person spoken of is evil, but contends that does not detract from their legitimate royalty. Broussard argues that (A) since there were legitimate queen mothers in the Davidic Kingdom, then (B) “it’s reasonable to conclude that Mary is the new ‘queen mother’ in the restored Davidic kingdom” (p.189).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

(1) Catholics strongly object to accusations that they worship Mary. They claim to “worship” (latrīa, Latin) God alone, but rightly accord “veneration” (dulia, Greek) to the saints and hyperdulia uniquely to Mary. This is lexical sophistry. No Catholic can precisely distinguish between latrīa and hyperdulia. Catholics pray to Mary as their Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix for their salvation. Such practices are acts of WORSHIP. The honoring of pastors that the apostle Paul writes about in the two passages that Broussard presents as proof texts is certainly NOT the “honor” that Catholics bestow upon their semi-deified “Queen of Heaven.”

(2) I agree with Broussard’s contention that, in theory, the illegitimate usurpation of a title doesn’t ipso facto render the title to be illicit. However, nowhere in the New Testament do we find one verse that either explicitly or implicitly suggests that Mary is reigning as the “Queen of Heaven” and holding the divine offices of Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix. All of these claims for Mary evolved over time as part of Catholic “Sacred Tradition.”

(3) Broussard’s attempt to leverage the existence of queen mothers in the Old Testament as a “reasonable” proof for Mary’s role as “Queen of Heaven” is grasping at straws. Broussard conveniently ignores all Biblical passages that state that God does not share His glory or throne with another.

“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other.” – Isaiah 42:8

Keep in mind that half of Catholics’ “religious devotion” is directed towards Mary, in some cases even more so.

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” – Isaiah 48:11

“‘And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” – Luke 4:8

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.” – Revelation 4:2

“Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” – Revelation 19:10

Mary humbled herself before God as His lowly servant (Luke 1:38), but Catholics have accorded her deific powers and crowned her co-regent of Heaven. We’ve previously discussed how Catholic Mariolatry is rooted in the syncretic adaptation of pagan mother goddess worship.

Who is the Queen of Heaven?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Queen-of-Heaven.html

Next up: “One Mediator”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #33: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Mary was not a perpetual virgin because Scripture says, “He Knew Her Not…Until.”

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Celibate Roman Catholic clerics had a low regard for sexual relations within marriage and taught that Mary, their spotless “Queen of Heaven,” was a perpetual virgin.

“The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity* but sanctified it.” And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin.” – CCC 499.

Protestants counter by pointing to Matthew 1:25:

“but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son.”

The verse indicates Mary and Joseph had normal marital sexual relations after Jesus was born. Broussard attempts to refute the Protestant interpretation with three rebuttals:

(1) Broussard posits that the word “until” (Greek – heōs) doesn’t necessarily signal a change in future status. As an illustration, Broussard offers the saying of one friend to another, “Be safe until I see you again.” The speaker in that case isn’t implying that his friend should be unsafe after they meet again.

(2) Broussard provides examples in Scripture where heōs – “until” or “to” – is used to indicate a select period of time without reference to change in the future, such as 1 Timothy 4:13, 1 Corinthians 1:8, and 2 Corinthians 3:15.

(3) Broussard argues that, framed in context with preceding verses, Matthew is “trying to persuade his audience (in Matthew 1:25) that Jesus’ conception and birth were miraculous, not to tell us what Mary did afterward” (p. 185).

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

Did you catch Broussard’s argumentation? He’s claiming that, paraphrasing Matthew 1:25, “Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus” only means that Joseph didn’t have sex with Mary while she was pregnant, and doesn’t convey that he had sex with her afterwards.

We fully understand that heōs – “until” or “to” – doesn’t always indicate/signal a change in future status. But in the case of Matthew 1:25, the clearest interpretation is that Joseph and Mary began normal, marital relations after Mary gave birth to Jesus. Broussard’s argument that “but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son” connotes the same lack of future change as “Be safe until I see you again” is lexical subterfuge.

