The Blessed Mary, Ever-Virgin

I’m very uncomfortable on the subject of Mary. Mary worship is usually one of the top three accusations thrown the Catholic way, and some of them are guilty of it. I’m not wholly familiar with all Marian doctrines and have considered them secondary when trying to understand church matters, but some of them are dogmatic. If you are Catholic, you are required (a funny term, because what does that mean, actually? “you ought to” and plenty of people don’t) to believe in the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, in her “ever-virgin” status, and her assumption into heaven. Other practices, such as the rosary, are merely disconcerting. Keep in mind, I have no problem with the idea of asking the saints in heaven to pray for us. I see it as no different than asking a brother or sister in Christ here on Earth to pray for us.

I was reading a re-conversion testimony online, and was somewhat surprised that I never noticed something the author mentioned. In her evangelical experiences, she noted the lack of any positive attention whatsoever to Mary, the most notable woman in the Bible. My experience were not quite as extreme, which I attribute to my parents’ loving attitude toward God and Christ. At Christmas time, they included Mary in the wonderment of Christ. Yet in general, I never heard a sermon on Mary, or a biography contemplating the Mother of Christ. The author assumes this is because of the fear of mariolotry, but why define yourself in terms of not being something?

Mary should mean a lot more to Protestants than she currently does. Consider the commandment to honor your mother (Deut. 5:16). If Jesus was a perfect example of how we should behave, then he honors his mother perfectly. And if we are to imitate Christ, we not only honor our mother, but also his mother. Christ perfectly honoring his mother is a concept from which springs the mysterious idea of her petitions always being granted by God. We see this in Christ’s first miracle, when he turns water into wine at Cana. He even granted this insignificant petition of his mother’s under protest that his ministry wasn’t supposed to begin yet. (John 2:1-11) I really don’t know what to think of the idea of all her petitions being granted, but I do know that to some unknown degree, we ought to honor the mother of our Lord. I don’t know yet where to draw the line.

Regarding the Marian doctrine that she was ever-virgin, I found a funny and articulate article by an Orthodox priest. I highly recommend his concise explanations to anyone having trouble. The most convincing aspect of his arguments is that Christ commends his mother to John (John 19:26-27) which would have been unspeakable if he had other brothers. The comparison of the three stories at the cross made me go back and reread them all together. Then the reality of the situation as seen through the eyes of these witnesses struck me. Imagine John, near enough the cross to talk to Jesus, with Christ’s mother nearby. It’s almost startling to see that scene take form, and I’d recommend reading them all together.

The imitation of Mary, a phrase which gives me the willies, can be understood if we understand her as the most blessed human who is not divine. Honestly, she was chosen to carry the Christ! Mary was the servant of the Lord (Luke 1:38) and was dubbed “full of grace” (Luke 1:28) and “blessed among women” whom “all generations will call blessed”(Luke 1:48). Of the fully human not divine crowd, she has found the most favor with God and fully submitted to His will. If we find other Christians note-worthy, and admire and wish to emulate John Calvin or Saint Augustine or Iranaeus, then how much more should we admire and seek to imitate Mary? Of course Christ comes first, he’s the only reason she is special at all, like the Catechism says.

“Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.”511 “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”

Concerning Mary’s Assumption, I personally see no contradiction with the Bible. I have said before that the Bible doesn’t say “Mary died and was buried.”, it speaks of the assumptions of Enoch and Elijah so we know this is not reserved for Christ, and Christ honored his mother perfectly implying he might do such a thing. If you accept the authority of the Church, then there are no real obstacles to believing in the Assumption.

I haven’t looked into the Immaculate Conception as much. I know it’s intimately connected with the sinlessness of Mary (which is only by the merit and sacrifice of Christ for all you Protestants gasping out there!), but I don’t understand it. The Protestant in me protests (imagine that) by saying Christ was the only possible sinless person because he was the only one worthy to sacrifice, despite knowing that Catholics say it is only through Christ that Mary was sinless. I also don’t understand how she was conceived sinless by sinful people in any way that Christ could not be conceived sinless by a sinful woman.

I welcome discussion on this, but I beg ahead of time for people to remain calm and respectful. The subject of Mary is particularly touchy for both sides. I hope we can all handle it well.

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72 Responses to The Blessed Mary, Ever-Virgin

  1. Stacey says:

    Hey everybody! Sorry, I had to fix the ending of this post after I posted it. I guess the save button messed up and hadn’t saved it when I thought it did!

  2. Rhology says:

    The main problem that Reformed folks have with the Assumption is that Rome has defined it as a de fide dogma that must be believed as part of the Gospel, to be saved.
    If Rome hadn’t done that, I’d just consider the Assumption dogma to be a slightly funny but mostly harmless sideshow. Just FYI.

  3. Lenetta says:

    Darn ol' save button! :>)

    The chapter on Mary is toward the end of Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism that I just finished, so I couldn't help but look it up.

    He gives an explanation with Scripture references why Mary being "full of grace" is different from other women who were "highly favored" such as Elizabeth (John the Baptist), Sarah (Abraham), Anna (Samuel). He goes on to discuss the Greek exact wording that Mary's being "full of grace" is both permanent and singular, which means it extended over her entire life, from the very moment she came into being.

    Thus, Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin, the essence of which consists in the lack of sanctifying grace. Mary, preserved from this defect, (as he calls it) was in the state of sanctifying grace from the moment of her conception.

    > I also don't understand how she was conceived sinless by sinful people in any way that Christ could not be conceived sinless by a sinful woman.

    I'll admit I have trouble wrapping my mind around not only what you're actually saying, but also what I think you mean. :>) With God, all things are possible? That's the best I can do . . .

    Great post!

  4. Rhology says:

    Lenetta,

    Please see this article, halfway down, for more information on kecharitomene.

  5. Stacey says:

    Rhology,

    The dogmatic aspects of Mary is part of the reason why I have trouble with it as well. If I were Catholic, I should believe this. Makes it rather serious and worth investigating.

    Lenetta,

    Thanks for the references (as always!).

