"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

17 July 2006

Extra-Biblical Teaching

I recently discovered Carm.org, an apologetics website that has some great articles. As I mentioned in a previous post, a Mormon commenter on my Bible Alone post left some objections to the idea of Sola Scriptura and I would like to address some of those thoughts in the future. I have also exchanged some pleasant emails with this person and have tried to learn a bit more about Mormonism. While doing so I came across Carm.org.

This comparison grid from Carm.org is a nice summary in my opinion of the extra-biblical teachings of Mormonism, Catholicism, and the Jehovah's Witnesses. I thought I would link to it here as I hope to touch on some of these points in my future post.

I find it interesting that faiths that hold onto some biblical teachings but veer off from the Bible alone as their sole authority, tend to veer off in similar directions. Especially with being lead by an earthly authority and being the one true church.

I also still need to address some of Beth's comments to my posts on Catholicism (which were basically our email exchange). I appreciate Beth taking the time to email me and comment further on some of the things I have said on this blog about Catholicism. Not that my viewpoint of the faith has changed, but she has made me think about how to approach my oppositions as it is never my intent to unnecessarily upset or offend someone. Thanks Beth.

38 comments:

Elena said...

"This comparison grid from Carm.org is a nice summary in my opinion of the extra-biblical teachings of Mormonism, Catholicism, and the Jehovah's Witnesses."

Well I can't speak for the Jehova's or the Mormons, but it does not accurately summarize the Catholic position at all.

rick b said...

Hello, I have a blog called ,ormonism reviewed, if you would like to glance it over and maybe post a reply or two. Rick b

Carrie said...

How so Elena?

Elena said...

Mary has godlike abilities: able to hear and answer all prayers of all people all the time, intercede with God.

Mary is a creature like you and me, and the angels. Any abilities that she has comes to her from God. Her intercession with God is very similar to your intercession with God if I were to ask you to pray for me. It's the same thing. The scriptures say that the prayers of the righteous availeth much - therefore it makes sense that Mary's prayer would be of great value right?

The grid is trying to say that Catholics have made Mary a Goddess, and that simply is not true. They would be better off by quoting direction from the Catholic Cathechism which is widely available instead of a bad paraphrase of what they think Catholics believe.

Carrie said...

Perhaps these words from one of the Popes is what confuses people about Catholic's reverence for Mary:

"Pius IX on Mary From our earliest years nothing has ever been closer to our heart than devotion—filial, profound, and wholehearted—to the most blessed Virgin Mary. Always have we endeavored to do everything that would redound to the greater glory of the Blessed Virgin, promote her honor, and encourage devotion to her. . . . Great indeed is our trust in Mary. The resplendent glory of her merits, far exceeding all the choirs of angels, elevates her to the very steps of the throne of God. Her foot has crushed the head of Satan. Set up between Christ and his Church, Mary, ever lovable and full of grace, always has delivered the Christian people from their greatest calamities and from the snares and assaults of all their enemies, ever rescuing them from ruin. . . . The foundation of all our confidence, as you know well, venerable brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary."

—Pope Pius IX, Ubi Primum (February 2, 1849)

Elena said...

Also known as to Jesus, through Mary.

I'm unclear why Protestants have such a problem to Mary. Martin Luther had a great devotion to her as well.

I'n not denying that Mary has a special place in the church. She was Jesus' mother afterall. But she is not a Goddess and Pope Pius, even in his flowerly 19th century language, did not say that she was either.

Ellen said...

Mary, sinless, without stain, perpetual virgin, co-redemptress and co-mediatrix. She is prayed to and worshipped, she gives visions and prophecies.

Rome (and the followers of Rome) say that Mary is not a goddess...yet she acts as a goddess, and Rome has placed her in Christ's place.

Rome says, "The foundation of all our confidence, as you know well, venerable brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary"

God says, "Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God." (2 Corinthians 3:4)

Rome says, "For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things,"

God says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17)

Rome says, "in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope,"

God says, "who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."

