The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
  February 1, 2015


1) The Development of Mariology (Greg Litmer)
2) Is God the Author of Confusion? (Leslie G. Thomas)
3) News & Notes


The Development of Mariology

by Greg Litmer

"Nothing is more distinctly Catholic than devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary." So states J.D. Conway in the authorized Catholic work, "What the Church Teaches." Those familiar with the outpouring of devotion toward Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the numerous doctrines concerning her in Roman Catholicism recognize the truthfulness of Conway's statement. The purpose of this article will be to seek to determine the source of this Roman Catholic devotion to Mary and the authority for their Marian doctrines. Well do I remember my days as a student at St. John's the Evangelist in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each May, one eighth-grade girl would be chosen from her class to receive the honor of placing a crown upon a statue of Mary that stood in the churchyard. The entire school took part in the procession leading up to the climax which was her crowning. It was a marvelously inspiring ceremony, and as a child it never occurred to me to ask where it came from. Yet such a question is important. Did God authorize in His Holy word such devotion to Mary? Did He teach the various doctrines concerning her therein? Or is the entire system of Roman Catholic Mariology entirely man-made and without divine authority?

Mary in the Scriptures

Mary, the mother of Jesus, appears in the following New Testament passages: She is found in the narratives concerning the events surrounding Jesus' birth, Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 1 and 2; we read of Mary at the wedding feast in Cana, John 2:1-11; we read of her in the event described in Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:32-35; we read of her at the cross of Jesus in John 19:25-27; and, finally, we read of Mary in Acts 1:14 in the upper room in Jerusalem. The passage in the first chapter of Acts is the last time that we read of Mary. There she is said to be joined with the disciples and other women in prayer and supplication along with the brethren of Jesus.  

In the twenty-two books of the New Testament that follow the Acts of the apostles, Mary is not mentioned. John, who was entrusted with her care by Jesus, does not mention her in any of his three epistles or in the book of Revelation. There is no place of prominence, no position of extraordinary honor, given to Mary in the pages of God's word. At no time can we read of prayer being offered to her or through her.  

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives this summation of what we can learn about Mary from the Biblical accounts concerning her. It says,

"The sum of the matter concerning Mary seems to be this: The mother of Jesus was a typical Jewish believer of the best sort. She was deeply meditative, but by no means a daring or original thinker. Her inherited Messianic beliefs did not and perhaps could not prepare her for the method of Jesus which involved so much that was new and unexpected. But her heart was true, and from the beginning to the day of Pentecost, she pondered in her heart the meaning of her many puzzling experiences until the light came. The story of her life and of her relationship to Jesus is consistent throughout and touched with manifold unconscious traits of truth. Such a narrative could not have been feigned or fabled."

There is absolutely no indication in God's word of anything that even remotely resembles Roman Catholic Mariology. Where did it come from? How did this system of veneration grow into what it is today?

As It Developed

It is safe and correct to say that the early church knew nothing of what has come to be called Mariology. Standing in sharp contrast to the Biblical account, there appeared certain apocryphal writings in the latter part of the second century that greatly expanded upon Mary's role and did so in legendary fashion. The most prominent of these was called "The Protoevangelium of James." In this work all sorts of things about Mary are stated, such as the names of her parents, that she stayed for a time in the temple as a little girl, a rather imaginative story about her birth, and it also states that she remained a virgin throughout her life. Roman Catholic authorities have rejected this work as spurious, and yet have absorbed many of its legends into their system of Mariology.  

As time went on, many other writers added other elements to the story. It is interesting to notice that a "church father" who is often quoted by Roman Catholic authorities as a Roman Catholic source raised his voice against these legends and denied that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life. His name was Tertullian and he died in 222 A.D. There is a picture of Mary found in a catacomb in Rome that is dated from the latter part of the second century. The necessary conclusion is that for a least 150 years after the establishment of the church, there was no special attention paid to Mary. It was not until the middle of the second century that legends concerning her began to appear.  

