Mariolatry in the Church

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

Most people, who have paid any attention at all to the religious scene, have been aware
that the Roman Catholic denomination has for centuries been worshippers of the Virgin Mary. The Catholic concept of Mary's role has been labeled correctly by theologians as "Mariolatry." I guess by now that we should be pre pared to acknowledge that every concept in the sectarian world is going to be promulgated by some deluded brother. But I must admit that I was abashed to find a brother in Christ who would write in defense of "Mariolatry." In this review I shall be referring to an article entitled "Significance of the Virgin Mary" written by Brother Warren Lewis and published in the RESTORATION REVIEW, September, 1969.

"At the Pontifical Institute"

The Editor of RESTORATION REVIEW said of Lewis' article, "We are publishing in this issue what will probably be the most controversial article ever sent forth in this Journal." In reciting the theological credentials of Warren Lewis, the Editor says that he "spent three years at the Pontifical Institute at the University of Toronto  " These three years at the "Pontifical Institute'' must have been very formative and impressionable years to Brother Lewis. Indeed, the Catholics well-nigh converted him. And if you have any doubt about that, let me suggest that you read his book on THE LORD'S SUPPER, which was published by the Sweet Publishing Company in Austin, Texas. However, I might add that the Sweet Company withdrew Lewis' book from the market after the Catholicism in it was exposed, and even destroyed all remaining copies I am told. But one is made to wonder how such a book ever was put on the market with all the editorial supervision that the Sweet Company has. It must have passed the scrutiny of a good many Sweet Company editors.

Author's Present Study

The RESTORATION REVIEW Editor tells us that Warren Lewis is now studying "at Tubingen in Germany, which is probably the most exciting graduate school for religious studies in the world today." Brother Garrett adds, "He is destined to become one of the most brilliant scholars in the history of Churches of Christ." Brother Lewis is now "a doctoral candidate in the Institute for Late-Medieval and Reformation Studies."

Now just wait until he gets his doctorate, and let's see who gets this gifted young scholar who already has accepted some of the most basic elements about Catholicism. Will it be Abilene, Harding, Lipscomb or Pepperdine? Brother Garrett's excuse for printing such an article (which even Garrett says "is far out--for us") is "I don't want him to leave us." And when Garrett says "far out," brother that means it must really be far out!

This implies that if we do not permit this brother to peddle his medieval Catholicism, he might leave us. If I have read correctly what he has to say, he already has left us! He just has not yet signed up with the Catholics.

"The Virgin Mary"

Brother Lewis introduces his discourse on Mary with some references to "the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation," which he calls "psychedelic verses of scripture." It is rather obvious that I have not studied at the "Pontifical Institute" or at "Tubingen," and I must therefore confess that I do not have the slightest idea as to what a "Psychedelic verse of scripture" is. It sounds a little Hippy-ish to me. Perhaps someone will enlighten me. 177)

Brother Lewis repeatedly refers to Mary as the "Mother of the Church." He must have learned that at the "Pontifical Institute," for he certainly never learned it from the Bible. Further he say, "It means that Mary, present on Pentecost, takes her place with the apostles in the rule of the church." Our brother would give her apostolic authority to rule. He says that the Christian is one "who reveres Mary as his mother." This reverence for a human being also must have been learned at the Pontifical Institute, since there is not an iota about it in the Bible.

"Hail Mary"

Brother Lewis says that he teaches his three year old daughter to say, "Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women ...." Would Brother Warren Lewis tell us how his practice in this regard differs from that well-known Catholic recital piece? Will he also teach his three year old to count beads while she says her "Hail Marys"?

Brother Lewis maintains that at Calvary "she dies a spiritual death that parallels the physical death her son is suffering on the cross." The Catholics teach that since there were two involved in the original sin (Adam and Eve), so must two be involved in human redemption {Christ and Mary). Has not Brother Lewis accepted the doctrine of the redemptive death of Mary, though he says it was a "spiritual death"?

Brother Lewis says, "The church who is the body of Christ, derives her essential nature not only from Christ, her head, but also from Mary her mother. This happens to be my deep personal conviction." I wonder where he acquired this "deep personal conviction"? At the Pontifical Institute or at Tubingen? Lewis even appropriates other Catholic terminology used as they worship the Virgin Mary. So Lewis also calls her "the queen of Heaven."


His concept of Mariolatry causes him to believe that the "millennial dawn" may draw near. He says, "We stand in the vestibule of something which closely resembles the

Millennial dawn or hell." It sounds to me as though he might even have appropriated the sectarian concept of premillennialism.

But Mary gives great hope. "It is only in Mary's spirit that a truly ecumenical church is possible." As time goes on, I become more convinced that this "ecumenical spirit" is going to make many of our brethren into such religious half-breeds that they stand simultaneously for everything and nothing. Now what "Church of Christ College" is willing to pay the highest bid for such a rare find as Warren Lewis? Perhaps the Pontifical Institute will hire him, now that they have converted him.

Brother Garrett, a fellow like Warren Lewis is not going to leave us. He's already gone!

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 4, pp. 12-14

December 4, 1969