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Then I Confessed, I Can Do No Other Print E-mail
By Francis J. Beckwith   
Friday, 27 April 2012

On April 29, 2007, five years ago this Sunday, I was publicly received into the Catholic Church at St. Joseph’s Parish in Bellmead, Texas. My wife, Frankie, stood beside me, as we both faced Fr. Timothy Vaverek, who presided over the brief ceremony between the homily and the recitation of the Creed at Sunday Mass.  Frankie was received as a candidate, since, unlike me, she had not been baptized and confirmed as a youngster.

Frankie could not wait to become Catholic, and she thought it a bit unfair that we reverts had a loophole: All I had to do was partake in the Sacrament of Confession. Fortunately for her, Fr. Timothy gave her a private crash-course RCIA, which culminated in her reception the following August.

When I went to confession on April 28 at St. Jerome’s in Waco, it was the first time in over thirty years that I had partaken in the sacrament. My younger brother, James, emailed me earlier that week and volunteered to assist me in recollecting my sins. 

When I entered the confessional, I sat face-to-face with Fr. Rakshaganathan Selvaraj (or “Fr. Raj”). I closed my eyes, made the sign of the cross, and said, “Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. It has been over thirty years since my last confession. I’m not sure I can remember all of my sins.” Fr. Raj, in his thick Indian accent, replied, “That is alright. God knows them all.” “I was afraid of that,” I quipped.

Fr. Raj then heard my confession and granted me absolution.  My penance, if I remember correctly, consisted of one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary.”  When I told this to Frankie, she thought the priest had let me off easy. She was right. She knew my sins.

After we had decided to become Catholic, we sought counsel from trusted friends. For I was, at the time, President of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), an academic association of Protestant biblical scholars, theologians, philosophers, historians, and ministers that in 2007 had a membership approaching 4500. This is why we initially decided to postpone our entry into the Church until after my presidency had ended in November 2007.

Our Protestant friends thought this wise, and recommended we keep our intentions private until after November. Our Catholic friends looked at it a bit differently. They were concerned that news would leak out and cause scandal. So they suggested that I just make an announcement of what we intended to do post-presidency. Not knowing which counsel was wiser, we prayed about it.


               Descent of the Holy Spirit by Gustave Doré, 1865    

Two weeks after we made that petition my wife and I were having breakfast with my parents in Washington, D.C. We were there for the wedding of my cousin, Jimmy Sclafani. My cell phone rang. It was my sixteen-year-old nephew, Dean, eldest son of my brother James. Dean asked me to be his Confirmation sponsor. Several months earlier his aunts, uncles, and grandparents were asked by his mother Kimberly to compose letters to Dean, explaining why he should receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Although when I wrote my letter I was a Protestant (though one clearly moving in the direction of Rome but not quite there yet), I saw Confirmation as a way by which a Catholic publicly announces his allegiance to Jesus Christ. I saw my task as serious business. Several years earlier, when Dean was twelve, he was struggling with issues about God’s existence and the overall rationality of Christian belief. I knew I had to write a letter that appealed to both his heart and his mind

I began by telling him that Jesus Christ was the smartest man who ever lived. I then went on to explain the scope of his influence and that of his disciples – in literature, art, the sciences, law, medicine, philosophy, theology, and politics. I told Dean that by placing his trust in Christ he was entering an intellectually and spiritually rich tradition unparalleled in human history.

When he called me that morning he said that it was my letter that had finally convinced him to receive the sacrament. I took the phone away from my ear, turned to Frankie and said, “I think our prayer has been answered.” Dean’s confirmation was only four weeks away, and I could not be his sponsor unless I was in full communion with the Church. A week later, on April 28, I entered the confessional. The next day I was publicly received into the Church.

That evening I wrote a letter to the other members of the ETS executive committee, telling them what I had done. Nevertheless, I assured them that I could remain as ETS president since there was nothing in the society’s statement of belief with which a Catholic could not agree. It was naïve to believe that this was possible. Within a week I resigned, realizing that I could not remain as ETS president without causing scandal.

When I was elected ETS president in November 2006, I could not have imagined that I would return to the Church fewer than six months later. To be sure, I had moved closer to Catholicism over the prior decade, but there still remained a few issues that were impediments, and I was confident that they would remain so. I was mistaken. Within months, obstacles dissipated at an alarming speed. The scales fell from my eyes.

Then I confessed, I could do no other.

Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University.  He is the author of Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic (Brazos, 2009) and one of four primary contributors of Journeys of Faith: Evangelicalism, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anglicanism (Zondervan, 2012)
 
 
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Comments (54)Add Comment
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written by Nathan, April 26, 2012
Awesome.
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written by will manley, April 27, 2012
Professor Beckwith, this is very inspirational. Thank you for a great way to start the day. What were the reasons why you left the Church and what were the reasons why you came back to it?
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written by JMC, April 27, 2012
It's absolutely beautiful how God answered your prayer. Happy 5 year anniversary!
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written by debby, April 27, 2012
dear professor,
i always enjoy your posts. i have a favor to ask of you:
is there any way you could "post your letter" to your nephew as a link to TCT? even if you had to re-write it from memory?
it would be MOST HELPFUL to those of us living with atheists and antagonistic protestant relatives.
please, please, pretty please......i am a poor beggar with my heart outstretched to you.....!
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written by Phil, April 27, 2012
Sic 'em, Holy Spirit.
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written by Brad Miner, April 27, 2012
To Debby: Prof. Beckwith has graciously provided a link to the letter he wrote to his nephew, which you'll now find at the end of the second paragraph after the illustration. -ABM
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written by Jacob R, April 27, 2012
Beautiful story! I always love a good conversion story! They're so uplifting and just opposite in every way from what you watch on the news!
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written by Jason , April 28, 2012
Prof. Beckwith,
I'm curious how you have been able to embrace Mary in your faith. If you know Scripture, you would know that they don't support many of the Marian doctrines and were unknown for centuries by the church.
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written by Francis J. Beckwith, April 28, 2012
Jason, you're making two assumptions (pardon the pun):

1.Whatever is not explicitly stated in Scripture cannot be a truth of dogmatic theology
2. Whatever is unknown for centuries cannot be a truth of dogmatic theology.

But these two assumptions are clearly false. Concerning the first, we can make several observations. Because the list of canonical books of Scripture is a truth not found in Scripture, then you would have to reject the list. But that clearly is unreasonable. Also, the principle that "whatever is not explicitly stated in Scripture cannot be a truth of dogmatic theology" is not explicitly stated in Scripture. Thus, it refutes itself. Third, the substance-person formulation of the Trinity--not to mention the Chalcedonian formulation of the Incarnation--are not explicitly stated in Scripture, and yet they are truths that bind Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox.

As to the second assumption, it is equally suspect. First, there are numerous Christians who reject, and thus do know that "whatever is unknown for centuries cannot be a truth of dogmatic theology." So, these Christians would have a warrant to reject this assumption on its own grounds. Second, the canon itself was not fixed, and thus not known, for centuries. Thus, you would have to reject Scripture as a standard based on this second assumption. Third, orthodox formulations of numerous Christian doctrines, e.g., the Trinity, Incarnation, etc., were not explicitly stated for centuries. It seems that they are true. Thus, your assumption is false. Fourth, much of the infrastructure of the Reformation project--sola scripture, forensic justification, abandonment of apostolic succession, and a non-realist view of the Eucharist--were novel doctrines (or at least recent departures from Tradition) when they were proposed in the 16th century. Thus, under your second assumption, you should reject the Reformation.

So, I have no good reason to accept the assumptions behind your query. I do, however, have many reasons to accept the authority of the Church and the role that Marian doctrines play in serving as a deeper understanding of the nature of Christ and the spiritual disciplines. Belief in the Immaculate Conception (though not dogmatically affirmed until the 19th century) and the Assumption (though not dogmatically affirmed until the 20th century) run deep in Christian history, shared by both Eastern and Western Christians. On the other hand, the Reformation doctrines mentioned above are of recent vintage. It seems, then, that the burden is on the critic and not on the believer to show that the universal church was mistaken on these matters.
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written by Francis J. Beckwith, April 28, 2012
Bad typo.

I mean to say in the above:

As to the second assumption, it is equally suspect. First, there are numerous Christians who reject, and thus do NOT know that "whatever is unknown for centuries cannot be a truth of dogmatic theology."
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written by russ rentler,md, April 28, 2012
To Jason: You are incorrect in your comment regarding the Early Church and Marian doctrines. Please read below:

"As Eve was seduced by the speech of an angel, so as to flee God in transgressing his word, so also Mary received the good tidings by means of the angel's speech, so as to be God within her, being obedient to this word. And though the one had disobeyed God, yet the other was drawn to obey him; that of the virgin Eve, the virgin Mary might become the advocate and as by a virgin the human race had been bound to death, by a virgin it is saved, the balance being preserved- a virgin's disobedience by a virgin' obedience." (Against Heresies, 3, 19) (130 A.D.)

St. Justin in 110-165 A.D. writes:

For whereas Eve, yet a virgin and undefiled, through conceiving the word that came from the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death; the Virgin Mary, taking faith and joy, when the Angel told her the good tidings that the Spirit of the Lord should come upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadow her, and therefore the Holy One to be born of her should be the Son of God, answered, Be it don to me according to thy word. And so by means of her was he born, concerning whom we have shown so many Scriptures were spoken; through whom God overthrows the serpent, and those angels and men who have become like to it, and on the other hand, works deliverance from death for such as repent of their evil doings and believe in him (Dialogue with Trypho, 100 A.D.)

Eve was called the mother of the living ...after the fall this title was given to her. True it is...the whole race of man upon earth was born from Eve; but in reality it is from Mary the Life was truly born to the world. So that by giving birth to the Living One, Mary became the mother of all living (St. Epiphanius, Against Eighty Heresies, 78,9)

One of the oldest catacombs contains a drawing of the Madonna and Child dating back to the second century, and the oldest known request to Mary, the "Sub Tuum Praesidium", dates back to at least 300 AD!

We fly to your patronage, O holy Theotokos;
despise not our petition in our necessities,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O ever-glorious and blessed Virgin.
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written by Wendell, April 28, 2012
Has it been five years already? Wow, time flies.

Peace be with you!

I remember reading the announcement of your reversion and your wife's conversion. I said it then in a message, and I'll say it again now - from a convert to a revert: welcome back! Welcome home!

