Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI in shock resignation


In news that will delight the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, Pope Benedict XVI has announced his intention to abdicate the Chair of St Peter at the end of the month. Here is his resignation statement in full:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

BENEDICTUS PP XVI

116 Comments:

Blogger Mullah Lodabullah said...

I certainly wasn't expecting to read this today!

11 February 2013 at 11:19  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. " It appears the Lord's assistance and guidance is NOT required but ALL must go and pray their supplications to Mary instead, as perhaps The lord will not make the correct decision without maternal supervision..How revealing. and RC's state they do NOT give Mary precedence over Jesus Christ Our Lord..Give me strength.

Blofeld

11 February 2013 at 11:20  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Never let a day go by, eh Blofeld?

Benedict has been turning the ship publically for eight years, but as John Paul's right hand for years before he was more or less running the show. Many of the cardinals who will elect his successor are very much Benedict's men and whoever comes out of the conclave wearing the white cassock will almost certainly keep the Church on its present course. I certainly hope so - we really can't stomach more Anglican style theology.

11 February 2013 at 11:26  
Blogger IanCad said...

Pretty quick off the mark there Ernst and how true!

11 February 2013 at 11:30  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

I thought this was one of His Grace's spoofs, but it is true, as it also says so in the Telegraph and the BBC.

I bet that the web will be alive with several outlandish conspiracy theories as to the reasons behind this resignation.

11 February 2013 at 11:31  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

I wonder if this is worth a flutter? Do the Swiss Cyber Guard have any opinion on the candidates and the odds of them being elected?

11 February 2013 at 11:34  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Whoever it is, David, I'd bet the farm on it being a hard-nosed traditionalist. Benedict wouldn't have gone unless he was pretty sure of who would be taking over.

11 February 2013 at 11:36  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

It'll be more like the Swiss Cyber Dad's Army in the coming days, David. They'll be worried that Conclave will choose a moderniser.

11 February 2013 at 11:38  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Why is the Pope asking people to forgive him?

Forgive him for what?

11 February 2013 at 11:42  
Blogger Corrigan said...

D. Singh -

Pope's don't abdicate, they die in office; he would feel that he's letting us down, wrong though that may be (and please, no crappy jokes about infallability)

11 February 2013 at 11:45  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Ah Belfast,

where have you been recently? And of course, due to religious reasons,I wouldn't be into gambling.

11 February 2013 at 11:49  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Corrigan said...11 February 2013 11:36

"Whoever it is, David, I'd bet the farm on it being a hard-nosed traditionalist. Benedict wouldn't have gone unless he was pretty sure of who would be taking over." Goodness, me RC adherent..are you saying the Holy Spirit does NOT inspire the cardinals conclave to choose St Peters next successor, as the catechism states..perhaps a £50 flutter would be in order on the boldest Italian cardinal. * Humungous Guffaws*

Blofeld

11 February 2013 at 11:52  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Theology 101 for Blofeld's benefit:

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is therefore God;

God contains the three "omnis", omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence;

"Omnipresence" includes presence at all points in both space and time;

Therefore, the Holy Spirit was present when Benedict was appointing the cardinals who will elect his successors, and guided their choice.

Is that simple enough for you, or would you like me to couch it in the same kind of tortured, imprenetrable language you normally use?



11 February 2013 at 12:01  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Corrigan

I just thought the Pope was being humble by asking for forgiveness.

11 February 2013 at 12:01  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Corrigan:

So... Conclave is essentially the product of predestination.

11 February 2013 at 12:03  
Blogger Galant said...

Cue reiterations of the prophecies about the next pope being the last one.

11 February 2013 at 12:04  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Recall St Malachy's prophecies - it's probably the end.

11 February 2013 at 12:06  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Predestination is actually a doctrine of the Catholic Church; how is works, however, is not defined. Even we don't know everything...

11 February 2013 at 12:13  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Better hope you aren't predestined to get another Benedict IX then.

11 February 2013 at 12:15  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Heretical Theology 101 for Corrigan's benefit:

Ah yes...Quasi Afflati Spiritu Sancto (as IF inspired by the Holy Spirit). According to ecclesiastical law, the pope cannot elect his successor. It is commonly held also that he is prohibited from doing so by Divine law (Divine Law is that which is enacted by God and made known to man through revelation...So Benedict choosing his likely successor in advance is NOT God revealing His Will, now is it?).

Simple enough for you, my boy?

" Even we don't know everything..." Oh, ce n'est pas grave..*Giggles*

Blofeld

11 February 2013 at 12:36  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Don't Panic!"

11 February 2013 at 12:42  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

AIB

Bracing meself for the onslaught from the foot soldiers of the Cyberian Swiss Guard as we have already had a reconnoiter by the lone SAS (Sacred heart and scapular) man Corrigan, checking the blog landscape. Won't be long til squawking and snorting are heard across this blog.

Blofeld

11 February 2013 at 13:07  
Blogger William said...

Corrigan said

"Predestination is actually a doctrine of the Catholic Church"

Does this mean that Cyberian Swiss Guardsman Dodo is actually a Calvinist? He'll have to put himself in the comfy chair.

Your Grace

Will you be lending a hand during the interregnum?

11 February 2013 at 13:12  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

I'm waiting for David Cameron to tell the Cardinals that the next Pope, for reasons of equality and diversity in the modern world, shouldn't be a Catholic... (and it's because he's a conservative that he says so).

11 February 2013 at 13:14  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Blofeld:

For the benefit of doubt, I hope the Lord is instrumental in guiding the decision towards someone who loves God's Word and who will pastor with compassion and wisdom.

However, I fully intend to enjoy the panicked spluttering as the prospect of a liberal, or worse still (going by *that* BBC interview), a black man in the VERY THRONE OF ST. PETER is hyped up by the press. Hasty conversions to the Old Catholic Church expected, but they can always be recanted afterwards if they elect that Italian bloke.

Plus there's always the joyful prospect of gaffes.

11 February 2013 at 13:20  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

The grey haired spokesman you referred to in twitter was Michael Walsh who is a prominent Catholic author and Vatican commentator. http://eerdword.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/%E2%80%9Cthe-problem-of-a-lack-of-historical-perspective%E2%80%9D-by-michael-walsh/

see http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv/bbc_news24/watchlive at 12.45

Blofeld

11 February 2013 at 13:21  
Blogger David B said...

@Belfast 12.03

I can't help but wonder at the putative God's motives for predestining, to coin a word, the Borgias.

Moving in mysterious ways?

David (revisiting after a period of nasty chemo side effects)

11 February 2013 at 13:34  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Does His Grace even view his blog anymore or has he started a franchise and sold McCranmer onto Brother Ivo. Da Da Da DADA.

Blofeld

11 February 2013 at 13:40  
Blogger The Judicious Hooker said...

Benedict XVI's finest hour for me occurred even before he was elevated to Chief Chaplain of the Titanic.

That fine piece of RC triumphalism: Dominus Iesus in 2000 where non-RC Christians (other than the Eastern Orthodox) were told they do not form a church but an ecclesial community. The difference is lost on anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of Koine, let alone the New Testament.

What with upsetting worldwide Islam with plain words on its founder, setting up an escape route for Anglicans who find modernity vexing and monkey-butler shenanigans in the Vatican, despite his theological output his legacy will be mixed.

Can I please request the Cardinals to select a candidate with some charisma? Italian, if necessary. If I am to de-churched and distanced, if my reformed traditions are to be bastardised in the service of Roman aggrandisement, I'd prefer it all to be done with some clerical panache.

PS: Your Grace: you filled so ably the vacuum during the interregnum in the see of Canterbury. Does a Roman spring holiday have any appeal? They seem to have forgotten how to spell aggiornamento...

11 February 2013 at 13:42  
Blogger Albert said...

What you're complaining about, Hooker is

1.The Catholic Church has a different ecclesiology from the Anglican communion.
2. The Joseph Ratzinger is a Catholic and spoke as a Catholic.

11 February 2013 at 13:52  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David B:

The honest answer would be that the Borgias were popes when there was no concept of papal infallibility. The idea that a pope could be elected and still turn out to be a bad, perverse, or even evil man, was horrific, but not in itself doctrinally threatening.

The strange thing is - that for all the brazen politicking of past Conclaves, the possibility of electing a duff Pope did at least encourage a certain degree of boldness. Would the present lot of Cardinals have the balls to elect another Celestine V?

I think not: implict in all modern Conclaves is the need for a figure who can be trusted not to do or say anything which might contradict or undermine the principles of infallibility which have been invested in the office. For all that they will deny it, it is this, essentially political, need that will define much of the commentary here.

The thing is - when it boils down to the principles at stake, I am of a similar mind to much of Catholic theology, and agree that God's promise safeguards the Church, it's just that I can see the dangers, and indeed the danger to faith itself, of investing those principles into what has been all-too-often a rather worldly office. The Catholic Church of old was much sounder, despite being headed up by the various collections of charlatans and rogues (as well as a few saints).

11 February 2013 at 13:54  
Blogger Kinderling said...

Can women bishops apply?

11 February 2013 at 14:04  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Belfast

For those of us who don't know much about the Church, who was Celestine V? And how come they all have titles, like Kings do?

