"Mother" Teresa (1910-1997)

 General Teachings/Activities

"Mother" Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents in what is now Yugoslavia/Bosnia on August 27, 1910. She died of a heart attack on September 5, 1997.

The diminutive nun arrived in India on January 6, 1929, where she started assisting the needy and eventually established the now-global "Missionaries of Charity" organization. Ultimately, more than 500 missions in 100 countries were established. Yet, "Mother" Teresa, and those who worked with her, never tried to convert to Christ the dying people for whom they cared. 

Instead, "Mother" Teresa declared: "If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. ... What God is in your mind you must accept" (from Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, by Desmond Doig, p. 156).

How did "Mother" Teresa become such a great symbol of charity and saintliness?

Her break into stardom came when Malcolm Muggeridge -- a very pious British political and social pundit -- adopted her for his pet cause. In 1969, he made a very famous film about her life -- and later a book -- called Something Beautiful for God. Both the book and the film deserve the label hagiography. So it wasn't the result of the propaganda of the "Holy Office," but when the Catholic church realized it had a winner on its hands, it was quick to adopt her.

She was a very great favorite of the faithful and a very good advertisement to attract non-believers or non-Catholics. And she was very useful for the current pope as a weapon against reformists and challengers within the church. (Source: "An Interview with Christopher Hitchens on Mother Teresa," Fall 1996, Free Inquiry, pp. 54-55.)

Acknowledging that "Mother" Teresa was a good woman from the human perspective does not answer the question: [Was] "Mother" Teresa a regenerate Christian in the Biblical sense -- a woman and an organization with which Christians should associate and work?

The secular world honored her with the Nobel Peace Prize (1979) and accolades on every hand. In 6/85, she received from President Reagan the highest United States civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom award. In 10/85, she received the "warmest ovation of the United Nation's 40th anniversary celebration." It [was] not all that surprising to see the world, Catholicism, and liberal Protestantism offer unqualified applause to "Mother" Teresa. More significant and difficult to understand [was] the applause given to her by those claiming to be Bible-believing Christians. This, though, is evidenced on every hand ("Is Mother Teresa a True Christian?," by David W. Cloud, pp. 5-6).

"Mother" Teresa was a thoroughgoing Catholic.

She was a great worshiper of Mary; she believed the cracker of the mass is Jesus Christ; she believed all men are children of God. In her speech before the United Nations in October 1985, she said, "We gather to thank God for the 40 years of the beautiful work of the United Nations for the good of the people. No color, no religion, no nationality should come between us -- we are all children of God. ... When we destroy an unborn child, we destroy God" (11/11/85, Christian News, p. 17).

Other notable quotes from "Mother" Teresa
(12/4/89, Time magazine, pp. 11,13): (All emphases added):

a.   "The dying, the crippled, the mentally ill, the unwanted, the unloved -- they are Jesus in disguise. ... [through the] poor people I have an opportunity to be 24 hours a day with Jesus." [On another occasion, she again demonstrated her pantheistic religious philosophy: "Every AIDS victim is Jesus in a pitiful disguise; Jesus is in everyone.. ... [AIDS sufferers are] children of God [who] have been created for greater things" (1/13/86, Time).]

b.    "You must make them feel loved and wanted. They are Jesus for me."

c.    "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." [On another occasion, she again demonstrated her false gospel that 'there are many ways to God': "All is God -- Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God."]

In her book, Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations, and Prayers

"Mother" Teresa says on pp. 81-82:
"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."

But Jesus Christ clearly stated, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn. 14:6). "Mother" Teresa could not have preached a clearer false gospel than that quoted above.

It should be clear that "Mother" Teresa was anything but an Evangelical Christian

She was a self-sacrificing woman who followed a false religion. Consider some quotes from her speech at the 10/84 Worldwide Retreat for Priests:
"Without a priest, without Jesus going with them, our sisters couldn't go anywhere."
"When the priest is there, then can we have our altar and our tabernacle and our Jesus. Only the priest put Jesus there for us. ... Jesus wants to go there, but we cannot bring him unless   you first give him to us. This is why I love priests so much. We could never be what we are and do the things we do without you priests who first bring Jesus to us." "Mary ... is our patroness and our Mother, and she is always leading us to Jesus."

No one would deny that "Mother" Teresa did a marvelous piece of wonderful humanitarian work among the poor and neglected of the world, but what gospel did she preach to them? She definitely did not lead them to the one, true, eternal salvation through the finished sacrifice of Calvary.

Mother" Teresa provided the classic example of compassionate and charitable deeds divorced from truth. She said that her purpose was to bring her patients closer to the "God" in whom they already believe; so that a Hindu becomes a better Hindu, a Buddhist a better Buddhist, etc.1 (Vatican II says those of all religions are somehow saved through the Church.)