Rome says, ", every grace,"

God says, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain."

Rome says, "and all salvation."

God says, For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,"

Rome says, "For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary."

God says, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,"
(2 Peter 1:3)

Perhaps Protestants have a problems with Mary because we find our hope, grace, salvation, all things in God, while the followers of the bishop of Rome find theirs in Mary.

Elena said...

Perhaps Protestants have a problems with Mary because we find our hope, grace, salvation, all things in God, while the followers of the bishop of Rome find theirs in Mary.

Protestants (some, not all) have a problem with Mary because they take quotations out of context, misuse and twist them.

Ellen said...

Well, is Mary the treasury of all good things? That seems pretty straight foward.

Is there one mediator between God and man, or is there a "co-mediatrix"?

Is there one redeemer? Or is there a co-redemptress?

Show me in the Bible where Mary is named redeemer, along with Christ.

Elena said...

Well, is Mary the treasury of all good things? That seems pretty straight foward.

Yep. Mary was created pure and holy because she was the vessel that carried our Lord in her womb. In a sense then she was very much like the holy of holies that prefigured her in the arc of the covenent in the Old Testament. She was not however, a Goddess. That is a misinterpretation.

Is there one mediator between God and man, or is there a "co-mediatrix"?

The prayers of a righteous man availeth much do they not Ellen? That is scriptural. You would ask your sister or brother in Christ to be a powerful prayer warrior for you. What the Pope is saying is that Mary, because of her special relationship to Jesus is indeed a very powerful prayer warrior. Requests to her do availeth much!

Is there one redeemer? Or is there a co-redemptress?

Jesus is our redeemer. This article explains those terms well.

http://www.catholicplanet.com/CMA/index.htm

Ellen said...

Actually, there is a difference between being an intercessor (as in prayer on behalf of) and a mediator (as in: there is one mediator). If you want to say that Mary is "co-mediatrix" because you pray to her, then you have to say that there are dozens of co-mediators.

I ask a living, breathing person to pray with me and for me. There is one mediator.

As far as Mary's trinity, can you give me a Biblical basis for any of that?

Elena said...

Ellen, my purpose on this thread was to point out that this reference was in correct in saying that Catholics believe Mary is a Goddess. We don't. It's wrong, which calls its accuracy on other things into question.

Carrie said...

Actually, the Carm.org chart does not call her a Goddess, but says she has God-like abilities – to HEAR and ANSWER all prayers. That is what elevates her to a “god-like” status. Who but God can ANSWER prayers?

I can ask a friend to pray for me, but I have to verbalize that request to a living person. They don’t hear my silent prayers.

Do you believe Mary hears your silent prayers or do you speak out loud for her to hear? Either way, how would she be able to hear the prayers of all Catholics across the globe? Do you think everyone in heaven has these abilities or just Mary? How do you rectify that idea with the Bible’s prohibition of speaking to the dead?

I see no reason scripturally to elevate Mary above the level of any other human who was involved in God's divine plan.

PhD4Jesus said...

Hi Elena. You stated:

Mary was created pure and holy because she was the vessel that carried our Lord in her womb.

Obviously Paul didn't know that because he writes in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and in Romans 3:10-18 he describes the condemnation of all men stating that no one is rightous, all have turned aside, and that there is none who does good. As I brought up in a more current post of Carrie's (Response to comments... (Yes, I'm Anonymous)) many of the Catholic traditions contridict the written word of God. Here is yet another example. Mary cannot be pure if all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory.

Elena said...

Actually, the Carm.org chart does not call her a Goddess, but says she has God-like abilities – to HEAR and ANSWER all prayers. That is what elevates her to a “god-like” status. Who but God can ANSWER prayers?

Carrie, Catholics do not believe that Mary is God. Period. That site is wrong. I would suggest looking at authentic Catholic sites for what Catholics actually believe as an alternative.

Elena said...

