Protestants who interact with Roman Catholics in any capacity are often surprised to find that they believe Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. As Pope Pius XII explained in Munificentissiumus Deus in 1950—his “infallible” proclamation that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven—many Church Fathers have understood the Ark of the Covenant “as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary” (Munificentissiumus Deus, 26). Thus, David’s exclamation, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength” (Psalm 132:8), is taken to prefigure Mary’s bodily assumption into Heaven (Munificentissiumus Deus, 29). Catholic Answers explains in an article by Steve Ray that the Woman of Revelation 12:1 is Mary, and because John saw the ark of the testimony in the heavenly temple in the preceding verse (Revelation 11:19), it must mean that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant (Catholic Answers, Mary, Ark of the New Covenant). Steve Ray, former Protestant and now Roman Catholic apologist, tells us not to worry about the novelty of this Roman Catholic teaching on Mary. After all, he says, it is an apostolic teaching from the earliest days of Christianity:
The problem with Steve Ray’s claim is a familiar one: the teaching and celebration of Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant originated in the latter part of the 4th century, and there is no evidence that it was proposed, believed or celebrated any earlier than that. “Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant” is something new indeed. Continue reading Searching for the Lost Ark→
Readers who have been following this blog are familiar with our position that Roman Catholicism as a religion originated in the latter part of the 4th century A.D. The religion of Rome is not of apostolic origin. As we explained in The Rise of Roman Catholicism, distinctively Roman Catholic dogma can be traced to the late 300s A.D., no earlier. In that article, we touched briefly on the late development of the immaculacy of Mary in the imagination of Rome. This week, we explore the magnitude of Rome’s historical revisionism in its attempt to prove the apostolicity of the dogma of her “Immaculate Conception.” Continue reading “A significant turning point…”→
This is our fourth week in the series on the Bowls of Revelation. The First Bowl of judgment is a weeping sore that afflicts the men who worship the Image of the Beast. We understand this to be the Stigmata, a weeping, bleeding sore that is highly correlated to eucharistic adoration. Francis of Assisi was the first recipient in 1224 A.D., and many eucharistic worshipers suffer from it to this day. Roman Catholics have historically considered the Stigmata to be a sign of God’s blessing, but it is in fact a curse from Him.
The Second Bowl is a plague in which all those affected by it die at sea. We understand this to refer to the plague of scurvy, which killed millions of men on the long-haul sea journeys around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope in search of Indian spices between 1453 and 1800 A.D.. The Spanish and the Portuguese considered the discovery of the eastern and western sea routes to India to be a great blessing from God, but those long haul voyages became a curse to them and their crews.
At the pouring of the Third Bowl, all the “rivers and fountains” are turned to blood. Because we understand “rivers and fountains” both here and in the Third Trumpet to refer to the Word of God, we understand that the “rivers and fountains” became bitter with Wormwood in the Third Trumpet when Jerome produced the Latin Vulgate, but they turned to blood in the Third Bowl when the dogma of Papal Infallibility was proclaimed by Vatican Council I in 1870. By proclaiming the dogma, the Council had essentially subjugated the Word of God to the word of the Pope. Roman Catholics consider Papal Infallibility to be a great blessing from God through which the successors of Peter are alleged to guard infallibly the purity of the faith. In reality, by pouring out the dogma of papal infallibility on Roman Catholics, God “hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy” (Revelation 16:6).
Those who have been following this blog have at least some passing familiarity with the eschatology we espouse. As we have written in many entries thus far, we hold that Papal Rome is the Beast of Revelation (Revelation 13:1-10), that the Apparition of Mary is the False Prophet (Revelation 13:11-14), and that the Eucharist is the Image of the Beast (Revelation 13:14-16). Continue reading When “Mary” Got Busy→
There are certain names our evangelical readers may hear from time to time on Sunday mornings from the pulpit, or in Sunday School, or perhaps in a small bible study fellowship, or in the latest book to fly off the shelves of the book stores. These names pop up quite frequently, and they are usually offered up as examples of a bold or simple faith, godliness and a lifestyle of prayer and contemplation. What may surprise our evangelical readers is the fact that the people being offered as examples are Roman Catholic counter-reformational mystics who worked tirelessly against the Protestant Reformation to try to stamp it out. Continue reading And the Diviners Have Seen a Lie→
As a young lady, Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) attended a dance one evening with her friends. During the dance, she experienced a vision of “Jesus,” and was no longer able to concentrate on the festivities. Not knowing what else to do, she slipped out of the dance to the local cathedral and cast herself down to worship the Eucharist, asking “Jesus” to tell her what to do. “He” did: Continue reading Wolves Within the Gate→
[This is the third installment of a three part series.]
