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In Part 1 of this series of sermons, John MacArthur explains the history behind Mariology, or, as he demonstrates, Mariolatry.

In Part 2, he resumes his exploration of Mary, Christ’s mother, in relation to Catholic Church teachings and dogma.  As with the first part, you might find parts of his sermon shocking.  Be warned!

‘Delaguarie’ (as spelled in the texts at the end of the post), incidentally, refers to St Alphonsus de Liguori, author of the 1745 book, The Glories of Mary.  (The ‘de’ can be omitted.)

Dark green text indicates MacArthur’s words.  Emphases mine throughout.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

MacArthur describes for his congregation all the images on the doors to the new cathedral in Los Angeles.

This door is typical, it is representative of what you find in Catholicism all over the globe.  It is the worship of Mary.  No other conclusion is possible or even conceivable.

He has a point.  Wouldn’t you expect to find some images of the life of Christ?  Images of scenes from the Old Testament through to the New?  Any number of mediaeval cathedrals in Europe feature depictions of people and scenes from the entire Bible.  Strange that people knew more about Scripture then (considering that it was in Latin), don’t you think?

Biblical literacy

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a video of the show MacArthur refers to here:

Just this last week when I was on Larry King program, some of you may have seen it, with a whole handful of priests … and I tried to engage them off the camera in a discussion about Scripture and I was really again amazed at the absolute ignorance of what the Bible says.  They don’t even know the content of the Bible, let alone what it means.  And the repeated statements, particularly by one of the young men who … kept saying to me, “But the Church has said…but the Church has said…but the Church has said.”  Ignorant of Scripture, basing everything on what the Church has said because the Church is infallible…infallible.  Any religion…any religion that has a source of divine revelation other than the Bible or a source of revelation equal to the Bible, or a source of revelation which is the only true interpreter of the Bible is a false religion.  God has spoken, He has spoken only in His Word.  He has not spoken outside of His Word.  To say that God has spoken when He has not spoken is to add to Scripture and to add to Scripture is to bring upon yourself, according to Revelation 22:18 and 19, the plagues that are written in the Bible.

Still, the Roman Catholic Church affirms this corollary and, in fact, superior source of revelation that comes to the Church in an ongoing sense.  The French Roman Catholic George Tavard wrote, “Tradition was the overflow of the Word outside sacred Scripture.  It was neither separate from nor identical with Holy Writ.  Its contents are the other scriptures through which the Word made Himself known.  Tradition and Scripture.”  So they don’t need the Bible for anything and all the doctrines regarding Mary come from their tradition.

And here is a 2008 video of MacArthur discussing the inerrancy and truth of the Word of God with soi-disant Catholic, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who, frankly, isn’t in the slightest bit interested.  Well, after all, as one Catholic said the other day, the Bible is ‘a static book’:

The Assumption

The fourth doctrine came in the year 1950 under Pius XII, it is called the Doctrine of Assumption, that is that Mary was assumed into heaven when she died, she ascended into heaven.  And at the moment she ascended into heaven, she emptied Purgatory[de Liguori] gives a bizarre account of her death, even in his period, a couple of hundred years before this was made dogma … this kind of strange death of a sort of para-normal kind of person. [de Liguori] says that … all the holy Apostles were weeping around the bed, throwing themselves on their knees around her and kissing her holy feet.  And Jesus appeared in the room carrying His cross and she says to Him, “My son, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” That’s a brief summary of several pages … of the death, supposedly, of Mary, who was then assumed into heaven intact.

The fifth doctrine we looked at is Mary as mother of God, Queen of Heaven, the sovereign reigning monarch who is, practically speaking, superior to God and superior to Christ since, as we pointed out, they always do whatever she asks them to do and they don’t do what she doesn’t ask.  That’s how Catholics are held to Mary.  If you want to get saved, you have to go to Mary.  If you want blessings, you’ve got to go to Mary, you’ve got to love Mary.  If you love Mary hard enough and long enough and faithfully enough, you’ll get what you want.


