Apologetics

Mary, Queen of Heaven

by Steve Ray on May 22, 2015

A while ago a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary including references from the Old Testament was wrong.

Bathsheba takes care of young King Solomon; she later became his queen

I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother up to a throne to be Queen of the Kingdom. He said that was the ONLY case of a mother being a queen in the Old Testament.

He prefaced his comment by saying that he knew the Old Testament well and it does not support what I had asserted.

Well, if he knew his Old Testament as well as he said, he would realize I was correct.

In the Old Testament, the kings of Judah had queens but the queens were not their wives — but their mothers — with one exception of the queen being a grandmother.

AncientIsrael.jpgSolomon had 1,000 wives and concubines — but he only had one mother. Click here to read the section on The Great Lady or Queen Mother in Roland de Vaux’s book Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institution.

The Queen Mothers of earthly kings of Judah were not always good examples or godly queens. Many of them were egregious sinners and would intercede for the people with improper requests to the king. But, this takes nothing away from the fact that the mother was the queen and intercessor. It only confirms that many of the Old Testament kings and queens were disobedient to God.

But there is a perfect King and a perfect Queen — Jesus and his mother Mary. They follow the pattern of protocol and the royal institution. It is the royal protocol and the historical precedent and the office that is important in the analogy. Kings of Israel DO what Kings of Israel do and always have done. Jesus is THE king of Israel and would follow the protocol.

Jesus is a king sitting on the throne of his fathers David and Solomon (Luke 1:30-33; Daniel 7:13-14; Rev 5:5; 19:16) and all the subsequent kings of Judah. Solomon was called the son of David because that’s what he was. But the phrase “Son of David” became a title of the Messiah. Jesus is referred to as THE Son of David (Matt 1:1; 21:9) and is therefore the ultimate and true king.

The kings of Judah all had queens but the queens were not their wives — they were their mothers. This is the royal protocol of the Old Testament and the kings of Judah. It is ultimately fulfilled in Christianity and the Kingdom of God which, obviously, is based on the Old Testament model. Jesus is our king and obviously his mother is the queen. It is proper and justly so.

Remember, the kings of Israel do what the kings of Israel do. Jesus is the ultimate King of Israel, so…

…let’s follow the logic:
GB_king_solomon1) Solomon and subsequent kings of Judah raised their mothers to Queenship which became established as an official office;
2)
the mothers were referred to as the Queen Mothers or the Great Lady;
3)
they sat on a throne near their sons (1 Ki 2:19);
4) The kings of Israel do what the kings of Israel do;
5) Jesus is the quintessential Jewish King with an eternal kingdom;
6)
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Israelite offices of Prophet, Priest & King;
7)
As the Davidic king, Jesus who obeyed the Law perfectly, would honor his mother more than earthy kings honored their mothers;
8) It is biblical, historical, and reasonable to expect the perfect Jewish king to follow the protocol of the kingdom and his fathers by assuming his mother to a throne at his right hand.
9)
It is proper and biblical to consider Mary in a position of intercessor as the Queen of Heaven.
10) Mary is seen as the Queen of Heaven in Revelation 12:1.

Queen of HeavenIs it impossible or unlikely that God would assume someone into heaven body and soul? All of us will be taken us some day (1 Cor 15:52). In the Bible there are at least two clear examples of humans taken up to heaven body and soul. Both Enoch (Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1-11) were taken up into heaven body and soul. Mary was not the first! There was already precedent set!

Queenship of Mary is a Marian feast day in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church,established by Pope Pius XII. On 11 October 1954, the Pontiff pronounced the new feast in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam. The feast was celebrated on May 31, the last day of the Marian month. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the feast day to August 22.

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One question was asked today about the Queen in Psalm 45. If the queen was the bride marrying the king, then how can we say the queen was always the mother and that it was a pattern by which we could see Jesus, like other Jewish kings, appointing his mother as his queen. I speculate a bit on the matter here.

For a response to the argument that Jeremiah condemns those who worship the Queen of Heaven, click here.

For more on Mary, get my documentary filmed on location. It is entitled Mary, Mother of God. You can learn more about it and order it here. My talk Mary: Real Girl & Woman of Mystery here.

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I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they dismiss the clear biblical meaning and importance of the word and the sacrament. 

