Mary Ever Virgin: Why the doctrine should not be believed

October 22, 2009

The cousin argument

In order for anyone to believe that Mary remained a virgin, they first have to believe the Bible doesn’t really say what it appears to say. The apostles called Jesus’ relatives brothers and sisters, but they really meant cousins? Then why didn’t they say cousins? Luke, a Greek speaking gentile, referred to Elizabeth as Mary’s cousin (syggenēs); why did he not call her Mary’s sister (adelphē)? The cousin exegesis makes Luke out to be inconsistent.

The Mary at the cross argument

They also propose the idea that Jesus had no brothers because on the cross He gave His mother to John. Someone has told you that it would have been customary for Jesus to place His mother’s care in the hands of His brother, and since He did not do that He must not have had a brother. Sounds logical, but there is one major problem; had Jesus given His mother to one of His brothers, His actions would have contradicted His teachings.

Jesus said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” I think you would agree that there is enough evidence from the Gospels to conclude that Mary believed in Jesus, but we know with certainty that His brothers did not (John 7:5). So if Jesus were to give His mother to His brothers He would have contradicted His own teaching.

What about the obvious conclusion just from reading the Bible?

I am sure most would agree that if a person who never heard the Gospel read them for the first time, they would believe that Mary had other children based simply on the text. It would take someone to come in and tell them that what they read isn’t as it appears. That means the burden of proof lies with those who dispute the obvious conclusion drawn from the text.

The evidence that the doctrine of Mary remaining in her virginity perpetually is not orthodox

“For the one and the same Spirit of God, who proclaimed by the prophets what and of what sort the advent of the Lord should be, did by these elders give a just interpretation of what had been truly prophesied; and He did Himself, by the apostles, announce that the fullness of the times of the adoption had arrived, that the kingdom of heaven had drawn near, and that He was dwelling within those that believe in Him who was born Emmanuel of the Virgin. To this effect they testify, saying, that before Joseph had come together with Mary, while she therefore remained in virginity, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Against Heresies; 3:4)

“And depreciating the whole of what appeared to be His nearest kindred, they said, Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or The Book of James, that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end.” (Origen; Commentary on Matthew; 17)

“Thus is the temptation about His birth unsuitable, for it might have been contrived without any mention of either His mother or His brethren. It is clearly more credible that, being certain that He had both a mother and brothers, they tested His divinity rather than His nativity, whether, when within, He knew what was without; being tried by the untrue announcement of the presence of persons who were not present.” (Tertullian; On The Flesh of Christ; 7)

How and when did the doctrine take hold?

The belief that Mary remained a virgin seems to have developed out of the Christology debates of the mid to late fourth century. A very large schism occurred over the notion of whether or not Mary was the mother of God, i.e. Jesus’ divinity and humanity, or merely the mother of His’ humanity. The idea that Mary remained in her virginity blossomed out of that controversy. The only group I have come across from the ante-Nicene period that believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Mary-worshiping Callyridians. And in my personal opinion, they are the catalyst for the Marian doctrines that developed in the fourth and fifth centuries.

So the evidence really is stacked against the belief that Mary remained a virgin. Historically it’s a no-brainer. But no amount of evidence will ever persuade people who just choose to believe the doctrine. But this evidence does matter to people who are willing to let go of ideology and seek truth.

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The Source of Sacred Tradition

October 16, 2009

The Roman Catholic Church indelibly asserts that their “sacred tradition” was truly transmitted by the apostles and preserved through the ages by the “teaching Authority.” The assertion is clearly stated in the Catholic Encyclopedia under “Tradition and Living Magisterium.”

“The Council [of Trent], as is evident, held that there are Divine traditions not contained in Holy Scripture, revelations made to the Apostles either orally by Jesus Christ or by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and transmitted by the Apostles to the Church.”

Yet when put those traditions to the test, nothing from ante-Nicene history can be found to support them but sketchy out-of-context evidence. And that’s for only a few of the doctrines, for most no evidence can be found at all. The Catholic Church, however, is not ignorant of this fact; in fact they justify the discrepancies in the same article.

“The designation of unwritten Divine traditions was not always given all the clearness desirable especially in early times… The living magisterium, therefore, makes extensive use of documents of the past, but it does so while judging and interpreting, gladly finding in them its present thought, but likewise, when needful, distinguishing its present thought from what is traditional only in appearance. It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church, or, if it is preferred, the present thought of the Church in continuity with her traditional thought, which is for it the final criterion, according to which the living magisterium adopts as true or rejects as false the often obscure and confused formulas which occur in the monuments of the past. Thus are explained both her respect for the writings of the Fathers of the Church and her supreme independence towards those writings–she judges them more than she is judged by them.”

