Looking More and More Like Paul Wrote Romans around 1971 (A.D.)

On the way to church yesterday, I was listening to the latest episode of Mars Hill Audio and I swear I heard Ken Myers complain that modern thinkers do not consider human nature in the light of the incarnation and the resurrection. That would imply an understanding of human nature without sin since Jesus lived a perfect life and since believers who go to heaven will live lives in which it is impossible to sin. If the desire is to call people to live virtuous lives and leave behind the viciousness and debauchery that characterizes modern America, the appeal to something higher is understandable. But it also needs to be plausible. And that means taking sin and unbelief into account when thinking about personal and civic virtue. How much “goodness” is truly possible in a world distorted by sin?

And then at church we read an excerpt from Paul’s epistle to the Romans which made me think he must have been writing at a time when he was observing How (or Why) Liberalism Failed (even though the secular liberals at Columbia University set the date for the epistle around 57 AD):

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:20-32)

Is that a description of Times Square circa 1970 or of Trump’s America? Well, if Columbia University is correct, Paul was actually depicting the society of first-century Mediterranean world. And if Paul was writing about his own time, not the United States with its defective Lockean political theory, then maybe the problems we twenty-first-century Americans face are not the product of bad political theory but of bad people who live at all times.

Notice too, how Paul goes on in that epistle to advise about the remedy for such a sorry state. Is it to have a church that becomes a civilizing force among barbarian tribes? Is it more governmental programs that make two-parent families plausible? Is it reading Aliadair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor on the problems of secular modernity? No. All of these remedies might help to lessen the blows of our fallen estate. But the only solution is — wait for it — justification by faith (chs 4-6) and preachers who will proclaim the good news (ch 10). He doesn’t even invoke the Virgin Mary for help.

But what about politics? Paul even addressed that. Honor the emperor, you know, the one who was not very virtuous and didn’t seem all that interested in rolling back modernity.

77 thoughts on “Looking More and More Like Paul Wrote Romans around 1971 (A.D.)

  1. Dgh says Notice too, how Paul goes on in that epistle to advise about the remedy for such a sorry state…But the only solution is — wait for it — justification by faith (chs 4-6) and preachers who will proclaim the good news (ch 10).

    The solution to our sorry state is the good news of salvation – justification, sanctification, glorification -having been made/being made a new creation by the mercy and grace of God, through faith.


  2. Ah look! Keller swoops in to resolve our differences with the classic Third Way™ maneuver.


  3. Susan’s link:“Mary, Star of Hope.. Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom! Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way! “

    Again, as always, It is JESUS who is our hope, and who shines upon us , who guides us on our way.
    It is sorrowful that He seems insufficient for some, for He is sufficient.

    -1 Timothy 2: 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
    Psalm 119:135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes.
    -Luke 1:78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
    -2 Corinthians 4:6For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
    -Revelation 21: 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb..


  4. Hi Ali,

    Jesus is our only way of salvation. He is the way, the truth, the life. But He did give us His mother. And her motherly intercession wasn’t something just meant for St John or the other Christians during her earthly life. She is our mother today just like she was the mother of the infant church.
    This is according to the father’s of the church who were also using scripture, and the sense of the faithful to help formulate a true doctrine concerning Our Lady.
    I won’t go outside of this tradition. I don’t get less of Christ by having a great love for his mother.

    But, besides this, my post wasn’t about Mary.

    Please don’t derail the point.


  5. Susan – Ali is the master of derailing conversations with (barely) relevant tangential issues.

    I agree with most of Benedict’s encyclical. The problem is he views our hope in Christ as mediated through the institutional RCC, which is not correct. But the gist of his message is solid. Benedict was the most Protestant pope in a long time – I agree with much of his theology, and I actually find his views of purgatory to be helpful and Scripturally defensible.


  6. Susan says: Is Mary really necessary or is it just that you get better results with her?
    Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: (barely) relevant tangential issues.

    The whole encyclical ends with that prayer making it centrally relevant. Idolatry is tangential? Please reread your bible to see the Lord view, vv. If you are going to speak for the Lord, you should speak what the Lord says.


  7. Ali – you “conveniently” left this part out: “Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history.” In pure Catholic theology, asking Mary to intercede on our behalf is no different from asking a spouse or friend to pray on our behalf. Are some Catholics guilty of Marian idolatry? Sure. Is Catholic theology of Mary speculative and nowhere near the level of dogma (as they claim)? Yes. But an appeal to Mary is not inherently idolatrous – as Susan points out, Catholics view her role as helping point the way to Christ, but she is in no way a substitute or alternative to the worship of Christ alone.


  8. Susan, you have 100% trust. If you trust Jesus, then 100% goes to him. If you trust Jesus and Mary (not to mention the church), you give less trust to Jesus.

    You do the math, unless of course your capacities are infinite.


  9. ” Are some Catholics guilty of Marian idolatry? Sure. Is Catholic theology of Mary speculative and nowhere near the level of dogma (as they claim)? Yes. But an appeal to Mary is not inherently idolatrous”. You really can’t see that screaming contradiction? I often think of those many verses about praying to the dead for intercession; especially to the queen of Heaven. She’s like in all 73 books. Prots have a Christocentric reading of scripture but Mary’s the key player, in reality. Had she said no to the angel, God’s plan woulda been thwarted. Now sing Alan Parson’s song Stereotomy (“Stereotomy, we can make it together”) and replace it with Mariolatry, we can make it together. It’s just dulia, not latria, right brau?


  10. I just don’t understand why anyone would pray to anyone but God.well, maybe I do kind of understand. It means that Jesus is not sufficient. Apparently He must be cajoled by His mother. She has this permanent motherly influence over Him. Since she’s Queen of the Universe she has control over the Second Person of the Godhead. Makes sense totally, yeah?


