Let’s jump to Vatican II’s reaffirmation here of a dogma that Mary is exalted by the Lord as Queen of All. And she presented Him— Jesus, that is—to the Father in the temple, “was united in Jesus in suffering as He died on the cross, and in an utterly singular way she cooperated by her obedience of faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work in restoring supernatural life to souls. Taken up to Heaven, she did not lay aside this saving role, but by her manifold acts of intercession continues to win for us gifts of eternal salvation. Therefore, the blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the title of ‘Advocate and Mediator.’” Now, let me ask you this: “Where does that come in, in Scripture?”
Pacwa: Okay. Three important texts. First of all, Christ at the cross says to the un- named, but we assume John, the beloved disciple—this calls him the “beloved dis- ciple,” “Behold your mother, and behold your son.” And we understand that to be a giving of His mother to all of us, which must be understood if the Body of the Church is the Body of Christ, the mother of Christ is therefore our mother as well.
Secondly, more direct relationship to that is, in the book of Revelation, Chapter 12, where the “woman, clothed with the sun, crowned with twelve stars, standing on the moon,” gives birth to the Messiah. And it’s no nation. And it cannot be the Church there, because the Church does not give birth to Jesus—Jesus gives birth to the Church. Only one woman gave birth to Jesus, and that’s the woman who is “clothed with the sun and crowned with the stars with the moon under her feet.” That is in a cosmic queenship. Also, in Luke’s Gospel, we see that when Simeon confronts her at the temple, he says, “And a sword shall pierce your heart, so that the inner thoughts of many might be re- vealed.” So that she has a role there, by her suffering, and her heart being pierced, to reveal the inner thoughts of many others. One of the other things that is important to understand her role as the reparatrix, mediatrix and so on, is that when it’s defined, it is said to in no way add to what Jesus does, or subtracts from what Jesus does. She cannot…it can’t be “equal” in any sense of adding or subtracting. Co-redemptrix in many ways, the way all of us have to be in that role. “Co” means with. But again, the Church is clear to make sure that you can’t do it without her in the sense that you would never know who Jesus is without her, unless Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, God as Trinity and God as Incarnate could not be made known to us. It’s through her that the personality of God is revealed. As a matter of fact…
Martin: Now be very careful here! Be very careful here. Because you just committed the fallacy of limiting the omnipotence of God, and saying that if He didn’t do it this way He can’t do it, and you can’t say “can’t”!
Pacwa: That’s right! And the same thing has to be put on your feet as well, because that “shoe” means that God can assume her into Heaven, as He took up Elijah into Heaven… If He wants to. And, as He raised up other people from the dead when Jesus died, and if He can raise those people up— many of whom we don’t know—Elijah we do, and Enoch, who we believe to be raised up—then can He not take His own mother, whom He must have chosen from all eternity? He did not pick a woman at random. There was no lottery. There was nothing like that at all. It wasn’t a bingo game. This issue is that God chose from all eternity that this woman would be chosen and thereby making her blessed of all women, so much so that when she approaches and she speaks the first announcement of this birth of Jesus, John in the womb is quickened by the Spirit and so is Elizabeth, and they respond in the Holy Spirit to her and again repeated through Elizabeth….”Blessed of all women…blessed is the fruit…”
Martin: But you want to respond to the Mary of Scripture, not to the Mary of dogma. The Mary of Scripture, says, “Whatever my Son says to you, do it.” The Son said that you are to consider Him the Mediator. “There is one God, one Intercessor between God and man, the Man, Christ Jesus.” Now, in New Testament theology, no one is Mediator but Messiah. It’s Christ who, “offers the one sacrifice for sin forever, sits down at the right hand of God, enters the heavenly tabernacle established forever after the order of Melchizedek…Christ alone who intercedes.” Now, no one is ever given any position of mediation except for the prayer that we can offer on earth for each other. But no one is “Mediatrix of All Graces.” No one is “Co-Redemptrix of the Universe.” “There is one Mediator.”
Pacwa: “One Mediator.” But at the same time look at what the text says. “But you have approached Zion”—to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels, to an assembly of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens and to God the judge of all men, and to the spirits of just men who have been made perfect and to a new covenant and to Jesus, the Mediator, and to the sprinkling of His blood, which is better than Abel’s…” (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Martin: Christ is the Mediator.
Pacwa: Absolutely. But, the same verse that says, “You have approached Christ the Mediator and God the Judge,” also says, “You have come to the angels, and you have come to the spirits of just men.”
Martin: What it’s talking about in the context of Hebrews is what our position is. This is what we’ve come to—we’ve come to the city of God, as Augustine says. He gives a better exposition than we can. We come to the city of God through all these marvelous things. We’ve approached all these things because we’ve seen them by faith and by revelation of God. He’s not telling us to approach the angels for mediation, he’s simply saying, they’re there! That’s where we’re going, Alleluia!
Pacwa: Well, not so! Because otherwise the book of Revelation would not show the angels taking our prayers, like nuggets of incense, and offering them up to God. Nor would the book of Revelation show the 24 elders taking our prayers, like nuggets of incense, setting them on fire and releasing their power before God.
