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Is praying the rosary Scriptural?

praying the rosary

Question: "Is praying the rosary Scriptural?"

Answer:
While much of what the prayer of the rosary contains is scriptural, the whole second half of the “Hail Mary” and portions of the “Hail, Holy Queen” are blatantly unbiblical. While the first part of the Hail Mary is almost a direct quotation from Luke 1:28, there is no scriptural basis for (1) praying to Mary now, (2) addressing her as “holy” Mary, or (3) calling her “our life” and “our hope.”

Is it right to call Mary “holy,” by which the Catholic Church means that Mary never sinned nor had any taint of original sin? The believers in the Bible were called “saints,” which can be interpreted as “set-apart ones” or “holy ones,” but the understanding of Scripture is that the righteousness that believers in Christ have is an imparted righteousness from Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) and that while in this life, they are not yet sanctified from sin in practice (1 John 1:9-2:1). Jesus is called our Savior repeatedly in Scripture because He saved us from our sin. In Luke 1:47, Mary calls God her “Savior.” Savior from what? A sinless person does not need a Savior. Sinners need a Savior. Mary acknowledged that God was her Savior. Therefore, Mary was acknowledging that she was a sinner.

Jesus said that He came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). The Roman Catholic Church claims that Mary was saved from sin differently from everyone else--that she was saved from sin through the immaculate conception (her being conceived free of sin). But is this teaching scriptural? The Roman Catholic Church openly admits that this teaching is not found in Scripture. When a young man addressed Jesus as “good Master” (Matthew 19:16-17), Jesus asks why he calls Him “good” since there is none good but one, God. Jesus was not denying His own deity, He was trying to make the young man aware that he was using the term too loosely without thinking about what he was saying. But Jesus’ point is still valid or He would not have said it--there is none good but God. This excludes all but God, including Mary! This ties in with Romans 3:10-23; Romans 5:12; and countless other passages that stress the fact that in God’s eyes no one measures up. Never is Mary ever excluded from such all-encompassing statements!

What of the question of praying to Mary or to anyone else besides God? We are never told in the Bible whether anyone else in heaven can even hear us. We do know that God alone is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. Even the angels, with whatever great abilities they may have, seem to have their limitations and can’t always make it to help us as they might like (Daniel 10:10-14). When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He gave them what is commonly called the “Our Father.” He teaches us to address our prayer to God. Whenever prayer is addressed to anyone, it is done to God! Never can you find a single example of someone praying to any “saint” or angel or anyone else (besides prayers to false gods). Further, any time that any pious person prostrates himself (in a religious setting) to honor someone else besides God (chiefly to the apostles or angels), he is told to get up, to stop it (Acts 10:25-26; Acts 14:13-16; Matthew 4:10; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8-9). The Roman Catholic Church states that it worships God alone but that it “venerates” Mary and the saints. What is the difference? A person praying the rosary spends more time calling out to Mary than to God! For every one praise of God in the rosary, there are 10 praises of Mary!

The Bible states that Jesus is our Redeemer (Galatians 3:13; 4:4-5; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9). The “Hail, Holy Queen” calls Mary our “most gracious advocate,” but the Bible calls Jesus our Advocate to the Father (1 John 2:1) and our one Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). The only time in Scripture that the title “Queen of Heaven” is found it is in a negative way (Jeremiah 7:17-19; 44:16-27). The whole of Scripture teaches us to pray to God alone. Never once can you find an example or admonition to pray to anyone else! The only basis for the idea of getting to God through Mary is the biblical story of Mary coming to Jesus to ask for his help at a wedding feast (John 2). But in light of all of the other verses, including Jesus’ own instruction on how we are to pray, is it taking this passage in context to use it to teach that we ought to continue to go through Mary to get to God?

Likewise, is it appropriate to call Mary our “life” and “hope”? Again, these are terms that are used of God alone in Scripture, particularly God the Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14; Colossians 3:4; 1 Timothy 1:1; Ephesians 2:12; Titus 2:13). Thus, the practice of saying the rosary goes contrary to Scripture in a number of ways. Only God can hear our prayers. Only God can answer our prayers. The Bible nowhere instructs Christians to pray through intermediaries, or to petition saints or Mary (in Heaven) for their prayers.

Recommended Resources: The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and The Word of God by James McCarthy and Logos Bible Software.

While he is not the author of every article on GotQuestions.org, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.



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