Monday, June 18, 2007

On Luther Giving Hyperdulia To Mary


Rome distinguishes between kinds of worship. Mary can receive the highest form of worship/veneration, hyperdulia, short of the worship of God. This type of worship is expressed in prayers, songs, ceremonies and pilgrimages.

Over on the CARM boards a Roman Catholic suggested Martin Luther thought Mary should be given hyperdulia. The quote given was this one, and a particular part of it was underlined:

"The old theologians went to astounding lengths [mirabiliter se cruciarunt] in answering this question of whether the humanity is to be worshipped, and they established three ways [species] in which the humanity may be adored: Dulia,when Peter and Paul and all the other saints are adored; hyperdulia, when the Virgin Mary is adored, and here they included the humanity of Christ, and called [this worship] hyperdulia as well; and latria, when Christ is worshipped with regard to his divinity. Christ clearly dissolves [the distinction, for] whoever worships the humanity of Christ here no longer adores a creature (for this is what is meant by the union of natures), but the Creator himself, for the unity is what is fundamental "

Anyone reading this quote beyond the underlined section sees the problem: Luther says, Christ clearly dissolves the distinction, and even in the underlined part, Luther is not saying Mary should be given hyperdulia.

Luther abandoned the distinctions of latria, dulia, and hyper-dulia. When commenting on Deuteronomy 6:13 Luther said,

“Here the scholastics have concocted various dreams about dulia, latria, and hyperdulia.  With one and the same word the Hebrew denotes service toward God and toward men, so that their distinction is useless. But Moses wants to say this: “Serve Him alone. That is, whatever you do, and whether you live under the bondage of men or as a manager of affairs, refer it to Me, and do it in no other name than that you are sure in faith that I alone am served in this.”

But yet, this doesn't stop Rome's apologists from saying things like, "[Luther] understood the difference between veneration and worship, just as Catholics do (and he also strongly criticized excesses in Marian devotion, just as Catholics also do; particularly in Vatican II). He didn't feel compelled to create the absolute (and quite unbiblical) silly dichotomy that characterizes present-day Reformed thought and much of Protestantism, generally-speaking -- where no creature can ever be given honor, lest this immediately be an assault upon God and idolatry”.

I do not deny that Luther spoke favorably about Mary, but when Catholics say "honor", they mean something quite different than Protestants. Missing from the above point is any notion of how a Protestant should honor Mary or how Luther and his contemporaries thought Mary should be honored. The following is a summarization from Melancthon’s Apology of the Augsburg Confession:

“The saints, and among them the blessed Mary, should be honored in three ways. One should be grateful to God for them. One should take advantage of their examples to strengthen one's own faith. One should imitate their faith and their actions in keeping with one's own calling.”

Is this the complete picture of what Rome means by Marian Devotion? While I’m sure a Catholic apologist would agree these are principles in harmony with Catholicism, he can’t possibly mean that these principles fully comprise Roman Catholic Marian piety. To suggest that Luther’s “veneration” of Mary is nothing but Catholicism properly understood is mistaken.

Here is a little survey of the word “veneration” as used by Luther, to see if Luther accepted the Roman Catholic veneration (or praise) of the saints. Below is almost the entirety of references to the word “veneration” in Luther’s Works:


LW 12:284, “… a Franciscan venerates his rule and his St. Francis as an idol.”

LW 16:227, “the papists, having abandoned faith, have venerated sects, works designed to gain righteousness, vigils, cowls, and even their own lice,  invoking the aid of unknown saints, and have fallen not only away from God but in opposition to God.”

LW 17:140, “The soldier thinks, “I shall venerate Saint Barbara;  she will preserve the sacraments for me three days.” This is the basic idea: idolatry is nothing else but an opinion apart from the Word of God.”

LW 23:136, “The Papists… confess that faith in Christ helps, but at the same time they state that the Lord did not exclude other methods. Thus they manufacture many ways that are to lead to eternal life, among which are intercession of the saints, the veneration of the Virgin Mary, the monastic vocation, and the observance of their ordinances. No, all these are of no avail for eternal life. Christ excludes them all; they are definitely rejected.”

LW 24:355, ““Behold, our papistic rabble… have brought it about that everything the pope has been able to decree, dream up, and put on parade—even open deception, such as indulgences, purgatory, pilgrimages, cowls, tonsures, the veneration of saints, etc.—is declared to have come from the Holy Spirit, even though they themselves have to admit that this is not found in the Gospel and that Christ has said nothing about it.”

LW 25:288, “Rude, puerile, and even hypocritical are those people who venerate the relics of the holy cross with the highest outward honor and then flee from and curse their sufferings and adversities.”

LW 25:324, “The Thomists, the Scotists, and the other schools act with the same temerity when they defend the writings and words of their founders with such zeal that they not only disdain to seek their spirit but actually quench it by their excessive desire to venerate them, thinking that it is enough if they merely retain the words even without the spirit.”

LW 34:351, 359, The faculty of Louvain held, “It is rightly done in the church, that we venerate and call upon the saints who are active with Christ in heaven, that they should pray for us. Through their merits also and intercession, Christ here gives us many things; otherwise he will not give. Through them he also performs many miracles on earth.”



Luther responded, “This one thing they have done rightly, that, Christ having been rejected, they may not be atheists altogether, they have invented for themselves new gods and call upon the dead, saints or not saints, that makes no difference to them. [This shows] that, as the people is, such gods it shall have, according to the righteous judgment of God, whose Word they despise and blaspheme. Here it would please to mock them with Elijah, “Cry aloud, for they are gods: they are musing, or they are busy, or they are on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 

LW: 34:23-24, “What was the condition of your churches before our gospel came but a series of daily innovations rushing in one after another, in great number, like a cloudburst? One set up St. Anne,  another St. Christopher,  another St. George,  another St. Barbara,  another St. Sebastian,  another St. Catherine,  another perhaps the Fourteen Helpers in Need.  Who alone wants to recount the new kinds of saint veneration? Are not these innovations? Where were bishops and shouters who should not permit such innovations?