Anyway I googled who the next Pope was going to be and according to some Prophecy or something, that this next Pope will be the last one and be called "Peter the Roman" ?

11 February 2013 at 14:05  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Mr Cranmer
A typing error you might want to correct.

... in order to steer the boat of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel"

Rome no longer barks!

Ernsty
You heretical, die-hard, old protester, you! Quiet for so long, yet out of the traps like a dementing rabbit as soon as news of the Pope breaks.

As the most prominent Christian leader in the world, regardless of denomination, let's pray (do you do such things?) that God's guidance is responded to by those charged with the election of his successor.

Catholics do not believe in the so called 'double predestination' of Calvinism. We believe God offers grace and we humans have to respond. Of course, He knows our choice too and all things work towards securing His plan. Other than that we claim nothing as grand as Calvin.

As for Benedict favouring a particular Cardinal, I'm sure he's wise enough and spiritual enough not to directly interfere in the election process. Unlike other denominations, there is no application process, no select committee to interview candidates and recommend an appointment. It is in the hands of Cardinals - under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

It is sad and unexpected that our Papa has resigned - the first in over 600 years. Let's wish him well and thank him for his faithful and dutiful service.

The Pope has resigned; long live the Pope!

Acting Oberst, Dodo,
Cyber Swiss Guard
Acriter et Fideliter

11 February 2013 at 14:07  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

The honest answer would be that the Borgias were popes when there was no concept of papal infallibility.

Not so. It may not have been dogma, but the concept existed.

The idea that a pope could be elected and still turn out to be a bad, perverse, or even evil man, was horrific, but not in itself doctrinally threatening.

It isn't doctrinally threatening now. Infallibility is not personal to the Pope.

11 February 2013 at 14:15  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"Not so. It may not have been dogma, but the concept existed." Gibberish as nonsense.

"It isn't doctrinally threatening now. Infallibility is not personal to the Pope." Nonsense as gibberish.

Blofeld

11 February 2013 at 14:31  
Blogger John Magee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 February 2013 at 14:48  
Blogger Fantana said...

How about Santos Abril y Castelló, Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore as an surprise choice? After all , no-one expects a Spanish acquisition.

11 February 2013 at 14:53  
Blogger John Magee said...

Your Holiness

Pope Benedict XVI

Thank you for guiding the Universal Church sitting in the Episcopal throne as the Bishop of Rome and 265th successor of Saint Peter for the past 8 years.

PAX VOBISCUM

May the Holy Spirit guide the College of Cardinals in their choice of next leader of the Universal Church, the successor of the Apostle Peter, the Prince of Apostle's, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Universal Church in it's Latin, and Eastern Rites.

Let's pray the Cardinals who gather in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican next month elect a future Bishop of Rome who will represent almost one billion Catholics who is hopefully a Cardinal from Africa, Asia, or Latin America to guide the Universal Church through a difficult first half of the 21st century.

BENEDICAMUS DOMINO!

11 February 2013 at 14:53  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Albert,

Blofeld thinks you write gibberish; that's like being recognized by the Legion of Honour.

11 February 2013 at 15:08  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

I know infallibility is vested in the office - but it is an office occupied by a man (last time I checked - and indeed, don't they check that just before announing him?). When a mere leader is nutty, there isn't much problem. It's when the leader goes nutty in a position that is vested with undue power.

I mean, I don't doubt that a virtuous man with all the powers of Kim Jong Un would do North Korea an enormous power of good...

11 February 2013 at 15:28  
Blogger John Chater said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 February 2013 at 15:38  
Blogger John Chater said...

Excellent joke Fantana (14:53) – someone ought to acknowledge it! And very well put John Magee (14:56).

Usual rantings here about Catholics worshipping the Virgin Mary. Get a grip lads – if you want to know whom Catholics worship then lift your tired heads out of your laps and ask one. I'm one, and can tell you – worship to God alone, adoration and prayers to the Virgin Mary, saints, religious and so on. Not complicated – Mary is not a goddess, nor is she regarded as one by the Catholic Church (there, go back to sleep now).

And Cranmer, why is the Bishops Conference delighted – possible because for once it is distracted from having the tar pounded out of it by women and homosexuals? Some relief.

11 February 2013 at 15:40  
Blogger Galant said...

"if you want to know whom Catholics worship then lift your tired heads out of your laps and ask one"

This question wasn't on my mind but since you brought it up I'll ask you, what's the different between worship and adoration?

11 February 2013 at 15:50  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"Rome no longer barks!"

They cat-lovers up at the Vatican now?

"As the most prominent Christian leader in the world, regardless of denomination,"

Slipping, Dodo, slipping. I thought it was the One True Church™ and not a denomination :D

"As for Benedict favouring a particular Cardinal, I'm sure he's wise enough and spiritual enough not to directly interfere in the election process."

Well he's not getting in the Sistine Chapel, that's for sure. And in fairness, the chaps on the door have got a lot better at not letting those wagons of gold through...

I'm enjoying this more than I ought to. Off to flagellate for a bit, I think.

11 February 2013 at 15:53  
Blogger Paul Ellis said...

No chance of Anthony Quinn getting it, then?

11 February 2013 at 15:56  
Blogger John Chater said...

Galant, glad you asked fella. How about this sublime definition, which I've pinched:

"There is a distinction to be drawn between worship and adoration. Only God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is worthy of worship, but adoration can take many forms. We may adore and be devoted to a saint, to the Virgin Mary, to the Rosary, to icons and so on. What this means is that we recognise God’s grace as present within them, not that they are objects of worship in themselves. So it is fine to pray to the Virgin Mary or to any saint, for example asking for their aid, help or prayers to God on our behalf. In our families there will be those who have died and we may, as well as remembering them in our prayers and praying for them, ask them to pray for us as well."



11 February 2013 at 15:57  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

My honest response to your post about infallibility is "O ye of little faith." The point about office verses person is that it ultimately rests on the providence of God.

11 February 2013 at 15:57  
Blogger John Chater said...

And let's not forget Albert, the old saying "The Church always gets the Pope it needs, not necessarily the Pope it wants". Meaning, when times are tough you want Stallone in the chair, not Tatchell. Two thousand years later and here we (still) are – say what you like about the individual Pope, the Spirit knows what He's doing.


11 February 2013 at 16:08  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

You misunderstand my point, then. Man is fallible, God is infallible. The modern doctrine of infallibility requires us to accept that the Church was a) competent to decide that it ould issue a specific decree infallibly, and b) correct to restrict that infallibility to the specific exerise of a specific office.

As far as I'm concerned, I don't have to wait for a hypothetical situation in which an ex cathedra statement is fallibly made: it occurred on its first outing, when the Assumption of the Virgin was made (by virtue of being defined ex cathedra) into a non-optional component of belief. Disagreement with it, or denial of it (and this goes for the doctrine of papal infallibility itself post-Vatican I), constitutes that individual being necessarily out of communion with the Church, and since the Church teaches that salvation is administered through Herself, the net effect is that the Catholic Church, by its claims to infallibility, has been engaged, particularly in the last 2 centuries, in the accumulation of "necessary" beliefs for salvation.

This is profoundly in opposition to the requirements of Salvation as set out in Scripture, and consequently, I not only reject it, but decry it as heretical.

However, please note that my issue is not with the doctrines themselves - I am, strictly speaking, agnostic as to the Assumption, for instance - but rather with the insistence that an insitution or office has the capactiy to so define, and effectively delimit what was freely given on the Cross to all who believe and trust in Jesus Christ.

11 February 2013 at 16:16  
Blogger Albert said...

But in saying all that Belfast, you must know scripture in its correct understanding and have plumbed all the depths of scripture. We don't even claim that for the Church, let alone an individual Christian.

11 February 2013 at 16:24  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The Inspector salutes Benedict XVI for his loyal work in the Vatican and especially in the last 8 years, adding to the continuum. He recognises his advanced age and natural physical decline does nothing for the onerous task of being Pope. He is to be commended for that. May the years left to him on this earth be peaceful ones.

11 February 2013 at 16:27  
Blogger John Chater said...

Nicely put Inspector (and I trust your sword will remain unsheathed when it comes to defending him from the inevitable accusation of homophobia, bigotry, misogyny and etc that will inevitably be flounced about here by his detractors).

Anon,

Not wishing to intrude, but the Catholic Church makes the bold claim that it is the mystical body of Christ on earth. It is therefore uniquely placed to interpret scripture (and, of course, it put the Bible together in the first place). Infallibility is an extension of this spiritual mission.

A belief in the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was celebrated right from the start, only in 1950 being declared infallible (clears it up nicely, don't you think).

The crux of your objection seems to me not so much about the doctrine of infallibility, but rather the Catholic Church's declaration that it alone is Christ's body on earth and therefore alone in its ability to determine what is right and wrong (infallibly or otherwise).


11 February 2013 at 16:31  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

No, I assert no such thing. I assert that the addition of necessary beliefs is contrary to the Gospel we have received. Paul saw the death in trying to return to salvation by the Law (cf. Galatians 5), how much worse is the creation of a new Law?

