Saturday, October 25, 2014

Luther: Take Away the Mass, Destroy the Church

Here's an obscure Luther quote used particularly by those upset by the changes in the Mass (Pope Paul VI's Novus Ordo Missae, 1969): "Take away the Mass, destroy the Church." This quote is found on numerous web pages often in this particular context:

The Destruction of Catholic Worship is the Destruction of the Catholic Faith
The Church has always set forth the firm and clear principle that: "The way we worship is the way we believe." The doctrinal truths of the Faith are embodied in the worship we offer to God. In other words, it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that teaches us our theology and not the reverse. The True Mass comprises the Apostolic Tradition of faith and morals in its very essence. Every doctrine essential to the Faith is taught therein. Pope Leo XIII points out in Apostolicae Curae that the Church's enemies have always understood this principle as "They knew only too well the intimate bond that unites faith with worship, the law of belief with the law of prayer, and so, under the pretext of restoring the order of the liturgy to its primitive form, they corrupted it in many respects to adapt it to the errors of the Innovators." It is no wonder, then, that Luther coined the slogan: "Take away the Mass, destroy the Church." (source)

It is also found in this dire context:

The Apocalypse is the mysterious process of the quiet infiltration and rewriting of the Catholic religion by Jewish Masonic priests, bishops, cardinals and antipopes over a 2000 year period. By rewriting the Liturgy of the Mass which causes the abomination of desolation and by rewriting the names or form used in the Seven Catholic Sacraments, causing just about all to receive the mark of the beast, Freemasonry neutralizes its competition for control of the world, causing a phenomenon known as the New World Order (Novus Ordo Saeculorum). "Take away the Mass, destroy the Church." - Jewish Freemason Martin Luther (source)

It can be found in a Latinized form:

Martin Luther's slogan was : "Tolle missam, tolle Ecclesiam." Destroy the Mass and you destroy the Church. This is very true from the point of view of the invisible, mystical reality. It is this mystical, invisible, reality that is essential for salvation. True, the visible reality of the Mystical is necessary during our present existence in time and space. And because we are still in this body of flesh and in this existence of time and place, the ordinary process of salvation takes place in our present mode of existence. (source)

In one of his works against the Church established by CHRIST he fearing neither God nor man declared: "Tolle Missam, tolle Ecclesiam" which means 'destroy the Mass and destroy the Church. Continuing in his assault against the Catholic Church, in which he was once an ex-monk, he declared: "When the Mass has been overthrown, I think we will have overthrown the Papacy. I think it is in the Mass, as on a rock, that the papacy wholly rests ... Everything will of necessity collapse when their sacrilegious abominable Mass collapses. (source)

It can also be found attributed to Cardinal Newman:

If John Cardinal NEWMAN was right in saying, "Tolle Missam, tolle Ecclesiam, - Do away with the Mass, and you do away with the Church,' we too are right in symmetrically concluding, 'Bring the true Mass back, and watch the true Church equally return to its own pristine holiness and glory." - Father Gommar A. DE PAUW, in New York, when asked for comment on the preceding statement. - Sept. 5, 1999 (source)

Documentation
In my cursory search, I did not find any specific documentation for this alleged saying of Luther's.  It appears to me that Luther probably did not say, "Take away the Mass, destroy the Church." Rather, he held something like Take away the mass and destroy the papacy.

Possible Contexts
On a hunch I recalled Luther's famous "Eight Sermons at Wittenberg" (Invocavit Sermons, 1522) in which Luther came out of hiding and returned to preach at Wittenberg when he heard about the radical changes occurring. Notice Luther seeks to abolish the mass, but in an orderly fashion:

In his sermon of March 9, 1522 Luther stated:
Therefore all those have erred who have helped and consented to abolish the mass; not that it was not a good thing, but that it was not done in an orderly way. You say it was right according to the Scriptures. I agree, but what becomes of order? For it was done in wantonness, with no regard for proper order and with offense to your neighbor. If, beforehand, you had called upon God in earnest prayer, and had obtained the aid of the authorities, one could be certain that it had come from God. I, too, would have taken steps toward the same end if it had been a good thing to do; and if the mass were not so evil a thing, I would introduce it again. [Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 51: Sermons I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, and H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 51, p. 73). Philadelphia: Fortress Press].

In his sermon of March 10, 1522 Luther stated:
Thus the mass is an evil thing, and God is displeased with it, because it is performed as if it were a sacrifice and work of merit. Therefore it must be abolished. Here there can be no question or doubt, any more than you should ask whether you should worship God. Here we are entirely agreed: the private masses must be abolished. As I have said in my writings, I wish they would be abolished everywhere and only the ordinary evangelical mass be retained. [Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 51: Sermons I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, and H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 51, p. 75). Philadelphia: Fortress Press].

One of the most direct statement from Luther that to abolish the mass is to abolish the Papacy can be found in his writing against Henry VIII in 1522 (WA 10:2, 220):
Let us return to the institution. We have then taken away the Mass, and we say in triumph against the Defender of the sacraments, that it is not a work nor a sacrifice, but a word and a sign of divine grace, which Christ uses for establishing and strengthening in us faith in Himself. And we see how foolish Satan is, since the longer and fiercer he rages and writes against us, the more senseless and infatuated is his delirium. For this book of the King, as it is about the best in Latinity of all the books that have been written against me, so is it above all others the most blockish and stupid, so that I could almost attribute it to our writers in Leipsic, who are wont thus to babble when their babblement is at its best. Having triumphed over the Mass, I think we have triumphed over the whole papacy. For upon the Mass as upon a rock is built the whole papacy with its monasteries, its bishoprics, its colleges, its altars, its ministers, its doctrines, and leans on it with its whole weight. And all these things must fall with the sacrilegious and abominable Mass. So Christ through me has begun to unmask the abomination standing in the holy place, and to destroy him, whose coming was through the operation of Satan in all wonders and lying miracles.

After digging around for awhile, this last quote appears to be the closest possible that I could find to the obscure quote. That Luther was opposed to the mass is no secret. Simply read Hartman Grisar's  lengthy overview (his is a Roman perspective). Luther was eventually even opposed to the word "mass"(LW 38:226).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Follow-up on Tim Staples and David F. Wright on Calvin's Mariology


Tim Staples: Apologists Make Mistakes Too, Revisited

In a recent entry I noted that Tim Staples admitted "Apologists make mistakes too!" This refers to a recent Catholic Answers blog post in which Mr. Staples documented Rome's defenders misusing facts about the Reformers. The following is an extended version of some comments I left for Mr. Staples on his blog entry.

After some dialog with another of Rome's defenders, Mr. Staples re-edited his blog post. Originally he stated,

This second myth is even more widespread. I have found it not only taught and published by many Catholics, but I even found one popular Calvinist apologist who has it up on his website as being true. And that is, John Calvin actually taught the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. He did not.

He revised it to:

This second myth is even more widespread, but I must qualify it. There can be no doubt that John Calvin, at least at some point in his career, believed in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. But to place him on the same level of Luther, Zwingli and Wesley is misguided. It is not to paint the entire picture accurately.

He has since mentioned in the comments:

I am going to take out even the possibility that Calvin denied the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary for both our electronic version of the book and our next printing. Even though I still think there is evidence there, it is not strong enough to contradict the scholarship you mentioned. I remember Jimmy Akin telling me when I first came to Catholic Answers words to the effect of, "There are lots of things that are possibilities and that we may think are really cool that do not merit being published either in a book, CD set, or DVD." I think this is one of these.