In other words, the truth does not exist within the historical evidence, according the Catholic Church it resides in the mind, or present thought of the “teaching authority.” But it stands to reason that if the apostles passed on those doctrines, history must support it. It is not reasonable that present thought should contradict traditional thought and still be regard as truth. Why would the Holy Spirit lead early church leaders to believe something contrary to what He leads current leaders to believe?

The truth of history makes no difference to the Catholic hierarchy because they believe that they alone are the keepers of truth. They decide what is true or untrue regardless of the evidence. Since they alone are the true interpreters of the Bible, guided by divine assistance, according to them, they interpret Mathew 28:20 as applying to them. And in their ostentatious minds, they like to imagine that God has granted them infallibility. One might logically ask, as if logic has anything to do with it, why the Bible is not expanding with time. But I suppose that even the most pretentious have their limits.


Catholic Apologist Refutes Own Logic

October 13, 2009

Catholic apologist John Martignoni’s own “logic” has handed him a shovel and he’s digging deep. While attempting to defend the Catholic doctrine of the immaculate conception from Revelation 12, John Martignoni logically states that since Jesus and Satan are real people, the woman mentioned in that verse must also be a real person; and that real person, Martignoni claims, is Mary. Here is a quote from his newsletter for context.

“Now, some will say that the woman represents the Church, because it is the Church that brings Jesus to the world; or that she represents Israel, because Jesus is a child of Israel. And, at one level of interpretation, they would be right. The image of the woman can be a metaphor for either the Church or Israel. There are many passages of Scripture that can have different levels of meaning, and this is one of them. However, at the most basic level of meaning, the woman is also a real person – Mary, the mother of Jesus. After all, no one ever says that the male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron is a metaphor. Nor do they say that the ancient serpent, Satan, is a metaphor. Why then do they claim “the woman” is only a metaphor? They claim that because they do not want her to be Mary. To admit that could damage some of their arguments against Catholic teaching on Mary. So, in the parallel passage of Gen 3:15, we see three real persons, but in chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation, we supposedly only have two real persons and a metaphor?” (John Martignoni; Apologetics for the Masses – Issue #127)

If it is only logical that the woman be a real person in Revelation 12, than the same logic must apply to the woman in Revelation 17; the two chapters refer to the same woman. In Rev. 12:6 the woman flees to the wilderness, in Rev. 17:3 John is taken to the wilderness where he finds the woman. It’s obviously the same woman. The dragon never became something different later in Revelation so why would anyone think the woman was something different- especially when we have the location to tie the two together?

No Christian would ever say that the woman in chapter 17 is Mary, so why accept that interpretation in chapter 12? The woman is a metaphor plain and simple. Martignoni defeated his own logic, unless of course his logic allows for double standards. I would ask him, but he’s probably tired of digging.


Meet “Ardi”

October 8, 2009

Evolutionists aren’t yet sure if they should call it a human ancestor, but one thing they do know is that “Ardi” does away with the idea of a “missing link.”

Read…


Where do infants go when they die?

September 26, 2009

Q:

Hi Brian,

I was reading this article again [If a baby dies, does it go to Heaven or Hell?], and I was just thinking, what would be a Biblical answer to the question “Where do infants go when they die?” There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer in this article, but I see an excellent response to the Roman Catholic position of having to be baptized as an infant. Could you clear up the question with the Biblical mindset that we are all born into sin and that everyone needs a savior (including infants).

Thank you

A:

Hi David!

You are right; the article was focused more on addressing Martignoni’s assertions rather than addressing the actual question. That being the case, I thought I would post my response to your question here so I could properly address it. Thanks for your feedback!

I know there are a lot of varying opinions out there concerning this question. My philosophy is to just stick with what I understand. So I will try to answer your question using biblical examples and logic, and you can decide whether or not it makes sense.

The big question is: do infants inherit Adam’s sin and therefore considered (by God) guilty of sin? We cannot answer for God, who ultimately is the Judge of such things, but I think we can understand what the answer might be from biblical study; and the answer for me comes down to one word: law. Paul said, “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Rom. 5:13) So the question becomes, if sin is not imputed without law, what law, if any, is an infant under?

Adam, as soon as he was formed, was placed in the garden and put under law. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17) Adam’s innocence was conditional; so long as he was obedient to the law over him, he remained without sin. But as we know, Adam disobeyed God. His disobedience brought about the promise God made to him, that he would surely die.

Adam and Eve’s nature changed the moment they disobeyed God; at that moment they knew they were naked and experienced shame and regret. And although God promised they would surely die, He also promised that He would save them through their posterity. Therefore, the descendants of Adam are not descendants of innocent Adam, but descendants of fallen Adam.

