Jesus Only Christianity

Since a new set of interlocutors has emerged of late I am going to persist with a contrast between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism that seems to be fairly crucial for considering the Reformation — namely, what to do about Mary. May seems to the month of our Lord’s mother, hence a number of posts at National Catholic Register (see what EWTN did there?) about Mary. To contrast the liturgical and national calendars, please keep in mind that for Americans May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month.)

Mark Shea persists with a defense of Mary’s immaculate conception and concludes that the church arrived at a two-fold doctrine of salvation (and we’re not even talking about God’s covenant with Jews — though since Mary was Jewish, I guess we are):

Jesus saves from sin in two ways just as a doctor saves from sickness in two ways: cure and prevention. Mary was prevented from contracting original sin in the moment of her conception by a singular act of grace through Christ. In her, we see, not the absence of Christ’s saving grace, but its fullest expression. Hence, she is “full of grace” and praises “God my savior” (Luke 1:47).

For confessional Protestants, that seems like a stretch since we believe in only one mediator between God and man. This implies that some persons can have a different relationship with God. If one has a unique relationship with God, why not a lot more? Why didn’t God simply reboot after Adam’s sin and “prevent” Cain and Abel from sinning?

Meanwhile, Dwight Longenecker tries to explain why Mary as Mediatrix or Co-Redemptrix is not an offense but affirms the sole mediation of Christ:

Once we have recognized that Mary suffered with Jesus we should take a moment to try to understand the depth of that identification with her son. Remember she is linked with her son like no other Mother and her son is like no other Son. How often have we seen and experienced the deep identification between a mother and her child? The child suffers at school. Mama bear steps in for she has suffered too. The child experiences hardship and tears. The mother’s heart is broken too. Only when we understand the depth of Mary’s suffering and the depth of her unique identification with her son will we begin to understand the Catholic doctrines of Co-Redeemer and Mediatrix.

We should be clear that we are not saying that Jesus’ work of redemption on the cross was in some way insufficient. Neither is his work as mediator between God and Man inadequate. We acknowledge that his redemptive suffering on the cross was full and final and totally sufficient. We acknowledge that he is the only saving mediator between God and Man. So what do we mean with these titles for Mary?

What we mean is that she participates in the full, final, sufficient and unique work of Christ on the cross for the salvation of the world. She walks beside him and through his work she joins in that work. It is like Christ’s love and sacrifice is a fast flowing river, but Mary swims in the current of that river. Her work is dependent on his work. Her participation and co-operation could not happen without his work going before and enabling all that she does.

But again the question arises, why single out Mary? Aren’t all believers united to Christ? Don’t we all swim in the current of his work? And wouldn’t it be fair to say after a reading of the New Testament that the apostles (and prophets before them) participated much more directly in Christ’s work than Mary (who is on the sidelines for most narratives)? Why not at least call Peter a Co-Redemptrix? He is after all the original Vicar of Christ. And why appeal to a special relationship between mother and child when Christ himself said that his followers bore a special relationship to himself in ways that were closer than blood relations (“Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.’ But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it'” [Luke 8:19-21].)

The point here though has less to do with some of the questions that Longenecker and Shea raise (even as they try to answer objections). It is instead this: what would Christianity lose if Mary was not understood the way these apologists conceive her? Would Christianity be somehow deficient without the immaculate conception or Mary as co-redemptrix?

Simplicity is not always a good thing. But one way of reading the Reformation is as an effort to remove the clutter that had accumulated after a millennium of passing on the faith. Anyone who has changed residences knows the unenviable task of deciding what to do with the basement. Reformers did just that with the western church in the sixteenth century. Some might argue that they donated too many boxes with useful items to United European Charities, Inc. But if Longenecker really does affirm that Christ’s work was sufficient in and of itself (along with Christ’s Spirit, of course), why the attachment to Mary? What does her uniqueness profit the gospel or the Christian religion more generally?

And if Protestantism is really about trying to exalt the work of Christ — and doesn’t mind stepping on traditions that get in the way of seeing Christ’s sufficiency — why would it generate the hostility that it did from Rome?

Advertisements

159 thoughts on “Jesus Only Christianity

  1. And if Protestantism is really about trying to exalt the work of Christ — and doesn’t mind stepping on traditions that get in the way of seeing Christ’s sufficiency — why would it generate the hostility that it did from Rome?

    I think the answer, at the end of the day, is that for all of the RC bluster otherwise, Rome really denies the sufficiency of Christ. Just look at many of our RC interlocutors here. So much about epistemology, the church, the mass, the pope. Very little about Christ. Now one can say in a relatively roundabout way that all of those things are about Christ by extensions. But if so, why do so many people not get it. Why do so many leave Rome for Protestantism and explain that they never really knew Christ before?

    Shouldn’t that at least give our RC interlocutors pause? Maybe there is something inherent in the RC system that gets in the way of Christ?

    Like

  2. Oh, Fr. Dwight. He’s just always going to milk this “I was an non-denominational cum Anglican priest so I know what I’m talking about” schtick until the bitter end, isn’t he?

    Like

  3. Robert says: I think the answer, at the end of the day, is that for all of the RC bluster otherwise, Rome really denies the sufficiency of Christ.

    It seems such a true kindness to keep pointing that out; which is never completely blatant (for that isn’t how deception operates) but nonetheless seems so

    thinking of kindness, too, and re: Mary, how kind of the Lord to anticipate/speak/ have recorded for us Mary-calibration 2000 years ago- just exactly as needed. A great example of decisive, immediate speculation destruction (2 Cor 10:5). He speaks. Done. Settled.

    While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Luke 11:27-28

    Like

  4. Can I ask a somewhat related but mostly off topic question?

    What is the difference between RCs praying to and for the dead and some Protestants repenting for the sins of the dead?

    Scripture talks about confessing our sins that are following in the sins of our fathers, but I am not thinking of any situation where Scripture speaks of Christians repenting for the actual sins of their dead fathers. Am I mistaken? Is anyone studying this particular angle in the PCA?

    Keep up the attacks on the Rome – the sheep’s costume is continually being pulled off for the hope of many!

    Like

  5. I am not thinking of any situation where Scripture speaks of Christians repenting for the actual sins of their dead fathers.

    In Daniel 9, Daniel acknowledges that the people have sinned and don’t deserve restoration, but whether we can call that repentance may be an open question.

    Like

  6. Darryl,

    I don’t ascribe to the Immaculate Conception, mostly because I don’t ascribe to a western understanding of original sin/guilt. So I can’t answer for Rome on these matters. But, in an ecumenical spirit, I think the very least we can agree upon is that Mary is the Theotokos, the Mother of God, literally God bearer. Yes? In some ways, if one wanted to be minimalist and ignore ubiquitous liturgical language/formulations, I think this is truly all one must affirm about the Theotokos because it is a Christological statement.

    So can you at least affirm Mary is Theotokos?

    Like

  7. Justin, I can say it. I don’t even have my fingers crossed. But then we have the hermeneutical problem. Do I mean what you mean? Not trying to be evasive. Just not sure.

    Do Orthodox regard Mary as the second Eve?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is being excerpted from Thomas Aquinas on the Hail Mary.
    Here’s what St. Augustine believed.

    “Augustine in writes: “The holy virgin Mary excepted, if all the holy men and women were here before us and were asked if they were without sin, they would cry out with one voice: ‘If we should say we have no sin, we would delude ourselves and the truth is not in us.’””

    Like

  9. @Susan
    Are you sure you want to proof text from Augustine or Aquinas? Following your method, I could clip choice bits about women not bearing the image of God or being defective males. Generally the response to such an exercise is to contextualize the quotes (both in the body of work and historically) and then point out that they weren’t inerrant (the concensus view of the inferiority of women was never dogma). Excellent responses to be sure(!), but they show the limited value of clipping quotes to buttress your priors. But of course that means your quote contributes as much to the discussion as the skeptic’s quote of that bit about women being covers over cesspits or some such (Tertullian I believe).

    Like

  10. Hi Sdb,

    “But of course that means your quote contributes as much to the discussion as the skeptic’s quote of that bit about women being covers over cesspits or some such (Tertullian I believe).”

    If Tertullian’s said such a thing( and I’ll take your word that he did), it wasn’t discerned by the church to be correct. When something stands doctrinally within the church, it means that it is orthodox. But that’s the fundamental question under consideration, isn’t it?
    So, I’ll let it ride:)

    Like

  11. Darryl,

    “Do I mean what you mean?”
    ***That Christ is God and Mary bore Him. That’s what I mean. Again, it really is a Christological issue.

    But I think you’re wondering what the fruit of such an admission is? Once one agrees that she bore God, then I think there are various ramifications. For example, if she’s united to God (which is exactly what a mother is to child; literally a child changes the physiology of the mother while he or she is in the womb), then she becomes a living partaker of the Divine Nature. The question then raised is what happens to her? For many theologians, then is when she becomes sinless, because her will is united to God’s (and then she does not sin in a particular way for the rest of her life; see, so sinlessness without the IC). This doesn’t necessarily logically follow her being the Theotokos, at least not in a com box, but there it is. Obviously, I’m not going to tease all of this out, because this is book-length stuff. I’m just answering your question, and none of this is meant as an apologetics. Nor am I interested in sheep.

    Another ramification: if her being the Theotokos is a Christological issue, then, following Christ’s teaching regarding biblical hermeneutics on the Road to Emmaus–that we ought to find Him in Scripture–it seems we may find references to her as well.

    “Do Orthodox regard Mary as the second Eve?”
    ***Yes, but again, I think we work from a slightly different anthropological framework, most important to our discussion that we bear the corruption of original sin but not the guilt of the deed. This is why Christ could become sin who knew no sin: he took on corruption (a sort of innocent ancestral sin) though He did not (and could not) sin in a particular way. Eve was disobedient; Mary obeyed, doing the will of God, offering to us the New Adam. We could go on doing typological readings, but you get the gist. So while one may choose not to venerate Mary, one should at least show a little gratitude to her “Yes.” Her “Yes” brought us all (potential) salvation, life eternal. In this limited way, we could most certainly see her as a mediator. She interceded for you, Darryl, whether you like it or not. Sorry.

    There have been Orthodox theologians throughout the centuries who have various formulations of what comes very close to a teaching of the Immaculate Conception. But we haven’t ever dogmatized it. Plus, once Rome dogmatized it, then we had every reason to fight and teach against it. Ha! Again, the only thing “dogmatized” is that Mary is the Theotokos, and this is dogmatized because it’s about Christ’s personhood.

    Like

  12. Justin J. :In this limited way, we could most certainly see her as a mediator. She interceded for you, Darryl, whether you like it or not. Sorry.

    Ditto again your comment from yesterday Robert

    Like

  13. Good Morning Justin,

    I too would rather not get too deep into apologetics, in rhe argumentative way; but I also believe that whenever we do discuss and offer our proofs, we are engaging in defending the faith( as we understand it as it as taught to us, at least!) and are therefore doing apologetics. I hope that when I defend a doctrine, or dogma, that I am upholding what is true, rather than “what is true to me”. I mean, neither of us, want to speak of our own authority, but only what we have received.

    Do you mind teasing out a little bit of what’s in the statement that you said?

    “This is why Christ could become sin who knew no sin: he took on corruption (a sort of innocent ancestral sin) though He did not (and could not) sin in a particular way.”

    I haven’t read enough to be sure If we are in agreement or not, but I thought that “became sin” meant that He became the perfect offering for sin since he too is fully man; and that he “took on corruption” meant that he took on our corruptable nature having a true human body and true human soul but without sin.

    Again, I may be wrong about what Catholicism teaches( maybe you know if I’m correct or not), but something seems wrong about speaking of an “innocent” ancestral “sin”. Those terms seem mutually exclusive.
    Thanks for any elaboration and clarity that you can help with!

    Like

  14. For example, if she’s united to God (which is exactly what a mother is to child; literally a child changes the physiology of the mother while he or she is in the womb), then she becomes a living partaker of the Divine Nature… Eve was disobedient; Mary obeyed, doing the will of God, offering to us the New Adam. We could go on doing typological readings, but you get the gist. So while one may choose not to venerate Mary, one should at least show a little gratitude to her “Yes.” Her “Yes” brought us all (potential) salvation, life eternal. In this limited way, we could most certainly see her as a mediator. She interceded for you…

    But what Prots need is biblical warrant and argumentation for any of this to land. Until then, it’s a lot of speculation to the Prot mind. Interesting certainly, but highly speculative and seemingly nothing God has conveyed in his own words. Is Jesus God and is Mary his mother and thus the “mother of God”? Of course. Is she a biblical figure owed gratitude by the faithful just as any other figure along the way that paved the way for Messiah? Seems hardly controversial. Is she unique in her place in redemptive history? Slam dunk.
    But how one goes from these concessions to being a co-mediator is a leap of breathtaking proportions. Veneration? No, though her humility in not conceiving of herself as anything more than a mere beneficiary of her son’s work is deserving of high praise and admiration to be modeled by the faithful. If Mary of all people can diminish herself, what excuse do any of us schmucks have in thinking we’re even to be counted among the holiest of men who have made but the smallest beginning of obedience?

    Like

  15. Zrim says: If Mary of all people can diminish herself, what excuse do any of us schmucks have in thinking we’re even to be counted among the holiest of men who have made but the smallest beginning of obedience?
    (and link quote): she (Mary) becomes a living partaker of the Divine Nature…

    amen Zrim, incredibly, by grace, by faith- gifts, along with Mary, in the same way ‘divine nature partakers’….
    for we who have received a faith of the same kind by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.;by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.. 2 Peter 1:1-4

    and inspired by D.G.’s JESUS ONLY Christianity title here, and then the great picture in “Sunday reading post” …… for you Zrim…

    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=lion+lamb&view=detailv2&&id=40503465958C88969EDAB4D9A49AE5EC7D361E5E&selectedIndex=4&ccid=7HjTVoB0&simid=608033959849757032&thid=OIP.Mec78d356807490c2292322a426e3f536H0&ajaxhist=0

    Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the LION that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a LAMB standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. Rev 5:4-6

    Like

  16. @Susan
    I apologize for being unclear. My intention wasn’t to pick on Tertullian, Augustine, or Aquinas by cherry picking anachronistic quotes for shock value. As I noted, the proper response when someone does that is to contextualize the quote and decide whether the contextualized information was ever became dogma. My point is simply that pulling out a quote by Augustine (or any other “authority”) doesn’t add to the discussion.

