Friday, August 30, 2019
I just want to share a brief story / testimony with you today. I am sharing a link to Tim Challies’ website, in which he tells his personal short story titled Why I am not Roman Catholic.
In this story, he briefly tells of how he grew up and the things he believed about the Catholic Church in his early years. He, like me, had some misunderstandings at first about what exactly the Catholic Church teaches.
I want to point out that I don’t agree with everything Tim believes, since he is a Calvinist and I am not. But he tells his story with grace and respect. He gives a respectful, yet honest, assessment of the Catholic Church’s teachings. He briefly summarizes his thoughts and gives three main (and compelling) reasons why he is not a Catholic and why Catholics should seriously and prayerfully consider these reasons.
And he also shares his belief that in spite of Catholic teaching, there are still some individuals in the Church who are saved. But their being saved is, again, in spite of what the Catholic Church teaches, and not because of it.
Hope you enjoy the article. Here is the link:
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Man, by nature, is not a humble creature. All of us like to think highly of ourselves and we like others to think highly of us, as well. Here in America, we spend billions of dollars every year on cosmetics, beauty aids, gym memberships, fine clothing and fancy cars. We are very concerned about our image. We want to look good and we want our friends, neighbors and co-workers to think we look good.
And that spills over into our morality. Not only do we want to look good, but we want to believe that we are good persons. Many, if not most, consider themselves to be moral people. They just can’t imagine that they would be in the “bad person” category. After all, they are better than Adolf Hitler, or Joseph Stalin, or Jeffrey Dahmer, or Saddam Hussein, aren’t they? It’s hard to convince most people that they are not as good as they think they are. For one example, see this short video:
So, what about Judgment Day? Will God consider most people to be good enough to get into Heaven? Do any of them think that there’s a possibility that they might be shocked on that critical day? It seems that many will expect God to react in their favor. For example, let’s look at “George” (a fictional character). George thinks that God will most likely say, “George, why should I let you into Heaven?” And then George pulls out his lengthy resume, unrolls it like a scroll, and begins to show God, one by one, how many good things he did for the church, his family and for other people, causing “oohs” and “ahhhs” of approval from the angelic hosts. God responds, “Wow, George, I am very impressed! You’ve certainly earned your way into Heaven. Come on in!”
Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but this is, I believe, pretty much what many people will be expecting on Judgment Day. They’re trusting in their goodness, hoping that the good things they’ve done will outweigh the bad.
Is Anybody Good?
But the Bible sheds some light on Judgment Day. In Matthew 7:21-23 we see that there are many who will be utterly shocked that God finds them to be “workers of iniquity,” instead of “good people.” The people in this Bible passage did many “good” deeds, and they even did them “in Jesus’ name.” And they definitely expected this to work in their favor, i.e., to merit entrance into Heaven. Yet, to their horror, they were rejected, they were sent to Hell. What did they do wrong? Well, for one thing, they were trusting in their works to get them in: “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” But the Bible is clear that we are saved only by the grace of God, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), and not by works (Romans 4:4-5). Remember, Jesus said that no one is good but God (Mark 10:18).
An Apostle’s Resume
Consider the apostle Paul. Now this guy had an impressive resume! He was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, a zealous Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews and was considered faultless under the Law by his peers (Philippians 3:3-6)! Yet, he counted all these things as dung that he may gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-9)! Not only that, but Paul also suffered often in hard labor, imprisonment, beatings, scourgings, stoning, shipwreck, hunger, thirst, cold, lack of sleep and in frequent danger of death. Not to mention his constant and deep concern for the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). But even this resume would not be sufficient to merit Heaven, and Paul would be the first to admit this. No one’s resume is good enough, except for the one provided by Jesus Christ through His work on the cross (1 John 2:2; 4:10). THAT is the resume we should boast in when we stand before God!
What About Catholics?
So what about those who teach faith plus works to be saved, like the Catholic Church? Doesn’t this type of mindset leave room for boasting? Indeed it does (Romans 3:27; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Many Catholics will deny that theirs is a works-based gospel. They will often quote the Council of Trent and say that they do not believe in salvation by works. Trent says:
“None of those things which precede justification – whether faith or works – merit the grace itself of justification.” (Session 6, Chapter 8)
Ok, this may sound good on the surface, but it is misleading for at least two reasons: 1) Scripture tells us that faith does indeed come before and produce justification according to the plan of God (Romans 4:1-3; 9-10), and 2) Trent is saying that works don’t come before justification, yet in other places they tell us that baptism (which is a work) is indeed the cause of salvation! So they’ve got it all twisted.