Are there ANY Bible verses that either explicitly or implicitly teach that Mary was a perpetual virgin? No, there are not. The notion is based solely on Catholic tradition. We’ve previously discussed that the Bible teaches Jesus had multiple half-siblings. See here.

The Roman Catholic church’s low regard for natural sexual relations within marriage meant that Mary, the chaste and spotless Queen of Heaven, could never have been “soiled” by her husband. In contrast to Catholicism, the Bible honors the sexual union of husband and wife. The apostle Paul wrote under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit that married believers ought not to withhold themselves from each other as the Roman church claims Mary and Joseph did.

“Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” – 1 Corinthians 7:5

*Included in the RCC’s doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the not-widely-known assertion that as she was giving birth to baby Jesus, He miraculously passed through her hymen without rupturing it, thus preserving her “virginal integrity.”

Is the perpetual virginity of Mary biblical?
https://www.gotquestions.org/perpetual-virginity-Mary.html

What does the Bible say about sex in marriage?
https://www.gotquestions.org/sex-in-marriage.html

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #32: “The Lord’s Brothers”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ argument that Mary was not a perpetual virgin because the Bible speaks of “The Lord’s Brothers.”

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Both Catholics and Gospel Christians teach the doctrine of Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, but Catholics believe that Mary remained a virgin in perpetuity. Evangelical Protestants believe Mary entered into normal marital relations with her husband, Joseph, following the birth of Jesus, pointing to such verses as Matthew 13:55:

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?”

The verse clearly shows that Mary bore Joseph children after the birth of Jesus.

Broussard attempts to answer Protestants’ objections with three arguments:

(1) Broussard references his Greek lexicon and points out that the Greek word translated as “brothers” in the above verse, adelphos, can mean biological, blood-brothers, but may also mean kinsmen, and can even refer to fellow-believers.

(2) Broussard points to Matthew 27:56, which refers to “Mary the mother of James and Joseph.” It’s accepted by all that the particular Mary referred to in Matthew 27:56 was not the mother of Jesus. Broussard then proposes that the James and Joseph mentioned in Matthew 27:56 are the very same James and Joseph cited in Matthew 13:55 and handily concludes that they were not, therefore, the blood-brothers of Jesus.

(3) Broussard argues that the dying Jesus would not have entrusted the care of His mother to the apostle John if she had had additional sons (John 19:26-27). Broussard includes an additional point with this argument, one that I’ve often heard from Catholic apologists. In her response to the angel Gabriel’s message that she would bear the Messiah, Mary asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). Broussard claims that Mary’s incredulous response can only be interpreted to mean that she had already taken a vow of perpetual virginity during her and Joseph’s betrothal period.

Let’s now look at Broussard’s arguments, one by one.

(1) We agree with Broussard that adelphos does not necessarily refer to blood-brothers, but according to the context used in Matthew 13:55, Joseph-Mary-brothers, it’s reasonable to assume the reference is to biological brothers. Classical Greek did have a word for “cousin,” anepsios, but this word is never used for Jesus’s brothers in the New Testament Greek text. There are several references to Jesus’s brothers in the New Testament, including Matthew 12:46, Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31. Catholics must ask themselves why these men, if they were only Jesus’s cousins, were so often in the company of His mother?

(2) The other gospel writers help to identity the other Mary, referred to in Matthew 27:56. John identifies her as the “wife of Clopas” (John 19:25) and Mark identifies her as the mother of the apostle known as James the Younger (Mark 15:40). Broussard flouts Scriptural evidence and leapfrogs reasonable hermeneutics by concluding that the James and Joseph referred to in Matthew 13:55 are the same James and Joseph of Matthew 27:56.

(3) Jesus Christ did not entrust His mother to the care of His half-brothers because they were not believers at the time of His death.

“For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” – John 7:5

Which leads us to one of the strongest proofs for the existence of Jesus’s biological half-brothers; verse 8 from the Messianic Psalm 69:

“I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons.”

Broussard’s second point to this argument is irrational. Mary did not question angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear the Christ because she had taken a vow of perpetual virginity, as the Catholic apologist fancifully posits. She questioned the message, rather, because she had not yet entered into marital relations with her betrothed husband, Joseph. Catholics must twist Scripture like pretzels in order to concoct Mary’s supposed vow of perpetual virginity from Luke 1:34.

