Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On the Assumption of Mary into Heaven



Apparently, Pope Benedict XVI has explained to the faithful that Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven at the end of the course of her earthly life – though only dogmatically defined in 1950 by Pope Pius XII – is something that Christians throughout the world have always believed, confessed and celebrated.

Not all of us, of course.

Today is her Feast Day, and His Grace wishes all his Roman Catholic readers and communicants a blessed and holy day of obligation. The above film is a record of the original ex cathedra pronouncement, on 1st November 1950. According to the Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation refers to Mary's bodily assumption.

His Grace is (very) reliably informed that De Gasperi, Andreotti and Schumann were all present.

247 Comments:

Blogger Christopher Gillibrand said...

They are in the video. Andreotti still lives! Adenauer was also a devout Catholic, as was Monet. Not sure where they were on the day.

15 August 2012 at 16:01  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

And so Mary is, yet again, placed on a pedestal!

15 August 2012 at 16:07  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Youthpasta,

God forbid we venerate the Lady who bore and raised our Lord and Saviour.

15 August 2012 at 16:37  
Blogger Galant said...

Pardon my ignorance - what's the significance of the attendance of De Gasperi, Andreotti and Schumann?

15 August 2012 at 17:10  
Blogger Galant said...

I mean, apart from their ties to the founding of the EU - why this particular event?

15 August 2012 at 17:12  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Lakester91

God forbid that we should assign to a creature that which belongs to God alone.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant me ever to be able to call upon thy powerful name, since thy name is the help of the living and the salvation of the dying. Ah, Mary most pure, Mary most sweet, grant that thy name from this day forth may be to me the very breath of life. Dear Lady, delay not to come to my assistance whenever I call upon thee; for in all the temptations that assail me, in all the necessities that befall me, I will never leave off calling upon thee, ever repeating: Mary, Mary. What comfort, what sweetness, what confidence, what tenderness fills my soul at the sound of thy name, at the very thought of thee! I give thanks to our Lord, who for my sake hath given thee a name so sweet, so lovable, so mighty. But I am not content merely to speak thy name; I would utter it for very love of thee; it is my desire that love should ever remind me to name thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.

When you create a prayer in which all the references to Mary may be replaced with references to God without any other changes, then something is wrong. That isn't "veneration." That is idolatry.

carl

15 August 2012 at 17:15  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Of course, it would help if we knew a bit more about heaven. One always hoped it was a purely spiritual setup, with no physical dimensions. So, no body to wear out over time - indeed, there would be no time itself. Time being a dimension of this universe, and one would think heaven is not of this universe. You would just be, forever, in that entity. Nearer to the creator than we are at present. If it can match that moment, during a weekend lie in, when you are neither conscious nor unconscious beneath the sheets, then count this man in…





15 August 2012 at 18:24  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Catholics do not believe that Mary holds equal importance with Christ who was the son of God.
When she died she was assumed into Heaven in the dead state before her body was corrupted. This is not to be confused with the resurrection where Christ arose from the dead and appeared to many and after three days ascended into Heaven.

15 August 2012 at 18:29  
Blogger Terry Hudson said...

If someone were to invent the Roman Catholic Church today, and present their beliefs for scrutiny, they would be categorised with the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.

A cult, and only vaguely Christian.

Quite frightening really, that anyone could fall for this superstitious nonsense!

15 August 2012 at 18:32  
Blogger outsider said...

Your grace,
Would I be right in thinking that the Assumption of Mary confirmed by His Holiness means something rather different from what was pronounced in 1950?
At that time, whatever the learned theology about Heaven, perhaps the ordinary folk were given to think it was a place above the clouds or among or beyond the stars. I doubt if that is really true today. Rather, I suspect, Heaven is somewhere between a parallel spiritual universe and a part of the mind that may conceivably be tapped into in life but only fully experienced at death. Forgive my crude theology but if that is so, the meaning of Mary's Assumption would not be as accepted in 1950 but something more subtle and mythic, an analogy rather than an event.

15 August 2012 at 18:35  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

It is frightening that Terry Hudson calls himself a Methodist Minister (presumably of a Christian denomination and being responsible for pastoral care) behaving like a bigot.I suppose he thinks the Resurrection is superstitious nonsense as well. Is he a proponent of the latest modern pagan methodist cult labouring under extremely feint illusions of Christianity condoning ssm.. (now this is perverted nonsense).

15 August 2012 at 18:58  
Blogger Anglican said...

Mary is very important in the Christian faith. Without her willing consent there could have been no Incarnation. She was the only person present throughout the life, death & resurrection of Christ, and can rightly be called the Mother of the Church. But she was not divine.

As for her Assumption, this is not found in Scripture or in the early traditions of the Church. It is speculative - a reasonable speculation in the eyes of many - but only a speculation. It should not therefore be a doctrine of the Church.

The Eastern Orthodox believe in the Assumption (which they call the Dormition of the Virgin) as fervently as any Roman Catholic, but they have wisely not called it a doctrine of the Church as belief in it is not necessary for salvation.

15 August 2012 at 18:58  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

And why is he sobbing into a tea towel?

15 August 2012 at 18:59  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Lakester's, my heart bears the Holy Spirit, indeed it has done so for about 30 years, not just a minuscule 9 months. Does this mean I get to be venerated too?

15 August 2012 at 19:18  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Nothing like Mary, mother of God, to bring the cold hearted stark protestant boys beating at the door...


15 August 2012 at 19:39  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Youthpasta your 30 year out of body hallucinagenic experience cannot be compared with venerating the Mother of God.Incidentally a nine month pregnancy is not miniscule.

15 August 2012 at 19:41  
Blogger len said...

Mary the mother of Jesus Christ was a highly favoured Woman and as such she should be respected.

The Catholic Church has created a theology around Mary that makes her an equal to Jesus Christ.
The Catholic elevation of Mary was probably to placate the pagans who wish to become 'Christians' but to still worship their own gods and to bring them into 'Christianity'.
The 'Mother figure' featured greatly in pagan religions.




15 August 2012 at 19:54  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Cressida

Catholics do not believe that Mary holds equal importance with Christ who was the son of God.
When she died she was assumed into Heaven in the dead state before her body was corrupted.


It is a defined dogma of the RCC that Mary did not die but was assumed into heaven. This dogma must be accepted by Roman Catholics on penalty of anathema. The Church of Rome teaches that Mary was cleansed of sin and purified before she was born. It has dogmatically defined that Mary never sinned. That's why it asserts that she didn't die.

carl

15 August 2012 at 20:03  
Blogger David B said...

Seems to me that there is an awful lot of assuming about Mary.

David B

15 August 2012 at 20:08  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 August 2012 at 20:08  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Mary is not the equal of God in any Catholic dogma, encyclical or teaching. Veneration is not the same as adoration. And the European Union is not a Catholic plot. Other than that, the level of truth and accuracy on this thread is entirely in line with what one would expect from our estranged brethren. Len, stop reading 19th century sensationalist anti-Catholic publications and try somebody who knows what he's talking about; I recommend GK Chesterton. Terry - you're a heretic. When Christ said, "On this rock I will build my Church", He wasn't talking to John Wesley.

15 August 2012 at 20:12  
Blogger Avellanos said...

There's a lot of misunderstanding about RC beliefs and teachings, and they take a lot of flack for things they don't actually believe. Nevertheless, despite reasserting the delineation between veneration and adoration, no-one seems to have responded to Carl Jacob's comment. Whatever the definitions offered, the prayer he quotes seems to me to show that in the minds of many (most? all?) Roman Catholics Mary occupies a place far beyond than that which is due her. The titles given to her in that prayer are incredible.

15 August 2012 at 20:31  
Blogger Avellanos said...

Additionally, while we're on the subject, I would be appreciative is someone could explain to me a few things I've been curious about. Why pray to saints at all, if one can pray to God? This belief, as with others, seems to be a potential obstacle between man and God and maybe man and man. God is obviously capable of receiving and answering prayer, and growing in love for and knowledge and intimacy with Him is not only encouraged but the whole point of the Gospel. Additionally, in our needs, we are encouraged to go to one another here on Earth, and help and bear one another. So I've wondered if praying to saints isn't a potential obstacle in those two areas.

15 August 2012 at 20:46  
Blogger Albert said...

Thank you, Dr C for your kind greetings on this glorious day in which we celebrate his victory embodied in the redeemed.

15 August 2012 at 20:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Inspector: "If it can match that moment, during a weekend lie in, when you are neither conscious nor unconscious beneath the sheets, then count this man in…"

With or without morning wood? :)

15 August 2012 at 20:56  
Blogger Avellanos said...

The other question I have concerns Mary's Immaculate Conception. My understanding of it is that she was conceived free from original sin and kept sinless throughout life so that Christ could be free from the taint of sin in His origin.

If that is the case, then the very fact of the Immaculate Conception seems to also make it pointless. If Mary can be born free from sin in every way, then why couldn't that also apply to Jesus directly? It's seemed to me that if the Immaculate Conception is necessary then it is also impossible, but if it is possible then it is also unnecessary.

Sorry for the questions, it just a family member joined the RCC a few years ago and I've been trying to get to grips with it all since.

Thanks.

15 August 2012 at 21:06  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Its a shame we can't agree on what is factual. Len says "The Catholic Church has created a theology around Mary that makes her an equal to Jesus Christ".

What is factual is that the Catholic Church does most definitely NOT make Mary an equal of Jesus. Jesus existed before the world was made because he is God incarnate. Mary was created but she was special because the absolute perfection of God the son could not have been born from a body tainted by Original Sin. To assume otherwise is not to understand the disastrous consequences of Adam's sin or the absolutely incompatibility of God's supreme goodness with human failure. By all means let's have a debate about the Assumption of Mary or any other Catholic doctrine but let's not twist Catholic theology into what some people would like it to mean in order that they may then criticise something of their own making. The earlier comment about the Orthodox should surely be listened too because for 1500 years before Protestantism was invented BOTH Catholic and Orthodox believed in the Assumption of Mary and venerate her as a special creature and NOT as a divine being. That is very clear, the continuous claims of Protestantism that we worship Mary as divine and give her an equality with Jesus is not true. How many times do we have to say it?

15 August 2012 at 21:08  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

God forbid that we should assign to a creature that which belongs to God alone.

Of course.

When you create a prayer in which all the references to Mary may be replaced with references to God without any other changes, then something is wrong. That isn't "veneration." That is idolatry.

There are two things wrong here. Firstly, you have given no evidence to support your major premise, and in fact, it seems quite false to me.

In Hosea we read:

Therefore I am like a moth to E'phraim,
and like dry rot to the house of Judah.


Now, if the humility of God in speaking about himself is such that he can describe himself as a moth and as dry rot, then surely more or less any language used of a creature could equally well apply to God.

Hence, in the OT a number of passages of the Psalms, would fall foul of your dictat:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
[6] Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!


See how easily one could change "Jerusalem" to "God" here? Indeed, if the prayer your quoted had said

Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Mary
above my highest joy!


you would have rested your case for idolatry.

Again, consider how easy it is to read the OT typologically - that is to take the language of the OT addressed to man (a king for example) or to Israel and apply it, without any adjustment, to Christ (the Letter to the Hebrews gives examples). Or consider how easy it to take the language of the Song of songs and make it a dialogue between the soul and Christ.

At no point in any of this would you need to make "any other changes". All analogical language takes its meaning from its referent, so (as in all the above cases) it is enough that we know that the prayer is addressed to a mere creature for us to understand the language differently. Thus, when you say

When you create a prayer in which all the references to Mary may be replaced with references to God without any other changes, then something is wrong

you show you are not grasping how scriptural language speaks of God and creatures. The bottom line is that Protestant theology is so riddled with late Medieval nominalism that it is impossible for it to grasp the full richness of scripture, and as a result is riddled with apparent contradictions, where none really exists, once God is unmoored from such dodge shackles.

But the second problem with your post is that, ironically, as it stands the prayer probably couldn't be addressed to God, for it includes the line:

I give thanks to our Lord, who for my sake hath given thee a name so sweet, so lovable, so mighty.

Now under what theology does God need to receive from a higher in such a way?

It is a defined dogma of the RCC that Mary did not die but was assumed into heaven. This dogma must be accepted by Roman Catholics on penalty of anathema. The Church of Rome teaches that Mary was cleansed of sin and purified before she was born. It has dogmatically defined that Mary never sinned. That's why it asserts that she didn't die.

How exactly does that show Mary holds equal importance with Christ who was the son of God (the point you seemed to be answering)? Was Christ cleansed from sin, was he purified? Will the resurrection and the glorification of the elect make them equal with Christ?

Catholics are often accused of worshipping Mary. Protestants might like to think about the Catholic rejection: if our devotion to Mary looks like the worship you offer to God, perhaps it is your worship that is substandard.

15 August 2012 at 21:19  
Blogger Albert said...

Avellanos,

My understanding of it is that she was conceived free from original sin and kept sinless throughout life so that Christ could be free from the taint of sin in His origin.

Certainly, some Catholics have argued it that way, but I don't think it is the correct line of reasoning - as you point out. To get a sense of the what the Immaculate Conception is getting at we need to consider two biblical doctrines:

(i) The holiness of God: as St Paul says:

Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

If God's holiness means believers should not be mismated with unbelievers, how much less can God himself? Hence in Job we read:

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.

and again, our Lord teaches:

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
[17] So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.
[18] A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.


(ii) Now consider that God really took flesh of the Virgin Mary. Her flesh became his flesh.

If you cannot bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing, and darkness and light have no fellowship, neither do righteousness and iniquity, and only good fruit can only come from a good tree, and the fruit of Mary is God himself, you can see how, grasping the full reality of what scripture points to, the Church, guided by the same Spirit who inspired the sacred texts, has been led to receive Mary and grasped her to be immaculate, without sin.

15 August 2012 at 21:31  
Blogger Albert said...

Cont.

It is presumably, because of it's evident biblical basis that the leader of the Reformation, Martin Luther, held the Immaculate Conception over 300 years before it was defined for Catholics.

15 August 2012 at 21:34  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Albert. if our devotion to Mary looks like the worship you offer to God, perhaps it is your worship that is substandard.

What an inspired line Sir !



15 August 2012 at 21:36  
Blogger Avellanos said...

Shackle, the problem isn't that you haven't been heard, the problem is that things like the prayer quoted above are also heard, and one seems to contradict the other.

It's alright to point out the "fine print" of why Mary isn't like Christ and that the intention isn't to worship her, but when you have prayers which call Mary, "the refuge and hope of sinners", "the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners", and when it is declared of her that, "thy name is the help of the living and the salvation of the dying", "if thou protect me, I shall fear nothing", and "thou art mightier than all the powers of hell", and when people say of her such things as, "I am fearful lest in the occasions of sin I shall forget to call upon thee and so I shall be lost", "hold out thy hand to a fallen wretch, who commends himself to thee and dedicates himself to be thy servant forever", "I know that thou wilt help me, if I commend myself to thee", "Mother of Perpetual Help, permit me not to lose my God", "grant me ever to be able to call upon thy powerful name, since thy name is the help of the living and the salvation of the dying", "grant that thy name from this day forth may be to me the very breath of life", "in all the temptations that assail me, in all the necessities that befall me, I will never leave off calling upon thee", "In thy hands I place my eternal salvation; to thee I entrust my soul", "take me under thy protection and it is enough for me", "I fear only that through my own negligence I may forget to recommend myself to thee and so I shall be lost", "obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins" and finally, "I shall fear nothing...not even Jesus, my Judge, for He is appeased by a single prayer from thee", then I don't think it unreasonable for people to think that the truth is something other than as described.

As long as there are prayers like that, I think you're going to have to "say it" over and over again, with the very real possibility that there will always be those who don't believe it.

15 August 2012 at 21:59  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Mary has always been popular with women. Having witnessed her own son’s execution, you can see how she can be a source of comfort to women who have lost there's. One particularly thinks of the sons who were killed in the numerous wars...

It’s part of warm hearted Catholicism...


15 August 2012 at 22:11  
Blogger Avellanos said...

Albert, thank you for the explanation, but I still don't see any change in the reasoning. The language you use is 'higher' but in the end, if Mary was "a clean thing", then surely when she was born she came from "an unclean thing"? Mary herself would be the example that the 'clean and holy' can be borne by the 'sinful and unclean', would she not?

I always thought that along with the cross, the Incarnation was the ultimate demonstration of God's love and humility. I've never seen it that being borne by sinful flesh would somehow 'taint' Christ. He, himself, taught that it is not the physical which makes one holy or unholy, but the spiritual - the choices we make as we speak and act - what comes out of each of us individually. Christ was able to remain holy and sinless even though He mingled with "prostitutes and sinners". It doesn't make sense to me that just being within and then born by a sinful woman would make Him sinful, or tainted. ???

15 August 2012 at 22:18  
Blogger Albert said...

Avellanos,

The language you use is 'higher' but in the end, if Mary was "a clean thing", then surely when she was born she came from "an unclean thing"? Mary herself would be the example that the 'clean and holy' can be borne by the 'sinful and unclean', would she not?

I have no doubt that Mary's mother was a particularly righteous mother. However,the fruit of St Anne's womb (Mary) is not comparable with the fruit of Mary's womb (Jesus). Each mother would have been purified to enable her to bring forth the child she was called to bring forth. Hence, it is not your reasoning I dispute, but your premise. Is not the whole history of the OT simply God preparing his people for his Son? This grew in intensity as the time of his Son's coming drew near, but that does not mean that Mary's mother must be as Mary. From St Anne came a mere woman, from Mary came God himself.

He, himself, taught that it is not the physical which makes one holy or unholy, but the spiritual

I think we need to be a little careful about this language. Christ was not a Platonist. After all, we are made holy by Christ's physical, flesh and blood offering on the cross. And in being made holy we are spiritual, even while being physical.

Christ was able to remain holy and sinless even though He mingled with "prostitutes and sinners". It doesn't make sense to me that just being within and then born by a sinful woman would make Him sinful, or tainted. ???

Do you really mean that comparison? That Christ was no nearer to his mother than he was to a prostitute? When we speak of God being born of Mary he really was her Son. He didn't pass through her, but was incarnate of her. His relationship with prostitutes and tax-collectors was quite different. He was not coming from them, but coming to them.

It doesn't make sense to me that just being within and then born by a sinful woman would make Him sinful, or tainted. ???

And that's the line that makes me think there is some misunderstanding. It's not that if Mary were sinful Christ would be sinful, it's that, if she were sinful, he wouldn't be born at all.

Now, I have offered a range of scriptural passages to express the biblical principle I am defending. What sense can you make of the incarnation in the light of them?

15 August 2012 at 22:52  
Blogger non mouse said...

Pretty boring in itself, Your Grace: the papa on his seato, surrounded by those at home in Rome, who 'fill the general coffers'! (Oh, the slings of outrageous fortune.)

Word-wise, of course, it's all Greek to me. Well... except for the Latin bits.

For example: ... er... is that a fig-leaf that I see before me? Because I have to know: is that statue from London or Florence?
Well, whatever. The omni-absence of those those Davidic bits provides an interesting juxtaposition of concepts, should a person care to think about it.

