Thoughts about faith

Archive for December, 2021

What Happened to Discernment?

I want to address something I see going on all around us in society and it is of increasing concern to me. There are many facets to it and my own thoughts keep evolving. I will try an onion skin approach to this. Start out high level and gradually peel away more layers over multiple postings. It’s too much to tackle all at once so bear with me as I develop this. I want to first state the problem before getting into the details.

Our society is more divided than any time since the Civil War. I see different factions and then factions within factions so it’s hard to neatly divide society into two buckets. The Democrat/Republican divide has been with our country since its founding. It’s waxed and waned and what was the Federalist party morphed into the Democratic party but politics has always been with us and always will be. On the plus side, we live in a country that allows different parties and voices and debate. Much better than being in a communist country where there is only one party, one voice, and no debate.

It’s more than just political divides. We increasingly hear about the divide between rich and poor, environmentalists and their opposites, white color versus blue-collar, white people versus everyone else, religious versus non-religious, women against men, and on and on. Most of those aren’t new but might be newly emphasized. I think a lot of the divides became clearer when Donald Trump took office. Trump, in my view, is an interesting character. On one hand, he represents the traditional Republican ideal. Rich, white, business owner, wants small government, wants fewer regulations, whatever is good for business is good for the nation! On the other hand, he also appeals to a lot of regular Americans who don’t own businesses or are wealthy. He appeals to so-called Patriots, Second Amendment advocates, Evangelicals, a wide array of conservatives, even White Supremacists. Despite being raised with a silver spoon, Trump still appeals to a lot of the working class or those tired of politics as usual. He campaigned on a theme of “Make America Great Again” and “Draining the Swamp” and his brashness and irreverence appealed to a lot of people. It almost seemed like the more badly he behaved the more his followers liked him. The little guy could strangely identify with Trump because he was politically incorrect. He shot from the hip and took no pains to pick his words carefully. He invented funnyish but crude names for his opponents. Nervous Nancy (Pelosi), Sleepy Joe (Biden), and so on. That crudeness and irreverence actually won over some people adding to his appeal as not-a-politician.

Trump was also masterful at turning everything into “us” versus “them.” It was the Rebellion versus the Empire in a Lukasoian battle. Trump represented the Rebellion trying to take back America from the Evil Empire represented by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats as well as liberals and socialists and all who would drag America into the swamp. From the start, Trump complained about how the media treated him unfairly and twisted his words (what President hasn’t felt that way at times?). He warned the forces of evil would do anything to remove him from office.

I think this appealed to a segment of the population that were looking for a cause and someone to lead them. They wanted a great crusade and in Trump, they found their bannerman. All the weekend militia groups suddenly had a war to prepare for and a cause to fight for. He gave purpose to disparate groups of people who had in common a disdain for the status quo and a desire to be part of something bigger. Trump wasted no time in attracting such people to his cause and kept them fired up throughout his Presidency with new claims of the evil plans of the left.

Trump also started another way of dividing Americans and that was his invention and use of the term “Fake News.” I don’t know if Trump invented the term but he was certainly the first to use it with such a big platform and media coverage. Any news that didn’t meet Trump’s approval got labeled “fake news” and as such dismissed as dishonest and invented to make him look bad. It wasn’t just news articles that got labeled “fake news” but whole media companies. Soon millions of Americans, mostly Trump followers, were using the term “fake news.” That soon led to a companion term usually abbreviated MSM which stood for Mainstream Media. The implication was that anything produced by the mainstream media was fake news. The mainstream media had it in for Trump and would twist his words, lie, manipulate, and violate journalistic standards all in its vile hatred for him and all he stood for. Trump was sure to also make the connection that the MSM was anti-American. It was controlled by some rich, liberal, elites who did not like someone like Trump coming in exposing the truth, and draining the swamp so they fought back with their corrupt media. It was more Rebellion versus the Empire or one might say, the Empire Strikes Back via the media.

This gave rise to alternative media sites. Some new some previously obscure but if they got Trump’s endorsement then his followers would flock to them as the only source of truth. As long as they backed Trump he gave them his endorsement and no one in the Trump camp bothered to fact-check them. If anyone on “the other side” pointed out errors in their reporting, they got dismissed as MSM plants just out to discredit anything pro-Trump and not to be trusted.

