Saturday, May 07, 2011

Luther: Christ was "born of a woman without sin"

Here's another odd piece to the Luther's Mariology puzzle. The title of this current blog post is purposefully deceptive: "Luther: Christ was "born of a woman without sin." Ask yourself, who is being described as "without sin" according to this sentence, Mary, or Jesus?

To answer this question, let's put the sentence back in context. The following excerpt comes from The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Volume 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000) p. 312-313. It's from a New Year's Day sermon on Luke 2:21, "The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus" [found in WA 10 (1) 509-510, also in LW 52:152].

In explaining the spiritual reason for circumcision, Luther first explains why circumcision was chosen, rather than a hand being cut off or an eye plucked out. If the later were used, the false impression would be given that God was merely displeased with the works carried out by these body parts. Circumcision though demonstrates God is displeased with the very sinful nature inherent in man (that is passed on with each new birth). He then makes the following comment, explaining why only males are required to be circumcised:

[W]hy does he command to circumcise males only, when nature and birth involve the woman also? The prophet also complains more of the mother than of the father, when he says, Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” It was surely done on account of Christ and his mother, because he was to come, and because it was possible that a natural man and person could be born of a woman without sin and natural intercourse. But in all conception from a man, the man sins as well as the woman, and sin on either side cannot be avoided. Therefore Christ willed not to be conceived of a man, in order that his mother also might not be under the necessity of sinning and of conceiving him in sin. Therefore he made use of her womanly flesh and body for natural birth, but not for natural conception, and was conceived and born a true man without sin. Since, therefore, it is possible that a pure, innocent birth, nature, and person may be derived from a woman; but from a man only a sinful birth, nature, and person; therefore circumcision was imposed upon males only, in order to signify that all birth from man is sinful and condemned, requiring circumcision and change: but that a birth derived only from a woman without a man, is innocent and uncondemned, requiring no circumcision or change. And here one may apply what John writes, in John 1:12-18: “To them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”—with the understanding that “the will of man” refers to birth from man. If it were possible now that more women could bear without men, these births would be altogether pure and holy; but this has been reserved for this one mother alone.

Who is "Without Sin"?
In context, that being referred to as "without sin" is Jesus: "It was surely done on account of Christ and his mother, because he was to come, and because it was possible that a natural man and person could be born of a woman without sin and natural intercourse." That is, the natural man (Jesus) is born without sin and natural intercourse. This sentiment is harmonious with Luther's later view of Mary.


Any Woman could Have a Sinless Child?
There's more than the subject of "who is without sin" according to this context that interests me. Luther's last comment, "If it were possible now that more women could bear without men, these births would be altogether pure and holy; but this has been reserved for this one mother alone" is an interesting statement.

Luther says first that in a typical human birth, "the man sins as well as the woman, and sin on either side cannot be avoided." According to Luther, procreation is no longer a pure act because it has lost its primeval purity through lustful desire (See Paul Althaus, The Theology of Luther, p. 160). In explaining Psalm 51:5, Luther says elsewhere, "Marriage is something good and permitted, instituted by God. This is not to deny that father and mother have corrupt flesh and that the seed itself is full not only of evil lust, but of hate against God; nor is it to deny the sin there is in procreation. For in this respect how is our nature better than that of the beasts? In this action there is no knowledge of God and no faith, but we proceed in procreation on the basis of reason, which tells us that this is our wife, and on the basis of lust. God puts up with this sinful begetting for the sake of His creation" [LW 12:348].


