Saturday, September 05, 2009

Dialogue With a Calvinist About the Propriety of Calling Mary the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and About Socratic Method and the Nature of True Dialogue

[Annunciation.jpg]
The Annunciation, by Philippe de Champaigne, c. 1644

[ source ]


"Pilgrimsarbour" is a Reformed Protestant (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) with whom I have had several amiable, constructive dialogues. The "spouse of the Holy Spirit" issue came up on another blog. It spilled over onto mine indirectly, and "PA" made some comments on my blog to which I replied; then he made a counter-reply privately (he gave me permission to post it). Here is my latest reply. His words will be in blue. I have added a few additional comments to my earlier ones taken from a combox for another post.

* * * * *

This whole discussion was, from the beginning, about the perpetual virginity of Mary. . . . The original questions had to do with the Catholic view of sexual relations, and whether Catholics consider that Mary would have been "defiled" by having had relations with Joseph after the birth of Jesus. At least one person said that Mary, as a holy vessel consecrated to God, would have been "defiled" by Joseph if he had had relations with her after Jesus' birth.

At one point I asked if Catholics considered Mary's relations with Joseph to be adulterous, if they had had them. There is, apparently, some support for that view, but I don't know how much.

Thanks for the clarification.

If one has made a vow of consecrated virginity, then yes, in a sense they would be defiled by engaging in sexual activity, because then they have broken a vow. I believe that Protestants take a high view of vows, though one might not know it in observing the many broken vows of the original "reformers" and the present increasing laxity on divorce in many Protestant circles.

I don't believe that Mary's perpetual virginity was intrinsically necessary (i.e., that it couldn't possibly have been otherwise). The same applies to her Immaculate Conception. God could have decided that it was different. We believe that He did not do so in fact, and that He chose to bring about both things because it was extremely fitting and appropriate for the Mother of Jesus, God the Son. It was a completely unique situation.

We think being the Mother of God is a unique enough situation that virginity is not to be regarded as some unusual (let alone supposedly "anti-sex") state of things. You [Protestants] say we're anti-sex because we believe in the PVM. We say you are anti-celibacy. So I guess it is a wash.

You claimed [in a comment connected with a post on John 6 and the Eucharist] that it was improper for me to claim that an antipathy to matter and sacramentalism accounts for your belief in a non-physical Eucharist. I am willing to grant that it may not be the cause. That's fine. But now I see you speculating as to why we believe in the PVM, and the usual tired stereotype of being "anti-sex" is the conclusion drawn in the thread under consideration.

I think you can do better than that. The "anti-sex" thing is as much of a non sequitur as the sexual abuse tactic. How ironic. Now we're too much into sex at the same time we're against it. Any criticism of the Catholic Church will do, no matter how self-contradictory. We see this often.

If the PVM is intrinsically "anti-sex" then at least face the fact that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, and many other Protestants (especially before liberalism, the so-called "Enlightenment" and Higher Criticism) believed it as we do.

The problem is that Joseph was betrothed, legally and in God's eyes, to Mary. They had not had sexual relations but they were for all intents and purposes, within that culture, married. There would be no reason for the Bible to tell us that Joseph "sought to divorce her quietly" otherwise. You cannot divorce someone to whom you're not married.

So I think that to use this marriage and spousal language with the Holy Spirit and Mary is problematic at best. If anything, it makes God out to be an interloper since Joseph was already pledged to her in marriage.

If anything, the alternative to the "spouse of God" description arguably leads to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is an adulterer and that Jesus was an illegitimate child. Is that really what you prefer? I highly doubt it. I realize your retort was rhetorical and an objection to our terminology, but I think it fails, for reasons that I will present in due course below. I should think that the Virgin Birth is something that Catholics and Protestants could readily agree upon, and I think this issue is directly related to that. It is something distinct from the perpetual virginity issue, where we disagree (though the first Protestants retained the Catholic belief, and the present Protestant general rejection of it is mostly a post-"Enlightenment" and post-liberalism phenomenon).

And the language is a cause of much unceasing and unnecessary confusion and animus from Muslims and others.

They are highly offended by the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity, too. Ought we to change those things, too, simply because they (and Jews as well) are offended? That has never been why Christians believe anything. If something is true, then we don't modify it because some folks are offended. That will always be the case, anyway. People were offended by Jesus, and we know that He did nothing wrong, nor did He teach any untruth.

No, I think it's best to avoid this kind of language which encourages us to anthropomorphise the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit.

Anthropomorphism and anthropopathism are common biblical occurrences. Why should this be any different? Whenever there is talk of the relations between God and His creatures, this is required to some extent. Having a child conceived by the Holy Spirit has no direct analogy, because it was a one-time event, in order to bring about the Incarnation. So we should fully expect to have some difficulty fitting this into accepted categories. But again, Christianity is filled with such anomalies, wonders, and paradoxes (most of which Calvinists accept, along with Catholics and other Christians). The Incarnation itself is one of these. How could Jesus be fully God and fully Man? Run-of-the-mill logic cannot accept this, anymore than it can grasp the Trinity (hence many heretics deny both). It requires the eyes of faith and an understanding of the "both/and" biblical, Hebraic outlook, and of biblical paradox.

Augustine and Anselm don't agree with you. St. Augustine stated that "Mary was that only one who merited to be called the Mother and Spouse of God." [Sermon 208]

St. Anselm [c. 1033-1109] asserted that "the divine Spirit, the love itself of the Father and the Son, came corporally into Mary, and enriching her with graces above all creatures, reposed in her and made her his Spouse, the Queen of heaven and earth." [De Excell. Virg. c.4].

So what do you think caused these great teachers to get it so wrong?

Scripture speaks in terms of the bride being the Church, and makes analogies between marriage and Christ and His Church. So what is the big deal about Mary being the spouse of the Holy Spirit, since she is the Mother of God the Son?

It seems that you're asking me, "How dare you question the heroes and Doctors of the Church?"

Does it? That's odd. Why would I reason like that with a Protestant who can always dissent against any Church authority he wishes to dissent against? On the other hand, I know Calvinists (following Calvin) especially respect St. Augustine, so I think it is relevant to bring up his opinion.

I admit that I'm not a brilliant theologian. Not even close. But if I accept the premise, which is implied, that the church fathers could not be wrong, then you're right.

We don't even believe that (Augustine was judged by the Church to be wrong on some extreme statements about predestination), so again, why would I imply that in dialoguing with you? You have some odd reactions to what I write sometimes.

What right do I have to question them? How can I compete intellectually with them? Should I just acknowledge my intellectual failings, give up and submit my will to people who "know better" than I do?

No; it would be nice if you would stop second-guessing, accept the fact that I understand the Protestant outlook (having once been a Protestant apologist and having dialogued with scores of Protestants for 18 years now) and if you would answer the question I asked. If I wasn't interested in your reply I wouldn't have bothered asking it! :-)

It reminds me of our current political situation. There are plenty of people even now shaking their heads at me and saying, "Yes. It's for your own good, and we know the good. Trust us."

Another inapplicable comparison . . .

But it's not good. If we cannot ask questions of those in authority, even those in the highest authority, then we are in danger of what C.S. Lewis calls "kissing one's brains goodbye." And we might as well do so.

And now it's off on an unrelated rabbit trail . . . you have all Catholics checking their brains at the door. C'mon. You can do far better than that. Just discuss the topic. We don't need to get off on the sexual scandal or the supposed mindless, brainless Catholic stereotypes.

I also gave directly relevant scriptural analogies that speak to the issue at hand, but you completely ignored that, too. True dialogue proceeds very differently than this, I think.
[citing my earlier words and adding the bracketed remark; my italics added] We don't even believe that (Augustine was judged by the Church to be wrong on some extreme statements about predestination), so again, why would I imply that [Pilgrimsarbour is unworthy of dissenting from the early Church fathers] in dialoguing with you? You have some odd reactions to what I write sometimes.
No; you have misinterpreted and misunderstood this, as shown by your interjection. The second "that" above (followed by your comment) refers back to the first "that" in the clause in the first part of my statement, which in turn refers back to your statement that it was replying to: "the premise, which is implied, that the church fathers could not be wrong." The whole point was that Catholics do not think Church fathers are infallible or can never be wrong, or even that they have some binding authority. This is what you apparently have not grasped. It's a basic factual error (about what Catholics believe) that is causing part of the present mix-up of communication.

We think they are very helpful as guides to the Mind of the early Church, insofar as they have a consensus of belief on any given point. But no particular Church fathers' opinions are binding on a Catholic. That has to be decided by an ecumenical council in conjunction with the pope, or pope's decrees in conjunction with prior tradition, councils, and the Mind of the Church, including the consent of the faithful (sensus fidelium). "Unanimous consent" in its original Latin, as clearly understood at the time, didn't even mean "without any exception whatever." It meant "consensus." It would be like us saying today, "there is a consensus in science that the earth goes around the sun and not vice versa." That's overwhelming. Yet there are a few people who still believe in geocentrism (I personally know some Catholics who do). Likewise, with the fathers.

I infer from your statement the tag question to me, "Why is that?" So I'll take this opportunity to answer. I don't think you realise how you come across sometimes. It's your manner of putting questions to me (and others) that sometimes gives me pause and puts me on the defensive. You undoubtedly will tell me that I'm reading too much into your statements, and that I'm all wet. Fair enough. I may be. But if you will just hear me out, at the very least you'll understand me better as we dialogue.

Okay, sure.