When former Protestant, Taylor Marshall, wrote Eternal City, he sought to explain why Christianity is necessarily Roman. “The Church,” he wrote, “receives the Roman empire” from its previous custodians. But in concluding this, Marshall has mistakenly transposed two kingdoms—both of which Daniel addressed, and both of which Daniel set against the background of the rise and fall of four world empires. One kingdom is of earth and the other of heaven, and Marshall has unfortunately confused the two. Continue reading One Kingdom Too Late→
[This is the first installment of a three part series.]
This week, two “Marian” Popes are to be canonized as saints of the Roman Catholic church: Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Both were very public about their devotion to Mary and frequented the sites of Marian apparitions. John XXIII was particularly devoted to the apparition of Mary at Lourdes, and emphatically commended “her” message to the faithful. In 1959, at the close of the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Apparitions of Mary at Lourdes, John XXIII said:
John Paul II was also devoted to the apparitions of Mary, and believed that Mary of Fatima had protected him throughout his papacy. On a papal visit to Fatima on May 13, 2000, a message from John Paul II was read to the faithful gathered there:
On this solemn occasion of his visit to Fatima, His Holiness has directed me to make an announcement to you. As you know, the purpose of his visit to Fatima has been to beatify [two of the visionaries]. Nevertheless he also wishes his pilgrimage to be a renewed gesture of gratitude to Our Lady for her protection during these years of his papacy. (Announcement by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State)
In that same message, John Paul II had it announced that he would finally make public the “third secret of Fatima,” a prophecy that had been delivered to the popes from the vision of Mary through the visionary, Lucia.
[NOTE: for those wishing to subscribe, the subscription function at the lower right of your browser has been fixed and is now active]
Last week, we discussed the propensity of Roman Catholics to rely on visions of Mary “to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation” despite the clear instructions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church not to do so (paragraph 67). Taylor Marshall relied on several visions of Mary to bolster his argument that Jesus was born on December 25th, and Fr. Livius relied on a private revelation to help him determine the meaning of the writings of several Church Fathers. But as apologist Fr. William Most has said, “In public revelation, the Church has the promise of divine protection in teaching,” while on the content of private revelation, including apparitions, “the Church does not have such a commission.” Thus it is true that while Roman apologists cite apparitions of Mary to bolster their arguments, it is also true that Roman Catholics “can refuse assent to such revelations … provided this is done … for good reasons.” It is not uncommon (in our experience) for a Roman Catholic on the one hand to cite the many examples of apparitions as evidence that Roman Catholicism is the true church, and then, on the other hand—when the actual content of the visions is brought forward—to dismiss those same apparitions “because we are not required to believe them anyway.”
According to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, everything that is to be known and taught by the Church is to be found in the original “Deposit of Faith,” beyond which, “no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Catechism, p. 66).
As we have discussed elsewhere, Mary is alleged to have appeared many times and in many places over the last 2,000 years. During those appearances, the visions of Mary leave behind explicit instructions and other information: one provided a design for a medal for a particular form of devotion; another provided the design for an image to be venerated; others have provided private messages for the pope; and others have left behind prophecies of things to come. These visions of Mary, or what we call “apparitions of Mary,” have very much to say. “However,” warns the catechism, “They do not belong … to the deposit of faith“: Continue reading Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 1)→
In Rome’s unwavering efforts to honor Mary with the accolades of immaculacy, the mantle of inviolable purity, the admiration of angels and the veneration of men, there is an unfortunate tendency to see Mary in every reference in the Bible. It would seem that there is not a verse in the Old Testament that does not prefigure her: she is the “land of Havilah” in Genesis 2:11. She is, at once, Noah’s Ark, the dove he released, and the olive branch it returned. She is Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, from which the Almonds of Jesus grew. She is Jesse’s Rod from which the branch of Jesus sprung (for “rod” in Latin is “virga,” which must refer to the Virgin), and she was present when the Spirit blew upon the seas at creation (for the Latin word for “seas” is “maria,” which must refer to Mary). She is the virgin soil from which Adam was made, and she is the cloud that led the Hebrews out of Egypt. She is Gideon’s fleece, the temple, the tabernacle, the ark, as well as the golden urn containing the manna within it. When David danced, he danced for her, and what Moses saw in the burning bush prefigured her—she was at the same time the flame and the unconsumed wood of the bush. She is even prefigured in the rotting manna, and Jesus is prefigured by the worms that fed on it.
M. C. Escher’s Drawing Hands shows two drawn hands drawing each other, each hand getting its power to draw from the other. True to Escher’s style, a paradox is presented to the eye of the beholder, and the paradox is never resolved—the eye must continually move from one object to the other. Each time the eye settles on an apparently solid 3-dimensional object that can make sense of the rest of the picture, the paradox reappears. The search for the original, “authoritative” hand never ends.