Must confess,though: I always loved the Vatican's own Pieta. That's the most beautiful statue I ever saw.


15 August 2012 at 22:54  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

I really don't get the idea of Mary needing to be untainted by sin so that Jesus' birth would also be untainted. Surely, by virtue of all her ancestors being human, Mary was tainted by Original Sin. Therefore, either her birth was made special (thus making Jesus' birth able to be special, therefore negating the need for Mary to have a special birth) or or her entire family line was made clean (therefore negating OS all together, given that she descends from Adam and Eve).

15 August 2012 at 22:57  
Blogger Albert said...

I really don't get the idea of Mary needing to be untainted by sin so that Jesus' birth would also be untainted.

Again: it's not about taint. It's not about assuming that original sin is some kind of pseudo physical condition that is mechanically passed down the genetic line.

Therefore, either her birth was made special (thus making Jesus' birth able to be special, therefore negating the need for Mary to have a special birth) or or her entire family line was made clean (therefore negating OS all together, given that she descends from Adam and Eve).

But Jesus and Mary are not the same, thus the conditions necessary for their births are not the same.

I repeat, it is not about some kind of mechanically passed on taint: it is about the holiness of God as revealed consistently in scripture. Therefore, the condition for the borth of God made man is different from that required for his mother.

15 August 2012 at 23:12  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

Is God not able to make a person holy after they are born?

15 August 2012 at 23:15  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

There often seems to be a fundamental philosophical difference between Protestantism and Catholicism in terms of practice.

Very basically, most Protestants, as Carl quite rightly noted in another thread, are defined by the "solas" - each of which takes something alone. Protestantism is, in many ways, the elemental vision of Christianity, in which Truth and theology are best - indeed, only - understood within the confines of those solas. Thus "Sola Scriptura" (Scripture alone) doesn't just mean "Scripture is best" it means "nothing else but Scripture". Likewise faith and grace are not just sufficient for salvation, they are exclusively the basis for salvation. And the same goes for Sola Christo and Soli Deo Gloria.

Catholicism also generally affirms these "elements" but does not do so in an exclusive fashion. In effect, in each there is an amplification or a magnification of the elements. Scripture is the basis, but Tradition is also authoritative on the basis that it does not contradict but merely augments what is written in the Bible. Salvation exists through Christ alone, but Christ works His salvation through saints - they are not necessary for it, but nor are they inimical to it. Glory is given to God alone, but also there is recognition of the Glory of God in others - in effect, Glory is not restricted to the Throne of God but suffuses the congregation of the Saints, and Our Lady. Faith is both necessary and sufficient for salvation, but it grows and strengthens through good works so that the two are organically related. Grace is divinely given and again sufficient, but its outworking must be a constant daily submission to God - it is the difference between a single difinitive moment that fundamentally alters one's nature, and bringing one's nature into alignment with God through a life of worship.

I have some sympathy with both. At the end of the day, I accede in Protestant fashion that the elements are enough. That the Good News alone is sufficient for salvation - that Scripture suffices. But I also tend to see the "extra stuff" in Catholicism as not being mutually exclusive with that first point.

So (hypothetically) I have no need to venerate the Virgin Mary to be proximate to God - Christ is enough for me. But why should I assume that my brother is blaspheming if he does this also and sees the Glory of God in Our Lady? If his Marian devotion merely enhances and deepens his faith in Christ, why should I denounce it?

There are perfectly good reasons - if it leads to a place where Christ is usurped, or if it starts a theology that departs from those elemental doctrines. But as others have made clear in this thread, for many Catholics none of that has occurred in their faith - they are not wandering "off" the path so much as entering deeper in.

Nor, though, do I think that the "deepening" in Catholicism is the only kind of spiritual maturity. There can be, and is a deepening in faith that occurs without a multiplication of foci or doctrines; a kind of purity or refinement in lifelong devotion to Jesus Christ. In that sense, I have to break with the Catholic requirement that some things - the Assumption being one - are doctrinally necessary.

In the middle, so to speak, I just regard my Protestant brothers and sisters and my Catholic brothers and sisters as just that: fellow members of the Body of Christ, and Citizens of the Kingdom-to-Come.

15 August 2012 at 23:24  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

Lord Jesus, grant me ever to be able to call upon thy powerful name, since thy name is the help of the living and the salvation of the dying. Ah, Lord Jesus most pure, Lord Jesus most sweet, grant that thy name from this day forth may be to me the very breath of life. Lord Jesus, delay not to come to my assistance whenever I call upon thee; for in all the temptations that assail me, in all the necessities that befall me, I will never leave off calling upon thee, ever repeating: Lord Jesus,Lord Jesus. What comfort, what sweetness, what confidence, what tenderness fills my soul at the sound of thy name, at the very thought of thee! I give thanks to the LORD, who for my sake hath given thee a name so sweet, so lovable, so mighty. But I am not content merely to speak thy name; I would utter it for very love of thee; it is my desire that love should ever remind me to name thee, Lord Jesus.

It all fits, Albert. Every word.

What you did not do in your response to me is address any of the references given to Mary in that prayer. Your response goes everywhere but to the source of the argument.

1. Mary's name is NOT the hope of the living.

2. Mary's name is NOT the salvation of the dying.

3. Mary's name is NOT powerful.

4. Mary's name is NOT the very breath of life.

5. Mary's name is NOT the name we call when subjected to temptation.

6. Mary is NOT capable of delivering us from temptation.

7. Mary was NOT given a mighty name for may sake.

None of this is Scriptural. The first two assertions in and of themselves clearly establish idolatry. Those are obviously two attributes that are properly attributed only to God. There is one name by which we must be saved, and that name is not Mary.

carl

15 August 2012 at 23:32  
Blogger Albert said...

Is God not able to make a person holy after they are born?

Yes, but consider two further points:

Jesus said: For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

Thus to her who is given the greatest (bringing forth God) must already be possessed of the greatest. The gift of the birth matches the grace already given. Since the gift is the highest possible, it is matched by the highest possible grace.

Secondly, you must consider that Eve was without original sin, but fell into sin. How can it be that she who triumphs over sin by saying "Behold the handmaid of the Lord" had less grace than she who failed? Steers dangerously close to pelagianism, don't you think?

But you seem to be asking for this to be proved logically from the text. This is hardly a scriptural demand. If scripture spoke with such clarity, why did the disciples on the road to Emmaus need Jesus to open the scriptures to them:

"O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
[26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
[27] And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.


Is it not evident that a person who approaches the scripture with a sceptical "it needs to be proved as logically necessary" would be hardly likely to accept Jesus' interpretation of his own scriptures as pointing to himself in these ways? Or be convinced by Paul's allegory in Gal. 4?

Scripture is not a set of premises for the logician to proceed from, rather it speaks of divine realities which transcend the human language, but which, by the same Spirit who inspires scripture, are made wonderfully present in the life of the Church. The truth of scripture is known only by communion with the realities themselves, by the power of the Holy Spirit, hence:

no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation

15 August 2012 at 23:40  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Carl's post is a good example of what I'm talking about.

It's the conflation of Jesus and Mary that so offends. But his list is drawn up in the negative. Does Scripture in fact tell us these (negative) things? Well, no actually. It tells us very little at all about Mary.

I'd formulate it like this:

1. Jesus' name IS the hope of the living.

2. Jesus' name IS the salvation of the dying.

3. Jesus' name IS powerful.

4. Jesus' name IS the very breath of life.

5. Jesus' name IS the name we call when subjected to temptation.

6. Jesus IS capable of delivering us from temptation.

7. Jesus IS given a mighty name for my sake.

The question to now ask is whether these things might also be seen in Mary without detracting from Christ. Sure, if they're intended as a substitution, there's something wrong - but Albert isn't arguing for that. So far, the only definite substitution going on is in Carl's thread. If we may see these things in Mary as an extension of those things in Christ, this is surely not the same as making Mary as Christ.

It sort of comes down to how you see God I guess: do you see Him as the Singular Mover, needing no aid, and therefore always inimical to the efforts of others, in which we must be "like Christ" by reflection. Or do you see Him as the Prime Mover, needing no aid, but always making us participants in His works, not as equals, but as beloved and honoured children "Christlike" in nature.

Or do you perhaps see both as being possible? That just as God is One and God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, these things need not be seen as mutually exclusive?

15 August 2012 at 23:43  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

Your problem is philosophical, not theological. You interpret everything - as your nominalism requires - univocally. I expressly did deal with your point, except I dealt with it in a general sense. Words cannot simply be used univocally, but (in this case) analogically. That is, the meaning is grasped by looking at to whom the words are addressed.
Look at the Psalm I gave you:

Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!


Is not God himself my highest joy? Would you accuse the Psalmist of idolatry? Of course God is the highest joy, and he was for the Psalmist. The meaning is made clear by the context.

Consider just the first line:

Mary's name is NOT the hope of the living.

Not in the sense that God is. But it is clearly not addressed to God. However, Eve is called "the mother of all living." Mary blots out the disobedience of Eve by obeying the word of God rather than the word of the serpent. By that obedience, she brings forth the salvation of all the world. Thus, in this sense, she is the hope of all the living.

Each line is understood in these ways. It uses principles that operate in normal speech, and, as I have shown, I would have thought ad tedium, in scripture.

15 August 2012 at 23:56  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

I really think you are onto something.

The question to now ask is whether these things might also be seen in Mary without detracting from Christ. Sure, if they're intended as a substitution, there's something wrong - but Albert isn't arguing for that. So far, the only definite substitution going on is in Carl's thread.

The key difference though, as I keep trying to point out is in the philosophical categories. In the late Medieval period these changed. The effect of these changes was, effectively to put God and creation on a collision course:

If something is in the creature, it is not of God, if something is of God, it is not of the creature. Hence: sola fide, imputed rather than infused righteousness.

To the earlier mindset, this was nonsensical. Nothing that is genuinely in the creature can detract from God, but rather is only there because of God. Indeed, for the earlier mindset, a doctrine like sola fide, was no doctrine of salvation at all, for the righteousness had to be in the creature (and hence of God).

This is the nub of all discussions between Protestants and Catholics: God has been reduced in the Protestant thought to a kind of large creature, rather than being so transcendent that there is no possibility of conflict between the two as far as God's causality is concerned - not even logically.

You've used the word "substitution" and pointed out that only Carl is doing it. But the very word "substitution" implies things on the same philosophical level. Surely, there is something (logically) wrong when God and creatures can be substituted?

This is why we Catholics often marvel at the willingness of Protestants to believe doctrines which plainly aren't in scripture (Luther's misuse of scripture being a famous example) while banging on about sola scriptura. It isn't scripture, but the assumptions that are brought to the text which narrow the horizons and exclude passages.

It is not therefore that we Catholics are too Medieval, while Protestants are scriptural, but rather the other way around. But because Protestants tended to jettison philosophy (because it is of that which is created and therefore in opposition to God), they are unable to find the way out of their conflict.

16 August 2012 at 00:12  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Belfast ,it is heartening to read your reasoned objective and intelligent opinions in matters pertaining to Catholicism in contrast to a rabid anti Catholic like Carl.

16 August 2012 at 00:13  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

Firstly I shall chide you for using medieval in a perjorative manner. Bad Albert. Naughty Albert.

Medieval nominalism of the Ockham or Abelard variety is not, in any case, quite as strictly nominal as more modern variations, and (as with much medieval thought) is rather more nuanced than its descendents.

But that aside, whilst happily acknowledging the agreement between us, might I turn the point on its head?

For just as it is reasonable to ask why Marian devotion must be mutually exclusive with devotion to Christ, it is reasonable to enquire why affirmation of the Assumption of Mary should be regarded as doctrinally necessary?

In other words: why NOT venerating Mary should be seen as a point for breaking fellowship?

Paul's discussion of eating food offered to idols seems to be directly pertinent here (1 Corinthians 8:passim):

"Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble." (1 Cor 8:8-10, my emphasis)

Obviously we could see this in a very specific way - and say that if one's brother has been involved in the worship of other powers it might not be so great to throw them in at the deep end of Marian Devotion. But we could, I think without too much strain, extend the example more generally: if your brother cannot, for fear of idolatory, devote himself in veneration of Our Lady, it behoves the Christian to not make a stumbling block of that veneration. Such as, say, making it a required doctrine?

It was the opening phrase of that particular chapter that caught my eye though:

"[W]e know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God." (1 Cor 8:1b-3)

Again, I'm applying this more generally than the specific example Paul is writing about. But it's here that I think we see the limits of philosophy in Christianity. Paul is writing to remind the Corinthians that though we may possess knowledge - pure, reliable, trustworthy knowledge - it isn't that which saves us: it's God. In practical implementation, that means that love bears out above just "being right", but also that such love is valuable in itself, without detracting from or invalidating "knowledge".

In that sense, the Church is characterised by the service of knowledge to love, with love covering human failures to grasp knowledge.

16 August 2012 at 01:25  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl said ...

"It is a defined dogma of the RCC that Mary did not die but was assumed into heaven."

Actually, this is not the case. In the dogmatic statement, the phrase "having completed the course of her earthly life," leaves open the question of whether the Virgin Mary died before her assumption or whether she was assumed before death; both possibilities are allowed.

Mary's assumption is said to have been a divine gift to her as the 'Mother of God'.

Do try to understand the doctrine before firing your cannons.

Dr Cranmer

Thank you for recalling this wonderful feast day and for your kind wishes to all Roman Catholics.

God Bless.

16 August 2012 at 01:29  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

A reasonble question of course is what do you do if a brother breaks fellowship BECAUSE you affirm the Assumption - are you then obliged to extend the love?

But I think that kind of question reflects more the prima facie assumption (no relation) that it is *us* who is the Eternal Church, rather than seeing the Eternal Church in both brothers professing Christ but not agreeing on Mary - and realising that it is being divided as a consequence.

Paul's writing doesn't evince that kind of thinking - even though he is comfortable employing it on other occasions. Here I think the model has to be that of seeking unity before seeking the Table of the Lord (Matthew 5:23-24). And how I wish it had been this that guided those involved in the Reformation - both the Reformers/Protestors and the Catholic hierarchy.

Both ended up thinking of themselves as the One True Church - and instead of behaving as the Church outlined in Scripture, sought to ensure that there were sufficient stumbling blocks to exclude their brothers. That's not an argument that both were as bad as each other, or a plague on all our houses. What happened happened. But what faces us today, firstly as individuals before God, and secondly as members of our respective congregations and denominations, is how we respond to one another in disagreement.

I think there's a good Scriptural model available to us, but it's not one that goes hand-in-hand with either triumphalism or denigration.

16 August 2012 at 01:38  
Blogger outsider said...

Dear X of Belfast,
(Re yours of 23:34)
Well-meant though your friendly comparison between the elemental Protestant and accrued Catholic teaching is, it seems to me that the Protestant "solas" rely just as heavily on priestly interpretation as does Catholic tradition. Only Soli Deo Gloria (or perhaps more correctly Solus Amor Dei)seems incontrovertible.
Reliance only on scripture is all very well but Luther indulged in some blithely spectacular pick and mix from various elements of the New Testament and rejected the Letter of James altogether. The solas disingenuously wave away many contradictions and uncertainties, sweep chunks of, for instance, Hebrews and Galatians under the carpet and render the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount a waste of space.
The Nicene Creed itself, the touchstone of "faith", is full of theological interpretation. Sola Fide is directly contradicted by infant baptism, for which biblical justification is tenuous.
It is possible (and in my view desirable) to come up with a completely different religion on the basis of Sola Scriptura.

16 August 2012 at 01:40  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Thank you Dodo for the clarification on the Assumption.Carl seems to think he is an expert on Catholic dogma.

I do not understand why Protestants think that Catholics regard Mary as a Divinity.God is the Divine and that is it.Apart from liturgical prayer we are not required to pray to the saints or Mary.What is the reason Protestants insist on keeping this misapprehension ongoing? There are far more important matters that separate us.

16 August 2012 at 02:31  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace is gracious as ever: Today is her Feast Day, and His Grace wishes all his Roman Catholic readers and communicants a blessed and holy day of obligation. Naturally, one echoes the sentiment.
__________

Further to this strand, I hope it is helpful to address another issue pertinent to Mary and our general concern with the euSSR.

Your Grace indicates that he ... is (very) reliably informed that De Gasperi, Andreotti and Schumann were all present [at the event presented in the video]
To this, Galant @ 17:10 and 17:12 responds: Pardon my ignorance - what's the significance of the attendance of De Gasperi, Andreotti and Schumann?
And: I mean, apart from their ties to the founding of the EU - why this particular event?

With due respect, I suggest that the answer lies in the reference His Grace supplies: According to the Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation refers to Mary's bodily assumption,.

It works as follows:-
*************

My RC Bible shows that Rev 12 begins: And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars:/And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered (1-2; my stress).*

Well. If that doesn’t remind anyone of the euSSR's rag (Blue background with twelve golden stars) .... no need to read further.
*************

However: Douay-Rheims annotates: “Ver 1. A woman The church of God. It may also, by allusion, be applied to our blessed Lady. The church is clothed with the sun, that is, with Christ: she hath the moon, that is, the changeable things of the world, under her feet: and the twelve stars with which she is crowned, are the twelve apostles: she is in labour and pain, whilst she brings forth her children, and Christ in them, in the midst of afflictions and persecutions.”

Which leads me to observe: In light of the eu rag and the gentlemen aforementioned, is this not also redolent of the conception of the Holy Roman Empire, Mark 2?

16 August 2012 at 03:45  
Blogger non mouse said...

cont'd...

*************
In Rev. 12:5, we learn that the Son “was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God and his throne.”

OK: Clear enough reference to the Ascension. But we know that the Crucifixion preceded the Ascension, so this bit also justifies recollection of the Romney/campaign videos His Grace posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2012.

These cited an Hispanic-Floridian source: “Catholics Called to Witness”(CC2W.org), and a visit to their website confirms their logo as a Crown of Thorns (“ring of barbed wire”) set on a blue background. The ring contains 3 red-gold stars, which I then suggested refer to the values “Marriage, Life, and Freedom [being] forged and assayed.”

That day I asked: “But what does the eu imagery mean to US-Floridian-Hispanics [RCs]? How much of it does Romney understand or support?” And also: “To what extent do US-Hispanics (RCs) fund Romney?” Today I renew my questions.
*************

OK, this is long, but there’s one more relevant point that links the BVM/Assumption with the euSSR.

Rev. 12:3-4 introduces us to the sign of the [fallen] Red Dragon [Satan] who waits to devour the newborn child; however, at 12:11 John tells us: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of the testimony.... Nevertheless: The dragon persecuted the woman (13), and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (17). [[[Christians persecuted in the euSSR? Uhuh.]]]

Now methinks the bits that could refer specifically to the Assumption are 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty days. And also 12:14... And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

So Mary is protected. But the RC Church? Christians at large?************ If cc2w is anything to go by, we're all in the forge, beset by the Red Dragon, but being washed in the blood of the Lamb.


************

As the Inspector might say: “Ahem”!!