You frequently send what I consider to be mixed signals. In the midst of a generally fair question, you'll choose words that are typically used to humiliate the respondent. The words by themselves are innocuous, but interwoven within the context of a question they can become quite powerful. Let me give you an example:
So what do you think caused these great teachers to get it so wrong?
I think very deeply about language and how it's used. I think about what would be most effective in my arguments, assuming, of course, that I believe myself to be correct on certain issues. I think you and I are actually a lot alike in this regard. I know that you work and re-work your posts. I do the same. Sometimes I change a word or correct grammar or spelling from something I posted two years ago. Some must undoubtedly think me neurotic. Maybe I am. But it's one of the reasons why I didn't pursue journalism as a career; you can't make it in that field and take hours to compose a few sentences. It's all about getting it out fast. Reading and writing are terribly slow going for me, but the results can be very rewarding and fulfilling, although I suspect I'll never master economy of language. Maybe you and I have that in common as well, judging by the typical length of your posts. ;-) Now after that preamble, let me give you my take on your previous comments to which I responded. Keep in mind that I think you are like me in choosing words carefully, so I am reading intent in your words as we go because that's the way I write and speak. If you had asked, "Why do you think they were wrong about this," I may have been able to answer on the basis of doctrinal and cultural considerations. But you add the descriptors "great teachers," which in this context suggests an insurmountable juxtaposition to the respondent. The intent is to rattle the respondent and make him feel unworthy of questioning the great men of old. Likewise, the addition of the words "so wrong" emphasises this radical juxtaposition. And so the bias against the respondent is firmly established in what amounts to an accusatory statement. Now perhaps none of this has occurred to you, and you really aren't as neurotically careful about word choice as I am, or as I think you are. If so, I apologise. But I hope you'll at least consider the possibility that you've been writing for such a long time now that you're not even aware of these things on a conscious level anymore.

Thanks for your concise description of how you reacted. There are many things in play here. I shall try to deal with each of them individually.

I agree that we are a lot alike (which is why we've been having great dialogues). I also agree that words must be interpreted in context: both immediate grammatical context and the context of the belief-system of the one writing them (this is true of biblical interpretation also). Furthermore, the more people become acquainted with each other and with the other's methods, the context of their own past experience with each other also is a contextual consideration. Things are assumed and learned all down the line, and these affect later exchanges, since they are part of the overall mix.

That said, there are also other planes involved here, and those are the logical and methodological ones. If you know me at all (as I think you do), you surely know that my apologetic and dialogical method is socratic. That's how I approach things, and it is obvious in my love of the back-and-forth dialogue (just as this one is, and many hundreds more of my posted dialogues as well). Fundamental to socratic method are the following components:

1) Understanding one's own premises.

2) Understanding the opposing position's or party's premises (hopefully as well as one's own, for a constructive dialogue to occur).

3) Seeking a common premise or common denominator by going back far enough (epistemologically and logically) in any given pair of competing belief-systems to find what is held in common, in order to have an argument about the relative merits of diverging paths from the same particular starting premise.

4) Seeking flaws in the opposing position at the presuppositional level, leading to falsehoods built upon these false premises.

5) Seeking to show (largely by reductio ad absurdum) that some opposing premises lead to conclusions that the person holding the premises would not himself accept, and that would cause him to be uncomfortable; hopefully leading to a reappraisal of those premises as possibly false (hence, the conclusions would be judged as false, should the premises be overturned).

I do all these things automatically during debate. It's true it is almost an unconscious process by now, because I have done this for so many years now and in innumerable dialogical encounters. If someone is not aware of this methodology and how it proceeds, then they could (and do!) react as you have, thinking that belittling was the object, rather than a tenacious critique of premises and lack of factuality, etc, (as the case may be). Socrates was killed by the Athenians precisely because he was too provocative (by applying the above method). Jesus and Paul were very provocative, and part of their unpopularity in many environments was directly due to this: they made people squirm and become uncomfortable by means of their pointed questions: exactly to the issue. They hit folks right between the eyes.

For me, it is all about truth and about ideas. My aim is never to belittle or embarrass someone else during these arguments. It is always to challenge them (and to be challenged myself, in the process). If I issue a pointed criticism or observation, such as the one that seems to have offended you or has made you defensive presently, it is never intended to make someone feel stupid or like an idiot. I don't argue in the fashion that many of your anti-Catholic friends do: with obvious disdain for Catholics and their belief-system: put-downs and questioning of motivations and basic intelligence (and spiritual state) everywhere (which is why I no longer bother with them, after ten years of mightily trying).

I don't have such hostility towards Protestants, either personally or towards their overall system (not even the anti-Catholics; I most assuredly despise and detest the anti-Catholic aspect of their belief, as a wicked falsehood and intellectual suicide, but not the larger Protestantism). I'm on record, many times in my public writings, as having a high level of respect and admiration (even warm affection) for most of my Protestant brethren and their belief-systems: particularly Calvinists and Lutherans and traditional Anglicans. C. S. Lewis remains my favorite writer to this day, and I have had a major Lewis website online for now over twelve years. That's just one indication of many many signs of my ecumenical goodwill.

But I do vigorously critique ideas and doctrines within those systems that I think are false. And when I do so it is not with the slightest intent to imply someone is stupid or impious or some sort of imbecile. Maybe many others do so; I do not. They don't speak for me. I speak for myself, and (most inadequately, alas, but sincerely and zealously, at the very least) on behalf of the beliefs of the Catholic Church, as an apologist.

Now, with that necessary background, let me give my opinion as to why you got the impression you did, and why I think it was unwarranted as a conclusion from anything I wrote or did. You wrote:

I don't think you realise how you come across sometimes. It's your manner of putting questions to me (and others) that sometimes gives me pause and puts me on the defensive.

I am about vigorous, rigorous intellectual / theological argument. It's not everyone's cup of tea. I have explained my methodology above, and my intentions, within an overall respect and affection for my Protestant brethren. I was once among you, and I don't despise my past. I thank God for it. What I learned as a Protestant was invaluable, and I will always be grateful for those years. Most of what I learned, I still believe. Only some things change in going from Protestant to Catholic: not most things, by a long shot. Mostly it's a matter of adding on new beliefs not held before (scarcely even considered, in many instances).

So people get offended by me all the time. Tim Enloe stated years ago that I was the most frustrating, exasperating person he has ever discoursed with. And from his perspective, I suppose that I am. But the question is: why is that? What is it about me that is so offensive and off-putting to many people (the vast majority of them anti-Catholics and radtrad Catholics, along with some liberals in both camps)? I have many faults, that are rather obvious. I can often be too critical and insensitive (some would say, "relentless") and can easily overlook the fact that many people are not approaching discussions the way I do. My style and method is not for everyone. It is only for those who feel they may benefit from it in some fashion. If someone doesn't like the way I do things, then I'm the first to tell them to seek someone or something else out, to learn about the things I write about.

I might offend someone by being insensitive or by a lack of charity or lousy timing, or overkill or being too much of a bulldog. All true, and I submit that the vast majority of human beings have these faults at one time or another, and to varying degrees. I've publicly apologized on many occasions when I messed up in this fashion or in other similar ways.

But one thing I know for sure, is that my method, as explained above, is often misunderstood, and that is because it is not very well known anymore. By and large, people don't argue in this fashion. And I know that, often, the logic of the method is incorrectly perceived or grasped. And such is the present instance, in my opinion. Let's go back to the beginning and I will show you exactly why I think this is the case. You write:

In the midst of a generally fair question, you'll choose words that are typically used to humiliate the respondent.

But this is the furthest thing from my mind. It is not ever my goal in discussion. I have not sought to do so in this present dialogue, and I don't think the words I used objectively lead to that conclusion. You have read way too much into them. You have taken the discussion to the level of motivation and have started second-guessing your dialogue opponent. Arguably, doing that exhibits a lack of charity. You have concluded that my intention or motivation was to humiliate when it was not at all (and I say you did so without nearly adequate cause or proof).

This is what derails good dialogues: the second-guessing, and believing the worst of others, not the best. What to me is vigorous socratic critique was to you a means to make someone feel lousy and stupid and defensive. Not so. It is meant (in a friendly way) to challenge a person I like and respect: someone whose intellect is most respectable. That is a person I can challenge, if they are willing to stay within the realm of theological ideas, rather than go down the psychoanalyzing path: reading into words what isn't there; trying to read in-between the lines to find some nefarious goings-on.

You continue:

The words by themselves are innocuous, but interwoven within the context of a question they can become quite powerful. Let me give you an example:
So what do you think caused these great teachers to get it so wrong?
. . . I am reading intent in your words as we go because that's the way I write and speak. If you had asked, "Why do you think they were wrong about this," I may have been able to answer on the basis of doctrinal and cultural considerations. But you add the descriptors "great teachers," which in this context suggests an insurmountable juxtaposition to the respondent. The intent is to rattle the respondent and make him feel unworthy of questioning the great men of old. Likewise, the addition of the words "so wrong" emphasises this radical juxtaposition. And so the bias against the respondent is firmly established in what amounts to an accusatory statement.
I must say that this is very interesting analysis (I give you much credit for a superb analytical acumen, and deep thinking), but it is way off the mark; not even close to what I was trying to do there. All it is, really, was a simple matter of logic. I've already shown how you incorrectly perceived the thrust of my argument as saying that you must believe what St. Augustine taught, because he was a great man. That wasn't my argument, and it is not what Catholics believe. Here you have unloaded the most intricate analysis of a single sentence. The false conclusion flowed from the false premise. My actual premise was the following:

Protestants agree with Catholics in having a high regard for the Church fathers as a class; particularly this is true with regard to St. Augustine.

Or, to put it another way:

Protestants will respect what St. Augustine states on any given subject, even if they disagree with him.

This is the sense in which it was altogether relevant to bring in his opinion (not, "you must believe what he says because he was a great Church father!"). What I did (an aspect of my method explained above) was to adopt the common premise (the one just above, expressed in two slightly different ways). Protestants and Catholics agree that St. Augustine was a "great teacher." So that should not be any bone of contention or cause of offense if I simply state what we hold in common. Therefore, much of the confusion was a misunderstanding on your part ,of my unspoken premise.

Nor should this have been any great mystery, since I stated before you wrote your present installment: "I know Calvinists (following Calvin) especially respect St. Augustine, so I think it is relevant to bring up his opinion." What was the unspoken, implied premise was at that point clarified as a spoken premise.

But you go beyond that, quibbling with my choice of words, by objecting to my stating, "what do you think caused these great teachers to get it so wrong?" rather than your suggested "acceptable" alternative: "Why do you think they were wrong about this." Basically, then, you seem to have been offended by the words "great" and "so." But Augustine being a great teacher is a commonly shared premise (and many Protestants think very highly of St. Anselm as well: especially his teachings on the atonement). John Calvin often appeals to St. Augustine and clearly has a lot of respect for him, as do Calvinists and Protestants in general. I know this very well firsthand, since I am systematically reading and replying to Book IV of his Institutes.

That is unarguable. I feel silly even having to reiterate it: so obvious is it (and surely you know this, as an astute, educated Calvinist). Therefore, the descriptor "great" should be a non-issue and not any point of contention. You say, "The intent is to rattle the respondent and make him feel unworthy of questioning the great men of old." But that was not my intent, as explained. My argument was not:

A) How dare you question Augustine: you rebellious, arrogant person! Don't you know that you can't do that?

