In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared in an “Apostolic Constitution” of the Catholic Church:
“…We pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” (Munificentissimus Deus, paragraph 44)
Note that this is not just any kind of teaching, it is a DOGMA (an irreversible and “infallibly declared” doctrinal statement of the Catholic Church). Catholics are required to believe it, and if they don’t, the pope goes on to say, “Let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic faith...” and will “incur the wrath of Almighty God…” This same dogma is also found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #966 and #974) and in the Catholic Church’s “Dogmatic Constitution,” Lumen Gentium (paragraph 59).
Ok, as you might expect, the word “assumption” has several meanings in English, but the only ones we want to focus on now that are relevant to this topic are these two basic meanings:
#1) It can mean the Catholic Church’s idea of the taking up of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, into Heaven, body and soul, which is celebrated every year by Catholics on August 15. Or,
#2) It can mean an assuming that something is true; a mistaken assumption; a statement (such as a proposition, axiom or notion) taken for granted or accepted as true without proof; a supposition.
When Catholics use the term, “Mary’s Assumption,” they are speaking of meaning #1 above.
But we Protestants would apply the meaning of #2 above toward the Catholic Church’s teaching itself on Mary’s Assumption and say that it is an assumption indeed, i.e., it is assumed and cannot be proven.
We also maintain that Mary’s Assumption is not biblical, i.e., it cannot be found in the Bible. To this idea, Catholic speaker, author, and apologist John Martignoni tells us in one of his latest newsletters that when someone says that Mary’s Assumption is not in the Bible, he (Martignoni) says:
“Well, I generally handle this objection to the Church’s teaching on the Assumption by asking one question: ‘Does the Bible somewhere say that Mary was not assumed into Heaven?’ The answer, of course, is no – the Bible nowhere says that Mary was not assumed into Heaven. So then I ask, ‘Well if the Bible doesn’t say she wasn’t assumed into Heaven, then why can’t I believe she was?’”
Martignoni’s newsletter can be found here:
So why can’t you believe that she was assumed into Heaven? Well, John, it’s because it is just an assertion, and you need evidence to back up that assertion. Note first that John Martignoni wants us to prove a negative – to prove the non-existence of Mary’s assumption. But when anyone makes a positive assertion (like “Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul”), the burden of proof is on him to prove it, not on us to disprove it.
But when they are unable to prove it, they sometimes resort to the “double-negative” tactic, like Martignoni does. Almost any time an opponent mentions a double-negative like he does here (e.g., “The Bible does NOT say that she WASN’T assumed”), this is a sign that the person is getting desperate. Simply saying, “But the Bible doesn’t say it didn’t happen to Mary” is not a valid argument at all. We could also say the same thing for dozens of other people in Scripture – “The Bible also doesn’t say that it didn’t happen to (whomever - fill in the blank), therefore it could have also happened to them, as well!”
Fortunately, most people are understanding enough to see through this very poor argument. Just saying that it is possible does not make it true… for Mary or anyone else.
We do want to point out that no one is saying that the concept of a bodily assumption is not biblical. We agree that it certainly can be. But the biblical question is not whether it can happen, or has happened, but the question is “To whom has it happened?”
We have clear biblical evidence that Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) experienced some sort of bodily assumption. But we have no biblical evidence of anything like this happening to Mary. So it seems strange that the Bible would mention the assumption of Enoch and Elijah, but not Mary’s. No Catholic would deny that she is more important than Enoch or Elijah. So, if that’s true, then why the silence on her assumption?
As an attempt at producing “biblical evidence” for the Assumption, Catholics will sometimes point to Revelation 12:1, which speaks of the “woman clothed with the sun,” and will say that this is Mary in bodily form in Heaven. But this is not the case at all. The “woman” in Revelation 12 is Israel, not Mary. See here:
There are a few other Bible verses that some Catholics will try to use in an attempt to show that this teaching is biblical. They will use all kinds of unverifiable typology where they see “Mary” in every object and under every stone, and try to shoehorn her into an “assumption role.” But they must go to absurd lengths to make any of these “types” fit.
In conclusion, just saying that something is true does not make it true. Saying that it is “fitting” or that it should have happened also does not make it a fact. If it were a biblical idea, we wouldn’t have an issue with it. But it is not. Yet, the Catholic Church claims that the Assumption of Mary is not only a scriptural truth, but a dogma that her members are obligated to believe, but the Church fails miserably in providing evidence for this teaching.
Furthermore, most Catholics don’t know that the origin of the teaching of the Assumption is very questionable and is “shrouded in history’s mist.” It was not the teaching of the church for 2000 years, as Catholics claim. It was not taught by the early church fathers and it cannot be traced back to the apostles. In fact, it first appears in “apocryphal” (hidden, false, doubtful, uninspired) literature around the fifth century that was condemned by (at least) two popes as HERESY.
See this article:
Some Catholics will say, “But Mary had to have been bodily assumed. There are no relics (bones, ashes, clothing, etc.) from her that were ever found. Surely, if there were, this would have been mentioned in the early church.” But if Mary’s bones would “surely” have been mentioned, then why hasn’t something as important as the Assumption “surely” been mentioned in the same early church?
So why is this topic important in the first place? It is because the Catholic Church is using not just this one teaching, but many different Marian teachings to divert attention away from Jesus onto Mary, His mother. The Mary of the Bible - the humble handmaid of the Lord (Luke 1:38, 48) - would never approve of such attention toward herself, nor the detracting of attention from her Son. As we’ve said before, the real Mary would join with John the baptist in saying, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I (Mary) must decrease (John 3:30). But the very opposite is happening in the Catholic Church worldwide. Whether intentional or not, the Catholic Church has created an idol in Mary through all these unbiblical claims. But the Bible tells us to flee idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14).
Once again, the Catholic Church’s teaching on Mary’s bodily assumption into Heaven is just that, an assumption in the worst sense, a concept that cannot be proven from God’s Word or from any other reputable source.