    Like

  17. Hi sdb,

    I agree that pulling out quotes will not add to the discussion under consideration if the idea contained in those quotes are evidently false( “women are not as smart as men”…) or if used for effect rather than meant to be used as proof( “Pope’s are not humble!”)
    However, I don’t see how your comment below is true.

    “My point is simply that pulling out a quote by Augustine (or any other “authority”) doesn’t add to the discussion.”

    If an authority is telling the truth, why can’t they be used? We do it all the time and live by it. I mean, If they are a licit authority, then using their wisdom would be wise and advantageous.

    I can understand why you would say that I’m begging the question, but if the church hasn’t condemned the doctrine, then using the quote is permissible.
    Am I wrong to conclude, therefore, that if the church hasn’t condemned it and an authority within the church supports it, that it is orthodox?

    Like

  18. The business about the physiology of the mother being changed leading to veneration is a bit dodgy. If we draw the natural analogy, it is the humanity of the child that changes the mother, so I see little warrant to believe that carrying Jesus changed Mary ontologically in any other way different than my mother carrying me changed her ontologically. To say otherwise would seem to confuse the divine and human natures.

    And piggy backing off of Zrim, there’s no explicit biblical support for the above notion, and there’s no evidence from Scripture that after Jesus was born, Mary was anything other than an ordinary Jewish woman. In fact, Mark’s gospel suggests that she at one point thought Jesus insane.

    And theologically, the NT says that all believers are united to Christ. So if such a union changes Mary and makes her worthy of special veneration, how come it doesn’t happen to the rest of the faithful. Where are the icons of Jason, the 5th century peasant farmer who didn’t do anything of note other than raise his family in the fear and admonition of the Lord. He was united to Christ. Why doesn’t his union with Christ make him special.

    Somewhere along the way, the church lost the original intent of Theotokos, which was to say something about Christ, and not so much to say something about Mary.

    Like

  19. The authority isn’t infallible. I’m no canon authority, but I’m pretty sure that not everything that was not officially condemned is considered orthodox. This is the game skeptics like to play – mine a quote and hold it up to scorn as “What the Catholic Church (or Lutherans or Calvinists or Bible) *really* teaches”. Doing so may be cathartic for the skeptic, but it is a terrible way to learn from a text.

    If your goal is to show that some 4th century Christians believed that Mary was sinless, congratulations. You did it! But no one in the conversation disputes that. If you are trying to make a case for the sinlessness of Mary, then the quote doesn’t help very much at all. Your authority also said that “[woman] is not the image of God; but as regards the man alone, he is the image of God as fully and completely”. To make sense of what Augustine is saying here, one needs context (textual and historical) and allow for the fact that his exegesis may simply be mistaken. He may even have changed his view over time! One might want to read Will’s biography on Augustine to get a better idea of what this snippet is all about. But of course all of that is true for your quote about Mary as well. Thus it doesn’t add anything to the conversation. It isn’t that we can’t (or shouldn’t) learn from Augustine, it is that proof-texting is not a good way to go about learning from him.

    Like

  20. Hi Steve,

    I may be wrong in how I am speaking of it, but Jesus takes his humanity from his mother. We have to defend that he was a person with a real body and a reasonable soul. As truly God, his sinlessnesss goes without saying, but as man He is also without a sin nature, so why didn’t he inherent Adam’s sin through Mary?

    Also, we speak of Mary as co-redemptress and mediatrix of all graces, because she was predestined to be the mother of God. Jesus chose her before the foundation of the world. She is the beautiful daughter of Zion.
    But she also through condign merit is able to obtain graces for us because of her own humility and charity. God used this fittingness of hers to give grace to others through her prayers. We ask for graces from God for The people we love.
    Well, because of her position as the mother of God, her prayers are the most effective.
    The prayer of a righteous person avails much.

    There is a lot to unpack in the language used, I understand, but it makes sense in the larger scheme. At first I took umbrage with the term” Our Lady of Atonement” but when I understand that it just means “being at one with” then it doesn’t offend.

    Like

  21. “If your goal is to show that some 4th century Christians believed that Mary was sinless, congratulations. You did it! But no one in the conversation disputes that.”

    Does anyone in the conversation assert that holding such a belief (or others related to Marian dogmas) entails or leads to a diminishment of Christ and his sufficiency or work? Should we be asking all the church fathers holding those wacky Christ-obscuring views of Mary (that somehow didn’t corrupt their hammering out of Christological dogmas) “why the attachment to Mary? What does her uniqueness profit the gospel or the Christian religion more generally?”

    Like

  22. Sdb,

    I completely agree that context is important. In the case that I have it, Aquinas was discussing the church’s prayer, “The Hail Mary” and so he employed it to show that Augustine believed that Mary was sinless.
    If he took it out of the larger context as Augustine meant, I don’t know.
    I assume not but I could read Augustine to find out. But you and I both agree that a much loved and respected theologian of the 3rd century spoke about sin In rehard to Mary.

    “The authority isn’t infallible. I’m no canon authority, but I’m pretty sure that not everything that was not officially condemned is considered orthodox.”

    Right, but you would think that it would be condemned rather than embraced in the church that has Canon law so as to uphold the work of the theologian.

    Like

  23. @cvd
    I’m not really interested in getting into a drawn out convo over Marian doctrine. As J noted above that is not conducive to commbox interaction. My point is very narrow. Dropping a slogan from your fave ECF is not dispositive. There are cultural, textual, and other als I’m sure. Lots of ECFS believed things that sound quite strange to our ears. That isn’t a knock on the ECFs. It is a knock on how Susan is referencing one in this instance. It is a kin to the proof texting bemoaned among prots. Quoting a bible verse isn’t going to move a conversation forward anymore than tossing out a quote from Augustine.

    Sorry to play a part in derailing what was a really interesting exchange.

    Like

  24. Quoting a bible verse isn’t going to move a conversation forward anymore than tossing out a quote from Augustine.
    predictably, and alas sdb, confirming what some conclude is some of you-guy-es belief re: the power of God

    carry on with your powerful and persuasive human words and reasoning

    Like

  25. “What does her uniqueness profit the gospel or the Christian religion more generally?””

    This is THE question really. And I don’t think you were derailing the conversation. The quotes from prominate theologians from the first few centuries are important because they are either upholding doctrines already, at least, implicitly believed and circulating about, or attacking the circulated errors.
    Augustine is promulgating an error or not. If he isn’t, then it was orthodox before him if he is the church never corrected him, but it saw fit to correct other grievous errors. So my conclusion is that the doctrine promulgated by Augustine is fully licit before God and therefore simultaneously ortho-dox.

    Like

  26. I may be wrong in how I am speaking of it, but Jesus takes his humanity from his mother. We have to defend that he was a person with a real body and a reasonable soul. As truly God, his sinlessnesss goes without saying, but as man He is also without a sin nature, so why didn’t he inherent Adam’s sin through Mary?

    Susan, what about mystery? Catholics seem high on mystery but here your mind seems so discontent that it grasps a feckless theory. I don’t know how Jesus didn’t inherit Adam’s original sin. And it seems quite a feat of philosophical gymnastics to come up with a theory that ends up saying Mary, a mere creature and daughter of men, was somehow sinless in order to preserve the sinlessness of Christ. Why not behold a mystery? It’s a lot more feasible (and easier) than the immaculate conception.

    Like

  27. Susan,

    If Mary didn’t have a sin nature, how did she not inherit it from her parents? If God could ensure Mary’s sinlessness without making her parents sinless, why in the world could he not have done it with Jesus?

    This is one of the biggest problems with the IC? Why only Mary? Why not an infinite regression back to Adam? Why is Mary all that but not Mary’s mother? She was the mother of the mother of God, after all? Why didn’t Mary’s sinlessness change her own mother?

    From this Protestant outsider, it all looks like a bunch of speculation later dressed up theologically in order to justify idolatry.

    Like

  28. Hi Steve,

    Its all a mystery, to be sure! These things don’t happen everyday, afterall!
    The incarnation itself and all that it entails is also a mystery, but Christianity seems to investigate all that can be known. That’s why doctrines about Jesus being of the same substance as the Father and the begotten Son, are articulated so well and dogmatised.
    So the early church sought what could,in truth, be said about Mary and saw how those truths effected the Christology. Or they began from the opposite direction and thereby established the Mariology.Theologians do this by listening to the scriptures( “Full of grace”, and so forth), asking what is meant.
    Whatever the case, they Christology and Mariology are most definitely interdependent. Both scripture and tradition are testimony.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Susan, well, when others “listen tot he Scriptures, asking what is meant” they don’t get co-mediatrix. But I know, The Church©.

    Like

  30. Also remember, that the Catholic Church doesn’t believe that it is just taking stabs as to whether the doctrine of the immaculate conception is true or not. So when it is countered it is actually being attacked as not being true. If it is true, then it needs defenders. Protestants weren’t willing to let it be just a mystery either. 🙂

    I haven’t heard from Darryl today.

    Hope you are well, Darryl!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Welp, regardless of the justification and intent it was always telling that the petitions were 10 to 1(see the rosary). It was more Jesus as the co-redeemer.

    Like

  32. Quoting a bible verse isn’t going to move a conversation forward anymore than tossing out a quote from Augustine.
    predictably, and alas sdb, confirming what some conclude is some of you-guy-es belief re: the power of God

    carry on with your powerful and persuasive human words and reasoning

    In English please? It almost sounds to me as you are claiming that the scriptures can never be misused. Am I misreading you? If not, perhaps you’ll recall that Satan was pretty good at quoting scripture. Pointing out that tossing out a bible verse to sanctify your opinion is not a good use of God’s Holy word is not a rejection of the power of God. It is reverence for his word.

    Like

  33. Susan, Prots are willing to let the question of how Jesus doesn’t inherit Adam’s sin remain answered by holy writ:

    Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

    But if you need “how can that be?” answered so badly then like Robert said you can’t just stop at the immaculate conception. You have to keep going. Whirl away if you must–some of us will be over here enjoying the sympathy.

    Like

  34. Hi Steve,

    “But if you need “how can that be?” answered so badly then like Robert said you can’t just stop at the immaculate conception. You have to keep going. Whirl away if you must–some of us will be over here enjoying the sympathy.”

    From what I understand, all the Marian doctrines hang together. To deny one would make the others fall apart. So all that is positively spoken of Mary have to be true. And again, it all finds support in scripture.
    It’s a beautiful tapestry.

    Today, I was listening to a podcast that showed how the story of three protagonists in Genesis( the serpent, the woman and her seed) are not spoken of as being together again until Revelation chapter 12. This time the serpent is called the devil and a forth protagonist is added( the woman’s other children). The woman receives a crown and honor.

    The church teaches that the woman in both the beginning of scripture and at the end, to be Mary, the New Eve and The Ark of the New Covenant.

    You have to admit it’s some very beautiful imagery and lends itself to a fully Catholic interpretation.
    Plus,( no boasting, for it belongs to you too) the early church supports( Tradition) it.
    Even if I weren’t Catholic, I’d want to know more.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Clete, I lived it. The training got through. Mary is the go to mediator. She’s most sympathetic with our plight, particularly for the women folk. Lots of bypassing of Jesus’ mediation for Mary’s and the saints. Ratzinger is praying to her right now. I just did two decades of the rosary in my mind, I’ve always been quick. I even heard a priest scold his parishioners for neglecting Jesus’ mediation in favor of Mary’s. It’s a problem.

    Like

  36. Sdb : In English please?

    ok…….

    -DG asked some stuff (see below*)
    -some Catholics added some significant speculations (see below*)
    -only Scripture can answers it (see Zrim & Robert below*) .
    -You say you are “not interested in a drawn out convo over Marian doctrine” (even though that’s the post’s topic) but you think ‘this is a really interesting exchange’ though going nowhere in terms of biblical warrant.

    Appeal to you: please don’t diminish the authority and sufficiency of the living and enduring word of God

    *the see belows summaries:
    -DG asks: what to do about Mary.. this implies that some persons can have a different relationship with God…aren’t all believers united to Christ?.. … if Longenecker really does affirm that Christ’s work was sufficient in and of itself, why the attachment to Mary?… What does her uniqueness profit the gospel or the Christian religion more generally?

    -Justin J speculation: Mary partakes of the God’s Divine Nature in some special, unique way.

    -Susan speculation: Mary deserved special merit because of her humility/charity/being God’s mother, therefore is able obtain graces for people by her prayers- and her prayers are the most effective of anyone, ever.

    Zrim says: Prots need biblical warrant and argumentation;
    Robert says: there’s no explicit biblical support ; no evidence from Scripture

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Ali,

    I would have preferred to stay out, but . . .

    “-Justin J speculation: Mary partakes of the God’s Divine Nature in some special, unique way.”
    ***This is not speculation, Ali. This is prima facie evidence. Who else gave birth to God? Who else had the Uncontainable contained inside of her. Good Lord, man, THINK!!!! (I think that’s the phrase in these parts). Something happened. That cosmic sh*t got real, yo. I don’t know what else to tell you if your brain can only process what Scripture explicitly states. There are ramifications. That’s not a very effective use of your rational faculty, Ali. The Catholic faith may overreach in Her meditations, but at least she’s meditating and thinking on the fact that God became man. God became Man, Ali!!! A scandal to Jews and foolishness to Helenes. That’s something. THINK!!!