It was, rather:

B) You yourself (as a high likelihood; along with Calvin and Calvinists) respect Augustine, yet you think this particular opinion is most unworthy of belief. Why do you think (I'm curious) that Augustine was (according to your view) so dead wrong on this matter, and in agreement with present-day Catholics? How did it come about? This would seem to be an odd thing, from your perspective.

These are two completely different takes on what I wrote. I say that what I wrote was quite clear enough, minus the second-guessing and adoption of a mistaken view of what premise I was operating under. I explained my premise outright, but that was insufficient. You still haven't answered my question, because now all this energy has been expended in becoming defensive and in psychoanalysis (and now my lengthy explanation of why I think your conclusion drawn from my words doesn't follow at all, though I am delighted to have the opportunity to explain myself and my method), rather than the theological and historical questions involved.

An additional unspoken premise was also present:

B2) Since Augustine (whom we both respect) held this view that you object to, in the 5th century, obviously it is not strictly a "late Catholic invention." It has patristic roots.

This is to offset the common Protestant assumed premise and objection to Catholics "coming up with" stuff that wasn't present in the apostolic or patristic periods (which in turn often flows from a grossly inadequate understanding of the development of doctrine and the more general history of doctrine). I showed that it was present in the patristic period, from the (commonly regarded) most eminent father, and also apostolic, in the Bible, by analogy.

In a roundabout way I implied a similar sort of (subtle, implicit) argument by noting that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and many other historic Protestants agreed with us on the perpetual virginity of Mary: showing again that it is not solely a "Catholic thing." If the very founders of Protestantism believed it, and their premise of authority is Scripture Alone (sola Scriptura) then clearly (unless one thinks they are characterized by illogical, inconsistent thought) they must have some rationale for their belief in the Bible and not solely from "Catholic tradition." This is super-relevant to the question at hand. Thus, I made one of my provocative challenges along these lines:

. . . at least face the fact that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, and many other Protestants . . . believed it as we do.

Provocative? Absolutely! That's what good argument is about. But a supposed motivation to humiliate and belittle and make someone feel dumb? NO! A million times NO!!!!! Some people will never grasp this, because they don't like vigorous dialogical (and/or socratic) argument and don't understand its purpose. But I think you do, and I think this explanation ought to prevent these conjectures from you in the future. If they don't, then our future dialogues are doomed to failure, which would be a severe disappointment to me.

It's simply vigorous argument, my friend. If you don't care for that, then you won't enjoy our future dialogues, and we will go down this path of hyper-analysis of single words and of alleged motivations. That kills good dialogue quicker than anything. Nitpicking, minutiae, second-guessing . . . And to me, that would be a shame, because I enjoy our exchanges (even this one!) quite a bit and I had thought we were establishing a very good mutual understanding, for the short amount of time we have known each other. Room to grow, but a great start. That's what I have thought.

But in any event, your objection above comes down to my use of so, which implies a great degree of wrongness, and is a deliberate emphasis. I don't see why that should pose a problem, from your own perspective: "The great man (that you agree is great) got something so flat-out wrong, according to you. Why is that? How do you explain it?" It's not intended to solve the question in and of itself. It is an interesting aside; no more. I do that all the time, because my mind gets stimulated by substantive discussion and goes in many directions (haven't you ever done that?), while still within the subject matter of the question at hand. And so I asked this question. I think it is relevant, per my explanations above. It's also relevant to the consideration of the plausibility of competing truth claims, which is a more subtle thing.

Moreover, my provocative question, with the "so wrong" bit had to do directly with the degree of skepticism and opposition you yourself expressed. This is a form of argument as well, because I am building upon your own stated view and introducing motifs of tension within it, by bringing in relevant considerations. You wrote: "I think that to use this marriage and spousal language with the Holy Spirit and Mary is problematic at best. If anything, it makes God out to be an interloper . . ." Very well. If you want to believe that, then I return by asking you, "why did St. Augustine (whom you and Calvin and Calvinists highly respect) believe this, then? Where did he get it from?" Certainly it is not from Trent or "late" Catholic "traditions of men," etc. Whatever is going on there, it isn't those things. And so it is meant to challenge you and make you think. Perhaps you don't know what to make of that. Then just say so. But you didn't answer my question and you went on to the present analysis that has required about three hours to properly reply to.

You said...
Why would I reason like that with a Protestant who can always dissent against any Church authority he wishes to dissent against?
You would reason like that because Catholics have found it to be very effective against certain types of opponents. You cannot deny that it is a most popular approach in Catholic apologetics, this appeal to early Church authorities, both the fathers and of course, the apostles and their immediate successors.

That's correct, but in so doing we do little different than what Calvin himself does, and what Lutherans do in their Book of Concord. Protestants claim to be going back to the legacy of the early Church. It is literally what "reform" and "reformers" and "Reformation" mean, after all: it is a claim to be restoring what was before, as opposed to introducing wholly new things. That's why Calvin cites the fathers at every turn, when he makes his theological arguments. If it weren't relevant he would simply cite the Bible and forget human Church history. Thus it is part of the very essence of the Protestant (and specifically Calvinist) self-understanding, and it is always relevant -- given that -- to bring up the fathers, or especially the overwhelming consensus of same, insofar as it was present. It's relevant because of the common respect for the fathers and both sides seeking to be (by and large) in line with them, since they represent the beloved "early Church" -- a thing that Protestants also glorify -- and were not far in time from the apostles who wrote the Holy Scriptures we all love and try to live by.

Church fathers and students of apostles are to be trusted, the argument goes, because Christ would not leave His Church in error. "The gates of hell shall not prevail," and so forth.

That is a deeper level of the Catholic understanding that is not entailed in the argument I am utilizing, based on respect for the fathers but not a specifically Catholic understanding of the Mind of the Church. On the other hand, Protestant historical argumentation still appeals to the fathers in a somewhat (but not totally) different way, and claims that Protestantism is closer in thought to them than Catholicism is.

This is quite obvious in Protestant apologetics. See, e.g., the three-book series on sola Scriptura by William Webster and David T. King. Its premise is that the fathers were far closer (though not identical) to the Protestant sola Scriptura position than the the Catholic position on authority. Or see the lengthy series on the fathers by Jason Engwer (I myself had a lengthy debate with him about this, regarding sola Scriptura and the fathers, on the large CARM discussion forum). So you can't separate the fathers from the Protestant apologetic. They are inevitably involved.

I have argued with Catholics who have said that it was not possible that a student departed from the teachings of his apostolic master, thereby ensuring the full and proper passing down of the oral and written traditions.

That's another level again; not relevant to my present argument.

So I absolutely see why you would want to argue that way with me. I accept that as your approach because I see it all the time, both in your writings and elsewhere online.

But you have understood rather poorly what my argument even is. One must understand the opposing argument properly before trying to dissect it and rip it to shreds. That's rule number one for any effective dialogue, debate, or refutation.

You said:
No; it would be nice if you would stop second-guessing, accept the fact that I understand the Protestant outlook (having once been a Protestant apologist and having dialogued with scores of Protestants for 18 years now) and if you would answer the question I asked. If I wasn't interested in your reply I wouldn't have bothered asking it! :-)
If this is the question to which you refer:
Scripture speaks in terms of the bride being the Church, and makes analogies between marriage and Christ and His Church. So what is the big deal about Mary being the spouse of the Holy Spirit, since she is the Mother of God the Son?

No. The question I referred to was the one about Augustine believing as he did, and why he was "so" wrong. That remains utterly unanswered, but I haven't given up hope yet.

I said...
But it's not good. If we cannot ask questions of those in authority, even those in the highest authority, then we are in danger of what C.S. Lewis calls "kissing one's brains goodbye." And we might as well do so.
You said...
And now it's off on an unrelated rabbit trail . . . you have all Catholics checking their brains at the door. C'mon. You can do far better than that. Just discuss the topic. We don't need to get off on the sexual scandal or the supposed mindless, brainless Catholic stereotypes.
Now you're the one reading too much into what I have said! This was not a stereotypical slur directed at Catholics, but is a statement about my own fear of having my conscience, entirely and unreservedly, bound by the teachings of another individual or group. I know you don't agree with me on the matter of private judgement, but I am merely explaining my perspective on things.

Fair enough. I do think, though, that there is often a feeling among Protestants that Catholics have blind faith. I have seen that many times and there is no doubt whatever that it is a very prevalent viewpoint. That doesn't mean that you hold it, however, so it looks like I overreacted (attributing the widespread views to you, based on statements that appeared quite consistent with that opinion) and am glad that it is not the case with you. I'm happy to accept your word for it. Thanks for the clarification.

As always, you make me think. Perhaps it's not the kind of thinking you intended or hoped for, but it surely makes life interesting, don't you think?

I hope so, and likewise.

Getting back to the biblical analogies for a moment, before I finish: I don't think this should be any big deal at all. Scripture speaks of the Church as the Bride of Christ. There are multiple, complex applications of analogy and metaphor. And there are limitations to the sense involved.

We know that Mary was the Mother of God. That's a simple equation:

1) Jesus was God.

2) Mary was His true Mother.

3) Therefore she was the Mother of God, because mothers are mothers of persons, not just parts of persons. Mary is mother of Jesus the person without being the origin of His Divine Nature as God, just as all mothers are mothers of their children while not being the origin of their souls, which are supernaturally created by God.

Protestants object to the term Mother of God, but of course Luther and Calvin did not, so again, they are out of touch with their own fundamental heritage and origins. "Anti-Marianism" was not particularly characteristic of the first generation of Protestants, and especially not among the leaders of the movement. That came in later, as there was a tendency to reject anything that smacked of being particularly, distinctively "Catholic" and to form a distinctively Protestant identity and self-understanding, in "protest."

Now, by the same general reasoning that applies to Theotokos (arguing solely from the Bible, not Catholic tradition), it seems to me that "spouse of God" would also be appropriate and non-objectionable. If one can be a Mother of God (and that is not expressly stated in Scripture -- just as the word "Trinity" is not -- , but is deduced very straightforwardly, and the phrase "mother of my Lord" appears), then why is "spouse of God" any different? That Jesus' conception was of the Holy Spirit as a sort of "Father" is plain in the Bible:

Matthew 1:18-20 (RSV) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; [19] and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. [20] But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;

Luke 1:31, 34-35 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. . . . [34] And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" [35] And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.


