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  • Is Mary Really the “Mother of God”?

    January 17, 2012 | 217 Comments

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    Catholics believe that Mary is “the Mother of God,” a co-mediator with Jesus, herself sinless and virgin born. They even believe that she ascended to heaven. What do the Scriptures say?

    Hour 1:
    Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: God sent His son into the world, that through Him we might be saved.  Jesus has been given the highest name in the universe because He humbled himself to come in form of servant, died a criminal’s death, and has been highly exalted. May all the honor and glory go to Him and praise be to the Father!
    Hour 2:
    Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line:  There is no question that there are many issues that divide Catholic and Protestant, and that we deeply differ on the position of Mary. Let us then exalt and preach Jesus: crucified, risen, exalted, and coming again!

    Hour 1:

    Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: God sent His son into the world, that through Him we might be saved.  Jesus has been given the highest name in the universe because He humbled himself to come in form of servant, died a criminal’s death, and has been highly exalted. May all the honor and glory go to Him and praise be to the Father!

    Hour 2:

    Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: There is no question that there are many issues that divide Catholic and Protestant, and that we deeply differ on the position of Mary. Let us then exalt and preach Jesus: crucified, risen, exalted, and coming again!

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    Comments

    217 Responses to “Is Mary Really the “Mother of God”?”

    1. Kyzersoze
      January 17th, 2012 @ 7:50 am

      Always wondered why Protestants disagreed with Catholics over the title “Mary, the Mother of God” if both systems belief Jesus is God. But then I saw this video where it was explaimed that “she was the mother of the body”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKzEgny76pc

      Does this view hold true for most Protestant denominations or..?

    2. Jason Engwer
      January 17th, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

      I’m at work when Dr. Brown’s program airs, so I listen to it later on the web. I just got done listening to today’s program on Mary.

      There are a lot of problems with what the Catholic caller, Frank, argued. I’ll give a few examples.

      He cites 2 Samuel 6 and parallels Mary to the ark of the covenant. That argument is faulty and has been answered many times. For example, Dr. Brown mentioned James White, and he’s written an article on this subject. Search his web site, aomin.org, for an article titled “A Biblical Basis for the ‘Immaculate Conception’?”. See, also, pages 166-168 in Eric Svendsen’s Who Is My Mother? (Amityville, New York: Calvary Press, 2001). As some of the leading Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars in the world concluded in their study of Mary:

      “However, in our judgment there is no convincing evidence that Luke specifically identified Mary with the symbolism of the Daughter of Zion or the Ark of the Covenant.” (Raymond Brown, et al., Mary In The New Testament [Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1978], 134)

      The earliest ark parallels among the church fathers identify Jesus or something else, not Mary, as the parallel to the ark (Irenaeus, Fragments From The Lost Writings Of Irenaeus, 48; Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, 5:6; Tertullian, The Chaplet, 9; Hippolytus, On Daniel, 2:6; etc.). The earliest patristic interpreter of Revelation 11:19, Victorinus, doesn’t refer to Mary as the ark (Commentary On The Apocalypse Of The Blessed John, 11:19).

    3. Jason Engwer
      January 17th, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

      Frank claims that Irenaeus and Hippolytus referred to Mary as sinless. That’s false.

      I’ve read everything that’s extant from Irenaeus. Not only does he never refer to Mary as sinless, but he suggests otherwise. For example, he comments that Jesus is the only person who’s been perfectly righteous (Demonstration Of The Apostolic Preaching, 72). He interprets John 2:4 as a rebuke of Mary for her “untimely haste” (Against Heresies, 3:16:7).

      What about Hippolytus? There have been disputes about the authorship of a lot of works that have been attributed to him. I don’t know what work of Hippolytus Frank is referring to or whether Hippolytus actually wrote it. I also don’t know why he thinks Hippolytus (or another author Frank is confusing with Hippolytus) refers to Mary as sinless in that document. His reference to Hippolytus is too vague to verify.

      Frank cited Revelation 12, but the passage seems to identify the woman as Israel. Compare Revelation 12:1 to Genesis 37:1-9. And read the rest of Revelation 12. Ask yourself whether the events described there happened in Mary’s life.

    4. Jason Engwer
      January 17th, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

      The earliest post-apostolic interpreters didn’t see Revelation 12 as supportive of a Roman Catholic view of Mary:

      “Even Oecumenius, the first true proponent of the full-orbed Marian interpretation, is not considered a canonized father of the church….The number of patristic writers in the first six centuries who subscribe to the people of God view of Revelation 12 (at least sixteen known to us, counting Quodvultdeus, nine of whom are canonized saints) far exceeds the number of those who see Mary as the primary or secondary referent (only two, none of whom are canonized fathers of the Roman church)….It is not until the fifth century (in Quodvultdeus) and the sixth century (in Oecumenius) that we find positive evidence for seeing, respectively, Mary as a secondary referent unintended by the author of the Revelation and Mary as the primary referent in the interpretation of this text. In any case, the Marian interpretation was never the majority opinion in the early church. The majority viewed the ‘woman’ as the people of God, both the ancient church and the New Covenant church.” (Eric Svendsen, Who Is My Mother? [Amityville, New York: Calvary Press, 2001], 231-232)

      See, for example, Hippolytus (Treatise On Christ And Antichrist, 61), Methodius (The Banquet Of The Ten Virgins, Discourse 8:5-7), and Victorinus (Commentary On The Apocalypse Of The Blessed John, 12:1-2). These fathers often make the same observations about the passage that are made by modern critics of the Marian interpretation. They sometimes argue against elements of the Marian view, and they don’t advocate the Marian view anywhere else, so it seems unlikely that they were merely proposing other interpretations in addition to the Marian understanding. Rather, it seems that the earliest interpreters didn’t see Mary in Revelation 12. They identified the woman as some other entity and repeatedly contradicted the Marian interpretations that are popular today.

    5. Jason Engwer
      January 17th, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

      Regarding the canon of scripture, Frank is wrong about alleged New Testament support for the canonicity of the Apocrypha. Go to the blog I write for, Triablogue, and search for an article titled “Poppin-Jay on the Canon”. Concerning his claim that the canon was determined by councils like Hippo and Carthage, see the Triablogue article titled “Popes, Councils, And The New Testament Canon”. We also have a lot of other material on canonical issues. Search for our page titled “The Canon Of Scripture”.

      Again, much of what Frank said was false or misleading. I suggest that people research his claims (and mine) rather than accepting them at face value.

    6. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 17th, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

      Jason,

      Great stuff, and I do hope that Frank joins in here. Given the nature of my program and what I was attempting to do today, I wanted to major on the majors, be clear about the issues at stake, and stay focused on the Word — allowing the Catholic exaltation of Mary to speak for itself — as opposed to a formal debate setting which would involve much more detailed responses. So, your posts do our listeners a tremendous service. Thanks!

    7. Mark Kielinski
      January 17th, 2012 @ 11:16 pm

      the problem is that protestants are sola scriptora a false teaching. Jesus came to build a church and his church (catholic) in infallable. You say you can’t prove that mary was sinless during her life well you also can’t prove the trinity from scripture or that masturbation is a sin which most christians agree on those 2 topics.

    8. Eric
      January 18th, 2012 @ 1:52 am

      Dear Jason,

      I appreciate the input. I’ve heard a few of Dr. James White’s debates with Catholic priests/apologists. I have not studied the major Catholic-Protestant issues in depth too much, so your posts (what you said/recommended) are good resources.

      God bless you.

    9. MRuhl
      January 18th, 2012 @ 2:23 am

      Just for a clarification here. Dr. Brown said over and over in this program that in Catholic Doctrine, Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven. That is incorrect. Mary was assumed into heaven according to the Catholic Church. Ascension is going to heaven on your own power(like Jesus), whereas assumption is God taking them to heaven by his power. That is the Catholic belief about Mary.

      Also, you might want to look up the “Dormition of Mary” in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. That is very interesting and might scare you more than the Catholic traditions about Mary. It says that Mary was dead for three days then rose again then God assumed her into heaven.

      God Bless

    10. Eric
      January 18th, 2012 @ 3:02 am

      I liked how the show ended with Frank sharing his view of Jesus. That was a good show and I hope to see more like this. Perhaps Dr. Brown could have a discussion with Dr. James White and some Catholic apologist some time. That would be great to hear and beneficial for all those listeners who called in raising questions.

    11. Will
      January 18th, 2012 @ 9:52 am

      Definitely an issue that requires cool emotions,thought you did a great job. Catholics are great people who love God, but they are getting a raw deal. Call it whatever you want veneration, reverence, whatever, when you have people kneeling and praying to Images, statues, of Mary or Jesus or any being, this is absolutely forbidden. Jesus didn’t even say for us to pray to him, he said pray to the Father. Yet they call her the Queen of Heaven, I immediately think of Jermiah 44.

      I know this will annoy you Dr. B, but don’t you think this is a horrible outcome of misunderstanding Luke 1? Why are we still taking verses like this literal? The canticle of Mary? Who was sitting there scribbling down furiously what a poor teenage Jew in Roman Palestine was saying in a remote village B.C.? The answer is nobody, we can’t take these as literal and they were clearly added to impart a specific theology that the writer had in mind.

      BTW Matthew clearly shows that Joseph and Mary had sexual union after Jesus was born. And look at the actions of Jesus in Mark, who is my Mother etc, he didn’t fall down and prostrate himself to his Queen nor did he say Go ye unto my Mom for help that I can’t give you. Isaiah 53 doesn’t talk about the suffering servants Mom.

      We should be able to trace a clear, unclouded, path of theology back to the Torah and Profits but the Catholic church has added way to many detours to even begin to mention.

    12. Bo
      January 18th, 2012 @ 10:43 am

      Galatians 4
      4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
      5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

      Those that are “under the law” are the ones that have broken it. Messiah was not under the law. He never broke it. His mother was under the law. She was “a women, made under the law.” He redeemed “them that were under the law.” He did not redeem Himself. He did not need adopting. Marry needed both. The phrase, “under the law” is virtually the same as, “under sin.” Only those that are under sin need redeeming. Those that are guilty are the ones that have broken the law. They are under the law/sin.

      Romans 3
      9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
      19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

      Romans 7
      14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

      Galatians 3
      22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

      Shalom

    13. Daryl
      January 18th, 2012 @ 11:45 am

      One thing that disturbs me most about this topic is that throughout the centuries after the early church, the Roman Catholic church added various beliefs and traditions to the existing holy scripture, which were to be adhered to and made as important as belief in the scripture itself. Given the errors of judgement made by the RC church as seen in recorded history on everything from killing heretics to making gross mininterpretations of scripture to disallowing anyone to even have or own a Bible, what makes one believe that what catholics adhere to today as tradition and teaching is so above reproach?

    14. Dan1el
      January 18th, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

      Bo,
      By the same token, if it weren’t clearly written in Scripture, you’d probably have refuted Jesus’s baptism — since, it was only for sinful men. Jesus WAS under the Law — the word “made” applied to his being “made of a woman”, and “made” applies to His being “made under the Law”.

      Yeshua was under the Law; TODAY, after His death (“the death He died, He died to sin, once for all”), we and He are free from the Law.

    15. Bo
      January 18th, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

      Dan1el,

      Those that are “under the law” are the ones that have broken it. Messiah was not under the law. He never broke it. His mother was under the law. She was “a women, made under the law.” He redeemed “them that were under the law.” He did not redeem Himself. He did not need adopting. Marry needed both. The phrase, “under the law” is virtually the same as, “under sin.” Only those that are under sin need redeeming. Those that are guilty are the ones that have broken the law. They are under the law/sin.

      Shalom

    16. Bo
      January 18th, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

      Dan1el,

      Neither the first or last Adam was made/born under the law. Mary was born/made under the law. Our sins were placed upon Messiah on the tree. He was not made/born that way. “Under sin” and “under the law” are the same thing. Miriam was a sinner. Y’shua was not I know that this ruins your antinomian stance, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Let YHWH be true and every man a liar.

      Shalom

    17. Dan1el
      January 18th, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

      Bo,
      Why do you hold to fallacies that are disproven by Scripture?

      Applying the same idea to Jesus’s baptism, we should conclude that Jesus was never baptized by John, since it belonged only to SINNERS, who confessed their sins. Even John hesitated to give Him a baptism for this very reason — and he was CORRECTED by Yeshua, because Yeshua was having to go through the motions of the Scriptures, and subject Himself to the protocols that normal humans had to. He was circumcised the 8th day — according to the Law. There is so much you don’t understand, yet you present your ideas as Truth — in reckless disregard of actual Truth.

      I’m not going to respond again to this thread, since TIME is winding down.

    18. Dan1el
      January 18th, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

      Bo,
      He wasn’t under the Law?

      Why did He live by the Law of Moses — “it is written… it is written… it is written”; “whoever annuls even the least of these Laws…” He obviously lived by the Law of Moses — how could you be so oblivious to these realities? STOP opening your MOUTH to give people a revelation of your lack of revelation.
      “whose mouths must be stopped” Titus 1:11

    19. Derek
      January 18th, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

      I heard some of the converstaion yesterday – but to chime in:

      Mary says in the Magnificat (Luke 1): “For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”
      Not sure if mentioning her once a year at a Christmas Eve service is fullfilling this prophecy.

      Also – most Protesteans state that James is the brother of Jesus. If you read his Epistle – he mentions the importance of taking care of orphans and wodows. If he were the son of Mary – then why did Jesus while on the cross just before he died ask John to take care of Mary – and not his “brother” James?

      Not sure if these topics were covered yesterday.

      I think the parallel with II Samuel 6 is a valid point.
      But if you compare what happened to Uzzah when he simply touched the Arc – he died instantly. The Arc was Holy – and we are too “dirty” to soil it. If you take it one step further – how can another human – with the stain of original sin – share the same womb as Jesus. I think we forget how Holy Christ is – he is God – and I have a hard time believing that God would “dirty” himself by having Mary have original sin and have other siblings share the womb – Just doesn’t seem that would be Holy.

    20. John
      January 18th, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

      Not many really like to acknowledge this but the early Church believed the ever-virginity of Mary. Not only that, but the early Church also sought the prayers to the Mother of God to aid in their journeys through the present world.

      The bible that you are reading was compiled by the Church that believed Mary to be the Mother of God and held to her ever-virginity. If they were wrong, then you’re foundational scriptures were marked authoritative by a wrong Church.

    21. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 18th, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

      John, first, God inspired His Word and oversaw its preservation, not man; second, early Church leaders recognized that Miriam (Mary) had other children, so your basic premise is patently wrong and overstated. And your final comments could not be more wrong: “The bible that you are reading was compiled by the Church that believed Mary to be the Mother of God and held to her ever-virginity.” That being said, I’ll let Jason and others correct you on this, and thanks for getting into the discussion.

    22. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 18th, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

      Bo and Dan1el, I know how your discussion started, but please point it straight back to Miriam (Mary), not to the question of the Law and Yeshua, etc. Thanks!

    23. John
      January 18th, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

      “first, God inspired His Word and oversaw its preservation, not man”

      Actually, it was both God and man- He did this through His Church in 386 a.d.

      “second, early Church leaders recognized that Miriam (Mary) had other children, so your basic premise is patently wrong and overstated.”

      First prove your point. I don’t think you can. The early Church Fathers held to Mary’s ever-virginity. Have you read St. Jerome’s defense of her perpetual virginity? There among others, you will find what the early Church taught.

      “And your final comments could not be more wrong”

      You are shooting out claims without any reasoning. I’m giving you references but you are just giving me your opinion.

    24. John
      January 18th, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

      “I must call upon the Holy Spirit to express His meaning by my mouth and defend the virginity of the Blessed Mary. I must call upon the Lord Jesus to guard the sacred lodging of the womb in which He abode for ten months from all suspicion of sexual intercourse. And I must also entreat God the Father to show that the mother of His Son, who was a mother before she was a bride, continued a Virgin after her son was born.” -From Jerome’s defense on the perpetual virginity of Mary.

      P.S. I don’t hold to the Roman Catholic view of Mary.

    25. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 18th, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

      John, Jerome is in the 4th century! That’s like evaluating what our Founding Fathers wrote in 1776 by looking at contemporary court rulings here in America — and even then, it’s a much shorter lapse of time (and distance) than in the case of Jerome and the NT. This quote, in fact, is a perfect example of just how far things had deviated from the NT in the following centuries, esp. post Constantine.

    26. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 18th, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

      Also, John, for the most part I don’t interact here (time doesn’t permit), so this is mainly for others. Your comments were so glaring that I wanted to respond immediately. Again, I’m sure others will gladly weigh in with plenty of relevant references. And are you telling me that the followers of Jesus didn’t have authoritative Scripture until 386 AD? Really?

    27. Kyzersoze
      January 18th, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

      So is Mary the mother of God [theotokos] or “the mother of the body” [as per post #1]?

      Anyone..?

    28. Bo
      January 18th, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

      Dr. Brown,

      My purpose for posting was to show that a passage in the “New Testament” states that Mary was a sinner. She was born under the law. This is equated by Paul to mean under sin in Romans 3:9,19 and elsewhere. Messiah died for sinners. And Miriam was one of them. He was not.

      The logic that I expressed is pretty straight forward and gives us direct scriptural backing for the view that only Y’shua was sinless. To understand that Messiah died for those under the law to mean what Dan1el believes would make Messiah dieing for His own sin also or only for the Jews, since gentiles would not be under the law if Dan1el is correct.

      I intended no off track discussion, but thought it necessary to correct Dan1el for the sake of this discussion and for confirming the truth that Miriam was a sinner, made under the law.

      I am sure that you have come across these sentiments in protestant writings as I have. It is not some off-the-wall heresy.

      Shalom

    29. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 18th, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

      Bo, understood. I just wanted to be sure we didn’t turn this into another Torah-focused thread.

    30. Jason Engwer
      January 18th, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

      John,

      As Dr. Brown noted, Jerome is a fourth-century source. He was writing against other individuals who denied Mary’s perpetual virginity. He wouldn’t have to write against such individuals unless they existed.

      One of those individuals who’s named by Jerome is Tertullian. Though Catholics and others often dismiss Tertullian as a schismatic, the evidence suggests that he wasn’t a schismatic by the standards of his day. For documentation, do a Google search for a Triablogue article titled “The Significance Of Tertullian”. (I haven’t been linking to these articles I’ve been referencing, since I don’t know what this site’s policy is regarding links, and I don’t want to delay the publication of my posts by including links.) Besides, Tertullian is criticized in ancient times primarily for his alleged Montanism, not his rejection of the perpetual virginity of Mary. And his Montanist period didn’t begin until years after he became a Christian. For a variety of reasons, then, Tertullian’s opposition to the perpetual virginity of Mary can’t be dismissed on the basis that he supposedly was a schismatic.

      And Tertullian wasn’t alone. The most natural reading of the New Testament documents is that Mary gave birth to other children after Jesus. Historical conclusions are about probability, not possibility, so the mere possibility that the relevant New Testament terminology could be read in a manner consistent with perpetual virginity isn’t enough. The issue is whether terms like “brother” and “first-born” are more naturally read as consistent with perpetual virginity or inconsistent with it. The latter is clearly the case, as even some prominent Roman Catholic scholars have acknowledged (e.g., John Meier). Raymond Brown, one of the foremost Roman Catholic scholars of the twentieth century, wrote that Jerome’s view of Mary’s perpetual virginity has been “devastated” by modern scholarship and “faces enormous difficulties” (The Birth Of The Messiah [New York, New York: Doubleday, 1999], 606).

      What about the extra-Biblical literature? It’s probable that Josephus, Hegesippus, and Irenaeus also rejected the perpetual virginity of Mary. See the book by Eric Svendsen cited above for extensive documentation and discussion.

      Even as late as the fourth century, Basil of Caesarea commented that the view that Mary had other children after Jesus “was widely held and, though not accepted by himself, was not incompatible with orthodoxy” (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines [San Francisco, California: HarperCollins Publishers, 1978], p. 495).

    31. Jason Engwer
      January 18th, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

      Let’s review the sources of the first two centuries who are most naturally interpreted as denying the perpetual virginity of Mary:

      Matthew
      Mark
      Luke
      John
      Paul
      Josephus
      Hegesippus
      Irenaeus
      Tertullian

      Who can be cited on the other side? Sometimes some apocryphal literature will be mentioned, but as Svendsen notes:

      “Both the Protevangelium of James and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas are on Bauckham’s own admission ‘certainly works of imagination, not of historiography’…In any case, the assertion that Joseph had other children by a previous marriage is not equivalent to the assertion that the ‘brothers of Jesus’ in the NT are foster/adoptive brothers. Mary could still have had other children after the birth of Jesus, and none of the sources cited above denies that she did. While portions of the Protevangelium of James seem to imply that Mary was perpetually a virgin, it does not clearly express a view on it….Meier characterizes the Protevangelium of James as ‘a wildly imaginative folk-narrative that is outrageously inaccurate about NT events as well as things Jewish,’ Ibid., 16. Similarly, J.K. Elliott, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), tells us in his preface to the Protevangelium of James that its historical value is ‘insignificant’ (51), citing numerous inaccuracies and inconsistencies. Graef, who is sympathetic with the Roman Catholic view of Mary, notes that it betrays ‘great ignorance of Jewish conditions’ and is therefore of ‘little theological significance’ (36).” (Who Is My Mother? [Amityville, New York: Calvary Press, 2001], 103-104, n. 92 on 298)

      For further discussion of these issues, see the comments section of the March 28, 2007 Triablogue thread titled “The Perpetual Virginity Of Mary”.

    32. John
      January 18th, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

      “Your comments were so glaring that I wanted to respond immediately.”

      They might catch your attention because they are true! You’ve responded, but only with your opinion. You’ve made claims, but so far you haven’t backed them up with any evidence.

      You’ve said the Church deviated, but do not provide proof of that deviation but act as if it’s a universally accepted truth.

      “I’m sure others will weigh in with plenty of relevant references”.

      Besides the fact that you haven’t already, what makes you think that others here will?

      “And are you telling me that the followers of Jesus didn’t have authoritative Scripture until 386 AD? Really?”

      Did I say that? No. The followers of Jesus had the septuagint. It wasn’t until later that the NT was compiled in the midst of many false writings during that time. The early Church relied on the septuagint and the Tradition passed down from the apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

      The burden of proof is not on me but on you. I provided you with a reference from the 4th century, but all you can give me is your opinion from the 21st century.

    33. Bo
      January 18th, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

      John,

      What have you to say to Paul’s statement that Mary was born a sinner?

      Shalom

    34. Jason Engwer
      January 18th, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

      Did the early church “seek the prayers to the Mother of God”, as John claims? The answer depends on how we define our terms.

      They surely wanted Mary to intercede on their behalf in Heaven, as far as they thought that could be done. Who wouldn’t want that? Similarly, we’d like it if our deceased relatives, martyrs, apostles, missionaries, or other individuals in Heaven would intercede for us in some sense, along the lines of what we see in Revelation 6. But we don’t know to just what extent those in Heaven intercede for us, how much they know about events on earth, etc. Maybe some intercede for us, but others don’t. If they do intercede for us, how would we know the extent of it? There isn’t much we can say on the subject.

      But if you’re referring to the practice of praying to Mary, instead of merely wishing that she (and others) would intercede for us in Heaven in some sense, then one thing we can say about that practice is that it’s condemned by both scripture and the earliest patristic Christians. I’ve discussed this subject at length at Triablogue. Search for our March 6, 2011 page titled “A Christian View Of Prayer”, and see the links there to our articles on praying to the dead. To cite just two of many examples, when Origen wrote his treatise Against Celsus in the third century, both he and his non-Christian opponent, Celsus, were in agreement that Christians believed in praying only to God. Celsus criticizes Christians for not praying to other beings, but Origen defends the Christian view. People sometimes mistakenly cite catacomb inscriptions and other alleged evidence of early belief in praying to the dead, but I discuss why those arguments are problematic in my posts at Triablogue.

    35. Jason Engwer
      January 18th, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

      On the canon of scripture, see the Triablogue post titled “The Canon Of Scripture”, dated March 9, 2011.

      As Dr. Brown mentioned, Christians for hundreds of years (and Jewish believers before them) thought they could identify what is and isn’t scripture without any ruling from a church council, Pope, or other such source. Even after the fourth-century councils that are often cited (which were just regional councils, not ecumenical ones), there were disagreements over the canon. The Roman bishop Gregory the Great denied that 1 Maccabees is scripture, for example. Many Roman Catholics of the medieval age, including canonized saints, denied the canonicity of Roman Catholicism’s Apocrypha.

      One of the fourth-century councils often cited, Carthage in 397, seems to have included the Septuagint version of 1 Esdras in its canon, which is a different book than the one canonized by Roman Catholicism in the sixteenth century at the Council of Trent. In other words, the Apocrypha of the council of Carthage seems to be different than the Apocrypha of Roman Catholicism. You can follow Carthage or Trent, but you can’t follow both. I recommend following neither. They’re both wrong, for reasons explained in our Triablogue articles cited above.

      Some of the earliest patristic Christians, men like Justin Martyr and Theophilus of Antioch, tell us how they came to believe in the Divine inspiration of the Biblical documents (i.e., came to belief in a canon). They say nothing about anything like a council ruling or papal decree. Instead, they mention things like the personal guidance of the Holy Spirit and the evidence of fulfilled prophecy. Jesus and the apostles held people accountable for identifying, understanding, and obeying scripture hundreds of years before any regional or ecumenical council passed a ruling on the subject.

    36. Jason Engwer
      January 18th, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

      John,

      In response to Michael Brown, you commented:

      “The followers of Jesus had the septuagint.”

      Are you aware that the earliest copies of the Septuagint that we have are late Christian copies? That different versions of the Septuagint contained different books? That Bibles often contain material that the publishers and/or readers don’t consider scripture (e.g., commentaries, introductions, maps, Protestant Bibles that contain Apocryphal books without intending to suggest their canonicity)?

    37. Mary
      January 18th, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

      Being raised Catholic and indoctrinated at an early age in regard to Marion devotion, I was pleased to hear this issue publicly addressed. From Fatima to Lourdes, to our Lady of Guadelupe, our Jewish Miriam is being impersonated by an Angel or Angels of light. The last being Medjagorge. The co-mediatrix role is rooted in false teaching. When I met Jesus, it was as if all of this was revealed as I read the scriptures. May the Holy Spirit move in regard to this false and demonically rooted belief. There is only one mediator between God and man and that is JESUS!

    38. Aaron
      January 18th, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

      I still don’t understand why Dr. Brown and all the people on this site including the latest commenter, a former Catholic, think that Mary is a CO-MEDIATRIX with Jesus. The Catholic church does not teach this in any way, shape or form. The catechism of the church clearly states that no one comes to the father, except through Jesus. It clearly states that Mary IS NOT a co-mediator. I have seen no indication that anyone understands or acknowledges this. If you were raised Catholic and you understood Mary to be a co-mediator and someone we pray to to saved, then you quite simply MISUNDERSTOOD the teachings of the Catholic church. There may have been pastors and others that taught this falsely or incorrectly, but that is why we have the magesterium of the church to correct those errors and to aid our understanding with the catechism. Much like Dr. Brown’s follower’s look to him to provide counsel for them.

