Thursday, December 25, 2008

Revelation 12:1-6 Who is the Woman?

I have been blessed (or perhaps "spoiled") to have Rev. Richard Kuiken as my senior pastor for the last 10 years. He has been senior pastor of the Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church for over twenty years.

Today we had a full church for our Christmas service. Rev. Kuiken selected Revelation 12:1-6 as his text to preach on. I found the sermon quite appropriate to post on this blog, as Revelation 12 serves as one of the primary Marian prooftexts for Roman Catholic apologetics. The MP3 of the sermon can be found here. Just who is the woman in Revelation 12? Is it Mary? Is it the church? Listen in to Reverend Kuiken's sermon to find out.

Revelation 12: 1-6 The Woman and the Dragon
1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

33 comments:

BillyHW said...

The "woman" of revelation 12 has four referents:

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9705chap.asp

James Swan said...

The "woman" of revelation 12 has four referents:http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9705chap.asp

Hmmm... is that an official Roman Catholic source, or private interpretation? I can't recall if Rome ever deemed "This Rock" an infallbile interpreter of sacred scripture.

All kidding aside, yes, I recall this article, I may have even cited it at some point previously I did, http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2322).

There would be some agreement between myself and the "This Rock" article- I suggest listening to the MP3 sermon I posted.

However, Catholic apologists stretch the verse beyond its boundaries- Madrid for example:

Patrick Madrid: "Mr. White brought up the assumption. He could bring up any doctrine he might like, none of which would be the topic of our debate, tonight, but at some future point perhaps, we could discuss where those doctrines are found. The assumption, for example, since he brought it up, I'll just refer to it. Revelation, chapter 12, Mr. White. It's a very commonly used passage for Catholic apologists. I don't know why you would have missed that. The woman clothed with the Sun was seen not only by modern Catholic apologists as Mary's assumption, but also the early Church Fathers, which Mr. White is so fond of bringing into the picture. I'd be more than happy, in some future point, to demonstrate, in a different debate, how the early Church Fathers viewed Revelation 12. They exegeted that passage to mean that Mary had been brought up into Heaven in a special way. But, that's another topic."

Madrid appeals to the early church fathers as proof Revelation 12 is about the assumption. Fortunately for Madrid, very few actually read the early church fathers! If they did, they would discover the same thing Giovanni Miegge did. The earliest reference to Mary in Revelation 12 does not appear until the fourth century:

"The modern Mariologists like to turn to [Revelation 12], seeing in it an allegory of the Virgin Mary. But whatever can be thought of their interpretation, it is a fact that none of the early interpreters before the end of the fourth century see the Virgin Mary in the woman of the Revelation. They all understand her to be the Church and so they continue to make most of their interpretations in the following centuries. Ticonius is the first to suggest the Marian interpretation" [Giovanni Miegge, The Virgin Mary (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1955, pp.101-102)].

Matthew Bellisario said...

Swan says, "it is a fact that none of the early interpreters before the end of the fourth century see the Virgin Mary in the woman of the Revelation."

What is your definition of early. I just love the excuses we get. "It was only in the 300s when we see that written down, after-all we expect to see a written catechism in the 300s don't we?????" Lame excuses. Why don't we see any of your doctrines being written down before the 300s? The fact is we don't see any of them being written down until the 1500s which is even more amazing! We find not one church father teaching strict predestination in any writing of the Church Fathers. Oh you can twist St Augustine all you want. The fact is no Christians taught that and it isn't written down before the 300s either.

No church Father had a commentary in the 300s that interprets Romans like you do. So what? Do you think that they had written catechisms for everyone to use in the 4th century? Did they all go around in the year 150 with their shiny new Bibles and their Matthew Henry Commentaries? These arguments are just bad ones. We could have something written from the 100s and you would come back and say something like, "The earliest evidence we have is over 100 years after Jesus," or something similar. The fact is when you do not want to believe, you just do not want to believe and you will find any excuse to not to believe. The 300s is quite early my friend.

BJ Buracker said...

Matthew,

I understand the point, and I agree that the 300's are early.

However, let's just suppose Mary did ascend bodily into Heaven. Why didn't someone who witnessed that even write it down? That is an incredibly remarkable event, and the other examples we know of (Enoch, Elijah, and Jesus) are written down. Why didn't anybody find it interesting enough to write about the only time a woman ascended into Heaven? It seems significant to me.

