Monday, October 31, 2005

Dialogue on Supposed Biblical Disproofs of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Round Three (vs. Ken Temple)

See Round One and Parts one, two, three of the second round. Ken's words will be in green.


I have a little time to perhaps do better in my argumentation:I did not bring up the word sunerchomai. I only referred to I Cor. 7:5 as a parallel idea, because of contextual ideas of marriage and sexual relationship within marriage. It is you who brought in Vine’s Word Study concordance of Greek words, and all the other contexts of sunerchomai. The Greek word is not even there in the best and oldest manuscripts. The Greek text behind the modern versions of NASB and NIV point out that this word is not there. ( see below). Ok, so now who is going to go deeper?

I did, because I appealed to eleven translations which translated whatever the word here is to mean "get married" or "live together" as opposed to "engaging in sexual relations." That's good enough for me. But you appeal to yourself. Sorry; I accept what these translators have decided. If the meaning were actually "sexual relations," then they could have easily made that clear in how they translated. If the word in 1 Corinthians 7:5 or Matthew 1:18 is different, then your argument has been proven ineffectual all the more so, since all you would have accomplished is to show that there is a passage which refers to married sexuality in the New Testament. So what? That's not what the translators of these eleven versions thought about Matthew 1:18. I couldn't find a single translation that made a sexual connotation crystal clear. So the "came together" of several other versions needs to be understood in light of other renderings.

I understand that term (sunerchomai) in the other contexts means "to come together" or "come" in the sense of walking, gathering together, meeting others in groups, leaving, going to another city or house or meetings, arriving at a city or meeting other people, etc. No problem. Yes, most of the usages of the term are without any connections of sexuality or marriage. That is the beginning stage of a word study.

So far so good.

I didn't feel it is necessary to go slowly through every verse of a word study of every usage of a word, because that is not necessary in this case, based on the nature of our forum and context of blog and space and time constraints, etc.

Nor I. I simply questioned the validity of your cross-referencing to 1 Corinthians 7:5.

Also, based on the fact that my argument is not even based on the “root meaning of the Greek word”, you are trying to make a point that I was not even trying to make.

Whether you made it or not, it is still relevant to point out in the overall context of our dialogue. I would rather go beyond your points or expand the discussion, than ignore most of my opponents' arguments and counter-arguments, as you have been doing. If that is the choice, I will choose as I have here every time.

You brought that idea in, with reference to Vine’s and all the other Greek work usages of the word, sunerchomai. Your point, I think, was the idea of basing a meaning of an English word on a Greek word.

Hey, that's why we have translators! They rendered the word(s) in English. "Get married" does not mean "having sexual relations." The two are associated, obviously, but here we are concerned with the precise definition or meaning of a phrase in one verse. As far as I'm concerned, the issue has been definitively settled: you didn't succeed in proving that it means what you claim it meant.

I merely referred to I Cor. 7:5 because of the CONTEXT. Even there, the Greek word sunerchomai is not used in the United Bible Societies Greek Text Version and the oldest manuscripts. Vines and the Greek text that is based on the KJV are the sources that have sunerchomai behind the idea in I Cor. 7:5. Sunerchomai is not there in the Greek manuscripts that the NASB or NIV are based on. In the NASB and NIV “come together again” in English is based on the context alone. The Greek there is kai palin epi to auto ate ( literally, “and again upon the same, be”) Which, contextually, means, “after a time of prayer being apart, again be in the same condition you were as husband and wife and stop depriving one another.” ) And I never tried to make my point based on a Greek word ONLY. I only referenced I Cor. 7:5 because the context is similar to Matthew 1:18-25 in some ways, because I Cor. 7:5 is the only context where we have marriage and sexual activity within marriage talked about with the idea of temporarily abstaining from sexual relationship for the purpose of concentrated prayer and fasting. Paul tells them, “stop depriving one another” after he has said all the stuff in verse 4 about the husband and wives authority over each other’s bodies in marriage. It is clear, as you admit, this verse is in the context of sex and marriage.

