Friday, December 31, 2010

Muslims quoting Coptic and Roman Catholic sources on Mary

Below is a video in Arabic, with English subtitles, where this Muslim is quoting Coptic and Roman Catholic sources on their views of Mary. It is impossible to tell what the Latin words are behind the Arabic sources, if at all, since all the sources the Muslim quotes from are in Arabic. Maybe the Coptic church and other Orthodox groups don't make those distinctions that the RCC does in official documents. (distinctions between latria and dulia and hyperdulia don't seem to be communicated at all by the sources or the Arabic speaking Muslim. He says that the Coptic Church and RCC "idolize" (I don't know that word he used.) and worship (ebaudat; and abd) Mary. He quotes from the late John Paul II also. I can recognize some of the words because we have many of these words in Farsi. They use a word for worship ( ebaudat; عباده - Arabic or عبادت (Farsi/Persian).

The video is an answer to the Coptic priest, Zacharia Boutros and that he maintained that the Coptic church (and the RC and EO) officially have never worshiped Mary and that she has never been part of the Trinity, which is what the Qur'an seems to say in Surah 5:116 and 5:72-77 and 6:101-102.

Surah 5:72-78


لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ ۖ وَقَالَ الْمَسِيحُ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُ مَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَاهُ النَّارُ ۖ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ


(72) They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.


لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلَاثَةٍ ۘ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ إِلَّا إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۚ وَإِن لَّمْ يَنتَهُوا عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

(73) They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.

أَفَلَا يَتُوبُونَ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

(74) Why turn they not to Allah, and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.


مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ ۖ كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ الطَّعَامَ ۗ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُبَيِّنُ لَهُمُ الْآيَاتِ ثُمَّ انظُرْ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ


(75) Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!

قُلْ أَتَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَمْلِكُ لَكُمْ ضَرًّا وَلَا نَفْعًا ۚ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

(76) Say: "Will ye worship, besides Allah, something which hath no power either to harm or benefit you? But Allah,- He it is that heareth and knoweth all things."


قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا أَهْوَاءَ قَوْمٍ قَدْ ضَلُّوا مِن قَبْلُ وَأَضَلُّوا كَثِيرًا وَضَلُّوا عَن سَوَاءِ السَّبِيلِ

(77) Say: "O people of the Book! exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by,- who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the even way.


لُعِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَلَىٰ لِسَانِ دَاوُودَ وَعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوا وَّكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ

(78) Curses were pronounced on those among the Children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary: because they disobeyed and persisted in excesses.

Dr. White did an excellent job of showing in the context of the Qur'an, Surah 5:72-77, when it says that both "Isa (Jesus) and Mary ate food", that this passage, along with 5:116 thinks that Mary is part of the Trinity. (see Muhammad's Errors about Jesus

Surah 5:116

وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَٰهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِحَقٍّ ۚ إِن كُنتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ ۚ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِي وَلَا أَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِكَ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ

(116) And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah´?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

Surah 6:101 - this shows that the Qur'an and Muslim automatically think "Son of God" means that God had a wife.

بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَلَمْ تَكُن لَّهُ صَاحِبَةٌ ۖ وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۖ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ


(101) "To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: How can He have a son when He hath no consort? He created all things, and He hath full knowledge of all things."

Zacharia maintains that the group that worshiped Mary were the "Marians"; (and not the Coptic or other orthodox Christian groups at the time of Islam), which is probably what is known as the Collyridians,(a desert Gnostic sect in N. Arabia and what is today known as Jordan). The Collyridians prayed, bowed down, and presented wafer cakes to icons and statues of Mary.

When the Muslims see these things and read all the exalted language of Copts and Roman Catholics (and I suppose other Eastern Orthodox groups; it was unclear if the Muslim in the video quoted from other Eastern Orthodox groups), and see that these groups pray to Mary, call her "the Mother of the God", bow down before statues and icons and kiss icons and statues, and call her "the Queen of Heaven"; they don't care about the distinctions between latria and dulia and hyperdulia. And the Roman Catholic Church does a very poor job of communicating these distinctions. It really looks like they are worshiping Mary.

The Muslim in this video emphasizes the difference between "took" in 5:116 and 9:31 and "declared" worship of Mary. He asserts that the Qur'an is true because it doesn't say "they declare their worship of Mary", but rather he asserts that all these "Christians" - Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Coptic worship Mary practically by their actions and prayers and bowing down and praises to her. So, he says it doesn't matter if you don't "declare" your worship of Mary; to the Roman Catholics and Copts and Orthodox, he is saying, "you worship her in deed and practice, while denying you worship her."

The Muslim also points out that the dogma of Mary's sinlessness, points to Mary worship. He claims that the RC sources have quotes from Ephraem the Syrian, Cyril of Alexandria, Augustine, and others on the sinlessness of Mary. He quotes from Origen, but I have never heard that Origen believed in the sinlessness of Mary. He is usually cited as someone who says that she sinned.

He also quotes from the "Christian" sources that say that because of the exchange that Mary and Jesus made - she gave Jesus is human nature, and "He gave His Mother, as a created being, the share in the divine entity". Wow.

It is clear that the Qur'an mis-understood the doctrine of the Trinity, which proves that God did not inspire the Qur'an. The true and Living God would have known what the doctrine of the Trinity is in the sixth and seventh centuries, when Islam started. The description of the Trinity is wrong in the Qur'an, the author of the Qur'an seems to have combined ideas not only from the Collyridians, but also by the nominal and orthodox churches, and other heretical "Christian" groups in the east. The more orthodox churches in Palestine and Syria at the time of Muhammad communicated the worship of Mary, by calling her "Mother of the God", and by their prayers and praises, and actions and exaltation of Mary, that she was part of the Trinity.

This is a very bad testimony to the Muslim world. Even if the RCs, Coptic Church, and EOs claim, "we don't worship Mary", it still looks like it, and smells like it, and definitely brings to them the Scriptural rebuke, "Do not do that! Worship God! (alone) (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9; see also Acts 14:13-18)

"Then I fell at his feet to worship him, But he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Revelation 19:10

"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things And when I heard and saw,I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things."

But he said to me, "Do not do that, I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God." (Revelation 22:8-9)



This video shows not only that Muslims misunderstand the Trinity, but also that the non-Protestant groups like Oriental Orthodox, the Coptic Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox churches have erred in exalting Mary too much.

Evangelical Reformed Protestants say, "We told you so!"

The only remedy is for these groups, the RCC, the EO, and Oriental Orthodox Churches is to repent of this and get back to the Scriptures and have the right and biblical view of Mary.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Luther on the Immaculate Conception: A Response to Scott Windsor (Conclusion)

Well, it's about time to wrap up Scott Windsor week. Scott's posted Swan on Luther and the IC. Let's have a look:

Just a quick note/response here for now. James Swan has posted three more "parts" to his response to me on Luther and the Immaculate Conception. He seems to be repeating himself quite a bit and (speculating here) perhaps he's trying to overwhelm me so that he can have "the last word" in this discussion.

Ah yes, I've been exposed. It gets harder and harder to be devious and manipulating with Roman Catholic apologists. I posted an introductory post, commented on Windsor's methodology, and then focused on three specific Luther quotes. Yes, that is an overwhelming amount of material, meant to have the "last word." Foiled again!

Now I must emphasize - I am not yet ready for a full/contextual response. If his goal is to overwhelm - well, it's working partially. I say partially because the volumes of his replies is slowing me down, but there WILL be a response, as I have promised.

Ah yes, volumes: methodology, and three specific quotes. Let's hope Mr. Windsor's "full/contextual response" actually includes reading a source before citing a source with his next response.

Noting again now... I am appreciative of Mr. Swan's efforts to demonstrate potential and realized flaws in the citations which have been on my website regarding "The Reformers on Mary." Once we've pretty much exhausted this discussion (which based upon Swan's repeating his points, I think we're pretty close to that now) then I will amend the original page on my site as well as the "work in progress" blog entry here so that both places will have the same information.