In the centuries that followed, various groups arose that denied the divinity of Jesus as born from Mary. They taught that the child conceived in Mary's womb was solely man and not divine until after his birth. In response to this, the Council of Ephesus declared Mary the "mother of God" in 431 A.D. From this decree the theologians engaged in all sorts of speculations. By 449 A.D., we find Mary being referred to as a perpetual virgin. The reasoning behind this is not hard to understand. As the mother of God, surely purely human seed would not taint her womb. From there the process of elaboration continue with Mary being declared personally sinless and the teaching that she ascended bodily into heaven. This process has not stopped. Currently strides are being taken to have Mary declared co-mediatrix with Jesus. Over the years, the Roman Catholic church has given her the title of Virgin of Virgins, Gate of Heaven, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix, Queen of Sorrows, Virgin Most Merciful, and many, many others. The whole system has no scriptural basis.  

Since there is no scriptural support for Mariology, as well as no historical evidence to sustain it either, how does the Roman Catholic Church justify it? I think a quote from the Manual of Catholic Theology concerning just one doctrine in the system of Mariology will explain their approach. It says, "Mary's corporeal assumption into heaven is so thoroughly implied in the notion of her personality as given by the Bible and dogma, that the church can dispense with strict historical evidence of the fact." I suppose that if that's the approach that one chooses to take, then the facts make very little difference. In other words, the Roman Catholic authorities believe their system of Mariology to be true because they say it is true. ~

(Taken from "Catholicism Examined," edited by Greg Litmer and David Riggs, Vol. 2, March 1985).

-- Via the Navarre Messenger, December 7, 2014


Is God the Author of Confusion?
by Leslie G. Thomas

Let us suppose that an evangelist comes to our community to conduct a religious meeting and proceeds as follows:

At the first service, he preaches that salvation is by faith only; but at the next he contends that it is by faith exercised in obedience to the gospel, rather than by faith alone.  

At the third service he tells people that they ought to baptize their babies; but at the fourth service, he says that penitent believers are the only scriptural subjects for baptism.  

At the fifth service, he preaches once in grace, always in grace; but at the sixth, he tells the people it is possible for them to fall from grace, that some have fallen, and that the Bible tells them how to keep from falling.  

At the seventh service he teaches it is all right to have human creeds; but at the eighth he declares that we should take the Bible as our only guide in religion.  

No thoughtful person would continue to listen to one preacher preaching like that, but the majority of people are perfectly willing for eight different preachers to preach these conflicting ideas. They say that if one man should preach that way, he would contradict himself and be inconsistent. But what kind of God do they suppose we have if He endorses all these conflicting doctrines and has sent out these preachers to present them?      

-- via The Beacon, January 6, 2015


News & Notes

We are looking forward to having Jeff Carr as our guest speaker next Sunday morning.  He will be presenting a lesson during the Bible class period, as well as in the morning worship hour.

The surgery today (Feb. 3) went well for Melotine Davis. Though it was a complete knee replacement, she is to also be up and walking this day.  Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember her in prayer as she will remain in the hospital until Friday and then be transferred to a rehab facility, where she will be for a while. 

Ginger Ann Montero is no longer having the abdominal pains and will soon find out how things went in some recent testing.  

Here are some  others to be remembering in prayer:

Myrna Jordan, Mary Vandevander and Jewell Wilson (both at the Satilla Care Center), Danielle Howard, Pat Seif (cancer), Penny Medlock (glaucoma), Marie Turner, Jim Lively, Cheryl Corbitt (seeking employment), Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jesse Bailey (cancer), Deborah Medlock, Shirley Davis, Dexter Roberts (cancer), Sue Wooten (at the Baptist Village nursing home), Steve Vista (in very poor health), Dolly Downs Moody (still has stomach pains and platelets very low at 42 when they should be at least 140.  Her bone marrow is being slow in reproducing blood cells, following her recent cancer treatments), Collen Henson, A.J. Joyner (shingles on arm), and Garth Egger (passed out face first on concrete, completely smashing his nose and requiring plastic surgery).

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)     
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Tebeau Street

1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
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