The curse placed upon Adam is placed upon his descendants, which is all of mankind. It is the curse, not the sin that is passed on throughout our generations. When God’s Law came through Moses sin was once again revealed, because God commanded the children of Israel to obey His commandments. So disobedience to the Law imputes sin upon those who disobey, just like Adam did.

So what about those who were not under the Law of Moses; how is sin imputed to them in light of what Paul said, that sin is not imputed where there is no law? Paul himself answers that question in Romans, chapter 2.

For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” (v 12-16)

Adam and Eve did not need God to tell them they should feel guilty over their sin; it came naturally. As soon as they disobeyed God, Adam and Eve’s conscience bared witness to them of their sin. The same is true of those who are ignorant of the Law of God, or His grace. So the similitude of Adam’s sin is found in disobedience to the law of nature and is witnessed by the conscience.

When we consider what Paul said, “…their thoughts accusing or else excusing them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men,” what does it mean for those whose thoughts cannot accuse them? It can only mean that they are excused on the Day of Judgment because they did not disobey the law, which, according to Paul, is the only way sin could be imputed to them. Nevertheless, as Paul also taught in Romans 5, death reigns over those who do not sin in the similitude of Adam because Adam brought death into the world, which was conquered by Christ at His resurrection. Therefore, all who are justified, whether by forgiveness or by innocence, are made alive through Christ’s obedience.

One more thing to consider: Christ possessed the same humanity we do. Although He is God, He became a man, born under the Law and prevailed over the Law, which rather than having the power to condemn Him it declared Him righteous through obedience. Nevertheless, even Jesus, in His humanity, was stricken with Adam’s disease. Likewise, every human being drinks from the dregs of Adam’s curse, and those who are disobedient to the law will suffer condemnation. That condemnation falls upon all people whose conscience has witnessed to them of their sin; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom. 3:20)

An infant, though seemingly under natural law, has no knowledge of sin; and where there is no knowledge of sin and no conviction of conscience, there is no condemnation from law. But that is only true because of Christ. I think what we need to understand is that humanity was separated from God through Adam’s sin. Only God could reconcile that separation. And without God’s intervention no one, including infants, could be united with Him. Thanks and reverence be to God that He loved us enough to send His Son to reconcile us back to Himself!


No Absolution from Sin for Catholics who Read the Bible

September 18, 2009

According to the infallible Council of Trent:

Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise there from more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission, may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Book-dealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them. (Council of Trent, Tridentine Rules: Rule 4)

If you are Catholic and want to read or possess a Bible you have to have written permission from your bishop, if not, you’re sins are not forgiven.

This statement speaks volumes about the leadership of the Catholic Church. According to them, Catholic laity have no brains of their own and are denied the gift of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, one can only grow in faith and knowledge of our Savior through the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. So long as one has their approval, one can possess and read God’s holy word. In absence of the express written permission of one’s bishop, reading the Scriptures is considered a sinful act. Amazing!


Don’t Drink the Water – Unless You Know Where to Drink

September 9, 2009

What would you do if someone asked you to dip your hand into the Mississippi River in New Orleans and take a big drink? Would you do it? Not only would you not drink the water, you would probably think the person who asked you to drink it was crazy or just plain mean. In a spiritual sense, this is exactly what Catholic theologians are asking people to do.

In the Catholic Church, Scripture and Sacred Tradition go hand in hand. The Catholic Church teaches that both Scripture and Tradition are of apostolic origin and, therefore, equal in authority. To make their case, Catholic theologians and apologists will direct folks to a time in church history when there were no written doctrines or accounts of Christ’s life and teachings, only oral testimony, i.e., tradition. The logic derived from this is that since oral tradition was authoritative in the ancient church, and the written apostolic source (the New Testament) cannot possibly contain all that the apostles taught, it stands to reason that oral tradition remain authoritative for Christians.

The problem is they never get specific about the traditions. What exactly did the apostles teach orally that we cannot glean from Scripture? Did they teach that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a virgin her entire life, or that the blessed bread of communion transubstantiates into the glorified body of Christ when blessed by a priest? These and a host of other so-called “Sacred Traditions” of the Catholic Church are the spiritual equivalent of what makes the Mississippi River undrinkable.

Hundreds of years of developing doctrines have flowed into the once pure stream of Christian truth poisoning it and leaving it non potable. But like a river, the pollution of false doctrine only occurs downstream from its source. And having the ability to return to the source and drink the pure doctrine found there, enables us to know what the doctrine should look like. So it is for us to recognize from the word of God, our source of pure doctrine, what is truth and what is not truth, thus permitting us to filter out the impurities of false doctrine in our own time.