I'll accept your word on that; it doesn't overcome my argument from the eleven translations or prove that Matthew 1:18 is sexual in content. We agree that 1 Corinthians 7:5 is sexual, because context makes it quite clear. I contend that the context is not nearly that clear in Matthew 1:18 for you to come to the conclusion that you have adopted.

But you are right, in this sense, of Matthew 1:18, if you mean that a word is not based primarily on a meaning from one usage in one verse. Your point would be valid if the context in Matthew 1:18-25 was not about betrothal, marriage, “before they came together”, “found to be with child, in the womb, getting pregnant, by the Holy Spirit, “don't be afraid to take Mary as your WIFE”, behold the virgin will be with child, and “kept her a virgin UNTIL she gave birth to a son", etc.

I've dealt with this already. Betrothal is not sex. Marriage is not sex. Becoming pregnant by a miraculous act of the Holy Spirit is not sex (it is supernatural conception). Having a wife is not sex. The argument over "until" has been made again and again and that cannot absolutely prove anything, either, about what happened after. I agree that it is possible (strictly looking at it linguistically) for the context to allow this interpretation, but it is not necessary, and not proven. Since that is largely what this dialogue is about: ironclad proofs or lack of same from either side, you have failed to establish that this is an undeniable proof. I am arguing that no such unarguable, compelling biblical proof against perpetual virginity exists (just as, I grant, no compelling NT proof in favor of it can be produced, either).

You're the one who has been maintaining that everything is so "clear" and airtight. I submit that you have massively overstated your case and repeatedly drawn unwarranted conclusions, based on preconceived biases and wishful thinking and your desire to prove that this is such a horrible "Gnostic" doctrine which denigrates moral, marital sexuality, etc.

But the context of "a general arriving" or "living together without a sexual relationship" or coming together to a city, or coming together to a meeting of the Sanhedrin, or “coming together to meet Zadok in Bethsaida”, or “and Judas and the Pharisees and the high priests came together to plot their intrigues against Jesus”, etc. is not what is going on here. My argument is not primarily based on any kind of "supposed" deep meaning in the etymology of the word, sunerchomai. I never said or wrote, "this word means in the Greek, "to come together sexually" because it is the intrinsic nature of the word and the etymology or root meaning is such and such showing that this the meaning. That seems like what you are saying that you think I am saying. Most of my argument is based on the context of marriage and the normal understanding of what a man and woman do when they get married after the betrothal period, or even in some cases legitimate during the betrothal period, as you and others have pointed out, and also a point that I know about from studying the issue.

That's all fine and dandy (thanks for the clarification), but you have not proven your point! The translators think otherwise. If the very word or phrase in question is regarded as simply meaning "getting married" or "living together," then it is not about sexuality per se, neither linguistically, nor as a matter of logical necessity. How many times must this be said before it will sink in? You can appeal to the phrase "coming together" all you like. It doesn't change the fact that it simply means "get married" here. If all you're doing is presupposing that all married couples are sexually active, then that is no biblical argument about the particular, extraordinary
situation of Mary and Joseph. You can't assume what you are trying to prove (which is what you have been doing over and over, throughout this dialogue - along with ignoring most of my actual arguments, which frustrates me to no end).

I am not choosing the only one that is sexual in context a priori. I understand your point, to not base a meaning of a word on one usage out of 30 or more of other contexts and read that meaning into all the other contexts. To me, it is obvious, because of the context of both Matthew 1 and I Cor. 7:5, understanding the other issues of Genesis 2:24 and the normal meanings of "betrothal", "wife", "until" ( heos hou), "found to be with child" (v. 18 - euretha en gastri exousa" = "found in the womb to have" or "found to have become pregnant", "don't be afraid", what is in her (gennethen- begotten, "fathered", "conceived". v. 20) is by the Holy Spirit", etc.

More repetition of your usual circular argumentation, along with the obligatory claim to the "obvious."

