Archive for the ‘Comparison’ Category

Is Mary more Compassionate than Jesus? – Part II

May 14, 2008

In the previous post (link) we saw how it appears that the criticism of Roman Catholicism as teaching that Mary is more compassionate than Jesus is a justified criticism, despite such a characterization not explicitly appearing in any conciliar documents or allegedly infallible papal writings.

There’s another way that we can arrive at the conclusion too – which is the papist notion that Mary, as “Queen of Heaven,” is the queen of Mercy (whereas Christ is not the King of Mercy, but the King of Justice, in the description below … though he certainly is called the “King of Mercy” elsewhere in Roman Catholic writings).

The kingdom of God consisting of justice and mercy, the Lord has divided it; he has reserved the kingdom of justice for himself, and he has granted the kingdom of mercy to Mary, ordaining that all the mercies which are dispensed to men should pass through the hands of Mary, and should be bestowed according to her good pleasure. St. Thomas confirms this in his preface to the Canonical Epistles; saying that the holy virgin, when she conceived the Divine Word in her womb, and brought him forth, obtained the half of the kingdom of God by becoming Queen of Mercy, Jesus Christ remaining King of Justice.

As reported here (link), and essentially confirmed here (link).

For comparison (link).

This title, “Queen of Mercy,” is apparently even part of the ordinary (i.e. not extraordinary) teachings of the Vatican, for it can be found in the document, Marialis Cultus (link), subtitled: “For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” In that document, it is written: “It is also important to note how the Church expresses in various effective attitudes of devotion the many relationships that bind her to Mary: … in loving service, when she sees in the humble handmaid of the Lord the queen of mercy and the mother of grace … .” (Marialis Cultus, paragraph 22, emphasis added)

Thus, we can see that this concept of Mary’s alleged Queenship of Mercy is actually the standard teaching of the modern Roman Catholic church. One could argue that Marialis Cultis is written in such a way that it qualify as an ex cathedra proclamation under the standard enunciated by the first Vatican council, although I recognize that modern Roman Catholics would almost to a man not recognize it as such.

But this is not the teaching of Scripture. Scripture states that “the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11) Likewise, it tells us that God is “rich in mercy” (Ephesian 2:4). Furthermore, it clearly indicates that it is by his compassions and mercies that we are saved: “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. ” (Lamentations 3:22)

And Scripture also teaches that God is sovereign in his mercy: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Romans 9:15) So then, it is purely the invention of the imaginations of men’s hearts to elevate Mary from the handmaid of the Lord (Luke 1:38) to the Queen of Mercy. Let us turn instead and pray to God alone, beseeching him for Mercy who is the Merciful God (Deuteronomy 4:31).

For it is written: “for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9) Therefore, repent of yours sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: Updated to reflect the fact that despite the division discussed above, Roman Catholics elsewhere do call Christ the “King of Mercy,” since – based on a single comment I received, it appears that this was not clear from the original post. Also, despite criticism to the contrary from the same commentator, Mary is not only described by Catholic authors as the Queen of Heaven, but also the Queen of Hell: “Mary, Queen of heaven, is also Queen of hell; the devils themselves, bend under the yoke of her sovereignty …” (source).

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Is Mary more compassionate than Jesus? – Part I

May 13, 2008

Recently, one of my brothers in Christ asked me to confirm that Roman Catholics view Mary, practically speaking, as more compassionate than Jesus. If one does a search for the phrase “more compassionate than Jesus” one will not find a conciliar document – or probably even a papal encyclical.

One will encounter certain testimonials, such as this one: “I was taught as a RC youngster that approaching Mary was “easier” than approaching Jesus because she was more compassionate than Jesus was/is,” (link) but these may be easily dismissed by RC apologists as being merely faulty memories of youth (though I suppose many folks would be able to confirm that they too were taught such a view of Mary). Likewise one may find a phrase like “more compassion than Jesus” from questionable internet apologists (example) who oppose Catholicism.

Nevertheless, there are also other ways in which inappropriate devotion to Mary can be seen in Roman Catholic writings. For example, this site (link – caution – images) provides prayers of “reparation” to be made to Mary for “Blasphemy against the Blessed Virgin Mary”! I wish I were joking, but I am not.