  11. Far from Rome – “praying” to deceased Christians – or rather requesting intercession from deceased Christians – is not anti-Scriptural. In theory it makes sense: if we ask living Christians to intercede for us, why not dead Christians, including Mary? After all, their souls are living and we are all united in Christ. The problem is there is no Scriptural basis for this – it is all speculative. I don’t have a problem with people asking Mary – or any other deceased Christian – to pray on our behalf. I personally don’t make a practice of it, but I don’t necessarily think it’s bad or sinful. And saying that Mary is the “key player” in Catholic theology is a rank straw man. From the Catholic Catechism: “Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it…No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”

    Also, it is silly to suggest that had Mary refused to bear Christ that God’s plan would have been thwarted. That’s like saying Abraham refusing to leave Ur or Jacob’s sons having a changing of heart about Joseph’s coat or Moses ignoring the burning bush would have thwarted God’s plans as well.

    Susan (anti-Catholic) – either you have succumbed to full-fledged psychosis, or there are two firmly opposed Susans posting here. I’ll call you Susan anti-Catholic to differentiate you from Susan pro-Catholic. Catholics do not “pray” to Mary the same way they pray to God. Part of the problem is the use of the term “pray.” This means more of a request or petition, and does not imply worship. Certainly there is no “need” to petition Mary any more than there is a need to petition others to pray on our behalf. And no one is suggesting Mary has “control” over Christ. Either you are being facetious or you are woefully ignorant of Catholic theology.

    In terms of purgatory, Pope Benedict believes purgatory is not temporal, as many Catholics suggest, but is a “transition.” He believes Paul’s description of being saved through fire in 1 Corinthians 3:15 is purgatory. It is the final destruction of our fleshly, sinful nature at the Last Judgment that allows us to be glorified. I can buy this: we are justified by Christ’s imputed righteousness, but fleshly “impurities” are burned away by Christ’s righteous judgment that purifies us for glorification. Am I 100% convinced this is correct? No, but it’s plausible, orthodox, and Scripturally defensible. Here is Benedict himself from another encyclical:

    “In the concrete choices of life, however, it is covered over by ever new compromises with evil—much filth covers purity, but the thirst for purity remains and it still constantly re-emerges from all that is base and remains present in the soul. What happens to such individuals when they appear before the Judge? Will all the impurity they have amassed through life suddenly cease to matter? What else might occur? Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, gives us an idea of the differing impact of God’s judgement according to each person’s particular circumstances. He does this using images which in some way try to express the invisible, without it being possible for us to conceptualize these images—simply because we can neither see into the world beyond death nor do we have any experience of it. Paul begins by saying that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ. This foundation endures. If we have stood firm on this foundation and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. Then Paul continues: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15). In this text, it is in any case evident that our salvation can take different forms, that some of what is built may be burned down, that in order to be saved we personally have to pass through “fire” so as to become fully open to receiving God and able to take our place at the table of the eternal marriage-feast.”


  12. VV,

    The problem is that although RC theology tries to make distinctions that do not allow for worship of Mary, in practice that is what happens, particularly in folk Roman Catholicism. There’s also the issue that every time contact with the dead is mentioned in Scripture, it is forbidden.

    As far as purgatory, if one wants to hold that at death there is some kind of instantaneous purification, I don’t think that’s a problem and in fact would seem to be required by glorification. The difficulty is that RC theology doesn’t hold to that position when it is talking about purgatory. You can’t separate RC purgatory from its view of justification, indulgences, saintly merit, and so on. Take that away and whatever you have left, it isn’t purgatory as historically defined and understood.


  13. Robert – I don’t disagree with any of your comment, though the OT prohibitions of touching dead bodies seem more ceremonial/temporal than moral. I’m not sure we can apply those to prohibit petitioning the dead under the New Covenant, though certainly necromancy is forbidden. You’re right about official Catholic theology often differing from actual practice: venerating Mary may be acceptable, but that can easily turn into idolatry; statues of saints may be ok, but that can easily lead to worshiping images; etc. And I don’t agree with purgatory as such, but Benedict’s version of purgatory – a transition to our glorified state rather than a physical and temporal phenomenon – seems reasonable to me.

    I tend to be sympathetic to Catholicism because it is often treated unfairly by Protestants. I object to snarky, straw-men criticisms like Susan anti-Catholic and Far from Rome made in their comments. There are plenty of legitimate problems with RCC theology – the infallible/authoritative nature of the Magisterium, the squishy distinction between sanctification and justification, the primacy of the Pope – without resorting to dishonest caricatures.


  14. VV, I don’t think that the relationship ascribed to Mary and Her Son is a dishonest caricature. A bit of snark there perhaps but it’s what is offered on the trad sites I visit. Her many superlative titles and the prominence of the love and devotion accorded to her is troubling. I just cannot see her as the conduit to Christ.


  15. “You’re right about official Catholic theology often differing from actual practice: venerating Mary may be acceptable, but that can easily turn into idolatry; statues of saints may be ok, but that can easily lead to worshiping images” AND THAT’S WHY YOU DON’T MAKE IMAGES! There’s a really good reason why God gave that commandment; we’re weak. So no, statues are NOT OK because it becomes idolatry. “Also, it is silly to suggest that had Mary refused to bear Christ that God’s plan would have been thwarted.” No it isn’t, I’ve heard RCers say it. Rome puts Tradition above Scripture and that’s a fact!


  16. Far from Rome – ah, and do you see what you did there? It’s no longer images of God that are unacceptable, or worshiping said images, but according to you making images of anyone or anything, whether or not they are worshiped, is sinful. Your statement above is not at all Scriptural or Confessional. What you did is classic legalism: making a boundary where Scripture does not. Adding extra-Scriptural rules is EXACTLY where the RCC Magisterium is flawed: they draw lines where Scripture does not, and those lines are binding on all members of the Church. Your error is every bit as problematic as theirs.

    Roman Catholics don’t put “Tradition above Scripture” – that’s NOT a fact. Scripture is a part of Sacred Tradition according to Catholics, but they don’t put one over the other. There is an element of truth to this doctrine: there was inspired oral Tradition before there was written Scripture. Where Catholics err is in believing that there is continuing extra-Scriptural revelation today. This is where there their notion of Tradition is flawed.


  17. Vae victis (@masonmandy) ,as Paul: said “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the
    simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

    Vv, when your counsel is similar to that above (whether it be about your opinion on sexual matters eg, other matters, or this matter), your counsel will be sound and in accord with our great and glorious Lord.