The point I am making is the meaning in Matthew 1:18-25 is that the context shows -- because it is natural to understand "before they came together" as a sexual, marriage relationship, because the next phrase says, "she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit."

I don't see how it follows that, after a supernatural conception having nothing to do with sex; therefore (somehow) Mary must have sexual relations in the normal fashion. If Scripture plainly informed us that she did (not by deduction or inference, which leaves a certain logical gap and an uncertainty), then she did, and we wouldn't be having this argument (no one would deny what you claim). If it could be proven that these "brothers" of the Lord were blood brothers or siblings, then we would and should interpret this way, by consistent cross-referencing and a desire to harmonize the Bible, commensurate with its inspired, infallible nature. But you can't prove that (about the alleged "siblings"), and I have produced much counter-evidence (that you have ignored thus far, as usual); you have no verse pertaining to Mary like 1 Corinthians 7:5, which is undeniably about sexual relations.

Therefore, since no absolute, compelling proof to the contrary can be offered, and since a plausible, cumulative, if indirect biblical case can be made for my side, and given the overwhelming consensus of Christian Tradition prior to the onset of higher criticism and theological liberalism, it is quite justified to hold the traditional view in faith.

Other than "by the Holy Spirit" or any kind of "spiritual conception" if such a thing is possible except by the power of God, we all understand that "found to be with child" means that there had to have been a father and sex and you know the rest.

Yes, we all know the birds and the bees. The Virgin Birth has nothing directly to do with the question of whether Mary and Joseph engaged in the normal marital sexual practice. Your desperate search for any hint of undeniable sexual activity with regard to Mary and Joseph is every bit as silly as your false theory that Catholics invented this doctrine I defend due to some weird unnatural animus against moral sexuality. You simply go from one extreme to the other. That should be obvious.

Joseph, by his initial reaction understands this also. He was going to divorce her, because he suspected her of adultery, because normally no woman gets pregnant unless their was a another man involved. Since he knew if was not him, and the text says he was righteous and "before they came together", that means that he is not lying, and God is not lying because the Scripture does not lie.

Of course he, at first, suspected an immoral sexual activity, because the natural and normal human reaction is to assume a natural, rather than supernatural explanation of cause and effect. But again, this proves nothing whatsoever towards your contentions. You're merely special pleading, getting deeper and deeper into your logical fallacies.

God speaks to Joseph through an angel in a dream to assure him that Mary has NOT committed adultery and that the pregnancy is from the Holy Spirit. ( v. 21) Matthew proves it by quoting Isaiah 7:14 about the virgin being with child later in Matthew 1:23.

Yep; most of us have read the Bible, too . . .

[I have passed over tedious repetition]

When it says in verse 18, "now the birth of Jesus Christ is as follows", after Matthew has given us the teaching of the genealogy of Christ, emphasizing Gentiles (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Batthsheba) and that Jesus would even choose to be born in such a line full of famous sinners (Tamar, Rahab, David and Bathsheba, Manasseh, and the other evil kings) and women in the genealogy, he is showing that the Messiah was from the line of David and God is Not afraid to come down and get involved and be very earthy. So God is not afraid to be in a womb that will later be used in the normal marriage way -- there is nothing inappropriate or unworthy or unfitting about it.

No one disagrees with this, so I need not reply.

v. 18, "His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph . . . " Here the context is betrothal, which means a promise and period of time before marriage. The Jewish tradition and scriptures and the Law of Moses emphasized, when a man wants to get married, it says, "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

Ditto; this is more of your by-now expected lengthy flight into perfect irrelevancies and non sequitur.

So, right off, by calling Mary, betrothed, the context is marriage and what normally occurs when a man and woman get betrothed and married. "Before they came together", "she was found to be with child by the holy Spirit" -- meaning it was a Spiritual conception. God put His spirit in the womb of Mary with no sexual act from Joseph. "Before they came together" and "kept her a virgin" in verse 25, and the whole reaction of Joseph, etc. is all pretty clear to me.

More repetition of circular arguments that have been repeatedly answered, with the deluded claim of "clearness."