If we ask, then, "Who is Jesus' father?" (in terms of the origin of His conception) it is not Joseph, but the Holy Spirit in one sense, and God the Father in another. Multiple senses and meanings and applications . . . This is not just a "Catholic" thing. Perpetual virginity is not yet part of the discussion at this point: only the Incarnation and Virgin Birth, and all Christians agree with those doctrines.

Calling Mary the "spouse of God" is, I contend, perfectly harmonious with Bible teaching:

1) Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (God).

2) Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit; "with child of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18).

3) In normal marital relationships, we say that a woman is "with child by [male so-and-so]."

4) By analogy, then, if Jesus' parents were Mary and the Holy Spirit, then by simple analogy it follows that Mary (in this particular sense, and this alone) is the "spouse of God" just as she was the Mother of God.

5) The objection to this arguably flows (at least in part) from a mere emotional, irrational reaction based on misunderstanding of Hebraic and Catholic terminology and categories of thought. "Mother of God" is objected to, based on a rather dim comprehension of what it means in the first place; thus many objectors think it is putting Mary above God, as if God originated from her; whereas it only means that Jesus was God, and she was His mother; therefore she was the Mother of God (the Son). Case closed.

6) Likewise, I submit that perhaps the objection to "spouse of God" often flows from similar miscomprehensions and irrational apprehensions. It is thought to imply an equality with God, when in fact it does no such thing. It is only a limited analogical description based on Mary's relation to the Holy Spirit in the matter of the conception of Jesus. This description is no more "unbiblical" or non-harmonious with Scriptural thought than St. Paul saying "we are God's fellow workers" (1 Cor 3:9), "working together with him" (2 Cor 6:1), or St. Peter talking about men becoming "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), or St. John joyously proclaiming "when he appears we shall be like him" (1 John 3:2). These are understood as not entailing equality with God, so why should the phrase "spouse of God" (like the related "Mother of God") be any different? This is well within biblical parameters of thought and doctrine. Thus, the problem seems (too often) to come down to an incorrect understanding of how certain biblical, Hebraic, Catholic language functions, and what it means; and flat-out "anti-Marianism" taken in by osmosis in many Protestant environs (above all, in fringe anti-Catholic corners of the Protestant world).

In conclusion, here are some of the many biblical passages about Israel or the Church being the "bride" of God the Father or Jesus Christ, God the Son:


Isaiah 1:21 (RSV) How the faithful city
has become a harlot,
she that was full of justice!
Righteousness lodged in her,
but now murderers.

Isaiah 54:5-6
For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
[6] For the LORD has called you
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.

Isaiah 62:4-5
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My delight is in her,
and your land Married;
for the LORD delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
[5] For as a young man marries a virgin,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

Jeremiah 2:2 Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

Jeremiah 2:32 Can a maiden forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.

Jeremiah 3:1 . . . You have played the harlot with many lovers;
and would you return to me? says the LORD.

Jeremiah 3:6, 8-9 The LORD said to me in the days of King Josi'ah: "Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the harlot? . . .
[8] She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the harlot.
[9] Because harlotry was so light to her, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.

Jeremiah 3:20 Surely, as a faithless wife leaves her husband, so have you been faithless to me, O house of Israel, says the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.

Ezekiel 16:20 And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. . . .

Ezekiel 23:18 When she carried on her harlotry so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned from her sister.

Ezekiel 23:35 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, therefore bear the consequences of your lewdness and harlotry."

Hosea 1:2 When the LORD first spoke through Hose'a, the LORD said to Hose'a, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the LORD."

Hosea 2:16, 19-20 "And in that day, says the LORD, you will call me, `My husband,' and no longer will you call me, `My Ba'al.' . . . [19] And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. [20] I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.

Hosea 4:10 They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the harlot, but not multiply;
because they have forsaken the LORD
to cherish harlotry.

Hosea 4:12 . . . they have left their God to play the harlot.

Hosea 5:4 Their deeds do not permit them
to return to their God.
For the spirit of harlotry is within them,
and they know not the LORD.

Hosea 9:1 Rejoice not, O Israel! Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the harlot, forsaking your God. . . .

Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Matthew 25:1, 5-6, 10 Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. . . . [5] As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. [6] But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' . . . [10] And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.

Mark 2:19-20 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. [20] The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. (cf. Lk 5:34-35)

2 Corinthians 11:2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.

Ephesians 5:23-29, 32 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. [24] As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. [28] Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, . . . [32] This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;

Revelation 21:9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb."
* * *

Pilgrimsarbour replied privately and gave me permission to post his words:

Thanks for the lengthy and cogent response to my e-mail. I have read through it once and I cannot find anything with which to disagree. Since I was asking you about motivations and so forth, you have answered thoroughly by explaining your methods and why some (including me) might misunderstand them.

Of course, this is a tendency that I have anyway, so the fault is on my end of things. This is not to say that I'm not justified, on occasion, in wondering or even questioning my opponent's use of certain terminology and so forth. I suspect that will continue from time to time with others. I will, however, endeavour to be more careful with accusations in future and also to take your words at face value, especially since you took a great deal of time to dissuade me from my analysis of your methods.

As time permits I plan to add some comments (questions) by way of response to your post, mainly to let folks know that I'm not ignoring you! ;-) . . . Thanks for your clarifications. I'm very pleased you decided to make such an extensive reply. Actually, I knew you would! And I plan to keep on bugging you with pesky questions into the foreseeable future, just as long as you'll put up with me!

Blessings to you and to your family in Christ.

* * *

86 comments:

Dave Armstrong said...

I found a passage where Erasmus speaks about the "spouse of God" terminology:

http://books.google.com/books?id=Zbq4IzccPqwC&pg=RA1-PA134&dq=%22spouse+of+God%22+spouse+OR+of+OR+the+OR+Holy+OR+Spirit,+OR+Luther,+OR+Calvin+OR+reformers&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&as_brr=3#v=onepage&q=%22spouse%20of%20God%22%20spouse%20OR%20of%20OR%20the%20OR%20Holy%20OR%20Spirit%2C%20OR%20Luther%2C%20OR%20Calvin%20OR%20reformers&f=false

Ken said...

I tried to find Augustine's sermon 208, both at

www.ccel.org/fathers.html

and

www.newadvent.org/fathers

cannot find it.

Where is it?

I posted this earlier at the original discussion; but meant for it to be here.

Ken said...

We grant that the RCC is not completely “anti-sex”; as it upholds marriage for laypeople, etc.

But it does seem to put celibacy on a higher, more holy status.

And the RCC does seem to be “anti-sex” for Mary. If it is “unfitting” and “inappropriate”, these words carry those implications; that it would be defiling if Joseph and Mary had a normal sexual marriage after Jesus was born.

Here is another RC author, a hermit, who promotes the same thing.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/TALMUD.HTM


From the earliest biblical days adultery carried with it a sense of defilement, so that a woman who had know [n] contact with another man, even if by force, was considered no longer fit to be visited by her husband

. . .

For when the angel revealed to him that Mary was truly the spouse of the Holy Spirit, Joseph could take Mary, his betrothed, into his house as a wife, but he could never have intercourse with her because according to the Law she was forbidden to him for all time.

. . .

By stating it in those terms the archangel declared to Mary that God would enter into a marital relationship with her, causing her to conceive His Son in her womb, For "to lay one's power <(reshuth)> over a woman" <(Targum to Dt> 21:4) was a euphemism for "to have a marital relationship with her."

. . .
Mary prohibited to Joseph
Having been enlightened by an angel in a dream regarding her pregnancy, and perhaps further by Mary concerning the words of the archangel Gabriel to her at the Annunciation, Joseph knew that God had conducted himself as a husband in regard to Mary. She was now prohibited to him for all time, and for the sake of the Child and Mary he could only live with her in an absolutely chaste relationship.
I was pointed to this example in Mary: A Catholic – Evangelical Debate, Dwight Longenecker and David Gustafson. Brazos; 2003, p. 88.

Dave Armstrong said...

I've added a bunch of Bible passages about "bride of God" to the end of the paper, as of 4 PM Sunday.

It's an altogether biblical metaphor and description. I submit that it is the insufficiently biblical nature of Protestantism that causes this to be any sort of issue at all.

Dave Armstrong said...

I found a source that called the reference "Serm. de Assump."

http://books.google.com/books?id=MagsAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA89&lpg=PA89&dq=The+Blessed,+Virgin+Mary+was+the+only+one+who+merited+to+be+called+the+Mother+and+Spouse+of+God+augustine&source=bl&ots=6NyHhM_guc&sig=ia66OP_xQwoMKcb7KZer8YjnzTc&hl=en&ei=NA2kSqi1IYrbnAe29oHuBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#v=onepage&q=The%20Blessed%2C%20Virgin%20Mary%20was%20the%20only%20one%20who%20merited%20to%20be%20called%20the%20Mother%20and%20Spouse%20of%20God%20augustine&f=false

Giovanni A. Cattaneo said...

Ken there is a guy in the Bible that said the same I think his name was Saul or Paul or something like that.

I guess he was Anti-sex too.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

My reason for questioning the "Spouse of the Holy Spirit" language is its connection to the PVM and Joseph's relationship to Mary, from which I don't want to get too sidetracked. I discussed this somewhat in earlier comments.

I still would like to know, though, why is the PVM fundamentally necessary to one's salvation?

To acknowledge that at least some early Church fathers and later others believed this doctrine is one thing. Why must I believe this doctrine in order to be saved? Which of those early Church fathers who believed in this doctrine taught that salvation was dependent on believing it? If you can cite some examples for me, I would very much appreciate it.

Ken said...

Giovanni wrote:
Ken there is a guy in the Bible that said the same I think his name was Saul or Paul or something like that.

I guess he was Anti-sex too.