    The encyclical letter Susan linked is a long masterful piece about the hope of faith, that cleverly arranges to make its culmination in ” Mary, Star of hope”.

    The bible however culminates in us fixing our faith and hope in God in Christ alone, and making known the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory.


  18. @vv I agree that many criticisms of Marian devotion are crude, but you are understating the role Marian devotion plays when you characterize it as asking Mary to pray for us:

    from the Catechism: “the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”

    From the ETWN site: “ teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom! Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way! “

    Would you ask one of your elders to shine upon you and guide you on your way? Would you refer to your pastor as s mediator because of the role he played in your salvation by presenting the gospel to you?

    The part of the Catechism you quoted is fine as far as it goes, but it is the conclusion being debated. Is the Catechism correct when it says that Marian devotion doesn’t diminish or obscure Chrst’s Work? That is not at all clear to me, and asserting that it is so is not convincing.


  19. sdb – valid points. Mary certainly has an elevated status in RCC theology, and Marian devotion is part of Catholic spiritual life. I don’t agree with their doctrine of Mary – as I have said it is *possibly* correct on some level, but is not based on Scripture, at least not with any solid exegesis. My point is that petitioning (or “praying to”) Mary is not inherently idolatrous.


  20. @ VV: I appreciate the desire to interpret charitably. As you point out, the official doctrine is that saints can be asked to intercede for us just as friends on earth might be asked to intercede. So we agree that in their minds, Catholics are not worshiping Mary as a syncretist might worship Baal.

    But this still doesn’t get Catholics out of the woods yet. First, I think that we can agree that there is a superstitious manner in which we might ask friends to intercede — namely, to think that certain friends are more likely to be heard by God because of their godliness. We hear this on the Protestant side with “When so-and-so prays, God really listens.”

    That’s pure superstition. God hears us because we are His children; we are His children because of Christ’s righteousness imputed (Gal 3 passim).

    In the Catholic teaching, the reason that you would want to ask saints to pray for you is that they are more righteous; hence, their prayers are more effective per James: “Just like Catholics who go directly to Jesus but also ask Mary and the Saints to pray for us, Protestants themselves ask for the prays of their: pastors, ministers, elders, family and friends. There is nothing wrong with this; James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” and we are told to “pray for one another.” With this in mind, how greater are the prayers of Mary and Saints, particularly Mary, who is most blessed among women.” — Diocese of Brooklyn

    So the superstition is baked into the teaching, and it goes to a denial of imputation.

    Second, when the devotion extends to bowing before statues, it has clearly transgressed God’s command. “Do not make for yourself images … and do not bow down (proskunein) to them.” The Second Council of Nicea decided, wrongly, that one may bow (proskunein) in veneration to statues, but not worship (latruein) them.

    Cletus will show up in a couple of comments to inform us that the command to not bow is relative to having other gods only, but this is also incorrect. At all times and in every way, believing Jews avoided bowing to statutes.

    And again, Catholics will plead that they are not bowing to the statue per se, but to the person through the statue. But this objection is also of no force, for the ancient syncretists likewise understood themselves not to be worshiping the idol, but the god through the idol. It took Isaiah and David to point out that the idols were just literally idols, with no actual gods behind them.

    Third, as you have pointed out, the Marian doctrine *might* be correct (if somehow the above points can be disposed of), but is not actually taught in Scripture.

    in matters of faith and worship, that’s an automatic out. For the sake of conscience and in obedience to our Lord, who proscribed “teaching as doctrine the commands of men”, we do not as an institution teach or command that which cannot be proven from Scripture.

    So while I fully accept Susan’s statement that she doesn’t worship Mary, still I am concerned that what she says that she does is still out of accord with Scripture, and not merely additional to it.


  21. Jeff – I basically agree with you. My point isn’t to offer a wholesale defense of Catholic Marian doctrine, but to refute the straw men arguments advocated by Ali and Susan and Far from Rome. There are certainly dangers in the Catholic devotion to Mary (and with their Marian doctrine in general), but an appeal to Mary is not necessarily idolatry or inherently sinful.

    Regarding statues, I certainly agree that worshiping or venerating a statue or image (of any kind) is a violation of the 2nd Commandment, and that includes bowing before an image/statue in most cases, though I can imagine exceptions to this. However, I do believe images/statues can be used in a church building or other worship setting. There were images in the Hebrew tabernacle, and the 2nd commandment is focused on forbidding worship of an image, especially worshiping an image as if it were God. Far from Rome seemed to suggest that simply making statues of any kind is sinful, and I strongly disagree.


  22. VV, if you agree with Jeff then I’d think you’d see the problem with “praying to” Mary. Praying to is an act of worship. Right?


  23. VV,

    I’d also add to Jeff’s excellent comments that I’m not sure how one can effectively draw the line between asking Mary to pray for us and necromancy.


  24. I’m not sure I understand the hair splitting VV is attempting, the RCC acknowledges and advocates for Mary’s co-redemptrix role, including and even particularly that priestly mediation by which the duplex gratia are not only dispensed but even cooperatively merited. This is RC dogma. If that isn’t an eclipsing of the salvific work of Christ, I don’t know what would qualify.


  25. Zrim – no, praying to someone does imply not an act of idolatrous worship. “Praying” actually means requesting, petitioning, or pleading. Lawyers “pray” to the court for a just ruling, for example, but it doesn’t mean they engage in idolatrous worship of the judge. This might be a good topic for the expert linguists in the updating the Standards thread.

    Robert – necromancy, as I understand it, involves witchcraft in an attempt to control or physically communicate with the dead. The classic example in the Bible is Saul consulting the witch of En-dor to “summon” Samuel back from the dead. The author of 1 Samuel explicitly calls this necromancy, and it was, ironically enough, expressly forbidden by Saul himself. This is very different from “praying” to Mary or any other physically deceased Christian. I have heard Catholics say that Mary “speaks” to them; in my view this is highly problematic, and veers much closer to necromancy than Catholic theology allows.