    All,

    I wonder if anybody knows much about the theological reasons behind the Immaculate Conception. The evidence and semantics of it are rather scant, but there are reasons to believe it, and I have read CF statements supporting it.

    I have heard that since Christ received his human nature from Mary, it had to be sinless for him to be an acceptable sacrifice. If she was sinful then, he would also have inherited the stain of original sin. Thus she was “preserved from this defect” like Lenetta says, but only by the virtue of Christ and by the grace of God, not by her own merit. Do the Reformers address Christ’s sinless human nature?

  6. Rhology says:

    I’m not aware if the Reformers did (since I’m not well-read in them), but original sin is transmitted thru the line of the father, thru Adam.
    Thus Jesus was born without human father, but rather of sinless divine father.

    Also, if we conclude that Mary had to be sinless to avoid transmitting original sin to Jesus, where does it end? Why not, using the exact same argument, say that Mary’s parents would have to be sinless? Take it all the way back to Adam and Eve!

  7. Stacey says:

    Rhology,

    Where does the idea of sin being transmitted through the father come from?

    Also, if we conclude that Mary had to be sinless to avoid transmitting original sin to Jesus, where does it end? Why not, using the exact same argument, say that Mary’s parents would have to be sinless?

    Yeah, that’s part of what I was trying to say in my original post. The only way out of it is if we ignore the timeline of cause and effect and say that Christ’s sinless nature was the cause of Mary’s sinless nature, and that’s where she got it from, not her parents. But as a physicist, I have a hard time doing such a thing! Then again, all this is just what I think of it.

  8. Rhology says:

    tap,

    I’m not going to always defend James White, but on this one you’re flat wrong.
    Go to his site and read his blog. Go to his articles section – do you see all RC-related stuff, all the time?
    tap, you are apparently unable to be honest when you don’t like someone. Stacey, this is what I meant about James White exciting irrational reactions in Roman Catholics.

  9. tap says:

    Stacey, i know you said you want me to be nice to James White here, i just wanted to say something b/c Rhology just linked and article of his about the Kerichatome. My only advice is to beware. Remember his whole ministry depends on denying truths about the Catholic church. I have more to say, but if i say it here it would be considered uncharitable. His sister converted after seeing the same evidence of the truth of the Catholic Church that he did.

    Also Rhology just said “I’m not aware if the Reformers did (since I’m not well-read in them)” All he does is listen to what James White tells him about the reformers. Sad isn’t it?

  10. tap says:

    “Go to his site and read his blog. Go to his articles section – do you see all RC-related stuff, all the time?”

    And where exactly did i say that its only RC-related stuff on his site?

    for the record i deleted the previous comments b/c of typo error and didn’t realize you had responded to it(i posted it back verbatim with spelling corrections

  11. Rhology says:

    You said:
    Remember his whole ministry depends on denying truths about the Catholic church.

    A blatant and obvious misrepresentation. Are you simply ignorant of the scope of his ministry activities or are you clumsily trying to lie?

  12. tap says:

    A blatant and obvious misrepresentation. Are you simply ignorant of the scope of his ministry activities or are you clumsily trying to lie?

    Lol whats blatant and obvious is your silly and pretentious outrage. Feigning outrage will get you nowhere with me.

    If James White acknoledges the truth of Catholic claims, his ministry will collapes.

    Do you want me to put the above sentence in a different way without changing the meaning?

    Here you go:
    his whole ministry depends on denying truths about the Catholic church.

    You arguments are really clumsy

  13. Lenetta says:

    I was going to add another quote from Keating's book, but it just reinforces that with God all things are possible, and I said that once already. :>) It's one of those things about which I am able to simply say "I believe".

    That's not to discount your desire to figure it out, of course! I admire your search for the truth, Stacey.

  14. tap says:

    As far as believe the Church’s Dogma’s on the Blessed Virgin. I would say (and i’m not admonishing you stacey) to first wrestle with the claims of Authority first, before the things about the Holy Mother. Again, its just advice i’m not try to force to one thing one thing when you are curious about another.

    For example we accept somethings that are beyond basic human comprehension. Like the Trinity. I mean how can God be 3 persons, and yet be One God? And on top of that, How can One of those 3 persons, have 2 natures. With Human reasoning we cannot really fully understand it. But we accept it as the Faith of our spiritual Fathers.

    Same thing with Sinful Parents giving birth to Sinless human. We Accept it on Faith with assurance promised by Christ.

    I hope you see this as me begging you to test the claims of authority, not an attempt to divert your curiosity.

  15. Rhology says:

    I agree with tap (that’s new!) on this.

    first wrestle with the claims of Authority first, before the things about the Holy Mother.

    That’s 100% true, b/c if one sticks to the Bible, one will NEVER come to believe any of the distinctive Roman Marian dogmas.
    Neither will one if one reads the writings of Ch Fathers for who they really were. First, one MUST give RCC the authority to interpret and tell you what they are saying, then you can read that position back into the Bible and back into the Ch Fathers. Otherwise you’ll never get there.

  16. tap says:

    That’s 100% true, b/c if one sticks to the Bible one will NEVER come to believe any of the distinctive Roman Marian dogmas.
    Thats odd, b/c if one sticks with the Bible, you will NEVER come to believe in Sola Scriptura, and Double Predestination.

    From his posts, you would think Rhology, picked up a bible went into a closed room with no prior influence, and somehow started believeing in The trinity, the hypostatic union, & Dyophytism.

    Neither will one if one reads the writings of Ch Fathers for who they really were
    Yet you will find Ch Fathers believing things you claim are unbiblical, do i need to list them again? The Real Prescence, Apostolic Succession, Confirmation, Supplication of Saints, Prayer for the Dead, the Authority of the One Holy Catholic Church.

  17. Wintrowski says:

    Stacey,

    I wonder if anybody knows much about the theological reasons behind the Immaculate Conception. The evidence and semantics of it are rather scant, but there are reasons to believe it, and I have read CF statements supporting it.