What appears to have happened is that an obscure sermon of Calvin's (documented here) influenced Mr. Staples to make this change in his book. In the comments section of his blog entry, Mr Staples wrote that Calvin was "confused" in this sermon for the following reasons:

St. Joseph did not marry Mary, he never lived with her, but he was "married all along." His reasoning seems muddled. Because he never taught on the topic explicitly to defend it, we don't really know what he believed about 1. when Joseph and Mary would have been "married." 2. Were they ever truly married? 3. Did they live together? He appears to say no. It is difficult to see how that would have been a "marriage" to Calvin at all, considering his teaching on marriage.

In response, I offer the following observations:

1) Typical of Calvin on this issue, the subject matter of the entire sermon does not dwell on Mary, and even less on Joseph. The quote in question is more of a passing comment, or more of an an end-note (for lack of a better term) stuck right at the very end of the sermon.

2) The 1562 published sermon isn't exactly from the pen of Calvin. It's a transcription based on what someone heard him say. It's within the realm of possibility that the reason Mr. Staples thinks Calvin's reasoning is "muddled" is due to distortion or lack of clarity in the way it was heard and written down.

3) I've analyzed the sermon and compared it to Calvin's commentary comments, particularly those comments pertaining to Mary that overlap in the sermon and the commentaries. There are indeed many similarities more than dissimilarities.

In the well-known comments from Calvin's Commentaries, his basic point is that a necessary inference that Mary had other children cannot be made from the Biblical texts of Matthew 13:55 and 1:25, and it's “folly” to make a text say more than it does. In this sermon he likewise stresses that "Though some fantasies have been expressed that this passage is teaching that the virgin Mary had other children than Jesus and that Joseph lived with her afterwards, this is nonsense. The Evangelist had no interest in reciting what happened after."

There are some differences as well. When Calvin says, "And besides this, our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence," Calvin's commentary says, "He is called first-born; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin."

The sermon comments have some interesting details about Joseph. One thing to keep in mind is not reading into what Calvin is saying. For instance, when Calvin says, "He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company," and "Joseph had not taken her as his wife to live with her," it would be inconsistent within the context to conclude Calvin is saying that Joseph and Mary never lived together, even after the birth of Jesus. Calvin is not speculating as to what happened afterwards based on this verse (that's his main point!). It would be a contextual error then to think Calvin here means that Joseph was some sort of monk never dwelling with Mary. The point Calvin is making concerns the period of betrothal. See particularly Calvin's comments on Matthew 1:18-25 where Calvin says "before they came together" means "before they came to dwell together as husband and wife, and to make one home and family" and "The meaning will thus be, that the virgin had not yet been delivered by her parents into the hands of her husband, but still remained under their roof." See also Calvin's comments on Luke 2:1-7 and Luke 2:48-58.

If one reads between the lines of the sermon, it appears Calvin is saying Mary had no other children besides Jesus. Without any clear denial that Mary was not a perpetual virgin, and with comments that safeguard against the idea that Mary had other children- I think this is why so many writers have concluded Calvin held to the perpetual virginity of Mary- it's a conclusion from inference rather than a direct admission from Calvin. The problem with the conclusion is that it goes against Calvin's specific guidelines- to not speculate beyond what he thought the Scriptures stated. To be fair to Calvin is to allow him to say what he said, not what we want him to say. If one really wanted to give Calvin's opinion on this issue, it is to simply say that Calvin did not think it correct to speculate.

Revisions are par for the course. People who take written theological positions will at times revise something they've earlier stated. I've never had any personal interaction with Mr. Staples before, but he seems to be willing to follow evidence where it leads. In this instance though, I think he was correct originally that Rome's defenders are misusing Calvin on the issue of Mary's perpetual virginity. Perhaps all it would really take is for him to clarify that there is no explicit teaching from John Calvin on Mary's perpetual virginity. What there is are statements from Calvin saying not to go beyond the text of scripture to speculate as to whether or not Mary had other children. Calvin offers no clear denial of Mary's perpetual virginity.


David F. Wright Calvin's view of Mary's Perpetual Virginity

Mr. Staples also noted he revised his view in regard to Calvin / Mary because of scholarly consensus. This sort of argument was lodged against me 10 years ago when I concluded Luther did not have a lifelong belief in the immaculate conception. You know what I did? I went and looked up what evidence each scholar used to make their conclusion. In many instances, the evidence presented didn't support the conclusion, or was taken from someone else's conclusion, or made a different conclusion. About 10 years later, it was finally conceded by the person using the scholarly consensus argument that I was correct all along.

For instance, the following comment was directed toward Mr. Staples:

This 1562 sermon may be one reason why many Protestant (including Calvinist) scholars agree that Calvin adhered to Mary's perpetual virginity, as I noted in a paper over four years ago now: David F. Wright, in his book, "Chosen by God: Mary in Evangelical Perspective" (London: Marshall Pickering, 1989, pp. 173, 175), stated: '". . . his more careful biblicism could insist on only Mary’s refraining from intercourse before the birth of Jesus (i.e., her virginity ante partum). On the other hand, he never excluded as untenable the other elements in her perpetual virginity, and may be said to have believed it himself without claiming that Scripture taught it. . . . [Calvin] commonly speaks of Mary as 'the holy Virgin' (and rarely as simply as 'Mary preferring 'the Virgin', etc.).'

What I would want to see is if the scholars cited to Mr. Staples about Calvin's view of Mary utilized the 1562 published sermon as this comment asserts. Let's look at the scholar cited, David F. Wright. I happen to have this book of which he's the editor and a contributor. I don't think the 1562 sermon was a factor. If it was, Wright appears to have neglected to cite it in any of his three chapters- particularly Chapter 8: Mary and the Reformers.

The 1562 published sermon isn't cited on either page 173 or page 175.  On page 173 note what Wright says just before the citation offered above. Wright documents Luther's adherence to Mary's PV and then states:
There is no doubt that the consensus of the Reformers affirmed Mary's virginity not only 'before the birth' (in partu) and after it (post partum). Calvin is something of an exception, in that his more careful biblicism could insist on only Mary’s refraining from intercourse before the birth of Jesus (i.e., her virginity ante partum). On the other hand, he never excluded as untenable the other elements in her perpetual virginity, and may be said to have believed it himself without claiming that Scripture taught it.
The other part of the quote, "[Calvin] commonly speaks of Mary as 'the holy Virgin' (and rarely as simply as 'Mary preferring 'the Virgin', etc.)." is from page 175- a different context. There Wright is discussing Calvin's view of Mary's sinlessness, not her perpetual virginity. These two quotes from two different contexts on two different pages, stuck together (for whatever reason), don't say anything about a 1562 published sermon. There are no footnotes from either page 173 or 175 referring to the 1562 published sermon. In fact, there are no footnotes at all to Calvin's writings on page 173. On page 175 there are references to Calvin's writings on the purification of Mary, not Mary's perpetual virginity.

The only possibility that Wright had the 1562 published sermon in question is that on page 170 he cites a number of comments from Calvin's Harmony of the Gospels vol. 1. In documenting the quotes (all direct references to the Commentary), he refers also to Max Thurian on pages 39-40. Nowhere on page 170 does he cite the 1562 published sermon which Thurian cites in his book on pages 39-40. Neither does he cite any of the content from the 1562 published sermon, other than the fact that the sermon also states Calvin's view to not speculate as to what happened afterwards in regard to Mary. In fact, Wright doesn't cite Thurian at all on page 170, but appears to be using him as a secondary reference to the same material from the commentary.

Notice also Wright points out that Calvin's position was an exception to the Reformers, and then speculates that because Calvin "never excluded as untenable the other elements in her perpetual virginity" "he may be said to have believed it". I appreciate Wright's careful exception and understand his speculation. But it is just that: speculation. Calvin's view is to not speculate as to what happened afterward.