She told how to witness for Jesus: In an interview with a nun who worked with "Mother" Teresa , dying Hindus were instructed to pray to their own Hindu gods!2 (reported in Christian News):

"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.'"  She was instructing these staunch Hindus to pray sincerely to their own Hindu idols and she felt that if they did this, God would certainly not judge them! No matter how plausible from man's earthly vantage point, when good works are conducted by unregenerate religious people, what is promoted is a cursed false gospel, encouraging the lost heathen to have hope in their false gods, even as they lay upon their death beds. In God's eyes, therefore, the entire endeavor was a cursed one, and no Christian should have supported, assisted, or praised a work cursed by God!

Since "Mother" Teresa has been labeled by many "Christian" leaders as the greatest modern day example of Christianity, a look at her theology and beliefs is especially appropriate.

Mother Teresa -- A Simple Path contains inside cover notes declaring it "a unique spiritual guide." Thus, from it we can learn of her beliefs. A paragraph in the Foreword sets the foundation for its reading. (Source: A Review of A Simple Path, by L. Barnes):

"The Christian way has always been to love God and ones neighbor as oneself. Yet Mother Teresa has, perhaps with the influence of the East, distilled six steps to creating peace in ourselves and others that can be taken by anyone -- even someone of no religious beliefs or of a religious background other than Christian -- with no insult to beliefs or practices. This is why, when reading Mother Teresa's words and those of her community, we may, if we choose, replace the references to Jesus with references to other godheads or symbols of divinity" (p. xxviii).

Her six steps to creating peace are:

silence, prayer, faith, love, service, and peace. For those who don't know if they believe much in anything, "Mother" Teresa suggested they try small acts of love toward others. She strongly believed in prayer for everyone. She found no problem praying with Hindus, Muslims and other faiths. Three pages of sample prayers are prefaced with, "You could replace 'Jesus' by 'God' if you are not a Christian" (p. 35).

In 184 pages, there was nothing stating that salvation was through Jesus alone. She wrote, "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" (p. 31). There is no attempt to let others know that Jesus is the only way. There is no hint that "Mother" Teresa or her "sisters" believed the narrow way Jesus preached (cf. Matt. 7:13-14).

Scriptures were limited to three quotes from Jesus on the subject of serving, with no book, chapter, or verse references. Since this was a book on "Mother" Teresa's faith, no Scripture until page 55 is quite a statement in itself. Rather than Scripture, there was page after page of humanitarian testimonies. The value of God's Word was not evident. In fact, "Mother" Teresa had a different word of God -- "Sister" Theresina put it this way, "We pray the Rosary as we go out -- it's our weapon, the word of God" (p. 125).

The following is from an interview with a Catholic nun, "Sister" Ann, who worked in Kathman-du, Nepal, with "Mother" Teresa's organization Missionaries of Charity.

The interview was conducted 11/23/84 at the Pashupati Temple

Q: Do you believe if they die believing in Shiva or in Ram [Hindu gods] they will go to heaven?

A: Yes, that is their faith. My own faith will lead me to God, ... So if they have believed in their god very strongly, if they have faith, surely they will be saved.

Q: Today it does not seem that the Catholic Church is trying to convert anymore. I know that John Paul II is saying now that those of other religions are saved. You do not believe they are lost anyway, right?

A: No, they are not lost. They are saved according to their faith, you know. If they believe whatever they believe, that is their salvation.
Obviously, then, "Mother" Teresa was both a pantheist and a Universalist -- Universalists maintain that Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and other non-Christians can get to heaven without saving faith in Christ; they are those who believe that all who sincerely follow their own religions or beliefs will be saved. "Mother" Teresa told Muslims and Jews that they worship the same God that Christians worship. "Mother" Teresa even called atheistic communists children of God!

In 12/96, a former nun in "Mother" Teresa's order wrote the following letter (Source: FBIS, 2/1/97):

"I myself was in Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity. I am now a Christian. I was saved on 3/3/96 ... You are quite right about the pagan influences on the order. When I was a postulant in Rome, we had Hindu-style meditation techniques from a book called "Sadhana" by Father Antony De Mello. Mother Teresa behaves like a Hindu guru. She visits each convent at six monthly to yearly intervals. The sisters seem to live for these visits and sit worshipfully at her feet when she gives one of her talks. On the special occasion when she presented us with our personal rosaries (in the postulancy in Rome) she said, "My words are scripture for you," and of course she was right. All the letters which she writes on "spiritual" matters are kept, printed and copied and bound into volumes. Each convent has a copy of these volumes of her words which are studied daily as Christians study the Bible. Cuttings of Mother Teresa's hair and pieces of her saris are kept in a cupboard in Rome, ready to be made into relics when she is canonized.