-----------------------------------
All Biblical quotations here are from:
The Holy Bible: Douay Rheims Version. With Annotations, References, and an Historical and Chronological Index. Rev. by Bishop Richard Challoner A.D. 1749-1752. London: Baronius Press, 2003.

16 August 2012 at 04:00  
Blogger non mouse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16 August 2012 at 05:59  
Blogger non mouse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16 August 2012 at 06:10  
Blogger Terry Hudson said...

I am sure that Mary was a nice lady, and probably a good wife to Joseph, and also, for what it's worth, a good mum to her children.

But Queen of Heaven? Nah...

Mariology is fascinating, but it's far removed from Christianity.

:)

16 August 2012 at 08:30  
Blogger sfw said...

Your Grace is discussed in this blog post. Thought you may be interested as it is slightly relevant to this post.
http://argus-online.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/what-would-cranmer-say.html?showComment=1345106328800#c1026495256333848391

16 August 2012 at 09:41  
Blogger outsider said...

Dear Terry Hudson (0830),
Alternatively...
Jesus was a prophetic genius and self-sacrificing Messiah and, for what it is worth, probabaly a great inspiration to all the brothers and sisters he did not have.

But God, Nah.

Christology is fascinating but far removed from seeking the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

Or are such statements true only to those who utter them?

16 August 2012 at 09:51  
Blogger Aaron Lopez said...

"I am sure that Mary was a nice lady, and probably a good wife to Joseph, and also, for what it's worth, a good mum to her children.

But Queen of Heaven? Nah...

Mariology is fascinating, but it's far removed from Christianity.

:)"

Far removed from the Protestant understanding of Christianity, to be more specific.

Sometimes I wonder if Catholics are the ones that make better use of Sola Scriptura. It seems to me that Protestants generally practice Selective Scriptura. Catholic teaching, Queenship of Mary included, is written all over Sacred Scripture!

If we are to accept Jesus as the Messiah, the King of the Jews, who reigns over Israel; and we if are to accept the revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven, the true Promised Land, it simply goes without saying the King's mother assumes the role of Queen too, just like it was in Ancient Israel. The mothers of the Kings of Judah in the book of Kings and Chronicles are consistently mentioned, not because they were simply "nice" ladies, written down in the Bible for the sake of "nicety". They were recorded in the Bible because they were important! In the case of the Blessed Virgin, she still is important, considering Heaven is the current reigning Kingdom for God's chosen.

Jesus stressed that he never came to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. It's probably why he gave authority only to the Apostles, apart from the rest of his followers (His mother, the Queen, included!). He knew only they could uphold the Truth!

16 August 2012 at 09:56  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Wouldn't Mary "Queen Mom" be more appropriate though?

16 August 2012 at 10:54  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Mariology is fascinating, but it's far removed from Christianity.

Quite wrong, Terry. Christ did not found Christianity; He founded the Catholic Church. Everything else is, like a Latin noun, a declension away from that which is perfect. I suppose that makes Methodism third declension.

16 August 2012 at 12:00  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

You really are a naughty church chappie.

You have started a veritable frenzy of sock puppetry via your tongue in cheek post...tsk tsk. ;-)

E S Blofeld

Ernst does enjoy looking at posters profiles...so revealing... Ock Aye, Lang may yer lum reek Wi' ither folks coal !!

16 August 2012 at 12:32  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

Firstly I shall chide you for using medieval in a perjorative manner. Bad Albert. Naughty Albert.

Guilty as charged. Sometimes, I find it hard, when arguing with a Protestant, not to attribute to them the things that I know they like to attribute to Catholics - nullifying scripture with human tradition, being too Medieval, denying the plain meaning of scripture, etc. Forgive my moments of humour!

Medieval nominalism of the Ockham or Abelard variety is not, in any case, quite as strictly nominal as more modern variations, and (as with much medieval thought) is rather more nuanced than its descendents.

Indeed, not, though that people like Luther were deepening the wound inflicted by people like Ockham, is presumably not in doubt, nor the fact that modern forms of nominalism really flow from that.

In other words: why NOT venerating Mary should be seen as a point for breaking fellowship?

For the same reason that not venerating Jerusalem or the tabernacle was a reason for breaking fellowship.

Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Doesn't that actually work the other way around? I am genuinely scandalised by some of the things said about Mary by Protestants (e.g. on this thread), not so much for her sake, but for the sake of her Son. Paul is talking about people being careful not to misuse their freedom. If Protestants, really think they are free to attribute sin to Mary, they had better be quiet about it for the sake of the weaker brethren (if the principle applies, here, which I think it doesn't as I think we do not have the freedom to attribute sin to her from whom God comes).

But you're making an interesting wider point. Should the assumption be a communion breaker? Actually, I think the present Pope, before 1950 took the view that it shouldn't be, and he therefore opposed the definition. I think it is a fair question.

I am not so irenic though (no surprise perhaps). Let me offer an analogy: Luther's attitude to the Epistle of James. Couldn't we just consider the weaker brother and say it doesn't matter whether we regard James as scripture? It's a short letter, it's mainly practical etc.

Here the answer has that it absolutely does matter for two reasons:

(i) Because it is an obvious outrage for anyone to deny the authority of scripture. Setting yourself up as the authority over the interpretation of scripture is one thing, but imaging you can stand in judgment upon it, so that you can decide what is, or is not scripture, this just needs to be opposed. End of. Since a good tree cannot bear evil fruit, we should draw our own conclusions about the source of the Reformation.

(ii) The reason that Luther denied James was because he denied its teaching. The reason he denied its teaching is because he had made false commitments elsewhere. These falsehoods needed challenging, not endorsing with a kind of false ecumenism.

With regard to the Assumption, I don't think that ecumenical considerations are fundamental, for these two reasons: those who will reject it do so because they have already rejected legitimate teaching authority (speaking as a Catholic). Secondly, the reject it because they have made false commitments (or failed to make true commitments) elsewhere.

It's slightly simpler to make this point with the Immaculate Conception, but those who deny the doctrine have failed to grasp either the incarnation or the holiness of God. In the end, the Church has guide those who will listen, rather than leave them to the wolves on account of those who have already departed from her and will not listen anyway.

Should the Church be shy in speaking about homosexuality, just because of the LGCM? Or be shy about condemning sex before marriage, just because many are violating this teaching? Or the ordination just because it will offend lady vicars? Or the Trinity because it will offend Unitarians? I don't think so.

16 August 2012 at 12:34  
Blogger Albert said...

Aaron Lopez,

Excellent post, if I may say so.

16 August 2012 at 12:38  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Ernsty are you suggesting that HG has deliberately set a cat amongst the pigeons with this post. You know you could be right. Think it's time for another verse from the Bondage Bard. Mistress Scarlet de Borgia no longer steers the ship. There was a mutiny and they threw her overboard. She is now clinging to some wreckage in the ocean amassing an army of mermaids and the like.

16 August 2012 at 13:14  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16 August 2012 at 13:24  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Of the 4 Marian Dogmas, I don't have so much a problem with calling Mary Mother of God (Mother of Jesus seems more straightforward, especially when explaining Christian matters to non Christians).

The Assumption is neither here nor there to me, it is not specifically mentioned in the Gospels or Acts, so it cannot have been that important to the very early Apostles... although I think it was Elijah who was taken to heaven in a chariot.

I would take issue with the Catholic view that Mary was a perpetual virgin; this is a myth of the Roman Church as it is clearly contradicted by the fact that Jesus’ siblings are referred to in Matthew 12:46; Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5 and Galatians 1:19.

Finally the Immaculate conception doesn't seem quite right. If God could create Mary without sin, he seems to breaking his own rules. Furthermore a non Christian might ask why God didn't simply take the logical step and create all future humans without sin a la Mary (thus meaning his son would not have to have died that terrible death).

I am not saying God could not have made Mary sinless , but if God did make Mary without sin, The Almighty seems to me to totally change his own apparent game plan and negate the very reason why he brought himself into this world in the first place (and no Corrigan I am not referring to setting up the Catholic Church).

16 August 2012 at 13:32  
Blogger IanCad said...

The pompous arrogance of Pius X11 compares ill to our humble Lord and Saviour.
That the perversion of the Gospels is celebrated today by the present Pope provides evidence that, given the right circumstances, Rome will, maybe one day, rule again.

16 August 2012 at 14:00  
Blogger Preacher said...

Sorry chaps but I find the R.C faith about as clear as mud & as awkward as an income tax return, so many if's, and's & but's.
If the Lord had wanted so complex a religion I'm sure He could have invented one, (Or is this it?).
Or could it be that men made it so confusing so that the average bod had to have other men to explain it to them, thus gaining a certain control through fear?.
I can see no reason or evidence for the bodily assumption of Mary into Heaven. But then Elijah hopped a Chariot of Fire (Cue Vangelis)but that was at least recorded in scripture, so nothing is Impossible with God.
I really would like to know though, why I come across so many folks who are ex Catholics who've given up on their Church, their Faith, their hope & Christianity. Who when they have the gospel explained to them in simple terms, find answers & relief from the darkness they have lived in for years.

16 August 2012 at 14:11  
Blogger Albert said...

Paul,

(Mother of Jesus seems more straightforward, especially when explaining Christian matters to non Christians).

Mother of Jesus can be held by anyone who does not believe in the incarnation. That's why Mother of God is fundamental - although it does not claim exclusivity.

although I think it was Elijah who was taken to heaven in a chariot.

It seems hard to see how Mary could be less than Elijah.

The Assumption is neither here nor there to me, it is not specifically mentioned in the Gospels or Acts, so it cannot have been that important to the very early Apostles

Lots of things weren't, from the personhood of the Holy Spirit to the doctrine of sola fide. So this does not look a very promising objection for a Protestant to make.

I would take issue with the Catholic view that Mary was a perpetual virgin; this is a myth of the Roman Church as it is clearly contradicted by the fact that Jesus’ siblings are referred to in Matthew 12:46; Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5 and Galatians 1:19.

It is very ancient indeed, so if you wish to call it a myth of the Roman Church, you exclude yourself from most of the early church, including fathers normally held by Anglicans.

The the word "brother" is used so widely in the NT that it is hard to see how anyone could draw a strong conclusion from it. I recall reading somewhere, that where we can check the mothers of named brothers of Jesus, they are not children of the BVM. That your argument is weak can be adduced from the fact that early Protestants, including Calvin, if memory serves, believed this "Roman myth".

I am not saying God could not have made Mary sinless , but if God did make Mary without sin, The Almighty seems to me to totally change his own apparent game plan and negate the very reason why he brought himself into this world in the first place (and no Corrigan I am not referring to setting up the Catholic Church).

That is not the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as defined by the Church, therefore, you have no objection to the doctrine.

16 August 2012 at 14:14  
Blogger Albert said...

Preacher,

If the Lord had wanted so complex a religion I'm sure He could have invented one

I wonder which Bible you are reading. What the Trinity? the incarnation?

I really would like to know though, why I come across so many folks who are ex Catholics who've given up on their Church, their Faith, their hope & Christianity. Who when they have the gospel explained to them in simple terms, find answers & relief from the darkness they have lived in for years.

The answer is quite straight forward: they have been poorly catechised, or have rejected the Church because they find its teaching hard or disagreeable. In contrast, you will find the Catholic Church is full of ex-Protestants, who knew their Protestant teaching, and, having converted, have embraced a harder "humanly speaking" life.

16 August 2012 at 14:17  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Sorry chaps but I find the R.C faith about as clear as mud & as awkward as an income tax return, so many if's, and's & but's.
If the Lord had wanted so complex a religion I'm sure He could have invented one, (Or is this it?).


Yes.

16 August 2012 at 14:18  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Dodo

Do try to understand the doctrine before firing your cannons.

Well, what do you know?

So, I decided to check out your assertion that the Dogma of the Bodily Assumption allows for Mary's death. The words of the Papal Decree were just ambiguous enough to give plausibility to your statement. In fact, they didn't seem ambiguous to me, but this is Rome we are dealing with. Much to my shock and horror and amazement, I discovered that you were right. This does open up some interesting questions, however:

1. If Mary was preserved from the stain or original sin in the Immaculate Conception, then why would she die? The wages of sin is death. If she didn't sin, then she wouldn't be subject to the penalty. She wouldn't receive the wages.

2. How did the Infallible interpreter fail to clarify such an important question? For it is not a little matter as to whether Mary died or not.

But these are ancillary issues. I cannot avoid the fact that Dodo was right and I was wrong. I shall now retreat and contemplate my future. The Hemlock is being poured into the cup even as I speak ...

;)

carl
rabid anti-Catholic

16 August 2012 at 14:22  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Otherwise, I am absolutely delighted with this thread. It clarifies the issues quite nicely.

1. Specifically, that lack of any Scriptural foundation for the Marian dogmas.

2. The philosophical basis for RC arguments on the matter.

3. The difference in the nature between RC and Protestant.

However, I wanted to say something else ... lest anyone accuse me of "quietly dropping off the thread when things get tough for my position" It's about 8:30 am right now. My older daughter is moving to Europe today. Last night was her last night at home, and today is going to be a hard day full of currency exchange, and luggage, and airports, and watching my oldest child fly away. If you notice I am not posting, that's why.

Besides, I had to devote my posting time to Dodo this morning, and the Hemlock is starting to taking effect by now...

carl

16 August 2012 at 14:35  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

The words of the Papal Decree were just ambiguous enough to give plausibility to your statement. In fact, they didn't seem ambiguous to me

As with philosophy, so history. In fact, Dodo isn't just right on the doctrine, but on the content too. You're making it sound as if Dodo is right on a technicality. In fact, the question of whether Mary died has never been resolved, but was discussed. The definition, therefore, deliberately allows either alternative.

This does open up some interesting questions, however:

1. If Mary was preserved from the stain or original sin in the Immaculate Conception, then why would she die? The wages of sin is death. If she didn't sin, then she wouldn't be subject to the penalty. She wouldn't receive the wages.

2. How did the Infallible interpreter fail to clarify such an important question? For it is not a little matter as to whether Mary died or not.


These are not interesting questions at all. In answer to 2, because the answer is not known. It may become clear with more relfection or it may just remain obscure.

In answer to 1, assuming Mary died (as I think) I would simply point out that our Lord was free of original sin but still died. Nevertheless, death had no dominion over him. Mary is not greater than her Son: rather her vocation is to follow him

16 August 2012 at 14:39  
Blogger Andrew Dalton said...

"Christ did not found Christianity; He founded the Catholic Church. Everything else is, like a Latin noun, a declension away from that which is perfect. I suppose that makes Methodism third declension."

Nice to see rumors of Roman Catholic elitism have been wildly overblown.

16 August 2012 at 14:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

It clarifies the issues quite nicely.

1. Specifically, that lack of any Scriptural foundation for the Marian dogmas.

2. The philosophical basis for RC arguments on the matter.

3. The difference in the nature between RC and Protestant.


In that case, I don't think you've understood a word that any Catholic here has said. But it will have to wait - I hope today isn't too painful. Godspeed to your daughter.

16 August 2012 at 14:41  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Carl,

Godspeed with your daughter going off to Europe, is this university or a job? Whatever it is, I trust that it will be an enlightening experience.

16 August 2012 at 14:42  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Nice to see rumors of Roman Catholic elitism have been wildly overblown.

Well, we are kind of the body of Christ, Andrew...

16 August 2012 at 14:46  
Blogger John Chater said...

Catholics are at a bit of an advantage here in that we have a rule book called The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says:

"Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death."

Why the death or otherwise of the Virgin Mary is a stumbling block for some people (did she or didn't she? how could she?) is a bit of a mystery to me. Christ, wholly man and wholly God, managed to die a human death.

16 August 2012 at 14:52  
Blogger Andrew Dalton said...

Corrigan, I would agree, but what I often find such an audacious--if you'll forgive me for using such a strong word--statement in discussions like these is that any one branch of the church is, inherently, any more or less so than another. It is faith and our relationship with Christ that marks one's entrance to the body of Christ, not belonging to any one particular denomination.

16 August 2012 at 14:55  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Outsider:

Actually I quite agree. I was first alerted to the perils of what you describe by lengthy interaction with our local Jehovah's Witness. If ever there was a group that took "Sola Scriptura" to the extreme, it would be them - for they deny the Trinity precisely on the basis that it is (explicitly at least) extra-Scriptural. Of course, what I endeavoured to show to him was that his church was engaged in interpretation nonetheless, not least in intentionally de-personalising the Holy Spirit in the New Testament in order to remove the objection. In that sense, they'd arrived at a position where Scripture itself was being changed.

That's not a charge I'd lightly level at Protestantism though. Protestants maintain much the same orthodoxy on Christology, and certainly the Trinity. The widest divides are in the mechanics of theology: the denial of the efficacy of the sacraments (though very often not a cessation or denigration of the sacraments themselves), the "how" of salvation etc. The disputes over the mechanics often bleed over - the discussion about Mary being sinless and Immaculately Conceived is inextricably bound up with views on the sinfulness of man and the necessity of Grace: putting it simply, an exception to a universal truth is "obviously" false in a system that is based on the kind of exclusivity I outlined above.

But of course, it isn't just Protestants who have objected to the Immaculate Conception (distinct from her perpetual sanctification) on "mechanical" grounds: Aquinas did as well. He argued that the idea that Mary had been born free from Original Sin (the "fomes" - or the incendiary - i.e. the inclination towards sin) is "somewhat derogatory to the dignity of Christ, without whose power no one had been freed from the first sentence of condemnation." Rather: "the Virgin was not freed from the fomes in its essence, but that it remained fettered: not indeed by an act of her reason, [...] for this was the singular privilege of Christ: but by reason of the abundant grace bestowed on her in her sanctification." (This may also in part answer Carl's question about death)

(Actually if anyone wants a pretty comprehensive overview of the logic, Summa Theologica - available on New Advent in English - is largely unrivalled. At the very least it's a good guide for non-Catholics seeking to understand the often extremely fine detail that underpins much of the theology which is contentious to Protestants. The relevant section for Immaculate Conception is III. question 27)

16 August 2012 at 14:56  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...


Albert,

1) There is a difference between formulating the theology (or idea) of the Trinity or sola scripture and an event, which is what the assumption is, in the same way that Jesus Ascending to heaven was an event. The difference is that one event is documented in the Bible and the other is not.

2) Jesus and his siblings. I did give you Bible quotes on this, but allow me to develop that further. The Greek word, I think is called adelphos that is translated brethren, which can have different meanings, e.g. brethren in Christ/brethren as in kin. I would suggest that if you look at the context passages quoted it does seem to indicate brethren as kin e.g.
Matthew 13:55
"Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?"
Mark 3:3 "There came then His Brethren and His Mother, and standing without, sent unto Him calling Him."
There are also times where the argument about ‘brother’ and its translation is quite irrelevant:

Mark 6:3
"Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the Brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."
Matthew 27:56"Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children."