Paul never said that a married person, like Mary and Joseph should refrain from sex forever. (only for a short time of prayer and fasting)

In fact, he told married people just the opposite - "stop depriving one another". and that the husband and wife have authority and rights over each others bodies. I Cor. 7:2-4

I Corinthians 7:2-7

So, no; the apostle Paul was not "anti-sex"; but the RCC is "anti-sex" for Mary and Joseph; yet they were married. Your documents and teachings say that it would be "unfitting" and "inappropriate"; implying something sinful and dirty and defiling. The illustrations of the arc of the covenant, etc. are full of this kind of language; so your church does seem to teach that it would be dirty and sinful for Mary and Joseph to have had sex after Jesus was born; in holy matrimony. The angel said, "do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife". Matthew 1

Your doctrine is refuted by the Scriptures.

Paul says to those who are unmarried, they they should consider staying unmarried in order to serve the Lord. I Cor. 7:25-35

But, because of I Cor. 7:7-9; he clearly teaches that not all can do this and that very few have the gift of singleness. In the context of Genesis 1-2 and that most people do get married in all cultures, the gift of singleness is rare and was never intended to be institutionalized, as it was in the RCC.

Since Joseph and Mary were indeed married, it is wrong to believe that they did not have a normal sexual, loving marriage after Jesus was born.

Pilgrimsarbour's question is a good one:
I still would like to know, though, why is the PVM fundamentally necessary to one's salvation?

We Protestants believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ, based on the Scriptures, the Word of God; so that should be enough.

The doctrine of the Virgin Birth is clearly protected by the word of God alone - Matthew 1:18-25; Luke chapters 1-2.

We don't need man-made traditions added to the word of God (Matthew 15; Mark 7) in order to protect this doctrine.

Martin said...

Hi Pilgramsarbor,
First an apology, I had read your name as "PilgramsHarbor" and was abrevieating it "PH". You patiently ignored my error, thank you.

You asked,"Why must I believe this doctrine in order to be saved"?

I answer, "Because its true".

Less concise answer, though I cannot tell you why the Church chose to define this particilar truth (though, if I weren't phone posting I could find DA's discussion of this just a while ago). I can tell you that in so defining this it is not a trap but a freedom. Remember solving a difficult math problem in school and feeling the world was a little bit bigger for the truth you then held? Same here, just bigger.

Hi Ken. You know the Catholic Church doesn't think sex is dirty. Why do you assert it?

Ken said...

Martin,
When the RCC teachings and documents say, sex is inappropriate and unfitting for Mary;[even after Jesus was born] then, yes, that is what it means, implying defilement and dirtiness; for Mary and Joseph, not for the regular laity.

I was very clear; I wrote, in summary "not for others", but "for Mary and Joseph, Yes". (inappropriate, and unfitting and that she as "the arc of the covenant" would be defiled definitely communicate this.)

The only reason for the PVM that Dave could give several years ago in our debates was that "it protects the doctrine of the Virgin Birth".

So, "because it is true" doesn't answer the question. How do you know its true? It is not true, because it is not in Scripture. In fact, the opposite is there:
"before they came together"
"don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife"
"Joseph kept her a virgin until she gave birth to Jesus, her first born son". heos hou is clearly a prepositional phrase communicating that a normal sexual, holy marriage would start after Jesus birth, according to the context and the rest of the Scriptures.

brothers and sisters of the Lord (in all the Gospels) not taking time to dig all those references out; you know the ones, Matthew 12, Mark 3, John 2, 7, etc.

opening the womb in Luke 2


Adomnan is wrong, Svendsen's work on heos hou was not refuted and it stands; along with lots of other argumentation.

Tertullian, Irenaeus "yet as virgin" [ implying that after Jesus' birth Mary and Joseph would have a normal marriage] - these 2 EC writers are older and deeper in history (writing around 180-220 AD) than the PVM advocate writers (350s onward); therefore we are deeper in history and Newman's statement is refuted, soundly.

Randy said...

The only reason for the PVM that Dave could give several years ago in our debates was that "it protects the doctrine of the Virgin Birth".

Really? Our Dave. The one that writes those long articles everyone complains about? All he can give muster up is 8 word to defend the PVM?

It is not true, because it is not in Scripture. In fact, the opposite is there:

This is why Sola Scriptura fails os badly. People cannot be honest with the scriptures. You can't tell me that Mary asking, Lk 1:34, "How can this be since I am a virgin?" does not imply she expected to stay a virgin. But you don't even acknowledge there is an argument. Just a flat "not in scripture".

This is God's word you are talking about. You know, the creator of the universe. His word to us. Before you glibly say "not in scripture" remember how serious a sin it is to lie about the word of God.

Adomnan is wrong, Svendsen's work on heos hou was not refuted and it stands; along with lots of other argumentation.

I read more of this than I care to admit. Svendsen seems to have serious problems with basic logic. He focuses on minor points where his case is strong and ignores huge holes even when they are pointed out to him. To call him refuted would imply he once had an argument that made some sense. I see him more as self-refuting.

Tertullian, Irenaeus "yet as virgin" [ implying that after Jesus' birth Mary and Joseph would have a normal marriage]

What? This seems like a real stretch. By saying "as virgin" they really mean she has lost her virginity? Even the words "normal marriage" are strange. Mary and Joseph had a normal marriage. You can have that and still choose not to engage in intercourse.

Ken said...

Hegesippus and Irenaeus, from Jason Engwer's, excellent "Catholic, but not Roman Catholic" series.

cited by Viisaus in the combox here at Beggar's All.

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2009/08/dave-armstrong-trying-to-argue-for.html

The church father Hegesippus apparently didn't believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Hegesippus refers to Jude as "the Lord's brother according to the flesh" (church history of Eusebius, 3:20). He refers elsewhere to Symeon, a "cousin of the Lord" (church history of Eusebius, 4:22). We know, then, that Hegesippus understood the differences between the Greek terms for "brother" and "cousin". He chose "brother", and added the words "according to the flesh", to describe Jesus' sibling named Jude.

8/21/02

Irenaeus refers to Mary giving birth to Jesus when she was "as yet a virgin" (Against Heresies, 3:21:10). The implication is that she didn't remain a virgin. Irenaeus compares Mary's being a virgin at the time of Jesus' birth to the ground being "as yet virgin" before it was tilled by mankind. The ground thereafter ceased to be virgin, according to Irenaeus, when it was tilled. The implication is that Mary also ceased to be a virgin. Elsewhere, Irenaeus writes:

"To this effect they testify, saying, that before Joseph had come together with Mary, while she therefore remained in virginity, 'she was found with child of the Holy Ghost;'" (Against Heresies, 3:21:4)

Irenaeus seems to associate "come together" with sexual intercourse. The implication is that Joseph and Mary had normal marital relations after Jesus was born.

Ken said...

Ken wrote:
The only reason for the PVM that Dave could give several years ago in our debates was that "it protects the doctrine of the Virgin Birth".

Randy responded:
Really? Our Dave. The one that writes those long articles everyone complains about? All he can give muster up is 8 word to defend the PVM?

I was unclear, I should have written, the only real reason as to why the PVM is necessary [for faith, salvation, to answer Pilgrimsarbour's question, as to why it is so really necessary, since we Protestants believe in the Virgin Birth, and that is enough]; Dave wrote that "it protects the doctrine of the Virgin Birth".

I did not form my thoughts right in that sentence; I did not mean that those 8 words are the only argumentation he gives for the PVM; but rather the only reason why it is so necessary to hold to and believe for faith, doctrine, and salvation; since all RCs must believe all dogmatically that the RCC tells it to. Another example of man made tradition and false gospel - and every creature under heaven must submit to the pope for salvation. (Unam Sanctum, Pope Boniface VIII, 1302 AD). Another obvious false doctrine and directly contradicts Galatians, Romans, John, Acts, everything in the Bible.

Ken said...

Randy wrote:

You can't tell me that Mary asking, Lk 1:34, "How can this be since I am a virgin?" does not imply she expected to stay a virgin. But you don't even acknowledge there is an argument. Just a flat "not in scripture".

The Scripture is indicating the Virgin Birth of Christ. It is obvious that Mary understands the angel's statement as something that will happen to her very soon, and Mary's answer in the present tense, "because I am not knowing a man" or "I do not know a man" or "I am not having sexual relations with a man". (since I am a virgin)

It has to at least teach the Virgin Birth of Christ, otherwise there would be no way to at least say that. Combined with Matthew 1:18 (before they came together)and 1:25 (until); it is obvious.

She does not say - "I will not know a man ever" nor "I have vowed to abstain from sexual relations", because she is betrothed to be married, and since both writers are emphasizing the virgin birth (Matthew 1:20-23; Luke 1:27 - Greek word, Parthenos twice for emphasis); this is obvious as to the meaning.

Dave Armstrong said...

Something that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Wesley believed "directly contradicts Galatians, Romans, John, Acts, everything in the Bible"????

That's quite a statement! But then, Protestantism is filled with marvels, so why should I be surprised?

Ken said...

They found it hard to shake off those old RCC man made traditions that had encrusted like barnacles; same for infant baptism; another man made tradition.

Martin said...

PA asked: I still would like to know, though, why is the PVM fundamentally necessary to one's salvation?

Martin answered: Because it's true

Ken replied: So, "because it is true" doesn't answer the question. How do you know its true?

Ken,
If I were to rephrase how I understood PA's question it would read, "Even IF the PVM were true, why would it's belief be necessary for salvation"?

My reply would then be more like, "Anything that we KNOW to be true about Gods' plan for our salvation would require our active assent. Not an "uh-huh, whatever you say".

The question of whether the Catholic Church is full of bean was not, IMHO, implied in the question itself.

Dave Armstrong said...

Right, Ken. That's always the standard response. I find that belittling to them as thinkers. Whenever they retained anything the least bit Catholic, here you guys come 500 years later with your trite, condescending, anti-Catholic take on it. It couldn't possibly be that they sincerely thought these things to be true, based on the biblical data, more or less independently of the Catholic tradition that you dread so much.

You're a perpetual Protestant cliche machine, Ken! :-)

Martin said...

I'm thinking out loud. If Joseph and Mary were married when the Angel appeared to her then why was she still a virgin then? The normal course of events is marriage ceremony and, that night, sealing the covenant. If she was a virgin when the Angel appeared to her something very non-standard was already going on.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Randy said...

You can't tell me that Mary asking, Lk 1:34, "How can this be since I am a virgin?" does not imply she expected to stay a virgin.

Yes I can. That's reading way too much into her statement. There is no such implication. In fact, she fully expected, like all Jewish young women who have been betrothed to someone, that she would have a healthy married sex life which would produce several children.