Where faith in God's working through annointed leaders deepens understanding of Him, so much the better. Where wonder at the possibility of apocryphal miracles feeds faith, all for His glory. But when salvation is taught as being reliant on those leaders, or reliant upon acceptance of those miracles, it is not of the Gospel given to Paul.

11 February 2013 at 16:39  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 February 2013 at 16:45  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

I never said that you asserted it, I said that you must know it. I think it is entailed. I think it evident that you don't know that and therefore you cannot make the judgement you have made.

11 February 2013 at 17:05  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

Let us say you are correct, both in your response and your defence that the RCC does not claim full understanding of Scripture.

How then can it be sure of its claims to infallibility? How can it be sure that it has correctly interpreted Scripture to enable itself to pronounce faith in the Assumption of the Virgin, or acceptance of its infallibility, necessary admissions?

Reading the pronouncements, it adduces no evidence - it simply asserts that it is Divinely and infallibly revealed. The very doctrine that outline infallibility rests on the requirement that it already possesses it.

But it goes further - and it does so by declaring that those who cannot or will not accept it are to be anathema to the Church.

Or does it make that claim only lightly - is there perhaps some wiggle room in which the Church is not imposing those doctrines as necessary? Might I, in fact, be perfectly able to get by on faith in Christ Jesus alone and not be anathema?

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Gal 6:15)

11 February 2013 at 17:19  
Blogger Galant said...

John, I find that distinction to be not very clear. It almost seems like a truism but not quite.

The best I can gather is that worship is what one gives to God (although it doesn't define what, practically, one does or should give to God - that is, what worship looks like, or feels like or or any other sort of defintion). Whereas adoration is a recognition of grace that somehow permits prayer and devotion.

So that seems to clarify adoration a little bit more, in that it specifies prayer and devotion as part of that act. The problem is, even that definition isn't, in the end, helpful because we know that prayer and devotion can be properly directed towards God and form part of worship. Therefore, the distinction remains unclear other than to say that adoration includes, or perhaps is defined by, a recognition of grace. It's still not helpful though, because 'recognition of grace' is something we could extend to many people and things in and/or by which we see the hand of God operating. not just Mary (or 'dead' saints).

I understand how we might be able to look at God's work in a given life, consider it, glorify/worship God because of it, and recognise the and learn from the lessons visible in that life. However, surely that is distinct from and precludes the possibility of, offering devotion/adoration to the individual in question because we have already acknowledged that the object of value, the grace at work which we recognise, comes from God and so inspired our worship of Him. Since we have recognised that "treasure in jars of clay", "as from God and not" the individual, it would then seems strange to offer adoration to that vessel of clay.

This has to be especially true because, at least with the definition you offered, there is no practical distinction between the acts of worship and adoration other than to say that they are aimed differently. That though might be rather like saying that sex with a woman other than my wife isn't sex because it's not with my wife. Pardon the strong illustration, it's the one that came to me. It might not be wholly accurate, although, I do find it somewhat helpful in that the two things mentioned in the definition - prayer and devotion - are special things definitely and naturally given to God and not to anyone living on earth, and that their attribution to Mary, given as examples of adoration, is the point in question.

You can change the illustration if you like, it's simply to say that differentiating between two different targets doesn't necessarily change the essence of what is being issued (in this case, worship), if in fact what is being issued is in some way special or reserved.

If there is no essential difference between worship and adoration, then even if one acknowledges that one recipient is more worthy/higher than the other, one must provide further qualification to preclude the possibility of 'idol worship', since such does not require equality between one's gods, only the issuance of that which belongs to God to something other than God.

So then the questions remain, what, practically speaking, is adoration? And whatever it is, what differentiates it from worship other than the target? Or is the target the only difference?

If the latter, then could it be accurately said that there is no specific thing which is, by its nature, sacred as worship?

Thanks.

11 February 2013 at 17:19  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace, Is it a youth/age thing, or tradition/mod one? The Papa-seato writes:
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

In truth, one hopes he is not suffering from serious or terminal illness.

11 February 2013 at 17:41  
Blogger Albert said...

What I mean, Belfast, is that although the Church can be sure of her interpretation, she is never in a position exhaustively to know the scripture. To define for example that scripture teaches Christ is consubstantial with the Father is not to make a claim exhaustively about other scriptural teachings. So there is no wriggle room regarding the definition, but there may still be more to be said.

Moreover, as the Council says, the Church does not get all her certainty from scripture, but from divine guidance. Now if you are making a similar set of claims for yourself, then, yes, you can make the claim regarding the Assumption. But if you can't, how do you know that the Assumption does not emerge from plumbing more deeply into scripture than you as an individual?

The Catholic Church is a vast number of people reading the Bible through 2 millennia. Surely it is not so surprising, if she has a deeper understanding of scripture than any individual.

Might I, in fact, be perfectly able to get by on faith in Christ Jesus alone and not be anathema?

Apart from the fact "faith alone" is plainly not taught in scripture (quite the reverse), what about if you denied (say) the personality of the Holy Spirit. Supposing you couldn't find it in scripture and so you denied it. Would that be a problem? Or if you denied the full humanity of Jesus?

11 February 2013 at 19:06  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

AIB said ...
"As the most prominent Christian leader in the world, regardless of denomination,"

Slipping, Dodo, slipping. I thought it was the One True Church™ and not a denomination :D


Not at all. I was being sensitive to protestant sensibilities, you cad!

The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, all other churches, to borrow a phrase, subsist in it. It is empowered with Christ's authority and indefectible through the protection of the Holy Spirit.

Its all in scripture.

So far as infallibility goes, the Church believes the development of deeper scriptural truths and understandings is revealed to it through the Holy Spirit, as and when necessary for the salvation of souls. The Church has always developed doctrine.

Rather than look at the last 200 years of history, take a look at the first 200 years! The Trinitarian and Christological doctrines are hardly self evident. Even today some self identifying Christians do no accept them. And some 'knowledgeable' 'Christians' doubt Jesus was God incarnate, dies for our sins and rose from the dead.

Thank God for Papal succession, for the Infallibility of the Church. through the ordinary and formal Magisterium and ex-cathedra statements by the Pope, and thank Him too for the survival and continual revival of His Church.

Acting Oberst, Dodo,
Cyber Swiss Guard
Acriter et Fideliter

11 February 2013 at 19:20  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

Denying the humanity of Jesus is an issue (2 John 1:7). Denying the Spirit's personhood is an issue (John 14:26; Matthew 12:31-33).

Inserting requirements and impediments to Grace is also an issue.

You have assumed that in critiquing Catholic claims to particular forms of infallibility I must necessarily set myself up as an opposing authority. I don't need to be certain of the validity of a doctrine to know that insisting on as a bar to communion with Christ's Bride is contrary to the Gospel.

That defence is adequately disarmed by Paul's repeated teaching on the issue of circumcision. The issue is not that being circumcised is wrong, or was ever wrong. Nor is the issue one of childish rebellion, where one must trendily be uncircumcised in order to be "in the club". The issue is, that if one makes of circumcision a requirement for the Grace of God, one must accept every other thing that goes with it.

I don't know, and I don't claim to know the truth about the Assumption of Mary - there may very well be something in your defence that the Church knows better on that issue than I. But when the Church proclaims that I must accept that doctrine, not merely by virtue of respect for the wisdom of annointed leaders but as a sword to divide the saved from the lost[1] - then my reply is the one Paul made to the Judaizers: life and freedom is found in faith in Jesus Christ.

Likewise, you should hopefully begin to see that I make no corresponding and inverse judgment that those who do accept the doctrine are by necessity lost.

The Jailor in Phillipi went to the heart of matters:

"Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God." (Acts 16:30-34).

1: "Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith."

11 February 2013 at 19:31  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

AIB said ...

" ... when the Church proclaims that I must accept that doctrine, not merely by virtue of respect for the wisdom of annointed leaders but as a sword to divide the saved from the lost ..."

Well, overcome this hurdle and you'll be welcomed by Rome! Why is it so difficult for you to accept Mathew 16? The Apostles Creed, which I assume you accept, isn't a 'pick and mix' series of doctrines you can take or leave. Or is it?

The statement by “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” is immediately followed by, "And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house." They taught him the revelation of Christ, not written down then, available at that time.

11 February 2013 at 20:01  
Blogger William said...

Dodo

"Well, overcome this hurdle and you'll be welcomed by Rome!"

There is no need to be welcomed by Rome when you have already welcomed and been welcomed by the Son of God.

It is not religion that saves.

11 February 2013 at 20:34  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast,

You have assumed that in critiquing Catholic claims to particular forms of infallibility I must necessarily set myself up as an opposing authority.

In order to know that X is not biblical you must be an authority on the Bible. I don't see how the inference can be escaped.

Denying the humanity of Jesus is an issue (2 John 1:7).

Surely the issue of Jesus' humanity is bigger than that. After all, the issue of his humanity relates to questions also of the soul. The idea that he has come in the flesh more obviously fits with the view that the flesh of Jesus was animated not by a human soul but by the Logos.

I cannot see how either passage you cite demands the interpretation that the Holy Spirit is a person, and there is evidence to the contrary.