    Here are a couple of quotes from St. Thomas Aquinas on the matter:

    … Nothing is handed down in the canonical Scriptures concerning the sanctification of the Blessed Mary as to her being sanctified in the womb; indeed, they do not even mention her birth. But as Augustine, in his tractate on the Assumption of the Virgin, argues with reason, since her body was assumed into heaven, and yet Scripture does not relate this; so it may be reasonably argued that she was sanctified in the womb. For it is reasonable to believe that she, who brought forth “the Only-Begotten of the Father full of grace and truth,” received greater privileges of grace than all others: hence we read (Luke 1:28) that the angel addressed her in the words: “Hail full of grace!”

    Moreover, it is to be observed that it was granted, by way of privilege, to others, to be sanctified in the womb; for instance, to Jeremias, to whom it was said (Jeremiah 1:5): “Before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee”; and again, to John the Baptist, of whom it is written (Luke 1:15): “He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb.” It is therefore with reason that we believe the Blessed Virgin to have been sanctified before her birth from the womb.[Summa Th., 3rd Pars, Q. 27, Article 1]

    … Augustine says (De Nat. et Grat. xxxvi): “In the matter of sin, it is my wish to exclude absolutely all questions concerning the holy Virgin Mary, on account of the honor due to Christ. For since she conceived and brought forth Him who most certainly was guilty of no sin, we know that an abundance of grace was given her that she might be in every way the conqueror of sin.”

    I answer that, God so prepares and endows those, whom He chooses for some particular office, that they are rendered capable of fulfilling it, according to 2 Corinthians 3:6: “(Who) hath made us fit ministers of the New Testament.” Now the Blessed Virgin was chosen by God to be His Mother. Therefore there can be no doubt that God, by His grace, made her worthy of that office, according to the words spoken to her by the angel (Luke 1:30-31): “Thou hast found grace with God: behold thou shalt conceive,” etc. But she would not have been worthy to be the Mother of God, if she had ever sinned. First, because the honor of the parents reflects on the child, according to Proverbs 17:6: “The glory of children are their fathers”: and consequently, on the other hand, the Mother’s shame would have reflected on her Son. Secondly, because of the singular affinity between her and Christ, who took flesh from her: and it is written (2 Corinthians 6:15): “What concord hath Christ with Belial?” Thirdly, because of the singular manner in which the Son of God, who is the “Divine Wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:24) dwelt in her, not only in her soul but in her womb. And it is written (Wisdom 1:4): “Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins.”

    We must therefore confess simply that the Blessed Virgin committed no actual sin, neither mortal nor venial; so that what is written (Canticles 4:7) is fulfilled: “Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee,” etc. …[ Summa Th., 3rd Pars, Q. 27, Article 4 ]

    As to what you had heard that “Christ received his human nature from Mary, it had to be sinless for him to be an acceptable sacrifice”, and Rhology’s comments about original sin being transmitted only through males, all I can say is that the Catholic Church admits that she does not know how Original Sin is transmitted:

    “404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”.293 By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” – a state and not an act.” [ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 404 ]

    I hope this all helps!

  18. Stacey says:

    One thing you all said was that I might consider the authority of the Church first before I delve into these weirder issues, but I don’t think so. Yes, some things you must accept on faith if you do submit to the Church. But also, if I converted without knowing the ins and outs of dogma and all of the sudden came up against something absolutely horrendous, and it came to light as totally contrary to the nature of God, then I may have sinned against Him. Even if I don’t fully understand something, I need to know what’s being said and what the implications are.

    Also, in the other direction, maybe coming to understand these “smaller” issues will point me to the Church as God’s hand on Earth. I have come to see wisdom in other practices (like no contraception) that I never saw before, maybe the same is true here.

    Rhology,

    That’s 100% true, b/c if one sticks to the Bible, one will NEVER come to believe any of the distinctive Roman Marian dogmas.

    What about Mary being ever virgin? Did you read that article? Christ commending his mother to John is pretty telling that she had no other sons, don’t you think?

  19. James says:

    Also, if we conclude that Mary had to be sinless to avoid transmitting original sin to Jesus, where does it end? Why not, using the exact same argument, say that Mary’s parents would have to be sinless? Take it all the way back to Adam and Eve!

    The Byzantine theologian and champion of hesychasm Gregory Palamas held to a theory of progressive sanctification of Mary’s progenitors. Just FYI. Oh, and Rhology, I responded to you on the other thread.

    The only way out of it is if we ignore the timeline of cause and effect and say that Christ’s sinless nature was the cause of Mary’s sinless nature, and that’s where she got it from, not her parents.

    Well, God is outside of time so the “timeline” is irrelevant to His actions. Also, the IC is not about requiring that Mary be sinless in order to be the Mother of God; only that it was proper and true.

    My two cents on the Perpetual Virginity:

    Mary is the new ark. If Mary is the New Ark then there is no way Joseph as a good Jew would have treated her in a profane manner (“profane” being used here in it’s original meaning of “common” or “ordinary” and as opposed to “sacred” and not intended as derogatory) after she bore the Holy One. The ancient Jews understood much better than we the distinction between things set aside for a holy use and those for a common use. After Mary bore the Christ there is no way Joseph would have felt worthy to have relations with his wife Mary – even though marital relations and procreation are good.

    Mary was a perpetual virgin not because sex is dirty or anything of the sort but because she was destined for something greater than natural motherhood. Mary was set aside for the purpose of bearing the Christ and therefore would not be subsequently used for a common purpose, just as the chalice used to hold the precious Blood is not then used for “beer night” at the rectory.

    James G

  20. Stacey says:

    James,

    On the virginity of Mary, you’re right. That’s another very persuasive argument. I think the article covers it as well, the customary abstinence even of Moses after he had been with God. It just… is right that it should be so. I’m rather convinced.

    The Immaculate Conception is another story for me. I don’t see the reason behind it, especially since it is not necessary for Christ’s sinless nature. Maybe everyone’s right that it would be something to accept if I accepted the authority of the Church. Even so, I have to understand it enough to know that it is not blasphemous (and I lean toward not, btw).

  21. Rhology says:

    Hi all,

    Might interest you.

    James,
    I’m done with the other thread, FYI.