She descends to earth frequently to visit people, lowly people, outcast people, peasant-type people, even children and the suffering people.  This goes on all the time.  There was a very interesting special this weekend on the History channel, some of you may have seen it, on Mary and apparitions …

On occasions when Mary comes and you have a collective group of people who see the apparition, they are all silent at the same time, they all speak at the same time, and all they say the same thing when they speak.  They are in a trance at the time, in a semi-state of consciousness, all of this is indicative of demonic activity.  And the last message that Mary gives in all of these appearances is a message of horror and hell, a horrific fearful message that seems, to me, to be just the kind of thing that demons would want to say to people is going to happen to them if they don’t worship Mary, when the truth is, it’s what’s going to happen to them if they do.


The seventh in these doctrines is the Doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix, to say that she is the source and channel of all graces to us, even salvation grace.  No grace is conferred on anyone without her actual intercessory cooperation

Here’s a good summary that comes from Pius IX who actually ruled the Vatican from 1846 to 1878, Pius IX, hear his summary about Mary.  “Let all the children of the Catholic Church … hear these words of ours …  Under her guidance … patronage … kindness and protection, nothing is to be fearedNothing is hopeless … and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race and since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of Heaven and earth and … even stands at the right hand of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner.  What she asks she obtains, her pleas can never be unheard.”

Co-Redemptrix — not dogma, yet

… this has not yet been formalized into a final official dogma.  The delay in doing so is due to ecumenical concerns.  This would be a final blow to Protestant reconciliation for some and even to Eastern Orthodox reconciliation but it is unofficial reality, nonetheless.  For example, in the 1990’s a petition came to John Paul II with which he agreed, calling for the Church to officially dogmatize what the Church believes, quote: “Mary is co-redemptrix with Jesus Christ.”  Four-point-four million signatures from Catholics around the world, many nations, were on that petition.  In the St. Peter Catechism, one of the most familiar of all Catholic Catechisms, we read this, “Did God will to make our redemption and all its consequences depend on the free consent of the Blessed Virgin Mary?”  Answer, “God willed that our redemption and all its consequences should depend on the free consent of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Pope Leo XIII said, “Every grace to man has three degrees. One, by God it is communicated to Christ.  Two, by Christ it is passed to the Virgin.  Three, from the Virgin it descends to us.”  That includes, of course, the grace of salvation.

No amount of verbal gymnastics can evade the fact that Mary saves in the Roman system.  All gifts, all virtues, all graces, says Catholic theology, are dispensed by the hands of Mary to whomsoever when and as she pleases.  … Mary plays the key role in salvationSt. Bernard [of Clairvaux] said, quote: “All men past, present and to come, should look upon Mary as the means and negotiator of salvation.”

This is unbelievable — not only what is being promulgated but printed as a done deal before it is formally considered.  It used to be that Catholic catechisms presented only official doctrine and dogma.  However, it seems as if John Paul II brought into the Church a charmingly militant attitude.  We shall see on Monday that not everyone agrees with the Co-Redemptrix proposal.

John Paul II’s heart ruled his head.  He was a people-pleaser.  He was an enthusiast (not necessarily a good thing in religion).  He canonised 500 saints and beatified 1,300 individuals, a sum unheard of for each. Prior to his papacy, only 98 people had been canonised in the 20th century.

Some of these probably passed muster more quickly because he abolished the office of the Devil’s Advocate as early as 1983, although he insisted that integrity and scrutiny were left uncompromised.  I am not sure how that could be, as the whole point of the Devil’s Advocate was that he was a canon lawyer who opposed the Promoter of the Cause, asking the difficult questions no one else wanted to.  His direct questions and investigations probed for any and all weaknesses in each canonisation case.   The Catholic Church will come to regret the haste and frequency in which these recent canonisations and beatifications took place.  But, I digress.