The issue is, that if one makes of circumcision a requirement for the Grace of God, one must accept every other thing that goes with it.

I don't see it that way. Surely the issue is that circumcision is not required because it is part of the Jewish Law, but that does not mean other things need not be required.

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved

Evidently this is not an exhaustive list. There's no reference to believing in the Holy Spirit, for example. What does it mean to believe in Jesus? I would say it means to believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation, but you wouldn't get it from that short quote. I would say you also have to accept both Testaments of scripture. You also have to be baptized. The passage implies this, but it isn't in the answer Paul gives. Again, being a Christian in one of Paul's communities involves holding fast to the traditions - hardly something that implies nothing more than mere faith in Jesus. And Paul is able to demand obedience, too.

This is what we Catholics are exploring:

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth

So I don't really know what you are getting at. We all accept that yes, we are saved by faith in Jesus. But none of us accepts that faith is Jesus does not entail believing other things too.

11 February 2013 at 20:56  
Blogger Albert said...

It is not religion that saves.

What have you got against religion, William?

11 February 2013 at 20:57  
Blogger William said...

Albert

"What have you got against religion, William?"

When a religion is bringing people to Christ; absolutely nothing. In fact I come to Christ again and again within the fellowship of my religious community.

When a religion is telling a follower of Christ that he also needs Rome (and e.g. a belief in the Assumption of Mary), then that is false.

So in answer to your question; it depends on the religion.

11 February 2013 at 21:36  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

William

My comment was specific to AIB. In my estimation, you may have a longer and more complex path to tread.

11 February 2013 at 21:39  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

So in answer to your question; it depends on the religion.

So the use of the word "religion" (as in ("it is not religion that saves") is not all that helpful. All you mean is false religion. "It is not false religion that saves." But who would deny that? So we are then drawn on to the fact that what is false religion is the religion you don't believe in. "Religion that William does not believe in, is false religion and does not save." Doesn't seem to be doing much apologetically because it is only going to move anyone if they already believe William is an authority in matters of religion.

When a religion is telling a follower of Christ that he also needs Rome (and e.g. a belief in the Assumption of Mary), then that is false.

It's not Rome you need. It's Peter. Jesus says so. As for Mary's Assumption, it seems to me that it proclaims basic doctrine to us. Deny it and you either deny the incarnation, or the nature of God's promises. Because the fullness of these things (incarnation and the nature of God's promises) can hardly be grasped by the limited, sinful human mind, in their entirety, you need Peter.

11 February 2013 at 21:48  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 February 2013 at 21:50  
Blogger William said...

Dodo

"My comment was specific to AIB."

Yes. So was mine.

"In my estimation, you may have a longer and more complex path to tread."

Can you be more specific? Or are you just measuring me by my apparent hostility to Rome?

11 February 2013 at 21:50  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 February 2013 at 21:51  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

William,

Correct. Religion and tradition is important and no one should belittle it, but it is Jesus Christ who saves; our Lord was born into a humble Jewish family and our Jewish friends today continue to worship God, even if there is disagreement that Jews follow the same God as us Christians ....

....and for us gentiles, the message is the same (to use one of the modern hymns our 'Trendy Vicar' is trying to impose- but this is a good one) :


"The price is paid,
Come let us enter in
To all that Jesus died
To make our own
For every sin
More than enough He gave
And bought our freedom
From each guilty stain!

Refrain :

The price is paid
Alleluia
Amazing grace
So strong and sure
And so with all my heart
My life in every part
I live to thank You for
The price You paid!

The price is paid!
See SATAN flee away
For Jesus CRUCIFIED
Destroys his power
NO MORE TO PAY
Let ACCUSATION CEASE
IN CHRIST THERE IS
NO CONDEMNATION NOW!

The price is paid!
And by that SCOURGING cruel
He took our sicknesses
As if HIS OWN
And by His WOUNDS
His BODY broken there
His HEALING touch may now
By FAITH be known!

The price is paid
'Worthy the Lamb' we cry
Eternity shall never
Cease His praise
The church of Christ
Shall rule upon the earth
In Jesus' name we have
Authority!"

Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 1983 Thankyou Music

11 February 2013 at 21:56  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Also as the Bible reassures us :

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

11 February 2013 at 21:57  
Blogger William said...

Albert

"So the use of the word "religion" (as in ("it is not religion that saves") is not all that helpful. All you mean is false religion. "It is not false religion that saves.""

No, I meant what I said. So I will say it again. It is not religion that saves. False religion leads astray. True religion leads to Christ - who saves. Apparently, it's even possible to be saved without religion - if the Bible is to be believed. The rest of your paragraph follows from your false premise.

"It's not Rome you need. It's Peter. Jesus says so"

No He didn't.

"Because the fullness of these things (incarnation and the nature of God's promises) can hardly be grasped by the limited, sinful human mind, in their entirety, you need Peter."

Again, we do not need Peter to be saved. We do not even need (were it even possible) to grasp the fullness of these things. We need Jesus.

11 February 2013 at 22:13  
Blogger len said...

Religion(at its best) should act as a 'signpost'pointing to Christ.

Gods answer to every problem on this Earth is revealed in Christ.

When religion becomes an end in itself it has failed in its purpose.

11 February 2013 at 22:36  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Christ has my life hidden with Him on high.

For what it's worth - and I attach no infallibility to this statement - I believe He has Dodo's, and William's, and Albert's, and Lavendon's.

Someone prayed something tonight at our prayer meeting: they said our love for God is shallow. The balance between us and the Lord is one of overwhelming Grace from on high. We will none of us deserve, or - before He comes again - fully comprehend that. We are assured in it nonetheless.

The price is paid, it is finished.

11 February 2013 at 22:40  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Mr Cranmer
A typing error you might want to correct.

... in order to steer the boat of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel"

Rome no longer barks!


'The ship (bark or barque, barchetta) was an ancient Christian symbol. Imagry comes from Noah's ark, Jesus protecting Peter's boat in a storm on the sea of ...'etc

11 February 2013 at 22:43  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Dash it all Belfast,

You are quite correct. Now tomorrow is the Olney Pankcake race, heralding the start of Lent. [Olney is but 2 miles away from Lavendon and I have travelled the breath of the country to join in this historic tradition].

As the Curate of Olney Parish Church, a former slave trader, once wrote :

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see."

11 February 2013 at 23:02  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Lord Lavendon,

Whilst I won't take part in lent,of course I shall be there for the pancake race! I know how to flip a good pancake in a frying pan!

Anyway, only 12 days away from Purim!

11 February 2013 at 23:33  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Thank you Dreadnaught. Most helpful.

11 February 2013 at 23:35  
Blogger OldJim said...

AiB

The purpose of the mosaic law was to emphasise that God is holy - Israelites were to set themselves apart in order justly to approach Him: "Take off you shoes, for you walk on holy ground" and so on.

With the coming of Christ, it is made explicit that man is incapable of coming to God, and so God became man. Keeping the mosaic law thus goes from an act of piety: "Lord I am unworthy to approach you, but I will do these things to recognise my unworthiness and render myself fit to be near you" to an act of impiety: "Lord, if I do these things that it is in my power to do, I will be fit to be near you"

The point is that the Mosaic Law was there to demonstrate that there was a gap between man and God. Now, we must acknowledge that that gap has been filled by God and could not possibly be filled by us. If we start performing acts of the mosaic law in order to render ourselves worthy, we will never stop, for we can never fill the gap. Even worse, we will in the process lose sight of the real means of Salvation: contrition and the acceptance of the promises of Jesus Christ.

I believe that to be the rationale behind the rejection of the Mosaic law, and I do not see that any Christian believes that a mere accumulation of correct beliefs will fit them for God's presence. I certainly do not believe that acknowledging the Assumption of the Virgin Mary fits me better for heaven than someone who does not so believe, and least of all do I imagine that this belief fits me for heaven without requiring salvation through Christ. For this reason, I deny that there is any serious analogy between the declaration of new doctrines and the keeping of the Mosaic Law.

The more pertinent analogy, perhaps, would be Matthew 23:4 "They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger"

Here, Jesus is angered that the Pharisees have made the law even harder to follow than it needed to be. So the argument would be that the Catholic Church is doing likewise in adding further doctrines that must be believed to retain full communion.

But nota bene: Jesus does not say that the pharisees have thereby lost their authority to interpret the law; on the contrary, those listening must "practice and observe whatever they tell you" for they "sit on Moses’ seat". An abuse or misuse of their authority does not justify disobedience. So I think to maintain the analogy your argument must be similarly circumscribed: "Jesus would be annoyed that the Church has added these doctrines. Nonetheless, if the Church is the Church, we are bound to observe its instructions."

12 February 2013 at 00:59  
Blogger OldJim said...

And whether the Church is behaving appropriately in this matter in your lights would therefore be no more material than whether the Pharisees were behaving appropriately in the lights of contemporary Jews.

That's if the analogy sticks, and I don't think it really does. Because I see what you are saying, and why the analogy to the Mosaic Law was the one that appealed to you. You see that the yoke of the Old Law was heavy, full of stipulations and observances, and that the New Law is light. And so you ask why the New Law should be bound to anything.