This set the stage for the eventual showdown over the 2020 election. Trump began claiming, early in 2020, that the only way he could lose re-election was if the election was stolen from him. It was not possible that the Democrats could beat him in a fair fight. Despite stating this nearly six months before the election, Trump took no steps to try and ensure the American voting system was safeguarded by working with states to tighten their voting laws and make sure the elections would be fair (not that there was reason to doubt they wouldn’t be). It was common knowledge that due to covid a record number of people would vote via absentee ballot and since those were more likely to be Democratic votes than Republican votes Trump began warning that absentee ballots were the Achilles heel of American elections and the most likely avenue by which the election would be stolen.

As soon as the returns started to indicate Trump might lose a close election, he immediately began to say “I told you so” and thus began months of claims and accusations about a stolen election. He had laid the groundwork for his followers to readily side with him in the claim of election fraud. After all, they reasoned, he told us this would happen! Despite loss after loss in the courts and a failure to prove any fraud had taken place, Trump would not give up or shut up. He took to social media (long his soapbox) and continued to make claims along with his high-profile backers. Eventually, there was so much unsubstantiated information out on social media that, under pressure, the social media giants began to censor posts and eventually Trump himself got kicked off Twitter and Facebook. This was of course unprecedented and controversial. What about the First Amendment and freedom of speech? The events of January 6th only threw gasoline on the fire. The fight turned real and ugly and there was evidence much of the civil disobedience and criminal acts had been planned on social media.

While the debate raged over the election, another debate was brewing and that of covid. On one hand, Trump led the charge on getting emergency vaccines created and made available something he took and still takes, great pride in. At the same time, he often refused to wear a mask, complained that there was too much testing which was making the numbers look bad, and generally came across as anti-vax.  More recently, when he has spoken in favor of vaccination, many of his own booed him. He got caught playing politics. He wanted the political capital from having championed the vaccines yet when they proved unpopular among many of his followers, he tried to downplay them and all the time insisted things were not as bad as reported and that covid was no big deal. He did not want his approval ratings to suffer if people thought his leadership had been deficient in responding to covid. Now he is between a rock and a hard place. He laments the lack of credit given to him for the vaccines (and the tens of millions he says were saved by them) yet is faced with a loyal following that tends (thanks in large part to him) to be anti-government and distrusting of anything the government advocates.

In parallel to all this, is a movement within some evangelicals to interpret covid and vaccines along with more government intervention as tools of a secret group of global elites that are working behind the scenes to prepare the world for the One-World government of the coming Antichrist. They see covid as something planned (the “plandemic”) to condition the citizens of the world to accept government mandates and increasing government control over their lives. Mask mandates, closures, and mandatory testing were all tools of these elitists to gain control over us and make it easier for the Antichrist to assume total control when he arrives. Many of the same people believe the vaccines contain substances or technologies that might in time be turned into the Mark of the Beast predicted in the Bible that will be used by the Antichrist to limit those who can buy and sell. Some even went so far as to suggest mRNA vaccines were actually altering our DNA creating transhumans who, lacking genuine human DNA, would not longer be covered by the blood of Christ and would lose all hope of salvation. They feel the signs are all lining up demonstrating that the Tribulation is near and the Antichrist is soon to step on the world stage.

Many of these same people also viewed Trump as God-anointed. A contemporary, mini-savior sent to warn us and make one last-ditch attempt to call America to repentance and a return to being a God-fearing nation. He was our Luke Skywalker come to lead the Rebellion and establish peace in the Empire. Trump’s many shortcomings were forgiven under the umbrella of being a “baby Christian.” The fact that he had a group of Christian advisors and stood up for Israel and Christian rights were proof of his calling. He was our last, best hope before the darkness took over. Naturally, the forces of evil would do anything to discredit and defeat him in this cosmic struggle over good versus evil.

That’s the outer layer of the onion. Before I peel back more layers let me make a few disclaimers and explanations. I am a Christian and do believe in a coming Rapture (pre-tribulation), a Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, His Millennial Kingdom, and the reality of the Antichrist. I don’t’ claim to know who the Antichrist will be if he’s alive today, or how soon his appearance will be. I am not personally convinced the pandemic was planned or that the vaccines will “become the Mark of the Beast.” I am not generally in favor of vaccine mandates. I could be wrong about any or all of that. My concern, as I will go on to demonstrate, is that there is a lot of misinformation flying about, and a lot of people who have quit thinking critically and blindly believe whatever they hear if it’s according to their predisposition or the “side” they are on. I believe truth matters and the ends don’t justify the means. Regardless of how I might personally feel about something, if I encounter information I have reason to believe is false, I will say so whether that favors my personal position or goes against it. I want to be persuaded by the facts, not assumptions or speculation. I have already caught a lot of flack for this. On some Christian forums, I have been blasted for critiquing information that is popular on those sites. Almost never do the attacks point out a flaw in my case (not that I am right about everything or flawless), but rather I get attacked simply because I dared to question something they hold to be true and thus make myself their enemy and a tool of Satan. So many people have quit thinking! They just want to find their camp, pitch their tent, and charge! The facts be damned! While there is a spiritual war going on, we are not to blindly charge, unless it is clear from Scripture those are our orders. You are not a traitor if you question things. Did not the Apostle Paul commend the believers in Berea for checking him out by Scripture?

