The Catholic Defender: Queen of Heaven

Posted by John Benko - September 3rd, 2013

This coming October 26-27th, 2013, Deepertruth will participate in a Marian conference in Springfield Missouri.

The Marian teaching “Queen of Heaven” is steeped in Old Testament tradition.

There are those who misunderstand this teaching and will even claim it is Pagan.  Nothing can be furthest from the truth.

Some will surely want to raise the scripture coming from Jeremiah 7:16-18, “You, now, do not intercede for this people; raise not in their behalf a pleading prayer! Do not urge me, for I will not listen to you. Do you not see what they are doing in the cites of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem? The Children gather wood, their fathers light the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven, while libations are poured out to strange gods in order to hurt me. Is it I whom they hurt, says the Lord; is it not rather themselves, to their own confusion?”

The queen of heaven that Jeremiah is speaking of is not the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the true Queen of Heaven, but rather a false god. The Israelites worshiped Pagan gods that displeased the Lord. The Babylonians worshiped a woman called “Ishtar“, she was the goddess of love and war. Prostitution was a part of the temple worship. She was known to have had many lovers.

Contrast this with the Blessed Virgin Mary who represents chastity, modesty, faithfulness, and love of God. She is the purest of God’s creation. Unlike Ishtar and other female goddesses who were worshiped and called “God the Mother“, the Blessed Virgin Mary is called Mother of God. Not because she is a goddess, she is not, but because Catholics recognize Jesus as Divine. He is truly God and man.

Is Mary the true Queen of Heaven, is there such a position within the kingdom of God? The answer is yes, and this Queen is the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The foundation for this is found in 1 Kings 2:12-20. “When Solomon was seated on the throne of his father David, with his sovereignty firmly established, Adonjah, son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. ‘Do you come as a friend?’ She asked. ‘Yes’, he answered, and added, ‘I have something to say to you,’ She replied, ‘Say it.’ So he said: ‘You know that the kingdom was mine, and all Israel expected me to be king. But the kingdom escaped me and became my brother’s, for the Lord gave it to him. But now there is one favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me.’ And she said, ‘Speak on.’ He said, ‘Please ask King Solomon, who will not refuse you, to give me Abishag the Shunamite for my wife.’ ‘Very well,’ replied Bathsheba, I will speak to the king for you.’ Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right.”

Bathsheba thus became the first Queen of Israel, the Queen was not a wife of the king, but the King’s mother. Jesus is truly the Son of David, The angel Gabriel spoke of Jesus saying, “Behold, you (Mary) will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:3-33).

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:20).

We see a glimpse of this heavenly glory with the Messiah in heaven in Psalms 45. In verse 9-10 we see a very important scripture relating to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It reads, “daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stand the Queen in gold of Ophir”. Psalms 45:1-9 refers to Jesus and verses 9-17 concerns this queen. The same Queen St. John writes, “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).

Psalms 45 continues to say, “Hear, O daughter, consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your Lord, bow to him; the people of Tyre will sue your favor with gifts, the richest of the people with all kinds of wealth. The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes; in many colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions, her escort, in her train. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king. Instead of your fathers shall by your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever”(Psalms 45:9-17).

Notice that the “rich” seeks her favor, just like Adonjah had first sought Bathsheba’s intercession. The Queen of Psalms 45 will be remembered and celebrated in all generations, and the people will praise her forever. Is there any other woman in history that can fit this description? Hillary Clinton? This praise will not be worship that is given to God alone, but it will be honor and petition. Notice what Mother Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever” (Luke 1:46-55).

Psalms 45:9-17 and Luke 1:47-55 speak of the same person. The Virgin Mary, as the Queen of Heaven represents Jesus Christ in all that she does. There is no likeness to the pagan goddesses that were worshiped by the Babylonians and the cultures surrounding the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.


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*BEST OF DTB #250* Les Miserables

Posted by John Benko - January 6th, 2013

One of the promises I was required to keep, during this Christmas season, was to see Les Miserables in the theater with my wife and daughter. I completed that mission, on this feast of Saint John Neumann (the patron saint of our parish), and on the eve of the last day of Christmas- the Epiphany.

As many of you know, January 6th, 2006 was the worst day of my life and seven year’s passing has not reduced the pain enough that I don’t still dread it’s dawning. A day of joy, a day of celebration….not for us. At least, not yet. Recently, a friend (who shall remain anonymous) posted on his blog, that he got through Les Miserables by watching the LSU game on his smart phone. As much as I enjoyed the word that LSU lost to Clemson, knocking the mighty SEC from it’s perch, this was not a movie to ‘get through’. There are movies to watch and there are movies to ‘get through’ and then there are movies to drown in and and be washed by.