"But my main worry was the corporal penances used by the sisters and kept in small hand-made drawstring bags, along with toothbrush, needle and thread, etc. These include a whip made of rope and bracelets and waist-chains made of something similar to gardening wire which pierce the flesh. These penance implements are made by the novices in Rome. This is dangerous to the health, but is kept secret." (Signed, Pamela Hursch, England).

Christopher Hitchens, in his book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (Verso:1995), and in his television program, strongly criticized "Mother" Teresa. He documented the pitiful conditions of "Mother" Teresa's care facilities, despite the millions of dollars she collected yearly. The care facilities were grotesquely simple: rudimentary, unscientific, miles behind any modern conception of what medical science is supposed to do.

Very rightly, it was said that she tended to the dying, because if you were doing anything but dying, she hadn't really much to offer.
Hitchens was not indicting her with a lack of compassion or with cruelty toward her patients.

The problem was her Roman Catholic belief that personal suffering helps to earn one's salvation.

She thought suffering was good, and she didn't use pain relievers in her clinics. She had said that the suffering of the poor is something very beautiful and the world is being very much helped by the nobility of this example of misery and suffering. Many Catholic priests and nuns, to this day, wear hair undergarments, put stones in their shoes, flagellate themselves and otherwise try to merit heaven by suffering. Poverty and suffering are not simply endured, but are sought and even created. Just as she hoped to earn her way to heaven through her own deprivation and suffering, so "Mother" Teresa hoped to help her patients as well to reach heaven through the suffering she imposed upon them.

In Roman Catholicism, baptism is essential for salvation.

It is known that "Mother" Teresa's assistants secretly "baptized" patients by placing a damp cloth on fevered brows, under their breath saying the magic formula that allegedly erases original sin and gives entrance into the kingdom of God. Of course, the uncertain route leads through purgatory and additional suffering in its flames before the gates of heaven can be opened. But then, according to "Mother" Teresa, suffering is good.

"Mother" Teresa (who herself, it should be noted, had checked into some of the finest and costliest clinics and hospitals in the West during her bouts with heart trouble and old age) once gave this game away in a filmed interview. She described a person who was in the last agonies of cancer and suffering unbearable pain. With a smile, "Mother" Teresa told the camera what she told this terminal patient: "You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you" (Hitchens, p. 41).

Contradictions abounded, not the least being her association with a number of unsavory persons with whom she had been photographed and from whom she had received large sums of money and to whom she had given her blessing and endorsement. There she was in 1981, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in a photo with Michele Duvalier, wife of the infamous dictator Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier. The occasion was "Mother" Teresa's reception of the Haitian Legion d'honneur award. In return, she praised the wonderful treatment of the poor in Haiti, when actually they were enduring a living hell. The Duvaliers had to flee Haiti not long thereafter to save their wealth and their lives.

Then we have the photo taken with John-Roger, whom at that time almost everyone had already recognized as the most obvious of frauds, leader of the "Insight" cult known as "Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness" (MSIA). Ironically, the occasion was her acceptance of the "Integrity Award," along with a check for $10,000, from this shameless charlatan who claimed to have a "spiritual consciousness" superior to that of Jesus Christ.

Consider one more example of the associations of this legendary woman. The photo is with Charles Keating of Lincoln Savings and Loan, now in prison for having swindled hundreds of millions of dollars from simple folk. Keating, a staunch Roman Catholic whom "Mother" Teresa visited whenever in California, gave her more that a million dollars. She wrote to Judge Lance Ito requesting leniency for Keating during his trial. (Source: "An Interview with Christopher Hitchens on Mother Teresa," Fall 1996, Free Inquiry, pp. 53-58; and The Berean Call, 10/96.)

"Mother" Teresa was very much in the mainstream of the ecumenical world evangelization project "Evangelization 2000."

She was on hand in June, 1987, by invitation, to help dedicate the offices of Evangelization 2000 in Rome. She was an honorary member of Lumen 2000, the electronic media aspect of Evangelization 2000. The first issue of New Evangelization 2000 featured "Mother" Teresa prominently with photographs of her, and one entire article entitled, "Mother Teresa Promises Support." (Reported in the 2/15/93, Bold Truth Press.) ["Mother" Teresa was also scheduled to join the Dalai Lama and hundreds of other world religious leaders at the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993 in Chicago. She was scheduled to lead a closed session of key participants on future co-operative efforts among the world's religions, but was forced to cancel for health reasons.]

"Mother" Teresa was also involved in various projects with New Agers and "one-worlders."

