Praying to Mary and viewing her as a “mediatrix” (a female co-mediator with Jesus) is a blasphemous practice and clear violation of 1 Timothy 2:5. “For there is only one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.”
Roman Catholics use statues of Jesus and Mary and other dead saints and pray to them and talk to them in front of statues and pictures (icons). (The Eastern Orthodox use flat pictures, icons, but forbid three dimensional statues.)
When Muslims see this, all through history, (see the links at bottom of second article below), they think “idolatry”. Most Protestant agree.
I have debated over the years with a Roman Catholic named Dave Armstrong, who is a former Evangelical, very prolific writer at his blog and books that he has written. (see his web-site at number 3 below). He is a very tenacious and, arguably overly obsessive in his ability to never give up in a written debate on the internet, sometimes carrying on debates with other Protestants for years, when the other side pays no attention to him for years. Personally, I think the biggest reason some Evangelical Protestant bloggers don’t want to deal with Dave anymore, is that he just takes up too much time; and those that have given up debating him, feel they have already made their points clearly with him, and for several years; and there came a point when they felt like there was nothing more to say; and that there is no need to keep going on forever and ever, as Dave seems to have the time to do. He is amazing in how fast and much he is able to write. I don’t see how he does it.
Roman Catholics claim that they are not committing idolatry because in their prayers and bowing down, etc. they make the distinction in the mind and heart between latria (worship due only to God) and hyperdulia (excess veneration and honor due to Mary, whom they call “the Queen of Heaven”, “Spouse of the Spirit” (that alone is very blasphemous), and “Mother of God”, etc.) and dulia (honor and veneration due to dead saints, who are alive in heaven.)
Dave Armstrong, in our interaction in his com boxes (see below under # 3) said basically that only when a person deliberately and consciously gives worship or latria, does it violate the 1 and 2 commandment of the ten commandments.
Oftentimes, sadly, yes, because human beings have an endless capacity for self-deception, self-justification, and rationalization. What we need to remember regarding idolatry, is that it resides internally in the heart, first and foremost. One has to be consciously aware of what they are doing and what they believe. If a person is to replace God with a saint (as if the latter is equal to or higher than God), then they are consciously, deliberately doing so, or else it isn’t idolatry per se. It may be spiritual laxity or even gross negligence, but not idolatry.
A question that I have for the Roman Catholic who makes these rationalizations:
“Do you think the apostle John was consciously and deliberately committing idolatry when he bowed down to the angel and was rebuked for it in Revelation 19:10 and 22:8-9?
“Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. “ Revelation 19:10
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” Revelation 22:8-9
Background to our discussion: For those who have the time, you can click on the 3 links below and follow the progression. Under # 2, there are many other links that show for years, I have been arguing that the Roman Catholic practice is wrong, and gives a bad witness and wrong impression to Muslims. In fact, these types of practices by nominal and heretical Christians in the 5th, 6th, and 7th Centuries, is probably what gave Muhammad the wrong impression as to what Christians meant by “The Son of God” and the doctrine of the Trinity. (Surah 5:116; 5:72-75; 6:101; 19:88-92) It is obvious that Muhammad and the Arabs thought the Trinity was “the Father, the Son, and the Mother”; and most Muslims still today think the same thing! Many Muslims think the phrase “Mother of God” means Mary brought God into existence; and many Muslims think of God having a sexual relationship with Mary, when they hear terms like “Father” and “Son of God” and that Mary is “the Spouse of the Spirit” and Queen of Heaven. If God is King, and Mary is Queen, it means that she and God are married. This is a tragic and massive mis-understanding that Roman Catholicism has perpetuated for centuries.
Recently, I copied a blog post from another post that showed how wrong it is for Roman Catholics to claim that they are “only asking Mary to pray for them”. Nonsense! They are praying to a statue or picture and many times using very high language of praising Mary, and many of the terms should only be used for God. (see under the second entry of the blasphemous prayers of Pope Pius XII)
Here is my latest rebuttal:
You have mostly OT passages that are historical narrative of Jews worshiping God, but bowing in front of the ark; and in front of angels; before the temple was built and afterward.