In Luther's sermon Am tage der Empfengknus Marie der mutter Gottes (1527), he states:
And this is the reason for this whole tragedy: the flesh of human beings in this life can never become completely pure, so that it is without lust and sinful desire; that is why the parents cannot conceive and bear children without this lust and this desire. Therefor David in the 51. Psalm (vers 7) says: 'Lo, I am created in adultery and my mother has conceived me in sin'. And this is, what Augustin says: 'It is not because of descent or birth, but because of the lust, that hereditary sin is created'. As if he would say: If the parents could conceive and bear without lust and desire, no child would be born with hereditary sin. But the Lord God tolerates such a lust and such a desire in the parents, because of the marriage of mankind and especially because of baptism and the Christian faith. For in this life such a lust cannot be completely destroyed; and mankind must be bred and must be multiplied in this way. [source]

In the sermon in question, Luther says, "Therefore Christ willed not to be conceived of a man, in order that his mother also might not be under the necessity of sinning and of conceiving him in sin." This entire section could be read in two ways: first, assuming Mary is sinless, and second- she isn't. The text doesn't say either way.

Assume Luther wasn't considering a sinless Mary, but was speaking of women in general. The argument appears to be: man causes woman to sin in conception by necessity, but if conception occurs without a man, the woman is not caused to sin. From there it follows that "all birth from man is sinful and condemned... a birth derived only from a woman without a man, is innocent and uncondemned." Therefore, a pure and innocent birth could come from a woman. Luther ends by applying this generally across the board to all woman: "If it were possible now that more women could bear without men, these births would be altogether pure and holy; but this has been reserved for this one mother alone." That is, only Mary was chosen to conceive by Holy Spirit, but if the Holy Spirit chose to, more women could conceive holy and sinless children.

The Date of this Sermon?
Had this comment from Luther been from one of his later sermons, I would have no hesitation is saying he doesn't have any notion of Mary's being sinless from birth in mind. The sermon though appears to be from 1522. I say this statement appears to come from 1522. During this early period, Luther wrote out sermons and delivered them to the printer (they were written out by Luther during this period for others to preach). As the years went by, the sermons were edited or revised, even during Luther's life, and often under his supervision. From the WA text and LW editor's comments, I can't tell for sure if this sermon went through revisions, or if the text reflects exactly what was written in 1522.

Conclusion
There's nothing in this text in question that would directly contradict Luther believing Mary was sinless, nor is there anything that would contradict Mary not being sinless. What I find curious though is Luther's absence of any clear indication of Mary's sinlessness in this context, as well as the curious nature of the text. This is just one more piece of the puzzle to Luther's Mariology.

20 comments:

Brigitte said...

What he means with "without sin" then is "without 'lust'". We talked about that before.

I sure disagree with the way he equates sin, lust and concupiscence with normal, married intercourse in places related to this subject. But it looks like he is trying to come up with some logical proof that Jesus is sinless even though Mary herself was not (by necessity); (it's just that nothing about a virgin birth and God becoming man is logical.)

The connection to circumcision, it does not strike me as brilliant, to put it nicely.

James Swan said...

We talked about that before.

Yes, this blog entry has been in draft for months. I had forgotten about it.

PeaceByJesus said...

Like as God "brought forth" His written pure word through good by impure men, so can the Almighty use a holy but impure women to a vessel to bring forth His sinless son.

Yet the problem with the IM is more of it being part of making Mary a demi-goddess with unique attributes of deity ascribed to her (if not infallibly infallible) than her simply being sinless.

Brigitte said...

Agreed, PeaceByJesus.

And I would say that as all children should be born of love and faithfulness, so the Son of God should be born by a woman sanctified by faith such as Mary was. In this she is our example and sister. And we love her.

Paul Hoffer said...

Given Fr. Luther's penchant for scrupliosity all his life, it is little wonder he would think sexual congress between a husband and wife is sinful rather than a gift of God. Obviously, Luther was as ignorant of biology as anyone else then.

BTW, if circumcision is a sign of God's displeasure with man's sinful nature, why did He allow His son, Jesus Christ, to be circumcized? So Jesus would look like all the other boys in the locker room at the local swimming hole?

As far as PB & J's remarks go, the Catholic Church does not teach Mary is semi-divine. To say otherwise is defamatory and makes the moniker "Peace By Jesus" a lie. Whether you believe in the IC or not is not a valid reason to concoct false impressions about it.