She is merely astonished that because she has never had sexual relations with any man, including her betrothed Joseph, she will nevertheless be with child. The angel goes to say that this shall come to pass by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by a man (Joseph).

Adomnan said...

Ken: It is obvious that Mary understands the angel's statement as something that will happen to her very soon,

Adomnan: Let me get this straight. Mary is betrothed and about to move in with her husband. According to you, she plans to have sex with Joseph and have kids with him. An angel shows up and tells her she will -- in the future! -- have a son who'll rule over the house of Jacob for ever. The angel doesn't say that she'll conceive the son immediately, and he doesn't say that the boy won't have a human father. Naturally, under the circumstances, Mary would assume this son would be born from her coming union with Joseph.

Only a vow of viginity on Mary's part (with Joseph's agreement, of course) would make her response to the angel comprehensible. Otherwise, it would be an extraordinarily inane thing for Mary to say.

Ken: and Mary's answer in the present tense, "because I am not knowing a man" or "I do not know a man" or "I am not having sexual relations with a man". (since I am a virgin)

Adomnan: In fact, the present tense proves that Mary plans to remain a virgin permanently. Otherwised, she would not say "I do not know man" but "I have not known man." "I do not know man" in the present tense is an affirmation of her resolution, as in "I do not eat meat," meaning "I do not eat meat ever."

Besides, don't you think Mary would figure the angel knew she was not currently having sexual relations? Why would she have to tell him that?

Her statement is not meant to supply information to the angel. It's meant to express her perplexity given that she had made a vow of virginity and could not, of course, see how she could have a child without breaking that vow. That's why the angel replies by explaining that the child will be conceived by the Holy Spirit, and not by a man.

Or, to put it another way, the only reason Luke included this part of the exchange between Mary and the angel was to underline that Mary was vowed to virginity, thus proving that Luke knew Mary was Ever-Virgin.

Ken: It has to at least teach the Virgin Birth of Christ, otherwise there would be no way to at least say that.

Adomnan: Oh, so, according to you, Mary was teaching the virgin birth of Christ to the angel. Now that doesn't make much sense, does it, Ken?

Adomnan said...

Ken (and Jason Engwer): He refers elsewhere to Symeon, a "cousin of the Lord" (church history of Eusebius, 4:22). He chose "brother", and added the words "according to the flesh", to describe Jesus' sibling named Jude.

Adomnan: Whoa! Hegesippus's remarks actually prove our point that "brothers of the Lord" are cousins.

Symeon is a form of the name Simon. Well, Matthew includes this Simon among the brothers of the Lord: (Matthew 2:13) "his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude." This is the same Symeon that Hegesippus calls a "cousin" of the Lord, thus proving that Hegesippus knew the Lord's "brothers" were in fact His cousins.

Moreover, cousins are relations "according to the flesh," just as brothers are. So, Engwer's assertion that Hegesippus's use of this phrase somehow implies a closer relationship than cousin between Jesus and Symeon/Simon is simply stupid.

Given that Engwer plays this fast and loose with his sources, I wouldn't waste my time on any of his stuff. Please cite someone reliable if you want to document a point, Ken.

Martin said...

As I re-read Luke I see Joseph and Mary are "espoused". Nowhere do I see "married". Am I wrong?

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: "...she fully expected...that she would have a healthy married sex life which would produce several children.

"She is merely astonished that because she has never had sexual relations with any man, including her betrothed Joseph, she will nevertheless be with child."

Adomnan: Surely you can see the glaring contradiction in these statements. Mary, according to you, fully expected to have children. The angel told her -- in the future tense! -- that she WOULD have a son who would rule Israel. Now, I can see that she'd be astonished that her son would rule the House of Jacob for ever. However, I cannot see how she could be astonished by the mere prospect of havng a son, given your presupposition.

In fact, Mary found it more astonishing and perplexing that she would one day give birth than that her son would be an eternal king! How do you account for that?

Adomnan said...

Dave said: You're a perpetual Protestant cliche machine, Ken! :-)

Adomnan: So true! Ken is an agreeable enough person. But he's like a broken record. I'm sure he's had this debate over Mary's perpetual virginity before. And when this round peters out, he'll bring it up again in several months just as if he hadn't "been there, done that." Same vehement assertions, same weak arguments, same citations of Svendsen and Engwer.

Sigh. It's not called "invincible ignorance" for nothing.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Exactly. Mary knew from the beginning that the angel was not speaking of the normal procreation of a typical human being, hence her reaction: "How will this be since I am a virgin?"

In encompasses both her astonishment at being pregnant without sexual relations and her astonishment at Whom it will be in her womb.

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbout: Exactly. Mary knew from the beginning that the angel was not speaking of the normal procreation of a typical human being, hence her reaction: "How will this be since I am a virgin?"

Adomnan: But Jesus was a typical human being. In fact, he was the archetypical human being.

But, aside from that, your statement makes no sense. If Mary already knew that this "procreation" wouldn't be "normal," then why did she have to ask?

Pilgrimsarbour: It encompasses both her astonishment at being pregnant without sexual relations and her astonishment at Whom it will be in her womb.

Adomnan: But the angel didn't say she was pregnant. He said she would be pregnant in the future.

It isn't until after she states she "doesn't know man" (i.e., is vowed to virginity) that the angel tells her she'll conceive without sex. Basically, the angel answered her question, which was, "How can I have a son when I don't have sex?" Answer: "By the Holy Spirit."

"Who," by the way, would be correct in your sentence. Not "Whom."

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Thanks for the correction, but I think we're at an impasse on this issue.

Be well.

Ken said...

Dave wrote:
Right, Ken. That's always the standard response.

Truth never changes!

Ken said...

Adomnan: In fact, the present tense proves that Mary plans to remain a virgin permanently.

No; the present tense preserves the idea that the Scriptures are, in context, teaching us, that Jesus was born of a virgin; so that He is God-in the flesh.

The past tense would not have been enough to teach the Virgin Birth; and the future tense would be required for your view of PVM to be true.

So, you loose the whole argument.

Amazing that you don't see Luke (and the Holy Spirit's God-breathed intention here concerning the virgin birth.) It shows that Mary and Joseph were godly believers and would not have sex during the betrothal period and she was not planning to until after they were formally married. Your view of the PVM (of a life-long vow and what the RCC teaches) requires that it would have had to be in the future tense, "I will not know a man" and it would also be even more clear if the inspired writer had used a common Greek construction of the double negative ( ou mae ) Your view requires that the text had to have "never" in it. "ou mae" [I am not taking the time to struggle with Greek fonts in the comboxes] as in John 10:28 "they will never (ou mae) perish" and Galatians 5:16 "walk by the Spirit and you will not (ou mae) carry out the desires of the flesh", etc.


Otherwised, she would not say "I do not know man" but "I have not known man."

No; that would not cover the immediate future of the rest of the time until the betrothal period is up or until after Jesus is born( and the angel says to Matthew, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife", etc. and "he kept her a virgin until ( heos hou) she gave birth to a son", etc.

"I do not know man" in the present tense is an affirmation of her resolution, as in "I do not eat meat," meaning "I do not eat meat ever."

That is one way that the present tense can be understood, by simply grammar with no context; but in the context here of the betrothal and marriage, it is wrong. For the PVM doctrine to really be there, it would require the "ever" or "never" or future tense, which could have been written easily in Greek by both Matthew and Luke. But, verb tenses must be interpreted in their context, and Matthew and Luke give the contextual meaning of what we are saying more than what your view says. Context is the key to sound interpretation.

Ken said...

Adomnan wrote:
Or, to put it another way, the only reason Luke included this part of the exchange between Mary and the angel was to underline that Mary was vowed to virginity, thus proving that Luke knew Mary was Ever-Virgin.

No; it does not teach a vow at all. Luke was the author and writes his gospel with the express purpose of so that the recipient (s) "know the exact truth of what you have been taught" (orally, where catechism comes from) (Luke 1:4) He could have easily written something about "keeping a vow" as he, the same author did in Acts 18:18 and 21:23. He investigated everything thoroughly and probably went back and interviewed Mary herself. (Luke 1:1-4; Luke 2:19) Your PVM view is defeated.

Ken: It has to at least teach the Virgin Birth of Christ, otherwise there would be no way to at least say that.

Adomnan: Oh, so, according to you, Mary was teaching the virgin birth of Christ to the angel. Now that doesn't make much sense, does it, Ken?

No; where on earth did you get that? I am saying the Scriptures are teaching the Virgin Birth of Jesus to the readers and to us. It (the Scriptures) has to at least teach the virgin birth (the present tense and Mary's question shows that); but it (the Scriptures) does not go as far as you and teach the PVM.

As Dave writes sometimes, "this is not rocket science"; you guys put your man-made traditions above the Scripture, because if one of the RCC dogmas is wrong, then your whole RCC claim falls as "the infallible church that Jesus founded".

He founded the apostolic, Biblical, early, catholic church; but not the Roman Catholic church.

This PVM was one of the "first steps" of the over-exaltation of Mary.

And, no one has answered Pilgrimsarbour's (and mine)question yet.

Why is the PVM necessary for faith or salvation? (since believing Protestants believe in the virgin birth of Christ)

Adomnan said...

Ken: That is one way that the present tense can be understood, by simply grammar...

Adomnan: You just eliminated the entire grammatical part of your argument here -- the business about "ou me" and "never" and the rest -- by conceding that Mary's answer can be understood as I understand it "by simply grammar," as is. So we can dispense with all of that.

Ken: but in the context here of the betrothal and marriage, it is wrong.

Adomnan: So your point is that Mary felt she had to reassure the angel that she wasn't engaging in sexual intercourse illicitly, before her formal marriage. As you put it, "It shows that Mary and Joseph were godly believers and would not have sex during the betrothal period and she was not planning to until after they were formally married."

Your position that Mary was reassuring the angel that she wasn't a loose woman (was "godly") is so stupid as to refute itself.

Again, Mary's question was not intended to convey information to the angel about her and Joseph's current sexual relationship or lack thereof, but was rather an expression of perplexity and astonishment, as Pilgrimsarbour recognizes. There was no reason for this perplexity unless Mary intended to remain a virgin forever.

Adomnan said...

Ken: (Luke) could have easily written something about "keeping a vow" ...

Adomnan: Now you're telling Luke how he should have expressed things. I guess he could have used you as an editor.