    Like

  38. Ali,

    We all have a part to play. God’s plan includes our cooperation.
    Mary told the servants at the wedding feast of Cana to do whatever Jesus told them to do. It all happened because of her intercession.She seems to have sped up the coming of “His hour”( his passion and death) He goes ahead and does what she asked, demonstrating that he is a good son who obeys his mom.he knows the mind of her son and so only prays for us according to what Jesus wants. And so she still intercedes for all of her offspring( see Rev. 12)

    Like

  39. -You say you are “not interested in a drawn out convo over Marian doctrine” (even though that’s the post’s topic) but you think ‘this is a really interesting exchange’ though going nowhere in terms of biblical warrant.

    Ali, my humblest apologies. I see I wasn’t clear. I meant that I was enjoying the learned exchange among “the new set of interlocutors [that] has emerged of late”. I’m not interested in rehashing the same ground with Susan and cvd on this topic. We’ve been over it enough that I doubt another 1000 comment thread is going to be productive. I’m very interested in the exchange among the new interlocutors.

    Appeal to you: please don’t diminish the authority and sufficiency of the living and enduring word of God

    Well there are a lot of ways to diminish the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. One is to misuse it by ripping texts out of context to support your priors and then claim biblical warrant or to think tossing out a verse somehow settles an issue. The example we see in scripture over and over is that God appoints teachers to explain and apply his word. We see this in Ex 18, Deut 6, Neh 8, Lk24, and Acts 8 to name a few diverse examples. It is not enough to restate scripture, it requires interpretation and explanation. Disparaging the means that God has appointed is unwise.

    As far as historical quotes go. I’m surprised anyone would defend the Barton approach to historic (or scriptual) exegesis.

    Like

  40. Justin, I’m not okay with the ramifications. Surprise.

    Her “yes” is good. The Magnificat is better. All about humility and trust in God.

    What I’m not sure about is how Mary becoming divine by carrying our Lord is a Christological issue. Yes, this is a commbox. So you can’t work it out here. But on the surface it seems to say more about human nature and sanctification than it does about Christ being God and man. No need to expand on your part. It does seem foreign in the Reformed parsing of the virgin birth.

    Like

  41. James Young, “Does anyone in the conversation assert that holding such a belief (or others related to Marian dogmas) entails or leads to a diminishment of Christ and his sufficiency or work?”

    Yes.

    Like

  42. Susan, “The quotes from prominate theologians from the first few centuries are important because they are either upholding doctrines already, at least, implicitly believed and circulating about, or attacking the circulated errors.”

    Then why are Paul and PETER so silent about Mary? Why is the New Testament so devoid of Marian “dogma”? Doesn’t the Word of God or the deposit of the apostles count for anything? Heavens to murgatorid.

    Like

  43. Justin J says. There are ramifications. God became man. God became Man, Ali!!!

    well, encouraging your triple exclamation seems to be about GOD (I think) ; so always be THINKing JESUS, Justin.
    And perhaps like Paul “determine to know nothing except JESUS CHRIST and Him crucified.”

    Susan say: (Mary) knows the mind of her son and so only prays for us according to what Jesus wants. And so she still intercedes for all of her offspring( see Rev. 12)

    and Susan, you too always be THINKing JESUS – who died, and more than that was raised to life, and is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us Rom 8:34 ; and always be THINKing God the Holy Spirit … for the Spirit Himself intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:25-26

    Like

  44. sdb says: Well there are a lot of ways to diminish the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. One is to misuse it by ripping texts out of context to support your priors and then claim biblical warrant or to think tossing out a verse somehow settles an issue. The example we see in scripture over and over is that God appoints teachers to explain and apply his word. We see this in Ex 18, Deut 6, Neh 8, Lk24, and Acts 8 to name a few diverse examples. It is not enough to restate scripture, it requires interpretation and explanation. Disparaging the means that God has appointed is unwise.

    And implying that one is doing that that when they haven’t would be slander, sdb.

    I am glad you are so fervent about it – perhaps you could care and join in the battle and become a great advocate about that – maybe ramp up your zeal -and prayer – for shepherds after God’s own heart who will feed their sheep on knowledge and understanding, not starving nor under nourishing their flock, which is such a tragedy to see, when it happens.

    And it is not a conflict at all to also pray for the whole church body to be equipped in the word -when seeing that though by this time many ought to be teachers, many have need again for someone to teach the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and have come to need milk and not solid food. Heb 5:12

    And btw, it is perfectly acceptable ‘to just state scripture’ in some cases, as discerned,and the Spirit does HIs work, and even called for in some cases by Jesus’s example…. “And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’ and, ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”…..And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” ( Luke 4:9-12) period. over.

    Like

  45. Darryl,

    I’m just trying to be a minimalist here in this discussion. It’s good we can both affirm her being Theotokos; that is a Christological formulation.

    “Her “yes” is good. The Magnificat is better. All about humility and trust in God.”
    ***I don’t follow this logic. Help me. The Magnificat is an expression and demonstration of her humility and a wonderful model for believers. Her “yes” willfully, and humbly I should add, offered to God our humanity. This was a universal gesture that brought all of humanity into a relationship with God. Her “yes” brought forth the Incarnation and made possible the Crucifixion and Resurrection. And I’m assuming you do see how this universal, humble gesture on her part was intercessory for us, yes? Again, I mean this is a most minimalist way. I’m trying to gauge how far we can go in expressions of gratitude. I’m not trying to score any Mary points here.

    “What I’m not sure about is how Mary becoming divine by carrying our Lord is a Christological issue. . . . But on the surface it seems to say more about human nature and sanctification than it does about Christ being God and man.”
    ***If she’s carrying Christ and is united to him (as mothers are with children), and if Christ is a Divine Person uniting human and divine natures, I’m not sure how else we can see Mary than as one who is a partaker of a divine nature. And if she is, then whatever gloss your tradition has on that verse would seem to be applicable here. So her partaking of the divine nature isn’t a Christological issue (at least I won’t make it one), but her partaking of the divine nature is an effect by dint of her being the Theotokos. Ultimately, Darryl, my point here was simply to give you another narrative of her sinlessness that doesn’t rely on the Immaculate Conception. I don’t know if you can get there because you and Rome both ascribe to a similar anthropology based on a sinful/guilty nature. So I’m the odd man out here.

    So watch what Robert does: “f we draw the natural analogy, it is the humanity of the child that changes the mother, so I see little warrant to believe that carrying Jesus changed Mary ontologically in any other way different than my mother carrying me changed her ontologically. To say otherwise would seem to confuse the divine and human natures.”
    ***Robert separates the divine nature from the human nature in a way that is echoic of Nestorianism. If we take Robert’s thinking to its logical conclusion, Mary become the Christotokos, Nestorius’ formulation. Mary didn’t bear his human nature; she bore the Divine Person.

    Again, I’m glad we can agree that she’s the Theotokos.

    Like

  46. Sorry, Darryl, I didn’t finish my thought here: ““What I’m not sure about is how Mary becoming divine by carrying our Lord is a Christological issue. . . . But on the surface it seems to say more about human nature and sanctification than it does about Christ being God and man.”
    ***I’m assuming that for you salvation/justification is a Christological issue, isn’t it (I really don’t know)? If salvation is a Christological issue (which it was in the Ecumenical Councils, for if Christ was not fully divine, then we had no salvation; or if Christ didn’t not fully share in our human nature, then we had no salvation), I don’t see how sanctification wouldn’t be a Christological issue. Again, my not understanding of your position is most likely due to ignorance or perhaps just sheer stupidity on my part. Christological issues were never really about Christ qua Christ but about our salvation. So this is where I’m coming from.

    Like

  47. “We all have a part to play. God’s plan includes our cooperation.
    Mary told the servants at the wedding feast of Cana to do whatever Jesus told them to do. It all happened because of her intercession.She seems to have sped up the coming of “His hour”( his passion and death) He goes ahead and does what she asked, demonstrating that he is a good son who obeys his mom.he knows the mind of her son and so only prays for us according to what Jesus wants. And so she still intercedes for all of her offspring( see Rev. 12)”

    Sorry, Sue — this can only strike a protestant as superstitious idolatry. Forget commandments 3-10, you papists are so busy violating one and two I’m not sure you even need to bother with the rest. Have mercy.

    Like

  48. Justin,

    So watch what Robert does: “f we draw the natural analogy, it is the humanity of the child that changes the mother, so I see little warrant to believe that carrying Jesus changed Mary ontologically in any other way different than my mother carrying me changed her ontologically. To say otherwise would seem to confuse the divine and human natures.”
    ***Robert separates the divine nature from the human nature in a way that is echoic of Nestorianism. If we take Robert’s thinking to its logical conclusion, Mary become the Christotokos, Nestorius’ formulation. Mary didn’t bear his human nature; she bore the Divine Person.

    Sorry, but this is a no go. First of all, I affirm that the two natures are united in the one divine person of the Son of God. But further, per Chalcedon, each nature retains its own attributes and there is not a mixture whereby some attributes are communicated to the other nature. The attributes are predicated of the person.

    So, you made the analogy of Christ changing His mother in some way so as to make her sinless because we know that babies in utero effect some change on their mothers. But that analogy would require Christ’s blood to be more than human, which would make Him not truly human and thus unable to save us. It is the blood of the Son of God, but it is still just blood. The divine nature doesn’t communicate to it some quasi-mystical nature that sanctifies us. If it did, Jesus could have saved us with a blood transfusion. The man whose eyes Jesus healed with spittle would have been redeemed just like that if the humanity of Jesus can do what your analogy requires it to do. Perhaps that was not your intent, but the analogy as it exists can’t work without confusing the two natures, at least insofar as I understand what happens to mothers when they are pregnant.

    So yes, Mary bore the divine person of the Son of God, but that doesn’t mean the physical, transformative linkage between them, which all mothers and babies have, did anything to her.

    Like

  49. Susan,

    We all have a part to play. God’s plan includes our cooperation.
    Mary told the servants at the wedding feast of Cana to do whatever Jesus told them to do. It all happened because of her intercession.She seems to have sped up the coming of “His hour”( his passion and death) He goes ahead and does what she asked, demonstrating that he is a good son who obeys his mom.he knows the mind of her son and so only prays for us according to what Jesus wants. And so she still intercedes for all of her offspring( see Rev. 12)

    This is an example of exegesis done post facto to justify a doctrine, which is one of the major hermeneutical problems of Roman Catholicism. The church decrees something as dogma that people are practicing and then looks for justification for it instead of first considering whether the practice has exegetical warrant.

    This is a very poor example of proof of Mary’s intercession. First, even if it were an example of that, Mary isn’t in heaven at this point and people aren’t praying to her. Second, the people don’t come to Mary hoping that she will approach Jesus in her behalf. Third, there is no indication that the servants approached Mary at all. If you read verses 1–3, it is as if Mary just notices that the wine is gone. There is no servant coming to Mary asking her to solve the problem. Fourth, neither John nor Jesus attribute Jesus’ miracle to Mary’s intercession.

    And how you get intercession at all out of Rev. 12 is beyond me. There’s nothing in there about the woman, if she is Mary, doing anything other than giving birth and then running/flying away.

    Like

  50. Hey, Robert and all,

    What’s your take on Jesus’ first miracle. Why does Mary day ” they have no wine”?
    It happened on the 3rd day. Third day from what? What was the significance of the event? Can’t you see how Jesus being present elevates marriage to a sacrament?
    What is Jesus’ “hour”? Why did the steward at the wedding say that the best wine was given last?
    I don’t know, but to me, We better be able to read like a learned Jew to make sense of all this.
    I agree with Catholic theologians here. Seems wise and ( no offense) more than I got before. That’s not your fault though, so again, no offense. Just running questions and thoughts by ya:).
    Life is a journey.

    Take care,
    Susan

    Like

  51. Susan,

    What’s your take on Jesus’ first miracle. Why does Mary day ” they have no wine”?

    Because she was at the party and noticed the wine ran out. Why must it be anything more significant that that. It would be like me at a wedding where they had a set number of bottles of wine noticing that they were all empty.

    It happened on the 3rd day. Third day from what?

    From the beginning of the wedding feast? What else could it be?

    What was the significance of the event?

    Two people were getting married. That’s pretty significant. Other than that, it is the site of Jesus’ first public miracle.

    Can’t you see how Jesus being present elevates marriage to a sacrament?

    If Jesus’ presence makes marriage a sacrament, then why does his presence at various meals with his disciples not make every single meal we eat a sacrament? Why does it not make our conversations with sinners sacraments? Jesus spoke to a lot of sinners. The disciples had to stop and sleep and Jesus was present. Why does that not make sleep a sacrament.

    I submit that you aren’t looking at the text to figure out what it says. You have accepted RC dogma and now are looking for biblical justification. This what Rome does. There is a rather famous quote that the task of RC theologians is not to establish theology but to mine the church fathers and Scripture to justify the theology already established. Talk about presuppositionalism with a vengeance.

    What is Jesus’ “hour”?

    The hour of his public revelation as the Messiah or the hour of the start of his ministry or something like that.

    Why did the steward at the wedding say that the best wine was given last?

    Because the wine that Jesus made was better and it was given last. Why does it have to mean anything more than that?

    Like

  52. CW,

    “Sorry, Sue — this can only strike a protestant as superstitious idolatry. Forget commandments 3-10, you papists are so busy violating one and two I’m not sure you even need to bother with the rest. Have mercy”

    Well it would be idoltry if scripture and tradition didn’t show the way; that a reverence for Our Lady is highly important to the family life of the church.
    And it would be superstitious( occult eben) if I thought it up myself believing in supernatural powers in inanimate things.
    Revealed religion is the only escape from the elemental powers of this world.

    I lot a candle for ya, CW.😉

    Like

  53. Justin, again, I think you overread Mary. What evidence (sorry to sound so modern and Protestant) do you have for asserting that Mary’s yes offered to God “our humanity.” All of humanity? The coming of Jesus was still very much a Jewish event. Plus, we so no language of a covenant with Mary, or that she was acting as a representative or mediator like Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses. It’s a theory, a speculative one. But by now you know we Protestants (except for the Dutch ones) don’t do philosophy.

    I see about sinlessness and IC. But your rendering raises the issue of theosis, which is another indication of how you pull one thread and lots follow.

    Where I might differ from Robert and from you is that I see the mother child relationship as one where the former stamps the ladder. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. So that would elevate Mary above Jesus.

