Should Roman Catholics pray to Mary and dead saints, or be using statues to pray to Mary or dead saints?

Pope Benedict XVI praying to a statue of Mary. Looks like idolatry to me!

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.)

Pope John Paul II bowing down and praying to a large statue of Mary, along with other Roman Catholic priests. Looks like idotary to me!

Pope Francis bowing his head and praying before a statue of Mary. Again, it looks like idolatry.

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)

1.  A More Honest way of viewing Roman Catholic Marian Prayers

2.  Popes bowing down and praying to large statues of Mary – “If it looks like a duck . . . “

3.  Dave Armstrong’s attempt to justify the practices of Roman Catholics for centuries, using mainly OT examples of angels and the tabernacle/ark of the covenant/temple contexts

Here is my latest rebuttal:

Dave,
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

John 4:19-26
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. ”

Indeed.

And Another:

Here is another photo of Pope Francis kissing a Mary statue/idol/doll. Wow.

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.

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About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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6 Responses to Should Roman Catholics pray to Mary and dead saints, or be using statues to pray to Mary or dead saints?

  1. PRAYING TO THE VIRGIN MARY? BY STEVE FINNELL

    Is praying to the Virgin Mary worship? Is worshiping anyone other than God a sin?

    Worship Defined: To show profound religious devotion and respect to; adore or venerate.

    Do Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary? Yes.

    ANCIENT PRAYER TO THE VIRGIN MARY

    We turn to you for protection, holy Mother of God.

    Listen to our prayers and help us in our needs.

    Save us from every danger, glorious blessed Virgin.

    REF: Catholic Online http://catholic.org/prayer.php?p=1131

    Praying to anyone is worship.

    —————————————————————————–

    What does the Bible tell us about prayer?

    Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ…(NKJV

    The apostle Paul did not thank the Virgin Mary. Paul did not thank God through the Virgin Mary.

    Luke 11:1-2 “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven….(NKJV)

    Jesus told his disciples to pray to God the Father. Jesus never told his disciple to pray to the Virgin Mary nor any other saint.

    Matthew 26:53 “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? (NKJV)

    Jesus not once mentioned praying to the holy Mother of God. Jesus never prayed to the Virgin Mary.

    Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. (NKJV)

    The apostle Paul nor any other apostle ever gave thanks to the Virgin Mary. Yes, Christians who are alive can pray for others, however, Christians should not pray to others, and that includes the Virgin Mary and other dead saints.

    Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

    We are not to give thanks in the name of the Virgin Mary.

    Matthew 6:9 “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
    10. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
    11. Give us this day our daily bread.
    12. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
    13. And do not lead us into temptation, But delivers us from evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (NKJV)

    The Virgin Mary has no power nor authority to give us our daily bread. The Virgin Mary cannot forgive us our debts. The Virgin Mary cannot deliver us from evil. The Virgin Mary has no kingdom.

    Praying to the Virgin Mary or praying to any Christian dead or alive is worship.

    We are to pray to God the Father through Jesus Christ. No man nor woman can answer our prayers.

    It is sin to worship anyone other than God.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

  2. De Maria says:

    Hello Ken,

    From my perspective, the big problem is the way in which Protestants and Catholic approach Scripture. In this case, the New Testament.

    Prayer to the Saints rests upon the idea, that all who die in Christ are alive in Christ.
    John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

    Therefore, we are permitted to pray for their intercession in our behalf because they are, in a certain sense, more alive than we, since they are closer to the source of life. And besides, we are walking with them upon Mount Sion:

    Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

    All of us who are baptized, walk upon that Mountain, with the Saints. It would be rude not to speak with our brethren. Ruder still to deny their sanctity.

    Scripture says that we, who believe in Christ are members of His Body:
    Romans 12:5 (KJV)
    5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

    So, unless you believe that Jesus is dead, you must believe that the Saints are alive. All of them. We don’t fall off the Body of Christ when we die. Do we?

    Those are just a few of the Scriptures which show that the Saints of God are alive. There are many more. In addition though, there are Scriptures which show that the Saints in the after life are aware of that which is happening on earth.

    Luke 16:24 (KJV)
    24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

    If you are familiar with the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, you know that Jesus recounts the story of three people who have died. And yet, they are conversing with one another. In addition, Father Abraham expresses knowledge of the condition of Dives’ (aka the rich man’s) brothers.

    Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)
    1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

    Notice that we are surrounded by witnesses. The term “witness” is here used as a double entendre. First of all, they witnessed their faith by their life. But if that were all, they would not surround us.

    The fact that they surround us is evidence of the fact that “witnesses” is being used also in the sense of one who gathers information and reports it to another. These are spirits of men made perfect amongst whom we walk, right now (Heb 22-24).

    Don’t believe it? Have you not read in Scripture what Elisha said?
    2 Kings 6:17
    And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

    Now, there are some who say that they feel confident that they are worthy to approach Jesus and the Father, without going through our advocates. Then you should read in Scripture:
    Matthew 23:12
    King James Version (KJV)
    12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

    Note the next verse that I will post, these men approached Jesus with confidence. What did Jesus say?

    Matthew 7:21-23
    King James Version (KJV)
    21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    And then there are these fellows who approached the Father in prayer:
    Job 42:8
    King James Version (KJV)
    8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.

    So, that is why, I believe the Catholic Teaching of the Communion of Saints.

  3. Pingback: Prayer to the Saints in the New Covenant | Let's talk Bible

  4. θ says:

    Satanists and Jews shall be forced to kneel down and worship (Proskuneo) Christians – as their “lords” to whom their knees shall bow – but an angel declines to be worshiped by John.
    Rev 3:9
    Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
    vs.
    Rev 19:10
    And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

    Jews and the unseen demons shall kneel and be subjected to authority of judgment by humans who shall be given knowledge of the seen and the unseen beings.
    Lk 22:30
    That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
    1Cor 6:3
    Know ye not that we shall judge angels?

  5. θ says:

    Unlike a free pass, careless, even reckless giving of power to atone sin by the will of eleven disciples (Jn 20:23) or further Catholic sainthood mediation, Islam is so careful in guarding Monotheism, including against any possible idolatry of deifying Prophet Muhammad himself.
    It is ironic that it happens that Prophet Muhammad shall be the “last person” to be asked for by the believers themselves for a pleader. It proves that most believers consciously don’t want to elevate him to be a rival of Allah.
    Bukhari, Vol. 9, Book 93, Hadith 532
    Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, The believers will be kept (waiting) on the Day of Resurrection so long that they will become worried and say, Let us ask somebody to intercede far us with our Lord so that He may relieve us from our place…They will go to Jesus who will say, ‘I am not fit for this undertaking but you’d better go to Muhammad the slave whose past and future sins have been forgiven by Allah.’ So they will come to me, and I will ask my Lord’s permission to enter His House and then I will be permitted. When I see Him I will fall down in prostration before Him,…Then I will intercede and He will put a limit for me (to intercede for a certain type of people). I will take them out and let them enter Paradise.”

    Pleading would not be acceptable unless the preconditions get achieved:
    – Believers shall ask each Prophet from Adam to Jesus, and they shall decline.
    – Prophet Muhammad shall get allowed to speak by Allah.
    – Prophet Muhammad shall prostrate.
    – Allah Himself sets a limit upon Prophet Muhammad’s pleading for a certain type of people, not less or more, hence those who wrongly commit idolatry (even wrongly deifying a pleading opportunity of Prophet Muhammad) shall be rejected.

    Moreover, It is ironic that after refusing to be the pleaders, yet all Prophets shall eventually be so anyway. It proves that the event is set on a main purpose to teach Moslems to just not fall into a sin of idolatry.
    Bukhari 9, Book 93, Number 532s:
    Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri, Allah’s Apostle said:…Surely, Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom but if there is any good done He doubles it (4.40). The Prophet added: Then the Prophets and Angels and the believers will intercede…

    In the John’s Gospel, 11 disciples obtain status as the world’s saviors too.
    Jn 20:23
    Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

  6. De Maria says:

    One more ting, Ken. You ask:

    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?

    Well, Ken. Did the Angel say, “Stop! You’re committing idolatry!” No. St. John revealed that he had fallen down to worship the Angel. Thus, he thought the angel was God. Apparently, the Angel knew this and therefore, merely said, “Your worship is mistaken. I am like you, another creature.”

    If St. John had continued worshipping the angel, after being corrected, then he would be committing idolatry. As it stands, he merely committed an error, confusing the Angel, with God.

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