    39. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 18th, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

      John,

      By now, as you can see, others have joined in, as I said they would, and if you’re willing to follow the evidence, you’ll realize your statements are inaccurate. I would just urge you, however, whether you agree or disagree, to step higher in your posts, since we don’t allow personal attacks here against anyone — even me — so you need to deal with the evidence and the texts rather than accuse. You can advocate your position all you like, and are you free to do so, but you must comply with our posting rules. Just a heads up!

    40. Ruth
      January 19th, 2012 @ 12:08 am

      I am sooooooo glad you’ve (Dr. Brown) taken on this subject. In the 2 1/2 plus years I have been listening to your show, I have been hoping that you would.

      I commend your patience in dealing with this subject, because that’s important, and also because I know that I lack it. Nothing gets me more frustrated that prying apart the Gordian Knot that is Catholic dogma. I have been literally astounded at the level of sophistry employed in its apologetics.

      For example, the Church claims to believe in sola scriptura — of course, it’s irrefutable. However (!) they hold that ONLY the Church (its hierarchy, not the people in the pews) can interpret scripture correctly…meaning believers are to be utterly dependent upon the Church’s official positions. I find that there is always an angle, a curving line which deviates apart from clear scripture. On the one hand, they may claim and profess to believe in a certain widely-held tenet, BUT — there’s always a “but” — but they will have another view, one which they don’t consider contradictory, even when it nullifies the very spirit of the original. There are so many examples of this kind of labyrinthical thinking, and I’ve only begun to explore. Ideas will be found to be attached by the slimmest thread to scripture.

      When questioned about their many traditions, for example, they will quote Paul (2 Thessalonians 3:6, “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” And 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” ) – yet Paul was not referring to THEIR traditions, which were developed much later, and Paul was not giving approval to their traditions in advance…! What were those traditions Paul was referring to? According to Catholicism, their own, no matter in what century these came to be!

      I’ve never found a more dense mass of convoluted and conflated thinking anywhere………………

      Just being honest.

    41. Ruth
      January 19th, 2012 @ 12:39 am

      Just want to note the humility we can see in Mary’s own words, as recorded in Luke 1:46 (ESV):

      “46 And Mary said,
      “My soul magnifies the Lord,
      47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
      48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
      For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
      49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
      and holy is his name.
      50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
      from generation to generation.
      51 He has shown strength with his arm;
      he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
      52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
      and exalted those of humble estate;
      53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
      and the rich he has sent away empty.
      54 He has helped his servant Israel,
      in remembrance of his mercy,
      55 as he spoke to our fathers,
      to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

      Note that she does not exalt herself — it’s all “he, he, he” from her mouth.

    42. Ruth
      January 19th, 2012 @ 12:59 am

      In what is called the “Protoevangelium” (or the first mention of the gospel) found in Genesis 3, the individual who is the redeemer, is not a woman — a feminine seed of Eve — but a “he” :

      14 The LORD God said to the serpent,

      “Because you have done this,
      cursed are you above all livestock
      and above all beasts of the field;
      on your belly you shall go,
      and dust you shall eat
      all the days of your life.
      15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
      and between your offspring and her offspring;
      he shall bruise your head,
      and you shall bruise his heel.”

      If Mary can be considered a “second Eve”, it’s still about ‘her offspring’ — HE — not about her, and I’m sure Mary wouldn’t want the focus placed on her.

      I’ve been to several Catholic churches. There you will always find Jesus represented as a child, or in a pre-risen state; almost never as a fully-grown male teaching, or as the risen Savior. As one deacon told me, “We go to Mary because — like a human mother, she is softer and more accessible than a father.”

      The premise is that, like a human mother, Mary will go “and speak to Jesus” for us…this is teaching that Jesus is too busy, too stern, too lofty to bother with us…that we must go through his (human) Mom to get through to him.

      This is a twisted view of the compassionate nature of the Lord.

      1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

    43. Adam
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:12 am

      I am glad to see Dr. Brown address this issue. It is extremely disturbing to hear Roman Catholics calling Mary the Queen of Heaven, Co-Mediatrix, asking for her intercession in death, and other unbiblical idolatries.

      The difficulty with addressing this issue in this forum is that the incredibly odd Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church really stem from their denials of Sola Scriptura. Mark Kielinski is right in this regard, though he is wrong that one cannot argue for the Trinity, or the idea that masturbation is a sin from scripture. Entire books have been written arguing for the Trinity from scripture, and there have been entire books on sexual purity that argue from scripture alone that masturbation is a sin.

      You see, once Sola Scriptura is denied, it allows the church to change the world of the text. Now, the text needs to be understood in whatever context the church puts onto it. When this happens, the scriptures are no longer able to develop their own view of reality, and the world of the text is replaced with the world of the church and the magisterium.

      For example, Dr. Brown mentioned that there are texts that contradict Catholic teachings on Mary. The problem is that, in order for these texts to be contradictory, they must be allowed to speak in their own context. The traditions of the church do not allow that, since they impose a foreign context onto the text. When the text is not allowed to speak for itself as normal human language, it can be turned into a wax nose to be molded in any way the alleged infallible authority wants it to be molded.

      This raises real ethical concerns. The real heart of the interpreter is to accurately handle what the text says. When you do not do that, you are, in essence, misrepresenting the author, and thus, breaking the ninth commandment. The worst part is, it is not just any neighbor you are bearing false witness against; it is God himself. The value of the Marian dogmas is in the fact that they show that, once the text is no longer able to speak for itself, there is no way to contain even the most gross idolatries which Dr. Brown spoke of in this program. This is why we need to allow God to speak, and not silence him by our traditions.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    44. John
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:24 am

      Dr. Brown, I don’t mean to accuse you, I’m simply trying to present the facts. Forgive me if I came off as harsh. I also have to admit that when you or anyone else brings forth claims without evidence it can easily be taken as dishonest.

      Can you give me one place in scripture that says that Mary was the mother of the brothers of Jesus? No you can’t. All we see is that Jesus’ family is referred to as His mother and brothers and the Greek word for ‘brother’ is translated many different ways in the bible (cousin, fellow believer etc.).

      Jason, you said concerning the authors you presented as being “most naturally interpreted as denying the perpetual virginity of Mary”. This is merely your opinion and personal interpretation of these authors. The Church that made these scriptures authoritative believed differently. The father of the reformation, Martin Luther believed in the ever-virginity of Mary. Are we so smart that we can say that the early Church was wrong even though they were closer to the Apostles in time, place and culture? I think that is a dangerous mistake.

      You also bring up the issue of prayer to the dead. A good question may be for us to consider who is actually dead? Didn’t Christ defeat death? Yes He did! Praying to the Mother of God is not praying to the dead. She is in the holy presence of God as we speak as all the other saints are. Also consider Christ on the Mt. of transfiguration. Who was He talking to? Moses and Elijah. He spoke to Moses who departed this earthly life hundreds of years before this moment but the Father or anyone else condemned Him for talking with Moses and Elijah.

      The question should really be, “Why not believe in her ever-virginity?”. The early Church defended it, the early Church preached it.

      Dr. Brown, the 4th ecumenical council confirms that Mary was the “Mother of God”. This was vital in understanding the nature of Jesus who was both fully God and fully man. If Mary was not the Mother of Jesus then Jesus would not have the capacity to redeem humanity and sanctify mankind.

      Lastly, if touching the ark of God cost Uzzah his life, certainly Joseph would neither have dared to approach Mary, the throne of God, to request his “conjugal rights”. Also it may be important to recall that it was the practice for devout Jews in the ancient world to refrain from sexual activity following any great manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

      Before we try to lean on our own understanding, we might want to look to the Church which is the “pillar and ground of the truth”. Our own interpretations of the scriptures are not stronghold of the truth but the Church established by the apostles is.

    45. Eric
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:30 am

      Dear Kyzersoze,

      From what I understand (as I mentioned earlier I have not studied these issues out in depth) is that the title Theotokos (God-bearer) was originally a Christological title in nature. Meaning it was only meant to show that the one whom Mary (or Maryam) gave birth to was in fact God in the flesh. But to call Mary the “mother of God”, is categorically wrong on so many levels.

      Lord bless you.

    46. Ruth
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:41 am

      Committed Catholics will ALWAYS answer according to the prepackaged words they have been given from sites like http://www.catholicanswer.org and others.

    47. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:44 am

      John,

      Thanks for your apologies. All clear. And be assured that I don’t speak without evidence. I simply don’t have sufficient time to respond to everyone in detail (as I have stated here repeatedly).

      Re: the RC Church’s ecumenical councils, with all respect, why do you think that matters to me in the least? I am a Jewish follower of Jesus, yet I reject many of the sacred Jewish traditions that religious Jews hold dear, since I base my views on Scripture; in the same way, I reject many of the traditions of the RC Church, which clearly violate the spirit an the letter of the Word to me.

      I absolutely affirm that God’s ekklesia, based on Jesus and the Word, is the pillar and ground of the truth, and I am part of that ekklesia. I hope and pray that you are too! And it is Jesus-Yeshua who should be our focus, not Mary-Miriam or anyone else.

      As for what Scripture says re: Yeshua’s siblings, the most natural reading of the text is that they were His brothers and that Miriam had relations with Joseph after He was born, but it is actually immaterial to me either way. This much I know: The Word does NOT teach Miriam’s perpetual virginity, and I’m not beholden to RC tradition.

      I’ll say once more that I will not have the luxury of posting a lot here, so it’s best to address others rather than me — please take note of that, OK? — but if you have time to do some reading, a book like this will help you understand another reason why I don’t revere the RC Church: http://www.amazon.com/Constantines-Sword-Church-Jews-History/dp/0618219080/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326955332&sr=8-1.

    48. Eric
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:49 am

      Dear John,

      I was reading through your last post and when you stated, “Praying to the Mother of God is not praying to the dead.”, really stuck out to me. When I ask Catholics about this issue they normally tell me they are not praying to Mary or the saints but “asking” them for prayer, sort of like the same way I could ask you to pray for me. But, can you please clarify your statement here, do you really pray to Mary? If that’s the case can you show me where in the Bible we are allowed to pray to anyone except God alone?

      One more question, you had mentioned Mary and the ark of the Covenant. I heard this argument before about how Mary is the ark of the Covenant and was shown many similarities between the ark and Mary and to be honest, it does sound quite compelling at face value.. My question is, since we never see any of the authors in the New Testament referring to Mary as the Ark of the Covenant, where did this doctrine come from and how far back does it date?

      Thanks,

      Lord bless you.

    49. Dan1el
      January 19th, 2012 @ 2:35 am

      John,
      Yeshua’s course in life was the fulfillment of Scriptural Prophecy & Scripture Commands; Miriam’s alleged “perpetual-virginity” is nowhere to be found in Scripture, nor is any amount of a life centered on her.
      You must admit that Paul cites the Hebrew Scriptures very many times in teaching New Testament Doctrine — i.e.: NT doctrine is based on OT Scriptures, leaving NO place in NT doctrine which has no root in Hebrew Scriptures (even worse, which parallels the pagan religions from which the idea came — ideas such as Miriam being the “Queen of Heaven”).
      Last and MOST important of all, the ENTIRE point of the Gospel is that we come to know GOD…

      Jer 31:34 And they do not teach any more Each his neighbour, and each his brother, Saying, Know ye Jehovah, For they all know Me, from their least unto their greatest, An affirmation of Jehovah; For I pardon their iniquity, And of their sin I make mention no more.
      Q: Who will we know?
      A: God
      Q: Why? How?
      A: Because He will be merciful to my sins (through Christ’s sacrificial death).
      Q: Is Mary God?
      A: Never shall Mary be God.
      Q: Should I aim to know Mary, then, or is knowing her part of the Gospel?
      A: No; that is an impossibility: she is not eternal; she is creatED, not CreatOR. Knowing her does not result in eternal life.
      Q: What is the importance of knowing God?
      A: Knowing God is eternal life — it is the very Gift which God promises to gift us with through faith in Christ. Knowing Mary is to know a HUMAN being, who is NOT GOD; therefore, such a goal is silly, to say the least, and DANGEROUS/DESTRUCTIVE HERESY to put it more bluntly.

      2Th 1:8 in flaming fire, giving vengeance to those not knowing God, and to those not obeying the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ;
      Q: 2 Th 1:8 says the vengeance of God is being executed at the return of Messiah on who?
      A: Those who do not know God.
      Q: Why don’t they know Him?
      A: They do not obey the Gospel.
      Q: What was God’s purpose in sending the Gospel?
      A: That people might come to know Him through His mercy.
      Q: If eternal life is “to know the only true God, and Jesus Whom He sent”, where does Mary fit into ANY of that?
      A: She is neither God nor the One God sent — Yeshua — therefore, she is (as far as salvation goes) negligible: she is mentioned NOWHERE as being the object of faith by ANY Apostle, nor is she the end-goal of faith; rather, KNOWING GOD is the end-goal of faith — since THAT IS ETERNAL LIFE — therefore, knowing or experiencing her is a total distraction from God Almighty and the One He sent, Yeshua.

      2Co 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
      Apostle Paul said he was afraid satan would trick us out of the simplicity of devotion TO CHRIST — this is what Apostle Paul called for; NOTHING ELSE.

      Apostle Paul was a great expositor of the Word of God (he was set for defense of the Gospel [Pp 1:16]); he spoke on MANY subjects, BUT never mentioned Mary; he said,
      1Co 15:3 “for I delivered to you first, what also I did receive, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Writings,
      1Co 15:4 and that he was buried, and that he hath risen on the third day, according to the Writings,
      1Co 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve,
      1Co 15:6 afterwards he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain till now, and certain also did fall asleep;
      1Co 15:7 afterwards he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
      1Co 15:8 And last of all–as to the untimely birth–he appeared also to me,”
      Nowhere in “the most important things” is Mary mentioned, at all.

      Knowing GOD is the Gift of the Gospel; NOT knowing Mary.

    50. Jason Engwer
      January 19th, 2012 @ 5:17 am

      John wrote:

      “Can you give me one place in scripture that says that Mary was the mother of the brothers of Jesus? No you can’t. All we see is that Jesus’ family is referred to as His mother and brothers and the Greek word for ‘brother’ is translated many different ways in the bible (cousin, fellow believer etc.).”

      It’s not as though all possible meanings of a term are equally likely. Just as possible definitions of English terms are ranked in likelihood and distinguished by context, so are Greek terms. I’ve already cited some sources, like Eric Svendsen’s book, that address these issues in depth. You aren’t interacting with any of those sources or the underlying issues.

      The fact that you only refer to “brother” and the fact that you refer to “the Bible” suggest that you don’t know much about this subject. The Greek of the New Testament is a different language than the Hebrew of the Old Testament, so you can’t put the language of both in the same category in the manner you’re suggesting. And “brother” isn’t the only relevant Greek term. There are other relevant ones as well, like “first-born”.

      Not only are you assuming a less natural reading of these New Testament passages, but you’re also not explaining why the authors didn’t use other language instead. For example, the New Testament authors sometimes use terms like “relative” (Luke 1:36) and “cousin” (Colossians 4:10) in other contexts. Why didn’t they apply such terms in the passages we’re discussing, if they held your view?

      How do you explain a document like Luke’s gospel, which repeatedly uses the term “relative”, even distinguishing between “brothers” and “relatives” (21:16), yet uses “brothers” to refer to Jesus’ siblings? Did Luke believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary, yet repeatedly chose to use terminology that would suggest the opposite while refraining from using terminology he does use elsewhere, terminology that wouldn’t be so misleading? Luke was willing to qualify his description of Joseph as “supposedly” the father of Jesus (3:23), even though the earlier references to the virgin birth made it obvious that Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ father biologically. Yet, Luke never adds such qualifiers regarding Jesus’ siblings. Again, did Luke believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary, yet repeatedly used terminology that suggested the opposite and repeatedly refrained from adding clarification that he did add when discussing a similar subject?

      We can ask such questions about the extra-Biblical sources as well. Men like Josephus, Hegesippus, and Irenaeus were familiar with other terms they could have used to describe Jesus’ siblings, if they held to Mary’s perepetual virginity. They sometimes use those other terms in other contexts. But when they discuss Jesus’ siblings or related issues, they repeatedly use language that would most naturally be taken as inconsistent with Mary’s perpetual virginity.

      You go on to refer to what “the Church” supposedly has taught. You aren’t interacting with what I’ve already argued to the contrary. Men like Matthew, Luke, Irenaeus, and Tertullian were part of the church, and they didn’t hold your view. They also predate any sources you’ve cited who support your position. And I’ve already pointed you to resources arguing against your false view of the canon of scripture. You’re ignoring a lot of what’s already been said.

      You suggest that we shouldn’t disagree with Martin Luther. Why not, since you think it’s acceptable to disagree with Irenaeus, Tertullian, and other prominent Christian leaders who have disagreed with you over the centuries?

    51. Jason Engwer
      January 19th, 2012 @ 5:34 am

      John wrote:

      “A good question may be for us to consider who is actually dead?”

      I addressed that issue, as well as the Mount of Transfiguration argument, in the Triablogue material I cited earlier. I’ll just summarize here. You can consult the material I cited earlier if you want more on the subject.

      I don’t deny that deceased believers are spiritually alive in Heaven. They’re also physically dead (John 11:14, 1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16). When scripture forbids attempting to contact the deceased, it’s addressing the physically deceased. Otherwise, Moses would have been sinning by speaking with the spiritually dead Pharaoh, Paul would have been sinning by preaching the gospel to spiritually dead sinners, etc. How would people have known that relatives or others they were attempting to contact (through mediums or some other means, like prayer) were spiritually dead? And where’s the evidence that they were only attempting to contact the spiritually dead or were attempting to contact spiritually alive individuals as well, but were only condemned for the former practice and not the latter? Most likely, the Biblical authors who condemned attempts to contact the dead were thinking of the physically dead. And Mary and other physically deceased believers are part of that category.

      As far as the Mount of Transfiguration is concerned, Moses and Elijah had returned to life on earth. No prayer is involved. And the only one who spoke with them was Jesus. Peter, James, and John didn’t speak to them. Even if we were to conclude, without good reason, that Jesus had been praying to Moses and Elijah, Jesus isn’t merely human. He’s also God. To cite His conversation with Moses and Elijah as justification for Christians to pray to the dead is to assume that anything Jesus did must be acceptable for Christians to do. But it’s possible that praying to the deceased, if Jesus had ever done such a thing, was done through His unique attributes as God. There would be no way for us to know.

      You aren’t addressing most of the evidence I’ve cited against praying to the dead. All you’re doing is repeating a couple of bad arguments that are commonly made and have been refuted many times. It doesn’t seem that you’ve looked into this subject in much depth.

    52. Jason Engwer
      January 19th, 2012 @ 6:06 am

      John wrote:

      “Lastly, if touching the ark of God cost Uzzah his life, certainly Joseph would neither have dared to approach Mary, the throne of God, to request his ‘conjugal rights’.”

      How do you know that the particular aspect of the ark that you’re singling out is paralleled in Mary’s life? Are we supposed to see every aspect of the ark paralleled in Mary? Or only some aspects? If everything is paralelled in Mary, then would you tell us how you supposedly know that? If only some aspects of the ark are paralleled in Mary, then how do you know which ones are paralleled and how they’re paralleled?

      The cross held Jesus for part of His life. So did the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Yet, believers touched those objects. Presumably, Joseph of Arimathea and/or those assisting him would have touched the cross when they removed Jesus’ body from it. Peter went into the tomb (John 20:6). If Mary couldn’t be touched, because she carried Jesus in her womb, then why could the cross and the tomb be touched, even though they also carried Jesus in some manner? And why limit the alleged need to avoid touching Mary to sexual touching? Did Uzzah touch the ark in a sexual manner? No. You’re adding a qualifier, since you know that it would be ridiculous to parallel Mary to the ark without that qualification. Or do you think that anybody who touched Mary in any way died? Did her parents never touch her? Joseph never even held her hand, helped her get on or off a donkey, etc.? Nobody ever touched her in any way, in any context? If you add the qualifier that people only needed to avoid touching Mary in a sexual manner, then why should we think there’s even that much of a parallel between Mary and the ark? How do you supposedly know that there must be X level of parallel, but not level Y instead?

      You aren’t getting the perpetual virginity of Mary from scripture (or the earliest church fathers). Rather, you’re getting it from later sources and reading it back into earlier ones, without justification.

    53. Adam
      January 19th, 2012 @ 9:34 am

      John,

      Can you give me one place in scripture that says that Mary was the mother of the brothers of Jesus? No you can’t. All we see is that Jesus’ family is referred to as His mother and brothers and the Greek word for ‘brother’ is translated many different ways in the bible (cousin, fellow believer etc.).

      You can’t give me one place in scripture that says that Amoz was the father of Isaiah. Terms of relation like this cannot be dismissed simply because they do not state every possible relation. If Jesus has brothers, and if the term “brother” in NT Greek rules out the possibility of them being a half brother [it does], then we can only conclude that Joseph and Mary had children after the birth of Jesus. Consider the following:

      John 7:3-5 His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. 4 “For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him.

      People will point out that the term “brother” can refer to a spiritual brother, but that hardly fits this context since these brothers were “not believing in him.” Not only that, if you take the meaning “close relative” or “cousin,” it ruins the force of the passage. Now it would read “For even his cousins/close relatives were not believing in Him.” Many people have close relatives who do not believe in them; many people have cousins who do not believe in them. That is not something that is astounding or amazing. It *would* be amazing that his own brothers who had lived with him his whole life and seen him grow up did not believe in him.

      Lastly, if touching the ark of God cost Uzzah his life, certainly Joseph would neither have dared to approach Mary, the throne of God, to request his “conjugal rights”. Also it may be important to recall that it was the practice for devout Jews in the ancient world to refrain from sexual activity following any great manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

      So, every person who accidentally bumped into Mary in a crowd fell over dead? That was what was meant by touching the ark. You are equivocating on the word “touch.”

      This is why these parallels to the Ark of the Covenant are examples of parallelomania. Even if the parallels do hold true [which is questionable], it would only prove that Mary was chosen to carry Jesus in her womb. To try to press the parallel even further would mean that Mary’s body was acacia wood, overlaid in gold [Exodus 25:10-11], that she has four rings on either side, and was carried by poles of acacia wood overlaid in gold [Exodus 25:12-16], and that she has two Cherubim made of gold sitting on top of her with a mercy seat [Exodus 25:17-21]. You have to allow the text to define the limits of the parallel, and the clear significance of Mary in the gospel accounts is that it is her *child* who is special, and Mary is God’s chosen instrument to bring this child into the world, in the same way that the Ark of the Covenant bore the presence of God.

      Finally, I also think that this text must be brought into the discussion:

      Matthew 1:25 And kept her a virgin *until* she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

      The word “until” here is what the crux of the issue is. The normal assumption of language at this point is that Joseph had normal sexual relations with Mary. I can’t get into the nature of various elements of implicature all at once, but given the advances that have been made in Pragmatics, I don’t believe that the traditional Catholic understanding of this passage holds up. However, I will wait to see how this text is responded to before I go into that, given that I don’t want to bore people to death.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    54. Kyzersoze
      January 19th, 2012 @ 10:13 am

      Eric

      But to call Mary the “mother of God”, is categorically wrong on so many levels.

      Thanks for answering. I can see it is hard to keep track of my comments. :P

      Why is it “categorically wrong” when both Catholics & Protestants believe in the deity of Christ? So you don’t agree with either category?

      1. Catholics = “Mary, the Mother of God.”

      2. Protestants = “Mary, the mother of the body.”

    55. Adam
      January 19th, 2012 @ 10:36 am

      Kyzersoze,

      I think you are equivocating. In a *Christological* and *incarnational* sense, all Protestants recognize Mary as the mother of God because that which was contained in her womb was truly God and truly man. What we object to is the way in which Rome takes this beyond its Christological and incarnational sense, and starts exalting Mary, when “mother of God” is a title that is meant to exalt Christ.

      In fact, as I recall, this was a danger that those who opposed the use of the title “mother of God” at the council of Chalcedon were concerned about. It was not so much that they disagreed that the Jesus who was found in Mary’s womb was truly God and truly man as much as they were concerned that it would open up the avenue to Maryolatry. In hindsight, their concerns were justified, and that is what we as Protestants are concerned about to this day.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    56. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 11:34 am

      Folks, the term “Mother of God” is actually quite offensive for many reasons, and from a Jewish viewpoint, it creates yet another problem for a Jew to understand the Incarnation:

      Let’s ask these questions:

      1) Does God have a mother? Of course not! He is the only eternal being, the Creator of all things.

      2) Was Mary through the Son of God? Absolutely! As John writes (and other NT authors affirm), “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)

      3) Although we recognize that Yeshua was fully divine and fully human, did His divine nature originate from Mary, or from above? Obviously from above!

      4) Are the Scriptures very careful about how they describe the Incarnation (e.g., “the Word became flesh” rather than “God became flesh”)? Absolutely! We too should be careful, especially when it comes to Mary.

      Last night, reading 2 Pet 1 — in keeping with almost every other chapter in the NT — I was reminded once again how it’s all about Jesus — to the glory of the Father — and NOT about Mary. the NT authors would be shocked to see what has happened throughout history.

    57. Eric
      January 19th, 2012 @ 11:50 am

      Thanks Adam and Dr. Brown.

      Kyzersoze,

      As Dr. Brown stated, it creates an unnecessary stumbling block for Jews and I’d like to add it is a stumbling block for Muslims as well.

    58. Kyzersoze
      January 19th, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

      Adam

      I think you are equivocating.

      Actually, I was trying to cut through to the equivocation on the part of both views. :)

      What we object to is the way in which Rome takes this beyond its Christological and incarnational sense

      Aren’t both views taking it “beyond its Christological & incarnational sense” when scripture is silent on this whole issue of whether or not Mary did give birth to the human Son of God or “God the Son”? Hence the seeming paradox of both views I feel.

      In hindsight, their concerns were justified, and that is what we as Protestants are concerned about to this day.

      But wait a minute…you do agree with the Catholics that Mary is the mother of God but you do not believe that that should somehow been idolized? Why not if the position of Mary as the mother of God is BY DEFINITION the same [if not superior] to the One she gave birth to?

      Dr Brown

      Does God have a mother? Of course not!…Was Mary through the Son of God? Absolutely!

      By “through” do you mean did Mary give birth to the Son? And if you’re defining “the Son” as “God” doesn’t that make her the mother of God?

      Eric

      it creates an unnecessary stumbling block for Jews and I’d like to add it is a stumbling block for Muslims as well.

      How about a stumbling block to ANYONE? Especially those unbelievers we are supposedly out to win.

    59. Eric
      January 19th, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

      Precisely, it is an unnecessary stumbling block for “anyone”. I am glad we can agree on that.

    60. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

      Kysersoze,

      My apologies for the typo! I edited it but then didn’t correct it. It should read: WAS MARY CREATED THROUGH THE SON OF GOD? (Citing John 1:3, etc.) I could have simply asked, “Did the Son create Mary?” and the answer would have been Yes! But I was trying to be sensitive to the NT usage, as in 1 Cor 8:6.

    61. John
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

      Dr. Brown, How do you view Mary? She is the one who said, “All generations shall call me blessed”. Do you call her blessed? Mary is one who points us to Jesus. She is an example to all of us of purity and obedience to God. When we see her we see that she is pointing to Christ who is God. Is Jesus God? Yes. Was Mary the mother of Jesus? Yes. Is Mary the Mother of God? Yes!

      On the surface it’s quite easy to dismiss Mary as an un-important figure but her humanity is one of the reasons we can be saved. To say she is unimportant and that there is no need to recognize her is an offense to Christ Himself and the Church. Christ sought to take care of His mother while He was on the cross.