    Sean – Mary’s role as “co-redemptrix” is not dogma – it is highly debated in Catholic theology, and multiple popes (including Benedict) have expressly rejected the term. Most Catholics do not adhere to the concept of Mary as a “mediatrix” or “redemptrix.” Mary willingly have birth to Christ and is therefore considered the “Mother of the God” and the “Mother of the Church”: thus Catholics consider her the Queen of Heaven and the New Eve, the way Christ is the New Adam. This is the basis for Mary’s exalted status in Catholic theology. Catholic Marian doctrine is speculative at best and possibly wrong, but it does not suggest that grace was dispensed by Mary. Again, my main argument in this thread is that we should push back on erroneous Roman Catholic beliefs based on what they are, not what they are not.


  26. VV, I’m gonna include this brief clip. There’s more if you really want to pursue it. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    During the Second Vatican Council, particularly in the third session held in 1964, there was a lively discussion on various Mariological themes, and there was also a discussion on the title of Mediatrix (86). Such a title was commonly accepted by everyone, but a few, including cardinals Alfrink, Léger and Bea, who preferred it to be omitted from the official documents of the Council in order to promote ecumenism toward Protestant Christians (the great majority of whom rejected the title then and continue to reject it presently) (87). There were, in fact, rumors that the Protestants were threatening to break off all ecumenical dialogue if the title of Mediatrix were to be inserted into the conciliar dogmatic constitution. Meanwhile, 310 Council Fathers desired an authoritative, extraordinary and dogmatic pronouncement by the Council in favor of Mary’s mediation-coredemption (88). To reconcile the two parties it was decided to insert the title of Mediatrix into the Marian document of the Council, but also to include adequate explanations to respond to Protestant objections and to omit all examination regarding the nature of this mediation.

    The Protestant “observers” invited to the Council were not satisfied, but they did not break off the dialogue (89). The omission of the title, in fact, would have cast a shadow upon the preceding Ordinary Magisterium and could have perhaps diverted the ecumenical dialogue from the level of truth to the level of political ambiguity. It could have contributed to “maintaining rather than dissipating the ambiguous” at the service of a “mistaken ecumenism” (90).

    Fr. Carlo Balić (O.F.M., +1977), one of the original drafters of chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, provides a suitable response to those who wish to interpret the Council as the moment of departure from the preceding Mariological tradition: “The Council has not mitigated or deprived the concept of the mediation of the Virgin of its content in the sense in which in which it has been propagated by the theologians of our (twentieth) century” (91).

    In examining the conciliar text of No. 62 of Lumen Gentium, we read the following:

    Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator (92).

    That is why, in the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary is also invoked under the title of “Mediatrix.” The Council document cites other magisterial documents as proof of the complete catholicity of the title: Leo XIII, Adiutricem populi; St. Pius X, Ad diem illum; Pius XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor; Pius XII, Nuntius Radiophonicus (in AAS 38 (1946) 266).

    In order to prevent an interpretation of Marian mediation as “mere” intercession, many Council Fathers proposed the Marian title of “Dispensatrix of all graces,” already fully accepted by the Magisterium and perfectly in conformity to common Catholic doctrine. The Doctrinal Commission replied that the Council text did not intend to deny this doctrine (93). Therefore, the Second Vatican Council does not at all repudiate the doctrine of Mary Mediatrix of all graces (94), a doctrine also clearly taught in the papal documents expressly cited by the Council text.


  27. VV, I don’t recall it offhand but it’s also reiterated in the catechism. It’s a typical example of the RCC wanting to say everything and then working out the details in pastoral application.


  28. Sean – the Catechism is not dogma. And anyway, the source you can’t recall is from a book titled Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, written by a group of American priests and theologians. It is a collection of very pro-Marian writings – hardly an “objective” source on the doctrines of Mary in the RCC. And they concede exactly the point I made in my previous comment in the very chapter containing the excerpt you pasted above:

    “Despite this fact, a certain debate exists among some Mariologists today concerning the legitimacy and significance of the title Mediatrix of all graces. Those who deny its legitimacy generally also deny Mary’s coredemption, thus witnessing the logical nexus linking these two truths.”

    And again affirming exactly what I said earlier about Mary’s exalted status deriving from her role as Mother of God:

    “The excellent theological intuition of the Pope [John Paul II] is completely summarized in the simple and effective title of Mary as maternal Mediatrix. What is maternity if not an excellent form of mediation from every point of view, in particular the personal and spiritual?…Since it puts the woman in an intermediary position between God, source of life, and the child, who receives it, in which she unites the two extreme (God and the child) to each other, this maternal collaboration is true mediation.”

    Certainly there are Catholics – even previous popes (who knows what Francis believes) – who believe Mary was a “co-mediatrix” and “co-redemptrix.” These are speculative terms at very best, and most likely incorrect. But this does not necessarily reflect official Catholic teaching, much less dogma. Just as there are different theological views on matters within the Reformed tradition, so too are there different theological views within Catholicism. A group of staunchly pro-Marian Catholics does not reflect official, or even prevailing, Catholic belief.


  29. VV, couple things, the catechism(magisterial imprimatur) teaches it, popes, particularly historically, affirm it all the way through Ratzinger and most of the roman curia, if not all of them, but somehow my source which I think is from the Franciscan Order(are you disputing their description of Vat II deliberations,what’s your contrary account and on what authority do you rely?) is somehow not representative but rather SPECULATIVE? Also, are you of a mind that somehow Mary’s mediatorial role per the maternal(inclusive of dispensing and meriting redemptive graces) is of an equal standing with reformed differences on, let’s say, eschatology broadly considered? Mary’s maternal mediatorial role is official teaching.


  30. VV, even on your grounds(and I’m not limiting myself to that source), somehow a group of American priests and theologians are NOT an objective source? Compared to whom? You?


  31. VV, I understand the fluidity of language and how “praying” is a synonym for requesting of another, etc. But that really isn’t how the term is used in the main. When was the last time you did? Your argument only carries water if you are stuck in the pre-modern era, and since you just agreed with me about the need to update antiquated confessional language your point seems a little tortured. The common understanding of “praying” is that it is an act of worship, not a petition of a special agent.

    But do these prayers sound anything less than doxological? Is this how you request fellow militant saints to pray for you?

    We fly to your protection, most holy Mother of God; please listen to our petitions and needs, and deliver us from all dangers, ever glorious and blessed Virgin Mary.

