Reviewing Wright’s Universal Apologia: Part 10


This the tenth in a series reviewing John C. Wright’s A Universal Apologia for the Catholic Church. See the index.

Apparition of Mary

Back in part 1 of the series, we noted that John C. Wright took two full years to decide which denomination he should join. At that time, I had failed to notice one key detail from his dramatic conversion experience. There he reported visitations by three apparitions (or appearances), in particular an Apparition of the Virgin[1] Mary.

I was visited by the Virgin Mary, her son, and His Father

For those who are unaware, Apparitions of Mary are a phenomenon (mostly) of the Roman Catholic Church. If you don’t reject the Apparitions of Mary as demonic and believe they are real, you are more-or-less obligated to embrace the Roman Catholic Church, for “Mary”—on her own divine authority—will accept no other denomination.[11] By accepting the veracity of his visions, John C. Wright was obligated to make the choice that he did. After all, if he rejected the Roman Catholic Church, he would then have had to reject the Apparition of Mary, thus rejecting the validity of his own conversion experience.

Most Protestants believe that the Apparitions of Mary are human hoaxes: not supernatural.[14] But John C. Wright believes, without any doubt in his mind, that he experienced the supernatural. He was physically healed and possessed a clear mind. It was no hoax. What he experienced was 100% supernatural. Because one of the visions of was Mary and he believed the visions and healing were not hoaxes, he had no choice but to become Roman Catholic.

It took Wright two years of examination before he ‘chose’ Roman Catholism. He converted in 2008

When asked what drew him to the Church, his answer was short and direct: “I was visited by the Virgin Mary.”

…ultimately coming to the only conclusion that he could have come to…

And, further, when asked what keeps him in the Church, he is equally laconic: “Logic.”

…without abandoning logic and reason. The ultimate irony of Wright’s Apologia is that it is irrelevant. For all its argument and topics of interest, it is the logic of accepting the validity of the Apparition of Mary that forces his determination.

The Importance of Mary

It is unclear why it took him two years to come to the inevitable and foregone conclusion. The most likely explanation is that he was initially ignorant of how important the Apparitions of Mary are to the Roman Catholic Church,[2] a problem that applies to Protestant, Catholic, and atheist alike. As I noted in part 9 of the series, Mary has been crucial in the development of Roman Catholic doctrine, in particular the Immaculate Conception, Assumption of Mary, and Papal Infallibility. Thus, it is curious that Mary does not play a more significant role in Wright’s Apologia, even though this was the reason he joined Roman Catholicism. It is obvious that he understands Mary’s importance now:

The doctrine of Papal infallibility is not any sort of honor due to the Pope. It is rather that the Catholics take quite seriously the promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit would teach the Church and protect her from error. This does not mean that the Church makes no mistakes. This means that the Christian teaching preserved by the Church, teaching on the matter of faith and morals, is without error, because the Holy Spirit protects it. Since the Pope has the final veto on debates within the Church on matters of faith and moral, logically his decision — an authority he has used exactly twice in all of history — is inspired by and ratified by the Holy Spirit, hence is infallible.

The two dogmas—that the Pope ruled on infallibly—are the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary, even though the doctrine of Papal Infallibility was declared after the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and both of which are circularly confirmed retroactively by the prior Apparitions of Mary. Among all Roman Catholic doctrines, large and small, these the Marian dogmas are of extra special consideration.

Another purpose of Mary is to convince people to worship the image of the beast—or antichrist—in the Roman Catholic Eucharist, Transubstantiation, the Host.[9] Many of the Apparitions of Mary have asserted the role of Mary as Mediator or Mediatrix between mankind and Jesus Christ and God, and as Co-Redemptrix with Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that you should approach Jesus through Mary rather than try to approach Christ directly, as if Jesus didn’t come far enough.[3] Jesus is so Holy, that Mary is required to fully reconcile us before God.[4] Apparitions of Mary have stated that Mary suffers in our place for our sins.[5]

There is one other curious facet of the teachings of the Apparitions of Mary: the anger of the divine.

Is God Angry?

