The veneration of Mary and other matters

There is nothing like good dialogue between a Roman Catholic believer and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and a Baptist preacher.  Walt, I believe I speak for many of us when I say thank you for the conversation.  You have certainly created great discussion.

With that in mind, I want to delve into a few more differences between Protestants and Catholics before I head in another direction with my blogs later this week.  And, before anyone accuses me of kicking the Roman Catholic Church in the teeth, please read the blog posts from October 20 and 21, especially with regard to the disclaimer.

Walt and/or Phillip I would be curious to learn where the Bible teaches the following Roman Catholic teachings:

  1. The veneration of Mary.
  2. Mary portrayed as the Mother of God
  3. Mary’s perpetual virginity
  4. The Immaculate Conception (for the Baptists reading this blog, this has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus but it is the Catholic teaching that Mary was born without sin and remained that way).
  5. The assumption of Mary (i.e., instead of dying, God assumed Mary into heaven).
  6. Prayer directed to Mary
  7. The transubstantiation of the Lord’s Supper elements (i.e., wine changing into the blood of Jesus and bread changing into His body.  Please do not use John 6 as your proof text since Jesus’ words are obviously symbolic—see tomorrow’s blog).
  8. The Doctrine of Purgatory
  9. Origin of the Papacy
  10. Worship of the cross
  11. Use of Holy Water
  12. Use of the Rosary
  13. Confession of sin to an earthly priest
  14. Inclusion of the Apocrypha in the Catholic Bible

Again, this is not to disparage Catholicism, but where in the Bible does someone find a legitimate argument for the preceding subjects?

Since I consider the Bible the final authority for life and faith, I have difficulty understanding, even grasping these teachings.

Grace always.


14 Responses to “The veneration of Mary and other matters”

  1. 1 Lee
    October 27, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Is there not a way to foster unity between the denominations without compromising the individual distinctivness of participating denominations, defined by what we have in common? Is there not a corporate agreement as to those beliefs defined as “orthodox” that all share (excluding cults) that justifies our sharing the corporate label of “Christian?” The pride of men and the influence of Satan works to create division and factions in the Church. Divisions and factions are clearly not Biblical (Luke 11:17 “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls”). The fact that such unity has never been acheived since the beginning and the seeming impossibility of arriving at such level of corporate unity and cooporation does not seem suffciently reasonable for deeming it impossible and not worth the effort. If we cannot agree enough to work together for the common good of serving Christ it therefore seems a contradiction to recognize all the denominations (excluding cults) as corporately Christian. God is the author of unity out of diversity. Likewise, “. . .what is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27b

  2. 2 Phillip Johnson
    October 27, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Pastor Ryan,

    Thank you for your open spirit to tackle such issues that have served to divide the Christian World for so many, many years.

    As I expressed in my initial posting, I am hesitant to enter into an open debate and most especially argumentation concerning our understanding of God the Father, Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit and how they relate to our salvation. There is enough strife and turmoil in the world in general. Christ brought a message of peace. That is what I now experience.

    With the 47 years I experienced as a Baptist, especially in first coming to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and continuing to grow in the understanding, as a Baptist, then I can still look at each of the points in question with understanding from the two diverse viewpoints.

    My journey of understanding has now brought me home to the Catholic Faith and a comprehension of “the fullness of truth.” Many at Crosspoint reacted to the news of my conversion with the perception that I had become a member of a cult. Unfortunately, that is how much of mainstream
    Baptist Theology believes Catholicism to be. Each of the points that Pastor Ryan has posted for discussion were issues I had to look at and found that as God’s Holy Spirit led me in my search. Many clarifications became amazingly clear.

    Pastor Ryan, I will offer at least one clarification………..as I now understand it. The Eucharist is the foundation for each Mass. I yearned for years to experience more of the “Lord’s Supper” as Baptists practice this Sacrament. Once a quarter, and tacked on to the end of a worship service was not enough. Now I experience the Eucharist at every single Mass and it is afforded the full dignity I have always perceived it should have. I will use Bible Translations familiar and acceptable to the Baptists rather than a Catholic Bible:

    Matthew 26:26-28 (New King James Version)

    26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
    27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

    Christ says this is My body, this is My blood.

    Luke 22:19-20 (New King James Version)

    19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
    20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

    Again, the emphasis on His body and blood is there. I fully understand the next statement of doing “this in remembrance of Me”, but to my understanding AND the use of Scripture, Christ is placing emphasis on His body and blood. The emphasis on the supreme sacrifice God thru His Son Jesus Christ gave us becomes ever so much more meaningful when the emphasis is placed on His real presence rather than just the remembrance.

    For the sake of brevity, I will use these two. My question to you Pastor Ryan, is why NOT accept the real presence of the body and blood of Christ? I do not and cannot fully understand the magnitude of the mystery of Transubstantiation, but by faith I accept it. That faith has added a significant depth to experiencing this profoundly important Sacrament.

    Peace be with you my brother in Christ,


  3. 3 Phillip Johnson
    October 27, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Pastor Ryan,

    One other quick note: I will be happy to provide you with a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and some Primers that are used in RCIA. That way, you can spend whatever time you have available to research for yourself these issues and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you study rather than as interpreted by either me or Walt.

    As one or our priests once said, “being Catholic is like drinking from a fire hydrant!” The volume of material to learn is enormous!



  4. 4 pastorron7
    October 27, 2008 at 9:31 am


    Grace and peace to you! I was wondering a few things. First, weren’t the words of Jesus you reference spoken specifically to those in attendance that day? Since that is the case… and Jesus had not yet died on the cross to atone for sin… how is it that the bread and wine became the actual body and blood of Jesus BEFORE the sacrifice had been made?

    Second, if I may be so bold as to interject my own answer to the question you posed to Pastor Ryan, there are very good reasons not to accept that the bread and wine actually turn into the literal body and blood of Jesus as it is eaten. First, chemically and bio-medically it has been proven that the elements do not change once eaten. Second, it is obvious that Jesus is speaking in metaphorical terms for purpose of illustration… as he often did (Such as his reference to John The Baptist being Elijah in Matthew 11:13-15). Third, on a more personal note, it does not change my faith in Christ positively or negatively for the elements NOT to change into the literal blood and body of Jesus. Fourth, the concept of Transubstantiation came into being formally with the Counsel of Trent from 1545 to 1563 (In other words, the doctrine in not found in Scripture.).

    The problem between Baptist and Roman Catholics is this: Baptists look only to Scripture as our authority. Roman Catholics view as equal… 1) Scripture, 2) Church Tradition, and 3) When the Pope speaks “Ex Cathedra.” Thus much of Roman Catholics believe is the result of #2 and #3… which Baptists reject.


  5. October 27, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Lee, good thoughts. You will agree, however, there is a need to identify the differences in what we believe just as much there is a need to identify the similarities. My intent was not to divide, and I trust you sensed that in what I wrote.

    Phillip, thank you for your response. You have a unique view of both churches, my friend. A view in which others of us I have no understanding. My answer to transubstantiation is forthcoming in a blog later this week. By the way, we participate in the Lord’s Supper each month at CrossPoint, and that too will be in a future blog. This has been a great dialogue, indeed. Thank you for your remarks.

  6. 6 Searching
    October 27, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    I would have to echo the sentiments of Lee in this discussion. We as “Christians” seem to spend a whole lot of time extolling the differences between us and use those differences to divide us. Have we forgotten how the Bible we all look to came together? It was not etched on stone tablets and handed to us. The bible was evaluated and assembled by a committee of religious men based on a list of criterion they had agreed to be evidence of the leadership of Holy God. They rejected many letters and manuscripts from some of the same writers who were included in the bible. This is to diminish neither the value nor the authority of the bible, but rather to say we need to be cautious in our use of it. The one thing it was never intended for by God was to be used to beat another into agreement over any specific issue. If we were supposed to agree on everything within it, God would have made it so. He created each of us different for a purpose and that too is a matter of faith.

    Ryan, I suspect that you as a pastor, who has studied through the seminary process, already know the answers to the questions you raised and therein make the purpose of your questions suspect. If you are attempting to have Walt and/or Phillip evaluate the religious path they have chosen or if you are looking to help them clarify why they believe as they do, one would hope you would put it just that way. If you are merely attempting to create discussion perhaps putting these topics in a format that does not appear to need to be defended would have been more efficacious. After all, you and I read the same bible and draw diametrically opposed truths from it on many topics.

    As I wrote once before we all approach God from completely difference circumstances, perspectives and maturity levels and much of those are based on the particular personality and gifts given us by God at our creation. I am not advocating Universalism but rather accept that God also created in us the ability to think, discern and interpret as he leads. The bible was intended to lead us to a greater understanding of who God is and his love for us that we would glorify him with every part of whom we are and not to force others to conform to our unique understanding and beliefs. There is much in the bible that can only be accepted by faith.
    It is a dreadful shame to see the things people through the centuries have done because of their own self interests and then rubber-stamped it as being of God. We even have a spirit of divisiveness within so many of our churches over subjective doctrines and selfishness. I heard a story today about a minister who was wearing a shirt from a particular college and was stopped by a couple of church members who support a rival college and accused him of being divisive. What has happened to us? Where is the love of Christ? Where is the Spirit of God? I know that you are going to claim CrossPoint is different, Ryan, and I hope you’re right.

    By the way, I saw a woman in a store this weekend with one of your “Devoted” tee shirts on…

  7. 7 Phillip Johnson
    October 27, 2008 at 1:26 pm


    Regarding your comments:

    “First, chemically and bio-medically it has been proven that the elements do not change once eaten. Second, it is obvious that Jesus is speaking in metaphorical terms for purpose of illustration…” “weren’t the words of Jesus you reference spoken specifically to those in attendance that day? Since that is the case… and Jesus had not yet died on the cross to atone for sin… how is it that the bread and wine became the actual body and blood of Jesus BEFORE the sacrifice had been made?”

    Interesting that a scientific explanation is used to “PROVE” that a miracle of Christ does not take place, and that it is “obvious” Jesus is speaking in metaphorical terms……..the quoted scripture in Isaiah below I would submit speaks of God in His infinite wisdom being far beyond what our science can prove or disprove and that much of what we interpret as “obvious” can only be revealed under the leadership of His Holy Spirit. As to the concept of Jesus speaking ONLY to those in attendance that day and so forth………The Divine Word of God as presented in the Holy Scriptures speak to all mankind, then and now! We do, however, have to read and listen!

    That the real presence of my Lord and Savior is present in the Eucharist in the form of a miracle that I do not understand is not a problem to me. I am blessed beyond measure in experiencing the real presence of His body and blood more than I am in debating why it is more important to prove that presence is not real. I will not go to the Lord’s table and examine my soul by taking Christ out of the Eucharist. As is recited by all the faithful before receiving the body and blood of Christ at each Eucharist, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed!”

    Isaiah 55:8-9 (New King James Version)

    8 “ For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
    9 “ For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways,
    And My thoughts than your thoughts.

    Pastor Ryan, I have delved much further than intended in this response to Pastorron7. Again, I do not want to participate in an open forum of theological debates. Thank you for your approach to this issue. Hope you will accept my offer of a Catechism and related material.

    There is still room at the well for all who will drink.

    “The LORD bless you and keep you;

    The LORD make His face shine upon you,
    And be gracious to you;

    The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
    And give you peace.”’


  8. 8 Lee
    October 27, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks for pointing that out, Ryan. Knowing your heart as well as I do, I was not considering you as one who is being used as a tool of the enemy to continue to create division and apologize for the lack of clarity that left room for the implication. My response was in consideration of Paul’s many warnings against division and strife and his many imperatives for preserving unity. My first question was a sincere inquiry in recognition of the conflicting interests I described and my lack of any ideas as to a solution. I agree denominational distinction should be maintained. However, I also believe there should be greater effort toward eccumenical cooporation given the obvious contradiction of our existing levels of autonomy to Biblical imperatives and the title of our corporate identity. My belief is informed by God’s numerous demonstrations of his ability to create unity out of diversity and the overwhelming eivdence that supports the lack of limitations to his ability. When considering any effort toward overcoming opposition to Biblical imperatives, I simply find the word “impossible” to be out of context.

  9. 9 Lee
    October 27, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Phillip, I would like to join Ryan in his invitation for you to continue in our discussion. As was mentioned, few Baptists have even a remote understanding of Catholic doctrine. I would assume even less know a Catholic brother like I know you, having seen the depth of your faith and fruit produced from your intimate relationship with our mutual Lord and Savior. Prejudice is a stronghold rooted in ignorance. Discussions like this one, if maintained within a spirit of grace and brotherly love, can be used of God to achieve the “impossible” I mentioned above. Discussing our differences in an attitude of cooporation and love is a beautiful manifestation of God’s presence, a manifestation of unity in diversity. Grace and peace be with you.

  10. October 27, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Dear Pastor Ryan,

    Since you consider the Bible the final authority for life and faith, I would like to ask a question: where does the Bible say there are exactly sixty six books in (your) Bible?
    There are answers or to be more precise, explanation to some of your questions in my blog (vivacatholic.wordpress.com), if you care to pay a visit.

  11. 11 pastorron7
    October 28, 2008 at 5:30 am


    One of the problems with the written word is that it is devoid of passion and emotion. I hope you did not think that what I wrote was intended in any was as offensive or virulent… that was not my intention. I apologize for any offense I may have caused.

    My point about science was simply that the elements really don’t change. I didn’t communicate it clearly enough that my point was it doesn’t matter (In my view) whether the elements actually do or don’t change in taking the Lord’s Supper. My faith is strengthened in what the elements stand for and remind me of… Jesus’ death to pay the penalty of my sin. That is all I was trying to say.

    There is no doubt that the full extent of this discussion is not a tit for tat or my verses versus your verses or about who “wins” the discussion. The purpose is seeking, believing, and following truth. It may be that Romans 14:5 is where we settle… “Let every man be fully convinced in his own mind.”

    I hope you, Pastor Ryan, and whoever else necessary live close enough to each other and know each other well enough to continue this discussion in person. That may be the best way to hear each other’s heart.


  12. October 28, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve been keeping up with the discussions and am so glad to know that the spiritual leader of the Baptist church i’m joining invites such dialogue. It disputes a common theory that Baptist preachers may not be as intellectual. Through personal church experience, it is so critical to know (Rom. 14:5) what you believe and why. Praise God He created each one of us. Praise God we can learn from each other. I agree much with Lee and appreciate the insight so much. Unity is key. We can state what we believe and can state personal convictions without feeling the need to sway others. I think the only sway commanded in scripture is to go and make disciples apart from teachings where elders model and teach right ways to live. Introducing someone to Christ should always be central. He is the most important belief. the rest is a matter of tradition. Isn’t God big enough to deal with each one whether it matches our ideal or not? (Isa. 55:8-9) My personal conviction matches most of what Baptists believe but i only state that so my view is clear through any discussion i may take part in. It is comforting to know where a person stands so mutual respect can then be given without feeling the need to “evangelize”. To me, if a person knows Christ died for his/her sins, repents and receives, and repents and receives, and repents and receives….(sanctification) we’re in the same boat and the rest is just interesting preferences we can learn about each other so that we know how to pray for each other. Thanks for letting me share. God’s richest blessings to you.

    Sincerely His,
    Rom. 8:28

  13. October 28, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Wow, I like this dialogue. THis is impressive. I am challenged by the thinking of each of you.

    Vivator, Chandra and others, thank you for entering the discussion.

    On a specail note, Vivator, thanks for inviting me to read your blog. If you will go back and read the last few days of discussion you will note I am not slamming Catholicism. In fact, there are several Catholic brothers and sisters who attend my family of faith quite regularly. My new friend and Catholic brother, Walt asked an honest question a few weeks ago, and I have responded to his inquiry with Christian love.

    As we have said so many times on the comment section, our responses are one dimensional. You cannot hear the tone or the inflection of my words, neither do you see my expression. If you continue to read the blog each week you will find I try to season each post with grace.

    In response to your question about where it says there exactly sixty-six books in the Bible, my answer is as follows: I perceive the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon to be the Word of God given in and through human words. By “canon” I mean the body of teaching that God gave to be a rule of faith and life for his church. God created the canon by inspiring the books that make it up and by causing the church to recognize their canonical character. The historical evidence shows that this was how the early church understood the canon (Jesus’ Bible) in Jesus’ own day and as confirming rather than calling in question the authenticity of our entire New Testament. In your question and by reading your blog, I am assuming you are referring to the Tridentine canon, which contains seventy-eight books. If you are asking me to compare the two then we must ask a singular question about the Protestant canon, and that is, is there any historical evidence that compels us to challenge its historical bounds. I say, without reservation, that the origin, circulation and accpetance of the Protestant canon that the early church handed down to us remains uncontested even today.

    Grace to all. Thank you for your thoughts.

    I will wrap up this discussion about our Lord’s Supper the next few days and then head off into another direction.

  14. 14 Lee
    October 28, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Ron, offense is not avoidable in person either, even when it is not intended. As you know, one of the covenants required in order to become a member at CrossPoint is “There are no hurt feelings.” According to Biblical mandate, we are required to talk about and work out the seeds of offense so they do not have the opportunity to take root as bitterness and strife. Often, no matter if spoken or written, the meaning we intend by the words we choose will be heard and interpreted differently according to the listener’s presuppositions and experience. Such is the limitation imposed by the inadequacy of language for communicating meaning. Therefore, it is necessary to dialogue in order to benefit from the unique understanding every participant brings to the conversation. If there is offense, it needs to be voiced, thus giving opportunity for correction and/or reproof.

    Concerning the written word, I agree it is more tedious to communicate meaning given the lack of inflection but I would add it is also more controlled. Emotions can easily inflame misunderstanding when speaking of such sensitive matters as these. The demands of writing offer the opportunity to “think before speaking,” lending the opportunity to take a statement back before it is spoken by way of the invaluable resource of the delete button. I also find writing to be a discipline that challenges my vocabulary and the articulation of my thoughts, thus aiding my ability to communicate verbally. The demand for brevity also challenges my skills for effectively communicating complex ideas I understand myself but have difficulty explaining.

    My conclusion is the modern medium of blogging offers a new and powerful opportunity for apologetics at multiple levels and in a forum that can’t be duplicated in a “live” environment due to the constraints of time and lack of anonymity. It also offers the opportunity to reach a much larger audience, evidenced by Ryan’s map showing readers from around the world. Therefore, I encourage you to continue to participate, even at the risk of causing offense. Given the depths of division that continue to prevail due largely to ignorance, it is beyond time we as Christians come to the negotiating table to work out our differences for the sake of unity. Grace and peace to you, my brother.

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