The Evolving Doctrine of Mary: Blackaby's Response
By Randy Blackaby
Dear Mr. Salza:
Your recent critique of my article, “The Evolving Doctrine of Mary: A Case Study in the Progress of Error,” carried in the on-line magazine re:thinking, caused me to investigate further what I had written. Your charges that I don’t understand Catholic doctrine about Mary or that I misrepresent it unsettled me at first, because I am not nearly as well versed on what Catholic doctrine says as I am about what the Bible states.
So, while your review of my article did little to address the obvious conflicts between what the Bible says and what Catholic doctrine says, I was genuinely concerned that I might have misrepresented Catholic doctrine. I have no desire to do that. I determined not to send you a reply too quickly, but to further research this matter, consult Catholic documents and talk with some who have been Catholics. As a result of this inquiry, I now write once again, more convinced than ever that Catholic doctrine about Mary is at once erroneous, unscriptural, unnecessary, misleading and in some cases blasphemous.
Though I am certainly not credentialed as an expert in Catholic theology, I was somewhat amazed that someone, as yourself, who styles himself a “Catholic apologist” would charge that the Catholic church does not teach certain things, when it can be easily shown it does.
You didn’t like some of my sourcing, so in this response I shall try to be careful to quote sources carrying the imprimatur (Catholic church’s official sanction, “let it be printed”) and the nihil obstat (Catholic church’s declaration that the document has no error in it). I believe it will be hard to say of these that they don’t represent Catholic teaching.
Additionally, what I ask Mr. Salza and other readers to observe in what follows is how little the Bible says about Mary and how much the Catholic church simply has created and imbued with the presumptive authority of “church tradition.” Jesus warned against substituting tradition for God’s authoritative will. He said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-7). The Lord’s words well describe the traditions created by Catholicism about Mary.
1. Mr. Salza ridicules my statement about Catholicism viewing Mary as a “mediatress.” He says I must have made up that word. Technically, Catholics call her a “mediatrix.” Both terms are the feminine form of “mediator.” Neither term is found in most dictionaries. Catholics do claim to affirm 1 Timothy 2:5 (“one mediator between God and men…Christ Jesus”) while by slight of hand saying that Mary mediates between man and Jesus.
But, as common logic concludes, if you have to go through Mary to get to Jesus and through Jesus to get to God the Father, you’ve gone through two mediators. Any other conclusion is religious sophistry.
Listen to what the Catholic church teaches in its own words. In the book “The Glories of Mary” by Alphonsus Liguori (nihil obstat, Daniel V. Flynn, JCD, censor librorum; imprimatur, Joseph T. O’Keefe, vicar general, archdiocese of New York; Catholic Book Publishing Co. NY, 1981), Mary is called “the channel—to Jesus and from Jesus—by God’s own arrangement” (p. 9). She is further styled “most gracious Advocate” (p. 15) and “spouse of the king” (p. 18).
What do Catholics believe Mary does in this role of mediation and advocacy? Listen to the words of this same approved book on Mary.
- “By the merits of Jesus, Mary was made the mediatrix of our salvation; not a mediatrix of justice, of course, but of grace and intercession—as St. Bonaventure expressly calls her: ‘Mary, the most faithful mediatrix of our salvation’” (p. 97).
- “And St. Lawrence Justinian asks, ‘How can she be otherwise than full of grace? She has been made the ladder of paradise, the gate of heaven, the most true mediatrix between God and human beings’” (p. 97).
Mr. Salza ridiculed my assertion that Mary is elevated to the mediatorial role the Bible says is held singularly by Jesus—yet he must argue with his own St. Justinian.
Let it be understood that Catholic doctrine about Mary very clearly makes her pivotal in human salvation. They believe a person cannot be saved from sin or go to heaven without her mediatorial work.
- “God will not save us without the intercession of Mary,” St. Bonaventure is quoted as saying in the same approved document (p. 107).
- “No one, O most holy Mary, can know God but through you. No one can be saved or redeemed but through you, O Mother of God,” St. Germanus is quoted as saying (p. 107).
- “St. Bonaventure says Mary is called ‘the Gate of Heaven’ because no one can enter that blessed kingdom without passing through her” (p. 102).
Now, dear readers, consider this. You can read your Bible from cover to cover and not
find a single passage that asserts what Catholic doctrine does about Mary’s intercessory role in salvation. Most importantly, you can read in Acts 4:10-12 that the Apostle Peter declared regarding the name of Jesus “nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” If there is “no other name” by which we can be saved, that leaves out Mary’s name.
So, you have a choice. You can believe what the Bible says or you can believe what the Catholic church teaches.
If you aren’t yet convinced Catholics have left biblical authority and created a blasphemously berserk mythology about Mary, read these further quotes from “The Glories of Mary.”
- “The authority a mother has over her son is so great that, even though he is a monarch, with absolute dominion over all his subjects, she can never become her son’s subject” (p. 113).