Les Miserables is a movie in which you sink all the way to the bottom and remain there for the duration as wave after wave of emotion of grace sweep over you.

I could make a list of movies that affected me this way- Titanic, The Passion of the Christ, The Lord of the Rings; return of the King and United 93 come to mind. The list would not be many more titles in length. I do not get into movies that rest alone on special effects or mindless violence or overly superficial depictions of love and life. A movie has to really speak to me. I walk away asking what does this film say to me? How is my life affected or changed in having seen it?

If You’ve Got Mail or When Harry Met Sally are the kind of trite, sugar coated mush that make people like me want to throw up, Les Miserables is a baptism of blood- an relenting and seemingly merciless way of the cross. It drags you down out of the warm confines of your comfortable life and into the darkly lit abodes of the lost and forsaken, the despairing and the hopeless who seek death as a respite from the misery that oppresses them and hangs over them like a menacing darkness.

How many of the actors and actresses in this movie really know of this despair, this blackness?

In the event you are not familiar with the story, it starts and ends with the struggle between a man, Jean Valjean who spent 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread for a starving child, and his merciless tormentor Javert, whose Pharisaical zeal for the letter of the law, could not grasp the concepts of love and mercy and redemption. On his road to redemption, Jean first finds mercy from a Bishop and that starts his journey to this hopeless man both finding hope and giving hope, saving others and saving himself.

Javert finds himself in need, from Jean’s hands, the very mercy he, himself refused to ever give. Where mercy saved Jean Valjean, mercy crushed Javert. Unable to give it, he was unable to receive it. Unable to comprehend what it means to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven, Javert’s whole world view explodes. Unable to change, he kills himself instead.

Judgement vs Mercy, Mercy vs Judgement, these are the themes that ring through the whole film. The story is unmistakably Catholic, through and through. Not merely superficially Catholic but Sacrament-ally Catholic, so much so that one bristles at the suggestion that Hollywood was capable of making such a film.

One marvels at the ability of God to speak so boldly through a film created in a town with such a rabid hatred for Him. Then it dawns on you that maybe their derision and disdain for us is not entirely without merit.

One of the central themes of Les Miserables, one that fires at you over and over, is that you cannot reach a soul by condemning and judging that soul. Label him a thief and he’ll just become more of a thief. Label her a whore and you give her no reason to believe she is, or can be anything more. How many Jean Valjeans or Fantines have you made? How many have I? Yes, it is true that Hollywood and America are drenched in a sex craving, money worshiping worldview that can not work.

I just wonder, though, do you reach a wounded animal by barking at it? Love is the message of Les Miserables is the same as the movies I mentioned above- Love costs. One must be willing to lay down his very life for love, carry other’s burdens, heal other’s wounds. Only then, do we give the sinner the space to change- the way Jean valjean changed.

How many people perish and are damned simply because there is no one who cared for them or prayed for them or even noticed them stirring in the shadows? God forbid you were ever such a one, just needing one hand of compassion and never finding it.

Matthew 25
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand,
Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which
 is prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat;
 I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink;
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked,
 and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye
 visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer, saying,
 Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst,
or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison,
 and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily
 I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto
 one of these least, ye did it not unto me.
46 And these shall go away into eternal
 punishment: but the righteous into eternal life. 

The worst mistake one could make watching Les Miserables, would be to focus too heavily on the characters themselves, and not enough on the message. The characters are you and me- our good sides and our bad. The times we were low and lost and just needed to be seen as more than a whore on the street or the number 24601, the times when we were haughty and called down God to be merciless judge to anyone not meeting with our approval.

The story of Les Miserables is one of crosses, endless painful crosses and of how the outcasts of the world are the very precious souls that lead us to heaven.

January 6th, 2006 was the day I entered my darkness. It was a darkness I could not have hoped to extricate myself from. The prayers and compassion of others, over time, pulled me out of it, as it did my wife, my son and my daughters. Les Miserables uses the French Revolution merely as a backdrop. Hunger and desperation and loneliness and despair are themes as raw and real and fresh in 2013 as they were in France in the 1800s or even Israel in the first century.

The desire is too strong to stone the transgressors we know but who among us is really worthy to cast that stone? If measured by the same standard, how many stones do we deserve cast at us?

