Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Praying to Mary




 Here is what Adonai says: "The earnings of Egypt, the commerce of Ethiopia, and men of stature from S'va will come over to you and become yours; they will come in chains and follow you. They will prostrate themselves before you; they will pray to you: 'Surely God is with you; there is no other, other gods are nothing.'" Isaiah 45:14 (Complete Jewish Bible)
________________________________

Protestant (shaking his head): I simply do not understand how you can worship Mary and idols. It is disgraceful and against God.

Catholic: We neither worship Mary, nor idols.

Protestant: Come on! I see you guys bowing down and praying to Mary. That is against the Bible!

Catholic: If I can show you in the bible where God Himself has people bowing down to others and praying to them, would you then re-assess your idea about Catholics?

Protestant (skeptically): It's in the Bible not to worship anything other than God. So no, its not in the Bible.

Catholic: In Isaiah 45, God specifically tells Israel that the people of surrounding nations will come before them, bow to them and pray to them. (See above text.)

Protestant: Your misinterpreting the text.

Catholic: No, look it up when you get home.
______________

Protestants are shocked when they discover that the words “bow” and “pray” in the Bible don’t exclusively mean worship. People bow to elders, parents, people of other nations, monarchs and angels in scripture. They even bow to inanimate things such as the Jerusalem temple and the Holy of Holies. Bowing can be used as a part of worship, but it can simply be a sign of respect for people and things.

It is the same with prayer. Note that in the Hebrew phrase above, "
they will pray[palal] to you" the exact translation of the word palal (Strong’s # 06419) is an interceding prayer

Protestant Bibles often translate the Hebrew palal as “supplication” or “plead.”


KJV--they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee... 
NAS--And will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you... 
ASV--and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee... 
NIV--will bow down before you and plead with you... 
NLT--They will fall to their knees in front of you... 
CEB--they will bow down. They will plead with you... 
ESV--bow down to you. They will plead with you,

But many translations use the word “pray.”

BBE--and they will go down on their faces before you, and will make prayer to you,  
GW--They will bow to you and pray to you, 
LEB--and they shall bow down to you; they will pray to you,    
NCV--They will bow down before you and pray to you,  
MSG--Hands folded in reverence, praying before you, 

Many of you might ask if this is the same word used for praying to God? Yes, the vast majority of the time palal is used to indicate a prayer to God. Here are some examples: 

Abraham prayed unto God [for Abimelech], Gen. 20:17.
Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched. Nu. 11:2
 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed, Sam.1:10 
...they pray unto thee toward this city, 2 Chr. 6:34   
...when he prayed for his friends, Job 42:10 
...for unto thee will I pray, Ps. 5:2  
And I prayed unto the Lord, Dan. 9:4 

Before we go any further we need to stop and make this point. Even if end up disagreeing on the interpretation of this text, we can agree that this text is indeed in scripture that the Catholics didn’t make it up. Right there it says there will be bowing and praying to someone who isn’t God.

Catholic church interprets this text literally. You may choose to interpret the text another way, but you can never say that Catholics do not have a “proof-text” for their doctrine that says we can pray to others besides God.

For to Catholics this word palal is exactly what we mean when we pray to Mary and the saints. We are pleading with them, entreating them, supplicating them to intercede for us with Christ, exactly as Abraham prayed in behalf of Abimelech, Moses prayed for Israel an Job prayed for his friend in the above references.

We can ask our friends to pray for us. Indeed we can pray to God’s leaders (especially those reigning with Christ in heaven), even bowing to them, kneeling to them and supplicating them for intercessory prayer in our behalf.

This is Biblical. Catholics are praying/pleading with Mary and the saints who are right now in heaven to intercede before God for us. As we see in the text, God is quite happy with that.

They will prostrate themselves before you; they will pray to you: 'Surely God is with you; there is no other, other gods are nothing.'" Isaiah 45:14 (Complete Jewish Bible)

11 comments:

Arik said...

The "bowing" and "prayers" offered to Israel in Isaiah 45 is not a form of worship, but rather that of these idolatrous nations being brought into subjection to Israel. The NIV captures the context well: will bow down before you, and plead with you. That's all it is. It is not an act of worship in any sense of the word.
Scripture gives no instruction for us to pray to Mary, nor does it record a single person offering any prayers to her either. However we do have an example of John being visited by an angel in Revelation 19 and 22 where John falls down before the angel in an act of homage (much like you are saying Israel will receive in Isaiah 45), and the angel tells him not to do that, for he is his fellow servant, "Worship God." Why? Because Scripture is clear: "For there is only one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 2:5.

