CARM and Revelation 12

queen-of-heavenEvery now and then I find amusement perusing anti-Catholic sites run by Evangelicals.  The intense desire to prove Catholicism wrong so often puts their own position in jeopardy.  The website known as Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) is one such site.

When I saw this article[1] by Matt Slick questioning whether Mary was the woman in Revelation 12, I had to check it out.  And, of course, like any good random blogger, I will now bless the world with my thoughts.

The first and shallowest part of the article:

The first part of Slick’s article is not even about Revelation 12 but rather about trying to shock the reader with how much Catholics honor Mary.  Once this Evangelical “mortal sin” is established, Slick then infers that Catholics only see Mary in Revelation 12 due to their devotion to her.  But this is backwards.  Devotion to Mary developed largely because of Revelation 12, not in spite of it.  John Henry Newman said,

“But if all this be so, if it is really the Blessed Virgin whom Scripture represents as clothed with the sun, crowned with the stars of heaven, and with the moon as her footstool, what height of glory may we not attribute to her? and what are we to say of those who, through ignorance, run counter to the voice of Scripture, to the testimony of the Fathers, to the traditions of East and West, and speak and act contemptuously towards her whom her Lord delighteth to honour?”[2]

Scripture itself describes Mary in the highest of terms.  Should not a true “Bible Christian” do likewise?

Furthermore, Slick’s argument cuts both ways.  Since his theology does not allow for a Queen of Heaven, he cannot allow himself to see Mary in Revelation 12.  Boom.  Down.  Owned.  Touché.

This is a classic case of what C.S. Lewis calls “Bulverism”[3] and should not even be included in legitimate dialog.

The second part of the article:

The second part of Slick’s article then attempts to show a contradiction in Catholic theology.  Since the woman in Revelation 12 has pain in childbirth, and since the curse of sin upon women was pain in childbirth, Slick contends that Revelation 12 cannot be about Mary since Catholics believe Mary was without Original Sin.  According to Slick, since Mary felt pain she must therefore have Original Sin.

The errors here are obvious, right?

First, Slick must first pull in a separate Catholic doctrine (Mary’s sinless-ness) in order to make his case.  But since Slick rejects that doctrine too, what is his reason for completely rejecting the woman as Mary?  Since Slick believes Mary had sin, why not believe the woman in pain of childbirth is Mary?  It still fits his own hermeneutics.  One need not be Catholic to believe the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary and believing so need not automatically assume she is without sin.

Catholics believe Mary was sinless based on other Scripture passages, not Revelation 12.  At best, Slick has found a sticky paradox within Catholic teaching.[4]  But he has not proven the woman is not Mary according to even Protestant standards.

Second, the curse of sin was on men too, right?  Genesis 3:17-19 says men will have pain, sweat, and toil.  Death also came to mankind because of sin (Gen. 2:17, Rom. 5:12).  Now, Jesus was without sin, right?  And yet He still felt pain, sweat, toil, and ultimately died, right?  Does that mean Jesus had sin?  If Mary cannot be sinless and feel pain simultaneously, then neither can Jesus.  According to Slick’s hermeneutics, Mary must have had sin because she felt pain, therefore Jesus must also have had sin because He felt pain.

By desperately trying to prove Catholics wrong Matt Slick puts his own beliefs in jeopardy.  It’s a double-standard.

The non-existent third part of the article:

Finally, despite the title question, Slick does not actually answer the question of whether the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary.  His article is not only a failed attempt to prove Catholic doctrine “unbiblical” but he does not even give his own case of who the woman is.[5]  The closest he gets to “proving” the woman is not Mary is by accepting the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s sinless-ness and attempting to show a contradiction.

Conclusion:

It is easy to be skeptical but difficult to form something positive; easy to tear down but difficult to build up.  Any negative explanation must be met with an equally satisfying positive explanation, otherwise it is simple protest-antism.  I’ve found that Evangelicals wade at ease within skepticism but are on slippery ground when attempting to build a case for their own beliefs.  And that is one reason why I eventually left Evangelicalism and accepted the Catholic Church.

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Disclaimer – As usual, this blog post is just that: a blog post with the personal thoughts of a random blogger.  What is said here is not official doctrine of the Catholic Church.  I am still learning and am very susceptible to error.  Don’t take anything here as Gospel.  Don’t be stupid.  Do your own research and learn for yourself what the Church teaches.

Catholics: if my understanding of Catholic doctrine needs adjustment, please point out my error.

[1] https://carm.org/revelation12mary

[2] http://www.newmanreader.org/works/anglicans/volume2/pusey/section3.html (emphasis is mine) Is it possible to worship Mary in the way we worship God?  Technically, I suppose it is possible.  But then so does the Catholic Church.  That is why it makes a distinction between latria and dulia.  The first is worship given solely to God as God.  The second is honor and devotion given to others of high esteem, such as Mary and the saints.  To worship anyone else other than God as a god, including Mary, is a mortal sin, according to the Catholic Church, and puts one on the road to hell.  On a side note, I have been strongly researching Catholicism for about 3 years now and have been a confirmed Catholic for 1 year, and I have yet to find anyone who worships Mary as a goddess.

[3] See ‘Bulverism’ in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. Or watch this YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH53uFBOGbw

[4] Indeed, there has developed a Catholic tradition that Mary experienced no pain during childbirth.  However, so far as I know that is not a dogmatic position; it is a small ‘t’ tradition.  Regardless, it is more difficult to deny that the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary than to believe Mary experienced no pain.  Secondly, in Revelation there are likely multiple applications and time periods within a single image and portions of the image will not apply to all applications.  That is why Catholic tradition identifies the woman with Mary, the Church, and Israel.  The pain section could apply to the Church or Israel.  Or, regarding Mary it may represent the sword that would pierce her soul that Simeon prophesied (Lk. 2:35).

[5] Perhaps Slick did so in another article, but this would be a good place to put a link to said article if it exists.

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