But this is not a post specifically about Mariolatry (as evidenced by the very idea that Mary is capable of being “blasphemed”) but more specifically about the supposed greatness of Mary’s compassion. In the prayer there to Mary, the writer calls her: “the Immaculate Virgin and most compassionate Mother of God.” Now, we could chalk this up to simply flattery of Mary in the hopes of getting her favor, but the question remains: is she is truly “most compassionate”? Is not Jesus more compassionate?

Someone might argue that “most” is simply being used as synonym for “very.” While this cannot be totally ruled out, consider whether we would interpret the other extreme comments in the prayer as equally hyperbolic. Would we consider “immaculate” as simply meaning “very pure”? Would we interpret “Most glorious Virgin Mary” to mean that she was only “very glorious”? Would we interpret “most holy Mother” to mean that she was only “very holy”? And what about the appellation “the supreme comforter of the afflicted” — shall we interpret that in the prayer to mean only a very good good comforter of the afflicted? Surely, when we consider he phrase in context, it seems to be meant to be taken literally, as though there is no greater comforter of the afflicted, no more glorious person, and that she is totally free of sins.

But let us turn to a book. This book is called, “The Glories of Mary,” and was originally written in Italian by “St.” Alphonsus de Liguori, founder of the “Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer,” and was translated into English by a “Father” of that congregation. The book was approved and commended by Achbishop Wiseman of Westminster.

Under Section II – Mary is the Hope of Sinners, the following example and prayer are provided (pp. 97-99):

EXAMPLE
Blessed John Herold, who out of humility called himself the Disciple, relates, that there was a married man, who lived at enmity with God. His wife, who was a virtuous woman, being unable to engage him to give up sin, begged him, in the wretched state in which he was, to practise at least the devotion of saluting our Blessed Lady with a ‘Hail Mary,’ each time that he might pass before her picture. He began to do so. One night this wretched man was on his way to commit a crime, when he perceived a light at a distance: he drew near to see what it was, and found that it was a lamp, burning before a devout picture of Mary, holding the child Jesus in her arms. He at once, according to custom, said the ‘Hail Mary.” In the same moment, he beheld the Divine Infant covered with wounds, from which fresh blood was streaming. Terrified, and at the same time, moved to compassion, at this sight, he reflected that it was he, who, by his sins, had thus wounded his Redeemer. He burst into tears, but the Divine infant turned his back to him. Filled with shame, he appealed to the most Blessed Virgin, saying : ‘Mother of Mercy, thy Son rejects me: I can find no advocate more compassionate and more powerful than thee, for thou art his Mother; my Queen, do thou help me, and intercede for me.’ The Divine Mother, speaking from the picture, replied: ‘You sinners call me Mother of Mercy, but, at the same time, you cease not to make me a Mother of Sorrows, by crucifying my Son afresh, and renewing my sorrows.’ But as Mary can never let any one leave her feet disconsolate, she began to implore her Son to pardon this miserable wretch. Jesus continued to show himself unwilling to do so. The most Blessed Virgin, seeing this, placed him in the niche, and, prostrating herself before him, said: ‘My Son, I will not leave thy feet until thou hast pardoned this sinner.’ ‘My Mother,’ then said Jesus, ‘I can deny thee nothing; thou willest that he should be forgiven; for love of thee I pardon him; make him come and kiss my wounds.’ The sinner, sobbing and weeping, did so, and, as he kissed them, the wounds were healed. Jesus then embraced him, as a mark of forgiveness, and he changed his life, which, from that time, was one of holiness ; and he always preserved the most tender love and gratitude towards this Blessed Virgin, who had obtained him so great a grace.

PRAYER.
O most pure Virgin Mary, I worship thy most holy heart which was the delight and resting-place of God, thy heart overflowing with humility, purity, and Divine love. I, an unhappy sinner, approach thee with a heart all loathsome and wounded. O compassionate Mother, disdain me not on this account; let such a sight rather move thee to greater tenderness, and excite thee to help me. Do not stay to seek virtues or merit in me before assisting me. I am lost, and the only tiling I merit is hell. See only my confidence in thee and the purpose I have to amend. Consider all that Jesus has done and suffered for me, and then abandon me if thou canst. I offer thee all the pains of His life; the cold that He endured in the stable; His journey into Egypt; the blood which He shed; the poverty, sweats, sorrows, and death that He endured for me; and this in thy presence. For the love of Jesus take charge of my salvation. Ah my Mother, I will not and cannot fear that thou wilt reject me, now that I have recourse to thee and ask thy help. Did I fear this, I should be offering an outrage to thy mercy, which goes in quest of the wretched, in order to help them. O Lady, deny not thy compassion to one to whom Jesus has not denied His blood. But the merits of this blood will not be applied to me unless thou recommendest me to God. Through thee do I hope for salvation. I ask not for riches, honours, or earthly goods. I seek only the grace of God, love towards thy Son, the accomplishment of His will, and His heavenly kingdom, that I may love Him eternally. Is it possible that thou wilt not hear me? No: for already thou hast granted my prayer, as I hope ; already thou prayest for me; already thou obtainest me the graces that I ask; already thou takest me under thy protection : my Mother, abandon me not. Never, never cease to pray for me until thou seest me safe in heaven at thy feet, blessing and thanking thee for ever. Amen.