In the end, what we take from Les Miserables might be shaped by what we really value and how we really view life and salvation. How do we really view the least of us. Are they really just Les Miserables (the miserable), the hopeless dregs of society? Or are they children of God, our brothers and sisters, called to be cared for by us?

I give Les Miserables an enthusiastic 5 stars and urge you to see it.


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*BEST OF DTB #223* Queen of Heaven debate show notes

Posted by John Benko - October 26th, 2012


These show notes coincide with this blogtalkradio debate

The show notes for this debate can be found at tinyurl.com/97tbsmb

Today’s debate is all about what worship is and what it is not.

Dictionary.com defines worship as follows;

reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.

They define Sacred as;

 

devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.

2.entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.

In British English, the word ‘worship’ covers all definitions of honor, with a distiction between Latria- the honor due God alone and Dulia, that which is due created beings or things. In fact, the British refer to judges as ‘Your worship’.

In American English, this Dulia, or even Hyper-Dulia, is referred to as honor or veneration while Latria is referred to as Worship or Adoration.

 Yes, British English is used in the Catholic Encyclopedia and does say that Mary and Saints are due a level of worship but the same British English says the same about judges. Let’s not be silly here. The British do not consider their judges to be gods. In our discussion tonight, we are defining words like honor, veneration, worship and adoration as American Christians do. Honor and veneration can be due a person- such as a soldier, a place- such as Arlington Cemetery or a thing-such as the Flag, the Cross or a statue or icon. Worship, or Adoration, on the other hand is due only to the Holy Trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit and only to it is offered Worship by a Catholic.

Worship, as we define it in American English, starts when the honor given to a person exceeds that which would be appropriate for a created being or thing and the person or thing is recognized and honored, and sacrificed to, as a Divine person-a god or goddess-, rather than a created person or object. This worship cannot be offered by accident or without consent. Therefore, my opponents claim that Catholics worship Mary even if they are unaware of it is completely untenable.

The commandment of God says;

 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.

False Worship is about gods. That is, ascribing divinity to someone and submitting to their lordship, is the key and central part of worship. In Exodus 32, we read the sin of the golden calf.

And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

So, as you can see, the first element of worship is an assent to the object as divine. The person or thing has to be recognized as a god or goddess, with an assent of the will, to it holding to the attributes of god- omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and eternal. This assent cannot be accidental, that is an impossibility.

This aspect of worship is never offered, in a Catholic church, to anyone or anything but God. However, an assent to Divinity is not the completion of worship. James admonishes us in his epistle;

You believe God is one? you do well. Even the demons believe this and they tremble.

The real difference between Protestants and Catholics is not that we worship Mary and they don’t. The real difference is that we worship God and they don’t. The only completegenuine, Christian worship of God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- occurs in a Catholic church.

 When one examines Scripture judiciously, one sees God quite clearly, with intricate precision, articulate exactly what worship should look like. He also makes it quite clear that the principle elements of that worship are not to ever change. In the books of the law, Genesis to Deuteronomy,  the word ‘perpetual’ appears 40 times, the word ‘everlasting’ 19 times and the word covenant 114 times. Jesus, Himself said that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). In fact, the word fulfill or fulfilled appears more than 50 times in the 27 books of the New Testament.

Yes, Protestants do claim to assent to the Divinity of the Trinity and, yes, that is a first step towards worship. However, they fail to see the communal nature of genuine worship in contrast to the un-Biblical ‘Christ alone’, ‘Faith alone’, ‘Bible alone’ model of the reformation. Christ established a particular church with a particular authority and a particular liturgy centered around seven very particular sacraments. One Lord-One Faith-One Baptism (Ephesians 4:5)

Nowhere is that more clear than their failure to see that the sacrifice of the Mass is the conduit by which we are connected to Calvary.

The protestant concept of worship is one that is wholly alien to the Bible. From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, we see a worship involving a sacrifice, an altar, priests and a liturgy. The idea of a self anointed pastor-centered worship, devoid of an altar and sacrifice is completely absent from Scripture. Catholics understand clearly that Biblical worship is far more than the simple offering of honor, praise and prayer. Of course, we could do an entire debate on what worship really looks like and I will extend that invitation to my opponent now.

In 1 Corinthians 1, chapters 10 and 11, Paul tells us that the bread we eat and the cup we drink is a real participation in the body and blood of Our Lord and to do so unworthily brings judgement. In Hebrews, we are told that we go before an altar. In Revelation Chapter 5, we are told that God has made a Kingdom of Priests to reign on earth. 