3) The Immaculate Conception, at its most simple is the belief that Mary was never tainted with original sin. My twofold point was that of two consequences of that view:

a) If God decided that he would create some-one without original sin, why would he go through the whole process of being born and dying in the first place and to extend this, would that not have been an easier way to "save" mankind?

b) In creating some-one without original sin, God goes against everything has apparently been telling people he would not be prepared to do, ever since the first chapters of Genesis.

4) Mary as Mother of God- I feel that I explained myself on this, so requires no further elaboration. I don't see why calling Mary Mother of Jesus Christ means you don't believe in the incarnation.

16 August 2012 at 15:07  
Blogger John Magee said...

Protestants who doubt the uniqueness of the Virgin Mary to God the Father and His Holy Spirit please open your bibles and read the Gospel of Luke 1:46-55. It is Mary speaking to her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with the future John the Baptist. The child in Elizabeth's womb moves with joy when Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith and Mary sings what we now call the Magnificat in response.

English (Book of Common Prayer):

My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations. He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away. He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

"Frome henceforth all nations shall call me blessed". Catholics do just that. We call Mary the Mother of Jesus "The Blessed Virgin Mary". Just as Mary asks us to do in the Magnificat from the Gospel of Luke above.

The Anglican Shirine at Walsingham has a statue on the High Altar of Mary dressed in the robes of a queen (Queen of heaven?) which is also typical of most RC Marian chapels and Shrines all over he world and has been since the Middle Ages.

The RC teaches hat Mary was conceived without sin. That alone makes her a very special human being.I personally believe The Blessed Virgin Mary is in heaven in body and soul. What's so terrible about assuming the Assumption? Why does honoring the Mother of God get most Protestants so upset? Anglicans are Protestants and in many of their churches there are statues and chapels with altar paintings of the BVM with flowers in vases and votive candles placed before her image.

16 August 2012 at 15:23  
Blogger Albert said...

it isn't just Protestants who have objected to the Immaculate Conception (distinct from her perpetual sanctification) on "mechanical" grounds: Aquinas did as well.

The doctrine that Aquinas objected to is not the doctrine as held by the Church. More work was needed. Had Aquinas known of the formulation held by the Church it would have resolved the position he held, which is obviously paradoxical.

16 August 2012 at 15:26  
Blogger Albert said...

Paul,

I don't think anyone is think anyone would argue that the assumption is equal to the ascension. I find your distinction between event and doctrine rather fine.

2. Clearly "brother" is being used in the sense of kin, but that does not have to mean blood brother - as I've already indicated. An uncle and nephew can be called brother in the NT. Half-brothers, and presumably cousins could all receive the title, presumably. So the references don't do the work you need them to do - as many a mainstream Protestant commentator will tell you.

3) The Immaculate Conception, at its most simple is the belief that Mary was never tainted with original sin.

Too simple for your argument, I'm afraid. The IC is that Mary is preserved from sin by the foreseen merits of Christ. Your first point is therefore invalid.

b) In creating some-one without original sin, God goes against everything has apparently been telling people he would not be prepared to do, ever since the first chapters of Genesis.

Where has God been saying this. And if it comes to that, why doesn't this logic apply to Christ?

4) Mary as Mother of God- I feel that I explained myself on this, so requires no further elaboration. I don't see why calling Mary Mother of Jesus Christ means you don't believe in the incarnation.

Agreed, except that someone who denied Mary is mother of God would certainly be denying the incarnation.

16 August 2012 at 15:33  
Blogger Albert said...

Andrew Dalton

but what I often find such an audacious--if you'll forgive me for using such a strong word--statement in discussions like these is that any one branch of the church is, inherently, any more or less so than another. It is faith and our relationship with Christ that marks one's entrance to the body of Christ, not belonging to any one particular denomination.

But in saying that, all you are doing is audaciously requiring your Protestant doctrine of the invisible Church must be held by all. The early Church (and I would say scripture too) taught the visible Church - that no one could set up their own Church or break away etc.

If Christ founded a visible Church believing in that Church is no more triumphalist than believing in his religion.

16 August 2012 at 15:36  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Albert,

I will agree that there is a fine line between event and doctrine, but it is a valid and important one.

Re point 2, I think we will have to agree to disagree on that one. I am personally convinced that Jesus did have brothers and possibly sisters, but I can see that you would need to reject that view.

Re the Immaculate conception, I agree that the definition used is too simple for my argument and therefore I will need to revise that section.

16 August 2012 at 15:56  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Actually it was Cressida that was right and you were wrong Carl.Dodo simply supported my argument.The hemlock idea is your best to date.

16 August 2012 at 16:12  
Blogger Minnie Starr said...

I get it now, thanks.

The reason our RC cousins believe what they do is, basically, because their church tells them what to believe.

It seems that no appeal to reason or scripture can make any headway, because the Pope is always right.

Fair enough. That would explain why they still hold to purgatory, transubstantiation, penance, limbo (or is that one gone now), and of course, 'venerating' Mary.

Sort of put Tom Cruise and his Scientology in a good light...

16 August 2012 at 16:40  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

I think that's being a little disingenuous re: Aquinas.

The Catholic Encyclopedia expansion on the 1854 pronouncement understands "exempt from original sin" to mean that original sin was not "removed" (as in Baptism) but "excluded" so that 'every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded' (i.e. the fomes).

The which Aquinas specifically refutes. I quote here at length with apologies to other commentators:

"Now that the fomes was entirely taken away, might be understood in this way, that, by the abundance of grace bestowed on the Blessed Virgin, such a disposition of the soul's powers was granted to her, that the lower powers were never moved without the command of her reason: just as we have stated to have been the case with Christ (15, 2), who certainly did not have the fomes of sin; as also was the case with Adam, before he sinned, by reason of original justice: so that, in this respect, the grace of sanctification in the Virgin had the force of original justice. And although this appears to be part of the dignity of the Virgin Mother, yet it is somewhat derogatory to the dignity of Christ, without whose power no one had been freed from the first sentence of condemnation. And though, through faith in Christ, some were freed from that condemnation, according to the spirit, before Christ's Incarnation, yet it does not seem fitting that any one should be freed from that condemnation, according to the flesh, except after His Incarnation, for it was then that immunity from condemnation was first to appear. Consequently, just as before the immortality of the flesh of Christ rising again, none obtained immortality of the flesh, so it seems unfitting to say that before Christ appeared in sinless flesh, His Virgin Mother's or anyone else's flesh should be without the fomes, which is called "the law of the flesh" or "of the members" "

Now it is true that Aquinas is not the Catholic Church, and that Summa Theologica is not binding, and possesses no Magisterium. But the fact remains that the present formulation was indeed explicitly refuted by him.

16 August 2012 at 16:48  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

What Albert is saying to you Belfast is that since Aquinas, the magisterium holds a different position ex cathedra. So if he were alive when this took place he would be required to accept the Magesterium's decision.BUT here is where Catholic complexity arises.
If Aquinas after soul searching etc was still convinced of what he thought was the truth, then in conscience he would not be obliged to accept the Magesterium's decision provided that he did not publically speak out against it.

16 August 2012 at 17:13  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

cont.
This would only apply to very informed persons of scrupulous conscience.

16 August 2012 at 17:24  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Cressida:

Well, quite. My point wasn't to make out that Aquinas was a heretic, or that he would be one if we summoned him here today. (As it happens, I suspect he would indeed bow the knee so to speak).

But that has partly been my theme: why is it necessary to pronounce anathema on those who refute it? I understand of course the difference between holding a contrary opinion, and directly challenging, for the sake of division, the teaching of the Church. But why is it so necessary as a piece of doctrine?

Are we to believe that acceptance of the doctrine of the Assumption is necessary for salvation? Not strictly necessary of course - the Catholic Church as far as I'm aware doesn't teach that Mary was essential to Salvation in the way that Christ was (see above for my views on exclusivity etc.). But "anathema" is now (since Vatican II) equivalent to excommunication. Thus, if I were to be a Catholic who refused the Assumption, I should not be permitted reconciliation to the Church (and also the Sacraments) without first confessing my belief in the Assumption.

Thus, whilst intellectually the Catholic Church does not render the Assumption "necessary", practically it does. And I wonder whether that is, in fact, very wise.

16 August 2012 at 17:24  
Blogger John Magee said...

Terry Hudson

What's truly frightening is that there over 25,000+ Protestant denominations, sects, and cults in the world today each claiming to possess the only true interpretation of the Bible. How can so many "true" churches possibly exist at one time?

What Church existed before the Reformation and preserved, copied, and passed on the Bible intact for almost 70 generations after the Bible was compiled in the 4th century by the early Church?

The Catholic Church: Latin in the West and Eastern orthodox in the East.

Protestants inherited the Bible from the pre Reformation Catholic Church. That can't be denied.

16 August 2012 at 18:26  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

John Magee:

But you're taking the existence of diversity in Protestantism to be a diversity of truth. Most will stick to broadly the same patrimony - and many, though nominally different denominations (or no denomination at all) will sign up to the various accords and agreements that constitute statements of faith.

What then divides them is largely how they administrate themselves and how they conduct worship services.

So not enormously different from the profusion of diversity that one might witness in Catholic worship styles across the world, let alone between different orders.

16 August 2012 at 18:35  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Meant to say: what the primary difference is, of course, is the absence of a centralised authority.

16 August 2012 at 18:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Greetings 2nd and 3rd class Christians.

You don’t really appreciate when you look down your nose at Mary, that you decry the woman chosen by God to bear the saviour, do you ????

On your heads be it...

pip pip !

16 August 2012 at 18:44  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Come now Inspector - where are there people "looking down their nose at Mary", let alone decrying her?

Partly because I know it will annoy you, I'll quote Len here who - the factuality of claims about "what the Catholic Church actually believes" notwithstanding - puts it like this:

"Mary the mother of Jesus Christ was a highly favoured Woman and as such she should be respected."

Nobody's been dissing Our Lady, to my knowledge.

16 August 2012 at 18:55  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

That’s it Belfast, you have the Catholic position.

Nobody ‘worships’ Mary, but do you not think she is about as dear to God as you can get ? So, as many do, they ask her to intercede on their behalf with the Almighty. Not something the Inspector would do, wouldn’t want to trouble the good lady, but for others it’s important to them...

Quoting Len is a ghastly pastime, and will lose you friends and influence, and cause unsightly hair and body odour. Still, on your head be...(...ah, used that one already tonight, but you get the idea...)

Onwards and upwards, what !

16 August 2012 at 19:09  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

The reason our RC cousins believe what they do is, basically, because their church tells them what to believe

Ah, Protestants: the religious equivalent of the New Atheists. When you've got a need to think of yourself as being intelligent, but you really don't have the intellectual heft to cope with 2000 years of the most complete and perfect theology, you turn protestant, strip out the bits of Catholicism you can actually get your head around, discard the bits you don't understand (which would be most of it) and then pat yourself on the back that you "think for yourself". Quite, quite pathetic.

16 August 2012 at 19:56  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Corrigan, not forgetting almost solely relying on the thoughts of one former pissed off monk, Luther.

Well, I ask you...

16 August 2012 at 20:07  
Blogger Terry Hudson said...

'So, as many do, they ask her to intercede on their behalf with the Almighty. Not something the Inspector would do, wouldn’t want to trouble the good lady, but for others it’s important to them...'

Alternatively, you could read your bible:-

'For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus' - 1 Timothy 2:5

16 August 2012 at 20:08  
Blogger Terry Hudson said...

'What's truly frightening is that there over 25,000+ Protestant denominations, sects, and cults in the world today each claiming to possess the only true interpretation of the Bible. How can so many "true" churches possibly exist at one time?'

Thanks, Belfast person, for responding to this nonsense on my behalf. I couldn't have put it better myself.

:)

16 August 2012 at 20:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say Hudson, you would deny spiritual comfort to the faithful by means of one line ? You are a cold man, Sir, and so is your protesting religion....


16 August 2012 at 20:39  
Blogger Peter Jackson said...

Corrigan 1 said:
"Terry - you're a heretic. When Christ said, "On this rock I will build my Church", He wasn't talking to John Wesley.''

No, he wasn't talking to any Bishop of Rome either

16 August 2012 at 20:42  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

The Bible says a lot of things, Terry; the problem about being a Catholic is that you don't get to pick the bits you like and ignore the rest - that's why we still use all 46 books.

16 August 2012 at 20:45  
Blogger non mouse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16 August 2012 at 21:35  
Blogger len said...

Corrigan1,

You seem to be missing a few?.

16 August 2012 at 21:36  
Blogger Terry Hudson said...

'I say Hudson, you would deny spiritual comfort to the faithful by means of one line ? You are a cold man, Sir, and so is your protesting religion....'

Of course not, sir. I would not dream of denying you the comfort of your religion. You can continue to ask dead people to intercede for you with God until the cows come home for all I care.

I simply placed before you an alternative, and supported it with scripture.

Which is why I prefaced my suggestion with the word 'alternatively'.

Pax vobiscum

16 August 2012 at 21:46  
Blogger len said...

The Reformers(formerly Catholic Priests ) left the Catholic religious system because they could no longer tolerate the heretical teaching that Catholicism has embraced and enforced onto its followers(by threats spiritual and physical)
Catholicism is riddled with errors and un- biblical fantasies that anyone with a grain of sense can see are only endorsed by the Catholic hierarchy to further their own grasp on their 'subjects'.

The Pope has assumed the Role of 'Holy Roman Emperor' and expects his subjects to respond to him as such.

Catholicism has endured by adsorbing pagan rituals and promotes them as' Christian' and they have only succeeded over the centuries by the ignorance (of the scriptures) of those duped into believing the Catholic religion was 'Christian'.

16 August 2012 at 21:48  
Blogger Terry Hudson said...

Bit harsh, Len.

I am fairly sure that Catholics, even of the Roman variety, are part of the body of Christ.

Where I take issue is the idea that they are somehow the only valid church, and that the rest of us are some sort of declension thereof.

Oh, and the idolatry does worry me a bit too!

16 August 2012 at 21:55  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hmmm Hudson, we have ‘an eye for an eye’ and later we have ‘turn the other cheek’. Can’t blame a fellow for being wary of just one line in the bible, what !

Len. The pope is not a modern Holy Roman emperor as well you know. As for adopting pagan festivals, it is no surprise to learn that Christ’s birth is celebrated at the solstice, but only to overcome the powerful pagan rites of the time. But then our dear Queen has an actual and official birthday too. No problem there then.

Really, you can be a horses arse at times...

16 August 2012 at 22:02  
Blogger non mouse said...

Thanks AiB @ 16:48: That makes sense. Aquinas often does, I find.

__________
Even though my early education involved a convent named "Immaculate Conception," my own acceptance of the doctrine is confined to the advent of Christ, not his mother. To wit:-

Matthew provides a genealogy about the begetting of Joseph who, as he "knew not" Mary, could not understand how she could conceive a child (1.1-19 KJV). St. Luke describes Mary's similar response to Gabriel at the Annunciation: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (i.26-34). However, both Mary and Joseph have explicitly repudiated the will of the flesh; now, instead, they bow to Divine Will.

As a result, only Christ is Immaculately Conceived. Because Mary and Joseph accept God's Will, John the Evangelist can say: "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth)" (1.14). Christ, that is. Not Mary.

And, at the Crucifixion, it is that John of whom Christ "saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!/ Then he saith to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19. 25-26).

So far then, we see Mary as unique among women because God chose her to facilitate the Incarnation. God also ensured that Joseph supported her, and they both modelled courage in using human willpower for carrying out God's Will. Mary and Joseph are thus sublime opposites of the archetypal ancestors who consented to evil: Eve and Adam. The story of Eve and Adam illustrates the corruption of human will, and that failure is the Original Sin for which God cast us out of Paradise (see Genesis, of course).

John later wrote Revelation 12--quoted earlier-- where he describes Mary's removal (after the Incarnation and probably the Life of Christ)--- to her special Wilderness. Certainly, we might construe this as return to the Paradisial Glade: the re-situation of her redeemed soul into its home of pre-lapsarian grace. But no evangelist says she was born into that state.

So Mary was uniquely involved in Christ's Incarnation and Death (de-carnation/cf Pieta). She provides a model for us because, as a human being herself:
-She acknowledges the continual presence of God in our world.
-She demonstrates how an individual must exert willpower in perceiving and responding to God's gift of Grace.
-She exemplifies courage in the face of Evil.
-She illustrates that individuals will answer to God for choices they make in this life.

I'm no Catholic, but my analysis suggests that this lady is better than an idol or a pagan goddess. Furthermore, "nice lady" is typical Protestant understatement (germanic litotes even).

_____________

P.S: My interpretation owes much to at least two influences.
1)Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo. Tractates on the Gospel of John. Trans. John W. Rettig. Washington, D.C: Catholic University of America Press, c1988; 2) the anonymous Anglo-Saxon writer(s) of "The Dream of the Rood."

PPS: [[I also suggest that, by neglect, the pundits give Joseph a bum rap]].

16 August 2012 at 22:05  
Blogger bluedog said...

Reading the learned theological discourse above, this communicant is left with one thought.

If Mary is the Mother of God and without sin, why isn't She and any other woman eligible to become a priest?

Or does one have to draw the line somewhere?

16 August 2012 at 22:09  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Bluedog, if only Christ had nominated just one female as a disciple, then we would have women priests in the RCC. But he didn’t, did he ?

(It really is the answer, you know...)

16 August 2012 at 22:20  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Bluedog, we don’t have women fire fighters either. They just would not be up to it, being gals. Inspector gives thanks that in a fire, trapped by a burning beam having fallen on his leg, a man will turn up and use his strength to lift it off him, whereas a lady could merely mop his brow as he succumbs to the inevitable...

16 August 2012 at 22:32  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Oh, and the idolatry does worry me a bit too!

It's called "beauty", Mr Hudson, and, like that other Mary in John chapter 12, we reserve it the the most high and special of visitors.

Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. [4] Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: [5] Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

[6] Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. [7] Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. [8] For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.


I think, Terry, yours is the kind of church that is so cold the Protestants keep there hands in their own pockets; I can see how you might have trouble with what you call "idolatry".



16 August 2012 at 22:33  
Blogger John Magee said...

Belfast

From the dictionary: "Truth is most often used to mean in accord with fact or reality or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal."

"The opposite of truth is falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on a logical, factual, or ethical meaning."

Your defense of the myriad of Protestant denominations, sects, and cults exisiting today in the name of "diversity" is a weak excuse for the destruction of the unity of Christendom which had existed for nearly 1,500 years in the Western Latin Church before the Protestant Reformation starting in the 1520's AD. The word "catholic" as you must know means universal in Greek. The Roman Catholic Church is united in it's oneness of universal teachings defended by the Magisterium in Rome.

How can the the Protestant "diversity" you posted possibly represent the a single universal truth? Protestant beliefs include everything from High Church Anglicans who go to Mass on Sunday, Presbyterians who believe in predestination, all the way to the Unitarians who deny the Trinity. Some of the "children" of this Protestant diversity include the Mormons, JW's, the Nazarene's and modern TV Evangelists. None of these churches can agree on much of anything. Where are their "catholic" universal beliefs and truth if some can't even agree that the Trinity exists??