If the argument is that it IS written down here in Revelation, then it seems equally significant that none of John's contemporaries or those soon after him picked up on the reference. Perhaps it's just me, but that seems to indicate that maybe John didn't mean it that way.

What say you? I'd be interested.

Thanks,

BJ

Matthew Bellisario said...

Hi BJ,

Well, we don't know whether it was written down that early or not. Just because we don't have it in hand doesn't mean that it wasn't written. I will however concede that arguing from a point of absence is not the most convincing. So lets look at what was written down in the fist centuries in general shall we? The total amount of written Christian literature in the first 3 centuries is minimal compared to the times after Constantine. This is a fact. There is just not that much there to go with. Either they were not well preserved or they just were not written. There are some obvious reasons for that being that most of the time Christians were just trying to keep their heads in those days.

We do have some writings from those early centuries, but if we were to compile them all they wouldn't even amount to the contents of the New Testament. So to think that we should have everything written down for us is to assume something from their culture that isn't realistic. To also assume that the Assumption or the Dormition would have been more important than the issues that were written about like the establishment of the Church and its bishops etc, like Ignatius wrote about, is to look back at them with a mentality that assumes they were writing things down for future controversialists like ourselves. That is also unrealistic. The fact that we have Epiphanius's writing on the subject in his Panarion in 377 to me is quite amazing, although even he does not give a definitive interpretation but gives the Assumption as one of a few.

There are other strange facts that give us clues as to her Assumption but cannot be used as a concrete basis for it. This would include the fact that their are no cults to her relics, which is quite amazing since we have all sorts of relic processions in the early years of the Church. Her relics have never been claimed to have even existed, yet we have all sorts of others being honored in the early church. The only relics ever claimed to have existed are her girdle and her robe. Why not her bones as the other Saints were claimed to leave behind? Once again not concrete evidence, but quite solid circumstantial evidence.

Here are a few facts of the celebration of the Assumption in the early Church. The Coptic Church has written liturgical calendars from the 500s proving that they celebrated her Dormition and her Assumption. The fragments of the Six books from the 4th century also gives a written testimony to the end of Mary's life, though it is much debated as to the contents since much of the original is damaged and later copies are the ones cited.

Here is also another fact of the Assumption as well as other Marian liturgical functions. Once these celebrations are documented, the whole of Christianity is seen as also having these same devotions in their liturgies. And so the entire Church from the 4th or 5th century would have had to be in error for over 1000 years in order for your argument of antiquity to hold. For me that simply is not an option. We see only a small handful of people even questioning any of the Marian Liturgical functions including her intercessory prayer throughout this period(400s to the 1500s). The fact is once we see it, it is there almost all at once. It seems quite odd that it would have happened that way had it just come into existence at that time as an invention(300s or 400s). Why would we not see these churches Syrian, Coptic, African, etc, writing in opposition to these liturgical practices that Rome supposedly invented? In fact this doesn't happen, giving us yet another clue as to its more ancient practice and acceptance. We see intercessory prayer to Mary in the 300s being practice in the Liturgy with no opposition to it.

For example at the end of a homily given at a Divine Liturgy by Basil of Seleucia in the 4th century, it reads as follows, "O Virgin all holy, he who has said of you all that is honorable and glorious has not sinned against the truth, but remains unequal to your merit. Look down upon us from above and be propitious to us. Lead us in peace and having brought us without shame to the throne of judgment, grant us a place at the right hand of your Son, that we may borne off to heaven and sing with angels to the uncreated, consubstantial Trinity" Basil of Seleucia, PG 85:452(ante AD 459)

I don't want to get off the subject here, but you get my point. There is not any evidence that I know of in writing from the first 3 centuries that proves that the Assumption was an ancient belief. The amount of writings and liturgical practices however that comes out soon after Constantine is vast and the whole Church implements these liturgical practices. It also hardly something of an invention by Rome since we have the Syrian, Coptic,etc churches practicing the same. Sometimes it isn't only the evidence itself that speaks, but how we interpret the evidence that we have available to us. Any archaeologist will tell you that.

I will stop there I think the post is long enough. For give me.
I would recommend reading Stephen Shoemaker's book on the subject from Oxford Press. It is pretty well done.

Matthew Bellisario said...