On the one hand, they will say that it’s not a works-based salvation, yet, when discussing salvation with them, they will quickly turn to James chapter 2 and insist that salvation is by works, without realizing their flip flop. I have seen this many times.
But let’s dispel this myth that Catholicism is not a works-based religion. This is what they teach…
Official Catholic Teaching
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance… is necessary for salvation.” (CCC #2036) [Emphasis added]
“…the Second Vatican Council confirms: ‘the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments.’” (CCC #2068) [Emphasis added]
“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant [which are works] are necessary for salvation.” (CCC #1129) [Emphasis in original]
“…The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude…” (CCC 1257)
According to the Council of Trent:
“If anyone saith that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation… let him be anathema.” (Session 7, Canon 4)
“If anyone saith that the justice [justification] received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.” (Session 6, Canon 24)
According to the Second Vatican Council’s Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences, Chapter 3:
“From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners… indeed the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people.”
This is ample evidence that the Catholic Church teaches salvation by works. And there are many more examples we could provide.
So, no informed Catholic can honestly deny that the Catholic Church officially teaches that salvation is (at least to some extent) based upon one’s own works. But according to Scripture, salvation is not of works (Ephesians 2:9), not even by works of righteousness (Titus 3:5), but rather, it is for the one who does not work, but believes (Romans 4:5).
This doesn’t mean that we Christians are never to do any good works, because God certainly wants us to walk in these (Ephesians 2:10). But our mindset should be that it is only through God’s grace and the cross of Jesus Christ that we are saved, apart from the merits of any of our good works. To say that your works contribute in any way toward your salvation is to say that Jesus’ work on the cross was not sufficient to pay for the sins of the world. Does anyone really want to say this?
Once again, salvation is not about how great you are, and neither is it about the good things you did for God. Rather, it is a surrender to God, an admission of helplessness and unworthiness, a humble confession of spiritual bankruptcy on your part.
The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Accept and believe this simple gospel (the good news) of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, trust in HIS work and suffering and you will not regret it.
I pray that this article is both humbling and encouraging to all. But I want everyone to know that if you think that your resume will pull you through Heaven’s gates, you don’t stand a chance.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Some things just don’t seem to mix – oil and water, good and evil, pain and pleasure, alcohol and a sharp mind, Batman and the Riddler, etc. Another example is different types of churches…
On the one hand, one might see a large, ornate church building with stained glass windows, filled with still, quiet members. In the background can be heard somber (and often creepy) Gregorian chanting. The church is highly ordered and ritualistic, with members sometimes repeating the words of the priest in typical monotone fashion. They receive a short sermon from the priest and afterward they line up in orderly fashion to go up front to receive Communion.
On the other hand, in a church across town, one might find a radically different scene. Here, it is anything but still and quiet. There is the thunder of loud, repetitive music by a group on a stage, perhaps not unlike a rock concert. After the music, many, if not most, of them are speaking in a strange language and praying with their hands raised. Then there is a lengthy sermon, which often includes shouts of approval from the congregation during the sermon. Often, there are also people getting a “touch from God,” creating obvious emotion in them, or they might be falling backward onto the floor, being “slain in the Spirit.”
As one could possibly guess, the first group above is having a typical Catholic Mass, while the second group is typical of many Charismatic churches and events.
Two different churches that are miles apart in the way they operate. These are two totally different expressions of faith, yet there seem to be certain members on either side who are drawn to certain elements from the other side.
Favor With Rome
In fact, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) has been acknowledged and supported (or at least received positive mention) by Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.
Many Catholics think that the Charismatic Movement is not only compatible with Catholicism, but it also helps to strengthen them in their Catholicism!
According to Walter Martin’s Cult/Occultic Orthodox Christian Full Apologetic & Expositional Studies, (online) Cardinal Manning of Los Angeles is known to have said:
"Anyone who has become a genuine Charismatic, to my knowledge, has become a better Catholic” (Charismatic Renewal for Catholics, 1976, p. 48).