Thanks be to God for leading us home.
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written by Jason, April 28, 2012
Professor Beckwith,
The issues of the canon, Trinity and other doctrines are separate issues and must stand on their own.
Who in the late first century or second century thought of Mary as the RCC does today?
As for what happened to Mary in regards to her assumption is unknown. Note this from a RC scholar: The Roman Catholic writer Eamon Duffy concedes that, "‘there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for it ...’ (Eamon Duffy, What Catholics Believe About Mary (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1989), p. 17). For centuries in the early Church there is complete silence regarding Mary’s end. The first mention of it is by Epiphanius in 377 A.D. and he specifically states that no one knows what actually happened to Mary. He lived near Palestine and if there were, in fact, a tradition in the Church generally believed and taught he would have affirmed it. But he clearly states that ‘her end no one knows.’ These are his words:
But if some think us mistaken, let them search the Scriptures. They will not find Mary’s death; they will not find whether she died or did not die; they will not find whether she was buried or was not buried ... Scripture is absolutely silent [on the end of Mary] ... For my own part, I do not dare to speak, but I keep my own thoughts and I practice silence ... The fact is, Scripture has outstripped the human mind and left [this matter] uncertain ... Did she die, we do not know ... Either the holy Virgin died and was buried ... Or she was killed ... Or she remained alive, since nothing is impossible with God and He can do whatever He desires; for her end no-one knows.’ (Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. 78.10-11, 23. Cited by juniper Carol, O.F.M. ed., Mariology, Vol. II (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1957), pp. 139-40)."

This shows that there is no foundation for the assumption of Mary in Scripture. The same thing can be said of other aspects of the Marian doctrines. The only reason a RC believes these things is not on any historical evidence nor on proper exegesis of Scripture but because of the authority RCC. That alone is the foundation for these doctrines.

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written by Jason, April 28, 2012
Russ,
Where is it written that what a church father has written is what the entire church of the time officially taught and believed? The other problem with quoting the fathers for support is that they are not infallible. Should we put what the fathers wrote on the same level as Scripture?

As for what was found on a wall in the catacombs is not a proper foundation for a doctrine or what was believed by the church at the time.
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written by Dick Landkamer, April 29, 2012
Jason,

You ask, "Who in the late first century or second century thought of Mary as the RCC does today?" Before commenting on your question, I would like to ask you a similar question: Who in the late first or second century thought of Protestantism as Protestants do today, or as Protestants thought of Protestantism in the sixteenth century? Or, to extend the question a bit, who thought of Protestantism in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth . . . fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, as it is thought of today? I think we both know the answer, and it doesn't favor your position as a Protestant.

Returning to your question, it is worth noting that the earliest generally accepted time of composition for Luke's Gospel is in the 60's. This means that, at the earliest, it was written at the time of second generation Christians, and it was written for second (and later) generation Christians. It further means that what Luke wrote about Mary already represented the lived expression of the first generation of Christians. Now, Luke says a number of very interesting things about Mary, but perhaps the most interesting is Lk 1:48: "Behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed," since it is both a singular and an extraordinary statement about a human person. There are two things to note here. First, this verse has no parallel in all of Scripture for any other human person; second, based on what I stated above, this verse represents the lived expression of first century Christians (“all generations” has to include the first generation of Christians that preceded the writing of Luke’s Gospel). They called her blessed.

Now, I readily admit that this says nothing explicitly of the doctrine of the Assumption, but it does say something about the RCC's motivation for defining the doctrine. The blessedness that Scripture assigns to Mary is on the order of the blessedness that it assigns to Jesus as man, as can be seen in Lk 1:42, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb", and Genesis 3:15, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed". No other human person in Scripture is so closely linked with Jesus in terms of mission and holiness. This linkage can readily be seen to indicate that there is no moral obstacle to her being assumed into heaven at the end of her earthly life. When these facts are combined with the woman in Rev 12:1, who is the great sign in heaven, and who is the mother of the Messiah (Rev 12:5), we have good reason to believe that she actually is in heaven, and that belief is based on Scriptural evidence, as I have just shown.

This is not to claim that the Christians of the first century thought of Mary in exactly the same way the RCC does today, but it does show that the rudiments of the RCC’s belief in the Assumption are found in Scripture and in the thinking of first century Christians. The principles of doctrinal development that led the RCC to state explicitly that Mary has been assumed into heaven are the same principles that enabled the Fathers at the Council of Nicaea to make Christianity’s first doctrinal statement on the Trinity in 325. No Christian can deny the validity of doctrinal development, for to do so is to deny the doctrine of the Trinity. Now, if you claim that the verses I referenced don’t provide evidence for the Assumption of Mary, based on the way you interpret them, then you will have to explain the nature of the authority that you use to interpret them, and how that authority is superior to the authority of other Christians.
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written by Jason, April 29, 2012
Dick,
I'm not saying the early Christians were Protestants. They were not RC either.
Mary was blessed not because of anything in herself but she was blessed to play the part of mother of Jesus and to raise Him. This is why she is blessed.
What the RCC has done is to go far beyond what the Scripture tells us about her and to impose its speculations on her and the Scripture. She is never presented in Scripture like the RCC does.
As for Mary being the woman of Rev 12 just does not fit the description that John describes.
Interpreting Scripture does not require some kind of authority. Rather it requires proper exegetical methods to determine the meaning. Things like word meanings, context and comparing Scripture with Scripture all help to gain us understanding what the authors meant.

BTW- Even Mary recognized her need of a Savior in Luke 1:47. This clearly shows she saw herself as a sinner in need of a Savior.
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written by Francis J. Beckwith, April 29, 2012
One of the problems with this sort of discussion is that the questions raised by Jason presuppose a particular--and far from universally accepted--understanding of what counts as a legitimate Christian doctrine. What he is suggesting is a point of view defended by some very fine people--some of whom are my friends--but it has an array of problems, some of which I have noted above. For example, it does not count against the Marian doctrines to note that they are not explicitly stated in Scripture, as if this would be surprising or shocking for the Catholic to discover. Because the Catholic rejects sola scriptura as well as the Protestant understanding of authority, it is a mystery as to why these arguments are even offered in the first place. It would be like telling a Brit that the U. S. Constitution does not include a place for monarchy and then pronouncing that the UK is full of uninformed nitwits not conversant with the "real" nature of government.

This is why I raised in my initial comments questions about the development of doctrine, including issues concerning the incarnation, the Trinity, and the canon of Scripture itself. Jason said we should set those aside. If I were in his position, I would make that suggestion as well, for the principles that made those developments possible--an ecclesial body with the authority to issue binding doctrinal pronouncements--are precisely what are in play with the Marian doctrines. It is, then, of no small coincidence, as Cardinal Newman has pointed out, that after the Council of Ephesus (434 AD) affirmed Mary as theotokos (mother of God) there was a corresponding rise in Marian devotion. That seems to make sense, writes Newman, because it places a hedge around the deity of our Savior, preserving both his divinity and his humanity. A Church that venerates the Mother of God is less likely to think of her Son as anything less than divine and human.

That was not necessary in 100 A.D. The church had other issues to attend to. But it is no argument against a 5th century development to say that it was not present in the first century. It's like arguing that the physician is not identical to his teenage self because the teenager could not perform appendectomies.

Because the seeds of all this are found in Scripture--as Dick has eloquently noted--the development is not without Scriptural roots. Thus, it should not surprise us that the Assumption of Mary, prior to the Reformation, was embraced by the Church universal, East and West (though it was not an "official" dogma until the 20th century). In fact, it is recognized within the Anglican Church, though its importance varies from congregation to congregation. Thus, given the lateness of the Assumption's rejection, 16th century, we should be careful on what grounds we choose to jettison it.

Quoting Catholic authors who depart from Catholic teachings (or appear to depart from Catholic teachings) is not the sort of argument from authority that would persuade a Catholic. Trot out a pope, a church council, an encyclical, or even an ancient church father, then we can start talking. The fact that professor so-and-so says such-and-such is about as persuasive as quoting Arius of Alexandria on the deity of Christ. He was, after all, a Catholic.
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written by Robert A. Rowland, April 29, 2012
Dick: Luke's Gospel was written in Greek in Achaia in 48 A.D.

Jason: Mary was created without original sin. As the only perfect creature she did not need a savior.

Mary did not have to die, but she chose to imitate her Son, and died on Friday August 13 at the same hour her Son died just short of her 70th birthday though she did not age physically after the age of 33. Her soul went to the empyrean heaven. She came back on the third day to resuscitate her body and with it returned to the right hand of her Son.
Mary visited the four Gospel Writers before they began writing and cautioned them not to say any more about her than was necessary to prove the virgin birth of her Son. She gave Luke a little more leeway than than the others.
If you want to know about Mary, I suggest you read The Mystical City of God by Venerable Mother Mary of Agreda that has numerous approbations and is reputed to be the autobiography of the Holy Family dictated by Almighty God and His Mother Mary.
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written by Suzanne, April 30, 2012
Robert,
I believe what you say is incorrect. Our Lady was created free of original sin by the merits of Jesus who would later die on the cross. She was preserved from original because she was to be the Mother of God, however, even if she never committed a sin, she still needed a Savior to be preserved from original sin.
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written by Jason, April 30, 2012
Professor Beckwith,
There are a number of problems with the "the development of doctrine" theory. With such a theory practically anything could be proved. The RCC had to come up with some kind of explanation to defend those doctrines that have no grounding in Scripture. It does count against the Marian doctrines that it was not taught by the Lord Jesus nor His apostles. You can never truly claim it is biblical because there are no facts of Scripture to support them. There are no facts i.e. verses of Scripture that specifically say that Mary was assumed into heaven or that she was without sin. The quote I gave you earlier has to do with historical facts that can be easily researched. Its not about "Catholic authors who depart from Catholic teachings". They are presenting historical facts.
You asked for some "a pope, a church council, an encyclical, or even an ancient church father" in regards to not agreeing with RCC theology on Mary. Here are a few:
"Augustine Bishop of Hippo “Whatever flesh of sin Jesus took, He took of the flesh of the sin of his mother. Jesus did not partake of sin, but took of his mother, which came under the judgment of sin.”
Augustine “ He, Christ alone, being made man but remaining God never had any sin, nor did he take of the flesh of sin. Though He took flesh of the sin of his mother.”
Pope innocent the third (1216 a.d.) “She (Eve) was produced without sin, but she brought forth in sin, she (Mary) was produced in sin, but she brought forth without sin.” ( De festo Assump., sermon 2)

Augustine (354-430):
We have, my dearest Marcellinus, discussed at sufficient length, I think, in the former book the baptism of infants, — how that it is given to them not only for entrance into the kingdom of God, but also for attaining salvation and eternal life, which none can have without the kingdom of God, or without that union with the Savior Christ, wherein He has redeemed us by His blood. I undertake in the present book to discuss and explain the question, Whether there lives in this world, or has yet lived, or ever will live, any one without any sin whatever, except “the one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all;” — with as much care and ability as He may Himself vouchsafe to me.
NPNF1: Vol. V, On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and on the Baptism of Infants, Book II, Chapter 1.


Pope Leo 1 (440 a.d.) “The Lord Jesus Christ alone among the sons of men was born immaculate”(sermon 24 in Nativ. Dom.).
.N.D. Kelly comments:

"Origen insisted that, like all human beings, she [Mary] needed redemption from her sins; in particular, he interpreted Simeon's prophecy (Luke 2, 35) that a sword would pierce her soul as confirming that she had been invaded with doubts when she saw her Son crucified." (Early Christian Doctrines [San Francisco, California: HarperCollins Publishers, 1978], p. 493)



Basil of Caesarea (AD. 329-379):
When thou hast blessed the Lord out of Scripture according to thy power, and hast sent up thy praise to Him, then begin to humble thyself and say, ‘I am not worthy, O Lord, to speak before Thee, because I am a sinner.’ Even though thou knowest nothing evil of thyself, thou must speak so; for none is without sin, but God only.
For translation, see Richard Travers Smith, The Fathers for English Readers: St. Basil the Great (New York: Poit, Young and Company, 1879), pp. 145-146."