Seriously, let's just deal with what Luke actually wrote, not hypotheticals about what he should have written (according to you) if he wanted to say this or that.

"I know not man" is Mary's resolution, her chosen way of life. The fact that it is a vow is shown by her perplexity over the angel's announcement that she will have a son. She is wondering, "Why is God telling me I'll have a son when He knows I vowed to Him that I would remain a virgin forever." There is no other way to account for Mary's perplexity. If she had no intention of remaining a virgin, then she would have expressed astonishment about the eternal greatness of her son-to-be, not about the mere fact that she would give birth.

Ken: I am saying the Scriptures are teaching the Virgin Birth of Jesus to the readers and to us.

Adomnnan: But not to the angel? Her question/statement was to the angel, not to us. So you're saying that Mary asked this inane question because she knew that some day it would be written down in what we call the Bible? That's rather far-fetched. But, if so, she should have come up with something that made sense. (Of course, I only find your interpretation of Mary's question inane, not the question itself correctly interpreted.)

Ken: It (the Scriptures) has to at least teach the virgin birth (the present tense and Mary's question shows that); but it (the Scriptures) does not go as far as you and teach the PVM.

Adomnan: And so the scriptures, according to you, wouldn't be teaching the virgin birth without this inane (given your interp) question from Mary? What about the rest of Luke? What about Matthew? In fact, Mary's question to the angel ("How can this be, given that I know not man?") could easily be omitted, and the virgin birth would still be clear from the angel's declarations alone.

Therefore, the point of Mary's question was not so much to teach the virgin birth of Christ as to teach Mary's own dedication to a life of virginity, and that's why Luke included it in his gospel (without your editing).

Ken said...

Adomnan,
And you just illiminated sound exegesis and sound thinking because you ignore the context.

Your Greek must be shallow, because everyone knows that syntactical issues and context have to be taken into account, and there are several options for every tense of a verb. I was admitting that there are several ways to interpret the Present tense. It must be based on syntax and context; you ignore both syntactical skill and context.

It is not a "customary Present" (like "I don't smoke" or "I don't eat meat", but a "Progressive Present" (not in the past and not now knowing a man); ie, "I am a virgin, I have never had sex before and am not now. (and understood won't for a while until we are formally married)"

Adomnan said...

Ken: And, no one has answered Pilgrimsarbour's (and mine)question yet.

Why is the PVM necessary for faith or salvation? (since believing Protestants believe in the virgin birth of Christ)

Adomnan: Okay, I'll answer it.

We all agree that faith is necessary for salvation. What is faith? It is assent to what God has revealed. If we do not assent to what God has revealed, then we lack faith and so lack salvation.

We Catholics believe that God has revealed that Mary is Ever-Virgin. If you don't assent to this, once it has been declared to you and is understood, then you are not assenting to what God has revealed and so you lack faith and salvation.

That's why St. Thomas Aquinas writes that no one who rejects any revealed truth has saving faith.

Or, to put it another way, if you had God's gift of faith you would believe everything the Church teaches.

Martin said...

"I am a virgin, I have never had sex before and am not now. (and understood won't for a while until we are formally married)"
Wed Sep 09, 11:16:00 AM EDT

And the Angel answers (in future tense)

31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.

So, one day, after you are really married, you will have a son named Jesus...nothing about a virgin birth there.

Randy said...

But, verb tenses must be interpreted in their context, and Matthew and Luke give the contextual meaning of what we are saying more than what your view says. Context is the key to sound interpretation.

Yes, context is important. The trouble is you just assume the context helps you. It does not. Mary is betrothed. The angel has said to her "You will be with child and give birth to a son". So the context is future. Whether she is a virgin now is not the issue. If she was planning to have sexual relations with Joseph after marriage the whole statment is nonsense. The angel did not have to tell her that she needed to remain a virgin until after Jesus was born. He did not need to tell Joseph either. This was already the plan for their marriage. Otherwise, "do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife" would mean consumating the marriage before the birth.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

We all agree that faith is necessary for salvation. What is faith? It is assent to what God has revealed. If we do not assent to what God has revealed, then we lack faith and so lack salvation.

That's generally good as far as it goes, but it is overly broad and at the same time not complete.

For example, should we count a knowledge of the genealogies God has revealed to us in Scripture as necessary for our salvation? How about geographical locations in the Bible? The numbers of fish caught in nets (a la Harold Camping)? All this is to say that God has revealed many things in the Scriptures (and, you would say, His Church) which have little or no bearing on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I think you, as a Catholic, would be quick to clarify that only those things the Roman Catholic Church has declared infallibly are necessary for salvation, since there appears to be some latitude within the Church for diversity of belief in other areas.

As a Reformed Protestant, I would add that the fiducial element of saving faith is absent in this formula. The fiducial element is the element of trust. That trust is in the person and work of Jesus Christ as He faithfully executes His offices of Prophet, Priest and King in righteousness through His life (active obedience), death (passive obedience), resurrection and glorification. Of course, to us, this righteousness is then imputed to the believer for this salvation. I sometimes tell my children, by way of imperfect American legislative analogy, that believers are like a rider attached to a congressional bill (Christ). If the bill passes, and it will because it has already been accepted by the Father, then the riders are accepted also. I'm not looking to get into the question of justification, imputed vs. infused righteousness, etc. I just wanted to fill out the formula somewhat as Reformed Protestants see it.

There is much more, of course, that I have not discussed regarding faith, repentance, effectual calling, regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification. Also, "mental assent" only vs. evidence of regeneration and renewed life (fruits of the Spirit), and so on. In fact, your description of assent to God's revealed truth (mental assent or belief) sounds Evangelical Protestant! ;-)

Perhaps you could expand on your answer so I can get a better idea of what you're saying. I still don't understand why I can't be saved without believing in the PVM. In other words, of everything God has revealed in the Scriptures (or elsewhere), why that?

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: For example, should we count a knowledge of the genealogies God has revealed to us in Scripture as necessary for our salvation? How about geographical locations in the Bible? The numbers of fish caught in nets (a la Harold Camping)?

Adomnan: I'm not a fundamentalist or a biblical literalist and therefore do not count any of these things as "revelation." They may be historical in some cases; they may be legendary; they may be colorful details in an inspired fiction. The books of the Bible are inspired in a way that is consistent with their several genres, and these genres include short novels (Ruth), historical fiction (Esther), tall tales (Jonah), and others. Where the Bible isn't "historically accurate," it is because the writers didn't intend to be historically accurate in our sense.

What is divinely revealed is what the Church teaches as articles of faith. The perpetual virginity of Mary would be one of these.

As you wrote, "only those things the Roman Catholic Church has declared infallibly are necessary for salvation."

Pilgrimsarbour: All this is to say that God has revealed many things in the Scriptures (and, you would say, His Church) which have little or no bearing on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Adomnan: It seems to me that you're confusing faith with its objects. You almost seem to be saying that faith is only faith in the gospel. The gospel is one object of faith, something that God has revealed. However, faith itself is a disposition or "virtue" that enables us to assent to everything God reveals. God has revealed truths other than the gospel. If we don't believe these, then we lack the God-given virtue of faith.

You can think of faith, I would suggest, as a power, like seeing. If you fail to see what God has revealed then you are spiritually blind, an analogy frequent in the Bible. Spiritual blindness is another way of saying lack of faith.

Pilgrimsarbour: As a Reformed Protestant, I would add that the fiducial element of saving faith is absent in this formula. The fiducial element is the element of trust. That trust is in the person and work of Jesus Christ as He faithfully executes His offices of Prophet, Priest and King..,

Adomnan: I would disagree with you strongly here. I don't think Christian faith is a matter of "trust" at all. You won't find a lot of trust in the NT. You will, of course, find faith.

Again, faith is nothing more or less than assent to what God reveals. In fact, I would go so far as to say that trust, as Protestants understand it, is inconsistent with true faith.

Why is that? Trust is only required when there is uncertainty that something will be accomplished, which cannot occur when the outcome has been divinely revealed.

For example, the ancient Israelites might well trust God to give them victory in a battle. Trust would be appropriate in this instance because God was not obliged to give them victory. However, if a prophet had revealed that God would give the Israelites victory, then their expectation of victory would not be a matter of trust but of faith.

That's why there is no "trust" in the gospel of faith in St. Paul or St. John. And there's little trust in Christ, either. Paul did not doubt what God had revealed in Christ, and thus he had no need to trust. We are called to believe in the gospel, not trust in it.

Can you cite a passage in the NT where anyone says he trusts God will do something He has revealed He will do?

So, one could say that, just as love casts out fear, so faith casts out trust. Certainly, there are times when we need to trust God, but believing revealed truth is not among them.

Adomnan said...

Ken: Your Greek must be shallow,

Adomnan: I can read biblical Greek as effortlessly as I read the morning paper. I just read the Iliad and the Odyssey in the original. I have three very good Greek grammars here, all of which I've read. My favorite is Goodwin's Greek Grammar from 1892, which seems to cover everything. Beyond that, I have a feel and talent for languages (including highly inflected ones). I know 14, many of which I've used in a professional capacity, often at a high level.

Ken: because everyone knows that syntactical issues and context have to be taken into account, and there are several options for every tense of a verb.

Adomnan: I don't know about "every tense." The future perfect, for example, doesn't have many options when it comes to meaning. But your point is well-taken. And, of course, I am aware of all of these options.

Ken: I was admitting that there are several ways to interpret the Present tense. It must be based on syntax and context; you ignore both syntactical skill and context.

Adomnan: I don't know why you're harping so much on this syntax business. Mary's question to the angel is quite simple syntactically. It almost couldn't be simpler.

Ken: It is not a "customary Present" (like "I don't smoke" or "I don't eat meat", but a "Progressive Present"

Adomnan: This is a mere unsupported assertion on your part. The customary present and progressive present have the same form, and so, syntactically (as you put it), Mary's question could be either one. As Martin and Randy have pointed out, your "interpretation" makes no sense, while interpreting it as a customary present does.

Here's what Goodwin's Greek Grammar has to say about it: "The present often expresses a customary or repeated action in present tense; as 'houtos men hydor, ego de oinon pino,' 'he drinks water, and I drink wine.'"

And, just so, Mary says "andra ou ginosko," which means "I don't know man," i.e., "I don't have sex" -- like "I don't drink wine."