But presumably you're not an antinomian. We are still bound to the moral law. In fact, the moral law becomes a freedom: before, we were keeping it to "be ok with God"; now, we ARE ok with God and we keep it out of Love for Him and for our fellow creatures, a Love that rightly orders our lives.

LIkewise, I don't suppose your latitudinarianism knows no bounds. Perhaps you would bind Christians to the scriptures, to Trinitarianism, to Chalcedonian Christology? All of these were defined, canonised and settled by Councils of the Church. A council of the Church declared the infallibility of the Pope when speaking "ex cathedra" lit: "from the seat", like Moses' seat above. Papal infallibility had been in the works from the robber's council, at the latest, because it then became clear that a council erred if it was not presided over by the Pope. All these doctrinal assertions claim the same mechanism for the source of their authority, and so, to my mind, they all stand or fall together. Do you think that the declarations of the earlier councils are there to restrict Salvation from Marcionists or Arians or Nestorians?

If not, why not?

12 February 2013 at 00:59  
Blogger John Chater said...

Hello Galant,

Sorry to have not replied sooner to your post – been away from my computer.

The distinctions you draw are all good ones. I suppose the only thing I can say to get around the problem of language is that it might help to look at the intention of the person when they pray – how they regard the object of their prayers or adoration.

I know that when I pray the rosary I may appeal directly to the Virgin Mary, but in my mind there is no question that I am placing her equally with her Son – He is God, she is not. Likewise, if I pray before an icon or statue of a saint there is no question whatsoever that I am imbuing that object with any divine significance – it is a focal point, a conduit if you like, never an object of worship in itself. Likewise if I pray to St Michael for strength to resist temptation or to St Anthony to help me recover something missing, I am seeking help from a saint, asking that saint to assist me, but not for a second pretending that the saint is divine. To follow your example, I know who my wife is.

To non-Catholics I know that this seems very weird, especially if they have an aversion to icons and elaborately decorated churches and the like. But I think it is the intention of the person (and the Church) which clarifies things here. There is only one God, who has Three Persons. I think you and I would agree on this.

12 February 2013 at 09:39  
Blogger Albert said...

William and Anonymous,

Perhaps I've been a Catholic so long, I am forgetting what it is like to be a Protestant, but I am struggling here with your points. Let's take William's

we do not need Peter to be saved. We do not even need (were it even possible) to grasp the fullness of these things. We need Jesus.

Well yes, of course that's true. What Peter crucified for us? No he wasn't. Was Christ's atoning sacrifice insufficient without him? No. So in that sense, of course, we don't need Peter.

But let me then turn it around: what about scripture? Was scripture crucified for us? Is Christ's atoning sacrifice insufficient without scripture. Again the answer is no. So in a sense, you could say "You don't need scripture, you just need Jesus." That would be true, but odd.

I'm not saying that Peter and scripture are on the same level, I am saying your need simply to reduce everything to Jesus though soteriologically correct, is nevertheless false in certain respects.

Can a person believe in Jesus without knowing the doctrine of the Trinity? Yes he can. Can a person with false beliefs about the Trinity believe in Jesus? It's much less clear. Yes, all you need is Jesus, but Arius did not believe in him. In that sense, to believe in Jesus, you need Athanasius. Well this is just the way in which we need scripture, and if we need scripture we need at least to be defended from erroneous interpretations of scripture.

Your kind of Jesus minimalism cuts away a great deal of the fulness of revelation. Jesus came to show us the Father. There is an infinity to be explored. This infinity should hold no fear (as such) to Christians, as if to deepen our understanding of the love and infinity of the Father, of the extent of his promises and holiness and the light thes sheds on all elements of the gospel, somehow draws us away from Christ. It is precisely to reveal those things that Christ came! Yet as soon as anyone mentions these things, you Protestant respond as if it makes your eyes hurt, or as if to hear more Truth will take you from the Truth.

So yes, Jesus alone, but Jesus alone, entails so much more. He is, by nature, in relationship. Deny the relationships and you end up denying the man.

12 February 2013 at 10:08  
Blogger Albert said...

Error, it should read "Was Peter crucified for us?" also, I am taking William's point as representative of Belfast's.

12 February 2013 at 10:10  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

It's not really Jesus minimalism - you're mistaking "Jesus has paid the full price on the Cross" for "I believe in Jesus so I'm ok". The latter can be true, but only with the former - not on its own.

The point is, Jesus has paid the full price on the Cross. By Grace through His blood are the captives set free.

Many of the doctrines you've used as an example cut straight to the heart of the Cross - they alter the relationship between God and Christ, or they redefine Christ in such a way that He no longer is the atoning Lamb whose blood is shed for the Salvation of mankind.

But the thing about Grace is that it is freely given in abundance by a loving and merciful God because of Jesus. Because we have a permanent advocate in Jesus who pleads on our behalf, the defence of Grace is always perfect. He is our High Priest, making permanent and everlasting intercession on our behalf.

Now there is much more - both of knowledge and faith - but the point which reoccurs in Paul's epistles verse after verse, and the crux of his Gospel is that none of these things should be turned into a new law or a revification of the old law in such a way that they come between us and Grace. They follow on from Grace, they are not imposed between it.

Heresies that attack Grace can accordingly be regarded both in terms of false doctrine (i.e. doctrines that essentially deny the Cross), but also in terms of false burdens - doctrines that may well be sound or have sound basis (as with circumcision), but that nevertheless insist that something else is required to be saved.

We are saved by Christ's blood. It is enough.

12 February 2013 at 10:25  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

OldJim:

I bow to both the goodness of the Old Testament and the New, and dwell whenever I can on the Law that God has given.

But if you suggest that I imagine for one moment that obedience to either is what will secure my Salvation, then you are quite wrong. I am saved by Grace, not by what I can do, and consequently, in accepting that Grace - in accepting that God loves me more than I can Him, in accepting that He forgives where I do not and cannot deserve it, and in accepting that my sins are totally and completely washed away by His blood shed on the Cross - I have eternal life.

12 February 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Put as simply as I can muster it:

Salvation = Christ on the Cross

Subsequent doctrine flows from this.
But, if we have not the original component, none of that doctrine will do us any good. So you could say that I believe those Councils stand and fall on the Cross, not on one another.

Salvation =/= Christ on the Cross
+subsequent doctrine
(to be amended)

12 February 2013 at 10:33  
Blogger William said...

Albert

AIB has put it far more eloquently and cogently than I can. However in response to:

"Your kind of Jesus minimalism cuts away a great deal of the fullness of revelation."

I would say that "my kind of Jesus minimalism" includes the following:

Jesus is the Word. He is Lord of all. All things were made through Him. He is the Way. He is the Truth. He is the Life. He is our creator God who loves us so much that He was prepared to be tortured and killed by us for our salvation. He is eternal. He is love. He is holy. He is righteous. He is God. He is Alpha and Omega. To explore Jesus is to explore infinity. All authority has been given to Him. He will come at the end of time to judge the quick and the dead.

A requirement for the belief in the Assumption of Mary adds very little to this it seems to me. It certainly does not resolve the paradox of the Incarnation; of Jesus being both man (created being) and God (creator). As a requirement it is false.

Dodo

Am I not to be furnished with specifics as to my more tortuous path to Rome? It sounds painful.

12 February 2013 at 12:23  
Blogger Albert said...

Belfast and William,

I suppose a question that may help us forward would be this one: is the Trinity necessary to belief in Jesus? If so, in what sense (or in what circumstances might someone believe in Jesus but not realise the truth of the Trinity)?

I still think that underneath a lot of what you are both saying is reduction of revelation to soteriology.

A requirement for the belief in the Assumption of Mary adds very little to this it seems to me.

It seems to you. That's the point! How do you know that you have grasped all this to the degree that you can know either way? How does the Assumption relate to the rest of the revelation? What does of a denial of it, entail?

12 February 2013 at 12:55  
Blogger William said...

Albert

"It seems to you. That's the point! How do you know that you have grasped all this to the degree that you can know either way?"

How can anyone know this?

"How does the Assumption relate to the rest of the revelation?

It is not a requirement for salvation. It does not explain the Incarnation.

What does of a denial of it, entail?"

Excommunication from the RCC.

12 February 2013 at 13:50  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

How can anyone know this?

That was meant to be my point!

It is not a requirement for salvation. It does not explain the Incarnation.

Reduction of revelation to soteriology. Again, the very point I am making. You are imposing a development of dogma to the effect of "there are no true developments of dogma which are not soteriological in character." Where does this dogma come from? It isn't evident to me that it comes from soteriology.

Excommunication from the RCC.

What does it entail theologically? When someone denies it, what are they simultaneously denying (or affirming)?

12 February 2013 at 13:55  
Blogger Galant said...

Hi John,

I do agree with you on that. Of course.

The thing is this, that whilst some may accuse Roman Catholics of idolatry in the sense of intentionally worshipping Mary or the saints as gods, as you described, I don't believe that is what is usually meant, and it is definitely not what I am wondering is going on.