Protestants do not understand the New Testament because they fail to understand the Old Testament Blueprint of the New Testament Church. When Jesus instituted the New Covenant in His blood, He did not abolish the ministerial Priesthood and the offering of the sacrifice. On the contrary, He perfected it. He took the imperfect typological and repetitious sacrifice and replaced it with one perfect sacrifice and he replaced that offering with a perfect and perpetual offering just as Malachi 1 prophesies. Jewish worship centered around the Passover. We see, in the Gospels, that the beginning of Jesus ministry coincides with the Passover and the end of His ministry and start of His Passion, likewise, coincides with the Passover. The Passover was not a meaningless gesture. It points to something. Jesus was not just to be the Passover sacrifice but the Passover meal, offered in perpetuity.

 While protestants accuse Catholics of elevating Mary to the level of worship, what is really at work is that protestants have lowered worship to the level of Mary by removing the sacrifice and removing the sense of us all being a part of the communion of saints. In fact, with respect to Mary, they actually accuse us of worshiping Mary as Divine even though we fully recognize her as human! Offering honor and praise and prayer is not worship, assenting to Divinity and offering the sacrifice is worship. Protestants have created a new, un-historical and un-Biblical definition of what worship is and, based on this novel view of worship, accuse Catholics of the worship of Mary. It is not that our Mary is too high, it is that their worship is not high enough.

Catholics do not recognize Mary as having any of the attributes of God. In fact, Catholics acknowledge that Mary should have absolutely no ability whatsoever if not for God acting through her. This makes Mary the same as any other human being who has ever lived.

The entire accusation of Mary-worship is a protestant invention, a feeble attempt to juxtapose Biblical objects of idolatrous worship onto the Catholic Mary. No where is this clearer than in the so-called Queen of Heaven canard.

Protestants often juxtapose the worship of Ishtar, which is being condemned in Jeremiah, with the rightful honor given to the Mother of Our Lord, Mary, who was born centuries later. Their evidence? The title ‘Queen of Heaven’. I will deal with this in depth, in my close.

For now, consider the following;

In Ezra Chapter 7, verse 12, King Artaxerxes of Persia is referred to as the ‘King of Kings’, in Ezekiel 26, the same title is given to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Yet, we all know who the true ‘King of Kings’ is, don’t we? The impostor does not invalidate the real deal. The ‘Queen of Heaven’ condemned in Jeremiah 7 and 44 was a false goddess named Ishtar that has absolutely nothing to do with Mary, a human being, who fulfilled the Biblical role of the Queen Mother as seen in 1 Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 10:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16, Jeremiah 13:18, and Jeremiah 29:2.

In the Davidic kingdom, the Queen Mother was the mother of the King. In the case of Solomon, it was Bathsheba  Now, listen to this exchange from 1 Kings, Chapter 2;

12 Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.  13 And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably?And he said, Peaceably.  14 He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on.  15 And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me,  that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother’s: for it was his from the LORD. 16 And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on.  17 And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give  me Abishag the Shunammite to wife.  18 And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.  19 Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose  up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right hand.  20 Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her,  Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay. 

There are several things to note here.  Notice that the word ‘pray’ is used in reference to a petition. That is, after-all what a prayer is. It simply means to ask. Adonijah is not worshiping Bathsheba by offering a prayer of petition, neither is Bathsheba worshiping Solomon by doing the same. Simple prayer is not worship and anyone who claims it is cannot support that notion. The second thing is that Solomon bows to his mother. Again, bowing in honor, is not worship. Falling at one’s feet and prostrating oneself in adoration is not the same as kneeling or bowing out of respect. Third, Solomon seats her on a throne, at his right hand. This, again, is not worship, he is merely honoring her position in the court of the King, as the Queen Mother. Finally, the clincher. The passage opens by saying the following; 12 Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father;

In Luke chapter 1, the Angel Gabriel says exactly the same thing about Jesus;

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne 
of his father David:  

The Jews of Jesus time, as soon as they recognized Jesus as the King of the Jews, would have recognized His mother as the Queen Mother. This is why we see the Mother of Jesus, shown in Revelation chapter 12 with a crown of stars and why the Angel Gabriel greets her with the royal salutation of Chaire or “Hail”. The same salutation by which Christ is greeted twice in the gospels.


