A response to John MacArthur.
John MacArthur is a protestant pastor and a popular author and conference speaker. Today I’m going to be responding to an article posted on his site with the title: –Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: Mary Worship–.
This is what he says:
“After his prophetic vision of the eternal glories of heaven at the end of the book of Revelation, the apostle John described how he was overwhelmed by what he’d seen.
And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation22:8-9)
The Roman Catholic Church has committed the same error as John, promoting a mere citizen of heaven to an improper place of authority and honor. Despite the overwhelming testimony of Scripture, the Catholic Church has elevated Mary—a self-described servant of the Lord (Luke 1:38)—to the same level as God, if not higher.”
I’m very amazed of how these supposedly “well educated” protestant preacher knows so little about what the church really teaches about the blessed Virgin Mary and the place that Mary really occupies in the catholic piety, and unaware of documents such as Marialis Cultus of Pope Paul VI where he stresses in grate detail of the proper devotion we catholic ought to have toward the blessed Virgin Mary.
This is not a new phenomenon, you see this every where in protestant circles; specially iwith the most radical and fundamentalist ones. That’s why we Catholics need to be prepared in order to correct any misunderstanding coming from the protestant camp.
“In his Ineffabilis Deus in 1854, Pope Pius IX established as dogma the immaculate conception of Mary, which preserved her from inheriting original sin. His concluding statements provide a good summary of the Catholic view of Mary.
Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.
Those words are echoed and expanded on throughout Roman Catholic history. Tradition dictates that Mary is part of the monarchy of heaven, soliciting grace and mercy from the Lord on behalf of sinners, and covering sin by distributing from her Treasury of Merit. She became a co-redeemer with Christ in His suffering on the cross, and is now a co-mediator alongside Him in heaven—essentially an alternative avenue of access to God. She replaces the Holy Spirit in bestowing aid and comfort to believers. In effect, she becomes an additional member of the Trinity.”
MacArthur continues here with his straw man argument. When MacArthur argues that “tradition dictates that Mary is part of the monarchy of heaven”, he is probably thinking like many protestants do that Mary is a sort of a goddess, or part of the Trinity who distributes to all sinners the treasury of her own merits and thus “covering sin”. But of course that’s far from truth, not only is that dishonest and misleading but a caricature of what catholic Tradition has always thought.
Then he adds:
“That blasphemy stands in sharp contrast to what Scripture actually says about Mary, and even what she says about herself. Luke 1:46-55 records her humble reaction to the news that she would give birth to the Son of God.
And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
The God she praised—the God of the Bible—does not need to be coaxed or wooed to distribute His blessings. He’s not harsh, distant, or indifferent—He’s gracious, righteous, and merciful. Rather than glorifying herself, she humbly worshiped the Lord.
What really stands in “sharp contrast” is Mr. MacArthur point of view in regards to what the catholic church has always thought like I’ve stressed earlier. Even the same quote he sites of the Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX we don’t see nothing heretic, or something that would indicate –Catholic’s must worship Mary–, or that there’s something in his words going against the Bible. I agree that the God of the Bible does not need to be coaxed or wooed to distribute His blessings, but He wanted the saints to be participants in His plan of salvation (1 Cor 12:12-27).
Remember that protestants hold a “zero-sum” theology vs the Catholic doctrine of “participation”. What theses means is that protestants look at their faith as a pie in a dish. Jesus is Lord of Lord and King of Kings. He gets the whole pie.
So when they look at their Catholic neighbor, they see that the Catholic, it seems, has cut a piece of the pie for the Pope. They have cut a piece of the pie for Saint Anthony. They have cut a piece of pie for their local priest whom they call “Father.” And it even seems like they have cut a huge and gigantic piece of pie for the Virgin Mary. After the pie has been divided up, it looks like Christ is only left with a small sliver of the pie. He has to share His glory, grace, and worship with all these intruders. 