“The goal of baptism is eternal life, but not primarily by way of vivification [my comment: giving of new life]. In spite of 1 Pet. 3:20–21; Jn. 3:5–6; Tit. 3:5, the thought of the cleansing bath is more fundamental (1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:22). Biblical piety rules out magical evaluations of religious objects and actions. Hence baptism has no purely external efficacy and in itself is unimportant (1 Cor. 1:17; Heb. 9:9–10; 1 Pet. 3:21).”
(Kittel, Gerhard, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985.)

An unsuspecting person, a subscriber to the heresy or a newbie might read this without discerning the bias and the error — and how they dismiss some biblical passages to promote others. Can you find it and explain it?

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NOTES: These are some notes related to the above passages. Below are quotes from an attack on my book Crossing the Tiber made by a Pastor Chris Bayak so I added them here to explain some of his false assumptions about the same verses mentioned above.

Bayak writes: “For example, [Ray] uses 1 Peter 3:18-21, admittedly one of the hardest passages in the New Testament, as proof for baptismal regeneration.”

Steve Responds: This passage is hard for Fundamentalist Protestants to interpret because they don’t like what it says and they have to twist it to fit their own man-made tradition. It is quite sad when one has to twist Scripture to fit one’s preconceived ideas. James McCarthy has a tough time with this verse in his book The Gospel according to Rome. I discuss this passage at some length in my book. I wonder how Mr. Bayack would have preferred that St. Peter reword this passage to better fit his Fundamentalist tradition.

 What Peter says is this: “And corresponding to that [Noah’s ark], baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). What about these words does Mr. Bayack find difficult? They seem pretty straightforward to a Catholic and to all Christians before the Fundamentalist movement came into being. We as Catholics don’t have to do mental gymnastics to “get around” this verse. It sounds a lot like the very first Gospel message ever preached. St. Peter preached the first gospel message in Jerusalem. It is recorded in the inspired word of God. Let’s all open our Bibles to Acts 2:38 and allow God to instruct us. “And Peter said to them,  Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “

 Enough said. My book goes into much more detail on the issue of Baptism in the Bible and in the early Church. I question whether Mr. Bayack really read the whole thing or just used the “hunt and peck” method to look for objections. In any case, he certainly uses “selective scholarship.”

Bayak writes “Yet in over ninety pages about baptism, not once does he ever mention clear passages like 1 Corinthians 1:17,  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel  (italics added).”

 Steve Responds: I really don’t see what the above verse has to do with anything unless Mr. Bayack is trying to imply that Paul had a low regard for baptism or considered it an unnecessary appendage to belief in Christ. I remember as a Fundamentalist making my daughter write a report on the unnecessary nature of baptism a symbol only before I would allow her to be baptized. How far off I was.

 Paul’s converts were all baptized immediately upon belief in Christ (e.g., Acts 16:31) as was he himself (Acts 9:17 18). Philip also showed the importance of baptism and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch immediately (Acts 8:36ff.). St. Paul himself recognizes that baptism was the means of his own cleansing and regeneration (e.g., Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5). The very fact that St. Paul makes this observation at this point in the argument demonstrates the importance and deep significance Baptism held in the apostolic Church. Had it been unnecessary or unimportant, he would not have even mentioned it in this context. What Mr. Bayack assumes about this passage actually proves the opposite.

 Jerome’s Biblical Commentary observes, “No special mission was needed to baptize, and Paul usually left the administration of baptism to others. This does not imply any disdain for it; Rom 6:3-12 and 1 Cor 6:11 indicate Paul’s high regard for the sacrament of incorporation into Christ.”

 Matthew Henry, in his ever popular Protestant commentary on the Bible, is also instructive in this matter. “Was it not a part of the apostolical commission to baptize all nations? And could Paul give thanks to God for his own neglect of duty? He is not to be understood in such a sense as if he were thankful for not having baptized at all, but for not having done it in present circumstances, lest it should have had this very bad construction put upon it that he had baptized in his own name, made disciples for himself, or set himself up as the head of a sect.

[Paul] left it to other ministers to baptize, while he set himself to more useful work, and filled up his time with preaching the gospel. This, he thought, was more his business, because the more important business of the two. He had assistants that could baptize, when none could discharge the other part of his office so well as himself. In this sense he says, Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel not so much to baptize as to preach” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible).

 Paul, like Jesus, delegated baptizing to his disciples and ministers. The Catholic Church has never taught that baptisms must be done by an apostle or priest. The Church has acknowledged that any person can do baptisms, if done in the correct manner. Jesus thought baptism was important since he told Nicodemus he couldn’t see heaven without it (John 3:5). If Mr. Bayack denies that John 3:5 refers to Baptism he really shows that he is out of continuity with the Bible and the early Church and again his Fundamentalist Protestant tradition is shown to nullify the inspired word of God.