Rather, if we define idolatry as the giving of that which belongs only to God to someone or something other than God, then the question becomes is it possible to be guilty of unwitting or unintended idolatry? I'm certain God would view the two differently, nevertheless, it would still remain important that we strive to render to God that which is due Him, and especially, that which is due Him alone.

Putting it simply, is it possible to, in ignorance or good will, offer to Mary - or anyone else - that which must only be offered to God?

To repeat my previous example, if adoration of Mary results because of a recognition of God's grace within her, such as the treasure found in vessels of clay, we glorify God because of His work, we do not glorify or adore the clay vessel, that would make no sense since we know that the treasure is from God and not from ourselves. Admiration is one thing, adoration is another.

So then, that is my question, might Roman Catholics be guilty of idolatry by ignorance due to mistaken understanding or teaching in this instance?

So far, you seem to be suggesting that there is no specific act of worship which is sacred to God apart from intention. That raises two further questions for discussion, is that correct - are there things which by nature belong to God alone; and of the things where it is not physical action but attitude that is important, what is properly understood as an attitude of worship?

Again, simply referring to targets does not seems sufficient distinction. Even in actions which are the same, I suggest there is, or should be, a qualitative difference in attitude if not a quantitative difference.

Perhaps the starting point is to ask, what is it that God rightly deserves and requests of us?

12 February 2013 at 14:29  
Blogger William said...

Albert

"You are imposing a development of dogma to the effect of "there are no true developments of dogma which are not soteriological in character."

No. I am denying the soteriological character of the Assumption and that it explains the Incarnation.

"Where does this dogma come from?"

Your imagination.

"What does it entail theologically?"

Why don't you ask a theologian? Or if you already know the answer, please can you explain why denial of the Assumption requires excommunication from your church. I imagine that there must be some very important (un-soteriological) theological consequences to denying the Assumption for this to be the case.

12 February 2013 at 14:58  
Blogger John Chater said...


Hello Galant,

To try and answer the questions you raise it might be worth referring to the official Catholic source. Below is a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (second edition), which I think makes the distinction (certainly better than I can).

IV. "You shall not make for yourself a graven image…"

2129 The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God by the hand of man. Deuteronomy explains: "Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure. . . . "66 It is the absolutely transcendent God who revealed himself to Israel. "He is the all," but at the same time "he is greater than all his works."67 He is "the author of beauty."68
2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.69

2131 Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons - of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new "economy" of images.

2132 The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, "the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it."70 The honor paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone:

Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.71

12 February 2013 at 14:59  
Blogger Albert said...

William,

No. I am denying the soteriological character of the Assumption and that it explains the Incarnation.

Even if I accept that, it still would not prevent it being dogma unless you say the only dogmas which are allowed are soteriological dogmas.

Where does this dogma come from?" Your imagination.

Well evidently not, therefore.

Why don't you ask a theologian? Or if you already know the answer, please can you explain why denial of the Assumption requires excommunication from your church. I imagine that there must be some very important (un-soteriological) theological consequences to denying the Assumption for this to be the case.

Well that's the point isn't it? Even if we restrict all dogma only to soteriology (which would be questionable) you don't know whether it has any soteriological implications. So how can you know it shouldn't be dogma? Might it not be the case that the Church can see something in scripture and the Assumption that you can't?

This is why Protestantism looks to me like an extraordinary form of intellectual works righteousness. You need to know these things, you need to be able to explain them and know the scriptures. But you can't. None of us can. Each of us must be guided.

12 February 2013 at 15:12  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Albert:

"This is why Protestantism looks to me like an extraordinary form of intellectual works righteousness. You need to know these things, you need to be able to explain them and know the scriptures. But you can't. None of us can. Each of us must be guided."

It's Grace, Albert, Grace. It is not by what one knows, whether one posits the authority of that knowledge in the individual or in a particular institutional body, but what Jesus did on the Cross.

Faith is a response to Grace, it is an acceptance of Grace - but it is not the source of Salvation: God is. We aren't saved because we have faith - we are saved because, by faith, we know the Grace of God.

Faith is the cry of the sinner against that mighty outpouring of His love. It's not an intellectual bauble to be sported - it's not je pense donc je suis (sauvé) - it is the response of the created to the Creator to the Work which originates in and has its end in Jesus Christ.

I can't advance on the clarity Paul gives in Ephesians 2:8:

"For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God;

12 February 2013 at 15:25  
Blogger OldJim said...

Galant,

is it idolatry for a man to kneel when he proposes or is knighted? Why not? He reveres the person to whom he kneels and addresses an act of worship (worthscipe, used equivocally of homage addressed to God and homage addressed to men by Anglo-Saxons, long after those pesky Latins had separated their latria from their dulia)to them.

Now, a lot of the acts prescribed to the Israelites are acts derived analogically from those performed for kings. Men would bow and prostrate themselves before kings, and so they were called to bow and prostrate themselves before God. Men implore favours of kings, and so men implored favours of God. God was known as the Lord, and the Lord of Hosts, titles likely derived from an analogy to secular rule.

But whilst the acts were derived from analogy to earthly lordship, the understanding of God was precluded from analogy. You shall make for yourselves no graven images. God is not like anything in this world, and don't you imagine he is.

Until Christ comes, verbum caro factum est, and redeems the created order by taking it upon Himself, and reveals God to us in His Person, thereby lifting both of the proscriptions on the creation of images.

So, to get back to the question, could devotion to Mary be idolatrous? Yes, and in the same proportion as love of one's spouse could be. Both passions are expressed with language and actions very close to that with which we treat God. But both, rightly ordered, testify to God. Love of a woman invites us to commit to her, for which we need God as a witness, to give thanks for her, for which we need God as a benefactor, to implore her safety, for which we need God as a guardian. Devotion to Mary requires thanks for her, which can only be addressed to God, meditation on her maternity, which brings us to her Son, God, desire for her solicitude, which requires the providence of God.

This might help explain to you why the contentiousness of this issue is so difficult for Catholics. Imagine a Christian coming to you and asking about this whole "loving your wife" business. Wasn't it risky? Wasn't there idolatry involved? And you explain that every man loves his wife passionately, and some might conceivably get carried away in the way that they talk now and again, the whole of the Marriage ceremony is an elaborate witness to the Glory of God, Marriage reflecting the mystery of the relationship between Christ and His Church, and the mystery of the Indwelling of the Trinity, having its origin in Creation, being witnessed by God... and the man replies "Ok, perhaps, but isn't there a risk that the ordinary man will misinterpret, and end up worshiping his wife?" Well, there's a risk, I suppose... but everything about the thing, properly understood, testifies to God, not against Him.

And yes, there is one act which is not analogical, which is properly reserved to God alone: sacrifice. The Mass is offered to God, not to Mary.

12 February 2013 at 16:04  
Blogger Albert said...

Faith is a response to Grace

Faith is a response by grace to a message, a revelation, a word, a teaching:

"every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.


In other words, while it is faith in Jesus that saves, that faith cannot be the faith of the NT without some kind of intellectual content. Similarly, it requires obedience to God's revelation - what he commands and what he teaches. If that isn't so, why does so much of the NT deal with other elements of doctrine?

12 February 2013 at 16:10  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

William

I think by your comments you're demonstrating the distance you need to travel before arriving at Rome.

Albert has presented an excellent argument for an authoritative teaching Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

How can we truly Love someone we don't grow to know more closely as the relationship develops?

12 February 2013 at 19:31  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

How sad it is to lose a gifted Pope of such searing intellect and knowledge. I remember watching an interview with His Holiness years ago when he declared he had no wish to be Pope but was looking forward to retirement and seeing Rome. Even though he had lived there for so many years he had never had the opportunity to explore the city, spending most of the time in the confines of the Vatican.Now it is too late.

Many Catholics appreciate the sacrifice he has made in accepting the Papal position and admire his humility in resigning because of his inability to fulfill the role competently as Spiritual leader.
He is truly a Holy Man of God.

12 February 2013 at 21:30  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Well said, Cressida

12 February 2013 at 21:56  
Blogger William said...

Indeed Dodo. If Albert's argument is that neither he nor I can know the soteriological implications of anything without deferring to the Magisterium then I am a long way from Rome. It means that I cannot know that I am saved without deferring to Rome. It denies that the Holy Spirit - the spirit of truth - that was promised by Jesus has been given to me.

12 February 2013 at 23:21  
Blogger Galant said...

Okay, so, taking things one at a time. John, with regards the catechism quote, the focus of the passage tends towards physical objects rather than people, although Mary is briefly mentioned. Perhaps the RCC sees no difference between 'veneration' of objects and people and that might be more fully clarified elsewhere. Either way though, I think the idea seems to be summarised here: "Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is." I find it interesting that the suggestion is that false religions in OT directed their idol worship directly to the stone or wood itself. I've never understood that to be the case. I've always thought that the foreign religions one reads of in the OT approached their idol worship in precisely the manner described, that is, that, "the movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is".