Rather than agreeing with another pseudonymous poster who is being either malicious or just reckless in claiming otherwise, here is what Ineffabilis Deus actually says:

"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

Nowhere in that statement is Mary considered to have god-like attributes. Not even a hint of it. Even if one refuses to accept the truth of the doctrine, it is important to accurately portray what the doctrine states so one is not wasting time refuting strawmen.

What this doctrine really shows the magnitude of God's salvific plan and how powerful and efficacious is the redemptive grace that comes from Our Lord's death on the cross. No more, no less.

It still surprizes me to this day how folks who claim to believe in sola gratia have such a hard time accepting the truth of it when confronted with a powerful example of it in the verity of the IC. How can anyone accept what you hold to be true if you don't really believe in it yourself?

God bless!

James Swan said...

Hello Paul.

Given Fr. Luther's penchant for scrupliosity all his life, it is little wonder he would think sexual congress between a husband and wife is sinful rather than a gift of God. Obviously, Luther was as ignorant of biology as anyone else then.

I would be curious as to which documentation you rely on for "Fr. Luther's penchant for scrupliosity all his life." Connected with that, I would be curious as to which studies you undertook to arrive at "it is little wonder he would think sexual congress between a husband and wife is sinful rather than a gift of God." But true  indeed, "Luther was as ignorant of biology as anyone else then."

if circumcision is a sign of God's displeasure with man's sinful nature, why did He allow His son, Jesus Christ, to be circumcized? So Jesus would look like all the other boys in the locker room at the local swimming hole?


If this question is a general question rather than a Luther-specific question, the obvious answer is that Jesus Christ fulfilled the entirety of the Law, perfectly. In regard to Luther's view, I can direct you to sources which outline his view throughout his career, rather than this one sermon, that is, if you care to research the issue.
 
It still surprizes me to this day how folks who claim to believe in sola gratia have such a hard time accepting the truth of it when confronted with a powerful example of it in the verity of the IC. How can anyone accept what you hold to be true if you don't really believe in it yourself?


The immaculate conception of Mary lacks a Biblical pedigree, so I find it offensive to link it to sola gratia.
I was though pleased recently to hear Roman Catholic Magisterium interpreter Jimmy Akin say of Luke 1:28 on the word kecharitomene: "This is a Greek term that you could use in that exact grammatical formation for someone else who wasn't immaculately conceived and the sentence would still make sense." He then gives the example of using the term of Mary's grandmother. He also stated, "This is something where I said previously, we need the additional source of information from tradition and we need the guidance of the magisterium to be able to put these pieces together." This is a frank admission that the text does not plainly support the Roman Catholic interpretation and needs to be supplemented by another ultimate authority. In other words, the IC must be read into Luke 1:28.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Mr. Swan:

You queried: "I would be curious as to which documentation you rely on for "Fr. Luther's penchant for scrupliosity all his life."

Me: Off the top of my head, I think Fr. Luther talks about his problems with scruples in the last chapter of his Commentary on the Galatians. Bainton mentions this issue in Chapter 3 of “Here I stand;” and Oberman in Chapter 6 of “Luther: Man between God and the Devil.” I won't go into all of the Catholic writers who wax on about it as if no faithful Catholic ever suffered from such. Even St. Paul talks about the "thorn" in his side that plagued him. But what I had in mind at the time I made my comment was a quote from Philip Melancthon in his biography of Luther “A History of the Life and Action of the Very Reverend Martin Luther”: “But the occasion of his entering on this course of life which he considered more particularly adapted to the attainment of piety and the knowledge of God, as he himself has related, and as many are already aware, was the following; often when contemplating the wrath of God, as exhibited in striking instances of His avenging hand, suddenly such terrors have overwhelmed his mind, as almost to deprive him of consciousness; and I myself have seen him whilst engaged in some doctrinal discussion, involuntarily affected in this manner, when he has thrown himself on a bed in an adjoining room, and repeatedly mingled with his prayers the following passage "God has concluded them all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all." These terrors he experienced either for the first time, or in the most acute manner, during the year in which he was deprived of a favorite friend, who lost his life by some accident of which I am ignorant.”

