“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus . . . . ” (1 Timothy 2:5)
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed . . . . ‘ ” (Luke 1:46-48)
“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7)
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9)
Roman Redeemers: Christ and Mary and the “Saints”
As you may well know, a redeemer is one who buys a slave and then sets it free. Yahweh himself redeemed the people of Israel when he called Moses from the burning bush to command Pharaoh in his name to “let my people go.” Having struck Egypt time and again by the plagues, directly demonstrating his power over Egypt’s gods, God coerced the slave masters of Egypt to release their slaves to the service of Yahweh. This was the chief redemptive act of God in the Old Testament; it’s the one which unifies the identity of the nation of Israel, which directly points to and typifies the work of the ultimate Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ our Redeemer was the only citizen of the nation of Israel to perfectly meet the demands of the covenant Yahweh instituted with the nation of Israel; he was the incarnation of the eternal Son of God, through whom God created the world. Thus our Redeemer was sent to Israel as a Prophet to reveal God’s will to his people; he was sent as King to conquer all his and his people’s enemies, namely the world, the flesh, the devil and death, rather than merely the political stranglehold of the Roman Empire over the nation of Israel; and in order to redeem his people, Christ served as the ultimate Priest, who mediated between the offending people and the offended God, Christ was God to man and man to God; his death met the terms of the holy and just God and likewise Christ’s death met the one essential spiritual need of the people, he demonstrated the grace and love without which all men live without hope. In this way, as Yahweh redeemed Israel from bondage to the Egyptians, so did Christ redeem his people from the consequences of the broken Law of God and bondage to sin.
Because Roman Catholicism receives Church Tradition as a source of revelation equal to Scripture, certain ideas about Mary have developed over time. These ideas are defended by inaccurate inferences drawn from Scripture texts related to Mary, coupled with an orthodox, Tradition-born title of her’s which has been misdefined and misapplied to make more out of Mary than is warranted by that title. One Church Council defended the doctrine that Christ was fully God and fully man from conception by saying that Christ was God even when he was in Mary’s womb. They bolstered this doctrine with a logical syllogism reasoning that since Mary is the Mother of Christ, and since Christ is God, then Mary is the “Mother of God” (theotokos). Through an inaccuarte transmission of this concept over time, the idea of Mary’s being the Mother of God gradually took into it associations of Mary with divinity. Coupling this with uncalled-for inferences from the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-48) and Mary’s “intercessory” activity in the New Testament account of the marriage at Cana (John 2:3), Roman Catholicism developed a divine mary who prays to her loving Son to extend forgiveness to penitent believers, making her a mediator between sinners and Christ, thus playing some role in Christ’s work as our Redeemer; a role which has led many Roman Catholics since the Middle Ages to call Mary “Co-Mediatrix” and “Co-Redemptrix” with Christ, which obviously contradicts the Bible’s emphasis that Christ alone (SOLU CHRISTUS, as the Reformers sloganized it) mediates between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). Thus in popular Roman soteriology, Mary becomes, if you will, the matron saint of Roman Redeemers.
If Mary is the brightest star in a sky of Saints, let us now turn our attention to the lesser lights, each of which individually and corporately play a role in the nature and ongoing maintenance of Roman Redemption. Protestants understand that the word “saint” is used many times in the gospels and epistles. According to 1 Peter 1:1-2, a saint is a “sanctified one,” one who was elected by the Father in eternity past (cf. Ephesians 1:3-6) to be set apart by the work of the Holy Spirit in the gospel preached to receive the gift of faith (cf. Romans 10:17; Ephesians 2:8,9), and be sprinkled with Christ’s blood. The apostles greet many of the churches to which they write, referring to them as “the saints.” Clearly, these are references to the members of the church, without any distinction being made between classes of saints.
Church Tradition began to claim that a Saint is one whose personal righteousness was so meritorious that there was not only enough righteousness practiced to ensure his inclusion in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but enough also to be deposited in a so-called “Treasury of Merit” to be dispensed through the sacrament of penance to repair the damage done by sinning Catholics to their own justification. In other words, if post-justification righteousness was graded on a modern teacher’s scale, the “Saints” are those who scored over 100% in their lifetimes with the amount exceeding 100% being deposited into this “Treasury of Merit” for the benefit of the rest of the Church. Thus by this unscriptural doctrine, Christ alone is not enough to ensure our eternal salvation; he requires the assistance of his mother and the most worthy of his disciples. It cannot be urged too strongly to flee any doctrine that does not center on redemption SOLUS CHRISTUS, in Christ Alone! Certainly a gospel that requires such an elaborate team of Redeemers is a gospel that differs from the one originally proclaimed by the apostles.