The Virgin birth of Jesus Christ is clearly protected by Scripture alone.

I agree. But liberals in both Protestantism and Catholicism have denied it because they start to deny the reality of the supernatural and the miraculous, and the truthfulness of all of Holy Scripture. It is liberalism and lack of faith which makes men deny a Christian truth like this, not other aspects of Mariological tradition, as you now try to assert.

The PVM is an extra added human tradition that makes it more protected, according to you guys, but it is not necessary.

It's not merely a "human tradition" because it is far too unusual and strange for men to have devised it. It comes from the testimony of many indirect inferences in Scripture, and from the Tradition which was passed down from the beginning. Even the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia admits that the oldest, earliest Christian tradition upheld it. It traced the belief that you have to Tertullian, the Montanist heretic. If there is any purely "human" tradition here, then, it is likely your belief, since it was late-arriving, after the initial apostolic deposit, like all heresies. The earliest Fathers knew whether Jesus had blood brothers or not. I have shown some of that evidence, but you have utterly ignored it. Perhaps you actually take it up below. I hope so. I'm answering as I read, so I don't know yet if you did that or not, but based on your record in your dialogue with me, I confidently predict that you have not done so.

Should not Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:27, 34-35 be enough to protect the virgin birth? If those verses are not enough to protect the doctrine of the virgin birth, why not?

I never said they were not. I was asked why belief in the perpetual virginity was important to Catholics, and I offered some speculative suggestions. We believe it primarily, however, because we think it was part of the apostolic tradition or deposit handed on from the apostles to their successors, the bishops, which we are not at liberty to reject, simply because we may not personally care for it or wish things to be this way or that.

Why is Scripture not enough in this case of the virgin birth of Christ?

It is enough. When did I ever deny that? What is not enough is the amount of so-called "proof" that discussion of the Virgin Birth in the context of the betrothal of Joseph and Mary somehow "proves" that they were sexually active.

The word "virgin" is used there in Matthew 1, verse 23, and twice in Luke 1:27 and in Matthew 1:25 it says, "he did not know her" until she gave birth to a son. "he did know her", you could argue, based on the word alone, means only, "he didn't get to know her personally by talking to her", the way a modern English "get to know somebody" is used. Obviously, both the OT and the NT "knowing one's wife" had the meaning of sexual intimacy and knowledge.

The traditional argument about Matthew 1:25 (which was also Luther's and Calvin's) doesn't deny the meaning of the Hebraic "know", but rather, denies that "till" necessarily means "applying to points of time after that which it specifically refers to." To give some examples of this word, heos, elsewhere:

Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching.

(1 Tim 4:13; RSV)

They were to practice these things till Paul came, and (implied) also after. Nothing changed from one state to a different one, because of the word "till."

I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Tim 6:14)

only hold fast to what you have, until I come.

(Rev 2:25)

But, you know that in many contexts in both the OT and NT to "know a woman" meant to have sex with them. Genesis 4:1, Genesis 19:5-- bring them out that we may have relations with them" ( Literally, "that we may know them") Obviously, by context, he is not talking about "getting to know them by eating a meal and have conversation with them and asking them what they do for a living."

You don't advance your case by reiterating what everyone agrees on. The controversy is over the meaning of "until" or "till."

Your argument is mostly based on 1.) Silence of explicit statement, “Mary and Joseph started having sex after Jesus was born”,

That is true. But you simply assume that these other verses you bring up, "clearly" imply sexuality, when they do not necessarily do so at all.

2. strained possible meanings of just “come together” without reference to sex read into the context of a marriage and betrothal and pregnancy context,

These "strained meanings" have been adopted by ten Protestant biblical translations of Matthew 1:18. I am not a Greek scholar; perhaps you are. Even if you were, I would disagree with you, if the combined forces of translators of eleven New Testaments thought differently than you do.

and 3. a tradition that started much later, . . .

