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10/10/97 Mohler warns against veneration of Mary in magazine commentary

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Reports of Pope John Paul II’s apparent desire to grant “co-redeemer” status to the mother of Jesus Christ illustrate the unbiblical nature of Roman Catholic theology concerning Mary, R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes in an inaugural feature commentary for WORLD magazine.
The president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary warns such an elevation of Mary will result in a “theological conflagration” between Roman Catholics and evangelicals who already differ markedly on “Marian” doctrine.
“Evangelicals naturally wince when Catholics exhibit Marian devotion,” Mohler writes in the Oct. 18 issue. “The entire structure of Marian theology is so foreign to the Bible that evangelicals have difficulty understanding how such an unbiblical notion could have arisen, much less gained near supremacy in Roman Catholic popular devotion.”
The Mohler column is the first installment of a new monthly commentary for the evangelical weekly news magazine.
WORLD editors sought Mohler’s regular contribution to the magazine after noticing other essays published by him under the aegis “Fidelitas Fax: Commentary on Theology and Culture.”
Since May of this year, Mohler has written six issues of Fidelitas, essays which are faxed to about 200 Southern Baptist leaders, on such topics as Mother Teresa, the late fashion designer Gianni Versace and sex education in Great Britain. As former editor of the Georgia Baptist Convention newsjournal, The Christian Index, Mohler’s editorial writing gained the attention of many Southern Baptists.
In his WORLD commentary, Mohler notes that the official Vatican newspaper, “L’Observatore Romano,” reported this summer the Pope had convened a commission of Catholic theologians to consider whether Mary should be declared “Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate for the People of God.”
Although the commission unanimously opposed the declaration, a Newsweek magazine cover story recently suggested the elevation would occur by the year 2000. The resulting controversy caused the Vatican to issue a statement saying co-redeemer status would not be granted.
“And yet, according to a constant stream of reports in the media, this pope is not easily deterred,” Mohler writes. “John Paul II seems intent upon raising Marian devotion to new heights under his pontificate, and his consistency in this regard is reflected in nearly every papal statement.”
The elevation of Mary is being promoted by an aggressive lobbying effort led by cable television personality Mother Angelica and other Roman Catholic activists in the United States. Media reports, Mohler notes, indicate John Paul II has received almost 4.5 million signatures on petitions and more than 100,000 letters per month urging the new status for Mary.
Mohler outlines the history of the four current Marian dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church affirming Mary’s status as God-bearer, which evangelicals accept, and her perpetual virginity, immaculate conception and bodily assumption, all rejected by evangelicals.
“Marian devotion is profoundly lacking in biblical support,” Mohler asserts. “Scripture reveals Mary to be a worthy model of humble submission to the will of God, as the virgin who was the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. But Scripture does not reveal any suggestion that Mary is to be venerated, that she should be honored with unbiblical titles, that she was perpetually a virgin, that she was herself conceived without sin, that she was assumed into heaven before death, that she participated in any way in the atonement, or that she serves in any mediatorial role.
“To the contrary, the Bible makes clear that the only true worship is the worship of the one true God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

    About the Author

  • James A. Smith
  • James A. Smith, Sr.
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