    Mary, our model and mother, by your obedience and patience you have taught us how to be true children of God. Please help us by your powerful assistance to overcome all our weaknesses, and to fulfill perfectly our tasks in life.

    By your compassionate aid may we ever stand in spirit with you beneath the cross of Christ so that we may also rejoice with you in your divine Son’s triumphant victory over sin and death.

    In your maternal kindness help us to be faithful to prayers in the company of God’s Church as you were one with the Apostles in the upper room as you waited for the promised Spirit of Pentecost.

    With your gracious assistance may we be near you in the glory of Christ’s kingdom come to sing with you and all the faithful the eternal praise of God. Amen.

    V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
    R. Pray for us who have recourse to you.

    You are all fair, O Virgin Mary,
    You never knew the stain of sin;
    You are the glory of Jerusalem,
    You, the joy of Israel,
    You, the great honor of our people,
    You, the advocate of sinners.
    O Mary, Virgin most prudent,
    O Mary, Mother most merciful,
    Pray for us,
    Intercede for us with our Lord,
    Jesus Christ.

    C’mon now. This is how one petitions a deity, real or perceived. When I ask for a fellow militant saint’s prayers it sounds more like “I’m having this issue, your prayers would be appreciated.” Pretty different and I wouldn’t describe it as “praying to” Bob.


  32. VV: the Catechism is not dogma.

    Interesting take from catholic.com:

    Concerning the Church’s teaching that Mary is the Mediatrix of All Graces, while this doctrine has been divinely revealed, it has not yet been—although could be—elevated to dogma. In Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig Ott explains, “The doctrine of Mary’s Universal Mediation of Grace based on her co-operation in the Incarnation is so definitely manifest in the sources of the faith, that nothing stands in the way of a dogmatic definition” (215).

    Divinely revealed doctrine that isn’t dogma!


  33. Sean – you’re moving the goalposts. Here’s what you said originally that I objected to:

    “the RCC acknowledges and advocates for Mary’s co-redemptrix role, including and even particularly that priestly mediation by which the duplex gratia are not only dispensed but even cooperatively merited. This is RC dogma.”

    None of this is correct, and I’ve demonstrated that. Now you’re arguing that Mary’s role as “maternal mediatrix” is Catholic teaching. Well, yes, I agree. That is exactly my point in my original response to you: Mary’s exalted status comes from her maternal role, and part of that involves “mediation” of sorts since she is the link between God and man in bearing the Son of God, Jesus Christ. I’m not disputing that is the Catholic teaching. What I dispute is your comment above, specifically that the magisterial teaching is that Mary is a “co-redemptrix” and has a “priestly mediation” as a dispenser of grace. And certainly none of that is dogma.

    Zrim – sure, Catholic devotion goes over the top and there are certainly examples of Marian idolatry. I’ve never argued otherwise. My point is that simple prayer to Mary is not inherently idolatrous, though it certainly can be, as evidenced in the prayer you quoted.


  34. VV, there’s nothing incorrect about what I said. Your struggle is that you don’t want to admit what the RCC teaches. Why? I’m sure I don’t know. That you want to declare that as NOT dogma, is a contested issue within the RCC that I tried to provide some insight to within the Vat II deliberations. I’ll take it back a move, maybe that’ll help, Mary’s Assumption is the ground for her mediatorial role, a mediatorial role which by the time Vat II roles around ALREADY includes the idea of co-redemptrix as grounded in ‘her’ role alluded to in Gen 3:15(DOGMA). The curbing you see on language in Vat II is SOLELY for ecumenical purposes(Pastoral). IOW, the church, quite explicitly, decided we’ll have an ‘ecumenical face’ and a ‘practicing face’.


  35. Sean – there are 4 Catholic Marian dogmas: 1. Mary as the Mother of God (Theotokos), 2. Perpetual virginity of Mary, 3. Immaculate Conception of Mary, 4. Assumption of Mary. Note that Mary’s role as “co-redemptrix” and “mediatrix of all graces” are not present in these dogmas. Some Catholics may derive these concepts from the Marian dogmas, but the fact of the matter is Catholics are divided about Mary’s role as a mediatrix of all graces, and especially over her role as co-redemptrix. Catholics do not believe Mary has any sort of “priestly” function, whatever her mediatorial role may be. So none of your original statement is correct, and that’s what I was responding to initially.

    I have no problem criticizing Catholic Marian doctrine for what it is. I, like Calvin, affirm Mary as the Mother of God, since she gave birth to our Lord, Jesus Christ. However, I reject the other dogmas as being contrary to Scripture (perpetual virginity) or unsupported by Scripture (assumption and immaculate conception). Catholic defense of Marian doctrine with appeals to Scripture are utterly unpersuasive to me. They rely almost entirely on Sacred Tradition (I would call it speculation), which, as Jeff pointed out, is not a basis for Christian faith and practice. Catholics go too far in their devotion and are guilty of idolatry in some of their practices. I have no problem criticizing these doctrines and practices as serious errors.

    Catholics believe that Mary is the New Eve, the Queen of Heaven, and intercedes to Christ on our behalf since she is considered the Mother of the Church (God’s elect) the way that Eve was the mother of all humanity. None of this is definitively anti-Scriptural, though as I have said repeatedly on this thread, it is entirely conjectural. Marian devotion and veneration are a part of Catholic spiritual life, and while I don’t believe this is *necessarily* sinful idolatry, it certainly *can be* sinful idolatry. I reject all these aspects of Catholic Marian doctrine.

    However, what I also reject are the false accusations, such as Ali’s accusations of Marian idolatry, or the many other Protestant claims such as “Catholics believe Mary is God” or “equal with Jesus,” or that “Catholics worship Mary instead of Jesus,” or “Catholics believe we should pray to Mary instead of God.” None of these are true. Again, let’s offer critiques of Catholic doctrine where they actually err, not based on inaccurate caricatures.


  36. Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: And by the way, a hearty congratulations to Ali for successfully and completely derailing the discussion. Susan (pro-Catholic) and I took the bait, and this is where it got us.

    oh vv.

    D.G. Hart says “All of these remedies might help to lessen the blows of our fallen estate. But the only solution is — wait for it — justification by faith (chs 4-6) and preachers who will proclaim the good news (ch 10). He doesn’t even invoke the Virgin Mary for help.”