Paul is not speaking literally. Certainly an infant has not sinned, a severely mentally incapacitated infant or child would not have been capable of sin either.

I would suggest that it is not the Catholics who have contradicted, but rather your interpretation that is faulty.

Ellen said...

Elena, please give Biblical evidence of Mary's sinlessness.

Ellen said...

Paul is not speaking literally. Certainly an infant has not sinned, a severely mentally incapacitated infant or child would not have been capable of sin either.

What Paul is saying is that we all (yes, even the unborn) have a need of a savior - that doesn't mean that it leaves room for Mary to be sinless.

Marion doctrine must depend on tradition and the teachings of men (outside of Scripture). If such a large portion of doctrine is outside of Scripture, how can you say that tradition and Scripture hold equal value?

Elena said...

If one is "full of grace" how does one sin?

Ellen said...

Elena, you tell me - exactly how many people does the Roman church say were sinless (if all that is required is the term "full of grace"?

Acts says that Stephen was "full of grace" - does Rome teach that he was sinless also?

On the other hand, in NIV, ESV or KJV, I couldn't find where it said that Mary was "full of grace". They all say that she "found favor" with God.

If you could please find that for me, I'd like to take a look at the Greek.

Elena said...

It's in Luke Chapter 1. The angel Gabriel addresses Mary for the first time. I took the liberty of looking up this information from a talk by Professor Scott Hahn, who I believe has his doctorate in scripture.


"In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'Hail, full of grace.'" Now that Greek term is translated in various ways. Oh highly favored one, but the grace of God in the New Testament develops and it becomes a kind of substance and not just an attitude; that when God gives favor, it isn't just a feeling. It isn't just a thought. It isn't just a subjective posture or attitude. It's God's own life. So that when God favors you, he didn't just stand back and say, "Eeh, I like ya." He gives himself to you.

So when she is full of God's favor, she is full of God's life and that's the term grace as it develops in the New Testament. So, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you," an absolutely unique address. Never before has an angel addressed somebody almost naming them full of grace. It doesn't say, "Hail, Mary, full of grace." It says, "Hail, full of grace," and it says it almost like a title. Scholars have torn this apart to show the distinctiveness and uniqueness of the address.

phd4jesus said...

Elena, I thank you very much for your time and effort in answering the questions we have had. I have to stick with sola scriptura, however, otherwise how do I know whether you are correct, or the Mormons or the Jehovah Witnesses.

It is so clear that the Bible is God's inspired word, which is sufficient and eternal. All the piling on of tradition is just mans way of saying "God, I'll do it my way", which after all is the history of man. Ephesians 2:8-9 sums it up for me:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ellen said...

I'm looking at Luke 1 - help me out here.

In ESV, the word "grace" does not appear in the chapter. It doesn't appear in Luke 1 in either the KJV or NIV.

In Luke 2, the word grace comes from the Greek, charis {khar'-ece}. That word doesn't appear in Luke 1.

"full of grace" doesn't appear (in the Bible) to be the concept.

Stephen, on the other hand, had that exact phrase used to describe him.

According to Rom, was Stephen sinless?

Elena said...

From the Douay-Rheims Bible- the Latin Vulgate:

http://www.drbo.org/chapter/49001.htm


26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.


I believe Dr. Hahn explained the discrepancy in the part I pasted.

Elena said...

Elena, I thank you very much for your time and effort in answering the questions we have had. I have to stick with sola scriptura, however, otherwise how do I know whether you are correct, or the Mormons or the Jehovah Witnesses.

Easy. The Catholic church can be historically traced directly back to Christ and the apostles. I don't know about the Jehova Witnesses, but the Mormons had their origins from the Methodists if I recall.

Elena said...

It is so clear that the Bible is God's inspired word,

Not debating that it is not.


which is sufficient and eternal.

God is eternal. The bible actually had a beginning.


All the piling on of tradition

We don't "pile on" tradition. Sacred Tradition comes to us from the apostles as well as Sacred Scripture.

is just mans way of saying "God, I'll do it my way",

And all of thousands of branches within Protestantism isn't?