Martin: But you know, as well as I do, that this is Apocalyptic literature. You know as well as I do that when you talk about the woman with the 12 stars over her head, the Catholic theologians have interpreted that in various ways, “Israel” being the primary way. So, why is Mary suddenly with the 12 stars over her head—12 tribes of Israel—why is it Mary instead of Israel giving birth to Messiah?
Pacwa: First of all, because the book of Revelation is Apocalyptic literature, it does not take away its authority as the Word of God. But the thing that the Church has done with that in conjunction with Hebrews is say, “You can go” —as a matter of fact, “We need to go to these people.” Precisely because they are part of the Body of Christ yet, and as members of the Body of Christ, they are in union with Him, interceding for us even now in Heaven, and…
Martin: But you don’t confess to angels. You don’t pray to angels. You don’t worship angels…
Pacwa: We don’t worship angels and we don’t worship Mary.
Martin: “Hail, Holy Queen! Mother of Mercy—our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee we cry, poor banished children of Eve.” That’s not worship?
Pacwa: “To thee we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.”
Martin: And that’s not worship?
Pacwa: “Turn then most gracious advocate thine eyes of mercy towards us and show unto us the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
Martin: Well, yeah, sure. But already, before you get to “Show us Jesus,” you have already adored her.
Pacwa: Again, one of the things that the Church rejects is adoration of Mary or any saint. I would reject that absolutely, personally, and anybody who does worship a saint, is committing idolatry and the Church teaches that as well. In official doctrine that you may not worship any creature, including the blessed Virgin….
Martin: Is this heretical; “O, Mary, Gate of Heaven, none shall enter in except by thee.” Is that heretical?
Pacwa: Well, first of all, not necessarily. Not at all, as a matter of fact.
Ankerberg: Let me add to that statement. Pope Leo XIII’s statement, “No one can go to the Father except through the Son, and similarly, no one can go to the Son except through His mother, Mary.”
Pacwa: That’s right, because the way we come to know that the Son is the Son is through Mary.
Ankerberg: Mary is the one who leads us to Jesus?
Pacwa: It doesn’t say that Mary is the one that leads us to Jesus in the sense that she is the one who has the same authority of Christ. What it does show is that unless she had given birth to Him, we wouldn’t know Him as Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg: Can you give me one Scripture verse in the New Testament that says that Mary is the one that leads us to Jesus?
Pacwa: Again, I said “No,” because we don’t say that Mary “leads us to Jesus” in the sense that Jesus leads us to the Father, because she’s not God. She’s not the Redeemer. She does so only in ways analogous so that you and I lead one another to Jesus.
Ankerberg: But can you see why some people shouldn’t be called “Anathema” if they don’t believe it, because there are no verses that say that and they don’t want to believe the assumptions of a group of people that can’t base it on the Scripture?
Pacwa: Okay, first of all. One of the problems is that the difficulty with the anathemas are mostly from not understanding what we believe about Mary and imputing to us things that we don’t believe. For instance, that we adore her or commit blasphemy. Again, that…. Never was I taught anything like that ever in my life.
Martin: I don’t believe you were taught that either, but the fact is that Pius XII did it.
Pacwa: Well, again, that’s where we disagree in terms of understanding him. And one of the things about these prayers calling her “the Gate,” for instance. These things are poetry, and it’s the kind of poetry of love where if we say, “Jesus is the Way, she’s the gate.” As a matter of fact, we talk about Mary frequently, as “Jesus is the New Covenant; she’s the ark.” “Jesus is the Son of David and Mary is the tower of David that reveals Him to us.. .that holds Him in.”
Ankerberg: Yeah, but Vatican II says strictly that, “The blessed Virgin is to be invoked by the Church.” Do you take that as poetry?
Pacwa: Oh no. She’s to be invoked and asked for her prayers.
Ankerberg: Where do you get that in the New Testament?
Pacwa: Well, first of all, it’s not forbidden in the New Testament, and secondly, what we do…Well, again, if you understand that praying for one another is taking away from the Mediatorship of Christ, then it would be a sin. But if praying for one another is consonant with the Mediatorship of Christ because (a) we pray for one another as members of the Body of Christ and in the name of Christ, and (b) she, more than anybody has that right, because Christ was in her body and she was there at Pentecost…
Pacwa: …she was so filled with the Holy Spirit….
Ankerberg: But if I pray “for” you, I don’t pray “to” you and say, “You’re my mediator.”
Pacwa: No, but I can ask you…
Ankerberg: I can pray for you but I don’t pray to you. Yeah, but there’s a difference between praying to Mary and making her the mediator.
Pacwa: And that’s exact…the thing that we’re understanding…
Martin: We’re getting afield of the one important point here. Mary, in Catholic theology—correct me if I’m wrong here—the basic concept is that Mary is close to Christ because she’s “the ark,” “the vessel” that brought Him forth. So, I was taught, and you were taught too, that what you’re supposed to do is to talk to Mary because she can talk to Jesus for you. She’s His mother. She’s closer to Him than you are. Okay?