*** End of Quoted Materal ***

Now, consider, dear Reader, whether or not this tale suggests that Mary is more compassionate and approachable than Jesus? It is hard to read it any other way. For Jesus, in the tale, rebuffs the sinner, but Mary is the solution. Indeed, the man in the tale asserts: “I can find no advocate more compassionate and more powerful than thee….” Now doubtless those advocating the papist position today might argue that there is no better advocate before Jesus than Mary – and not simply no better advocate than Mary. But the problem is this: Scripture is clear that Jesus is compassionate and merciful to those who come to him. Furthermore, Jesus is our advocate, and is the mediator between God and man.

We need Jesus, not Mary, to plead our case for the forgiveness of our sins. Mary was blessed, indeed – but not with the role of mediatrix. Scripture nowhere teaches or hints at such a role for the mother of Christ, the Son of God.

So, let us turn from what is – in essence – idolatry that would be offensive to Mary if she were still with us, and turn instead to the pure worship of the One True God, by His Son, our Savior, Jesus the Righteous!

As the Orthodox are so wont to say: Lord have mercy!

-TurretinFan

P.S. This is Part I, but it is the main part. Part II is planned simply to be the provision of a similar example of an excessively high view of Mary.

UPDATE: updated to address a typographic error, and to clarify one point.

Two Methods of Apologetics towards Catholics

April 6, 2008

Passionately (link).

The link is to a Catholic blog, in which is embedded a video of a man dressed a Catholic priest shouting a message of repentance to an assembled congregation of Catholics, apparently during their service. The audio is somewhat indistinct – a combination of amateur recording equipment and lousy acoustics / camera location.

The man shouts out warnings to the Catholics that the priest cannot save them, and that they are endangering their souls by their religion. At first the priest (it seems) tries to tell the man to go away. Eventually, after a bit, the priest realizes that the man’s shouting can really only be overcome by the vox populi, and consequently leads the congregation in song.

Cons of this approach:

1. The Catholic blog that posts the video in the link above suggests that this is illegal in many places. While illegality is not an absolute bar to evangelism, it may be more seemly to pursue methods of evangelism that honor the king. Also, getting arrested for disrupting a worship service is not necessarily the same as getting arrested for preaching the gospel, even if that is what you were doing when we disrupted the service.

2. The approach is rude. These are people who clearly do not want to be disturbed. Again, it is not absolutely necessary that an evangelist be polite at all costs, but being rude is not the Pauline model, to say the least.

3. The approach doesn’t seem effective. It is too easy to drown out the message with a hymn – it is too easy to write off the messenger as a “rabid anti-Catholic.” The mockery in the Catholic blog post above demonstrates both of the ways in which the message will be minimized.

Pros

1. These are people who may not otherwise hear the gospel warnings, that may be jolted by such an approach.

2. It cannot be completely ignored.

Evaluation

I’m not in favor of this sort of apologetic methodology, at least not in the society in which we live. I am not trying to judge the man in the video: I don’t know his heart, his motivation, or his intent. Perhaps he simply longs for the Catholics in his community to be saved. Calling him an “anti-Catholic” for that it is wrong. I could alternatively ascribe negative motivations, but I don’t know the man’s heart. I really don’t like the fact that he dressed up as a Catholic priest, although in a few places other ministers also were similar atire. From the voices in the video, it sounds as the person calling the parishioners to repentance is an American, which tends to make me think that the garb is assumed.

Rationally (link).

The link is to a post by James Swan over at Alpha and Omega Ministries. The link presents a studied examination of one particular station of the so-called “stations of the cross.” It provides a demonstration that one of the stations is based on ingrained legend founded in etymological error.

