A Public Correction of SimplyHeavenlyFood.tumblr.com
SimplyHeavenlyFood is a well known Christian blog here on tumblr. She is successful in sharing the good news of Christ’s resurrection among fellow Christians, and her wide fanbase attests to her zeal.
However, it has come to the attention of many, that while SimplyHeavenlyFood does a marvelous job introducing those with little formal education in the faith to scripture and the basic Christian identity, she also makes mistakes in interpreting scripture which seem to stem from a strongly-held prejudice against Catholics and a limited understanding of Christian history and theological development.
Because of the prominence of her blog among the Christian community, these mistakes must be addressed publicly for many people have read these errors and begun taking them for the truth causing much confusion in the Christian community. These errors concern a number of issues, but perhaps the most persistent set of errors she commits is a misunderstanding of the role of Mary as evidenced by her above post rendered in screen shots.
The following is a response to the errors she made in that post:
Error #1: One cannot rightly call Mary holy.
This error does not primarily originate from a misunderstanding of the person of Mary, though that is certainly evident, but rather from a misunderstanding of what it means to be Holy. The claim is made that because Mary was a sinful person (A premise that is an error itself, which will be dealt with shortly, but here assumed for sake of argument,) she cannot be rightly called “Holy.”
This understanding of the word “Holy” as meaning immaculate or without sin is itself unbiblical. This is clearly evident from Mark 6:20 where we are told that John the Baptist was recognized by Herod as a holy man. (NB, the text does not say that Herod thought John was holy, but specifically that John was holy, and Herod knew it.) Therefore, unless Simplyheavenlyfood is willing to venture the argument that John the Baptist was without any sin at all, it would appear that holy cannot mean “without sin.” And if John can be called holy, how much more appropriate is it to call Mary, the mother of Christ, holy? How can Mary not be considered holy, if John is considered holy, and it is Mary, not John, who is called “full of grace.”
But if holy does not mean “without sin” what does it mean? To answer this we must go back to the Greek. The word used for “holy” in the aforementioned Mark 6:20, that is used dozens of times throughout scripture is “αγιον” pronounced “hágios.” This meaning most directly means “different” or “separate” and contextually means “set apart by (or for) God.” We see this theme repeatedly in scripture where being “set apart” denotes a sacred character. The Jews, the people chosen by God, are a “people set apart.” Jewish sacred texts and items are hidden from view by veils or other methods of setting them apart from the congregation. Jewish religious dress and the ritual of circumcision was done specifically to set the Jews apart from other nations. Therefore, the understanding of holiness as being “set apart by (or for) God” is one which fits within the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Mary was clearly set apart by God and chosen for a purpose. Her uniqueness is testified to by the angel Gabriel who says “Blessed are you among women” showing how Mary is “separated” by God from other women for her blessedness and for God in order to work the incarnation through her, as the rest of the relevant text indicates. Therefore, since Mary is “set apart” for and by God, she can rightly be called Holy.
Therefore, even accepting the premise that Mary is not without sin, it appears that Mary can rightly be considered holy. Which brings us to the second error.
Error #2 Mary was conceived in a state of sin
SimplyHeavenlyFood claims that because Mary says “My spirit rejoices in God my savior” she must have been conceived with sin, for if she was not, then she would not need a savior. This is incorrect, but only slightly. SimplyHeavenlyFood is right to point out that Mary, being human, would need a savior from sin. Where she errs is in assuming that one can only be saved from sin after one is already conceived with sin. The Christian tradition has rightly affirmed throughout history that Mary was saved through Jesus’s death from sin like everyone else, but unlike everyone else, her salvation did not come in the form of a cleansing of the stain of sin, but rather as a preservation from the stain of sin. This difference can be illustrated by analogy:
Suppose a man were to fall into a puddle of mud. A second man washes the mud off the first man.
Now suppose a man were about to fall into a puddle of mud, but before he does, a second man breaks the man’s fall so the mud does not get on him.
In both of these examples, it is the intervention of the second man which is credited for the fact that the first man is not covered in mud. In the same way, Jesus’s death cleansed us of our sin, and preserved Mary his Mother from sin, and in both instances, it is Jesus who is credited as savior. Therefore, Mary is right to recognize God as her savior, but this does not mean that Mary was conceived with the stain of sin. Evidence for the immaculate conception can be found at:
Error #3 One cannot rightly call Mary Mother of God.
SimplyHeavenlyFood makes this claim by arguing that Mary is mother only of the human nature of Christ, and not that of the divine, and therefore, Mary cannot rightly be called Mother of God. This was the error made by Nestorius, who in the 5th century also denied Mary the title Mother of God on the grounds that Christ’s human and divine natures were separate and not united within the person of Jesus Christ, and was subsequently anathematized for this heresy at the Council of Ephesus 431, (upheld at the Second Council of Constantinople 553.)
Nestorianism and other heresies claiming that Mary cannot be rightly called the mother of God are dealt with by the Angelic Doctor in the Summa Theologica
The reply to objection 1 of article 4 is especially poignant:
My short explanation based on the writings of the Angelic Doctor cited above is that birth refers to the person being born, not the nature of the person. Therefore, we recognize the nativity as the birth of the person Jesus Christ to Mary. Jesus Christ is God. Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Mary is the mother of God.
Given the evidence provided, it is clear that Mary can be rightly called Mother of God.
Error #4 One cannot rightly call Mary Queen of Heaven.
SimplyHeavenlyFood goes on to claim that Mary cannot be rightly called Queen of Heaven because such a title is not given in scripture. This is not completely accurate. While not referring to Mary by name, it is certain that the woman crowned by 12 stars in Revelations (11:19 - 12:6) refers to Mary Mother of God, and what kind of women receive crowns but Queens?
This is evidenced in several ways:
1. By the fact that the woman is represented as giving birth to the representation of Jesus Christ, and Mary is the mother of Christ. We know the child is Jesus Christ because of the statement about ruling the nations with a rod of iron which is a reference to Psalm 2:9 which refers to the messiah making the nations his inheritance, breaking them with a rod of iron.
2. Rev. 11:19 speaks about the ark of the covenant saying it appeared in the temple, and Mary is the new ark of the covenant because of her role in carrying Jesus. Therefore, it is Mary in Revelations.
3. The reference to taking refuge in the wilderness which can refer to the flight to Egypt of the Holy Family again points to Mary.
4. Finally the dragon vs. the woman is a direct reference to eve in the garden. Since Mary is the new eve, it makes sense to understand that Mary is the one being described here.
Therefore, Biblical evidence does show that Mary was crowned Queen by God. Which makes sense, as Mary, mother of the heavenly king, who is in the lineage of David and Solomon, Mary would be the Queen mother. Thus, Mary can be rightly called Queen of Heaven.
Error #5 It is wrong to pray to Mary
As SimplyHeavenlyFood notes, we have one mediator in Christ. However, she misinterprets that to mean that praying to saints - which she correctly understands as asking them to pray for us - is unbiblical. This is clearly not the case as 1 Timothy 1-4 exhorts Christians to pray for each other showing that praying to and for each other does not violate the unique mediation of Christ.
Further information regarding that is found here:
Some claim that while Paul did exhort people to pray for each other, that does not apply to the saints, because the saints are in heaven and we are on Earth, which they claim means we can’t pray to them. I briefly address this here:
Therefore, it is not wrong to pray to Mary.
I hope this correction has been fruitful and may lend to preventing confusion regarding these matters on tumblr again. Also, I reiterate that this was not meant to attack SimplyHeavenlyFood but simply to clarify and correct the errors she made. God bless!