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 differentonly 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
whoobey 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, ‘Blessedrather are
those who hear the word of God andobey 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
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 Catechismwe 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) fromhyperdulia (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 givehyperdulia 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
worshipMary, 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)
Ascended (assumed bodily into
Queen of heaven
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 inProtestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?, even Catholic
authorities confess thatthere 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
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
messagesthese revelations bring are opposed to the teachings of the Bible. In fact, they
consistently conform toCatholic 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] appearas 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 ofpenance, Marian devotion, belief in purgatory, participation in the
Massand 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 inCatholics 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; andThe 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