LW 34:54, “The things which have been practice and custom in the pretended church… Veneration of saints, some of whom were never born… Mary made a common idol with countless services, celebrations, fasts, hymns, and antiphons.”

LW 34:20, “From this abomination have come all the other outrages (they had to come from it, too, and there was no way of warding them off), namely, the self-righteousness of so many of the monasteries and chapters, with their worship service, the sacrificial masses, purgatory, vigils, brotherhoods, pilgrimages, indulgences, fasts, veneration of saints, relics, poltergeists, and the whole parade of the hellish procession of the cross.”

LW 35: 198-201, “Thus the worship of saints shows itself to be nothing but human twaddle, man’s own invention apart from the word of God and the Scriptures. Since in the matter of divine worship, however, it is not proper for us to undertake anything without God’s command—whoever does so is tempting God—it is therefore neither to be advised nor tolerated that one should call upon the departed saints to intercede for him or teach others to call upon them…. It was exceedingly bitter for me to tear myself away from [the worship of] the saints, for I was steeped and fairly drowned in it. But the light of the gospel is now shining so clearly that henceforth no one has any excuse to remain in darkness.”

LW 38:159, “For, although we did have baptism, sacrament, and the word, they were nevertheless so perverted and obscured by human doctrine and abuse (when we had grown up and become more mature) that we could no longer glory in them, but had to comfort ourselves with strange masses, our own works, monkery, pilgrimages, veneration of the saints, and similar matters in a manner no different from the way in which the Turks and the Jews console themselves with their works and worship.”

29 comments:

Theo said...

Dear brother James,

Neither veneration (the act of honoring the honorable), nor hyperdulia (the unique honor we Catholics believe appropriate for she who all generations shall call, "blessed") are worship (the offering of holy infinite honor, glory, praise, service and fealty due God alone).

Honor of a human is absolutely not worship. God actually *commands* us to give honor to some who might not be saints: "Honor thy father and mother." Hyperdulia is the unique descriptor Catholic theologians assign honoring the Blessed Virgin as the theotokos: a role that is unique among all the saints.

Of course one might argue about whether *any* saint, Mary included, ought to be ascribed a greater honor than any other creature, given that ultimately all virtue is by grace and is Christ's alone. Yet, regardless of how that argument resolves, please recognize that although Catholics consider "hyperdulia" the preeminent honor that any human can render a fellow creature, it is *infinitely* less than the honor due God: that honor being in itself only one component of worship.

In short: we worship God, and God alone.

Humbly, your servant and brother in Christ,

--Theo

Kepha said...

Theo,

One of the objections that Mr. Swan and other Reformed Protestants have is that, biblically, the latria-dulia distinction is non-existent, i.e., they are used interchangably and in the context of worship (whether idols or God). Dr. White gave a powerful presentation of this in his debate with Patrick Madrid on the veneration of the saints. Are you familiar with this argument?

Gojira said...

Theo,

If I may, and I am merely just wondering on this, when did the change occure? You state:

"Neither veneration (the act of honoring the honorable), nor hyperdulia (the unique honor we Catholics believe appropriate for she who all generations shall call, "blessed") are worship (the offering of holy infinite honor, glory, praise, service and fealty due God alone)."

You state that veneration is not worship, yet the online Catholic encyclopedia state:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15710a.htm

The word worship (Saxon weorthscipe, "honour"; from worth, meaning "value", "dignity", "price", and the termination, ship; Latin cultus) in its most general sense is homage paid to a person or a thing. In this sense we may speak of hero-worship, worship of the emperor, of demons, of the angels, even of relics, and especially of the Cross. This article will deal with Christian worship according to the following definition: homage paid to God, to Jesus Christ, to His saints, to the beings or even to the objects which have a special relation to God.

This appears to say the opposite of what you wrote, as it defines worship as including the saints, of which, if I am not mistaken, Mary would be understood to be the highest of.

The article goes on to break things down:

There are several degrees of this worship:

if it is addressed directly to God, it is superior, absolute, supreme worship, or worship of adoration, or, according to the consecrated theological term, a worship of latria. This sovereign worship is due to God alone; addressed to a creature it would become idolatry.
When worship is addressed only indirectly to God, that is, when its object is the veneration of martyrs, of angels, or of saints, it is a subordinate worship dependent on the first, and relative, in so far as it honours the creatures of God for their peculiar relations with Him; it is designated by theologians as the worship of dulia, a term denoting servitude, and implying, when used to signify our worship of distinguished servants of God, that their service to Him is their title to our veneration (cf. Chollet, loc. cit., col. 2407, and Bouquillon, Tractatus de virtute religionis, I, Bruges, 1880, 22 sq.).
As the Blessed Virgin has a separate and absolutely supereminent rank among the saints, the worship paid to her is called hyperdulia (for the meaning and history of these terms see Suicer, Thesaurus ecclesiasticus, 1728).


Here, this appears to be talking about distinctions in worship, with hyperdulia being marked out for Mary, dulia for the saints, and latria, which is to be given to God alone.

So here once more is my honest confusion, as you have stated "Neither veneration...nor hyperdulia...are worship" If I may, can I ask for an official pronouncment that officially now states that dulia and hyperdulia is not part of worship (that is worship to a lesser degree, which I am told is accaptable)?

pilgrim said...

Dulia, hyperdulia and latria are distinctions without a difference.
You may as well try to say there's a difference between taking a nap and catching a few winks.

Anonymous said...