 Jesus also, like Paul, did not baptize His followers but delegated the task to his disciples (cp. John 4:1 2).

 Bayak writes: “He ignores Paul’s definition of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, which makes no mention of baptism or communion, that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Likewise, because he seeks to prove the necessity of the sacraments, he never addresses verses declaring salvation as a free gift such as Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9.”

Steve Responds:  I do not ignore 1 Corinthians 15:1 4 but since it does not directly refer to the topic at hand Baptism it was not necessary to bring it up. What would happen if I brought up every verse in the Bible?

 Does Mr. Bayack imply that Baptism is not a free gift? How much more gratuitous can God be than to offer us a sacrament of faith as simple and as wonderful a gift as baptism? Ephesians 2:8 9 and Romans 6:23 do not contradict the Church’s teaching on Baptism, rather they support it. Does Mr. Bayack forget that the first verses of Romans 6 directly mention Baptism and its necessity for the placement of the believer into Christ? In fact, in Romans 6, Paul says that baptism is quite essential. Listen to what he says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3 5). According to St. Paul, it is through Baptism that we are placed into Christ!

 Is Mr. Bayack again being selective (practicing “selective scholarship”) by using a proof text allegedly against baptism from Romans 6 but ignoring the fact that Romans 6 begins by teaching us that it is through Baptism that we are placed into Christ? He ignores the whole context but pulls his proof text out of context to support his Fundamentalist tradition.

 I also deal with this passage to some degree in Crossing the Tiber, and find it frustrating that Mr. Bayack appears not to have read what I wrote, but still somehow feels competent to review and critique my book. I feel that I am spending far too much time rewriting things for him that he should have understood if he really read the book.

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Are You Born Again?

by Steve Ray on May 19, 2015

 Since we are all renewing our Baptismal Vows at the Jordan River today, thought this post from a year ago might be appropriate :-)

It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way – with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following:

1) The first creation came from the the earth which was covered with WATER and the SPIRIT hovered over the waters and from the water emerged land and man and God’s first creation (Gen 1:1-2).

NoahsArk3.jpg2) A new humanity was started with Noah through WATER and SPIRIT. The ark went through the water and a dove (representing the Spirit) hovered overhead with an olive branch. Peter said this represents baptism which “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:18-21).

pillar of fire3) The nation of Israel was created through the WATER of the Red Sea (baptism) with the cloud and fire of the Holy SPIRIT overhead — my oh my, again we have water and Spirit (Ex 14).

4) Ezekiel then describes what the New Covenant will look like and he said we will be sprinkled with clean WATER and his SPIRIT will be placed in us (Ez 36:25). Born again, I suspect.

5) Then Jesus, right before saying you must be born of “water and the Spirit” had just gone down into the WATER of the Jordan and the SPIRIT came down and landed on his head. Again, water and the Spirit (Mt 3:16; Jn 1:29).

6) Jesus teaches Nicodemus that he must be born again, or from above which is accomplished through “WATER and the SPIRIT.“

Jesus-Baptized-077) When Jesus finished these words what was the first thing he did? He went down and baptized people in the Jordan with his disciples (Jn 4:1-2).

8) At the first Holy Ghost Gospel Revival meeting :-) Peter stood up at Pentecost and said,  “Repent, and be baptized (WATER) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy SPIRIT“ (Acts 2:38).

9) Peter also says “Baptism now saves you“ (1 Pet 3:18), and Paul is told “Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16), and Paul writes that we are saved “by the washing of regeneration (WATER) and renewal in the Holy SPIRIT“ (Titus 3:5).

Other verses you should know — click here!

For my article on Infant Baptism, click here

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JordanSm.jpgToo bad many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists refuse to see it but the Bible is pretty clear about new birth through the sacrament of baptism. Jesus is not ambiguous in this matter and he is alluding quite clearly to new beginnings in the Old Testament. The Early Church is also very clear and so is the teaching of the Catholic Church today.

(Picture to right is the place in the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. Click for larger image.)

St. Augustine said, “Who is so wicked as to want to exclude infants from the kingdom of heaven by prohibiting their being baptized and born again in Christ?”