    I don’t see why Mary needs to be all that special. She is a vessel (sorry if that offends). The prophets and apostles were vessels for the inspired and infallible word of God, Christ inscripturated. We don’t pretend that the natures of the apostles and prophets changed.

    Like

  54. Justin J, I have to punt on the relationship between justification and Christology. Obviously, for the righteousness of Christ to be useful, he needed to obey all the demands of the law and submit to death both in his human and divine natures. I understand how some might debate the relation of the divine and human in Christ’s obedience. But I’m not going to pretend to know.

    Like

  55. Susan, so what’s your take on Jesus saying his followers are his brothers and sisters and that his followers need to give up their families? You only cite stuff that’s conveeeeeeenient.

    “Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.’ But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’” [Luke 8:19-21].)

    Like

  56. Robert,

    Why do you say such nonsensical things to me? I’m not going backwards looking for justification to be Catholic. I began reading Catholic theologians first and doing so led me to the Catholic Church.
    The scriptures were being opened to me. You don’t see more going on in that story because you aren’t reading it with the church.
    I also believe a serpent and a donkey talked, and that Elijah was translated out of here in a chariot of fire, never tasting death.
    I’m pleased to not be doomed to historical critical understanding.

    Like

  57. Hi Darryl,

    “Susan, so what’s your take on Jesus saying his followers are his brothers and sisters and that his followers need to give up their families? You only cite stuff that’s conveeeeeeenient.

    “Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.’ But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’” [Luke 8:19-21].)”

    Materially speaking, a lot was at stake when I” swam the Tiber”, but convenience was never a desire, nor was it an option( I can handle the truth; plus I knew that scripture couldn’t contradict).
    I just wanted it told to me as it was. The truth is liberating, but it’s costly.

    It’s imposible that Jesus is rebuking his mom and his family. He’s using a teachable moment to say that all who come to Him( in faith) are His family.
    Mary is chief in the order of faith. It was afterall, Mary who have to God her fiat.

    But, if you really want to dig deep, you can find a good commentary from the ECF’s

    Like

  58. Oy Vey, sacred tradition that develops and changes but without rupture, according to Ratzinger, at least in theory, though he left no hermeneutical grid to make it so, just an exhortation, while he himself cherry-picked through the higher critical method. And now Francis and Kasper with a shout out to Kung. Pretty sure Kasper and Kung are good with rupture and Francis is gonna pastorally apply the dogma into oblivion. #VatIIeverythingtheconvertsmissed #Rahner

    Like

  59. Darryl,

    “What evidence (sorry to sound so modern and Protestant) do you have for asserting that Mary’s yes offered to God “our humanity.” All of humanity?”
    ***Perhaps the sloppiness of my language is at fault here. More precisely, she offered to him our human nature. Whence did Christ get His human nature? I’m assuming from Mary. His Divine Nature He shares with His Father. I honestly don’t see how I’m overreading this (ignore the theosis/partaker of divine nature stuff). If he has a human nature, he got it from a human, right?

    “I have to punt on the relationship between justification and Christology.”
    ***Fair enough.

    ” I understand how some might debate the relation of the divine and human in Christ’s obedience. But I’m not going to pretend to know.”
    ***This is in large part what the monothelite controversy was about (6th Ecumenical council). In short, the council ruled that Christ had two wills–Divine and human (as will is a faculty of nature)–and that each interpenetrated the other (perichoresis) just as his two natures interpenetrated one another without either one losing anything.

    Like

  60. Susan,

    Why do you say such nonsensical things to me? I’m not going backwards looking for justification to be Catholic. I began reading Catholic theologians first and doing so led me to the Catholic Church.

    I’m saying you are first accepting RC dogma on Mary’s intercession and now going backward to justify it biblically.

    The scriptures were being opened to me. You don’t see more going on in that story because you aren’t reading it with the church.

    I don’t see more going on with Mary in the story because the story doesn’t even put the focus on her. And frankly, the NT doesn’t care all that much about her. She’s absent for some 80 percent of it, and I think I’m being generous in giving you 20 percent.

    Was she privileged to be the mother of Jesus. Sure. Does that give her any special intercessory powers? No evidence for that at all. Go back to what I said about John 2 and the fact that the servants don’t come to Mary and don’t ask her to do anything for them.

    I also believe a serpent and a donkey talked, and that Elijah was translated out of here in a chariot of fire, never tasting death.

    As do I.

    I’m pleased to not be doomed to historical critical understanding.

    I’m not sure what this means. First, historical critical understanding is what is going to give you that a serpent and a donkey talked. Go all allegorizing on it and you can actually allegorize those details conveniently out of it. It’s what secular liberals do. They make such things mere symbols.

    Like

  61. Robert,

    I have a feeling that the Reformed have a slightly different Christological gloss here than a classical Alexandrian one. You seem to eschew any sense of the communicatio idiomatum, which I have always assumed in any Christological discussion. It appears you do not and still claim Chalcedon. Fascinating. So the Reformed seem to have taken a more Antiochene-like approach to Christology even though Alexandrian Christology (what I espouse) language stood as fundamental for 4-6 Ecumenical Councils. Because you allow for no perichoresis in your Christology, it appears as being quasi-Nestorian. But perhaps it is not. Thanks for having patience with me.

    I think you’d enjoy John McGuckin’s, _Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy_ (SVS Press, 2004). It’s a really excellent study. And if you have any Reformed studies on Christology I ought to read, please send them my way.

    Like

  62. Thanks, Justin,

    The typical Reformed understanding of the communication idiomatum is that the properties of each nature are communicated to the person, not to the other nature. That is to preserve the true humanity and true deity of each nature.

    From the Reformed side, Donald Fairbairn has done a lot on Christology, especially with Cyril of Alexandria. McGuckin’s book is on my radar and to-read list. For what it is worth, I have a friend who uses that text when he teaches a class on Christology for a local Reformed school. His opinion is that the communication of the properties to the person is essentially what Cyril advocated.

    Like

  63. Robert,

    Thanks.
    “The typical Reformed understanding of the communication idiomatum is that the properties of each nature are communicated to the person, not to the other nature.”
    ***This is close to my position as well, but there’s some slippage going on here. It seems that you’re formulating it in such a way that there is a P (person) and then also N (nature) and an N (nature) almost distinct from P. For me, P=N+N. There is no P without N+N. N does not change N (or else we become monophysites); rather N is interpenetrated by N but not changed by it and thus P. The classic metaphor used is when a knife is heated. There’s a coinhering (again, perichoresis, interpentration) going on so that the cut burns and the burn cuts. This is why Cyril (and others) liked to say that Christ suffered impassibly: in His Divine Person one finds the two natures interpenetrating each other but not so that His divine nature experienced suffering. Cyril loved formulating things in paradoxes, and this drove Nestorius nuts; he thought he was just being a sloppy theologian.

    So I think you I and I can both affirm that God suffered–not God a la nature but according to person (and Christ is a divine person). Could we (I could, as did Cyril) go so far as to say God died (again according to His Divine person). This was a no-no for Nestorius.

    This is very helpful to me, Robert. Thank you. Just this brief exchange has helped illumine other conversations that I have had here so that I can see where the differences really lie. I’m going to look into Fairbairn.

    Like

  64. Susan, I meant your use of Scripture was convenient. So is your saying it’s impossible Jesus rebukes his mother. He seems to rebuke a lot of people. THINK Matt 24.

    Like

  65. Justin, but Mary got her human nature from God. That’s why Reformed put the theo in theocentric.

    Not trying to be flip, but I still think your analogy makes the apostles (inspired by the Spirit) into God bearers (the incarnate Word). Or it over reads Mary. Then again, I’m not the philosophical type. I’m American I am.

    Like

  66. Justin, what follows is the Confession of Faith on Christ. I include only for you to see if you can read Alexandria or Antioch from it. The first four graphs are likely most germane, but I copy the entire chapter:

    1. It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.

    2. The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.

    3. The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure, having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a mediator, and surety. Which office he took not unto himself, but was thereunto called by his Father, who put all power and judgment into his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.

    4. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake; which that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died, was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered, with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, making intercession, and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.

    5. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

    6. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.

    7. Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.

    8. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

    I’m curious what you may regard as its deficiencies (from your EO perspective).

    Like

  67. “but Mary got her human nature from God.”
    ***But that’s one small step from a doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Her nature is no different from mine or Adam’s. And Mary took her human nature from her parents, who ultimately took it (a la Gospel of Luke) from Adam. Yes? And so Mary shares a human nature with Adam. So we agree here, I think. And still Christ took his human nature directly from Mary, dna and all, yes? Adam did not bear God. Paul did not bear God. Mary, as you said, bore God. I honestly don’t know what’s a stake for you in this. She contained, as a vessel just as you said (no offense taken; in fact, this is common liturgical language for the Theotokos), even as an Ark (for the new Law), the uncircumscribable God. So through her “yes,” she offered her human nature (from Adam) back to God. She did this. And because we all share this nature, she interceded for us (even those in the past) through obedience and humility.

    “but I still think your analogy makes the apostles (inspired by the Spirit) into God bearers (the incarnate Word).”
    ***I think you’re equivocating on bearer/tokos here, which means literally to bring forth or to give birth. That’s why she’s called the theotokos. I’m not quite following how I’m doing that with the Apostles. But I’m slow on the uptake.

    Like

  68. Thanks for the quotation, Darryl.
    “So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.”
    ***I’m not seeing anything that raises a red flag here in this statement. Seem commensurate with the Alexandrians. I’m actually shocked how Orthodox these statements are, but that could be because I’m reading it through my Orthodox lens.

    Here’s a hiccup; I need some clarity:
    “Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.”
    ***Can you give me a specific example of this principle?
    “Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself;”
    ***This statement is fine.
    “attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.”
    ***I’m not sure what this means. It sounds like there are two persons being spoken of here. What’s going on?

    Like

  69. Justin, what’s at stake are two things that are crucial to Reformed soteriology. One, this elevates a human in salvation when we put our trust in God alone. Yes, Jesus was human (and divine). But giving Mary such stature detracts from her son (and she apparently didn’t want that to happen).

    Second, you attribute to Mary (it seems) a status that we typically reserve for the first and second Adams (sorry ladies). Her offering becomes representative of the whole human race. The two covenant scheme of Covenant of Works (Adam) and Covenant of Grace (Christ) doesn’t leave room for another representative.

    So the question is soteriological (as I’m sure it is for you) and where we agree to disagree (I suppose).

    Like

  70. Justin, the hiccups come from what I understand the Reformed effort to do full justice to both natures, and that is responsible for the allegation of Nestorianism (which I guess goes back to Antioch).

    Look, can’t we talk about some European cities like Heidelberg and Edinburgh?

    Like

  71. Let’s keep one thing in mind: I’m really just trying to find a minimalist Marian language that does not transgress your soteriological concerns. You and I both agree that God alone saves, and that He saves through grace alone. After these two, we probably part ways.
    “One, this elevates a human in salvation when we put our trust in God alone.”
    ***How does Mary’s obedience in agreeing to the Incarnation do this? I don’t understand. She is being humble and obedient to God. Her obedience in doing God’s will brought our Savior into the world. God desired to become man, the Theotokos willingly obeyed. I would think that this is simply descriptive of the fact of the Gospel. I’m not arguing that now one must perpetually turn to the Theotokos for intercession. I’m simply pointing out what I take as a mere fact: her obedience to God’s desire procured for us salvation. Full stop. No more intercession, no veneration. This could be a one-time thing.

    “But giving Mary such stature detracts from her son (and she apparently didn’t want that to happen).”
    ***I agree fully with this. She’s not divine. At the same time, “ye are gods, sons of the most high,” not of our own doing but from God alone, through adoption.

    “Her offering becomes representative of the whole human race. The two covenant scheme of Covenant of Works (Adam) and Covenant of Grace (Christ) doesn’t leave room for another representative.”
    ***I’d have to know more about the two covenant scheme before I could do anything here. I guess my only question is this: is there some way within the two covenant scheme to acknowledge Mary’s role in being obedient to God in agreeing to be the Theotokos? Obviously, the language of offering is off-the-table. I guess I’m just not seeing how the fruits of her obedience isn’t inherently passed onto us. I know that the fruit of Adam (and Eve’s) disobedience was. And I know the fruit of the New Adam’s obedience was passed on to us. But the New Adam sprung forth from Mary’s obedience. No “yes” from Mary, no Christ. Does this simple admission about her role, and I think born out of simple logic, really undo or violate the two covenant scheme?

    Like

  72. Justin,

    Does this simple admission about her role, and I think born out of simple logic, really undo or violate the two covenant scheme?

    For what it is worth, I don’t think this violates Reformed concerns as long as we are clear that God chose Mary before the foundation of the world and that His grace effectually guaranteed her obedience. Any notion of cooperation in which Mary could have finally resisted the Lord’s call but thankfully she didn’t because her libertarian free will chose otherwise would be off limits from a Reformed perspective. In other words, we can’t speak as if God’s entire plan of salvation hinged on Mary’s decision, which is the sense that often comes across at least when I’ve read lay Roman Catholics on the subject. We also can’t speak of Mary’s choice having merit that contributes to our salvation, but I understand that you Eastern Orthodox don’t typically speak of salvation in terms of merit like we do in the West, so I don’t think its a concern in this discussion.

    Like

  73. @Justin J,
    Very interesting stuff. I’m wondering if you might clarify a few points…

    If she’s carrying Christ and is united to him (as mothers are with children), and if Christ is a Divine Person uniting human and divine natures, I’m not sure how else we can see Mary than as one who is a partaker of a divine nature. And if she is, then whatever gloss your tradition has on that verse would seem to be applicable here. So her partaking of the divine nature isn’t a Christological issue (at least I won’t make it one), but her partaking of the divine nature is an effect by dint of her being the Theotokos. Ultimately, Darryl, my point here was simply to give you another narrative of her sinlessness that doesn’t rely on the Immaculate Conception. I don’t know if you can get there because you and Rome both ascribe to a similar anthropology based on a sinful/guilty nature. So I’m the odd man out here.