The problem with dulia/hyperdulia is obvious: they're just words. Have you ever heard of a Catholic offering Latria to Mary? Hyperduliating St. Paul? Dulia-ing God? No, of course not, because Dulia is what's offered to man, so anything you do under the label of "dulia" is acceptable since it's dulia. All you need is the fancy words. It's just like those who justify abortion by saying "well, it's not murder because the fetus isn't a person."

Anonymous said...

"...but boss, I wasn't napping on the job, I was catching a few weeks!"

Theo said...

Gojira comments and asks:

"So here once more is my honest confusion, as you have stated "Neither veneration...nor hyperdulia...are worship" If I may, can I ask for an official pronouncement that officially now states that dulia and hyperdulia is not part of worship (that is worship to a lesser degree, which I am told is acceptable)?"

Dear Gojira and others:
Your honest confusion is absolutely understandable, especially in light of the explanation you quote and given the history of the very languages we speak. I tried to make some important distinctions clearer than the "official" explanation. I shall attempt again. As always I humbly ask your forbearance with my limitations.

Part of the answer has to do with the long-term nature of language.

The origin of the word itself is indeed mundane: from Old English "weorthscipe," its original meaning is "worthiness" from "weorth," = worthy.

Antique use of the word "worship" finds virtually no use today outside of ancient ecclesiastical definitions and their attempts to clarify them; nevertheless, it is distinguished from "worship of God" by an infinite gap of meaning. Many generations ago, the word "worship" was commonly used in two distinct ways: one to signify worthiness of any sort, the other, when used in unique reference to all that is due to God and only God because of His infinite worthiness. Thus we find (for example) a common address of a subordinate to any superior several centuries ago being "your worship." By no means would either the speaker or the hearer have imagined that actual worship, (the sole right and due of God Almighty) was being indicated.

Especially since the time of the Reformation, this formerly "common" use of the word has nearly vanished, especially among Reformers themselves. This refinement of meaning was greatly assisted by the fact that English Bible translations virtually used "worship" only to describe most instances of giving to God what is worthy of God alone.

We see a similar, but less pronounced phenomenon with the word "pray." This word continues to mean "to ask or request." Thus were I to say, "I pray you sir, have a nice day," you would no doubt think my language peculiar, but you would not imagine I was praying to you as God or worshiping you. This is not a mere matter of degree, but a matter of two entirely different meanings.

Even so, we know that even the *same* word has very different real meaning based upon its context. The word "my" when used in the phrase "my God" is vastly different from the word "my" when used in the phrase "my paper." In the former, "my" means "The God who possess me and who has all rights to my being." The latter "my" means "the paper I posses and can rip to shreds if I'm so disposed."

Veneration of God is a component of the worship due Him and Him alone. Similarly, obedience to God is a component of the worship due Him and Him alone. Obviously we do not worship our parents or civil authorities when we obey them--rather we honor God. Likewise we do not worship as God any saint we honor.

I hold only a little hope that this explanation shall clarify things for you; however, I can add to it my empirical observation and personal testimony which is thus:
I do not worship anything or anyone but God, and God alone. Further, I know of no Catholic who holds otherwise.

Please remember that one does not sin by accident. This is as true for idolatry as for any other sin. For me to ascribe to anything or anyone other than God Himself that which is due Him alone would require an act of will. Such a will I do not possess. If some other man, whether Catholic or not, worships anything or anyone but God Himself, let him beware and repent; but as for me and my house, we will serve The Lord.

Humbly submitted, I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

pilgrim said...

Hey--I get the distinctions you've made--and I understand the official teaching--however saying something is so doesn't make it so, and that's where this breaks down.

The distinctions make no difference.

In your mind you may not think you are worshipping Mary, but that is not the issue--the issue is are you really doing it that--no matter how you understand it.

If I think I can fly and state I can fly in eloquent language I am not really flying. If I redefine "Flying" so that standing on a chair flapping my arms is "flying" to me--I'm still not really flying.

Jamie Donald said...

Pilgrim,

Your disagreement with Theo's explanation makes no sense. Worship is something that comes forth from the mind and soul. If one (to paraphrase you)in his or her mind does not think they are worshipping, then the very source from which worship flows is not participating. That an outside observer cannot tell the difference is immaterial to Theo's explanation.

To us a parallel analogy to "flying," consider this. If I told you that "I flew down I-40 going into Albuquerque," knowing that I-40 is a highway, you might think that I drove very quickly (possibly well in excess of the speed limit). Such an understanding would be completely justified with one of the established meanings to "flew" and would be well in context. However, when I tell you now that I am a helicopter pilot and helicopter pilots frequently fly along highways, the above statement could mean that I was flying my helo above I-40 towards Albuquerque.

The one phrase can accurately describe both occurrences. Since you did not observe me as I "flew" down I-40, you must rely on my own testimony to provide the context. Since you are unable to observe Theo's mind, heart, and soul; you must rely on his testimony when he states that he worships no thing or person other than God alone.

So, yes, the distinction does make a difference.

Humbly, and in the Name of Our Lord,
Jamie

GeneMBridges said...

A. What's happening here is the elevation of a scholastic distinction to a norm for Christian practice. Where is the supporting argument.

2. Yes, "worship occurs in the mind and the soul," but the argument you gave could apply equally as well to those who received a libelus under the the early persecutions. On the grounds of your own views of tradition, your argument fails.

3. Where is the biblical warrant for "hero worship," which is basically what you are advocating. It is one thing to hold the dearly departed in high esteem; it is another to ask them, once dead, to intercede for you before God.

4. Which gets us to the reasons for the veneration of the saints, which have yet to be touched upon, particularly Mary. Where's is the supporting argument for veneration for those reasons?

L P Cruz said...

Theo/Jamie,

These play on words and giving them distinctions are the very reasons why the Protestant Reformers charged the RCC of sophistry. Think about it.

But as the saying goes, if something quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, looks like a duck, it is a duck!

Lito

Jamie Donald said...