“This then is the diagnosis of those involved in the CRM [Charismatic Renewal Movement]… In practical terms the benefits to the [Catholic] Church have already been immense in that thousands of lukewarm Catholics, have been released of their spiritual paralysis and have found new life and a deeper appreciation of their faith [i.e., Catholicism]… Unanimously, people report a greater appreciation of the sacraments, especially the Mass, as meaningful encounters with Christ, the Real Presence and the role of Mary.” John V. McHale, The Charismatic Renewal Movement, pp. 262-263, The Furrow, Volume 24, May 1973 (Emphasis added).
The following five quotes are all from Robert Hogan’s “Mary and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal” (online):
“Another man, Audrey Guillet, explained the effects of being baptized in the Spirit in his life: ‘Not only do I have a tremendous new interest in Scripture but also my childhood devotion to Mary has returned, with the daily recitation of the rosary with my parents.’” (p. 248 – Emphasis added)
“[George] Montague began by directly confronting the ecumenical tension. He explained that the Pentecostal experience among Catholics has seemed to help in reviving Marian devotion. (p. 307 – Emphasis added)
“[Vincent M.] Walsh mentioned Lourdes and Fatima to help demonstrate that the Church has affirmed the legitimacy of healing ministry. He also noted how involvement in CCR reawakens an appreciation of traditional practices such as the rosary.” (p. 254 – Emphasis added)
Hogan speaks of a book, Power in Penance, written by priest Michael Scanlon: “The book described how Scanlon’s experience in CCR helped him to realize, in a deeper way than he had known before his involvement in CCR, the power of God available for reconciling and bringing Christ’s healing to people through the Sacrament of Penance.” (p. 243 – Emphasis added)
Hogan also says of priest / author Simon Tugwell, “His only other citation on Mary was to say that involvement in CCR leads to an increased devotion to Mary in many cases.” (p. 255 – Emphasis added)
Ok, so according to these quotes, the Charismatic Movement has helped many Catholics “become better Catholics,” increased their devotion to the Sacraments, the Mass, and the Real Presence,” “revived Marian devotion,” and has given them a “deeper appreciation” for the Sacrament of Penance and the rosary.
My (Protestant) Charismatic friends, does this not raise a red flag for you? Does this not bother you in the least? Are you not aware of the abundant errors of the Catholic Church? Don’t you find it strange that your own “biblical” teachings and your “Holy Spirit manifestations” are causing Catholics to be “more Catholic”? Where is the discernment? This “spirit” which you both embrace is not the Holy Spirit of Scripture, but another spirit (2 Corinthians 11:4). We also suspect that the Catholic Church is taking full advantage of this opportunity to push the Ecumenical Movement, as well. They want to join with their “separated brethren” in a one-world church (Revelation 13:8, 16-17).
As most of our regular readers already well know, I have strong issues concerning many of the Catholic Church’s teachings. That’s why this blog was created. But I also have some serious issues with Protestant Charismatic groups, as well, at least with some of them. In fact, I just recently started a brand new blog on this very topic to deal with those issues that I believe to be unscriptural in the Charismatic Movement. The new blog can be found here:
But I want to be clear that I am not against all Charismatic churches, since they don’t all teach the same things, or all operate in the same way. But it is obvious that both the Catholic Church and the Charismatic churches (in general) have some truth and some hazards.
This article is intended to be more of a rebuke toward Charismatics, rather than toward Catholics. The abuses in this group are a growing problem. Not only are these harmful doctrines and activities overflowing into the Catholic Church, but America seems to be exporting these same corruptions to many other nations. In the Catholic Church alone, there were over 160 million members in 2013:
No doubt, that number is greater today. So, with its growing influence in mind, the Charismatic Movement, as a whole, has some serious issues, which include encouraging and solidifying the errors of the Catholic Church.
This relationship between these strange bedfellows is not good news. In this union, they are not helping themselves, each other, or the church of Jesus Christ, in general. So, Houston, we have a problem… and the problem is not just the Catholic Church.
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) is at it again. He is known to be controversial, even among faithful Catholics. For example, his comments on divorce, LGBT “rights,” and his reluctance to deal with the Catholic Church’s sex scandals, etc., have caused quite a stir. Another example is some controversial things he said about the “failure” of the cross that we recently addressed here:
But this time he said that having a personal relationship with Jesus is “dangerous.” Do we take this at face value, or is there more to it? Let’s look at the context.