I did a cursory search of the footnotes provided for the entire book, Chosen by God: Mary in Evangelical Perspective (London: Marshall Pickering, 1989) to see if anywhere else the 1562 published sermon was mentioned. It was not. There was though an interesting comment from Tony's Lane in his chapter, The Rationale and Significance of the Virgin Birth (chapter 5). There Lane does refer to Calvin:
The virgin birth does not really exalt celibacy unless it is supplemented with the further doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity. This doctrine is found already in the second century and was well established by the third century. In its interesting to note that Calvin refused to commit himself on this matter while the marginal notes of the Puritan Geneva Bible of 1560 defend Mary's perpetual virginity. (p.111)
Now if one were to characterize the opinion of this book, both Wright and Lane note Calvin never made a precise statement on Mary's perpetual virginity. Wright speculates he may be said to have held it, Lane leaves it at "Calvin refused to commit himself on this matter."

This is simply one of the things I would do with each of the scholars cited to Mr. Staples before deciding one way or the other what the consensus of Calvin's view is on Mary's perpetual virginity. For David F. Wright, he speculates what Calvin's view is ("It may be said...") with the qualification that Calvin was an exception to the general consensus of the beliefs of the Reformers on this issue.


Addendum

Mr. Staples left the following comment:

#58  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger
James,
I think you make very good points. I tend to agree with you. But I don't think these points rise to the level of certainty that we want at Catholic Answers in our apologetics books. I think Calvin may well of waffled on this point, but you do make good points. I appreciate your comments. I especially agree with you when you point out Calvin's constant attempt not to go beyond what is said in the texts of Scripture. Thanks again.
October 24, 2014 at 8:14 am PST

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Debate: Are Roman Catholics Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ? (White vs Wilson)

Does Trinitarian baptism join you to the New Covenant? Does it join you to Christ? Does it make you a brother or sister in Christ with everyone else who has likewise been baptized, even if you hold to a false gospel? Are Roman Catholics our brothers and sisters in Christ by baptism, but not by confession of faith? These are the issues debated by Douglas Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho and James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries. (2 Hours 48 Minutes)


Saturday, October 18, 2014

O'Carroll on Calvin's Mariology

A few weeks ago I Came across Michael O'Carroll's Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Virgin Mary. His entry on Calvin was interesting, but unreadable unless one can read upside down. I took the time to flip the pages around.

Overall, I think this Roman Catholic treatment of Calvin's Mariology is quite good. Rome's apologists would do well to consider how radically different Calvin's view of Mary was to the Roman church of his day and the Roman church of our day. O'Carroll does well in describing the continuity / discontinuity of Calvin with the church of his day as well as with later periods of church history.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Your Comment is Awaiting Moderation

My apologies to those of you kind enough to leave comments. At times the comments may not appear immediately on the blog. I have trouble with trolls and stalkers from time to time.

There are only a few people who are permanently banned from commenting here. It takes a long time to reach the line that says, "Cross this and you'll be on permanent ignore."

Now with Facebook and Twitter, blog discussions aren't as popular as they once were. I still prefer blogs and discussion forums. I do maintain a Facebook page for this blog, and post to it from time to time. I simply don't have the time or desire to maintain it regularly. And besides, I've never really pursued being an Internet-apologist rock star. I don't sell anything, and more often than not, I blog the stuff I do out of purely selfish reasons rather than to gain a following. I expect no one to comment, and then I'm amazed people actually do.

Thanks for the comments.  


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Calvin: "There have been certain strange folk who have wished to suggest from this passage [Matt 1:25] that the Virgin Mary had other children..."

Add caption
This entry is a follow-up to: Tim Staples Says: Apologists Make Mistakes Too! There has been some interesting discussion on the blog entry recently posted by Mr. Staples about Calvin's view of Mary's perpetual virginity.

One point of interest was an obscure Calvin quote used by the Roman Catholic author Max Thurian, Mary: Mother of All Christians, pp. 39-40. His book was originally written in French in 1962. Thurian states:
Lastly Calvin's thought is made even more clear in a sermon on Matt. 1:22-25, which was published in 1562 in the shorthand notes of Denys Ragueneau: "There have been certain strange folk who have wished to suggest from this passage [Matt 1:25] that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! for the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph's obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company. There we see that he had never known her person for he was separated from his wife. He could marry another all the more because he could not enjoy the woman to whom he was betrothed; but he rather desired to forfeit his rights and abstain from marriage, being yet always married: he preferred, I say, to remain thus in the service of God rather than to consider what he might still feel that he could come to. He had forsaken everything in order that he might subject himself fully to the will of God.
And besides this, our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second. Thus we see the intention of the Holy Spirit. This is why to lend ourselves to foolish subtleties would be to abuse Holy Scripture, which is, as St. Paul says, "to be used for our edification."(21)
(21) La Revue réformée 1956/4, pp. 63-64.

Documentation
If one checks Thurian's documentation for his Calvin quote, it doesn't appear to me that he actually utilized a primary source, but rather took his citation from La Revue réformée 1956/4, pp. 63-64. In other words, the Calvin quote in question that is presented in English came from the French, and was taken from a French journal. Where did the French journal get it? Did the journal article use the primary source? I don't know. Thurian says the sermon was published in 1562.  It's unclear to me when exactly the sermon was preached. T.H.L. Parker says Calvin began preaching on a Harmony of the Gospels in 1559 and did so until the end of his life, so it could very well have been 1562, but since the book was published in 1562, I would posit it was probably preached sometime between 1559-1561 (see Parker's chart here). One other interesting detail is that "Calvin left the publishing of his sermons to to others with the exception of four sermons which he revised and published..."

I tracked down the actual sermon. All the sources I checked mentioned that the person who took the shorthand notes on Calvin's sermons during this period, Denys Ragueneau, was a paid professional in this field, and his abilities surpassed earlier attempts to capture Calvin's sermons.

Context
Typical of Calvin on this issue, the subject matter of the entire sermon does not dwell on Mary, and even less on Joseph. The quote in question is more of a passing comment, or more of an an end-note (for lack of a better term) stuck right at the very end of the sermon:


The English Calvin translation from  Neville B. Cyer of Thurian pp. 38-39 is good, but leaves out some things:
And notably it is said that he did not know the Virgin until she had given birth to her first Son. By this the Evangelist means that Joseph had not taken her as his wife to live with her, but rather to obey God, and to fulfill his obligation to her. It was thus not for reasons of carnal love, nor for profit, nor for anything else that he took her as his wife; it was to obey God and to show that he accepted the grace proffered. This was a blessing, that he could not even fully appreciate. Here is what we must retain.
There have been certain strange folk who have wished to suggest from this passage  that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! for the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph's obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company. There we see that he had never known her person for he was separated from his wife. He could marry another all the more because he could not enjoy the woman to whom he was betrothed; but he rather desired to forfeit his rights and abstain from marriage, being yet always married: he preferred, I say, to remain thus in the service of God rather than to consider what he might still feel that he could come to. He had forsaken everything in order that he might subject himself fully to the will of God.
And besides this, our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second. Thus we see the Holy Spirit's intention. To give ourselves over to subtle foolishness on this question would be to abuse the holy Scriptures, which is to be useful for our edification, as St Paul says. As for the rest, when men are so unstable and have such itching ears for new and appealing speculations, the devil must possess them as much as they harden themselves, so that they not be brought to the right path and thus trouble heaven and earth; rather, they must maintain their errors and dreams with a diabolical obstinacy. How much the more must we be sober to receive the doctrine that is given to us to accept the Redeemer who is sent to us from God his Father, and that we know his virtue so as to learn to hold ourselves fully in him.
Thus we bow down before the majesty of our good God.