  22. Stacey says:

    Rhology,

    I thank you for your responses to my questions. It is good to have another viewpoint instead of being “taken away” without opposition, and it strengthens my faith.

    In your post, you left out the following sentence on the commands of marriage, and much of the later commentary. Paul goes on to say “I say this as a concession, not as a command.” (1 Cor 7:6) “An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Cor 7:34-35) I think it goes without saying that Mary and Joseph did not have a normal marriage! And if she was to be concerned with the Lord’s affairs with undivided devotion to the Lord, as the Mother of our Lord should be, then she should not be concerned about pleasing her husband as well. Their marriage was to protect both Mary and Jesus from scandal, since she was having a baby. They needed an Earthly protector in Joseph. Does this not make logical sense?

    I think my problems with believing Mary as ever-virgin have dissipated.

  23. Rhology says:

    Stacey,

    I addressed all that in the post:

    To say that “Well, Mary wouldn’t be subject to those immoralities, wouldn’t be prone to that kind of temptation” is to engage in wishful speculation. The standing command is, if you’re married and physically able, you engage in marital conjugal relations, and that is honorable, commanded, good, and undefiled.

    You are begging the question here, I must respectfully remind you. This is eisegesis.

  24. James says:

    Stacey,

    Please email me:
    jamesg042(at)gmail(dot)com

    James G

  25. Stacey says:

    Rhology,

    In my comment, I was trying to point out that it was not a command, and that for those in the service of the Lord, virginity was seen as highly beneficial. I don’t see what you see here.

  26. Rhology says:

    Yes, virginity IS highly beneficial if you’re not married. That’s the point. If you’re married, you have a duty. I hold Mary in too high a regard to believe that she would have been so sinful as to refuse her duty to her husband for years and years, especially after he proved himself godly by not putting her away after the vision from God.

  27. Stacey says:

    Yes, I understand that is how you see it.

  28. tap says:

    This thread shows yet again why Sola Scripturists, really don’t hold to scripture, especially when denying tradition.

    After being show from Scripture (from the Orthodox link Stacey posted), that all those called “brother” of Christ in Scripture, are really kinsmen. [I’m sure its not the first time Rhology has seen that explanation] And that Mary had no other Children.

    Rhology makes a ridiculous, statement about “high regard” and “refusal of duty”

    Lets look at all implications of his attempt at __________

    1. Since Mary had no other Children, and didn’t refuse her so called “duty”;
    I- She was either barren
    IIa- St. Joseph wasted his seed
    IIb- Or they both used some form of Contraception.

    —Stacey are you comfortable with any of these so far?. Remember if we stick to Scripture, he can’t prove that the Blessed Virgin had any other Children.

    And then on his post at beggarsall, he pretends as if Jesus condemed all tradition.

    Stacey since you’ve decided you want to know the in’s and outs of this before dealing with authority, i would recommend this article, also look at the objections to it in the comments section and come to your own conclusions.

    http://singinginthereign.blogspot.com/2008/03/biblical-basis-for-marys-perpetual.html:

    There also another resource i want to recommend but its very expensive, don’t know if you want to be paying money for stuff like this First RES Second RES

    Try the first one first though if you are interested.

  29. Rhology says:

    that all those called “brother” of Christ in Scripture, are really kinsmen.

    Which I responded to in the post, if you check it again.

    he pretends as if Jesus condemed all tradition.

    That’s a very misunderstood reading of what I said. Please check it again.

    I- She was either barren
    IIa- St. Joseph wasted his seed
    IIb- Or they both used some form of Contraception

    I don’t see why IIa follows, it’s certainly not a “waste of seed” to engage in conjugal relations with one’s beloved (though barren) wife!
    But I or IIb is possible, isn’t it? So what?

  30. tap says:

    Here is your response:


    Rhology: But there is at least one Greek term that can easily be used to mean “more

    distant male relative”, but only the one that means “brother”.

    AND

    Let me recommend Eric Svendsen’s discussion of this in his book

    The totallity of your response on that particular subject, is not only silly,

    it’s unbiblical. As i will show:

    Galatians 1:19: “I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.”

    Context:Gal 1:18: Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days

    1. Of two Apostles named James we know that The James brother of John son of Zebedee was killed in by herod earlier on by Herod

    2. Which James is it?
    Well luke 6: 14-16 Names the Second James as Son of Alphaeus, not Joseph

    Yet he is called the Brother of the Lord.
    So tell us Rhology why did Saint Paul Call him “Adelphon” when he could have used you so called “One Greek Term”?

  31. Rhology says:

    The answer could very well be B or C.
    B – Jesus and Alphaeus are also related.

    C – it’s a third James, this one the brother of Jesus, the son of Mary.

    Or, come to think of it, D – the brother of Jesus, the son of JOSEPH from a previous marriage.

    I don’t really care one way or th’other. I think it’s probably C, but my big gripe is that RCC wants to make it part of the Gospel that one must believe to be saved. Isn’t that, seriously, kind of a bad deal?

  32. tap says:

    Oh yeah i forgot to respond to what Rhology said here

    But I or IIb is possible, isn’t it? So what?

    Stacey are you comfortable with this? Can you posit that that the Holy Family would have used contraception?

    Rhology: B. Jesus and Alphaeus are also related.
    Umm, of course they are related. That kills your argument that somehow a more specific word than Adelphos is required to calls someone cousin/kinsman

    Rhology:Or, come to think of it, D – the brother of Jesus, the son of JOSEPH from a previous marriage. Which strenghtens my argument (either way) that the Blessed Virgin had no other Children apart from God.

    Its funny you accuse Stacey of eisigesis, yet you claims it would be “too sinful for her to refuse Joseph for year and years”
    Yet numbers 30
    Shows that a vow of any kind(including virginity), as long as the Husband accepts when he learns of it, He is bound by that vow.

    Yet you are eisigeting the passage and pretending that St. Joseph wanted her to break her vow.

    Stacey, do you see how, degree by degree, false doctrines by their logical conclusions leads to various blasphemous endings?