Teresa Beem said...

Arik,
You have made my exact point! The word praying isn't always worship. It means "plead" or "request."

Some bowing and some praying are acts of worship and others are acts of honor.

Abraham bowed to the angels and it was okay. Bowing to humans is all over scripture. Even bowing to the temple. So we know both bowing and prayer aren't necessarily worship. It is about the intent of the person doing it.

You are getting the point of my post and replying with it as if we are disagreeing. We aren't. Catholics treat Mary as the Queen Mother, but as a human, not divine. Catholic worship God only. There are texts we can show to support the idea of "prayer" that isn't toward God because it means pleading. That is what Catholic do towards Mary.

There may be no specific text in the New Testament that commands we pray to Mary... But even Catholics don't think we have to pray to Mary. (That is certainly no Catholic doctrine.) She is a friend of ours! We ask our friends to pray for us and that is certainly Biblical.

This is certainly not a complete explanation about the Catholic doctrine of Mary but it was a post to show that even God recognizes that there are "prayers" that are not worship.

Arik said...

You are splitting hairs. Isaiah 45is about nations being brought into subjection to Israel. What Catholics do with Mary is an act of worship. Much like John did twice to the angel and he was told not to do it.

I do not know how you can say "even Catholics don't think we have to pray to Mary", Mary worship is central to Catholicism, the Catechism officially teaches that she is "inseparably linked with the saving work of her Son. In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be."(1172). This is worship in every sense of the word, of which is not what we see in Isaiah 45. You simply are mixing apples with oranges.

Teresa Beem said...

Arik wrote:
"What Catholics do with Mary is an act of worship. Much like John did twice to the angel and he was told not to do it. "

My response:
My friend Arik,
Remember that Catholicism was born in the first century and has lived most of its life (thus far) during the time of Christian monarchs--where bowing and praying to were normal. Our tradition of honoring the Queen Mother comes from the Biblical Davidic Kingdom in which the mother of the king sat at the right hand of the king and all who came to speak to the king addressed the queen with honor. They would bow before the queen mother as well as the king. But there was no mistaking who the king was.

When I was a Protestant I understood Catholic honoring of Mary in the same way you did. It is because worship for a Catholic and Protestant are very different. Protestants highest form of worship is praise, prayer and bowing. However, these same things are not considered worship when you do it to others. You can praise your husband and children, you can "pray" or request things of a judge or jury if you are in trouble. You can even bow before monarchs. Praising, petitioning/prayer and bowing can be done to God in worship as well as be done to humans. It is what is in the mind of the person that counts.

Catholics have something else that is to them the height of true worship and cannot be done to any other person than God--and that is a covenant of a sacrificial meal with a God. That is, for Catholics, the Eucharist. While we praise God and bow to Him and pray to Him, these things are aids to our worship but they are not the summit of our worship. The mass is our worship. It is the daily or weekly renewal of our covenant through the one-time sacrifice of God at the cross. It is the covenant meal. We return to the cross each mass. This reflects the Old Testament lamb offerings, but fulfills it.

Teresa Beem said...

Arik wrote:
Mary worship is central to Catholicism, the Catechism officially teaches that she is "inseparably linked with the saving work of her Son. In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be."(1172).


My response:
That same catechism also tells us that we cannot worship anyone but God alone. Again, when the summit of worship for Protestants is praise and prayer, that misunderstanding can be logically made. But Catholic worship is of a different type. For Protestants praise for your child and praise for God are the same and yet one is more fervent and reverent. For Catholics worship for God isn't of degree but of kind--worship isn't a more zealous prayer or a more reverent bow, worship is taking in our Lord and Savior through the covenantal meal. True idolatry is sharing a covenantal meal with another god. Idolatry today is the same as it was in the old testament. It is worshipping a false god through a covenant. We would never do that to Mary. She is a human, she isn't divine.

Another way we might describe it is a marriage. The Bride (church, who Mary represents) and the Groom become one through a covenant consummation. That is the mass. It is God in us, the divine giving itself over to the human so that the human can be joined to the divine. This is more than praise and prayer.

