Saturday, January 3, 2015

Comparing Mary's "Yes" to Esther's "Yes"

There is a doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church that has to do with Mary and the Annunciation. When the angel Gabriel came to announce the impending conception of Christ in Mary's womb, Mary said yes. By the way, did you know that Catholics do not refer to this as the Immaculate Conception? The Immaculate Conception is Mary's conception, they say she was conceived without sin. Catholics believe Mary was supernaturally preserved from all sin, and so was sinless throughout her life.

Back to the annunciation. Catholics believe that due to free-will, if Mary had said "No" then Jesus would not have been born and the entire Plan of God would have been thwarted. Mary is exalted and elevated to a position that is unscriptural, because really, the Catholics are all breathing a huge sigh of relief that she said 'yes'. Here are quotes from various Catholic Doctrine sites:

Catholic.com
God permitted the Redemption of mankind to depend on the free-will decision of a human being. Whether or not we would have a mediator was dependent on Mary’s "yes." Had there been no "yes" from Mary, there would have been no mediator.
EWTN, Global Catholic Network:
St. Irenaeus (late second century): "By obeying, she became a cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race."
From the Archdiocese of Perth, Australia:
"Without Mary's "yes",” the Archbishop said, “without her "let it be done to me as God wills", the Lord Jesus would not have been born and we would not now be preparing to celebrate his birth in just a few weeks' time."

In this way, the Catholic Church denies the sovereignty of God.

I'd like to bring your attention to a book of the Old Testament that has some parallels to the Annunciation scenes in Luke. In Esther, we have a young girl, put into a dramatic position with weighty consequences to herself personally and to her nation of people, the Israelites, just as Mary was. Esther is presented with a choice, to become engaged in God's work in the saving of all Israel, or to decline. Would Esther say yes? Or would she say no?

ESTHER: Andrea Del Castagno (~1450).
Esther was actually a Queen
Esther is an interesting book because it is the only book that has no mention of God. Yet His providential works via His total sovereignty are saturated throughout the book. God's plan did not depend on Esther. If she had said no...well read the scripture yourself.

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Deliverance will come from another place. Will. Not "if." Nothing was dependent on Esther, except her personal obedience and trust of the LORD in whom she had declared faith. She was providentially put into an important moment of time and her answer would say more about her faith than any disruption of God's plan, which was going to come to pass anyway.

Besides, I don't recall that the angel Gabriel asked Mary anything. He arrived to tell her what God said will happen.

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

There are seven "wills" in those verses. Not seven "pleases." If Mary had said no, would Gabriel have had to return to heaven and say, "Sorry God, what you said will happen...won't happen after all?"

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. (Psalm 33:10-11)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)
Mary with the Child 1520-25,
Albrecht Altdorfer.
The biblical Mary is not a queen.

In the same way, nothing about God's plan was dependent on Mary's yes. Of course, God's omniscience was such that He already knew her answer. In addition, His will is irresistible. (Romans 9:19a). His plans will come to pass. (Lamentations 3:37). God hadn't spent a thousand years organizing the genealogies of each man and each woman and hadn't providentially preserved each baby birthed in that line of Mary's forefathers and foremothers from each tribe so Jesus would emerge as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah, just so it could boil down to one teenager's answer. God wasn't in the balcony of heaven wringing His hands and wondering if Plan B was going to have to be drafted.

Please have compassion for Catholic believers. If their entire salvation throughout all the ages depended on one girl's yes then they must not have very much peace of mind, or security. If their god can be thwarted by one moment of time, by one girl, by one answer, then what kind of god do they have faith in? A god that perhaps cannot hold them to His plan, either. Or hold the earth. Or be sovereign over anything.

Do they believe Job when Job says I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

Do they believe Isaiah's words speaking for God, when it was written, Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ (Isaiah 46:9-10)

I've read several of the Catholic Apologetics sites. The Catholic apologists do a good job of using scripture to support their unscriptural stances. They make reasonable answers to these very questions and are well written enough to confuse a weak Protestant or strengthen a weak Catholic. So what is the key to evangelizing Catholics?

Mike Gendron was a Catholic for many years before the grace of God opened his eyes to the truth. His apologetics site is aimed at Catholics and discussing in Catholic issues & doctrines. Under the heading on this "Articles" page, is the essay Evangelizing Catholics.

We have the faith in a sovereign God who providentially makes His will come to pass. There is enormous security and comfort in knowing this God. The Catholic god is not one who completely saves, not one who is strong enough to withstand a girl's no, and is not strong enough to bring His will to earth. Share our Mighty God with them, in the ways advised at the site above. Show them this God-

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

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Further Reading

The Counterfeit Mary of Catholicism



4 comments :

  1. Elizabeth, you are on a hot streak. Ouch!

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    1. Thank you. The time off at school vacation gives me extra time to study, pray, and write.

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  2. Comparing Mary to Esther in this way is a little off-balance. A better comparison would be Mary to Eve.

    In the words of Irenaeus, the early Church Father: "Just as Eve was seduced by the words of an angel so that she turned away from God by disobeying his word, so Mary received the good news from an angel's announcement in such a way as to give birth to God by obeying his word...And as the human race was subjected to death by a virgin, it was liberated by a Virgin; a virgin's disobedience was thus counterbalanced by a Virgin's obedience..."

    In this way, Mary is effectively a new Eve. Eve=mother of all the living (in flesh) :: Mary=mother of all the living (by faith).

    Also, I wouldn't be so certain about pronouncing Mary "not a queen".. check out 1 Kings 2:19-20. Solomon honored his mother, paid her homage and was willing to entertain whatever she requested. (The fact Adonijah made a terrible request is beside the point; Solomon showed filial piety to his mom!) Would not the King of Kings be all the more solicitous and honoring of His own Mother??

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    1. Hi tony,

      Both the arguments you made are Catholic apologetics arguments. Neither are correct.

      1. Mary is not another Eve. Adam the first man and Jesus the last man is not a parallel to Eve v. Mary. Mary is a servant, chosen by God for a particular task. Just like: Noah was chosen to lead the remnant of humanity through the Flood as all flesh died. Abram was asked to take his family away from all he had known and go to a land he'd never seen. He was also asked to sacrifice his son on Mt Moriah. Elizabeth gave birth to the greatest man who ever lived- John the Baptist. The LORD has a right to use His servants this way because He is Potter and we are clay. Yes, Mary was blessed to be chosen to bear and birth Christ, but she was a sinner, and a servant. Not a redemptive Eve. There is only one royal authority in heaven, and that's Jesus.

      2. Mary was not a queen nor did she become one. Yes Jesus honored his mother. He made provision for her living situation when He was on the cross. (John 19:26). He honored her all His life, we know this because He kept the commandments (Ex 20:12). But endowing her with special holiness? Or elevating her to queenly status? No. Jesus said,

      As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:27-28

      And He said,

      Someone said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You." 48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! Mt 12-47-48,

      indicating that faith is the tie that permanently binds, not biology.

      I'd ask you please to take a look at the following blog essay, it may help clarify these things.

      Mary: Who She Was (and Wasn't)
      http://www.gty.org/Blog/B141201/mary-who-she-was-and-wasnt

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