  33. tap says:

    C – it’s a third James, this one the brother of Jesus, the son of Mary.

    Are you saying there were 3 Apostles named James? If thats what you are saying, Please show us from the Bible how you came to this conclusion.

  34. Rhology says:

    What’s wrong with (non-abortifacient) contraception?

    That kills your argument that somehow a more specific word than Adelphos is required to calls someone cousin/kinsman

    That’s not my argument. Merely that the less-specific word for “distant kinsman” is AVAILABLE. Adelphos can be both, the other can only be the distant one.

    Which strenghtens my argument (either way) that the Blessed Virgin had no other Children apart from God.

    Apart from Jesus. And again, I’m not making absolute statements here, but it’s certainly more probable that she DID have other children.

    Num 30

    6 “If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand.

    Before v 6, she’s unmarried. If she takes a vow of virginity, she shouldn’t get married. Not that hard.

    Why is it that RCs, who ordinarily place such an emphasis on marriage and procreation, break the mold in this one case? I find that slightly bizarre.

    pretending that St. Joseph wanted her to break her vow.

    He’s obligated to (see 1 Cor 7). Sex is his duty to her, and it’s her duty to him. It just so happens it’s a highly enjoyable, honorable, and undefiled duty.

  35. Rhology says:

    James, the brother of Jesus, the pastor of the church at Jerusalem, wasn’t an apostle.

  36. Wintrowski says:

    Rhology,

    He’s obligated to (see 1 Cor 7). Sex is his duty to her, and it’s her duty to him.

    Stacey already made it clear that this interpretation of 1 Cor 7 is a complete fiction because Paul clearly says its not a command. Why are you choosing to ignore that?

    It just so happens it’s a highly enjoyable, honorable, and undefiled duty.

    LOL! That’s not what your buddy John Calvin would say.

  37. tap says:

    Rhology:What’s wrong with (non-abortifacient) contraception?

    Stacey will answer this question for you , if she wants to.

    Rhology:That’s not my argument. Merely that the less-specific word for “distant kinsman” is AVAILABLE. Adelphos can be both, the other can only be the distant one.

    Sophisty Alert! Yet St. Paul Chose to use Adelphos. Here are your words verbatim from Beggarsall:
    But there is at least one
    greek term that can easily
    be used to mean “more distant
    male relative”,but only the one
    that means “brother”.

    There goes your implication that about the (non)specificity of the words Adelphos.

    Rhology: Apart from Jesus.

    Last time i checked, at no point in time Did Jesus ever stop being God. Ever heard of Nestorius?

    Rhology: And again, I’m not making absolute statements here, but it’s certainly more probable that she DID have other children.

    How is it certainly more probable? We’re supposed to stick to Scripture? Remember? No eisigesis, no reading back into scripture, and claiming she had Children when the Bible doesn’t name any of her offspring except God.

    Rhology Before v 6, she’s unmarried. If she takes a vow of virginity, she shouldn’t get married. Not that hard.

    Sorry, that is utter nonsense. The beginning of the verse states specfically; “If she marries after she makes a vow It doesn’t say anything about not marrying after you’ve made a vow.

    Rhology He’s obligated to Sex is his duty to her, and it’s her duty to him

    Except were she’s made a vow, and he has not Objected to it. You know…Like in a case where you know he’s told told that the She is pregnant with the CHILD OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  38. Rhology says:

    To quote a commenter on Beggars All:

    And he then goes on to say,

    “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”

    He “permits” marriage, but “wishes” that more people could practice celibacy (under their specific circumstances). The point is, marriage is equated with sexual relations and singleness is equated with celibacy. He says nothing that would allow permanent celibacy within marriage. In fact, he equates that with “defrauding” one’s spouse.

    And what do I care about what Calvin thought about the pleasure of sex? I’m married, I don’t need to know about his love life. Let Scripture judge every man.

  39. Rhology says:

    “If she marries after she makes a vow

    Precisely. Why would she get married after making a vow of virginity? She wouldn’t. And you are just assuming, out of thin air (b/c the RCC has already told you what to believe), that Mary had made a vow of virginity.
    If you’re concerned about protection, Mosaic Law makes plenty of provision for unmarried women. No need for her to get married if she doesn’t want to engage in the marital oneness.

  40. tap says:

    James, the brother of Jesus, the pastor of the church at Jerusalem, wasn’t an apostle.

    Another irrevelant, if not inaccurate statement.

    Two of the 12 apostles were named James. One was Killed early. A second was referred to buy St. Paul in Galation as The Lord’s Brother(adelphos). That same one was called Son of Alpheaus by St. Luke. Point being he was called the Adelphos although being a kinsman/cousin et.al.

    Second, he was the Bishop of Jerusalem and Josephus relates on how he was killed:

  41. Lenetta says:

    I wonder if this is what Stacey was trying to avoid when she cautioned us to play nice . . .

    I meant my statement about being able to say "I believe" as a means of exiting the conversation since I didn't have any further evidence-based information to add (and Stacey, not as a suggestion that you should do the same, just that's how I personally look at it). I can't help but jump back in on this:

    > Why would she get married after making a vow of virginity?

    Because she was pregnant in spite of that vow.

  42. tap says:

    Precisely. Why would she get married after making a vow of virginity? She wouldn’t. And you are just assuming, out of thin air (b/c the RCC has already told you what to believe), that Mary had made a vow of virginity.

    You are assuming out of thin air that she didn’t make a vow b/c James White has told you so.

    Its simple:
    luke 1:27
    ” a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph”

    After being told she would give birth to the Son of the Most high

    She says: luke 1:34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

    Why didn’t she assume that it was the pledged husband that would be the father of this Child?

  43. Stacey says:

    Wow, when the blogger’s away, the commenters play, huh? Yeah, I was trying to avoid a vehement back and forth, but at least there’s no profane mud-slinging going on here. That’s alright, if I get too annoyed with the arguing, I’ll just close the comments.