I would also like to pose the same question back to you BJ. If Scripture Alone was so important then why doesn't anyone write about it in the first 2 centuries? Even James White readily admits in his debates that the Apostles didn't teach or believe it nor did the generation that followed them. So I guess it is OK to develop that teaching, just not any other correct?

BillyHW said...

The earliest reference to Mary in Revelation 12 does not appear until the fourth century:

Um...you do know that the Nicene Creed and the canon of the New Testament did not appear until the fourth century too, don't you?

And the "Reformation" didn't appear until the 16th century! Holy Cow!

BJ Buracker said...

Hey Matthew,

I think you provide a lot of interesting stuff, but as you say, it's not concrete evidence. I must admit that the lack of reference to Mary's bones is quite intriguing. However, I'm sure you'll admit that there are other possible explanations than just the Assumption (e.g. secret burial, lost records, etc.).

As to why Sola Scriptura is not mentioned in the Early Fathers: First, I'm not sure I'm willing to concede that there are no writings towards the concept. However, I'll concede the point for the sake of argument and because my knowledge of ECF writings is too limited to form or articulate anything approaching an educated argument.

Second, I think you'll agree that the ECF's believe that Scripture was authoritative AND divine in authorship. In order to disprove SS in the ECF's, one would have to find them discussing something else that is both authoritative and divinely authored (e.g. Oral Tradition). In order for the Catholic position to be established, one would also need to find reference to an infallible magisterium.

If such references cannot be found, then the concept of Sola Scriptura is more or less found. This is because the ECF's would espouse ONE divine and authoritative entity (Scripture) and nothing else. Do the ECF's espouse another divine, authoritative source? I do not know of one, but again, I could easily be simply ignorant on the matter.

Third, if the ECF's all believed in SS, there is no reason to suppose that they would define it formally. From what I know of the ECF's, they were not in the business of writing Systematic Theology Text Books. Most dogmas that were discussed were for edification, sanctification, or debate. Thus, much doctrine was either moral or Christological.

Hence it seems reasonable, that they would practice Sola Scriptura and assume it, until it was challenged.

Fourth, SS is an entirely different subject than the Assumption for the sole reason that the Assumption is an historical event, whereas SS is not. If I saw someone ascend into Heaven or disappear completely, I'd make sure people knew about it. There is no evidence that anyone contemporary with Mary witnessed her being assumed. However, if such a unique event occurred, we would expect to find this mentioned sometime before 250 years after the event (+/-). Such an expectation does not exist with SS, because one cannot witness SS, since an event of SS (e.g. God's hand physically penning the text, etc.) did not occur.

So those are my responses off the cuff. I haven't given this a ton of thought, so I'm sure I'm open to critique. I would be interested in what anyone else wanted to contribute on the subject.

Also, this particular thread is about the Assumption, so it may be best not to hijack this thread with discussions on SS. Perhaps James would be willing to start a new post, or we could move elsewhere. Of course, if no one minds a move to SS, that's fine too.

Blessings, and a happy new year to you all,

BJ

Matthew Bellisario said...

BJ I would like to reiterate what I said about writings in those times.

A. We do have some writings from those early centuries, but if we were to compile them all they wouldn't even amount to the contents of the New Testament. To think that we should have everything written down for us is to assume something from their culture that isn't realistic.

B. To assume that the Assumption or the Dormition would have been more important than the issues that were written about like the establishment of the Church and its bishops etc, like Ignatius wrote about, is to look back at them with a mentality that assumes they were writing things down for future controversialists like ourselves. That is also unrealistic.

In addition... as far as her burial place goes it is one of two places that are widely held to be hers. Yet no bones were claimed from either of them. I will leave the Sola argument alone. If you like I can start one on the Anathema Sit blog. And we could debate it out over there. Just let me know and can get it going.

BJ Buracker said...

Matthew,

To assume that the Assumption or the Dormition would have been more important than the issues that were written about like the establishment of the Church and its bishops etc, like Ignatius wrote about, is to look back at them with a mentality that assumes they were writing things down for future controversialists like ourselves. That is also unrealistic.

Why is that to assume that kind of mentality? I see someone levitate beyond the clouds, I'm going to share it with someone. Far lesser miracles were certainly written down without any apparent "premonition" of dogma debates. I don't understand this assumption at all. Someone rising into Heaven is VERY significant, regardless of the witnesses' religious dispositions.