- “At the command of Mary all obey, even God (emphasis mine). She is omnipotent, for the queen, according to all laws, enjoys the same privileges as the king…Therefore, to use the words of St. Antonine, God has put the whole church not only under the patronage, but even under the power and authority, of Mary. Since, then, the mother must have the same power as the Son, Mary became omnipotent because Jesus is omnipotent” (p. 114).
Now, Mr. Salza, I did not misrepresent what the Catholic church teaches about Mary.
If I am guilty of anything in my first article, it is of not fully detailing the extreme audacity of this apostate church. Come on now, Catholic friends, do you really believe that at the command of Mary all obey—even God? If Mary has that much authority, she is greater than God.
As I suggested in my first article, Catholic doctrine is not the static “we’ve always taught this” concept it presents. Rather, it is constantly evolving. This is nowhere more true than in doctrines regarding Mary. There is at present an effort underway to have her officially designated “co-redemptrix” or co-redeemer with Christ.
the Great already has called her “co-helper of redemption” (ibid, p. 105). In 1985, Pope John Paul II recognized Mary as co-redemptrix during a speech in St. Albert and elsewhere. He said Mary was “crucified spiritually with her crucified Son” and that “her role as Co-redemptrix did not cease after the glorification of her Son” (www.voxpopuli.org/zenit.php). All that remains is for a pope to make this awful assertion an “infallible” declaration. Ecuador
2. Mr. Salza seeks to justify the supposed mediation of Mary by noting James 5:16 speaks of Christians praying for one another and citing passages from the book of Revelation which make reference to the prayers of the saints.
This is disingenuous. The issue isn’t other saints (Christians) praying for other saints. The issue is the Catholic assertion that men can pray to “dead” saints and receive special mediation from them or Mary.
Mr. Salza suggests Christians praying for other Christians makes us all mediators. Perhaps this is true, in a limited sense. But this isn’t at all comparable to what Catholics teach about Mary’s mediatorial role. And Mr. Salza knows this well.
3. My critic didn’t disagree with what I asserted about the Catholic church’s teaching on the immaculate conception. He just criticized my sourcing. I could further source what his church teaches, but it seems unnecessary here.
4. I had said, regarding the immaculate conception, that the Catholic church teaches Mary was born free of “original sin.” Mr. Salza quoted Romans , Ephesians 2:3, Psalm 51:5 and Job 14:1,4 to assert men do inherit sin from Adam. But none of those passages teach that. They demonstrate that sin first entered the world through the act of Adam, that David’s mother was a sinner and that all men have sinned.
Ezekiel 18 makes the issue clear. “The soul that sins shall die” (v. 4). We don’t inherit sin or a sinful nature. We sin when we personally act against God’s commandment. The prophet’s words go on to make this even clearer. “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son” (v. 20).
Mr. Salza emphasized the difference between the Catholic doctrine of original sin and the Protestant concept of inherited depravity. The difference is minor, the outcome and implications largely the same. (I’m sure it will baffle Mr. Salza and perhaps other readers, but I’m neither Catholic nor Protestant. I’m simply a Christian. And the Bible teaches neither the concept of inherited original sin or inherited depravity.)
My critic backhandedly admits what I contended about the reasoning behind creating the immaculate conception myth. If men inherit sin from their parents, then Jesus would have inherited sin from Mary. But if we understand the principles of Ezekiel 18, we need neither puzzle nor invent fantasies.
No, Mr. Salza, I don’t “let the finger of Satan touch (Jesus) in the womb of Mary.” I don’t believe the Bible teaches any child is touched with sin in the womb.
5. Like many other Catholics I’ve talked to, Mr. Salza reasserts the myth that Catholic teaching hasn’t developed or evolved but has been static since the establishment of the church on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection. He said if I disagree, I should produce one quote from the first five centuries where someone denied the immaculate conception.
Hmmm! I shall simply turn the tables and ask Mr. Salza to produce one quote from the first century in which the inspired apostles lived where anyone affirmed the immaculate conception of Mary. Certainly the Bible doesn’t teach such.
6. Censuring me for my supposed ignorance, Mr. Salza says, “The only difference between us and Mary is that Mary was created and redeemed at the same time.” Well, maybe I am ignorant, but it certainly seems that the previous quotes from Catholic documents show many more differences. And I am ignorant of any Bible passage that says Mary was specially redeemed at her conception. I await book, chapter and verse.
7. Mr. Salza asserts “sacred writers” teach that Mary is the
of the New Covenant, and from that premise seeks to justify Catholic doctrine about the perpetual virginity of Mary. His biblical quotations fall short of establishing his rhetoric. Ark
He appeals to Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 7 to assert the Bible teaches the spiritual superiority of celibacy. But he takes the apostle out of context, for Paul is addressing the saints during a special circumstance, which he calls “the present distress” (v. 26). Listen carefully to Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” The scandal of pedophiles, molesters and homosexuals in the present day Catholic church are strong evidence that Mr. Salza’s famous Magisterium is wrong and is guilty of “speaking lies in hypocrisy…forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving…” (1 Timothy 4:1-3).