What Protestants fail to see is that we are all co-mediators. ‘co’ means ‘with’. It does not mean equal. It does not even mean less. There is one mediator between God and man but we all COoperate with that plan of mediation. We bring Christ to the world, we bring the world to Christ. Nowhere is that more literally and profoundly true than with our blessed Mother. That is why Revelation 12:17 says that she is the mother of all the true believers. She is the Queen Mother and She is the Ark of the Covenant. Scriptures shows us this clearly in Revelation 11 and 12.

Mary is not Divine but She helps us understand God by Her unique relationship to the Holy trinity. Daughter of the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mother of the Son.

Here are some points that I think are likely to be raised during the course of this debate. The argument will be in BLUE with my Response in GOLD.

Argument: If Catholics do not worship Mary, why do they call her Theotokos- the Mother of God? Is this not putting her above God? 

Answer: Not at all. To call Mary the Mother of God is only to confirm what Scripture says about her.Elizabeth, in Luke 1 says what is it to me that the Mother of My Lord should come to me. ‘My Lord’ is translated from the Greek Kyrios which is equivalent to the Hebrew Adonai, a name used for God. To call Mary the Mother of God, is simply confirming the Biblical reality that is the Incarnation.
It is a simple logical syllogism. Jesus is God, Mary is His Mother, therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.

Argument: Catholics call Mary a co-redemtrix and co-mediatrix. The Bible clearly says that there is only one mediator between God and man. Are you not elevating Mary to the level of God?

Answer: You are comparing apples to oranges. A Redeemer and a co-redemptrix are two totally different things. Likewise, a co-mediatrix and a mediator between God and Man are not even close to the same thing.

The key word is ‘co’ which means ‘with’, not ‘equal’. In calling Mary a co-redemtrix and co-mediatrix, the Catholic church is simply affirming a fundamental reality- that Mary co-operated with the plan of redemption by bring Jesus to us.

Argument: Catholics claim that Mary has appeared all over the world. At Fatima, Catholics claim that Mary said: The soul which recommends itself to Me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish. Isn’t this elevating Mary to a level of Savior?

Answer: First of all, no Catholic is bound to believing in private revelations. However, Jesus did say that there would be signs by which many would believe and the documented miraculous events at places like Lourdes and Fatima are undeniable. At the heart of Mary’s statement- properly context-ed, is one of the most fundamental divisions between Catholics and Protestants, the notion of intercessory prayer. Yet, Mary never claims to be a Savior, she claims to be an Advocate. In the Rosary are the Apostles Creed and the Our Father as well as the Hail Mary. Mary’s entire message at Fatima is one of prayer, fasting and penance and returning to her Son. Mary is offering her assistance in leading souls to her son. Her messages at these events always point to Jesus. True, one may reject these events as inauthentic if they so chose but to call them worship is quite a stretch. 

Argument: Doesn’t the Bible warn against believing signs and wonders?
Revelation 13:  11: Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.

12: It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its
 inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.
13: It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men;

14: and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived;

Answer: Signs and wonders are not at all what is being condemned here, unbelief and apostasy are what is being condemned.

Let’s take the quotes one by one. The quote in Matthew 16 did not mean Jesus didn’t perform any signs  in the Gospels, we know better than that. In fact, just 5 verses later, Jesus reminds the disciples of the miracle of the fish and loaves. Jesus did not condemn the signs themselves, he condemned the evil and adulterous pharisees who sought to put him to the test because of their lack of belief.

In 2 Corinthians, we are warned that Satan disguises himself as a being of light. There would be no need for him to do this if it were not for the fact that actual beings of light have appeared to people. 

It is the same with the proof text from Revelation 13 . When the anti-christ brings fire down from heaven, he is merely doing a cheap imitation of what Elijah did in 2 Kings.

It is nonsense to suggest that the Bible tells us to unilaterally reject all miracles. Both the Prophet Joel and Peter told us that in the last days young men would see visions and old men would dream dreams. The key is knowing how to discern.

1 John 4 
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from Godbecausemany false prophets have gone out into the world2 By this you know the Spirit of God : every spirit thatconfesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God ; 3 and every spirit that does not confessJesus is not from God ; this is the spirit of the antichrist
It may well be noted that every approved apparition of Mary passes this Biblical test.