    So watch what Robert does: “f we draw the natural analogy, it is the humanity of the child that changes the mother, so I see little warrant to believe that carrying Jesus changed Mary ontologically in any other way different than my mother carrying me changed her ontologically. To say otherwise would seem to confuse the divine and human natures.”
    ***Robert separates the divine nature from the human nature in a way that is echoic of Nestorianism. If we take Robert’s thinking to its logical conclusion, Mary become the Christotokos, Nestorius’ formulation. Mary didn’t bear his human nature; she bore the Divine Person.

    I’m not sure I’m following here. First, it isn’t clear to me by what you mean by mothers being united to children. I presume you mean more than the emotional attachment moms have for that little guy in them and much more than the umbilical cord providing nutrients. But I’m not exactly sure what.

    Secondly, my mom bore me and all of my attributes…those I inherited from her and those I inherited from my dad. While there is a connection to me, I don’t see that she shares in all of my attributes. Pushing this forward to Jesus and Mary – I don’t see why the fact that Mary bore Christ in his full humanity and divinity entails that she needed to be sinless. Even if you have in mind some kind of spiritual union (which I believe all believers have with Christ), I don’t see how that entails sinlessness. I think I’m missing something about what you mean by “united”.

    Her nature is no different from mine or Adam’s. And Mary took her human nature from her parents, who ultimately took it (a la Gospel of Luke) from Adam. Yes? And so Mary shares a human nature with Adam. So we agree here, I think. And still Christ took his human nature directly from Mary, dna and all, yes?

    Did Jesus get his Y-Chromosone from Mary as well? Kidding… More seriously though, I do wonder about this chain of reasoning. If having a human parent is so crucial to having a human nature and we (and Mary) share a human nature with Adam, where did Adam’s human nature come from? I’m not following why Mary’s role is so crucial following this line of thought. It seems to me that Mary’s role is more than just supplying a human nature. Am I missing something obvious here?

    She is being humble and obedient to God. Her obedience in doing God’s will brought our Savior into the world. God desired to become man, the Theotokos willingly obeyed. I would think that this is simply descriptive of the fact of the Gospel. I’m not arguing that now one must perpetually turn to the Theotokos for intercession. I’m simply pointing out what I take as a mere fact: her obedience to God’s desire procured for us salvation.

    But isn’t that true for everyone in the chain from Adam to Mary? Why is Mary’s yes more significant than Abraham’s or Isaac’s? They certainly weren’t sinless. If the answer is that God could have moved onto a different line, couldn’t the same be said for Mary?

    Like

  74. I’m going to interrupt to give an internet hug to Ali.

    It’s my opinion that Justin was too harsh on her, and she hasn’t spoken since the rebuke happened.
    The men here are arguing against clearly defined dogmas and are still being given more respect and latitude than she.
    She , apparently, ( sorry if I’m wrong Ali!) isn’t informed about the counsels or the creeds, while the antidicomarianite men here are informed, yet they get to speculate. Sheesh!

    Like

  75. Ali,

    I din’t know you were a woman. If I had known that, I would not have spoken so harshly. I thought you were one of the guys here who enjoys throwing sharp elbows. That’s the spirit in which my comment was made. Please accept my apologies.

    Thanks, Susan, for bringing this to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  76. Robert,

    A couple of thoughts.

    “I don’t think this violates Reformed concerns as long as we are clear that God chose Mary before the foundation of the world and that His grace effectually guaranteed her obedience.”
    ***OK, this is precisely what I was wondering.

    “Any notion of cooperation in which Mary could have finally resisted the Lord’s call but thankfully she didn’t because her libertarian free will chose otherwise would be off limits from a Reformed perspective.”
    ***I’ve been assuming a wholly monenergistic framework from your perspective. This confirms it. It seems to be that the avoidance of any Marian narrative from the Reformed tradition really is in direct response to Rome’s various formulations. Just as God willed Adam to transgress (as I understand the Institutes [23.4 or 5ish?], for example), why could this not also be true of Mary’s obedience, but in a non-representative way unlike with Adam? So then she’d have a part in salvation history more exalted than say Jeremiah (which I think is true) but would not have the status of Adam or Christ. Her elevated status (not everyone in Scriptural history is equal) would simply be because of her motherhood of Christ (though I think other things follow from her being Theotokos).

    Again, very helpful, Robert.

    Like

  77. Justin,

    I am a convert to the RCC since 2012. I was warned by another woman convert of the”Orthodox Jerks” ( who has lots of EO friends) out there. 🙂 I haven’t met one yet!
    Thanks for not being an EO jerk!
    I think all of the gentlemanly ways of the EO men is because of their love of the Theotokos;)

    Like

  78. Susan,

    I’m not interested in apologetics. There really is so much to unravel that it all seems rather useless. But I do like seeing what various theological narratives have in common (and where they differ). Darryl is great because he pulls no punches and won’t go along to get along. I like that. Sean is insightful because he’s been Catholic and he’s smart. He also likes discussion and not necessarily debate/apologetics. My dialogue with Robert has been really beneficial. I find his observation regarding pre-destination + Mary very helpful. I would think that his position would give Catholics and Reformed space for discussion (not about her sinlessness but about her role in salvation).

    The Orthodox can be intolerable asses. I dislike most of them I run into online.

    I’m respectful of women because the women of my youth would beat me if I weren’t.

    Like

  79. Justin,

    You’re a good man. I care about all of the guys here and am concerned though about the lack of shared foundations. What can you do when a revealed truth is no longer believed on the authority of God? I’m all for finding out the why this or that theological truth, but when things established at councils are up for grabs, then anything goes.
    Anyways, glad you’re around.

    Like

  80. Justin, you do agree that Mary has been exalted among all the saints, right? I mean, who talks about Joseph the father or what his “yes” but staying with Mary? If you pray to Mary (make statues or icons), you’ve elevated her and distracted from Christ (conceivably).

    What I struggle with as well is the idea that there was some suspense of whether Mary would be obedient, akin to the serpent’s temptation of Eve, or Satan’s temptation of Christ. “What will happen? The history of redemption hangs in the balance. Eeegads!!”

    I know you’re the lit guy, but Luke 1 just doesn’t read all that dramatically (and it seems like pretty much a done deal):

    Birth of Jesus Foretold

    In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

    And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

    And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 ESV)

    It’s an angel. He’s reassuring (no threats). And he’s not asking for assent. It’s a done deal. Mary already found favor before she said “let it be.” Though Mary does sound a tad modern in wondering how she’s going to conceive a king not because she doesn’t know the genealogy but because she knows birds and bees.

    So I return to the original question. You wonder how this threatens the Reformed conception. The answer (with which you disagree) is that it detracts from the sufficiency of Jesus. I wonder on the other side what you lose if Mary is more like Sarah than Christ (doing the will of God perfectly). Your answer seems to be that without Mary, no Christ, hence no salvation. But it’s more. Without a Mary of super virtuous capacity, not Jesus, and no salvation. But I don’t deny Mary. I just don’t exalt her.

    Like

  81. Darryl,

    “Justin, you do agree that Mary has been exalted among all the saints, right? I mean, who talks about Joseph the father or what his “yes” but staying with Mary? If you pray to Mary (make statues or icons), you’ve elevated her and distracted from Christ (conceivably).”
    ***Oh, yes, most certainly, scandalously so. I was teasing out a minimalist Marian narrative. I live a maximalist Marian narrative but without the Immaculate Conception. We have all sorts of feasts and akathists for her. Sorry, I just assumed that was obvious.

    “What I struggle with as well is the idea that there was some suspense of whether Mary would be obedient, akin to the serpent’s temptation of Eve, or Satan’s temptation of Christ. “What will happen? The history of redemption hangs in the balance. Eeegads!!”
    ***Right. I’ve been assuming your double-predestination narrative all along, and Robert affirmed it. If God predestined Adam to Fall, then I assumed that he predestined Mary to be the God bearer. God chose Mary to be His mother. Perhaps I’m just uber-American with this exalting mothers. You should see my passover apple pie. So, no, she’s not like Sarah. In your narrative, God predestined Mary to carry Him. She was obedient to what she was pre-destined–to be the God bearer. Heck, I think a pre-dedestinational reading exalts her more than my “free-will” reading does. Plus, I get all the drama of narrative that goes with it. Score.

    “It’s an angel. He’s reassuring (no threats).”
    ***Come on, Darryl. I’m a lit guy, but surely you can see it’s a bit more dramatic than that. I know you read from a pre-destination lens and all,

    “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
    ***So there’s your reassuring angel, and you’re right, no threats. This is the good angel of Psalm 34.8.
    And how reassuring was he? “But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.”

    So the reassuring angel has to be reassuring again: “And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
    ***This can hardly be reassuring. This is the stuff that made Sarah laugh when she was told she would conceive at the age of 90. But she obeyed as well.

    And the reassured Mary responds: “And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
    ***Excellent question. And the response? Oh yeah, you will bear God after the Holy Spirit Descends.

    This is the type of narrative that would Ovid squirm, because we know what gods do to virgins in Ovid’s poetry. There’s some discourse and then a chase.

    ” Mary already found favor before she said “let it be.”
    ***Right, but I fail to see her reassurance until the end.

    “doesn’t know the genealogy but because she knows birds and bees.”
    ***True. And she doesn’t know she’s the pre-destined virgin from Isaiah.

    ” wonder on the other side what you lose if Mary is more like Sarah than Christ (doing the will of God perfectly).”
    ***I have no problem connecting the two. Sarah laughed. In fact, God questions Abraham (who also laughed) whether or not Sarah believes anything to great for him. The very reassurance the angel gives here was the reassurance God gave to Abraham–that nothing is too great for God. And 100 year-old Abraham and 90 year-old Sarah obediently conceived. So the difference? Because God chose Mary to bear him. You do realize that the Hebrew God announcing that He would be come man is problematic. The Tetragrammton becoming man. The uncontainable to be contained in the womb. The who whose face cannot be seen will exist in the woman of a young virgin woman. I’m going to say that goes beyond what made Sarah laugh.

    Like

  82. Justin,

    I think one of the main issues here is that although we would believe Mary performs a critical role in the history of salvation, there just isn’t enough in the New Testament to justify the role she plays in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. In some ways, the EO view of Mary is more reserved than Rome’s, and for that we are thankful. But we just don’t see all that much about her in Scripture. She’s absent for a good portion of the gospel narratives, and it is in those books that she is most prominent. She disappears from the book of Acts after chapter 2. Paul refers to her rather obliquely (“born of a woman” in Galatians), which calls into question just how important the person of Mary is. That the Messiah was God incarnate is stressed, the actual other persons involved not so much. Then there is Revelation 12 with a possible-but-far-from-certain symbolic depiction of Mary. I don’t think I’ve missed anything except the prophecy of the seed of the woman in Genesis 3, but there the actual person of the woman is hardly stressed.

    It is all a rather flimsy exegetical base to go on to say anything beyond, “Yes, Mary played a key role in redemptive history and she had the unique honor of carrying the Messiah in her womb.” The stuff about Mary as the new Eve is rather speculative and not really fair to the actual typology of the New Testament. When the Bible talks about the new Adam, it is obviously talking about Christ. And who is the new Eve. It’s not Mary, at least not exclusively, for the NT tells us explicitly who the bride of the new Adam is, and by implication the new Eve: The entire church. Mary, I suppose, is the new Eve insofar as she is a member of the church. But then so am I the new Eve, so is Darryl, etc.

    And as Darryl and others have noted, there are other figures who are at least as equally important in the history of redemption as Mary was. When the NT makes reference to salvation history, who does it talk about. Well, Paul focuses very strongly on Abraham. Jesus Himself talks a lot about David, as do other NT books. Neither one of Jesus’ genealogies mentions Mary, though the tradition that Luke is giving Mary’s genealogy exists (and is somewhat weak, I would say).

    Our issue is that the exaltation of Mary goes far beyond anything seen in Scripture. And we also think it inconsistent to put so much focus on her when others are at least as equally important. And we Reformed, if we are trying to be anything, it’s consistent.

    Like

  83. Susan Vader says: I’m going to interrupt to give an internet hug to Ali. It’s my opinion that Justin was too harsh on her, and she hasn’t spoken since the rebuke happened.

    Oh thank you Susan, appreciate your kindness, but I did not see a rebuke from Justin J. (though I do get irritated with cw ( the behind the scenes instigator/ agitator) and his influenced henchmen .
    I did , though, think I saw an exaggerated enthusiasm about Mary, which I believe is DG’s point in this post, and is what one does observe when looking into it.

    For example this: “Say the Rosary every day…Pray, pray a lot and offer sacrifices for sinners…I’m Our Lady of the Rosary. Only I will be able to help you….In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Our Lady at Fatima

    Only Mary is able to help us? GOD is the only one able to help us

    Or how about the things attributable to Mary in all those songs dedicated to her eg.
    ..the Help of all ;her hand protects, guides ,guards ;she is on her throne; she is the Queen of angels-When our lips,our spirits glow with love and with praise for her, Oh! what peace to her children; trust in her guidance Will lead to a glorious goal-How dark life’s journey would be without Mary; our hearts are on fire when her title fills all our desire!-she is the Joy of angels, Queen of love, Queen of Heaven; the ocean star; -she is our advocate; she is mighty to deliver, she gives gifts to men-she is the ark of God’s own promise, the gate of Heav’n

    Mary is the “gate of heaven” ? JESUS only is the gate and door

    Or how about this from Pope Francis’s Jubilee prayer “We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.”

    Mary lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit? Where’s JESUS, He is the One Who reigns as God.

    I believe God’s principle here is at work:But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sinis accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not bedeceived, my beloved brethren. James 1: 14-16

    …meaning are hearts lust and here hearts are tempted to think Jesus and His word is not enough, not supreme, not sufficient, that something more is needed, then exaltation of others things above Him happen, which is sin.