      It may help you to understand that the early Church was not solely RC. The Roman Catholic Church in and of itself came much much later as they were excommunicated by the rest of the jurisdictional Churches. The councils of the early Church were not started by the RC Church. A little research in Church history will help you see that. This is what I mean by you making claims that are not backed up by evidence. If we are to have a dialogue then it would only be fair if we refrain from making baseless comments in order for us to really understand each other.

    62. Kyzersoze
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

      Eric

      Precisely, it is an unnecessary stumbling block for “anyone”. I am glad we can agree on that.

      Okay so how should one define Mary’s role if the One she gave birth was God?

      Dr Brown

      I could have simply asked, “Did the Son create Mary?” and the answer would have been Yes!

      I’m sorry but you lost me here. Are you saying that the mother was created by her Son? And how would you answer the above?

    63. Kyzersoze
      January 19th, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

      John

      Are you a Catholic? Sorry have not been following the posts since their getting way too long for me.

      If you are Catholic, where in scripture is Mary is the one mediator between God and human beings and how does this apply to what Paul says in 1Tim 2.5?

      There is one God. There is also one mediator between God and humans-a human, Christ Jesus.

    64. John
      January 19th, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

      Kyzersoze, I’m not Catholic. I lean towards the Orthodox Church being the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church spoken of in the creed and the Church that is spoken of by the Apostles- the Church that Christ started of which He said the gates of Hades would not prevail against. I can see why some may think I’m a catholic but I don’t recognize the Roman catholic church as upholding the faith that has been once delivered to the saints. Thank you for asking.

    65. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

      Kysersoze,

      I posted a reply but apparently it didn’t appear. It was a typo. So sorry! I meant to ask: WAS MARY CREATED BY THE SON? And the answer, of course, is YES!

    66. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

      John,

      I will try to reply ASAP! Thanks for your posts.

    67. Ruth
      January 19th, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

      whoops – wrong link I posted.

      This is the source I’ve found to be most often quoted from discussions with Catholic friends and fellow bloggers:

      http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15464b.htm

      One can search through the site. But when the scriptural proof that is always offered (for singularly Catholic doctrine) is fully tested, I’ve noticed it to be literally rife with errors, tenuous grasps, and acrobatic feats of presumptuousness, to say the least.

      They’ve covered all the loopholes they can find –even if it means creating a new patch from air… The main jewel in their crown is the fabricated idea that Popes inherit Peter’s seat (even though Jesus was referring to himself as “the Rock,” as ALL of Holy Scripture, NT and OT confirm) — and with that supposed seat, the alleged discretion to change even Biblical law, and make other heretofore unheard of changes.

      But check it out. Every argument you will ever engage in with a Catholic will go back to whatever their church has proclaimed in writing — which can be found at that link — and many will never question the “proofs” or make sure it is true by the real written Word, the Biblical story, and within its context.

      It’s my sincere hope that all Catholics would read the Bible from beginning to end, so that they would have a sense of the Bible on its own, without all of the framework preprovided by the institution.

      The salvation and grace offered by the Lord is truly free and available to everyone who turns sincerely to Him, and through no other, as He has made plain.

    68. Kyzersoze
      January 19th, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

      John

      I lean towards the Orthodox Church being the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

      So does your group believe Mary was the mother of God or of “the body”?

      Dr Brown

      WAS MARY CREATED BY THE SON? And the answer, of course, is YES!

      Thanks for clarifying but where can I find scripture for this? i.e., the Son created the Mother who is said to have in turn conceived the Son?

    69. John
      January 19th, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

      What do you mean by Mary being the mother of “the body”? This comes with the presupposition that Christ did not come in the flesh. Anyone who denies that Christ did not come in the flesh is anti-Christ.

      “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” 2 John 1:7

    70. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

      Kysersoze,

      Many verses speak of the ALL CREATED THINGS coming into existence through the Son: John 1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16; Heb 1:8-12. That means — obviously! — that Miriam, who was a human being, was created by the Son! The Father then chose to bring His Son into the world through her. Simple.

    71. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

      John,

      Jason and others are giving you plenty of specific data, to which I’ve seen no specific response from you.

      As for how I view Miriam, yes, I see her just as the Word declares — a chosen vessel! Called blessed through the generations! Even specially honored by Christians who celebrate Christmas in a godly way read the chapters in Luke 1-2 and Matt 1-2 and recognize her unique blessedness.

      It is the unscriptural additions that the later Church followers added — among MANY unscriptural additions — that I categorically reject.

      Go with the Word, John, and you’ll not be led astray.

    72. Kyzersoze
      January 19th, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

      John

      What do you mean by Mary being the mother of “the body”?

      I was quoting Dave Hunt, a Protestant. Here’s the link again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKzEgny76pc

      This comes with the presupposition that Christ did not come in the flesh.

      As far as I can understand it, Catholic-Protestant theology states that “God the Son took on flesh at the Incarnation”. In other words, the Son existed in some type of pre-human/flesh form before actually taking on/assuming flesh. Isn’t this right?

      Dr Brown

      The Father then chose to bring His Son into the world through her. Simple.

      So to sum up…the Son created the Mother and then the Mother “gave birth” to that same Son? Simple? I don’t know…have to really think about that. Because then that would make the whole virgin birth somehow metaphorical/figurative speak. Since what we have here sounds like a transition/transformation from one thing to another.

    73. Kyzersoze
      January 19th, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

      Dr Brown, in this show you said:

      If someone is born into God’s Kingdom and is a disciple of the Lord and their Catholic, I welcome them as a brother or sister.

      And then you go on to quote Pope Pius the 9th where he basically anathematizes people like you.

      Can you clarify your position? It sounds like you are calling those who damn you to hell your brethren in Christ. : /

    74. Mark Kielinski
      January 19th, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

      “I was reading through your last post and when you stated, “Praying to the Mother of God is not praying to the dead.”, really stuck out to me. When I ask Catholics about this issue they normally tell me they are not praying to Mary or the saints but “asking” them for prayer, sort of like the same way I could ask you to pray for me. But, can you please clarify your statement here, do you really pray to Mary? If that’s the case can you show me where in the Bible we are allowed to pray to anyone except God alone?”

      I’m not john but a catholic christian who can try to answer your question. Paul in the NT asks people to pray for him. Second read
      1 Timothy 2:1-3
      “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior”
      james 5:16
      “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

      If the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective who better to ask for our help than mary or God’s saints.

    75. Mark Kielinski
      January 19th, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

      Kyzersoze,

      the church is not anti-semetic or condems anyone to hell.

    76. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

      Kyzersoze,

      Are you asking to learn or to challenge? I’d honestly like to know. As for Pope Pius the 9th, if he was a true Christian, then he spoke in ignorance, God will forgive him, and he is my brother.

    77. Kyzersoze
      January 19th, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

      MK

      the church is not anti-semetic or condems anyone to hell.

      What about the anathemas of the creeds?

      Dr Brown

      Are you asking to learn or to challenge? I’d honestly like to know.

      Just seeking clarification to something I found contradictory that is all. Also, trying to understand your position in relation to the saying that those who are not for us are against us. Especially when they close the gates to their church and damn you to hell. :{

    78. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 19th, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

      Kyzersoze, thanks, sir! We get all kinds who post here, hence my question. Again, thanks!

    79. John
      January 20th, 2012 @ 1:57 am

      Kyzersoze,

      “As far as I can understand it, Catholic-Protestant theology states that “God the Son took on flesh at the Incarnation”. In other words, the Son existed in some type of pre-human/flesh form before actually taking on/assuming flesh. Isn’t this right?”

      In the thousands of denominations within protestantism, there are many differing opinions. As far as I understand, God is ever-existing but He’s also the son of Mary in time and space. The teaching that Mary was the Mother of “the body” presupposes that one can separate the body of Christ from Christ Himself. As far as I understand, the early Church did not distinguish the body of Jesus from Christ Himself. Do you know where this teaching came from? Why do ask about that?

      Dr. Brown,
      “Go with the Word, John, and you’ll not be led astray.”

      But according to who? If I go with the Word, I see that there are many different interpretations coming from many “churches” and christians. This leads to everyone becoming their own pope as well as to divisions. The bible apart from the Church leads to confusion which is not a fruit of the Spirit. We even see in the scriptures themselves that the Ethiopian who was reading Isaiah needed someone to interpret the scriptures for him and God sent Phillip to help him understand. Peter also states how unstable people can easily misunderstand the writings of Paul to their own destruction(2 Peter 3:16). If I look at the word, I also see that the “pillar and ground of truth” is the Church (1 Timothy 3:15). Note it does not say that the “word” is the pillar and ground of the truth. Therefore I find it important to figure out who this Church is and what this early Church believed as it is there that I can find the truth. I’ve read some of Jason’s posts btw and did respond to a few of his comments above- I’ll look at the other comments too.

    80. John
      January 20th, 2012 @ 2:36 am

      Jason, the burden of proof is not on me to prove that Mary is a parallel to the ark of God. The early Church held to this view as we see from our earliest possible sources. For example Hyppolitus from the 2nd-3rd century says, “the Savior coming from the Virgin, the Ark, brought forth His own Body into the world”. The real question should be why should we ‘not’ accept the parallel between Mary and the ark of God. These things are not spoken of in scripture and yet you are fighting against them as if the scriptures said explicitly that “Mary and the ark are not to be paralleled”. This goes to show that for those who hold to “sola-scriptura” that it is not the bible alone that is followed, but ultimately his or her interpretation of the bible. Btw many reformers including Luther, Zwyngli, Calvin and even Wesley believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Your own fathers in faith are at odds with you.

    81. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2012 @ 2:47 am

      John,

      Again, my time is greatly limited, so my comments are brief (and will soon come to a halt here), but there are scores more references to the foundational importance of the Word in comparison to references to “the Church” being the pillar and ground of the truth. For example, John 17:17; Ps 1:1-3; 119:105; Prov 3:17; 4:20-22; Josh 1:8; Matt 24:35; 2 Tim 3:14-17 — just to mention a few off the top of my head.

      You say that there are many interpretations of the Word — well there are many different groups claiming to be the original Church and, as historian Phillip Jenkins noted in his book on Lost Christianity, there was a thriving Church in Asia and Africa 1,000 years ago that hardly cared less about the alleged authority of the Pope.

      As for your ark posts, I’ll let Jason respond further, but seriously, the earliest source you can cite is Hyppolytus and this is somehow a sign of the antiquity of the “Mary is the ark” interpretation?

      According to 1 Cor 3, every believer is the temple (lit., inmost shrine) of the Holy Spirit. Following your logic, what would that imply?

    82. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 20th, 2012 @ 3:02 am

      John, one last comment (to repeat what I’ve already said): I really have no problem with the idea that Mary remained a virgin and never had relations with Joseph and that “brothers” were not actually siblings. That presents no issue for me at all, but I don’t see it as the most natural reading of the biblical data, and I see no universal recognition of this among the first believers. But of all the Mary doctrines, if this one is not false, no problem!

    83. Dan1el
      January 20th, 2012 @ 3:56 am

      John,
      Knowing GOD and the One He sent (Yeshua) is eternal life. The Gospel is centered around the giving of the Gift of Eternal Life — i.e.: bringing about “the knowledge of the glory of God” until it “covers the earth as the waters cover the seas” [Hab 2:14], which is the abounding of the “knowledge” of the Son of God [2Pt 1:8] being spread (seeing as how He is the Glory of God [2 Co 4:4]).

      Seeing as these things are true, I mean no disrespect, but ‘knowing Mary’ is irrelevant to the end-goal of the Gospel (of “knowing God” — “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. [Joh 17:3]) — unless you believe Mary IS God, in which case, there’d be a whole nother issue to discuss, and work out.

    84. Jason Engwer
      January 20th, 2012 @ 5:33 am

      Mark Kielinksi wrote:

      “Paul in the NT asks people to pray for him….If the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective who better to ask for our help than mary or God’s saints.”

      Roman Catholicism doesn’t just encourage people to ask Mary for prayers. Catholics are encouraged to pray to her for other reasons as well. They praise her, thank her, seek her protection, etc. For example:

      “With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race.” (Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus)

      “With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ, thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother….How grateful and magnificent a spectacle to see in the cities, and towns, and villages, on land and sea-wherever the Catholic faith has penetrated-many hundreds of thousands of pious people uniting their praises and prayers with one voice and heart at every moment of the day, saluting Mary, invoking Mary, hoping everything through Mary.” (Pope Leo XIII, Octobri Mense)

      And in order to ask Mary to pray for you, you’d have to pray to her. I’ve addressed the problems with praying to the dead in earlier posts.

      How do you supposedly know that Mary hears your prayers? If you live in the United States, would you expect a Christian living in China to hear a prayer you say to him in your heart, in which you ask him to pray for you? Why think that Mary will hear such a request? The issue isn’t whether it’s possible that dead Christians have the ability to hear prayers. I’m asking why we should think it’s probable that they hear them. Even if it were probable, which you can’t demonstrate, we’d still have the other problems with prayer to the dead that I mentioned earlier.

    85. Jason Engwer
      January 20th, 2012 @ 6:11 am

      John wrote:

      “Jason, the burden of proof is not on me to prove that Mary is a parallel to the ark of God. The early Church held to this view as we see from our earliest possible sources. For example Hyppolitus from the 2nd-3rd century says, ‘the Savior coming from the Virgin, the Ark, brought forth His own Body into the world’.”

      I’ve already addressed early Christian views of the ark and Mary. See post 2 in this thread. I also explained how granting a parallel between the ark and Mary wouldn’t lead us to your conclusions. See post 52.

      One of the sources I cited in post 2 was Hippolytus. (And I gave a reference to the passage I was citing, which you haven’t done.) Contrary to what you claim, he identifies Jesus, not Mary, as the ark. Besides, I cited other sources who were earlier than Hippolytus. Why don’t you address those?

      I want the readers to see how you’ve misused Hippolytus. First, I’ll quote what you’ve cited. Then, I’ll cite the larger context, which demonstrates that Hippolytus was identifying Jesus rather than Mary as the ark.

      First, here’s what you cited:

      “the Savior coming from the Virgin, the Ark, brought forth His own Body into the world”

      Here’s the same passage, but with more context included (taken from the collection of patristic documents at the New Advent web site, which is Roman Catholic):

      “At that time, then, the Saviour appeared and showed His own body to the world, (born) of the Virgin, who was the ark overlaid with pure gold, with the Word within and the Holy Spirit without; so that the truth is demonstrated, and the ark made manifest. From the birth of Christ, then, we must reckon the 500 years that remain to make up the 6000, and thus the end shall be. And that the Saviour appeared in the world, bearing the imperishable ark, His own body, at a time which was the fifth and half, John declares: Now it was the sixth hour, he says, intimating by that, one-half of the day.” (Fragments From The Scriptural Commentaries Of Hippolytus, On Daniel, 2:6)

      Hippolytus’ first sentence is somewhat ambiguous. It seems to be referring to Jesus’ manifestation to the world, thus identifying him as the ark that’s manifested. However, the phrase John has singled out could refer to either Jesus or Mary as the ark. But Hippolytus goes on to refer to Jesus as the ark more explicitly. The ark is “His own body”. The passage is focused on the manifestation of Jesus to the world, not the manifestation of Mary. The ark that’s manifested is Jesus, not Mary.

      Besides, as I’ve already documented, you sometimes disagree with the beliefs of the early Christians. Even if Hippolytus had said that Mary is the ark, why would it follow that we should agree with him? You keep telling us that we should agree with church fathers and Protestant reformers when they agree with you. But what about when they disagree with you? You cited Hippolytus and told us that we should agree with him. It turns out that he advocates a view different than yours. Does it follow that you should abandon your position and adopt Hippolytus’ view?

    86. Jason Engwer
      January 20th, 2012 @ 6:28 am

      John wrote:

      “This goes to show that for those who hold to ‘sola-scriptura’ that it is not the bible alone that is followed, but ultimately his or her interpretation of the bible.”

      And you rely on your own interpretation of patristic documents and other sources. How can anybody avoid dependence on his own interpretation? If you’re going to claim that we can rely on our own interpretation of sources other than scripture, but that we must have somebody else interpret scripture for us, then how do you arrive at that conclusion? And why do you sometimes disagree with the interpretations of the early Christians, as I’ve demonstrated in previous posts? How do we identify and interpret this church you keep referring to?

    87. Kyzersoze
      January 20th, 2012 @ 8:19 am

      John

      The teaching that Mary was the Mother of “the body” presupposes that one can separate the body of Christ from Christ Himself. As far as I understand, the early Church did not distinguish the body of Jesus from Christ Himself. Do you know where this teaching came from? Why do ask about that?

      Did you see the video link where I got the quote from about “the body”? That’s where I got it from. Also, it is Orthodox teaching that “God the Son” took on flesh at the Incarnation. In other words, the preexistent/eternal Son of God was not in the flesh/human before His coming into the womb of Mary and “taking on flesh”. Are you not Orthodox?

    88. Adam
      January 20th, 2012 @ 10:52 am

      Kyzersoze,

      Aren’t both views taking it “beyond its Christological & incarnational sense” when scripture is silent on this whole issue of whether or not Mary did give birth to the human Son of God or “God the Son”? Hence the seeming paradox of both views I feel.

      What do you mean that scripture is “silent?” Do you mean that it doesn’t have a theological treatise on the issue? If that is the case, then no one can argue with you. However, if the humanity and divinity of Jesus cannot be separated, as is evidenced by the fact that Jesus, in his human flesh, receives worship, or the fact that John leaps in the womb at the presence of Christ, then you do have a scriptural teaching. How could Jesus receive worship in his human body if the divine nature were not also present, and how could John leap in his mother’s womb unless God were likewise present in Christ?

      The problem here is that you are demanding that you have theological discourse on everything. Sometimes, as modern Discourse Analysis has shown, it is a matter of understanding how the text constructs its view of reality. It is absolutely impossible to look at the way in which the NT presents the doctrine of Christ, and to come to the conclusion that Nestorius did. Nestorius’ position that Mary was not theotokos did not come from Biblical Exegesis, so much as it came from a desire to preserve the distinction between the two natures. It was, basically, an overreaction that logically leads to the disastrous conclusion that the two natures of Christ are separated.

      But wait a minute…you do agree with the Catholics that Mary is the mother of God but you do not believe that that should somehow been idolized? Why not if the position of Mary as the mother of God is BY DEFINITION the same [if not superior] to the One she gave birth to?

      Depends on how you define “mother of God.” If all that is meant by that term is that the one in Mary’s womb was truly God, then no, it does not follow because the divine nature preexisted the incarnation, and, in fact, created Mary who is bore the God-man. In that case, no, it would not mean that Mary is the same or superior, because God preexisted Mary, and, in fact, brought Mary into existence. However, if you believe that Mary is the mother of God in the sense that she brought God into existence by physical procreation then, yes, that position would, by definition, by the same or probably greater than that of God. However, the orthodox view is the former, not the latter.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    89. Adam
      January 20th, 2012 @ 11:52 am

      John,

      Peter also states how unstable people can easily misunderstand the writings of Paul to their own destruction(2 Peter 3:16). If I look at the word, I also see that the “pillar and ground of truth” is the Church (1 Timothy 3:15). Note it does not say that the “word” is the pillar and ground of the truth. Therefore I find it important to figure out who this Church is and what this early Church believed as it is there that I can find the truth. I’ve read some of Jason’s posts btw and did respond to a few of his comments above- I’ll look at the other comments too.

      1. Yes, taught and unstable people can twist the scriptures; the solution is to be taught and stable, not to run of to Constantinople.

      2. The church as the pillar and ground of the truth speaks to the way in which the church is to *function,* not about the nature of the Church itself. A pillar and foundation holds something else up. It is the job of the Church to hold up the truth of God.

      Finally, remember that even during the days of the apostles there were false teachers who came into the Church. If you find a teaching in the early church, how do you know it was the teaching of the apostles, or the teaching of the ravenous wolves Paul talked about?

      This goes to show that for those who hold to “sola-scriptura” that it is not the bible alone that is followed, but ultimately his or her interpretation of the bible.

      This is only true if the sole factor in interpretation is the interpreter. The problem with this is twofold.

      First, it ignores that language is not just text and meaning, but it also intends to accomplish things. It is in this sense that the text preserves, as Kevin Vanhoozer has rightly stated, an “artifact” of the author in the text. Hence, as I mentioned earlier, the issue in this regard is not really epistemic, but ethical. Once you see what the text is seeking to accomplish, or, more specifically, where the text is going in its intention, you have a choice. Are you going to accurately represent this intention, or are you going to bear false witness against God himself [Exodus 20:16]. Yes, there are many people who choose the latter option in protestantism, I am sorry to say. There are some protestant groups that have more traditions that Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy put together, and they simply choose to ignore the author’s intent, and replace it with their traditions, whether personal or ecclesiastical. However, that does not make it right, and it is still a violation of the ninth commandment.

      The second problem is that you have articulated the very position of Stanley Fish, namely, that what is crucial to interpretation is the interpreter himself, and the author is left out completely as if no communication is going on. The difficulty with this position is, not only the reductionism spoken of above, but the fact that it destroys all interpretation of any text. Dr. Brown and Jason have already started to go down this road, but, having studied this issue in graduate school, I will press it even further. Yes, you have to interpret church history, and yes, you have to interpret the Patristic sources. However, you also have to interpret your own church when it speaks in the councils. There are several different church historians who have many different interpretations of what the councils have said. Not only that, even in your interpretation of 2 Peter 3:16 and 1 Timothy 3:15 you have had to engage in interpretation in order to conclude your need for an infallible interpreter, which is entirely circular. If you need an infallible interpreter to interpret the text, how can you interpret the text, and then conclude that you need an infallible interpreter?

      Worse than that, you have to interpret what I am writing right now. You have to interpret what Jason is writing, and what Dr. Brown is writing. The point is, once you make meaning merely a matter of the interpreter and his interpretation, you destroy meaning in all written text. That is exactly what reader-response critics such as Stanley Fish, or deconstructionists such as Jacques Derrida are arguing for. In their view, meaning is reader relative, which is exactly what you are saying. What is ironic is that, you want to use these “death of the author” arguments of Derrida and Fish to try to argue your position on Sola Scriptura, but you will completely abandon them when it comes to any other written text, and, especially, any text that would establish the authority of Constantinople.

      The thing I would like you to consider is that Eastern Orthodoxy blatantly and openly seeks to destroy the author in scripture in order to replace it with themselves. It is a gagging of God, and a refusal to let him speak, all of the while putting the church in his place. However, because they claim that this is what God has said, it is, ultimately, bearing false witness against God himself.

      The question is whether you are going to be concerned about what the author is seeking to accomplish, and the direction he is seeking to take the text, or the utter disregard for that which you find in groups such as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. That is why I said earlier that this raises major ethical concerns on my end. Do I have those same concerns with other protestant groups? Yes. There are high confessionalists in the Reformed Tradition to whom I have given this very same criticism. Still, God has said “thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The question is whether you are going to follow teachings that blatantly disregard that commandment.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    90. Kyzersoze
      January 20th, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

      Adam

      What do you mean that scripture is “silent?” Do you mean that it doesn’t have a theological treatise on the issue?

      Thanks for pointing that out and apologies for not being clear. What I was trying to say is that scripture is “silent” on the Orthodox view of Christ, i.e., Mary being the mother of God or whether Mary gave birth to “the body”, as per Dave Hunt’s thesis on that link I have provided several times.

      how could John leap in his mother’s womb unless God were likewise present in Christ?

      The text says because his mother was “filled with the HS” as per the propthetic word of the angel Gabriel [Luke 1.15] and because he was joyful at the greeting of Mary, the mother of the lord Messiah [Luke 1.39-45].

      [Jesus] created Mary who is bore the God-man.

      I keep reading this but can you tell me where it actually says this? And where is Jesus called “God-man”?

    91. Adam
      January 20th, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

      Kyzersoze,

      The text says because his mother was “filled with the HS” as per the propthetic word of the angel Gabriel [Luke 1.15] and because he was joyful at the greeting of Mary, the mother of the lord Messiah [Luke 1.39-45].

      Here is Luke 1:13-16:

      Luke 1:13-16 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.

      Actually, the text says that *John the Baptist* [not his mother] would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. In fact, it would only strengthen my case that the reason John leaped in his mother’s womb is because he was in the presence of God incarnate, as anyone filled with the Holy Spirit would do in the presence of their savior.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    92. Adam
      January 20th, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

      Kyzersoze,

      I would also point out that this passage points out that Elizabeth’s interpretation of what happened is very much in line with mine as well:

      Luke 1:42-44 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.

      In other words “the mother of my Lord” is crucial to understanding this passage. When we talk about Jesus’ Lordship, we are clearly talking about an aspect of his deity. Yet, here, Elizabeth uses the phrase “*mother* of my Lord.” She then goes on to reason this way from the way in which the baby leaped in her womb. I don’t see any way to make sense out of this passage, unless what was in Mary’s womb was truly God and truly man, and hence, the thesis that scripture teaches that Mary was the mother of God in the incarnational sense has been established.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    93. John
      January 20th, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

      This whole issue, at it’s root is on how we should view Mary. The early Church already dealt with this and confirmed that Mary is the Mother of God in the fourth ecumenical council. If you do not see Mary as the Mother of God then you are teaching heresy. It’s crucial because the way we see Mary is vital in our understanding of the nature of Christ. If Mary was not the Mother of God, then who is Jesus? Is He not God? If Mary was only the mother of “the body” then was it only a body that she gave birth to and was it only a body that hung on a cross? No! It was God Himself who suffered and died on the cross.

      Kyzersoze, I looked at the link and see how Dave Hunt jumps to the conclusion that if Mary was the Mother of God then somehow that makes God finite which is nowhere in scripture. Calling Mary the Theotokos or the Mother of God was never meant to suggest that Mary was coeternal with God, or that she existed before Jesus Christ or God existed. “The body” and God are not two separate entities. It’s interesting to note that he viewing Mary as mother of “the body” is quite common in protestant thinking.

      Jason, thanks for pointing that out and sorry for not looking at the context of that reference. The core of this argument though is about Mary being the Mother of God. If Mary is the Mother of God, bearing God in her womb, it’s quite natural to think of her as an ark of God. It doesn’t seem worthwhile to me to argue for this if you don’t realize the reason behind the fact that many see her as the ark of God.

      Not all the fathers of the Church agreed on everything. They were free to disagree on certain points, but when it came to their unity in mind with regard to the the Nature of Christ, they remained unified through councils- the councils of the Church confirm this.

    94. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

      Folks,

      It dawned on me during my radio show today that I typed 1 Cor 3 (which speaks of the corporate Body being the Temple of the Spirit) rather than 1 Cor 6 (speaking of our individual bodies being the Temple of the Spirit).

    95. Jason Engwer
      January 20th, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

      John wrote:

      “If Mary is the Mother of God, bearing God in her womb, it’s quite natural to think of her as an ark of God.”

      As I suggested in post 52, other entities could also be called “an ark of God” in the broad sense you’re now describing. I gave the examples of the cross on which Jesus was crucified and His tomb. It doesn’t follow that those other entities, or Mary, are perpetually virgin or can’t be touched or should be paralleled to the ark of the covenant in other ways that are in dispute.