Ellen said...

Elena, that's not a descrepancy, that's a Roman reading into the Scripture that which simply is not there.

Reading from the Greek (not a Roman Bible), it simply isn't there.

Oh - and the Mormons didn't have their origins from the Methodists, they had their origins in Joseph Smith, who didn't like the Methodists and left their teaching and left that church.

Ellen said...

Elena, here are things you haven't addresse3d:

Show me in the Bible where Mary is named redeemer, along with Christ.

As far as Mary's trinity, can you give me a Biblical basis for any of that?

Elena, please give Biblical evidence of Mary's sinlessness.

Acts says that Stephen was "full of grace" - does Rome teach that he was sinless also?

Ellen said...

The difference is that (although Protestants differ), most are making an honest attempt at looking to Scripture for the answers.

Rome abandoned that long ago, with her need to have God explained through man and tradition.

Elena said...

Well on that note Ellen, I'll let you have the last word. I don't need it.

I just wanted to point out that the chart Carrie posted was innacurate from the Catholic perspective. I've done that. Purpose served.

phd4jesus said...

Elena, I just wanted to be clear that I didn't say the Bible was eternal. I said God's word is eternal.

Thanks you for sharing. I really appreciated it.

Carrie said...

The Carm.org chart says:
Mary has godlike abilities: able to hear and answer all prayers of all people all the time, intercede with God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about Mary:
966 "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death."508 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."515 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 which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."516 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.517

2679 Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes,39 for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.40

2677 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself

Based on this, I would say the Carm chart isn't too far off. These citations from the Catholic Catechism seem to elevate Mary to a god-like level. You may disagree, but I hope you can see how that conclusion could be reached.

The "Queen over all things", "mother of all the living", feasts, prayers, statues - these are probably what some people would consider Goddess-like.

Elena said...

Based on this, I would say the Carm chart isn't too far off. These citations from the Catholic Catechism seem to elevate Mary to a god-like level. You may disagree, but I hope you can see how that conclusion could be reached.

Let me highlight the parts that I think the chart misses:


The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about Mary:
966 "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin,


Preserved by God to be free from all stain of original sin. Which has much biblical support i.e. requirements for the Lord's dwelling place.



when the course of her earthly life was finished , was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory,

She had a life span! Mary is human

and exalted by the Lord

A key point. Catholics exalt Mary because God did. Even the early reformers believed this!


as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son,

Mary is important because of Jesus, not instead of Him.


the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death."508 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:,

Participating in the resurrection is something ALL Christians are hoping for.

971 "All generations will call me blessed":

A direct quote from scripture! Not to do so is unbiblical!

"The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."515 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 which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."516 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.517

2679 Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes,39 for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.40

Jesus gives us Mary!

2677 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother;

That's biblical too. If we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and Mary was the Mother of Jesus she is our heavenly mother as well. Jesus demonstrates that at the crucifixion.

we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself

Bingo! If Mary were a Goddess why would she have to pray for herself? Mary's special gift is in her prayers.


I think the Carm chart lacks credibility in that it is totally incomplete and misleading in its understanding of this doctrine. It would lose all credibility with a catechized Catholic.

Carrie said...

Even if I would give you that the Mary quote by the chart was inaccurate (and I'm not saying that it is), was everything else on that chart false? I don't think the the chart is totally inaccurate and lacks credibility.

Okay, you are caught up on the Goddess thing, but I would maintain that Mary is elevated to a place in the Catholic church that is unbiblical and distracting (at a minimum) to the Gospel message.

I didn't even quote all the catechisms about Mary, but there were others that I found disturbing. Mary was blessed because she was used by God to be the mother of the Savior. It has nothing to do with her own merit but is all about Jesus.