When someone asks me “Have you been born again?“  I simply answer “Absolutely, but I’ve been born again the Bible Way!“

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Should the Vatican Sell its Treasures…

May 15, 2015

… to feed the poor? Geez, I used to say that myself in my former life as a Protestant – when I was an anti-Catholic. Actually, if you added up all wealth and property of the Protestant churches and organizations it would FAR exceed that of the Vatican or all the individual dioceses around the [...]

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Homosexuality in Genes and in Animals?

May 14, 2015

A while ago I had a heated discussion about homosexuality with some good liberal friends. They contend that 1) homosexuality is seen among animals (still to be proved and if it is it is only in unnatural situations; more in my response) and, 2) since God “made people homosexual” it is natural, normal and must [...]

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Stop Eating Animals! It is Against the Plan of God!

May 12, 2015

IF YOU EAT ANIMALS YOU ARE VIOLATING THE PLAN OF GOD. YOU SHOULD BE A VEGAN AND EAT NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, INCLUDING FISH, EGGS, MILK, YOGURT, LOCUSTS OR MEAT. IS THIS **REALLY** GOD’S PLAN? MY RESPONSE TO A VEGAN CRITIC (updated 4/22/11) The original blog and comments An added comment. It was asserted that many [...]

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Kissing Statues

May 11, 2015

We are in Jerusalem today ready to pick up our group of 50 people at the airport in a few hours. When I woke up this morning to the Muslim “call to prayer”, church bells ringing and horns honking I read this email that came from the United Kingdom… It read, “Hi Steve! I know [...]

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Are You Born Again? A Few of the Questions I Answered Wednesday on Catholic Answers Live

April 23, 2015

A Few of the Questions I Answered on Catholic Answers Live — Are You Born Again? To listen on-line, click here. For Podcasts and other options, click here.  **************************************** 1. As a Baptist, what did you used to believe about being born again? 2. How do you now answer if someone asks you if you [...]

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New Convert Holds His Ground with a Street Preacher

April 15, 2015

I was so delighted to receive this e-mail that I had to share it with everyone! Hi Steve, Just had to share this…I was visiting San Antonio this weekend and as I walked around the riverwalk section of town, a gentleman approached me with a gospel tract. When he asked, “Are you sure you are [...]

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Atheism or God? You are the Detective! My Chart to Use with Family and Friends

April 11, 2015

Atheism is growing in America and around the world. But is there a good reason for its popularity? Do they know something we don’t know — or do they just not want some supreme being or a “God” to tell them what to do and not to do? Is it reasonable to be an atheist? [...]

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How to Answer Someone who says “I am a Non-Denominational”

April 9, 2015

This was very clever. A friend posted it on my site. “When someone tells me they are non-denominational — I tell them I am pre-denominational.” For those who don’t get it:  pre-denomination means “before the Protestant Reformation (read: Rebellion).” The Protestants gave birth to the multiplying denominations. Before them there was the pre-denomination — the [...]

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“Hey, I Like Your Cross!”

April 8, 2015

That’s why I always where my San Damiano Cross. It is colorful and catches people’s eye. Even yesterday while traveling two people commented. My response is always, “Thanks, I wear it proudly as a Catholic!” Invariably an interesting discussion ensues. An atheist once asked why he should become Catholic. What fun! Yesterday two people at [...]

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A Baptist Friend Asks: The Bible Says “All have sinned” so how can Mary be Immaculate?

April 6, 2015

A Southern Baptist writes: I am a Southern  Baptist who has a lot of respect for the Catholic faith. The Immaculate Conception is a hard concept for me. Does it also include the belief that Mary never sinned? How does that pass muster with Rom. 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the [...]

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How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb? Another Contradiction?

April 4, 2015

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:38-40) Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb [...]

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How Many Denominations are Too Many?

March 29, 2015

I am rushing to get packed — my wife and I leave next Monday for Portugal (Fatima), Spain (Avila) and France (Lourdes) with a group of 65 excited pilgrims. You will be able to join us by video for a Virtual Pilgrimage right here on this blog. Each night, Lord willing, I will upload video [...]

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What’s the Deal with Infant Baptism?

March 8, 2015

What's the Deal with Infant Baptism? by Steve Ray My past tradition — Fundamentalist Baptist — rejected Infant Baptism. In fact, the Baptist tradition originated during the "Reformation" when they broke from Rome (and Luther) and promoted "ana-baptism" which means — baptized again. The infant baptism taught by the Catholic Church was utterly rejected and they "re-baptized" [...]

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