Analysis
There are similarities between this comment and Calvin's earlier comments on Mary's virginity. In the well-known comments from Calvin's Commentaries, his basic point is that a necessary inference that Mary had other children cannot be made from the Biblical texts of Matthew 13:55 and 1:25, and it's “folly” to make a text say more than it does. In this sermon he likewise stresses that "Though some fantasies have been expressed that this passage is teaching that the virgin Mary had other children than Jesus and that Joseph lived with her afterwards, this is nonsense. The Evangelist had no interest in reciting what happened after."

There are some differences as well. When Calvin says, "And besides this, our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence," Calvin's commentary says, "He is called first-born; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin."

The sermon comments have some interesting details about Joseph. One thing to keep in mind is not reading into what Calvin is saying. For instance, when Calvin says, "He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company," and "Joseph had not taken her as his wife to live with her," it would be inconsistent within the context to conclude Calvin is saying that Joseph and Mary never lived together, even after the birth of Jesus. Calvin is not speculating as to what happened afterwards based on this verse (that's his main point!).  It would be a contextual error then to think Calvin here means that Joseph was some sort of monk never dwelling with Mary. The point Calvin is making concerns the period of betrothal. See particularly Calvin's comments on Matthew 1:18-25 where Calvin says "before they came together" means "before they came to dwell together as husband and wife, and to make one home and family" and "The meaning will thus be, that the virgin had not yet been delivered by her parents into the hands of her husband, but still remained under their roof." See also Calvin's comments on Luke 2:1-7 and Luke 2:48-58.

Calvin never comes right out and says Mary was a perpetual virgin, as Roman Catholics understand it. Calvin quite explicitly denies that Mary took a vow of perpetual virginity in his commentary on Luke 1:34-38:
The conjecture which some have drawn from these words, that she had formed a vow of perpetual virginity, is unfounded and altogether absurd. She would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage; which could not have been done without mockery of God. Although the Papists have exercised barbarous tyranny on this subject, yet they have never proceeded so far as to allow the wife to form a vow of continence at her own pleasure. Besides, it is an idle and unfounded supposition that a monastic life existed among the Jews.

We must reply, however, to another objection that the virgin refers to the future, and so declares that she will have no intercourse with a man. The probable and simple explanation is that the greatness or rather majesty of the subject made so powerful an impression on the virgin, that all her senses were bound and locked up in astonishment, when she is informed that the Son of God will be born, she imagines something unusual, and for that reason leaves conjugal intercourse out of view. Hence she breaks out in amazement, 'How shall this be?"
But if one reads between the lines of the sermon, it appears Calvin is saying Mary had no other children besides Jesus. Without any clear denial that Mary was not a perpetual virgin, and with comments that safeguard against the idea that Mary had other children- I think this is why so many writers have concluded Calvin held to the perpetual virginity of Mary- it's a conclusion from inference rather than a direct admission from Calvin. The problem with the conclusion is that it goes against Calvin's specific guidelines- to not speculate beyond what he thought the Scriptures stated. To be fair to Calvin is to allow him to say what he said, not what we want him to say. If one really wanted to give Calvin's opinion on this issue, it is to simply say that Calvin did not think it correct to speculate. This isn't the answer polemicists want to hear, but it is letting Calvin be Calvin.


The Argument From Tim Staples on Calvin and Perpetual Virginity
Mr Staples eventually changed his original blog entry. He originally stated:

This second myth is even more widespread. I have found it not only taught and published by many Catholics, but I even found one popular Calvinist apologist who has it up on his website as being true. And that is, John Calvin actually taught the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. He did not.
He revised it to:

This second myth is even more widespread, but I must qualify it. There can be no doubt that John Calvin, at least at some point in his career, believed in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. But to place him on the same level of Luther, Zwingli and Wesley is misguided. It is not to paint the entire picture accurately.

Mr. Staples was right originally. There is no explicit teaching from John Calvin on Mary's perpetual virginity. What there is are statements from Calvin saying not to go beyond the text of scripture to speculate as to whether or not Mary had other children.  In regard to the revised statement, the "one point in his career" in which Calvin is said to have believed in Mary's perpetual virginity is the sermon published in 1562 discussed above.  The way Mr. Staples sees it is that this sermon is "earlier in his career" as compared to Calvin's final word on the matter in his Commentary published in 1563. According to T.H.L. Parker though, Calvin's commentary on the Synoptics was published in 1555. As I stated above, the sermon is probably from 1559-1561. It would appear to me that the commentary was before the sermon. Even if the Staples dating scenario is correct and Calvin vacillated on this question in the span of year at the end of his life- this seems like a stretch to me- certainly possible, but hardly likely. Calvin was a consistent theologian. Certainly there were changes in his thinking, but they typically were not saying one thing one year and the opposite the next.

On the other hand, Mr. Staples makes some interesting arguments that I'd like to contrast with some comments from Steve Hays :

...[I]f we read further in Calvin's commentary and head over to Luke 1:34, in volume 2 of this same work I mentioned above, he seems to deny what he had earlier accepted as true.

Luke 1:34 is the famous text where Mary, having heard God's invitation for her to become the Mother of God through the message of the Archangel Gabriel, asks the obvious question: "How shall this be since I know not man?" In other words, "How is this going to happen since I do not plan on having conjugal relations?" For more details on this and more, get my book!

Calvin's commentary on this text reads: “The conjecture which some have drawn from these words, that she had formed a vow of perpetual virginity, is unfounded and altogether absurd. She would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage…”

Notice here, he not only denies this text could be used to prove Mary had a vow of Perpetual Virginity before her marriage to St. Joseph, but that this "would have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage." This would seem to deny the Perpetual Virginity of Mary itself as a possible consideration for Calvin, and it seems to be a change in Calvin's thinking on the matter.

So what may have informed this change? I argue, it may well have been his understanding of the "covenant" of marriage. Remember, John Calvin did not believe marriage to be a sacrament that is ratified as such at the altar of a church and then consummated on the wedding night. It was a "covenant" conditioned upon certin essential things, including the exchange of vows, a minister present, public witnesses, and the consummation. In his commentary on Eph. 5:28, for example, he says:
Marriage was appointed by God on the condition that the two should be one flesh; and that this unity may be the more sacred, he again recommends it to our notice by the consideration of Christ and his church.
The consummation, for Calvin, was essential to marriage. But even more, in his commentary on Eph. 5:31:
And they two shall be one flesh. They shall be one man, or, to use a common phrase, they shall constitute one person; which certainly would not hold true with regard to any other kind of relationship. All depends on this, that the wife was formed of the flesh and bones of her husband. Such is the union between us and Christ, who in some sort makes us partakers of his substance. 'We are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh,' (Ge 2:23;) not because, like ourselves, he has a human nature, but because, by the power of his Spirit, he makes us a part of his body, so that from him we derive our life.

If "all is dependent upon this," it is no wonder that Calvin (and this followers today) would eventually come to view the PVBVM as out of the question.

The Argument From Steve Hays
This same point Mr. Staples makes was alluded to recently by Steve Hays:
Finally, there's a substantive theological issue. If Mary and Joseph never consummated their marriage, then it was never a real marriage (by Jewish standards). In that event, Jesus is not the legal stepson of Joseph, in which case he can't trace his family tree through either the Matthean or Lucan genealogies.
I'm not exactly sure what Calvin would say about this argument in regard to Mary and Joseph. To be consistent, any sort of comment would be going beyond Calvin's stated opinion into the realm of speculation. In terms of sheer logic, the point Hays makes is cogent, and I would agree with him.

Hays also says,
It comes as no revelation that the Protestant Reformers agreed with the Latin Church and (some) church fathers on a number of issues. There's continuity as well as discontinuity. So it wouldn't be some great coup to discover points of agreement between Luther or Calvin with the Latin Church or some church fathers. That was never in dispute.  
Hays gets to the heart of the issue. What I've found is that the alleged Mariology of the Reformers has been used by the defenders of Rome to show that the Reformers practiced sola scriptura and held to distinctly Roman doctrines. Therefore, they argue a few different ways:

a) Romanism is biblical
b) Sola Scriptura is inconsistent (or all Protestants should agree as to what the Scriptura teaches)
c) To be consistent Protestants, following the direct opinions of the original Protestants is necessary.