If that was the sole defense of the use of icons etc.; that the essential difference is that in using icons Roman Catholics look beyond the image but heretical religions looked directly at it, I'd have to disagree and call it inadequate. I'd also have to suggest that the RCC might be missing something in the Biblical teaching about this, and God's objection to idols, that He may in fact object to their use even with the idea that the people are worshiping God through the means of the objects. There are a number of dangers involved with that, and we do see that God is jealous of His worship and specific in how it should be performed. I think that danger the RCC has not avoided, is seen in the phrasing of this particular sentence: "Indeed, "the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it."

Contrast that idea with this Biblical one mentioned before it,
"...permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word".

I don't know if this seems like splitting hairs to you, but I see an essential difference between being inspired/instructed by something which points one to God and thus worshiping Him, and venerating the object itself with the view that God, or, bizarrely, the person, understands that it's ultimately aimed at Him.

I don't know if you see the difference.

One acts as a signpost, like a sunset, or work of art, or writing from or about an individual, directing/inspiring one to worship God. The other acts as proxy, receiving worship which, it is said, is ultimately, supposedly, aimed at God, or which He understands is all about Him.

That distinction for me is vital, because I believe that such is very close, if not identical, to the sort of worship God was prohibiting. His reasons may be many, but one must certainly be that object itself will soon take the hearts of the people, and be seen as significant itself.

The language of devotion (which is a giving of one's whole self) and veneration towards an object or person itself (even if the idea is that it goes through that person or object) is precisely what I see as described and understood by foreign idol worship, rather than having one's whole heart and mind and soul fixed upon God, with objects and people sometimes inspiring that devotion which goes straight to God Himself.

12 February 2013 at 23:23  
Blogger Galant said...

I see, in Scripture, God taking great pains, both in the Old and New Testaments, to ensure that the hearts of His people come directly to Him. They assist and inspire and encourage one another. They bless one another, but always the focus is God Himself, that Christ may be all in all. God restricts OT idol worship, He does not create an 'official' idol for the worship of Himself. He offers Himself as Israel's King but the people, sinfully, desire an intermediary ruler, a king, which God states is a rejection of Himself. He tears the veil in two, opening the way to His very presence, with no obstructions. Elsewhere we see St. Paul teaching the Corinthians not to focus on him or the other Apostles, which we might call a form of veneration. Instead He points them back to God instead of them. We see angels refusing bowing or worship. Paul and Silas too. Although I understand that the idea is that 'devotion', and 'veneration' isn't 'worship', but the point here is that just saying so doesn't make it true, this is an attempt to get at the heart of what worship is because worship, by any other name, smells down right rotten when given to anyone but God.

Most importantly, the New Testament consistently points to Christ being all in all. And all things bowing at His feet, with none between.

Again, to reiterate, I don't have a problem with the notion of people or images inspiring worship of and devotion to God. I think it's God given and wonderful. I do have a problem with objects or people receiving worship and or devotion as proxy. Which is how it is both presented and seen, and sadly, whatever the outcome of discussion, is a grave problem for so many Roman Catholics in places like Latin America. Where people feel utterly indebted to and connected to their statues and various artefacts. Where people spend money they barely have to invest in some item or other, because they see it as a source of blessing. Their focus is entirely misplaced, even to the extent that they believe stealing statues of St. Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, and then giving the statue away, brings a special blessing. Is this a misunderstanding of even RC theology, I expect so, yet I see so little being said or done by the RCC to counteract that. So little to tell the people that God wants them to begin to truly know Him, intimately and to be known by Him. But it's hard to do that when you're focused on saints and artefacts, especially when you believe that money thus spent, and honour given to those objects,is really worship to God anyway. The thing is, it isn't. Hearts and minds is what God is after. To know and be known, and a practical form of worship which is performed through outward acts of love in caring for others, not objects. Love God. Love your neighbour. Directly. Presently. With everything you are. Offer yourselves to God as living sacrifices, this is your spiritual act of worship.

Giving who you are, entirely to God, loving God wholly, is what worship is. The image He gives is that of marriage - no more personal and intimate example can be given (with no proxy even close to being in sight - for such cannot be done). Yes, there is the corporate marriage, that of the whole church to Christ, one bride, not many. Nevertheless, the Scriptures are explicit that God desires for all individuals to also know Him deeply, personally, and the picture in Revelation is that of God knowing and caring for each individual.

The Scriptures are full, from start to finish, of the teaching that God's desire is for personal relationship with all of humanity, down to the individual level, and never are proxies taught or presented. Just people encouraging, teaching and helping one another connect with God directly, and signpost inspiring and pointing to God. Sadly, the definition of devotion and veneration given above, goes far beyond that, and I find a distinction must be made. Or obstacles will rise up, and people will be deceived, even if the intention is otherwise.

12 February 2013 at 23:50  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Galant

I agree that amongst Catholics there is the potential for superstition and the possibility that ritual becomes an end in itself. Both can obscure the message of Christ. The Catholic Church has been addressing this Vatican II.

Because people misunderstand or do not fully grasp Catholic teaching does not make its teachings on intercessory prayer unbiblical or erroneous. The same applies to the Sacraments of the Church.

The Church has always attempted to work alongside the underdeveloped beliefs of peoples and take what is good from them. This is how the West was converted. Rather than dismiss old practices and customs, it adopted a strategy of converting the people to Jesus Christ and connecting this to and then reconstructing other belief systems. It can be a slow process and take many generations.

The Church in the countries you cite is well aware of the immature faith amongst some of its members. And yet, despite you critique of the practices of these people, they are believers in Our Lord and in His message of salvation.

Give the Church time. Catholics do not subscribe to a belief in a sudden, once and for all, "born again" experience consisting of irresistible Grace.

13 February 2013 at 00:20  
Blogger Galant said...

With regards the notion that Christ's incarnation somehow permits the use of earthly images in a way that wasn't previously permitted, I simply cannot understand that concept, and even more, I strikes me as drastically opposite to the whole notion of the incarnation. Additionally, the idea that in the incarnation previous restrictions are now lifted heavily implies a connection between devotion to images and OT heretical practises - since what other restricted action could they be talking about?

Still, I have no desire to insult or accuse anyone, putting words in anyone's mouth.

Rather, I would like to illustrate that the incarnation relieves any possible need for images entirely. The point is, Immanuel. God with us. Why would we ever need proxies? He Himself is the image of God - begotten, not created. So I struggle to see why we should now need any other images when we have the perfect image with us, nor how the incarnation of the Only Begotten Son instructs us in the usage of created images.

To reiterate once again, I have no problem with inspiration of devotion and worship via objects or people or writings. I do have a problem with the notion that now that God Himself has come down, in the flesh, to know us and be with us, and save us, and draw us unto Himself, to be one with Himself, all things having been created by Him and through Him and for Him, that He may be the First and the Last, and all in all, we now need to, or should even consider directing or worship via anything else but Him.

I believe Mary was an amazing woman. I should say is. That she is worthy of honour and admiration, just as many other men and women before and after her. I will proclaim from the rooftops the beautiful example that she gave and the wonderful things that one can learn by considering her life. However, I cannot see any Scriptural mandate for attempting to worship God through her, images of her, or seeking things from her, rather than from God (although prayer to the saints is a massive issue unto itself, which I'm happy to leave alone at this point).

13 February 2013 at 01:28  
Blogger Galant said...


OldJim, you mentioned marriage, however I find it a very poor analogy here. The reason is that marriage is exclusive and it takes place between two living people on earth. It is a mystical and yet physical union which is lived out in the day to day lives of the individuals by way of very practical love in the form of commitment and romance. It is a God-given, mandated, symbol of what? The relationship, the intimate, personal relationship, between Christ and His church. Marriage itself points to the interaction of the believers, the church, with Christ Himself with no-one and nothing in between. Moreover, even though, as you rightly pointed out, a person can come to idolize their spouse (or children or any number of different individuals), that idolatry is not recommended but identified as such. Even though someone could argue that marriage is God given, and so their idolizing of their spouse is a form of worship of God, it is established for us that such is not the case. Christ, in fact, said that if anyone does not hate his wife (and father, mother) then that person cannot be His disciple. This is quite a separation between Christ and every other individual in one's life and is a contrast to the notion that devotion to one person equals devotion to Him. We might say, if anyone does not hate Mary, then he cannot be my disciple.

Are spouses and other saints good to have in one's life? Yes. Are they always a hindrance? No. Can they encourage and uplift us towards Christ? Yes. Yet there is distinction drawn between one's commitment to Christ and everything else.

Additionally, in marriage, although one is committed to loving one's spouse, and someone might use the term, 'devoted', this is not what we are talking about when we speak of devotion. Devotion, properly understood, belongs only to God. It is a whole giving of oneself to something, a coming under the ownership or possession of the object of devotion. With the human life, the only proper recipient of such devotion is God. Although I can accept that RCC's might acknowledge that and we're talking semantics. Nevertheless it remains important to clarify that.


A husband is not called to be devoted to his wife or vice-versa. They are called to be faithful to their spouses in their marital commitment before (and because of) God. They are not wholly committed to their spouse, they are committed to their promise and to God. If not, then no matter what the spouse did, or requested or commanded, the husband or wife would be required to comply entirely and joyfully.