I have not argued about the Tradition (only tangentially), since I have restricted myself to biblical evidences in this series of dialogues. But I cited a prominent Protesatant reference (ISBE) which held that the perpetual virginity (or at least the absense of siblings of Jesus) was the oldest tradition.

But Luke clearly shows us that she opened the womb and that they followed the law of Moses because they were godly Jews, wanting to obey the law. Luke 2:22-24, “when the days of purification according to the law of Moses were completed . . . “ ( implying that there was blood, pain, placenta, afterbirth, etc.) “as it is written in Law of the Lord, “every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.” ( Luke 2:23).

That no more "proves" that the birth of Jesus was not supernatural, than Jesus' baptism "proves" that He was a sinner Who needed regeneration from sin in the baptism (or even a symbol of being saved from sin, if you deny the explicitly biblical doctrine of baptismal regeneration). As the saying goes, "the exception proves the rule."

The lack of pain in birthing Christ is the first extra tradition that is added by the three above extra-biblical texts. Luke 2:23 and Revelation 12 are pretty clearly against the Gnostic idea or docetic idea that it is too low or unworthy or inappropriate for the mother of Jesus to go through pain, have her hymen broken, and have a normal marriage with romance and sex after the birth of Jesus.

More circular argument: you assume that the origin of the doctrine must have been because of these extraneous heretical and philosophical ideas. But (needless to say) assumptions are not proofs. This entire discussion has been one instance after another of my shooting down your deluded confidence that you have "proven" something or demonstrated "clear" biblical teaching for your contentions. Over and over again I have shown that you have not done so. You don't get away with circular argument and deluded triumphalism when you debate me. I would hope for exactly the same from you if and when I fall into circular logic. I will always be glad for someone to point that out because I don't wewant anything I believe to be based on shabby logic or downright logical absurdity.

The midwives checking the hymen are alluded to there in the Proto-evangelium and also in the Infancy Gospel, where Jesus also speaks from the crib.

I have argued almost exclusively from the Bible (with only a few passing references to the second-century Church historian Hegesippus), so this is not my concern.

Geisler and MacKenzie write: “Since there is nothing defiling about sexual relations within marriage ( Hebrews 13:4),

No one is saying that there is. Some Church Fathers may have been off on that, but it doesn't follow that the Church adopted their warped reasoning.

to suggest that Christ would not want to be conceived in a womb that would later conceive other humans is to take away from the glory that God would afterward give him for his voluntary humility in becoming human (Phil. 2:9-11).” ( page 304, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences.” Baker, 1995.

This is pure circular reasoning; unworthy of Geisler, who is normally a very logically-tight apologist. But the temptation to caricature Catholic teaching is too great, for him as it is for you.

Since Christ chose to be in a blood line full of sinners like Manasseh, David, Tamar, Rahab, etc., it is not inappropriate for Him to chose a womb that will later be a normal womb for the purposes that God created it for in marriage and raising a family.

I agree (and I think most Catholics would) that the perpetual virginity is not absolutely necessary (in the logical or metaphysical, not dogmatic sense), and that it is possible for another scenario to have occurred. God could have brought about the Incarnation in any way He wanted to. By the same token, the Immaculate Conception was not absolutely or intrinsically necessary in order for the Virgin Birth to occur. Rather, in both cases, Catholics hold that it was fitting or appropriate for things to be this way. We believe the doctrine because that is what was passed down to us, and because it seems perfectly harmonious with Scripture, as I believe I have been showing at the greatest length, against your objections.

As to comparing Mary obeying the law with Jesus following and submitting to baptism, we obviously have clear verses on Jesus sinlessness and the lack of need for repentence, so we have to do some theology and understand Him as doing that as a model of humility and obedience to the external rite, even though He did not need to.

But we have no clear other verses that say that "Mary was without sin" to help us interpret the Luke 2 passage the way the RCC wants to -- on Mary obeying the law of purification. In fact we have indications of her sins and faults of doubt and pride later (John 2 at the wedding, etc.), which Chrysostom and Basil and others point out that she sinned. It is yours that is eis-ogesis and speculation.