As for Trump and politics, I believe this. Politics is not our salvation and Trump is not our savior (not saying he claims to be). I have Christian friends who are upset if I even question something Trump said or did. I am not anti-Trump. I did not vote for Hillary. That’s not my point. The Bible tells us the root problem is the heart of man. All evil thoughts and actions begin in our hearts. The sins of this nation are due to the sinful hearts of its people. Unless hearts change, the nation will remain the same or grow worse. No President, court, or congress can save this nation. Hearts must be saved by the Gospel. While we should stand up to evil and advocate for good, our marching orders from Jesus were to fulfill the Great Commission. Jesus and the Apostles lived under the corrupt and cruel Roman Empire. Never did they advocate overthrowing the empire, or trying to get a Christian Emperor selected. They pretty much stayed silent on politics only charging us to obey the governing authorities set over us. Many Jews were stumbled by Jesus not, at that time, establishing His earthly kingdom. Surely their Messiah would kick the Romans out and put Israel back at the head of nations! Yet Jesus did not come, at that time, to establish a political kingdom. He came to change hearts and deliver us from the power of sin and death. The day will come when Christ will return in glory and will establish his earthly, physical kingdom. That is at His Second Coming.

I see three primary things for us to be busy about today as believers. First, we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, soul, and strength, Second, we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Third, we should fulfill the Great Commission by proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples. Those three things never change. It doesn’t matter if the Rapture is tomorrow, next year, or a thousand years off. Until heaven and hell are full of their inhabitants, we are to spread the Gospel. I think there is a danger in getting too caught up in trying to discern when the Lord will return and where we are in prophesy. After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples were still looking up at the sky when an angel appeared to them to remind them that Jesus will return in the same way but for now, they had work to do! I question if my own time is well spent commenting on these things but I fear many believers are getting sidetracked by politics, covid, prophecy, etc. I also see it dividing Christians between those “in the know” and those who are blind. It is in the hope of addressing those problems that I write.

The Chosen – Was Mary Blasphemed?

There is a new TV series out called The Chosen. As of this writing there are two seasons but a third is hoped for and the creator envisions seven seasons. It is a crowd funded series so it is not up to the whims and ratings of a network but still needs finances to be filmed. The series depicts the lives of the early disciples of Jesus and how they were each called as well as the parallel events going on in the life of Jesus. One of the characters is Jesus’ mother Mary.

The creator of the series is not Catholic although the actor who plays Jesus is. There are some Catholics who are upset about the portrayal of Mary in the series. They do not believe enough honor is given to Mary and that blasphemous things are said about her. That’s an interesting accusation because Biblically blasphemy is a crime against God and God only. The Pharisees accused Jesus of blasphemy, because He claimed to be God and, in their eyes, he was only a man. When Jesus acknowledged that He was the Christ, the Son of God before the High Priest, the High Priest tore his outer garment as a show of indignation that such blasphemy had just been spoken. By Jewish law a blasphemer was to be executed. So, to accuse people today of blaspheming against Mary equates her to God! It puts her in a category reserved only for God.

According to one Jewish source:

What Is The Jewish Law Of Blasphemy? –

The punishment for blasphemy is death in Leviticus 24:16. The Seven Laws of Noah, which Judaism considers applicable to all people, prohibit blaspheming the name of the Lord, which is the only form of blasphemy that is punishable by death in Jewish law.

A person who says something disrespectful to God is considered to be blasphemy.

It was not just saying something disrespectful to God but also falsely claiming to be God.

Matthew 26:63–66 (ESV): 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

That is blasphemy by Jewish law. They were of course mistaken because Jesus truly was the Son of God, but believing He wasn’t they correctly charged Him with blasphemy. To consider any statement regarding Mary as blasphemy is clearly going outside the definition and has the effect of placing Mary on the same level as God.

