Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trinity vs. Assumption


This is almost sad in a way. Ryan L. over on the Catholic Answers forum posted the following:

Marian Apologetics - An Easy One
"On James White's blog, protestant Apologist James Swan posted about something from Steve Ray's blog. In effect, it attacked the Marian dogmas en masse. This is a very poor showing of the apologetics being produced from that camp, so I thought it would be a nice article for beginning Catholic apologists to pick apart. I'm going to post the whole article, so I trust that if the mods think it's too long they'll edit it appropriately."

"I would like for folks to start with the logical errors / false argumentation used before moving to the Biblical basis for the dogmas, but please feel free to post as you see fit."
God Bless, Ryan L

Well, so far, this post has been up on the Catholic Answers apologetics forum for a few days, and hasn't gotten any responses. This is fairly odd, because usually the Catholic Answers boards are teeming with responses (the good, the bad, and the ugly). I expected something.

Well for those of you who read my aomin entry about the comparison of the doctrine of the Trinity to some of the Marian dogma's, you may recall I stated:

"For the defenders of Rome to make their parallel between the Trinity and the Marian dogmas, they would have to demonstrate the Marian dogmas are the result of God's people dealing with, and only with, God's Word. Recall a few days ago I mentioned The New Catholic Answer Bible stated, "Is Mary's assumption described in the Bible? No, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen." Here is as blatant a denial of true Biblical doctrinal development as one can find."

This statement and Ryan L.'s post are brought into a state of irony by this recent Catholic Answers post:

Scriptural basis for the Assumption

Gen. 5:24, Heb. 11:5 - Enoch was bodily assumed into heaven without dying. Would God do any less for Mary the Ark of the New Covenant?

2 Kings 2:11-12; 1 Mac 2:58 - Elijah was assumed into heaven in fiery chariot. Jesus would not do any less for His Blessed Mother.

Psalm 132:8 - Arise, O Lord, and go to thy resting place, thou and the Ark (Mary) of thy might. Both Jesus and Mary were taken up to their eternal resting place in heaven.

2 Cor. 12:2 - Paul speaks of a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven. Mary was also brought up into heaven by God.

Matt. 27:52-53 - when Jesus died and rose, the bodies of the saints were raised. Nothing in Scripture precludes Mary's assumption into heaven.

1 Thess. 4:17 - we shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Rev. 12:1 - we see Mary, the "woman," clothed with the sun. While in Rev. 6:9 we only see the souls of the martyrs in heaven, in Rev. 12:1 we see Mary, both body and soul.

2 Thess. 2:15 - Paul instructs us to hold fast to oral (not just written) tradition. Apostolic tradition says Mary was assumed into heaven. While claiming the bones of the saints was a common practice during these times (and would have been especially important to obtain Mary's bones as she was the Mother of God), Mary's bones were never claimed. This is because they were not available. Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven.

This post on the Assumption proves my point. I would argue Roman Catholics are forced to begin with the Assumption, and then secondarily seek to refer back to Scripture for support or implicit proofs. So if there is any development here, it is backward development. It is taking a developed concept and seeking to read it back into Scripture. The Roman Catholic Marian dogma of the Assumption is not mined from Scripture. The assumption is not the result of God's people delving deeper and deeper into God's Word. It is not the result of using Scripture to interpret Scripture. It is not the result of in-depth exegetical studies. It is an idea found outside of Biblical revelation.

21 comments:

David Waltz said...

Hello James,

You wrote the following:

>>This post on the Assumption proves my point. I would argue Roman Catholics are forced to begin with the Assumption, and then secondarily seek to refer back to Scripture for support or implicit proofs. So if there is any development here, it is backward development. It is taking a developed concept and seeking to read it back into Scripture. The Roman Catholic Marian dogma of the Assumption is not mined from Scripture. The assumption is not the result of God's people delving deeper and deeper into God's Word. It is not the result of using Scripture to interpret Scripture. It is not the result of in-depth exegetical studies. It is an idea found outside of Biblical revelation.>>

Me: You have strange bedfellows; for Arians, Socinians, Modalists (et al) employ the very same arguments against the Trinity.

But then, Holy Writ is CLEAR…clear after 1500 years! (For it took Luther to “discover the Gospel” which was lost…uhhh…unknown…)

James, you are much too bright to engage in such polemics…


Grace and peace,

David

Carrie said...

Glad you had the Ott quote, but there are more along those lines..

I just put up a post on Ott on the doctrines for which he admits scriptural proof is lacking. There were a few in the Mary section.

Ott on "not explicit"

Specifically on Mary:

"The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not explicitly revealed in Scripture." (pg 200)

"The Bodily Assumption of Mary...direct and express scriptural proofs are not to be had." (pg 208)

"Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces by her intercession in Heaven...Express scriptural proofs are lacking." (pg 214)

I like what Pius said about the scriptural support in his encyclical: "Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers, have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption."

