Your answers are generally very straightforward, and I assume that you appreciate straightforward responses, so I'll get directly to the point: you're not telling the truth about the Catholic Church and its teachings about Mary. As someone who seems devoted to the Truth (though somewhat misled on several important points), I figured you'd like to know.
This is about: An objection to the claim that Catholics worship Mary
You quote Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 and say that it proves that the dead "have no contact with the living." Surely, as someone who knows his Bible, you're aware that Ecclesiastes is a very "different" book. Let's look at what else Ecclesiastes 9 says: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going." (verse 9). Doesn't Jesus Himself tell a parable of a rich man and Lazarus and Abraham? Doesn't He recall a conversation between the rich man and Abraham, while in Sheol? The rich man knows that his brothers have no faith. He has knowledge. He speaks words to Abraham: this requires thought. He asks Abraham to do something: this implies that work can be done. And all of this in Sheol! And lest you argue (against all biblical and historical evidence) that the rich man and Abraham weren't in Sheol, let's note that Jesus also describes hell as a place of great "weeping and gnashing of teeth." I don't weep unless my thoughts lead me to be sad, and I don't gnash my teeth unless my thoughts lead me to be angry. The fact of the matter is that Ecclesiastes 9 very clearly teaches that there is no thought or knowledge in Hades, and yet we know from Christ's teaching that there is: so Solomon could not have been saying what you teach that he said in Ecclesiastes 9.
You say, "If you wish to claim that Mary is different, as Catholics are wont to claim, you will have to show so by the word of God. There is no record in the Bible that Mary was given any special status in the Church or in heaven." We obviously have proof from Scripture. "Blessed art thou among women." "All generations will call me blessed." "Hail, full of grace." Mary is special. Mary is different. You and I can argue about how special and how different she is, but you can't pretend to respect the Bible and teach that she's not special and is no different that other Christians. That's just not what the Bible teaches.
You say, "However, to demonstrate what Roman Catholicism says about Mary, allow me to quote from Glories of Mary, by Liguori." That book is not an authoritative statement of the Church. You can't demonstrate what "Roman Catholicism" says about Mary by quoting a book by one person in the Church. If you want to demonstrate what the Catholic Church says about Mary, you'll have to look to Authoritative statements of the Church: ecumenical councils, papal declarations, or publications of the Church itself, such as the Catechism. Since I doubt you're interested in doing proper research that will show your untruths for what they are, I'll go ahead and quote them for you:
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"487 What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.
971 'All generations will call me blessed': The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship (Luke 1:48). The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs...this very special devotion ... differs essentially from the adoration [worship] which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."
And in case that latter paragraph is hard to understand, the Church has clarified it in its question/answer formatted "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church":
"198. What kind of devotion is directed to the holy Virgin?
It is a singular kind of devotion which differs essentially from the cult of adoration given only to the Most Holy Trinity .."
There you have it. Mary is not a god. She's not a deity. She's not equal with God in any way. Regardless of what you want to say about your understanding of what the Catholic Church implies by teaching that prayer to Mary (and all the saints) is licit, this is what the Catholic Church teaches authoritatively: that Mary is not to given the adoration that belongs only to God. "Glories of Mary" is not authoritative. These texts from which I quote are authoritative, and if you intend to represent what the Catholic Church teaches about Mary, then you need to quote from authoritative texts. I wouldn't dare take a work written by a member of La Vista Church of Christ and quote it as if it were representative of the teaching of your church. Why would you do that to the Catholic Church?
You say, "Thus we see that Roman Catholics not only claim a divine nature to Mary but they are wont to claim that she has power over and above both God the Father and God the Son; all based on the philosophies of men and not a word from the Holy Word of God."
Thus we see that individual Roman Catholics can be mistaken about their theology (if your interpretation of their words is correct, which it probably isn't). What we don't see is what the Catholic Church actually teaches, and if your "answer" intends to show that, it fails miserably because it does not quote authoritative documentation, but only the writings a few individual Catholics.
If you have any sort of devotion to the truth, you'll amend that question to note that you didn't quote from authoritative sources, and especially to note that the writings you quoted do not represent the teaching of the Catholic Church. If you don't, I can only assume that your goal is to lead people away from the Church in any way possible, even if it involves misrepresenting the Truth or outright lying.
The simple fact, whether you wish to admit it or not, is that Catholics praying to Mary and the saints does not indicate that they worship those saints, or that they consider the saints to be deities or demigods. Sure, it'd work well for your "evangelism" if that were the case, but it's not. Your argument that "prayer" only goes to God is false: read a translation of Aesop's fables (originally written in Greek, of course) and you'll find many "pray tell"s and "I pray thee"s, because "to pray" is just a way of saying "to ask" in a more respectful way. To "pray" to Mary is not to worship Mary, but to ask her to pray for us. Look at the Hail Mary, if you will:
"Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."
I can ask my mom to pray for me now and at the hour of my death. I can ask you to pray for me now and at the hour of my death. Why can't I ask Mary to pray for me now and at the hour of my death? She's my spiritual mother (Revelation 12 clearly describes those who "obey the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus" as her offspring). She's part of the Body of Christ, she's in Christ, and even death cannot separate her from from the Love of God in Christ (Romans 8:39). Your stance on the communion of the saints effectively says to all Christians who have gone and died before you, "I have no need of you." But this attitude is specifically condemned by the Bible. "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable".
Anyway, I'll say a prayer that you'll at least make an effort to accurately represent what the Church believes, rather than blindly follow your own (non-biblical!) tradition of ignoring the real teachings of the Church and instead assigning caricatures to it and denying the Church based on them.