In other words, I am skeptical of a testimony about an historical event (not simply dogma) that occurred 300 years earlier, without ANY other testimony to the event.

To think that we should have everything written down for us is to assume something from their culture that isn't realistic.

This would equally apply to your statement about Sola Scriptura. So why ask me to provide you with something that need not exist?

We can do whatever you want about a SS discussion. Perhaps after the New Year would be better, though. I'm going on vacation soon. I'll have time to read, but limited time to write.

Peace,

BJ

Matthew Bellisario said...

That was my point in asking you the question BJ. The road goes both directions.

Matthew Bellisario said...

BJ you said, "Why is that to assume that kind of mentality? I see someone levitate beyond the clouds, I'm going to share it with someone. Far lesser miracles were certainly written down without any apparent "premonition" of dogma debates. I don't understand this assumption at all. Someone rising into Heaven is VERY significant, regardless of the witnesses' religious dispositions."

I answer with the following. First of all you are assuming that this happened in front of a mob for all to see. To my knowledge the Church has never told us how or when it happened. In fact the earliest sources suggest she dies and then later was assumed into heaven, I think 3 days after her death. I believe the testimonies state they returned to find her body no longer there. So I stand by my accusation that to say that the early writers would have made a huge spectacle out of this would be unrealistic, especially when many other topics of the day were probably more important.

You are implying that crowds of people were standing around as she was pulled up into the clouds in a huge spectacle. Although we have many images today that give us an illustration of such a happening doesn't mean that it was by any means a public display. She most probably died, and then her body was assumed into heaven later. The Church has made no official statement as to whether she dies before her Assumption or not. Once again these people were not writing for you to provide you evidence for every suspicion that you may have regarding the Church and her teachings. Maybe that is why the early writers spent so much time writing about the Church and her authority rather than other things so that when people found the Church they would trust what she teaches. There are numerous sources of the Fathers who write of the authority and structure of the Church contrary to Scripture as being an ultimate authority apart from the Church.

BJ Buracker said...

Matthew,

I believe the testimonies state they returned to find her body no longer there.

What testimonies? We have no records of eye witnesses? I don't assume that this happened in front of a mob, but if there is "testimony" then someone must have seen it... Who? How do you know?

You are implying that crowds of people were standing around as she was pulled up into the clouds in a huge spectacle.

Where did I say anything about huge crowds?

Once again these people were not writing for you to provide you evidence for every suspicion that you may have regarding the Church and her teachings.

Where did I saw that this would be the reason?

The fact of the matter, is that whenever something odd and bizarre occurs, people talk about it. They don't keep it to themselves. They talk about it; they write it down; they share it with others. Whether someone watched her go up into Heaven, or whether a group found an empty tomb is irrelevant. If there is someone who witnessed this event, where is their testimony? Where is a reference to this being taught before the 4th century?

If the earliest account of this is 300+ years later, how does that person know? He or she wasn't there!

Forget about this being Church dogma for instance, and just think about it historically... What makes someone in the 4th century a reliable "witness" for an event that happened 300 years earlier? If I start talking about an event that occurred in 1715 that is not recorded ANYWHERE, why should anyone believe me?

That's what I'm getting at. The Assumption of Mary would have been a HUGE historical phenomenon. But no one seems to think so until the 4th century. I find that very odd.

BJ

Matthew Bellisario said...

I don't share you suspicions given what I know about that time period in history. They did not deem it necessary to write things down as we do today. The oral passing on of information was still widely accepted. If we are to use your argument then we would have to ask why there are not any secular sources of Christ's miracles written down during the first century. After all, his miracles would have been a HUGE deal as you proposed in reference to the Assumption.

I am not aware of any writings in the first centuries for example in reference to Lazarus being raised from the dead apart from the Gospels, which were also written well after the fact, granted not 300 years after, but many years after. If I ma wrong then I would like to be made aware of those sources. I think it is a mistake to impose something on that culture which that culture was not inclined to do. Some things were written down and some were not. Some were written and lost along the way, but what still stands from that time period is the Church itself which Christ gave us to testify to the truth.

BJ Buracker said...

Matthew,

After all, his miracles would have been a HUGE deal as you proposed in reference to the Assumption.

Yep. And we have historical record from eyewitnesses, do we not? And we also have evidence that other non-biblical accounts of these things existed at one time (Luke 1:1-2). The same goes for the rising of Lazarus.

