In this post I will be discussing the 4 Marian dogmas of the Catholic church from a Reformed point of view.
Even though these dogmas developed over a long period of time, Rome would have you believe they were held by the faithful always, going all the way back to the early church.
Reformers such as Calvin believed that Mary is an idol in the Roman Church, and she diminishes the centrality and importance of Jesus. Any veneration of Mary is sinful. Calvin stated that Mary cannot be the advocate of the faithful since she needs God’s grace as much as any other human being.
Mary’s Divine Motherhood
This dogma asserts that Mary is the Mother of God. I actually have no problem with this teaching. As long as we are clear that Mary is not responsible for Christ’s pre-existent divine nature. Jesus is 100% God and 100% Man. So Mary did give birth to the God Man. Other Reformed theologian such as RC Sproul accept this doctrine.
This dogma asserts that Mary remained a virgin before, during and after Christ’s conception and birth. This is false doctrine. The Bible is clear that Mary and Joseph had other children after the birth of Jesus. They are clearly referenced several times in Scripture. It is also impossible to give birth and to remain a virgin. The hymen will rupture as the baby exits the birth canal. This doctrine is very gnostic. Gnosticism teaches that matter is evil and the spiritual is good. A spurious work called the Protoevangelium of James taught that Mary was dedicated as a lifelong virgin in the temple as a young girl. In this context, if Mary had sex with her husband (which all Jewish couples would have done) it would be viewed as dirty and sinful. The Bible is clear that sex between a husband and his wife is wholesome and good. I’ve seen numerous Catholics have a visceral reaction of repugnance to the notion that Mary and Joseph had sex. There is absolutely zero biblical support for Mary being a virgin after Jesus was born.
This dogma asserts that Mary was sinless. She was kept free from the stain of original sin from her moment of conception. This dogma maintains that Mary was sinless and lived a perfect life without even the smallest of sins whether positive or negative. This doctrine is fatuous and refuted by numerous Scriptures which teach that Christ alone was without sin and lived a perfect, sinless life. It also sets up Mary in a elevated position that belongs to Christ alone. So it robs Christ of His rightful glory and uniqueness. This belief is self-refuting. How is it that a sinless Mary could be produced by sinful parents, yet a sinless Jesus couldn’t be produced by a sinful Mary? We Reformed reject this doctrine categorically.
Assumption of Mary
This dogma asserts that Mary was taken up to Heaven body and soul. Some Catholic theologians teach it was at the moment of her death. Others teach that she was translated to Heaven while still alive. People have been taken up to Heaven body and soul before, such as the prophet Elijah, yet there is absolutely no evidence in Scripture that this event took place. It is pure conjecture based on spurious and unreliable tradition.
This dogma asserts that Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces between God and man. Scripture clearly refutes this doctrine when it says that Christ is the sole mediator between God and us. In this case, it attributes to Mary a divine attribute. This is wickedly blasphemous. This so-called Fifth Marian dogma has not yet been made part of the Magisterium, although there is widespread support for it among Catholic clergy and laity. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this teaching become dogma within my lifetime.
An entire cultus of Mary has developed in the Catholic church. In this Mariolatry she is venerated, her statues are kissed, hymns are sung to her, statues of her are carried in parades, images of her are kissed, Catholics pray to her, books are written about her, Catholics bow down before her statues, there are several alleged Marian apparitions, Mary is accorded special titles such as Queen of Heaven, Ark of the Covenant, New Eve, etc. She is for all intents and purposes treated as a Co-Redeemer. This is a gross distortion of Scripture. Scripture says very little about Mary. She was certainly a pious Jewish girl, but beyond being the mother of Jesus she is not accorded any special status. She was no more righteous than any devout Christians. And she needed God’s grace just as much as we do. Even in Scripture when people tried to give Mary a special status, Jesus rejects that. Anyone who has spent time around Catholics, or visited Catholic churches, will see the inordinate attention given to Mary. In fact she seems to get more attention than even Christ! This is wrong.
Let no one eat of the error which has arisen on St. Mary´s account. Even though “˜The tree is lovely´ it is not for food; and even though Mary is all fair, and is holy and held in honor, she is not to be worshiped. . . . They must not say, “˜We honor the queen of heaven.´Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide) 79. Against Collyridians, 7,7; 8,2 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 627.