Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mariolatry (Pt. 8) Mary our Advocate?

Is Mary really our Advocate?
Biblical Evidence against Mary as Advocate
Both the beliefs that we as Christians should pray and petition Mary who will then offer them up to Jesus and that she intercedes for us, turning God’s wrath away from us, are utterly unbiblical. Not only do we not find a single biblical example of a believer offering prayers and petitions to Mary in heaven, but nowhere in Scripture are we even encouraged to do so.
1 John 2:1 reveals to us that we can go to Jesus as our Advocate who secures our right relationship with the Father, stating, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
In Hebrews 10:19-20, we read, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh”. It’s through the flesh of Jesus Christ I even have access and confidence to enter God’s sanctuary in Heaven, not Mary. You don’t ever need Mary or anyone else since it’s always Jesus Christ alone that we need. As a Christian one must never put anyone between us and Jesus Christ since we can directly  to Him through His blood and sacrifice for our entrance into God’s sanctuary.
In John 14:14 Jesus Christ says, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Thus, it’s obvious that we don’t need to pray to anyone else who will then give our petition to God.
In Roman Catholic theology, Catholics are taught that Jesus is the King of Justice and Mary is the Queen of Mercy. Therefore, when Catholics fear God’s justice they are taught to pray to Mary who then pleads mercy for them before God.
But on the contrary, Philippians 4:6 says, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (RSVCE)
Now, concerning the false belief that Mary appeases God’s wrath and anger for believers, this is not found anywhere in Scripture as well. 1 John 2:2 says that Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins”. (see also 1 John 1:10; Heb. 2:17). The word “Propitiation” in the original Greek is, hilasmos, and can mean ‘expiation’, that is, the canceling/wiping away of the penalty of sins, or it can mean ‘propitiation’, that is, a turning away of God’s wrath by an acceptable offering.
In this specific verse the word ‘hilasmos’ does mean propitiation, and plenty of examples in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) can be cited in which ‘hilasmos’ is used in a propitiatory view (Gen. 32:20; Num. 16:47-48, 25:11; 1 Sam. 26:19; 2 Sam. 21:3-4; 24:25; Prov. 16:14). Also, John many times points out the theme of God’s wrath and Jesus being the solution (John 3:16; 36; 8:24; 1 John 3:14; 5:16). Therefore, the evidence tilts in preference for Jesus turning away God’s wrath for us sinners, since His continual heavenly intercession involves applying His death to our salvation. Hence, we do NOT need Mary to turn away God’s wrath because it’s Jesus alone who turns away God’s wrath from us through His perfect work.
Rome falsely asserts that Mary’s prayers “will deliver our souls from death” (Catechism of the Catholic Church {DoubleDay,, 1994], par. 966, p.274). For this reason Rome believes Mary helps in “restoring supernatural life to souls” (CCC, par. 968). Presenting Mary as a co-savior in this way is extremely insulting to us regenerated Christians who believe that Jesus alone delivers our souls from death and restores supernatural life to souls. As the Apostle Paul proclaims in 1 Tim. 2:5-6, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”
If there is only one mediator between God and Mankind, i.e. the Man Christ Jesus, why then do we need Mary as another mediator and raise her up to such a superior and exalted level? Rome answers by saying, “There may be only one mediator between God and men, and that’s Christ Jesus, but who is the mediator between man and Christ Jesus”. Our response is, you don’t need one. One goes directly to Jesus Christ to our Father in Heaven. We are NOT to give our prayers in Mary’s name, who in turn will give those prayers to Jesus Christ her son, who in turn will give them to God. Since Christ Jesus is our ONE and only Mediator, there is thus only one way to come near to God, for only Christ Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time”. 1 Thess. 5:9 declares, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Thus, salvation is through Christ, Not Mary.
The Bible most plainly forbids communicating with dead. Deut. 18:10-11 states, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead,”. The word ‘spiritist’ that is used in Hebrew is darash (דָּרַשׁ). Old Testament Scholar, Earl S. Kalland explains that the word is referring to, “(‘[one] who consults the dead’) is one who investigates, looks into, and seeks information from the dead” (Earl S. Kalland, Deutoronomy, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, Volume 3, p. 121, n. 11). Sadly, Catholics seek the deceased saints and Mary for help. Isaiah 8:19 reveals more of the Bible’s stance on communication with the dead:
“And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?”
The Bible’s stance is that Christians must seek God on behalf of the living. We are not to seek the dead, like the saints and Mary. Now, Catholic apologists in predictable fashion will reply to this by misusing Matthew 22:32, which states, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Romanists such as Patrick Madrid make the flawed case that because the saints are alive in Heaven the Biblical prohibitions against praying to the dead do not apply on them (Patrick Madrid, Answer Me This!, [Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2003], p.168).
First, this verse was never meant to be an argumentation that permits prayers to the dead saints in the New Testament times. Nowhere does the context indicate such a thing. This out-of-place use of the text is just not the case whatsoever. Second, even though believer who enter Heaven are spiritually alive with God, they are nonetheless dead as Scripture proclaims. Hence, communication with them is prohibited. Joshua 1:2 states, “Moses My servant is dead”. Furthermore, in Acts 2:9, a follower of Christ named Eutychus sat next to a window and as he fell asleep, “he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead”. So according to Scripture, even though the dead saints are living spiritually, they are nonetheless counted as part of the dead, and thus, communicating with them is prohibited.
In spite of the fact that later church fathers began communicating with the dead saints and Mary, Early Church history showed no such thing. The Historian Philip Schaff writes:

“In the first three centuries the veneration of the martyrs in general restricted itself to the thankful remembrance of the their virtues and the celebration of the day of their death as the day of their heavenly birth...But in the Nicene age it advanced to a formal invocation of the saints as our patrons (patroni) and intercessors (mediators), before the throne of grace, and degenerated into a refined form of polytheism and idolatry. The saints came into the place of the demigods, Penates and Lares, the patrons of the domestic hearth and country” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, volume 3, [Hendrickson, 2011], p. 432)

Since the dead saints are with God in Heaven, this means that they are in a condition of perfect happiness or absolute peace. Revelation 21:4 recounts those in Heaven as never experiencing sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. However, if the saints in Heaven were presented with all the prayers from all the Catholics in the world in regards to all their troubles, trials, adversities, afflictions, maladies, etc. they would definitely be full of grief and in great pain. Therefore, it is impossible that the saints and Mary receive those prayers and intercede for them.
Historical Evidence against Mary as Advocate
A meticulous examination of the Early Christians of the first 300 years shows that it was never orthodox to seek Mary’s intercession through prayer. Rather, for the first three centuries drew near to God through Christ and prayed directly to them. When one reads their writings on prayer or anywhere prayer is talked about in some length, not one reference is made about praying to Mary or seeking her heavenly intercession. The mere fact that the disciples of the Apostles and the following generations after them for the next three centuries never participated in such a practice is damaging proof that the Roman practice is false. Rather, we find proof to the contrary. For instance, in Clement’s late 1st century letter to the Corinthians he states how Christians must strive against, “unrighteousness and iniquity, along with all covetousness, strife, evil practices, deceit, whispering, and evil-speaking, all hatred of God, pride and haughtiness, vain glory and ambition. For they that do such things are hateful to God” (Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, 35). He understands the struggle of the Christian life. Therefore, instead of encouraging his readers to pray to Mary for help and strength as Modern Romanism teaches, Clement urges them to pray to Jesus in their time of need and temptation:

“This is the way, beloved, in which we find our Savior, even Jesus Christ, the High Priest of all our offerings, the defender and helper of our infirmity. By Him we look up to the heights of heaven” (Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, 36).

Now there is possibly one exception of prayer offered to Mary before the 4th century of Christian history. This prayer that some date to about 250 A.D. is named the ‘Sub-tomb Presidium’ which invokes Mary asking for her protection from persecution and worldly hazards. However, the Historian Maxwell Johnson mentions that lots of scholars are reluctant to give this prayer an early date and instead choose to give it a later date (Maxwell E. Johnson, Praying and Believing in Early Christianity, [Liturgical Press, 2013], p. 79). Yet, even if it’s given a later date, Johnson comments:

“It remains the earliest marian prayer in existence” (Maxwell E. Johnson, Praying and Believing in Early Christianity, [Liturgical Press, 2013], p. 90).

So it’s not until around 250 A.D. or later that one finally sees a prayer to Mary in Christian history. Then, more than 100 years passes before the first Christian Father is recorded to have prayed to Mary. As Church Historian Philip Schaff states:

“The first instance of the formal invocation of Mary occurs in the prayers of Ephraim Syrus (379), addressed to Mary and the saints” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, volume 3, [Hendrickson, 2011], p. 422).

Later on, others take part in this new but unorthodox practice, like Gregory of Nazianzus and Epiphanius of Salamis. Then, it gradually becomes the prevalent practice on account of these influences. Remarking on this development, J.N.D. Kelly affirms:

“Devotion to the Blessed Virgin developed more slowly…Thus reliable evidence of prayers being addressed to her, or of her protection and help being sought, is almost (though not entirely) non-existent in the first four centuries” (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, [HarperOne, 1978], p.491).

As concerning Mary being invoked to turn away God’s wrath from Catholics, which is the other-half of the Roman teaching, this belief develops later in Church history. Medieval piety is what caused modern Catholics to believe this. Elizabeth Johnson discusses this particular popular medieval legend called the Apocryphal Theophilus Legend, based on the 6th century cleric Theophilus of Adana, stating:

“The idea that Mary had maternal influence over God, that she could turn away Christ’s just anger and obtain mercy for sinners, had already been accepted in the East, as seen in the popularity of the Theophilus Legend. In this story a man bargains his soul away to the devil to gain a lucrative job. Near death he implored Mary to get back the contract, which she does after contending with the devil. Theophilus dies forgiven and avoids eternal hell. Translated into Latin in the eighth century, this story exercised great influence on the West’s notion of Mary’s power to save” (Elizabeth Johnson, “Blessed Virgin Mary,” ed. Richard P. McBrien, The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, [HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995], p.833)

This fictitious tale was then utilized by well-known western churchmen like Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153 A.D.), Bonaventure (1221-1274 A.D.), and Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori (1696-1787 A.D.), to advance the belief that Mary could turn away God’s anger by asking her in prayer. Therefore, it is mostly on account of this ridiculously fabricated 6th century tale, which came into Latin Christendom in the 8th century, that Modern-day Catholics believe this teaching to this day. Germanus I of Constantinople who died in 733 A.D. popularized this belief as well that Mary could turn away God’s wrath from Catholics (Richard P. McBrien, Catholicism: New Edition, [HarperOne, 1994], p. 1085).
 We see once more that this teaching is unbiblical and ahistorical.

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