The Biblical, Catholic, and Occult View of Mary

By Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon

Among all the women in history, none have been more venerated than Mary, the

mother of Jesus. However, this veneration can be almost exclusively attributed to the

influence of the Catholic Church. For example, one of the most powerful men in the world

today is Pope John Paul II. In his new book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, which has

sold in the tens of millions of copies, he refers to his “total abandonment to Mary” and to

having chosen the following slogan as the motto for his papacy, “Totus Tuus” (“I am completely

yours, O Mary”).1

But who is Mary, according to the Bible? Mary is the young virgin woman who was

chosen by God to bear the Messiah into the world (Mt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:27-32, 39-41). Although

Mary was “greatly troubled” (Lk. 1:29) by the angel’s announcement of her chosen

role, she faithfully submitted to God’s will: “May it be to me as you have said” (Lk. 1:38).

Throughout her life, she was amazed at the privilege God had given her. When she visited

Elizabeth and heard Elizabeth prophesy amazing things about her child, she said, “My soul

glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk. 1:46–47). When Jesus was

born and the shepherds worshipped Him and told of their angelic visitation (what the angels

had told them about Jesus), “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her

heart” (Lk. 2:19). At Jesus’ dedication in the temple, she was even more awed over the

prophecies given about her child (Lk. 2:23).

Thus, the biblical portrait of Mary is of a godly woman who was, not surprisingly, often

taken aback in her role as Jesus’ mother. But was she in any way unique or different from

the rest of the human race? According to the Bible, she was different only in her earthly

role as Jesus’ mother; otherwise, she had no special graces, powers, or abilities.

Although the Catholic Church has a billion followers and claims that it accepts biblical

teaching, we find in Scripture just the opposite of what the Catholic Church teaches about Mary.

The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was sinless, but Mary is clearly said to be a sinner like

all of us (Lk. 1:47; Rom. 3:23). The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin,

but the Scripture teaches she had at least six other children (Mt. 13:55–56).

Although Jesus gave the appropriate respect to Mary as His mother, He never set her

apart as the Catholic Church has. According to Rome, Mary has been more blessed by

God than any other mortal. In the words of Pope Paul VI, citing Vatican II, “The place she

occupies in the Church [is] ‘the highest place and the closest to us after Jesus.’”2 But according

to Luke 11:27–28, Jesus Himself denied Catholic views when He taught that those

who obey God are actually far more blessed than Mary—than if they had given birth to

the Messiah Himself: “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out,

‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are

those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”

Today, the Catholic Church views Mary as 1) Co-redemptrix, 2) Mediatrix, and 3) Queen of

Heaven. As Co-redemptrix, she cooperates with Christ in the work of saving sinners. As

Mediatrix of all graces, she now dispenses God’s blessings and grace to the spiritually needy.

As Queen of Heaven, she rules providentially with Christ, the King of Heaven. Thus, “There is

one Mediator between Christ and men, the Holy Mother Mary. Mary is the way, the truth and

the life. No man comes to Jesus but by Mary.”3 (Cf. 1 Tm. 2: 5–6)

As a result of such teaching, the Catholic Church logically teaches Mary’s right to

veneration by faithful Catholics. Because of her role in the economy of salvation, Mary is

worthy of special adoration.

That Catholic theology places Mary very close to Christ Himself can be seen from the

following chart:

In light of this, it is difficult to deny the response of Protestants that Mary has been

elevated from the status of a creature into, in Berkouwer’s words, “the supernatural perfection

of the life of God” or that “Mary’s role is often delineated by Catholicism in a way that

the gospels ascribe exclusively to Christ.”4 In our book, Protestants and Catholics: Do They

Now Agree? (1994 edition), we documented the Church’s official position, citing numerous

popes and official texts.

Consider a few excerpts: “Nothing according to the will of God comes to us except

through Mary. . .nobody can approach Christ except through the Mother”; “With Jesus,

Mary has redeemed the human race”; “[Mary] offered him [Jesus] on Golgotha to the eternal

Father. . .for all the children of Adam.”5 These statements from Pope Leo XIII, Pope

Pius XI and Pope Pius XII were reiterated at Vatican II and by modern Catholic theologians.

