Christian Traditions, Pt. 5

Christian Traditions, Pt. 5

Scripture: Matthew 1:25, Luke 2:7, Acts 8:22
This is the fifth in a series on tradition and Scripture. The Bible is to be the final authority on traditions. This broadcast
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw as they open the Bible to deepen our understanding of God's word.

John Bradshaw: Hi and welcome to Bible Talk, where we discuss the Bible and how the Bible affects you today. I'm John Bradshaw.

Gary Gibbs: And I'm Gary Gibbs.

John: We've been talking lately about tradition and Scripture. Traditions in the church and how the Bible encourages that the Bible itself be made the final authority in all matters of faith in practice. Gary, I've been keeping my eyes up on some trends in Christianity lately. It's surprising that some of these traditions take on a life of their own and then expand beyond their original domain. Some of the major news magazines recently have been talking about Mariology, the worship of and the devotion to Mary, something that has traditionally been confined to the Roman Catholic faith and one or two faiths besides perhaps. But according to some of these major news magazines, this has started to spread beyond the boundaries of the Roman church and Protestant churches are starting to pick up on this thing and run with it. Mary is starting to loom larger in the lives of many churches. Now that's an interesting development.

Gary: I find it actually quite fascinating because the Protestant view of Mary is quite different from the traditional Catholic view of Mary. In Roman Catholicism, there's a teaching that Mary had Immaculate Conception. In other words, Mary was born without sin. Not only was Jesus born without sin but Mary was born without sin.

John: What that means is that somehow God worked a miracle so that when she was born there wasn't a trace of sin about her and even this idea of original sin, she managed to avoid that due to a direct miracle of God himself.

Gary: That's right. The Catholic teaching is that Mary was perpetually a virgin. They teach that Mary physically ascended into heaven.

John: Now, wait a minute. When you say perpetually a virgin, you mean that she was a virgin up until the time...

Gary: She had no children before Jesus or after him.

John: And she remained a virgin for her whole life.

Gary: That's right.

John: Now, you see some of these things that you mentioned, you are saying she was bodily assumed to heaven... August 15th is the day that is used to celebrate that every year. Let me say this, by looking at the subject, we in no way want to minimize who Mary was and how special she was. Indeed, the angels said, "Blessed are you among women". Let's make it clear this was a special, special woman who had a role quite unlike any other woman that had ever lived. Correct?

Gary: That's right. But we need to find out what her role is in the Christian life today. We know that she was blessed to bring Jesus into the world. But what is her role in the Christian faith today?

John: Well, let us, if we might, just look at some of those things we mentioned. You mentioned three points: the last one, she was taken physically to heaven. Is there any evidence of that in the Bible? I don't think so.

Gary: No evidence whatsoever. In fact, it's interesting. I've been to Ephesus and the ancient city of Ephesus mentioned in the Bible. Beautiful ruins there in Western Turkey on the Mediterranean. I've been there and there's a house there that is the Mary Ascension house. This is supposedly the place where she ascended to heaven from there.

John: That house?

Gary: That's correct.

John: The house has been there ever since?

Gary: Supposedly. Some of the stuff has been there for thousands of years, John. This house supposedly is there as well.

John: Well, that's really something. OK, but there's no evidence of that in the Bible. OK, fine.

Gary: She never died a physical death. That's the main teaching here. But the Bible teaches that we all die and then the Judgment, the Book of Hebrews. There are some exceptions to this. They are always mentioned in the scriptures. Mary would have been mentioned in the scriptures as well if she had not died. There's Enoch and Elijah. They didn't die. They went straight to heaven without seeing death. Moses died but then he was resurrected according to Jude...

John: Verse nine.

Gary: Verse nine. There's some exceptions to this but Mary certainly is not mentioned in the scripture as being an exception.

John: Yeah, that's interesting. Another one that she was perpetually a virgin, in fact, I don't want to embarrass anybody here but we have scripture that says to the contrary. It says in Matthew 1:25 that her husband Joseph knew her not and that idea of knowing represents a physical intimacy within the marriage relationship. Knew her not until after she had delivered Jesus Christ, her son. In other words, he did know her after Jesus was born according to the clear scripture or record.

Gary: It's very true and even more significantly it says exactly "He knew her not until she brought forth her firstborn son," which suggests then that there were other children, other sons after that. You read this many times in Luke 2:7, "Also she brought forth her firstborn son." And then in Mark 6. It talks about the son... They say, "Is not this the carpenter? The son of Mary, the brother of James, Joses, of Judah and Simon and are not his sisters here with us?" They start naming all the members of his family and he even had sisters.

John: Now, it's interesting to me that Mary is deemed to be special because apparently she was celibate all her life. This idea spills into the priesthood of some churches that celibacy is important. But that's something else that you don't read in the Bible, that there's any brownie points awarded for celibacy. If you choose to live that kind of life, that's OK. But if you don't choose to, the Bible doesn't say there's any problem with that. I think it's good to have a healthy attitude to these things where the Bible really is clear on this stuff. I think something... This is really the thing I think that is most objectionable about an over devotion to Mary. You get to the place where people begin to pray to her and entreat her for special mercies and special favors. That's something that has been encouraged down through the years.