Hays though points out what any good Protestant historian would say: within all periods of church history, there is continuity and discontinuity. It doesn't surprise me or embarrass me as a Protestant to discover Luther believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Nor does the view of Calvin that appears to affirm the notion of perpetual virginity between the lines while at the same time saying not to speculate beyond the Biblical text. When one closely scrutinizes the Mariology of the Reformers, one finds exactly what Hays says: there's continuity as well as discontinuity with the Reformers and earlier periods of church history as well as the period in which they lived.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tim Staples Says: Apologists Make Mistakes Too!

Tim Staples has yet another product coming out on Mary. This time it's a book entitled, Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines.  That Rome's defenders continually produce materials about Mary is not surprising, but what is surprising is that Staples recently pitched the book on his blog stating, Apologists Make Mistakes Too! What Staples is referring to are historical errors some of his fellow apologists have made with the historical facts concerning the Protestant Reformers.

For years Rome's apologists have tried to use aspects of the Reformation in support of their version of Mary. The basic argument is that the Reformers held to sola scriptura and yet had a Roman Catholic Mariology. Luther and Calvin believed this or that about Mary, so... why don't contemporary "Bible only" Protestants?

Some of their argumentation is downright silly. Staples rightly identifies one of the worst:


Luther Was Not Buried Beneath An Image of Our Lady 
 As I point out in my book, Martin Luther did retain much of his Catholic Mariology after having left the Church. But there are also not a few myths about what Luther did and taught floating about in Catholic circles. If you haven't heard this one yet, you will. It has been written about and spoken about by quite a few Catholics, and I have personally heard some very well-known apologists state it as true as well. The myth claims there to be a relief of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with an accompanying inscription by Peter Vischer the Younger over the tomb of Martin Luther in the Wittenberg "Schlosskirche" ("Palace Church") where he is buried. "See?" The argument goes. "Luther believed in Mary assumed into heaven and crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth!" Unfortunately, it is actually a memorial plaque for Henning Gode, the last Catholic Prior of that church, who died in 1521. Same building, but not connected to Luther. Luther did believe in Mary as Mother of God, Perpetual Virgin, and even, at least at times in his writings, free from all sin, though he goes both ways on this one, but there is nary at hint of Mary's assumption.

I first came across the burial vault argument in 2007 while listening to a podcast from Mark Shea. Shea stated:

For Luther the Assumption was a settled fact...indeed Luther's burial vault in the Wittenburg church on whose door he had posted his ninety five theses was adorned with the 1521 Peter Vischer's sculpture of the Coronation of the Virgin.
This led me to a statement by Peter Stravinskas:
Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the realization that his burial chamber in the Wittenberg church, on whose door he had posted his 95 Theses, was adorned with the 1521 Peter Vischer sculpture of the Coronation of the Virgin, with the inscription containing these lines: Ad summum Regina thronum defertur in altum: Angelicis praelatia choris, cui festus et ipse Filius occurrens Matrem super aethera ponit. This "archaeological" fact would seem to speak volumes about Luther's final thoughts on the place of Mary in the life of a Christian.
Staples is correct about the tomb inscription and that Rome's defenders have used it to say, "Luther believed in Mary assumed into heaven and crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth!" Staples is also correct that in Luther's Reformation writings "there is nary at [sic] hint" he believed Mary was assumed into heaven.

Staples then moves to a mistake about John Calvin:

Calvin Did NOT Believe in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary 
This second myth is even more widespread. I have found it not only taught and published by many Catholics, but I even found one popular Calvinist apologist who has it up on his website as being true. And that is, John Calvin actually taught the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. He did not. The error seems to have stemmed from misunderstanding some few comments from John Calvin’s 3-volume set, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Transl. by Rev. William Pringle (Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2009). In his commentaries on Matt. 13:55 and Matt. 1:25, in volume 1, he takes Helvidius to task for assuming Mary had other children because of the mention of the “brothers of the Lord,” in Matthew 13:55, and for assuming “Joseph knew her not until…” meant that Joseph then was being said to have known Mary conjugally after Christ was born. Calvin correctly and sternly (in good Calvin fashion) teaches the "brothers" of the Lord may well be a Hebrew idiom representing "cousins" or some other extended relative. And he also points out that the "until" of Matt. 1:25 really says nothing about what happened after Mary gave birth. It was used there to emphasize the virginity of Mary up "until" that point. Don't get me wrong here. This is good stuff from John Calvin. He honestly exegetes these texts and corrects not only Helvidius, but, no doubt, some of his own confreres who were presuming what was not in these texts. That's a good thing! But unfortunately, many Catholics have taken these two sections of Calvin's commentary out of context and claim it to mean he agreed with the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. But in fact, he never says that. He simply concludes these Scriptures to be silent on the matter. They prove neither yeah nor nay when it comes to Mary's perpetual virginity. What my Catholic friends should have done (and I include myself here before I found this while researching for my book... ssssssshhhhhhh!) is to read further in Calvin's commentary and head over to Luke 1:34, in volume 2 of this same work, where he expressly denies Mary’s perpetual virginity.Luke 1:34 is the famous text where Mary, having heard God's invitation for her to become the Mother of God through the message of the Archangel Gabriel, asks the obvious question: "How shall this be since I know not man?" In other words, "How is this going to happen since I do not plan on having conjugal relations?" For more details on this and more, get my book! Calvin's commentary on this text reads: “The conjecture which some have drawn from these words, that she had formed a vow of perpetual virginity, is unfounded and altogether absurd. She would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage…” Notice here, he not only denies this text could be used to prove the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, but he denies the doctrine itself as a possible consideration.

This is another issue that's been on this blog for many years now. One of my earliest blog entries addressing this goes back to 2006, and it's come up a number of times since then. I would say that Staples is probably the first of Rome's popular defenders to arrive at the conclusion he has about Calvin on this issue.  I look forward to utilizing Staples here the next time one of Rome's apologists bring this up.

Kudos to Mr. Staples, especially with his position on Calvin. I've accused Rome's defenders for years of sloppy and inaccurate historical work on the Protestant Reformation, especially the Reformers' Mariology. At times it's been like shooting fish in a barrel. I have not purchased the book Staples reveals all this information in.  I would speculate there's a good chance he probably came across this blog while doing his research. I know even if he did utilize my blog for his book, he would probably not admit it. It is possible as well Mr. Staples has no idea who I am and figured this stuff out the same way I did: by looking at evidence and reading documents in context.

Ah well. It's enough for me that one of Rome's popular defenders is now saying some of the same things I've been saying for years.


ht: "guy fawkes" for his blog comment alerting me to the blog entry from Mr. Staples.



Addendum #1
I attempted to purchase the e-book version of Staples' new book on Mary, but as of 10/12/14 it was not yet available. Because (as Staples explains below) his comments about the Reformers are footnotes rather than actual lengthier treatments, I can't see the value in spending more than twice the amount for the actual book.

Addendum #2
A comment was left for Mr. Staples giving (among other things) a Calvin citation from a secondary source (that is, no original or complete context) documenting a sermon from Calvin (a citation from Calvin in English which was translated from the French, originally from shorthand notes), taken from a French journal, not the original sermon (that is- the secondary source utilized a Calvin quote from a journal).