Another text evangelicals use to show Mary wasn’t a perpetual virgin is Matthew 1:25, “but (Joseph) knew her not until she had given birth to a son.” Broussard will attempt to refute that one next week.

My, my. Broussard and Catholicism in general expend a lot of time and energy on this claim for Mary’s perpetual virginity. Why is that? In the pagan religiosity that Catholicism adapted, virginity was viewed as a spiritually superior state (see the Vestal Virgin Wiki article here). Sex was viewed as base and even “dirty.” Catholics could not envision their semi-deified Queen of Heaven, their co-mediator and co-redemptrix, as having ever been “defiled” by Joseph on the marriage bed. Yet God’s Word states that the marriage bed is undefiled when honored (Hebrews 13:4).

Next up: “He Knew Her Not…Until”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #31: “Mary Needed a Savior”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Mary as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that “Mary Needed a Savior.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that Mary was not only initially preserved from original sin (aka a sin nature) at the moment of her alleged “immaculate conception,” but that she also “committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life” – CCC 411. Not so fast, object Protestants, who point to Luke 1:47 where Mary exclaimed,

“…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Protestants rightly ask, How could Mary have exalted God as her Savior if she was sinless? This is a difficult verse for the Roman Catholic church and Broussard presents the church’s rationale. Fasten your seat belts.

The RCC agrees that God is Mary’s Savior, but in a “singularly unique way.” How so? Pope Pius IX posited the following:

“In view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, [Mary] was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”

Broussard elaborates, “Unlike we who are saved by the application of a past event, Mary was saved by the application of graces of a future event” (p. 174).

In plain English, Catholics argue that Mary was saved by God at the moment of her conception based upon the merits of Jesus’s future propitatory sacrifice and kept sinless by God’s grace, so that Mary could rejoice in her Savior, even though she was allegedly always without sin. Some Catholics also zealously advocate for the sinlessness of John the Baptist and Mary’s husband, Joseph, although the RCC has not officially ruled on those two cases.

Let’s now respond to Broussard.

  • Last week, we thoroughly discussed how Romans 3:10-12 precludes any exceptions to the Scriptural truth that “None is righteous, no, not one.” See here.
  • Nowhere in the New Testament is there a teaching of the preservation of anyone from sin as Roman Catholicism claims for Mary. The doctrine is a Roman fabrication.
  • If Mary was sinless, why did she go to the Temple to offer a sacrifice for her uncleanness in Luke 2:22? Broussard predictably omits any mention of that verse. See the article far below for more on this topic.
  • Why is it so important for Catholics that Mary be sinless? In Catholic theology, Mary was semi-deified and elevated to the offices of co-mediator and co-redemptrix, along with Jesus Christ. It followed that Mary had to have been sinless in order for her to hold those offices. The doctrine of Mary’s immaculate conception was eventually defined as binding Catholic dogma in 1854.
  • According to Catholic tradition, Mary’s mother was named Anne. If Mary had to have been sinless in order to bear Jesus Christ in her womb, as Catholics argue, it follows that Anne would also have had to been sinless to bear Mary, and that Anne’s mother would also have had to been sinless to bear her, etc., etc., etc.

Mary exalted her Savior because she was a sinner saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, just like every other genuine Christian. She would be grieved to know how Catholics semi-deify her and worship her.

I hope you enjoyed the brevity of this chapter. It was Broussard’s shortest chapter up to this point.

If Mary was sinless, why was she unclean and had to offer a sacrifice for sin?
https://carm.org/catholic/mary-unclean-offered-sacrifice-for-sin

Next up: “The Lord’s Brothers”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #30: “All Have Sinned”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter and the four that follow, the Catholic apologist defends Catholicism’s “veneration” of Mary. In the first installment, Broussard attempts to counter evangelical Protestants’ insistence that Mary was not sinless with their argument from Scripture that “All Have Sinned.”