More on the co-Redemptrix issue.  MacArthur says:

The whole Roman Catholic system is filled with people who believe if they worship Mary they’re going to heaven.  That is a false god, and a false and damning gospel … She is the co-redemptrix because with Jesus she ransomed mankind from the power of Satan.  “Jesus,” says Catholic theology, “redeemed us with the blood of His body, Mary redeemed us with the agonies of her heart, suffering in her heart what was lacking in the passion of Christ.”  Really?  Something was lacking in the passion of Christ?

A popular tract is titled, “Heaven opened by the practice of the three Hail Marys” …  Here’s what it promises, and I quote, “One of the greatest means of salvation, one of the surest signs of predestination is … devotion to the most Blessed Virgin.  A devout servant of Mary shall never perish.”

… another Catholic document, “She it was who offered Christ on Golgotha to the eternal Father.”  She offered Christ on the cross to the eternal Father?  My Bible says, “God offered His Son.” John Paul II said this, “Mary participates in the redemption achieved by her Son and all graces are granted only through her intercession with her Son.

‘Predestination’ dependent on a devotion to Mary? Remember, the Bible is just ‘a static book’ …

In some strange way they have Mary somehow suffering in an efficacious manner for the very sins which had placed her Son there.  According to the Church, “Mary’s sufferings were so intense that they brought her to the very threshold of death herself” She … says the Church…“Participated with Jesus Christ in the very painful act of redemption.”  So the suffering of Mary at the cross was redeeming sinners … It is said at the cross that Mary triumphed over the ancient serpent.  Another document says, “It is … due chiefly to her leadership and help that the wisdom and teachings of the gospel spread so rapidly to all the nations of the world ...”  And now Mary is the Holy Spirit.  She’s the one spreading the gospel.  She’s the one converting sinners.  [De Liguori] said, “She cooperated in our redemption and became the mother of our souls” …

Finally, just one last comment from [De Liguori], equally bizarre and blasphemous, page 26, “Mary merited to conceive the Son of God in her virginal womb” …  At the same time, she not only agreed and gave consent, but she asked with all her heart and obtained the salvation of all the elect.”  Mary is the savior.

Wow.  Who needs the Holy Trinity and Christ’s one oblation on the Cross when you have Mary? Next we’ll be reading about Mary’s creation of the world and a new version of the Book of Revelation. Up until now, I thought this was popular Catholic sentiment gleaned from a few websites, not quasi-official doctrine.

The worst thing is, I can’t think of a single Catholic who, if they know about it, questions it.  They accept all these new doctrinal contortions (from old documents) quite happily and obfuscate them for outsiders to make everything appear normal: ‘Come home to Rome’.  Yet, when the mother of Jesus appears to be doing everything He and the Holy Spirit would have done, not to mention God the Father, you have to wonder.  Biblical illiteracy is a big part of it.  As I said in my childhood, ‘I don’t need to read the Bible, the priests do it for me.’

Purgatory, indulgences and the Treasury of Merit

Probably the most important doctrine to Roman Catholicism is Purgatory because that’s a safety net.  And if all goes bad here, you can land there and you can get out … Catholicism is a tough thing, it’s a hard sell because it’s legalism, right?  You’ve got people trying to live virtuous lives, even the priests can’t do it … some of you heard one of the priests say … “I’ve been celibate as far as I’m able” …  If you have been celibate as far as you are able, you haven’t been celibate because you’re not able.  So nobody can live up to the standard.  So everybody is going to fall short, so therefore nobody can know they’re safe and so you’d say, “Well … this is too much, I can’t handle this.”  But there’s a safety net there.  If you just don’t do the really bad stuff, you’re going to end up in a waiting place and eventually you’ll get out of there

Since most people aren’t going to earn heaven in this life, they’re going to end up in this place called “Purgatory,” which is … where you get purged … This is the place where the sinners, almost all of them, go.  They fall short of the merit.  They are there, they are purged and how does that happen?  It happens one way, by having somebody else’s merit applied to you and by being purged by pain.  Pain gains merit.  So if you have enough pain for enough millennia, your pain earns you merit.  But to speed the process and get you out sooner, somebody else’s merit can be applied to you and there happens to be in the Catholic world a treasury of merit.  God has at His disposal excess merit.  Some of it is His, and [I] asked the priest the other night before we went on the television program, I said, “Now I don’t understand about this treasury of merit … Does Mary’s merit go in there?”  Oh yes … Mary had more merit than she needed.  Whoa!  She had more righteousness than necessary.