Gene,

If I understand your 4 points; A(1?), 2, 3, and 4; correctly you are maintaining:

- It is still a distinction w/o a difference (1, 3)

- My logic, taken to the ultimate conclusion, would imply that the public proclaimations of worship of false (Roman) gods during the early persecutions could be considered something less than "worship" (2)

- If (counter to the first point) there is a true distinction, there is still no Scriptural mandate proscribing either veneration or the request for intercession of the saints, so the Catholic is still incorrect for the practice (3, 4, 1)

If this does not correctly state your objections, please let me know.

Distinction - Difference
I think we can agree that there are many words which have more than one meaning. Theo gave several examples and I gave one. Since my example involved a colloquial use of "flew" (rather than a formal definition), I can understand a person at first blush making the charge of sophistry. However, colloquial or not, the fact remains that some words do have multiple meanings.

We also know that the usage of certain words, often first colloquially then formally, changes over time, and the meaning attached to those words changes appropriately. For example, "gay" has a very different meaning today than it did 100 years ago.

Under these realities of language, if I use a word that falls into either of these categories, it is incumbent upon me to provide the specific meaning that I attach to that word. That is my responsibility in proper communication. Yours is to accept that I mean what I say. When you assert that I really mean something else, since I have done my best to put forward the idea that I truly intend to communicate, the burden of proof is upon you.

So let's consider the word "worship." In modern times, we take this word to mean that which is due to God alone. But as Theo has well pointed out, "worship" had other meanings which were of a somewhat lesser value than we use today. These lesser meanings go back to and are recorded in the Scripture. For example, the Magi inquired of Herod so that they could go "worship" the child. Herod, in his lie to them, stated that he also wanted to "worship" the child. In both cases, they could not have known that the child was God incarnate. By context they must have been meaning the honor that one would pay royalty (the king of the Jews). However, when Jesus rebukes Satan in Matt 4:10, we see the use of "worship" as we understand it today. In each example, the greek word used is a form of "proskuneo." Proskuneo is also used in Matt 18:26 by Jesus in a parable (Matt 18:23-34). Here the meaning, again by context, is along the lines of bowing down in honor and thanksgiving (to a person). The KJV translates this as "worship" while other translations use different words.

As Theo pointed out, the older use of "worship" in English is inadequate by itself to distinguish the various levels of honor meant. Context or additional words - some form of further definition - is required. Since the same Greek word is used in each case, it (again, by itself) has the same inadequacy and requires further definition. I think we would agree that the Bible does distinguish various levels of honor as I've shown above and that these are distinctions with difference. And the distinctions, determined by context in these cases, are not "word games."

Of course, context is not the only means mark the stratification. We can also use different words. That's where dulia and latrea come to play. This is really no different than most translators of Matt 18:26 choosing to use another word than "worship" when they encouter "prokuneo," even though they do translate it as "worship" in other places.

So, I still maintain that the distinction is significant.

Early Persecutions
In these cases, the people to whom you refer made public statements of worship (in the ultimate sense) to the Roman (false) gods. Whether they truly did worship in their hearts cannot be known. But at the best, they bore a false witness. Catholics, however, do not make public (nor to my knowledge private) statements of worshipping anything or anyone other than God alone. In fact, we very fervently stress that we worship the triune God and God alone.

Scriptural Mandate
I must ask a clarifying question. Do you view this along the lines of every action must be positively ordained in the Scripture? Or do you mean that we should do nothing that goes contrary to the Bible? I am going to respond to the latter, not the former.

Veneration: "All generations will call me blessed." (Luke 1:48). Veneration is a means of fulfilling this prophecy. Naturally, it is not the only means. In other words, I believe that you in whatever form you esteem Mary also fulfill this prophecy. But your use of a different means does not make mine counter to the Scripture.

Intercession: In Jer 31:15-16 we have Rachel (long dead) crying out to the Lord on behalf of the exiled. The Lord hears her and answers that Israel shall be restored. The saints in Heaven are praying (see Rev 5:8 and 8:3-4). And these saints in Heaven are as alive as you and I (see Matt 22:32-33, Mark 12:26-27, Luke 20-37-38). Again, expecting intercession of the saints is not without Biblical precedence.

I know that this has been a long post. And if it seems disjointed, it is because I had to write it in parts throughout the day. I do not know if I will be able to respond to any answers you may give (time limitations on my side), but I will make every effort to read them with an open mind. I simply ask you to consider my thoughts with the same openess and see that I do go to the Scripture for my belief and practices.

In the Name of Our Lord,
Jamie

Jamie Donald said...

IP Cruz,

With the last name of "Donald," I relate to DUCKs a lot! ;)

But maybe I was talking about a goose? They do look very similar.

Ree said...

Jamie,

Are you contending that a worshipper of the true God cannot practice idolatry unknowingly?

GeneMBridges said...

Sigh. I asked very simple questions and my observations were short to see how you'd fill in the blanks.

This distinction does not arise from Scripture. From where does this distinction arise? If it arises from Scholasticism then why was it invented? If it was invented to allow for this practice, then on what basis? The Reformed in particular have argued that worship” and “veneration” of idols are the same thing a. the distinction between latria and dulia was invented to allow the transference of divine honors to angels and the dead. In Greek dulia means service, and latria means worship. Since service is higher than worship, the Papists are actually giving more honor to the saints than to God.

I'm arguing here that since you think the distinction is valid it is up to you to provide a warrant for a distinction, based on its origin, as a normative or at least permissible distinction. It's not just a matter of saying "Here's what we mean, so it's okay." Where is the supporting argument that a scholastic distinction is (a) a valid one and (b) if (a) then normative? Why should we practice Practice X (whatever it is) based on a scholastic distinction?

All your sophistry about the different nuances of terms is irrelevant. The issue is the origin of this distinction, not the use of words. In other words, it's a scholastic distinction. So, you're making a scholastic distinction normative. Where is the supporting argument for doing that?