BTW- I think you have done some great work on abortion and apologetics.
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written by James, April 30, 2012
I would like to share these thoughts with Jason regarding the comments of April 28. In your response to Professor Beckwith, you remarked, “The issues of the canon, Trinity and other doctrines are separate issues and must stand on their own.” It has been my experience in conversing with protestants that this is a very common reaction, namely, to simply refuse to address a problem that they cannot respond to and then they move on to something else for as long as the conversation lasts. This is not a reasonable way to conduct a sincere research for the truth. One must either answer the question or admit that one is unable to answer, which should lead to some serious soul searching. In regard to Marian doctrines, Professor Beckwith has given an answer, but you have simply ignored the very valid points he has raised in his first answer. You owe it to yourself to think this matter through sincerely. Speaking in general about human psychology, Pope John Paul II, who often dealt with atheists, had this to say in his document “Faith and Reason”: Some people only need to catch a glimpse of the truth and they run the other way. This, I might add, was why St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr was killed – they didn’t have any rational answers so they held their ears.
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written by Jason, April 30, 2012
James,
I'm not refusing to discuss anything. My focus has been on the Marian doctrines and the problems associated with them. I know the doctrine of the Trinity and what Scriptures are used to support it. It is on solid biblical-apostolic grounds. This cannot be said for the Marian doctrines as I have shown. I also know how the NT canon was discovered and why.
My previous post addresses some of the issues that Professor Beckwith brought up. I even gave him some quotes from some fathers and popes who do not agree with the RCC' teachings on Mary.
Are you sincerely willing to look at what the Scripture says about Mary?
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written by Jeff, April 30, 2012
What a beautiful story. I am sure your wife's private crash-course RCIA was unique and wonderful. However, I must say that my year-long RCIA was also a terrific experience. I learned so much from the back-and-forth with other candidates and catechumens and spending extended time with our Deacon and RCIA Team. It was one of best years of my life.
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written by James, May 01, 2012
I would like to share these thoughts with Jason regarding the comments about Mary. The topic is vast, so I can only give an outline here. As I am sure you know, in the Gospel of John, both at Cana (Jn 2:4) and again at the cross, Jesus addresses his mother with the title “woman” (Jn 19:26). Although he uses this term also with other women in normal circumstances, it was not normal for anyone to address his own mother with this term. The answer as to why Jesus said this is very similar to Jesus changing the name of Simon to Kephas (rock). It indicated a role that Kephas was going to have in the Church (Mt 16:18) that Jesus was creating. In the case of Mary, Jesus is not giving her a new title, he is recognizing a role that she already had when God created her. The idea that Mary is a parallel, but victorious opposite, of Eve is an idea that we find written already in second century Christianity. I say “written” because there were many truths of faith that were not written, as St. Paul tells us (2 Thess 2:15); nevertheless, this idea finally was written down by St. Justin (who dies in 165) and Iranaeus (who dies in 202). As these men worked in both in the west and east, we can say the idea was universally accepted (we do not find contemporaries rejecting this position). Just as Adam (Gn 2:23) recognized in the first woman his helpmate (and called her “woman”), Jesus, the new Adam, recognizes in Mary his helpmate and calls her “woman,” and at her request, Jesus gives the sign (wine from water) of the new creation: Jn 2:11. The new creation, merited by the obedience of Jesus the God-man, was already being formed throughout salvation history and comes to a climax in Mary’s yes to the will of the Father, but it was prepared for by the very fact that she, like the first “woman,” was created by God immaculate due to the merits of Christ crucified who dominates human history from the very beginning as the omnipresent son of God. Since sin is the cause of death in Genesis, Mary, the new Woman, is exempt from the corruption of death as the new “woman” created perfect and without stain (immaculate) by God who does all things well. The words of the psalmist which St. Peter applies to Jesus “you will not allow your just one to experience decay” (Acts 2:25) also apply to Mary. This is where we find another biblical seed of the doctrine of the assumption. That is why, as a parallel to Eve, Mary is called “woman” in John’s Apocalypse as well. As the new creation, we see her with the cosmic signs of the original creation (sun, moon, stars). However, her travail at the “birth” clearly does not regard the physical birth of Jesus (since he is immediately saved from Satan the murderer), rather it regards his rebirth from death (his baptism) and immediate entrance into the presence of God the Father as the victorious obedient son of a mother who shares in his struggle and victory (as was predicted by Simeon, e.g. Lk 2:35). Here it is good to note that the Bible was not written with the simplicity of a cookbook where it is enough to know how to read. The Bible comes from the Holy Spirit, and its interpretation requires a special light which God has given to the members of the Church he founded under the guidance of the successors of the Apostles. I would add a thought here, especially for Catholic readers. The term “New Eve” is often used to indicate Mary’s parallel role as mother of those reborn in Christ (Rev 12:17). However, the title which the Bible specifically gives her as the new “woman” shows better her immaculate origin and her assumption (Rev 12:14) in which she is saved both spiritually and physically from the powers of Satan, the adversary predicted in Genesis. In fact, it is after the sin of the first woman that Adam gives his wife a new name “Eve”(Gn 3:20) since her role has been limited after sin. No longer was Eve immaculate and exempt from death, though her limited role as mother continued. Mary has all the fullness of womanhood as she passed the test as the helpmate of her divine Son who preserved her always by his grace from the bonds of Satan which would have trapped her too, were she not saved by the Savior’s grace from Satan’s touch.
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written by Francis J. Beckwith, May 01, 2012
Jason:

Again, you are simply making the point that Catholicism is not Protestantism, but that begs the question if you believe that in itself makes Catholicism wrong.

There are many things that are not found in Scripture, some of which you believe are in fact true:

1. Necrophilia is morally wrong.
2. The New Testament consists of 27 books. (That list does not appear in Scripture, and yet it is a theological truth that you apparently believe)
3. No theological claims not explicitly stated in Scripture are actual truths.
4. The Incarnation, as formulated by the Chalcedon, is true.
5. The Trinity is best understood as three eternal persons and one immaterial, eternal, and infinite substance.
6. The Bible consists of 66 books.

None of these claims is explicitly stated in Scripture, and yet (I assume) you believe them as theological truths.

In order to account for these truths, you need an understanding of doctrinal development. The Catholic Church offers one that is sophisticated, clear, and defensible. To suggest that you can "prove anything" from the theory is not a rebuttal to the theory. It is an assertion. If you read, for example, Cardinal Newman's seminal work on the subject, he provides example after example of correct and incorrect development. He, of course, may not be right on every case, but at least he provides an argument.

The quotes you reproduce are not shocking to Catholics, since on the matters opined about the Church had no settled doctrine. In the same way, to find a Nestorian-sounding account of the Incarnation in the 4th century would not count against Chalcedon. It would just mean that the issue had not been settled yet.

Since you bring up St. Augustine, he also embraced apostolic succession, baptismal regeneration, a realist view of the Eucharist, infused righteouness, and celebrated Mass very similar to the one celebrated by Catholics today. This was part of the infrastructure of the Church, and was so uncontroversial that it was not until the Reformation that the wholesale rejection of these ideas was entertained by a large body of Christians.

Imagine that the only thing holding you back from Catholicism was the Assumption. Do you think that schism on such a matter is justified? It would be like divorcing your wife because she had a wart on her big toe.

Even when I was an Evangelical I knew that commitment to Christianity could not rest on my understanding everything. That sort of rationalistic burden, sadly, haunts many very smart and inquisitive Evangelicals. But Christianity, whether Protestantism or Catholicism, is packaged deal. When you accept Jesus, you also get some real disturbing stuff in the Old Testament. Do you chuck Christianity because this stuff is often difficult to explain to skeptical unbelievers? Of course not.

The case for the Marian doctrines, it seems to me, is pretty solid. But even if I thought the case was marginal, it would be wrong for me to artificially detach those doctrines from the wider case for Catholicism. In the same way, if a Christian, Catholic or Protestant, has difficulty with portions of the Old Testament, it would be wrong to not see those passages in light of the grander case for Christianity. If Jesus rose from the dead and is therefore God, and if Jesus believed the OT was God's word, then I have to accept it as God's word, even if there are portions of it that I find difficult to accept. This is called "faith," and it is a virtue.

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written by Clarence G White, May 01, 2012
Professor Beckwith