You tell me what kind of a system that is.  Instead of saying, like the Bible says, that no man’s righteousness can earn him a relationship to God, Mary had more than she needed and so Mary’s excess merit and the excess merit of other … saints and some of the very righteousness of Christ all gets deposited in this treasury of merit.  And you can get it.  You can get it.  In fact, you can get it before you die.  In fact, you can buy it.  That’s what indulgences are.  You pay a fee, you get your forgiveness purchased, punishment canceled, merit applied, Purgatory shortened and you avoid temporal punishment.

It was the year 2000, we were traveling around Italy doing a conference over there.  It just happened to be a Jubilee year when certain doors to certain cathedrals were infused with indulgences.  If you walk through that door, you received an indulgence.  That is, you had certain sins of the past forgiven.  I’m telling you, those were crowded places, all you had to do was go through the door … When you got that indulgence, you had the merit that was in the treasury of merit, the excess merit of Mary applied to you, credited to you.  If you’re already in Purgatory, people who pray to Mary for you, people who light a candle to Mary or to the saints can accumulate merit that can be applied to you …  As long as the candle burns, the prayer goes on.  And as long as the prayer goes on, the merit in the prayer is accumulating on the benefit of the person in Purgatory and the merit is being drawn out of the treasury of merit …  The most effective means, by the way, of helping the dead in Purgatory is to have a priest say a Mass.  So you pray, you pay the priest a fee and he says a Mass for the dead and merit is transferred to that person’s account, Purgatory is shortened.


The fee is called a ‘donation’.  Officially, priests have not specified a suggested donation for a Mass since Pope St Pius V’s papacy (in 1567, immediately following the Council of Trent) because otherwise they could be accused of selling indulgences.  In fact, if you ask what the suggested donation is, they say, ‘Oh, nothing, really.’

Salvation by works

Indulgentiarum doctrina, post Vatican II, November 1, 1967, the Treasury of the Church…it says…“In the Treasury also are the prayers and good works of all the saints …  In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers ...”  Is this a salvation by works system or what?  You attain your salvation and not only yours, but if you have excess merit you can attain the salvation of somebody else.  That’s not old stuff, that’s [the Second] Vatican Council in ‘67.  This system is called the Treasury of Merit.  Mary’s merit is unfathomable, part of the Treasury of the Church. She has earned the right to deposit it there.  She has earned the right to dispense all the treasures to those who honor her. Careful how you treat Mary.  Mary saves you.  Mary’s merit is applied to you.  Mary gets you out of Purgatory.  Mary gets you into heaven.  Pius X said, “She is the supreme minister of the distributions of grace”

That about sums it up.  Something to seriously think about if you are considering converting to the Catholic Church.  Read your Bible carefully before taking the plunge.  If in doubt, you can read more of John MacArthur’s sermons in the Resources under Bible Bulletin Board and Grace To You.

Let’s hope the Anglican defectors know what they are doing.

I learned much from these sermons and hope you have, too.  Below, in the links, are two more of his related to Mary and the Catholic Church (‘an Overview’ and ‘What the Bible Says’).

Monday — related: Thoughts on the New World Religion

Further reading:

‘Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship: Catholic Dogma – Part 1’

‘Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship: Catholic Dogma – Part 2’

‘Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship: An Overview’ [2 April 2006]

‘Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship: What the Bible Says’ [23 April 2006]

The Glories of Mary — Alphonsus De Liguori (the book itself)

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