Apologetics is dangerous. As the Apostle said, “knowledge makes arrogant” (1 Cor. 8:1). A love of God, His truth, and intimate possession of the attitude of the Apostle, who “endured all things for the sake of the elect” (2 Tim. 2:10), is necessary for doing God-honoring apologetic activity.
Over the years as I have interacted with apologists for many different religions I have repeatedly been amazed at the willingness of these men (and a few women) to engage in the most outrageous behaviors all in the service of “our faith.” I remember years ago a group of Mormons going on for months, literally, over whether Joseph Smith’s 1832 account of the “First Vision” was a part of his journal or not, all the while utterly ignoring what the written words actually meant. Any ploy, any misdirection, is worthy to be used for the “higher good” of defending a particular religion’s teachings.
Over the past few months on the Dividing Line and on this blog we have documented the contrast between fairly representing those you disagree with and the activities especially of modern Roman Catholic apologists. We regularly play clips, not just 15 second sound bites, but entire presentations, by leading and popular Roman Catholic apologists, demonstrating their misuse of historical and biblical sources, their misrepresentations of others, etc., on our webcast.
This morning I was sent the URL to a new thread that began on the Envoy web forums. Our readers will not be surprised to know that Art Sippo, an “apologist” whose errors have been documented here many times, is at the forefront of the discussion. But Bill Rutland, a recent opponent in debate, has chimed in as well. Once again, the statements made are so easily demonstrated to be false and misleading that it leaves one wondering why these men would engage in such an activity. But the reason is not too difficult to ascertain: they do not believe that their followers will even take the time to read an opposing viewpoint, let alone read the original sources being cited, so, they are “safe.”
The thread began with someone indicating they had purchased two of my books, Mary–Another Redeemer? and The Roman Catholic Controversy. Sippo offers his in-depth analysis, referring to my “trashy little book insulting Our Lady.” Not surprisingly, there is not a single citation of the book anywhere in Sippo’s response. In fact, given how grossly inaccurate it is, one is highly tempted to believe Sippo does not possess it and has never read it. Surely he would feel no compunction to do so given I’m just a “prot heretic” anyway. Only followers of the Sippo style of apologetics could possibly miss the fact that pretending to review a book without ever bothering to cite it is unworthy of any serious minded individual.
On 8/2 Sippo wrote:
In his trashy book insulting Our Lady, White uses the title: Mary: Another Redeemer? He crassly states in this book that the dcotrine [sic] of Mary as as Co-Redemptrix is an attempt to make her into another Redeemer on par with Jesus. This is a lie.
Let’s see who is lying. Has Sippo read the book? If he did, how did he miss the repeated citations of Catholic writers, such as Mark Miravalle, affirming a subordinate mediatorship role? How did he miss my repeated assertion of the same thing? How did he miss the discussion, drawn from the citation of Roman Catholic writers, of the entire issue of mediation, the “participation defense,” and the like? The fact is, either he has not read the book (and hence is lying to his followers) or, if he did, he is lying to his followers about what is in the book in the first place. There simply is no third option. Allow me to do what Art Sippo would not: provide documentation.
I am currently on the road, and only have the electronic version of the book with me, so I will have to identify passages on the basis of the chapter in which they appear (as the pagination in my original documents does not match the printed version). In the very first chapter I quoted directly from Karl Keating on the subject and wrote:
It is vitally important to note Keating’s assertion that the doctrine that Mary is Mediatrix (the feminine form of Mediator) does not, in and of itself, compromise the uniqueness of Jesus’ role as the one Mediator. Roman Catholicism claims, repeatedly, that nothing she teaches about Mary in any way, shape, or form, detracts from, contradicts, or in any way does damage to, the unique work or position of Christ. No discussion of the current controversy, or any of the doctrines taught by Rome concerning Mary, can be honest and forthright without admitting, from the start, that Rome says that she is in no way compromising the uniqueness of Christ, or His proper worship. This claim is repeated over and over and over again in every Roman Catholic document, official and unofficial, presenting their views on Mary. The issue, then, when considering any of the many teachings Rome has promulgated about Mary is not whether Rome claims to be diminishing the rightful worship of Christ (such would be utterly untrue) but whether these teachings do compromise the uniqueness of Christ despite Rome’s claims to the contrary. That is, when Rome says “This doctrine in no way impinges upon the unique privileges and worship of Christ,” is that statement, in and of itself, true? Whether Christ’s uniqueness is being denied and compromised should be a very important issue to all Christians.
Seems Sippo missed this clear statement, refuting his charge that I have “lied.” But that was not the only time I made this point clear. I included an entire chapter reviewing, with lengthy citations, the work of Vatican II on Mary, and noted,
A caveat is added as soon as these terms are used: they are to be understood in such a way as to not take away or add anything to the “dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.” This theme continues in the next section of paragraph 62:
No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.
The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary, which it constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer.
Here the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church (an authority that is self-professedly infallible when addressing issues of faith and morals) provides the primary defense of using such exalted titles of Mary. The defense sounds quite plausible: Mary’s role as Coredemptrix does not mean she is equal with Christ as Redeemer. Instead, the participates in Christ’s redemptive work in a unique way. But as we will see when we compare these teachings to the Scriptures, the plausibility disappears when the meaning is made clear.