    Rhology,

    I know that the main problem for you is that this is Catholic dogma. But there is so much else about the Catholic Church that you hate, why bother yourself with such a tiny point? You yourself admit that Mary could have remained a virgin, but go to great lengths to prove that she probably wasn’t. I believe that she probably was a virgin, and should I join the Church, I will back up that probably with all my faith.

    There are many things you do not understand about the Catholic Church, and it was about six months ago that I was right there with you. Unless you want to understand these things, you will not. There are reasons for things that without experience, you cannot understand, like a child with a hot stove. You can tell the kid it’s hot, but unless he experiences “hot”, then he will persist in his own desires. I begin to see a wisdom behind the practices and beliefs in the Catholic Church to protect its followers and to strive for their sanctification. Can you not admit the possibility, stretch your mind to a hypothetical “the Catholic Church is the true Church”, and then see how it’s possible that Marian dogma somehow beyond your wisdom might prevent an evil of some level from occuring, or how it may encourage someone to serve the Lord better? I don’t expect you to change your mind, but I do expect you to be able to see that it is not ridiculous to have dogma that you may not see the reason for.

    My repeated example of wisdom that I never saw before is the rule for no contraception. Have you looked into the history of contraception or pro-choice activities at all? It is rife with a selfish attitude desiring to put your own liberties above anything or anyone else, even another’s right to live. And that’s exactly what contraception of any kind in any situation encourages. By using contraception, people try to get what they want without the natural, God-instituted consequences. This desire to be our own master is the corrupt desire of the sinful nature that destroys all things and separates us from God. That is what’s wrong with contraception.

    Why is it that RCs, who ordinarily place such an emphasis on marriage and procreation, break the mold in this one case? I find that slightly bizarre.

    And I have said, Why is it that Protestants, who ordinarily place such an emphasis on the literal interpretation of the Bible, break the mold in the one case of the Eucharist? I find that bizarre as well.

    Maybe you were all right before, and this issue should not be dealt with apart from the authority of the Church.

    tap,

    Stacey, do you see how, degree by degree, false doctrines by their logical conclusions leads to various blasphemous endings

    This is one possible reason for dogmatizing Marian beliefs.

    Lenetta,

    Because she was pregnant in spite of that vow.

    Yup.

  44. Rhology says:

    tap,

    And you are assuming out of thin air that she wasn’t a Martian. Prove Mary wasn’t a Martian.

    Stacey,

    Re: Contraception – the whole point of barrier contraception is that another life WON’T be formed, so there is no child to have a right to life. That is why I don’t use and argue against contras like the pill, whose tertiary effect is abortifacient. Anyway, I didn’t want to turn this into an argument about contra.

    Let me remind you of the main reason I find this worthy of extended discussion. RCC has made this a point of de fide dogma that no one can reject on pain of loss of salvation. The belief that Mary was perpetually a virgin is thus part of the Roman Church’s Gospel. There is no more important question than “What must I do to be saved?” Rome answers: Among other things, believe these 4 dogmas about Mary. The evidence for her PV is so scant and so based on wishful thinking, speculation, and eisegesis, that to add it to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is sickening. This is nothing like the presentation of how to be saved in the NT. Doesn’t that bother you a lot?

    If not, I say jump with both feet into Rome. If you don’t love the Gospel, then why not, what the hell?

  45. evenshine says:

    Enjoying the convo.
    Wisdom is a treasure, but if it’s not based on *truth*, you’re wasting your time. It may be wise to lock your daughter in a tower (or cover her with an abaya or perform FGM on her), but we’d probably agree that the outcome is less than “good”.
    And yes, Stacy, for those of us soundly in the Reformed camp, this is a tiny thing. With BIG consequences- since Rome herself has defined it as such. I lived for some time in South America and saw the hideous outcome of these dogma.
    But it seems you’ve made up your mind, am I right?
    Blessings.

  46. Stacey says:

    Rholgoy,

    There is no more important question than “What must I do to be saved?” Rome answers: Among other things, believe these 4 dogmas about Mary… Doesn’t that bother you a lot?

    I was suggesting in my previous comment, although perhaps you missed it, that there may be a reason for this beyond what we can see. If you accept the Church’s authority, then perhaps God will grace you with the understanding of it. So no, it doesn’t bother me like it does you. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that means I don’t love the gospel, and give my whole self over to God. In doing so, I will lean not on my own understanding and I will follow Him where ever He may lead me, be that Rome or not. And btw, submitting to God and his hand on Earth despite your own limited understanding is like the presentation of the gospel in the NT.

    With the whole thing on contraception, I wasn’t trying to convince you, merely give an example of something that has more implications that the surface consequences. And I believe (not trying to convince you here!) that the deeper consequences of using any contraception is trying to be your own master as so separating yourself from God and denying His plan for us.

    evenshine,

    Wisdom is a treasure, but if it’s not based on *truth*, you’re wasting your time.

    Yes.

    I lived for some time in South America and saw the hideous outcome of these dogma

    And while I was visiting in La Palma, I saw some rather weird devotions as well, since I was there during the festival of the Holy Virgin. But should we judge an institution based on the abuse of that institution? In such a case, I fear my experiences of Protestantism (which I will detail in a later post), are all the evidence against it that are necessary.

    But it seems you’ve made up your mind, am I right?

    On the issue of Mary, ever virgin? Yes. On all Mary issues? No. I end up defending things that I’m not completely in agreement with because I see them unfairly attacked. I see in my husband daily the living proof that these accusations against Catholics are not true, and it pains me to see him maligned unfairly. I wish in some way I could help people understand that, but I fear in the end, I will have to state my story and let everyone make up their own mind as they all do anyway.

  47. tap says:

    Rhology: And you are assuming out of thin air that she wasn’t a Martian. Prove Mary wasn’t a Martian.

    If you are contending she was a martian, the burden of proof is on you. nice try though…

    Anyways stacey, the things posted so far will suffice for those who seek the truth. I have yet more stuff (from the One of the Gospels), that i’m pondering as it relates to this subject, i will post it at a later time. All i can say is that God works in mysterious ways.

  48. evenshine says:

    “But should we judge an institution based on the abuse of that institution?