Martin: Wrong! Because in Matthew 12 Jesus is asked the question, “Your mother and your brothers are outside.” He said, “Who is my mother and my brother? I tell you, whoever does the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is sister, brother, Mary, to me” Therefore, she’s no closer to Him than I am by the blood of the cross.
Pacwa: Except…here’s where…again, we’ve got too many…I’ve got to deal with two different issues here. First of all, let me deal with the one you brought up—that praying to Mary is not a prayer. As a matter fact there are even a couple of words for it in Latin that we use to distinguish the…the kind of honor we give to her and the kind of honor we give to God. All the worship goes to God, not to her. Honor goes to her. The thing that we do in praying to her is to ask her to pray for us. It’s not praying to her, as if she is the ob- ject—what we call the “final” object, the final cause of our prayer. It’s praying to her so that she goes to her Son. Then, in terms of what you’re saying here, she is above all other women and all other people on earth, the one who obeys the will of the Father, because she hears the word of the angel, says, “How can it be done? Then, Let it be done.” But by her Fiat, and she is that woman who obeys.
Ankerberg: Okay. I understand what you’re saying. Can you understand us when we say we don’t agree on the basis of strict verses that seem to us to logically rule that out completely?
Pacwa: The thing that I also sense is that the limitation that you put…for instance, by omitting, as a matter of fact the text of Scripture that we do use is the one in the wedding feast of Cana where Mary asks Jesus to do something He does not want to do. And He does it anyway. She tells the folks, “Do what He says.” And He listens to her intercession. Now, in some ways she has to suffer for that, to be sure, in His public ministry. And He does make a separation from Him to her, and we believe that that’s part of her suffering. Suffering that is redemptive in the same way that Paul teaches that our sufferings are redemptive in Colossians 1:24 where it says, “I make up in my own sufferings for what is still lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of the Church.” What she underwent in seeing her Son Jesus die. And the suffering of Jesus. In her suffering in seeing Christ die, her “having her heart pierced by the sword so that our inner thoughts could be revealed,” she adds merit the way Paul adds merit.
Ankerberg: Okay, so you’re taking historical accounts and you’re making doctrine out of those, okay?…
Ankerberg: …Where you won’t take the teaching statements of the people themselves in the New Testament. It’s like saying a man…you know, it’s the old adage of “Judas went out and hanged himself”; and the other verses, “Go and do thou likewise.” The things you have are historical events, but you can’t make doctrine just because something hap- pened. You have to have the teaching statements of the Scriptures over them.
Pacwa: But one of the things that we understand about the use of doctrine is, first of all, Scripture does not forbid us to go to her. It rather says “Approach the spirits of the just…”
Martin: No, no, no, no. It doesn’t say that! And the context to the passage (Hebrews 12:22 – 24) says, “We are seeing heaven opened, and we are approaching into heaven to God Himself, to the spirits of just men made perfect…” and so forth. Why not pray to the just men made perfect? Why stop with Mary? Let’s go to the angels! Let’s go to them. If you’re going to take that passage to mean that, we go to everybody.
Pacwa: As a matter of fact, one of the things that the context, first of all, says, is that our religion is not like Mount Sinai, a religion of fear and trembling. But, rather, it’s a religion of approaching, unlike on Mount Zion. And the imagery is to contrast Mt. Sinai which could not be touched, versus Mount Zion which could be approached for offering sacrifice and people could come there. You could touch. And one of the things that it does says then, that the nature of our religion is one of approach and the coming of the spirits of the just…
Martin: It doesn’t say a thing about intercession.
Pacwa: Okay. But again, that’s why we don’t take that text just by itself. It does say “approach them” and as a matter of fact, we do approach the other saints.
Ankerberg: All right, we need a 30- second wrap-up here.
Martin: I can only say what I said before on the subject of prayer and worship. We’re playing a word game when we use “veneration” and “worship” I think we’re playing a word game because this is a very clear-cut statement by Pius XII, “Receive, O, most Sweet Mother, our humble supplications.” Supplications are prayers. “Above all, obtain for us that on that day, happy with you, we may repeat before your throne that hymn which is sung today around your altars. You are all beautiful, O Mary. You are the glory. You are the joy. You are the honor of our people.” That’s worship!
Pacwa: And that’s where we disagree. We do not believe that that is worship because the angels and the elders of Revelation receive the prayers of the saints. We don’t adore those elders, though John was tempted to do so. We don’t adore the angels, as John was tempted to do so. And he was forbidden—that’s why he stopped. And we also believe that we cannot worship Mary and we do not worship her. And that’s by an act of the will. But, we give her our supplications, that is, we give her our prayers, and the prayers to other saints so that they who are with the Lord face-to-face in Heaven now, alive and before Him, can take our prayers to Christ in a way that’s more direct than we who are still caught up in the concupiscence of sin cannot be as close to.
Martin: “One God, One Intercessor between God and man, the Man” —not Mary—“Christ Jesus.”
Pacwa: And one Church, one Body of Christ, and members of the Body of Christ in heaven and on earth united to Christ can offer prayer to the Father in union with Him, so that there is no distinction…or not separation, I should say, between the Saints, Mary and Christ because they’re members of Him.