This is the third installment of my series examining Jehovah’s Witness myths about Christianity. If you have not already done so, I invite you to read parts 1 and 2. The two remaining Christian “myths” exposed by the Watchtower both involve the teachings and practices of catholic systems: including Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
5. The Mother of God
The Watchtower accuses Christians of venerating Mary as the “Mother of God.” This is simply not a Christian teaching or practice. She is venerated in catholic traditions in various terms, such as Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, or even Co-Mediatrix. But all of these terms are foreign to the Bible and to Biblical Christianity. Christians agree with Mary about who she was. She only ever claimed to be God’s servant, a girl from humble circumstances who was chosen by God to carry out a special mission.
“Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38, NKJV).
“For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; 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” (Luke 1:48-49, NKJV).
This is exactly what we believe about Mary. She was an extraordinarily blessed woman, but she was just a woman.
The Watchtower criticizes Christianity because of the catholic practice of venerating images. They rightly call this practice idolatry. The Bible says:
“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. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God […]” (Exodus 20:4-5, NKJV).
The problem is not that the Watchtower criticizes catholic idolatry, but that they call it a “Christian” practice. It is not. Those who venerate statues and icons often say that they’re not worshiping the physical statue or icon, but what it represents. Thus, to them, the statues and icons are images of the God they worship. But the Bible says that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). No icon nor statue could ever represent God in the way that Jesus does, in Whom “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
The images are not only deficient as objects of veneration, they are idols. And the Bible condemns idolatry and its practitioners in no uncertain terms:
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:22-23).
It is unfair to call this a Christian practice. The Bible condemns it, and I know of no faithful Christian church that allows the veneration of images.
A Problem of Definitions
Part of the problem with identifying these so-called Christian myths is that it seems the Watchtower organization incorrectly equates catholicism with Christianity. They accuse Christianity of teaching the veneration of Mary and the use of icons in worship. They rely heavily on Roman Catholic sources, showing a marked preference for quoting Rome’s Douay-Rheims Bible (DRB) and New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) over the more ubiquitous King James Version (KJV) and New International Version (NIV). In fact, of all the quotes in their article taken from religious sources (not counting their own translation of the Bible), 65% are taken from Roman Catholic sources.
[Note: There is a difference between catholicism with a lower case “c” and Catholicism with a capital “C.” The former refers to liturgical bodies that believe in a universal, visible church. The latter refers specifically to Roman Catholicism.]
While there may be born again Christians in catholic bodies, I believe that they are Christians in spite of their church affiliation, rather than because of it. The Roman Catholic church and other catholic bodies have long ago abandoned Biblical Christianity. In the near future, I will demonstrate some of the differences between Catholicism and Christianity.