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Broussard begins the chapter by reiterating the Catholic teaching that “not only was Mary conceived without original sin, but she also remained free from personal sin throughout her life” (p. 168). He notes that evangelicals object to this doctrine by citing such proof texts as Romans 3:23:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

How could Mary have been sinless when God’s Word clearly declares that all have sinned? Broussard presents three arguments:

(1) Broussard contends that while the Greek word, pas, translated as “all” in Romans 3:23 can mean “every single one without exception,” it can also be used in a non-absolute, hyperbolic sense, i.e., “intentional exaggeration to make a point.” Broussard then presents several examples in Scripture where “all” is used in a hyperbolic sense, including Matthew 2:3 and Matthew 3:5-6. But what about Romans 3:10-12 that also speaks of the sinfulness of all:

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’”

This passage precludes all possible exceptions with the clarifiers, “no, not one” and “not even one.” Broussard points out that the apostle Paul was quoting Psalm 14:2-3, in this passage, yet in v.5 that follows, David refers to the “generation of the righteous.” Broussard concludes, therefore, that the writers of Romans 3:23, 3:1-12, and Psalm 14:2-3 were employing non-absolute, hyperbolic speech.

(2) Broussard then presents two exceptions to an absolute interpretation of “all have sinned” that he claims Protestants are bound to agree with: (1) unborn babies and young children who have not yet reached the age of accountability and (2) Jesus Christ.

(3) In his final rejoinder, Broussard notes that Romans 3:23 is part of Paul’s larger argument involving all of Romans chapter 3, that salvation is obtained apart from the Law of Moses. Broussard asserts that Paul’s statement, “all have sinned,” in its proper context, refers not to individuals, but rather to sin being characteristic of both Jews and Gentiles.

Let’s now respond to Mr. Broussard.

(1) There’s no argument that pas/”all” in Romans 3:10 and also ouk/”none” and “no one” in Romans 3:10-12 can be used either as adjectives signifying absoluteness or as non-absolute hyperbole. However, Romans 3:10-12 includes the significant clarifiers; “no, not one” and “not even one.” Broussard attempts to dismiss these phrases, which clearly signify absoluteness, as hyperbolic speech with his appeal to Psalm 14:5, but evangelicals are not fooled. The Old Testament saints were “righteous” NOT because they were sinless, but because their hope for salvation was in God their Savior. In Romans 4, Paul writes that Abraham was righteous not because he was sinless, he surely wasn’t, but because of his faith/trust in God for salvation.

(2) Evangelicals believe, as the Bible teaches, that all people are born with a sin nature, but that God won’t hold children responsible for their sins until the age of accountability (see article far below). Jesus Christ on the other hand was/is the sinless God Man. He is the Exception to Romans 3:10 and 3:10-12 by His very nature. Can Broussard claim an advantage in his argument for Mary by presenting these two exceptions? He actually fails to mention another exception. Evangelicals are also hopeful that God will pardon the mentally disabled as mercifully as He will children who die before the age of accountability. However, the Mary we read of in the New Testament was neither a young child, mentally disabled, or Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. In fact, Mary openly acknowledged she was a sinner in need of the Savior in Luke 1:47, “…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” More on that specific topic next week.

(3) In Romans chapter 3, Paul certainly writes about the sinfulness of both Gentiles and Jews in general and their shared need of salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone. However, the clarifiers “no, not one” and “not even one” in vv.10-12 clearly refer to individuals, not to groups.

In the chapters that follow, we’ll discuss why the false doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness is so vitally important to Roman Catholics.

Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible?
https://www.gotquestions.org/age-of-accountability.html

Next week: “Mary Needed a Savior”

Throwback Thursday: The Immaculate Deception

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 15, 2015 and has been revised.

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The Catholic church likes to present itself as the holy repository and guardian of God’s unchanging truths, but even a casual study of the church’s history will quickly burst that bubble. This post will illustrate how “unchanging” Catholic truths have evolved over time.