James Swan said...

David,

If a Jehovah's Witness rings my doorbell, and he were willing to actually look at a proper translation of the Bible, I can open up my Bible and present key verses about the Trinity. If he's honest, he would be forced to certain conclusions by the implications from those verses, without me once bringing up the word "trinity". This cannot be said about the prooftexts I posted for Mary's assumption. If you think it can be said, you are indeed deceived.

I was just listening to Jimmy Akin on Catholic Answers explain how Vatican II needed clarification by the current pope on key issues, so don't even try to argue that somehow the RCC has the ability to interpret and make God's revelation more clear, when those allegedly "clear" pronouncements from Rome on God's revelation aren't even clear to Catholic apologists.

As to Luther and the Gospel, I've written about this extensively, and, it isn't even the issue (it is trinity vs. assumption). And besides, as to your "1500 years", we both know Rome didn't have any sort of clear definition on the Gospel during that time, so don't even try to pull that one.

Albert said...

I don't have the primary source but this is what Ratzinger has to say about the dogma of the Assumption.

"Before Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven was defined, all theological faculties in the world were consulted for their opinion. Our teachers’ answer was emphatically negative... ’Tradition’ was identified with what could be proved on the basis of texts. Altaner,
the patrologist from Würzburg...had proven in a scientifically persuasive manner that the doctrine of Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven was unknown before the fifth century; this doctrine, therefore, he argued, could not belong to the ‘apostolic tradition.’ And this was his conclusion, which my teachers at Munich shared. This argument is compelling if you understand ‘tradition’ strictly as the handling down of fixed formulas and texts...But if you conceive of ‘tradition’ as a living process whereby the Holy Spirit introduces us to the fullness of truth and teaches us how to understand what previously we could still not grasp (cf. Jn 16:12-13), then subsequent ‘remembering’ (cf. Jn 16:4, for instance) can come to recognize what it had not caught sight of previously and yet w as handed down in the original Word," Milestones (Ignatius, 1998), 58-59

Source: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/04/ten-objections-to-sola-scriptura-2.html

GeneMBridges said...


But then, Holy Writ is CLEAR…clear after 1500 years! (For it took Luther to “discover the Gospel” which was lost…uhhh…unknown…)


This is cute and trite, but that's not the Protestant argument. That's the Catholic argument imposed upon the Protestant argument. One need only read the responses of the Protestant leaders from the Fathers themselves in the debates of the 16th century to know that this was the case.

David Waltz said...

Hello James,

Thanks for responding; you posted:

>>If a Jehovah's Witness rings my doorbell, and he were willing to actually look at a proper translation of the Bible, I can open up my Bible and present key verses about the Trinity. If he's honest, he would be forced to certain conclusions by the implications from those verses, without me once bringing up the word "trinity". This cannot be said about the prooftexts I posted for Mary's assumption. If you think it can be said, you are indeed deceived.>>

Me: Your response (IMHO) is textbook Walter Martinology. Though there is certainly considerably more “material” to discuss when dealing with the issue of the Trinity as opposed to Marian doctrines, the “material” is much more complex, with “honest” interpretations that can (and have) take differing trajectories that are internally consistent. I suspect that if Greg Stafford rang your “doorbell” you would quickly find your preconceived “conclusions” dashed to pieces. The Arian has explicit verses from the Scriptures to draw upon which cannot be adequately dealt with unless one is armed with tradition (as St. Augustine quickly discovered in he debate with Maximinus; a scenario that has many subsequent examples, one of the most recent being the debate between Stafford and White which had no clear ‘winner’).

>>I was just listening to Jimmy Akin on Catholic Answers explain how Vatican II needed clarification by the current pope on key issues, so don't even try to argue that somehow the RCC has the ability to interpret and make God's revelation more clear, when those allegedly "clear" pronouncements from Rome on God's revelation aren't even clear to Catholic apologists.>>

Me: Hmmm…would you argue that the early Catholic Councils did not make the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology “more clear”?


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

>> As to Luther and the Gospel, I've written about this extensively, and, it isn't even the issue (it is trinity vs. assumption). And besides, as to your "1500 years", we both know Rome didn't have any sort of clear definition on the Gospel during that time, so don't even try to pull that one.>>

Me: James, I am not trying to “pull” anything; the Gospel is part of the “issue”, for the “issue” is really about development and authoritative interpretation—both of which ultimately leads one to sobriety when discussing the “clarity” of the Scriptures.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

>>This is cute and trite, but that's not the Protestant argument. That's the Catholic argument imposed upon the Protestant argument. One need only read the responses of the Protestant leaders from the Fathers themselves in the debates of the 16th century to know that this was the case.>>

Me: Hmmm…then why do popular authors like R.C. Sproul and James White invoke it?