Mr. Salza calls my assertion that the Bible speaks of Jesus having brothers and sisters a “quite elementary apologia.” On that we are absolutely agreed. He says I lack a proficiency in Koine Greek. He and I may be in the same boat there, because he claims these brothers and sisters are “cousins” and that because the Hebrew and Aramaic languages have no word for cousin, the Bible used the terms brothers and sisters.
Huh? The New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew. The Greek language does have a word for cousin. It is “sungenis.” If the inspired writers had wanted to say Jesus had cousins, there was a word available. But they said he had brothers and sisters. Yes, elementary Dr. Salza, elementary!
8. Did Mary die? Was she assumed into heaven, body and soul? Mr. Salza says the Catholic church doesn’t say whether she died or not. It does say she was assumed into heaven. But, of course, the Bible doesn’t say that. It is just part of that mythological mysticism and mayhem that is Catholic tradition.
My “Bible authority” demands befuddle Mr. Salza. He wonders where the Bible provides the “canon of scripture.” His implication is that the Catholic church determined what is scripture and what is not. Nonsense. The New Testament books are their own “canon.” We don’t need the Catholic church to determine canonicity.
9. Mr. Salza asked where the Catholic church teaches that no one can enter the blessed kingdom without passing through Mary. Well, that was the statement of St. Bonaventure, quoted in “The Glories of Mary.” Mr. Salza, are you familiar with Mr. Bonaventure and the book cited? Come now, be honest.
10. Again, casting aspersions on my credibility, Mr. Salza asks where a papal, conciliar teaching, catechism or book with Catholic imprimatur ever said that Jesus, as judge, is too harsh, but Mary will not refuse anyone. You didn’t like my earlier citation, so contemplate these. All again come from the famously Catholic book “The Glories of Mary”, which we’ve already documented is imprimatured and declared to be without error by the Catholic Magisterium.
- “St. Anselm, to increase our confidence, says this: ‘When we pray to the Mother of God we are heard more quickly than when we call directly on the name of Jesus—for her Son is not only our Lord but our Judge. But when we call upon the name of His Mother, though our own merits will not insure an answer, yet her merits intercede for us and we are answered’” (p. 85).
- “But maybe His infinite Majesty frightens you…and you would like another advocate to intercede with Him. Then go to Mary and she will plead with her Son for you” (p. 123).
- “Every prayer of hers is like an established law for the Lord, obliging him to be merciful to everyone for whom she intercedes” (p. 20, emphasis mine).
That last one is a classic. Mary makes laws for the Lord and He is obliged to follow her direction. Mr. Salza, that is absolutely ludicrous. That guts the lordship of Jesus Christ, making him subservient to his earthly mother.
11. Finally, Mr. Salza leaves the impression with readers that I concocted the quote, “The whole Trinity, O Mary, gave thee a name…above every other name, that at thy name, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.” He didn’t like my source. Well, how about, again, “The Glories of Mary”, p. 165, “The whole Trinity, O Mary, gave you a name, after that of your Divine Son, so that at your name every knee should bend, of things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.” Mr. Salza, it’s imprimatured by your Magisterium.
If Mr. Salza’s main point is that I’m not a Catholic theologian and don’t know every nuance of Catholic doctrine, we can agree. But I have demonstrated that he is a poor apologist for Catholic teaching himself. His ridicule of me rings hollow in the face of Catholic documents that bear the authorities he demands.
But the greater issue is the one I affirmed in my first article. The Catholic doctrine of Mary has been created and has evolved over time. And Mr. Salza has tried to blunt the impact of what revelation of Catholicism teaching reveals about this doctrine that dethrones Christ and enthrones a fine, but simply human, woman.
Mr. Salza contends Catholic doctrine doesn’t change. But Catholics haven’t always believed in the infallibility of the pope, yet they do today. In a debate in
on Cincinnati January 13, 1837with Alexander Campbell, Archbishop Purcell said, “Appeals were lodged before the bishop of , though he was not believed to be infallible. Neither is he now. No enlightened Catholic holds the pope’s infallibility to be an article of faith. I do not, and none of my brethren, that I know of, do. Catholics believe the pope, as a man, to be liable to error, as almost any other man in the universe. Man is man, and no man is infallible, neither in doctrine or morals” (Debate on the Roman Catholic Religion, Rome and Purcell, p. 27). Campbell
I believe an archbishop is a member of the Magisterium, Mr. Salza. He was at least a pretty important Catholic for
in Purcell-Marian High School is named after him. Cincinnati
That was what Archbishop Purcell said in 1837. But in 1870, the Vatican Council declared papal infallibility had always been the teaching of the Catholic church. It would be easy to document internal Catholic debate over papal infallibility, but Mr. Salza and every knowledgeable Catholic already know about such.
An Offer For A Public Discussion
Mr. Salza, one of my brethren, a former Catholic himself, has asked me to challenge you to publicly debate the teachings of Roman Catholicism in a week of evening discussions on different topics. Do you believe strongly enough that you have the truth to accept such an offer? As a declared apologist for Catholicism you would appear to be a man up to that challenge. I hope you will accept.