Now let’s talk about Mother Teresa . . .

. . . because taking on Gandhi last week wasn’t enough.

First, I must say that I appreciated her anti-abortion efforts.  I love how she got in the faces of Clinton et al on the topic.  Good for her.

But theologically speaking, I have some sizable issues with her.  These articles explained them well:

First, The Myth of Other Teresa:

She was revered around the world as an example of Christian love and charity and as someone who dedicated her life to the noble cause of advancing the gospel to the poor and needy of the world while caring for their physical needs. Her legacy will doubtless be as one of history’s great humanitarians.

Upon examination, though, the Mother Teresa portrayed by the media and popularized in our culture is glorified (soon to be beatified) and almost deified. A close examination of her beliefs and the work she did shows that her legacy may be little more than fiction. . . . We also see her belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a mediator between God and ourselves (see Catholic Catechism, paragraph #969#1172 and #494) and as such, plays a role in our salvation. . . .Through the entire book there is never a hint that she relies on Christ alone for her salvation. Rather we read things like, “I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic” . . . “I love all religions. … If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there.” Or in another place, “All is God — Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God.”

Her soteriology (he doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ) was a train-wreck:

“We never try to convert those who receive [aid from Missionaries of Charity] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men — simply better — we will be satisfied. It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation.”

. . . Time and again we see her expounding such universalist beliefs. In an interview with Christian News a nun who worked with Mother Teresa was asked the following in regards to the Hindus they worked with, “These people are waiting to die. What are you telling them to prepare them for death and eternity?” She replied candidly, “We tell them to pray to their Bhagwan, to their gods.”

Huh?!  But the Bible teaches over 100 times that Jesus is the only way to salvation!  You can’t miss it.

And she chose to let people suffer:

Contradictions in her beliefs, then, are apparent. We see similar contradictions in her humanitarian work. The common belief is that Mother Teresa worked with the sick and destitute to lovingly return them to health. An examination of her missions will show that this is far from the case. Mother Teresa believed that there is spiritual value in suffering. Once, when tending to a patient dying of cancer, she said “You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you.” (Christoper Hitchens – The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, p. 41). For this reason she would not prescribe pain killers in her clinics, choosing instead to allow her patients to experience the suffering that she believed would bring them closer to Christ. Despite the tens of millions of dollars donated to her charity each year, her missions were rudimentary and offered no real health care. Her missions mainly catered to the critically ill and simply afforded them a place to go to die. It is interesting to note that when Mother Teresa became ill she would travel to the finest health care facilities to receive treatment. . . .

What, then, is the importance of debunking the myth of Mother Teresa? The answer is this. Pastors of Protestant churches around the world continue to speak of Mother Teresa in saintly terms. They hold her up as the ultimate example of self-sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. From the pulpits they discuss how she responded to Christ’s Great Commission to spread the gospel to all lands. The reality, though, is that if she preached at all, she preached a false religion. In so doing she provides us with an example not of a Christian responding to God’s call, but an example of deeds of charity and compassion completely separated from the Truth.

Also see Mother Teresa in her own words:

In an interview with her biographer, the following exchange was recorded:

Biographer Naveen Chawla: “Do you convert?” Mother Teresa: “Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him.”

That doesn’t sound very Christian.

Finally, see French study claims Mother Teresa not so saintly:

She was “anything but a saint,” the Canadian study authors found, as Newser reports. In fact, she found beauty in watching people suffer, the authors say.

The study is based on accounts of doctors who visited Mother Teresa’s so-called “homes for the dying.” The found terrible conditions, Newser reported — poor hygiene among patients, hunger, lacking medical supplies. Some patients were even denied necessary medical care, doctors said. Even Mother Teresa didn’t get care there — she went to an American hospital, Newser reported.

And the reported conditions weren’t for lack of money. Teresa’s Order of the Missionaries of Charity had hundreds of millions in donations, Newser reported.

The authors of the study allege the Vatican purposely ignored the truth of Mother Teresa’s charity. Rather, church officials helped to set the stage for her image as a saint, and even pushed through her beatification to avoid scrutiny.

Did she do some good?  I suppose so.  But it is unfortunate that she is held up as such an icon when her theology was false and her good deeds rather suspect.

14 thoughts on “Now let’s talk about Mother Teresa . . .”

  1. Mother Teresa is usually held up by Romanists as a wonderful Christian, yet there are many evidences that she was not a true Christian but a very devoted Catholic. While the two are not always mutually exclusive, they usually are. Teresa did a lot of good works, of that there is no denial. But from a September 7, 2001 article from CNN.com, I learned that Teresa underwent exorcism late in life. How can a Christian be demon possessed?

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  2. Neil,
    I love that you are stepping out there to take on the … ahem… sacred cows of religion. I cringe every time a pastor refers to Mother Teresa. I’ve always felt like it was saying, “Gee, this Reformation didn’t happen, and isn’t all that important.”

    I’ve also found that to criticize Mother Teresa is tantamount to being a grumpy old fool in the corner complaining about everything, because… truth is more important than feeling nice and fluffy about someone. Good post. Hope you don’t mind me reblogging!

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  3. Reblogged this on Timothy J. Hammons and commented:
    Lest I step on some ecumenical bozos’ toes, please, fellow Protestant pastors, please quit referring to Mother Teresa as some saint of Christianity. She was not, and is not a Christian. She is a great Catholic, but the two are different. Theology matters people. Mother Teresa lived her life helping Hindus become better Hindus… so they can spend eternity in hell? She was at odds with our Savior.

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  4. Not to sound like, er, “a grumpy old fool in the corner complaining about everything”, but the source for the claim that she wouldn’t give people painkillers is some polemic by Christopher Hitchens?