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. I was an evangelical Quaker pastor for 28 years, and a student of the Quaker philosopher Elton Trueblood...I now teach philosophy full-time at a community college and entered Christ's one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church this Easter. I very much want to read your book. God bless.
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written by Deblette, May 01, 2012
Congratulations on the anniversary of your return to the Catholic Church. I made mine five years ago and was confirmed four years ago. I was blessed with a powerful conversion and one by one, all the things I believed of this world were stripped away and replaced, by the working of the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Mother is the one who brought me to her son. There is no doubt in my mind as to where she is and that her mission is ongoing. The arguments used by evangelicals and other protestants against the veneration of Mary have never made any sense to me. Jesus IS GOD. Mary is HIS mother. What more do you need? Jesus is the King. That makes Mary the Queen. How simple? What causes me concern are those who are hostile and angry about the veneration of Mary and talk about her as if she was nothing. I wonder how they will explain to Jesus when they stand before him and he asks why? If they love their mother, what degree of love do they believe Jesus holds for his own? The woman who did the will of God in an amazing way, greater than any other human being in history. Why wouldn't we love her? Pray that the Holy Spirit opens their hearts and lets them love as Jesus loved.
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written by James, May 02, 2012
I would like to say a few more words to you, my friend Jason, regarding your statement that you do not refuse to discuss anything. If you look carefully at this posting, a lot of learned comments have already been shared with you in this series of comments, but besides asking us, we ask you to answer some very fundamental ones which are central to the whole Protestant theory. How is it possible that Martin Luther and his associates changed the Bible that had been translated into Latin over a thousand years previously when the Pope entrusted this task to St. Jerome? Was the entire Church in error about the Bible for all that time? Had the Holy Spirit abandoned the Church? Since sola scriptura is a foundation of Protestantism according to Luther, it is a key issue that you should explain to us and to yourself. Moreover, everyone knows that Luther found this solution convenient because there were passages also in the books he rejected (besides the New Testament itself) that he could not reconcile with his novel theories. What you are doing by bringing up objections is ignoring a mountain of evidence for the Catholic Church and clinging to a molehill of doubt against the Catholic claim to be the Church to whom Jesus promised, “He who hears you hears me.”
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written by Jason, May 02, 2012
James,
Luther did not change the Bible. He, with help translated the Bible into the language of the people. In his case it was German. Others before him had also translated it before him. The Vulgate had been the Bible for over a thousand years. By translating the Bible into the language of the people, it made it possible for people to understand the Word of God.
The problem at the time was with the Old Testament Apocrypha. For centuries these books were called deuterocanonical i.e. second canon. “Jerome rejected the Deuterocanonical books when he was translating the Bible into Latin circa 450 CE, (see the Vulgate). This was because no Hebrew version of these texts could be found, even though they were present in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint). However, they eventually were accepted by the Church, and most of them remained part of the Bible. Protestants rejected these books during the Reformation as lacking divine authority. They either excised them completely or placed them in a third section of the Bible. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent, on the other hand, declared in 1546 that the Deuterocanonical books were indeed divine.” http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/apo/index.htm
One of the problems with them was that they were not written by a prophet of God and they do contain errors.
The church at the time was in error. There was massive amount of corruption in the church at the time but the leadership refused to repent of it and correct it. The indulgences controversy was one of the things that helped spark the Reformation. This doctrine is not only false, but was abused even by Roman Catholic standards by the pope and Tetzel who both abused the people so they could build a cathedral in Rome. These are historical facts.
Sola Scripture is the doctrine that teaches that since the Scriptures alone are inspired-inerrant Word of God, then they alone are the highest and ultimate authority for the church. All doctrines are to be in subjection to the Scripture.
Luther did have problems with the book of James at first but then later did accept it. I know of no Protestant Bible that never had this book in it. Keep in mind that Luther was not infallible. He never made that claim for himself. Only one person can be said to be infallible and that is the Lord Jesus.
The church of the New Testament is not the Roman Catholic church. It is different in structure and doctrines.
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written by Jason, May 02, 2012
Deblette,
If Mary is a queen, why didn't Jesus tell us this? There is not one hint from Him that Mary was His queen. Same for His apostles. Not once do they refer to her as a queen.
We should not also assume that the relationships we have in this world carry over into the next. Jesus makes this point on marriage in Matt 22:23-32.
Why would you need to venerate Mary when the Scripture never commands it nor shows anyone doing so? Jesus alone is worthy of all that we have. He alone is to be venerated and worshipped.
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written by james, May 02, 2012
I think the answer is hidden in the obvious for Jason as it was for me. I am a re-vert. Just viewing the Prof. and Jasons debate shows me that when two very capable people can not agree and play the never ending game of scripture quotes and church father quote ping pong it really shows the fruits of sola scriptura, end less visible divsion in the body of Christ! Imagine this debate being between two incapable people. Sola scriptura has been the greatest enabler in continued division and you now you see a trend among young evangelicals as it now being great enabler in redefining what constitutes sin.
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written by Jason, May 02, 2012
James,
I think some of the problems in the church today is that people don't know Scripture well, don't know what the official teachings of their church and there is an ignorance of church history on both sides of the isle. Ignorance of these things does not lead to the truth.
I think its great to have a discussion with Dr Beckwith and the others. We may not agree but at least for those who take these things seriously will think deeply about these things and be challenged to look at their beliefs.
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written by Jason, May 02, 2012
Professor Beckwith,
There are some things in the Roman Catholic church that are right. Some of its beliefs on the Trinity, deity of Christ and the NT canon are correct.
However, the claim by the Roman Catholic church is that it has never erred and incapable of error in matters of faith and morals related to salvation. That is quite a stupendous claim considering Jesus never promised such a thing for the church. In fact the Scripture does warn that false teachers and teachings will come into the church and deceive many. This alone nullifies the claim that the church cannot err.
Not all that I believe can be found in Scripture. All that I am bound to as a Christian is found in Scripture because the Scripture alone is inspired-inerrant.
Not sure how doctrinal development helps you. Formulating doctrines based on Scripture is one thing. The Trinity is one such example. It is well grounded in Scripture on multiple levels.
It is another thing to claim that indulgences, purgatory and the Marian dogmas are also grounded in Scripture. We can look at Scripture and see if our exegesis of Scripture does indeed lead us to believe that indulgences, purgatory and the Marian dogmas are actually taught in Scripture. When we look at those passages that are specifically used we find that is not what the authors of Scripture are teaching.
My point with Augustine and a few others was that in regards to Mary being without sin he did not believe that. It was not a unanimous consent of the church since the beginning. Just because he embraced various beliefs of the Roman Catholic church does not mean he was right.
That’s why we must first search the Scripture to see if such things as apostolic succession, baptismal regeneration, a realist view of the Eucharist, infused righteousness, and the Mass to see if they are truly grounded in Scripture. Take apostolic succession for example. You first have to establish that Jesus taught this and that Peter was indeed the supreme leader of the New Testament church. After that, you are going to have to show that the bishop of Rome or any bishop after the apostles died was the supreme leader of the entire church. History and Scripture does not support this assertion.

However, this is not the supreme issue as important as these things are. Now that you have been a Roman Catholic for some time, do you think that Protestants are deceived about the gospel and its power to save? As a Roman Catholic, what must you believe-do to be saved? Is there a difference from where you were as a Protestant to where you are now as Roman Catholic?

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written by Dick Landkamer, May 02, 2012
Jason,

I think you would save yourself a lot of time by researching some (or all!) of the topics your raise in the writings of first-rate Catholic authors. Based on what you have said, your information appears to come only from those who are the enemies of the RCC. Common sense says that an institution that exists for 2000 years has to have something going for it. Can you think of another institution with even a fraction of that longevity? That fact alone should pique one's interest.

Going back to one of your earlier posts, you state "all doctrines are to be in subjection to the Scripture." That is, of course, a doctrine. Since you (claim to) only accept doctrines that are explicit in Scripture, where, in Scripture, do you find that doctrine, and when was it first recognized by any significant body of Christians?
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written by Jason, May 02, 2012
Dick,
I not misrepresented anything. If the truth makes me an enemy of the RCC then so be it. Just because an institution has been around for a long time does not mean it is true. There are more ancient religions than Christianity. Should we believe that they are true while Christianity is false? I think not.
My position that all doctrines must be based on Scripture can be argued from the nature of the Scriptures themselves. They alone are the inspired-inerrant Word of God. See II Timothy 3:16-17. There is nothing like the Scripture. Nothing can compare with them since nothing else is inspired-inerrant.
There are a number of reasons this was not recognized by a larger number of Christians is:
1- lack of copies of the Scripture. To have your own copy of the Scripture in the early centuries was very costly.
2- illiteracy of the masses
3- the church was primarily liturgical.
4- many of the leaders did not have adequate training in the Scripture.
These are just some of the reasons that this did not happen sooner.
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written by Dick Landkamer, May 03, 2012
Jason,

Allow me to clarify a thing or two. First, I did not say that you misrepresented anything, or call you an enemy of the RCC. There are people who are essentially self-declared enemies of the RCC and their writings tend to carry the perspectives that you have expressed. Thus, it appears as though that is where you have obtained the little bit that you know about the RCC. For that reason, I suggest that you do some research in the writings of first-rate Catholic authors on those same subjects, so that you can at least see the issues from a balanced perspective. Second, I did not say that longevity itself indicates the truth of the RCC’s teachings. But, it is a fact that things of human origin change, that is, they become something other than what they were at one time. This can be seen in the other ancient religions you refer to, but it is not seen in the RCC, where there has be development that remains completely consistent with its original state. Since this is humanly impossible, the very fact of the long history of the RCC should pique your interest.

In regard to the question I raised in my prior post, while you have responded to it, you have not answered it. In fact, you have essentially indicated your acceptance of doctrinal development (which you rejected earlier in this thread). I asked you to show where, in Scripture, your doctrine that “all doctrines are to be in subjection to the Scripture” can be found. You pointed to 2 Tim 3:16-17: “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” These verses say nothing about your doctrine (I agree with you that all doctrine must be consistent with Scripture, but you and I both know that this doctrine is not explicitly found in Scripture). However, these verses from 2 Tim do support the idea of doctrinal development. You have stated, earlier in this thread, the importance of context. The context of this passage is that of Paul giving advice to Timothy, sometime before the year 70. He says “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” We can ask what sacred writings Paul is referring to that would have been available in Timothy’s childhood. Since there was no New Testament at that time, nor at the time Paul was giving this advice to Timothy, the sacred writings would have to be those of the Old Testament. The New Testament itself was unknown to Paul, even though he contributed to it. This means that you acknowledge the principle of doctrinal development, since this passage indicates that Paul taught that the sacred writings only included the Old Testament. He could not have taught that the sacred writings included the New Testament since some of the writings of the New Testament did not yet exist, and those that did exist were yet not recognized as the New Testament. As Professor Beckwith pointed out earlier in this thread, the New Testament canon is not found in Scripture. How do you account for it without the principle of doctrinal development?
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written by Jason, May 03, 2012
Dick,
It is true that the sacred writings that Paul is referring to would have to be the OT. The RCC has changed over time. It has added and taken away things that were not part of the NT church. In structure it has added the papacy and a celibate priesthood. Both offices do not exist in the NT church. It has changed the requirement for church leadership from being a married man with children (I Timothy 3) to mandating celibacy as a requirement. It has added doctrines such as indulgences, purgatory and the Marian doctrines were unknown to New Testament church. All these show that the Roman Catholic church has changed.
The doctrine of Sola Scriptura does not claim that all doctrines have to be "... in Scripture, your doctrine that “all doctrines are to be in subjection to the Scripture” can be found." Rather it implies that since the Scriptures alone are inspired-inerrant are the ultimate and infallible authority by which all doctrines, creeds, confessions of faith, traditions etc are by nature to be inferior to and subject to correction by the Scriptures.
What this means is that any doctrine or creed must be firmly supported by the Scripture. We see this in the early creeds that are supported by Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Christ are other examples of firm support from the Scripture. These are essential and binding on all Christians. A couple of negative examples that are false would be the JW doctrine that Jesus is not eternal. This is a denial of what the Scripture teaches about the nature of Christ. Applying this principle to some of the Roman Catholic doctrines such as Mary being sinless is a denial that all men are sinners because all men have their nature from Adam. See Romans 5:12.
The New Testament canon is derived from the nature of the books of the canon. It is not necessary that the New Testament itself lists the books of the canon in some passage of the New Testament. If you want to call this doctrinal development then so be it. So long as we have the facts of Scripture to support our claims then it would be binding. This is where the Roman Catholic church runs into problems. It does not have the support of Scripture for some of its doctrines and practices. Claiming doctrinal development can lead to error. The Mormon could use this same principle to justify its unbiblical doctrines also. Whose to say?