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Almost forgot to mention the scholarly assessment of McGrath who freely admits that two key components of the Evangelical “gospel” had no precedents prior to the 16th century.

Rhology said...

RE: Greg Stafford ringing the doorbell - in James White's debate with him, his arguments fared just as well as yours on issues like this. Stafford was unable to answer multiple key points.

But again, it's instructive to see this point resonate over and over from the keyboards of RC commenters. Scripture is simply not clear enough to express such an important doctrine as the Trinity with sufficient clarity. Maybe I should start keeping track of the disparaging remarks RCs make on Scr's clarity just to present 'em in one big bang.

And if later councils made the doctrine more explicit by restating it in philosophical language, that's just great - more power to 'em. That does not mean it wasn't clear enough beforehand.
Also, it shows forth a difficulty for you - you claim 2000 yrs under your church's belt, and STILL you don't know the answer to multiple key questions, such as the identification of Tradition as Authoritative Tradition, how you can know when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, and how to deal with contradictory Church Father writings.

Peace,
Rhology

Saint and Sinner said...

"one of the most recent being the debate between Stafford and White which had no clear ‘winner’"

That's because Stafford uses sophist arguments which, given a little time and study, are easily dismantled.

Second, just because there was no clear 'winner' in the debate does not mean that Scripture is somehow unclear. James simply didn't have enough time to dismantle all of his arguments. If one error-filled argument takes 5 minutes to make, its refutation with documentation takes 20.

Lastly, your opinion on the unclarity of Scripture concerning this matter is contrary to opinions of the majority of the Nicene/Post-Nicene fathers.

And this one may see from our own experience; for if when a word proceeds from men we infer that the mind is its source, and, by thinking about the word, see with our reason the mind which it reveals, by far greater evidence and incomparably more, seeing the power of the Word, we receive a knowledge also of His good Father, as the Saviour Himself says, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” But this all inspired Scripture also teaches more plainly and with more authority, so that we in our turn write boldy to you as we do, and you, if you refer to them, will be able to verify what we say.
-Athanasius, Against the Heathen 3.45
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-04/Npnf2-04-14.htm#P1732_625324

It is plain then from the above that the Scriptures declare the Son's eternity; it is equally plain from what follows that the Arian phrases ‘He was not,’ and ‘before’ and ‘when,’ are in the same Scriptures predicated of creatures.
-Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 1.4.13
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-04/Npnf2-04-57.htm#P5344_2094996

For there have risen many who have given to the plain words of Holy Writ some arbitrary interpretation of their own, instead of its true and only sense, and this in defiance of the clear meaning of words. Heresy lies in the sense assigned, not in the word written; the guilt is that of the expositor, not of the text.
-Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity 2.3
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-09/Npnf2-09-09.htm#P1012_627785

But should it be the Jew who gainsays these arguments, our discussion with him will no longer present equal difficulty, since the truth will be made manifest out of those doctrines on which he has been brought up. For that there is a Word of God, and a Spirit of God, powers essentially subsisting, both creative of whatever has come into being, and comprehensive of things that exist, is shown in the clearest light out of the Divinely-inspired Scriptures.
-Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism, ch.4
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-05/Npnf2-05-39.htm#P3860_2533178

God, then, is One, without violation of the majesty of the eternal Trinity, as is declared in the instance set before us. And not in that place alone do we see the Trinity expressed in the Name of the Godhead; but both in many places, as we have said also above, and especially in the epistles which the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians, he most clearly set forth the Godhead and sovereignty of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For you read as follows: “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, as we also do toward you, to the stablishing of your hearts without blame in holiness before God and our Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus.”
-Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit 3.14.94
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-10/Npnf2-10-15.htm#P3240_764107

He answered, “Suffer it to be so now, that all righteousness may be fulfilled”), when He was baptized then, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the form of a Dove: and then a Voice from on high followed, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Here then we have the Trinity in a certain sort distinguished. The Father in the Voice,-the Son in the Man,-the Holy Spirit in the Dove. It was only needful just to mention this, for most obvious is it to see. For the notice of the Trinity is here conveyed to us plainly and without leaving room for doubt or hesitation.
-Augustine, Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, Sermon 2.1
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-06/npnf1-06-19.htm#P3072_1352307

This, indeed, is I think confessed even by the Arians, who do not call the flesh Godhead, nor address the Godhead as flesh. Holy Scripture clearly teaches us both natures. Nevertheless, though I have ever thus spoken, certain men are uttering lying words against me. But I rely on my conscience and have as witness to my teaching Him who looks into the hearts. So, as the prophet says, I regard the contrivances of calumny as “a spider's web.”
-Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, Letter 99-To Claudianus the Antigrapharius
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-03/Npnf2-03-23.htm#P5332_1283104

pilgrim said...