I didn't realize that some Catholics don't believe the writings of their own saints to be authoritative; even ones that carry Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.
Quoting from a Catholic website, The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus De Liguori is "A glorious book about our Blessed Mother by a great Doctor of the Church. Brings together the best insights of the Saints, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and scholars on Mary. Covers her role as our Queen and our Mother, our help in need, our Mediatrix, our advocate, our guardian, our salvation. Speaks also of her Immaculate Conception, her birth, presentation, annunciation, assumption, seven sorrows, virtues and a host of devotions to her. Definitely the greatest devotional book about Mary."
A major difficulty with Roman Catholicism is that it is not composed of a unified set of doctrines. Since it believes the church is able to mold the truth to fit situations and times, forces within the church constantly push for change. Thus writers can be "rejected" until circumstances causes the church to make a change and then the church can go back and say "we have always taught it this way." But such is what comes from a religion that has severed it roots from the Bible. There is no ultimate source to return to settle disputes.
The teachings concerning Mary, both the "authoritative" dogmas and the doctrines brewing on the horizon are illustrative of this. In a sermon that I recently gave, I documented this evolving change in teaching as well as point out the pressures being brought to bear for future changes. The lesson is titled, "The Deification of Mary." While The Glories of Mary is heavily quoted, I do quote from a number of other Catholic sources as well.
The lesson also addresses the argument that prayer is not worship. Your particular arguments are flawed because you argue from the meaning of English and not the meaning of the word in Greek in which the Bible is rooted.
Your argument regarding Ecclesiastes illustrates that you don't understand the book. In essence you argue that there is a conflict between it and the rest of the Bible and thus you can discount what it is saying. Since all Scripture (including Ecclesiastes) is inspired by God (II Timothy 3:16-17), and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), there cannot be a conflict between the books of the Bible. Any apparent conflict simply means that the reader is making invalid assumptions that leads to a false conclusion. Arguing a conflict does prove a point, it states that the point is incorrect. In this particular case you are assuming that work, knowledge, thought, and wisdom refers to all work, all knowledge, all thought, and all wisdom. The verse indicates that we are talking about work, knowledge, thought, and wisdom which involve earthly life. The realms of the living and the dead are separate and you cannot change what happened in your life here once you move on to life there. Solomon is stating that there is no second chance or a chance to fix past mistakes once you are dead. (I know, a conflict with the Catholic doctrine on purgatory, but that is to be expected). Notice too that you did not argue against the verse that I used, but pulled a different verse and argued against it.
You are quite correct: I don't follow the teachings of the Catholic church. I teach the Bible. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).
A nihil obstat is only as orthodox as the censor who gave it; the imprimatur is likewise only as trustworthy as the bishop who gave it. As is true of any Christian group, not all the leaders of the Church have been completely orthodox; they're still sinful men. I'm certain there are many people in other Churches of Christ that would call you or my father heretical for some of your teachings. An imprimatur does not indicate authority. It just means that a given bishop has given his seal that the book is free from doctrinal or moral error.
It's one of the mysteries God teaches in Scripture that the Church is Holy despite the fact that it is comprised of sinful people.
If you want to argue against the teachings of the Church, you'll have to quote the documents produced by an ecumenical council, ex cathedra statements of the Pope, or teaching documents provided by the Church as a whole (such as the Catechism or its Compendium). Anything else, and you're just arguing against Catholic individuals, not against the Catholic Church.
The description of The Glories of Mary may be true. In that description I see no doctrinal or moral error. But again, it's not an authoritative teaching of the Church, so to argue against it is only to argue against Catholic individuals, and not against the Church.
The nihil obstat and the imprimatur only indicate that the named censor and the named bishop consider the book to be free of doctrinal and moral error. It doesn't even mean that they agree with all the content of the book, let alone that all Catholics will agree with all the content of the book. In fact, you can read this on the copyright page of any Catholic publication with them: "The Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed."
The Catechism provides you with that unified set of doctrines. The Council of Trent would also provide you with a pretty good unified set of doctrines that most Protestants deny.
No, the Catholic Church doesn't at all believe that it is able to mold the truth to fit situations and times. In fact, it is the Catholic Church's commitment to the deposit of faith once for all delivered to the saints that explains why it teaches what it teaches. It hasn't added or removed from that deposit, but it's preserved it entire, rather than rejecting the parts it finds less appealing (as Protestants have done in their man-made denominations over the past 500 years).
Thanks for basically reinforcing my point. You state that the Catholic church officals can approve documents contrary to the Church's official position and even contrary to their own personal beliefs, yet the world is to ignore the double talk. You state that The Glories of Mary has been reviewed by church officials and declared to be free of doctrinal errors, but I can't quote from it because it is not authoritative doctrine. You even imply that it might contain heretical teachings even though it was officially declared to be free of doctrinal error because those approving might also be heretics. It reminds me of Dorothy being told "Don't look behind that screen" in The Wizard of Oz.
Your protest that the Roman Catholic church doesn't change is a hilarious denial of historical facts. "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8-9).
It didn't go unnoticed that you didn't post my entire email, but rather took only sections of it. I suppose the other parts were harder to answer, eh?
The editing came about because I wanted to focus on one point. The rest were distractions which did not support the point I wanted to address. Nor will I bother answering your recent note. As I stated several months ago, we have no common ground. I justify points by Scripture, you use empty philosophies. As an example from your current letter you said,
"It's a historical fact that Christians did not believe that elders must be married until the 19th century."'
These statements were written long before the 19th century:
"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you -- if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination." (Titus 1:5-6).
"This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;" (I Timothy 3:1-2).