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written by Matthew Barker, May 03, 2012
In the interest of 'cutting to the chase' for evangelicals such as Jason, I fail to grasp how, if they reject Rome, how they can justify NOT embracing Eastern Oxthodoxy, because many of the objections he and most Protestants bring up are similar objections of the Orthodox (the role of the Papacy, the development/evolution of dogma such as on the Theotokos, purgatory, etc.)...Protestantism per se would have been seen as heretical in the first several centuries of Christianity. Eastern Orthodoxy, on the other hand, despite its aforementioned objections to Catholicism, clearly is onboard with Rome in terms of the Magesterial structure, hierarchy, sacraments, apostolic succession, the development of dogma (albeit differently than Catholicism). So to Francis' point, Jeff, the onus is on you to justify why, as a believer of Christ who objects to Rome, your faith is not Apostolic, or Orthodox.
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written by James, May 04, 2012
Jason, in an earlier posting I had mentioned to you that it was my experience that Protestants almost ALWAYS moved on to some other topic when they got a decent answer to some question without the courtesy to admit they had no convincing reply. This, of course, is a way of fleeing from the truth. Following the sola scriptura method (which is a non-Biblical criterion), I gave you a biblical approach to the Catholic teaching on Mary (on May 1). I did not see your point by point response to that posting. Do you have one?
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written by Dick Landkamer, May 04, 2012
Jason,

I would like to set the other issues you raise aside for the moment in order to continue with the idea of doctrinal development because it is critical to the issues you raise. Based on your earlier post, it appears as though you implicitly, if not explicitly, recognize the general principle of doctrinal development in the case of the canon of the New Testament. As you know, the New Testament canon was not settled until long after the close of the Apostolic age. The canon had to come from somewhere other than what was clearly recognized as Scripture in the Apostolic age (i.e. the Old Testament). It could have come from the Apostle John, assuming his writings were the latest of those that make up the New Testament, but he clearly did not give us a canon. Hence, an explicit NT canon comes neither from Scripture nor from the Apostles. The canon itself is not explicitly contained in divine revelation. However, it is implicitly contained there, and that is what you are alluding to when you say "[The canon] is derived from the nature of the books of the canon. It is not necessary that the New Testament itself lists the books of the canon in some passage of the New Testament." I agree with you that it is not necessary for the NT to list all the books of the NT. The issue of the canon, like many others, is resolved through the process of doctrinal development.

You have expressed a concern that anything can be claimed as a doctrinal development. However, that is not the case if we are speaking of the RCC’s understanding of doctrinal development, best expressed by John Henry Newman, as pointed out by Professor Beckkwith earlier in this thread. Doctrinal "change" can be good or bad. That which is good is more properly call a development than a change. It provides a more profound understanding of what was explicitly revealed. That which is bad is a corruption, which is essentially a rejection of the original doctrine from which the corruption claims to have come. Newman speaks of seven "notes" or "tests" of authentic development. The seven notes, with my very brief "definitions" of the notes, follow below.

1. Conservation of type (the doctrine must be identifiable as one and the same throughout its history)
2. Continuity of principles (the principles from which the doctrine finds its expression must be continuous throughout the doctrine’s history)
3. Power of assimilation (the doctrine must be capable of sifting through the ideas of its environment, keeping those that are harmonious with it, while rejecting those that are not harmonious)
4. Logical sequence (the doctrine’s expression at any time in its life must follow a logical progression from its earlier state and be logically consistent with respect to other doctrines)
5. Conservation of its past (the doctrine must maintain in its current form of expression all of its authentic forms of expression in the past)
6. Anticipation of its future (the doctrine must show historically that its later, fuller expressions were present, at least in seed form, in its earliest state)
7. Chronic vigor (the doctrine must demonstrate the property of vigor throughout its history)

When these notes are applied properly and rigorously, they allow one to conclude that what appears to be a change is either a development or a corruption. This is what the RCC is speaking of when it speaks of doctrinal development. It is not true that "The Mormon could use this same principle to justify its unbiblical doctrines." In fact, the application of Newman’s notes will show clearly that Mormon doctrines that are not compatible with Christian teaching are, indeed, corruptions. I suggest you read Newman’s "An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine" so that you have a better understanding of what the RCC means when it speaks of doctrinal development. You will find it to be a very thought-provoking read, even if you choose to reject his thesis. You can find it online.
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written by Jason, May 04, 2012
Dick,
Do you think that the doctrinal development theory-principles will be used to proclaim Mary as co-redemptrix and acceptance of homosexuality by your church? I can see these things becoming part of the RCC in the future.
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written by Dick Landkamer, May 05, 2012
Jason,

Let’s take the homosexuality issue first. I am certain that the RCC will never accept homosexuality as a morally acceptable lifestyle. The principles of doctrinal development absolutely exclude the acceptance of homosexuality; it would not pass the test of a single note, let alone all seven. With respect to proclaiming Mary as co-redemptrix, we have a different situation. You and I both know what homosexuality is. I trust that we are working with essentially the same definition. This is, most likely, not true in the case of Mary as co-redemptrix. That being the case, I am certain that the RCC will never proclaim Mary as co-redemptrix in the way that you understand it. As things currently stand, there is not universal agreement among Catholic theologians regarding what specifically is meant by saying that Mary is the co-redemptrix. The term is used, on occasion, but its meaning is dependent, to some extent, on the understanding of the one who is using the term. The RCC has long taught that Mary had a role in the redemption of mankind, and this we see in God’s words to the “serpent” in Gen 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers.” Justin Martyr (d. 165) spoke of Mary as the New Eve, and later Irenaeus of Lyon (d. ca. 190) presented a fully worked out theology of Mary as the New Eve. The identification of Mary as the New Eve was universally accepted throughout the Roman Empire well before 400. It is possible that the principles of doctrinal development could all be satisfied with a proper understanding of what is meant by co-redemptrix, and, in that case, a formal definition could come about. However, the RCC is very sensitive to the opinions of both Protestants and Orthodox on such questions; historically, that hasn’t always been the case. As such, we can count on there being consultation among all three Christian bodies before another Marian definition takes place, if, indeed, there is another one. That doesn’t mean that the RCC will hold off making a definition just because another Christian body is opposed to it, but it does mean that there will be a dialog with those who wish to enter into the discussion.

You may be interested in what is typically, though not universally, meant by “co-redemptrix” among Catholic theologians. Stated briefly, it speaks of redemption being constituted of two elements, 1) Christ’s passion and death, and 2) the intention with which He offered Himself to the Father. Regarding the latter element, there are two aspects, a first and second intention. The first intention of Christ was that of a preventative redemption of Mary, that is, preserving her from Original Sin (we refer to this as the Immaculate Conception). The second intention of Christ was to associate a human person (remember that Jesus is not a human person, per the Council of Ephesus, in 431, though He was fully human) with His act of Redemption. A key item to remember, for the definition of Marian doctrines, is that they are always intended to bring about a better understanding of the Incarnation and then to shed light on the mystery of God and salvation in general. They are not, primarily, about Mary. For example, the Council of Ephesus defined her as Theotokos, God Bearer, or Mother of God. The intent was not to emphasize Mary. Rather, it was to show definitively that her son was a divine person only; not a human person and a divine person. The definition could not help but give some attention to Mary, but that is a secondary effect. Something similar could be said about all of the Marian doctrines, in terms of the emphasis being placed primarily on the Incarnation. The RCC has used her to make its teaching on her son better known.

Returning to the topic of homosexuality for a moment, I would like to note that empirical evidence has been rolling in for decades that relates homosexuality with contraception. I think it can be said that contraception enables homosexuality. The obvious link between the two is that both result in sterile sex acts. Now, it is worth noting that all Christian denominations regarded contraception as an intrinsically evil practice prior to 1930, at which time the Anglican church declared it to be permissible in some specific rare cases. It did not take long for that door to be opened wider, and for other Christian denominations to jump on board. For many decades now, all Christian denominations have considered contraception to be morally acceptable, except for one, the RCC, and, if you read the news at all, you will know that the RCC is constantly skewered by the media for its “Medieval thinking” about contraception. That being the case, it is really absurd to think that the only Christian denomination to hold the line on contraception will open its doors to homosexuality. On the contrary, you should be concerned that your own denomination will accept homosexuality if it already accepts contraception.
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written by Jason, May 06, 2012
Dick,
One of the problems with the "principles of doctrinal development" is that it does not rely on the correct and proper exegesis of Scripture. This is a foundational problem because without it, a person can make Scripture say anything even though the meaning of a text does not support the doctrine. Take Mary as the New Eve. It is not taught by the Lord Jesus nor His apostles. We don't see any of this kind of thing in the letters of the apostles. You also have the problem with a church father who writes something as always being true. Justin Martyr and Irenaeus of Lyons are important figures of the past but they don't speak for the entire church. They are not infallible. Their claims about Mary are not based on exegesis of Scripture but a reading into what they think Mary is. I checked a number of commentaries on Genesis 3:15 and found none to support the idea that Genesis 3:15 is about Mary. Here is what the New American Bible (Catholic translation) says in its footnotes on this passage:
“[15] He will strike . . . at his heel: since the antecedent for he and his is the collective noun offspring, i.e., all the descendants of the woman, a more exact rendering of the sacred writer's words would be, "They will strike . . . at their heels." However, later theology saw in this passage more than unending hostility between snakes and men. The serpent was regarded as the devil (⇒ Wisdom 2:24; ⇒ John 8:44; ⇒ Rev 12:9; ⇒ 20:2), whose eventual defeat seems implied in the contrast between head and heel. Because "the Son of God appeared that he might destroy the works of the devil" (⇒ 1 John 3:8), the passage can be understood as the first promise of a Redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman's offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ.”
Also, the idea that Mary did not sin because there was “a preventative redemption of Mary, that is, preserving her from Original Sin (we refer to this as the Immaculate Conception).” has no basis in Scripture. There is not one verse or passage that comes close to supporting this idea. Not even Luke L:28 can be used to support this claim. There are also other passages that do show that she was a sinner like the rest of us. See Luke 1:47, Romans 3:9, 23 and 5:12.
This alone violates point #4—“ 4. Logical sequence (the doctrine’s expression at any time in its life must follow a logical progression from its earlier state and be logically consistent with respect to other doctrines)” If Mary was without sin, then it violates other passages of Scripture.
I agree that the council’ intent was the clarify the incarnation but it also led many to make the wrong conclusions about Mary which has resulted in making Mary out to be some kind of goddess. If you read some of the devotional material such as the Glories of Mary by Alfonso Liguori you will find example after example of this kind of thing. Since the Roman Catholic church endorses and promotes these kinds of works, there is no reason to think that someday your church will again elevate Mary far beyond what the Scripture tells us about her.
I suppose contraception might have something to do with homosexuality but I think the main cause for it is the breakup of the family and the lack of fathers in homes. Either absent or passive. From what I have read about the leadership of the Roman Catholic church, there is a large percentage that are homosexuals. Couple this with its mandate for celibacy among its leaders is problematic. Again, since the Roman Catholic church has not followed the Scripture (I Timothy 3) in the requirements for leadership, why should we think your church won’t someday call homosexuality a good thing?
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written by Dick Landkamer, May 06, 2012
Jason,

I would like to speak to your last paragraph first, which takes us back to the homosexuality/contraception link. That the link exists is undeniable, but you can count on it being underreported, if reported at all, by the media. It is notable that this link was in the mind of one of the Anglican bishops who attended the 1930 Lambeth Conference in which Anglicans opened the door to contraception. Anglican Bishop Charles Gore expressed the concern that the acceptance of contraception would, in turn, “open the door to accepting homosexual sodomy.” You prefer to attribute the rise of homosexuality to “the breakup of the family and the lack of fathers in homes.” If you examine the cause of those issues, you will find contraception to be the culprit, once again. The empirical evidence for this cause and effect is abundant. So, one way or another, we both see the contraception/homosexuality link. For this reason, you should be concerned about homosexuality being accepted by those of your denomination, if it approves of contraceptive lifestyles.