    Not at all, and that wasn’t my point- it was to explain why a Protestant might take this topic so seriously. Wouldn’t you say that there’s a qualitative difference between one Catholic with some questions and millions of faithful in very great error?

    “accusations against Catholics are not true, and it pains me to see him maligned unfairly.”

    To what accusations are you referring? To stated, infallible Church doctrine? Or to the millions in South America who worship dressed-up dolls? ‘Cause I thought you were discussing Church dogma. If I’ve offended you in my questions I apologize, but I haven’t seen that happening in this combox.

    Blessings.

  49. Stacey says:

    evenshine,

    No you haven’t offended me, I was drifting into the lalaland of why I’ve started this blog in the first place – to help people overcome misconceptions about Catholicism as I have.

    Wouldn’t you say that there’s a qualitative difference between one Catholic with some questions millions of faithful in very great error?

    I’m confused… what are we talking about?

  50. tap says:

    finally, someone who can read the mind of millions, of South Americans no less!. Cool…

  51. Rhology says:

    tap,

    You had said:
    You are assuming out of thin air that she didn’t make a vow b/c James White has told you so.

    And now you say that I have the burden of proof to say that she IS a Martian.
    Why don’t you have the burden of proof on the assertion that she DID make a vow of lifelong virginity?

  52. tap says:

    Why don’t you have the burden of proof on the assertion

    Because luke 1:27-34 ? Posits as much.

    The burden of proof here is for you to show that she meant something else.

  53. Rhology says:

    Where does it say “I have taken a vow of virginity” in that passage, tap?

  54. tap says:

    Protestant to Catholic; Where does it say “I have taken a vow of virginity” in that passage

    Analogy

    Jew/NonChristian to Christian: Where does Jesus say “I am God” in the New Testament

    or

    Jew/NonChristian to Christian: Where does Jesus say “I am God, 3 persons in 1 God, and i myself am 2 natures” in the Bible

    My answer: If you can’t see it i can’t help you

  55. Rhology says:

    The Trinity and the 2 natures of Christ are seen in numerous places in the OT and NT, both, throughout numerous books. I could show you over a dozen off the top of my head.

    Where does Mary say “I have taken a vow of virginity”? Just ONE place would be fine.

  56. Paul in the GNW says:

    Stacy Said There are many things you do not understand about the Catholic Church, and it was about six months ago that I was right there with you. Unless you want to understand these things, you will not. There are reasons for things that without experience, you cannot understand, like a child with a hot stove. … I begin to see a wisdom behind the practices and beliefs in the Catholic Church to protect its followers and to strive for their sanctification. Can you not admit the possibility… I don’t expect you to change your mind, but I do expect you to be able to see that it is not ridiculous to have dogma that you may not see the reason for.

    Thanks for that Stacy. I was just growing extremely frustrated with this thread.

    I will go on to add just a few observations, not really wanting to join the fray (because It is Pointless??)
    1) On whether you need to tackle the Authority issue first: I agree with you that you should know what you are looking at, and know the distinctive teachings, dogmas and practices is necessary. However, when it comes to convincing, the only logical way to argue for many of them, particularly the IC, and Papal Infallibility. is based on the Authority of the Magisterium. It is good to try to understand the logic, and to study, but at some point it IS pointless to keep debating it.
    1b) The Authority of the Church rests on the belief that the Church has the Authority to claim the Authority – You can read the relevant cited bible verses, and the Church Fathers, but Ultimately it comes down to trusting the Church.

    2) Immaculate Conception, Assumption of Mary, Marian Devotion – Rhology made mention along the lines of (sic) ‘Roman Church making belief in these dogmas necessary for salvation.’ That distorts the way the Church teaches – its not utterly false, but it misses the point entirely. As a practical matter there is no sin in have doubts, apprehensions, or confusion about any dogma – it is only if I obstinately refuse to believe, and actually deny the dogma that I go into dangerous territory. Even then, strictly speaking my ultimate salvation may be in (greater) danger – but I am not automatically damned to Hell!

    3) Open Mind : I think you have it there. I trust that if you want nothing other than to love God and give yourself to Jesus, and you prayerfully try to study Catholicism you will be drawn to the Church.

    Finally, I also am a Physicist, well at least I have BS in Physics. I am hoping to finally write some more over at my blog. There is a new comment by Adoro on my last post that touches on my thoughts here.

    God Bless

  57. tap says:

    The Trinity and the 2 natures of Christ are seen in numerous places in the OT and NT, both, throughout numerous books. I could show you over a dozen off the top of my head.

    Lol, of course it is “seen” But by Implication, its not stated directly; as ” I am God 3 persons in 1, One of us will have a dual Nature” If it was stated directly most Jews wouldn’t have a problem with the concept of trinity.
    Which is exactly what you are asking. You are asking for a direct Statement, when you can easily see the implication of her replay.

    Where does Mary say “I have taken a vow of virginity”? Just ONE place would be fine.

    I just gave you a verse luke 1:27-34. If you are looking for a direct statement see the above explanation. However if you can’t see the implication, i can’t help you.

  58. Paul in the GNW says:

    Stacy, tongue in cheek, consider this an invitation: Fr. Dwight Longnecker – What I love about the Catholic Church prt. 4

  59. Stacey says:

    Paul,

    I’m not sure I qualify as a physicist, since I merely got my BS and went straight into the stay at home business! I also majored in math, interned with NASA and did two years as an art student, so you’ll see me referencing all over the board, but I’m not schizo, I promise! It does tend to creep into the way I see the world though!

    I know I must address the issue of authority eventually, and it all does seem to boil down to “Well, do you accept it or don’t you?”… so, when I get the guts up, I’ll talk about it!

    Liked the link, btw.

  60. Carrie says:

    Hi Stacey,

    I had some interesting facts on the Assumption Dogma somewhere, but can’t find it.

    This may interest you (although not detailed):

    Time

    Perhaps you won’t find it odd but I thought it was odd when I learned that the Assumption became de fide largely by petition.

