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Mother Teresa – A Saint?

Category Articles
Date October 9, 2007

Is it ever right to question one’s standing with God? Recently the world was informed about Mother Teresa’s inner life as a nun in the Roman Catholic Church. Mother Teresa gained world-wide recognition for her labours amongst the poor in Calcutta. Truly, her efforts on behalf of the poor and the unborn are worthy of high commendation. Yet in a recent release of her diaries, we see someone whose spiritual life was seemingly without a true knowledge of the way of salvation.

Her letters and thoughts are found in a recently published book Mother Teresa: Come be My Light in which she admits that she ‘had not faith.’ Her letters reveal that for over fifty years she sought Christ but came to the conclusion that he was ‘the Absent One’. Her prayers to God for forgiveness only deepened her sorrow, and upon receiving an important reward on one occasion she confessed, ‘This means nothing to me, because I don’t have him’. The letters further reveal that her outward demeanour to the work did not reveal the sadness of her heart. She said that her ‘smile was a fake’.

These recent revelations have awakened a great deal of speculation and defence of Mother Teresa. For example, Charles Colson in BreakPoint (Aug. 29/07) writes: ‘So what do these letters reveal? That one of the greatest saints of the 20th Century had doubts. At times, she even doubted the existence of God. Imagine that.’ Colson goes on to say, ‘Here is more news: Mother Teresa struggled with depression. When you wrestle with the devil surrounded by human misery, you might have good cause to be depressed.’ And I would concur with brother Colson in that it would be rare among Christ’s followers never to have doubts or suffer from bouts of depression. In fact the worthy Doctor Martyn Lloyd-Jones did a series of sermons on the soul that finds itself downcast and despondent, with some wonderful Scriptural remedies.

But is it wrong to ask if there is another reason for Mother Teresa’s inner doubt and sadness? Mother Teresa believed that she became a Christian when she was sprinkled as a baby by a Roman priest. We know from Scripture this is a deception that is without any biblical support. In time she became a nun and took vows of chastity to become the holy Bride of Christ. A further deception, as the Bible is clear that all the redeemed are the Bride of Christ. (Revelation 19).

She partook of the ‘Eucharist’ and believed the wafer to be the actual body of Christ, yet confessed she had more joy in her nothingness than in the ‘mass’ (Time Sept.3/07), And she also confessed that her cries for forgiveness only deepened her depression as this sad quote reveals, ‘If there be a God – please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives which hurt my very soul. How painful is this unknown pain. I have no faith.’

Yes, it is possible for the saints of God to fall into dryness, depression and the black night of the soul. But is it also possible that Mother Teresa was never converted at all, and received no light from the deceptions practiced by Rome? Can we truly say that someone knows Christ when her depression is lifted by praying to the Pope through whose mediatorial efforts she received assurance that her work on earth was pleasing to the Lord? Is this the mark of one who knows the Christ of the Bible?

It is interesting to contemplate that Mother Teresa could not have had assurance that her sins were forgiven and she was going to heaven, because such assurance is considered to be ‘anathema’ in the eyes of the Church to which she belonged. The Church of Rome loves doubt, and has more interest in doubt than living faith, because doubt keeps you dependent on the ministry of priest and Pope. In fact the doubt of Mother Teresa is now raised to new heights of dishonourable praise if not blasphemy. So we are told that such doubts as Mother Teresa had are ‘purgative’ and also ‘reparative’ and they continue after ‘union’ with Christ. Meaning her sadness and darkness were actually signs she was a special saint whose steadfastness brings her even closer to the purity of Christ and Mary.

This is all very sad, but we must not exalt human beings like Mother Teresa, and give to her a free pass to heaven because of a work done amongst the poor. She was a sinner who needed true shepherds to guide her to Jesus Christ as the sole and sufficient Saviour of the lost. I am told that John MacArthur had opportunity to present the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to Mother Teresa, and she rejected it. To accept Christ she would have had to renounce the whole Catholic deception and the pride of her own spiritual works, and this she was unwilling to do.

For us the lessons are at least two: One: we need to ask ourselves whether we who know Christ as Lord and Saviour are as dedicated to his cause, and as sacrificial, as a Mother Teresa who knew not the truth of God in Christ. And two: does not her sad ‘angst’ of soul cause us to see that we still have a work to do in witnessing to our Catholic neighbours? For clearly their bondage is great, and they need the light of Scripture to know God’s forgiveness and to have the assurance that their souls are safe in Christ.

Brian Robinson is pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church in Pickering, Ontario, and Editor of the Sovereign Grace Journal of Canada, from the September 2007 issue of which this article is taken, with permission.

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