Evangelicals tend to reject Marian apparitions in one of four ways:
They are chalked up to (a) mental instability, (b) stupidity, (c) human deception, and/or (d) demonic deception. Admittedly, there is a lot of grist for such views. Scarcely a month goes by without somebody reporting that the Virgin Mary has shown up in a carpet stain in Bugtussle, Oklahoma. And the world certainly has its share of people with a screw loose who are certain the Virgin is taking time out of her busy schedule to command them to be louder and more flamboyant kooks.
But, of course, the argument that “some people who claim to see the Blessed Virgin are crooks, fools, or nuts, therefore everybody else who claims to see the Blessed Virgin is a crook, fool, or nut too,” is somewhat wanting in logic. It’s the same as saying, “Some claims of miracles are bogus, therefore the apostles’ claim to have seen the risen Christ is bogus, too.” This illogical argument gets even harder to sustain when we get to Marian apparitions that the Catholic Church has approved after rigorous investigation, as at Lourdes or Fatima. But not a few Evangelicals reject even those miracles in refreshingly blunt, evidence-free terms like this:
Satan wants the followers of the !@#$% Church of Rome to ignore Jesus Christ and follow “Mother Church.” Satan wants the average Catholic to have little or no interest in the Word of God. The problem is, if there is no other source of revelation, then the Catholic believers may actually open a Bible and learn the truth. Satan and the Pope don’t want that, so Mary, a pagan demonic apparition of a woman, is brought in to replace the Word of God and Jesus Christ.
This particular quote was pulled at random from the ironically-titled website “Blessed Quietness”. It is one of over 1,400,000 sites to choose from when you Google the terms “Mary demonic apparition.” And that number gives you something of the flavor of Evangelical opinion concerning Marian apparitions approved by the Catholic Church. Just as “everybody knows” (in Evangelical circles) that Marian doctrine and devotion are “baptized paganism” without ever having to prove it, so “everybody knows” that Church-approved Marian apparitions are either the result of a human conspiracy to bubble people out of their money or, worse still, they are actual manifestations of the demonic as “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). For many Evangelicals, no further investigation is needed. True stories like Marie Bailly’s are often summarily dismissed with Zola-esque ruthlessness as “lying signs and wonders” produced by lucre-hungry clerics or the lying powers of fallen angels. The possibility that the Blessed Virgin actually appeared to anyone is almost never seriously entertained by Evangelicals.
That said, just for grins and giggles, let look at how the Catholic Church deals with such claims. Of which more next time.