Mr. Staples then responded and gave some further information about his position on John Calvin and Mary's perpetual virginity:

I did not go into this kind of detail in the book because it was a peripheral point and limited to a footnote. I was speaking of how a lack of understanding of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary can lead to the loss of an understanding of many crucial teachings, like the indissolubility of marriage, sacraments, consecrated celibacy, the biblical notion of consecration in general, and more. In passing I note how the loss of an understanding of these things can lead to a loss of understanding of Mary's Perpetual Virginity or vice versa. That is when I toss out the idea that Luther's followers could be examples of the former while Calvin's followers the latter. I then footnote the fact that I believe Calvin rejected the Perpetual Virginity of Mary in his commentary on Matthew, Mark, and Luke and that I think many of us have taken this work out of context over the years. I don't comment on his earlier sermon at all. Again, maybe I should have, but it was a footnote. At any rate, here's my take on what you say. I think Calvin, like Luther on the Immaculate Conception, seemed to waffle on this teaching. Calvin was much more systematic than Luther, but he evolved (or devolved) in his teaching at times as well. But the use of his commentary on Matthew, Mark, and Luke, specific to his comments on Matt. 13:55 and especially Matt. 1:25 is misguided, in my opinion. When you consider that Calvin explicitly takes a position in between Helvidius and Jerome in his commentary on Matt. 1:25 and he says as much, he says the text does not conclude either way, and then he footnotes his own work in Matt. 1:25 when he comments on Matt. 13:55 that the "brothers of the Lord" could be a Hebrew idiom for some other extended relation, that seems to me to be more agnostic than declaratory of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. I don't think the references to "the Virgin Mary" would carry the day either. I know I referred to Mary as "the Virgin Mary" when I was Protestant, but that did not mean I believed she was a perpetual virgin. While it is true that the "title" "Virgin Mary" did carry with it a connotation of a permanent state in the first 16 centuries of the Christians era, so it is an interesting point, I think it more important to go to Calvin's writings on the topic to get at what he really believed. To the point: I would give more weight to his Commentary on Matthew, Mark, and Luke, than to the earlier sermon. A major commentary on Scripture that probably took years to write seems to me to be more telling than a sermon that is written in a few days. Moreover, the translation of Calvin's commentary (by Pringle) I used is a collation of both the original Latin 1555 edition and the 1563 French translation that Calvin himself translated from his original Latin text just about a year before he died. So this would come after his 1562 sermon. To give you more of the citation, I'll pick up near the end of my citation and continue: "... and would have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage; which could not have been done without mockery of God. Although the Papists have exercised barbarous tyranny on this subject, yet they have never proceeded so far as to allow the wife to form a vow of continence at her own pleasure. Besides, it is an idle and unfounded supposition that a monastic life existed among the Jews." Thus, he rejects the notion that Mary could have had a vow of perpetual virginity at the annunciation to be sure. He then goes on to reject that Mary could be referring to the future and never having intercourse with a man either: "We must reply, however, to another objection that the virgin refers to the future, and so declares that she will have no intercourse with a man. The probable and simple explanation is that the greatness or rather majesty of the subject made so powerful an impression on the virgin, that all her senses were bound and locked up in astonishment, when she is informed that the Son of God will be born, she imagines something unusual, and for that reason leaves conjugal intercourse out of view. Hence she breaks out in amazement, 'How shall this be?'" What jumped out at me reading this was this: He is responding to an "objection." An objection to what? To his teaching that the very idea of a virgin giving herself to a husband while planning to be a perpetual virgin would be tantamount to committing "treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and... pour[ing] contempt on the holy covenant of marriage." Those are very strong words that would, in my view, lend themselves to Calvin having second and third thoughts about the perpetual virginity of Mary at the very least. If he wanted to clarify things, it would seem to me Matt. 1:25 would be the place to do it because that is where "Joseph takes Mary his wife," but there he is clearly agnostic on the matter. Again, I don't go this deep into Calvin's mind in the book, but I would think, at the very least, one should say Calvin may have held to the view and then waffled on it, rather than just claiming he held to the dogma as did Luther, Zwingli, and even Wesley. Whenever I cite Luther on the sinlessness of Mary, I also note that this was early in his career and he seemed to move away from it later. That seems to me to be the honest thing to do. I would hope folks would have this same courtesy toward me if they come upon things I taught early on that I have come to see I was mistaken on. Or, at least, I would hope folks would inform their audience of my change in thinking. That's my two cents worth. Though you may think it worth less than that!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Luther: All Christians are Peters on Account of the Confession He Makes


While digging around in Hartmann Grisar, Luther V, I came across the following:

Of Mat. xvi. 18: "Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my church," he gives the following explanation, which plainly rests on his own partisan and anti-Papal standpoint: By Peter all Christians together with Peter are meant, and their confession is the rock. "All Christians are Peters on account of the confession which here Peter makes, which also is the rock on which Peter and all the other Peters are built. The confession is common to all; hence also the name." "Werke," Erl. ed., 64, p. 194.

I was curious to see the context for this quote so I tracked down Erl 64:194. The comment is from a marginal note from Luther's translation of the Bible. I don't recall the complete set of these marginal notes ever being translated into English.

As to Grisar's charge of partisan and anti-Papal, it's too late to direct him to William Webster's The Patristic Exegesis of the Rock of Matthew 16:18.

Also while digging around I found my old blog entry where I nailed the Called to Communion folks on Luther giving the keys to Peter.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Just as the Reformation was Gaining Momentum... Mary appeared and Converted 9 Million Indians

Here's an interesting anti-Reformation argument from the New Oxford Review, May 2014 by Frederick Marks.* The following excerpt is part of a larger article presenting an apologetic for the importance of the Roman Catholic Mary:

Of special interest from the standpoint of history is the fact that hostility to Marian devotion is a post-Reformation phenomenon that appears to have arisen in response to an event that occurred in faraway Mexico. When Luther and Calvin launched their reform movement, they subscribed to all that the Church practiced and taught on the subject of Mary. But fourteen years after Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, just as the Reformation was gaining momentum, Mary appeared to Juan Diego at Guadalupe, triggering the conversion of nine million native Indians. The year was 1531, and Christians were on the fence theologically. Should they leave the Church? If they had already done so, should they return? Suddenly, Mary appears to a Catholic and asks him to approach a Catholic bishop to have a Catholic church built in her honor so that people may approach her Son in the Eucharist.
Over the years, evidence for Mary’s New World apparition mounted, and Protestant reformers found themselves in a quandary. How could they admit that the mother of Jesus had come down on the opposite side of the theological fence? Subsequent apparitions, such as those at Lourdes (1858) and Fatima (1917), undeniably authentic, did little to ease the pain. Consequently, some Protestants wound up denying the importance of the Blessed Mother while others questioned the existence of post-apostolic miracles and advised folks to go “straight to Jesus.” 




1. "Hostility to Marian devotion is a post-Reformation phenomenon that appears to have arisen in response to an event that occurred in faraway Mexico."

The key word here is devotion. If devotion is nothing more than saying nice things about Mary, then Protestants are not hostile to Mary (even those in the 17th century). On the other hand, if devotion includes the intercession of the saints, and the cult of the virgin, then hostility to Marian devotion is a Reformation phenomenon, not a post-Reformation phenomenon.


2. "When Luther and Calvin launched their reform movement, they subscribed to all that the Church practiced and taught on the subject of Mary."

 Both Luther and Calvin denied the intercession of the saints, thus changing their theology of Mary drastically and radically compared to popular Roman piety then and now. Neither would pray to Mary, and would tell those people listening to them not to pray to her either. Yes, in 1517, Luther appears to have held the typical Marian piety of medieval Christianity. By 1522, one can find written evidence that he was instructing people away from the intercession of the saints, and not soon thereafter emphasizing to his hearers to move away from the cult of the saints. If the statement is true that Luther "subscribed to all that the Church practiced and taught on the subject of Mary" in 1517, I would include the popular notion that Christ was the cruel judge and Mary was the merciful advocate turning away His wrath.