      My position on the Mother of God title is that it’s acceptable, but can be abused and often is. It’s open to multiple definitions that are significantly different than one another, and different people can use the term with different motives. Given Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy’s history of false doctrine and false practice related to Mary, I don’t trust them with the title Mother of God. They may be using it in an acceptable manner, but their history warrants an initial distrust. That distrust might be overcome in the case of a given individual or group, but I generally don’t trust Catholics and Orthodox with the Mother of God title. If an Evangelical uses the term, that’s a different matter. It’s similar to how the term Son of God can be abused, with some individuals and groups deserving less trust than others when they use the title.

    96. David Roberts
      January 20th, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

      I think most theological problems would be sorted out if people would limit their speech and vocabulary to terms only used in the Bible.

      With regard to many the consistent usage throughout the Gospels is Miriam the mother of Yeshua, and the last reference to her is found in
      Acts 1:14 which states,

      “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Miriam the mother of Yeshua.”

      Why can’t we all just call her what the scriptures called her? If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

    97. Ruth
      January 21st, 2012 @ 1:51 am

      Mary {Miryam} was a chosen vessel. Some vessels are created for greater purposes than other vessels are. Nonetheless, we are never to worship the vessel. We are never to worship the created, but the Creator.

      A title like, “Mother of God” implies (and I maintain, deliberately) that Mary somehow spawned God. To do so would require her to precede Him. To later say, “Well, wasn’t Jesus God?” is the type of double-speak common in Cathologic, as I like to dub it.

      Jesus {Yeshua} pre-existed as The Son, the first-born of all creation, begotten of the Father. One with. Because Mary was not created before the Son, she did not create, or give rise to, Jesus, obviously. She was the chosen vessel for his incarnation. Honored, blessed forever, humble, calling herself a servant.

      Of course, no Catholic would deny that. However, elevating her by such a title as “Mother of God”, and then pretending that the term doesn’t imbue her with an implied authority would be disingenuous. It also brings to mind ancient Roman “mother-goddess” worship, as in Cybele and her son, Attis. I sometimes wonder if Marian ideology hasn’t given Roman Catholicism an avenue for continuing to worship the Magna Mater.

      Of course, this would be denied strenuously with “Catholics do not worship Mary!”. But denial of something doesn’t necessarily make it so.

      Paul didn’t write, “She must increase, and He must diminish” – yet that is the sum-effect of such a title.

      Ultimately, such hyperbole leads one away from the one, true Door to the Father, Jesus {Yeshua}, and this, no less, than by a church which purports itself to be holier than any other on earth.

      That’s more than serious.

    98. John
      January 21st, 2012 @ 3:40 am

      Jason, with regard to praying to the dead. The scriptures strictly forbid any attempt to summon the spirits of the dead, or to try to engage them in conversation (Lev. 19:31) which I think you would agree. That being said, the scriptures do not prohibit christians from expressing there love for those who have died. Praying for those believers we know who have departed is a way we can express our love toward them. In the case where the Orthodox pray to saints, they are simply asking for their petitions just as we would ask someone we know to pray for us. In Hebrews 12 it says, “But you have come to the Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN WHO ARE REGISTERED IN HEAVEN, to God the Judge of all, TO THE SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks betters things than that of Abel.” It also says that we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”. These witnesses are the saints from all ages. Certainly they would not be called witnesses if they were unconscious to their surroundings.

      When we see Christ talking with Moses and Elijah on the Mt. we see that the faithful departed continue to live in the presence of God(Matthew 17). Christ told the thief on the cross that he would be in paradise with him that same day (Luke 23:43). We also see the activity of the faithful departed as they sing praises, falling on their faces in worship and speaking to Him (Revelation 4:4, 6:9-11 and 7:9-12).

    99. Jason Engwer
      January 21st, 2012 @ 9:27 am

      John wrote:

      “The scriptures strictly forbid any attempt to summon the spirits of the dead, or to try to engage them in conversation (Lev. 19:31) which I think you would agree.”

      There are other relevant passages, like Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Isaiah 8:19, and 19:3. The language in those passages is too broad to exempt prayers to the dead.

      You write:

      “In the case where the Orthodox pray to saints, they are simply asking for their petitions just as we would ask someone we know to pray for us.”

      As I asked earlier, would you expect a Christian living in China to hear a prayer directed to him by a Christian living in the United States? If you’re going to claim that Christians in Heaven can hear the prayers of people on earth, you need to argue for that conclusion. We already know that a Christian sitting next to you in church can hear you asking him to pray for you. We don’t know that a person in Heaven can hear you making such a request of him. Even if he can, it doesn’t follow that it’s permissible for you to bring him requests.

      Eastern Orthodox don’t just ask Mary to pray for them. They also praise her, thank her, ask her to protect them, etc. I give some examples in a March 16, 2007 post at Triablogue titled “Praying To The Deceased”. You can search the web for other examples.

      You go on to cite Hebrews 12, which is irrelevant. A person can be a witness in more than one sense. You can be a witness by seeing people, but you can also be a witness by testifying to people without seeing them. Hebrews 11 is about people who have testified to us in the manner in which they lived. Through faith they still speak (Hebrews 11:4). The individuals are witnesses in that sense. Hebrews 11 tells us about what those people did in the past, not how they’re currently watching us from Heaven. They ran well, setting an example for us, so we should look to them as examples as we run the race. The passage isn’t about people in Heaven observing us, much less is it about praying to those people.

      Your comments on the Mount of Transfiguration, the thief on the cross, etc. are likewise irrelevant. I don’t deny that dead believers “continue to live in the presence of God”.

      As I discuss in the Triablogue posts I cited earlier, there are multiple problems with praying to the dead. You haven’t overcome any of them. Praying to the dead seems to be inconsistent with Biblical passages condemning attempts to contact the deceased. The practice is absent where we’d expect to see it mentioned if it was considered an acceptable practice in Biblical and early post-Biblical times. We don’t know that people in Heaven can hear our prayers. And praying to the dead is repeatedly condemned, directly or indirectly, by the early patristic Christians. It isn’t just an unbiblical practice. It’s also anti-Biblical and anti-patristic.

      If these ancient sources had believed in praying to the dead, you probably wouldn’t have to go to places like Hebrews 12 and the Mount of Transfiguration to find alleged references to it. Instead, the practice would be mentioned explicitly and often, as prayers to God are. There’s no justification for praying to the dead in scripture or the earliest church fathers, not even in seed form.

    100. Kyzersoze
      January 21st, 2012 @ 9:55 am

      Adam

      it would only strengthen my case that the reason John leaped in his mother’s womb is because he was in the presence of God incarnate, as anyone filled with the Holy Spirit would do in the presence of their savior.

      So anyone who “leaps for joy” MUST be “in the presence of God”? This is just an assumption and not even an argument.

      And yes, Elizabeth was in the presense of “my lord”, Messiah. Or are you seriously proposing that the reference to “my lord” here is somehow “my lord God”? Especially when God is NEVER refered to as “my lord” in the NT.

      When we talk about Jesus’ Lordship, we are clearly talking about an aspect of his deity.

      Again, “my lord” is NEVER a reference to Deity in the NT. Jesus’ lordship has to be understood within the context in which it is used, i.e., Jesus is called throughout “my lord” or “the lord MESSIAH”. NEVER “Lord God” or “my lord God”. This is scripturally unsound.

      I would also add that the context which governs this rule goes back to the OT verse which is used the most by the NT writers, Ps 110.1: “The LORD/YHWH said to my lord/master”.

      How else would you understand a verse like Luke 2.26 where it talks about “the Lord’s Messiah”?

      John

      It’s interesting to note that he viewing Mary as mother of “the body” is quite common in protestant thinking.

      Well, what else would you suggest we use? I think this whole issue is based on the fact that Protestants do not want to sound Catholic. Since both believe Mary to be the mother of God.

    101. Ruth
      January 21st, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

      This passage was mentioned in the show by Dr. Brown.

      Whether one uses a Protestant version of Luke 11:27-28 OR a Catholic version of this scripture, the idea is essentially the same, from the mouth of Yeshua {Jesus}, and you can’t get any more authoritative than the Son’s take:

      Luke 11:27-28: “27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (KJV)

      In the Catholic version (New Jerusalem Bible), this passage reads, “27 It happened that as he was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, ‘Blessed the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you!’ 28 But he replied, ‘More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’

      “Blessed, RATHER”
      “More blessed still”

      Can there be any doubt from these versions that Jesus {Yeshua} is either foreseeing how off-the-track Marian ideology will become – or, if not foreseeing, certainly setting the correct perspective in place for us?

    102. John
      January 21st, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

      Jason, you’d be surprised at what you would find in the patristic literature regarding being able to communicate beyond the limitations of our physical beings. People who are so in touch with God are able to do this sort of thing and we have accounts of people who walk in this realm even today. They are in the kingdom of God here and now and are sensitive enough to know what’s going on with there fellow brothers and sisters without even seeing them. I’m sure you’ve experienced knowing when someone is about to call you or having a ‘gut’ feeling about something that you would have no other way of knowing. Those who have wives sometimes no where they are without even being told due to their union with one another. Within the Church there is true unity which facilitates a fellowship that goes beyond geographic location. You’re attempts at rationally explaining away the unseen world of the Kingdom of God is not convincing to me and equating conjuring up spirits of the departed with asking for the petitions of saints is unnecessarily extreme and ubiblical.

    103. Jason Engwer
      January 21st, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

      John, your claim that I’m “rationally explaining away the unseen world of the Kingdom of God” assumes that the kingdom of God has the characteristics you tell us it has. You’ve given us no reason to agree with you. You’ve put forward some arguments for your position, but you’ve been forced to retreat every time, because your arguments are bad. Now you’re resorting to an appeal to “‘gut’ feelings about something that you would have no other way of knowing”. Since your attempts at objective argumentation have failed, you’ve resorted to a more subjective and unverifiable approach. I haven’t had any such subjective experience that’s been supportive of praying to the dead. Since there’s an absence of objective argumentation for your position, an absence of subjective support for it, and the presence of objective reasons for rejecting it, I reject it.

      You tell me I’d “be surprised at what I would find in the patristic literature”. I’ve read thousands of pages of that literature, and I’ve been citing it far more often and more accurately than you have. Given how surprised you’ve apparently been by what Hippolytus and other patristic sources actually said about ark typology, what the early Christians actually believed about the perpetual virginity of Mary, etc., I don’t think I’m the one who’s more likely to be surprised here.

    104. Jason Engwer
      January 21st, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

      And “conjuring up spirits of the departed” isn’t all that the Biblical passages in question refer to, John. As I said earlier, the language of these passages is too broad to exempt praying to the dead. You keep trying to narrow the Biblical language in such a way that praying to the dead would be allowed, but you aren’t presenting the Biblical view. Rather, you’re filtering the Biblical view through your faulty extra-Biblical tradition. Anything the Bible says that’s inconsistent with praying to the dead isn’t allowed through. You single out the portions of these Biblical passages that seem consistent with prayers to the dead, ignore the rest, then act as if the portions that are consistent with your position are all that the Bible says.

    105. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 21st, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

      John,

      Jason has certainly provided you with adequate responses. I’ll just add two cents from an experiential perspective. I have plenty of colleagues who sense things in the Spirit and who hear the voice of the Lord and who felt “tied in” to the experiences of other believers around the world. I myself have had many such experiences — and this has NOTHING to do with communing with departed spirits. The two are poles apart, the former being scriptural (we are, after all, people of the Spirit, who knows all things); the latter, clearly prohibited.

    106. John
      January 21st, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

      Dr. Brown, the current reality is that christians are in communion with the “spirits of just men made perfect” as they are a part of the “general assembly” which we are seeking to be a part of (Hebrews 12:22-24). The fact that they are in our presence should not make it a strange thing to ask them to pray to God for us is all I’m saying. I don’t advocate praying to the dead the way we see Saul doing in 1st Samuel 28.

      Jason, have you read the account of the martyrdom of Ignatius? After he was thrown to the lions he appeared to many christians embracing them and praying for them. When they confirmed with each other what they had seen they rejoiced and sang praises to God. (Ante-Nicene Fathers page 131).

    107. Cleveland Wilks
      January 21st, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

      Though the Lord is high and lofty,yet he bow down His ears to hear the poor man’s cry. Is that why?, man who was nothing and no where thinks we have the rights to judge and always attempting to define God?.We’r to remember, according to the bible when God Who Is and always was, not even the dust from which we were form wasn’t around. Void and darkness was on the face of the deep.If that isn’t enough to humbles us, don’t know what will. It is enough reason for me to worship Him forever&ever just to know that I’v began in His Great Infinite Mind. Now will man move on to greater things instead of been hang up with,and over the question,”is Mary the mother of God?”. Mary, Joseph,David, were all taken from the dust.let’s worship God!.Where was Mary when He, Jesus-God! came down in the fire to defend His boys?,when he spent compassionate time,a whole night, with His much beloved Jacob and blessed him for desiring His blessing so strongly,resulting in Him making Himself known as the God of Jacob.We’r to desire His blessing like Jacob and we might even receive it in abundance like Jabes.The Pope and all Catholics are to make sure they worship God like Mary did,instead of worshiping Mary.Jesus could have came down from heaven in any other way,and make Himself still be able to bleed for us. He chooses Mary,the human way.Let’s love Him, to Identified Himself so much with us.Amen.

    108. Jason Engwer
      January 21st, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

      John,

      We can have a relationship with deceased individuals without their being able to hear our prayers and without our being permitted to pray to them even if they could hear our prayers. I’ll repeat an illustration I mentioned a couple of times earlier in the thread. A Christian in the United States is in communion with a Christian in China. Can the Christian in China hear the prayers of the Christian in the United States? If he could hear the prayers, would it follow that praying to him is permissible? If we had a Biblical commandment against such prayers, would our ability to pray and hear prayers in that manner prove that we’re permitted to do it?

      Concerning the account of Ignatius’ martyrdom, I’ll quote one of the leading Ignatian scholars of our generation:

      “the Acts of his martyrdom are late and unreliable….These accounts, along with five Acts of his martyrdom that survive in several manuscripts and versions in Latin, Greek, Syriac, Armenian, and Coptic, are generally regarded as spurious, providing little more information about Ignatius than that which can be inferred from his seven letters.” (Allen Brent, Ignatius Of Antioch [New York, New York: T & T Clark International, 2009], 12, 20)

      He goes on, later on page 20, to refer to the material as “certainly legendary”.

      The portion of the martyrdom account that you’ve highlighted isn’t found in any of Ignatius’ seven genuine letters, of course.

      Besides, what you’ve described is an instance of the dead initiating contact with the living. That’s not equivalent to an attempt to initiate contact with the dead through prayer. I made this point earlier, when I commented on the Mount of Transfiguration. If somebody like Moses or Elijah (or Ignatius) returns to life on earth and initiates contact with you, I won’t object if you respond to him.

    109. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 21st, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

      John,

      You wrote, “Dr. Brown, the current reality is that christians are in communion with the ‘spirits of just men made perfect’ as they are a part of the general assembly’ which we are seeking to be a part of (Hebrews 12:22-24).” Aside from the fact that it’s really irrelevant to the larger discussion of the wrong exaltation of Mary, I see no exegetical evidence for your statement based on Heb 12. Where does it speak of us being “in communion” with those who have gone to be with the Lord before us? Instead, it tells us that through our faith in Yeshua, we have not come to Mt. Sinai but to the heavenly Mt. Zion.

    110. Adam
      January 21st, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

      Kyzersoze,

      So anyone who “leaps for joy” MUST be “in the presence of God”? This is just an assumption and not even an argument.

      And yes, Elizabeth was in the presense of “my lord”, Messiah. Or are you seriously proposing that the reference to “my lord” here is somehow “my lord God”? Especially when God is NEVER refered to as “my lord” in the NT.

      No, what I am suggesting is that there is no *contextual* reason for John to leap for joy unless he is in the presence of God. Babies do not ordinarily leap for joy in gestation over the presence of another baby, and do it in the context of the word κυριος, the common word used to translate the tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Bible.

      Also, I don’t believe that “my Lord” is never used to refer to God in the NT. It is used of Jesus, and Jesus is God incarnate.

      I would also add that the context which governs this rule goes back to the OT verse which is used the most by the NT writers, Ps 110.1: “The LORD/YHWH said to my lord/master”.

      I have heard these arguments before, and I utterly reject them. The problem is that they rely upon the Masoretic pointing, and, because the Masoretic pointing is a tradition, there are places where the Masoretic pointing is probably in error, and, more specifically, places where “my Lord” should probably be the correct pointing. Consider the following:

      Psalm 16:2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.” [NASB]

      In this case, I believe that the editors of the NASB have made the correct choice. Not only does the LXX read κυριος μου here, but the Vulgate reads “Dominus Meus,” and the Peshitta reads
      ܐܡܪܬ ܠܡܪܝܐ ܡܪܝ ܐܢܬ. The significance of this is that, unlike Hebrew, the Syriac word for “Lord” [ܡܪ] does not end in a yod. All of these phrases translate to “My Lord.” Hence, in every major ancient translation, you have “my Lord” here.

      You have the same thing in Psalm 35:23:

      Psalm 35:23 Stir up Yourself, and awake to my right And to my cause, my God and my Lord. [NASB]

      Again, very clearly referring to God, and yet, the LXX has κυριος μου, the Vulgate has Dominus Meus, and the Peshitta has ܡܪܝ, again, all translating to “my God.” However, here, you also have the Targum chiming in with ומרי. Again, there is no confusion here, because the Aramaic word for “Lord” [מר] does not end in a yod, just as the Syriac word does not. Hence, now you have all of the major ancient translations supporting the idea that the vowel pointing is wrong here, as well as a Jewish paraphrase.

      While it is rare, the term “my Lord” does seem to be able to be used of God. That is probably what lead the Masorites to change the pointing in those places, so as to avoid a commonly human term being used of God.

      Finally, as a Trinitarian, when I see the term “Lord” being used of Jesus, especially with its background in the Hebrew Bible translating the tetragrammeton, and especially in the context where someone is leaping for joy, and especially when that someone is in gestation, you can conclude that you are, indeed, in the presence of God almighty.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    111. John
      January 21st, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

      Dr. Brown, you wrote, “Where does it speak of us being “in communion” with those who have gone to be with the Lord before us? Instead, it tells us that through our faith in Yeshua, we have not come to Mt. Sinai but to the heavenly Mt. Zion.”

      Just because one has departed from this earthly life doesn’t mean that we can no longer be in fellowship with them. Love conquers all, even the grave itself. A tombstone was never intended to be an unconquerable obstacle for communion with those who have departed. I agree that the scripture says “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God” and not to Mt. Sinai. A good question to ask is who is part of the heavenly city of Mt. Zion? The answer is that the “Spirits of just men made perfect” are within this heavenly city. How can we have come to the heavenly city unless we are in the presence of the “spirits of just men made perfect”? Jesus says in Matthew 22:32 “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not dead but are alive in the presence of God as spirits of just men made perfect. On a side note, I’m not saying that saints in and of themselves can grant the requests we are seeking God for- I’m only saying that they beseech Christ on our behalf. The whole direction of requesting the petition of a saint is prayer to God.

      The issue is brought up only because asking the Mother of God to pray for us was equated to praying to the dead in the comments above which is not the case. It also seems that this issue is enmeshed with the reasons why people reject seeing Mary as the Mother of God. A lot of it is just fear of anything that bears a semblance to catholicism.

    112. Jason Engwer
      January 21st, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

      John,

      Hebrews 12 refers to the believer’s relationship with all other believers, not just those who have died. Again, what would you think of a Christian living in the United States praying to a Christian living in China? The fact that the two are part of the same community in Christ doesn’t tell us whether they can pray to each other or are permitted to do so. You keep ignoring such problems with your position. You haven’t even addressed most of the objections we’ve raised.

      And I don’t know why you refer to “asking the Mother of God to pray for us”. I’ve documented that both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox do more than ask Mary to pray for them.

    113. David Roberts
      January 21st, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

      What’s so difficult about praying to the father in Yeshua’s name, that we should need to invent all sorts of unbiblical methods of prayer?

    114. Jason Engwer
      January 21st, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

      John wrote:

      “The issue is brought up only because asking the Mother of God to pray for us was equated to praying to the dead in the comments above which is not the case.”

      You need to interact with the counterarguments that have already been presented. I’ve argued for my position that Biblical passages about attempting to contact the dead are addressing the physically dead. Thus, mentioning that Mary and other deceased individuals are spiritually alive is irrelevant. And I’ve given examples of both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox sources saying that they “pray to” Mary. If Mary and other individuals you’re bringing your requests to are deceased, and both Catholics and Orthodox say that they’re praying to those individuals, then how is it inaccurate to say that Catholics and Orthodox are praying to the dead?

    115. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 21st, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

      John,

      Re: your post #110, this really takes us way off track, although I understand why you raised the point. Feel free, however, to expend time and energy on trying to prove that we can be in communion with departed believers, but I’ll not engage you further on that subject. There are far more important matters to attend to, and there is not a verse in the Bible exhorting me or encouraging me to communed with the deceased — although there are certainly warnings to the contrary.

    116. John
      January 21st, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

      Dr. Brown, it seems that we are speaking past each other. I told you why I addressed the subject. Btw, I’m not the one who initially brought up the subject of praying to the dead. It was initially brought up in Jason’s comments above if you would like to know.

      You still haven’t addressed some of my questions regarding the Mother of God in comment #93. Is she only the mother of “the body” of Christ? If so was it only a body that she gave birth to and was it only a body that died on the cross?

    117. John
      January 21st, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

      Jason, you said, “You keep ignoring such problems with your position. You haven’t even addressed most of the objections we’ve raised.”

      A lot of the objections you’ve raised are not worthwhile to argue with as they are veering away and distracting from the main point of the dialogue.

    118. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 21st, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

      John, I’m in the midst of a bunch of pressing writing projects, and I really didn’t intend to weigh in that much here — I simply don’t have time — but to answer quickly (and we’ll have to leave it here): The Son is eternal God, and he entered the world through the medium of Miriam’s womb, supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit. While she is Yeshua’s mother, she is NOT the originator of his divine nature — obviously! — since his divine nature is eternal and preexistent. Within her womb, deity and humanity were joined together in Yeshua, and Miriam gave birth to him.

      Please understand that I appreciate your posts and I want to engage you, but I must drop out of this thread now — as I drop out of all others — so please be kind enough to take up these issues with others rather than question me further, OK?

      Thanks, and enjoy the interaction.

    119. John
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 1:00 am

      Dr. Brown, I understand that you have to go, but thanks for your comments and I’ve enjoyed interacting. As far as your last comment, it seems that you believe that Mary is the Mother of God but not in the sense that she is the originator of His divine nature but the Mother of God nonetheless since Christ is God. If so I think we’re agreed. The only difference I think is that I’m more comfortable with calling her the Mother of God than you might be. When it comes to the question of whether or not we should call her “Mother of God”, it might be important to ask ourselves what the consequences would be if we did or did not call her that. If we didn’t call her the Mother of God, but only the “Mother of Christ”, then we blur the lines and make a distinction between Christ and God which is not biblical for Christ is God. If we call her “Mother of God” then we confirm that Christ is God, receiving His humanity from Mary His mother, a human being. To shy away from calling her the “Mother of God” is like bringing into question the deity of Christ. If the reason why we shy away is because others will misinterpret the truth, that shouldn’t stop us from speaking the truth. Many people will misinterpret many things about God including things like the trinity. Therefore it’s vital to acknowledge her as the Mother of God to maintain the truth that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, as this is central to the Gospel message- that is that God united Himself to humanity through the willful obedience of the virgin Mary, lived and died and rose again defeating death for our sake so that we too would live with Him. Mary is our example of obedience to God as she is solely human as we are, and she brings a challenge to all of us of seeking salvation through unification with God (not with His essence). The way we go about our unification with God is laid out in scripture and to be more exact it is laid out in the scriptures in the context of the Church since if they are outside of the Church then they act as a weapon of division rather than an aid in unification with God and with man. Unity within the Church is the desire of Jesus and is even prayed about to the Father before He goes to the cross in John 17. Our view of the Mother of God is therefore at the core of how we view salvation and how we view Christ.

    120. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 2:27 am

      John, truly, my very last post: I do NOT believe that Mary is the Mother of God, and I will continue to stand against that misleading concept. See all my previous posts. And I have spent decades defending Yeshua’s deity without affirming that “Mary is the Mother of God,” nor does one affirmation hang on the other. In fact, to me, the latter affirmation can potentially confuse and detract from the former.

      Let’s focus on Jesus and exalt Him to the highest place, to the glory of God the Father. I’m sure that’s what Mary would want. :)

      So, PLEASE be kind enough not to restate what I believe in words contrary to what I believe, and once more, let’s focus on Jesus. Thanks!

    121. John
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 3:20 am

      Dr. Brown, I don’t see how Jesus can be fully God and fully man unless he has taken on flesh through the virgin Mary. If He has taken on flesh from the virgin Mary that makes Mary His mother. If Mary is His mother, and He is God, then Mary is the Mother of God. Isn’t it misleading to not call her the Mother of God but only the Mother of Jesus who is God? We all understand that Mary is not the originator of God’s deity, but only His humanity. No need to fear as far as that goes.

      How is it possible that one affirmation does not hang on the other? Humanity and deity have become united and yet you are still making a distinction between humanity and deity when rejecting to see Mary as the Mother of God. Nestorius, who was a heretic, did the same thing. He attacked the use of the phrase “Mother of God” in the desire to separate the divine and human essences of Christ as if Christ was two separate persons and not one. They rejected terminology such as “God suffered” or “God was crucified” since they only viewed the ‘man’ Jesus Christ who suffered and the “God Jesus Christ”. When we call Mary the Mother of God we acknowledge the degree of the humility Christ expressed in bowing so low as to allow even a mere human being to be His mother.

      The fact is that Christ is both Son of Man and Son of God and not two different persons. Nestorius wanted to call Mary the “Giver of birth to Christ” but not the “Giver of birth to God”. Do you see Christ as two different persons?

    122. Jason Engwer
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 8:00 am

      John wrote:

      “Btw, I’m not the one who initially brought up the subject of praying to the dead. It was initially brought up in Jason’s comments above if you would like to know….A lot of the objections you’ve raised are not worthwhile to argue with as they are veering away and distracting from the main point of the dialogue.”

      Prayers to Mary are relevant to a discussion about the Catholic view of Mary. And the subject of praying to her was mentioned by another commenter, in comment 11, before I addressed it. You discussed it in post 20, and I first addressed the subject in response to your post. Not only did I not initiate the discussion, but you were discussing the issue before I was.

      And it’s unreasonable for you to respond to me by saying that I was “veering away and distracting from the main point of the dialogue”. When you decide to address a subject like the perpetual virginity of Mary or praying to Mary, yet you ignore what’s been said on those subjects in previous posts, it makes no sense for you to explain your ignoring of those posts by telling us that the issues under discussion “veer away and distract from the main point of the dialogue”. You made the choice to discuss those issues. If you’re going to discuss them, then don’t keep ignoring what’s already been said. Much of what you keep ignoring was written in posts directed at you, posts you had indicated you’d read. Why would you repeatedly ignore points that have been made in posts that you had read, posts that had been directed at you by name?

      You keep asking Dr. Brown questions after he tells you that he doesn’t have time for interaction. Yet, you frequently ignore what other posters write in response to your claims. I suggest that people contrast your attempts to keep interacting with Dr. Brown, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, your pattern of not interacting much with other people.