    Not derailed at all. As I said 1) the solution for our sorry state is salvation (justification, sanctification, glorification) through Jesus by grace by faith alone and 2) invoking Mary for help is idolatry.

    As DG also quoted above: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images (of His creation).

    btw, I think it ever relevant to consider, now more than even, that if it were possible (except by the mercy and grace of God), even the elect would be mislead and no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light;
    therefore we always ought pray that our love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment and that we be able to discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God.


  37. VV, tell me more! She executes a priestly office and the role is dogma. That a group is looking to get certain titles more formally recognized doesn’t negate but rather reinforces the priestly role she already inhabits in RC teaching and piety. Unlike you, I ain’t some prot looking from the outside in but thanks for playing. And I’ll one up your “catholics worship Mary instead of Jesus” denial. Not only do many of them, particularly women, engage their piety in just this manner but part of the magisterium’s rationale for Mary’s promotion was that WOMEN could better relate to her(rather than Jesus). It’s not your fault that you don’t know, your just a separated brother(cough, cough).


  38. b, sd, “Would you refer to your pastor as s mediator because of the role he played in your salvation by presenting the gospel to you?”



  39. Sean – “She executes a priestly office and the role is dogma. That a group is looking to get certain titles more formally recognized doesn’t negate but rather reinforces the priestly role she already inhabits in RC teaching and piety.”

    So, let me get this straight: Mary has no priestly function and is neither “co-redemptrix” nor “co-mediatrix” in dogma or official RCC teaching, yet because a group “looking to get certain titles more formally recognized” has petitioned Vatican II and multiple popes (all of which have explicitly rejected their petition), that somehow proves that it actually IS dogma and official RCC teaching? Got it. When you’re not on Old Life, here’s a place you may feel right at home: https://theflatearthsociety.org/home/.

    Seriously though, all snark aside, I’m going to channel my inner Ringo Starr and say this with peace and love: you are continuing to insist that something is true when you have been irrefutably shown to be wrong. Why not just admit that you overstepped in your original comment and that the truth is this: it is not Catholic dogma that Mary has a priestly function, just as it is not Catholic dogma that she is a “mediatrix of all graces” or is a “co-redemptrix.” You may have heard Catholics say this (or even priests or bishops), but that doesn’t mean it is official/formal RCC theology, much less dogma.

    To use a Reformed example, we have discussed on Old Life multiple times that Calvin believed the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated every time the Word is preached in corporate worship. One might read Calvin and assume that all Calvinists and Reformed folk believe this. Yet that is plainly not the case, as the Reformed Confessions do not advocate this, and that is not the practice in most Reformed churches today. The same is true of Marian doctrine: some Catholics undoubtedly believe the things about Mary that you claim are dogma, but some Mariologists advocating for certain titles does not make it official RCC teaching.

    I don’t know what your experience is with the RCC, but I attend Mass not infrequently at multiple RCC churches, including multiple European countries. I have barely heard Mary mentioned in Catholic liturgy, much less “worshiped,” much less given the lofty titles you claim. I’m sure what you claim is taught at other Catholic churches, but I am not inexperienced in standard Catholic religious practice. All I ask is that we stick to criticism of Marian doctrine for what it is, not for what it is not.


  40. VV, I don’t know how to help you. I was raised in the RCC and educated through RC schools. You’re absolutely wrong about the idea that they don’t teach that she’s an mediatrix that extends beyond mere intercession. It is official teaching, go see the catechism, go see the discussions at Vat II, go see the pope’s encyclicals, go see the numerous religious orders DEVOTED to Mary and the promotion of Mary. The last mass I ‘attended’ was on EWTN, maybe a year and a half ago and they pleaded Mary’s intercessory vocation as well as her treasury of merit to recommend them to Jesus. This is boilerplate roman catholicism. The ENTIRE time growing up there was much more engagement of Mary in her priestly(function) role than there was of Jesus. I even remember a priest scolding a congregation for NEGLECTING Jesus in their devotions because they were so engaged in pursuit of Mary. You don’t know because you didn’t grow up in it. You believe what the RC apologists DEMAND you believe about what they teach.


  41. VV, just the framework of the rosary and even penance was a good practical evaluation. Ten Hail Mary’s to every one Our Father. Rome says everything, if you want to get a notion of what’s going on, you have to engage RC from the angle of rites and rituals. It’s not primarily a word-centric faith, particularly as it imparts(catechetical) the faith to it’s people. This is why pew practice and ‘development’ are such key components in what the RCC is, what it believes and where it’s going.


  42. @ VV, Sean:

    It appears that VV is making a distinction between dogma and doctrine. That’s a category that doesn’t translate well to Reformed notions, in that dogma is considered to be irreformable.

    For example, VV, your analogy to Calvin’s view of the supper isn’t apt, in that Calvin’s writings aren’t considered to be a doctrinal standard. Perhaps a closer analogy could be the doctrine of infant baptism. It is considered a correct reflection of Biblical teaching, but not inerrant.

    Analogously, Mary-as-co-redemptrix is considered by the church to be divinely received teaching, yet not inerrant dogma. Not sure how that works, but that’s the view.

    So when you say Certainly there are Catholics – even previous popes (who knows what Francis believes) – who believe Mary was a “co-mediatrix” and “co-redemptrix.” These are speculative terms at very best, and most likely incorrect. But this does not necessarily reflect official Catholic teaching, much less dogma, you are hanging too much hope on a technicality.

    The Cathchism is certainly official teaching, and it does not reflect speculation, but mostly-settled matters.


  43. Jeff, thanks. The RCC doesn’t know how it works either. Many bishops, theologians and even popes consider it dogma as grounded in Mary’s Assumption. There was an ecumenical obfuscation at Vat II on her emerging role and depending on the day and who you’re talking to, one group says it’s already dogma and another group wants a singular dogmatic declaration of the titles. In the meantime, most of the devout RCs, including the magisterium engage their piety as if she’s a co-mediatrix because, of course, she is according to RC teaching.