I love my Protestant brothers and sisters as fellow Christians but I think of the Reformation as the worst event in the history of Western Christianity. Both sides are responsible and both sides exhibited a lot of hatefilled behavior over the past 500 years toward fellow Chistians. Our constant bickering must make our mutual mortal enemy, Islam, very happy indeed.

16 August 2012 at 23:01  
Blogger John Magee said...

Inspector

Some radical feminists want all physical qualifications for being a fire "person" ignored. You said it well and with common sense. I want a FIREMAN or perhaps that rare female weight lifter "fireperson" who can carry a 250 lb body from a burning building and not have people die in fires because of "diversity" or positive discrimination or affirmative action in the fire station hiring policies. It's always that word "diversity" which sounds so good and kind yet causes so many problems and is nothing more than legalized discrimination against those who are truly qualified for the job all in order to make up for past "wrongs". Usually inflicted on working class folks and never in an academia or politicians.

16 August 2012 at 23:13  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

cressida said ...

"I do not understand why Protestants think that Catholics regard Mary as a Divinity.God is the Divine and that is it.

Nice to hear from you again.

Sheer ignorance of Church teaching and/or a lazy acceptance of anti-Catholic propaganda. Most protestants of the Calvinist and Evageligal persuasions are blind to anything not stated obviously in scripture - unless it concerns the interpretation of prophecy and the Catholic Church!

"Apart from liturgical prayer we are not required to pray to the saints or Mary.

Absolutely. The devotion to Mary is personal choice. The dogmas of the Church require no special obligation apart from attendance at Mass on two days a year to acknowledge her critical role in salvation history.

What is the reason Protestants insist on keeping this misapprehension ongoing? There are far more important matters that separate us."

As ever, you have raised important questions. There are many answers to this dependingon on the particular protestant and particular sect we are referring to. For example, many Church of England Anglo-Catholics or membersof the Church of Ireland understand and accept the teachings on Mary.

I think at the heart of some of the deliberate misrepresentations of Church dogma on Mary is a direct challenge to Papal authority, Apostolic Tradition and the Catholic Church.

In the main, the teachings on Mary are not explicit in the bible and since Papal infallibility became a dogma the two excathedra teachings by Popes have concerned Mary. The attacks on the Assumption of Mary, the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary are all attacks on the very foundations of Catholicism.

No one who genuinely understands Catholicism can possibly believe Catholics worship Mary or regard her on a par with Jesus Christ or see her as some sort of Goddess. It's really too ridiculous to debate and those making these claims should read the relevant encyclicals or Church Council documents. Nowadays there is no legitimate excuse for such ignorance.

Some who question the teachings will be sincerely attemptingto understand them and their origins.

carl

Albert answered your questions.

I'd add one observation. In future, do read the primary sources of Catholic teaching before telling others what the Church teaches.

Catholicism is complex if you want to really understand its teachings. God is complex; Jesus Christ and His mission, more so. And yet, its all so simple.

16 August 2012 at 23:30  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

John, for a convert to Roman Catholicism, you display a fiery art of elucidation. You are a front line soldier, Sir, and the Inspector salutes you.

16 August 2012 at 23:33  
Blogger non mouse said...

Mr. Magee... I think you will find that the principle behind "weaving" can provide the answer to your "diversity" problem.
Earlier Catholics thought so certainly.

So long as we agree that each individual or group is conscience-bound to answer to the One Almighty God, we can find ways weave our separate strands into one fabric which: celebrates the Creator.

However, power mongers have always demanded that we kow-tow to man-made idols: be they 'edicts' or otherwise graven images.

Now whether the cast-iron idols emanate from Papaseatos, Emperors, euPotentates, or coalitions of the same... individual consciences will Protest against the imposition--especially by foreigners. We will take our strands away. We will turn and dedicate our life-works to God, rather than to men who steal our wherewithal and set themselves (and their idols) up in gilded glory.

So all the RCs on here --- trying to beat us non-RCs into shape --- are wasting their time.

Good Protestants do what my grandmother did against unHoly Romans who tried to take her children. She locked the door and ignored their batterings and rantings.

16 August 2012 at 23:57  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

I think that's being a little disingenuous re: Aquinas.

No, I don't think so. The point where Aquinas deals with this question comes in IIIa, q. 27, a. 2, ad 2 (not article which you have cited):

Article 2. Whether the Blessed Virgin was sanctified before animation?...Objection 2. Further, as Anselm says (De Concep. Virg. xviii), "it was fitting that this Virgin should shine with such a purity that under God none greater can be imagined": wherefore it is written (Canticles 4:7): "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee." But the purity of the Blessed Virgin would have been greater, if she had never been stained by the contagion of original sin. Therefore it was granted to her to be sanctified before her flesh was animated.

and Thomas answers:

Reply to Objection 2. If the soul of the Blessed Virgin had never incurred the stain of original sin, this would be derogatory to the dignity of Christ, by reason of His being the universal Saviour of all. Consequently after Christ, who, as the universal Saviour of all, needed not to be saved, the purity of the Blessed Virgin holds the highest place. For Christ did not contract original sin in any way whatever, but was holy in His very Conception, according to Luke 1:35: "The Holy which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." But the Blessed Virgin did indeed contract original sin, but was cleansed therefrom before her birth from the womb. This is what is signified (Job 3:9) where it is written of the night of original sin: "Let it expect light," i.e. Christ, "and not see it"--(because "no defiled thing cometh into her," as is written in Wisdom 7:25), "nor the rising of the dawning of the day," that is of the Blessed Virgin, who in her birth was immune from original sin.

Now this does not in fact address our doctrine, for, as defined, the Immaculate Conception does not exclude Mary from the universal salvation of Christ, but rather heightens her sense of being saved from sin, by Christ, by confessing that he preserved her from sin. Indeed, this possibility does not seem to have occurred to him (except perhaps towards the end of his life, when he appears to have confessed the Immaculate Conception, after all.

Thus it seems that, had Aquinas known of the formulation of 1854 (in view of the merits of Christ) he would have subscribed to it.



Thus it can be said

17 August 2012 at 00:39  
Blogger Albert said...

Bluedog,

If Mary is the Mother of God and without sin, why isn't She and any other woman eligible to become a priest?

You make it sound as if priesthood is something to which people can be entitled.

17 August 2012 at 00:44  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

Aquinas' point is fine - but his distinction is unambiguous in seeing the "fomes" - the incendiary towards sin - as being present, though "fettered" in the Virgin. Which is at odds with this explanation of the doctrine.

I did make it clear that I was treating a subject quite distinct from Mary's perpetual sanctification. Indeed, the entirety of III.q27 pertains to the constituent parts of the Immaculate Conception doctrine. Article 2 pertains to the timing of her sanctification - Article 3 pertains to the logic regarding the "mechanics" of this sanctification. Thus, Aquinas agrees with sanctification of the Virgin, but does not a) see her as having been "conceived" without Original Sin (which is what the present doctrine is explained as meaning) - it is a process that occurs after conception; and b) does not even after sanctification see her as "excluded" from the "fomes" of Original Sin (Article 3).

Now it is certain that the present doctrine does not directly contradict Aquinas' objection in Art.3. But like so many things with Catholic doctrine - it doesn't have to. It has de facto ruled out his concept of the "fettered fomes" - the fettered incendiary towards sin that constitutes the wages of Original Sin - by arguing for Mary's total exemption from them.

As I say - a very fine point, but one which Summa Theologica makes. Whether Aquinas would have been contented by the modern day doctrine, neither you nor I can say with certainty - it seems probable that he would indeed have bowed to it - but the fact is, the modern doctrine simply does not address the fine point. I suspect personally that his response would have been intellectual dissatisfaction but untroubled submission. But that's just a personal take.

17 August 2012 at 01:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

John Magee:

A fair point - you've gone straight for the major theological divisions.

I do not know of any Protestant who regards Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses as being fully Christian - precisely because they so drastically depart from the "fundamentals" of Christian patrimony.

Likewise, you'll see a similar aversion to non-Trinitarian denominations.

What Protestants believe is usually quite simply stated - most have a core of "fundamentals" that I would see as being essential to Christian belief (and also to Salvation). A good example would be the Evangelical Alliance Basis of Faith.

Now you may aver: but what about predestination - what about views on the Sacraments? And indeed there can be quite a lot of diversity about these things. But in the majority of instances, though each church may hold dogmatically to their preferred theologies, they do not assert that they are "essential" to salvation. That is - they believe them to be true, and will defend them sincerely, but do not see them as being part of the necessary "Christian confession".

In the fine detail, this is not enormously dissimilar from the Catholic Church: there too, there is a core of necessary beliefs. Much of the rest of doctrine is not, in itself, necessary or efficacious to Salvation. But it is made necessary both de facto and de jure by the Catholic insistence on obedience to official teaching. Like the Protestants, the Catholic Church is both sincere and devoted in its defence of the doctrines it upholds - but comparatively uniquely, it makes these "extra-Salvific" doctrines effectively necessary by refusing to maintain communion with any who differs.

To give an example of difference: my old evangelical pastor at the church I got married in was a dyed-in-the-wool Creationist - for him it was a central part of his faith. He knew I was not. But he would never have broken communion with me or refused to administer communion or the application of holy oil when I was sick or indeed marriage. Because as essential as his Creationism was, he understood that it was not part of the core beliefs that Our Lord requires of us.

Now, on that specific issue, the Catholic Church would have no problem with me not being a Creationist (it would, I suspect be quite welcoming in fact). But on the issue of the Assumption of the Virgin - which is not a necessary doctrine, not taught by Christ, not found in Scripture, and not essential to Salvation - it would not only refuse me the sacraments if I was honest about my disbelief, but be obliged by Canon Law to excommunicate me.

That is the difference. It is not principally about differences of doctrine, but about how we as the Church handle our authority, and what we use it for. The Catholic Chuch unquestionably defends Christian patrimony. But it defends with almost equal vigour a vast array of traditions that - without commenting on their respective truths - can be observed not to make one jot of difference to our reconciliation with God through the Cross.

Obedience, is of course, a virtue in the Church. And by that token, I look with considerable disfavour on the host of radicals who have gone from sincere dissent to deliberate denigration. I am not a fan of Luther precisely for this reason. I don't believe Protestantism to be the "one true light", with full license to treat with scorn and derision Catholics (or indeed the constantly forgotten Orthodox Churches).

Funnily enough, I take my role-model from St. Peter too. I note that his leadership was not defined by a will to insist on doctrines. If it had been - how ever would Paul have succeeded in rebuking him over his treatment of the Gentiles? I see Peter as the (im)perfect model that Christians and the Church would be well advised to emulate: faithful to the point of death, firm in his convictions of the key points of Christian witness, and loving in his conduct regarding all else.

17 August 2012 at 02:02  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

On the Fireman thing - you guys do know there are women firefighters right?

And that they are obliged to meet the same standards of training right?

Personally, if it was me, I'd not give three hoots whether the person that saved me from the fire was a woman.

I'm not at all in favour of lowering the minimum requirements to suit quotas of any kind - especially in so vital a profession - but if a woman can meet them (and many do), I say good on her!

17 August 2012 at 02:09  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

Avellanos,
I think you’ve been asking some important questions and it’s sparked a very good discussion, barring the odd insult here and there. I’m going to try and answer this one;
The other question I have concerns Mary's Immaculate Conception. My understanding of it is that she was conceived free from original sin and kept sinless throughout life so that Christ could be free from the taint of sin in His origin.
If that is the case, then the very fact of the Immaculate Conception seems to also make it pointless. If Mary can be born free from sin in every way, then why couldn't that also apply to Jesus directly? It's seemed to me that if the Immaculate Conception is necessary then it is also impossible, but if it is possible then it is also unnecessary.
The quick answer to this is that the point of Mary being free from original sin, was not so that Jesus would be free of original sin. As you rightly point out, if it could be done for Mary, it could be done for Jesus. The reason why she had to be free from original sin was because Jesus was not simply a man but also God and any taint of sin in Mary would have made it impossible for Jesus as God Incarnate to be born, because sin is the barrier between God and man. However, as someone else points out, this all seems a very complicated way of going about things and why would God want to do this anyway?
It all goes back to Adam and Eve. If you read it carefully, you’ll find that the way the devil tempted them into eating the forbidden fruit was by telling them that a) God was simply a celestial bully pushing them around and b) if they took the fruit they would become gods and be competition for him. This is the original deception of the devil and is the root of original sin. Basically the devil was saying that God looked down on us, didn’t care about us and didn’t want us to be godly ourselves. And he had a point. It was a question that had to be answered. There’s any number of powerful, immortal beings that people worship, but how do we know they care? What do they know of limitation, human suffering, grief, powerlessness and death? And what use are they if they have no knowledge of these things? The only way that this question could be answered and this deception removed was for God to come down to our level, become human and suffer as we do, even to death. But that would require a birth. And that in turn would require two things; firstly a woman free from sin and secondly, her consent. If there was any taint of sin present it would be a barrier and this is something people forget; that Mary as well as being free from original sin, couldn’t have actually committed a single sin in her life either, for Christ to come through her. And consent was essential. God could not force himself on us, because it is not in his nature to do so. That’s why there was forbidden fruit in the first place, because he was obliged to give us a choice.
So Mary said yes and Christ was the result; the bridge between God and humanity. God’s side of the bridge is Christ’s divinity; our side of the bridge is Christ’s humanity and that was given to him by Mary. That is why she is so important and why she has a unique place in our church.

17 August 2012 at 02:11  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...


One last point. We don’t worship Mary or any of the saints. What we do ask them to do, is to pray for us to God. There’s nothing wrong in doing this, anymore than it would be wrong for me to ask yourself to pray for me or vice versa. I think sometimes we forget that the Communion of Saints doesn’t just consist of the ones that have died; it also consists of the ones down here as well and death does not separate us. Those up in heaven have a clearer idea of what’s going on, but we pray for their intentions as well as them doing the same for us. It’s quid pro quo. I think there are certain areas of our theology that need dusted down and taught with a little more insight and authority, but you can still find all of this in our catechism. Anyway, hope that helps, at least as far as the Immaculate Conception goes; I’ve left the Assumption because the case for it is being most ably put by others here.

17 August 2012 at 02:13  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dodo:

"In the main, the teachings on Mary are not explicit in the bible and since Papal infallibility became a dogma the two excathedra teachings by Popes have concerned Mary. The attacks on the Assumption of Mary, the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary are all attacks on the very foundations of Catholicism."

But what you don't address is why it was necessary for it to be an ex-cathedra pronouncement? You stress on the one hand the "option" of Marian devotion, and - quite rightly - decry criticisms arising out of ignorance. But on the other, see nothing out of place in the absolute use of the Church's highest form of authority to defend a doctrine - which true or not - surely is of a similar order to the "optional" forms of devotion? That is, until it was made an ex-cathedra pronouncement.

17 August 2012 at 02:14  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

len

Regarding your post yesterday at 21:48, you really ought not to judge the faith of millions in such disparaging terms. You continually demonstrate ignorance about the Church, its history and its teachings.

One might simply say in return that you are confused and muddled in your own attempts at spiritual progress. In fact, I suspect you surf the net more than you read the Gospel.

17 August 2012 at 02:17  
Blogger John Magee said...

Belfast

I agree 100%. All I ask is that the same physical standards be applied to the female applicants as they are for the males. Let's be honest. Few women can qualify to meet the tough physical standard aspects it takes to be a fireman. We are talking about lives being saved and not radical feminists making a point about gender "equality". If a woman passes the physical endurance tests that qualify her to become a FIREMAN more power to her! We all have our limitations. I would like to be a brain surgeon but unfortunately I don't have the "brains" to be one...

17 August 2012 at 03:55  
Blogger John Magee said...

Belfast

My point is that the JW's, Mormons, and Nazarene's are breakaway sects from established Protestant denominations or individuals who once belonged to those denominations. Protestant churches tend reproduce by dividing. Sort of like denominational amoeba's. That's an observation and not a criticism or an insult.

17 August 2012 at 04:05  
Blogger Robin G. Jordan said...

Meanwhile here in North America they are observing the anniversary of the death of the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley.

17 August 2012 at 04:05  
Blogger John Magee said...

Inspector

I am but a humble old soldier who has always loved history. You, Sir, are a General here for the RC's and High Church Anglicans.

By the way, wasn't it the 19th English Cardinal John Newman (also a convert), who said that if you know history you must be a Catholic? Or words to that effect.

17 August 2012 at 04:16  
Blogger non mouse said...

Truly, I fail to see why man (or woman) requires Mary to have been born perfect, or to have been incapable of any form of infraction for an entire lifetime.

If we accept that Christ is the Son of Almighty God, then we accept that He and His Father can do anything. That includes protecting the Son from the taint of "Original Sin." As St. Luke records, Gabriel affirmed to Mary, "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (1.13). It is therefore unnecessary to prove that any minute flaw in Mary's makeup would affect Christ.

As I argued earlier, Original Sin resulted from the failure of Human Will (as well as perception, and intellect). God used Gabriel, Mary, and Joseph to rectify that failure; therefore Christ did not result from the Will of the Flesh. This is the sense in which He was not born in Original Sin. Christ was immaculately conceived: by the Holy Ghost.

To rate any human authority on this issue above God's Omnipotence is arrogant and blind. It manifests the same Pride that underlay the Fall; it betrays lack of Faith in the Almighty.

Instead of arguing about the level of Mary's purity (or about angels on pins), we might consider accepting that the ways of God are not the ways of men. He did not equip us to understand the scope of His omnipotence, so the invention of this assumptive argument has nothing to do with His capacity, but everything to do with our own incapacity to accept His Omnipresence, His Omniscience, and His Omnipotence.


------
All right then. Back you guys get into the fray. Back you go to your Virgin-Whore requirements of women. Oh, btw. Jesus did have some women disciples; they included Mary Magdalene and Martha. They may not have been Apostles, but they certainly contributed to the mission.

Meanwhile, cont'd:

17 August 2012 at 04:59  
Blogger Issai said...

Roman Catholics on this site - The Self-Righteous Brothers trying to weigh us all down with the chains they have draped themselves with. Nothing unchained about their melody. And let's not forget that the Roman Church itself is a breakaway heretical sect according to history and the Great Schism.

17 August 2012 at 05:17  
Blogger non mouse said...

Cont'd...

...For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain cometh come down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater;

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree:
and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (Isaiah 55.8-13 KJV)

Douay-Rheims has: ...and the Lord shall be named for an everlasting sign, that shall not be taken away (13).

17 August 2012 at 05:37  
Blogger non mouse said...

Oh, Mr. Jordan @ 04:05... thanks for the heads-up! He may have sinned and suffered at the hands of greater sinners; but God gave Elvis a beautiful voice, and he knew how to use it for the Gospel.

RIP

17 August 2012 at 05:45  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

"Unchained Melody"
That is a great song Issai. How can you be thinking such negative stuff with this twirling around in your head? I'll be singing this all day now. Thanks
Houdinette

17 August 2012 at 06:39  
Blogger len said...

The 'Mary' of Catholicism is pure invention.
The titles given to the Catholic Mary are' Mother of God'yet how can this be?. Jesus pre- existed Mary " Before Moses was I AM" also God is Spirit how can a human give birth to a Spirit?.

