OceanSide church of Christ
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The Worship of Mary
Victor M. Eskew
The Catholic Church has formulated many doctrines around the Mary the mother of Jesus. These doctrines do not find any support at all in the Biblical text. Unfortunately, they are very popular among Catholics. One of the most concerning practices of the Catholic Church regarding Mary involves their worship of her.
In the Catachism of the Catholic Church, we find this quote: “All generations will call me blessed”: The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship. The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion…This 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” (971, p. 275). They admit that “devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” The word “intrinsic” means “belonging to by its very nature.” They also admit that they “honor” Mary with “special devotion.” They attempt to distinguish their worship of Mary from their worship of the Godhead, but worship, honor, homage, and devotion cannot be distinguished. If you have ever heard Catholics repeat the Rosary, you know this is true.
Why is the worship of Mary wrong? First, the Bible teaches that only God is to be worshipped. In Matthew 4:1-11, Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness. Three temptations are presented to the Son of God. The third involves “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them” (v. 8). Satan pushes Jesus, saying: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (v. 9). Jesus responds to the devil with a quote from Deuteronomy 10:20. “Then said Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (v. 10). Jesus teaches us that only God is to be worshipped. “Only” means “without others, solely, alone, and exclusively.” Mary is NOT God. She is a created being. She is a human being. She had a mother and father. Thus, Mary is not to be worshipped at all.
Second, when worship was offered to individuals other than God, the worship was refused. Cornelius was the first Gentile convert. He was told by an angel of God to send for Peter to come to his house. Cornelius was overtaken by what was happening to him. Too, he seemed to be very eager to meet and to hear the words of Peter. Let’s look at what happened as Peter entered into Cornelius’s house. “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:25-26). Men are not to worship other men. Even an apostle of Jesus Christ was aware of this and refused to be worshipped. Mary, being a mere human being, is not worthy of any worship at all. If she were alive, she would be like Peter and correct any and all who would attempt to worship her.
In the Revelation, we find another example of a being who rejected worship. This time it was an angel. “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Rev. 22:8-9). Angels are marvelous creatures. They are a little higher than men on the creation scale. They are spirits. They possess superhuman strength. They have more knowledge and understanding than men do. But, as great as they are, they are not worthy of man’s worship. The angel instructed John correctly when he said: “Worship God.”
Yes, the Catholic Church will try to distinguish between the “worship” of Mary and the “worship” of God. Such, however, cannot be done. Adoration is adoration. Homage is homage. To fall prostrate in the presence of another is worship. The creatures of the earth are not to be worshipped (Rom. 1:24:25). Man is not to be worshipped. Angels are not to be worshipped. Images of created things are not to be worshipped (Exo. 20:3-5). God, and, God alone, is to be worshipped by man. When man turns from the worship of God to worship other things, he will continue to spiral downward. This has happened in Catholicism. They did not stop with Mary, they also worship “saints,” that is, ordinary men. That, however, can be discussed in another article.