Saying "well Scripture uses words differently," and "English" does that, doesn't automatically translate into an argument that this practice is a normative practice. The issue isn't the nature of the distinction in the mind or whether it is with or without difference, but the origin of the distinction itself within dogmatic terminology. Where is the argument for making a scholastic distinction of this nature and for then saying that this is a normative practice or a permissible practice in which Christians may engage.

All you've done is argue for what amounts to a form of hero worship at best and worst praying to them as if they are divine. In fact, the whole idea is abominable, because it in turn depends on the merit system in your theology, and where's the argument that the saints have merits that can gain them an audience with God. In Protestant theology, that merit would come from Christ Himself by imputation, but your theology denies that. In Catholic theology, you have the merits of Christ, your own, and the congruent merit of others involved. So what you're doing is importing lots of assumptions into your argument without the benefit of argument. In other words, there are several links in the chain here that you have left unargued. I'm asking you for the arguments.

My logic, taken to the ultimate conclusion, would imply that the public proclaimations of worship of false (Roman) gods during the early persecutions could be considered something less than "worship"

Actually, what you're saying is "worship is in the eye of the worshipper." But where is the warrant for that? Prayer to the saints need not involve "worship," but if as you say the heart cannot be known, that cuts both ways. Your logic is flawed. The early church was not as forgiving to those persons as you. So, on your own grounds regarding tradition, you lose.

I must ask a clarifying question. Do you view this along the lines of every action must be positively ordained in the Scripture? Or do you mean that we should do nothing that goes contrary to the Bible? I am going to respond to the latter, not the former.

Sorry, not going to play that game. You're the one talking about distinctions, I'm merely asking you for the warrant that a scholastic distinction is normative and all the other arguments to get to the final product. The burden of proof is yours, not mine.

I just happen to be particularly interested in the exegetical warrant, because as a Protestant, I need some exegetical basis to ground it. Let's see what you provided:

Veneration: "All generations will call me blessed." (Luke 1:48). Veneration is a means of fulfilling this prophecy. Naturally, it is not the only means. In other words, I believe that you in whatever form you esteem Mary also fulfill this prophecy. But your use of a different means does not make mine counter to the Scripture.

Where is the exegetical argument for this? "All generations shall call me blessed." Yes, because she bore the Savior, not because of sinlessness, bodily assumption, or other merits or her role as Co-Redemptrix or "Queen Mother." Sorry, "veneration" in your sense won't work here as fulfillment of this prophecy, consider that the reasons are different between this text's reference and your reasons. Where is the exegetical warrant for your reasons? Where is the exegetical warrant for prayer to the Mary from here?

Intercession: In Jer 31:15-16 we have Rachel (long dead) crying out to the Lord on behalf of the exiled. The Lord hears her and answers that Israel shall be restored. The saints in Heaven are praying (see Rev 5:8 and 8:3-4). And these saints in Heaven are as alive as you and I (see Matt 22:32-33, Mark 12:26-27, Luke 20-37-38). Again, expecting intercession of the saints is not without Biblical precedence.

Where is the argument that "Rachel" is Rachel up in heaven, long dead? What would the term "Rachel weeping" mean to the author of Jeremiah and his audience. It amazes me how some Catholics read the Bible as literally as Tim LaHaye for "Rachel" and then miss the rest, "is heard in Ramah."

Rachel is the grandmother of Ephraim, the chief tribe of the ten carried away. Jeremiah is using a rhetorical device to personify grief, in which God assures Rachel that those carried off will return. Even if you are correct on your rather overliteral view, how would this be prayer for saints? Rachel is weeping for apostates carried into exile, not interceding for them before God! These people were carried off for apostasy, not the people of God striving with the devil and sin and in need of help on earth.

Rachel's cry is heard, by the way, not in heaven but "Ramah."The lamentation of Rachel is heard at Ramah, as the most loftily situated border-town of the two kingdoms, whence the wailing that had arisen sounded far and near, and could be heard in Judah. The allusion here is likely the what is left of the people there.

Nor does she weep because she has learned something in her tomb of the carrying away of the people, but as their common mother, as the beloved spouse of Jacob, who in her married life so earnestly desired children. That's why Jeremiah chooses her to personify these events and the grief caused.

Just as the people are often included under the notion of the “daughter of Zion,” as their ideal representative, so the great ancestress of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh is here named as the representative of the maternal love shown by Israel in the pain felt when the people are lost.

I'd add too that Ephraim is mentioned in v. 18. If your view is true, then Ephraim here should literally be the son of Joseph, Rachel's grandson. Is he the one grieving? No, again we have a rhetorical device, where Ephraim himself is pictured as a son. What we have in both is a lamentation expressed using personification, in which historical figures from the past are used to express particular ideas about what has happened and what God promises. There is nothing here about intercession of saints.

Nobody denies the saints in heaven pray. On the other hand, the Catholic list of saints for prayer is remarkably limited compared to the uses you cited. Do you ask just anybody who is a Christian who has died to pray for you? "The saints" in Scripture isn't referring to a list of preferred people or heroes. You've provided us with a stellar example of semantic anachronism.

a. Matt. 22, etc. is not referring to the saints in heaven interceding for anybody. It has reference to the name and power of God and the resurrection of the dead. Christ isn't saying "God is the God of the living because the Patriarchs are in heaven." He's saying God is the God who raises the dead. The context is the resurrection, the very text you quote says, "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read..." Jesus is referring to an eschatological event that the Saduccees denied. He uses the Patriarchs because the Sadducees accepted on the Pentateuch, the main characters for them were the Patriarchs and Moses. Yes, they are still alive and awaiting that event, but where does this text say anything about "intercession?" It's not there. You're abusing the text.