      Your view of Mary is false and contradicts what scripture teaches on multiple points. We’ve demonstrated that fact repeatedly, and we’ve demonstrated that you’re wrong in much of what you claim about extra-Biblical sources. But you act as if we should be more concerned about the possibility that Dr. Brown holds a heretical view of Jesus that might be implied by a rejection of the Mother of God title. I think your actual and demonstrated errors are more significant than potential errors on Michael Brown’s part, errors that are unlikely given what he’s said about his view of Jesus and the work he’s done on the subject over the years. A rejection of the Mother of God title could reflect a faulty view of Jesus. It could also reflect something else, without involving a faulty view of Christ.

      You’ve associated yourself with a tradition, Eastern Orthodoxy, that has a long history of encouraging an unhealthy view of Mary. Given that context, if you’re truly concerned about Christology rather than elevating Mary, why don’t you and others with such concerns focus on titles like Grandmother of God and Brother of God rather than Mother of God? Why not focus on, say, Joseph’s mother or Jesus’ brother James? Why not argue for applying titles like Grandmother of God and Brother of God to such individuals rather than focusing on applying the title Mother of God to Mary? When a group like Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism keeps focusing on Mary in this context, I think we have good reason to conclude that it isn’t because of their Christ-centeredness.

    123. Kyzersoze
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 8:28 am

      Adam

      what I am suggesting is that there is no *contextual* reason for John to leap for joy unless he is in the presence of God.

      I understood what you were “suggesting” and dealt with it in my response. You’re coming across nice and clear. ;)

      Babies do not ordinarily leap for joy in gestation over the presence of another baby, and do it in the context of the word κυριος, the common word used to translate the tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Bible.

      Again, I dealt with this in my previous post but will reiterate my point. Jesus is the 2nd kyrios of Ps 110.1 not the 1st. He is YHWH’s Messiah as per Luke 2.26 and not YHWH Messiah. Have you even thought through what this would mean?

      The problem is that they rely upon the Masoretic pointing, and, because the Masoretic pointing is a tradition, there are places where the Masoretic pointing is probably in error, and, more specifically, places where “my Lord” should probably be the correct pointing.

      Could you please provide proof of a possible corruption/error in Ps 110.1 then? And who nowadays reads the unpointed Hebrew text? This is something even Dr Brown would agree on.

      Furthermore, your whole premise leads one to polytheism since you would have 2 YHWHs instead of 1 according to the Jewish-Christian creed of the Shema [Deu 6.4;Mar 12.29].

      Lastly, 2 exceptions do not make a rule. Especially when there is NO EVIDENCE that wherever “my lord/master” is used it could somehow be corrupted or erroneous.

    124. BenKC
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 10:43 am

      @Jason Engwer,

      agree !

      :)

    125. Bob T
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

      The fact that the catholic church took the 2nd commandment out of their bible”Thou shalt not make any graven image and bow thyself to them”an indication of where they stand on the worship of mary.

    126. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

      Jason,

      You wrote to John, “You keep asking Dr. Brown questions after he tells you that he doesn’t have time for interaction. Yet, you frequently ignore what other posters write in response to your claims. I suggest that people contrast your attempts to keep interacting with Dr. Brown, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, your pattern of not interacting much with other people.”

      THANK YOU SIR!

    127. John
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

      Haha, Dr. Brown I address a lot of my questions to you because you’re the one who’s doing a radio show on how Mary is not the Mother of God. I’m also one who is short on time but that does not mean that I would not love to interact with all of you. I don’t seek to “attack” Dr. Brown or anyone else for that matter. All I would hope for is for each of us to discuss the issue through a friendly dialogue which I’m not always the best at and I appreciate anyone being able to bear with me as I hope to bear with you.

    128. John
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

      If I can bring a simple point that I’m not sure anyone addressed earlier but it seems to be quite relative to the matter. In Luke 1:42,43 we read the Mother of John the Baptist saying, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

      Can it get much clearer than this? Who is Elizabeth’s “Lord”? Is He not God? Not only is the early Church at odds with not seeing Mary as the Mother of God, but even the scriptures clearly portray Mary as the Mother of our Lord.

    129. Adam
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

      I understood what you were “suggesting” and dealt with it in my response. You’re coming across nice and clear. ;)

      No, you misrepresented me in your response. You said that I was assuming that, just because there was leaping for joy, that God was present. What I actually was dealing with was the leaping for joy in the context of the passage we are talking about.

      Again, I dealt with this in my previous post but will reiterate my point. Jesus is the 2nd kyrios of Ps 110.1 not the 1st. He is YHWH’s Messiah as per Luke 2.26 and not YHWH Messiah. Have you even thought through what this would mean?

      I am just stating what the text says. If you want to say “It can’t mean that because I could never understand it,” then you are taking up a position of rationalism, not a position that relies upon the scriptures.

      Finally, you are missing the point of my argument concerning Psalm 110. What I am arguing is that the pointing is wrong in those other texts, and that the correct pointing of those other texts use “My Lord” to clearly refer to YHWH contrary to what you said. Hence, even if the pointing is correct in Psalm 110, it would still not rule out the fact that Jesus is God. Your argument is that “My Lord” can never refer to YHWH, and I pointed out that, if the pointing is wrong in the places I pointed to, “My Lord” does, indeed, refer to YHWH.

      Also, I never used Psalm 110 to prove the deity of Christ. I think it is interesting that one of the main themes of the final books of the Psalms is the kingship of God, but that is beside the point. You brought the text up arguing that “My Lord” must not mean that Jesus is God, since those words are never used to address God. That argument has been refuted.

      Also, we don’t do exegesis by averages [its used more this way, so that is what it must mean here]. You look at the context, grammar, semantics, syntax, background, etc. to find the meaning of the passage. Take the phrase “my Lord” in the context of an infant in gestation leaping for joy, the background of kurios in the tetragrammaton in the OT, the miraculous nature of Christ’s birth, and the joy of Elizabeth, and the evidence is way too overwhelming. You might be able to get around each of them individually, but altogether, they form a context that is deadly to the idea that Mary was not theotokos.

      Furthermore, your whole premise leads one to polytheism since you would have 2 YHWHs instead of 1 according to the Jewish-Christian creed of the Shema [Deu 6.4;Mar 12.29].

      No, it would mean that we have one YHWH who is tripersonal, which is the orthodox position. Also, I don’t even think the Shema is relevant. The context is about devotion to the one God [Deuteronomy 6:5], and not the unity or plurality of persons.

      Finally, to any person who is orthodox, the issue should be settled. If you don’t assume unitarianism, then the scriptures teach that the one born to Mary was, indeed, the Mother of God, theotokos, as is expressed in the council of Chalcedon. Yes, the term can be abused, but in the incarnational sense, it is true.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    130. Adam
      January 22nd, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

      John,

      Can it get much clearer than this? Who is Elizabeth’s “Lord”? Is He not God? Not only is the early Church at odds with not seeing Mary as the Mother of God, but even the scriptures clearly portray Mary as the Mother of our Lord.

      I have used that argument above, and I don’t have any problem with the phrase “Mother of God” or theotokos in the incarnational sense. My concern is when the phrase is ripped out of the controversy over Nestorianism, and the separation of the two natures of Christ into two different persons. Given the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox conception of Mary, Jason is right to be concerned that the phrase can be, and usually is, taken as a title to exalt Mary, rather than a title to exalt Christ as God.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    131. John
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 12:15 am

      Adam, thanks for your comment. You state,
      “Given the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox conception of Mary, Jason is right to be concerned that the phrase can be, and usually is, taken as a title to exalt Mary, rather than a title to exalt Christ as God.”

      I understand the concern, but there are many titles and phrases that we all can abuse. The trinity (and the word itself is not in scripture) for example can easily be abused by many, and is, but this is not an excuse to refrain from upholding the truth in the face of false teachers leading people astray. I understand that it should concern someone if we are thinking Mary is the originator of God, but the Orthodox understand that this is not and never was an issue. The fact that Elizabeth refers to Mary by the phrase “mother of my Lord” shows that she also was not concerned about using this phrase.

      I also think it’s presumptuous to think that the Orthodox are exalting Mary and not Christ when using the phrase “Mother of God”. Was Elizabeth exalting Mary? The reason why Mary is so special is because she’s bearing God, Whom the universe cannot contain, in her womb. In the old testament we see the ark of the covenant held in high regard by the Jewish people- we should also give honor to where it’s due. The principle of esteeming others who are very close to God is all over scripture as well.

    132. BenKC
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 1:15 am

      John,

      The same God that was in Mary is also in those who accepted Jesus into their lives.

    133. Taylor
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 7:13 am

      According to my reading of the Bible, Jesus was born to a virgin not because virginity is to be worshiped but as a sign that he was the messiah. How did it get so complicated and twisted? Similarly, Isaac was miraculously born to Abram and Sarai as a sign of the power of God and his promise, not that we should worship really old people giving birth to children. I think that the Roman customs of worshiping gods and goddesses took over the story when Rome “converted” to Christianity and started to enforce their beliefs on everyone else under penalty of death.

    134. Kyzersoze
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 8:06 am

      Adam

      What I actually was dealing with was the leaping for joy in the context of the passage we are talking about.

      So the baby leaped for joy because God was in the womb of Elizabeth? That is highly unlikely and an assumption on your part.

      I am just stating what the text says.

      The NT refers to Jesus as “my lord” or “the lord MESSIAH”. That is what the text says. Where does it ever refer to him as “the LORD/Lord God Messiah” or anything that would approximate such a formulation?

      if the pointing is wrong in the places I pointed to, “My Lord” does, indeed, refer to YHWH.

      I disagree that the pointing is wrong so we’ll agree to disagree here. But show me where it is wrong in every other place where “my lord” appears in the OT?

      And if you concede that Ps 110.1 is a solid text, why are you throwing doubt on it by pointing to other so-called errors? In other words, why are you invested in proving the text wrong when it is not? Or at the least throwing doubt on it.

      You brought the text up arguing that “My Lord” must not mean that Jesus is God, since those words are never used to address God. That argument has been refuted.

      I thought we agreed that God is never referred to as “my lord” in the NT? As for the OT, the general rule still prevails over those 2 texts you presented.

      Also, we don’t do exegesis by averages [its used more this way, so that is what it must mean here]. You look at the context, grammar, semantics, syntax, background, etc. to find the meaning of the passage.

      Well, if all those things are taken into account we are taking into account “averages”. For example, just because Satan is called “the God” [ho theos] in 2Cor 4.4 does not allow one to make a whole theology stating that Satan is actually the one God of Israel.

      No, it would mean that we have one YHWH who is tripersonal, which is the orthodox position. Also, I don’t even think the Shema is relevant. The context is about devotion to the one God [Deuteronomy 6:5], and not the unity or plurality of persons.

      So the Shema is trinitarian now? And if it is, how do you explain a Jewish rabbi agreeing with Jesus in Mar 12.29-33?

      And yes the Shema is about loving that 1 God. Jesus could simply have saidto the rabbi “love me, I am God”! :P

      If you don’t assume unitarianism, then the scriptures teach that the one born to Mary was, indeed, the Mother of God, theotokos

      I am “assuming” that the Jews were not trinitarians. That the Shema is not trinitarian and that Jesus was not trinitarian. If I am wrong then perhaps the Jewish rabbi should have said to Jesus: “you are right when you say THEY are THREE and HE is ONE” and not…

      Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is one God and no other God exists but Him.

      The one God of Jesus is a He and not a They.

      And Mary is the mother of Jesus, the Son of God and not God!

    135. Adam
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

      Kyzersoze,

      So the baby leaped for joy because God was in the womb of Elizabeth? That is highly unlikely and an assumption on your part.

      Merely saying it is an assumption doesn’t make it so. Again, I have given you example after example from the context, not only of the virgin birth, but also of the reaction and interpretation of Elizabeth herself, the background of kurios in the Septuagint, etc. That is not an assumption; that is how you do exegesis, by examining the context, and seeing how the text constructs reality.

      The only way you could respond to this is if you found another text with a supernatural conception, a child in gestation leaps for joy, the mother of the child who leaps, in a Jewish context, uses the word kurios used in the LXX of the tetragrammaton, to describe the child in her amazement, and that child goes on to claim things that only God can claim. If you can find me another example of *all* these things being used together in the Bible that does not refer to deity, then I will be satisfied that you have proven that it is only an assumption on my part that this is a reference to Christ’s deity.

      I disagree that the pointing is wrong so we’ll agree to disagree here. But show me where it is wrong in every other place where “my lord” appears in the OT?

      And if you concede that Ps 110.1 is a solid text, why are you throwing doubt on it by pointing to other so-called errors? In other words, why are you invested in proving the text wrong when it is not? Or at the least throwing doubt on it.

      I am not throwing doubt on *the text,* but *your interpretation* of the text. I don’t agree with your understanding of “my Lord” here, and that is what I am challenging. Also, if you believe that the pointing of the MT is wrong in the passages I cited, then could you please explain why *all* of the ancient translations agree with me there, as well as the Jewish Targum?

      I thought we agreed that God is never referred to as “my lord” in the NT? As for the OT, the general rule still prevails over those 2 texts you presented.

      No, I did not agree to that. For example, take the following:

      Philippians 3:8-12 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

      Of what mere creature could Paul say that, in view of the knowledge of this creature, all things are suffered as loss. Isn’t that the very definition of idolatry, desiring to know the creature rather than the creator? Is it faith in a mere creature that makes one righteous? And is it a knowledge of a mere creature that makes one attain the resurrection of the dead? The only way “my Lord” can be taken here, as expounded by Paul, is as a reference to his deity, because the way Paul fleshes it out is in terms of things that are unique attributes of deity.

      Well, if all those things are taken into account we are taking into account “averages”. For example, just because Satan is called “the God” [ho theos] in 2Cor 4.4 does not allow one to make a whole theology stating that Satan is actually the one God of Israel.

      Which, not only ignores that there is nothing in context that would suggest that “God” is being used in this way [nothing about him being born of a virgin, nothing about people leaping for joy in gestation at his presence, nothing about kurios being used, and all of these things in exactly the same context]. Worse than that, there are some interpreters, and I think the argument is interesting, that would argue that ο θεος in 2 Corinthians 4:4 does, indeed, refer to the one God of Israel, and does not refer to Satan. Dr. Donald Hartley is the one who is really leading this charge. His article is online here:

      http://www.rctr.org/journal/8.pdf

      Finally, no, even if “God” here refers to Satan, the reason why it doesn’t refer to God elsewhere has nothing to do with statistics and averages. It has to do with context. The reason one could take this as a reference to Satan is because of the fact that both God and Satan blind people. However, in other contexts, you have clear examples in which “God” is spoken of in terms which would rule out Satan, such as his eternality, his speaking as judge, or as the standard of wisdom, etc. Again, these things have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with statistics.

      So the Shema is trinitarian now? And if it is, how do you explain a Jewish rabbi agreeing with Jesus in Mar 12.29-33?

      Actually, what I said was that the Shema is irrelevant to the issue! It is dealing with where our love and devotion is to be, namely, towards God and God alone. Whether this God is Trinitarian or Unitarian is not addressed.

      And yes the Shema is about loving that 1 God. Jesus could simply have saidto the rabbi “love me, I am God”! :P

      Such betrays an absurd view of language. Must we use the exact words? If I say, “this is the holiday in which we, in America, celebrate the birth of Christ, open presents, and eat a turkey dinner” it still doesn’t mean that it is Christmas unless I use the exact term “this is Christmas?????????”

      Secondly, the context of his question was asking for the greatest commandment. He is citing from the Torah, because he asked for the commandment itself, not all of the implications of that commandment.

      I am “assuming” that the Jews were not trinitarians. That the Shema is not trinitarian and that Jesus was not trinitarian. If I am wrong then perhaps the Jewish rabbi should have said to Jesus: “you are right when you say THEY are THREE and HE is ONE” and not…

      There is something even more fundamental that you are assuming, and that is that the Shema and the Jews at this time were even addressing the issue of the personal nature of God! You are also assuming that Jesus was addressing the personal nature of God in that passage. That only works if you assume unitarianism, instead of proving it.

      As far as Jesus not being a Trinitarian, it is interesting that Jesus receives the confession of Thomas “my Lord and my God” [John 20:28], receives the worship of all of creation [Revelation 5:13], accepts prayer [John 14:14], says he is the I am [John 8:58], says that knowing him is salvation [John 17:3], etc. These are things that are incompatible with someone who believes he is a mere creature. Yet, he has dialogue with the father, and distinguishes himself from the father in numerous places.

      For example, take Revelation 5:11-14. Are you really trying to say that this scenario would be appropriate:

      Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is Kyzersoze to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to Kyzersoze, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

      Really? That is appropriate???????? And if not, why not, given that Jesus, according to you, is only human? Remember, all creation is saying these things in vrs. 13ff. How is this not idolatry, unless Jesus is, himself, God, and unless you can distinguish between the Father and the Son?

      The real issue here is your hermeneutics. You have, as most unitarians do, the divide and conquer method. The problem is, this method ignores the fact that language is meant to represent reality in all of its facets. For example, a chair is defined by The New Oxford American Dictionary as, “a seat for one person, typically with a back and four legs.” If you were consistent, you would have to say, “No it is not! There are many seats besides a chair. A love seat, or a couch, or a recliner are likewise seats. Also, there are many things with backs, including love seats, and also human beings themselves! Also, there are many things with four legs including animals as well as sofas and love seats. Hence, there is no way we could be talking about a chair in that definition!

      As we can already see, such would be totally absurd. I heard this hermeneutic rightly described one time as someone trying to avoid a rock fall. Theoretically, you can take every individual rock, and figure out how you can avoid getting hit by every single one. However, all of the rocks are coming at once, and hence, it is impossible to dodge every single one. It is the same way with the chair illustration I used, and it is the same way with what is going on in Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth. Just like the chair definition, if you pull out the different aspects of what is going on, you would have a case. However, if everything is going on at this context, in this time, the inescapable conclusion is that Mary is theotokos.

      However, as for those of us who are orthodox Trinitarians, I think these text settles the issue once and for all. It is only the presumed unitarianism, and the bad hermeneutics of “divide and conquer” that are the foundation of its interpretations of scripture that bring you to this conclusion. If we reject these things, and allow the text to speak for itself, there is no reason to deny that Mary is theotokos.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    136. Adam
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

      John,

      The problem is when I see people praying to Mary, and asking for her intercession, saying that she was “Ever Virgin,” and, in the case of Roman Catholicism, saying that she was the immaculately conceived, bodily assumed Queen of Heaven. More specifically, the problem is when I hear people say that they need to go through Mary for their intercession because she is Jesus’ son, and she will thus be able to get Jesus to grant us our request. This is the logic that bothers me, especially since the original discussion of Mary the Mother of God or theotokos had nothing whatsoever to do with that.

      It is bad enough that people seek to communicate with the physically dead, but to not realize that Mary, because she is just a creature of Christ her creator, cannot simply demand things of Christ that he has not promised. The creature cannot demand things of the eternal creator. In fact, Dr. Younger often told me that the main difference between the God of the Hebrews and the gods of the pagans is that the gods of the pagans could be manipulated, but the one true God cannot. This is where I really see a breakdown in the creator/creature distinction that is disturbing.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    137. Adam
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

      BenKC,

      The same God that was in Mary is also in those who accepted Jesus into their lives.

      True, but that is not what John is talking about. What we are dealing with is whether that which was in the *womb* of Mary was truly God and man. The real question is whether the divinity and humanity of Christ can be separated such that what was in Mary’s womb was humanity only, and not divinity. If the divinity and humanity of Christ cannot be separated, then the only conclusion is that Mary is the Mother of God, because what was contained in her womb was not simply human flesh, but deity as well.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    138. Kyzersoze
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

      Adam

      That is not an assumption; that is how you do exegesis, by examining the context, and seeing how the text constructs reality.

      Your exegetical skills should tell you who the one in the womb of Mary is by Elizabeth’s response in Luke 1.43:

      I feel blessed that the mother of my lord is visiting me.

      Whenever “my lord” or “the lord” appears in reference to Jesus it is prefaced by his GIVEN title of Messiah. To suggest that this is somehow reading “my YHWH Messiah” or “YHWH Messiah” is just not right.

      the word kurios used in the LXX of the tetragrammaton

      You keep bringing this up but this further weakens your case when we see that kyrios is the OT equivalent of every instance where “Lord” appears in the Hebrew. In other words, we know that everytime kyrios appears it is not referring to YHWH unless it is clearly shown to.

      I am not throwing doubt on *the text,* but *your interpretation* of the text.

      Any standard Hebrew lexicon should tell you whether or not the “my lord” of Ps 110.1 is a reference to Deity or not. Your “interpretation” should flow from the meaning of the text and not what you read into it [eisegesis].

      why *all* of the ancient translations agree with me there, as well as the Jewish Targum?

      I don’t believe they are saying “my Lord” is a reference to a human title here.

      Actually, what I said was that the Shema is irrelevant to the issue!

      You have said this twice and it is troubling to say the least since your lord Messiah cites it as THE GREATEST OF ALL COMMANDMENTS [Mar 12.28-29]!!

      But please give us a clear answer to my question: Is the Shema a trinitarian creed?

      And why is the 3rd Person, the Spirit, left out of these supposed trinitarian statements regarding “the nature of God” [John 1.1; Phil 2.5-6; 1Cor 8.4-6, etc.]?

    139. John2
      January 23rd, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

      Here’s a classic Marian hymn that, I think, well embodies the essence of Catholic Marian devotion (let them say what they will to the contrary), shown to me by an evangelical convert to Catholicism (a WHAT?!)- from what he explains, it’s been used in Catholic liturgy for decades so I think it can serve of a representative sample of views/sentiments endorsed by the Church. Well, here it is for what it’s worth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOH8awmOj4c&feature=channel_video_title

    140. John
      January 24th, 2012 @ 12:47 am

      Adam, thanks for your thoughts. As far as seeing Mary as an intercessor we have to understand that when the Orthodox ask the Mother of God for her intercession, they are simply asking someone to pray for them just as you or me would ask someone to pray for us on earth. This has absolutely nothing to do with the forbidden practice of Necromancy which is the conjuring up of the spirits of the dead. Common sense points out that Necromancy and invoking the intercession of the saints are not the same thing. One is an occult practice and the other a humble request of intercession. If we look at the writings of the early Church Fathers (as early as the first century possibly), St. Hyppolitus, Origen, St. Cyprian, St. Sabina, Hermas, St. Clement and more can all assent to the fact that prayer to the Mother of God and saints is not an occult practice but is a widely accepted and encouraged practice in the early Church. Here’s a couple examples:

      “But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels… as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep”. -Origen

      “Tell me, you three boys, remember me, I entreat you, that I also may obtain the same lot of martyrdom with you, who was the fourth person with you who was walking in the midst of the furnace and who was hymning to God with you as from one mouth? Describe to us his form and beauty so that we also, seeing him in the flesh, may recognize him.” -Hermas praying to the Three Holy Youth spoken of in the book of Daniel.

      In Rev. 5:8 we also see the saints in heaven offering the prayers of those on earth to God in the form of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints”. This proves that the christians in heaven are aware of the prayers of the saints on earth and ‘do’ intercede for them.

      With regard to the ever-virginity of Mary, here are just a few quotes from the early Church which was directly established by the Apostles:

      “Let those therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary”- Athanasius ‘Against the Arians’

      “Imitate her, holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of maternal virtue; for neither have you sweeter children [than Jesus], nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son”- Ambrose of Milan

      “Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband.”- Augustine ‘Heresies’

      I can give many more quotes, but the evidence here is a little glimpse into what the fathers had to say about the matter. This was the view of the early Church and there was much consensus around the issue. Those who disagreed were seen as moving out of line with the Apostolic Church.

      Btw, the Orthodox do not believe that Mary or the saints can demand anything from God. God is the One Who grants the requests of His own accord- prayers are brought before Him in many forms (praise, thanksgiving, petition etc.) but never is it to be presented as a demand as if God could be manipulated.

    141. Adam
      January 24th, 2012 @ 11:34 am

      Kyzersoze,

      Whenever “my lord” or “the lord” appears in reference to Jesus it is prefaced by his GIVEN title of Messiah. To suggest that this is somehow reading “my YHWH Messiah” or “YHWH Messiah” is just not right.

      Again, you are not understanding the multifaceted nature of language. There is no doubt that the concept of Jesus’ lordship is messianic, but where are you getting this idea that it cannot also be divine? That is like saying that chairness involves having a back, but we cannot conclude that it also has legs. Reality is multifaceted, and, while it is true that the lordship of Christ relates to his messianic office, it is a false dilemma to say that it therefore rules out his deity, especially when Jesus takes upon himself titles that no mere human could ever take upon himself.

      You keep bringing this up but this further weakens your case when we see that kyrios is the OT equivalent of every instance where “Lord” appears in the Hebrew. In other words, we know that everytime kyrios appears it is not referring to YHWH unless it is clearly shown to.

      The problem is that what are stating is true of virtually every word, namely, that its meaning is context dependent. The problem is, again, that the way it is shown to be referring to YHWH is by context. Again, you are using this “divide and conquer” methodology. You just take the bear term “kurios” and then suggest that we divorce it from the supernatural nature of Jesus’ birth, from the gestational leaping of the baby in the womb, Elizabeth’s amazement, and the fact that this child will go on to claim things about himself that only God can claim. As I pointed out, in everyday life, you don’t do this. You recognize the multifaceted nature of an object such as a chair, and you are willing to not disprove that something is a chair by taking apart the attributes from one another, and showing that each one individually does not prove that it is a chair. Language simply doesn’t work this way.

      Any standard Hebrew lexicon should tell you whether or not the “my lord” of Ps 110.1 is a reference to Deity or not. Your “interpretation” should flow from the meaning of the text and not what you read into it [eisegesis].

      First of all, I never would use Psalm 110 to prove the deity of Christ. You tried to use it to *disprove* the deity of Christ, relating it to Elizabeth’s statement. I pointed out that the term used for “my Lord” here can still be used in contexts which refer to the one true God.

      Secondly, lexicons are a tool. One of the problems in creating lexicons is that you have to establish a base text. Most lexicons will use the MT, and yes, in the MT, “my Lord” always refers to humans. However, the MT is a result of a tradition that was passed down for nearly 2500 years. How that tradition evolved and changed is the subject of scholarly debate, maybe not so much concerning the consonantal text, but definitely concerning the vowel pointing. Lexicons do not do this kind of work in the history of interpretation of the vowels. If you can find me one lexicon that addresses the passages I brought up, and addresses the Peshitta, the Septuagint, and the Targums, then what you are saying would be relevant.

      I don’t believe they are saying “my Lord” is a reference to a human title here.

      Right, so, if the phrase “my Lord” is not necessarily a reference to someone who is merely human, then why couldn’t the one spoken of in Psalm 110, or the one Elizabeth refers to likewise be divine?

      You have said this twice and it is troubling to say the least since your lord Messiah cites it as THE GREATEST OF ALL COMMANDMENTS [Mar 12.28-29]!!

