The Marian phenomena, which consists of tens of thousands of sightings, or apparitions of Mary, the mother of Christ, is clearly known to Adventists to be a deception on a massive scale. With the knowledge of the Biblical teaching on the state of the dead we know that each and every sighting is a manifestation of the miracle working power of demons, since Mary, the mother of Jesus, is still resting in her grave awaiting the return of Jesus and the resurrection. Yet, the enormous numbers of sightings and the impact that the Marian movement is having, coupled with an understanding of last day events, as given in scripture and in the Spirit of Prophecy, compels us to examine this phenomena. This examination reveals astonishing events that lead us to believe that we may well be seeing the evidence of the devil’s overmastering deception that is calculated to deceive the world.
Both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are replete with warnings about deceptions that God’s last day people, His remnant church, will face in these closing days of the great controversy. In 2 Thessalonians 2: 8-12 we read: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Paul is trying to tell us here that there is no middle ground. Either we know and love the truth or we will be deceived. “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of truth will be shielded from the powerful delusions that take the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise.” The Great Controversy, 625.
We are warned of strong, almost overmastering delusions and told that if possible even the very elect should be deceived. “As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ . . . He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion.” The Great Controversy, 624, 625.
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24: 23, 24.
Today, Satan’s two great masterpieces of deception are at work to try to destroy God’s elect. Inspiration defines these clearly for us. “Satan’s masterpiece of deception is popery; and while it has been demonstrated that a day of great intellectual darkness was favorable to Romanism, it will also be demonstrated that a day of great intellectual light is also favorable to its power.” Signs of the Times, February 19, 1894. “Spiritualism is the masterpiece of deception. It is Satan’s most successful and fascinating delusion.” Signs of the Times, August 26, 1889.
Spiritualism and popery are the methods used by Satan to spread his two most seductive errors. “Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.” The Great Controversy, 588.
Certainly the Marian apparitions are spiritualism. The dictionary defines spiritualism as, “A belief that spirits of the dead communicate with the living.” Through these apparitions, Satan is preparing the world for his ultimate deception which will take place when he personates Christ in a false second coming.
Books such as The Thunder of Justice, by Ted and Maureen Flynn and The Keys of This Blood, by Malachi Martin (both Catholic authors) tell us the history of the sightings of “Mary.” They also reveal the plans and goals, which have been clearly announced by Papal leaders or by the apparitions themselves, and give timelines of future predicted events. As we examine Satan’s timetable and plans, it is important to remind ourselves that Satan is a mighty foe but he is not in control of events in the universe. “But God’s servants are not to trust to themselves in this great emergency . . . The world is not without a ruler. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations, as well as the concerns of His church, in His own charge.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 753. [Emphasis supplied.]
The times are in God’s hands, not the devil’s. Satan, through his knowledge of scripture and his ability to manipulate events, is able to accurately predict some events, but he is not in control and his predictions are faulty. As part of his masterpiece of deception he works to counterfeit last day events. So, while we are waiting and watching, it is vital that we study to understand last day events so that we will be able to distinguish between the true and the false.
The History of the Marian Movement
“Mary” first appeared on May 13, 1917, to three children in Fatima, Portugal. According to the children’s report, she gave them instructions to say the rosary daily and showed them a vision of hell and told them, that in order to save poor sinners God wants to establish, throughout the world, the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In October of 1917, 50,000-70,000 people were present when another sighting occurred in Fatima which was accompanied by wonders in the sky and miracles. The message was that a chapel was to be built at the site. A prediction was also made that World War I would soon end. Another prediction that was fulfilled was that two of the children would soon die.
Lucia, one of the three original children, was given a message for the pope. He was instructed that Russia could be saved if all of the bishops of the world would unite in making a consecration of Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. In 1984, a Catholic bishop secretly made a consecration of Russia, while in that country. Not long after this, the Communist empire was broken up and the way was opened for the “conversion” of Russia.
The years since have seen many renewed calls for more adoration of Mary and declarations by the Catholic church that these apparitions were supernatural. Feasts have been instituted and a basilica built at Fatima, and the world, not just Russia, has been repeatedly consecrated to the immaculate heart.
The Marian phenomena is seen in visions, appearances, weeping statues, bleeding icons, cures, signs in the heavens and messages received by the uneducated for popes and presidents. Sightings have occurred around the world. These are claimed, by believers, to fulfill the words of Joel, that God’s spirit will be poured out upon all flesh.
Papal Devotion to the Marian Movement
On the anniversary of the first Fatima apparition, on May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot. He felt that he was saved by Mary, because, at the moment the gun was fired, he leaned toward a child who was carrying a picture of Our Lady of Fatima, and the shot, which was intended to be fatal, only wounded him. And so began his devotion to the Marian movement. During his recovery he exhaustively examined documents and questioned living witnesses and participants connected with Fatima.