Rev 5 is apocalyptic language. It isn't restricted to the saints in heaven, which is the host of all the redeemed there at the time, e.g the church triumphant as a whole, not a list of preferred heroes. It includes all the people of God on heaven and earth as well. Where is there a reference to intercession here? What we have here is praise to Christ for redeeming people from all classes and places and language and creating a universal kingdom of priests to God who reign over the earth, fulfilling the covenant of creation itself, eg. combined together the church gathered together as an eschatological whole.

Where's the argument for prayers to the dead "saints" in the Roman Catholic sense here? It's not there. They aren't pictured interceding in heaven for those on earth when those on earth pray to them.

Then you have Rev. 8. Okay, what we have here is a reference not to a specific cadre of canonized persons but of all the people of God and their prayers, pictured like incense, an image going back to the OT. The angel "adds it" to the prayers, because the prayers of God's people are deficient, formal, etc....the very thing that your ritualized prayers in particular are I might add. The prayers are perfected before God by the incense, which is symbolic not of the prayers of special saints to whom we pray and then they pray on our behalf to God, but to the grace of God Himself joining the prayers of all His people together in unity and harmony. The reference to any "intercession" would be via the incense, and the one interceding in heaven for us, according to Scripture is Christ Himself, not "the saints."

I'm sure they do pray for us; I can't think of a reason my grandmother isn't in the heavenly Temple praising God and praying for our family. That's a nice sentiment, but where's the argument that would link that intercession, if true, to a practice of veneration for them or a specific group of canonized persons and prayers to them? It's not there.

L P Cruz said...

Jamie,

I call a goose a very big duck.

Lito

pilgrim said...

In my example I am referring to literal flight--which is evident in the context. The context has nothing to do with driving. Although it is merely an example to illustrate a point you have managed to wrest it form its context completely.

As for worship you can worship incorrectly even with the best of intentions--for example the Golden calf and strange fire incidents during Israel's wanderings in the desert.

Theo said...

My brothers and sisters:

As a non-apologist observer, I commend all of you for your Christ-like attitudes. It’s a blessing to see real dialog occurring regarding these important doctrines and our perspectives on them--and see them conducted without rancor.

I believe it is appropriate for me (as a Catholic layman) to add some personal observations regarding the actual practice of these doctrines and in so doing, acknowledge that when (I at least) explain my belief, it is just that: an explanation of my belief, only. I do not intend to "evangelize" those who are already Christian. My personal experience is that the imitation of Christ presented by most non-Catholic Christians I've known has been well worth following as an example.

Gene:
Regarding Scriptural mandates for many aspects of Catholic understanding of the role of the communion of saints relative to the role of Christians still living on earth, I believe your point is well taken. Speaking only for myself, I would not embrace these if I believed the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. I would not hold them to be heresy either: but I would consider them to lack sufficient foundation in Scripture to have a clear mandate.

Please don't misunderstand. I believe Scripture clearly *does* mandate that we give honor where it is due, that *appropriately* honoring any creation of God that demonstrates His goodness is actually a part of the worship of God, that we should intercede one for another, that asking another to intercede for any righteous cause is pious and right, that the angels and saints in Heaven do pray before the throne of the Lamb on behalf of His children, that the prayer of the righteous "availeth much," that asking for such prayer is not an act of denial of Christ's role as the one and only intercessor on our corrupted behalf before the incorruptible Father, and so on.

However, I can clearly see how one would hold that Scripture does not seem to present a clear mandate (especially were one to reject Deutero-cannon) to personally address angels and saints living in heaven, who are neither omnipresent nor omniscient. Similarly, though Scripture assures us that the prayer of the righteous availeth much, it does not *explicitly* follow that "the more righteous the intercessor, the more effective the prayer."

I believe that Catholic teachings regarding the active role of the communion of saints is not truly *contradicted* by Scripture. Of course reasonable people might, and do, disagree on that.

I believe that the great gap between Catholic and most non-Catholic theologies lies in Sola Scriptura. Obviously (to me at least) if one believes as I do that Sacred Tradition is the means by which Sacred Scripture itself is known to *be* sacred, then one will tend to acknowledge Sacred Tradition's authority elsewhere.

Even so, the very question whether today's Catholic Church holds the same authority as did the Catholic Church of St. Augustine or of St. Justin can be debated on a purely intellectual level. I hold by faith that these are indeed one and the same Church.

Moreover, I worship the one and the same Lord who founded the Church. I do *not* worship the Church itself. Any and all glory one might find in the Church is mere *reflection* of Christ's glory. No matter how bright and full the moon, its light is not its own.

I thank all of you for your kind consideration and frank discussion. I also specifically thank James Swan for hosting this open forum.


Humbly submitted, I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

GeneMBridges said...

Actually, the veneration of angels was a Jewish practice that the NT expressly condemns, so, yes, your view is expressly contradicted. Contacting the dead is expressly contradicted in Scripture, so you've got a big problem there, Theo.

And Sola Scriptura does not deny the role of tradition. It merely says Scripture is alone infallible. So, I'm asking for an argument that a specifically scholastic distinction warrants this practice should be made normative.

And no Protestant denies that the church triumphant and the angels pray in heaven or even offer prayers for those of us here, but notice that this is not a list of canonized saints and specific angels with specific prayers and specific duties praying on their merits, and the practice of praying to them to do something for you is not to be found in Scripture.

The intercession of Christ is an intercession of One The merits are His and His alone. The only other intercessor named is the Holy Spirit, and that is based on the impenetration of the Persons of the Trinity. Any merits that a person in heaven praying for me now may have belong to Christ and Christ alone, not any congruent merit of his own, so, in order to justify prayer to the saints, you have to justify the treasury of merit too boot. So, my problem isn't just with the idea of prayer for the saints, but the very basis for it. That is, it takes several steps in the chain to justify it. It's not just a matter of the practice itself, but the basis of the practice.