Let me show you how and where this allegation was made:

You can read the accusation here. The author, Fr. Nix, is a Catholic priest. He writes, quoting dialog from the TV series:

Part 1a: The Script from Section A. Rama says, “I feel like I need to not make anymore mistakes” and Mother Mary responds, “How do you think I felt?”

Part 1b: The Theology. This is blasphemy against the Immaculate Virgin Mary because she was sinless and faultless and this script implies she was not by making “mistakes.”  Is a mistake the same as a sin?  Not necessarily, but even evangelical songs of praise and worship now use “sin” and “mistake” interchangeably, so claiming a “sin” is not the same as a “mistake” no longer holds water in the year 2021.  And if “mistake” is not tantamount to “sin,” that is, if “mistake” only means:  “accidentally adding too much salt to the bread” then why did Rama express so much conviction in saying, “I feel like I need to not make anymore mistakes”?   Yes, if mistakes are accidents, then the Chosen‘s Jesus is making His own disciples feel great shame and guilt for putting too much salt in the bread.  And Mother Mary has apparently corrected herself on this, too.

Fr. Nix considers this blasphemy because He believes (Catholics believe) Mary was “sinless and faultless” and therefore would not make mistakes. While his logic is dubious in equating mistakes to sins, he still feels Mary is being slighted, blasphemed. Why?

Part 1c: The Bible and Fathers. The Bible uses the Greek word κεχαριτωμένη to speak of the Immaculate Virgin Mary: And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.—Luke 1:28. The Greek word for “full of grace” there is κεχαριτωμένη and it is the perfect past participle of both the noun and verb GRACE. Put this together and it means the Angel Gabriel is saying to the Immaculate Virgin Mary that she is already fully graced perfectly—hence the perfect past participle of the verb)

The Church Fathers were unanimous as to the sinlessness of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. The Eastern Fathers called her in Greek PAN-HAGIA (all holy.). When someone asked St. Augustine about this, he replied “I wouldn’t even use ‘sin” in the same sentence as her.” Not a single Christian in the first 1000 years of Christianity has ever doubted the sinlessness of Mary.

Pope BI. Pius IX wrote Ineffabilis Deus in 1854 including the following:  “Far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.”

Here, Fr Nix tries to give us a Greek lesson. He quotes from an English translation taken from the Latin Vulgate. He claims the Greek word κεχαριτωμένη means “full of grace” and then says it was used in the perfect past participle meaning Mary was already “fully graced perfectly”, or in other words, sinless. His understanding of Greek is flawed.

First, a better translation of the word would be “highly favored.” That is consistent with how the word is used in other verses and its Greek origin. The angel was not saying Mary was sinless but rather saying she was highly favored by God. To quote one source:

Κεχαριτωμένος is a perfect passive participle (a verbal adjective) derived from χαριτόω, “to show favor”. Here it is inflected as a feminine singular in the vocative (addressing) case. The inflected meaning is roughly, “O woman who has been shown favor”. No agent is stated as the originator of favor. This is sometimes termed a “divine passive”; the agent is unstated on the grounds that it is obvious to everyone that it is God.

(greek – Is κεχαριτωμένη synonymous with πλήρης χάριτος? – Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange)

Nothing about this verse proclaims Mary “full of grace.” You could perhaps say she was shown grace by God in being highly favored but neither the word nor the Greek tense, voice, and mood imply what Fr Nix and the Catholic Church want it to.

Part 2a: The Script from Section A. She says, “I had to clean him off. He was covered in, uh, I will be polite. He needed to be cleaned.”
Part 2b: The Theology. All of the Church Fathers hold that the birth of Jesus was painless to both Jesus and Mary and miraculous, likening this to “the emergence of Christ from the sealed tomb, His going through closed doors, the penetration of the ray of sun through glass.”—Ott 206
Part 2c: The Bible and Church Fathers. Mary’s painless giving birth to Jesus is prophesied in Isaiah 66:7: “Before she was in labour, she brought forth; before her time came to be delivered, she brought forth a man child.” Furthermore, even a non-Catholic Christian should have been able to identify that a painful and messy birth is the effect of sin from Gen 3:16.  Mary, who was sinless as proved above, was spared this.  The infallible Lateran Synod in 649 under Pope Martin I said “She conceived without seed, of the Holy Ghost, generated without injury [to her virginity] and her virginity continued unimpaired after the birth.”