  44. Jeff – the Confessions are the *official* Reformed teaching. The Confessions do not state that the Lord’s Supper must be taken every time the Word is preached, yet Calvin – the most prominent of all Reformers – taught that it should be. The point is that one might read the most prominent Reformer and conclude that ALL Reformed folk believe the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated every time the Word is preached, but that is actually NOT the official Reformed doctrine or practice. The analogy is that one might hear a priest or even pope claim Mary is a “co-redemptrix,” even if that is not universally agreed upon RCC doctrine.

    Sean – you certainly have more experience with the RCC than I do. I’m not arguing what you were taught in RC school. My point is that it is not official RCC doctrine. I grew up in a PCA school, and I was taught all sorts of things that are not official Reformed doctrine: I was taught that smoking is a sin, that drinking ANY alcohol is a sin, that giving generously ALWAYS resulted in increased personal wealth, that not repenting of sins before taking communion resulted in physical sickness, etc. This isn’t official PCA teaching, but it was taught at my PCA school nonetheless. What we are taught in a church-affiliated school or even church itself does not always reflect denominational doctrine.

    I attend Mass because I find the liturgy far more reverential and worshipful than just about any Protestant church, though I don’t take the Eucharist. I attend my PCA church weekly, of course, but Mass only occasionally. Look, maybe you are correct and that the teaching on Mary as mediatrix and redemptress is far more pervasive than that I realize – you have more experience with it than I do. But I still reject the idea that is a universally agreed upon, authoritatively pronounced doctrine of the RCC.


  45. Jeff – also, I see nothing in the CCC about Mary as co-redemptrix. It does call her Mediatrix, but stresses that is in relation to her role as Mother of God/Church. I also see nothing about her being a dispenser of all graces.


  46. VV, here you go.

    “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”512


  47. VV, here’s Catholic Answers on your question

    Church Teaching or Popular Piety?

    If this is, indeed, Church teaching, it must be reconciled with Scripture, which says that “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

    Church documents and papal writings speak clearly. The Second Vatican Council states that “the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adiutrix, and Mediatrix” (Lumen Gentium 62). The Council refers to Pope St. Pius X, who said that Mary is the “dispensatrix of all the gifts and is the ‘neck’ connecting the head of the mystical body to the members. But all power flows through the neck” (Ad Diem Illum 13).

    Other popes and prominent saints have taught the same. In Octobri Mense Adventante, Pope Leo XIII wrote:

    Nothing at all of that very great treasury of all grace that the Lord brought us—for “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” [John 1:17]—nothing is imparted to us except through Mary, since God so wills.
    In Inter Sodalicia, Pope Benedict XV told us:

    Every kind of grace we receive from the treasury of the redemption is ministered as it were through the hands of the same sorrowful Virgin.
    Pope Pius XI concurred in Ingravescentibus Malis:

    We know that all things are imparted to us from God the greatest and best through the hands of the Mother of God.
    This is only a sampling of consistent papal teaching: The Church does teach that Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces.


  48. Sean – ok, fair enough. I’ll concede that official RCC doctrine is that Mary is a mediatrix of grace, if you concede that Mary as co-redemptrix and priestly mediator are NOT part of official RCC doctrine.


  49. VV, well, as you may or may not know, not only is this the function that she ostensibly fulfills but in Rome’s cooperative understanding of grace and salvation she does in fact inhabit a priestly role. So, both in piety and doctrine, she’s on the books as executing a function as priestly mediator. The best that Rome has come up with to counter this is that this in no way impedes upon or eclipses Jesus’ mediatorial role. Saying that and having that mean anything much less having an effect on the piety practice(curbing mariolatry) is something else entirely. Playing THE role as the mediator of grace(Jesus’ with which she cooperated and in an real sense shares in the redemption procured by Jesus) is priestly in anyone’s understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. VV, so, when the priest prays for Mary’s intercession this isn’t just intercessory prayer, this is trading upon her treasury of merit. It’s this treasury of merit that is effective for EVEN the salvation of others. That’s a co-redemptrix all day, every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. VV: I see nothing in the CCC about Mary as co-redemptrix.

    That word? No, it’s not used. The concept?

    That Mary was the cause of our salvation: 963, 965, 968.

    That Mary has a salvific office by virtue of her consent: 969.

    That Mary dispenses grace on our behalf: 969, 970.

    As far as I know, the only debate over the term “co-redemptrix” concerns the “co-“ prefix, whether it might insinuate equality between Mary and Christ. The RCC, to its credit, rejects equality.

    But there is no debate over the substance of co-redemptrix, which all is right there in the CCC.

    Concept trumps vocabulary.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Jeff – normally you are very reasonable, but this comment is not at all correct. 963, 965, and 968 do not indicate she is anything like the “cause” of our salvation. 963 and 965 are not even outside of Reformed orthodoxy (other than the note about the Assumption). 968 is a Catholic overreach regarding her current role, but says nothing about her being a cause of our salvation. Not sure where you get that, especially since the statement says clearly that it was the “Savior’s work.” It says no such thing about Mary. 969 and 970 suggest an intercessory (to Christ on our behalf) or mediatorial role, in which grace flows from Christ through Mary to us. It says nothing about a “redemptive” or “priestly” role. You are really overreaching here. This is a classic Protestant error – reading into Catholic doctrine all the inaccuracies we fear rather than analyzing and critiquing them for what they actually are.

    Sean – I think you are overreaching as badly as Jeff. We’ll have to agree to disagree.


  53. VV,

    I agree that much of what comes across on paper from official RCC sources does not sound nearly as bad as it could, but it’s important to remember that Rome is not a word-centric faith like Protestantism is. Sean already noted this, and it is hard for us Protestants who are concerned about original meaning of texts and so forth to wrap our head around it. But essentially for Rome, what a text actually says and meant in its original context is finally irrelevant. I’ve had Roman Catholic apologists tell me, for example, that it doesn’t matter what the Tridentine fathers meant; rather, the Magisterium of today tells us what Trent really means.

    It really is the whole pastoral application of dogma thing that Sean frequently refers to. What is said on paper and what is applied in practice can be two very different things. To draw a political analogy, whereas we confessional Protestants operate much like originalists and textualists do with respect to the US Constitution, Rome operates like those who embrace a living constitution theory. It’s all about the penumbras and the practice, not the actual creeds.