It's my pleasure to show once again, how deep into history some Roman Catholic studies in the Reformation actually are.

So, with that, I will close. This posting is intended to be acknowledgment of Swan's continued responses and to let the readership here know that a response is forthcoming.

Well, my "readership" goes down dramatically when I post on Luther's Mariology... It just goes to show, I really don't want to be popular.

Well, my comment at BeggarsAll was posted and then it disappeared, now it's back again. I'm not sure how that's happening... all I can think is it's one of two things:1) The "spam filter" catches it after it's posted and puts it in the spam folder until an administrator releases it.OR2) Someone there deleted it, but did not "permanently" and thus it showed back up again.I'm leaning more toward option 1, as I believe a temporarily deleted comment still leaves a placeholder saying "Comment deleted" and once it is permanently deleted, there's no way to get it back.

I'm leaning towards a Bermuda Triangle type of multi-dimensional explanation.

I reiterate my position - I am working on Mr. Swan's comments, he's posted a LOT of them (5 parts). Granted, some of them are merely repeats - but I still have to weed through them. He's also not very supportive at times. When it suits him, he posts quotes and/or images of original sources, but at other times he's taken the position of "go out and buy it yourself." Well, I've already gone out and bought 3 sources (spending over $50 so far) so as I said, I'm not opposed to spending some money - but I'm not going to break the bank over this.

When I have a historical discussion over quotes, I don't take my responsibility seriously. Everyone knows I'm supposed to provide the sources for anyone who disagrees with me. Why should someone else have to buy a book? It's like, "Swan's spent the money- it's his responsibility to generously send Roman Catholics the sources so we can have an intelligent discussion with him over contexts."

I'm sure Swan & Co. would be happy if I were to just quit and give up on this - I'll not give him/them that satisfaction.

No, by all means Scott, run your blog into the ground posting on Luther and the immaculate conception, just like I have.

It does seem that the closer I get to presenting the truth - the more the insults fly from "their side." They are acting like they have something to hide, something to be ashamed of - and truly, their behavior IS something to be ashamed of. Perhaps there is another "win" possible here - and that would be for them to realize and admit to how poorly they are behaving and amend their ways? I won't hold my breath for that to happen - but one can hope.

Yes, we meet together once a month, to make sure all the secret Protestant stuff remains secured. Then we work on insults and slander.

Seriously Scott: are you serious with such comments?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Luther on the Immaculate Conception: A Response to Scott Windsor (Part Five)

I. Introduction
This will be the fifth installment of my discussion with Scott Windsor on Luther and the immaculate conception. I've moved into taking a closer look at some of the Luther statements Scott has been utilizing and interpreting. Scott's uses a Luther quote from 1527 as the basis to interpret Luther's later statements about Mary. Luther is alleged to have held of Mary's conception, "Mary was, according to the first conception, without grace, yet, according to the second conception, she was full of grace." This "two conceptions" of Mary paradigm is said to explain Luther's later statements, proving he believed in the immaculate conception of Mary until his death in 1546.

Any statements from Luther that don't fit with Windsor's paradigm he interprets as Luther contradicting himself. With the quote examined in this entry, we'll see this is exactly what Windsor does. It contradicts Windsor view? Then Luther must be contradicting himself!

II. Luther's Genesis Commentary, 1544
The final crucial Luther quote Scott uses to prove Luther's lifelong adherence to Mary's immaculate conception is a statement from Luther's lectures on Genesis (which he took from my web page). Luther's Genesis material dates from the very end of Luther's life. Windsor quotes Luther stating,

But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin. Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person.

The blue highlighted words are Scott's doing. Scott doesn't document the quote, but it comes from LW 7:13.

With this quote Scott is using, if the quote is really about Mary's conception, then it must follow she was "purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person"!

Commenting on this text, Windsor states:

Swan prefaces that citation with "Rather she was purified at the conception of Christ." I believe he has misread the citation. What Swan has quoted from Luther in 1544 is "in the moment of the Virgin's conception..." (that's Mary's conception, not Jesus') "...the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin." Remember, Luther has already posited that Jesus' conception was preserved from all sin, even in His physical conception so Luther could not have been referring to Jesus' conception here. As we saw above, Luther adhered to a concept of a dual conception - one physical and one spiritual. The Catholic definition does not make such a distinction, so Luther's view of the "second conception" fits quite perfectly with the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception which was so defined over 300 years after 1546, the year of Luther's death, but more to the point here, just two years before his death he expresses belief that "in the moment of the Virgin's conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful Mass (the product of the "first conception" in Luther's theology) and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin." So what we have seen here, even using Mr. Swan's own citations, is that Luther did indeed have a life-long belief in the Immaculate Conception. Was it identical to the 1854 definition? That is debatable, but also unnecessary as the precision of the definition comes with the 1854 ex cathedra decree from Pope Pius IX. Thus Luther's belief in the "two conceptions" was an acceptable understanding of the Immaculate Conception for his day and this belief does not seem to have changed throughout Luther's life. Mr. Swan's harsh criticism of Catholic apologists who have affirmed Luther's life-long belief in the Immaculate Conception is therefore unwarranted.

III. Analysis of Windsor's Position
Windsor's comment, "I believe [Swan] has misread the citation" is ironic, because at the time he wrote this statement, I don't think he actually had (or read) LW 7, or had digested the material I provided for him in this link. Again, search through LW 7 all you want, one will not find any comment about "two conceptions." Windsor is reading this into the text due to his interpretive paradigm of "two conceptions."

In my first response to Mr. Windsor, I cited an extended section from this very context, in which Luther clearly states things like, "in His conception the Holy Spirit came and overshadowed and purified the mass which He received from the Virgin" and "when the time for assuming the flesh in the womb of the Virgin came, it was purified and sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit." The entire context speaks of Mary being purified at the conception of Christ.

The quote Scott posted was part of a comment on the massa imperdita. Luther uses this opportunity deny any notion that Mary was purified at her conception. Rather she was purified at the conception of Christ:

The scholastic doctors argue about whether Christ was born from sinful or clean flesh, or whether from the foundation of the world God preserved a pure bit of flesh from which Christ was to be born. I reply, therefore, that Christ was truly born from true and natural flesh and human blood which was corrupted by original sin in Adam, but in such a way that it could be healed. Thus we, who are encompassed by sinful flesh, believe and hope that on the day of our redemption the flesh will be purged of and separated from all infirmities, from death, and from disgrace; for sin and death are separable evils. Accordingly, when it came to the Virgin and that drop of virginal blood, what the angel said was fulfilled: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). To be sure, the Messiah was not born by the power of flesh and blood, as is stated in John ( cf. 1:13): “Not of blood nor of the will of a man, etc.” Nevertheless, He wanted to be born from the mass of the flesh and from that corrupted blood. But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin. Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person. Therefore it is truly human nature no different from what it is in us. And Christ is the Son of Adam and of his seed and flesh, but, as has been stated, with the Holy Spirit overshadowing it, active in it, and purging it, in order that it might be fit for this most innocent conception and the pure and holy birth by which we were to be purged and freed from sin [LW 7:12-13].

Note the last sentence: "Christ is the Son of Adam and of his seed and flesh, but, as has been stated, with the Holy Spirit overshadowing it, active in it, and purging it, in order that it might be fit for this most innocent conception and the pure and holy birth by which we were to be purged and freed from sin." If someone has misread a citation, it's Windsor, not me.