  1. The Bible shows us the Angel Gabriel communicating with Daniel the Prophet, Zechariah and Mary. Another Angel spoke to Joseph. Moses and Elijah conversed with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration and Abraham spoke to the rich man in hell. Jesus says that God is the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the God of the living and not of the dead. Finally, in the book of Revelation, chapters 5 and 8, we see both Angels and Saints receiving our prayers and offering them to God. Despite all of this compelling evidence to the contrary, why do protestants continue to insist that the Angels and Saints cannot hear our prayers?
  2. Who are the 24 elders in Revelation chapter 4 and why are they wearing Robes and golden crowns and sitting on thrones?
  3. The Woman who appears in Revelation 11:19-12:17 is shown as the Ark of the Covenant, the Mother of Jesus, a woman in heaven with a physical body, a Queen wearing a crown, the Woman who is the enemy of the dragon (Genesis 3:15), the woman who fled to the desert, and the mother of all true Christians. How can you seriously argue that anyone but Mary can fulfill all these characteristics?
  4. Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and Muslims all recognize the historical person of Jesus Christ but refuse to acknowledge Him as God. If I asked you if any of these groups worship Jesus, you would say no. Yet, I do not recognize Mary as Divine and you accuse me of worshipping her. Why the double standard?
Protestants like to point out two passages relating to the Queen of Heaven in the book of Jeremiah and desperately try to superimpose them on 21st century Catholicism. Here is one, from Jeremiah 44:

15 Then all the men that knew that their wives sacrificed to other gods: and all the women of whom there stood by a great multitude, and all the people of them that dwelt in the land of Egypt in Phatures, answered Jeremias, saying:   16 As for the word which thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken to thee:  17 But we will certainly do every word that shall proceed out of our own mouth, to sacrifice to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her, as we and our fathers have done, our kings, and our princes in the cities of Juda, and in the streets of Jerusalem: and we were filled with bread, and it was well with us, and we saw no evil.  

18 But since we left off to offer sacrifice to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword, and by famine.  19 And if we offer sacrifice to the queen of heaven, and pour out drink offerings to her: did we make cakes to worship her, to pour out drink offerings to her, without our husbands?  

The assertion that Catholics worship Mary is completely baseless and without merit. Actually, it is the human Mary that Scripture calls blessed among all women, blessed among all generations, blessed because Jesus lived in her womb and nursed at her breast, blessed because She believed, blessed because She heard the word of God and obeyed. All of those accolades are right there in Luke’s Gospel.
Mary, whose soul magnifies the Lord, and whose spirit rejoices in God, Her Savior, is the penultimate example to all of us. She who is addressed by Gabriel with the salutation Kecharitomene- full of grace.
We Catholics find ourselves astounded when we are accused of uttering the prayer that is taken virtually verbatim from Luke 1 and 2.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Finally, we simply ask a favor of the Queen Mother.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.
What kind of a goddess would we ask to pray for us? For protestants to accept the notion that God has all the Angels and Saints locked away in a broom closet betrays a staggering lack of faith. It also proves they don’t know scripture. Hebrews 12:1 talks about the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. God commands us to pray with each other and for each other. That that extends past earth is clear and that makes our Awesome God just that much bigger, not smaller.
Often used as a gotcha claim that Catholics worship Mary, anti-catholics sometimes quote the catholic Encyclopedia using the British use of the word worship. Even when they do so, the full context proves them wrong. Also, isn’t it ironic that proponents of the King James Bible would try and impose the Saxon dialect on us?

The word worship (Saxon weorthscipe, “honour”; from worth, meaning “value”, “dignity”, “price”, and the termination, shipLatin cultus) in its most general sense is homage paid to aperson or a thing. In this sense we may speak of hero-worship, worship of the emperor, of demons, of the angels, even of relics, and especially of the Cross. This article will deal with Christian worship according to the following definition: homage paid to God, to Jesus Christ, to His saints, to the beings or even to the objects which have a special relation to God.
There are several degrees of this worship:
  • if it is addressed directly to God, it is superior, absolute, supreme worship, or worship of adoration, or, according to the consecrated theological term, a worship of latria. This sovereign worship is due to God alone; addressed to a creature it would become idolatry.
  • When worship is addressed only indirectly to God, that is, when its object is the veneration of martyrs, of angels, or of saints, it is a subordinate worship dependent on the first, and relative, in so far as it honours the creatures of Godfor their peculiar relations with Him; it is designated by theologians as the worship of dulia, a term denoting servitude, and implying, when used to signify our worship of distinguished servants of God, that their service to Him is their title to our veneration (cf. Chollet, loc. cit., col. 2407, and BouquillonTractatus de virtute religionis, I, Bruges, 1880, 22 sq.).
  • As the Blessed Virgin has a separate and absolutely supereminent rank among the saints, the worship paid to her is called hyperdulia (for the meaning and history of these terms see Suicer, Thesaurus ecclesiasticus, 1728).