According to the Catholic scholar, Malachi Martin, the pope believes that he received a vision from heaven giving him “the great design of God for the New World order.” The Keys of This Blood, 48. Also, he says, that in this vision, Mary told him he had been spared for a special mission to bring peace to the world. Under conviction that the messages of Fatima were not for a distant time, but that they had an immediate timetable, the pope began to carry out a program of world travel and redoubled his political efforts to prepare the world for the New World Order, with the Church of Rome as its supreme ruler. To show his devotion to “the virgin,” he wears an inscription on the side of his robe, in Latin, stating, “Mary, I’m all yours,” and has an M for Mary on his coat of arms.
According to Catholic sources, Pope John Paul II is waiting for the greatest of all apparitions when “Mary” will declare, from heaven, the day and the hour of Jesus’ coming. (God has told us that He Himself will declare the time of Jesus’ return in glory. In The Great Controversy, 640, we read, “The voice of God is heard from heaven, declaring the day and hour of Jesus’ coming.”) “Mary” is to appear as a woman clothed with the sun giving birth to a child who will rule the nations with a rod of iron.
What does inspiration say about these events? “Little by little he [Satan] has prepared the way for his masterpiece of deception in the development of spiritualism. He has not yet [in Ellen White’s day] reached the full accomplishment of his designs; but it will be reached in the last remnant of time.” Ibid., 561. “Fearful sights of a supernatural character will soon be revealed in the heavens, in token of the power of miracle-working demons.” Ibid., 624.
The devil will counterfeit every truth and end time event. God’s people will see many miracles and marvelous workings of Satan, but God has given us a source of knowledge that we need not be deceived, if we diligently study. “`To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.’ Isaiah 8:20. The people of God are directed to the Scriptures as their safeguard against the influence of false teachers and the delusive power of spirits of darkness. Satan employs every possible device to prevent men from obtaining a knowledge of the Bible; for its plain utterances reveal his deceptions. At every revival of God’s work the prince of evil is aroused to more intense activity; he is now putting forth his utmost efforts for a final struggle against Christ and His followers. The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.” The Great Controversy, 593. “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.” Ibid.
There have been several predictions made by “Mary,” in different locations and at different times, that relate to the time when this event will happen. Lucia (the woman who saw many of the Fatima apparitions) was told that she would be alive to see the culmination of all these things. Also apparitions have said that the current pope will be the last. (Both the pope and Lucia are now very old.) The last decade of this century has been predicted to bring the completion of all things. However, some of the predictions made by these apparitions have already failed to occur. This alone would be evidence enough to prove that they are not of divine origin. For we know that God never fails!
Uniting the World
As Satan’s designs are fully accomplished, the world will be united. It seems very possible that it will be “Mary” who will appeal to everyone, according to their beliefs. She will say that the one whom they most need is coming to bring love, unity, peace, justice, and prosperity. All the world will wait in great expectation, hope and joy, for the coming of their Savior, who will actually be Satan in a counterfeit second coming.
“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Savior’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13-15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: `Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Savior uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion. Like the Samaritans who were deceived by Simon Magus, the multitudes, from the least to the greatest, give heed to these sorceries, saying: This is `the great power of God.’ Acts 8:10.” The Great Controversy, 624.
By appearing in Fatima, the devil has planned a masterful deception to include the entire Moslem world. The Moslems now bow down to worship the images of Mary in the processions of the North African Catholics. It is believed that they will be led to worship her “Son” at his coming. If she were to appear as a woman clothed with the sun, as has been predicted, the pagan religions, based on sun worship, would be likely to join the multitudes in worship.
The Marian phenomena could be what will unite the world. For “Mary” could introduce the “second coming” to the Jews as their Messiah, and to the Chrisitians as Jesus Christ and to Moslems as their Iman Mahdi. Buddists might recognize their Buddha in his fifth incarnation. Hindus could find Krishna and the new age could find the Matryeia, the Cosmic Christ. All, but the very elect of God, will welcome Satan as their savior.
The Catholic world believes, according to Malachi Martin, that, at this spectacular appearing, “Christ” (really the devil in disguise) will hand over the keys to the pope. It will then appear that Satan, the Papacy, and the New World Order are the winners of the great controversy.
What will the condition of God’s people be at this time? “I saw our people in great distress, weeping, and praying, pleading the sure promises of God, while the wicked were all around us, mocking us, and threatening to destroy us. They ridiculed our feebleness, they mocked at the smallness of our numbers, and taunted us with words calculated to cut deep. They charged us with taking an independent position from all the rest of the world. They had cut off our resources so that we could not buy nor sell, and referred to our abject poverty and stricken condition. They could not see how we could live without the world; we were dependent upon the world, and we must concede to the customs, practices, and laws of the world, or go out of it. If we were the only people in the world whom the Lord favored the appearances were awfully against us. They declared that they had the truth, that miracles were among them, that angels from heaven talked with them, and walked with them, that great power, and signs and wonders were performed among them, and this was the Temporal Millennium, which they had been expecting so long. The whole world was converted and in harmony with the Sunday law, and this little feeble people stood out in defiance of the laws of the land, and the laws of God, and claimed to be the only ones right on the earth.” Maranatha, 209.