Take a look at Luther's comments from this same context. Luther is commenting on Genesis 38 and the account of Judah and Tamar. He expounds on the reasons the Bible includes such scandalous accounts. One of the reasons he states as follows:

In the second place, the Holy Spirit considered the Messiah and the birth of the Son of God; and this is the more important reason. For it was necessary for this lapse to take place in the very line in which the Son of God was to be born. Judah, the very eminent patriarch, a father of Christ, committed this unspeakable act of incest in order that Christ might be born from a flesh outstandingly sinful and contaminated by a most disgraceful sin. For he begets twins by an incestuous harlot, his own daughter-in-law, and from this source the line of the Savior is later derived. Here Christ must become a sinner in His flesh, as disgraceful as He ever can become. The flesh of Christ comes forth from an incestuous union; likewise, the flesh of the Virgin, His mother, and of all the descendants of Judah, in such a way that the ineffable plan of God’s mercy may be pointed out, because He assumed the flesh or the human nature from flesh that was contaminated and horribly polluted. [LW 7:12]

The name of the wife was Tamar... it is necessary to mention her, and this chapter is written for her sake alone; for she is a mother of the Savior, God’s Son, for whose sake all Holy Scripture has been given, in order that He might become known and be celebrated. From this Tamar, then, the Messiah was descended, even though through an incestuous defilement. Him we must seek and acknowledge in this book...Christ alone is a son of the flesh without the sin of the flesh. Concerning all the rest the statement “who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh” (cf. John 1:13) remains immovable.[LW 7:17]

But Judah begs that he may be permitted to go in to Tamar, that is, to have intercourse with her—for thus Holy Scripture is accustomed to speak—and nothing is added as to where they perpetrated the incest, since Moses said that she sat in an open place and in sight of passersby. I do not think that they cohabited in public like the Cynics; but I suppose that perhaps they withdrew into a small house, a cave, or a nearby wood. And there she was made pregnant by the most shameful act of incest, and the flesh from which Christ was to be born was poured from the loins of Judah and was propagated, carried about, and contaminated with sin right up to the conception of Christ. That is how our Lord God treats our Savior. God allows Him to be conceived in most disgraceful incest, in order that He may assume the truest flesh, just as our flesh is poured forth, conceived, and nourished in sins. But later, when the time for assuming the flesh in the womb of the Virgin came, it was purified and sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to Luke 1:35: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and will overshadow you.” Nevertheless, it was truly flesh polluted from Judah and Tamar.


Therefore all these things have been described for Christ’s sake, in order that it might be certain that He really had to be born from sinful flesh, but without sin. Accordingly, David says this of himself in Ps. 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity.” This is said correctly also of the flesh of Christ as it was in the womb of Tamar, before it was assumed and purged. But this flesh He assumed later, after it had been purged, in order that He might be able to bear the punishment for sin in His own body.[LW 7:31]

Here, therefore, the Blessed Seed is described. It is descended from the accursed, lost, and condemned seed and flesh. Nevertheless, It Itself is without sin and corruption. According to nature, Christ has the same flesh that we have; but in His conception the Holy Spirit came and overshadowed and purified the mass which He received from the Virgin that He might be united with the divine nature. In Christ, therefore, there is the holiest, purest, and cleanest flesh; but in us and in all human beings it is altogether corrupt, except insofar as it is restored in Christ. [LW 7:36]



IV. Windsor's Response: Luther Contradicted Himself
Windsor's entry quotes LW 7 and concludes "So what we have seen here, even using Mr. Swan's own citations, is that Luther did indeed have a life-long belief in the Immaculate Conception" and "Mr. Swan's harsh criticism of Catholic apologists who have affirmed Luther's life-long belief in the Immaculate Conception is therefore unwarranted." If ever there was a clear context from Luther on this issue, this is it. The last Roman Catholic vigorously arguing Windsor's position read this section I posted from from LW 7 and changed his view from Luther having a lifelong belief in Mary's immaculate conception to Luther holding to Mary's "immaculate purification" from sin at the conception of Christ.

Windsor though took a different approach. I pointed out that LW 7 states, "And there she was made pregnant by the most shameful act of incest, and the flesh from which Christ was to be born was poured from the loins of Judah and was propagated, carried about, and contaminated with sin right up to the conception of Christ." Scott's response?

"Luther conflicts with his own statements when it comes to both the conception of Mary and that of Jesus. My article demonstrates a life-long acceptance of the Immaculate Conception... at least up until just 2 years from his death. The piece which James covers here contradicts what Luther said about Mary's 'second conception' wherein the very "moment it (she) began to live 'she was cleansed of all sin (from 1527 sermon). It is also in conflict where he said 'But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them' (in 1538). James himself quoted this 'But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin" (1544).' "

"I would also concur with another commentator on Luther - he is extremely hard to pin down on some issues, and the IC is certainly one of those. He does make some contradictory statements regarding it, this I do not deny. However, it was my goal to demonstrate that he did indeed write/publish works throughout his life in support of the IC. Granted, in his Catholic days and even early Protestant days it was much easier to find him in full and explicit support of the IC and though he did write some seemingly contradictory pieces to it - Luther does not ever come out and flatly deny the Immaculate Conception and (I repeat) just two years from his death he writes in support of it (and again, not as forceful as earlier in his life, but it is supported nonetheless)."

"I have openly stated that Luther contradicts himself - and yes, I would say within this same context he does so. Even if, for the sake of argument, we give you the 1544 statement - in 1538, just six years prior, he's still affirming the possibility of his earlier "two conceptions" concept."

"As for Luther's "waivering" on this point, I'm not really seeing that. James has produced at least one contradictory statement (I perhaps overspoke when I implied there are more) on the matter of the IC. My point was that both before and after that statement Luther makes statements supportive of a belief in the IC. So, to focus on minimal negative commentary from Luther on this matter and ignore other positive statements and then to state that Luther rejected the IC based solely on the negative comments (sandwiched by positive ones) is not an objective view of what Luther really wrote/taught on this subject."

V. Conclusion
For Windsor, no matter how consistent Luther was in his comments on Genesis 38, Luther contradicted himself: first by contradicting earlier statements, and then also in the same context. All this Windsor concluded probably without reading any of the material in context, including the very earlier sermon from which his "two conceptions" paradigm was taken. I've never seen the loophole "Luther contradicted himself" used more haphazardly with a text. True, Luther's theology went through changes throughout his career, but his actual works from each period actually have coherent continuity, including this one. The only thing being contradicted here is Scott Windsor.

Addendum
Scott Windsor and I had some further interaction on this Luther-context here. We focused on this Luther quote:

But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin. Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person.

I kept asking Scott about this quote to get him to try to make sense of it, unless of course he simply thinks Luther was such a poor theologian that the quote is a garbled mess. I don't put that view past him, since he's already stated Luther contradicts himself in this very context- a position I think is bogus and desperate- to avoid the obvious that he's completely mis-reading this text and context from LW 7.The point I keep trying to get him to think about is that if Luther is speaking about the conception of Mary in her mother's womb, the second sentence makes no sense.

For the sake of argument, let's pretend Luther is speaking about the conception of Mary in her mother's womb in the first sentence:

But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin.

Now, if this was all we had (that is, the rest of LW 7 simply vanished), the text could go either way: It could be the conception of Mary in her mother's womb, it could also be the conception of Christ in Mary's womb. Luther would simply be calling Mary "the virgin" as a title of Mary, not making reference to the virgin birth. Of course the context SCREAMS virgin birth, so in my view (and I could research this for Scott) Luther isn't calling Mary by a title, but referring to the virgin birth.

Now the second sentence:

Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person.

In the next sentence Luther says, "death remained in that flesh on our account." Now of course, the rest of the context from LW 7 explains what that means= Luther is commenting on Genesis 38 and the account of Judah and Tamar- He expounds on the reasons the Bible includes such scandalous accounts, and how "the flesh from which Christ was to be born was poured from the loins of Judah and was propagated, carried about, and contaminated with sin right up to the conception of Christ."

Let's though pretend again. If Luther's talking about the conception of Mary in her mother's womb, is the "flesh" he's talking about Mary's mother or Mary? Well, if it's Mary's mother, then it wouldn't make sense, because "the leaven of sin" wasn't purged out of Mary's mother. So let's say Luther is talking about Mary and her being conceived in her mother's womb. "Death remained in (Mary's flesh at her conception)on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh." OK, let's say that Luther is meaning to say that in Mary's first conception, death remained in it for our account. I have no idea what Luther would bw saying if indeed this was his point. Why does death need to remain in Mary's first conception for our account? Perhaps Mr. Windsor could explain.

Next Luther states, "the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit ." In Scott's view, this again would refer to Mary's first conception. Does a conceived infant in the first moment of conception have flesh? Well, Luther could be speaking figuratively if he holds Windsor's view, I guess.