Obviously, the Jews were not worshiping the ark or the angels, but in Exodus (25:8; 25:22) and other places specifically say that “God would meet them there”, or “dwell with you”, or that His presence would be there, at the tabernacle, between the cherubim, and later in the temple.
They were worshiping God; and [should have been “but the”] ark, tabernacle, temple was [only] the place that [the Jews were instructed that they ] would connect with God.
But a modern stature or icon of Mary or any other dead saint, is not “the place where I will meet with you”, etc. So the parallel is not valid. There is nothing in the Scriptures that lets you take that parallel of “meeting with God” and applying it to Mary or another dead saint.
The NT changed that – John 4:23-24
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Since the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and the book of Hebrews before that – probably written around 68 AD; it shows that all of those rituals and sacrifices are fulfilled in Christ as the final sacrifice, and that worship of God is not limited to a specific place like Jerusalem and the temple as in the OT, your parallel is invalid.
The bowing down to the king was allowed as honoring the king who is alive at the time, (1 Chronicles 29:20), but it does not allow you to take that and say it ok to bow down to statues or icons of Mary or other dead saints. Context makes that clear, and in everyday life now, the honor given to other humans and authorities is not worship, nor is it the same as the RC veneration of dead saints nor hyperdulia given to Mary and statues of her. The word there in the LXX of 1 Chronicles 29:20 is proskuneo, προσκυνεω, used for worship of God and honor to the king (context is key), which usually means “to bow down and worship”, which is the word used in Revelation 19 and 22 that the angel rebuked John for it. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that John was worshiping the angel in his mind and heart, and we don’t know for sure that he thought it was Jesus Himself; it just seems he was overwhelmed and bowed down, and the angel said “don’t do that.” the clear command “don’t do that” precludes all such veneration of angels, statues, Mary, other dead saints, etc. The verses in Revelation, being last in the chronical order with all your examples, would seem to give us guidelines on how to think about this issue in the new convenant age, seeing that the temple and ark, etc. are no more. Those NT passages trump all the examples you have given. (the other NT passages of bowing down to angels without rebuke just shows they were overwhelmed in the presence of the mighty angels; it does not mean worship; but the angels tells John “don’t do that” – “Worship God”, and “I am a fellow servant” etc. seems to abrogate the OT examples of Abraham and others bowing before angels in honor.
The example of Nebuchadnezzar bowing before Daniel and the Philippian jailer bowing before Paul and Silas are not parallel to RC talking to statues of Mary and praying to her and using flowery language that should only be used of God.
I think your argumentation failed, just as your Facebook commentor, Kim Bishop wrote, “Wow… after reading this I think you made the other guy’s points for him. ”
Addendum: (Sat. Nov. 15; sometime after I added 3 more comments to the article of this moment, there are 6 there at his blog entry.)
Dave Armstrong deleted my last 3 comments at his blog. Oh well. I didn’t save them, but basically I wrote that it was my opinion that the main reason the other Protestants don’t deal with him anymore, especially Dr. James White, was because Dave Armstrong takes up too much time, and sometimes is too aggressive, demanding (demanding that Dr. White answer his 30 page paper rant, that he mailed to him by regular snail mail post in 1995, as a third round, after Dr. White already definitively answed him in round two); Dave’s rant was filled with ad hominem and aggressive tone, and whining and complaining. And he demanded that Dr. White has to answer him point by point, etc. Can you imagine someone mailing a 30 page letter to you and demanding that you answer every point, etc. and then years later publish it in a book and claim victory? Many times Dave apologized over the years (1995-2007), but he did it so much that emotions got tangeled up in the whole process and the other side fought back, etc. that it was a massive time consumer.