I was recently introduced to a movie put out my "Eternal Productions." If you have seen this film then you probably have a lot of questions about apparitions of Mary. This movie mixes popular anti-Mary arguments with some pretty weird associations. It is peppered with commentary from well known evangelical apologetic authors including Dave Hunt, Chuck Smith, Roger Oakland, and Chuck Missler. We doubt if these well meaning apologists knew what the final product would look like.
The video opens by introducing extra terrestrials and angels (as if angels are as unbiblical as extra terrestrials!). It comments on the current popular belief in secular society that angels are real. Then they compare that belief to the belief that we are being visited by extra-terrestrials. We find this a most bizarre association. Belief in angels is asserted all over the Bible. There is absolutely no mention of extra-terrestrials in Scripture. Yet "Eternal Productions" is claiming that the belief in angels is as ludicrous as belief in extra-terrestrials. This does not strike me as an example of biblical scholarship. We couldn't help but think that their associations were comparable to grocery store tabloids that talk about extra-terrestrial "End Time" messages.
Later in the video they spend 25 minutes proving that the Bible is the "Word of God." I couldn't help but ask myself if they spent much time looking up "angels" in their concordance.
Then they present their next set of bizarre associations. They link the appearances of Mary at Lourdes, Knock, Guadeloupe, with alleged sightings of extra-terrestrials. I (Hugh) have been going to Catholic Church for over 18 years, and I have never met a faithful Catholic who pays attention to alleged extra-terrestrial sightings. Yet "Eternal Productions" is presenting Catholics as extra-terrestrial-following New Agers.
They then establish that Jesus is the Saviour, and the Bible is the Word of God. Which of course, every Catholic will loudly reply "absolutely". The Catholic Church decided on the books of the Bible in 373 and 397 AD. This was more than 1000 years before any Evangelical denomination existed. Catholics assembled it, protected it, copied it in monasteries, protected it from fires, floods and wars. Without the Catholic Church, the world would not have the Bible today. The Bible did not just drop out of the sky with an NIV sticker on the binding.
Then the video tries to establish that apparitions are unbiblical. The video claims that the virgin Mary at Medjugorje said, "I am the mediator." They do this 3 times in the video. So I decided to do a search of all the messages from the visionaries since they began in the early 80s. There is not one instance in all of the messages of Medjugorje where the visionaries claim Mary said she is the "mediator between God and Man." A more in depth discussion of Mary as Mediatrix is here.
The video does not even mention that Medjugorje is not a Vatican approved apparition and no official Catholic endorsement could possibly be giving until the reported messages stop. In fact, the Vatican has forbidden dioceses from leading pilgrimages to Medjugorje, and many faithful Catholics are in serious doubt about the validity of Medjugorje.
When talking about apparitions like Lourdes, they discuss the conversions, the healings, repentance, Mary's constant encouragement to read, study the Word of God, that have been some of the fruits of the apparitions. This is better than many Evangelical organizations that claim apparitions are hoaxes. Of course then they say that these healings are the work of the devil. They ignore Jesus' words that say
"If Satan also is divided against himself how will his kingdom stand? -for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? (Lk 11:18)
In Mat 10:6 Jesus sends out his disciples to "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons". His disciples are clearly capable of performing miracles in his name, as any Evangelical pastor who has prayed over a congregation member will attest. Catholics believe Mary was a disciple and as such was given these gifts. (Jn 19:26, Acts 1:14) For 10 minutes they speak about how Satan can manifest himself in a form of the truth or appear to be true and how he "blinds the unbelievers." They talk about the devil as the great deceiver, meanwhile they attempt to deceive viewers about what the visionaries actually said.
Then they launch into a generic attack on Mary. This includes a discussion of statues, Queen of Heaven claims (21 minutes saying the same thing over and over), Mary with the baby Jesus and a host of other assertions that Mary is a pagan Goddess and the whore of Babylon. I discuss these things here: Is Mary a pagan goddess? They frequently contradict themselves in the video. They say it is wrong to worship the baby Jesus, and present it as a pagan belief, then later cite this passage to prove that we are not supposed to kneel before Mary.
"And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him" (Mt 2:11).
Obviously the Magi had no problem worshipping the baby Jesus. And neither do Catholics. We are in good company. I recently produced a Christmas CD for a well established Evangelical singer. One song she wanted to record was the classic gospel song "Sweet Little Jesus Boy." There is nothing whatever the matter with paying homage the Baby Jesus. I saw a cool bumper sticker that said "wise men still find Jesus with his mother."
They say that Mary's appearance in more than one part of the world at a time makes her "omnipresent" and as such a "goddess". Catholics believe heaven is outside of time and Christians in heaven are able to observe and hear what is going on in the earth (which is expressly indicated in Scripture - at least the observing. The "hearing" is a valid deduction). Being out of time is more than sufficient to overcome the standard "million prayers at once" objection. (Dave Armstrong points this out)
Messages from Heaven says Marian apparitions are "shamelessly unbiblical". Conspicuously missing from the movie is a discussion of Mary's assertion in Scripture that "All generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:46-49).
Many people wish that this thing about Mary would go away and that the Church would be in greater unity with other Christians if it would.
It appears that most of the closed feelings against Mary have crept into the reform movement in the last 100 years. Many great Protestants have had strong feelings for Mary including C.S. Lewis. Most early reformers had strong positive feelings for Mary including Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Wesley. Even Martin Luther spoke to her in the first person saying:
No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity.
(Martin Luther Sermon - Feast of the Visitation, 1537)
We are not apologists. Apart from all this doctrine and stuff, the reason we believe that Mary is in heaven helping us is because each of us had an experience with Mary that we cannot refute (Hugh's testimony here, Diane's testimony here). No one can tell us she is dead. We don't worship her. She is a friend who prays for us and has shown us very cool things about her Son, Jesus. We believe we are better Christians today because of Mary.
If you are afraid to talk to Mary, we invite you to:
Pray to Jesus about Mary.
Any Evangelical would say it is perfectly safe to pray to Jesus about anything. Ask Jesus what's up with Mary. Give him time to respond. We pray you have the same experience that has led to our powerful convictions about the validity of Mary as a helper for the helpless, and a great prayer warrior.
Other Topics on Mary
Mary in Scripture
Mary, Mediatrix, co-redemptix
Is Mary a Pagan Goddess?
Martin Luther's quotes about Mary
Mary in the early Church and today
Do Catholics pray to Mary?
Hugh's experience with Mary
Did Mary have a bunch of kids?
Lord Jesus, let Your prayer of unity for Christians
become a reality, in Your way.
We have absolute confidence
that you can bring your people together,
we give you absolute permission to move.