This is the part I don't get, and only Windsor can explain this one to me if his view is what Luther meant. Luther would be stating Mary after her second conception (or during), was then "united with the divine nature in one Person."

I just don't see how this last part of the sentence makes any sense if Luther is speaking about the conception of Mary in her mother's womb. How is Mary united with the divine nature in one person? Do you think he means that Mary in her holiness or purity became united with God's divine nature? If so, I have never read Luther saying anything remotely similar to this about Mary.

I'm trying to take Scott's interpretation as seriously as possible. Can he please explain what the end of this sentence means according to his view? Perhaps if you could come up with a reasonable explanation of this "divine nature" and "one person" part, it would be easier to take his view seriously, despite the fact the context of LW 7 supports my view.

The way I see it, the second sentence has an obvious meaning:

Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person.

The flesh being spoken of with death and sin is Mary's at the conception of Christ. At that conception, it was purged out, becoming purified flesh by the Holy Spirit, and then united with God= the incarnation.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Luther on the Immaculate Conception: A Response to Scott Windsor (Part Four)

I. Introduction
This will be the fourth installment of my discussion with Scott Windsor on Luther and the immaculate conception. I've moved into taking a closer look at some of the Luther statements Scott has been utilizing and interpreting. Previously I looked at Scott's use of a Luther quote from 1527. I noted the 1527 quote serves as a linchpin for Windsor's view. The quote was a from a section of a sermon Luther deleted. Luther is alleged to have stated of Mary's conception, "Mary was, according to the first conception, without grace, yet, according to the second conception, she was full of grace." Windsor uses this paradigm to interpret Luther's later statements. Any statements from Luther that don't fit, Windsor simply sets aside as Luther contradicting himself.

II. Luther's 1538 Sermon
The next quote of contention Scott uses is the following (bolding by Scott):

In (a) 1538 sermon, Luther explains: “In our Christian Creed we confess that Christ was conceived and became man or was incarnate (if I may so speak), that He became a real human being by assuming a body. We confess that He assumed genuine flesh and blood from the Virgin Mary that He did not pass through her as the sun shines through a glass but brought her virgin flesh and blood with Him. If this had taken place only with the co-operation of Mary, the Babe would not have been pure. But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them; and thence He creates the body of the Son of God. This is why it is said that "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost." Thus He assumed a genuine body from His mother Mary, but this body was cleansed from sin by the Holy Spirit. If this were not the case, we could not be saved.”[Martin Luther, D.Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung Werke 45:51 quoted in Martin Luther, What Luther Says, Vol. I, 152.]

Mr. Windsor mined this quote from one of my web pages. Commenting on this quote, Windsor states:

This view, "But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them" can be compared to Luther's belief, documented previously, in the two conceptions of Mary - one physical and one spiritual. Luther believed the physical conception still inherited original sin, but upon Mary's second conception, wherein the soul is conceived and life is given, that at the moment of spiritual conception Mary was cleansed from all stain of original sin. Bearing that in mind, Luther here has not denied his earlier teaching on the two conceptions - nor does this reference explicitly state when Mary was purified. It can still be maintained that he has not denied the Immaculate Conception. Being that this is a bit vague in this sermon as to exactly when Mary was purified - we can see how those who deny the IC impute their interpretation into this citation, and if this citation alone was all we had, they may have a point, but let us continue. Likewise, it can still be maintained that he did not abandon the "two conceptions" concept he taught earlier.

III. Documentation of the 1538 Sermon
The first thing I'd like to point out is my citation is in error. True, the quote is in What Luther Says Vol. 1, p. 152, and it is a 1538 sermon. But the reference to WA 45:51 is in error. It appears I accidentally re-copied the reference from the previous footnote. The actual reference is to WA 46:136. Of course, Scott didn't check my work by consulting either WA 45 or What Luther Says Volume 1. This quote is from an 1538 Epiphany sermon on Matthew 2:1-12, and as far as I know, not available in English.

Now, had Scott looked up page 152 in What Luther Says Volume 1, he would have found a number of quotes (beginning on page 151) documenting Luther's belief in Christ's immaculate conception, not Mary's. Opposing Windsor, The scholar who put this volume together outlines the very view I've been arguing. At the end of this post as an addendum, I'll include what Ewald Plass presented in What Luther Says Vol. 1, pp. 151-152.

IV. Interaction With Windsor on the 1538 Sermon
Today I spent some time working through this sermon. There is nothing from Luther about the "two conceptions" of Mary at all in this sermon. Also one has to remember this basic fact: this is a sermon, presented to people. One thing about Luther's sermons, they were presented clearly. Luther made his sermons simple. They're typically easy reading. It is a bit of stretch to assume Luther's listeners would've thought, "Oh, Luther means the 'two conception' theory of Mary here." The context from the 1538 quote is about the conception of Christ, in fact each line of what Windsor cited is about the conception of Christ:

1. “In our Christian Creed we confess that Christ was conceived and became man or was incarnate (if I may so speak), that He became a real human being by assuming a body"- about the conception of Christ

2. "We confess that He assumed genuine flesh and blood from the Virgin Mary that He did not pass through her as the sun shines through a glass but brought her virgin flesh and blood with Him."-
about the conception of Christ

3. "If this had taken place only with the co-operation of Mary, the Babe would not have been pure."-
about the conception of Christ

4. But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them; and thence He creates the body of the Son of God.-
about the conception of Christ

5. This is why it is said that "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost."-
about the conception of Christ

6. Thus He assumed a genuine body from His mother Mary, but this body was cleansed from sin by the Holy Spirit. If this were not the case, we could not be saved.”-
about the conception of Christ

To this, Mr. Windsor responds:

I will not deny that there are references to Jesus’ conception - that is wholly irrelevant to the FACT that “But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them;” is about MARY, not Jesus! Why the smokescreen approach? I have never denied that I am seeing the Immaculate Conception in places where one could possibly come up with a contrary opinion and as I stated above and Swan quotes, and even in this response from Swan, he’s responding to me saying “I said in one of my initial responses to you that though I could see how those who reject the IC could impute their belief into Luther’s ‘thence’.” I have been quite up-front about my “glasses” - whereas Mr. Swan appears to think he’s not wearing anti-IC glasses and that his responses are wholly without bias.


Now, note #3 above: "If this had taken place only with the co-operation of Mary, the Babe would not have been pure." So, if Mary was sinless from her birth... why wouldn't the Babe be pure only with Mary's cooperation? Then note #5: "This is why it is said that "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost." If #4 refers to Mary's conception, why does #5 say it refers to Christ's?

The really interesting comment though is what Luther goes on to say on the same page:

If God would reprobate us because we are conceived and born in sins, how does he receive the saints? For all the saints were so conceived and born—the Prophets, John the Baptist, Mary [WA 46:136].

Some Roman Catholic scholars still hold out that Luther's may not be denying the immaculate conception here because of a tradition that Jeremiah and John the Baptist were purified from sin before birth (see Thomas O'Meara, Mary in Protestant and Catholic Theology, p. 139-140) . However, Luther states, "the Prophets", not simply Jeremiah.

V. Conclusion
Scott at least admits he sees how someone could conclude Luther isn't talking about Mary's immaculate conception here. On the other hand, he needs to explain why Luther went on to say "all the saints were so conceived and born—the Prophets, John the Baptist, Mary" Note: were born in sin. Luther isn't talking about simply being conceived in sin in a first conception, but born in sins. If Scott is true to his interpretive paradigm, he might simply say Luther is simply contradicting himself here.

Addendum
Here is What Luther Says Vol. 1, pp. 151-152. The book is an anthology of Luther quotes put together by Ewald Plass. Scott needs to consider this information carefully. As to the sources these quotes are from, I can track them down. I'm hopeful though Scott will see the needs to check cited sources. He might find some interesting facts.