In the 20th century, Pope Pius XII wrote in his encyclical Mystici Corporis that “It was she who gave miraculous birth (mirando partu edidit) to Christ Our Lord.” One of the Eastern Church Fathers, St. Basil, wrote “The friends of Christ do not tolerate hearing that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin.” Yes, all of this shows that every Christian in the first 1000 years of Christianity (except heretics) would be disgusted at a blasphemous line such as, “I had to clean him off. He was covered in, uh, I will be polite. He needed to be cleaned” in reference to what every early Christian and Church Father knew (via Scripture and oral tradition) to be a miraculous birth.

This is another peculiar tenant of the Catholic faith. They hold that Mary was born without original sin, never sinned, and remained a virgin throughout her life. None of that can be found in Scripture. The Roman Catholic church reasons that Mary had to be sinless or else Christ would have been stained by original sin through her and thus Christ could not be sinless. We know Jesus was immaculately conceived so he had no biological father. Most scholars agree that original sin began with Adam and is passed down through our fathers (i.e. not the mothers although they contain the stain of original sin as well but it is accounted through the father). Jesus did not need Mary to be without original sin for Him to be without it. Furthermore, Mary never claims to be sinless. In Luke 1:46-47, Mary says:

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour”

If Mary was sinless, why would she call God her Savior? Only a sinner needs a savior. She didn’t thank God for creating her sinless so she didn’t need a savior. This is a position the Catholic church has backed itself into because of their insistence that Mary had to be sinless to not pass original sin to Jesus.

What about Mary being “ever virgin?” This is another unscriptural assumption the Catholic church makes. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born. The definition of being a virgin is that you’ve never had intimate relations. The process of birthing a baby does not remove your virginity. Granted, in our day and time that possibility is pretty narrow, but suppose a doctor could inject a fertilized egg into a woman’s vagina and create a pregnancy? Would that woman no longer be a virgin? What aspect of Mary having a normal labor negated her virginity? Of course, there was blood. Jesus was still a baby in the womb surrounded by fluid and blood. No baby is birthed perfectly clean. Yes, God could have had the baby Jesus born perfectly clean, but nothing in Scripture demands that. What about Mary having no labor pains? Maybe the Lord spared her. I wasn’t there but there is nothing in Scripture that precludes the possibility of her having had labor pains.  The passage quoted from Isaiah 66:7, is not talking about Mary. It is talking about the birth of the church. It meant the birth of the NT church would come suddenly and quickly without difficulty. That passage has nothing to do with Mary. In Isaiah 66:8, the prophet asks “Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?” He’s not talking about a baby being born. This is the birth of the church!

Another issue Fr Nix has is this:

Part 3a: The Script from Section A. “It actually made me think for just one moment, is this really the Son of God? And Joseph later told me he briefly thought the same thing. But we knew he was. I don’t know what I expected.”
Part 3b: The Theology. Mary knew Christ was the Son of God. The Angel told her so.  She never doubted this, and certainly not 9 months after the Annunciation.
Part 3c: The Bible and Church Fathers. The Church Fathers are not even needed for this one. It’s absolutely unbiblical and blasphemous for Mary to say at any point following the birth of Jesus that she asked herself (or Joseph) “Is this really the son of God?” Mary is the greatest prophetess who ever lived, so she probably intuited all of this at the Annunciation and Incarnation (if not before) but we have proof in the Gospel of St. Luke that nine months before the birth of Jesus, Mary already knew He was the Son of God for the Angel Gabriel directly announced to the Immaculate Virgin Mary: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.—Luke 1:35.  If you had an angel appear to you who called Christ the Son of God and then had a miraculous birth,  would you utter the words a few months later, “It actually made me think for just one moment, is this really the Son of God?

I am not affiliated with the show in any way nor an apologist for it. It follows the Biblical accounts very closely but as the show’s disclaimer states, they had to use a little creative license to try and build a story around the Gospel narratives. So Scripture does not contain this fictional conversation. However, I think what the writer of the narrative was trying to convey, was the wonder Mary and Joseph had that this tiny baby was actually the Son of God. Yes, they knew He was. I don’t believe they doubted that for a second. Still, here she was holding a tiny life helpless like all babies are and dependent on their parents. Would God have allowed the baby Jesus to die of neglect? Of course not! Remember though, Jesus was still a man. He still got hungry, tired, thirsty, bled. Mary and Joseph still needed to care for the newborn Messiah the same as any parents would care for a newborn child. It is in that sense I say he was helpless.