The same does not go for Mary's Assumption. Again, that no one interpreted Rev. 12 as referring to Mary until the 4th century, indicates that it probably does not refer to her at all. Hence, there is no historical record of this event until the likes of Epiphanius. That doesn't bother you?

Some things were written down and some were not.

If Mary's Assumption was not recorded, how did someone 300+ years later know about it? Oral accounts? How do we know these existed before the 4th century? Is there proof of any of that? Does Epiphanius say that he received this from so-and-so, who know it from such-and-such? Etc.

This just seems to be a very speculative endeavor, at least to me.

Enjoying it,

BJ

BJ Buracker said...

Let me ask this,

Do any of the ECF's quote an earlier source in regards to Mary's Assumption? Even if that earlier source is no longer extant, I would find that both interesting and relevant.

Thanks,

BJ

Matthew Bellisario said...

"that no one interpreted Rev. 12 as referring to Mary until the 4th century, indicates that it probably does not refer to her at all. Hence, there is no historical record of this event until the likes of Epiphanius. That doesn't bother you?"

As I said earlier, no that doesn't bother me considering the culture of which we are speaking. The written account was not the be all end all method of communication for them as it you seem to imply that it was. What source do we have outside the Scriptures that attest to the majority of Jesus' miracles form that time period? I know of none. If you have some I would like to know of them as well. Yes the eyewitness accounts are of Scripture, but you cited that any history outside of that would have recorded it as well if it were such a huge deal. You said so yourself. The point is that culture did not run out and write everything down. They passed it on in oral traditions.

That being said I find the church to be more believable in what she declares than mere historical data. After-all you don't have the original copies of the New Testament books either, they are all copies. You have to trust someone other than historical evidence to give some authentication to them other than your own historical hunches. It is only of recent times that we even have had access to such knowledge. Someone in the year 400 or 500 would never had a historical treasure hunt to decide what he was going to believe in regards to the Church. That fact is they lived the Christian faith based on what was revealed to them by the church that was established by Christ in their particular area.

It is only primarily after the "Reformation" that we such such individualism appear and such individuals deciding for themselves what they were going to believe based on their own hunches. The Church was always the authority. Since I was not there at the time of Christ, and I was not there at Mary's Assumption, and I was not there when such histories were written and orally passed down, I will have faith in the Church that Jesus Himself gave me to follow and all that goes with it, which includes the Sacred Scriptures, oral Tradition and all dogma and doctrine that goes with it. I will not put myself as the arbiter of truth, nor the jury that decides what is historically creditable and what is not. When it comes to faith and morals I follow Christ.

BJ Buracker said...

Matthew,

...you cited that any history outside of that would have recorded it as well if it were such a huge deal. You said so yourself.

Where did I say that? I don't believe I did. I said that someone (Apostle, historian, farmer, anyone) would have written them down. Honestly, if this particular event was recorded in Scripture, we wouldn't be having this conversation, even if no one else wrote about it.

I will not put myself as the arbiter of truth, nor the jury that decides what is historically creditable and what is not. When it comes to faith and morals I follow Christ.

This is certainly most wise, and I'm glad! But where does Christ proclaim that Mary was assumed into Heaven? I'd like to read that.

From what I can tell we have:
1. No account of the Assumption in Scripture.
2. No other contemporaneous written account of the Assumption outside of Scripture.
3. No proof of testimony of the Assumption until the 4th Century.

I'm sorry, but the evidence does not seem to point in your direction. The absence of anyone claiming to possess Mary's bones is simply not enough to prove it to me. If there is some evidence I've missed, please let me know.

Kindest regards,

BJ

Matthew Bellisario said...

BJ, Your argument to reject it is not a strong one. You have not even acknowledged the fact that that particular culture of the time wouldn't have had the notion to write everything down as you claim. I would suggest reading some books on that culture and the importance of oral tradition in that time period, then you may understand their mindset apart from your 2008 linear Western mindset. Now to your latest post.

First of all God never said everything had to be recorded in Scripture, nor that everything He revealed had to be written down in order to appease your curiosities. There is no such thing as Sola Scriptura. Where did Christ say Mary was assumed into heaven you ask? He said it through his most Divine Church which He established. He who hears you hears me is what He said if I remember correctly, referring to His Church. So when the Church speaks, not you, nor any historian, it is He who speaks. Therefore if the Church which was Divinely created by Christ says that she was assumed, then she was assumed. This is true, despite your historical curiosities that you may have, which you, almost 2000 years removed have no means nor authority to base your conclusion on to reject it.