Luther on the Immaculate Conception: A Response to Scott Windsor (Part Three)

I. Introduction
This will be the third installment of my discussion with Scott Windsor on Luther and the immaculate conception. My first installment briefly outlined my view (that Luther indeed did not hold to a lifelong belief in Mary's immaculate conception). The second blog entry took a closer look at the methodology behind Mr. Windsor's conclusions. That entry noted Mr. Windsor's apologetic / historical methodology boils down to utilizing extracted Luther quotes from either my writings, other secondary web pages, or old secondary sources available from Google books. Scott then puts forth a harmonizing solution for some of Luther's later statements based on a sermon from 1527 (which Mr. Windsor appears to have never read, along with the other writings of Luther he cited).

Faced with counter-evidence, any statements from Luther that can't be harmonized with Windsor's interpretive framework are said to be examples of Luther contradicting himself. So as to maintain the integrity of his interpretive paradigm, Windsor actually goes as far to posit Luther contradicts himself on the immaculate conception even in the same writing.


II. Windsor's view on The Day of Conception of the Mother of God
I'd like to take a closer look at Scott's position on this key piece of historical evidence, Luther's 1527 sermon on "The Day of Conception of the Mother of God." This is the linchpin holding Mr. Windsor's view together. After citing a section of this sermon taken from a secondary source, Windsor states, "Luther's view was that of "two conceptions" - the "second conception" does align quite well to the 1854 definition of the dogmatic definition."

From Windsor's partial reading of a deleted extract from this sermon, he then interprets statements from the last nineteen years of Luther's life positing he held to a lifelong belief in Mary's immaculate conception. Windsor argues the later statements from Luther do not deny the “two conceptions” theory Luther explicitly espoused earlier [source]. He then qualifies this by stating Luther did not speak of the immaculate conception in as forceful terms as he did earlier:

My use of “forceful” is a relevant term... in later works he may not have been as explicit as in his Catholic and early Protestant days... The later works do not come out and say, “I was wrong in 1527 and earlier and I whole-heartedly renounce all belief in the Immaculate Conception.” There is no such retraction that I am aware of, and I’m sure if one existed that you would quote it and validly cite your source [source].

Windsor also states:

deletion of something is an argument from silence - the LACK of saying something cannot be equivocated to denying it, in fact in logic silence lends itself to consent - not negation.

-snip-

You’re assuming by his silence (the alleged removal of this from later works) that he negates his earlier statements, but you’re the one left making an assumption which is contrary to logic - remember, in logic silence lends itself to consent, not negation [source].

For Scott, Luther's deletion of the section of sermon in question isn't an explicit denial of the immaculate conception. That the ending of this sermon was re-written (which is where the deletion was) isn't an explicit denial of the immaculate conception. For Windsor, these facts serve as proof Luther maintained a belief in the immaculate conception. Unless Luther stated "I was wrong in 1527 and earlier and I whole-heartedly renounce all belief in the Immaculate Conception," Luther's lifelong view was that expressed in a deleted portion of a 1527 sermon.


II. Avoiding Sources: The Day of Conception of the Mother of God (1527)
In my first response I provided Mr. Windsor with a bibliographic reference to an English translation of the revised sermon, which Mr. Windsor thus far has chosen to ignore (this book is in print and affordable). Mr. Windsor doesn't appear to care enough to actually read the entire context of this short sermon. Even though it plays a crucial role in his historical interpretation on this matter, Scott refuses to do basic research by actually reading that which he interprets. In previous discussions with Scott, I had provided a link (more than a few times!) to a blog entry I compiled on this very issue. I included a fair amount of bibliographic information, as well as an overview of my reading of the sermon.

Despite this provided link, Mr. Windsor makes the following comment:

Back to James, he claims to have read later copies of this sermon which have the part which explicitly mentions the IC removed, but he does not quote us that sermon nor does he cite a source of that sermon or provide a link to that alleged version of the sermon. I'm not saying it doesn't exist and/or that James is making this up - but such an unsupported statement coming from me would be utterly rejected, and thus the objective reader here must also reject James' unscholarly approach here. He claims he doesn't want to do all my work for me - but HE is the one who asserts the existence of this later publication of the sermon so it is HIS RESPONSIBILITY to adequately and validly document his claim or withdraw it from consideration. He should not expect us to do his homework for him. (And yes, I do not diminish the fact that he has already done a lot of work here - but in regard to THIS assertion his work, thus far, is deficient) [source].

Had Mr. Windsor actually read the material provided to him, he would've seen that I documented the deletion as noted in Erlangen 15, provided an overview of the entire sermon, and included the re-edited ending, as well as the deleted ending. I chose not to include this tedious documentation in my first response, assuming Scott would have read it the three times I provided the link for him. Scott says at one point, "I have looked at ALL the links you've provided and ALL you've posted directly in this exchange." My question then for Scott would be "What do you mean by..."looked"....? If Scott actually read this provided link, I either wasn't clear enough in my presentation, or Scott didn't understand it. Only Scott can explain this mystery.

II. Basing a Conclusion on a Deleted Portion of Text From Luther
In my first response to Mr. Windsor, I briefly pointed out the inherent problems with utilizing this sermon to substantiate Luther's later view. The sermon was edited (in fact the very words Mr. Windsor highlights in blue bolding were deleted). The section was rewritten by Luther. Mr. Windsor should be familiar with similar problems found in the writings of the early church fathers. For instance, Augustine later retracted some of his earlier views. Other church writings have questionable sections in which their authenticity isn't certain. Mr. Windsor should be aware of the tenuousness of basing one's view on a questionable text, whether it was retracted, deleted, or edited.

In this instance, the sermon in question had deletions and was edited by Luther himself. As noted in my first response to Mr. Windsor, the very deleted section Mr. Windsor uses doesn't even have the certain pedigree of being written by Luther. I've also documented this uncertainty here, in the same link provided to Mr. Windsor.

As I've pointed out to Scott, the editors of Luther's Works hold "the material in question seems to be solely the responsibility of its editor, Stephan Roth." While this isn't certain, I do find it curious that I haven't found any other examples from Luther putting forth the view contained in this deleted section, nor do the editors of Luther's Works. If Mr. Windsor could provide corroborating evidence of Luther positing a "two conception theory," particularly later in his life, perhaps then one could authenticate the earlier deleted material as being representative of Luther's view. The question then of course would be, why did (or would) Luther delete the material, if in fact it was his view? He certainly wasn't one to hold back an opinion. In terms of positive evidence then for Luther's actual view, even in 1527, the material Scott relies on is questionable, as should be his interpretive paradigm.

So, when Mr. Windsor hosts an article that states "the Immaculate Conception was a doctrine Luther defended to his death," one needs to keep in mind his basis for such an assertion rests on a questionable section of text. Scott has recently stated, "I have conceded that there IS ROOM for the anti-IC believer to believe that Luther in his later life rejected the IC - but there can be no denying in his earlier life as a Catholic and well into the time he schismed from the Catholic Faith - that he did indeed believe and profess a belief in the IC compatible with the 1854 dogmatic definition." Only Scott can explain which statement he holds to.

III. Comments on the Context of the 1527 Sermon
In this link I went through the entire context of this short sermon. The version of the sermon in WA 17(2) opens with this summary: "Christ does not look at the honor, glory and praise of the flesh, also not that of his mother, the most holy virgin Mary. Therefore those, who proclaim nothing than the praise of Mary, should be preaching God's Word (instead)." That is actually the point of the sermon. The sermon itself is primarily about original sin, not the immaculate conception of Mary. In a blog comment, my friend Brigitte (who helped me with aspects of the German translation) made the following statement:

If someone, or everyone, were to read the sermon carefully, he, or they, would note, that Luther is only presenting various prevailing views. He is trying to calm the water and allow people their pious opinions which they are not to make into dogma since there is no scripture to go on. Secondly, he is trying to get everyone to think about their own original sin, which sticks to them even though they are redeemed Christians, and to battle their sinful flesh daily by sticking with their prayers, the creed and the Lord's prayer. (This would be more useful than speculations). Thirdly, he wants everyone to focus on the clear words of scripture about Christ and give up this useless dissension regrarding the flesh and the praise of Mary. In the course of all this he does not give his own opinion [in the immaculate conception], but rather tries to steer away from useless strife--which indeed we are having here again.