Vatican II declared, “Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this saving role, but

by her manifold acts of intercession continued to win for us gifts of eternal salvation.”6 In

The Catholic Catechism we read, “Alongside her Son, Mary has become part of this plan

[of salvation] by contributing her share to the justification of the human race, beginning with

herself and extending to everyone ever justified.”7

In essence, the Catholic Church’s exaltation of Mary at the theological level has resulted

in her worship at the grass-roots level. This is why Carson remarks, “The [historical]

development of Mariology has been accompanied by an ever increasing tendency to accord

Mary a worship that, in much popular devotion, is indistinguishable from that offered to

God alone.”8 Although the Catholic Church technically distinguishes latria (adoration due to

God alone) from hyperdulia (special veneration given only to Mary), one can only wonder

how such fine distinctions are to be maintained in actual Catholic practice when one is

attempting to give hyperdulia to Mary but not latria? We agree with noted theologian R. C.

Sproul who remarks, “I think, however, for all practical purposes, that I can say without fear

of ever being proven wrong, that millions of Roman Catholic people in this world today

worship Mary, and in doing so, believe that they are doing what the Church is telling them

to do.”9 The late noted expert on comparative religion, Dr. Walter Martin concluded, “This is


Mother of God

Sinless (immaculate conception)

Perpetual virgin

Ascended (assumed bodily into


Queen of heaven

Dispenser (Mediatrix)

Co-redemptrix in the salvation of man


Son of God


Born of a virgin

Ascended bodily into heaven

King of heaven

Dispenser of all redeeming grace to mankind

Redeemer and Savior of man

indeed the elevation of a creature to Deity. . . .”10

As we documented in Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?, even Catholic

authorities confess that there is no scriptural warrant for their unique teachings on Mary

and that Catholic views are a result of the evolution of Church tradition and papal pronouncement.


Unfortunately, however, there is also a logical connection between the Catholic

Church’s exaltation of Mary and the occult revelations from Marian apparitions throughout

the world.

One simply cannot deny that Catholic Mariology approaches, and, in practice often

constitutes, idolatry. We think such idolatry is a principal reason for the worldwide occult

activity associated with official Catholic Mariology.

For example, around the world there are literally hundreds of sites of Marian apparitions

encompassing thousands of messages from “Mary” given to Catholic believers. Revelations

from “Mary” have occurred in almost all of the 50 states and dozens of countries.

No one can deny the fact of these supernatural manifestations, whether they are personal

visions, apparitions, materializations, or channeled revelations. Nor can one deny that the

messages these revelations bring are opposed to the teachings of the Bible. In fact, they

consistently conform to Catholic theology as we documented in our book.12

In the messages of these apparitions in general, leading Catholic Mariologist Father

John Lozano affirms, “the devotion to the Immaculate Heart [Mary] appear as a means of

salvation.”13 In other words, devotion to Mary is taught as a way of salvation.

Thus, proof that these worldwide Marian apparitions could not come from the biblical

Mary can be seen in the teachings the occult “Mary” gives. Mary not only presents herself

as a savior,14 but Satan allegedly fears Mary “more than God Himself.”15 The individual

Catholic teachings that Mary has consistently supported in her apparitions and revelations

include the necessity of penance, Marian devotion, belief in purgatory, participation in the

Mass and the Rosary.16 But all of these are wrapped up in the Catholic doctrine of salvation

by works and none of this is biblical as we have documented in Catholics and Protestants:

Do They Now Agree? (1995 edition).


1. Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), 213-


2. Pope Paul VI, Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Washington, DC: U.S. Catholic

Conference, 1974), 20.

3. Cited from an official Catholic source in Walter Martin, The Roman Catholic Church in

History (Livingston, NJ: Christian Research Institute, 1960), 49.

4. G. C. Berkouwer, The Conflict With Rome (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed,

1958), 174; and The Second Vatican Council and the New Catholicism (1965),


5. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford, IL: Tan, 1974), 213-214; R. C.

Sproul, “The Virgin Mary” lecture transcript 5, 6, (on file) emphasis added.

6. Walter M. Abbot, ed., The Documents of Vatican II (NY: Guild Press, 1966), 91.

7. John Hardin, The Catholic Catechism: The Contemporary Catechism of the Teachings

of the Catholic Church (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975), 168-169.

8. H. M. Carson, Dawn or Twilight? A Study of Contemporary Roman Catholicism (Leices