Further, on its own grounds, praying to the saints would be uncertain at best, for in Catholic theology, there is no assurance that any person is saved, not even a saint. What the Church does when it canonizes a saint, its soteriology takes away. On what possible basis can anybody know Saint So and So is actually in heaven and not in purgatory or even hell? All we have is the word of the Church, but the Church's theology admits to being unable to grant assurance about anybody's salvation, which seems to me to undermine the whole, "that person is in heaven to pray for us" idea. So, you're investing your time in doing the very thing that Christ Himself says we should not do: pray like pagans who babble. Why pray to Saint So and So and not Christ Himself. We have access to Him and to the Father through Him. Why go through a lackey and not straight to the Savior? That makes no sense.

All I have from you all, and which you have so eloquently provided, is your faith in Holy Mother Church that this is okay to do. So, in the end, you have no evidence, only your fideism. Thank you for this admission. And since the Church has not infallibly exegeted the pertinent Scriptures, I find it hard to believe you can have any certainty about your belief in the biblical warrant for them, based on your own rule of faith.

But the Eastern Orthodox claim the same things about their church, and they resort to the same fideism. So, how do you adjudicate that?

Theo said...

Dear brother Gene:

Your summary regarding why I accept the Church's teaching regarding the role of saints is accurate in these points:
-- I believe scripture does *not* contradict it.
-- I believe Church teaching because I accept Church authority.
I understand how you conclude that scripture *does* contradict these teachings. You will not be surprised to discover I don't agree with you.

Yes, the superstitious practices of necromancy and spiritualism are absolutely forbidden. We do *not* commune with ghosts. The God of Abraham is the God of the living, not the dead.

As for veneration of angels, we are commanded to honor the stranger among us, for some having done so have entertained angels unaware. We are forbidden to offer to an angel or any creature what is due God. We are *commanded* to give *appropriate* honor to God's creations that demonstrate His glory as a part of the worship due God.
I believe Scripture because I accept the Church's authority. Of course you aren’t surprised that I also favor the Church’s commentary on scripture over extra-episcopal commentary.

Regardless, I again testify most solemnly: I worship God and God alone.

Regarding the Eastern Orthodox claim of episcopal succession, you offer an excellent question that is worthy of a better answer than I am equal to compose. Nevertheless, I'll plod on with your patience.

I believe the Orthodox claim has merit. Catholics and Orthodox Christians have common records of apostolic succession until the point of schism. Yet, as you know, I believe the Catholic claim is the better. I adjudicate based upon the testimony of church fathers and history as a preponderance of evidence that the successor of Peter was / is first in the episcopal succession.

For example, St. Augustine testified:
"If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church’ . . . Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement, Clement by Anacletus. . . " (Letters 53:1:2 [412 A.D.]).

Thank you again for your generous time and patience in this dialog.
Humbly, I remain your brother in Christ,
--Theo

GeneMBridges said...

Yes, the superstitious practices of necromancy and spiritualism are absolutely forbidden. We do *not* commune with ghosts. The God of Abraham is the God of the living, not the dead.

Of course, I've dealt with that passage, and you've offered no counterexegesis. It's a leap to get from God being the God of the living as spoken in its context and prayer to the dead. I'll ask again for you or another to justify all the links in the chain.

Prayer to the dead would be a form of communicating with ghosts.

As for veneration of angels, we are commanded to honor the stranger among us, for some having done so have entertained angels unaware. We are forbidden to offer to an angel or any creature what is due God. We are *commanded* to give *appropriate* honor to God's creations that demonstrate His glory as a part of the worship due God.

The veneration of angels in Catholic practice, however, amounts to a recapitulation of the Jewish practice. You've provided nothing to contradict this.

You're equivocating over the terminology, a distinction derived not from Scripture but from Scholasticism, without benefit of argument. It's quite a move to go from "honoring" God's creation and the veneration of angels and praying to the saints.

You've not bothered to touch a single thing I've stated. Congratulations for proving my points for me.

I believe the Catholic claim is the better. I adjudicate based upon the testimony of church fathers and history as a preponderance of evidence that the successor of Peter was / is first in the episcopal succession.

Since there are no less than 3 views on Petrine primacy in the Fathers, you're begging the question in your favor. Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian all related Mt. 16 to Peter. They all disagree with Rome. Tertullian said Peter is the rock through his preaching. Origen said Peter is the rock because he allegorically represents all Christians, and all who follow Jesus are “rocks.” Cyprian said Peter is the rock, because he represents the entire episcopate, and, because of this, no single bishop has authority to interfere in the episcopate of another. Cyprian’s view is closest to Rome, but Rome, contrary to Cyprian, infers that the Bishop of Rome rules over all other bishops and all the sees are dependent on Rome. Cyprian says that all the bishops are independent of one another.

Your beloved Augustine believed believed that the Chair of St. Peter was located in Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Rome-the chief cities of the episcopates of his day. No single bishop was superior to another, although all held the Bishop of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem church itself in special regard as the mother church of all churches. Each of these chairs was said to be apostolic, insofar as the bishops who sat in them conformed their doctrine to Scripture and the rule of faith it teaches and/or the confessions of their day, which were drawn from Scripture and regarded as accurate summaries of Scripture’s teaching.

And succession was determined in the Fathers not by a simple claim of a line, but by conformity to the rule of faith in Scripture. You've taken the side of the Gnostics against the Fathers when you say that.If Rome’s claim is true, it is false, because the unanimous consent of the Fathers contradicts her claims to apostolicity.

So, your own criterion is self-undermining.

Humbly, I remain your brother in Christ,

As long as you cultivate a belief that you are justified by the merits of Christ, your congruent merit, and the congruent merit of others, you believe a false gospel, Theo, and you are no brother.

Theo said...

Dear brother Gene,

You wrote: "you believe a false gospel, Theo, and you are no brother."