All the other titles of the Catholic 'Mary'put her on an equal footing with Christ actually displacing Christ in many cases.
.
Immaculate Conception: Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on 1854-DEC-8. Many Roman Catholics believe that this refers to Jesus' conception circa 5 to 7 BCE. In fact, it means that Mary herself was conceived free of sin before her birth circa 20 BCE.
. Assumption of Mary: Pope Pius XII, in his Munificentissimus Deus (1950-NOV-1), defined that Mary, "after the completion of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven." That is, she was "taken up body and soul into heaven," at the time of her death. She is there "exalted as Queen of the Universe."

Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular Anat, Isis, Innana, Astarte, Hera and possibly Asherah (by the prophet Jeremiah). Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied. The title Queen of Heaven is used by Catholics and Orthodox Christians for Mary.

The Bible describes the 'Queen of Heaven'."As for the word which you have spoken to us in the name of The Lord, we will not listen to you. But we will do everything that we have vowed, burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 44:16-17 RSV)

Worship of the "queen of heaven" is a confusion of people that angers God:

"The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger. Is it I whom they provoke? says The Lord. Is it not themselves, to their own confusion?" (Jeremiah 7:18-19 RSV)


17 August 2012 at 08:24  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

The titles given to the Catholic Mary are' Mother of God'yet how can this be?. Jesus pre- existed Mary

We have been through this again and again. The title "Mother of God" is not primarily about Mary but about defending the faith that Jesus really is God made man. We have seen that it is not possible to deny the title "Mother of God" without explicitly denying one of several propositions expressed in scripture.

But you've moved on here. As far as I can see, you are saying Mary is not Mother of God because Jesus pre-existed Mary. But notice where that leads: not just that Mary is not Mother of God, but that Mary is not Mother of Jesus. But scripture explicitly calls Mary "Mother of Jesus".

Moreover, if Jesus' divinity means he does not have a human mother, then he is it not human, there was incarnation, and your faith is in vein.

Now come on Len, all the major Protestant Reformers accepted this title: it's about the incarnation, the heart of the faith.

17 August 2012 at 08:52  
Blogger Albert said...

Non mouse,

If we accept that Christ is the Son of Almighty God, then we accept that He and His Father can do anything. That includes protecting the Son from the taint of "Original Sin."

How many times does this point have to be addressed. The doctrine is not reliant upon protecting the Son from the taint of "Original Sin." (why the scare quotes BTW? do you not believe in original sin?).

In a sense, I feel about this comment, what I felt about Len's: you don't really understand the issues, and this rather undermines Protestantism, how can the Protestant principle of private judgement be correct, when even the best of you (Carl included, though with Belfast as an honourable exception) do not even understand the doctrine?

To rate any human authority on this issue above God's Omnipotence is arrogant and blind

Indeed, but we do not regard the Magisterium of the Church as a purely human authority, but one guided and protected by God. In contrast, the private judgement of Protestants is a human authority, as scripture says:

First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, [21] because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God...So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
[16] speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

17 August 2012 at 09:00  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

I think we are at crossed-purposes. When I said that Aquinas did not deny the present doctrine, I meant that the reason Aquinas did not deny the doctrine in which Mary's sinlessness from the first moment of her conception (he might have said animation) was because he thought this exempted her from the universal salvation of Jesus Christ. The issue about the fomes (which is very paradoxical: she has them but they are fettered, and NB, the Catholic doctrine here is different from the Protestant one I think, and that may be causing confusion) flows from the same reasoning:

And although this appears to be part of the dignity of the Virgin Mother, yet it is somewhat derogatory to the dignity of Christ, without whose power no one had been freed from the first sentence of condemnation...

However, once the doctrine was clarified so that Mary could be free, from the first moment of her conception (or animation) Aquinas' objection would fall.

Aquinas has already accepted the argument for the IC in his quotation of Anselm, so with his objection answered, he would clearly accept the doctrine (which is seems to have done by the end of his life, as it happens).

In any case, Aquinas' position on the papacy would have led him to accept the authority of the teaching of 1854. He writes:

I answer that, As stated above (Objection 1), a new edition of the symbol becomes necessary in order to set aside the errors that may arise. Consequently to publish a new edition of the symbol belongs to that authority which is empowered to decide matters of faith finally, so that they may be held by all with unshaken faith. Now this belongs to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, "to whom the more important and more difficult questions that arise in the Church are referred," as stated in the Decretals [Dist. xvii, Can. 5. Hence our Lord said to Peter whom he made Sovereign Pontiff (Luke 22:32): "I have prayed for thee," Peter, "that thy faith fail not, and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren." The reason of this is that there should be but one faith of the whole Church, according to 1 Corinthians 1:10: "That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you": and this could not be secured unless any question of faith that may arise be decided by him who presides over the whole Church, so that the whole Church may hold firmly to his decision. Consequently it belongs to the sole authority of the Sovereign Pontiff to publish a new edition of the symbol, as do all other matters which concern the whole Church, such as to convoke a general council and so forth.

So to conclude:

(i) Aquinas accepts the argument for the IC as currently formulated.
(ii) Aquinas does not object to the doctrine as currently formulated, and his objections are to a slightly different doctrine (which is heretical in my view).
(iii) Aquinas accepts the authority which proclaimed it.

Therefore, there can be no doubt that Aquinas would accept it without difficult.

17 August 2012 at 09:20  
Blogger bananabrain said...

of course the bit we would have a problem with is the bit from timothy about jesus being the one mediator between G!D and humans, which is where christianity definitively parts company with judaism.

other than that, it has been a while since i saw a properly sourced handbag fight between catholics and protestants and i'm enjoying the action immensely.

b'shalom

bananabrain

17 August 2012 at 09:30  
Blogger Issai said...

Bananabrain, why do you keep wishing everyone to rest in peace? Isn't that rather rude?

17 August 2012 at 09:57  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Albert @ 00.44 said, 'You make it sound as if priesthood is something to which people can be entitled.'

It would be wrong to make that Assumption.

The point is a simple one. Given the Catholic emphasis on the Veneration of Mary, which goes far beyond any corresponding Protestant position as defined by the BCP for example, it surprises this communicant that the Roman Church does not translate this Marian emphasis into a role for women in the priesthood. Catholic women seem remarkably submissive in this regard.

A further thought comes to mind, presumably women RC priests would be burdened by celibacy, as is the dismal lot of male RC priests. Possibly in itself a reason why there is no feminist lobby for the right of RC women to become priests. One can imagine why they are happy to avoid the gift of 'entitlement'.

17 August 2012 at 10:20  
Blogger Albert said...

Bluedog,

You write:

It would be wrong to make that Assumption.

The point is a simple one. Given the Catholic emphasis on the Veneration of Mary, which goes far beyond any corresponding Protestant position as defined by the BCP for example, it surprises this communicant that the Roman Church does not translate this Marian emphasis into a role for women in the priesthood. Catholic women seem remarkably submissive in this regard.


I think that is the point I was getting at , perhaps not very clearly. You seem to be saying that because Mary is elevated, why can't she be a priest? If woman can be so elevated as Mary she can surely be elevated to the lesser role of the priesthood. Is that not your point?

Possibly in itself a reason why there is no feminist lobby for the right of RC women to become priests.

Sadly, there is a feminist lobby for women to become priests. However, it is not as vocal as you might expect. Part of the reason for this may be because, as a Catholic feminist pointed out to me so years ago, the ordination of women has been so harmful to the CofE that even signed up, previous supporters of the ordination of women, like her have had to change their minds.

This is the irony of the ordination of women: when the CofE kicked off with this in 1992, it expected that it was leading the way and making it easier to ordain women elsewhere. In fact, it has had the opposite effect.

This is particularly problematic for the CofE. The current position of the CofE on the ordination of women is that the matter is not settled or certain until the ordination of women is "received" by other Churches (e.g. us and the Orthodox), but but since we haven't received the ordination of women (in fact, the CofE has arguably caused us to harden our positions), it follows that the matter cannot be resolved in the CofE.

This is why there is such a problem over women bishops. And all this make thoughtful Catholics - even feminists - think twice about it.

17 August 2012 at 10:45  
Blogger Preacher said...

Good point, One Mediator between God & Man. Jesus Christ!.
Why then is Mary called a Mediatrix?.

You Catholic lads still seem quite confused & confusion is a hallmark of?.

Glad I'm a non conformist!.

17 August 2012 at 11:31  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Albert @ 10.45 asked, 'If woman can be so elevated as Mary she can surely be elevated to the lesser role of the priesthood. Is that not your point?'

Absolutely correct!

At this point this communicant must out himself as an opponent of women priests for the reasons identfied by Mr Inspector at 22.20. It seems consistent with Christ's own life and teaching that the priesthood should remain male. If Christ had been a woman the reverse may well be true. There is nothing to suggest that women are not entirely capable of providing ministry, indeed this communicant has seen it done, quite brilliantly, by a member of the congregation in the surprise absence of the incumbent.

Note His Grace has tweeted that the Catholic Church in the USA has now spent $3bn through the cost of mitigating the paedophile scandal. Be in no doubt that this is a disaster for the whole of Christianity, there can be no schadenfreude. So how many centuries before the Roman church recognises that priestly celibacy is almost certainly a contributing factor and changes its ways?

Can the Catholic Church survive?

Is the Almighty already hedging His bets by allowing the explosion of Protestant denominations?

17 August 2012 at 11:50  
Blogger Albert said...

Bluedog,

I think you've answered your own question on the ordination of women! Ordination is not a reward for personal holiness. To see the issues one needs to think of the contrasting offices of Peter & Mary. But in the end, I agree, it is the example of Christ that counts in this question.

Note His Grace has tweeted that the Catholic Church in the USA has now spent $3bn through the cost of mitigating the paedophile scandal. Be in no doubt that this is a disaster for the whole of Christianity, there can be no schadenfreude. So how many centuries before the Roman church recognises that priestly celibacy is almost certainly a contributing factor and changes its ways?

Your assumption is that celibacy has caused paedophilia. I have to say, I find this very counter-intuitive. In any case, American clerical sex abuse has been thoroughly studied in the US by an independent group of criminologists. They found that in fact in fact Catholic priests abuse at a lesser rate than equivalent professions and far lesser than ordinary members of the population. A father of a family is 36 times more likely to abuse than a celibate priest. That priests do not abuse more than others has been confirmed by the insurance companies which have had to do the paying out.

They also found that in fact there was a period when the abuse was at its height - in the period following the Council, basically, and that it has dropped off without anyone doing anything about it (at the same time it has risen in society as a whole, though with the rise of pornography and general loss of moral standards, it is not really surprising that it has risen in society as a whole).

Consequently, there is no good reason to think celibacy has anything to do with it (except in isolated cases, where it may have provided cover for perverts) and very good reason to think has nothing to do with it.

For independent assessment of the evidence, by an Anglican, in (of all places) the Guardian, see here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2011/may/21/child-abuse-catholicism-johnjayinstitute

I think you need to understand the function of getting at Catholics on this. It is precisely to compromise the Church and Christianity in general, especially in regard to her teaching on sexual ethics. The underlying point is to say "Look, if you don't let people indulge their sexuality they become paedophiles" and from there, all sorts of things can be defended.

So my suggestion is, if you don't want Christianity to be harmed, stop falling for the idea that celibacy is part of the problem of child abuse. And if you wish to protect children stop shifting the blame from the people who do it to the structures that they can so easily blame.

17 August 2012 at 12:11  
Blogger Albert said...

Good point, One Mediator between God & Man. Jesus Christ!.
Why then is Mary called a Mediatrix?.


Again, we've been through this. Insofar as Mary is called Mediatrix (and it isn't dogma as far as I can see) the term means something different from what is meant about Christ. This is evident from the fact that it is Catholic dogma that Mary is saved by Jesus' cross and that everything she is and does, she does only by his grace.

And this exposes the problem of Protestantism again: how can you believe in private judgment, when you are not even aware of what the issues are. As scripture says:

O LORD, I am not proud; I have no haughty looks. I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are too hard for me.

And yet you expect to work out the Trinity and the incarnation by yourself! It makes no sense!

17 August 2012 at 12:14  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

I've read your post several times, and as long as I'm not misunderstanding it, it hinges on this:

"However, once the doctrine was clarified so that Mary could be free, from the first moment of her conception (or animation) Aquinas' objection would fall."

In other words: once the Church had declared, initially in 1854 and then ex-cathedra in 1950, there was no impediment because "clarification" had been issued making said impediment unnecessary.

You then go on to cite Aquinas' support for the authority of the Catholic Church, which seems to back up my understanding. To be sure - as I said, I imagine Aquinas would indeed bend the knee precisely because of his obedience - but if you re-read my post, I was pointing out that the modern doctrine does not so much engage with Aquinas' fine logic as render it null without discussion. Thus I am forced to consider the distinct possibility that he would have been intellectually disasstisfied with a position that chiefly rests on the Church's authority to assert doctrine, rather than - as with Summa Theologica - rigorous, even pedantic, application of logic.

And that's a problem: because for Aquinas, and all the Scholastic writers, Pontifical authority would not have been seen at odds with logical thought - indeed there is a considerable push throughout the mid- and late-medieval church towards logic being at the top. Thus, it would not, and did not occur to him, that the authority of the church would stand alone without the kind of logic he utilises.

Part of this is inevitably because we are in a different time. Scholasticism no longer rules in Rome, or anywhere much else; and it's a dangerous to rely too much on cross-temporal comparison.

What really interested me though was your consideration of Aquinas' view as bordering on the heretical. Which of course, if insisted upon today it would ultimately have to be found to be.

One of the strongest arguments (in my view) against anti-Catholic Protestantism is that it renders long stretches of the past heretical or non-Christian, and a great many of our ancestors as heathens. John Magee cites Cardinal Newman's own version of that logic here. But of course, we may also note that the Catholic Church's employment of its authority has rendered its own prior incarnations now heretical. I raised one such example in a recent dicussion over abortion.

This is of course to be expected of any legal system: laws are made all the time that render something illegal today that was not so yesterday. But it is a peculiar system of law indeed that attempts to pretend that today's law is equally true of the past.

17 August 2012 at 12:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Pre-Vatican II the Catholic Church had a much finer system of calculating offense - ranging from a far less awful "error" that was not in itself spiritually harmful without persistence in the face of correction, to the full-blown anathema (now largely reduced to excommunication). I will appropriate it for a moment, knowing full well that Catholics will be unable to acknowledge my use of it as authoritative - but it's a way of using shared language.

I don't have a problem with the Assumption, as either an idea or a point of devotion. I don't much believe in myself - but I don't not believe in it either. I am largely indifferent to it, and seeing that it is not, ipso facto, a part of the beliefs necessary for salvation, I do not find much reason to persist in ending this indifference. To be sure - I am almost certainly impoverishing myself in some way: depriving myself of further devotion, certainly diminishing my capacity to incorporate the great aesthetic responses to the Assumption. That alone might be sufficient in the long run to motivate a reconsideration, but it is not an imperative.

On the other hand, I believe the use of ex-cathedra ruling is in error. I do not hold the doctrine to be heretical in itself, but nor do I recognise the logic or even the love behind a decision to make the Assumption a binding doctrine on pain of anathema. I think it was a mistake to do so because it a) elevates an uncertain and unnecessary doctrine to the status of beliefs pertaining to salvation, and b) presents for many other Christians yet another stumbling block to unity with the Catholic Church, and one which by a) is unnecessary.

Interestingly, when Newman was advising the then pope on the doctrine of ex-cathedra rulings themselves, he took the view that whilst it was a privilege that could indeed be justified, it was not a privilege that could be used - largely for the reasons I outline.

I said above I regard Peter as my model, and I do. It strikes me, though, that had he been possessed of the powers which the modern papacy has granted itself, we may still have been eating Kosher and getting circumcised.

Out of interest: Paul wouldn't have had any Magisterium when he challenged Peter now would he? I mean, he wasn't a recognised presbyter at that point, and the apellation of Apostle is found later in the corpus.

17 August 2012 at 12:35  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

John Magee:

"My point is that the JW's, Mormons, and Nazarene's are breakaway sects from established Protestant denominations or individuals who once belonged to those denominations. Protestant churches tend reproduce by dividing. Sort of like denominational amoeba's. That's an observation and not a criticism or an insult. "

A fair comment. As it happens, my being alerted to the potential pitfalls with exclusive adherence to the Solae comes directly as a result of prolongued discussion with a Jehovah's Witness. Of course, they don't divide very often as a rule - they also have a very centralised form of authority. Same with the Mormons actually.

I don't mean that comparison by way of insult either. As I said above, I consider them to teach heretical views because of the content of their theology, not because they have a strong hierarchy. But it would seem to suggest that much of the division elsewhere is precisely the result of Protestant churches generally reserving hierarchies to the parish itself, rather than as part of a far wider institution. This does not impinge on their ability to perceive of themselves as being within the Eternal and catholic Church, precisely because they usually formulate their fealty as being directly to God, rather than to God through a hierarchy, or in addition through a hierarchy.

17 August 2012 at 12:40  
Blogger Kinderling said...

Sex is death; a dying ego seeking out the estacy of imparting their seed to compensate for a lack of life.

All those psychologically preoccupied with death then are heavily involved in the repression of natural, in-season sex creating either an Immaculate Conception or a Preferential Perversion. This is their fruit that reveals nothing more that the worship of the deceased or the flesh for a sense of life they do not have. Period.

Every Logical twist from their First Big Lie just makes every adherent a little insaner.

17 August 2012 at 12:50  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

Perhaps I'm not being clear, or perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but it seems to me that this sentence is a good place to begin:

In other words: once the Church had declared, initially in 1854 and then ex-cathedra in 1950, there was no impediment because "clarification" had been issued making said impediment unnecessary.

My point is not that Aquinas' objections are not a problem because some authority says they are not a problem (but really they still are). My point is that the doctrine Aquinas objects to is not the doctrine actually defined.

In effect, Aquinas thinks the universal salvation of Christ entails universal original sin. Therefore, to say that Mary has no original sin is to say that she is not saved by Christ. I obviously wasn't clear. I didn't mean Aquinas was heretical, I meant he was right to regard the suggestion that Mary is not saved by Christ as heretical. If the Immaculate Conception means Mary was not saved by Christ, then the Immaculate Conception is heretical.

However, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as defined is not that Mary was not saved by Christ, but that his salvation extended to such a degree into her that she did not even sin. Ironically, it was Duns Scotus who saw this solution. He said a man can be saved from a pit in two ways, he can be pulled out after he has fallen in or he can be pushed out of the way so that he doesn't fall in (but otherwise would).

Scotus says Christ saves us by pulling us out of the pit, but that he saves Mary by pushing her out of the way before she falls in. Far from exempting Mary from Christ's salvation, this actually means Mary has a greater debt to Christ than us.

So under our doctrine, Mary incurs the debt of original sin (without grace she would have had original sin) but by Christ's saving grace she does not actually receive original sin.