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*Best of DTB #156* The four persons

Posted by John Benko - March 13th, 2012

In a counseling session some years back, our Catholic counselor told me that each person is actually 4 persons- an intellectual person, an emotional person, a spiritual person and a physical person. I certainly came to agree that she was correct. Dr. Lyle H. Rossiter Jr. later confirmed this reality to me.

Yet, two days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see this concept clearly enunciated by Our Savior in the greatest commandment. (my emphasis)

Mark 12

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart (emotional), and with thy whole soul (spiritual), and with thy whole mind (intellectual), and with thy whole strength (physical). This is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

The key to understanding this concept is to understand that, in a healthy individual, each person interacts with, and is dependent on the other 3.

A ruthless genius with no compassion. An athlete with no ability to manage his own life. A person with the best of intentions that sleeps his life away. An emotional cripple who spends her life lamenting all the evil in the world to no good effect. These are all examples of a life out of balance.

I have found out late in life that problems in one area of life are not usually confined to that area. Depression, for example, is an emotional weakness. Science has determined that it may be partially rooted in the physical realm, including diet. That is true enough. Yet, depression can also be caused by an ill-formed intellect- the frustration that results from having not developed basic problem solving skills. By the same token, some people are depressed simply because their souls are sick. They are overcome with selfishness, anger, pride, envy, unforgiveness…any number of things. Often, all 4 are involved.

Likewise, conditions have outward consequences to all 4 persons.

Jealousy of a neighbor (spiritual) causes Bob to become despondent (emotional). As a result, he concludes that God doesn’t exist (intellectual) and gives up going to church. He grows spiritually weaker and falls into drinking which has consequences on his health (Physical). All 4 of Bob’s persons suffer consequences of the one sin- Pride.

So, what does Jesus mean?

Exploring this question is what makes being a Catholic so great. It is the very essence of Catholic worship that we endeavor to worship the Creator with all 4 persons.

With the Sacraments and prayer, we serve Him with our soul. With tears of remorse and a joyful, giving heart, our emotions. With Spiritual study, our intellect. With fasting, devotions and acts of charity and work, our bodies.

In this season of lent, I’m starting with the men in the mirror- all 4 of them.

I have come to accept the fact that my poor health is no mere inconvenience, it is something that is robbing my family, friends and the world of what I can offer and for how long. I am trying to eat better, walk more and get that blood sugar down. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, of not being able to sleep at 1 AM or stay awake at 7 Pm.

I have come to realize the difference between the remorse that chastens and straightens and the scrupulosity that enslaves.

I have come to realize that I need to spend less time feeling sorry for my self and more time empathizing with others.

I have come to understand that I have much to learn and study.

Most of all, I have come to understand that the natural consequence of loving God with all of you is that you would learn to finally and truly love yourself. The fruit of that, naturally, is love of your neighbor.

I guess Jesus knew what He was talking about after-all. We are all-in. All 4 of us.


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Immaculate Conception show notes

Posted by John Benko - December 11th, 2010

These notes accompany the Blogtalkradio show on the Immaculate Conception of Mary. They should be used in conjunction. You may need to hit the pause button from time to time as you listen.

At about the 6:30 mark, we mention that Catholic Sacred tradition puts Mary’s birth date at September 8th. Link. As a matter of tradition, the date of Mary’s birth is not something established as doctrine we are bound to adhere to. Nevertheless, Catholics do believe that The Holy Spirit leads our Church to all truth, in accordance with Jesus’ promise (John 16:13).

Again, according to Christ’s own words, we believe that what the Catholic binds on earth is bound in heaven (Matthew 16:19). Obviously, this question of authority divides Protestants and Catholics. Protestants adhere to a doctrine known as Sola Scriptura which stipulates that the Bible alone is a Christian’s rule of faith. Catholics believe this doctrine is wholly untenable from either a logical or historical perspective.

However, the most ironic fact of all is that the idea that Christ’s truth is revealed to us by Scripture only is a direct contradiction of what Scripture teaches (John 21:25, 2 Thessalonians 2:15). There is not a single verse of scriptural support for the idea of the formal sufficiency of Scripture. Don’t believe me? Try and find one.