And also:

Scott, I've read the sermon in questions numerous times now in various versions in German, English and bits of Latin. Any references to the immaculate conception of Mary are not definitely expressing Luther's opinion. The only thing that matters to him is that Jesus himself was conceived without original sin, lust or concupiscence. The two conceptions with the cleaning of the soul during it's infusion, is just the presentation of someone's point of view, which one may take or leave without hurting one's conscience. Just read the entire sermon.

I included these comments because I couldn't say it any better. Nor did Mr. Windsor respond to either of these statements (which were intended for him). This is one of the reasons I keep harping on context, and letting Luther be Luther. What would Scott's view be on this sermon if he actually read it? Only Scott can explain what his view would be.

IV. Conclusion
If Scott wants to disagree with me on this sermon, I wish he would do so on historical or exegetical grounds. In this entry, I've asked Scott Windsor to explain his view three times (points I, II, & III).

I've tried to do everything possible to understand the historical considerations and context of this sermon. For instance, a few months back I found a preview of a book on Google that gave me a partial sentence that said, "the edition that this section of the sermon was expunged after 1527, until restored by Luther himself." One can imagine my pulse rate when I read a secondary source that may have been implying Luther removed the section in question, and then put it back! As documentation for this assertion, they cited: Paul F. Palmer, Mary in the Documents of the Church (Maryland: Newman Press, 1952) p. 76. I could find no Internet copy of this book, so I ordered the book. They state,

"Kirchenpostille," in Luther's Sammtliche Werke, Erlangen ed. 1828, 15, 55). The editor of this edition notes on p. 54 that after 1527 this section of Luther's sermon was expunged from later editions until restored by himself."

Well, I had already done the work of looking up Luther's Sammtliche Werke, Erlangen ed. 1828, 15, 54. Erl 15 does not say Luther restored this section of the sermon. An asterisk at the bottom of the page indicates a deletion of the end paragraphs: "From here on until the end, is only found in the edition of the year 1527." But it is true, Luther did restore this sermon, along with many others from the Kirchenpostille, by rewriting sections that needed to be fixed after Roth's publication. Luther spent a lot of time revising the Kirchenpostille to reflect his official teachings. I once again ask Mr. Windsor to simply let Luther be Luther. If he saw fit to delete a section and rewrite it, the version he intended for us is that which we should hold him to.

Addendum
For Mr. Windsor, here is copy of the page from Erl 15 noting the deletion.




Here is page 51 from Baseley's translation of the 1584 Festival Postil:


All this information was available to Mr. Windsor previously in this blog post. He needed only to read this blog entry which I provided for him numerous times.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas! Celebrate the Incarnation! Matthew 2:1-12



The picture is of the Tomb of the prophet Daniel in Shoosh, Southern Iran. ("Susa" in Nehemiah 1:1) Shoosh is a small city in the province of Khuzistan, which includes Ahwaz and Abadan, near the Gulf point where Iran and Iraq meet. Daniel prophesied of the coming Messiah while in Persia/Iran around 539 BC. The ancient Persians read and studied Daniel's book, especially 9:24-27 which speaks of the Messiah to come, who would bring an end of sin and bring atonement for iniquity. The Magi, the priestly wise men of the Zoroastrian religion of Persia, also watched the stars and counted the years as it got closer to the time that Messiah the Prince would come. God apparently spoke to them somehow through this miracle star that moved and guided them.

Iranians have not always been Muslims, they were Zoroastrians before Islam came around 634-750 AD, and beyond into the 900s. The Arab Muslims aggressively attacked Persia and forced them to become Muslims through their aggressive Jihads/ Qatal (fighting/killing) and Harb (war). Even to this day, there is deep ethnic hatred and resentment against the Arabs for their aggressions against the Persians for centuries.

The Magi who came to worship Jesus were Zoroastrian priests. They were probably from Persia, the superpower Empire to the east of Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth. The Persian Empire included many peoples, Pars (Persians), Medes (Kurds), Arabs, Babylonians, and Assyrians. The Magi were probably made of some people from all of these ethnic groups.

What better way to celebrate Christmas than doing what the Magi did, in seeking after Christ, and worshiping Him?

1. They sought out the Messiah, they traveled a long way, from the east in Persia, and put forth effort into seeking Him. (Matthew 2:1-2)

Are you seeking to know Him deeper?

2. They wanted to worship Christ, which means they recognized Him as God and King of Kings. (Matthew 2:2) Not only “king of the Jews”, but “king of the nations” (Revelation 15:3-4) Only God is deserving of worship ( Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9; Matthew 4:10, Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20), so this passage is teaching that Jesus is the incarnate God. (see also Matthew 14:33; 22:41-46; 26:63-64)

Do you desire to worship Jesus as God?

3. They believed the Scriptures when it was quoted for them that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:4-9, verses 5 and 6 quoting Micah 5:2)

Do you believe the prophesies about the Messiah? (see also Matthew 1:21-23 (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6) (others: Psalm 2, 16, 22, 110; Isaiah 53; Genesis 3:15; 12:3; 22:18; 49:10)

4. They actually did worship Christ when they found Him. (Matthew 2:11-12)

Do you really worship Him?

5. They gave gifts to the child, which shows that giving for the cause of the kingdom of God is a form of worship. (Matthew 2:11)

Do you give gifts to your church and missions and ministries that are spreading the gospel and working for the sake of the kingdom of God?

6. Since they worshiped Christ, and only God is deserving of worship, they had repented of their false religion and turned to trust in Christ.

Is there genuine repentance in your life?

7. Their faith and worship of Christ resulted in persecution, and so God spoke to them in a dream not to return to Herod. They were changed and returned to their own country by a different way. (Matthew 2:12)

Do you ever suffer any kind of misunderstanding or mockery or insults or persecution for your faith in Christ?

How did the Magi know about the Messiah being Promised? The Magi were priests of the Zoroastrian religion, the religion of Persia at the time of Christ; they were according to John McArthur, “king-makers” – that is, they had to perform religious ceremonies for Persian kings to be crowned. Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells us the Magi were among the Medes ( today the Kurds are the modern descendants of the Medes) and Persians ( Iranians), and wise men/astrologers/astronomers among the Babylonians. Daniel chapters 2, 4, and 5 show that the Babylonians also had Magi, “wise men”. Persia later conquered Babylon and had a vast empire that included many peoples. (see Esther 1:1)

Daniel, the prophet, was in Iran (Persia) when he prophesied of the Messiah to come. (around 539-536 BC) (Daniel chapter 9:1-2; 24-27; see also 6:28). Daniel’s grave is there today in the city of Shoosh, (“Susa” in Nehemiah 1:1) southern Iran. Apparently, the Magi heard, read, and studied the prophesy of Daniel 9:24-27; and had other Hebrew Scriptures such as Numbers 24:17 ( “A star will come out of Jacob”) The Magi had been passing down this knowledge and prophecy for more than 500 years!

The Magi were experts in astronomy and astrology, (and natural medicine and other sciences) so they watched the stars for the right timing. They counted the years of the “70 periods of sevens of years” ( Daniel 9:24-27) prophesy and passed the prophesy down to each generation. God took a practice in their religion ( watching the stars) and communicated His truth by using His creation, the stars, by moving a star, performing a miracle to confound their false belief and turn them to the Creator of the stars. They followed the miracle-moving-star to Israel. (Matthew 2:1-12) The Hebrew words, Messiah and Prince speak of royalty and Lordship, a leader, and an anointed King, so they asked when they arrived, “Where is the King of the Jews?”