Now mind you, suffering from a bit of obsessive-compulsive behavior myself, please do not take my comment as a criticism of Fr. Luther as his problem with scruples also led him to write some of the most beautiful verses about the wonders of God's saving grace.

You further queried: "Connected with that, I would be curious as to which studies you undertook to arrive at "it is little wonder he would think sexual congress between a husband and wife is sinful rather than a gift of God."

Me: Again, not a criticism, but a recognition of his Augustinian theology. St. Augustine held to the same thing so it is not a Protestant notion by any stretch of the imagination. In his work “The Estate of Marriage (1520),” Luther wrote: “With all this extolling of married life, however, I have not meant to ascribe to nature a condition of sinlessness. On the contrary, I say that flesh and blood, corrupted through Adam, is conceived and born in sin, as Psalm 51 [:5] says. Intercourse is never without Sin; but God excuses it by his grace because the estate of marriage is his work, and he preserves in and through the sin all that good which he has implanted and blessed in marriage.” Being a scholar on Luther, perhaps you can cite me to Luther's version of the Retractiones where he formally repudiated his 1520 treatise.

You wrote: "In regard to Luther's view [on circumcision], I can direct you to sources which outline his view throughout his career, rather than this one sermon, that is, if you care to research the issue."

Me: I would. Thank you! From my limited legal worldview, I know ancient Semitic cultures often proffered their most solemn vows and oaths by invoking their manhood and their progeny. Hence "testi-fied" and "testi-mony" are based on the same root word as testes. Given the covenantual theology underlying circumcision, I would have thought that it signified something similar. But to be honest, I never saw anyone before ever claim that the underlying reason for circumcision arises (no pun intended) from God's displeasure with humanity.

tbc.

Paul Hoffer said...

cont.

You wrote: “The immaculate conception of Mary lacks a Biblical pedigree, so I find it offensive to link it to sola gratia.”

Me: Since the doctrine is an outgrowth of the ECFs comparing Mary to Eve and since the Church has solemnly defined based on application of Scripture to this matter, I do see the doctrine as having a biblical pedigree. However, I do acknowledge our disagreement on whether the Bible’s authority exists apart from the authority of the Church which is a subject for another day.

You wrote: "This is a frank admission that the text does not plainly support the Roman Catholic interpretation and needs to be supplemented by another ultimate authority. In other words, the IC must be read into Luke 1:28."

Me: Mr. Akin’s statement is a traditional rendering of the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium on how it influenced the interpretation of Lk. 1:28. Most heresies popped up because heresiarchs sought to separate the Scriptures from Apostolic Tradition and the Magisterial authority of the Church. That said, to be clear, Pope Pius IX recognized in Ineffabilis Deus that sensus fidelium (the universal sense of the faithful laity) has a place in the hierarchy of the Magisterium and played a role in determining the doctrine of the IC. See, Lumen Gentium 12.

I hope I gave a fair account of myself in responding to your queries particularly when I chided PB & J for not doing his research.

God bless!

steelikat said...

"But in all conception from a man, the man sins as well as the woman, and sin on either side cannot be avoided. "

Does Dr. Luther seem to be saying that the marital act is essentially sinful per se, or does he seem to be saying that fallen man is not capable of engaging in the marital act without sinning, that is not capable of doing it in a completely pure way?

To me it seems like he is saying the latter, which is just a generalization of the principle that all of the acts of fallen man, even the best and most virtuous of them, iare tainted, including some less than pure motives, some bad mixed with the good.

steelikat said...

(to continue that thought)

...so in the very conception of a man there is sin--not because the marital act is sinful per se because the couple will inevitably sin.

Also don't some theologians say that original sin is passed via the paternal line only? I'm pretty sure I've heard that but I don't remember where it's supposed to be found in scripture.