Pope Francis gave a speech in Rome at St. Peter’s Square on June 25, 2014, in front of an audience of 33,000 Catholics. In his speech he complains about people who say, “I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I don’t care about the Church...” And he described as “dangerous” and “harmful” the temptation to believe that one can have “a personal, direct and immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion with, and mediation of, the church.”
The official Vatican text of the speech is here:
A condensed version of the message in video form can be found here:
We just want to address a couple of points here.
First of all, we don’t know of any true Christians who “don’t care about the church.” This is not a Christian mentality and it is certainly not scriptural. The New Testament church is a creation of Jesus Christ, therefore, all believers need to have an active part in a local church body. We agree that there should be no “Lone Ranger” Christians (or, as he called them, “freelancers,” or “do-it-yourself” Christians). We agree that Christians need each other (1 Corinthians 12:14-18, 21-22). The author of Hebrews tells us of the right attitude – “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:25). So, the pope’s complaint about people “not caring about the church” doesn’t even apply to true Christians.
Secondly, concerning the idea of having a relationship with Jesus Christ “outside” the church is just nonsense. Because if you have a real and personal relationship with Jesus, by definition, you already belong to the church, you are already part of the universal body of believers. Having that personal relationship means you are saved, that is, you have been added to the church (Acts 2:41, 47; 5:14).
The problem is that so many times the word “church,” when used by Catholics, is equated only with the institution we know today as the Catholic Church – rather than using the term biblically, which is used either as:
1) the local assembly of true believers (e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:2; Revelation chapters 1 through 3), or
2) the universal body of true believers worldwide (Galatians 1:13; Colossians 1:18).
What the pope really means is that having a personal relationship with Jesus is dangerous unless you are part of, and in communion with, his church, and that we need the Catholic Church’s “mediation” in order to be spiritually healthy. We must (according to him) be dependent on its sacraments, rituals, and hierarchy to be spiritually safe.
Maybe he is afraid that if you use that relationship to discover the truth of Scripture on your own, that you will not want to be in his Church, since so many of its teachings will be found to be false and unbiblical. But he wants you to be subject to the Catholic Church, whether you actually have a relationship with Jesus or not. For the pope, it’s ok to have this relationship… as long as it is controlled and influenced by his church.
The pope’s concern is more about your submission to his church than it is about your relationship with the Savior. Thus, the pope treats your relationship with Jesus as secondary. Is a personal relationship with Christ all that important? We would say that it is absolutely critical, in fact, more important than the local church you join. That relationship should be what properly guides you to a biblical church in the first place! The reason that a relationship is so important is because it is the very cause of your salvation, when you surrender to God’s will.
Having a relationship means knowing the person. On Judgment Day Jesus will say to those who aren’t true followers, “Depart from Me: I never knew you…” (Matthew 7:21-23). Does “I never knew you” mean that Jesus doesn’t actually know certain people, or that He is unaware of them? Is there anything at all about their thoughts or actions that surprises Him? Of course not. He knows everything about everybody. The word “knew” in this context denotes intimacy, i.e., having a close, personal, robust and meaningful relationship with Him. This is what those in Matthew 7 did not have.
Salvation and sanctification depend upon our knowing Him (John 17:3; Philippians 3:8, 10)! Christianity has always been about a relationship with Jesus. In Acts 4:13, the Jewish leaders recognized that Peter and John “had been with Jesus.” The Jews observed that the apostles’ lives were greatly affected by this relationship with their Lord. So why does the pope downplay this concept?
We’re not saying that the pope doesn’t believe in a personal relationship with Jesus and we’re not saying that he’s telling his audience never to have one, but, once again, he seems far more concerned with your submission to his Church than he is with you having a personal relationship with Jesus.
Sometimes the issue is not just what the pope says, but what he doesn’t say, or what he should have said. He had ample opportunity in this case to encourage the members of his audience to have a strong and fulfilling relationship with Christ and His word, but he neglected that opportunity. Instead, he is implying that it is more important to be devoted to the Catholic Church than it is to have that right relationship with Christ! But a true relationship with Christ will steer you away from the works-based Catholic gospel.