Our interpretation of that particular passage does not depend on our belief that she was sinless: only on the supposition that she would have obeyed Jewish law and ritual as a matter of course, even though Jesus' birth was an exceptional event (in the literal meaning of "exceptional"). In other words, the dynamic is not "the person is doing a ritual that is supposed to only be for sinners" (as in Jesus' baptism) but rather, "the person is doing a ritual that is required and expected, even though, technically, it doesn't apply in her case, because the referenced event was supernatural rather than following the usual natural course." To put it yet another way: the analogy is not to sinlessness in both cases, but to non-necessary observance of ritual and religious-cultural custom because they were observant Jews.

But we do have a clear verse on the sinlessness of Mary: Luke 1:28. I have two lengthy papers which expound upon that:

Dialogue with an Evangelical Protestant on Catholic Mariology (including an explicitly biblical argument for the Immaculate Conception, from Luke 1:28, related exegesis, and the meaning of grace)

Luke 1:28 (Full of Grace) and the Immaculate Conception: Linguistic and Exegetical Considerations

That easily trumps two Church Fathers who were mistaken about the sinlessness of Mary, and who were exceptions to the overwhelming patristic consensus.

Criticizing the PVM is not just a cheap way to get at RCC -- as BWL says. It is one of the easiest and earliest to see that it is not biblical though. ( I know, I know, you don't think it is so easy or clear.)

If it's so "easy" and "clear" then why do you keep avoiding my arguments like the plague? No one (at least no one who understands what legitimate debate and dialogue are) is fooled by your constant technique of evasion and obfuscation. If you are so confident about your perspective, you would gladly take on all arguments against it. But you don't do that. This entire dialogue has consisted mostly of my painstaking, careful, systematic, point-by-point replies to your arguments (I've passed over only what was off the subject and a few times which were pure repetition of something you already stated and I had already answered), while you almost totally ignore mine (not even citing most of my arguments, let alone actually trying to counter them).

You preach on and on, blissfully free of the burden of responding to a countering argument. The only thing that is "clear," then, in my opinion, is that you have failed in your task of proving that the perpetual virginity of Mary is an unbiblical, untrue doctrine. Your case (adequately scrutinized) has failed miserably to do so in virtually every particular. And I can say that because I have argued it. You say the same sort of thing to the contrary, but because you have refused to properly argue your case and overturn mine, it is just empty rhetoric: "full of fury, signifying nothing."

It was "the first step" though; of exalting Mary too much in History. BWL and Luther and Calvin and Zwingli and Turretin are fine, because you and they stop there and don't keep on exalting her too much in worship and devotional contexts of prayer and praise and giving her mediatorial status, a violation of 1 Tim. 2:5.

Even if the belief in Mary as Mediatrix is false, that proves exactly nothing as to whether the perpetual virginity of Mary is true or false, or whether the Bible supports it or is at least not inconsistent with it. This is simply another of your extraneous and polemical-sophistical pretexts to reject the doctrine under oconsideration, on grounds other than biblical and logical ones. Furthermore, now you claim that believe in perpetual virginity is "fine," because it doesn't involve what you think is idolatry. Yet earlier, and even not long ago in your arguments, you railed against the doctrine as "Gnostic" or anti-sexual.

The problem is that this idea was developed into more and more and more exaltation of Mary. Biblical exegesis keeps us accountible to truth and not adding things to the Scripture.

Again, you commit the fallacy of acting as though what a doctrine supposedly became, or supposedly led to, casts doubt upon the original doctrine under consideration. It is perfectly possible that this relatively early doctrine was true and then later became corrupted, or that it was and is true, while Mediatrix or the Immaculate Conception or whatever are not true (I don't believe that as a faithful orthodox Catholic, of course; I'm talking strictly logic here, not dogmatics or faith). You can't argue about one thing based on conjectures of supposed later corruptions and other completely different doctrines linked to this one because both concern Mariology.