James Swan said...

what I had in mind at the time I made my comment was a quote from Philip Melancthon in his biography of Luther “A History of the Life and Action of the Very Reverend Martin Luther”:

The Melanchhon quote first describes Luther's pre-monastic days, and then a recollection from 1518, and then back to Luther's pre-monastic days. In other words, the Melanchthon quote you're using doesn't substantiate "Luther's penchant for scrupulosity all his life" which you mentioned. Indeed, Luther had bouts of depression throughout his life, but I'd have to see further argumentation on lifelong scrupulosity. This of course, is not highly relevant to the post.

Being a scholar on Luther, perhaps you can cite me to Luther's version of the Retractiones where he formally repudiated his 1520 treatise.

I rather doubt I'm any sort of Luther scholar. I've got a blog and a hobby. That's far different.

Luther's views on sex shifted, as far as I can tell. You're correct, the early Luther was infected with medieval negative notions on sexuality.

For Luther, sex, like all other acts, is still plagued and tainted with sin. Track down WA 40 II, 380. The later Luther saw pleasure in sex as part of the created design (not simply a means to end for procreation). I don't have the time to go digging for more on this.

Me: I would. Thank you!

A great resource for an overview of Luther's lifelong thought is Ewald Plass's What Luther Says. I use it often. The entry on circumcision is well constructed, with the appropriate documentation to Luther's writings. While Plass is a secondary source, he's helpful in locating many of the exact spots in Luther's writings for a particular subject. Simply look up "circumcision." Plass has at least a few pages on it.

James Swan said...

However, I do acknowledge our disagreement on whether the Bible’s authority exists apart from the authority of the Church which is a subject for another day.

Indeed.  We won't get anywhere on that.

Mr. Akin’s statement is a traditional rendering of the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium on how it influenced the interpretation of Lk. 1:28.

Paul, I've been reading the Akin / Madrid / Keating. etc. type of stuff for years. If they've been saying all along what I heard Akin recently say, either I wasn't paying attention, or I simply missed it. 

You may wish to visit my recent aomin entry.

James Swan said...

And I should throw Martignoni in as well. He claims to beat Protestants using only the Bible.

PeaceByJesus said...

Paul, I carefully stated that making Mary a demi-goddess with unique attributes of deity ascribed to her was not infallibly stated, though we do not know the status of multitudes of papal statements.

Among the attributes attributed to Mary are those which make her the channel of all grace, and of almost unlimited power, and even a superior object of supplication, effectually speaking, besides having the ability to hear and respond to an infinite number of requests.

While attempts can made to explain these, the extrapolation involved in deriving these goes way "above what is written" of her. (1Cor. 4:6) Which is no problem for one who proclaims he is infallible according to his infallibly defined criteria, but it is for us who seek to search the Scriptures where these things be so. (Act 17:11) .

Space does not allow me to post the multitudinous statements which i had in mind, but here are just a few:

“The foundation of all Our confidence, as you know well, Venerable Brethren, is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.” Pope Pius IX, in Ubi Primum (On the Immaculate Conception), Encyclical promulgated on February 2, 1849, #5.

“The power thus put into her (Mary’s) hands is all but unlimited. How unerringly right, then, are Christian souls when they turn to Mary for help...How rightly, too, has every nation and every liturgy without exception acclaimed her great renown, which has grown greater with the voice of each succeeding century. Among her many other titles we find her hailed as ‘our Lady, our Mediatrix,’ (St. Bernard, Serm.II in Adv. 4) ‘the Reparatrix of the whole world,’ (St. Tharasius, Orat. in Praesentatione) ‘the Dispenser of all heavenly gifts.’ (On Off. Graec., 8 Dec.).” Pope Leo XIII, in Adiutricem (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 5, 1895, #8.
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13adiut.htm

‘O Virgin most holy, none abounds in the knowledge of God except through thee; none, O Mother of God, attains salvation except through thee; none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.’” Pope Leo XIII, in Adiutricem (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 5, 1895, #9.
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13adiut.htm

PeaceByJesus said...

