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The Cult of Mariolatry : “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” – Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible

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The Cult of Mariolatry [1]:

“Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”

Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible 

  A text out of context becomes a pretext.

-Author Unknown-

“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”

-Luke 1:28




Exposing A Fallacious Notion

That the angel Gabriel personally addressed the blessed virgin in the greeting “Hail, Mary” [2] is hardly grounds for post-first century Christians this side of glory to do likewise.  In the first place, nothing in this verse remotely suggests that Gabriel was ascribing deity or fatherhood to the blessed virgin.  Both Jesus and the apostles attest that prayer is directed to God and that God is to be understood and addressed as “Father.” [3]  To be sure, the same Greek word, chaire, rendered “hail” in Luke 1:28, was used in Matthew 27:29 to address Jesus, albeit it in mockery, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  Rendered  “Greetings” in Luke 1:29 by the English Standard Version, the Greek chaire literally means “Rejoice.”  Whereas the Jews were actually using it to mock Christ, the angel Gabriel had employed it by way of encouragement of the virgin Mary to take special joy in the fact that God had singled her out among all women to bear the Christ child.

While ancient theologians would later speak of Mary as the “mother of God,” to distinguish the classic orthodox position from one which came short of affirming the full Deity of the Son of God, clearly the orthodox point was that Mary was mother to Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead.  The expression “mother of God,” if indeed the expression is justifiable, must be understood in that historical/theological context and not as justifiable grounds for the mariolatry that has come to characterize Rome.  While mariolatry may be a commonplace Roman practice, it hardly merits the designation “catholic.” [4]  Mary gave birth to the Incarnate Son nine months after the Holy Spirit came upon her.  That Son, according to the Nicene Creed, was “very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”  Rome has rendered the Greek kecharitomene in Luke 1:28  “full of grace” rather than “highly favored.”  The grace that filled Mary’s soul, however, was that which emanated from the Son.  Grace, accordingly, must be defined, and has been so defined by the Reformers, as God’s unmerited favor.  To suggest otherwise is to deny the Gospel of the Son. [5]

Admiring a Remarkable Confession

Mary’s magnificent confession following her visit with Elizabeth is known as the Magnificat and is recorded in Luke 1:46-56.  Mary magnified the Lord and rejoiced in God whom she claimed as her own personal Savior.  Within the New Testament context, her acknowledgment of God as her “Savior” [6] clearly constitutes an acknowledgment, not only of the Deity of the Son she bore, but of personal sins forgiven and of a personal debt to be charged to the account of that Incarnate Son at his crucifixion. [7]  To be sure, Mary was lifted from a humble estate to a position of high honor, but Christ’s substitutionary atonement was both the foundation for it and the fruit of it.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. [8]

Idolatry and Unbelief

In both testaments, the New and the Old, unbelief and idolatry go hand-in-hand.  “We walk by faith, not by sight.” [9]  Anything less than faith in the Word constitutes a lapse into idolatry.  One reflects the other.  This is clear from Israel’s repeated lapses into idolatry under the Old Testament coupled with her repeated complaining despite God’s great revelatory acts of deliverance.  The Psalmist characterized Israel’s rebellion as unbelief. [10]  And Rome’s mariolatry persists in the face of Jesus’ entrustment of his beloved mother into the care of the apostle John [11] and John’s final admonition to his readers in 1 John 5:21: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”  The Scripture gives no ground for praying to any departed human being, be the departed saint or sinner.  On the contrary it condemns such practice.  Saul’s consultation with the departed Samuel was his final act of rebellion against the living God. [12] And his rebellion indeed proved to be as the sin of witchcraft. [13] Let us bear witness to the truth in a day when many evangelical brethren are returning to Rome during a time of great spiritual apostasy.  Let us examine ourselves and make certain that what we profess is the “faith of God.”


[1].Mariolatry is a term referring to the excessive veneration of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[2]. Luke 1:28

[3]. Matt. 6:8-9; 26:39; John 17:1,5,11,21,24,25; Ephes. 3:14-15; James 3:9; 1 Pet. 1:2,17; 1 John 1:2-3; 2:1,22   Note that the prophet Jeremiah renounced the expression “Queen of Heaven” as totally unbefitting of Israel’s conversation. Jer. 7:18; 44:17-25

[4]. Ignatius of Antioch was the first church leader to use the term “catholic” to designate the true or “universal” church in a letter around 115 A.D. : “Wherever the bishop is, there let the people be; and wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church.”  While we can appreciate the word “catholic” when applied to the church and sound doctrine, and while we confess it whenever we affirm the Apostles Creed, to say the least, we deny Rome’s exclusive claim to it.

[5]. Luke 1:38; John 1:14-18

[6]. Luke 1:46-47

[7]. Isaiah 53:6-12

[8]. Matt. 1:18-21

[9]. 2 Cor. 5:7; John 20:17

[10]. Psalm 78:21-22

[11]. John 19:26-27

[12]. 1 Sam. 28:5-20; 1 Chron. 10:13-14

[13]. 1 Sam. 15:23



The Holy Bible. 2001. English Standard Version.  Crossway Bibles: Wheaton, IL

The Holy Bible. 1611 Edition. King James Version. New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


About the Writer


David Clark Brand is a retired pastor and educator with missionary

experience in Korea and Arizona. He and his wife reside in Ohio. They have

four grown children and seven grandchildren. With a B.A. in the Liberal Arts,

an M. Div., and a Th.M. in Church History, Dave continues to enjoy study and

writing. One of his books, a contextual study of the life and thought of Jonathan

Edwards, was published by the American Academy of Religion via Scholars

Press in Atlanta.


Series Navigation<p></br /></p><< The God Who Keeps Faith: “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” Romans 3:3 Geneva BibleLuther’s Characterization of James’ Epistle?: “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” – Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible >>

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