We believe this is a good illustration of Roman Catholicism’s view of Tradition because Tradition is based on what Rome teaches, and what Rome teaches is based on Tradition. We gave an example of this in our recent post, All the Way Back. In that post, Roman priest and Marian devotee, Fr. Thomas Livius, showed the origins of Marian doctrines from the Fathers of the first six centuries. When he arrived at the teachings of Origen, Basil and Cyril—that the sword that pierced Mary’s soul (Luke 2:35) was the sword of doubt and unbelief—rather than accept that the early church understood that Mary was sinful, Livius spends his next three pages correcting Origen, as well as Basil and Cyril who agreed with him.
Last week, we highlighted the attempts by Fr. William G. Most to extract an infallible teaching from the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. (The Magisterium is essentially the pope and the bishops who are in communion with him.) By studying the teachings of the Magisterium, William Most thought he had discovered how to arrive at an infallible teaching. By way of example, to prove that it is an infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that Mary’s physical virginity was uncompromised when Christ was born, all Most had to do was demonstrate repetition by popes and councils. Surely, Fr. Most thought, repetition is evidence of an intent to teach infallibly:
A doctrine taught with multiple papal approval plus that of Vatican II should be called infallible, for these texts show the intention to make it definitive by their repetition.
By this standard, we can conclude that it is an infallible doctrine of the Roman Church that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent in Genesis 3:15. After all, multiple popes and at least one council have confirmed this. The Council of Trent made Jerome’s translation of the Vulgate the official translation of the Roman Catholic Church. Jerome’s translation of Genesis 3:15 indicates that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent. Here is the English rendering of the Roman Catholic translation of that verse: Continue reading Why “Infallibility” Doesn’t Work→
The Christian who must wrestle with Roman Catholic apologists (trained and untrained) will often hear them appeal to the ancient, non-scriptural, sources as proof of what the Apostles taught. We dealt with a part of that issue in a prior post about going all the way back to the written Word, instead of just going back to the first few post-apostolic generations. We acknowledge that some foundational Roman Catholic errors emerged early in the post-apostolic era, as Paul predicted they would (Acts 20:30-32), but we deny that those errors must be canonized along with God’s revelation to us in the Holy Bible. Ancient unbiblical teachings do not become more biblical with the passage of time.
The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Word of God is transmitted to the Church by Tradition, the Scriptures and the Magisterium (i.e., popes, councils, etc…). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (81),
Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.
Christians hold to Sola Scriptura (the written Word of God alone) while Roman Catholics hold to Sola Verbum Dei (the Word of God alone), as transmitted by Tradition, etc… Roman Catholic apologist, Scott Hahn, makes this point nicely in his book, Rome Sweet Home (p. 74). The Roman Catholic Church sees “Tradition” as part of the Word of God, and thus, it makes little sense (to Roman Catholics) when Christians say that Rome’s “Tradition” goes against “the Word of God.” Tradition, to them, is the Word of God.
Therefore, to the Roman apologist, there is no tension when Tradition includes doctrines not explicitly included in the Bible. Tradition merely helps us understand what Scripture means. This leads to some interesting arguments, like this one from Roman apologist Robert Sungenis, who says, if Roman Catholic teachings are in the Bible, then I should be able to find them somewhere else. Continue reading All the Way Back→
Let us first answer the question with an emphatic, No! The Scripture says that God owes no man anything, and He has no need of anything that man may offer or produce. The reason is that He already owns everything. What does He need from us that is not already His for the taking?
“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalms 24:1)
“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” (Psalms 50:10-12)
One of the most fervent forms of devotion in Roman Catholicism is to the visions of Mary, commonly called “apparitions.” For many centuries, in many locations around the world, Mary is alleged to have appeared to visionaries of the Roman Catholic Church. These visionaries typically report conversations with Mary, and the apparition of Mary has many times delivered messages that have been documented through the official channels of the Roman Catholic Church. There have been many hundreds of alleged apparitions throughout history, but only a few have been approved officially by the Roman Catholic Church. These few are considered to be actual bodily appearances of Mary, and therefore “worthy of belief.” Among them are the Apparitions of Mary at Guadalupe, Mexico (1531); Paris, France (1830); La Salette, France (1846); Lourdes, France (1858); and Fatima, Portugal (1917).
The approval process for an alleged apparition can take many years, and it is rare for one to be elevated formally to the same level as those listed above. When that approval becomes official, it provides a tremendous amount of insight into the visions of Mary themselves because interviews with the visionaries are meticulously inspected, and the vision’s messages and teachings are rigorously documented through the approval process. It also provides tremendous insight into the Roman Catholic Church, because the teachings of approved apparitions are consistent with Roman Catholic teaching—otherwise they would not have been approved.