God’s Word makes only relatively minor mention of Mary, so how did devotion to her within Catholicism grow to match and even eclipse the devotion offered to Jesus Christ? Capture112In the early years of Christianity, a fringe, heretical group called the Collyridians (from collyris, Greek: the ritual offering cakes used in goddess worship) adapted elements of pagan mother-goddess worship into the worship of Mary. Beginning in the late-300s, aspects of this Mariolatry began to creep into the mainstream church. Because Marian worship had no explicit support in the Bible or in the writings of the early church “fathers,” Marianists spawned their extra-biblical novelties with the syllogistic argument that since it was possible for God to do thus-and-thus regarding Mary, then He “must have.” Devotees were soon extolling Mary as the new Eve, Mary as a type of Elijah, Mary as Wisdom, Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, Mary as God’s beloved spouse, etc., as they advanced the new Mary-goddess ideology. The common folk eagerly embraced Mother Mary as the “Christian” alternative to their former, beloved pagan mother goddesses. For information on the Collyridians and the pagan roots of Mariolatry see the excellent, “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess” (1976), by historian Geoffrey Ashe.

Marian devotion continued to grow within Catholicism and was flourishing by the Middle-Ages. Constantly pushing the envelope, her enthusiastic followers began to claim that Mary was born without sin, just as Christ was. Devotees could not conceive of Mary, the alleged “ark of the new covenant,” being a sinner yet carrying the sinless Jesus in her womb. Catholic religious orders routinely opposed each other on a wide variety of doctrinal issues and this evolving belief in the “immaculate conception” of Mary was no exception. The Franciscans strongly supported the notion of Mary’s immaculate conception while the Dominicans strongly opposed it. Dominicans Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux, who were both eventually canonized as “saints,” denied the theological novelty as did fellow Dominican “saint” and “mystic,” Catherine of Siena. Now here’s where it gets really interesting. Catherine claimed to have been visited by Christ many times and the church enthusiastically acknowledges those visits as authentic credentials of her sainthood. However, in 1377 Catherine asserted that Christ had visited her and personally informed her that Mary was NOT conceived without sin as the Franciscans and the others claimed! Click here for more information.

Over the centuries, opposition faded and popular demand for the official recognition of the doctrine of the immaculate conception reached a feverish pitch and was finally defined as binding dogma by pope Pius IX in 1854. As an official dogma of the church, Catholics are bound to believe Mary was born without sin. Denial of the dogma is a “mortal” sin and is alleged to incur eternal hell fire.

But who is right about the dogma of Mary’s immaculate conception? Is pope Pius IX correct or is the jesus apparition who visited “saint” Catherine in 1377 correct? If Catherine’s jesus was wrong about this issue, what else was he wrong about? The church canonized Catherine in 1461, although she did not believe in the dogma of the immaculate conception. So did God send her to hell in 1854 when the doctrine was officially defined? And whatever happened to the jesus who appeared to Catherine in 1377 and told her Mary was not immaculately conceived? Did he appear to other saintly mystics and give them erroneous information, also? Or was that jesus actually right about the immaculate conception and the pope wrong? If it was necessary for Mary to have been immaculately conceived in order to be the sinless “ark” of Jesus Christ, wouldn’t it logically follow that her mother, and grandmother, and great-grandmother and so on would also have had to been sinless as well?

Catholics around the world are compelled to “celebrate” the feast of the immaculate conception by attending mass on December 8th every year under threat of mortal sin, although the majority don’t. But Catholics still pray to Mary as their mediator and co-redeemer. Mary would be sorely grieved by the worship Catholics accord to her.

“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:46-47

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.” – Romans 3:10

“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matthew 15:9

Catholicism’s Flying House!

The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto: Spreading Catholicism in the Early Modern World
By Karin Vélez
Princeton University Press, 2019, 292 pp.

4 Stars

About a month ago, as part of my Throwback Thursday series, I republished a post about the so-called Holy House located in Loreto, Italy. Catholic tradition has it that the small (13′ x 31′), stone structure was the childhood home of both Mary and Jesus in Nazareth in Judea and that angels miraculously transported the building, first to Trsat (in modern Croatia) in 1291. The inhabitants of that city were said not to have accorded the holy relic the proper degree of veneration, so the angels moved it to Recanati, Italy in 1294, and to an initial and then final location within Loreto in 1295. My those angels were quite capricious!