Regarding your concern with homosexuality and the RCC, there are really two issues. With respect to the first issue, I expect that there will always be some level of active homosexuality among the members of the RCC, just as we count among our members adulterers, fornicators, murderers, etc. The Catholic Church is full of sinners (there are also a few holy people). The second issue is that having a church full of sinners of any particular type is not the same thing as having a doctrine that accepts that particular type of sin. The two are separate issues. As I said before, I am fully confident the RCC will never teach erroneously on the subject of homosexuality. On the other hand, it is possible that the majority of the membership of the RCC will, at some point in time, be of a homosexual persuasion. I hope things never come to that but, even if they did, the doctrinal integrity of the RCC will remain intact and will weather that storm as it has weathered every other storm in its 2000 years.

Taking up some of your other comments, you did not present any evidence to support your claim that “One of the problems with the ‘principles of doctrinal development’ is that it does not rely on the correct and proper exegesis of Scripture.” That would be a problem, if it were true, but it is not true just because you say it is. Since you provide no support for your assertion, there is really no comment I can make on it other than it is an opinion without foundation.

Regarding Mary as the New Eve, this identification does not rely on Justin Martyr and Irenaeus alone. As I said in my earlier post, this identification was universally accepted throughout Christianity before the year 400, and perhaps much earlier. It was not in the least controversial, ever. Justin and Irenaeus used it in their apologetical works in a manner that indicates the identification was already well-known and accepted at the time they used it. I agree with you that they are not infallible, but that fact is irrelevant. As for the commentary in the NAB for Gen 3:15, it seems to me that it actually supports what I have said earlier. At the very end of your quotation from the commentary it states that “The woman's offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ.” That being the case, how could the woman be anyone else but Mary? Perhaps your concern is that it was “later theology” that came to see this. I don’t know what the commentator intended by later, but it could not mean anything later than the second century, for that is when Justin Martyr and Irenaeus lived, and they were clearly referring to Gen 3:15. See, for example, Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies,” 5.21.1.

I would now like to take a quick look at the Scripture verses you use to attribute the status of sinner to Mary.
- In Luke 1:47 Mary says “My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” You take that to mean that Mary committed personal sin. However, it is not necessary for one to have committed personal sin in order to need a savior. A savior is required for all who fall under the curse of Adam’s sin. For example, those unborn children who die in their mother’s wombs, though they have never committed a personal sin, are still in need a savior, because of Adam’s sin. Hence, Lk 1:47 tells us nothing about personal sin with regard to Mary.
- Romans 3:9 “All men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin.” The context of this verse is that of personal sin, but it makes no particular statement of sin with regard to Mary. We have in this verse a case where the word “all” does not mean absolutely all. In fact, there are millions of exceptions, among whom are all children who die before they reach the age of reason. If you somehow insist that the verse includes Mary, then you have no way of saying that it does not apply to Jesus, who would have to be included in a literal “all men.” I doubt that you want to go that far.
- Romans 3:23 “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We have the same situation here as with Rom 3:9 so, what I said above applies here also.
- Romans 5:12 “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” The context for this verse is obviously Original Sin, the sin that “came into the world through one man.” The verse says nothing about personal sin for Mary, or anyone else. The RCC teaches that Mary did come under the universal condemnation (Rom 5:18) of Original Sin, and that is why she needed a savior, like the rest of us. But she was saved from that condemnation in a more perfect way than the rest of us; we call that the Immaculate Conception.
- Lk 1:28 “And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’” This is alternately translated as “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” You should go back and look at what I wrote in my 4/29 post about this verse. Your assertion that “there is not one verse or passage that comes close to supporting this idea” is simply irrational. You accept the NT canon, for which there is truly no verse that comes close to supporting it, yet you claim that there is absolutely no support for the Immaculate Conception. Lk 1:28 clearly indicates something extraordinary regarding Mary. I do not say that it explicitly states the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, but it is surely favorable to the idea, as are the other verses I mentioned in my 4/29 post.

Summarizing all of this, with regard to the sinlessness of Mary, there is no inconsistency with other Scripture verses, and there is no violation of any of Newman’s notes.

Your comments about Alphonsus Liguori indicate that you do not recognize the literary form that he is using. We can find many passages in the writings of saints that use hyperbole to make their point and, to those who do not have an understanding of the RCC’s Marian doctrines, these writings may appear to be out of place. However, there is only an issue with such writings if they actually attribute something to her that does not properly belong to her, always keeping in mind the literary type. The great Church Father Irenaeus of Lyons referred to Mary as the cause of our salvation (talk about hyperbole!). However, this takes nothing away from Jesus. What Irenaeus was referring to is Mary as the material cause (she provided the “material” for Jesus humanity), whereas Jesus was the efficient cause, that is, the cause actually effected salvation.

Finally, I’ve tried to touch on, at least briefly, all the issues you raised. It is time to get back to the key question, and that is the matter of doctrinal development. You have already implicitly acknowledged the need for doctrinal development in regard to the canon of the NT. A little study will show that you have to acknowledge for all the items Professor Beckwith noted in one of his posts. Doctrines need to tested against Newman’s notes of development, not against one individual’s private interpretation of a particular Scripture verse, as Scripture says: “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pt 1:20-21).
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written by Jason, May 07, 2012
Dick,
Wanted to address a few points you make. You wrote about what the Roman Catholic church teaches about Mary –“The RCC teaches that Mary did come under the universal condemnation (Rom 5:18) of Original Sin, and that is why she needed a savior, like the rest of us. But she was saved from that condemnation in a more perfect way than the rest of us; we call that the Immaculate Conception.”
The problem is there is no evidence in Scripture that she was saved from sin in any way. Her conception is not even mentioned in Scripture. All that your church has done is to assert this in direct contradiction from what Scripture says about all men, including Mary are fallen that Romans 5:12 clearly shows because we are all decedents of Adam. Anyone conceived by a man and a woman inherit Adam’ sin.
Here is what the phrase “full of grace” means in New Testament:
“To grace, highly honor or greatly favor. In the NT spoken only of the divine favor, as to the virgin Mary in Luke 1:28, kecharitōménē, the perf. pass. part. sing. fem. The verb charitóō declares the virgin Mary to be highly favored, approved of God to conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. The only other use of charitóō is in Eph. 1:6 where believers are said to be “accepted in the beloved,” i.e., objects of grace. (See huiothesía [5206], adoption, occurring in Eph. 1:5) In charitóō there is not only the impartation of God’s grace, but also the adoption into God’s family in imparting special favor in distinction to charízomai (5483), to give grace, to remit, forgive.
Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.)
As you can see there is no mention of being without sin. Mary was approved by God to bear Christ in her womb. She was highly favored by God to do this. There is no requirement for her to be without sin to do this.
This is why exegesis of the Scriptures is essential to formulating correct doctrines. The correct exegesis of Scripture will lead to biblical doctrines. It is a protection against false teachings because in all false teachings there will always be a contradiction with other statements of Scripture. This is why doctrines of necessity need to be tested by Scripture and not Newman’s notes of development. His notes are not the standard by which to measure Scripture because they are not inspired-inerrant.
There are also serious problems with Newman’s doctrine development principles. Take church leadership for example. I Timothy 3 lays out the requirements for leadership in the church which requires a man to be married with children. What the Roman Catholic church has done is to disqualify married Roman Catholic men from leadership. How is it even possible to arrive at a mandated celibate leadership when the Scripture clearly teaches otherwise?

Your defense of Alphonsus Liguori writings as merely hyperbole still makes the things he says about her false and deceptive. All of these claims about her go far beyond Scripture (which is all we know of her) and truly make her out to be something the Scripture never affirms for her. For example in the Glories of Mary we find these kinds of statements:
“St. Bernardine of Siena argues this way: There are just as many creatures serving Mary as there are serving God. For since Angels and human beings, all things in Heaven and earth, are under God's dominion, so they are at the same time under Mary's dominion.”
But if Jesus is the Father, Mary is the Mother of our souls. She gave us Jesus and, with that gift, gave us supernatural life. Later, when she offered the life of her Son on Calvary for our redemption, she gave us birth in the life of grace.”
There just is nothing in Scripture that comes even close to saying these kinds of things about Mary. These are false statements. For example: Mary did not give us Jesus. Jesus was sent into the world by the Father and He laid down His life by His own authority.


BTW where does Liguori say he is speaking of Mary in a hyperbole way?

PS-contraception in and of itself does not cause homosexuality. It may make promiscuity more likely but it is not the cause of homosexuality. A number of studies are showing the breakup in the family as one of the major causes of it.
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written by James, May 07, 2012
Jason, I mentioned to you on May 4 that I am still awaiting your reply to my posting of May 1 in which I pointed out to you how in the Gospel of St. John, Jesus himself provides us with the necessary information to understand the real identity and role of his mother in our salvation. If you choose to simply ignore what I have written, is this an admission of defeat on your part? You had earlier stated that you wanted to focus specifically on Marian doctrine, but you seem to be more interested now in avoiding the issues I raised.
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written by Jason, May 07, 2012
James,
Sorry I missed your post. I’m not avoiding you. Let me address your points:
1)Jesus calling His mother should not be taken as an expression of some kind counter to Eve. Neither Jesus nor His apostles ever refer to her as His helpmate. No one in the New Testament makes this connection about her. You have to read into the later developments from your church for this.
2)It is true that Jesus and His apostles spoke and did things that are not written down. However, it does not help anyone since no one knows today what these things were.
3)Your claim that she was “created by God immaculate due to the merits of Christ crucified who dominates human history from the very beginning as the omnipresent son of God.” is pure speculation. There is no statement in Scripture that we have of her that this is true.
4)The passage in Acts 2:25-28 is never said by anyone in the New Testament to apply to Mary. Note what Roman Catholic writer Eamon Duffy concedes that, ‘there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for it ...’ (Eamon Duffy, What Catholics Believe About Mary (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1989), p. 17). For centuries in the early Church there is complete silence regarding Mary’s end. The first mention of it is by Epiphanius in 377 A.D. and he specifically states that no one knows what actually happened to Mary. He lived near Palestine and if there were, in fact, a tradition in the Church generally believed and taught he would have affirmed it. But he clearly states that ‘her end no one knows.’ These are his words:
But if some think us mistaken, let them search the Scriptures. They will not find Mary’s death; they will not find whether she died or did not die; they will not find whether she was buried or was not buried ... Scripture is absolutely silent [on the end of Mary] ... For my own part, I do not dare to speak, but I keep my own thoughts and I practice silence ... The fact is, Scripture has outstripped the human mind and left [this matter] uncertain ... Did she die, we do not know ... Either the holy Virgin died and was buried ... Or she was killed ... Or she remained alive, since nothing is impossible with God and He can do whatever He desires; for her end no-one knows.’ (Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. 78.10-11, 23. Cited by juniper Carol, O.F.M. ed., Mariology, Vol. II (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1957), pp. 139-40).”