Among the teachings of the Apparitions of Mary are the following:

  • Mary suffers in our place for our sins, holding back God’s wrath.
  • God is angry at us for the sins Jesus had to bare on the cross.
  • Mary wants the focus to be put on her.[12] God is angry that mankind do not sufficiently honor “His Mother.”[6]
  • That we are not fully reconciled to God and need to try harder to appease God’s wrath.[7]

Not only does Mary portray God as angry with us, but other spiritual beings are also displeased with our behavior. In Garabandal, Mary was reported as getting so impatient when her commands were not obediently followed that she sent Archangel Michael to express her disappointment.[8]

What Mary and the other Apparitions describe is not the God who was pleased to sacrifice his son for our sin (Isaiah 53:10), freely offering him (Romans 8:32). It is not a Christ who freely chose to give up his life and to take it back (John 10:18). It is not the picture of a God who has reconciled us to him and is at peace with us (Colossians 1:10,20) through that completed sacrifice (Hebrews 1:3,10:12). It is not her view that those justified by faith in Christ Jesus are at peace (Romans 5:1) and have no condemnation (Romans 8:1). In short,

“Rome [..] sees Jesus offended by our sins, and Mary suffering in our place to expiate them—either under God’s wrath, or under Jesus’ wrath. It is by her sufferings that we are reconciled to Jesus, and it is her merits that are presented to Jesus to reconcile us to Him.” — Timothy F. Kauffman

Mary describes a God whose anger is only just barely sated by the works of both man and spirit. She implores that more be done.

It is with this in mind that we read the words of John C. Wright:

I was a Christian, for I had seen a vision of Christ and been healed of a deadly wound by Him. But the vision did not pause to lecture me on the niceties of Trinitarianism or the Filioque controversy. (My very strong impression was that such controversies are intensely displeasing to Christ, and alien to the spirit of brotherhood and selfless love which illumines every aspect of Christian thought, or should. (emphasis added)


I am convinced that the Lord regards discussions of the differences between denominations with hatred. (emphasis added)

In these words we see echoes of the Apparitions of Mary: that the Father and Son are angry, displeased, and full of hatred for our willful disobedience (e.g. regarding the command to be in unity). To the best of my knowledge, John C. Wright has not posted the specifics of his visions, but his impression of God definitely matches that of the known Apparitions of Mary, including the one which influenced him personally.

Testing the Spirits

One Apparition of Mary has been tested according to the scriptures, which subsequently failed the test.[17] I am not aware of any other scriptural test applied to visions of Mary, Jesus, or the Father.[13] This is true for those authenticated by the Roman Catholic Church[18], and it is true for the spirits that visited John C. Wright. Sure, the Roman Catholic Church has put the spirits to various tests[15][16], but almost never the Bible’s prescribed test described in 1 John 4:1-3…

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the spirit is from God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world.

…and again in 2 John 1:7:

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in the flesh. This one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

This is precisely what the Apparitions are trying to avoid. Jesus is portrayed as distant and angry. His divinity is emphasized and his fleshly nature deemphasized. In the Marian Doctrines, no longer does the Roman Catholic Church believe that Jesus was born fully human into a world of sin from a fully human and sinful mother. Rather, it is held that Mary must have been without sin and now needs to take on Jesus’ role of Mediator. By increasing the fleshly distance between man and Jesus[19] (and thus God), the Apparitions of Mary deny that Jesus has truly, fully, and sufficiently come in the flesh.[10] They fail the test of spirits, and in doing so reveal themselves to be the spirit of antichrist.[9]

Wright claims to have been visited by Jesus, who quoted a passage from the Bible that Wright had never before read or heard. He later confirmed that the spirit had quoted it accurately, thus proving that his vision was in fact spiritual. But, critically, the fact that a spirit can quote scripture is not proof of the spirit’s identity. It does not prove that the spirit was from God. Neither does healing constitute proof of the divine. Wright never tested the spirits who visited him.

John C. Wright, apparently, must have been visited by demonic spirits.


[1] Mary was not a virgin at her death. Had she not consummated her marriage, it would not have been legally valid and Jesus’ claim to be descended from the line of David via Joseph would have been invalid. Jesus could not have been the Messiah.

[2] Notable Apparitions of Mary include Guadalupe, Mexico in 1531; Paris, France in 1830; La Salette, France in 1846; Lourdes, France in 1858; and Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

[3] This is the implied reasoning behind the Immaculate Conception, that Jesus could not have truly come in the flesh in the same sense as other humans: he was kept distant. This directly conflicts with Hebrews 4:15, where Jesus is described as having been tempted through every sin, just as we are.

[4] “Apparitions of Mary: Is the Virgin Mary the Fourth Part of the Roman Trinity?” Timothy F. Kauffman. 40:00+.

[5] Against the clear teaching of Hebrews 10:12.

[6] Mary at La Laus, France: “I gave you six days for working. The seventh I have reserved for myself. But no one will give it to me. This is what causes the weight of my Son’s arm to be so crushing.”