This theology comes from one of the pillars of the protestant reformation Solo Christo (Latin: by Christ alone). Even a simple an superficial look at the Scriptures we find that is the catholic position the one that has in reality the scriptural support: 1 Cor 12:25–27; Ef 4:1–6; Jn 17:20–22; Rom 12:4–5, 15:30; Ef 6:18–19; Mt 6:9; Jn 15:1–8; Rom 1:9; Mt 28:19; Mr 16:15; 1 Cor 1:10; Gal 1:8; Tit 3:10; Apo 1:4–5; 5:8; 6:9–11; 8:3.
He goes on to say:
“Scripture actually has very little to say about Mary. There’s no description of her physical appearance, nothing about her life, her later years after Christ’s death, or her own death and burial. And when she does briefly appear with the disciples and the other believers on the day of Pentecost, she’s not an object of worship or even a leader in the early church—she’s just one among many. There simply are no biblical examples of anyone ever praying to her, honoring her, or venerating her.”
This is a very simple and common argument I hear all the time. But that is true: the Bible does not tell us much about Mary, i.e her personal features, but neither does the Bible tell us much about the features of our Lord, but this has not been a problem for the disciples of the past and the present to draw the face of Our Lord, and to have an image that speaks to us perhaps in an imperfect way of Him, although this does not in any way make our spiritual experience of the true Christ less real.
I also agree that the Bible does not show us Mary been object of veneration, or being ‘an important a leader’ of the primitive Church, and we could even agree the that the Bible shows Mary to be like “one among many”. But that’s a very narrow and rudimentary way of interpreting Scripture, we have to look further in order to deny any preponderant role of Mary or any other figure in the New Testament Church.
Mr. MacArthur adds:
“Nor does she play a role in any biblical explanation of the gospel. Paul wrote a magnificent treatise on the doctrine of salvation that we know as the book of Romans, and all he said about the mother of Jesus is that she was “a descendent of David” (Romans 1:3). He’s even less specific in Galatians, another lengthy exposition of the pure, true gospel in which he simply said that Christ was “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4).
Contrast that with the unending Catholic volumes on the life of Mary, the miracles of Mary, the death of Mary, the apparitions of Mary, and on and on it goes. That’s why it’s often a shock for Catholics to read the Bible and see how little is actually said about Mary.”
I disagree here with Mr. MacArthur. Jesus First Graces Were Given Through Mary, This is a fact that frequently gets overlooked by those who wish to downplay Mary’s importance and it comes straight from the Bible. After accepting God’s offer to become the Mother of the Savior, Mary traveled “in haste” to visit her relative, Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:41)
According to this Bible passage, before Jesus was even born, Mary’s voice was used to deliver the graces to Elizabeth. Why? Because she’s not important? Isn’t there some other way, these graces could have been dispensed? Not convinced? Listen to what Elizabeth had to say also directly from the Bible.
“For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:44).
It’s pretty hard to deny the importance of Mary’s role in the New Testament announcing to others in the way she knows the good news of the Kingdom. 
He then says:
“But that’s what happens when you elevate tradition to the level of Scripture and ascribe to men the infallible characteristics that only belong to God. It warps the truth of Scripture and distorts the Person and work of Jesus Christ. God alone is our Redeemer, our Deliverer, our Benefactor, and our Comforter. He alone is to be worshiped, venerated, adored, and petitioned. The testimony of Scripture is clear.”
The thing is Mr. MacArthur that you haven’t proven that because The Catholic Church elevates Tradition of the level of scripture therefore Catholics worship Mary as a goddess, and nobody “ascribe to men the infallible characteristics that only belong to God.”
Finally, he provides this text:
“Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; they have no knowledge, who carry about their wooden idol and pray to a god who cannot save. Declare and set forth your case; indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:20-22)”
And we Catholics say a big Amen to that Text by quoting this part of the Catechism where agrees with that bible passage:
“Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, Satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.”44 Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast”45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.” 
 Taylor Marshal, The Catholic perspective on Paul. p. 28
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2113.