Prayer and praising, in an allegorical way, is like the romance BEFORE the consummation. It is the kissing and dancing together--the snuggling. But to be a valid marriage, it must be consummated. That is the true worship. That is the receiving of the Eucharist for Catholics. We are becoming one with God.

That is a very deep mystery, as Paul states. This consummation in the sacrifice of the mass is the holiest moment of all earthly activities. You are walking into the "holy of holies" at mass and becoming one with the Father. This is worship. We (as the Bride symbolized in Mary) can ONLY unite with God in worship. This cannot happen with Mary for she IS the Bride.

So, to a faithful Catholic, it is quite impossible to worship her, for we are her allegorically.

I am not saying you must accept this as true, Arik, only understand that for a Catholic to say we worship Mary is tantamount to saying you worship your food before you eat it because you pray to it. We know we aren't worshipping Mary just like you know you aren't worshipping your food when you pray in front of it each meal. But to those looking on.... that's the way it looks to them.

Hope that explanation is helpful to your understanding of Catholicism. We are not trying to proselytize you, only explain how we think. God bless.

Arik said...

Idolatry in the OT is the same as idolatry in the NT, you are correct. Idolatry in Scripture is the worship of diety in a physical form, whether the images the homage is paid are symbolic representations of the true God, or of the false divinities which have been made the object of worship in His stead. Idolatry is also honoring or revering something created (such as Mary) in place of or equal to God the Creator. Contrary to your thinking, idol worship is not all "about the intent of the person doing it." It is about the word of God, and in the word of God, there is absoultely no instruction to form an image and use it as a helpful representation of God or His work. Now of course if you want to allegorize the Scriptures than they can be used to justify anything. The Scriptures become clay in the minds of men, making them say whatever one wants to. Abraham, Moses and Job prayed to God and no one else. And I'll say it again, in Scripture Jesus Himself gave us the model of prayer and it did not include offering petitions to Mary or anyone else. I think it better to follow the example of Jesus.

The Catholic Church has elevated Mary to the point of giving her divine status. This is not Scriptural, she has usurped the work of Christ as the one and only Mediator between God and man. Jesus is clear, "no one comes to the Father but by Me", but the Catholic Church says "no, we can offer prayers to Mary, for she is our co-mediator, this is idolatry through and through.

Teresa Beem said...

Arik wrote:
Idolatry is also honoring or revering something created (such as Mary) in place of or equal to God the Creator.

My response:
We as Catholics would agree with you and if someone is placing Mary as co-equal with God that is wrong. JPII wrote that if honoring Mary for the Catholic has taken equal status with worshipping God they should immediately stop and rethink who God is and remember that worshipping God alone is Catholic doctrine.

Arik wrote:
...there is absoultely no instruction to form an image and use it as a helpful representation of God or His work.

My response:
Well, technically the bronze serpent in the desert was a representation of Christ and the ark in the holy of holies represented Christ. So I would disagree with you from a Biblical standpoint. It is false idols we are not to represent.

Arik:
The Catholic Church has elevated Mary to the point of giving her divine status.

My response:
Where individual Catholics have done this, the church has reprimanded them when they knew about it. Catholics are not perfect. I can say the same thing about Ellen White and her writings. A lot of Adventists place EGW's writings as co-equal with scripture. Many Adventists venerate Ellen. You should see the reverence that surrounds her original manuscripts at her research libraries. It's all in your perspective, Arik. We can find people who place sports teams ahead of God. We find people who honor the founding fathers of America as if they are sacred heroes. Man wants to venerate and honor people. It is our nature to love heroes. That's God-given. God give us saints in heaven to honor and those are His choices for our heroes. If we don't honor them we will substitute politicians and entertainers and sports heroes. To honor Mary is who God WANTS us to honor. But we should never replace honoring Mary for worshipping God.

I am not here to convince you Arik. You need to have the Catholics as the big boogey man so that Ellen White isn't a false prophetess. You must must see us as the whore of Babylon or your entire religious community collapses. I do get that, so I understand your need to find fault with each thing we do. God bless you Arik. I am praying for you as I hope you are praying for me.

Arik said...

From the Catechism:“...As St. Irenaeus says, ‘Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for th whole human
race.’”(494).

This is blaspmemy! Jesus Christ Himself is full of grace and truth alone. The Bible teaches that salvation of men is a divine initiative, only God is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth (Ex 34:6 cf numbers 14:18, Psalm 86:15). Directing anyone toward Mary is an outright betrayal of our only hope, Jesus Christ.