5)There are also serious problems with Mary being the woman of Revelation 12.Here is what a couple of Roman Catholic scholars Raymond Brown and J.A. Fitzmyer, editors of the Jerome Biblical Commentary (2:482) write about the woman or Revelation 12:
“a woman: Most of the ancient commentators identified her with the Church; in the Middle Ages it was widely held that she represented Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Modern exegetes have generally adopted the older interpretation, with certain modifications.
In recent years several Catholics have championed the Marian interpretation. Numerous contextual details, however, are ill-suited to such an explanation. For example, we are scarcely to think that Mary endured the worst of the pains of childbirth (v. 2), that she was pursued into the desert after the birth of her child (6, 13ff.), or, finally, that she was persecuted through her other children (v. 17). The emphasis on the persecution of the woman is really appropriate only if she represents the Church, which is presented throughout the book as oppressed by the forces of evil, yet protected by God. Furthermore, the image of a woman is common in ancient Oriental secular literature as well as in the Bible (e.g., Is 50:1; Jer 50:12) as a symbol for a people, a nation, or a city. It is fitting, then, to see in this woman the People of God, the true Israel of the OT and NT.”

6)Anyone who claims Christ has a responsibility to interpret the Scriptures correctly and to have that word in him. That’s why Christ gave the church His word and for pastors-teachers (Ephesians 4:11) to teach the people the Scriptures correctly. Jesus commanded His followers to have His word abiding in us (John 15:7-10). Paul in Colossians 3:16 says essentially the same thing. Peter exhorts believers to long for the word so that they may grow in Christ (I Peter 2:2).
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written by Dick Landkamer, May 07, 2012
Jason,

I fear that we are going in circles. I’m a bit short on time, but let say just a word or two about some of your comments.

- You write: “All that your church has done is to assert this in direct contradiction from what Scripture says about all men, including Mary are fallen that Romans 5:12 clearly shows because we are all decedents of Adam. Anyone conceived by a man and a woman inherit Adam’ sin.” Rom 5:12 does not say that anyone conceived by a man and a woman inherit Adam’s sin. Rather, it says “as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” You need to play by your own rules and not read into Scripture something it does not say. If you want to take Rom 5:12 in a strictly literal sense, you have to declare Jesus a sinner, for he was a man. I’m sure you do not want to do that; hence, you have to admit that the verse says nothing explicitly about Mary with respect to personal sin.

- Your exposition of the meaning of “full of grace” misses a key point, which I stated before and will repeat here. Lk 1:48 “Hail, full of grace,” needs to be seen in context, remember how important that is. First, note that Mary is full of grace before she is baptized, unlike the case of those you refer to in Eph 1:5. Second, note that in the same chapter Luke writes: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb" (Lk 1:42). He paints of picture of a likeness of holiness between the mother and the Son, as regards their humanity (it is His humanity that is the fruit of her womb, not His divinity).

- You write: “This is why exegesis of the Scriptures is essential to formulating correct doctrines. The correct exegesis of Scripture will lead to biblical doctrines.” From what I have seen in your writings to this point, the only correct exegesis is your exegesis. Are your principles of exegesis found in Scripture, explicitly? If not, why do you have any confidence in them?

- You write: “This is why doctrines of necessity need to be tested by Scripture and not Newman’s notes of development.” Please tell me how you test your doctrine of the canon of the New Testament with Scripture. You certainly can’t say that the NT is what it is, based on the NT. One can’t prove a conclusion by using the conclusion in the argument. Hence, if you claim the canon is in Scripture, you are actually claiming it is found in the OT. We both know it’s not there. So, you have to admit that there is an infallible authority outside of Scripture that guarantees the NT canon. You can NOT test your doctrine of the NT canon with Scripture. That being the case, in what body of men do you find that authority?

- You write: “I Timothy 3 lays out the requirements for leadership in the church which requires a man to be married with children.” You are making the claim here that 1 Tim 3:2 (“Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife”) requires that a bishop have a wife. That verse can just as easily, and more logically, be understood to mean that a man cannot be in a second marriage. This understanding is consistent with what we see in the NT. For example, there is no mention of a wife for any of the Apostles, including Paul and Barnabas. It is mentioned that Peter had a mother-in-law, which means he had a wife at one time, but she is not mentioned anywhere in Scripture. The natural assumption is that she was no longer alive. You seem to have an issue with celibacy for priests. Note that Jesus was celibate. Also note that the RCC does not teach that the practice of celibacy is a requirement of revelation. There are some married priests in the Catholic Church.

You write: “Alphonsus Liguori writings as merely hyperbole still makes the things he says about her false and deceptive.” What you are implying here is that all prose and poetry that makes use of poetic license to make a particular point is also false and deceptive. I suspect you have some books in your library that make use of hyperbole. Do you consider them false and deceptive? Alphonsus has to be read in context and according to the literary form he was using. The same is true for Scripture. Note that there are two creation stories in Genesis and they contradict each other regarding a major fact. Was Adam created first, or last? He is first in one account and last in the other. Do you declare Genesis to be false and deceptive?

You write: “Mary did not give us Jesus. Jesus was sent into the world by the Father and He laid down His life by His own authority.” Who gave birth to Jesus if it was not Mary? That is all that Bernardine of Siena is saying. You need to understand what you read in context.

You write: “BTW where does Liguori say he is speaking of Mary in a hyperbol[ic] way?” When we read prose and poetry, the writer typically does not announce the literary form he is using before (or after) he uses it. That would destroy the writing. When someone says, “A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar . . . ”, you know immediately that the literary form is that of a joke. The literary form does not need an introduction; it introduces itself. We also need to keep in mind the audience for whom Alphonsus writes. He was writing for Catholics who had the Catholic understanding of Mary. His hyperbole is not a problem for such people.

Now, let’s get back to the heart of the problem. You consistently avoid the reality of doctrinal development, other than to say it has no value. Returning to the NT canon again, you have no way of claiming canonicity for the books of the NT unless you concede the reality of doctrinal development. There was no canon until the year 393 (local Council of Hippo, presided over by St. Augustine). Note that the early Church universally recognized Mary as the New Eve before the same early Church defined the canon of the NT. The same authority that gave us the NT, gave us Mary as the New Eve first. If you want to reject the one, you will have to reject the other as well.
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written by Jason, May 08, 2012
Dick,
Here are my responses to each point you wrote:
1)You wrote-“If you want to take Rom 5:12 in a strictly literal sense, you have to declare Jesus a sinner, for he was a man. I’m sure you do not want to do that; hence, you have to admit that the verse says nothing explicitly about Mary with respect to personal sin.”
Yes we must understand “all men” in Romans 5:12 to include all men unless there is reason not to on a case by case basis. Adam and Eve would be an exception to original sin because they were created directly by God. They were not conceived by parents who had sinned. Jesus is also an exception to Romans 5:12 because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary. He had no human father. Mary has no such exceptions. She was conceived in the same manner as the rest of fallen humanity. Also, the specific sins of all kinds of people in Scripture are never mentioned either. Would you assume they did not sin? I hope not.

2)Since we understand what “full of grace” means we do need to understand it in context. First is that it is a greeting that also tells us why she is favored. She is favored by God because Christ will come into the world through her and she will have a part in raising the Lord Jesus. For this she is blessed. This does not require her to be without sin. Keep in mind that Scripture says nothing about her being baptized either.

3)I have yet to see any exegesis on your part for your claims. Principles of exegesis are essential if we are to properly understand the Scripture. The same principles are applied to other areas of study to gain a proper understanding of any texts. We do it all the time and are able for the most part to come to a proper understanding of the various things we read and study. Why should this not be true of Scripture?

4)In regards to which books belong in the New Testament canon, the church of the 4th century applied a number of “tests” to determine which books belong to the canon. One such test was apostolic. Was the book written by an apostle or one closely associated with one? If so, then it would be accepted. The guarantee of the canon is based on these “tests” used by the church and the Spirit of Christ Who is the ultimate author of Scripture.

5) Roman Catholic leadership requirements disqualify a married Roman Catholic man from being a leader such as a bishop. This is in direct opposition to Scripture. Even if it were to mean “That verse can just as easily, and more logically, be understood to mean that a man cannot be in a second marriage.” your church is still is in direct opposition to Scripture. Most of your bishops were never married to begin with. We know Peter was married as you rightly say and Paul alludes to the marriages of the other apostles in I Corinthians 9:5. BTW- Jesus never uses His single status as a requirement for church leadership. I wonder how the doctrinal development principles would work on this issue since from the beginning church leadership required a man to be married?

6)I have no reason to think that Liguori writings are hyperbole. His reason for writing the Glories of Mary was a “defense of our Lady's sublime position in traditional Catholic devotion”. http://www.catholictradition.o....htm#INTRO He is not the only one who writes and speaks about Mary in this fashion. These are claims about how the Roman Catholic church believes to be true about her. To claim that Mary is queen of heaven and has dominion over all men and angels is not hyperbole but claims of the authority and power of her.

7)How would you go about proving that the early church universally recognized Mary as the New Eve before the same early Church defined the canon of the New Testament? What council or universal leader defined this? You assume that just because the church of the 4th century got the New Testament canon right that the church hereafter would get everything else right. The problem is that this does not hold up historically or doctrinally. Jesus never promised that the church could not err but warns that it will. In fact we already see Him rebuking various churches in Revelation for it. It does not follow that you are commanded to believe and accept everything your church teaches. Even you would reject some of the things it has done in its history such as the inquisitions. Would that mean you reject everything else it has done and taught?




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written by Dick Landkamer, May 09, 2012
Jason,

You did not use Scripture to refute any of the arguments in my last post, except for one. That being the case, I consider those arguments to stand unchallenged, according to your own principles, except for the one in which you reference 1 Cor 9:5, for you have not addressed them with any Scripture verse that explicitly (or even implicitly) shows that my argument is erroneous.

Let’s look at the one exception: You write: “5) Roman Catholic leadership requirements disqualify a married Roman Catholic man from being a leader such as a bishop. This is in direct opposition to Scripture. Even if it were to mean ‘That verse can just as easily, and more logically, be understood to mean that a man cannot be in a second marriage.’ your church is still is in direct opposition to Scripture. Most of your bishops were never married to begin with. We know Peter was married as you rightly say and Paul alludes to the marriages of the other apostles in I Corinthians 9:5. BTW- Jesus never uses His single status as a requirement for church leadership. I wonder how the doctrinal development principles would work on this issue since from the beginning church leadership required a man to be married?”