It's a ridiculous methodology, and I for one am sick and tired of this tactic (distressingly common in Catholic-Protestant discussion). I try to stick to the Bible, since both parties have full respect for that source. But my Protestant correspondents so often want to go beyond that and rail about all these other issues, just as you have done. You pass over almost all of my biblical arguments, and then try to smuggle in this illogical, hyper-biased nonsense, hoping that no one will notice the sleight of hand.

I, (nor anyone else,) am not saying that all doctrines of Gnosticism are subsummed into the PVM; rather, the beleive that matter is evil and "it is unworthy for the womb of the virgin" to have sex in marriage after Jesus is born" are Gnostic like ideas; along with thinking that she did not have pain in childbirth.

Case in point. This doesn't follow at all. An outsider, using your warped "logic," could just as easily say that all Christians are "Gnostic" or against normal sexuality by believing in the Virgin Birth. You know: "If Jesus was to become one of us, become human, enter into all of our experiences, etc., why did He have to be conceived in a fashion other than the usual sexual intercourse? That is a denial of the goodness and purity of sex!!" Etc., etc. You don't see that your mentality is no different than this mindset that a skeptic could easily apply just as vigorously against your belief in the Virgin Birth.

Now, of course, you'll say that the Virgin Birth is explicitly biblical. But the perpetual virginity is not unbiblical. Nothing about it can be shown to be unalterably opposed to biblical teaching. And besides, the analogy still works because this seems to be an a priori objection on your part: you appear to think that folks in the early Church who hated sex invented this doctrine out of some desire to set forth the notion that sex is evil or unwholesome (and that the Church followed suit). And that exists prior to biblical argumentation. So whether the Virgin Birth is supported explicitly in Scripture (and relatively more so than perpetual virginity) is irrelevant to the point just made.

. . . The RCC seems closer to Gnostic or docetic ideas in the PVM than the protestants can be accused of.

You can use this tactic all you like; meanwhile I am making scriptural arguments and you are ignoring them (while I respond to all of your biblical arguments).

I appeal to all fair-minded readers: if Ken's case is supposedly so much more "biblical" than mine, why is it that he keeps avoiding replying to my biblical arguments, and instead, leaves biblical subject matter altogether and so often concentrates on railing against the supposed intrinsically "'Gnostic" nature of this doctrine (and even brings up other Mariological doctrines not even being discussed)? Why is it that the advocate of sola Scriptura is all over the ballpark and so often wants to talk about things other than the Bible, whereas the one who also accepts the validity and truthfulness of Sacred Tradition is quite willing to stick almost exclusively to the Bible in talking about this subject?

Is it simply because the doctrine is true, so that I don't need to go beyond the Bible to make a good case for it, whereas my opponent does, because his "biblical case" is so weak? You be the judge. Speaking for myself, I am quite pleased as to the course this discussion has taken, in terms of which side has proven itself to be the superior one, and more worthy of belief.

The whole "brothers" argument is based on remote possibility of meaning "cousin" because of the speculative construction of the Aramic behind it.

How is it "remote" to show (from simple biblical deduction and cross-referencing) that two of the four named brothers (James and Joseph) are sons of a different Mary altogether? How is it "remote" to also identify "Jude" as the same person who wrote the book of the same name? Early historical sources (Hegesippus, as cited in Eusebius) identify Jude and Simon or Symeon as also sons of Mary and Clopas; thus brothers of James and Joseph. All are Jesus' first cousins. Thus saith Scripture combined with very early historical testimony. But of course you have COMPLETELY ignored ALL of that extensive argumentation of mine, as if it did not exist. Here you are instead with one of your groundless summary statements of what I argued. That's why this dialogue is now over. I've had enough of my time-consuming arguments being utterly ignored, only to get pontifications about the doctrine being "Gnostic" and of only "remote possibility."

Seems "goofy" to me, because it ignores the Greek, which is what the NT was inspired in, and that is the documents of history that we have.

That's right; my entire argument has been "goofy". What does that make yours, then, since you have continually been unable or unwilling to refute mine with rational, biblical argument?