Oh I know Teresa "the church doesn't 'officially' teach Mary is divine" however giving her attributes (sinless, mediator, immortal) that are God's alone makes her divine whether the church wants to admit it or not. It is just double talk on your part and the church's to defend a position contrary to Scriptue.

Scripture records no such thing in Scripture as Mary being prayed to or having any part in the salvation of mankind. In fact the only referance to "Queen of Heaven" I could find was Jeremiah 7:18, 44:17, relating to idolatry. Seems the church has forgotton Isaiah 45:22 "Look to Me [not Mary, not saints] and be saved...for I am God, and there is no other."

BTW you can hardly compare the bronze image of a serpent to Mary. The serpent represented both sin and the remedy for it. As we know in John 3:14 the serpent in the wilderness represented Christ. God gave to us an imagination to be able to behold the cross, and thus I see nothing in the NT instructing us to form images to help us with our worship. Besides maybe you are not up to speed on your church's history as you think. When images were first introduced in the church, it caused a huge ruckus. Of course as usual time brought with it compromise and eventually imagaes were accepted. Just as Paul predicted in 2 Thess. 2:3. If only the church hadn't tampered with God's law they would have known: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image...you shall not bow down to them nor serve them..." Ex. 20:4.

Arik said...

"We can find people who place sports teams ahead of God. We find people who honor the founding fathers of America as if they are sacred heroes. Man wants to venerate and honor people. It is our nature to love heroes. That's God-given."

No, that is not "God-given", it is idolatry, which is God forbidden. Our nature is evil (Matthew 7:11), thus the point of being born again of the Spirit is to receive a new nature. "The Christian life is not any modification of the old life; it is not any qualification of it, any development of it, not any progression of it, any culture or refinement or education of it. It does not grow from it. It is entirely another life-a new life altogether. It is the actual life of Jesus Christ Himself in my flesh." Carlyle B. Haynes "Righteousness in Christ."

CCC #405 says that "human nature has not been totally corrupted," and I guess this explains why you are unable to perceive that your inclination to honor and venerate people is not God-given but part of our corrupt nature. The church also lacking in the distinction between good and evil (wisdom), took man's natural inclination and thought to transfer it to "religious" people and objects. Nowhere in Scripture is there any record to honor or venerate Mary or "saints." That is good enough for me.

Steve Finnell said...

IS PRAYING TO DEAD PEOPLE A SIN?

Is it a sin to pray to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints?

Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go Satan! For it is written,' "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.' "

Praying to any person or anything is worship.

WORSHIP DEFINED: To revere, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion. Adoring reverence or regard.

Any worship of anyone or anything other than God is sin.

The Virgin Mary is not God nor does she have the power to grant petitions of prayer. If men could pray to dead saints and get them answered, then why not pray to saint Moses, saint John The Baptist, saint Abraham, saint Job, saint Enoch, saint The Thief on The Cross or any other dead saint?

Dead people cannot hear your prayers and if they could they would not have the power to answer them.

Prayer is worship and only God deserves our worship.

God knows our every thought. God is aware of every sin we commit. God knows our every move.

God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Those are the attributes of God and what you would need in order to answer prayer.

Neither the Virgin Mary, Moses, John The Baptist nor any other dead saint has the attributes of God. They cannot hear you nor can they answer YOUR PRAYERS.

YES, TO PRAY TO ANYONE OTHER THAN GOD IS A SIN!


YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http:/steve-finnell.blogspot.com

Teresa Beem said...

Mr. Finelli,

Catholics do not pray to dead people. That would be a sin absolutely. Jesus said very explicitly that He is the God of the living, not the dead.

Mary and the saints are not dead. They are in heaven. We know this from both the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles and also it is supported in scripture in the book of Revelation. There are saints under the altar who are aware of what is happening on the earth and even crying out about it. We know that the prayers of the people on earth are being offered by the saints and angels in heaven to Christ.

I think that is your basic misunderstanding. The saints and Mary are alive in heaven--more alive than we are! We do not worship them, we ask them for prayers.

And as you can clearly see, the Bible absolutely does NOT teach that all prayers are worship, for the text shows that God is going to have people pray to Israel. The word pray can ALSO mean request and petition... even beg. That is what Catholics do to the saints alive in heaven... we ask them for help as Christ WANTS us to do.

God bless, Teresa