I had learned that a scholarly work on the “flying house” had recently been published and I discovered that our library had a copy much to my delight. Well, delight quickly turned to frustration as I began reading the book. The acadamese was as thick as pudding and I suspected the book was an expanded doctoral dissertation. A quick internet search confirmed that to be the case. Anyway, either my brain adapted to the affected pomposity or the author gradually toned it down because the last three-quarters of the book read pretty easily.

Okay, back to the “flying house” itself. The author barely examines the actual origins of the flying house myth, which she attributes to imaginative Catholics who had immigrated from Dalmatia (Croatia) to Recanati and Loreto. However, Vélez provides some fascinating information regarding the following:

  • Medieval Europe was awash with religious relics attributed to Jesus and Mary and claimed to have been brought from the Holy Land. Bishops and parish priests vied for the most spectacular relics. However, few relics could compete with the supposed house that both Jesus and Mary had allegedly inhabited.
  • The Holy House of Loreto myth was spread via the writings of influential 16th century Catholic writers. The pilgrimage destination of the Basilica della Santa Casa encompassing the Holy House, which was encased in an elaborate, carved marble “screen,” was largely completed by the end of the 16th century.
  • In that superstitious era, great spiritual powers were associated with relics. Pious pilgrims journeyed for hundreds of miles to view and possibly touch the relics. Vows were made and monies were contributed to the churches. It was big business. Evangelicals (and most modern Catholics) have no idea how popular pilgrimages once were as part of Catholicism. Many of the pilgrims to the Holy House scraped and collected dust from stone walls as a religious souvenir until the practice was prohibited. In a religion devoted almost exclusively to the sensory/tactile, a visit to the Holy House was to walk in the footsteps of the divine.
  • Another important relic, a painting of Mary attributed to Gospel writer, Luke, was initially displayed within the Holy House. Pilgrims journeyed to Loreto to view the painting as much as the Holy House. Inexplicably, the darkened painting was at some point replaced with a darkened statue of Mary and baby Jesus with no explanation. Luke was also claimed to have painted the famous Mary and Jesus icon located at Jasna Góra monastery at Częstochowa, Poland. Existing painted icons attributed to Luke number at least 28 (see here) although they are clearly different artistic styles.
  • Ignatius Loyola and the early Jesuits were champions of Marian veneration (i.e., worship) and adopted the Holy House of Loreto (174 miles from Rome) as their paramount Marian shrine. As part of their efforts to spread Catholicism throughout the world, they erected imitations of the Loreto flying house at several of their mission sites. While many of the painting and statue icons in Europe were purposely darkened to suggest antiquity as part of the relics charade, such as those at Loreto, in marked contrast no attempt was made to darken the icons created in Asia and the Americas because they clearly fell outside of the Medieval relics sham.

Despite its uniquely outrageous claim to contain the actual physical home of Mary and Jesus, the Basilica della Santa Casa was eventually eclipsed by other Marian shrines as pilgrimage destinations, such as those at Lourdes and Fatima. As a Catholic grammar school student, the nuns regaled us with tales of Lourdes and Fatima, but I don’t recall ever hearing about the Holy House of Loreto. No doubt the plausibility factor chipped away at confidence in the authenticity of this relic. Lourdes’ and Fatima’s apparition mythologies were safe and unassailable by comparison.

Although this book got off to a very slow start, I ended up really appreciating “The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto” for how it “deconstructed” Catholic relic “mythohistory” by example of the bogus flying house. The Holy House mythology and all of its trappings stands in marked contrast to the Gospel message of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

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Above: In this fanciful mural, Mary with baby Jesus sits atop the Holy House as angels fly it up, up, and away.

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An ornately carved, marble shroud encases the alleged “Holy House” within the Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto, Italy

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Pope Francis meditates inside the bogus “Holy House.” Note the icon of Mary and infant Jesus above the “altar.”

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The capricious flight of the “holy house” from (1) Nazareth, Palestine to (2) Trsat, Croatia, to (3) Recanati, Italy, to (4) two locations in Loreto, Italy.