I can recognise God's grace at work in my wife. I can see His blessing her through me. I can be faithful to my wife in order to honour and worship God. Indeed, the love of others is a primary form of worship, but that love is not commitment to them as persons, giving myself to them, but is rather the activity of seeking to bless those individuals. To seek their best, because God commands us to do so. It is His second commandment.

13 February 2013 at 01:29  
Blogger Galant said...

The distinction I draw between this sort of love and devotion to an image or Mary, is that, one, we are commanded to love our neighbours. There is no commandment to love objects or images. Two, such love is practical and shown in physical, earthly ways, such as cannot be shown to an object or person not present.

Three, I can love people to worship God, but I do not worship people to love God. Nor do I seek to honour or commit myself to them in order to get through to Him.

Mary is not my wife, nor anyone else's. I am not commanded nor called to love her or commit myself to her; neither her specifically, nor images of saints in general.

As for kings, as I mentioned before, Israel did desire a king, in place of God, and it was a sin. When people bow they are recognising a person as special, and yet, we know that they are not. Perhaps we might recognise their authority as given by God.
At best, these sorts of things are shadows of a heavenly reality, and yet Hebrews speaks volumes about the supremacy of Christ, after His arrival, to supercede and replace all of these things.

The Israelites worshipped by means of physical sacrifices; prevented from entering the presence of God but for one man, once a year. In Christ all sacrifices were paid that He might be pre-eminent and we might be one with Him, to enter into relationship with Him. So then, again, further obstacular shadows in place of the greater reality won for us by Him seems ignorant.

David was Israel's greatest king, what do we learn from him? We find him to have delivered to us the Psalms, the song and prayer book of Israel, of the Bible. We find in David arguably the greatest examples of exhortation to direct pursuit of intimacy with the living God. David did not exhort the people to honour him as an image, nor even, I think it is fair to say, did he ever see himself as a 'king' in any real sense. He always knew that anything he had was always borrowed, and that he was a sinful shepherd boy at heart. He exhortations to himself, and others, were to seek God, seek God, seek God. To cry out to Him. To praise Him. To sing to Him. To trust Him. To wait on Him. To count on Him. David made all his petitions directly to God. There is not one single Psalm, in the whole the Bible's 'prayer book' which is directed at anyone other than God Himself. Nor in all of David's cries for help, strength, grace, protection, assistance, wisdom, justice, mercy and many other petitions, do we find him seeking these things from anyone but God. Indeed, whether he realised it himself or not, in some of His Psalms we see David looking forward prophetically and with desire to the arrival of the Christ who would be the fulfillment of all his earnest deep desire.

There isn't a single instruction or prayer in all the Bible aimed at anyone but God.

13 February 2013 at 01:29  
Blogger Galant said...

Nor is it just David. Many others also wrote songs and prayers and petitions and in them we see the heart cries of many godly men and women and all of them point (and point us) towards God, and that directly. Our ever present help in trouble.

Indeed, God Himself encourages us to look to Him for all our needs, and in every circumstance. In Isaiah we see it beautifully penned:

Isaiah 43:1-2

"But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you."

I have redeemed you. I have called you by name!

So intimate, so beautiful. I cannot even begin to understand why anyone seek to love God through any intermediary, nor direct their prayers to anyone but Him. Why would anyone seek or desire any separation between themselves and this incredible God of love? Indeed, wasn't that the whole point - to be with us?

And wasn't that why He directed us not to worship as others worship?

For me the fact and the question still remain. We have a great and glorious God of infinite grace and wondrous creativity who has made, and works through, many things which inspire worship Him, and indeed He calls us to do so, for His joy and glory and our own joy and satisfaction. Intimately. In addition to the beautiful call, we are also commanded not to give to anyone else that which properly belongs to God. Therefore, how can it be that someone or something should be presented not as a signpost pointing to God, but as an intermediary, accepting honour and relationship, and prayer and devotion, such as belong to God, even if it is said that "it's all for God in the end"?

13 February 2013 at 01:29  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

I'm sorry I can't give this more of my attention at the minute - I'm a little preoccupied workwise this week at the same time as being under the weather.

I hope you'll all understand that the brevity of my replies isn't intended to be rude!

Albert:

Look at the doctrinal disputes in the New Testament: they are almost all about one of three things - heresies that fundamentally assault the nature of Christ (and correspondingly, the nature of the Salvation He attained for us on the Cross), heresies that suggest that Grace is a license to sin (and correspondingly, the moral expectations for Christians), and finally heresies that sought, by the application of division, to suggest that Grace was not in fact fully effective in and of itself but required something else in order to work (both literally and metaphorically focused on circumcision).

Very simply, as I've tried to make clear throughout, because of the specific claims that the RCC makes about itself, when it says that acceptance of both the infallibility and the Assumption is a necessary precondition for communion with Rome, it places a limitation on the issuance of Grace, which the RCC teaches is signalled by the Sacraments. I understand that the theology behind the Sacraments is complex (I'm trying to be brief rather than reductive), but a denial of the sacraments is a de facto denial of sure access to the sign of Grace which the RCC holds the sacraments to be (and indeed, until Vatican II was rather... more bald in stating as the sole means of Salvation).

I make no specific claim to the Assumption, except that it is self-evidently not necessary for Salvation, given that Salvation did not start from the moment that Mary is said to have been assumed into heaven, but on the Cross. I treat it rather like any other post-Scriptural miracle: the question of whether it is a true miracle or not is one of truth or falsity - but making it a non-negotiable barrier to Grace would be as strange and as wrong as me insisting that if you did not accept The Cross and the Switchblade exactly as it is asserted, without equivocation or denial, you could not be regarded as being within the Church.

Consequently, as the insistence on the doctrine of the assumption as being necessary cannot actually said to be necessary to being a member of the Body of Christ, the basis on which it is asserted infallibly is entirely questionable. What happens is a sleight-of-hand whereby the infallible promise of Salvation in Christ is exchanged for the infallible promise of Salvation in Christ dependent upon acceptance of the infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church.

By way of demonstration of the difference in perspective (and not as a snipe):

Dodo:

"This is how the West was converted"

The vast majority of Protestants would, I think, agree with me when I say that we do not believe anyone is capable of converting man (that is, bringing a man into the Kingdom of Heaven under Grace) except the Holy Spirit. From this perspective, the West was not converted because of the Church, it was converted because of the Holy Spirit for the Church.

13 February 2013 at 01:55  
Blogger OldJim said...

Galant, there are a couple of things to disentangle here.

First, the question of the bearing of the Incarnation upon images.

All images of God are prohibited in the Old Testament. We see this in the episode of the golden calf - in Exodus 32:4-6, it seems to me to be quite clear that Aaron intends the idol to be a representation of God Himself. He says that it "brought you out of the land of Egypt" and he uses the Tetragrammaton itself in announcing the Subject of the festival to be held the next day - a festival at which the idol is sacrificed to. We know how that ends.

So in the OT images of God Himself are idolatry. For the reason for this, see Deuteronomy 4:15-31. Note the first line especially: "Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves"

We are given a reason why the image is proscribed: because the Israelites have not seen God, they cannot depict Him - the implication, surely, is that one day He will be seen - and then he may be depicted.

This is why we talk of the lifting of this law with the Incarnation - God has come in the Flesh! We have seen Him! And so we can represent Him.

I hope to get back to the blog and address some of your other points soon, but that is the first way in which the Incarnation is linked to the interpretation of the Second Commandment.

13 February 2013 at 05:44  
Blogger William said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

13 February 2013 at 07:08  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

AIB

Yes but the message of salvation had to be brought to men and women, had to be understood and had to be lived. People don't just wake up one morning, without any knowledge of Christ, and suddenly, through Grace, become Christians, now do they?

Nations and individuals need men to prepare the way for the workings of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

13 February 2013 at 10:09  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dodo:

Do they not?

In a sense, they don't. But I have heard testimonies from places in the world where the earthly presence of the Church was... well, non-existent. Oh there were a few old seeds scattered here and there - one in particular that sticks in my mind had only the name Jesus and the knowledge that He was what you needed to be saved. So often the thing they yearn for most is Scripture, especially in places where Scripture is forbidden - they desire that teaching, they desire that the Word is unfolded and unfurled and erected around them. In many places in the world, even now, Scripture is the only Tabernacle they have. My old church became especially involved with one after quite literally a chance meeting between one of its elders and one of our congregants who was in the back end of nowhere. They have a church building now, and Scripture, and support to teach and train their members. But in truth, we learnt more about God's Grace from them than they ever received from us.

That's the thing, our God is the Lord of the forgotten and the downtrod, He is the King in the rubbish dumps and slums of the world. His Spirit moves - it moves Dodo, faster than any man on earth can hope to keep up with. He goes before the missionaries and evangelists, and He dwells where they sow long after they have moved elsewhere. He places that familiar and unearthly restlessness in the hearts of those who know Him, but at the same time as He calls men and women to seek out the lost, He is already calling to the lost, and what we know as restlessness they know as burden. The sermons and songs of worship He places in the hearts of His followers, He begins also in the hearts of those He calls, even before any earthly meeting.

Nations and individuals need to pursue the Way if they want to see and participate in the workings of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

14 February 2013 at 13:23  

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