[7] Roman Catholic Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), who founded the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy in response to her visit by “Jesus”, said that she “[offered] You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved son, Our Lord Jesus Christ for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us.’ The next morning, when I entered chapel, I heard these words interiorly: … ‘This prayer will serve to appease My wrath.’ ” (Faustina, Diary, p.475-476)

[8] “Mother Mary Speaks to Me, Part 1“, Timothy F. Kauffman. (2014)

[9] Roman Catholic Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), who founded the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy and testified that Jesus needed us to try to appease God’s wrath (see footnote 7), said ““I heard these words from the Host: ‘I desired to rest in your hands, not only in your heart.’” (Faustina, Diary, p. 160). The Host is the mark of the antichrist, received on the hand or the forehead. The Apparitions are very insistent that the Host be physically received.

[10] Some Roman Catholics have suggested that Jesus is no longer human, thus denying that Jesus has come in the flesh. CCC#665 says that Christ’s humanity—his human essence—is in heaven. This is unnecessarily vague, failing to explicitly state whether or not Jesus retains his resurrected human body.

[11] Like the eucharistic miracles and the stigmata, the Apparitions of Mary are distinctly Roman Catholic.

[12] Notice how Wright references the three spirits in terms of the relationship to Mary: “I was visited by the Virgin Mary, her son, and His Father”

[13] Per 2 Corinthians 11:4, the mark of deception is the preaching of a different Jesus, receiving of a different (Holy) Spirit, or accepting a different gospel (good news). Per 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, even Satan appears as an Angel of Light and his servants as servants of righteousness: Satan’s agents will claim to defend righteousness. They must be judged on their works and by their adherence to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not enough, therefore, that a supernatural event be supernatural to be trustworthy merely because it is supernatural.

[14] If Protestants accepted the Roman Catholic claims that the Apparitians are real, that they really happened, they would be forced to either accept Roman Catholicism as the true church, or reject it as utterly demonic. There is no middle ground. In order to maintain fellowship with Catholics, Protestants force themselves to believe they are hoaxes, or else hide behind ignorance that accomplishes the same.

[15] Holy water was thrown onto the 1858 Apparition of Mary in Lourdes, who smiled after the attempt. A 1981 Apparition of Mary in Medjugorje was also tested with Holy Water, and was not dispelled. The Apparition confirmed that Holy Water was a valid test, and encouraged the further use of blessed objects against demons. Spirits affirming their own verification methods is an example of the logical fallacy known as “begging-the-question.”

[16] The following is a non-exhaustive list of tests that have been used: (1) The self-declaration of apparitions to their own identity as Jesus or Mary; (2) use or sign of the cross; (3) the performance of various signs, wonders, and miracles; (4) visible appearance of holiness: garments, auras, mien, and expressions; (5) confirmation by various scientific tests; (6) commanding apparitions (e.g. in the name of Christ) who then “obey”; (7) applying the biblical test for human prophets in Matthew 7:15-20; (8) the ability of apparitions to accurately quote scripture.

[17] Maureen Hinko, Seven Hills, Ohio on September 21, 1993. — “Holy Love: Messages from Our Blessed Mother Leading Souls to Holiness” (Holy Love Ministries). 1994. pages 32-33.

[18] The Vatican has approved apparitions at 16 locations: five at Guadalupe (1531), one at La Salette (1846), thirty-three at Beauraing (1932-33), one at Knock (1879), size at Fatima (1917), eighteen at Lourdes (1858), eight at Banneux (1933), many at Laus (1664-1718), two at Rue du Bac (1830), one at Pontmain (1871), one at Filippsdorf (1866), nine at Gietrzwald (1877), two at Lezajsk (1578), many at Siluva (1608-1612), one at Rome (1842), and many at Kibeho (1981-1989). Bishops have approved for devotion Champion, Quito, Querrien, Montagnaga, Castelpetroso, Betania, Akita, Cuapa, San Nicolas. Popes, Bishops, and other Roman Catholic clergy have expressed praise for many others, including those at Medjugorje. Wikipedia gives a number of other approved apparitions, besides those listed above.

[19] A number of early church fathers affirmed that the birth of Jesus removed the virginity—by blood and broken flesh—of Mary. Modern Roman Catholics believe that the birth of Jesus miraculously preserved her fleshly virginity. This facilitates the increased fleshly distance between Christ and Mary, and between Mary and the rest of humanity, which is necessary to support the Marian dogmas.

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