Any religious group or cult that claims to be Christian can say that having a personal relationship with Jesus is “dangerous” apart from being associated with that particular group. So how can anyone know that they have the real Jesus? It is an authority issue and this blog has dealt with that topic over and over. It is the Word of God, Scripture, that is the true and ultimate authority to determine what is actually dangerous and what is not (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The bottom line is that Pope Francis is saying that you don’t know Jesus unless you are in the Catholic Church. But there are millions upon millions of believers today and throughout history who have enjoyed a vibrant personal relationship with Jesus Christ without ever being part of the Catholic Church. And to all those who have this true relationship, He promises that He will never leave them, nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5).
The danger, my friends, is not in a fervent relationship with Jesus Christ, but in the false teachings of Pope Francis’ church.
Monday, April 29, 2019
Alphonsus Mary Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de’Liguori (shortened to Alphonsus Liguori) was an 18th century Italian Catholic bishop, theologian and mystic who was also made a “doctor” of the Catholic Church and eventually a “saint.” Liguori wrote a number of books, but one of special note is called The Glories of Mary. This book is a collection of quotes, devotions, discourses and prayers of certain fathers concerning Mary. It is said that The Glories of Mary is widely regarded as his “finest masterpiece,” and it is still around today. As you can tell by the title, this book exalts and glorifies Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. It can be read online here:
This particular edition claims to be the “first complete translation of the work ever made into the English language.”
While the book does acknowledge God and the work of His Son, Jesus Christ, there are some serious issues with it. But lest anyone try to say that we are denying that anything in his book is scriptural, we will start off on a positive note.
- In the book, Liguori admits that Mary’s “…divine Son offered and paid the superabundant ransom of His precious blood, in which alone is our salvation, life and resurrection” (p. 14 - Emphasis added).
- He also admits that “The fulness of grace was in Christ as the head from which it flows…” (p. 14).
- He admits “…for we know that Jesus is our only Saviour, and that by his merits alone he has obtained and does obtain for us salvation.” (p. 150 – Emphasis added)
- He admits that God has “…supreme dominion, even over Mary.” (p. 200)
These are all true and biblical statements. But contradictions in the book abound. On the one hand, he says some truly biblical things like:
- “Distrustful sinners, say, why do you fear? If you fear because you have offended God, remember that Jesus with his own lacerated hands has nailed your sins to the cross, and having satisfied the divine justice for them by his death, he has removed them from your soul.” (p. 227-228)
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But then he immediately turns around and says:
- “But if ever… you fear to have recourse to Jesus Christ because his divine majesty alarms you… if you ever wish for another advocate with this mediator, invoke Mary, for she will intercede for you with the Son, who will graciously listen to her, and the Son will intercede with the Father, who can refuse nothing to this Son… this divine mother… is the ladder of sinners, by which they ascend anew to the height of divine grace. This is my greatest confidence – this is the whole ground of my hope.” (emphasis added - p. 228)
Mary’s intercession is his greatest confidence? If you fear Jesus, are you supposed to go to the “kinder, gentler” Mary? Apparently (according to this book) Mary’s intercession is better than Jesus’ intercession.
Furthermore, he says things like this:
- “And to increase our confidence… when we have recourse to this divine mother, we may not only be sure of her protection, but that sometimes we shall be sooner heard and saved by invoking her holy name than that of Jesus our Saviour… Because it belongs to Christ, as our judge, to punish, but to Mary, as our advocate, to pity.” (emphasis added – p. 149)
Ok, first of all, the Bible says that Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God, is our advocate (1 John 2:1-2). Not Jesus and Mary.
Secondly, Liguori is making a false distinction between Mary and Jesus. He is pitting one against the other. He is implying that pity is not a strong characteristic of Jesus, but it is for Mary. He seems to be saying that Jesus’ job is to punish, not to pity. But our Savior is not someone who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15). He is certainly able to feel empathy toward, and relate to, His people, in fact, more than any other human. His voluntary suffering on the cross is proof of that (John 10:11, 15, 18).
Let’s go on:
- “… I pray you to consider them [the ideas in this book] as meant and spoken by me according to the sense of true and sound theology, and of the holy Roman Catholic Church, whose obedient son I profess myself” (p. 13).