      I don’t know why you would think it would be troubling, unless you assume that the greatest commandment *must* address every aspect of God. If you look at the context, you will see why Jesus quotes the Shema in reference to the two greatest commandments:

      Mark 12:28-31 And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

      Jesus does not just quote the Shema; he quotes the commandment following it. His point in quoting the Shema is to distinguish the one God alone as the object of our love and devotion. Also, if you look at the parallel text from Matthew, Matthew leaves of the quotation of the Shema:

      Matthew 22:35-40 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

      The reason why Jesus quotes the Shema is because he is setting up the unique devotion we must have for God. However, the text simply does not address the personal nature of God. In other words, the Trinity is not a commandment, and so to expect a detailed discussion of the Trinity in the context of the discussion of the greatest commandment is misguided at best.

      But please give us a clear answer to my question: Is the Shema a trinitarian creed?

      I would say that the text doesn’t address the issue. If you would like to demonstrate to us that it does, we are listening. To do this, you would have to show that there is something in the context dealing with the personal nature of God. That is simply foreign to Moses’ context.

      And why is the 3rd Person, the Spirit, left out of these supposed trinitarian statements regarding “the nature of God” [John 1.1; Phil 2.5-6; 1Cor 8.4-6, etc.]?

      Again, only if you assume this “divide and conquer” approach to exegesis would you even come up with this argument. If the Holy Spirit does things that only God can do, is called God, but is also distinguished from the Father and the Son, then the only thing you can conclude is that he is the third member of the Trinity. It is a matter of letting language be multifaceted, and letting it describe different things at different times depending upon the topic addressed. We do this all of the time with our speech, as I pointed out. When anti-Trinitarians do not do that with the Bible they are contradicting themselves.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    142. ron david metcalf
      January 24th, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

      Adam,
      at the extreme risk of embroiling myself in this debate, which I don’t want to do at all:
      I seem to hear you saying that Mary is divine because any anti-Trinitarian doctrine is Universal, including Judaism. Is this close to correct?
      “Divide and conquer” is not the only way to look at this as an alternative view. First, look at the Hebrew variations of ALHYM and YHWH in Genesis, including Abram’s revelation reuniting with Melchizadek’s revelation in the mystery covenant; then, much later, ADNWY is introduced, which Jesus alludes to in David’s prophetic song “The LORD said to my Lord…” This, at least, gives a quick example of an OT “trinity”, which of course can get as involved as as many verses you want to study. Now the traditional edict of “separate but equal” is the part I personally don’t find Scriptural. Jesus specifically saying, “The Father is greater…” I would say challenges the Trinity view that has brought us to the present. I don’t normally even mention this because I am not anti-trinitarian; but not in this ‘official’ sense that believe has caused many problems (such as ‘axing’ Judaism).
      In Him, Ron M.

    143. Adam
      January 24th, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

      John,

      As far as seeing Mary as an intercessor we have to understand that when the Orthodox ask the Mother of God for her intercession, they are simply asking someone to pray for them just as you or me would ask someone to pray for us on earth. This has absolutely nothing to do with the forbidden practice of Necromancy which is the conjuring up of the spirits of the dead. Common sense points out that Necromancy and invoking the intercession of the saints are not the same thing. One is an occult practice and the other a humble request of intercession.

      I would not say that the two are exactly the same thing. However, the problem is the context of the prohibition of necromancy. It is condemned along with forms of divination and sorcery. The crucial element of this passage is found in verse 14: “but the Lord has not permitted you to do thus.” This is clearly meant to be contrastive contrasting the practices of the nations with the people of God. However, what is interesting is what follows, namely, a discussion of prophecy.

      The problem is that, when I pray for someone, I seek to pray in accordance with God and his word. I don’t seek after the dead for these things, but I seek to understand what God is doing in a given situation on the basis of what he has already said in scripture. My concern is when you look to the dead for this, you are looking to the wrong place, but are to instead be looking to the prophet God will raise up, or, in the case of the closed canon, the very word of God. While we can all pray for guidance on the basis of the scriptures, we are not to seek this guidance from the dead for any reason, and that is the point of the prohibition of necromancy.

      Hence, while the practice you describe is not pagan necromancy per se, it has the same foundation to it, and that is seeking to know God and his will from the dead, rather than his prophetic word, and it is for this reason that it was condemned.

      In Rev. 5:8 we also see the saints in heaven offering the prayers of those on earth to God in the form of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints”. This proves that the christians in heaven are aware of the prayers of the saints on earth and ‘do’ intercede for them.

      Revelation 5:8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

      Where are you getting the idea that “the four living creatures’ and “the twenty-four elders” are saints in heaven? The four living creatures are spoken of in the previous chapter, and they are hardly human:

      Revelation 4:5-7 Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; 6 and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.

      Very clearly, these are not human beings. Are you saying it is okay to pray to these creatures? Also, the fact that they are carrying these golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints does not mean that these prayers were prayed to them. They are bringing these prayers to God himself which would suggest that they were prayed to God.

      With regard to the ever-virginity of Mary, here are just a few quotes from the early Church which was directly established by the Apostles:

      There are two things with regards to this. First, the earliest we can find this teaching is not in orthodox writings, but in the writings of the Gnostics. Their neo-Platonism was the reason for this, in that they viewed the body as something evil because it was physical. Hence, because sexual relations involved physical pleasure, sexual relations were considered evil. However, the question becomes how Mary could be the mother of Christ if she defiled herself by sexual relations. Hence, the doctrine of the perpetual virginity was born.

      The problem is that, although Gnosticism was condemned as heretical, the neo-Platonic worldview upon which it was built was never dealt with. Hence, ironically, the perpetual virginity ended up creeping into orthodoxy. Yes, you can find that easily by the time of Ambrose.

      However, that does not necessarily make it false. What makes it false is the contradictions with scripture, not only the mention of the brothers of Jesus in John 7:5 or the “until” of Matthew 1:25. I would say that the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox understanding of those passages is stretching it. So, I have to decide whether I am going to treat the Bible as normal human language, which results in a denial of the perpetual virginity, or whether I am going to take the position of a teaching that developed from Gnostic thought. It is very simple when the Bible is God-Breathed, and the Gnostics held to an entirely different worldview.

      Btw, the Orthodox do not believe that Mary or the saints can demand anything from God. God is the One Who grants the requests of His own accord- prayers are brought before Him in many forms (praise, thanksgiving, petition etc.) but never is it to be presented as a demand as if God could be manipulated.

      I am glad if you don’t believe this, but what I have heard is this notion that Jesus is more likely to grant requests from his mother because he is seeking to honor her as his mother. I don’t think they would go to the point of saying it is a “demand,” but I would say that such thinking is manipulative. Not only that, but it is also totally outside of what the Bible means when it talks about the mother of God.

      I would say that, ultimately, our differences in Sola Scriptura is what lays behind our differences on these issues. If scripture is allowed to present its own view of reality, then the answers are obvious. However, if apostolic tradition must determine a priori the world of the text, that changes everything.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    144. Adam
      January 24th, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

      ron david metcalf,

      I seem to hear you saying that Mary is divine because any anti-Trinitarian doctrine is Universal, including Judaism. Is this close to correct?

      No, I don’t believe Mary is divine. What I was dealing with is whether Jesus, in Mary’s womb, was fully divine and fully human, or whether his divinity and humanity can be separated from each other such that only his humanity was in the womb [or worse, Kyzersoze's position, that Mary could not have been theotokos because Jesus was not divine]. However, to then say that Mary is divine is absurd, and neither the scriptures of the Old or New Testament even begin to go there.

      First, look at the Hebrew variations of ALHYM and YHWH in Genesis, including Abram’s revelation reuniting with Melchizadek’s revelation in the mystery covenant; then, much later, ADNWY is introduced, which Jesus alludes to in David’s prophetic song “The LORD said to my Lord…” This, at least, gives a quick example of an OT “trinity”, which of course can get as involved as as many verses you want to study.

      I would be concerned about this line of reasoning, mostly because of the fact that it assumes that, just because a different word is used, that a different semantic nuance is meant. Even if it were the case that Adonay is later, one would have to show that what is meant by it is something distinct from YHWH or Elohim.

      Now the traditional edict of “separate but equal” is the part I personally don’t find Scriptural. Jesus specifically saying, “The Father is greater…” I would say challenges the Trinity view that has brought us to the present. I don’t normally even mention this because I am not anti-trinitarian; but not in this ‘official’ sense that believe has caused many problems (such as ‘axing’ Judaism).

      Ron, classical Trinitarianism has always recognized the fact that the son took a subordinate *role* when he came to this earth, without giving up his divine essence [Philippians 2:7]. He laid aside many of the privileges he had in heaven in order to pitch his tent among us. However, what Jesus is talking about in that passage is his return to the Father, and the fact that they should be glad, because he is going back to the position he once had. However, although he took on a subordinate role in redemption, that does not mean that, in terms of his essence, he was not God.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    145. ron david metcalf
      January 24th, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

      Adam,
      Sorry for not getting back to you right away. A few other things to do, and then I went over the whole blog to see if I missed something. I wasn’t familiar with the ‘ark of covenant’ or ‘theotokos’ concepts concerning Mary, so the ‘divine womb’ was more what I was getting at than the traditional Catholic teachings (sinless, immaculately conceived). You agree to this former?
      Is it necessary to divide the Godhead into EQUAL thirds? “To whom has the Arm of the LORD been revealed?” This, along with the many references to the Right(eous) Hand of GOD, seems more clear to my mind compared to an all-encompassing Spirit (“GOD is Spirit…”) So HEART (universe-filling) to heart (individual temple indwelling) is also Trinity, as (Father) GOD SAID (WORD and RWcH BREATH combined) explains “the Firstborn of creation” as the BRIDGE between the Ever Uncreated and the creation.
      Now I must be extremely careful not to over-allegorize. One of my propositions is that Protestantism over-reacted to Catholicism and produced cults such as Jehovahs Witness, Mormonism, Christian Science, and similar all about the same time. Freemasonry began earlier, but seems to be a link. In studying Masonry recently in its similarities to LDS, I find that necromancy is one of the key components of the former, and “passwords” to heaven prevalent in the latter (the Endowment). This, in turn, refers one to the Holy of Holies as the bridal chamber. We must separate the sacred from the profane here, and it isn’t always easy. There are many ‘symbols’ which are used in various Orthodox rituals (established religion rather than Sola Scriptura) that can be as complex as Solomon himself (representing Jesus in Song of Songs and satan in Revelation’s 666, the amount of gold he received as tribute). To put it in modern context, this all can be as puzzling as Todd Bentley.
      In Him, Ron M.

    146. Kyzersoze
      January 24th, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

      Adam

      Again, you are not understanding the multifaceted nature of language. There is no doubt that the concept of Jesus’ lordship is messianic, but where are you getting this idea that it cannot also be divine?

      All I am trying to communicate here is this: you cannot be ‘Messiah God’ or ‘Messiah YHWH’. Why? Because BY DEFINITION the Messiah can only be a human being and NOT some angel and especially not God Himself. Messiah means “the Anointed one OF God”. Is this too hard?

    147. Jason Engwer
      January 24th, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

      Why does John keep repeating arguments that have already been refuted? And why does he keep posting quotes without telling us where his sources said what he’s quoting? Why would he quote sources from the fourth century and later on Mary’s perpetual virginity while ignoring so much of what we documented about earlier sources in previous posts?

      I answer John’s citations of Revelation 5, Hippolytus, and Origen in the Triablogue material I cited earlier. John is misrepresenting every one of these sources. His quote from Hermas doesn’t even come from Hermas. It comes from Hippolytus, and he’s misreading what Hippolytus wrote. So, John has cited the wrong source, doesn’t tell us where the quote came from within that source’s writings, and is misinterpreting what the actual source of the quote said. And his quote of Origen isn’t even relevant. Saying that individuals in Heaven pray for us isn’t equivalent to saying that we pray to them. In reality, Origen explicitly and repeatedly condemns prayer to the deceased and angels.

      For those who are interested in more about Revelation 5, Hippolytus, Origen, and other early sources on this subject, search Google for a March 6, 2011 post at Triablogue titled “A Christian View Of Prayer”. Regarding Revelation 5:8, see my June 9, 2008 post titled “Attempts To Make A Biblical Case For Prayers To The Dead”. On Hippolytus, see my March 19, 2006 post titled “Some Clarifications On Prayers To The Saints”. For more about Origen’s view of prayer, see the posts about him linked at the first page mentioned in this paragraph.

      John, you need to do more research, provide more documentation for your assertions, and make more of an effort to be accurate in the claims you make.

    148. R. Kneubuhl
      January 24th, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

      When I listened to this show, there was a woman who called in that had been a Catholic for something like 40 years and who had believed that Mary was a mediator. I think that the scripture is clear that there is only one mediator. His name is Yeshua, born in Bethlehem, the only Son of God. The woman that called in to the radio show mentioned how the Holy Spirit helped her believe the truth which is that Mary is not our mediator, but the mother of our Lord Jesus, favored by the Almighty. I believe that the Holy Spirit truly is the main ingredient. We all have many influential people in our lives who shape our own perceptions of life. Without the Holy Spirit, we won’t be able to affect the heart of man like the influence the Holy Spirit has in our own lives. Why do we have division in this universe? There is only one truth, but everyone does not agree with only one truth. We need the Holy Spirit to lead us to the only one truth. We grew up with a lot of people who were influential in our lives. I think that God has a lot of work to change us.

      God bless,
      Robert

    149. ron david metcalf
      January 25th, 2012 @ 8:57 am

      Kyzersoze,
      I now understand that Adam’s ‘divine’ debate is in relation to your last statement, that by definition Messiah can ONLY be human, and that he answers with Trinitarian doctrine. But I don’t think even Orthodox rabbis share your view, as they, as most Catholics and Protestants, look to the (second) coming of Messiah FROM HEAVEN to signal the end of old days and the beginning of new. What is the point of ‘anointing’ without Salvation? You have to look at Isaiah as a complete unit, not pick-and-choose: Immanuel, God-with-us, cannot be separated from the Branch or the Suffering Servant; one theme flows into another, the only exception being the historical record concerning Hezekiah.
      Mary, miracle shrines, and Vatican politics all relate to Queen of Heaven theology: anointing and salvation by assimulation (‘catholic’ mass substantiation in mystery communion). Most Cardinals, in contrast, are clerics. Protestant evangelicals, charismatics, and pentecostals (also in mainstream denominations, but not as much) have their own dichotomy: revival and apologetics. Dr. Brown has been heavily involved in both, and it is his perogative on how to proceed from here. My own testimony has many cross-threads between the ecumenical, including Catholicism because of my wife, but also my mentor (how did a Protestant get diocese Bishop authority to minister at a Cathedral?); and now, within the last week, known Revivalists have officially joined with Catholics concerning national politics. This all needs sorting out. But, sir, your claim that Messiah can ONLY be human would be considered heresy in MOST circles, Jewish and Christian. Correct me if I am wrong.
      In Him, Ron M.

    150. Kyzersoze
      January 25th, 2012 @ 10:51 am

      RDM

      What is the point of ‘anointing’ without Salvation?

      Maybe its just me so I’ll give y’all the benefit of the doubt and will try again to explain the simple point I am trying to get across.

      The Catholic-Protestant believe is that Mary [somehow] gave birth to “God the Son”, the 2nd Person of the Trinity. Yet, they disagree on whether or not it is right and proper to call Mary “the mother of God”. Protestants prefer to say that she gave birth to “the body”.

      Be that as it may, my point is that Jesus’ lordship is prefaced by his GIVEN title of Messiah, which means one who is anointed by God. Be definition, Messiah throughout the scriptures is ONLY used in reference to human beings. For example, the OT precedence was to choose a person from the nation of Israel to be King. That person in turn was literally anointed with oil and thus became YHWH’s Messiah.

      According to the virgin birth accounts, Mary gave birth to the promised Messiah of the OT scriptures. Nowhere are we told that she birth to anyone else but a human who is called THE Son of God. He is “the LORD/YHWH’s Messiah” according to Luke 2.26 and NOT “the LORD/YHWH Messiah” or “Messiah God”.

      Am I making any sense to anyone on here?

    151. Kyzersoze
      January 25th, 2012 @ 10:53 am

      CORRECTION: By definition, Messiah throughout the scriptures is ONLY used in reference to human beings.

    152. ron david metcalf
      January 25th, 2012 @ 11:44 am

      Kingship, kingdoms, King of Kings, LORD of Lords.
      In my backslidden state many years ago, which lasted longer than it should have (my own stubbornness) I pondered whether Jesus could have been born human (only), seen the Law and Prophets, and accepted the challenge. After the last 22+ years of rededication, my answer is ‘No’: way too brutal, beyond comprehension of ego and superego; I haven’t even wanted to endure what I have had to! I am part of the 1%; 99 out of 100 marriages don’t survive what we have had to go through. If you think that’s bragging, or that Paul was bragging, you’re insane; and insanity can’t account for the pride it would take to assume self-annihilation for THE position of Godship; even suicide jihadists and Buddhists monks don’t assume that superiority- only Lucifer (in Isaiah). So I guess my ‘duh’ didn’t take into account that kind of audacity.
      In Him, Ron M.

    153. John
      January 25th, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

      Jason, the problem with your argument is that you ignore the obvious. All the ancient churches today that had some kind of history with the first Church ALL see prayer to the saints as a given. You blame me for not having earlier sources but you fail to realize that for 300 years the Church was under persecution making it difficult to express publicly all the details of what the Church holds to. You also fail to realize that the references to prayer to the saints are found within the patristic literature while citations to equating necromancy to prayer to the saints is next to nothing. You think the burden of proof is on me to prove to you that the practice existed in the early Church, which it clearly does, yet you provide no evidence for the opposite view as if it should be the biblical conclusion to believe your view even though the Church that canonized your scriptures are cited as seeing prayer to saints as a legitimate practice. You keep trying to equate necromancy with prayer to the saints yet cannot see the that they are not the same thing. You acknowledge that prayer is being brought before God in “golden bowls full of incense” by the elders in heaven, but you still ask the question “why should we think that they can even hear our prayers”. It should be obvious to you by now in Rev. 5:8 that at least the elders are aware of the prayers of those on earth.

      In Revelation 6:10 we read, “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” We also see here that the martyrs in heaven are praying to God. I only cite this for you to realize the state of those martyrs who depart from this earthly life and that they are able and do still pray.

      In Rev. 8:3,4 we read, “An another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayer s of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of god. And the the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.” The context of these saints are those that are washed in the blood of the Lamb having gone through the great tribulation. John is seeing these things taking place before the throne of God.

      Do you believe in the Trinity? The Saints who fought and died for the deity of Christ, the incarnation and the Trinity believed in prayer to the saints. The sources that you provide are people who were condemned for their false teachings, such as Origen and Tertullian. The mainstream Church anathematized Origen, and Tertullian was seen as a schismatic for joining a sect that believed that once you fall into sin after being baptized that you could not be redeemed.

      Some quotes on prayer to the saints after the Church came out of the catacombs declaring what it believed by those who fought and some even died for the faith:

      “Let us be mutually mindful of each other, let us ever pray for each other, and if one of us shall, by the speediness of the Divine vouchsafement, depart hence first, let our love continue in the presence of the Lord, let not prayer for our brethren and sister cease in the presence of the mercy of the Father.” St. Cyprian writing to Cornelius of Rome page 358 in P.L.

      “To those who would fain stand, neither the guardianship of saints nor the defenses of angels are wanting.” St. Hilary of Poitiers in “Psalm 124″ 5,6 page 682

      “In one of his letters, St. Basil[The Great] explicitly writes that he accepts the intercession of the apostles, prophets and martyrs, and he seeks their prayer to God. then, speaking about the Forty Martyrs, who suffered martyrdom for Christ, he emphasizes that they are common friends of the human race, strong ambassadors and collaborators in fervent prayers.” St. Athanasius the Great (Letter 360 Chapter 8)

      “Remember me, he heirs of God, ye brethren of Christ, supplicate the Saviour earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day.” St. Ephraim the Syrian in “De Timore Anim”

      “At the Lord’s table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps.” St. Augustine in Joann page 1847

      “When thou perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies . . . but to His friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power.” St. John Chrysostom “Adv. Jud.” page 937

      “We then commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, that God, by their prayers and intercessions, may receive our petitions.” St. Cyril “Cat. Myst.” page 1166

      “We beseech you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered torments and death for his love, and are now more familiarly united to him, that you intercede with God for us slothful and wretched sinners, that he bestow on us the grace of Christ, by which we may be enlightened and enabled to love him.” St. Basil the Great “Homily on the Forty Soldier Martyrs of Sebaste” page 341

      The evidence speaks for itself.

    154. Jason Engwer
      January 25th, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

      John,

      You’ve once again failed to interact with the counterarguments. Instead, you repeat arguments already refuted and bring up new arguments that are likewise erroneous.

      You write:

      “All the ancient churches today that had some kind of history with the first Church ALL see prayer to the saints as a given.”

      Biological or organizational continuity doesn’t prove continuity of belief or practice. See, for example, 2 Kings 22:8-13 and Nehemiah 8:13-17. The popularity of prayer to the dead today among particular groups doesn’t prove that it was popular, or even existed, among the earliest Christians.

      If you’re thinking of groups that claim some sort of apostolic succession, there’s a wide diversity of them. There are Anglicans, Lutherans, and others who are non-Roman-Catholic and non-Eastern-Orthodox who claim some form of apostolic succession. Gregory Rogers, an Eastern Orthodox pastor, notes:

      “This [the Western view of apostolic succession] has led to the proliferation of numerous groups, usually small, who claim to be in the apostolic succession but are in communion with no one. These bishops are called episcopi vagantes, wandering bishops.” (Apostolic Succession [Ben Lomond, California: Conciliar Press, 1994], 33-34)

      But let’s single out Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy for the moment, for the sake of argument. The contradictions between those two groups prove that tracing an alleged organizational lineage from the apostles doesn’t assure a group of doctrinal continuity or correctness.

      By the way, I’ve written a lengthy series of posts on apostolic succession at Triablogue. That series documents the unreliability of the concept as it’s advocated by modern groups like Catholicism and Orthodoxy. See my March 14, 2010 post titled “Apostolic Succession”.

      You write:

      “You blame me for not having earlier sources but you fail to realize that for 300 years the Church was under persecution making it difficult to express publicly all the details of what the Church holds to.”

      We have thousands of pages of literature from the ante-Nicene era, including entire treatises on the subject of prayer from multiple authors. They discuss the subject at length and in a large variety of contexts. They don’t advocate your view, but instead explicitly and repeatedly contradict it.

      The early persecutions of the church were far too geographically and chronologically limited to have the significance you’re suggesting. The Roman Catholic scholar Joseph Kelly writes:

      “In fact, 99 percent of Christians lived and died in peace. Many became prominent locally, and some went well beyond that. In 258, when he initiated a short-lived persecution, the emperor Valerian (253-60) first removed all the Christians from the Roman senate, proof that Christians had reached that high level of Roman society. Diocletian (283-305) launched a persecution in 303, supposedly because Christian members of the imperial court crossed themselves to avoid blasphemy when the emperor was presiding over a pagan sacrifice….Although few endured persecution, all Christians had to live with the possibility of it, and many Romans never fully trusted them. There were martyrs, but, in general, Christians lived in peace in the empire.” (The Ecumenical Councils Of The Catholic Church [Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2009], 13)

      Besides, what does persecution have to do with discussing prayers to the dead? Why would persecution prevent the early Christians from discussing the topic or prevent non-Christian sources from mentioning it when discussing Christianity? Instead, the pagan critic Celsus objects to the Christian practice of praying only to God. How does your persecution argument explain that fact? It doesn’t.

      You write:

      “You think the burden of proof is on me to prove to you that the practice existed in the early Church, which it clearly does, yet you provide no evidence for the opposite view as if it should be the biblical conclusion to believe your view even though the Church that canonized your scriptures are cited as seeing prayer to saints as a legitimate practice.”

      I gave you citations of Triablogue articles in which I argue for patristic opposition to prayers to the dead at length. You keep ignoring that material. You’ve also ignored most of what I’ve said about the Biblical evidence.

      You bring up the canon again, but you continue to ignore the Triablogue material I cited on the subject earlier. And how is the canon even relevant here? Are you suggesting that you can’t agree with somebody’s canon unless you agree with him about everything else? If so, explain why. The earliest extant source who mentions the twenty-seven-book New Testament canon probably is Origen, around the middle of the third century. And he repeatedly contradicted your beliefs, including on prayers to the dead. Should we conclude that you ought to agree with Origen on those other subjects, since you agree with his New Testament canon? What about Athanasius, for example? You reject his Old Testament canon, yet you agree with his New Testament canon. Why can you agree with such individuals on some issues while disagreeing with them on others, but I can’t?

      You write:

      “You keep trying to equate necromancy with prayer to the saints yet cannot see the that they are not the same thing.”

      You need to interact with the counterarguments I’ve already given you instead of repeating the same refuted assertion over and over.

      You write:

      “It should be obvious to you by now in Rev. 5:8 that at least the elders are aware of the prayers of those on earth.”

      The text doesn’t tell us whether they’re aware of the content of the prayers. And how are you getting from the elders of Revelation 5 to deceased believers in general or Mary in particular, the subjects I was addressing earlier?

      What about the four living creatures mentioned in Revelation 5:8? If the passage supports prayer to the dead, does it also support prayer to those creatures? If so, how often have you prayed to them? Probably never. How often have you even prayed to the elders mentioned in that passage?

      You write:

      “We also see here that the martyrs in heaven are praying to God. I only cite this for you to realize the state of those martyrs who depart from this earthly life and that they are able and do still pray.”

      That’s not a point in dispute. I cited Revelation 6 myself earlier. You keep bringing up Biblical and patristic passages that make points that I’m not disputing. The fact that you keep returning to undisputed points, as if they further your argument, while you continually fail to demonstrate what’s disputed about your position, tells us something.

      You write:

      “Do you believe in the Trinity? The Saints who fought and died for the deity of Christ, the incarnation and the Trinity believed in prayer to the saints.”

      The Biblical and early patristic sources who didn’t believe in praying to the dead also taught concepts like the deity of Christ, His incarnation, and Trinitarianism.

      You write:

      “The sources that you provide are people who were condemned for their false teachings, such as Origen and Tertullian.”

      I’ve already addressed the alleged schismatic status of Tertullian. Once again, you’re ignoring counterarguments that you’ve already been given.

      On Tertullian, see my March 19, 2011 Triablogue post titled “The Significance Of Tertullian”. On Origen, see my October 27, 2008 post titled “The Significance Of Origen”.

      And I notice that you had no problem with citing Origen when it served your purposes. Your post 140 above cites him, erroneously, in support of your view of prayer. But now you criticize me for citing him.

      Tertullian and Origen aren’t the only sources I’ve cited on this subject. The Triablogue articles I’ve mentioned also document evidence from the Biblical authors, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Lactantius, and other sources.

      You write:

      “The mainstream Church anathematized Origen, and Tertullian was seen as a schismatic for joining a sect that believed that once you fall into sin after being baptized that you could not be redeemed.”

      I’ve already refuted your attempt to dismiss Tertullian and Origen. But I should also note that the belief you’re condemning Tertullian for was held in his form or a modified form by other church fathers, including Hermas. And Hermas was one of the other church fathers you (erroneously) cited in support of your view of prayer in post 140. Why the double standard? If you can cite sources like Hermas and Origen, why can’t I?