With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother....Mary is this glorious intermediary...” Pope Leo XIII, in Octobri Mense (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 22, 1891, # 4.
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13ro1.htm

Thus is confirmed that law of merciful meditation of which We have spoken, and which St. Bernardine of Siena thus expresses: ‘Every grace granted to man has three degrees in order; for by God it is communicated to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and from the Virgin it descends to us.’”Pope Leo XIII, in Iucunda Semper Expectatione (On the Rosary), Encyclical promulgated on September 8, 1894, #5.
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13ro5.htm

All gifts which the Author of all good (God) has deigned to communicate to the unhappy posterity of Adam, are, according to the loving resolve of His Divine Providence, dispensed by the hands of the Most Holy Virgin.” Pope Benedict XV (AAS 9, 1917, 266) (quoted in “About Our Lady, our Blessed Mother”, by Our Lady’s Warriors).
http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/abtmary.htm

When therefore we read in the writings of Saint Bernard, Saint Bernardine, Saint Bonaventure, and others that all in heaven and on earth, even God himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin, they mean that the authority which God was pleased to give her is so great that she seems to have the same power as God. Her prayers and requests are so powerful with him that he accepts them as commands in the sense that he never resists his dear mother’s prayer because it is always humble and conformed to his will.... St. Louis de Montfort, in Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #27, 246. http://www.ewtn.com/library/Montfort/TRUEDEVO.HTM

“Pope Pius XII explains in an address on the Queenship of Mary, ‘when the glorious Virgin Mary entered triumphantly into heaven and was elevated above the choirs of angels to the throne of the Most Holy Trinity.’ And then Christ ‘placed a triple crown of glory on her head, presented her to the heavenly court, seated her at his right hand and pronounced her Queen of the Universe.’...Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, Formation Letter, “Mary - ‘Regina Angelorum’”, April, 2000.
http://www.opusangelorum.org/Formation/Maryregina.html

Mary's role as its intercessor was spelled out in the 12th century by theologians, such as Eadmer, (c. 1124) and St. Peter Damian, and was popularized in collections of her miracles. Mary placates the judge. According to Eadmer (A.D. 1060–1124), an English monk and student of Anselm, “sometimes salvation is quicker if we remember Mary's name then if we invoked the name of the Lord Jesus...[who] does not at once, answer anyone who invokes him, but only does so after just judgment. But if the name of his mother Mary is invoked, her merits intercede so that he is answered even if the merits of him who invoked her do not deserve it.”

PeaceByJesus said...

The following quotes are from the book “Ten Series of Meditations on the Mystery of the Rosary,” by John Ferraro, whose book was given the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur, which is an official statement by the Roman Catholic Church that the book "is free of doctrinal or moral error."

(a) She [Mary] is co-Redemptrix of the human race.

(b) The church and the saints greet her thus: "You, O Mary, together with Jesus Christ, redeemed us."

(c) God has ordained that no grace will be granted to us except through Mary. It is a doctrine preached by all the saints that no grace will come to us from heaven without passing through Mary's hands. No one will be saved nor obtain mercy except through You, O' heavenly lady. Remember this well, no one will enter heaven without passing through Mary as one would pass through a door. O' Mary, our salvation is in your hands.

(d) During His passion, Mary suffered in her heart all the pains that Jesus suffered in His body. For this reason, God exalted her so greatly.

(f) Jesus redeemed us with the blood of His body, Mary with the agonies of her heart.

(i) Mary, Queen of the Apostles: She is queen of apostles because she formed them and directed them in their preaching.

Mary is Queen of Apostles because by herself she routed all the heresies.

She is Queen of Apostles because in her every hope is life and virtue.

(j) If we spread devotion to Mary, we will gain heaven -- "Who explains me will have life everlasting."

(k) God shared His power with her [Mary]. "My mother, ask, for I must not turn away your face." Christ speaking to Mary: "Without your command, no one shall move hand or foot in the whole land."

(l) All grace is passed from God to Jesus, from Jesus to Mary, and from Mary to us.

(m) Mary is the compliment of the Holy Spirit. Before God she asks not -- she commands!