    Therefore, I say AMEN and thank you to DG here, for DG says:
    So I return to the original question. You wonder how this threatens the Reformed conception. The answer (with which you disagree) is that it detracts from the sufficiency of Jesus. I wonder on the other side what you lose if Mary is more like Sarah than Christ (doing the will of God perfectly). Your answer seems to be that without Mary, no Christ, hence no salvation. But it’s more. Without a Mary of super virtuous capacity, not Jesus, and no salvation. But I don’t deny Mary. I just don’t exalt her.

    Anyway, have a good day Susan and Justin. I appreciate your kind examples, I appreciate your zeal for the things of God; and I pray (as I do for all of us) that zeal will be in accordance with knowledge; that we pay attention to the sure prophetic word (the bible) as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts; and that the path of the righteous (His people) be like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.

    Like

  84. Thanks, Robert. I’m going to let you have the last word on this. I think we’ve hit the limit on how far one can appreciate Mary in the Reformed tradition. And your point about her role in Scripture makes perfect sense from your hermeneutical position.

    And thanks, Darryl, for opening up this whole thread for the new interlocutors. Much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    J

    Liked by 2 people

  85. Justin, not sure Mary understood her son was God. Heck, the apostles didn’t.

    But I’m glad you lifted the Annunciation from the narrative intensity of Leave It To Beaver.

    Like

  86. How to find Mary in the Bible (even when those writers who saw her in the OT don’t mention her in the NT):

    That proposition would be too shocking if it were not Jesus telling us. After all, just as Evangelicals can’t find a single passage of Scripture saying “Mary is Immaculately Conceived, Assumed into Heaven, and Perpetually a Virgin, so let’s all pray to the Mother of God!” so you will search in vain for any passage in the Old Testament that says, “One of these days, a man named Jesus of Nazareth will be born of a Virgin, work miracles, teach with the authority of God and then be rejected by the elders, crucified, die, be buried and rise from the dead on the third day, after which he will pour out the Holy Spirit on his disciples and they will call Gentiles into the New and Everlasting Covenant of his Body and Blood.” But when we look at the New Testament we discover that, sure enough, that’s just how he and the apostles he trained read the Old Testament anyway. Jesus insists that the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is only fully revealed in the New.

    Bring back the Roman Catholic intellectual tradition, please!!

    Like

  87. Darryl,

    Why do you think the RC intellectual tradition of the past is opposed to allegorical, typological, Christocentric, sensus plenoir hermeneutics and methods?

    Like

  88. “Justin, not sure Mary understood her son was God. Heck, the apostles didn’t.”
    ***According to your hermeneutical principle, if Scripture doesn’t say it explicitly, then she wouldn’t have. In that spirit, I wouldn’t want to speculate.

    She was obedient to an angel not knowing whether or not what the angel said was true. She was a virgin who had no relations and yet bore a child just as the angel said she would. But because Scripture does not indicate explicitly her certitude, we probably shouldn’t assume that she understood what the angel said. Or maybe she believes it but simply doesn’t understand the extent of the ramifications, especially since the idea of God being incarnated would be anathema to Judaism, idolatry in the highest degree. So in all of these contexts and without reliance on anything outside of Scripture (i.e., tradition), I wouldn’t want to speculate about those things which Mary was pre-destined to do.

    Have you ever read the Infancy Gospel of Thomas that depicts Christ as child? Now that’s some literary speculation.

    “But I’m glad you lifted the Annunciation from the narrative intensity of Leave It To Beaver.”
    ***I do what I can.

    Like

  89. Darryl,

    “But when we look at the New Testament we discover that, sure enough, that’s just how he and the apostles he trained read the Old Testament anyway. Jesus insists that the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is only fully revealed in the New.”

    Why do you think this is sloppy?

    Like

  90. Cletus link:
    “This evening I am united to all of you in praying the Holy Rosary and in Eucharistic adoration under the gaze of the Virgin Mary.”
    “When we are weary, downcast, beset with cares, let us look to Mary, let us feel her gaze, which speaks to our heart and says: “Courage, my child, I am here to help you!”. “
    “Our Lady knows us well, she is a Mother, she is familiar with our joys and difficulties, our hopes and disappointments. “
    “she constantly guides us to her Son Jesus “

    Bible says:when we are weary: fixing our eyes on JESUS, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before HIM endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider HIM who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:2

    Bible says: who knows everything about us: GOD is greater than our heart and knows all things. 1 John 3:20

    Bible says: who guides us :And the LORD will continually guide you Isa 58:11 & ( When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about MeJohn 15:26)

    Part of rosary:
    HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

    Mary – our life, our hope, our most gracious advocate?

    NO. That is only JESUS.

    Like

  91. Clete, it’s a problem. It’s not about the intention it’s about the lack of prescription and the result. Lots of things seem pious and helpful, even necessary, but they aren’t. Idol factories. It’s a thing.

    Like

  92. Darryl,

    I’m not sure I’m reading this correctly: “How to find Mary in the Bible (even when those writers who saw her in the OT don’t mention her in the NT).”
    ***Do you mean to say that NT writers don’t make OT references with regards to Mary? Are you looking for something akin to John’s use of Numbers 21.4-9 (John 3.14)? I’ll try to abide by your principle and point out the ones that are explicit in the text. Two come to mind immediately. What is Matthew 1.23 doing (Is. 7.14)? Do you disagree with Metzger that the Magnificat (your favorite!) is taken from the prayer of Hannah. It would seem to make perfect sense contextually (yikes, literarily)? None of this proof of anything, other than I was probably not understanding your original point.

    Like

  93. Clete,

    More inconsistency. Mary points us to Jesus only because we read about her in the gospels. So Matthew, Mark, Luke, John point us to Mary, who points us to Jesus. Seems like those 4 should get as much, if not more, veneration than her. Without them, we don’t even know Mary existed or what she said.

    And, what Sean said.

    Like

  94. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John weren’t Theotokos.

    And of course there are types of the apostles and church in the OT. Which is sloppy and anti-intellectual to note apparently.

    Like

  95. DGH:
    “Justin, not sure Mary understood her son was God. Heck, the apostles didn’t.”

    JJ: ***According to your hermeneutical principle, if Scripture doesn’t say it explicitly, then she wouldn’t have. In that spirit, I wouldn’t want to speculate.

    Point of order: “not sure” is not a denial, but a request for argument. It leaves the question open.

    Like

  96. Thanks, Jeff, you’re right. In fact, to support Darryl’s point there are a few places from early in the narrative that makes it explicit that she does not understand.

    Like

  97. James Young, you find Mary in the Old Testament when it’s convenient, and then find the virtues in Aristotle when it’s convenient. In case you haven’t noticed, Mark Shea talks a lot more about Mary than Paul. You have to ponder at some point why if Mary was so important, Paul doesn’t even mention it as he sets up the churches (and by the way, says a whole lot more than Peter and was even buried in your favorite ancient city).

    Like

  98. Justin, I mean that Mary doesn’t even have a cameo appearance in Acts or Paul’s writings. That silence is surprising if the apostles read the OT the way Mark Shea does.

    Like

  99. Darryl,

    “That silence is surprising if the apostles read the OT the way Mark Shea does.”
    ***Agreed. Surprising. But that’s about as far as one can take an argument from silence. But, as I just pointed out, Matthew and Luke do refer to the OT when it comes to Mary. So there are two explicit examples. That has to count for something, right? We can both agree that in these two instances that Luke and Matthew demonstrate that they believe that the OT refers to Mary, yes? I’m abiding, I think, by your hermeneutic principle in this; I’m not speculating about their use of the OT and its application to Mary.

    If it’s not a bother, I’d like to approach the question of Mary in Scripture and the approach Shea takes but to do it from your paradigm. In other words, I want to be bizarro Bryan. I’m not trying to score points or argue for any doctrine of Mary. I want to read Mary from the perspective of Christ’s sufficiency and from the logic you’ve laid out throughout this thread. So I’m counting on interlocutors to show me where I’ve transgressed your hermeneutics, and I’m hoping that simply discussing Mary in Scripture isn’t prima facie transgressive. Again, because I’m working from your paradigm, I’m really not trying to argue paradigms or the begging of questions. I’ll let you beg all the questions you like. My initial thought is that when you cleaned out the basement you guys threw out a couple of nice rugs that really would have tied the room together.

    So to begin: because Christ’s Incarnation is part of the soteriological narrative you focus on, it seems reasonable that the focus on Mary and the OT references would come at the nativity narrative (even if there are only two references). So, from your perspective, the focus on Mary here and the OT references really are Christological and not about Mary qua Mary. We can agree on this, right? I’m treating this, I think, precisely in the sober manner in which you have described your hermeneutics. Her elevation is not entailed in the OT reference here. The writers of the NT make references to the OT specifically when it is part of the soteriological narrative (and here I’m granting your soteriological narrative, not my narrative of union with Christ). They make explicit the approach to the OT that Christ demonstrates on the Road to Emmaus, right? So it seems that if an event has something to do with the salvation narrative, our writers will make reference to the OT. So then these three events (at least) have OT references tied to them: Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection. So, for example, Is. 7.14 for the Incarnation; Numbers 21.4-9 for the Crucifixion; Jonah for the Resurrection. We can agree on all of this, yes?

    Is there any other part of the life of Christ you’d include in your soteriological narrative? So I would add, for example, the Ascension and Christ’s Baptism because of my salvation by union narrative. I’m not arguing for these to be added but just as an example. Would you be inclined to add Pentecost?

    Liked by 1 person

  100. Clete,

    Matthew, Mark, Luke, John weren’t Theotokos.

    What hasn’t been established is why, Mary being Theotokos, she deserves special veneration. And that’s the point. If she points us to Jesus and that makes her so special, then the evangelists deserve even greater veneration because they point us to Mary.

    And of course there are types of the apostles and church in the OT. Which is sloppy and anti-intellectual to note apparently.

    Sure. What’s sloppy is that the same attention to types isn’t given to those things as is given to Mary. Well, maybe the church since for Rome the church is ultimately what we worship.

    Like

  101. Justin, yes, we agree that the birth narratives are not about Mary but about her son.

    Matt 1
    20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

    23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”
    (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

    Luke 1
    26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[b] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

    34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[d]

    35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[f] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

    More in Luke about Mary but not much in Matthew. Yes, both authors put in the context of God’s covenant with Israel and the promise of redemption through a redeemer. Yes, the redeemer needs a mother because he needs a body. But the point of it all seems to be Jesus, as Jesus himself explains on the Road to Emmaus.

    So far we agree?

    But as Machen encountered in his book on the virgin birth, most biblical scholars didn’t think the VB was a big deal since it was only mentioned twice in the NT and seemed to motivate the apostles little as they established churches and explained Christ’s work (Peter and Paul).

    We still agree?

    I don’t want to minimize the VB. I am minimizing the virgin in VB, at least in comparison to RC’s and EO’s. I am still not sure what I lose in my understanding of Christ’s work (which I take first and foremost in forensic categories because of all that law in the OT, all that violation of the law in the OT, and all those sacrifices in the OT). My sense is that our differences revolve around the differences in our accounts of salvation. If I understand EO, metaphysics are much more important than forensics.

    We agree to disagree?

    Like

  102. Darryl,

    “But the point of it all seems to be Jesus, as Jesus himself explains on the Road to Emmaus. So far we agree?”
    ***Yep.

    “most biblical scholars didn’t think the VB was a big deal since it was only mentioned twice in the NT and seemed to motivate the apostles little as they established churches and explained Christ’s work (Peter and Paul). We still agree?”
    ***As appears in Scripture and not from tradition? If from Scripture, then yes. There is no explicit discussion of VB as the Apostles go out to the churches.

    Virgin birth is important prophetically. There are anthropological reasons as well, which takes all sorts of unpacking and would include FAR too much speculation and quotes from Maximos Confessor. But, yes, her virginity qua virginity is important. But I’m happy to affirm from your position that her virginity is important simply because it’s prophetically scriptural and affirmed OT prophecy. Obviously, she has to be included in the Incarnation but not elevated.

    “My sense is that our differences revolve around the differences in our accounts of salvation. If I understand EO, metaphysics are much more important than forensics.”
    ***Correct, and we agree to disagree. But this wasn’t the thrust of my post.

    I’m really interested in your response to this, however:
    “So to begin: because Christ’s Incarnation is part of the soteriological narrative you focus on, it seems reasonable that the focus on Mary and the OT references would come at the nativity narrative (even if there are only two references). So, from your perspective, the focus on Mary here and the OT references really are Christological and not about Mary qua Mary. We can agree on this, right? I’m treating this, I think, precisely in the sober manner in which you have described your hermeneutics. Her elevation is not entailed in the OT reference here. The writers of the NT make references to the OT specifically when it is part of the soteriological narrative (and here I’m granting your soteriological narrative, not my narrative of union with Christ). They make explicit the approach to the OT that Christ demonstrates on the Road to Emmaus, right? So it seems that if an event has something to do with the salvation narrative, our writers will make reference to the OT. So then these three events (at least) have OT references tied to them: Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection. So, for example, Is. 7.14 for the Incarnation; Numbers 21.4-9 for the Crucifixion; Jonah for the Resurrection. We can agree on all of this, yes?

    Is there any other part of the life of Christ you’d include in your soteriological narrative? So I would add, for example, the Ascension and Christ’s Baptism because of my salvation by union narrative. I’m not arguing for these to be added but just as an example. Would you be inclined to add Pentecost?”

    Like

  103. Justin, I didn’t mean to dodge the last part, but I’m still not sure what you mean about adding to the salvation narrative. I want to include (not add) all aspects of Christ’s life and ministry and think our tradition does pretty well with seeing Christ all over the OT. Geerhardus Vos and Meredith Kline, for instance, are a big deal in OPC circles and the OT antecedents to the NT are regular ingredients of our preaching.

    But I’m not sure what else to include.

    NO!! to the church calendar, though.

    Like

  104. Darryl,

    “I didn’t mean to dodge the last part, but I’m still not sure what you mean about adding to the salvation narrative.”
    ***I just don’t know the limits of the sufficiency of Christ. I agree I want to include all aspects oh His LIfe. But sometimes my inclusions you understand as additions. So I don’t want to add anything to your sufficiency narrative. That’s all.