Who should I believe you? You who has limited means and limited knowledge of historical sources, or the Church which Christ put on this earth that has apostolic succession back to him? That is not a hard one for me to choose between, sorry if that offends you, that is not my intention. It is however a no-brainer for me.

If I had to go through myself and determine everything from the oldest historical sources and put everything together, including the composition of the Scripture Canon, how it is to be properly interpreted as well as all of the Oral teaching that Saint Paul passed on, all by myself, what would I have? Nothing more than one of the thousands of Protestant churches that can't tell up from down. You don't even have the means to go back and determine what the New Testament is from the many ancient manuscripts that contain different passages, many just fragments that are put together from later manuscripts and so forth.

You would be lost my friend without the Catholic Church, say what you will. You wouldn't have the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament, nor any idea as to who Christ is without the Church. Everything that you believe that is Orthodox is from the Church, not from your own interpretation of Scripture.

Where does God say she was assumed? He said it through His Church thats where.

Excerpt from..
Munificentissimus Deus

Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII defining the dogma of the Assumption, 1 November 1950

12. But those whom "the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God"[4] gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions. This "outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful,"[5] affirming that the bodily Assumption of God's Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of the Church's ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which the same doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallible way, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit which Christ has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly.[6] Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth,[7] and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, "the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith."[8] Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church's ordinary teaching authority we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven- which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its own natural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of God is concerned-is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church. For, as the Vatican Council asserts, "all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed."[9]

13. Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries; and this same belief becomes more clearly manifest from day to day.


Therefor if you reject this, you reject what God has proclaimed, and you sir obstinately separate yourself from God by rejecting what He says. You can use your own sources and limited historical knowledge and so forth to make you feel better about rejecting the Church. But I am afraid unless a clearer head prevails it will lead to your doom. I say this not in a condescending tone, because I am only part of the Church by the grace of God. I too used to live outside the Church as an outsider looking in, claiming that I had it all figured out by my own methods. I pray that you too will act on that grace which God gives you to accept Him without reservation, and without relying on your own limited knowledge and limited reasoning. God be with you.

pilgrim said...

Leaving aside the debate of how early the belief on the assumption is, this passage --in context--is so obviously about the church the only way to miss it is to look for it to be something else.

Yes Revelation is full of symbols, and there are many ways that the symbols have been interpreted, but this passage fits the church so well to give it any other meaning is foolhardy at best.

Of course you may say that's my interpretation and dismiss it--but look at the context.

So what these comments need are some reasons why this passage is about Mary--if the point is to be made.

BJ Buracker said...

Matthew,

First of all God never said everything had to be recorded in Scripture, nor that everything He revealed had to be written down in order to appease your curiosities.

I have not claimed that God said this at all in this thread. In fact, in your last comment you said:

...you cited that any history outside of that [the Bible] would have recorded it as well if it were such a huge deal. You said so yourself.

So which is it? Am I arguing that everything has to be in Scripture or that everything has to be written outside of Scripture?

In fact, I've said neither one.

As far as the culture is concerned, I concede that their necessity for written documentation is different than ours, although I would prefer that you not make assumptions about what materials that I have or have not read.

Nevertheless, there is no evidence that anyone at any time ever taught the Assumption of Mary before the fourth century. That's my argument. That's it. Can you provide any evidence? Does your church provide evidence? If so, I'd like to read it.

The rest of your post, while interesting, is off topic. The authority of the Church is tangential to whether or not Revelation 12 teaches the Assumption or to whether or not anyone has proof that the event even occurred.

So what evidence do you have that the Assumption occurred. I've already listed out the evidence we don't have. Thus, I fail to see why my "argument to reject it [the Assumption] is not a strong one." There is simply no evidence that it ever took place.

If you can provide some evidence, please do so. If not, then I'm afraid we're at an impasse.

Blessings,

BJ

BJ Buracker said...

Pilgrim,

So what these comments need are some reasons why this passage is about Mary--if the point is to be made.

I agree 100%. I would like to read about these reasons, if anyone would care to provide some.

Thanks,

BJ

Matthew Bellisario said...