      You go on to cite some other patristic sources. Only one of them is earlier than the fourth century. That’s Cyprian. And your quote of Cyprian says nothing about praying to the dead. You keep confusing categories. As I document in the Triablogue material cited earlier, the evidence suggests that Cyprian didn’t believe in prayer to the dead. He wrote an entire treatise on the subject, in which he describes prayer as something directed to God and not to any other being, and he often discusses prayer in other places. He doesn’t advocate praying to the dead, which is why you have to cite an irrelevant passage in which he discusses prayers of the dead, which isn’t the subject at hand.

      Since I don’t deny that prayer to the dead was popular in the fourth century and later, your quotes from such late sources don’t have much relevance. But even some of your quotes of those later sources aren’t even addressing prayers to the dead. Why do you keep citing so many irrelevant passages?

      At least you’re now offering more documentation for your quotes. But some problems remain. You cite page numbers without citing any book that the numbers are associated with, for example. It looks like you’ve lifted your quotes from a web site without having looked up the passages yourself and probably without knowing much about the fathers or their works that you’re quoting.

    155. Adam
      January 25th, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

      John,

      I have to get to bed, because I work the early shift tomorrow, but let me just say that, just because someone lived in the early church, that does not make them a good exegete. Look at some of the exegetical [and I use that term very loosely] work that was done by the Alexandrian school. Most of it is the biggest bunch of nonsense you will ever read. There was clearly no conception of anything even remotely resembling how language operates, and was largely based upon the same neo-Platonic philosophy that the perpetual virginity was. Allegory ruled the day, to the point where you could find anything in the text.

      Also, you keep quoting these texts from Revelation without even beginning to take into consideration the literary background of the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation, as apocalyptic literature, has a theme of God as the king ruling over the events of the world. Another major theme is his people in some kind of difficulty or trouble [the tribulation in the book of Revelation]. The point is, given that God is sovereign in apocalyptic, and given that these are God’s people looking to him for redemption, it is rather odd that they would be praying to saints. That would be completely out of place in the middle of a book stressing the sovereignty of God in Jesus Christ, and the people of God trusting him to deliver them from their distress.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    156. Timotheus
      January 25th, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

      As a former evangelical (now reverted to Catholicism) I still from time to time return to this blog–I learned so much from Dr. Brown and continue to have a profound respect for his work (Countering the Countermissionaries was a true joy to watch).

      John,

      I’ve enjoyed and truly appreciate your posts (especially since I cannot stay and interact at the time). I know you are tending towards Eastern Orthodoxy so clearly we must differ on some major points. Nevertheless, all of your patristic citations have been right on point–the weight of the evidence you’ve brought forth from the Church Fathers for prayers to the saints (the departed who have made it into heaven)etc being a normative practice of the ancient Church more than sufficiently proves your point. As you’ve also noted, necromancy (as the etymology of the word points to) is by definition the summoning forth of the dead. We do not believe that the saints are dead–they are ALIVE, just as our Lord Jesus said to the Sadducees concerning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob centuries after they’d departed from this earthly life: “have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.” When we talk to the departed (who remain and also will remain members of the same body of which we are members–the Church)and we ask them to bring our petitions before God, we are in principle doing what we do when we ask a Christian sitting in the pew next to us at church to pray for us (of course we don’t see the faces of the departed like we see the face of a Christian sitting next to us in the pew but, nevertheless, we believe they can hear us beacuse they are alive, and in a quite a good position to pray for us–we want their prayers).

      Jesus is fully God and fully man but He is one Person; Mary is the Mother of this Person; lest we fall into the heresy of Nestorianism we call Mary, the Mother of our Lord God Jesus Christ, “the Mother of God.” No one believes that she generated the Eternal Logos from her womb (He existed for all eternity with the Father and Holy Spirit), but neither is she merely–nor any mother, for that matter–the mother of “the body” (that’s really a chilling thought..)–she is the mother of a single person with two natures: Jesus Christ, fully God, fully man. She is the Mother of God.

      Once more, John, I’m Catholic so we clearly must have our differences. Nevertheless, I can see that you’re sincerely following the truth whereever He (for, thanks be to God, the Truth is a Person) leads you.. As a former evangelical (really until just over a year ago until my Lord called me home to Rome) I can tell you that where sola scriptura is the guiding principle, no evidence you bring forth from the Fathers (unless it confirms the evangelical positions (plural because there are virtually as many positions on any point as there are are evangelicals–each, in effect, being a “church of one”) will be considered little weight: it will rather confirm in their minds (as it used to in mine) just how corrupted–i.e. increasingly “catholic in appearance”–the church BECAME once it became tainted by the “traditions of men” (a process which, it seems, began precisely one second past 96 AD). Of course we’re all more than happy to accept the Scriptures canonized by that same degenerate Church in the 4th century AD!(and then equipped with the Bible to invoke sola scriptura–nowhere to be found in the Bible; it took me awhile, with God’s grace, to accept this). The Scriptures did not come equipped with a table of contents but, thanks be to Jesus, He solidly founded His Church (upon Petros)to add the authoritative table of contents (in the 4th century AD) to give us our Holy Bible; the Church is Jesus’ mystical body–God did, in this sense, add the table of contents through His body the Church. Thanks be to God that Luther did not succeed in design to remove books from the New Testament!

      Finally (sorry to depart on this note) I want to share with all that one of the many factors that God used to lead me back home to Rome was showing me that the one point that all my fellow evangelicals seemed to agree upon was the the Catholic Church could not possibly be the true Church.. If anyone had told me 1 1/2 years ago, “you will be a born again Catholic next year,” I would have said, “impossible!” But thanks be to the the Lord Jesus Christ, that with God, nothing is impossible!

    157. Kyzersoze
      January 26th, 2012 @ 9:02 am

      Timotheus

      Jesus is fully God and fully man but He is one Person; Mary is the Mother of this Person

      So Mary IS the mother of God since she gave birth to the “one Person”.

    158. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 26th, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

      Wow. I just checked back here after a few days, and it still stuns me to the same points being restated even after some of us make totally clear why we reject the logic and the statement. Perhaps there’s a more fruitful way to dialog that yields to progress in each other’s understandings rather than constantly re-asserting dogmatic points? Anyway, I’m checking back out of here and won’t be able to engage, but if I wanted to do what others are doing, I would just restate one thing: THE ETERNAL ALMIGHTY GOD WHO CREATED ALL THINGS DOESN’T HAVE A MOTHER. :)

    159. ron david metcalf
      January 26th, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

      Yes, Dr. Brown, but part of this debate, separating the clergy/cleric hermaneutics, is the NEED of the masses for a Mother who will ‘absorb’ even a godfather mobster’s (e.g.) sins into a ‘catholic’ forgiveness; thus preserving both the hierarchy and the individual’s right to do whatever they please and get away with it. This is the ‘mystical’ nature of what I have been studying lately, and why the Bible’s individual responsibility is so hated by thos who prefer this all-encompassing ‘salvation’. Revelation calls it ‘whore of Babylon’; this may repulse many presently blogging; but isn’t that the gulf of separation we are eventually coming to?
      My mother-in-law, now 90 1/2, is a devout Catholic, and there is no way I (not being the Judge anyway) could condemn her to hell; but then, I know that she knows Jesus.
      It is this bowing to the Pope business that concerns me greatly; and don’t tell me that it doesn’t extend to senior pastors in protestant circles.
      In Him, Ron M.

    160. Jason Engwer
      January 26th, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

      Timotheus wrote:

      “Nevertheless, all of your patristic citations have been right on point–the weight of the evidence you’ve brought forth from the Church Fathers for prayers to the saints (the departed who have made it into heaven)etc being a normative practice of the ancient Church more than sufficiently proves your point.”

      That’s a remarkable assessment, given that even John has acknowledged that not all of his patristic citations have been correct. He misrepresented Hippolytus regarding ark of the covenant typology, as he’s since admitted. On another occasion, he attributed a passage from Hipplolytus to Hermas. And the passage didn’t even say what he suggested it did, meaning that his citation was doubly erroneous. He cited Origen, but then criticized me for citing the same source. Many of his citations haven’t even been relevant to the subjects under discussion. Many of his quotes haven’t been documented or have only been partially documented. He’s largely ignored the patristic evidence I’ve cited. On prayers to the dead, the only relevant passages he’s cited have been from sources of later centuries, which don’t refute my argument. Etc. If John’s poor handling of the patristic evidence impresses you, it’s no wonder you’re a Roman Catholic.

      You write:

      “As you’ve also noted, necromancy (as the etymology of the word points to) is by definition the summoning forth of the dead.”

      Like John, you ignore the counterarguments that have already been provided. The Biblical passages under consideration (e.g., Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Isaiah 8:19, 19:3) use a variety of terms. Your comment on one English term, necromancy, is a ridiculously insufficient explanation of the Biblical passages in question.

      You write:

      “We do not believe that the saints are dead–they are ALIVE”

      They’re also dead, as I documented early in this discussion. Scripture tells us that deceased believers are alive in one sense, but dead in another sense. I’ve documented that fact. I’ve also explained why we should conclude that passages condemning attempts to contact the deceased are about the physically dead, not the spiritually dead. Once again, you’re ignoring what’s already been said.

      You write:

      “we are in principle doing what we do when we ask a Christian sitting in the pew next to us at church to pray for us”

      You need to interact with what I said earlier about a Christian in the United States praying to a Christian in China, the lack of evidence for deceased believers’ ability to hear our prayers, etc.

      You write:

      “of course we don’t see the faces of the departed like we see the face of a Christian sitting next to us in the pew but, nevertheless, we believe they can hear us beacuse they are alive”

      Christians living in China are alive as well. Do you pray to them?

      You write:

      “As a former evangelical (really until just over a year ago until my Lord called me home to Rome) I can tell you that where sola scriptura is the guiding principle, no evidence you bring forth from the Fathers (unless it confirms the evangelical positions (plural because there are virtually as many positions on any point as there are are evangelicals–each, in effect, being a ‘church of one’) will be considered little weight”

      Given the demonstrably false nature of your claims about the church fathers, nobody should trust your assessment.

      You write:

      “He solidly founded His Church (upon Petros)to add the authoritative table of contents (in the 4th century AD) to give us our Holy Bible”

      Then why did church fathers, councils, and other sources continue to disagree with your canon after its alleged authoritative establishment in the fourth century? As I mentioned earlier, the council of Carthage late in the fourth century seemed to include the Septuagint version of 1 Esdras in its canon, which is a different book than the Vulgate version of 1 Esdras later canonized by Roman Catholicism. Gregory the Great, a Roman bishop who lived after the fourth century, denied the canonicity of 1 Maccabees. As the Roman Catholic patristic scholar Joseph Lienhard notes:

      “For the first fifteen centuries of Christianity, no Christian Church put forth a definitive list of biblical books. Most Christians had followed St. Augustine and included the ‘Apocrypha’ in the canon, but St. Jerome, who excluded them, had always had his defenders.” (The Bible, The Church, And Authority [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1995], 59)

      Bruce Metzger wrote:

      “But, as evidence from subsequent writers reveals, not all in the Church were ready to accept precisely the canon as identified by Athanasius, and throughout the following centuries there were minor fluctuations in the East as well as in the West.” (The Canon Of The New Testament [New York: Oxford University Press, 1997], 7-8)

      And these post-fourth-century sources don’t just disagree over the Old Testament. They disagree over the New Testament as well. Your claim that there was an “authoritative table of contents” given in the fourth century is unproven and widely contradicted by the evidence.

      You should have done more research before converting to Roman Catholicism. Apparently, you converted on the basis of a lot of misinformation.

    161. Kyzersoze
      January 26th, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

      Dr Browm

      THE ETERNAL ALMIGHTY GOD WHO CREATED ALL THINGS DOESN’T HAVE A MOTHER

      Yet…Jesus IS God!

      GO FIGURE. :P

    162. Konstantin
      January 27th, 2012 @ 2:36 am

      Christian Theology 101:

      When Christ became a man, he added another nature – a human nature. Nothing was subtracted from His divine nature.
      Orthodox historical Christian doctrine holds that Jesus had TWO natures – human and divine. To make it more mindboggling – 100% human and 100% divine.
      So, to answer Kyzersoze, motherhood of Mary to Jesus is, in my mind, similar to other attributes of human nature of Jesus. That is, Jesus ate, slept, wept, felt hunger, etc etc. In the same manner He had human mother. That about it.
      Of course Jesus existed before Marry was born, or for that matter before any human person was existed.
      To make things easier, let’s not forget or confuse this.

      Why is this a doctrine of serious importance. Well, Muslims would ask: “does God go to bathroom?”, then “did Jesus go to bathroom?”. Well, since Islam had borrowed from various Christian heresies and various distortions of Christianity (i.e. picking on some Gnostic stories of early Jesus’ life, etc.) and Judaism, it (Islam) does NOT GET the fact that there are two natures at play. And since they can’t get it, many things for them seem oxymoronic or illogical. Only in light of correct christian theology can such confusion be fixed. Of course in divine nature Jesus did not feel hunger, only in human. Of course in human nature He didn’t do miracles, only in divine.
      I don’t want to downplay neither of the two, as being human and divine He formed perfect bridge between human and divine.
      But does it make Mary a ‘Mother of God’? It is hard to see how.

    163. Dan1el
      January 27th, 2012 @ 2:43 am

      Konstantin,
      Have you ever considered that all flesh originated from God; that it is impossible for it to “add” anything to the Divine, therefore (divinity, being its source)??
      That there is nothing “alien” about flesh, to God?

    164. Kyzersoze
      January 27th, 2012 @ 8:19 am

      Konstantin

      When Christ became a man, he added another nature – a human nature.

      Does this mean that the Godhead underwent a change at the Incarnation? i.e., adding a human nature to itself. And what does this say regarding the immutability of God?

    165. John
      January 27th, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

      Jason,

      I already read your feeble attempts at disputing prayer to the saints at your site: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/03/some-clarifications-on-prayers-to.html

      The only citation you give is of St. Hyppolytus which doesn’t help your argument at all. You need to realize that you are not providing ANY references that equate prayer to the saints with necromancy in the early Church. I have given many references that CLEARLY show that prayer to the saints was a norm in the early Church by giving about ten references and you have provided none that speak of prayer to saints as being an act of communing with the dead.

      I’m not merely continuing to make assertions for the sake of doing so, but in light of your lack of evidence and relying on your own interpretation of one questionable reference you are treading water.

      In your “triablogue”, you use websites in your references when disputing the view of Mary as the Mother of God and you hypocritically assume I used a website as a reference and try to discount my argument. That shows us something about your tactics in trying to prove a point. I also noticed that many ‘orthodox’ responses have been deleted from your triablogue and I’m not sure why.

    166. Trentin
      January 28th, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

      @Jason or anyone who can help, do you know of any references in the early church fathers that talk about prayer to the dead or any other early church leader where we can see that prayer to the saints is just a form of pagan practice of communing with the dead? I think it will help the catholics see that even some of their writings show that prayer to saints is not an early christian practice. Thanks.

    167. Kyzersoze
      January 30th, 2012 @ 7:53 am

      hello?

    168. Dan1el
      January 30th, 2012 @ 8:48 am

      Kyzersoze,
      Hello!

    169. Kyzersoze
      January 30th, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

      Trentin

      do you know of any references in the early church fathers that talk about prayer to the dead or any other early church leader where we can see that prayer to the saints is just a form of pagan practice of communing with the dead?

      Most of the known early “Church Fathers” did not even believe in the immortal soul doctrine that overtook later Catholicism & prevails in Protestantism:

      If you meet some who say that their souls go to heaven when they die, do not believe that they are Christians. Dialogue with Trypho, Justin Martyr, ch. 80.

      For the heretics, not admitting the salvation of their flesh, affirm that immediately upon their death they shall pass above the heavens.

      Those persons, therefore, who reject a resurrection affecting the whole man, and do their best to remove it from the Christian scheme, know nothing as to the plan of resurrection. Against Heresies, Iraneus, Book 5.

      For further info check out: http://www.afterlife.co.nz/about-us/

    170. Victrolus
      January 30th, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

      ….Hello.
      ….I am getting to this thread late, but reading with interest. I heard Dr. Michael Brown’s Mary-centered radio show a couple of weeks ago.

      One point of confusion that I wished to address…A Pope has to do MORE, –considerably more– than simply mention a Marian expression or title in a Church document before it can be said to be a dogma of the Catholic Church– dogmas being articles of faith which all Catholics are bound to believe.

      It must be said that Dr. Brown did not make this Catholic truism clear on his radio show. For example, he quoted Pius IX’s Innefabilis Deus as proof that Mary-as-Co-Redemptrix is Catholic belief… there are FOUR Marian dogmas, and Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix are not among them.

      Pius IX mentioned ‘Co-Redemptrix’ in passing in 1854′s Innefabilis Deus, but the -shall we say- meaty part was the solemn and infallibly phrased declaration within that document of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. It thus established the third of the four dogmas… Pius XII’s establishment of Mary’s Assumption was the fourth and last.

      Should this confusion about lumping Marian dogmas together with lesser ‘pieties’ be the subject of a new, different thread?

      “Mother of God” is one of the four Marian dogmas, by the way. I think that John described it well.

    171. Jason Engwer
      January 31st, 2012 @ 5:22 am

      John wrote:

      “The only citation you give is of St. Hyppolytus which doesn’t help your argument at all. You need to realize that you are not providing ANY references that equate prayer to the saints with necromancy in the early Church. I have given many references that CLEARLY show that prayer to the saints was a norm in the early Church by giving about ten references and you have provided none that speak of prayer to saints as being an act of communing with the dead.”

      As I’ve explained before, “equating prayer to the saints with necromancy” isn’t the only way of contradicting your position. Your view could also be contradicted by saying that we can only pray to God, by denying that deceased believers can hear our prayers, etc. There are multiple ways to contradict your view, and your suggestion that the church fathers need to contradict it in a particular way is absurd.

      I’ve cited more than one article at Triablogue. You’re responding to just one of them, and you’re only interacting with a small portion of that one article. And your response to that one portion of that one article is faulty.

      You write:

      “In your ‘triablogue’, you use websites in your references when disputing the view of Mary as the Mother of God and you hypocritically assume I used a website as a reference and try to discount my argument.”

      I didn’t say that it’s unacceptable to use a web site. I included further qualifiers that you’re ignoring. You need to interact with what I actually said.

      You write:

      “I also noticed that many ‘orthodox’ responses have been deleted from your triablogue and I’m not sure why.”

      A poster by the screen name of Orthodox was banned for violating the rules of the blog. His posts are hidden, but are still viewable if you go to the posting screen.

      I can understand why you’d want to read his posts. You haven’t come up with any good arguments on your own, so you’re looking for somebody else to give you some. You won’t find any in Orthodox’s posts, but you can try if you want.

    172. Jason Engwer
      January 31st, 2012 @ 5:26 am

      Trentin,

      I discuss the church fathers and prayer to the dead at length in the Triablogue threads I cited earlier. Go back to my earlier posts in this thread to find the references.

    173. Jason Engwer
      January 31st, 2012 @ 5:51 am

      Kyzersoze wrote:

      “Most of the known early ‘Church Fathers’ did not even believe in the immortal soul doctrine that overtook later Catholicism & prevails in Protestantism”

      The quotes you go on to provide from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus are highly misleading. They didn’t deny that souls go to what we commonly call Heaven and Hell today. Rather, they distinguished between different regions of the afterlife and denied that people go to particular regions that some people suggested they would go to. For example, they distinguished between the paradise that the thief on the cross went to and the heaven people will inhabit after Jesus’ second coming. Both regions are what we today would commonly call Heaven. And both involve the ongoing, conscious existence of the soul. It’s misleading to quote somebody like Irenaeus denying that people will go to one region when he affirms elsewhere that they do go to another region. Both regions fall under today’s common notion of Heaven.

      For an overview of early patristic affirmations of Heaven and Hell, see the following posts at Triablogue:

      “Purgatory”, March 29, 2007
      “Early Christian Belief In A Hell Of Eternal Consciousness”, July 15, 2006

      Here’s what you quoted from Justin Martyr:

      “If you meet some who say that their souls go to heaven when they die, do not believe that they are Christians.”

      Here’s what he actually wrote:

      “For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this truth, and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genistæ, Meristæ, Galilæans, Hellenists, Pharisees, Baptists, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are only called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him. But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.” (Dialogue With Trypho, 80)

      Why does your misleading quote leave out his reference to the resurrection, which is the topic he’s focused on? He’s not denying that the soul continues to exist. Elsewhere, he writes:

      “For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings. And that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold….For the prophets have proclaimed two advents of His: the one, that which is already past, when He came as a dishonoured and suffering Man; but the second, when, according to prophecy, He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils….And in what kind of sensation and punishment the wicked are to be, hear from what was said in like manner with reference to this; it is as follows: ‘Their worm shall not rest, and their fire shall not be quenched” (First Apology, 28, 52)

      Many other such passages can be cited from Justin and other fathers. See my Triablogue articles cited above for some examples.

    174. Jason Engwer
      January 31st, 2012 @ 6:22 am

      By the way, Justin Martyr quotes the following from the man who led him to Christianity:

      “But I do not say, indeed, that all souls die; for that were truly a piece of good fortune to the evil. What then? The souls of the pious remain in a better place, while those of the unjust and wicked are in a worse, waiting for the time of judgment. Thus some which have appeared worthy of God never die; but others are punished so long as God wills them to exist and to be punished.” (Dialogue With Trypho, 5)

      In his recent edition of Justin’s Dialogue, Michael Slusser explains:

      “St. Justin teaches that the soul is not immortal in the sense that it cannot be destroyed, but that it is immortal in the sense that, by the grace of God, it will live forever.” (Dialogue With Trypho [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Of America Press, 2003], n. 14 on 12)

      We can speak of immortality in different senses. It’s misleading to quote somebody like Justin denying the immortality of the soul in one sense when he affirms it in another sense that’s consistent with what Roman Catholics and Protestants (and others) believe on the subject. Justin, like Irenaeus and early mainstream Christianity in general, believed that people’s souls continue to exist after death in what we today commonly call Heaven and Hell. And both states are eternal.

    175. ron david metcalf
      January 31st, 2012 @ 11:41 am

      In my humble opinion, that satisfies both views:
      if we die before Messiah returns, we go into a “sleep” (per Jesus) that is outside of time (as a dream that might occur in seconds may seem like hours, as far as brain scientists can tell); so, it then can be proper to say both that we await the trumpet sound AND immediately go to Heaven.
      It is our linear view of time that is the problem; not GOD’s ‘wholeness’.
      In Him, Ron M.

    176. Kyzersoze
      January 31st, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

      Jason

      Why does your misleading quote leave out his reference to the resurrection, which is the topic he’s focused on? He’s not denying that the soul continues to exist.

      I never said they denied a resurrection of the dead. The quote provided condemns the view that when you die your “soul” immediately goes to heaven. Thus, this is a denial of a FUTURE resurrection of the dead. For what would be the point of a resurrection FROM the dead if you never really died in the first place? :P

      And what would be the point of a “judgment” if you believe that IMMEDIATELY after dying you’re either rewarded with heaven or condemned in hell?

      RDM

      we die before Messiah returns, we go into a “sleep”…so, it then can be proper to say both that we await the trumpet sound AND immediately go to Heaven.

      That seems to be the biblical teaching:

      A time is coming when all the dead will hear his voice, and they will come out of their tombs. Those who have done good will come back to life and live. But those who have done evil will come back to life and will be judged. John 5.28-29

    177. John
      January 31st, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

      Jason,
      you state, “As I’ve explained before, “equating prayer to the saints with necromancy” isn’t the only way of contradicting your position. Your view could also be contradicted by saying that we can only pray to God, by denying that deceased believers can hear our prayers, etc.”

      If that is the only limb you are hanging on then you have to assume that what is meant by praying “only to God” means that asking a saint to pray to God is something that was being addressed. The flow of asking a saint for prayer is prayer to God. I’ve read about three articles on your Triablogue and have not found ANY references of patristic literature that state we should pray only to God in the sense that we should never pray to saints. In asking the intercession of the saints, the whole flow of prayer is to God and does not end at the saint being asked to intercede. You say Origin is “emphatic on the point”, regarding praying only to God but I have already demonstrated that he held to prayer to the saints which I referenced above. Only if you take Origin out of context can you make the argument that he meant we should not ask for the intercession of Mary and the saints.

      You state, “I can understand why you’d want to read his posts. You haven’t come up with any good arguments on your own.”

      I can’t read the responses to your posts without you having to think that I’m looking for answers? What’s the purpose of bringing that up? I’ve given references and scripture which you have yet to address- there’s no need to make cheap comments like that.

      Also, you keep saying that I’m not interacting with your material but I certainly have been. In Luke 1:42,43 we read the Mother of John the Baptist saying, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” To return to the main concern of Mary as the Mother of God- in light the Gospel of Luke we have a clear reference to Mary as the Mother of Elizabeth’s Lord.

      Be Well,

      John

    178. Jason Engwer
      January 31st, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

      Kyzersoze wrote:

      “The quote provided condemns the view that when you die your ‘soul’ immediately goes to heaven.”

      No, it doesn’t. It condemns a rejection of the resurrection, as I documented.

      I also documented Justin’s affirmation of the ongoing life of the soul. You aren’t interacting with the passages I cited.

      You write:

      “And what would be the point of a ‘judgment’ if you believe that IMMEDIATELY after dying you’re either rewarded with heaven or condemned in hell?”

      We’re discussing what views were held by historical figures, like Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. If their alleged views were unreasonable in some manner, it doesn’t follow that they didn’t hold those views. Sometimes people believe unreasonable things.

      But why should we think that it’s unreasonable to believe in a judgment that occurs after entering Heaven or Hell? The judgment could add rewards or punishments that weren’t present earlier. It could also provide information or something else not present earlier, like an explanation for why people have the status they have in Heaven or Hell. It could formalize something already in place. Or it may serve some other purpose we don’t know of.

      The view of the afterlife that you’re objecting to is widespread in scripture and the earliest patristic sources, as I documented in the Triablogue articles I mentioned earlier.

    179. Jason Engwer
      February 1st, 2012 @ 12:03 am

      John wrote:

      “The flow of asking a saint for prayer is prayer to God.”

      What does “flow” mean in this context? Praying to a dead person, like Mary, isn’t equivalent to praying to God. If a prayer to Mary results in her praying to God, it doesn’t follow that the person who prays to her is only praying to God.

      And as I documented earlier, prayers to Mary and other dead individuals involve more than asking them to pray to God. People also pray to Mary in order to praise her, thank her, ask for her protection, etc.

      You write:

      “I’ve read about three articles on your Triablogue and have not found ANY references of patristic literature that state we should pray only to God in the sense that we should never pray to saints.”

      That’s a vague assertion that doesn’t interact with anything I said. The Triablogue articles you’re responding to are highly detailed, with a lot of documentation. You need to do more than make vague assertions in response.

      You write:

      “You say Origin is ‘emphatic on the point’, regarding praying only to God but I have already demonstrated that he held to prayer to the saints which I referenced above. Only if you take Origin out of context can you make the argument that he meant we should not ask for the intercession of Mary and the saints.”

      You’d probably know how to spell Origen’s name if you actually knew much about him. We could overlook that sort of mistake if you rarely did it. But given how often you make these mistakes, it doesn’t seem that you know much about the church fathers.

      And you never documented that Origen believed in praying to the deceased. Go back to post 140, then read my response in post 147. You still haven’t interacted with what I said there. Your quote of Origen uses the phrase “pray for”. It’s a passage about prayers for Christians, not prayers to the dead. You keep citing irrelevant passages, which you misrepresent, while ignoring relevant ones that contradict your position.