In 1985, "Mother" Teresa attended a conference sponsored by the United Nations University of Peace whose featured agenda was a call to bring about the New World Order. Others participating in the "Spirit of Peace" conference included Marilyn Ferguson, leading proponent of the New Age movement; Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands, commonly known as a leader of the one-world secret elitist society, the Bilderbergers; "His Holiness" Tenzin Gyatso, the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet; Helen Caldicott, president of "Physicians for Social Responsibility," an organization favoring U.S. unilateral disarmament; Bishop Desmond Tutu, proponent of leftist revolution in South Africa; and New Ager Robert Muller, Ass't. Secretary General of the U.N., in charge of coordinating the work of 32 specialized agencies and world programs. [Reported in "Ecumenism, 'Global Spirituality' and Mother Teresa," Christian Inquirer (April 1985), p. 26; and The Prophecy Newsletter (Vol. 1, No. 5, p. 6).]

"Mother" Teresa also participated in the "Summit for Peace" in Assisi, Italy, in November 1986.

This blasphemous prayer meeting was arranged by the Pope and was attended by leaders of many different religions, including Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Shinto, Sikh, and North American Indian -- all of whom united in prayers for world peace (11/10/86, Time magazine, pp. 78-79).

"Mother" Teresa is apparently on a fast track to become a Catholic saint.

Normally, there is a five-year wait before the process of "sainthood" is pursued, but Pope John Paul II made an exception for "Mother" Teresa and the process began within a year of her demise. There are three steps to sainthood: veneration, beatification, and canonization. Step two, which requires confirmation of a miracle, is possibly nearing completion for "Mother" Teresa, as a 12-member inquiry tribunal is looking at alleged miracles caused by her. In particular, they are examining the disappearance of a malignant tumor from a village girl's stomach.

But the Bible says nothing about a special class of saints who can hear and answer prayer. The term "saint" is used in Scripture to refer to every born again child of God (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2, etc.). Many evangelical leaders praised "Mother" Teresa while she was alive. Why do they not lift their voices publicly today to condemn this idolatrous, heretical saintification process? (Source: 7/6/01, FBIS.)

In diaries scheduled to be published in 12/2002 in Italy, "Mother" Teresa described terrible, nagging doubts that plagued her mind for the last 50 years of her life.

The Italian newspaper Il Messeggero said, "The real Mother Teresa was one who for one year had visions and who for the next 50 had doubts -- until her death." In 1958 she wrote, "My smile is a great cloak that hides a multitude of pains." In another letter she said: "The damned of hell suffer eternal punishment because they experiment with the loss of God. In my own soul, I feel the terrible pain of this loss. I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist." The Bible says that the true believer in Jesus Christ has eternal life as a gift of God and that it is not of works but of faith (John 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9). The Bible gives the true believer a blessed assurance of salvation (1 John 5:11-13). The believer's hope is not an uncertain thing, but is "an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast" (Heb. 6:18-19). "Mother" Teresa, on the other hand, had no assurance of salvation, because she put her faith in Rome's false sacramental-works gospel. (Source: 12/6/02, FBIS.)

In September of 2001, Archbishop of Calcutta Henry D'Souza said "Mother" Teresa had an exorcism performed on her while in the hospital in 1997, but he said this would not affect her candidacy for sainthood (9/7/01, Religion Today). The exorcism took place in a hospital where she had gone for cardiac problems. The archbishop himself had been hospitalized at the same facility and shared the same doctor as "Mother" Teresa. He said he noticed that while "Mother" Teresa was calm during the day, at night she appeared "extremely agitated." D'Souza said "Mother" Teresa would pull off wires and other monitoring equipment stuck to her body.

He said that is when he believed "Mother" Teresa "might be under the attack of the evil one." He offered to arrange for an exorcism for the elderly nun. She agreed. "So I said let's do the prayer of exorcism over her. So I called one of the priests who was a holy man in Calcutta ..." After the exorcism was over, the archbishop said "Mother" Teresa "slept like a baby." D'Souza said the revelations about "Mother" Teresa show that she was "both holy and human," making her even more special. (Source: 9/5/01, Satinder Bindra, CNN New Delhi Bureau.)


1  When "Mother" Teresa died, her longtime friend and biographer Naveen Chawla said that he once asked her bluntly, "Do you convert?" She replied, "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" ("Mother Teresa Touched Other Faiths," Associated Press, 9/7/97).  [Return to Text]

2  The April 7-13, 1990, issue of Radio Times tells the story of "Mother" Teresa sheltering an old Hindu priest. "She nursed him with her own hands and helped him to die reconciled with his own gods."  [Return to Text]

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 2/2003