I fully understand how your interpretation of Scripture and the theology you hold sacred forces you into this view. As I previously wrote in a different thread on this blogsite,
"...please understand that in spite of your theology, I recognize your Christianity, and as such, I deem you my brother... I know that you cannot call me ‘brother.’ Please understand that *my* best understanding of the Gospel mandates that I recognize you as ‘brother,’ nevertheless. You can disavow our fraternity in Christ. I cannot.

“Regardless, I'm confident that God's will shall be done. In the end, all is to God's Glory."

Humbly I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

GeneMBridges said...

This, of course, makes you quite irrational, for on the one hand you affirm Romanism while Romanism has named what I affirm as "anathema." On the one hand you deny the right of private interpretation, and on the other employ it repeatedly.

Now, back to these issues, are you at all capable of interacting with what has been said to you about this? If not, then I need to move on.

pilgrim said...

I get that argument about God being the God of the living as well, but it doesn't really address the situation of praying to saints--it has to be ripped out of its context to do so.

Thanks for handling that one gene.

Anonymous said...

If Theo does worship Mary, he sure does a bad job of it.

Theo said...

Pilgrim wrote:
"I get that argument about God being the God of the living as well, but it doesn't really address the situation of praying to saints--it has to be ripped out of its context to do so."

Pilgrim, my brother,
I too believe that it would be a fantastic leap for a reasonable person to accept Catholic doctrines regarding the roles of saints on the basis of sola scriptura.

My personal observation is that these doctrines do not have a clear mandate in scripture *alone*. I very nearly agree with Gene's perspective when he says that scripture says nothing (I would say, "nearly nothing") about "a list of canonized saints and specific angels with specific prayers and specific duties praying on their merits, and the practice of praying to them to do something for you is not to be found in Scripture," especially if one rejects the Deutero-cannon and accepts sola scriptura.

I agree that it is a *huge* leap from acknowledging that the saints in heaven are alive and pray before the Lord on our behalf to the point of Catholic teaching on the saints. I find it difficult to imagine that one could come to the Catholic conclusion regarding these scriptures without first believing the Church's role in identifying revelation and in interpreting scripture itself.

Please do keep in mind that I'm not presenting an "argument" but merely an explanation of what I understand. I'm adept at neither debate nor apologetics. I do, however, have a penchant for dialog.

Humbly, I remain your brother in Christ,
--Theo

Theo said...

Gene wrote in part...
"This, of course, makes you quite irrational, for on the one hand you affirm Romanism while Romanism has named what I affirm as "anathema." On the one hand you deny the right of private interpretation, and on the other employ it repeatedly."

I don't see that my position is irrational.
The council of Trent declared that reformed theology of salvation by faith alone is sufficiently contrary to Church teaching that those who preach it cannot be in full communion with the Church. I see by your own declaration that I am "no brother" that you think your belief is sufficiently contrary to Church teaching that you imagine yourself removed from even partial communion with its members.

Catholic understanding and development of cannon law since Trent has grown. You misunderstand councils, their conclusions and their proclamations if you imagine that every cannon law enacted by every church council is understood to be eternally in effect and universally applied. There is no longer any formal rite of excommunication. For example, the Pope has said of Bishops who support "liberation theology" or that support abortion are not excommunicated by the Church, but that they excommunicate themselves.



Regarding private interpretation, again I'm afraid you struggle under a misconception. Catholic doctrine does not "deny the right of private interpretation." It denies the right to *subject* any revelation (scripture included) to private interpretation: that is, one cannot force personal revelation (whether from reading scripture, through prayer, via some vision, apparition, prophesy, Urrum and Thummim or whatever) on the Church.

As for Scripture, we are encouraged to read and study it. One simply cannot take in any form of communication without interpreting it. One *must* have a private interpretation of *all* that one perceives. This is the very act of perception.

However, we Catholics believe that one cannot *subject* scripture to one's own interpretation; rather, when in discord ours must yield to that of the Church. To illustrate, imagine a first-century Roman believer interpreting John 3:16 to mean that God the Father had the hots for the pagan Earth Goddess Gia; they had sexual relations and conceived Jesus who came to earth ala Hercules. The Roman might so interpret this; however, should he try to preach this message as from the Church, the Church has the authority to say, "No, this is *not* the correct interpretation. The Roman in question would yield to the Church’s opinion or be sanctioned. Understanding of this principal explains why (for example) scholars such as St. Jerome, though opposed to the inclusion of the Greek old testament in the cannon, nevertheless said “amen” to it once the council had decided. It wasn’t that they were wimps or that they were intimidated. They simply believed that their personal opinions must be wrong if the Church disagreed with them.

Given a choice between the witness of the Church over the ages vs. any lone person’s understanding, I choose the Church.

As always, to the extent that this muddles rather than clarifies, I beg your forbearance.

Humbly, I remain your brother in Christ,
--Theo

pilgrim said...

" To illustrate, imagine a first-century Roman believer interpreting John 3:16 to mean that God the Father had the hots for the pagan Earth Goddess Gia"

The problem with your illustration is that this interpretation can easily be debunked using the rest of scripture.


Also even if you have an ifallible interpreter of scripture --you still have to interpret what they mean--all you've done is add another layer. And I have seen various popes and councils interpreted in opposite ways by Roman Catholics.

I believe it is much safer, faithful, and true to interpret scripture with scripture. We look to what those in the Church say--but we must always compare it to scripture.


Sola Scriptura is not about taking one verse and building a doctrine from it, but letting scripture interpret scripture.

I have heard many Roman Catholics talk about how tradition and scripture are equals--but when push comes to shove tradition interprets scripture--even if it means ignoring or destroying context.

Anonymous said...

my observation in praying for the saints:

They have to be omniscient to know the prayers of my heart. Of course this attribute can only be God's; hence, its impossible for them to receive my prayers.