      You write:

      “Also, you keep saying that I’m not interacting with your material but I certainly have been. In Luke 1:42,43″

      You’ve ignored the large majority of what I’ve argued. And how is that passage in Luke 1 relevant here, given that I don’t object to the Mother of God title?

    180. Kyzersoze
      February 1st, 2012 @ 7:09 am

      Jason

      No, it doesn’t. It condemns a rejection of the resurrection, as I documented.

      I agree. On the basis that there were some people during those days who believed “their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians“!

      The judgment could add rewards or punishments that weren’t present earlier.

      Is there a greater reward than Heaven or a more severe punishment than Hell?

      The view of the afterlife that you’re objecting to is widespread in scripture and the earliest patristic sources…

      I disagree on the basis of the quotes cited. Even many of the Reformation “fathers” went back and forth on the issue perhaps as a knee-jerk reaction against the Catholic church:

      I think that there is not a place in Scripture of more force for the dead who have fallen asleep, than Ecc. 9:5 (“the dead know nothing at all”), understanding nothing of our state and condition — against the invocation of saints and the fiction of Purgatory. Luther

    181. Kyzersoze
      February 1st, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

      PS: One of the reasons for the “exaltation” of Mary as Theotokos was due to the triumph of Nicene Orthodoxy over the other early forms of Christianity [i.e., Adoptionism, Docetism, Arianism, etc.].

      This is why in the East, Christian Orthodoxy found in Mary the sort of intermediary figure that people could relate to. In other words, Jesus was now out of reach and a figure people could not relate to. So they felt Mary would better function as the protective, motherly mediator between God and men.

    182. Jason Engwer
      February 1st, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

      Kyzersoze wrote:

      “On the basis that there were some people during those days who believed ‘their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians’!”

      You keep quoting part of what Justin Martyr wrote while ignoring the rest. I documented his acknowledgment of the ongoing life of the soul after death. Instead of repeatedly quoting one portion of one passage, you need to interact with the rest of what I cited.

      You write:

      “Is there a greater reward than Heaven or a more severe punishment than Hell?”

      Yes, there are degrees of reward in Heaven and degrees of punishment in Hell. See Matthew 25:14-30, Mark 12:40, Luke 12:46-48, etc. The same concept is found repeatedly in the early patristic sources.

    183. ron david metcalf
      February 1st, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

      When you’re in a deep sleep, you wake up and it seems like a second; but it could have been hours. So “instantaneous” depends on your own perspective; and I am not a solipsist; but how else can we “see” or “hear” anything, individually? Granted, the 24 elders could have gone with Jesus when He opened up the gates of hell; but the vision of the multitude, unless it was from other planets, is outside of time in Revelation. Compared to eternity, our lifetime is less than an eyeblink, no matter how long our suffering appears on earth.
      In light of this, Mary’s intercession, or the saints in general, seems just a bit silly if you understand that we have been given access to the Throne of Heaven. Why would we want an intermediary? Because we think we are unworthy? If GOD has declared us pure by His Son Jesus, who are we to argue with Him? This is not freedom in Christ; this is slavery to man. There is a huge difference in respect and giving up your GOD-given rights for a bowl of soup.
      In Him, Ron M.

    184. Victrolus
      February 2nd, 2012 @ 3:06 am

      Here’s a sampling of poor hyperenthusiatic fools, caught up in their necromantic ravings, imagining that the “Mother of my Lord” can hear them. Don’t a couple of you wish that you could go back in time, and SET THEM STAIGHT?

      …What I like about these 3 web pages I found is that the published books that these communing-with-Mary compositions came from are listed, with page numbers, right there beside them.

      [I do not paste these Marian verses (nor should anyone say they are meant) to teach dogma. The hearts of these Saints are what draw me to them and why I am sharing, maybe giving a glimpse of the faith and love that made them Saints.]

      Check out Mother Teresa on Page 3.

      John 2, if you still are following this blog at all, I enjoyed the YouTube Marian music-art you found. [Post 139]

      (~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(

      Mary, you are the vessel and tabernacle
      containing all Mysteries.
      You know what the Patriarchs did not know;
      you experienced what was not revealed
      to the Angels;
      you heard what the Prophets did not hear.
      In short, everything that was hidden
      from preceding generations was made known to you;
      even more, most of these wonders depended on you.

      –St. Gregory the Wonderworker (d. 270)

      (~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(

      O Immaculate and wholly-pure Virgin Mary,
      Mother of God,
      Queen of the world,
      hope of those who are in despair:
      You are the joy of the saints;
      you are the peacemaker between sinners and God;
      you are the advocate of the abandoned,
      the secure haven of those who
      are on the sea of the world;
      you are the consolation of the world,
      the ransom of slaves,
      the comfortress of the afflicted….

      O great Queen, we take refuge
      in your protection.
      After God, you are all my hope.
      We bear the name of your servants;
      allow not the enemy to drag us to hell.
      I salute you, O great mediatress
      of peace between men and God,
      Mother of Jesus our Lord,
      who is the love of all men and of God,
      to whom be honor and benediction
      with the Father and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

      – Saint Ephrem

      (~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(

      May the life of Blessed Mary

      be ever present to our awareness.

      In her, as in a mirror,

      the form of virtue and beauty of chastity shine forth.

      She was virgin, not only in body, but in mind and spirit.

      She never sullied the pure affection

      of her heart by unworthy feelings.

      She was humble of heart.

      She was serious in her conversations.

      She was prudent in her counsels.

      She was preferred to pray rather than to speak.

      She united in her heart the prayers of the poor

      And avoided the uncertainty of worldly riches.

      She was ever faithful to her daily duties,

      Reserved in her conversations,

      and always accustomed to recognize God

      as the Witness of her thoughts.

      Blessed be the name of Jesus.

      Amen.

      –St. Ambrose (340?-397)

      (~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(

      It is becoming for you, O Mary,
      to be mindful of us,
      as you stand near him
      who bestowed upon you all graces,
      for you are the Mother of God and our Queen.
      Come to our aid for the sake of the King,
      the Lord God and Master who was born of you.
      For this reason you are called “full of grace.”

      Be mindful of us, most holy Virgin,
      and bestow on us gifts from the riches
      of your graces, O Virgin full of grace.

      –St. Athanasius (d. 373)

      (~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(

      Hail, O Mother!
      Virgin, heaven, throne, glory of our Church,
      its foundation and ornament.
      Earnestly pray for us to Jesus,
      your Son and Our Lord,
      that through your intercession
      we may have mercy on the day of judgment.

      Pray that we may receive all those good things
      which are reserved for those who love God.
      Through the grace and favor
      of Our Lord, Jesus Christ,
      to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
      be power, honor, and glory, now and forever. Amen.

      –St. John Chrysostom (349-407)

      (~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(

      http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/SaintsPrayers.htm

      http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/SaintsPrayers2.htm

      http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/SaintsPrayers3.htm

      (~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(~(

    185. Jason Engwer
      February 2nd, 2012 @ 6:32 am

      Victrolus,

      You’re ignoring earlier sources who contradict the later sources you’ve cited. And those later sources are of dubious authenticity.

      The web sites you linked don’t give us citations from the original writings of the church fathers in question. Rather, they cite modern books about Mary.

      It’s important to cite original documents in this context, since a lot of works have falsely been attributed to the church fathers over the centuries. Fabricating material about Mary is especially popular. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox often cite such spurious works. Your earliest quotation is attributed to Gregory the Wonderworker, but as the Catholic scholar Michael O’Carroll notes, “Three Marian homilies attributed to this author are almost certainly spurious.” (Theotokos [Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1988], 164) There are a lot of false quotes about Mary, attributed to various church fathers, circulating on the web. I suggest that people do some research on such quotes rather than accepting them at face value.

      Victrolus, have you found any of your quotes in original sources? I went to one of the books cited on one of the pages you linked, and that book didn’t mention any source for its patristic quotation. Maybe there was a citation of a source somewhere else in the book, but there wasn’t one where the quote about Mary appeared. Here’s the citation I looked up:

      Blessed Art Thou: A Treasury of Marian Prayers and Devotions / Richard J. Beyer Imprint Notre Dame, IN : Ave Maria Press, c1996, BX2160.2 B46 1996, pp. 76-77.

      It’s not enough for you to cite modern books with page numbers. The books have to be credible. Can you provide us with more documentation for your quotes, and would you tell us why you’re ignoring earlier sources who contradict what your later sources say?

    186. Kyzersoze
      February 2nd, 2012 @ 8:39 am

      Jason

      Instead of repeatedly quoting one portion of one passage, you need to interact with the rest of what I cited.

      I did and explained to you why people who believe in going to heaven after you die is a denial of the resurrection. That is what he says in his Dialogue.

      Yes, there are degrees of reward in Heaven and degrees of punishment in Hell.

      So you mean like degrees of heat? :P

      My point is simply this. If you believe you immediately go to Heaven or Hell when you die you are at your final destination, as it were. You have gained your over-all reward. There may be levels/status in Heaven or levels of punishment in Hell but that is beside the point. If we receive our final reward immediately after we die then we make void the many scriptures that talk about a judgment and especially a resurrection of the DEAD. It does not say a resurrection of the UNDEAD! :P

    187. John2
      February 2nd, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

      Victrolus,

      Here’s another that was brought to my attention; it’s called Immaculate Mary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ddX8-wp3O8&feature=channel_video_title

      In “vain repetition” they keep chanting “ave Maria” (I know Mary is addressed thus in the Bible but not so many times as this). This particular hymn seems to express a longing for Catholicism to return to England (perhaps it was composed during the persecutions of the recusants during the English reformation – not sure though). What I find interesting is that they seem to conflate the idea of Mary as mother, church as mother, and even Israel in exile as mother.. somewhat interesting in light of Revelation 12′s depiction of the mother of Jesus:

      THE WOMAN, ISRAEL
      1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2 and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

      THE RED DRAGON, SATAN
      3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. 4 And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

      THE MALE CHILD, CHRIST
      5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the]nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

    188. Jason Engwer
      February 2nd, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

      Kyzersoze wrote:

      “I did and explained to you why people who believe in going to heaven after you die is a denial of the resurrection. That is what he says in his Dialogue.”

      No, that’s not what Justin said, and you didn’t interact with most of what I cited from Justin. You just keep repeating your interpretation of the one portion of one passage you initially quoted. Tell me specifically where you interacted with the other passages I cited. You didn’t interact with them. You also ignored the many Biblical and patristic passages I cited in my Triablogue articles.

      You write:

      “If you believe you immediately go to Heaven or Hell when you die you are at your final destination, as it were. You have gained your over-all reward.”

      All you’re doing is rewording what I said, which does nothing to refute my argument. Calling Heaven or Hell “your over-all reward” doesn’t prove that a later judgment wouldn’t be able to change what a person experiences in Heaven or Hell.

      You also keep ignoring the other possible justifications for a future judgment, after entering Heaven or Hell. You only responded to one of the possible justifications I offered, and you’ve failed to refute even that one justification.

      You write:

      “It does not say a resurrection of the UNDEAD!”

      Physical death is all that’s needed to explain the references to death. All you’re doing is reading your assumptions into the term “dead”. Why is anybody supposed to find that approach convincing?

    189. Kyzersoze
      February 2nd, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

      Jason

      Calling Heaven or Hell “your over-all reward” doesn’t prove that a later judgment wouldn’t be able to change what a person experiences in Heaven or Hell.

      We didn’t say it was going to change anything. The simple point is that if you believe you immediately go to Heaven or Hell upon death, you have already been judged! I ask you again, what is the point of ANY future judgment?

      Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…Heb 9.27

      Sounds like a once for all judgment.

      All you’re doing is reading your assumptions into the term “dead”. Why is anybody supposed to find that approach convincing?

      Your asumption seems to be that “physical death” is somehow different from just plain “death”! According to the Bible, your either dead or alive. Period.

      For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing. Eccl 9.5

      The dead will not live, the departed spirits will not rise; Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And You have wiped out all remembrance of them. Isa 26.14

      Your talking about a judgment before the FINAL judgment. That cannot be lest scripture is wrong on this fundamental point. You do not have INDIVIDUAL judgments before THAT final day of judgment.

      Answer me this, why would the LORD God command us NOT TO CONTACT the dead if not because there is something EVIL about it?

      Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. Lev 19.31

    190. Jason Engwer
      February 3rd, 2012 @ 6:10 am

      Kyzersoze wrote:

      “We didn’t say it was going to change anything.”

      I’ve argued that a change could occur. And you initially didn’t dispute what I said, but instead suggested that you agreed with me. You referred to “levels/status in Heaven or levels of punishment in Hell” in post 186, and you gave no argument for concluding that the level or status can’t change over time. Much as a person’s status in his home, in prison, or in some other setting could change to some extent over time, even though he remains in his home or in prison, the same could occur with Heaven and Hell. You’ve given us no reason to think otherwise.

      You quote Hebrews 9:27, but that does nothing to establish your view. I don’t deny that people are judged after death. A criminal receives judgment in court after his crime, and that initial trial can be singled out as the time of judgment in that sense, but he can be imprisoned before the trial and his status in prison can change after the trial.

      And you’re still ignoring the other possible justifications I mentioned for a judgment that occurs after entering Heaven or Hell. You’re still ignoring the other passages in Justin Martyr. You’re still ignoring the other Biblical and patristic evidence I cited at Triablogue.

      You go on to cite Ecclesiastes 9 and Isaiah 26 in support of your view of the afterlife, but you still haven’t interacted with the Biblical and patristic material I mentioned earlier. You expect me to interact with your arguments while you largely ignore mine.

      Ecclesiastes is giving us the perspective of a man seeking answers, and sometimes finding them, but often presenting an incomplete picture along the way. He often refers to this life as all we have, which doesn’t just contradict my view of the afterlife, but also yours and any other view that involves a future resurrection. In other words, your appeal to Ecclesiastes proves too much. If you maintain that we should agree with the author’s perspective throughout the book, then we should reject not only the resurrection, but also some other Biblical teachings. You should reread Ecclesiastes 9:5 and its surrounding context and take note of the multiple Biblical teachings that would have to be rejected if we took the author’s perspective as the correct one. Either you don’t understand the genre of Ecclesiastes or you’re using the book carelessly or dishonestly. What you’re doing is like quoting something one of Job’s companions said, as if we can assume it’s correct just because it’s recorded in the book of Job.

      Your appeal to Isaiah 26 is likewise dubious. Following your reasoning, we should conclude not only that there is no departure of the soul to Heaven or Hell after death, but also no resurrection. You ignore what Isaiah goes on to say (Isaiah 26:19), and you ignore the many Biblical passages that describe life after death prior to the resurrection.

      You write:

      “Answer me this, why would the LORD God command us NOT TO CONTACT the dead if not because there is something EVIL about it?”

      I don’t deny that attempting to contact the dead is evil. Have you read my exchanges with John and others earlier in this thread?

      You need to explain why the ancient Israelites would have been tempted to try to contact departed spirits if there were no departed spirits to contact. Saul was wrong to try to contact Samuel, but Samuel was alive in the afterlife, even though the resurrection hadn’t occurred yet. Similarly, some of the psalmists, Lazarus in Luke 16, the thief on the cross, Paul, some martyrs in Revelation, etc. are referred to as conscious in Heaven prior to the resurrection. The earliest patristic sources, including some who were disciples of the apostles (like Polycarp), present the same view of the afterlife. See the documentation in my Triablogue articles I referred to earlier.

    191. Kyzersoze
      February 3rd, 2012 @ 7:55 am

      Jason

      And you’re still ignoring the other possible justifications I mentioned for a judgment that occurs after entering Heaven or Hell.

      You cannot have a judgment AFTER you have been judged already when you go to Heaven or Hell upon death. I think we are going around in circles here.

      You’re still ignoring the other passages in Justin Martyr. You’re still ignoring the other Biblical and patristic evidence I cited at Triablogue.

      I got your Martyr quote and if anything the man was double-minded on this issue. But what Biblical evidence are you pointing to? The scriptures I cited are just a small sample of the overall testimony to the fact that “the soul who sins shall die” [Ezek 18.4,20] and that humans are not inherently immortal [Gen 3.22].

      I don’t deny that attempting to contact the dead is evil.

      What’s evil about trying to “contact” your dearly departed? Maybe because it is not them your contacting but OTHER spirits?

    192. Jason Engwer
      February 3rd, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

      Kyzersoze wrote:

      “You cannot have a judgment AFTER you have been judged already when you go to Heaven or Hell upon death.”

      I’ve explained how both could occur, I’ve documented Biblical and patristic support for the occurrence of both, and I’ve given examples of how both occur in other contexts in life. You’re still ignoring the large majority of what I’ve said.

      You write:

      “I got your Martyr quote and if anything the man was double-minded on this issue.”

      In post 169, you claimed that “Most of the known early ‘Church Fathers’ did not even believe in the immortal soul doctrine that overtook later Catholicism & prevails in Protestantism”. The first example you cited was Justin Martyr. Your quotation of him was highly misleading. You quoted a portion of one of his sentences as if it was a complete sentence, and you left out some highly significant context. Taken in context, even the passage you quoted doesn’t support your conclusion, and your reading of that passage is contradicted by what Justin wrote elsewhere, including in the same document. Instead of admitting that you were wrong, you now suggest that Justin was double-minded. The problem with double-mindedness here is yours, not Justin’s. What you’re arguing now is significantly different than what you argued in post 169. And even your revised claim is dubious. The passage you cited from Justin can easily be reconciled with the other passages I cited, if we interpret your passage the way I suggested earlier. When the passages can so easily be reconciled, it makes more sense to view them as harmonious than it does to propose a contradiction between the passages, especially passages within a single document.

      You write:

      “But what Biblical evidence are you pointing to?”

      The Biblical evidence I discussed in my last post, in the Triablogue posts I referred you to, etc. How can you repeatedly ignore the Biblical evidence I cite, then turn around and ask me what Biblical evidence I have in mind? In the portion of my post that you just quoted, I specifically referred to my Triablogue articles. Why would you ask me a question that’s already answered in the comments you just quoted from my post?

      You write:

      “The scriptures I cited are just a small sample of the overall testimony to the fact that ‘the soul who sins shall die’ [Ezek 18.4,20] and that humans are not inherently immortal [Gen 3.22].”

      I’ve already addressed the Biblical passages you cited earlier, and you aren’t interacting with what I said. Now you’re trying to divert our attention to other passages.

      You’ll have to explain the alleged relevance of your two latest citations. Scripture tells us that conscious beings are spiritually dead (John 5:24, Ephesians 2:1, etc.), so spiritual death can’t be assumed to refer to a lack of conscious existence. And humans don’t have to be inherently immortal in order to be immortal. I addressed this issue in post 174. You’re giving us an argument that was already refuted in this thread a few days before you posted it.

      You write:

      “What’s evil about trying to ‘contact’ your dearly departed? Maybe because it is not them your contacting but OTHER spirits?”

      How is that relevant to our disagreement?

    193. Kyzersoze
      February 3rd, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

      Jason

      You’re still ignoring the large majority of what I’ve said.

      When someone doesn’t agree with your interpretation or reading of the text does not mean their ignoring you.

      The first example you cited was Justin Martyr. Your quotation of him was highly misleading.

      I also quoted Iraneaus. And I did not misquote Martyr just because you found ANOTHER of his quotes that seems to contradict what he wrote elsewhere.

      How can you repeatedly ignore the Biblical evidence I cite, then turn around and ask me what Biblical evidence I have in mind?

      The only one that even comes close is the Lazarus parable and that is an old misinterpretation of what clearly is metaphorical or parabolic. Why are you not dealing with the scriptures I cited? Just because you cannot deal with them does not mean I am “diverting” you. :P

      How is that relevant to our disagreement?

      If your sweet old grandma is currently alive in some type of disembodied state in Heaven, why would God prohibit you from “contacting” her? Its not only a prohibition but spiritualism is a major sin on the level of idolatry. Think about why that might be.

    194. Victrolus
      February 7th, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

      I am curious to know: /What the opinion of this?

      http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/gregory_thaumaturgus_homily.htm

    195. Kyzersoze
      February 8th, 2012 @ 7:49 am

      Victrolus

      I am curious to know: /What the opinion of this?

      Wholly crpto-Gnostic and philosophical mumbo-jumbo. :P

    196. Kyzersoze
      February 8th, 2012 @ 7:49 am

      CORRECTION: crypto-Gnostic.

    197. BenKC
      February 8th, 2012 @ 11:16 am

      Kyzersoze = Chuck ?

    198. Sheila
      February 8th, 2012 @ 11:39 am

      Ben KC,

      I’ve suspected you’re right.

    199. Dr Michael L Brown
      February 8th, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

      Ben KC, the exact question I asked myself the other day. If so, I’d asked him to have the integrity to reveal himself and admit that all his posts here under a new identity were a way for him to push his agenda — contrary to our stated guidelines and wishes — without being hindered. If not, then Kysersoze, please tell us that you are not the person who used to post here as Chuck. If you don’t tell us that, you will have answered the question. Thanks!

    200. Dr Michael L Brown
      February 8th, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

      Kysersoze, please see my previous post to Ben KC and respond ASAP with total honesty before God. Thanks!

    201. Tom
      February 8th, 2012 @ 11:26 pm

      Hmm, I new he went by “Chuck”, “Xavier”, and “Carlos” variously; “Kysersoze” would certainly be a new one.

    202. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      February 8th, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

      Tom, because I don’t read all the posts,and because it never dawned on me that anyone would that be that deceitful in a Christian blog, I didn’t make the connection until I saw the typical “Chuck” post on another thread — but from Kyzersoze. What makes this all the more despicable, from a Christian perspective, is that I had to tell our web folks to monitor posts from Chuck since he refused to comply with our guidelines. More despicable still is the fact that he wasted much of our time on this Mary thread by not revealing his true identity and agenda. In fact, if I recall, I wondered out loud why this Kyzersoze couldn’t understand what I and others were saying, instead continuing to make the same inane comments. I posted a few more times, hoping to reach out to this “new” person, but obviously, for all of us, it was a waste of time. Although his views were heretical and dangerous to start, his deceptive conduct is all the more dangerous.

    203. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      February 8th, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

      Tom, could you kindly post links to comments from the other “Chuck” identities to be passed on to our web monitors? (One per post is best, lest the comment gets held up.) Thanks!

    204. Kyzersoze
      February 9th, 2012 @ 9:31 am

      “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Mat 10.16

    205. Dr Michael L Brown
      February 9th, 2012 @ 10:02 am

      TO EVERYONE WHO ENGAGED KYSERSOZE AND CHUCK AND OTHER ALIASES,

      Hey folks, it turns out he did have a bunch of different IP addresses (no need to mention how many, but it was more than anyone here suggested), and again, that is utterly despicable and thoroughly dishonest. I apologize that so many wasted our time with someone who was not only heretical but was also terribly dishonest, especially when we dealt with “Chuck” so he just scorned every guideline and continued to push his agenda. It appears that, in least in his case, his defective beliefs contributed to his defective morality. May the Lord grant him repentance.

    206. Tom
      February 9th, 2012 @ 12:03 pm
    207. Tom
      February 9th, 2012 @ 12:05 pm
    208. Tom
      February 9th, 2012 @ 12:11 pm
    209. Kyzersoze
      February 9th, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

      “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

    210. Dr Michael L Brown
      February 9th, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

      Thanks so much, Tom! I can’t tell you how dishonesty like this grieves me, even more than the heresy.

    211. Tom
      February 9th, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

      I hear you, Dr. Brown. He does his cause a great disservice by this sort of behavior. I pray he realizes that at some point.

    212. Jeff Hergott
      April 6th, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

      Catholics believe that Mary was assumed into Heaven. We do not believe she ascended to heaven. Assumed means that she did not get there by her own power but she was lifted up by Jesus. This is well know. The Assumption of Mary is a beautiful thing where as your assumptions are just plain wrong.

    213. Jeff Hergott
      April 6th, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

      Protestants argue that we can’t pray to Saints because of this scripture verse:
      5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, ~1 Timothy 2:5
      Then why do Protestants ask people on earth to pray for them? I mean why does it matter if the saint is in heaven or on earth to ask them to pray for them? Is there not still one mediator between God and man when we ask others to pray for us? Nowhere does that Bible passage say that we can’t pray to saints.
      16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. ~James 5:16
      When I say pray to the Saints I am talking about intercessory prayer.
      The Saints are alive!
      38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.” ~Luke 20:38
      The saints are concerned and know about what is happening on Earth:
      9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” ~Revelation 6:9-10
      10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” ~ Luke 15:10
      The Saints in Heaven bring the prayers of the saints to Jesus:
      ‎8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;~Revelation 5:8
      The prayers of the saints are brought to God by an angel.
      ‎4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. ~Revelation 8:4
      God also uses the Holy Spirit
      16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, ~John 14:16
      Why we should pray to Saints.
      We are all members of the body of Christ and we need to care and love all members of His Body. Jesus asked Paul on the road to Damascus “Why are you persecuting me”. Notice that He didn’t say why are you persecuting my people. The Father and Jesus are one and He wants us to be one. The Church is not only on Earth but it is also in Heaven as Jesus in also in Heaven and on Earth.
      20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” ~Matthew 28:20
      20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. ~ John 14:20
      20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.~ John 17:20-21
      12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. ~1 Corinthians 12:12
      25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. ~1 Corinthians 12:14
      21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” ~1 Corinthians 12:14
      14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. ~1 Corinthians 12:14
      26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. ~1 Corinthians 12:26

    214. Kip
      December 9th, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

      “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.” (Deuteronomy 18:9)

    215. Jack
      April 21st, 2014 @ 9:12 am

      Amen Kip. Nowhere in the new testament does Jesus ever say to pray or ask for his mother to be an intercessor for him. Jesus said no one comes to the father but through him. I’m not going to argue for or against Miriam being called the mother of God or whether she remained a virgin or was sinless or even assumed into heaven. I have no doubt that Miriam has an extremely special place in heaven and perhaps the most blessed human in human history. HOWEVER, it still does not mean we pray to her or ask her for intercession. Jesus is our direct line to the throne of God and he himself taught us to pay to the father. It seems everyone here forgot the Lord’s prayer. In his words after the resurrection we are to ask the father for everything in his name, not his mother’s or the saints.
      May the Lord open our eyes and heart to his wisdom and not that of others, Amen!!

    216. Van
      April 21st, 2014 @ 10:55 am

      Esther is the virgin queen of heaven who gave birth to the dying and resurrecting godman Adonis from whose name we get adonai or lord. If our symbol in the west had been this, a woman giving birth to a child instead of a violent act depicted, a man nailed to a cross, our Western society would have grown up with a lot less violence. Thanks a lot Christianity. Thanks for nothing.

    217. Nicholas
      April 21st, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

      When the Catholic Church declared Mary “Theotokos” (literally, “the one who gives birth to the Divine”) at the Council of Ephesus in the 5th Century, we were defending the Divinity of Christ against those parties (the Arians, Nestorians, and other heretics) who denied that Christ was fully God as well as fully man. So the whole point about Mary being the “Mother of God” was for the purpose of explicitly defining that orthodox Christians are to believe that God Himself (God the Son) became incarnate. God became incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. Christ was not just a man adopted by God at his baptism, which is what the Arians believed, and Christ was not a man who was “possessed” by the Spirit of God the Word, which is what the Nestorians believed. So, I hope this clears up some confusion.

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