Cons:

1. Catholics have to be interested in reading to get the message.

2. Catholics have to actually go to the website to read the message.

3. Catholics have to think to get the message.

4. It’s fairly easy to ignore: just call Swan names and don’t go to his web site.

Pros:

1. If someone goes, they have a tough time answering matter rationally.

2. The message is polite but firm, based in fact and compelling to someone who makes an historical examination of the matter.

3. The message is engaging. If you disagree, you cannot just stick your fingers in your eyes and sing a song, because your mind expects something more.

Compared to the former approach, Swan’s approach seems better – but then Swan has a different intended audience. The rank and file of Roman Catholicism do not go to Swan’s website and check out what he writes. On the other Swan’s approach is also more durable: he doesn’t have to shout every day to be heard every day. Also, Swan’s approach is more winsome. I think if I were Catholic, I’d be more well persuaded by Swan’s approach than by the approach in the first video.

Conclusion

Of course, these are not the only two approaches that exist. I have no doubt that someone may think that there is a better approach than either of the two I’ve outlined above. Regardless of how we go about it, we must do so from the right motives – and ought to do so in a way that is aimed toward bringing souls to Christ.

Paul encourages us this way:

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33
31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Therefore, let us be constant continually preaching to those who do not trust in Christ alone for salvation, that they do so, repenting from their sins, and receiving the gift of God by faith in the Savior.

Praise be to His glorious grace!

-TurretinFan

Comparing the Mass to Animal Sacrifices

April 6, 2008

Reginald, who had been providing some interaction on 2 Thessalonians 2:15 appears to have lost interest in that discussion because he didn’t like this comment I made in passing in another (completely unrelated) discussion:

As to (1), the application to transubstantiation is too easy. So, I’ll leave it at that.

Reginald doesn’t really explain why he doesn’t like the comment. Perhaps he sees something unspoken behind the comment. Perhaps he simply doesn’t understand the comment. It really has nothing to do with the 2 Thessalonians 2:15 discussion, and in fact it was made in response to this comment by one of my other readers:

1. A Santiera priest was told by the courts that he could not offer his animal sacrifices in the Dallas/Ft. Worth city/county lines per the city’s ordinance.

The context was religious persecution that I had described in this earlier post (link).

Now, I don’t mind if Reginald wants to take offense at my comment or use that as a reason not to interact on the unrelated topic of 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

I just think its worth spelling out the argument:

1. Greater Dallas has decided that animal sacrifices cannot be made within its city limits.
2. These days, biologists classify man as an animal.
3. In the mass, it is claimed by Roman Catholics (including Reginald) that the substance of the bread and wine is changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ.
4. Furthermore, calling the mass a sacrifice is perfectly orthodox Catholic theology: “So priests must instruct their people to offer to God the Father the Divine Victim in the Sacrifice of the Mass” (emphasis original – link to original) – even in the ecumenicism of post-V2:

“There can never be any repetition of that act; it happened once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). Nevertheless, the Eucharist truly has a sacrificial character because Christ is really present there in the very act of his supreme self-gift to his Father. The sacramental presence of Christ himself is at once the sacramental presence of his sacrifice also, because the Christ who is present is he who has entered the sanctuary once and for all bearing his own blood to secure an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).[109] He now lives forever, exercising a perpetual priesthood, making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:24-25). Catholics regret any impression they may have given of a repetition of Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass, but they also reject the overreaction which denies a sacrificial character to the Eucharist.” (source)


In view of those four essentially indisputable facts, it seems as though if Muslims took over the Greater Dallas machine they could use the same prohibition on animal sacrifices against the Mass, and forbid Catholics from conducting the Mass within the city limits.

(Update: I came across this Muslim comment to a Catholic today, which tends to confirm that they would see things that way: “Since Muslims are forbidden to partake in cannibalism, I shall leave the “body and blood” bit to you who are allowed to indulge in such practices. I do not follow the example of John Paul, that is for YOU as Catholic to do {referring to JP2 kissing the Koran}. I follow the example of Jesus [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] and I call on the one true God, HIS own God [John 20:17; Rev. 3:12], who is not he himself. I thought you would do likewise.” (braces added – square brackets in original)

Reginald considers this vinegar, but he doesn’t explain why. While I don’t mind people taking offense at what I write (thanks Carrie!), I’d not want to give Reginald or anyone else needless offense.

I’d love to hear his explanation.

-TurretinFan

P.S. Updated to correct a typo caught by Carrie.


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