While at the Pro-life rally Saturday afternoon, a pleasant middle-aged woman approached my wife.
"Would you like a prayer card, ma'am?" she politely asked. "Is that a picture of Mary??" my wife cautiously replied. "Why, yes it is." "I am sorry, but we pray only to Jesus our Mediator. We don't need Mary for that," Jody graciously commented.
Thus the cordial debate began. I am certainly impressed that the lady was not timid. Many people in this world are not interested in conversations about God and religion-whether short or prolonged. In this case, the Roman Catholic was not only interested she was persistent. Although most amiable, she was certainly not open minded by any stretch of the imagination. She would pause to breath and then reassert her devotion to Mary, giving us little space to speak at times. And like a pit-bull, no matter how much our counter-points bludgeoned her view, she would not let go.
"Why would Mary have to be perfect to give birth to Christ?" we asked. "To give birth to a perfect human, she had to be perfect" she answered in a matter-of-fact manner "Then was her mother perfect?" we quickly countered. "No, that does not follow. She was divine so she had to be perfect." "!!??-divine you say?" "Yes," she innocently responded. "You realize that in normal language 'divine' means 'deity' or 'god'?" we incredulously asked. "Well, she is part of Christ. She gave part of herself-her soul-to Christ." "So, you believe in four gods?" we persisted. "Look," she sighed, "for Christ to be perfect and live a life of perfection for us to follow, she had to be perfect" "So she participated in deity with Christ?" "She is divine; she is perfect and gave part of herself for Christ's humanity. Christ himself while on the cross presented Mary to the church as our Mother" she doggedly persisted.
Persistence indeed! We could never get her to explain what she meant by Mary being "divine". Nor could we get her to see her need of Christ as her only savior since she insisted that Mary was our mediator with Christ. In fact, Christ must always heed his mother! Did not Christ honor her? Naturally, we pointed out that Christ honored his father too, but it did not follow that Joseph was our mediator.
We were certainly running in circles near the end: she denied the sole authority of the Bible; she denied the sole sufficiency of Christ's atonement; she denied the need for faith alone without works for salvation. This is not inductive speculation on our part, we asked here pointedly these very issues throughout our ten-minute discussion.
Now, dear reader, note the denials carefully: the word "sole" or "alone" are the key words. She admitted the need of Christ and the Bible and faith but none of them were alone. She was adamant that good works would bring her to heaven. She had no confidence that she was going to heaven; so, she explained, she had to try harder to obey God lest she fall short of full justification.
Quite sad. Although we felt as though we were beating our heads against a wall, we persisted because we pitied her. She has no hope save herself and she admitted that was not enough. Christ was only a godly example (she repeated several times) and Mary was her divine mediator.
My wife and I planted a seed. It seemed like much work at the time, but we know our duty to God and love for the lost: dig, plant and leave the increase to God.
Even if your head hurts.
[from Providence Points e-Newsletter, Jan. 22, 2006, or comment here for a subscription).