And shortly after this, he says:
- “God has ordained that all graces should come to us through the hands of Mary.... Nor should this appear to any one inconsistent with sound theology…” (p. 13).
True, consistent and sound theology? Where is there any recognizable biblical evidence to believe that “all graces should come to us through the hands of Mary”? This “sound theology” is foreign to Scripture.
- “… the blessed virgin is so great and sublime, that the more we praise her, the more there is to praise. So that St. Augustine says: All the tongues of men, even if all their members were changed to tongues, would not be sufficient to praise her as she deserves” (p. 16).
This is something that can only be said of God, Himself, or of Jesus. No mere human should be praised at that level.
- “Oh woman, blessed among all women, thou art the honor of the human race, the salvation of our people. Thou hast a merit that has no limits, and an entire power over all creatures. Thou art the mother of God, the mistress of the world, the queen of heaven. Thou art the dispenser of all graces, the glory of the holy Church. Thou art the example of the just, the consolation of the saints, and the source of our salvation. Thou art the joy of Paradise, the gate of heaven, the glory of God.” (p. 673)
Wow! It’s hard to know where to start on this one. Mary is certainly blessed among all women to have been privileged to bear, raise and live with the Savior of the world. But as far as the “honor of the human race,” the “salvation of our people,” having unlimited merit and power over all creatures, being the glory of the church, the dispenser of all graces, the source of salvation and the glory of God… If only Jesus Christ could get that level of worship and adoration from His people! Remember, God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; 34:14). These titles can belong to no human other than Jesus, Himself. It is blasphemous to claim otherwise. Concerning Mary being the “gate of heaven,” did not Christ tell us that He is “the door,” (John 10:7, 9)? That is, the door / gate to Heaven? Wasn’t it Jesus that said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life… (John 14:6)? Jesus did not say, “…no one comes to the Father but by Me and My mother.”
- “It is not possible, Oh Lady, that thou shouldst abandon him who places his hope in thee… If thou dost only wish for our salvation, it will be impossible that we should not be saved.” (p. 784-785)
Do they really believe this stuff? That it is impossible to perish if one places his hope in Mary? No, the truth is, Jesus Christ is our hope (Colossians 1:27; 1 Timothy 1:1).
- “Oh, blessed is he who clings with love and confidence to those two anchors of salvation, Jesus and Mary!” (p. 21)
Does this mean that if Jesus fails to save us that Mary is the back-up?
- “Keep far from me my infernal enemies, and come thyself to take my soul and present it to my eternal Judge.” (emphasis added – p. 22)
So, she can leave Heaven and personally come to receive your soul? On what basis can anyone say this?
- “… all graces are dispensed by the hand of Mary alone, and that all those who are saved, are saved solely by means of this divine mother; it may be said, as a necessary consequence, that the salvation of all depends upon preaching Mary, and confidence in her intercession.” (p. 19-20 – Emphasis added)
Concerning Mary as “dispenser,” on what biblical basis can Mary dispense anything at all?
Saved solely by Mary? Doesn’t this contradict what Liguori stated earlier, that “Jesus is our only Saviour, and that by his merits alone he has obtained and does obtain for us salvation”? Yes, it does. Check the first set of quotes above and see. Jesus needs no help from Mary (or anyone else) to “dispense graces.”
So, does salvation depend upon “preaching Mary,” as Liguori suggests? Then why don’t we see this concept in the Bible? No one went about preaching Mary. According to Acts 5:42, the apostles went about “teaching and preaching Jesus.” In Acts 8:5, Philip was “proclaiming Christ.” Saul kept “increasing in strength and confounding the Jews… by proving that this Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 9:22). Apollos “powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:28). And there are many others like this. But no one “preached Mary.” Yes, she was a humble and godly servant of the Lord (Luke 1:48), but it’s all about Jesus Christ, folks, not His mother.
- She is called “the ladder of paradise,” the “gate of heaven,” the most true mediatrix between God and man.” (p. 170)
Again, Liguori is causing her to usurp the role of Jesus with these grand titles. These are true of Jesus alone.
- “But the point that we here propose to prove is, that the intercession of Mary is even necessary for our salvation: necessary, to speak properly, not indeed absolutely, but morally.” (p. 170)
What is this supposed to mean, “morally” necessary? Says who? We have no biblical proof that she does, or even can, intercede for people from Heaven. See the links at the end of this article.