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  5. It is so sad that a person who tried to do such good in life ultimately rejected the salvation offered by Jesus Christ and is now burning eternally in hell. Thank you Neil for taking on these “sacred cows” such as Gandhi and Mother Teresa. I regularly try to minister to atheists and doubters on Facebook and you’d be surprised how many of them ask about “good people” or where the victims of the Nazi Holocaust went after their death. If we are true to our faith, and the Bible, we have to be truthful in our responses to those questions. We have to frankly tell people that six million Jews are now burning forever in hellfire by denying Christ up until their death. Some people just don’t want to accept the truth of the Bible.

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    1. Great point. One false teacher liked to play the Holocaust card by asking what you’d say to a Jewish kid about to be killed. They use a child in the example to garner more sympathy, but I take that out to eliminate the age of accountability debate. So what would I say to an adult Jew? Repent and believe.

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  6. I can’t remember the name of the book, but at one point, there was a conversation between a demon and a non-Christian where the person mentioned that a particular woman, another non-Christian, was a good person. The demon was actually offended by the comment, declaring, “No, she was not a good person! She was a nice person, but since she was not holy, she was not a good person.”

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      1. Then, again, on what basis am I to believe that Mother Teresa believed that patients should not get basic painkillers? Because Pastor Challies says so? I’ve never heard of him; his reason is because the late Mr. Hitchens said so?

        I don’t mean to be a jerk about it. If it is true, I would like to know the truth, however surprising or unpleasant. But that’s quite an accusation to bring against someone (especially after the lady is dead and can’t defend herself), and it’s not true just because it’s on the Internet somewhere or because an atheist with an axe to grind (Hitchens) said or implied it somewhere.

        After I read your blog entry, I tried to verify the fact independently. An Internet search took me to Wikipedia, which has (as far as I can tell) improved significantly in the years since it first started; it now routinely links to or cites sources, for example. As of this writing, the article on her says, “Sanal Edamaruku, President of Rationalist International, criticised the failure to give painkillers, writing that in her Homes for the Dying, one could ‘hear the screams of people having maggots tweezered from their open wounds without pain relief. On principle, strong painkillers were not administered even in severe cases. According to Mother Teresa’s philosophy, it is “the most beautiful gift for a person that he can participate in the sufferings of Christ”.'[86][87][88]”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa

        I notice that that’s already a little different from the claim on Challies.com, which was that “she would not prescribe pain killers in her clinics . . . .” Did she refuse only “strong” painkillers? That could be a very different matter—did she oppose heavy narcotics, for example, considering them drugs of abuse? Wikipedia declines to explore further.

        The first of the three sources that Wikipedia links to is the named author of the quote, Sanal Edamaruku, though, oddly, the quote doesn’t match. (The linked article puts it in the present tense, “strong painkillers are even in hard cases not given.”) Anyway this thread cannot be traced back any further; it neither links to nor otherwise cites any source for that claim. This article itself is on some atheist Web site (i.e., not presumptively trustworthy on this). It does list some general links for further reading. (The first says again that some atheists don’t like her so well; another is Hitchens again.)
        http://mukto-mona.net/Articles/mother_teresa/sanal_ed.htm

        The second is an article about that Canadian article you mentioned, but it is even further from supporting the proposition. It clearly is not a source of the quote which Wikipedia is attributing to it. The closest it comes is alleging a shortage of painkillers.
        http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-03-02/uk/37389641_1_mother-teresa-vatican-study

        The third is similar to the second. It says, “The doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers.” (In other words, a mission in a third-world country wasn’t entirely up to gleaming-steel first-world medical standards?)
        http://scienceblog.com/60730/mother-teresa-anything-but-a-saint/

        Incidentally, where is this study? I can’t see that anyone has linked to it. It looks as if your block quote above linked to it, but unfortunately, the block quote is from the Washington Times; they link only to themselves (in this case, the topic “study” among their articles). The third source, however, makes it clear that the authors also had an axe to grind: “In their article, Serge Larivée and his colleagues also cite a number of problems not take into account by the Vatican in Mother Teresa’s beatification process, such as ‘her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding, in particular, abortion, contraception, and divorce.'” This reminds me of the national conversation leading up to the passage of Obamacare, in which liberals routinely cited that “study” that purported to rank America 37th (something like that) in the world in terms of health care. Upon further inspection, it turned out that the study never claimed to be an objective measure of quality of care; it combined a range of factors, including quality but also measures of “equality”, into a single rank. In other words, for proving quality more narrowly, it was worthless as a source.

        I notice that in the original blog entry above, you ended not by saying that she actually did evil, but that her good deeds were “rather suspect”. But evidence with a broken chain of custody or testimony from a witness with an axe to grind is no proof at all; it’s not as if the way to reach the truth were to split the difference between conventional wisdom and insinuations from no-name Web sites. Treating something as half-proven just because the accusation has been made or a suggestion raised is how the liberals work; we can do better.

        And now I’ve gotten myself into one of those conversations that are too long to be practicable over the Internet (if indeed they would be practical in any medium). I’m sorry, but the alternative was to say nothing!

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  7. How is it we sometimes overlook the obvious words of our Lord? Would you say that Theresa was looked on as a saint by the world? Would you say that the world looked at her as one who was an example of what a christian is supposed to look like? If you said yes to these, remember the words of our Lord: John 15:19 ” If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

    Speaking the truth of the gospel will not gain you popularity on a grand scale but just the opposite, of course if you are an example of Romans 10:3, you will fit right in with the world.
    Romans 10:3 ” For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God”

    In vs 2 Paul say’s of the Jews, “they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge”

    In vs 1 Paul say’s, ” I wish they were saved” because he knew they were not!

    This is Romanism at it’s core!

    There should be no doubt as to the fruit of a worldly belief system, found in Titus 1:16.
    “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work”

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