As a Catholic says this, he is often accused of being in opposition to the Scriptures. Nothing could be further from the truth. Catholics fully aknowledge that the Scriptures are a form of the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

Where we differ from Protestants is that we reject the notion that God speaks to us only through Scripture and we reject that Scripture is a matter of personal interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).

For a better understanding of why Sola Scriptura is a false doctrine, I invite you to listen to this show in your leisure.

The biggest problem with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is this notion of personal interpretation and the false notion of formal sufficiency that is necessitated by it. The Protestant doctrine of formal security holds that anyone can- merely by his own efforts and the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit- read and properly interpret Scripture. Protestants hold that all doctrines sufficient for salvation are easy to read and understand and are found plainly and conspicuously on the face of Scripture.

Again, it is critical to note that this doctrine is in direct opposition to what Scripture suggests.

2 Peter 3:15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

It is not my intention to go into a dissertation on Sola Scriptura here but it is important to draw the lens back and understand that the Scriptures are only of use to you in accordance to the effort you are willing to invest in them.

If you want to understand how doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception are drawn from Scripture, you must be willing to move past sound byte apologetics and be willing to go a little deeper.

Continuing….

At about 12:40, we first touch on the significance of the Old Testament in understanding the New. Here is a show and corresponding show notes on Old Testament typology fulfilled in the person of Mary.

At about the 14:00 mark, Donald discusses the importance of the Covenant. A definition of a Covenant is very important. This is another sharp division we have with Protestants. Protestants see Salvation in terms of a doctrine titled Sola Christi or Christ alone. This doctrine is also false and wholly un-Biblical. God’s relationship with us is a covenant relationship that requires the cooperation and participation of human beings. Sometimes, this assertion, by Catholics, is derided as propagating a so-called weak Jesus. The weak Jesus canard is a shrewd avoidance of the plain truth that Christ’sjustice demands respect of our free will to accept or reject His plan of salvation.

Ignoring this fact is essential to dismissing Mary as a mere bit-player in the Salvation story.

At the 16:00 mark, we start explaining how Mary actually fulfills essential Old Testament models of roles intrinsic to the salvation story. Two primary roles are that of the Queen Mother and the Ark of the Covenant. The Queen Mother was the Mother of the King and interceded before him (Jeremiah 13:18, Jeremiah 29:2, 1 Kings 15:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16).

It is no coincidence the Jesus first public miracle was at Mary’s request (John 2:1-11).

More significant to the doctrine, however, is how Mary is the fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament carried in it items which foreshadowed Christ. These items made the Ark so holy that to even touch it meant death.

2 Samuel 6: 6 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the ark; * and he died there beside the ark of God.

Mary carried Christ HIMSELF and is the actual fulfillment of the Ark.

Revelation 11:19-12:5

19* Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2* she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. 3* And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. 4* His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; 5* she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

Starting at 27:34, we begin to set up the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary by a simple discussion on the topic of Grace. For further information, please read sections VII and VIII of this article on the topic of Grace. Here was a show we did on it. Technical issues at the start.

At about the 29 minute mark, we talk about Concupiscence and how sin was brought into the world through the disobedience of the first woman. We then contrast that with how salvation was brought into the world through the obedience of the new woman.

We then focus on the natural dilemma that Salvation rests on Mary’s yes and how God would guarantee that yes answer while still preserving her free will. At 38:50, we make the point that Mary had to be totally predisposed to God’s will due to an abundance of Grace.

We then make the case that that is exactly the state the Bible tells us She was in.

The distinction between Mary’s boundless faith (Luke 1:38) and Zechariah’s failing faith (Luke 1:19-20) is stark. Elizabeth (Luke 1:45) and Jesus (Luke 11:27-28) both make a point of saying that Mary’s faith is the reason why she was so blessed. How blessed?

Blessed among all women (Luke 1:42) and for all generations (Luke 1:48). This blessing doesn’t detract from Christ…it magnifies Him! (Luke 1:46).

Lest you think I am taking liberties with Jesus’ words in Luke 11, think again.

At 40:22, we begin to talk about what the Angel Gabriel says to Mary in Luke 1:28. Here is the actual Greek, broken down. Verse 29 proves that the greeting was an astounding one.

The King James translates this verse wrong…intentionally. In it’s original margin notes, the KJV concedes that Kecharitome translates ”endured with grace”.

John 1:14

We hope that these notes help. Enjoy the show!


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