"Assumption" is the right word for this doctrine.

All the quoted scripture references in the original posts make huge assumptions that they are about Mary, or connected to Mary.

At best the Enoch & Elijah passages aoffer precedent, however precedent is not the same as proof.

kmerian said...

Carrie, there is just as much Biblical support for the Assumption as there is for "sola scriptura", yet you reject the former for lack of explicit Biblical mention, but defend the latter even though there is the same lack of Biblical mention.

David Waltz said...

Hello SS,

Thanks for responding; you posted:

>>That's because Stafford uses sophist arguments which, given a little time and study, are easily dismantled.>>

Me: Stafford a “sophist”? Could you provide some clear examples of his sophistry? Have you actually read his Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended ? [His debate with White is available online for free at: http://www.elihubooks.com/online-audio/ .] As for the charge of sophistry, though I highly respect St. Athanasius, I can provide clear examples of sophistry on his part in some of his polemical attacks against Arius.


>>Second, just because there was no clear 'winner' in the debate does not mean that Scripture is somehow unclear. James simply didn't have enough time to dismantle all of his arguments. If one error-filled argument takes 5 minutes to make, its refutation with documentation takes 20.>>

Me: An online page at http://members.aol.com/debatelog/ “dismantles all of his [White’s, and others] arguments”. Stafford’s rebuttals are calm, balanced, and clearly demonstrate his mastery of the Biblical texts (especially the Greek).

>>Lastly, your opinion on the unclarity of Scripture concerning this matter is contrary to opinions of the majority of the Nicene/Post-Nicene fathers.>>

Me: My opinion is the same as the Fathers you cited: Holy Scripture IS CLEAR to those who remain within the bounds of the great Tradition.

And as for the Fathers you cited, all of them were faithful Catholic Christians, all believed in baptismal regeneration, and all rejected “the gospel” as delineated by Evangelicalism.


Grace and peace,

David

pilgrim said...

kmerian--the big differnece in your arguyment of assumption vs sola scriptura is this-
The arguments for Mary's assumption are based on precedent--which are not proof, merely precedent, and on scriptures that have no explicit mention of Mary, and only when Mary is read into the passage are they used. Even if these passages were about Mary you still have to read into those passages to make it be about the assumption.
The passages used to support Sola Scriptura are blatantly speaking about Scripture.

kmerian said...

Perhaps Pilgrim, but you are still left with the same problem. Neither doctrine is explicitly stated in Scripture. Yes there are verses which talk about the inerrancy of Scripture, just as there are verses which record the assumptions of others. But that final step is not there in either case.

Carrie said...

Yes there are verses which talk about the inerrancy of Scripture, just as there are verses which record the assumptions of others.

Please kmerian, you are going to base Mary's assumption on the fact that some in the OT were assumed? Where does it end? I guess I could make a legitimate case for assumption for many of the people in the NT whose deaths are not recorded.

Sola Scriptura is implicit as the Trinity as implicit. It is looking to scripture and letting scripture define a doctrine. Mary's assumption is making something up and then looking to scripture for support.

kmerian said...

No, Carrie I am not going to base the Assumption on precedent. But that precedent does show assumptions occur and are possible. Yet, even though scripture makes it clear it is possible, you and other protestants reject it as myth. Wouldn't the proper Biblical foundation to take be that the Assumption is possible yet not recorded and therefore cannot be either proven or disproved?

Carrie said...

Wouldn't the proper Biblical foundation to take be that the Assumption is possible yet not recorded and therefore cannot be either proven or disproved?

Yes, and that would be my position as far as the facts. But infallibly stating that the Assumption occurred and is an article of dogmatic faith that must be adhered to by all Catholics is a bit of an issue for me.

pilgrim said...

Exactly--the parallel here is sola scriptura is seen in scripture the same way the Trinity is, but the assumption is a case of eisegesis.

This is seen, as mentioned already, in that the passages used to show the Trinity & sola scriptura are passages about-respectively-the members of the Trinity & God in general and the scriptures.

The passages used to show the assumption of Mary have nothing to do with Mary, unless one reads Mary into the text. That doesn't make it legitimate.

kmerian said...

Carrie, thank you for at least being intellectually honest. You are one of the few Protestants I have met that would concede at least that the assumption is possible.

I can definitely respect your position on this.

Rhology said...

Yes, the assumption is possible. Scr says nothing one way or the other.

But it is unjustifiable to bind it on the Christian's conscience as a de fide dogma as the RCC has done.