In the next chapter I reviewed John Paul II’s Redemptoris Mater and noted,
In his attempt to present a biblical basis for the Marian dogmas, the Pope is forced to deal with the passage, also cited by Lumen Gentium, in which Jesus is said to be the one Mediator between God and men. So plainly contradictory is the thrust and content of the passage that any discussion of Mary as Mediatrix has to present the same defense and explanation. John Paul cites the passage and the assertion from Lumen Gentium that the maternal role of Mary “in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ.” In the next section, read very carefully as the Pope speaks of the “saving influences” of Mary, yet he likewise attempts to safeguard the unique position of Christ:
The Church knows and teaches that “all the saving influences of the Blessed Virgin on mankind originate . . . from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rest on his mediation, depend entirely on it and draw all their power from it. In no way do they impede the immediate union of the faithful with Christ. Rather, they foster this union.” This saving influence is sustained by the Holy Spirit, who just as he overshadowed the Virgin Mary when he began in her the divine motherhood, in a similar way constantly sustains her solicitude for the brothers and sisters of her Son.
Seemingly, the entire defense is based upon the idea that as long as God has somehow set it up this way, making Mary a Mediatrix who is dependent upon Christ for her ability to mediate is somehow a sufficient protection of the unique glory and majesty of Christ. We will test this theory in our concluding examination.
But nothing demonstrates Sippo’s utter credibility collapse better than these words from chapter ten of the book he is ostensibly reviewing:
Some might describe it as a bit of a circuitous route, but we have arrived at the point where we can honest and fairly examine the proposed dogmatic definition of Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate of the people of God. But to avoid the tremendous amount of misrepresentation (and downright hysteria ) that has marked the public discussion of the topic, one must have the foundation we have laid in the previous chapters. Without it, the conclusions drawn might be based solely upon prejudice or emotion. This is a serious matter, and hence it requires the “homework” we have just completed.
Dr. Mark Miravalle is one of the leading voices of the Coredemptrix movement in the United States. His work, in talks and books, has done much to provide the supporters of the dogmatic definition with their “ammunition.” Therefore, it seems fair and logical to follow the outline he himself provides in his apologetic for the definition of Mary as Coredemptrix. The first thing that Miravalle attempts to communicate in his book, Mary—Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, is that Mary’s role cannot be separated from that of Christ. Throughout the first sections he italicizes the phrase with the Redeemer to emphasize this. Hence, we read:
It is in the light of Mary’s unique and intimate cooperation with the Redeemer, both at the Incarnation. . . and at the work of Redemption at Calvary . . . , that the Church has invoked Mary under the title, “Coredemptrix.”
He is very, very insistent upon emphasizing that the phrase “Coredemptrix” does not mean “redeemer on an equal par.” Any fair representation of the doctrine must take this into account:
The prefix “co” does not mean equal, but comes from the Latin word “cum,” which means “with”. The title of Coredemptrix applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity’s redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary’s singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of her Saviour Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in his glorious divinity and humanity. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, redeems the human family, as the God-man. Mary, who is completely subordinate and dependent to her redeeming Son even for her own human redemption, participates in the redemptive act of her Son as his exalted human mother.
As we have noted before, this is the constant claim: since Mary is not the source but rather a channel, then all is well. As long as the assertion is made that she is subordinate and not equal, then, seemingly every office, every title, every function of Jesus Christ can be paralleled in her without any problem. Whether this is true or not is something we will address in our conclusion.
Miravalle really summarizes the entire situation in the following two paragraphs. The rest is explanation and support.
Mary’s other roles in the Church as Mediatrix and Advocate are in fact a flowing over of her role as Coredemptrix. Pope John Paul II tells us, “Mary’s role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son.”
Miravalle’s assertion is very important. As we have seen, the Marian dogmas have built one upon another. Each time some new “insight” is discovered, it opens up whole new possibilities never considered before. So it is here. The idea of coredemption—that Mary in some special and unique way “participated” in the redemptive work of Christ—is the foundation stone of the other two assertions, that of mediation and advocacy. If there is no mysterious “participation,” the other doctrines have no basis. If she did not suffer with Christ, then the idea that she is the one through whom all grace is channeled makes no sense. One gives rise to the other.
Now, I ask the reader honestly: who has sought to accurately represent the viewpoint he is reviewing, and who has engaged in the most obvious and blatant forms of dishonesty? The facts are clear.
To those followers of Art Sippo who, by God’s providence, have read this documentation: this is not an instance where Art Sippo just made a mistake. This is his constant manner of behavior, and it sheds great light upon his self-pronounced “expertise” in these subjects. There is a reason why he will not debate this subject, and any other outside of justification, against me. Ask him to explain himself in light of this documentation. If you dare press the issue long enough, you too will experience the legendary “Sippo charm” the rest of us have encountered for years on end.
But I also have to wonder: Art Sippo constantly posts this kind of dishonest rhetoric right under Patrick Madrid’s nose. Madrid knows better. Why won’t he say anything? Why doesn’t he shut Sippo down? By allowing him to get away with this kind of egregious behavior on his own forum, Madrid participates in his deception. Indeed, why do we not see the same kind of “self-policing” amongst Roman Catholics that we do see, regularly, amongst non-Roman Catholics? I have called men like Dave Hunt to account for their misrepresentations—why do Roman Catholics remain silent when men like Sippo destroy their own credibility with this kind of rhetoric?
In our next installment we will look at what Bill Rutland had to say.