As far as I am concerned the 4th century is quite early enough for me as I pointed out in my first post. If thats not early enough for you then yes we are at the point of no further discussion on the matter. As I have already stated, these people in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd centuries and beyond were not writing to provide you with written evidence to this fact. That is why we have the Church. My argument has never been about providing an earlier source. It has been about giving you a reason as to why there isn't one. The fact is their culture isn't living up to you or Swan's expectations. Thats not my problem, but yours. I am satisfied by what the Church has passed on to me. I guess that is where I will leave it.

BJ Buracker said...

Matthew,

So am I right in assuming that the only reason you believe in the Assumption is because the Church says so? If so, then how does the Church know?

BJ

Matthew Bellisario said...

Because the Church was there and you obviously were not. The very same reason you believe the Scriptures to be authentic. Not because you can prove them yourself to be so, but because the Church says so. For there are nor originals in existence.

Matthew Bellisario said...

We will have to take this further discussion to another forum since we are no longer addressing this particular interpretation of Revelation. It is clear that I have no need to prove that there has to be a writing corroborating that interpretation from any earlier that the 300s. I don't feel that it is necessary, and I find it quite comical to assume that form the the culture of that time.

Matthew Bellisario said...

If you are interested BJ I have started a new post on the anathemasit.org blog. Instead of taking this topic off on a tangent here I created a new post. You or anyone else is welcome to comment on the Church authority, or the authority of Scripture in reference to this particular Catholic dogma of the Assumption. Thanks

Tim Enloe said...

An interesting, if unfortunately typical, conversation with Catholic apologists. The interesting thing is that so much of the weight is made to rest on the idea that God never said EVERYTHING had to be written down before it could be accepted. This is to most Protestants a rather obvious and unchallenged assertion, but it's so frequently deployed by Catholics as if it's a universal, startling, and really devastating defeater for the Protestant position. Perhaps because so many Catholics labor under the misconception that the Reformation confession "sola Scriptura" is basically American Fundamentalist Bible Onlyism - which it isn't.

At any rate, the real point the Catholics don't seem to get at in any of their remarks is that it is pretty doggone clear from both Testaments that tradition can go off the rails, and when it does, it has to be re-normed by the only thing that doesn't go off the rails: Holy Scripture. A further thing they don't get at in their remarks is that the concept of "tradition" in Church history simply is not uniform, but pluriform. Oberman's distinction between "Tradition I" and "Tradition II" is most helpful here, as is McGrath's later addition of "Tradition 0" to describe Fundamentalist Protestantism's incoherent notion of biblical authority - which again is what most Catholic apologists attack, wrongly assuming it is the Reformation doctrine.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Tim I think the point you are missing is that the apostles never practiced nor taught Sola Scriptura, nor did their immediate followers do so. Not only that, it is quite naive to think that Tradition, which is the Oral Word of God is not of the same substance as the written, and therefore is also incorruptible. Or do you make the argument that the apostles taught such a novelty? I doubt you would be so bold as to make such a claim. Therefore your novelty teaching of Scripture Alone is unfounded and subject to the same scrutiny as any of these teachings which you are accusing the Catholic Church of inventing.

The big difference between the two is we have the same Catholic Church now as there was then to attest to what was authentic and what was not. You have nothing other than your own reasoning to go by. The fact is the apostles did not teach Scripture Alone, and there is no reason to think the whole Church changed and added this novelty to its doctrine once the New Testament canon was complete. This is just a fabrication of Protestantism and is not grounded on any facts whatsoever.

Tim Enloe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Enloe said...

Never mind. I was about to make my recurring mistake of getting involved in things that will never go anywhere constructive.

kaycee said...

hmmm...

The "one true church" also declared the Donation of Constantine to be true and arrested Galileo for saying the earth was not flat.

Samuel Kadyakale said...

All through the Bible, a lovely woman is a symbol of God's church. Jeremiah says, "I have likened the daughter of Zion [the church] to a lovely and delicate woman" (Jeremiah 6:2). Paul likens the church to "a chaste virgin" presented to Christ in marriage (2 Corinthians 11:2). The Song of Solomon suddenly comes to life with meaning for us when we consider that it is a song of Christ to His bride, the church. http://www.christiansermonsandmusicvideos.com/2015/01/revelation-12-commentary-woman-clothed.html