- “But of Mary alone can it be said, that not only was it her lot to be subject to the will of God, but that God was also subject to her will.” (p. 201)
This particular statement seems absolutely blasphemous at first, but the context is that Jesus, as a child, was subject to his mother. So, not only was Mary subject to God (the Father), but it was also true that God (Jesus) was subject to Mary (His mother). But Jesus is certainly not now subject to Mary, but rather, vice-versa.
Furthermore, why only mention Mary concerning Jesus’ submission during His childhood? Wasn’t Jesus also subject to Joseph (His father) at that time? Why not say that God was also subject to Joseph’s will? Joseph is purposely left out, while only Mary gets full mention. Liguori, and those he quotes, seemed to be stacking the deck in favor of Mary’s “authority” to make sure it lines up with Catholic teaching.
These are just a few of the many unbelieveable (and unbiblical) statements found in this volume. These examples of idolatrous statements are multiplied many times over in Liguori’s book.
Catholic Response to Protestant Objections
It is a fact that some of these statements are hard for even some Catholics to swallow! But wanting to defend their church, they will try to explain away the elephant in the room.
It is interesting to see Catholics scramble to defend these teachings. They have to work real hard to explain away such excessive devotion. Some Catholics will say things like, “Just ignore them, since this is not ‘mainstream Catholicism.’” Or, “These are just Liguori’s private writings.
Some will say, “It’s just one person’s work. Liguori was not speaking ex-cathedra and therefore, it is not authoritative. After all, we Catholics, have a certain amount of liberty in our devotion to Mary.
They may say, “You Protestants complain that we are ignoring God’s authority when we pray this way to Mary. But we’re not excluding God at all, we’re just magnifying one of His people. You can find people being magnified in the Bible!”
Or they may say, “It’s no big deal. With all the other solid teachings that Catholicism has to offer, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Some will condescendingly say that the Marian doctrines are on a “higher” spiritual or theological level – it supposedly requires much study or research. It is too complex or advanced for certain people (read “Protestants” here). They will say that Protestants are too biased or incapable of being “objective” on this topic, since some have a strong resistance to Mary.
Some of these responses downplay the book and some make excuses for it. Either way, these are very weak and vague responses to those who question the book. These are not valid answers to our serious objections, nor are they biblical answers.
Approved by the Church?
But does the Catholic Church really approve of such statements? To our knowledge, the Catholic Church has never rejected or even corrected any part of this book, but rather, it seems to endorse it, as evidenced by the book’s popularity in Catholic circles and its availability in so many places. We certainly don’t expect to ever see this book in the Catholic “Index of Forbidden Books.”
Furthermore, on the copyright page of Liguori’s book, we have the guarantee that the Catholic Church approves of it:
- “This new and improved translation of ‘The Glories of Mary’ having been duly examined is hereby approved of.”
And it is signed by “John,” archbishop of New York, January 21, 1852 (apparently refering to John J. Hughes, New York’s first archbishop of its archdiocese). And, as far as we can tell, most, if not all, of the newer editions of this book bear the official Catholic seals of approval, i.e., the “nihil obstat” (nothing hinders) and the “imprimatur” (let it be printed).
But what if a Catholic doesn’t agree with the book? Can he claim that the writings of “official saints” (like Liguori) are wrong? Did Liguori get to be a “doctor” of the Church by writing things that contradict its teachings? We wouldn’t think so. They must have considered his teachings orthodox (i.e., traditionally accepted as true). Anyway, it seems that all the evidence points to the Catholic Church’s embracing and complete acceptance of “The Glories of Mary.”
Scripture nowhere tells us that those who have died and gone to Heaven can in any way intercede for us on earth. Catholics only assume Mary’s intercession.
The problem with this sort of thing is that the distinction between the Savior and mankind (including Mary) is blurred by such exalted language. Whenever a person is given the attributes that only God has in Scripture, then he / she is given too much “devotion.” The highest levels of intimacy and exalted compliments should be reserved for Jesus alone.
Therefore, this book is blasphemous and the “Mary” that Liguori glorifies is not the humble handmaid called Mary in the Bible. Instead of “The Glories of Mary,” this book’s title could have rightly been “The Idolatries of Liguori and Other Catholics.”
See also these articles on praying to Mary and the saints: