Mary Mother of Jesus
Jesus was born of a virgin — that Jesus was miraculously conceived in Mary’s womb through the work of the Holy Spirit. We agree with the theological conclusion of the Council of Ephesus (AD 431) that Mary is the “mother of God” (theotokos). Still, Mary was “blessed” and “favored” in having the privilege of giving birth to the Godman (Jesus), the second person of the Trinity.
Following are the four main points of Protestant belief regarding Mary:
1. Perpetual Virginity
We agree that Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb while she was still a virgin, but the notion that Mary’s virginity was preserved intact during birth is heresy because Christ was also fully human. Furthermore, Matthew says that Joseph didn’t have sexual relations or know Mary “until” she had given birth. (Matthew 1:25). Matthew 13:55 lists the brothers of Jesus and v. 56 mentions that He had sisters. This again rules out the possibility that Mary remained a virgin.
2. The Assumption of Mary
The assumption of Mary into heaven “body and soul” should be rejected. We have no scriptural text to support such a teaching. And when we look at history, we see that the doctrine developed quite late, and wasn’t declared to be authoritative until 1950. Certainly, as a believer in Christ, Mary will be raised from the dead, but we have no basis for thinking she was raised before other believers.
3. Immaculate Conception
The notion of the immaculate conception (Mary being made sinless and perfectly clean upon conception) should be rejected. There are no Scriptures to back this theory up. Of course, Mary was a godly woman, but she was godly because God’s grace rescued her from her sins based on Christ’s atoning work. The only sinless human being was Jesus.
4. Queen of Heaven
Most problematic of all is the idea that believers should pray to Mary and venerate her as the Queen of Heaven. No scriptural evidence supports this idea that she functions in some way as a mediator or a benefactor for the people of God. The “one mediator” is “the man Christ Jesus” and there is not even a whisper of Mary playing such a role in the New Testament.
Matthew 1:18-23; John 8:46; 1 Timothy 2:5
The focus on Mary is a troubling distraction from Jesus being the centerpiece of the Christian faith. To be fair the Catholic church speaks of Mary being venerated not worship. But in practice there is no notable difference. Many Latin American countries have their own “Virgin” that they pray to and look to for help. My own experience in these countries has people praying to dolls and not to a risen Savior. These “virgins” that people worship all have some kind of miraculous story associated with them.
The biggest problem with the Catholic teaching of the perpetual virginity of Mary is the Bible itself. It states in Matthew 1:25 that Joseph did not have “know” or have sexual relations with Mary until after she had given birth. Matthew 13:55-56 states that Jesus had brothers and sisters. The history of the early church is clear that the book of James was written by the brother of Jesus. The evidence is clear that Mary did not remain a virgin.
The Assumption of Mary is another teaching that has no Biblical basis. This teaching came about in the mid 1900s. There are no authoritative manuscripts that would support this belief. Mary will one day be raised from the dead as other believers will be but there is no evidence or reason that would support a separate resurrection for her.
The teaching of the Immaculate Conception of Mary goes against some of the core teachings of the Bible. One that all men (mankind) are sinners, Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23. That Jesus was not born with a sin nature had to do with that he was not from the seed of a man, not that Mary was perfect. 1 Corinthians 15:47. It appears that even Mary and his brothers had some doubt in Jesus at some point as they came and asked to speak with Jesus alone, outside during a time when He was being accused of being possessed by demons.
The teaching of Mary as the Queen of Heaven is another troubling teaching. There is no biblical evidence to support this idea. It seems to imply a level of divinity for Mary or a special role for her. The Bible states in 1 Timothy 2:5, that there is a single unique mediator between God and man, Jesus, not Mary. Luke 7:28 tells us that of everyone who was born of a woman (that would include Mary), no one was greater than John. This would refute the idea of a greater position for Mary.