    “and the OT antecedents to the NT are regular ingredients of our preaching.”
    ***OK. This is precisely what I was wondering. Since the NT uses typological hermeneutics is that what you do as well? I can’t expect that to be the case, as that is a very “literary” way of reading. This sort of reading I’d identify with what John is doing with the Numbers passage. He is putting into practice what Christ preached in the Road to Emmaus; i.e., he is finding Christ in Scripture. He sees in the staff as an image of the Crucifixion and belief in it eternal life. If the Incarnation is part of Christ’s life and our salvation (and because there are OT passages in the NT that demonstrate this Emmaus-styled reading), then it would seem that we can find other passages to the Incarnation (and Crucifixion, Resurrection–whatever else you would deem inclusive to a soteriological narrative)–in the Old Testament. For example, is there a Reformed hermeneutical principle that would see a problem in viewing Mary as a type of Ark? It contained the Old Law, and she contained the New. Nothing about IC, nothing about perpetual virginity, no Marian doctrines other than she is the Theotokos. Full stop. This is simply about the Incarnation, not about any Marian doctrines.

    In short, is the principle of the teaching on the Road to Emmaus still applicable? Or does the NT exhaust all of the OT references that apply to the New?

    Like

  105. Darryl,

    “you find Mary in the Old Testament when it’s convenient”

    Is it convenient (or sloppy and anti-intellectual) to find Christ or the church or the apostles or the sacraments in the OT?

    “Mark Shea talks a lot more about Mary than Paul.”

    You write a lot more about American evangelicals and Presbyterian history and neo-Cals than Paul. Shea has written 16 books – 1 of which is focused on Mary.

    “You have to ponder at some point why if Mary was so important, Paul doesn’t even mention it”

    And elsewhere you say, “most biblical scholars didn’t think the VB was a big deal since it was only mentioned twice in the NT and seemed to motivate the apostles little as they established churches”. So we can go ahead and ponder this as well, then nix the VB thing from the creed and as a measure of orthodoxy – no biggie.

    Justin raised an excellent question, “Or does the NT exhaust all of the OT references that apply to the New?”

    Given your line of argument, the answer thus far would appear to be affirmative.

    Robert,

    “If she points us to Jesus and that makes her so special”

    That’s not the only thing that “makes her so special”. The “pointing” thing was simply in response to your false dichotomy that if some type or shadow isn’t directly correlated to Christ Himself, it’s irrelevant or useless – a type can still be pointing to Christ without him being the direct antitype. By your logic, any types of the church or the apostles in the OT are irrelevant and sloppy. But of course you don’t think that. So by arguing the apostles point us to Christ, you support my point.

    Like

  106. Clete,

    The “pointing” thing was simply in response to your false dichotomy that if some type or shadow isn’t directly correlated to Christ Himself, it’s irrelevant or useless – a type can still be pointing to Christ without him being the direct antitype.

    I actually agree. The problem is that in the kind of typology that Rome practices, which is actually allegory and not typology in a large number of cases, it always leads to the exaltation of Mary, and the focus on Christ becomes secondary. Devotion to Mary is far more important in Roman Catholicism than devotion to Christ, at least on the popular level.

    Like

  107. CVD:
    And elsewhere you say, “most biblical scholars didn’t think the VB was a big deal since it was only mentioned twice in the NT and seemed to motivate the apostles little as they established churches”. So we can go ahead and ponder this as well, then nix the VB thing from the creed and as a measure of orthodoxy – no biggie.>>>>>

    Did Darryl actually say that? Did he actually say that most biblical scholars didn’t think the VB was a big deal?

    I think he needs to provide evidence for such a claim. What scholars is he talking about? He needs to give names and provide quotes as a scholar should. That is quite a claim.

    Like

  108. Robert,

    “The problem is that in the kind of typology that Rome practices, which is actually allegory and not typology in a large number of cases,”
    ***Just a simple point: typology and allegory as two wholly separate, clearly distinguished hermeneutical categories isn’t accurate. Take a look at France’s Young’s _Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture_. This isn’t the only text, but it’s quite good. Most of my interests focus primarily on typology/allegory/4-fold exegesis in the Christian tradition from Patristics to 1400 (and includes a good deal of rabbinic exegesis) and the way it manifests itself in medieval literature. Many speak of the difference for the sake of not muddying the waters and to make distinctions, but it’s really a tough distinction to make on the ground when one actually reads the primary texts. This doesn’t negate anything you’ve said (except that typological readings actually do lead to Mary), but I thought I’d chime in as something about which I’m actually knowledgeable, which is a rarity. Any way, you and I have exchanged book recommendations before, so here’s another. I’d love to hear about any reputable source on Reformed typological/allegorical hermeneutics.

    Cheers.

    Like

  109. Justin,

    Thanks for that. That book looks good.

    My “beef” as it were with Rome’s use of “typology” is that if one is going to use typology, it needs to be practiced as the Apostles practiced it. And I would say that the way in which the Apostles do typology in the New Testament is very different from later hermeneutical methods, particularly in the medieval period.

    It’s a huge topic. One good book I know of of offhand on the Reformed use of typology would be Preaching Christ from the Old Testament by Sidney Greidanus.

    Like

  110. Robert,

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    “And I would say that the way in which the Apostles do typology in the New Testament is very different from later hermeneutical methods, particularly in the medieval period.”
    ***Right, but there isn’t much explicitly normative in the NT regarding typology. It gets back to the question I asked Darryl: “is the principle of the teaching on the Road to Emmaus still applicable? Or does the NT exhaust all of the OT references that apply to the New?” This I would think would be a bit problematic: the NT doesn’t explicitly state *how* one reads the OT but only gives examples, which are typological. And I now know how much you guys want to eschew speculation and keep the clutter cleared. So I’m trying to do typology but from within your very sober hermeneutical position and trying to eschew speculation. I want to do typology within your soteriological narrative. I happen to think Mary as Ark would work, because it’s about the Incarnation, Christ as the New Covenant, and has nothing to do with IC or perpetual virginity. This is but one example. I’m just curious whether or not this would be allowed. If not, why not, because it seems to abide by all of your hermeneutical rules: it’s about Christ and the salvation narrative–i.e., the Incarnation and the relation between the two covenants. To put it negatively: are you so allergic to any Marian readings that you’d throw out a Christological reading that abides by your hermeneutical principles?

    Like

  111. Justin, you simply wouldn’t hear much about Mary in Reformed preaching, so the Ark business wouldn’t come up, because Mary just isn’t important.

    Road to Emmaus or NT exhausts all OT references? I don’t think we see that as either or. Compared to most evangelicals who tend to ignore the OT, Reformed spend a lot of time there on Road to E grounds. But when Paul says Christ was the rock that gave the Israelites water, or when Hebrews quotes the OT up and down, you hear a lot more on connecting the OT and NT (through Christ).

    But over all, typological readings are less common.

    Like

  112. James Young, I didn’t know you were a Mark Shea fan. Is that shelf of books right next to the RC Catechism? But one volume removed from Denzinger? Plans to acquire all of Bryan Cross’ works? Longenecker too? But I’m sure Scott Hahn surpasses all of them in quantity and pride of place.

    Like

  113. James Young, I’d caution you against buying Longenecker’s book on the American church:

    In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, too much preaching and catechesis focused only on peace and justice issues, or presented a subjective and sentimental understanding of the Catholic faith. Pastors and catechists are not the only ones at fault. The Catholic faithful themselves have too often preferred a fuzzy, feel-good message.

    Indifference, and indifferentism, have produced a notoriously lax and ineffectual form of American Catholicism.

    Catholics who are looking for a faith with rigor, discipline and a tough line are invariably drawn to the traditionalist message. It is possible to find a strong, joyful traditional Catholic witness that combines clarity and charity, and those who relish Catholicism with grit should search out such communities.

    Unfortunately, such teachers and parishes are hard to find, and too often the “Church of the Internet” takes over. Self-appointed online teachers fill the vacuum, and a poisonous, self-righteous extremism takes the place of true, simple, and humble piety.

    Cue shrug.

    Like

  114. D. G. Hart says:
    May 29, 2016 at 8:26 am
    Mermaid, read Machen’s Virgin Birth of Christ.>>>

    Yes. Machen associated your attempt to argue from silence with modernism. In fact, I can honestly say that it was Machen’s work that indirectly convinced me that the Virgin Birth is indeed true. He was the original fundamentalist and his work influenced all of conservative Evangelicalism – which is strongly fundamentalist in nature.

    Now fundamentalist has taken on very negative connotations, and even the OPC seems to have distanced itself from that moniker. However, you’re the historian of your movement. You know that what I say is true.

    Now you seem to be advancing an idea that Machen clearly argued against. Why are you doing that if that is what you are doing?
    ———————————————

    Machen on the Virgin Birth of Christ
    Argument from Silence

    Now the argument from silence needs to be used with a great deal of caution. The silence of a writer about any detail is without significance unless it has been shown that if the writer in question had known and accepted that detail he would have been obliged to mention it.

    But that is just exactly what cannot be shown in the case of the silence about the virgin birth. Paul, for example, does not mention the virgin birth, and much has been made of his silence. “What is good enough for Paul,” we are told in effect, “is good enough for us; if he got along without the virgin birth we can get along without it too.” It is rather surprising, indeed, to find the Modernists of today advancing that particular argument; it is rather surprising to find them laying down the principle that what is good enough for Paul is good enough for them, and that things which are not found in Paul cannot be essential to Christianity. For the center of their religion is found in the ethical teaching of Jesus, especially in the Golden Rule. But where does Paul say anything about the Golden Rule, and where does he quote at any length the ethical teachings of Jesus? We do not mean at all that the silence about such things in the Epistles shows that Paul did not know or care about the words and example of our Lord. On the contrary there are clear intimations that the reason why the Apostle does not tell more about what Jesus did and said in Palestine is not that these things were to him unimportant but that they were so important that instruction about them had been given at the very beginning in the churches and so did not need to be repeated in the Epistles, which are addressed to special needs. And where Paul does give details about Jesus the incidental way in which he does so shows clearly that there is a great deal else which he would have told if he had found occasion. The all-important passage in I Corinthians 15:3-8 provides a striking example. In that passage Paul gives a list of appearances of the risen Christ. He would not have done so if it had not been for the chance (humanly speaking) of certain mis-understandings that had arisen in Corinth. Yet if he had not done so, it is appalling to think of the inferences which would have been drawn from his silence by modern scholars. And yet, even if the occasion for mentioning the list of appearances had not happened to arise in the Epistles it would still have remained true that that list of appearances was one of the absolutely fundamental elements of teaching which Paul gave to the churches at the very beginning.
    http://www.pcahistory.org/documents/auburn/machen-1924-virginbirth.html

    Like

  115. Mermaid, read Machen to see which scholars thought VB wasn’t all that important.

    Forget the shock about changes on our side. Try praying along with your holy father and Muslims, Hindus, and Jews.

    Liked by 1 person

  116. DG,

    If a historical confession( virgin birth) of the OPC is true, how does “Old School ” Presbyterianim avoid change? How does it distinguish change from development?
    I want t know the safegards of orthodoxy in your system.

    Like

  117. Apologies. I shouldn’t have entered this conversation. I probably didn’t understand very well what was being said. If you are confessional, you should also have creedal orthodoxy. But you can’t assume that because Mary and the virgin birth isn’t mentioned many times by Paul, that it means that the doctrine is of small importance.
    That’s playing into the hands of the modernists, if you do.

    Like

  118. D. G. Hart says:
    May 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm
    Mermaid, read Machen to see which scholars thought VB wasn’t all that important.

    Forget the shock about changes on our side. Try praying along with your holy father and Muslims, Hindus, and Jews.>>>>

    Machen called the scholars who thought VB wasn’t all that important ” Modernists. “ Are you denying that?

    What side are you on? Your church is called the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. According to the founder of your church, it is unorthodox and modernistic to say that the VB was not all that important.

    Like

  119. Mermaid, you’re explaining Machen and the OPC to mmmmeeeeEEEEE? You really have to find a way to stop being patronizing.

    I’m on the side of the virgin birth (which is not the same as veneration of Mary). I’m also saying the vb (as Machen acknowledged) is only mentioned twice in the NT. Mary not at all outside the Gospels.

    I smoke but I don’t blow smoke the way some breast beaters do.

    Like

  120. “Justin, you simply wouldn’t hear much about Mary in Reformed preaching, so the Ark business wouldn’t come up, because Mary just isn’t important.”
    ***Right, but this sort of reading wouldn’t be verboten, would it? It’s about a type of Christ, the Old pointing to the New. The Marian gloss is there simply because, to use your own language, she was a vessel for Christ. It may not add anything of substance to your discussion of soteriology, but one would think it could be included. Is this not a Road to Emmaus reading? I ask simply to see if there could in fact be Marian readings in the Reformed tradition–not that there are Marian readings, but COULD BE according to the very economical, sober approach you’ve lain out so far. I see no reason the reading of Old Law as Christ couldn’t be included as a Reformed typological reading. If so, then Mary as Ark is an easy step unless one simply doesn’t want to mention her. But I see no reason one couldn’t give this reading.

    Like

  121. Justin J: If so, then Mary as Ark is an easy step …

    thinking part of the question posed here is why such an interest in that step Justin?