(n) No true devotee of Mary will be damned because she is the terrible conqueror of the devil.

(p) Mary is holier than the saints, loftier than the heavens, more glorious than the cherubim, more venerable than any other creature.

(q) No one can acquire an intimate union with Jesus and a perfect fidelity to the Holy Spirit without being greatly united with Mary.

(w) It is important to be devoted to Mary as it is to enter heaven, because no one can enter Paradise who is not devoted to Mary.

(x) In reward for humility, God gave to Mary the power of filling with blessed souls the thrones left empty by the rebellious angels.

(y) Mary is secretary of the King of Heaven. It is she who writes in the Book of Life the names of the predestined, and signs them with the emblem of God. She herself is the Book of Life from which God will read the names of the elect on the day of judgment.


The late Walter Martin noted,
I have in my library hundreds of pamphlets, manuscripts and books all published with the official imprimatur of the Roman Catholic Church. In every one of them, language which is applied to God alone in Scripture is applied to the Virgin Mary. She is...given almost every title of Christ. Thus, they are subtly but systematically raising her to a place of equality with our Lord....The healing grottoes are seldom dedicated to Jesus of Nazareth, but to "Our Lady of Lourdes," "Our Lady St. Anne de Beaupre," "Our Lady of Fatima," etc.

The statues which are seen in Roman Catholic homes are invariably of Mary. The largest niches in Roman Catholic churches are occupied by images of Mary. The preponderance of prayers are to Mary, and the "Hail, Mary" is repeated in the Rosary continually. (Walter Martin, The Roman Catholic Church in History (Livingston, NJ: Christian Research Institute, Inc., 1960), p.54)

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello PeacebyJesus:

Cherrypicked quotes from history is great to rile up the rubes but such cherry picked quotes with no context whatsoever so one can see the theology behind them is not argument but cheap polemic. So far, all one can say about your quotes is that some folks have fancy ways of saying the intercessory prayers of BVM as a secondary mediator are very efficacious. Given that Scripture itself states that all generations shall call her blessed, one can certainly understand why the folks you quoted might acknowledge her intercessory prayer to be particular efficacious as the Epistle of James says of the prayers of all just men.

BTW, I laughed at your exaggeration of the place of Mary in Catholic homes and churches as I am looking at a Crucifix before me as I type this, the Jesus, the Divine Mercy picture hanging on the wall behind the desk, the Nativity scene on the bookshelf next to the desk that has Our Lord and Savior front and center, next to my Infant of Prague statuette and Sacred Heart of Jesus statuette with my icons of Jesus the Logos and Jesus's Baptism on my writing desk along with a picture of the Holy Eucharist in a monstrance sitting on the altar of my church. I do admit that I have a clock with a picture of Mary as the Immaculate Conception hanging on the wall in the den next to my pictures of Bl. John Henry Newman and of the text of Psalm 23 and Proverbs 4:5-6 and a statue of the Sorrowful Mother holding Jesus in her arms two bookshelves down net to a candle with a picture of St. Dymphna on it. Perhaps since the pictures of my wife and kids are bigger than all of the rest of the pictures in my den maybe you would contend that I worship them too.

If you want to debate the efficacy of intercessory prayers to the saints in heaven, I have no problem with that. BTW, one of my favorite books about the power of intercessory prayer is written by Charles Spurgeon. If only he would have acknowledged the place of the communion of saints in that lovely book, it probably could have gotten an imprimatur too if he had sought it. But, if you want to continue your lie and claim that Mary is held up to be a demi-Goddess in the Church that is something different altogether. A lie no matter how often repeated is still a lie.

Flowery language notwithstanding, show me how any of your quotes demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the attributes ascribed to Mary in your hand-picked quotes make her into a demi-Goddess. For that matter, show me anywhere in the teachings of the Church that I, as an obedient Catholic faithful, am required to use such flowery language in my prayers to Mary or any saint for that matter. How about a canon law or two that requires me to have a statue of Mary in a central place in my home or in my church. Heck, I would even settle for the book or text where you got your definition of demi-goddess or are we talking only about your personal biased opinion of what you think demi-divinity entails?

