The Glorification of Mary
I. A notable difference between Roman Catholicism and other denominations is the veneration of Mary
A. It is not a question of whether Mary existed or even her role in the birth of Jesus.
B. The question more revolves around what honor Mary deserves.
II. Was Mary sinless?
A. The Catholics teach that Mary was immaculately conceived, allowing her to escape the taint of Adam’s sin.
1. “The blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin ... and this privilege is called her immaculate conception” - Baltimore Catechism, page 36.
2. Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854: “The blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin ... We declare that this doctrine was revealed by God and must be held firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” - Catholic Faith, page 48
3. “A Catholic is bound to hold that [this doctrine] ... was contained in the faith once delivered to the saints by the Apostles. On the other hand, he is under no obligation of believing it possible to produce cogent historical proof (over and above the church’s decision) that the doctrine was so contained.” - Catholic Dictionary, page 430
4. Hence, Catholics need not believe there is any proof for their doctrine concerning Mary, but they must still accept it.
B. The source of this belief is traced to an old false gospel called “The Infancy Gospel of James”.
1. The earliest copy dates back to the third century, though a few early Christian writers in the second century mention its existence.
2. In this book, Mary’s mother is claimed to be barren and she conceived while her father was in the wilderness fasting for forty days to beg for a child.
C. What the Bible teaches
1. Ezekiel 18:20 - Sin is not inherited
2. II Corinthians 5:10 - Judged by what we have done
3. Children are born innocent
a. Deuteronomy 1:39 - They do not have the knowledge of good and evil
b. The sacrifice of children was the death of innocent blood - Psalm 106:37-38
c. Must be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven - Matthew 18:3
d. The kingdom is composed of child-like people - Matthew 19:14
4. Yes, Mary was born without sin and so is everyone else in the world
D. But the Catholics go further and claim Mary lived a sinless life
1. “Our blessed Mother was free throughout her life form all actual sin, both moral and venial.” - Baltimore Catechism, page 36
2. “Catholics believe that the blessed Virgin was free from all actual sin because of divine tradition confirmed by the Council of Trent” - Question Box, page 360.
E. Again, the source is The Infancy Gospel of James, which claimed that Mary was kept separate at an early age from all defilements, not even allowed to touch the ground. It also claims she was sent to live in the Temple and was feed by the hand of an angel for 12 years.
F. What the Bible teaches
1. Only deity is sinless
a. Deuteronomy 32:4 - God is without fault
b. I John 1:5 - There is no sin in God
c. Revelation 15:3-4 - God alone is holy
2. Jesus was sinless
a. II Corinthians 5:21 - Jesus knew no sin
b. I John 3:5 - In Jesus there is no sin
c. I Peter 2:22 - Jesus committed no sin
3. All humans sin
a. I John 1:8-10 - To say otherwise is to lie
b. Romans 3:10-12, 23 - All sin
4. Mary praises God, her savior - Luke 1:46-47
a. From what was she saved if she was sinless?
b. Mary was human and therefore must have had sin in her life.
III. Was Mary a perpetual virgin?
A. The Catholic Church
1. “Mary, the mother of God, remained a virgin not only in the conception of Christ, but also in his birth and during the rest of her life.” - Baltimore Catechism, page 49
2. “Nor does the New Testament ever imply that Mary ceased to be a virgin; On the contrary, it confirms, though it nowhere states, the Catholic dogma of her perpetual virginity.” - Catholic Dictionary, page 555
3. I love that last idea - it supports our position without ever stating it.
B. Again this idea is presented in The Infancy Gospel of James.
1. Joseph, a widower with children, is said to have taken guardianship of Mary by marrying her without every having relationship with her.
2. The book also has Jesus “born” by appearing in a great light, so that Mary remained a virgin even after “birth.”
C. The Bible teaches
1. Mary was a virgin until Jesus birth
a. Luke 1:27, 34-35
b. Matthew 1:18, 23, 25 - A virgin until Jesus’ birth implies her virginity ended at that point
2. The doctrine of perpetual virginity is an attempt to exalt Mary over other people
a. Based on the mistaken idea that virginity is more holy and pure than marriage
b. It is the same reasoning that forbids priests and nuns marriage.
c. Self-abasement or self-denial is not a sign of religious living - Colossians 2:18-22
3. God instituted marriage in Genesis 2:24, how much holier can you get?
a. Hebrews 13:4 - Marriage is honorable and sex within marriage is undefiled. It doesn’t make a person unholy or less than holy.
b. I Timothy 4:1-3 - The forbidding of marriage is a sign of apostasy.
4. Jesus had brothers and sisters
a. Mark 6:3 - Names his brothers
b. Matthew 12:46-50 - Mentions his mother, brothers and sisters
c. Other verses: John 2:12; 7:3-5; I Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:19; Acts 1:14
5. Mary could not have been a virgin and Jesus had brothers and sisters
a. The Catholics argue that the word brother means cousin in this context
(1) Yet there is no proof, only their tradition
(2) The word is never used for cousin in the Bible; only for physical brothers and fellow countrymen.
b. They also ignore the mention of his sisters
(1) This word is only used for immediate family members
c. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas does not solve this problem.
(1) If Joseph had children by a previous marriage, then Jesus would not be related by mother or father.
6. Marriage must include a physical union - I Corinthians 7:2-5
a. If Mary did not join with Joseph, then she sinned
b. But the claim is that Mary lived a sinless life.
c. Therefore, these two doctrines contradict each other. In reality, they are both false.
IV. Catholicism desires to exalt Mary above all other people
A. Doing so leads them to establish traditions and doctrines that contradict the Bible.
B. Which should we believe? The words of God or men who claim to speak for God?
C. Who holds our salvation?