    “Luke’s theology of God not dwelling in houses made with hands, as indicated in Stephen’s talk in Acts 7:44-49, shows it would not be a good thing for Luke to compare Mary carrying Jesus to the Ark or God’s cloud of glory settling above the Tabernacle since, again, according to Luke, God does not dwell in those places. This is why the Roman Catholic scholars such as Raymond Brown, Joseph Fitzmyer and others in their book Mary in the New Testament say, in regards to Luke’s thinking, such “a comparison between Mary and the Tabernacle might not be favorable to her” (Raymond Brown, Karl Donfried, Joseph Fitzmyer, John Reumann, Mary in the New Testament, [Paulist Press, 1978], p. 133 n. 298). “….more…..”In sum we must agree with Brown, Fitzmyer and the other Roman Catholic editors of the book Mary in the New Testament when they conclude, “in our judgement there is no convincing evidence that Luke specifically identified Mary with . . . the Ark of the Covenant” (Raymond Brown, Karl Donfried, Joseph Fitzmyer, John Reumann, Mary in the New Testament, [Paulist Press, 1978], p. 134).” http://www.reformedapologeticsministries.com/2014/03/mary-is-not-arc-and-tabernacle.html

    Like

  122. Justin, if I might jump in, if the NT gives the authoritative interpretation of the OT( or when and where to see typology AND what it means) and the apostles don’t give the example of expounding upon Mary as Ark, where do we get our authority for doing it? If it was critical to our faith expression, wouldn’t you have expected it to be included in their writings?

    Like

  123. Sean,

    Thanks for joining in.

    “if I might jump in, if the NT gives the authoritative interpretation of the OT( or when and where to see typology AND what it means) and the apostles don’t give the example of expounding upon Mary as Ark, where do we get our authority for doing it? If it was critical to our faith expression, wouldn’t you have expected it to be included in their writings?”
    ***Right, but this goes back to one of my earlier questions, and I didn’t really get a definitive answer on it: “is the principle of the teaching on the Road to Emmaus still applicable? Or does the NT exhaust all of the OT references that apply to the New?” This I would think would be a bit problematic: the NT doesn’t explicitly state *how* one reads the OT but only gives examples, which are typological.” The NT gives us examples of these typologies, but is it exhaustive. Again, I’m just wondering what the answer is from the Reformed perspective.

    Like

  124. Justin, I’ll refrain from being the definitive guide to all things reformed, but it runs toward a strict prescriptive view over against an at liberty unless prohibited view. So, after specific NT interpretation of OT type (True, ethnic Israel is actually Spiritual Israel not merely ethnic, for example) we’re left with how to broadly interpret the OT and we’re left with Jesus’ hermeneutical grid of ‘it’s those that speak of me’ against the pharisaical practice of law book, ethics book and added on traditions. Or to further sharpen the point, the idea that all the OT is pretext or context for the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. The Second Adam motif, one born under the law(what law? -see RH in the law and the prophets).

    Like

  125. Darryl,

    To be fair to our RC and EO interlocutors, Mary is mentioned in Acts 1:14. But she is so important that when Peter preaches his sermon in Acts 2, he calls people to go to Mary to get to Jesus. Oh wait, he doesn’t.

    But the point stands—if Mary were so important to Christian piety and had some kind of ongoing role, it would be given to us in Scripture. And people can appeal to “tradition,” but I’m still waiting for somebody to give me words from the Apostles that never got written down.

    Like

  126. D. G. Hart says:
    May 30, 2016 at 8:09 am
    Mermaid, you’re explaining Machen and the OPC to mmmmeeeeEEEEE? You really have to find a way to stop being patronizing.

    I’m on the side of the virgin birth (which is not the same as veneration of Mary). I’m also saying the vb (as Machen acknowledged) is only mentioned twice in the NT. Mary not at all outside the Gospels.

    I smoke but I don’t blow smoke the way some breast beaters do.>>>>

    Brother Hart, you are the one who made the claim that most Biblical scholars do not think that the Virgin Birth is that big a deal. You are the one who directed me to Machen, which I had already consulted anyway.

    Machen is the one who said that those who claim that the VB is no big deal are Modernists.

    Trashing me is not helping you at all. I guess there is a clarification in there somewhere.

    As far as Machen went, he is orthodox in his views.

    You really need to find a way to stop making heretical statements, ones that even your OPC would not agree with.

    Of course, none of you guys are real theologians, so I guess you can be excused for the glaring heretical statements you make from time to time, even about what Machen called “the fundamentals of the faith” like the infallibility of Scripture, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and now the Virgin Birth.

    Keep studying, even your own sources.

    Like

  127. Justin, not verboten (depending on the congregation) but you wouldn’t hear it.

    For what it’s worth, I’m reading a report for the upcoming General Assembly on the Mosaic Covenant and its relationship to the Covenant of Works (creation) and the Covenant of Grace (promise of a redeemer who turns out to be Jesus). The OPC takes the OT very seriously. But the covenantal scheme is the one that dominates. For what it’s worth.

    Forensics anyone?

    Like

  128. Mermaid, I stand by what I said. NT scholars (Society of Biblical Literature) in Machen’s time and today do not think VB important. Your presumption that I think such a set of circumstances is a good thing is once again an indication of your condescension.

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for an admission that you misunderstood.

    But I know. You love me.

    Like

  129. D.G. Hart:I won’t hold my breath waiting for an admission that you misunderstood.>>>

    I understood quite well. You don’t think that the VB is any big deal.

    That was not Machen’s position, as you well know – or should know as his biographer.

    He said this:
    “Let it never be forgotten that the virgin birth is an integral part of the New Testament witness about Christ, and that that witness is strongest when it is taken as it stands.”

    http://rediscoveringthebible.com/MachenVirginBirth.html

    ———————————————————————————-

    We are not averse, indeed, to a certain logical order of apologetics; and in that order the virgin birth certainly does not come first. Before the virgin birth come the things for which testimony in the very nature of the case can be more abundant than for this. To those things no doubt the inquirer should be directed first, before he comes to consider this mystery which was first attested perhaps only by the mother of the Lord. But though that is true, though theoretically a man can believe in the resurrection, for example, without believing in the virgin birth, yet such a halfway conviction is not likely to endure. The New Testament presentation of Jesus is not an agglomeration, but an organism, and of that organism the virgin birth is an integral part. Remove the part, and the whole becomes harder and not easier to accept; the New Testament account of Jesus is most convincing when it is taken as a whole. Only one Jesus is presented in the Word of God; and that Jesus did not come into the world by ordinary generation, but was conceived in the womb of the virgin by the Holy Ghost.

    Like

  130. @ Justin:

    One important feature of the Reformed system is the distinction between what individuals may believe and what the church may teach (hence authoritatively requiring acceptance).

    There may well be types in the OT that were intended to point to realities in the NT that are not made perfectly explicit.

    A good example might be Joseph as a type of Christ, which seems fairly clear though not to my knowledge made explicit in the NT.

    In such cases, an individual is free to consider whether or not X is a type of Y — but the church is not free to require such belief as an article of faith.

    In other words, sola scriptura is a bound on a doctrinal system, not a belief system (though an individual might be unwise to indulge in speculation).

    Like

  131. D. G. Hart says:
    May 30, 2016 at 4:59 pm
    Mermaid, that’s still not what I said. But you rush to judgment in your condescension. Feel the love.>>>

    Okay. Do you agree with Machen that “the virgin birth is an integral part of the New Testament witness about Christ”?

    It seems to me that you are minimizing the virgin birth too much.

    I know you don’t have any love for me. Not to worry. I still love you.

    You claim this.:
    “I’m on the side of the virgin birth (which is not the same as veneration of Mary). I’m also saying the vb (as Machen acknowledged) is only mentioned twice in the NT. Mary not at all outside the Gospels.”

    This says nothing about what Machen actually thought about the Virgin Birth. He considered it to be integral to the New Testament witness about Christ.

    Would you care to say a hearty “Amen”! to that? It is certainly something that Catholics can agree to.

    Now, don’t be condescending yourself. I know very well that the virgin birth is not the same as veneration of Mary. It is part of it, but not the whole.

    Like

  132. Jesus, others, and especially you:

    While salvation is a free gift from God (yes, Catholics believe this too), it’s the work that we do — the attitude of our interior life, how we act toward others — that puts us in a state to allow us to decide whether we desire heaven – eternity with God – or desire (according to our actions) hell – eternity without God.

    Like

  133. Mermaid, wait, is the pope Roman Catholic?

    On Sunday, Pope Francis praised Hollywood actors George Clooney, Salma Hayek, and Richard Gere at a conference promoting a Vatican education initiative that helps poor communities.

    Speaking in the Paul VI’s Synod Hall, the Pope reminded the celebrities of their responsibility to “help the world recover the language of gestures.”

    During the gathering, the actors received the “Olive Medal” of peace, which were presented by the Scholas Occurentes initiative, who organized the Vatican conference.

    On the Lord’s Day?!?

    Like

  134. Speaking in the Paul VI’s Synod Hall, the Pope reminded the celebrities of their responsibility to “help the world recover the language of gestures.”

    I don’t know, I’m pretty sure that drivers around the world have already recovered the language of gestures.

    Like

  135. Darryl and Jeff,

    Thanks for the direct answers to my questions:
    Darryl: “Justin, not verboten (depending on the congregation) but you wouldn’t hear it.”
    Jeff: “In such cases, an individual is free to consider whether or not X is a type of Y — but the church is not free to require such belief as an article of faith.”

    So then Mary as Ark that adds nothing to the sufficiency of Christ would certainly seem in bounds. So then to get back to Darryl’s point about Mark Shea’s post about biblical readings of Mary in the OT, the OPC allows for SOME of those readings (though sees them as unnecessary and perhaps potentially problematic). So it’s not the method to which you object (not necessarily any way) but the application of said method. Honestly, I’d think Mary as Ark would make your overall point here: the Ark is significant because it carried the the tablets, and veneration is never passed on to the Ark without its connection to the Tablet. In fact, it’s kind of forgotten about. Perhaps, GASP, this sort of of minimalist Marian reading may be a small point of agreement in both hermeneutical and Marian terms. Full stop. It need not then entail, for example, a reading of of the perpetual virginity of Mary in Ez. 44.2.

    OK, you guys have been great in working through your hermeneutical premises with me. Very helpful, and fruitful, I think. Unless, Darryl raises some other new issue here (we’ve agreed to disagree on the exaltation of Mary and have agreed, in a very limited way, regarding seeing Mary in the OT), I’m done here. You guys can have the last words.

    Like

  136. Justin,

    Then Mary as Ark that adds nothing to the sufficiency of Christ would certainly seem in bounds.

    For what it is worth, I think this is probably correct. There are all sorts of beliefs that a Reformed Christian may hold that cannot be imposed on others as matters that must be believed for salvation.

    One possible issue with Mary as Ark is that the NT seems to identify Jesus with the Ark, specifically as the mercy seat and place of propitiation. I think their might be more push back on the notion from a Reformed perspective on account of that than on anything else.

    Like

  137. I’ll also add that the Ark is the meeting place of God and man, which is Christ. I suppose by extension you might be able to attribute that to Mary while she is pregnant, since she is Theotokos, but after Jesus is born I would think you can’t say it anymore.

    Like

  138. Hi Justin,

    Been thinking more on this because of my sermon for tomorrow, which is on 1 Tim 4. I’m backup pulpit supply, and it is my practice to preach through a book (slowly!) when our pastor is on vacation.

    What strikes me is that Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in v 7 “Have nothing to do with profane and silly myths” ( τοὺς δὲ βεβήλους καὶ γραώδεις μύθους παραιτοῦ.) is in stark contrast to the direction that the medieval church took.

    Take just one example: The legend of St. Longinus. Supposedly the centurion who pierced Jesus’ side (conflating John and Matthew’s accounts), Longinus (“Spear-Guy”) was purported to be blind (!), and was healed of his blindness when drops of Jesus’ blood fell into his eyes. He then converts, goes on to preach the Gospel, and is apprehended in Cappadocia, whence he either was beheaded OR managed to overcome various demons and triumphantly converted the whole town to Christianity. The latter account is found in The Golden Legend (found at Fordham dot edu — I’m leaving out the URL so as not to trip the spam filter). The Golden Legend is over a thousand pages compiled in 1260-ish by Jacobus de Voragine. It consists of fanciful hagiographies of individuals declared to be saints by the church. Many of these have feast days, etc. It was the #2 most widely circulated and printed (after 1440, natch) document behind only the Bible.

    Where Paul exhorts Timothy to have nothing to do with silly myths, the medieval church embraced and canonized those myths, devoting huge amounts of energy to them.

    I’m not criticizing the practice of honoring people for legitimately confessing the faith unto death, but rather the practice of developing and embracing fanciful legends around them. This, Paul says do not do; but it is precisely what the church did, in spades.

    As we think about Mary and the place that the Bible legitimately gives to her, honoring her in a small way for faithfully submitting to God’s will, what the Reformed position essentially rejects are the fanciful stories that have their root in apocryphal documents (like the Protoevangelium of James), stories that satisfy the thirst for backstory by naming her mother, specifying her marital relations after Jesus’ birth, developing her further life and supposed ascension.

    All of these are objectionable because

    * They distract from the Gospel. The contrast Paul draws in 1 Tim 4.7 is between paying attention to silly myths on the one hand and disciplining oneself for godliness on the other. In context, the discipline Paul refers to is focusing on the work of teaching sound doctrine and setting an example in speech, love, etc.

    * They blur the line between history and fiction. It is not too much of a stretch to observe that the Biblical documents would have been much less buffeted by critical scholarship if they had not been associated with other spurious documents also championed by the Church.

    * They muddy the doctrinal waters. The Marian doctrines are prominent here, but so are the various legends of saints’ lives, which fed some of the more extreme monastic practices.

    Just food for thought. The point is that while we are free to consider how the Scripture might be speaking, we should also be aware of this whole body of legend that colors our view of the Scripture.

    Like

  139. Jeff says: All of these are objectionable because

    (thinking of the subject post – JESUS One Christianity, Mary imaginations, and Justin J. own words “we agree to disagree on the exaltation of Mary”

    ..objectionable… because HIS name alone is exalted (Psalm 148:13) …
    and because no lie is of the truth; because speculations are futile, fruitless, detract from JESUS; tend to escalate to idolatry; darken hearts; produce quarrels; and are to be warred against with the divinely powerful weapons of our warfare

    Like

  140. Rome persecuted Christians since Jesus. Protestantism had no different a reaction, even the Bible tells us Christians we will be persecuted.

    While we’re still alive, we Christians must defend the faith. I’ve myself posted a few blogs debunking Atheistic narratives, and some people have even decided to follow me. This is where we need to take it, regardless of your denomination.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s