I've not found any evidence that Calvin held to the intercession of the saints or the cult of the saints during his Reformation career. Then there were Marian issues that weren't official teachings of the Roman church during the Reformation period that both did not embrace- like Mary's assumption. Then there were issues like the immaculate conception in which Luther changed his view on, and Calvin did not adhere to at all. Then there's the fact that Calvin's position on Mary's perpetual virginity is that the Gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards to Mary- so Calvin doesn't decide one way or the other. This is hardly subscribing to "all that the Church practiced and taught on the subject of Mary."


3. "But fourteen years after Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, just as the Reformation was gaining momentum, Mary appeared to Juan Diego at Guadalupe, triggering the conversion of nine million native Indians."

Well, because of the Reformation there have been more than 9 million Protestants. I doubt the author intends to argue that the number of conversions = truth.

One source I looked at said the written tradition of the 1531 event "cannot be traced earlier than the work of Fr. Miguel Sanchez in 1648..." I don't claim to be a knowledgeable person on Mary's alleged appearances- probably because rarely if ever in all my years of Internet encounters with the defenders of Rome have I come across any of them using these appearances for apologetic purposes. One can spend hours on dissecting the source material and debate of Juan Diego and Mary. The way it typically comes down is that Rome did an investigation and declared him a saint, so whatever disparaging evidence is presented won't do much good to one of Mary's defenders. One fact though did bother me enough to look into: the nine million Indian converts. The majority of sources I looked at say it was eight million, not nine,  during the seven year period of 1531-1538. Some sources say 9 million in little over a decade. I have sought out verification of this- and so far, I haven't come across any actual historical evidence documenting this mass conversion due to Mary, nor have I found any indication of what such a conversion entails and how it was determined. Most often, the pro-Roman sources simply say it happened, and happened because of Mary's appearance. The conversion of South America to Christianity may in fact be a lot more complicated than the appearance of Mary (yes, that's sarcasm). See or instance, this article.


4. "The year was 1531, and Christians were on the fence theologically. Should they leave the Church? If they had already done so, should they return? Suddenly, Mary appears to a Catholic and asks him to approach a Catholic bishop to have a Catholic church built in her honor so that people may approach her Son in the Eucharist."

I'm not exactly sure which Christians on the fence in 1531 the author is describing. If he's describing people in Europe, I'm not familiar with any documentation of European Christians in 1531 that were pushed one way or other because of a report of Mary's appearance in Mexico.


5. "Over the years, evidence for Mary’s New World apparition mounted, and Protestant reformers found themselves in a quandary. How could they admit that the mother of Jesus had come down on the opposite side of the theological fence?"

I'm not sure exactly which Protestant Reformers the author has in mind. I know of no statements from either Luther or Calvin on Juan Diego's story.


6. "Subsequent apparitions, such as those at Lourdes (1858) and Fatima (1917), undeniably authentic, did little to ease the pain. Consequently, some Protestants wound up denying the importance of the Blessed Mother while others questioned the existence of post-apostolic miracles and advised folks to go 'straight to Jesus.'"

The miracles of Lourdes and Fatima are undeniably authentic... if one is a Roman Catholic. Protestants did not and have not denied "the importance of the Blessed Mother." Mary played her role in the gospel story, and is therefore an important person (as was Peter, Paul, James, Abraham, etc.). What the author is getting at is that Protestants have denied the intercessory role of Mary, devotion to Mary, and Mary's alleged miracles, and would rather "go straight to Jesus." Well, yes, we would rather go straight to Jesus... and the problem is...?

*The link to the article from the New Oxford Review requires a subscription. The article appears to have been cut-and-pasted here.


Addendum 
Here's an interesting pro-Juan Diego source and it's anti-Reformation polemic:
She declared to Juan Diego that she was the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God.  This doctrinal statement contradicted emphatically the ideas of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation then turning all Europe into two camps.  She called Juan Diego her very dear son, and proclaimed herself a loving mother to all who would come to her with their problems and cares; in other words, substantiating the Church's traditional teaching that Our Lord, from the Cross, in giving her to St. John as his mother and appointing St. John as her son, was creating for her a universal role as Mother of us all.  This was being denied by the Protestant Reformers:  Mary was for them simply the historic mother of Jesus and had no other role to play.
She offered her intercession—as a mediatrix of graces—to all who should ask for it.  This, too, was of course denied by the Reformers, and where "national churches" were being set up, taking over the magnificent churches of the "Old Faith" as in England, the many little German kingdoms and the Scandinavian countries, the images of the Blessed Virgin, as well as those of the Saints, were being thrown out of the churches and homes and were burned or hacked to pieces.  But Our Lady in 1531 firmly emphasized her intercessory role in "the Communion of Saints."

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Luther's German Bible Only and KJV Only

Here's an interesting post I found on the"King James Only" CARM discussion board, relating to the idea that particular translations of the Bible receive divine approval. Apparently, some of the KJV only folks argue that Luther's German Bible was God's approved German translation. I'm sure Luther would have been flattered by that! The point being addressed is if Luther's German translation was divinely approved of and the KJV was divinely approved of, why are there differences?


If according to KJV-only reasoning Luther’s German Bible and the KJV are equal to the same underlying texts, it suggests that they are equal to each other. When the water of the Received text was poured out into Luther’s German Bible, did it not remain the same water according to KJV-only reasoning? If according to KJV-only reasoning Luther’s German Bible and the KJV are equal to the same thing [the self-attesting, self-authenticating word of God], it again indicates that they are equal to each other. J. J. Ray maintained that “things equal to the same thing are equal to each other” (God Wrote Only One Bible, p. 29). Likewise, D. A. Waite acknowledged that “things equal to the same thing are equal to each other” (Fundamentalist Deception, p. 84). Waite wrote: “As in geometry, two things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other” (Critical Answer to Michael, p. 119). According to the KJV-only view’s own tree, Luther’s German Bible and the KJV are branches on the same tree. This would also seem to imply that they are equal to each other. In his book Biblical Scholarship, Ruckman referred to the “Luther‘s Bible and the King James Bible” (p. 56), “Receptus of King James and Martin Luther” (p. 94), “Martin Luther’s German Bible and the King James Bible” (p. 142), and “Martin Luther’s German Bible and the King James Authorized English Bible” (p. 390), seeming to make them equal. According to a consistent application of KJV-only claims and reasoning, Luther’s German Bible and the KJV would have equal authority, and one of these translations cannot have greater authority than the other. If a standard and consensus English translation of the Received text is supposed to be self-attesting and self-authenticating, a standard and consensus German translation of that same text would also need to be self-attesting and self-authenticating. Is Luther's German Bible the consensus and sole final authority for believers that speak German? Can there be two varying and different consensus sole and final authorities for any believers that speak both English and German? Based on what greater authority or standard can it be claimed that one of these translations is greater than or superior to the other? If there are any differences between them, it is valid evidence of the need a greater authority than either of these translations to determine which is more accurate.

All the editions of Luther's Bible published during Luther's lifetime did not include 1 John 5:7, Mark 11:26, and Luke 17:36 in addition to many other differences when compared to the KJV. When compared to the KJV, Luther's Bible was also missing phrases at John 19:38, James 4:6, 1 John 2:23, Revelation 18:23, and Revelation 21:26. Glenn Conjurske observed: "The fact is, (in addition to numerous other differences) there are whole verses in the King James Version which neither are nor ever have been in Luther's German" (Olde Paths, Sept., 1997, p. 212). Preserved Smith reported that 1 John 5:7 was first placed in the German Bible in 1575 (Age of Reformation, p. 570). Conjurske also pointed out that Luther omitted 1 John 5:7 from the revised edition of the Latin Vulgate that he published in 1529 (March, 1997, p. 72).