PeaceByJesus said...

Your attempt to minimize the manner of extreme devotion and attributions to the Mary of Roman Catholicism is typical, but a poor one, while your attempt to extrapolate support for such out of "all generations shall call her blessed" is simply in-credible, and is more compatible with what Peter warned of in 2Pt. 3:16.

Yet you call it a lie to refer to Mary as a demigoddess, however , but she easily fits common definitions, such such as "a mythological being with more power than a mortal but less than a god," or "a person so outstanding as to seem to approach the divine," (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/demigod) or one many "extremely powerful figures whose powers approach those of the gods.' (WP).

Then you demand of me to show you how any of your quotes demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the attributes ascribed to Mary make her into a demi-Goddess, when it is you who must show in Scripture where Mary has the glory and powers attributed to her!

If being
the Queen of the Universe,
loftier than the heavens,
more glorious than the cherubim,
and dispenser of all gifts, all grace,
able to hear virtually a infinite amount of prayers,
“who alone is truly loving and solicitous for my salvation,” “my Queen and Advocate with thy Son, whom I dare not approach.” (From Judge Fairly, p. 5, by Liguori, whose writings at the time of his canonization were declared to be absolutely free from error),.
and who directed the apostles in their preaching,
and who before God asks not, but she commands,
and without whose command, “no one shall move hand or foot in the whole land,"
with our salvation being in her hands,
and being the Book of Life, from which God will read the names of the elect on the day of judgment,
etc., etc.,
does not qualify her for the title of demigoddess then you are resorting to some narrow definition of the word. The issue however, is that Mary is being exalted above that which is written or validly derived.

We are not talking about simply being honored or having some scriptural position or function given to all saints or to an angel in Scripture, and while you can argue from silence - that the Bible does not say Mary is not such things as ascribed above - yet it does not say the saints in general are not either, or that they will not rule planets and such things as Mormonism teaches, which also depend upon this hermeneutic. But such things are not doctrinally warranted by need or evidence, and are presumptuous additions, with many things ascribed to Mary going beyond what the Holy Spirit states about any mortal, and are contrary to God/Christ being uniquely possessive of most.

It is a tendency of carnality to exalt men above that which is written that Paul cesures in Cor. 4:6, while Proverbs 30:6 warns, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."

You also are being evasive by demanding i provide formal teachings of the Church that require you to use such flowery language, but which is not the claim i made, nor that the claims mentioned were infallibly stated (though some might be). Yet there is no restriction on using such language for Mary, but it is part of your tradition. What approved sources say and what Rome effectually fosters is the issue, and the fact is that approved sources have published such, nor is minimizing the stamp of Rome going to reduce the import of them.

PeaceByJesus said...

As for praying to the departed, here again you have zero evidence, as you do not have even one example or any believer praying to anyone in heaven except the Lord among the many, many instances of prayer recorded in Scripture, nor in any instructions on prayer ("our mother who are in heaven"). Nor is there any necessity, in the light of what the Holy Spirit states regarding the believer's relationship with God, with immediate access in Christ into the holy of holies to commune with God, not saintly secretaries. (Heb. 10:19-22)

And it is Christ who alone is set forth as our all-sufficient intercessor, having uniquely been tested in all points as we are, yet without sin, and who ever liveth to make intercession for the saints. (Heb. 4:14-16)

The only argument RCs can resort to is that which presumes a full correlation between earthly relations and those between the physical and spiritual realm, between heaven and earth, yet in Scripture any actual exchange between the two required a personal encounter on earth or in heaven, except for God.

Rather than attempting to wrest substantiation for such out of Scripture, it would be more honest to admit it relies upon tradition.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi PeacebyJesus, I will respond to your last set of comments on my own blog rather than take up space on a topic that is off point of the post that Mr. Swan wrote. It will be up in a day or two.

God bless!