There is no biblical support for Mary being free from sin. After a brief mention in Acts, nothing else is heard of her. If she were so importamt in the church, then why didn't Paul, James, Peter, John, or Jude EVER write about her? Why wouldn't they have established that important point? Why wouldn't Luke or Matthew have mentioned her lack of sin if that was necessary for the Lord's dwelling place?

Was God lying when he wrote Romans and said "ALL have sinned and fall short"? Or did he secretly mean "ALL but Mary"?

You don't have to answer any of those questions, but those are the kind of things that make no sense to me when it comes to Marian doctrine. I am truly stumped why anyone would want to give glory to anyone other than Christ. Why anyone would flee to Mary "for protection in all their dangers and needs" or "entrust all their cares and petitions to her". That is Christ's role and his alone.

I guess we will agree to disagree, Elena.

Elena said...

Even if I would give you that the Mary quote by the chart was inaccurate (and I'm not saying that it is), was everything else on that chart false?

Well the part on assetts was sort of funny? Catholics don't have treasures in heaven only Protestants do? Please. We have a mega church in my town that is easily a mega million budget. Which is fine, good for them - but don't tell me their only assets are treasures in heaven!

I don't think the the chart is totally inaccurate and lacks credibility.

If it's not totally accurate how can it be credible?

Okay, you are caught up on the Goddess thing, but I would maintain that Mary is elevated to a place in the Catholic church that is unbiblical and distracting (at a minimum) to the Gospel message.

Most certainly Mary is revered in the chruch. The early reformers revered her too. However proper teaching on Mary shows us that Mary always pointsus to Jesus. She's not a distraction she's an aid.

I didn't even quote all the catechisms about Mary, but there were others that I found disturbing. Mary was blessed because she was used by God to be the mother of the Savior. It has nothing to do with her own merit but is all about Jesus.

Absolutely! That's exactly what the church teaches!!

There is no biblical support for Mary being free from sin. After a brief mention in Acts, nothing else is heard of her.


Well there absolutely is and if I have a chance before theend of the week I'll put something up on my blog on it. In fact, as I was studying this as an adult, I was amazed at how really deep and important the doctrine ofthe Immaculate Conception really is.


If she were so importamt in the church, then why didn't Paul, James, Peter, John, or Jude EVER write about her? Why wouldn't they have established that important point?

Because the bible was never meant to be the sole authority on all matters of faith and morals. The bible itself never self-authenticates in that way. Mary's importance comes to us primarily through apostolic Tradition.



Was God lying when he wrote Romans and said "ALL have sinned and fall short"? Or did he secretly mean "ALL but Mary"?


Paul wasn't writing literally. When I say everyone has a cold, I don't mean absolutely every single person on the face of the earth has a cold. Babies don't sin. Mentally incapacitated people don't seen. Clearly "ALL" is not a literal.

You don't have to answer any of those questions, but those are the kind of things that make no sense to me when it comes to Marian doctrine. I am truly stumped why anyone would want to give glory to anyone other than Christ.

Honoring Mary does give glory to God. It's also biblical. Mary is Blessed Among Women. She carried our Lord in her womb and raised him. I don't get why Protestants don't honor her for that.



Why anyone would flee to Mary "for protection in all their dangers and needs" or "entrust all their cares and petitions to her". That is Christ's role and his alone.

Scripturally Jesus gave us Mary for that very purpose.

I guess we will agree to disagree, Elena.

I'll put some stuff up later this week. If you truly want to understand what Catholics believe on Mary, you're more than welcome to stop by.

phd4jesus said...

Bingo! If Mary were a Goddess why would she have to pray for herself? Mary's special gift is in her prayers.

But the Holy Spirit prays for us as written in Romans 8:26

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words

Thus, just because Mary prays does not negate goddess-like qualities, especially in light of the characteristics attributed to her in the catechism.

Elena said...

Goddess like qualities?

Carrie said...

I'd be happy to read whatever you write up, Elena.

But I did post some of the catechisms on Mary- those are what the Catholics believe, correct? Are there other sources of Catholic doctrine?

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