Gary: It has, and actually she's called the Redemptrix. She's the female savior. By the way, John, I want to encourage our listeners, please stay tune with us. We're going to give you a telephone number, an address. We're going to give you a wonderful book. This book is going to be a real blessing to you. It's called "Down from His Glory". It talks about Jesus coming down from heaven and what he did for us here on earth as our savior.

John: Now, would you back up and go back over the point you made a moment ago, co-Redemptrix. Is that what you said? She has a role in redemption in the minds of some?

Gary: That's correct. That we should pray to her and that she will now intercede in our behalf with God for our salvation. Well, won't you share with us the words of the Hail Mary prayer? I think you remember those.

John: I remembered it well. It begins by saying "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus." So far, no problem really.

Gary: What else does it say?

John: "Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and the hour of our death. Amen." So right there in the Hail Mary prayer, Mary is entreated to pray for sinners. That's fascinating because you get into the Bible, it says there's one mediator between God and man, and this is interesting. It names that person as being a man. There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

Gary: That's correct and then we have this in Acts 8:22. It says, "Pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart might be forgiven thee." So we are to go to God to pray to God and not through Mary.

John: No. Another reason why we certainly shouldn't pray to Mary, the Bible tells us that the dead are sleeping in the grave. Now, if you don't accept that Mary was taken up to heaven, then you accept that she died and is asleep in the grave. There's very little point praying to a dead person. Now this would include not just Mary but the rest of the whole economy of the saints. There's nothing to be gained by praying to the dead.

Gary: No. In fact, you're losing a lot. In fact the Bible condemns praying to the dead because this sets you up for deception because now the devil can come in and the devil can impersonate these dead people. With deference to my Catholic friends, a lot of the Mariology has these pilgrimages to places where Mary apparently appears. There should be some concern there and some caution.

John: It's not just talking about Catholic friends, but as we mentioned earlier, and I don't think we would mention this subject on Bible Talk if it wasn't for the fact that this is something that has spilled outside of the boundaries of its original domain. The news magazines are reporting this is something that's starting to take hold within Protestantism as well. A greatly increased devotion and dedication to Mary and prayer to Mary across that divide that separated Protestantism from Catholicism for such a while. This is something that's affecting more and more people.

Gary: Anything that gets in between us and Christ, the Bible teaches we need to be wary of. Here we have Jesus. He is our advocate with the Father. It says in 1 John 2:1. Why should we be going then to somebody else to pray to them, to intercede in our behalf?

John: Well, we told you if you want someone, if you want the son to do something for you, you go to the mother. And then the mother can sort of lobby the son on your behalf. It really just minimizes Christ's compassion, his mercy, his ability to hear us, in a way his love for us, and his high-priestly ministry where he intercedes for us. It minimizes. In fact, it attacks the very heart of that and you put something else in its way. Now, if Mary was sitting up there in heaven, you might have a case for this. Biblically speaking, she's sleeping in the grave. To put her anywhere in that line of salvation is to make a great mistake.

Gary: I think it also is based on this thought that God is an angry God who needs to be appeased. And who other than a sweet woman can appease the heart of an angry man? But the Bible teaches that it is God who is in Christ reconciling the world to himself. God is the one who is in Christ. He was the one that thought up this plan of reconciliation because he loved us so much. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son."

John: We want you to get our free offer today, "Down From His Glory". It's a wonderful, wonderful resource and we'll tell you in a few moments how you can get that. Now, I'm going to repeat again. I do not want to be understood as minimizing Mary's importance or suggesting that she didn't have a great role. The angel said, "Blessed are you among women." Truly, Mary was blessed. There's never been anybody who's been called to a position quite like her. She obviously was a wonderful, wonderful mother and a very holy woman. But we don't want to stretch things too far because then we start to damage the role of Jesus Christ himself.

Gary: What about the miracles of Mary? There are a lot of amazing miracles taking place today and have for centuries associated with Mary. If she wasn't someone special, how could these miracles then take place through her?

John: I need to answer this question rather carefully but I've got to answer it rather realistically as well. I think we need to be very wary and cautious about this. Here's what we know. We know that Mary is dead and asleep in the grave. It says in the Bible, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That would include Mary. She sleeps in the grave. Therefore, she's incapable of working any great miracles or appearing. You know what I think the devil knows? If he can take advantage of somebody's devotion, even somebody's well-meaning devotion, he can twist that in such a ways to open that person up to deception. We need to be very careful what we accept in the name of God because unless we try the spirits to see whether they are consistent with the word of God, we open ourselves up to tremendous deception.

Gary: And the Bible warns us in the last days that there are going to be deceptions so great, so convincing that it would deceive, if possible, even the very elect. I think that's in Matthew 24, isn't it?

John: It is. And far from minimizing the role of Mary, we want to maximize the role of Jesus Christ who said, "Come unto me all ye that labor and the heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Christian friend or non-Christian friend, you can do that right now. You can come to Jesus and know that He will accept you and bless you.

Gary: And if you come to Him, He will show you his love. You can pray to Him directly and you can know that He is there for you whenever you need Him.

John: We are glad you joined us today and we look forward to seeing you next time for more of Bible Talk. [music]

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