The legal-historical methods are the best methods we have for judging history, especially since there was not video at that time.

Precisely why I brought in the evidence of Hegesippus via Eusebius. But you ignored that. So now you are talking out of both sides of your mouth, in addition to to your already-present shortcomings of circular argumentation, sophistry, and the almost total ignoring of your opponents' arguments.

Furthermore, Mark and Matthew and others frequently give us Aramaic parallels, if God wanted it to be taught, seems He would have inspired them to write, "achi", "brother" in Aramaic, which translated means "cousin", since Mary had taken a vow of virginity and it cannot be possible for the womb of the Mother of Jesus to have other children. ( or someting like the other verses "Talitha Cum", which translated means, "Be opened" or "Corban", which means "sacrificed" or "dedicated", "Cephas", which means "rock", "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabakhtani", which translated means, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" etc, etc.

Once again, that culture used their equivalent of our word "brother" in a very wide sense. "Brother" is the best translation, because it can mean both sibling and more distant relative.

Since the author's knew Greek and used those others words for cousin and kinsmen, ( Colossians 4:10, Luke 1, and they were Jews, except for Luke, and Luke is reporting what they said, and probably got his information from Mary and Paul and the other 12 disciples.); and the context shows that he is talking about flesh and blood brothers and sisters, because they are almost always mentioned along with His real flesh and blood mother, seems obvious that they are siblings after Jesus was born.

Here is your now-familiar routine of repetition of arguments you've already presented 5-6 times, ignoring of my replies to them, and the triumphant but deluded description of "obvious." This is pathetic . . . my patience has run out.

I am not just "assuming" that out of thin air and without good reason. The normal assumtions of a sentence with "His mother and brothers and sisters were there", etc. is not "brothers in Christ" or "brothers as fellow human beings."

Already dealt with several times . . . It's as if one has learned algebra and geometry, but keeps being obsessed with simple arithmetic; like we have to go over the basics again and again when the discussion had advanced far beyond that. Hence, the discussion never goes anywhere. It's like kindergarten: you simply repeat things ad infinitum, oblivious to any answers I have given; not even seeming to understand that I have already answered, or the nature of my answer.

I think I do interact directly with points being made as much as one person can, when there are 10 others making lots of other points. That is OK, just realize I am only one person and I cannot respond to every detail.

This is a cop-out. You are capable of entering many thousands of words into the comments boxes very quickly (anyone can verify that by looking them over). I painstakingly took the better part of five days (usually one "part" or "round" a day) to systematically respond to your arguments (today's new post took another 5-6 hours to write). You don't get out of the responsibility of having to defend your arguments against critical scrutiny by appealing to the fact that others have entered into the conversation.

You could have taken all the time you wanted (there is no stopwatch on this blog), but you have deliberately refused to reply to my arguments and instead have chosen to utilize the unworthy techniques that I have been vociferously protesting against. If you have less time than you would like, you could easily cut out the repetition and instead actually deal directly with some of the many many arguments of mine that you have utterly ignored. You have chosen this path, and it is not just a lack of time and too many opponents. It's also the deficient method that you have brought to the table.

Now, I like you, Ken, and appreciate the time and effort you have put into this, and your cordiality (not to mention my great admiration for your missionary endeavors). You have been a wonderful addition to this blog and I am thankful for your participation (speaking generally now). But I can't sit here and pretend that you have tried to reply to my arguments in this particular discussion when (by and large) you have not. I have to call a spade a spade.

You may be the politest guy in the world and a great Christian gentleman, but it is still rude and difficult to understand when your opponent grants you the courtesy to consider your arguments one by one - taking many hours and days to do so - and you refuse to return that courtesy, and instead choose to keep lobbing the lowest of insults towards his position and that of his Church. If you won't answer (by way of will and decision), then could you at least explain to us why that is? If you can't answer, then you ought to face up to that and admit it, too. But let no one be under any illusion that you have even tried to answer much of my argument, let alone that you have refuted it.

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