Now that is not at all what Aquinas was denying. In fact it attends very neatly to his concerns, and since he otherwise wishes to say Mary has the highest possible grace, it follows he would have believed this doctrine.

But of course, we may also note that the Catholic Church's employment of its authority has rendered its own prior incarnations now heretical.

Not so. It is usually simply that questions are clarified so that clearer answers can be given. Let me give an example of the development of doctrine that we can probably both agree on.

In the 3rd century, the term homoousios was heretical because it implied unitarianism. But in the 4th century is becomes the mark of orthodoxy. Why? Because the term is being used in a different way. If the term means there is no distinction between the Son and Father (as in the 3rd usage) it is heretical. But if the term is used to mean that although Son and Father are distinct, yet they share the same essence, as in 4th Century usage, then it is necessarily true, if Christianity is true.

So the following is not a helpful analogy:

This is of course to be expected of any legal system: laws are made all the time that render something illegal today that was not so yesterday.

It always was the case that denying Mary was saved by Jesus was heretical (though it may not have been defined). It always was the case that saying the Son is not distinct from the Father was heretical. But these beliefs are not touched by the later definitions, which simply reconcile those beliefs with other things that (also) were already believed, but whose coherence was not clear.

17 August 2012 at 13:06  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

It strikes me, though, that had he been possessed of the powers which the modern papacy has granted itself, we may still have been eating Kosher and getting circumcised.

Out of interest: Paul wouldn't have had any Magisterium when he challenged Peter now would he? I mean, he wasn't a recognised presbyter at that point, and the apellation of Apostle is found later in the corpus.


I'm sorry, but I think this is quite confused. Firstly, Paul was an apostle from the moment Christ appeared to him. He was therefore, part of the magisterium when he challenged Peter. Secondly, even if he wasn't Peter had not pronounced on the issue - I can challenge the Pope on his actions and words which are not him in his teaching authority. Thirdly, it is not clear exactly where Peter and Paul were parting company - a good deal of work indicates that they were at crossed-purposes.

17 August 2012 at 13:08  
Blogger Albert said...

Kinderling,

I'd love to know what you are talking about, but I really can't follow.

17 August 2012 at 13:12  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"his salvation extended to such a degree into her that she did not even sin."

Which Aquinas covers in q.27 article 4.

Aquinas isn't arguing that Mary must be a sinner to be saved - article 4 expressly contradicts this. He is arguing that the full nature of Original Sin - the incendiary to commit sin - is present in Mary, albeit without power, so that the Grace that fills her completely is sufficient to ensure she did not actually commit sin.

The modern formulation covers articles 2 and 4, but expressly overlooks article 3 - invalidating it, de facto, by declaring Mary to be fully exempt from the conditions arising from Original Sin, even though its main thrust is in fact directed to the point of article 4 (whether Mary in fact, actually sinned). Whereas Aquinas deals with this explicitly, the modern formulation does not, and is, as such a simplification of the doctrine laid out in Summa Theologica.

Whether you then consider that original logic to pertain to the doctrine seems very much to be a case of whether one accepts that the authority of the Church is sufficient to negate that logic (or the need for that logic) or not.

17 August 2012 at 15:04  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

Aquinas isn't arguing that Mary must be a sinner to be saved

I mis-spoke, I didn't mean that Aquinas thought she had to be guilty of actual sin (perish the thought!), I meant that he thought she had to incur Original Sin in order to be saved. His teaching on the fomes is dependent on this assumption. Since, as I have argued, this assumption is unnecessary, since she can be saved precisely by being spared Original Sin (and therefore the fomes) it follows that Article 3 is moot.

17 August 2012 at 16:13  
Blogger Albert said...

What is the reason in Article 3 that Aquinas gives for Mary needing the fomes. You've given it yourself: it's the same reason he thought she must have hcontracted original sin:

"somewhat derogatory to the dignity of Christ, without whose power no one had been freed from the first sentence of condemnation."

He's not actually adding to what he has already said, he is simply extending the logic of it. But since his premise is false, the logic does not need to follow.

17 August 2012 at 16:17  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

Why though is the logic false? Perhaps I've missed something in your posts, but you've not presented a logical riposte to Aquinas' article, merely pointed out that the ex-cathedra statement makes it irrelevant. Which is why I'm stuck on: it's false because it has been declared to be false. Which doesn't strike me as being particularly... scholastic in reasoning.

17 August 2012 at 16:35  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"I'm sorry, but I think this is quite confused. Firstly, Paul was an apostle from the moment Christ appeared to him. He was therefore, part of the magisterium when he challenged Peter. Secondly, even if he wasn't Peter had not pronounced on the issue - I can challenge the Pope on his actions and words which are not him in his teaching authority. Thirdly, it is not clear exactly where Peter and Paul were parting company - a good deal of work indicates that they were at crossed-purposes."

All of which would be nice if we knew that the early Church was identical in structure to the modern day Catholic Church, with its clearly defined "ex-cathedra" statements, and indeed that Paul's Apostleship was understood in the terms you outline it.

Galatians 2 and Acts 15 present some difficulties for the principle of the Magisterium and the use of the ex-cathedra pronouncement to creating binding doctrine respectively in the sense that they are used in the modern Catholic Church.

Both obviously have a different perspective, Galatians the explictly Pauline view, and Acts the more historical view. This is not to see them at odds - merely that one gives us insight into the personal and private exchanges, Acts to what the formal pronouncements were.

Paul goes to share his revelation privately with the men of repute (Gal 2:1-2) but notes that he resists the unnamed false brothers (Gal 2:4-5) who seek to "enslave" the Gentiles who appear to be "spying" on the private council and observes that:

"But from those who were reputed to be important (what they once were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those of repute made me add nothing." (Gal 2:6)

This is almost the inverse of a Magisterium. The measure Paul provides is not that the revelation is true because it is authorised by the men of repute, but that the men of repute are reputable precisely because they recognise the truth of the revelation, and do not require any changes of Paul. Those who do, are condemned as false brothers, even though they appear to have been present at the private meeting of men of repute. The revelation, not collective opinion is the measurement. Moreover Paul will remain true to the Gospel, even if men of repute ask him to make additions precisely because it is of non-human origins (Gal 1:11).

Gal 11-14 goes further - pretty much all the men of repute are in some way indicted by the taint of potential hypocrisy. Peter is opposed openly and directly for not eating with the circumcised when men from James arrive (who is indirectly indicted too - something that given his far more Judaised stance in Acts 15 is not without credibility). Even Barnabus ends up being "tainted" (Gal 2:13). It takes, according to Paul, his relatively isolated rebuke to bring them to attention:

"But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”" (Gal 2:14)

But that's only one half of the story - and reading it in isolation could indeed take us down roads of Pauline vs. Petrine vs. Jamesian Christianity.

17 August 2012 at 16:47  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

[cont]

Acts gives us the public side.

Peter speaks first, and he speaks of his authority in these terms:

"from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe." (Acts 15:7)

Peter's justification is rooted in the Holy Spirit working "among you": the early Church. Paul and Barnabus speak regarding the signs and wonders of their mission (Acts 15:12), and therein is the justification for their divine gospel. James, true to his "Judaized" nature, responds by recalling Amos and presenting Paul's vision as a fulfillment of the "Old Testament" (Acts 15:15-18). James nevertheless insists on telling the whole Church "by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood" because this is what Moses taught (Acts 15:19-21). [As an aside, it’s interesting to note that James uses “Symeon” rather than “Peter”.]

The letter goes, and brings joy, along with Judas and Silas, to the fellowship at Antioch (Acts 15:30-35), with this message:

"‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”" (Acts 15:28-29, my emphasis)

This is a decision arising from three communities in the Church going in different directions at first, but united in agreement on the necessities. They understand that the Holy Spirit does not burden the whole body of the Church with burdens it cannot carry (Acts 15:10). Even though, if one had gone to Antioch, one would have found a considerably less Judaized church than that in Jerusalem under James. Despite their differences, they are united in Christ. There is no attempt to create a "stumbling block" either for "Judaized" Christians or for Gentiles.

Is this not then the proof of the Magisterium? That out of diversity, the collected men of repute have created unified - and singular doctrine?

Well... no, actually. What they've created is unity, not an infallible doctrine.

Because Paul goes on to found the Church in Corinth immediately after the "Magisterial Pronouncement" (Acts 18), and in his first Epistle to them, Paul gives us his views on eating meat offered to idols (1 Cor 8:1-10). He is quite plain that - contra James - he does not regard the eating of meat offered to idols as, ipso facto, being a sin in itself (1 Cor 8:4-6). But he will abstain, wherever it causes his brother to sin. Brothers perhaps from James' fellowship.

Now neither of us would want to argue that Paul is disobeying the ecumenical council's proclamation. If it had Magisterial authority, Paul’s alternative teaching must be regarded as being wrong. Which leaves us with the option that it was intended to bring about unity by emphasising brotherhood over division. Paul's epistle echoes the need to put brotherhood first, to not wield "knowledge" like a hatchet. In other words, what he appears to have taken from that council, is not a sense of Magisterium, but of Ecumenical Brotherhood, of shared membership in the Body of Christ.

And so I do make the case, that had the powers of the present-day papacy been available to Peter, we would not have had 1 Cor 8. Or at least, we would have to declare it heretical - opposed to the Apostolic Magisterium.

Does this mean the Magisterium is of the devil? No - that's equally specious. It has evolved, and has its own logic that should be engaged on its own merits, in its proper historical context. It is indeed inspired by Scripture - perhaps even divinely inspired. But it was not present in the early Church, any more than Peter made ex-cathedra rulings. They simply didn't exist as ideas, or as practice - as Scripture attests.

17 August 2012 at 16:55  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Belfast 12:35
I understand your point about the ex cathedra ruling seeming unreasonable particular in relation to distancing the Church further from the Protestants.Perhaps that might have been the intention. Who knows?

A Catholic is automatically excommunicated for committing grievous sin if the sinner is not remorseful and has the intention of reoffending.

E.G A murderer may be remorseful and have no intention of ever murdering anyone again. They will be forgiven and not excommunicated. Yet,a married woman using artificial contraception who has no intention of ever having more children by continual use of contraception is excommunicated.The ruling on the contraception issue is not ex cathedra.So, the idea of being excommunicated for not believing in the Assumption would be be relatively unimportant to most Catholics.There are far more important issues concerning how to survive as a Catholic in the modern era imo.

17 August 2012 at 16:56  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Cressida:

I'm quite willing to be reasonable - while I think the ex-cathedra ruling on the Assumption is a mistake, I can well understand the views often expressed by Dodo that the Catholic Church felt, and in many cases still feels, "under assault" from Protestantism.

I've tried to be clear that I don't regard the kind of venom summoned by Luther as being the right thing either, but in the walls of text, that can easily get lost.

I think the only sound basis for genuine Christian unity is patience and love.

You are entirely correct that there are far more important issues facing the Body of Christ.

17 August 2012 at 17:20  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

Why though is the logic false?

I never said the logic was false. This is what I said:

But since his premise is false, the logic does not need to follow.

Logic can only proceed from some kind of premise. But if the premise is rejected we do not need to follow the logic of that premise.

but you've not presented a logical riposte to Aquinas' article, merely pointed out that the ex-cathedra statement makes it irrelevant. Which is why I'm stuck on: it's false because it has been declared to be false.

Absolutely not! What I am saying here is that there are two different doctrines of the IC, Aquinas opposes one, and the Church dogmatizes the other. Let's put it this way:

IC doctrine 1: Mary was free of Original Sin and therefore did not need to be saved by Jesus.

This doctrine Aquinas rejects because it means Mary was not saved. Hence he says:

If the soul of the Blessed Virgin had never incurred the stain of original sin, this would be derogatory to the dignity of Christ, by reason of His being the universal Saviour of all.

Then there's IC doctrine 2: Mary was free of Original Sin because she was perfectly saved by Jesus.

Well, Aquinas hasn't said anything about IC doctrine 2 and he has offered no objection to it. It's not that Aquinas' objections to IC doctrine 1 have been declared to be false, they have been (tacitly) declared to be correct. What has happened is that the Church has defined a different doctrine from the one he was talking about.

Now Aquinas has already conceded that Mary had the highest possible grace:

Further, as Anselm says (De Concep. Virg. xviii), "it was fitting that this Virgin should shine with such a purity that under God none greater can be imagined": wherefore it is written (Canticles 4:7): "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee." But the purity of the Blessed Virgin would have been greater, if she had never been stained by the contagion of original sin.

He just rejects the conclusion of this argument because he sees it as entailing the fallacy of IC doctrine 1. Therefore, he settles for the next best thing:

the Blessed Virgin did indeed contract original sin, but was cleansed therefrom before her birth from the womb. This is what is signified (Job 3:9) where it is written of the night of original sin: "Let it expect light," i.e. Christ, "and not see it"--(because "no defiled thing cometh into her," as is written in Wisdom 7:25), "nor the rising of the dawning of the day," that is of the Blessed Virgin, who in her birth was immune from original sin.

But Aquinas has not considered IC doctrine 2, which resolves the apparent contradiction and enables Aquinas to accept both of the points he has been arguing about: (i) that Mary has the highest grace and therefore is without Original Sin (ii) that this does not undermine the universal salvation of Christ, but rather affirms it.

Therefore, simply under the strength of his own argument, we can expect Aquinas to have accepted IC 2 if he had known of it. That the Church dogmatises this doctrine is almost beside the point, but given his belief in the papacy (see above), we can see he would accept it.

17 August 2012 at 17:37  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Cressida, one’s brother has three boys. His wife always wished for a daughter, but they had to give up as they couldn’t squeeze another one in the house. Needless to say, they did not get separate beds having taken that decision...

17 August 2012 at 17:55  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

"But from those who were reputed to be important (what they once were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those of repute made me add nothing."

I'm struggling a bit here, because you seem to be saying that it makes no difference that were apostles. But that surely cannot be his meaning, since from the very first verse, Paul is meaning to defend his own apostolic authority.

Surely what the real issue is, is that the "false brethren" are only recognising the original Jerusalem apostles (who are of "repute"). But "God shows no partiality" and this is evinced in that "they added nothing to me". Hence, even those who accept the Jerusalem apostles, must accept Paul, because they had (and hence there is no need to listen to "false brethren" who deny Paul's gospel or deny that he is an apostle).

The issue is therefore not, is there living apostolic authority in the Church? or is Peter the head of the apostolic college, but rather, was Paul an apostle and recognised to be such by the very authorities that the "false brethren" accept?

17 August 2012 at 18:01  
Blogger Albert said...

As for Paul taking on Peter, it is hard to see what that has to do with the Magisterium. The Papacy does not claim a secret hotline to God. Issues have to thrashed out by the prophetic office of the Church, the Magisterium is certainly the key to knowing when a conclusion has been reached, but the prophetic office of the Church is not reduced to the Magisterium.

If they were all carried away (except Paul) and James adds a load of Judaizing rules in Acts 15, then we must ask "What were they thinking of?" Clearly they were not worring about whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised (Gal.2.3), the issue was "Okay, given that Gentiles do not need to live as Jews, what about Christian Jews?" Peter was probably following the logic of considering the weaker brethren and seeking to prevent a split. The matter in question had not yet been decided. Paul contributed to this debate, but unfortunately we do not have Peter's side of it.

17 August 2012 at 18:07  
Blogger Albert said...

I think that this goes some way to resolving the paradox (which is less of a problem for the Magisterium and more of problem for the coherence of scripture). The rules applied because the matter of how Jews live had not yet been resolved - everyone accepts the letter - even Paul. However, in 1 Cor. the matter either has been decided, or isn't relevant because the Christians are not living among Jews.

What does all this show? It shows that even in scripture, doctrine develops. Even in scripture, the apostles themselves cannot instantly work out how to resolve things. Therefore, like the modern Church, they guide more than the dogmatize (keep in mind that in the 450 years since the Council of Trent the Church has issued only 2 infallible statements) but it is equally evident that these matters cannot be decided by private judgment - for the apostles themselves have a hard time working them out.

And so I do make the case, that had the powers of the present-day papacy been available to Peter, we would not have had 1 Cor 8. Or at least, we would have to declare it heretical - opposed to the Apostolic Magisterium.

No, because the Magisterium isn't just Peter (or the Pope) and the Magisterium was not settled, so he would not have issued an infallible declaration.

17 August 2012 at 18:14  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Thank you Inspector. This is the first time I have had some sort of support from a Catholic on this issue on this blog.

17 August 2012 at 18:19  
Blogger Albert said...

I think this may be the problem Belfast: you have a whole range of assumptions about the Magisterium (and objections to it) that are misconceptions. This is why we are talking passed each other.

17 August 2012 at 18:19  
Blogger Albert said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17 August 2012 at 18:33  
Blogger Albert said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17 August 2012 at 18:34  
Blogger Albert said...

Cressida,

E.G A murderer may be remorseful and have no intention of ever murdering anyone again. They will be forgiven and not excommunicated.

Dodo's the one for Canon Law, but my understanding is that they are necessarily excommunicated by virtue of the evil they have committed. However, if they resolve to amend their lives they can receive absolution. This applies equally to all grave sins.

17 August 2012 at 18:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

I'm merely taking what Paul makes clear in Galatians: his apostolic authority is directly derived from his divine revelation. In that sense it is a false dichotomy, at least with regards to Paul, to talk about his status as an Apostle distinct from the Gospel he is given to the Gentiles. In the case of Peter or James, I think there's a little more ground to see them as possessing a distinct "status" as "men of repute" - the elders and presbyters, but more than that, the obvious inheritors of Christ's legacy as his immediate Disciples. In fact this seems to be why Paul and Barnabus go to have their vision affirmed in the first place (Gal 2:1-2). But we temper that with Paul's determination that his gospel is right - with or without their approval - and that in Galatians it is their authority which is measured against acceptance of Paul's Gospel rather than the other way around.

To put it another way: it makes no difference to Paul that the others are Apostles, if they do not recognise the truth of his Gospel.

Paul in fact seems quite dismissive of the idea that a special degree of repute (as Apostles or Elders) has any importance in deciding God's truth:

"what they once were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality (Gal 2:6; speaking here about the men of repute, not the pharisees - including the other Apostles!!)

Even if we set aside the dispute itself: James insists on one thing (and he is an Apostle), Paul insists, a short while later, on another despite a clear public ruling, but wishes to preserve unity (and he is also an Apostle). When the Apostles act in unity at the Council of Jerusalem, the effect is not so much to curtail difference as it is to ensure unity above "knowledge" - precisely the point made in 1 Corinthians 8.

We do have Peter's side on it - he presents the public view at the council in Acts. Paul and Barnabus are then invited to share. James then speaks, apparently on his own authority as the leader of the
Christians in Jerusalem to insert his primary concern that the Law of Moses does not go the way of the Dodo (sorry Dodo).

"If they were all carried away (except Paul) and James adds a load of Judaizing rules in Acts 15, then we must ask "What were they thinking of?""

Haven't we had the point raised earlier by outsider that its silly old Luther that decides to set up a hierarchy between Apostles and reject James.