  61. eulogos says:

    Rhology-Catholics don’t usually think in terms of “What do you have to believe to be saved?” After all, we think that infants are “saved” after they have been baptized, and they don’t believe anything. We generally think that we are saved by having been baptized into the “saved community,” the church, unless we do something which cuts us off from that source of all grace. (The Church is the channel of all the graces which flow from Christ.) So if one has grown up a Catholic and hasn’t yet thought to consider one way or another whether Mary was assumed into heaven, or even if one is wondering how that could be so and why it should be so, this isn’t a barrier to salvation. If one’s denial of it were so absolute as to mean that one denied that Christ’s Church teaches us the truth, then one would be cutting himself off from that Church. That is what is meant by having a heretical spirit.

    For those outside the Church who have been brought up in other traditions, we don’t think their denial of some Catholic doctrines means they are damned. We think they should believe and follow and obey as much of the truth as they have been given. Catholics certainly believe that Protestants who do that will be saved.

    Catholics believe that the fullness of the means of salvation is in the Catholic Church. To become Catholic, one does not consider a long list of beliefs like a checklist, and see if one can check them all off, and if one can, then one can become a Catholic. One has to ask, “Do I believe that the Catholic Church is the Church established by Christ, against which He promised the gates of Hell would not prevail, which He promised to lead into all truth?” If one can answer yes, then one does not worry oneself about the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception. One figures one will eventually come to understand.

    Susan Peterson

  62. eulogos says:

    I see from reading the comments that Stacy is saying that she feels she has to make sure that she won’t sign on and then run into some horrendous and blasphemous doctrine. At some point though, one has an idea of the Church and and trust in God’s preservation of it, by which one knows that that will never be the case.

    I think my point still stands that the Church does not answer the question “What must one do to be saved?” with a list of doctrines including the Marian ones.

    The answer really is that one must have a heart oriented towards believing and doing the truth, whatever part of the truth one is shown. Jesus Christ is the truth even for those who have not yet heard His name, and they may be saved by their obedience to whatever fragments of His truth can be found in their culture. (But they are not saved by some other religion, all saving grace comes from Christ.) Jesus Christ is the truth for those whose religions believe in HIm but with many distortions, such as Mormonism. Some in such a religion will focus on the distortions, but some will focus on what truths of Christ they hear. Perhaps some will hear enough to make them look outward to more pure doctrine; but some will be going about their daily duties trying to obey the truth they know, and it is really Christ in their hearts, despite all the cloudiness of the surrounding doctrine.

    So the Church says one must say Yes to the truth which one truly sees. Someone offered a pamphlet in the street is not thereby enabled to see the truth of Christianity when his whole life has been filled with ignorance and prejudice against it. Yet there may come a moment which such a person does truly see, and because of fearing the ridicule of his friends, or of not wanting to give up immoral behavior, he says no, and hurries away from that moment.

    So, again, the Church says that one must say yes to and try to obey all the truth that one has been shown. That means that once one realizes that Christ died for him, he has to say yes and accept that. For a Catholic it means that once one realizes that the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church, he must hasten to be fully united with it. This is a running to intimacy with Christ’s heart, not a doctrinal checklist.

  63. Stacey says:

    Susan,

    This is a running to intimacy with Christ’s heart, not a doctrinal checklist.

    Good point. This was all very eloquently put, thank you. I think sometimes, when people like me are afraid of authority found in the Church, it can be easier to just list off doctrines we don’t understand and use them as excuses.

  64. Stacey says:

    Susan,

    This is a running to intimacy with Christ’s heart, not a doctrinal checklist.

    Good point. This was all very eloquently put, thank you. I think sometimes, when people like me are afraid of authority found in the Church, it can be easier to just list off doctrines we don’t understand and use them as excuses.

  65. Stacey says:

    Carrie,

    Thanks for the article. I’ll read it later.

  66. Carrie says:

    The answer really is that one must have a heart oriented towards believing and doing the truth, whatever part of the truth one is shown. Jesus Christ is the truth even for those who have not yet heard His name, and they may be saved by their obedience to whatever fragments of His truth can be found in their culture. (But they are not saved by some other religion, all saving grace comes from Christ.) Jesus Christ is the truth for those whose religions believe in HIm but with many distortions, such as Mormonism. Some in such a religion will focus on the distortions, but some will focus on what truths of Christ they hear. Perhaps some will hear enough to make them look outward to more pure doctrine; but some will be going about their daily duties trying to obey the truth they know, and it is really Christ in their hearts, despite all the cloudiness of the surrounding doctrine.

    This is just wrong. True saving faith comes from God, and the object of faith is quite clear.

    What you are preaching is relativism which is easier to swallow in these days of political correctness. But that idea goes against what Scripture says.

    Don’t believe this and certainly don’t preach it. You will be responsible.

  67. Carrie says:

    The answer really is that one must have a heart oriented towards believing and doing the truth, whatever part of the truth one is shown. Jesus Christ is the truth even for those who have not yet heard His name, and they may be saved by their obedience to whatever fragments of His truth can be found in their culture. (But they are not saved by some other religion, all saving grace comes from Christ.) Jesus Christ is the truth for those whose religions believe in HIm but with many distortions, such as Mormonism. Some in such a religion will focus on the distortions, but some will focus on what truths of Christ they hear. Perhaps some will hear enough to make them look outward to more pure doctrine; but some will be going about their daily duties trying to obey the truth they know, and it is really Christ in their hearts, despite all the cloudiness of the surrounding doctrine.

    This is just wrong. True saving faith comes from God, and the object of faith is quite clear.

    What you are preaching is relativism which is easier to swallow in these days of political correctness. But that idea goes against what Scripture says.

    Don’t believe this and certainly don’t preach it. You will be responsible.

  68. Christopher says:

    may I recommend a book

    “The Worlds First Love” by Fulton Sheen

  69. Christopher says:

    may I recommend a book

    “The Worlds First Love” by Fulton Sheen

  70. Stacey says:

    I just bought that book! My husband’s reading it first, though. I’ve a couple other on the list before it.

  71. Stacey says:

    I just bought that book! My husband’s reading it first, though. I’ve a couple other on the list before it.

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