This passage shows us that part of Matthew’s purpose for writing his gospel was not only to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah for them, but for all nations, all peoples. Matthew, the most Jewish of the gospels, and the one that contains the most quotes and allusions to OT prophesies, and the repeated or like phrase, “in order to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet”; also has another prominent theme of God’s purpose to bless other nations. It is very interesting that Matthew begins with Jesus as the Son of David and Son of Abraham (1:1), that He is the fulfillment of all the covenants and promises to David and Abraham, but also that Matthew 2 emphasized the worship of Jesus the Messiah, (2:1-2, 11-12) and Matthew’s gospel also ends with the disciples worshiping Jesus (28:16) and the great commission to go and disciple all the nations. (28:19)

I will never forget giving a Farsi NT and a full Bible to a 60 year old Iranian man around 1998. He hugged the Scriptures and starting crying and said he wanted to understand the Gospel for about 3 years, but didn't have the gospel in his own language. He didn't know it existed in Farsi! Many Iranian Muslims think the Gospel is only in the Armenian, Assyrian, and western languages like English, French, and German. Then he recounted of how he grew up there near Daniel's tomb, and he was never told that the prophet Daniel wrote a book, and had ancient Persian history and kings in it and prophesies and told about the Messiah to come. He was exceedingly glad and joyful! He turned from Islam to faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Celebrate the incarnation by worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ and witnessing to others for His glory; even Muslims. Reach out to Muslims and pray for them and give them the gospel.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Luther on the Immaculate Conception: A Response to Scott Windsor (Part Two)

Updated 12/23/10 (10:00 PM)

I. Introduction
This is a continuation of my discussion with Scott Windsor on Luther and the immaculate conception. As stated previously, whether Luther did or did not hold to a lifelong belief in the immaculate conception really doesn't matter to me. Rather, this exercise is a demonstration of the method of historical inquires. How does one approach history? How are sources utilized, cited, and interpreted? Roman Catholics and Protestants both appeal to the testimony of history, yet often arrive at different conclusions. With Luther's Mariology, it's often the case that the image of Luther created by both Protestants and Roman Catholics after such an historical inquiry is ... quite different! Why is that? I think one of the reasons has to do with research methods.

II. Sources Revisited
Previously I documented the sources Mr. Windsor used for his historical inquiry into this matter. It appears initially that I was one his primary sources. That is, Mr. Windsor used the evidence from my blog entries and papers to form his historical conclusions. I've pointed out to Scott that typically those from his perspective don't actually read Luther in context. Scott considers such a comment as condescending. He says for this current discussion on Luther and the immaculate conception, he's read Luther in context.

Well has he? Has he read Luther's sermons on the quotes in question? They aren't long. Has he read Luther's 1527 sermon on the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God? Has he read The Explanation of the 95 Theses from LW 31? Has he read the Defense and explanation of all the Articles from LW 32? Did he read Luther's short sermon from 1538 which he cited as "Martin Luther, D.Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung Werke 45:51 quoted in Martin Luther, What Luther Says, Vol. I, 152"? Did he read LW 7?

These are documents he cited in his response to me. Did he actually read any of them? Or, Did he simply rely on what I posted? How does Mr. Windsor know if I cited Luther correctly? How does he know the next line in any of these sources doesn't say, "I Martin Luther will believe in the Immaculate Conception till the day I die"? It appears to me, Mr. Windsor hasn't actually read any of these documents. I can understand not reading the entire contexts from LW 31 and 32, but Luther's sermons are short reads, and typically play a crucial role in determining one's view on this issue. If Scott hasn't read any of the sermons, he hasn't read the contexts.

Mr. Windsor states:

One frustration I have had with James in the IC series is that he has, more than once, referred to "online sources" but does not provide a link, as if he wants me to "work" at it. This could, however, be perceived as him not wishing to share these sources because perhaps I (or others) will find things in these sources which may not be in James' favor and he's deliberately not sharing sources for that reason. Whatever the reason - I've found sufficient sources and cited them as I go.

I've been in countless discussions with people disagreeing with me or challenging me that want me to do all the grunt work for them of looking up sources and extracting quotes. My blog has two search engines, and each will provide a lot of the material in question. My Reformation research / hobby goes beyond the Internet. I purchase sources when I need to. If someone wants to challenge me, they shouldn't expect me to hand over the materials I've paid for so they can be used to challenge my position. They should simply go buy them, read them, then challenge my position. I simply refuse to do work for someone else.

As to not wanting to share sources so as not to have information exposed that will deliberately contradict my opinions, nonsense. I look forward to any quotes from Luther or the Reformers Roman Catholics can pull out from his writings. But, as is often the case, those from Scott's perspective don't read Luther in context. Or, Luther is only read if a web page is available. That's not the way I do things. In fact, I typically buy more Roman Catholic books than Protestant. If I'm going to challenge some aspect of Romanism, I invest time and money.

Scott states:
My only real complaint would be when you mention something and don't quote or cite the source (like Luther removing from later documents - that was a vague reference which did not show us the same document minus IC references in later publications). If you're going to make claims, all I ask is that they be validly documented claims; undocumented assertions may be (and typically will be) dismissed.

As to my "vague reference" about Luther removing the ending of the 1527 sermon, I'm sure I've already recently linked Scott to my extensive blog article on this. If he's chosen not to read it, that's not my problem. He also now has Grisar's Luther IV, and he mentions the same thing, providing a reference for Scott to look up. In fact, on Scott's recent entry he states: "This quote actually comes from a sermon preached by Luther ("On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527) and was published with his permission, but prior to the end of his life it is not found in published editions of his works." I took Grisar's reference, and looked it up. He was right. I then read Luther's revised sermon, it wasn't there and had the ending re-written where the IC quote in question would've been.

Scott also points out that it is my responsibility to document my assertions. Which ones? Scott needs to let me know which of my assertions lack documentation. Recently I cited LW 58 and LW 7, and I also provided links to other entries in which I tediously document certain things. In a recent comment response Mr. Windsor, I cited a lengthy excerpt from LW 7. If he thinks I've taken Luther out of context, I would say, it's his responsibility to track down LW 7. How much more does Scott want? Am I supposed to send him the entirety of these treatises so he can evaluate them? I don't recall any Roman Catholic ever sending me a primary source so I could formulate a response to them.

Conclusion
I would like Mr. Windsor to explain to me exactly how he's conducting his research on this. I can explain how I've done mine: I've sought out the primary sources, read them, and formulated my view. It appears to me Scott is avoiding the work of reading Luther in context. Why? I can only speculate. It could be he's too busy to track down Luther's sermons. It could be he doesn't want to purchase the sources when they're not available on-line.

Mr. Windsor has been doing apologetics for a long time. If I'm correct, and he hasn't actually read Luther in context by consulting the primary sources, why should we assume he reads the church fathers in context? Why should we assume his articles on say, Augustine, are the result of actually reading Augustine?

Mr Windsor and I appear to "do" history very differently. I allow a historical figure to simply say everything he said, wherever it leads, by actually looking up the contexts and reading them. This interaction with Mr. Windsor shows once again that Roman Catholics do not really go deep into history.


Addendum
Scott Windsor provided some responses to the thrust of this blog entry. Scott states:

The fact of the matter is though that your initial challenge to me on this subject was indeed that you believed Luther did NOT hold to a lifelong belief in the IC. You're changing your tune and moving the focus from a discussion of Luther to an attack on methodology. This second topic may be of interest to you, but it is not what you initially challenged me with. As for the initial challenge, it has been quite sufficiently answered.

No, I haven't changed any tunes. In my initial response to Scott Windsor I began by looking at the sources he utilized. I do this with many of my Luther-related blog posts. I want to know why Mr. Windsor arrived at the position he did. I arrived at my position by reading the quotes in question in context and doing some historical background studies. Scott appears to have simply read the quotes I cited and determined an interpretive way of making them say what he wanted them to, based on a section of a sermon Luther deleted and then revised.

Responding to my comment, "It appears initially that I was one his primary sources" Scott states:

I do not consider your work to be a "primary source" - however you do have many "primary sources" within your work. If I quote from your research I cite the actual primary source AND credit you for the work provided - linking back to where the quote came from. Does this displease you?