KJV-only author Peter Ruckman seemed to suggest that “Luther’s German Bible is nearly identical” to the KJV (Bible Babel, p. 91). Ruckman recommended “Martin Luther's German version" (Scholarship Only Controversy, p. 1). In his commentary on the book of Revelation, Ruckman wrote: “Martin Luther’s German Bible is the same text as the King James, 1611” (p. 80). In his same commentary, Ruckman asserted: “Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible is a monument in the German language, exactly as the King James Bible is a monument in the English language” (p. 82). Ruckman wrote: “Martin’s German Bible is the German King James Bible. It is the equivalent of the ‘King’s English,’ and so all affirm” (Biblical Scholarship, p. 146). Ruckman wrote: “God produced a German Textus Receptus for the Continent” (p. 230). Ruckman asserted: “Never hesitate to correct any Greek text with the text of the ‘Reichstext’” (Monarch of the Books, p. 19). Bradley stated that Luther's Bible "is still considered the preserved Word of God for the German-speaking world” and that it “was produced from the same reliable text as the King James Bible" (Purified Seven Times, p. 36).

The Argument
I don't have the KJV only books mentioned above to check the references to see if the authors had Luther's Bible in mind (J.J. Ray, D.A. Waite, Peter Ruckman), but it appears the argument is presented correctly. Ruckman states,
"One of the most asinine things you ever heard in your life is a modern, present-day evangelist, standing in the pulpit, talking about great revivals to come, when he no longer believes the Authorized Version is the word of God. Martin Luther's German Bible is the same text as the King James, 1611. Subsequently, all Bibles in Europe and the United States, from these translations, are Textus Receptus, Greek Byzantine text, Syrian type text, and they are NOT the text of the North African Latin Church - in other words today, the Roman Catholic Church."
 This website states:
As an interesting aside, the Martin Luther Bible has a lot to do with the King James Version only debate. Those that hold to KJV only have to provide a Bible in all languages, not just English. They have chosen Luther's 1545 edition as their German champion. The problem is that the passage about three bearing witness in heaven is one of their main arguing points, and Martin Luther did not include it in his Bible. The Martin Luther Bible now contains it, but it was added in 1574 by a Frankfurt publisher (Schaff, cited in text, VII:4:62)
If the KJV only position has been put forth accurately, then the refutation is sound. Dr. White points out that the KJV only advocates claim the Textus Receptus is the "text of the Reformation." It would not surprise me at all to discover KJV only advocates molding history to fit their paradigm.


Tedium: The References
The reference to Preserved Smith can be found here. Smith was a knowledgeable Reformation scholar and not one to defend the Reformers at all costs. One will find that in this text one page earlier Smith describes Luther's Bible: "Among the great vernacular Protestant versions of the Bible that of Luther stands first in every sense of the word." A paragraph later he states, "All too much Luther read his own ideas into the Bible." Of the reference in question, Smith states, "Also, following the Erasmian text, he omitted the 'comma johanneum' (1 John v, 7); this was first insinuated into the German Bible in 1575."

The quotes from Glenn Conjurske (1947-2001) are curious. The September 1997 was a passing comment in an article in which neither KJV onlyism or Luther's Bible was the topic. The quote from March 1997 is more relevant:
We have informed our readers in these pages before that Luther omitted I John 5:7 from every edition of his German New Testament which he published during his lifetime. I have recently learned that he also omitted it from the revised edition of the Latin Vulgate which he published in 1529. This edition is printed in the large German edition of D. Martin Luthers Werke (Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1914)----no indication in the book which volume this is of the whole set, but it is Fünfter Band of D. Martin Luthers Deutsche Bibel. The text of I John 5:7-8 appears thus: Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant, Spiritus, Aqua et Sanguis, et hi tres simul sunt. The common Vulgate text (Clementine edition), on the other hand, reads thus (with the words omitted by Luther in bold type): Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in cælo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus; et hi tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra: spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis; et hi tres unum sunt. This omission was a bold step on Luther's part, for, as Scrivener informs us, the verse is found “in perhaps 49 out of every 50”[manuscripts of the Vulgate, but the very boldness of the step proves beyond cavil, if any further proof were wanted, that Luther did not believe in the genuineness of the verse.

The Bible Verses
The information about Luther's Bible not including 1 John 5:7, Mark 11:26, and Luke 17:36 appears on various websites, (typically discussion boards) debunking KJV only arguments like this one: "the fact that Luther's German Bible did not include Mark 11:26, Luke 17:36, 1 John 5:7, and many other clauses and phrases in the KJV is ignored."

Luther's treatment of 1 John 5:7 is a well-known fact. This old Sunday School newspaper mentions that it was the printer Feyerabeud who inserted 1 John 5:7 into Luther's Bible in 1574, and this old source says it was in Frankfort 1574, but later in Frankfort in 1583, it was taken out again.

The information about the other verses isn't as easy to locate. This website claims to have a 1545 Luther Bible. Luke 17:36 is missing, while Mark 11:26 is included, but is actually what we know to be the later part of Mark 11:25: "auf daß auch euer Vater im Himmel euch vergebe eure Feile." Other online 1545 Luther Bible's have the missing verse 26.

It is also asserted that "Luther's Bible was also missing phrases at John 19:38, James 4:6, 1 John 2:23, Revelation 18:23, and Revelation 21:26." If you Google search this, it appears to me it's probably the same person that's responsible for all the hits. I would be interested to know who originally did the research.  I took the time to compare the online 1545 Luther Bible to the 1912 online Luther Bible.

John 19:38
1545: Darnach bat den Pilatus Joseph von Arimathia, der ein Jünger Jesu war, doch heimlich aus Furcht vor den Juden, daß er möchte abnehmen den Leichnam Jesu. Und Pilatus erlaubte es.

1912: Darnach bat den Pilatus Joseph von Arimathia, der ein Jünger Jesu war, doch heimlich aus Furcht vor den Juden, daß er möchte abnehmen den Leichnam Jesu. Und Pilatus erlaubte es. Da kam er und nahm den Leichnam Jesu herab.

James 4:6
1545: und gibt reichlich gnade.

1912: Er gibt aber desto reichlicher Gnade. Darum sagt sie: "Gott widersteht den Hoffärtigen, aber den Demütigen gibt er Gnade."

1 John 2:23
1545: Wer den Son leugnet  Der hat auch den Vater nicht.

1912: Wer den Sohn leugnet, der hat auch den Vater nicht; wer den Sohn bekennt, der hat auch den Vater

Revelation 18:23
1545:  und die tim des Breutigams und der Braut ol nicht mehr in dir gehöret werden Denn deine Kauffleute waren Fürten auff erden Denn durch deine Zeuberey ind verirret worden alle Heiden

1912: und das Licht der Leuchte soll nicht mehr in dir leuchten, und die Stimme des Bräutigams und der Braut soll nicht mehr in dir gehört werden! Denn deine Kaufleute waren Fürsten auf Erden; denn durch deine Zauberei sind verführt worden alle Heiden.

Revelation 21:26
1545: und wird nicht hineingehen irgend ein Gemeines und das da Greuel tut und Lüge Sondern die geschrieben sind in dem lebendigen Buch des Lambs

1912: Und man wird die Herrlichkeit und die Ehre der Heiden in sie bringen.

The only error here is that of Revelation 21:26. According to the online 1545 version I utilized, verses 26-27 constitute one verse.  The 1912 version is two separate verses: 

26 Und man wird die Herrlichkeit und die Ehre der Heiden in sie bringen.
27 Und es wird nicht hineingehen irgend ein Gemeines und das da Greuel tut und Lüge, sondern die geschrieben sind in dem Lebensbuch des Lammes