It is one thing to be told your child will be the Son of God, which in incredible acts of faith, both Joseph and Mary believed. Jesus was miraculously conceived. Yet, experiencing that as parents is quite another thing. The Bible is pretty much silent on Jesus’ childhood. Other than the time he stayed behind in Jerusalem to converse in the Temple, we are not told anything. There is nothing in Scripture though to suggest the young Jesus was doing unusual, miraculous things. His miracle at Cana of turning water into wine is described as His first miracle. He was nearly 30 years old when that happened. I can imagine Mary and Joseph watching Jesus grow and mature knowing He was the Messiah yet still seeing a normal boy who helped Joseph with his carpentry and probably played normal childhood games with his half siblings or neighboring children. Being the Son of God did not stop Mary from being worried when it was discovered that Jesus was not in the caravan returning from Jerusalem. Like any parents they rushed back to Jerusalem to look for Him and were relieved to find Him. His story of having been in the Temple conversing with the teachers must have amazed them. What boy that age does that? Not only that, but the young Jesus knew more about the Scriptures then the teachers He was talking to! Why did Jesus answer by saying He needed to be in His father’s house (i.e. the Temple)? If they fully knew He was the Messiah, and understood all the ways that would manifest itself in His young life, they would have said “Well, that makes sense. Of course you were!” The reality is, they were two human parents trying to comprehend that their son was no ordinary boy but the Son of God!

Saying Mary was a prophetess is not Scriptural. Nowhere in Scripture are we told Mary was a prophet. As noted earlier, we are not told she was immaculately conceived nor that she was “ever virgin.”

The idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary is unbiblical. Matthew 1:25, speaking of Joseph, declares, “But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus.” The word until clearly indicates that Joseph and Mary did have normal sexual relations after Jesus was born. Mary remained a virgin until the Savior’s birth, but later Joseph and Mary had several children together. Jesus had four half-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55). Jesus also had half-sisters, although they are not named or numbered (Matthew 13:55–56). God blessed and graced Mary by giving her several children, which in that culture was accepted as the clearest indication of God’s blessing on a woman.

One time when Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd proclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed” (Luke 11:27
). There was never a better opportunity for Jesus to declare that Mary was indeed worthy of praise and adoration. What was Jesus’ response? “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28). To Jesus, obedience to God’s Word was more important than being the woman who gave birth to the Savior.

Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus or anyone else direct any praise, glory, or adoration toward Mary. Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, praised Mary in Luke 1:42–44, but her praise is based on the blessing of giving birth to the Messiah. It was not based on any inherent glory in Mary. In fact, after this Mary spoke a song of praise to the Lord, extoling His mindfulness to those of humble state and His mercy and faithfulness (Luke 1:46–55). (What does the Bible say about the virgin Mary? |

The Roman Catholic teachings on Mary are largely from outside of Scripture. As one historian noted, the veneration of Mary is virtually absent from church history until AD 250. She is not portrayed as a significant figure in the life of the early church as recorded in the Book of Acts. We don’t see the Apostles looking to her for guidance or her leading their efforts. None of that is a slight on Mary. She was a wonderful example and devout woman but the truth is, she was born a sinner like us all, she did not lead a sinless life, she bore other children after Jesus, she needed a savoir, and she died like all people and was buried. To teach otherwise is to stray from Scripture and make things up that Christ and the early church never taught.

I don’t have a written out history of the veneration of Mary. I can tell you that if you read through the writings of the early church fathers up to AD 250, you won’t get even a hint of Mary worship. The Roman Catholics and Orthodox like to point to a manuscript that is dated to about AD 250 and is anonymous that mentions praying to Mary. I can’t remember exactly what it says, but it calls her Mother of God. So it’s possible, even likely, that veneration of Mary began that early. In the second century, though … nothing.

(What Is the History of Mary Worship? (

The Roman Catholic Church has elevated Mary to a place the Bible never did. She has been called a co-redemtrix and Catholics are encouraged to pray to her reasoning that a son will listen to his mother’s petitions. They cite Jesus turning the water into wine as an example of Jesus listening to His mother. Yet prayer is defined as a dialog between God and man. Attempts to contact the dead are expressly forbidden. Yes, they contend Mary never died but was assumed into heaven, but that doesn’t stop them from encouraging prayer to a litany of “saints” all of whom died regular deaths. Mary was a wonderful woman worthy of our admiration (not adoration or worship). Let’s stick to what Scripture teaches us about her and not all the made-up theology of the Roman Catholic Church concerning her.