    Rome feels free to reject original meaning even with respect to the Bible. In the documents from Trent on concupiscence, they explicitly say that although Paul often calls concupiscence sin, concupiscence is not actually sin. If the church can do that with the words of the Apostles, they can do it and often do it with respect to their own later docs.


  54. Vae victis (@masonmandy) says: This is a classic Protestant error – reading into Catholic doctrine all the inaccuracies we fear rather than analyzing and critiquing them for what they actually are.

    Vv, I’m pretty sure the Lord wants it to be very simple for His children. Don’t think He’s impressed at all with convoluted rationale. When He says ‘simple and pure’, I’m pretty sure that is exactly what He means.

    Something either 1) helps keep one’s mind steadfast to the simplicity and purity of devotion of CHRIST;
    or it tempts to 2) lead one’s mind astray to something lesser. This simple test is very helpful I think.

    2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.


  55. “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13


  56. Robert – there is probably an element of truth to what you (and Sean) are saying about pastoral application of dogma, but I think you’re overstating the case a bit. Catholics firmly adhere to Scripture and creeds and ex cathedra proclamations and the like. Granted, the Magisterium becomes an inconvenience when doctrine changes over time, so I agree they can be “fluid” with their doctrine. I think a lot of the difference between *official* RCC doctrine and local parish teaching is similar to Confessional standards and local pastoral teaching. There are many examples, but off the top of my head the use of musical instruments in worship comes to mind. Instruments are neither mandated nor prohibited by the WCF/WLC, yet some congregations refuse to use them, while in others they are widely embraced. Both make the case that their practice is in line with the RPW. I suspect the same is true with many Catholic doctrines, including Marian doctrine. My point throughout this thread is that we should criticize the RCC for its actual doctrine, not for what some of its clergy teach.


  57. VV,

    I chose the words “cause of salvation” deliberately. They come from Irenaeus:

    In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word. Luke 1:38 But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in Paradise they were both naked, and were not ashamed, Genesis 2:25 inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. — Irenaeus Ad Her 3.22

    With this phrase, Irenaeus equates cooperating with God’s plan of salvation with being a cause of salvation. And in the discussions of Mary as co-redemptrix, Catholic enthusiasts specifically connect Irenaeus’ words to CCC 963, 965, 968.

    So far from being a stretch, I am simply reflecting what Catholics actually teach and think about the matter.

    As regards “redemptive” or “priestly” role, I don’t recall saying anything like that. What I said was that in the CCC, Mary has a salvific office by virtue of her consent. Those words are right there, so I don’t understand your objection.


  58. Jeff – right, Sean made the claims about the RCC teaching that Mary has a priestly role, but you claim that the catechism teaches that she a co-redemptrix. I still disagree that this is the official RCC teaching. Irenaeus was writing to refute Gnosticism and Docetism, and to establish NT continuity with the OT. He basically developed the concept of Mary as the “New Eve” in the same way Christ is the New Adam. I don’t think Irenaeus had in mind that Mary “cooperated” with Christ’s redemptive work other than giving birth to Christ the Redeemer. If some staunch pro-Marian Catholics read the idea of co-redemptrix into Irenaeus and the Catechism, that is hardly his fault or the fault of the RCC.

    As an aside, 3 aspects of Irenaeus’ quote are interesting. 1. He claims Eve was a virgin before the Fall, which is possible, but not a necessary inference from Scripture. 2. He equates sexuality with “shame.” 3. He implies that the purpose of sex is for procreation only. All of this demonstrates the evolving sexual mores of the early church beyond the bounds of Scripture.


  59. VV,

    My point throughout this thread is that we should criticize the RCC for its actual doctrine, not for what some of its clergy teach.

    Yes and no. The issue is that the tradition is “alive” in Roman Catholicism in a way it isn’t in confessional Protestantism. Our deposit of faith is firmly fixed because it is equivalent to the Scriptures. In Rome, there is no firmly fixed definition of faith, despite the profession of adherence to things like the creeds and councils. Trent firmly anathematizes Protestants. Vatican 2 doesn’t. And Romanism is moving beyond even V2 into full-on universalism. That move is part of the living tradition. Francis’ obfuscation is part of the living tradition.

    The catechism and other things are helpful to a point, but they don’t really encapsulate the lived faith on the ground, which for the vast majority of RCs in the West amounts in practice to “we need to go Mass once and a while.” There’s no adherence to supposed dogmas such as contraception and no real attempt by the living Magisterium to enforce obedience to dogma. In developing countries especially, the actual Marian practice is full-on, unabashed idolatry.

    It’s like looking to mainline Protestant bodies, which also embrace a concept of a living tradition/Magisterium. Until very recently, it was on the books in the PCUSA that homosexuality was a sin and marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. But the practice on the ground was very different. If we can criticize only what has been formally codified as dogma, the PCUSA was completely orthodox until they changed the wording of the confessions and BCO.

    In Rome, the lived faith on the ground is the dogma long before it is codified in practice. That’s really true of all communions to some degree, but it is particularly true in communions where there is no church discipline.


  60. VV, Mary, plays a priestly role not only in practice but it’s reiterated in church doctrine. This isn’t even controversial. It functions in regards to the treasury of merit(mediatrix and co-redemptrix) and the cooperative enterprise of salvation that Rome teaches. It’s the HOW of how Mary and the Saints can serve the intercessory role they perform in RC.


  61. Robert – I agree with much of what you say in your latest comment. My only response is that I don’t think the variance between doctrinal standards and “on the ground” faith in the RCC is much different from your average Protestant denomination, including Reformed denominations. As I said earlier, I attended a PCA school where I was taught all sorts of things that are not official PCA doctrine. I suspect the same is true of Catholics. That’s why I think if we are going to consistently and narrowly criticize RCC doctrine, it must be based on their official church teaching, not anecdotal experience or wild caricatures (e.g. Catholics worship Mary).


  62. vv, “I attend Mass because I find the liturgy far more reverential and worshipful than just about any Protestant church”

    Even when the men don white tights and prance during the offertory at Redeemer NYC?


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