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Basic Problems

The following is a study on the Roman doctrines on Mary  and its development over the centuries.    Before I do that, it is necessary to make the different stance the Evangelical Churches and the Roman Catholic Churches and the Eastern Churches have over certain fundamental issues.

Primacy of Peter and the Roman Catholic Monopoly

The basic stand of the Roman Church is that Roman Church is the Catholic Church and has the monopoly of the deposit and revelation of Christianity.  The Roman Church therefore claims that all other Churches wherever they are, are subject to the Roman Pope.  They have always held that those outside of the Roman Catholic Church have no salvation. This is based on the assumption that Jesus proclaimed that he will build the church on Peter and the Keys of heaven and hades are given over to Peter.  It is also assumed that Peter was the first pontiff of Rome.   Right from the late third century when such claims were voiced Eastern Churches vehemently objected to it.  Until such claims were made all bishops were considered equal in authority over the congregation they had the oversee. No bishop made any claim over any other.  Thus we see that the first Council was held in Jerusalem and Rome had no voice over it.  It was James, the bishop of Jerusalem who presided over the council to accept the gentiles into the Christian fold.(Act 15)  Peter, Paul, John and probably many other Apostles were still alive at that time.

There is no reliable historical document to support the contention that Peter ever was the Bishop of Rome for that matter.  Paul clearly states that James, Peter and John (notice the order) agreed that the trio were not given the task of preaching the gospel to the gentiles. That was given to Paul. 

Gal 2:7-9 On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.

 Peter was indeed reprimanded for some of his views.(Gal 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.) Apart from these  historical matter, the interpretation of the passages in the Bible claiming the  Primacy of Peter is a matter of theological dispute.  These differences make a difference in the way doctrines and practices were developed within the Roman Catholic Church in contrast to other Churches. The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism Explains, 

" For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.  It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God." 

 This explains the stand of the Roman Church.  However it also accept the fact that any group of people who believe in Jesus even if they are not under the Roman Church are part of the body of Christ and forms part of the Universal Church of God.   This is more like the Baquara Tribe of South Sudan who claim that all cattle in the whole world belong to them because in the beginning when God created, they were given all the cattle..

Roman Church is beyond Written Scriptures

Following the argument,  the Roman Church considers it as the Church and it has the authority and prerogative to present new doctrines and practices without regard to written scripture.  Evidently apart from the written scripture, there were many teachings that were orally transmitted.  This is specially true regarding the practices of the church.  However right from the first century there were theological problems, heresies and practical problems which were addressed to by the writers of the scripture.  Scriptures were written so that there may be a reliable document of reference and for refuting heresies that rose even at the time of the Apostles. They therefore give a very vivid understanding of what was going on during that period. It should be made clear now that after the Apostolic period such deposits were not given to anyone.  Apostolic succession does not follow any doctrinal or practical revelation outside of what had been given by the Apostles themselves.  The deviation from early faith started even during the time of the Apostles. Scriptures were written so that the basic principles could be codified. It is here  non-roman Churches differ considerably.  All other churches believe that all revelations are complete in Christ Jesus and therefore no new revelations are possible beyond that period.  What is remaining is only illumination of the given word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit which cannot abrogate any earlier revelation that was once and for all delivered to the saints.  All new revelations are to be verified against the written word. {Act 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.} This is the stand of all Evangelical Churches. Paul reiterates this concept in 

1 Gal 1:6-9 

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

In contrast, 

the Roman Catechism states:" The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys, this infallibility in virtue of his office as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful- who confirms his brethren in the faith - he proclais by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.... the infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium." above all in an Ecuminical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being devinely revealed", and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith." This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself."

But the biblical picture of the Church is far from the Roman Catholic Church in terms of doctrine,  authority and practice.  These changes came into effect due to changes in the socio-political situations in which the Church was placed.  The contention that I make in these articles is that this is what happened even in the Marian Doctrine.

The claim of Roman Church is that because it is the authority of the Church, it alone has the authority to interpret the scriptures.  It also has a deposit of faith with it from where other teachings can be brought out.  The written scripture is only a part of the revelation and the rest of the revelation is handed down to the Church from one Pope to the other starting from Peter.  This contention is certainly false because we know that no such oral transmission was made from one Pope to the other.  Even if it was made, some characters of the Popes in the series were abominable that we cannot trust their transmission.  Papacy was more or less a power politics and not election of God many times. Therefore a doctrinal assertion by the Roman Pontiff cannot be in itself valid just because of the Office. Remember Peter was told by Jesus that he was one of the small rock and on the true unchanging Rock of Jesus himself the church will be built. But within a few minutes of such statement to Peter, he called Peter "Satan". 

Mat. 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." 

 If ever Jesus called anyone Satan, it was Peter - not even Judas Iscariot was called thus. Was Jesus building his Church on Satan?. If the church is built on Papacy, it apparently is. The later developement of the throne of Peter has justified the prophecy of Jesus.

In this article I am trying to trace the subtlety through which the doctrine evolved from its early period. heresy that  is being perpetuated over the centuries.  "you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men". As anyone can see the process of deification of Mary start from the Roman pagan cults.  When Christianity became the official religion of Rome, in order to satisfy the popular mass so that there could be “One Country, One Religion”, Roman Church compromised with the then current power religions and formed a syncretic religion.  They were able to fool the Christians within the Church by garbing the heresy in absurd terminology.  In time  we are able to see that this garb is unveiled in steps - ever so small steps - to reveal the true intent.  The reasoning behind every step is that the Church is the deposit of faith.  Every century the Roman church therefore brings out new revelations and sticks it up as “we have always believed”. Out comes the rabbit out of the hat.   The Eastern Churches for a long time believed this lie and is now recognizing their errors and is standing  on the revealed and writted word of God refusing to accept any further corruption as revealed in the announcement of Patriarchs around the world.  This will probably delay the final deification  process of Mary.

But then the Roman Catholic Church because it is the only "True" Church and because it has the "only" Apostolic Tradition which is equal in authority or greater in authority than the written scriptures has the authority also to nullify or abandon or change these traditions. 

"In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's magisterium" - Catechism of Catholic Church

 In other words there is no faith which has ever been handed down to our fathers once and for all. It is only the church - and therefore the Pope with his college of cardinals that decide what is right and what is wrong. There is no higher arbitration available to mankind. It also boils down to a simple uncertainity in the Chrisitian faith and doctrines at all levels. The Roman Catholic Church can decide what is truth. It is this contention that the evangelicals and other apostolic traditions consider false and detrimental. It is nothing but heresy in Paul's terms. And that is what we got in the process of Marian Theology.