The Devil’s Goal
This pope has referred to this century as the “Marian times.” What does this mean? Ted Flynn, a Catholic author, explains that in Old Testament times God spoke through the prophets and in New Testament times Jesus spoke, but that now, God is speaking through “Mary.” (See The Thunder of Justice, 171.) It is the devil’s plan to put himself in the place of Jesus in the hearts of mankind. First he uses the guise of “Mary” and then he comes personating Christ.
Saying the rosary replaces praying to our Father in heaven. “Mary” is referred to as the
Mediatrix; yet, we know that the Bible teaches us, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5. “Mary” claims to be the refuge and ark, advocate and intercessor, and the mother of the church. There are even claims that “Mary” will place her “motherly seal” on all those who have consecrated themselves to her immaculate heart.
All this has been predicted, has it not? “The time is at hand when Satan will work miracles to confirm minds in the belief that he is God. All the people of God are now to stand on the platform of truth as it has been given in the Third Angel’s Message. All the pleasant pictures, all the miracles wrought, will be presented in order that, if possible, the very elect shall be deceived. The only hope for any one is to hold fast the evidences that have confirmed the truth in righteousness. Let these be proclaimed over and over again, until the close of this earth’s history.” Review and Herald, August 9, 1906.
Ecumenical Associations Ensnare Adventism
Pope John Paul II plans to unite the world by the year 2000. The pope has laid out specific plans for each year of this last decade of the century. There are special plans being made by thousands of organizations representing the United Nations, governments, businesses, educational and religious bodies for that special time. Inter-religious dialog is taking place under the guidelines of the second Vatican council.
Sister White wrote about this very thing in Christian Service, 50. “The world is a theater; the actors, its inhabitants, are preparing to act their part in the last great drama. With the great masses of mankind, there is no unity, except as men confederate to accomplish their selfish purposes. God is looking on. His purposes in regard to His rebellious subjects will be fulfilled. The world has not been given into the hands of men, though God is permitting the elements of confusion and disorder to bear sway for a season. A power from beneath is working to bring about the last great scenes in the drama,–Satan coming as Christ, and working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who are binding themselves together in secret societies. Those who are yielding to the passion for confederation are working out the plans of the enemy. The cause will be followed by the effect.”
There have been worship services on the steps of the capital in Washington where Jerry Falwell said, “We must network together or we will lose this country.” Oral Roberts prayed for “miracles, healings, and deliverance.” And Benny Hinn held a “faith-healing ceremony.” Announcements are regularly coming in the press of union between various churches.
“When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman Hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.” The Great Controversy, 445.
How are these plans affecting the Seventh-day Adventist Church? The news is not good. The plans for dialog between various churches are seen reflected in Adventism. The Adventist Review reported dialog with the leaders of the Lutheran Church. Also, during 1998, the master plan of the pope called for an emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the developing spirit of unity. In the fall of 1998, the Adventist Review issued a special edition on the Holy Spirit. Because of the deep involvement with the World Council of Churches there are demands of cooperation with the ecumenical program as planned by the pope. In the year 2000, there are plans for all churches to be represented in Jerusalem, to celebrate the Eucharist together. Will the Adventist church be represented? If so, there is but one step left to embracing the Sunday law.
“Never did this message apply with greater force than it applies today. More and more the world is setting at nought the claims of God. Men have become bold in transgression. The wickedness of the inhabitants of the world has almost filled up the measure of their iniquity. This earth has almost reached the place where God will permit the destroyer to work his will upon it. The substitution of the laws of men for the law of God, the exaltation, by merely human authority, of Sunday in place of the Bible Sabbath, is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself. He will arise in His majesty to shake terribly the earth. He will come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity, and the earth shall disclose her blood and shall no more cover her slain.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 141.
How vital it is that God’s people be unified in the battle against this deceptive power. We must remember who the enemy is and fight together as an army under the banner of Christ, where there will be perfect order and harmony. “As we approach the last crisis, it is of vital moment that harmony and unity exist among the Lord’s instrumentalities. The world is filled with storm and war and variance. Yet under one head-the papal power-the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses. This union is cemented by the great apostate. While he seeks to unite his agents in warring against the truth he will work to divide and scatter its advocates. Jealousy, evil surmising, evil speaking, are instigated by him to produce discord and dissension. The members of Christ’s church have the power to thwart the purpose of the adversary of souls. At such a time as this let them not be found at variance with one another or with any of the Lord’s workers. Amidst the general discord let there be one place where harmony and unity exist because the Bible is made the guide of life. Let the people of God feel that a responsibility rests upon them to build up His instrumentalities.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 182.
We are seeing before us the union of the fallen churches. Papal documents have already called for worldwide enforcement of Sunday observance with violators to be punished as heretics. Surely the day is not far off when we will see the conclusion of all things. We are living in solemn times. God’s church will be united and ready. May each of us be part of that body.
Editor’s Note: The material for this article was gleaned from a series of sermons by Elder Lawrence Nelson, produced earlier this year under the title Spiritualism, 1-5. Much of his research was taken from The Great Controversy Endgame, by John Janiuk and Sunday’s Coming, by G. Edward Reid. You may obtain the entire series by writing: Keep the Faith Audio Tape Ministry, PO Box 808, Myrtle Creek, OR 97457. Condensed and edited by Cynthia Gaye Clark.