As for the rest of your challenges here, I'm not interested in getting into a testosterone battle with you and try to show who's library is bigger or who's spent more money buying the other's primary sources. In this discussion alone I purchased one of Grisar's volumes - I'm not afraid to spend a little myself, but why does this really matter in the long run? The more important aspect here is the BOTTOM LINE and that is that the TRUTH BE KNOWN. As for me, I don't care if you have purchased every volume there is on Luther - or if the Luther Fairy descended upon you and bestowed upon you all the resources you'll ever need. What does it REALLY matter if someone has paid for a primary source or if he's found it online for free? Does that change the validity of the primary source? You should move from this "me vs. you" approach and simply go for what is TRUTH. This goes for the condescending comment too, maybe you're not even aware of how condescending you are. You seem to be constantly puffing up yourself and your work and your library that you've spent money on... I've tried very hard NOT to make this about you or me, but about what LUTHER said. On the other hand, you are constantly trying to make this about me and/or my methods as if "to heck with the truth" - if you can make your OPPONENT appear to be lacking then you somehow "win" something, but truth may or may not "win" at all.

1. The content of Scott's remarks aside, such a comment speaks volumes about the difficulty of written discourse. I read such statements as slightly hostile or agitated. Scott reads some of my comments as condescending or insulting. The simple fact of the matter is however wonderful some may think written dialogs are, this is one of their weaknesses. I think if Scott and I were to discuss the content of this blog post at the local coffee shop, the result would be quite different.

2. From Scott's statement above, I think it's fair to conclude he hasn't read any of the contexts of the statements from Luther in question. I can't stress enough how important it is to read Luther's entire sermon when formulating an opinion. Basing one's opinion merely on a paragraph or a line or two from a sermon isn't a proper way to do historical studies. In a future response to Scott, I'll be going more into the contexts of some of the quotes in question. I wish Scott would join me in this aspect of research and discussion, but it appears it's a one way street. I do the work, then Scott comments on my findings.

3. Scott thinks that I believe a free resource on-line isn't as good as buying a book. I never said this. My point is that certain sources are not available on the Internet. When formulating one's view on a historical subject, it is necessary to do what's needed to strive for accuracy. If this means buying a book that's not yet free on the Internet, that's part of striving for truth.

4. Scott appears to be describing his research method as determining truth without context and primary sources. That is, complete contexts and primary sources aren't necessary for determining historical truth. If that's the case, then I say he's wrong on Luther and I'm right. Who cares what the contexts say?

Scott also states:

Back to James, he claims to have read later copies of this sermon which have the part which explicitly mentions the IC removed, but he does not quote us that sermon nor does he cite a source of that sermon or provide a link to that alleged version of the sermon. I'm not saying it doesn't exist and/or that James is making this up - but such an unsupported statement coming from me would be utterly rejected, and thus the objective reader here must also reject James' unscholarly approach here. He claims he doesn't want to do all my work for me - but HE is the one who asserts the existence of this later publication of the sermon so it is HIS RESPONSIBILITY to adequately and validly document his claim or withdraw it from consideration. He should not expect us to do his homework for him. (And yes, I do not diminish the fact that he has already done a lot of work here - but in regard to THIS assertion his work, thus far, is deficient).

I'm trying to be a charitable as possible over this. I did indeed provide Scott with a link to this material in my initial response to him. I also provided the same link for him in this blog entry. I also provided the same link on his blog in his comment box. I think I also left him the same link on another one of my blog entries. I'm not posting it any more for him. It appears he's not reading my entries carefully.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rome has always set itself and its own aggrandization above the cause of Christ

I’m following on from my last installment on the history of the early [i.e., late fourth century] papacy.

Remember this citation as evidence that the early papacy [and for the papacy, note that “early” here is in the sixth century] had some sort of “divine institution.”
Testimony from the Early Fathers:
In 517 the Eastern bishops assented to and signed the formula of Pope Hormisdas, which states in part: ‘The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church” [Matt. 16:18], should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See [i.e. Rome] the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied.’ (qtd in This Rock, October 1998).
In the comments from that last thread, the discussion turned to Pope Damasus (366-384 AD). At question was my appellation “the murderer Pope Damasus,” but as I said there, I’ll stand by that appellation. J.N.D. Kelly (“Oxford Dictionary of the Popes”) notes that Damasus hired the mob [and note both the nomenclature and the location], which “savagely attacked the Ursinians”, [followers of Ursinus, a rival of Damasus’s] and killing 137 people in the process.

“Pope St. Damasus,” of course, is officially a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church. He personifies the legacy, which we see today, that any amount of lying or criminal activity can be excused if it is done in the name of Mother Rome.
Since the mid third century there had been a growing assimilation of Christian and secular culture. It is already in evidence long before Constantine with the art of the Christian burial sites round the city, the catacombs. With the imperial adoption of Christianity, this process accelerated. In Damasus’ Rome, wealthy Christians gave each other gifts in which Christian symbols went alongside images of Venus, nereids and sea-monsters, and representations of pagan-style wedding-processions.

This Romanisation of the Church was not all a matter of worldiness, however. The bishops of the imperial capital had to confront the Roman character of their city and their see. They set about finding a religious dimension to that Romanitias which would have profound implications for the nature of the papacy. Pope Damasus in particular took this task to heart. He set himself to interpret Rome’s past in the light not of paganism, but of Christianity. He would Latinise the Church, and Christianise Latin. He appointed as his secretary the greatest Latin scholar of the day, the Dalmatian presbyter Jerome, and commissioned him to turn the crude dog-Latin of the Bible versions [currently] used in the church into something more urbane and polished. Jerome’s work was never completed, but the Vulgate Bible, as it came to be called, rendered the scriptures of ancient Israel and the early Church into an idiom which Romans could recognize as their own. The covenant legislation of the ancient tribes was now cast in the language of the Roman law-courts [emphasis added], and Jerome’s version of the promises to Peter used familiar Roman legal words for binding and loosing -- ligare and solver -- which underlined the legal character of the Pope’s unique claims. (Eamon Duffy, “Saints and Sinners, A History of the Popes, New Haven and London, Yale Nota Bene, Yale University Press ©1997 and 2001, pgs 38-39)
It should be noted that this “Latinization” was one of the things that the Reformation worked to undo. It was the focus of the motto, ”ad fontes” [“To the sources.”] As Alister McGrath has noted in his “Introduction to Christian Theology,” “the Vulgate translation of several major New Testament texts could not be justified.” Nevertheless, he said, “a number of medieval church practices and beliefs were based upon these texts.” So in addition to some of the forgeries and works of fiction upon which the papacy aggrandized itself, Roman doctrines themselves were founded upon or expanded with translation errors. These included:
Ephesians 5:31-32: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. The Vulgate translation inserted the word “sacramentum” here, where the Greek word is mysterion. Erasmus pointed out that this Greek word simply meant “mystery.” The Ephesians passage had no reference whatsoever to marriage being a “sacrament.” Nevertheless, medieval theologians justified the inclusion of marriage on the list of sacraments, in good part, because of this mistranslation.

Matthew 4:17: From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The Vulgate mistranslated the word “repent” as “do penance.” As McGrath noted, “this translation suggested that the coming of the kingdom of heaven had a direct connection with the sacrament of penance. Erasmus, following Valla, pointed out” the correct translation. “In other words, where the Vulgate seemed to refer to an outward practice (the sacrament of penance), Erasmus insisted that the reference was to an inward attitude, that of “being repentant.”

Luke 1:28: The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” The Vulgate translated the Greek for “highly favored” as “full of grace,” implying that Mary was somehow a reservoir of grace to be dispensed. Erasmus pointed this out as well. “Mary was one who had found God’s favor,” as McGrath notes. Not that she was one who could bestow grace upon others.
Six centuries later, after the east/west split, at which time anyone who was likely to protest was out of the picture, Pope Gregory VII asserted, “That the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err to all eternity, the Scripture bearing witness.” But it erred in the mistranslation of those very Scriptures. It sullied “the catholic religion” with its own efforts to glorify Rome.

Roman Catholics ask us all the time, “when did the Roman church fall?” It was not necessarily a “fall,” but more like an erosion. Constant erosion, at greater and lesser rates of erosion. But it was an erosion of the Gospel message, at the expense of the constant aggrandization of the bishops of Rome, and the constant aggrandization of Rome itself.