Let’s first quote 1 Cor 9:5, so we see what Paul is saying: “Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” Now, good exegesis asks what Paul is trying to say here. Is he telling us that all of the Apostles were married or is he expressing a fact about his rights as an Apostle? The context shows that the latter is the case. The word “right(s)” is used six times in verses 4 through 15. That is clearly his focus. He claims a variety of rights for himself, rights that were, evidently, commonly recognized for the other Apostles. So, as regards himself, he claims the right to be “accompanied by a wife.” Did he in fact have a wife? He says in verse 15 “I have made no use of any of these rights.” Clearly, the fact that he claims a right for himself and the other Apostles, does not allow one to conclude that the right has been exercised by Paul or the other Apostles. So 1 Cor 9:5 provides no support for your rather innovative understanding of 1 Tim 3:2 (“Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife”) in which you claim “the requirements for leadership in the church . . . requires a man to be married with children.”

Moving on, I find it particularly interesting that you did not respond to my questions regarding exegesis. Quoting from my prior post, in which I quote your post: “You (i.e., Jason) write: ‘This is why exegesis of the Scriptures is essential to formulating correct doctrines. The correct exegesis of Scripture will lead to biblical doctrines.’ From what I (Dick) have seen in your writings to this point, the only correct exegesis is your exegesis. Are your principles of exegesis found in Scripture, explicitly? If not, why do you have any confidence in them?

As I said in my prior post, you consistently avoid the reality of doctrinal development. The fact is that you are bound to avoid that reality by the principles that undergird your belief system. After all, your doctrines of sola scriptura, sola fide, and sola gratia are not found in Scripture. They were “discovered” in the 1500’s by the so-called reformers. As doctrines, they cannot survive Newman’s tests of doctrinal development, so you must reject either the idea of doctrinal development or your fundamental doctrines. Of course, you will (must) opt to reject doctrinal development. That solves one problem for you, but it creates another, that is, you have no way of claiming canonicity for the books of the NT, on which you depend for so many of your arguments. You cannot claim that these books are authoritative, without doctrinal development; hence, you cannot, legitimately, use them in your arguments. That essentially leaves you without any argument from Scripture in regard to the doctrines of the RCC.

If I had your perspective, that is, one in which doctrinal development is considered a non-reality, I too would object to RCC doctrines that are not explicit in Scripture. However, I don’t have your perspective because Scripture itself teaches doctrinal development. I assume that you believe “the word of God is living and active” (Heb 4:12). I assume you also recognize that living things always grow through a process of development that brings them to maturity without changing their identity, and when they stop growing, they are no longer living. If the Word of God is indeed “living and active,” then we should expect development. The absence of development would indicate that the Word of God is a “dead letter.” Scripture says “[There is] nothing [that] is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Luke 12:2). In other words, we should expect that the living word of God, first given in seed form, as indicated by the parable of the sower, in which “the seed is the word of God” (Lk 8:11), will grow, or develop, to a greater maturity over time, and “bear fruit, and yield, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Mt 13:23). In order to bring this about, Jesus promised the Apostles, at the Last Supper, that the Spirit of truth would come and “guide [them] into all the truth . . . [and] declare to [them] the things that are to come” (John 16:13). In these verses we have a Scriptural basis for the principle of doctrinal development. Without that principle, we don’t have a New Testament canon, which means we don’t have a New Testament.
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written by James, May 14, 2012
Dear Jason, as regards your "answer" of May 7, in spite of your denials, you are still studiously avoiding the point that I raised earlier. I noted that when Jesus addresses his mother with the term “woman” rather than the normal term of “mother,” he is actually pointing out her role as the New Woman who takes the place of the disqualified “woman” whose name is changed to Eve (cf. Gn 2:23, Gn 3:20 and Jn 2:4 and 19:26) This substitution is much like the early Church naming Mathias to take the place of the disqualified Judas (Acts 1:20-21). You did speak of my comments, but you failed to give any other reasonable interpretation. That is your responsibility if you want to deny the interpretation that I have given. The honest answer is that you do not know the answer. There are many other things I could say, but I am waiting for a reasonable interpretation of the term “woman” which the Holy Sprit insisted on preserving in this text. As the saying goes, “a word to the wise is sufficient.”
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written by Colin, July 08, 2012
Coming to this late, but I can't help myself. Jesus didn't actually call Mary "woman," of course. In John, the Greek word "gune" is used which was an appropriate term to call a woman and is more similar in use to "madam" in English. Jesus used this same word when speaking to the Syrophoenician woman (Mat 15:28), the Samaritan woman (John 4:21), and Mary Magdalene (John 20:15) and to his mother as He was dying on the cross. The point being that it is not odd for Him to call Mary "woman" any more than for someone to call their mother "ma'am."

If He was deliberately refraining from calling her "mother" then I would suggest that it is because He was gently reminding her that while she was His mother, He had another relationship with her as her lord, master, and creator. He existed from eternity past and knit her together in her own mother's womb and she needed to be reminded of that as she brought her concerns to Him which would interfere with His plan for His ministry (That it is interference is demonstrated by His saying "What has this to do with me? My hour has not yet come.") Again in John 19 as He was on the cross He established a mother-son bond between Mary and John. It makes sense in this context that He remind Mary of who He is apart from being her child. Of course, the need to even explain motives in these two instances assumes that there is something unusual about Him not specifically referring to her as "mother" every time He refers to her and, as I said, I don't think there is a good reason to think it is unusual.

Furthermore, connecting His calling her woman specifically with Eve is a huge stretch. Maybe there is a parallel between Mary and Eve, but Jesus calling her woman in this passage in no way makes that connection. If you look at what the story is saying and what Jesus is saying, you'll see it has nothing to do with proclaiming Mary to be anything. Jesus is gently reproving her for putting her concerns above the plans and purposes of the Father, but He submits to her in love anyway and performs His first miracle. I just don't see how you can connect this reference to Eve.

I suppose that if I believed Marian doctrines already, then I could be willing to believe some link was subtly intended here by Jesus, but even then I would consider it an interesting possibility and not proof, not even evidence from the Bible of who Mary is.
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written by Denise, September 25, 2012
Reading this article and the comments several months after the conversation progressed, my only thought is that often, the RCC is put into the hot seat to defend itself, but too often, Protestantis (and in particular, "sola scriptura") is not required to defend itself.

There is a strange double standard by which Protestants dismiss Catholicism, but overlook equally troubling developments within its own ranks. The interminable division within Protestantism is the #1 witness against "sola scriptura." The degree to which Protestant believers are able to factionalize is limitless as we see every day. And furthermore, the concept of doctrinal integrity is greatly weakened as the understanding of each individual with their Bible becomes the final arbiter of truth.

Jason argued above that you don't need any authority to interpret Scripture, but simply proper exegesis. Putting aside the question of authority for the moment, the belief that all you need is good exegesis to understand the truth of Scripture is, well, unscriptural. Think of Philip meeting the Ethiopian eunuch, reading the Hebrew scriptures. Philip asked him if he understood, but the eunuch said how could he, since he had no one to explain it to him? And then Philip explained the Gospel to him and baptized him. When Paul met the Bereans, they searched the Scriptures (OT) to see if what Paul was saying was true, but they weren't able to derive that revelation on their own. Unless they were told how to look at the Hebrew scriptures, they wouldn't have understood the Gospel.

But perhaps more fundamentally, the assertion that "sola scriptura" is more effective at preserving doctrinal integrity just does not bear out at all. People defending the permissibility of homosexuality are not coming from Catholic (including Orthodox) traditions, but from Protestant ones. Why? Because everyone is left to determine what "proper exegesis" is for themselves, and when they come to a doctrine that they personally cannot accept, they are able to weasel around it by pointing to any number of factors within Scripture, the cultural context, the language, etc. The capacity for manipulation of "exegetical tools" is quite large.

Furthermore, Protestantism is reaching a very dangerous point at which even things that are explicitly detailed in Scripture as excluding one from the Kingdom are not agreed upon. What constitutes adultery is one such issue, particularly as it relates to divorce and remarriage.

The prevalence of the prosperity gospel is another problem.

My overall point is that the troubles in Protestantism are just as great, if not greater, than those in Catholicism, and "sola scriptura" doesn't solve them.
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written by Dick Landkamer, December 23, 2012
Colin,

Allow me to comment on what you have said above. You make the following statement: “In John, the Greek word ‘gune’ is used which was an appropriate term to call a woman and is more similar in use to ‘madam’ in English.”

If “gune” is more properly translated “madam,” as you claim, rather than “woman,” then why is it universally (as far as I can tell) translated as “woman” in modern translations of the Bible, Protestant and Catholic alike? This fact stands in strong contradiction to your assertion, which, in turn, undermines your argument that “it is not odd for Him to call Mary ‘woman.’” You are really saying that “it is not odd for Him to call Mary ‘madam.’” But that is not what He is calling her; He is calling her “woman,” and that is unusual. So much so, that there is no ancient example of a son calling his mother “woman.” Search the Scriptures and see for yourself. It is not unusual for Him to call the others you mention “woman” because none of them are His mother. It is decidedly unusual for Him to refer to His mother as “woman.”

In your second paragraph you state: “If He was deliberately refraining from calling her "mother" then I would suggest that it is because He was gently reminding her that while she was His mother . . . she needed to be reminded of that as she brought her concerns to Him which would interfere with His plan for His ministry (That it is interference is demonstrated by His saying ‘What has this to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’)”

If you take a deeper look at your statement and the passage from which it comes (Jn 2), you will see that your assertion is not logically consistent. If Mary’s request is such that the fulfilling of the request would be an interference with Jesus ministry, then you have to criticize Jesus for interfering with His own ministry. The request itself cannot be the interference; only the fulfillment of the request could be the interference. But the fulfillment of the request was the work of Jesus, not Mary. Thus, you are claiming that Jesus interfered with His own ministry, which means His ministry, in this case, was something less than what it should have been. Clearly, it is a contradiction to say that the one who “has done all things well” (Mk 7:37) has, at the same time, made His own ministry something less than what it should have been.

In your third paragraph, you state: “Furthermore, connecting His calling her woman specifically with Eve is a huge stretch. Maybe there is a parallel between Mary and Eve, but Jesus calling her woman in this passage in no way makes that connection.”

If you were familiar with the Early Church’s view of the Eve-Mary parallel, you would not make such a statement. Justin Martyr spoke of the parallel in the middle of the second century, and the great Church Father Irenaeus worked out a complete theology of the Eve-Mary parallel prior to 200, which was never rejected in any part of the Early Church, East or West, and was universally accepted as doctrine throughout the Empire before the end of the third century. Furthermore, it is well known that the early part of the Gospel of John clearly echoes the early part of the book of Genesis. Thus, when we read in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and hers,” the word “woman” used in John 2:4, “Woman, what is this to you and to me,” can easily be seen as linking the two verses, as does the presence in both cases of a man and a woman (Adam and Eve, Jesus and Mary). The real “huge stretch” is for one to claim there is no connection between these two verses.

Finally, when you say “I suppose that if I believed Marian doctrines already, then I could be willing to believe some link was subtly intended here by Jesus,” you are overlooking the fact that when Irenaeus (d.c. 200) taught the Eve-Mary analogy, he was using it to correct the teaching of heretics.

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