The problem is this: we either have a situation in the early Church in which Peter's authority is - to use the old phrase - primus inter pares, and in which the unity he preserves is not through dogmatic insistence on his own authority but through concession; in other words that the unity of the Church is ecumenical rather than Magisterial in basis. Or we have Peter as supreme pontiff, and either James in rebellion or Paul in rebellion depending on which side we see Peter as falling (the statement in Acts seems to go more along the Pauline route). Which doesn't bode particularly well for any Christian denomination if James ("brother" of Christ) ends up out in the cold.

The ecumenical approach is far more consistent a reading of the early Church as presented in the New Testament. And in fact, a very hopeful one - because it answers directly the usual criticism that the Church was "Petrine in origin but Pauline in destination" and the like by stressing the importance on unity that the apostles and elders maintained.

17 August 2012 at 18:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Cressida. One has a wry smile when contemplating the Almighty’s view of the Catholic church’s stance on certain issues. Contraception in a Christian household for example. The sun going around the earth, another in the past...

17 August 2012 at 18:50  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert - missed your third post there.

No my point wasn't to take Peter as the Magisterium. We're not going down that route. I understand perfectly well that the Magisterium is the corporate pronouncement of the body of those with Magisterial authority (i.e. the leaders of the Church - namely disciples, apostles, bishops and cardinals) - speaking in a unified manner on a subject, either in an Extraordinary announcement or with the Universal Magisterium arising from Catholic communion with Rome.

My point is that "the Magisterium" of the collected Apostles at Jerusalem; issues a statement that makes it clear that obedience to Jewish guidance on eating food offered to idols and blood is a necessity to be observed by all Christians.

Paul then goes off, founds Corinth, and writes from Ephesus. There is not another gathering of the Apostles or another council, and a few years after what seems to me a perfectly clear statement regarding the place (and absolute limits) of Jewish custom in Christian observance is being contradicted by Paul, apparently unilaterally in 1 Cor 8.

We can see the Council letter as being binding or non-binding. If it's the latter, it rather defeats the point of the council, and in any case undermines the idea of a formal Magisterium of the collected leaders of the early Church.

If it's the former - it's binding - then we have to ask in what way. If it's as a piece of firm, doctrine, Magisterially confirmed, Paul is unquestionably breaking with it - even if he is doing so in a manner that is deferential to the needs of his brother when he writes 1 Corinthians 8. We could see this breach as between Paul and the rest of the Apostles, or between Paul and James - but in which case, as I say, we have to wonder quite why that is.

Alternatively, if the letter is understood as principally being about maintaining unity between the different traditions developing in the Church, then not only is Paul not in violation of a Magisterial decree (because such a thing doesn't exist at that point) - but he is actually emulating precisely the spirit of it. "Don't make a stumbling block for your brother, even if it isn't a stumbling block for you".

17 August 2012 at 18:58  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

Thank you, shall I just respond to your last post then? But before I do, may I say it is such a joy discussing with you?

It strikes me that these passages cannot be taken in any sense which would undermine the Magisterium of the Apostles. If they are, then Paul undermines himself. Therefore, they must be reconcilable, even if you and I cannot see how. Certainly, I have read commentaries which have dealt well with these issues (and not Catholic commentaries), but I can't remember all the details.

One of the interesting things is the emphasis on abstaining from blood. An Orthodox Rabbi told me once that while they do not expect Gentiles to keep the whole law, the law imposed upon Noah is expected to be kept by all humanity:

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

This becomes significant because Jews who have accepted that Gentiles can come into the Church without the law and circumcision are still going to expect Gentiles to abstain from blood - as it appears in Acts 15.

What this implies is that Acts 15 is a work in progress. It is not meant as an irreformable decision - and clearly Paul does not take it as such. In fact, it isn't really matter for a dogmatic definition, but rather it is a question of discipline. One way of resolving this is to note it is James who gives the "decree", not Peter or Paul. Jerusalem and its daughter churches are in his area of care - and Paul accepts this, even to the point of conveying the message. However, once Paul was in his own area of mission, he was his own man. We get a sense of this possible tension when Paul returns to Jerusalem in chapter 21 and they give him a quiet reminder how they do things:

And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity." Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself with them and went into the temple, to give notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for every one of them.

Paul is not a persona non grata, despite the fact that they clearly realise he is doing things differently. Nevertheless, they are clear he must now adapt back to their ways and Paul again submits to this judgment.

The most likely interpretation therefore is that there was proper collegial breadth - Paul could do what he wanted when he was in his own mission, but in conservative Jewish areas, things were different. Acts 15.20f is therefore a decree limited to a certain area and (as it turns out) time.

17 August 2012 at 19:55  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

Perhaps I would be better to clarify.

I don't actually see them as contradicting. Rather like Aquinas I like to go through the various possibilities, discounting those that either contradict the source material, or are logically preposterous. Intellectually, I can see how a non-Christian could interpret these same passages in a far less flattering light - but as I do not see this as being the only viable option, and like you believe in God's Providential governance of the Church on Earth, there are other possibilities that are both intellectually "satisfying" and in agreement with faith.

The idea of collegial breadth is a good one - and covers in enviable brevity what I've been striving towards. But are we really seeing this merely as a matter of custom in different "episcopal sees"?

I don't get the sense that Paul sees much value in those customs any more. His position seems to be much more along the lines of a kind of benevolent tolerance for the sake of his brother, rather than an admission of the equal truth of the claims. He avoids being either bitter or schismatic though, by emphatically making brotherhood his focus: "Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know." (1 Cor 8:2).

In fact, the position stated by Acts 21 strongly implies that the fellowship in Jerusalem sees one law for them, and a kind of equivalent tolerance for Gentiles.

This strikes me as quite essential: because we have two groups of people both fairly adamant in their knowledge - both of which cannot be simultaneously exactly correct. But the kind of "pragmatics" of putting unity first means that both not only save face, but have cause to treat one another with respect - and, essentially, to maintain communion with one another.

It strikes me as just the kind of model for interdenominational understanding that would work.

But it's worth noting that this breaks down the more emphatically any denomination insists upon being right. Not on the fundamentals - we've gone over again and again the importance of the key necessities; and it's the necessities that preoccupied the letter from the Council of Jerusalem. There's no sense that a Church would be out of line in breaking fellowship with a person or group teaching that Christ was not God, for instance. But on the differences of doctrine that are essential, vital, and dear to us, but present difficulties for our brethren. It has to work both ways, or it doesn't work at all.

Now, could it work for Protestants and Catholics? There are some pretty profound gulfs. In many ways though, the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Churches is closer to this kind of relationship; and more reciprocal as a result.

But one thing seems, at least to me, quite clear: the possibility for unity is made far more distant by the Protestants declaring Catholics anathema for their Marian devotion, and the Catholic Church declaring all who cannot accept the Assumption anathema.

It was this that prompted my initial argument.

17 August 2012 at 20:24  
Blogger Preacher said...

Friends.
Still at it I see.
Can you not understand that the lost soul on the street can not follow all the jargon, latin & religious talk.

Our task is to reach the lost souls with the gospel of salvation, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as their substitute for sin. So that on the day of judgement God's love, Grace & mercy will result in their redemption. Without impugning His Justice.
Why so complex & difficult?. Or perhaps we enjoy debate rather than action.

17 August 2012 at 20:40  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Preacher:

Good point. And worth noting that in Paul's account of the Council of Jerusalem the one issue that united the church without controversy was the need to serve the poor; to take action in the name and love of Christ.

17 August 2012 at 20:42  
Blogger Albert said...

Well that's nice preacher - it sounds like you think Athanasius and Arius should have just had a big hug or that Paul should have let those who like circumcising to carry on. I understand this "my faith is just a simple faith" stuff, but it isn't the faith of the Bible:

So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

The "I have a simple faith" is really a secular idea to take the force of truth out of religion.

17 August 2012 at 20:51  
Blogger Albert said...

Preacher

A case in point:

by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as their substitute for sin

If I ask where that is to be found in the NT you will reply with a number of passages. I could argue that these passages do not support the doctrine. Before you know it, it will be complicated. But you'll stick to it because it matters to you. Truth matters as it is the truth that will set us free.

17 August 2012 at 20:56  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Preacher said...

"Friends.
Still at it I see.
Can you not understand that the lost soul on the street can not follow all the jargon, latin & religious talk."


Which, in my opinion, was the evil spawned, not resolved, by the Protestant Reformation. Catholicism, i.e the Universal Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, can be as simple or as complex according to the gifts and abilities of individual communicants.

I understood the Fall of man, the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ as young as 5 years old. It is a simple message. My faith was the faith of a child.

As one matures and considers scripture and the sheer overwhelming wealth of spiritual richness of the Church, one needs wise counsel and guidance. We discover our limitations and seek to stretch and extend ourselves in a desire to know, love and serve God more.

To claim to know more than those who have dedicated their lives to God and who faithfully preserve and share 2000 years of collective Church wisdom, seems the height of pride to me.

Then, I am a Catholic and would say this, wouldn't I?

17 August 2012 at 23:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dodo is quite correct. Remove the mysticism of belief and the people lose interest. You see, you need this involvement because when it comes to spirituality, most people are thickos. Well, at least the English round here are...

17 August 2012 at 23:51  
Blogger non mouse said...

AiB: God bless you for your patience in tackling our divinely inspired Masters and Judges on their aureate ground!!!

Oh, wait a minute... this is His Grace's ground, so your defence is nothing short of heroic -:). Gold medal stuff.

__________________

Mr.Preacher @20.40: well said.

It's becoming clearer by the moment, though, that we WILL not expect our Masters and Judges to lower themselves to the level of ignorant, idiot, nonentities. How dare we presume that we have minds, hearts, or souls of our own!!! We must learn that those elements exist only in the winners of all those old schisms and papal differentiations.
Ours is just to float the seato on acres of fluffy adoration (cf film above).

Interestingly, I just heard an American neurologist discussing present-day advances in stem-cell surgery. Apparently specialists are developing techniques for brain transplants. Hey... that's a great way of conceiving immaculate thinking!

Strikes me that'll be a perfect addition to the Marxist/Catholic arsenal. I mean. They must get tired of telling us what we think and why we're wrong (even when we inconveniently agree with them). And it'll be ideal for sorting out those other useful idiots... the ones we dare not name.

________________

Your Grace: eternal thanks for the Reformation and your part in it.

I knew it was necessary. However, I'm presently overcoming my horror at the enormities it held at bay....

18 August 2012 at 01:10  
Blogger len said...

For all the pontificating posturing and the attempt to blow smoke and position mirrors over and around the 'Catholic Mary'and to cover her with a cloak of mysticism the plain fact is the 'Catholic Mary' is an invention.

Mary the 'Mother of Jesus 'was highly favoured and holds a position of love and respect amongst Christians, she is unique amongst Women but that is as far as it goes.To add anything more to 'Mary Mother of Jesus' is a mark of grave disrespect to her and only takes the attention away from the True Saviour Jesus Christ.
Mary needed a Saviour as much as the rest of Humanity and she says so herself.

The role of Mary, the mother of Jesus in His ministry was that she was part of those who Jesus came to "seek and to save" (Luke 19:10). Mary herself recognized her own need of a Savior. "And Mary said:

'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46-47).

If Catholics can get 'Mary' so very wrong the rest of their theology needs to be looked at very carefully and compared to scripture
to see why and where the have gone so very amiss.This is exactly why the reformers(formerly Catholic Priests)decided they could no longer stay within the Catholic religious system.
It took great courage for the Reformers to do this and many paid for this attempt to return to scriptural truth with their lives.

The move to put the Holy scriptures within the hands of common men (in a language they could understand) met huge resistance from Catholic authorities and we owe these men too a huge debt of gratitude.Anyone can purchase a Bible today and seek the scriptures himself (The Catholic authorities still forbid reading the scriptures without a Priest to 'advise one'this I believe is because they are afraid people will see through their errors and faults) The Scriptures are a useful tool to measure truth|(and error)and should be used as such and we should not follow 'traditions'and accept un- biblical fallacies without careful examination under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. if we need wisdom all we have to do is to ask God for it. (If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him) James 1 :5)

18 August 2012 at 06:40  
Blogger len said...

Jesus Christ is the perfect mediator between Man and God because He became of of us!.
Jesus could have materialised anywhere on this Earth as a fully grown adult.
Why then did he choose to be born of a woman?. Jesus Christ Himself took on Humanity OUR Humanity, God clothed Himself in human flesh.
Jesus Christ totally understands us totally identified Himself with us and yet remains totally God.

He is the perfect Mediator because He perfectly understands us, our weakness`s our failures,Jesus Christ is the ONLY mediator... to add the Catholic 'Mary' as' co redeemer' is a gross insult to God and only results in a' muddying of the waters' in the salvation of Humanity which belongs to God alone!.

18 August 2012 at 07:07  
Blogger Preacher said...

Friends.
You can argue & debate until the Cows come home or until you turn blue in the face.
The Great commission was to go into all the World & Preach the GOSPEL to ALL men. Their response will determine there eternal destiny.
All else is cant & religiosity a plot of the evil one to confuse the minds of men.
In your responses I see the truth of what you believe when the hype of 'smoke & mirrors' to use one of Len's phrases is removed.
How can any of you think that your opinions count more than the souls of men. You need to repent gents, you are stumbling blocks of heroic proportions.

18 August 2012 at 08:18  
Blogger Albert said...

Preacher,

All else is cant & religiosity a plot of the evil one to confuse the minds of men.

Really? As far as I can see, every single letter of the NT, and every argument contained therein is addressed to people who are already Christians.

How can any of you think that your opinions count more than the souls of men.

How can you think that your opinion is more important than the teaching of the NT?

Yes, of course, the great commission is addressed to all men, but what use is preaching if we are in error or missing key elements.

To me, the Immaculate Conception is essential as it guard three things:

(i) The incarnation
(ii) The proper understanding of the holiness and power of God.
(iii) The fact that we can only be perfect by grace.

The 1854 definition was given at a time when people were trying to perfect themselves under their own efforts. We know where that ended up. The Church dealt with several issues at once: in one doctrine she defended all three points.

Now you can disagree, but in disagreeing the question of the truth of the Gospel comes to the fore. And then another discussion...

18 August 2012 at 10:22  
Blogger Paddy Manning said...

as an Irishman I am always grimly amused by Anglicans taking pot-shots, sideways or otherwise at Catholicism.

18 August 2012 at 10:43  
Blogger Albert said...

Len,

Mary needed a Saviour as much as the rest of Humanity and she says so herself.

Please re-read my posts, and the posts of other Catholics here, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Where has anyone denied that? That Mary is saved by Jesus Christ is defined by the Catholic Church in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This is how the Protestant doctrine of private judgment is continually denied on this webpage, not by Catholics, but by Protestants who show it is false, precisely by not understanding the issues - and therefore being sheep without a shepherd. But Jesus said "I am the Good Shepherd...I will not leave you comfortless."

18 August 2012 at 11:02  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Len

I appreciate that our conversations have been extremely long, and wouldn't expect anyone else to be reading them, but Albert is not deceiving you when he says that the Catholic position on Mary has genuinely always made it clear that she needed the full salvation provided for Jesus. Although I'm not fully sold on it myself, the present formulation of the doctrine sees her "immaculateness" as being precisely the consequence of Jesus' direct Grace.

The phrase "full of Grace" incidentally is taken indirectly from Luke 1:28.

The Vulgate translation, which for centuries was the main Bible for Christians (including radicals) translated this line as "Ave gratia plena".

The actual word is "kexaritomena" - usually translated as "highly favoured" or "one made graceful, one favoured". So in the sense that Mary is made graceful by God, there is Scriptural precedent. The fuller literal formulation full of Grace would in fact be "plaras karitos" - a phrase which does occur in the Bible twice: John 1:14, and Acts 6:8 (also by Luke, showing the phrase to be in his vocabulary) - the former referring directly to Jesus, and the latter referring directly to Stephen at the point of his martyrdom.

Stephen was, of course, neither Immaculate nor Immaculately Conceived.

However, just to my eye, this leaves me at this position: there is certainly a strong basis for the Immaculate Conception in the Vulgate. Thus, I can understand historically how it came to be seen as an accurate reflection of Scripture's presentation of Mary. We sneer at our peril at earlier translations, precisely because they often provide the bedrock not only of doctrines Protestants have thrown out, but more than a few that they have retained.

On the other hand, the original sources do not really reflect that meaning. They give us a sense of the special and indeed extraordinary role of Mary - and certainly affirm that she has been blessed. The formulation "Blessed art thou amongst women" would seem to me to be entirely accurate (notwithstanding any objections to praying directly to Mary). But we don't see as secure a basis for the more formal doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Preacher makes the point about simple belief - the question to ask here is what does the Immaculate Conception do? Is it an understandable overstatement of the original sources? I think quite possibly it is. Is it explicitly contradicted or refuted by any portion of Scripture - I've yet to see evidence of that. We can't say "only Jesus is full of Grace in Scripture" - because Stephen is referred to as such. But nor can we say as a consequence that applying that statement to Mary would be offensive. In the end, my position is that as a phrase it doesn't bear the weight of the formal doctrine. For Catholics, Tradition will become the load-bearing arm. But for Protestants, I'm not sure why, beyond the objections I've outlined, we should be so persistent in declaring the Immaculate Conception to be truly offensive.

If it deepens Alberts relationship with God, and doesn't run contrary to the objections you raise (about her not requiring salvation); are we best advised to make it a stumbling block ourselves?

18 August 2012 at 11:46  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Incidentally...

A point Len raised about Catholics not being encouraged to read Scripture alone.

Funny story.

Walking with the wife the other day, through a Catholic part of town, and talking about how we need a new Bible study guide - nothing fancy, just some suggested readings that we can follow and pray on each night. Passing a Catholic book store, I proposed going in to look for one. Neither of us would take offense at a Catholic study guide, and we were both quite interested to see where it would go. (As an aside, we've used Medieval guides before - because we just roll that way.)

Never have I felt more Protestant.

Not a guide to be found anywhere, and when we asked the assistant, she seemed mightily confused and the best she could offer us was a missal.

Perhaps Albert or Dodo could answer me this: is this a standard Catholic thing, or just a West Belfast thing? (They're all a bit pre-Vatican II round there).

18 August 2012 at 11:55  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Paddy Manning @ 10.43, being British I am always grimly amused by Catholics taking pot-shots, sideways or otherwise at Anglicanism.

Not a member of the Church of Ireland, then?

18 August 2012 at 12:14  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Belfast

There are plenty of Catholic bookstores in Scotland selling bible study guides.

True, reading scripture is not given the same prominence in the Catholic Church as amongst Protestants. The daily cycle of the Church's liturgy covers scripture pretty comprehensively.

Catholics do not believe in the concept of "sola scriptura" and if some of the posts on here are anything to go by, with very good reason. Such nit picking and arguing over the finer points of translations and meanings! And then the theological constructs within which these have to set. It's enough to cause split the Body of Christ asunder. Oh, forgot - it did!

18 August 2012 at 13:12  

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