Adomnan said...

It might be helpful if I clarify my comments on faith and trust a bit more.

The Reformers said that faith consisted of three elements, notitia (information or knowledge, i.e., what is revealed); assensus (assent to what is revealed); and fiducia (trust that God will do what he has revealed).

The first two elements are valid; and they, of course, fit with my definition of faith as assent to what God has revealed.

But for the Reformers, it was no longer enough just to believe what God had revealed or promised. One now had to take a second step,that of trusting that God would fulfill what He had promised. This second step was an innovation, absent from earlier Christianity. It grew out of the doubt, anxiety and faithlessness of the early modern period. Earlier Christians had no need to trust God's promises, because it never occurred to them to doubt them.

We Catholics stick to the faith of the Apostolic Church. It's a one-step process. We believe, that is, we accept what God has revealed and promised. Full stop.

Randy said...

Pilgrimsarbour,

I did quote your comment on my blog.

here

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken said...

Adomnan: I can read biblical Greek as effortlessly as I read the morning paper. I just read the Iliad and the Odyssey in the original. I have three very good Greek grammars here, all of which I've read. My favorite is Goodwin's Greek Grammar from 1892, which seems to cover everything. Beyond that, I have a feel and talent for languages (including highly inflected ones). I know 14, many of which I've used in a professional capacity, often at a high level.

most impressive, indeed. I will have to take you at your word on that.

The Iliad and Odessy are in Classical Greek, right? Isn't that different than Koine Greek?

Is it your native, heart language?

If I may be so bold to ask, what do you do for a profession? Are you a professor or teacher or monk or priest?

Still, since you are obviously familiar with all the syntactical and contextual choices within Greek verb forms; then you will admit that the "Progressive Present/with Perfect force" is possible on the grammar.

Our position is that you should admit that the "Progressive Present with Perfect force" ( "I have not known a man intimately and I am not knowing a man now") better fits the context of verse 18, "before they came together" and verse 25, "kept her a virgin (literally, "did not know her until") until she brought forth a son". "Don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife" makes no sense in your view. "as your wife" - I Cor. 7:2-9 - the vow of perpetual virginity within marriage would be a sin; and God does not approve of sin.

Also, the "brothers of the Lord" passages, within the same book of Matthew; and also Luke and Mark and John show us that the virgin birth was true, but perpetual virginity is not true.

Also, you cannot just ignore the point that Luke was the author and he wrote Acts and he spoke about vows there. It would have made it clear if he had used "for she was keeping her vow" (of Perpetual virginity).

So, I will repeat my point on that because I think it is compelling and strong and you dismissed it without any evidence.

No; it does not teach a vow at all. Luke was the author and writes his gospel with the express purpose of so that the recipient (s) "know the exact truth of what you have been taught" (orally, where catechism comes from) (Luke 1:4) He could have easily written something about "keeping a vow" as he, the same author did in Acts 18:18 and 21:23. He investigated everything thoroughly and probably went back and interviewed Mary herself. (Luke 1:1-4; Luke 2:19) Your PVM view is defeated.

Ken said...

Adomnan wrote:
. . . historical fiction (Esther), tall tales (Jonah), and others.

You don't think Esther or Jonah is historical narrative, real history?

If not, why?

Adomnan said...

Ken: The Iliad and Odessy are in Classical Greek, right? Isn't that different than Koine Greek?

Adomnan: The Iliad and Odyssey are in what is called the Epic dialect, sometimes the Homeric dialect. This is different from both Classical Attic Greek and Koine Greek. However, all of these dialects are mutually intelligible, and the grammar is very similar. Epic Greek has a larger variety of forms because it draws on several archaic dialects.

The differences between Classical Attic and Koine Greek are minor. Koine Greek has levels of cultivation and can be more or less Classically correct. Luke is much more correct than the author of Revelations, for instance.

As you probably know, "koine dialectos" just means "common dialect." Classical Attic and Koine are so similar that I think it's stretching it to call them separate dialects.

Ken: Is it your native, heart language?

Adomnan: I'd say ancient Greek is my favorite language, particularly the Epic dialect, spoken with Classical Attic pronunciation, which is how it would have been recited in Plato's day.

Ken: If I may be so bold to ask, what do you do for a profession? Are you a professor or teacher or monk or priest?

Adomnan: I'd rather not say, if you don't mind. However, I will tell you that I'm not in any of those professions you mentioned. If I were a monk or a priest, I'd certainly be more eirenic and less pugnacious!

Adomnan said...

Ken: Still, since you are obviously familiar with all the syntactical and contextual choices within Greek verb forms; then you will admit that the "Progressive Present/with Perfect force" is possible on the grammar.

Adomnan: Possible, perhaps. But it seems to me that the customary present is more probable, even just as a matter of grammar. You see, if Luke wanted to use a "progressive present" here, he could have done so more effectively by employing a participial phrase in the genitive absolute construction; i.e. (using "ee" to represent eta): "Pos estai touto, emou andra mee ginoskousees?," making it clear that the action of the participle was just a temporary circumstance. Luke actually writes, "Pos esti touto, epei andra ou ginosko?," and the "andra ou ginosko" fits much better with a customary present; i.e., "I know not man."

Adomnan said...

Ken: Our position is that you should admit that the "Progressive Present with Perfect force" ( "I have not known a man intimately and I am not knowing a man now") better fits the context of verse 18.

Adomnan: I'm not sure what you mean by "progressive present with perfect force." As you know, Greek has a present perfect tense/aspect, and Luke could have used this if he wanted to. But he didn't.

"The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek" by Albert Rijksbaron -- that's a fourth Greek grammar book I have; I'd forgotten about that one -- has a note that says, "In the case of verbs of saying and perception the present indicative may be used even if the state of affairs of 'saying' and 'perceiving' has been completed." We do this in English, too. There's nothing mysterious about it. At any rate, this very infrequent use of the present indicative certainly doesn't apply in the case of the verse we're discussing. "Ginosko" is not a verb of saying or perceiving in this context (since it means "have sex").

Ken, you shouldn't pick up Greek grammars and try to piece together the recondite meaning of Greek syntax on the basis of poorly understood rules you happen across. If you don't have a real feel for or knowledge of the language, you'll merely be going down rabbit holes.

In my experience, when people try to learn a language just by memorizing rules and applying them mechanically, it never comes out right. This is a problem that Svendsen and White have, too.

Adomnan said...

Ken: "Don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife" makes no sense in your view. "as your wife" - I Cor. 7:2-9 - the vow of perpetual virginity within marriage would be a sin; and God does not approve of sin.

Adomnan: Randy pointed out the fallacy in your claiming that "take Mary home as your wife" means "have sex with Mary." Given your interpretation, "do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife" would mean consummating the marriage before the birth, because Joseph took Mary home as his wife before Jesus was born.

Paul's advice in 1 Cor 7:2-9 applies only if one of the spouses wants to have sex. If both agree to forgo sex, then they are free to abstain from it forever. We Catholics call this "spiritual marriage," and we believe, of course, that this was the sort of marriage that Mary had with Joseph, "her most chaste spouse."

The biblical basis for this belief is Mary's vow of virginity, as set forth in Luke. Naturally, Joseph honored this vow. They were truly married, but in a spiritual marriage.

Surely you wouldn't say that a married man and woman who voluntarily agreed to abstain from sex forever would be committing a sin? In other words, that they'd have to have sex, if they didn't want to, to avoid sinning?

Ken said...

You are right about the Perfect tense - he could have used that, but didn't.

ἔγνωκα


The emphasis seems to be progressive/continuous present, "I am not (now) knowing a male".

The same for my point that he could have used the vow statement, that he does in Acts 18:18 and 21:23.

But he didn't.

Mary spent three months with Elizabeth (Luke 1:56) and Matthew seems to really telescope the whole thing in Matthew 1:18.

If you know Biblical Greek as well as reading the newspaper, then you are way ahead of me; I admit that.

But I can work with it. Svendsen and White's works are very good. I don't think you give them the credit they deserve.

I remember you demonstrated you know Latin before here;

Do you know Hebrew and Arabic as well?

What are the 14 languages you know?

That is an amazing resume. You must be some kind of anthropologist or linguist.

Ken said...

Given your interpretation, "do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife" would mean consummating the marriage before the birth, because Joseph took Mary home as his wife before Jesus was born.

Not at all; no.
Why? Because he clearly tells the reason "for" (gar) that which in her has been conceived (lit. born, begotten, birthed, brought forth)is from the Holy Spirit."

μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαμ τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου·


The reason was not so they could have sex before Jesus was born, (mn genoito! God forbid!) the reason was because it was the Holy Spirit who conceived the baby.

Adomnan said...

Ken: (Luke) could have easily written something about "keeping a vow"

Adomnan: He was quoting Mary's words to the angel, wasn't he? Are you suggesting he should have altered them? Mary said, "I know not man." In the circumstances, as we have explained repeatedly, she is declaring her vow of virginity. No other explanation makes sense, because there is no reason for her to explain to the angel or to us that she has not had sex in the past and doesn't plan to in the near future. It would simply be absurd for her to say something so stupid. The angel wasn't dealing with Britney Spears, after all.

By the way, did you know that "Britney Spears" was an anagram of "Presbyterians"?

Ken said...

Surely you wouldn't say that a married man and woman who voluntarily agreed to abstain from sex forever would be committing a sin? In other words, that they'd have to have sex, if they didn't want to, to avoid sinning?

God never mentions this kind of thing anywhere in Scripture.

There in I Cor. 7, it is the opposite, "stop depriving one another", and the voluntary time period was temporary for a season of prayer (by agreement for a time), then come together again (similar concept to Matthew 1:18).

Seems Gnostic. Certainly there are marriages where because of health reasons (disease, sicknesses), accidents (being paralyzed, etc.), frailty, age; this may apply to one or both of the spouses, but this does not seem to be normal.

Ken said...

Are you suggesting he should have altered them?

No; I am say if Mary had actually meant that; she would have said it, "I am keeping a vow to never know a man". So, Mary would have said it, if it was true.

Ken said...

By the way, did you know that "Britney Spears" was an anagram of "Presbyterians"?

No; I did not know that. Are you joking or is that really true?

Her father or her agent? rearranging the letters to form her name?

Ken said...

Luke is much more correct than the author of Revelations, for instance.

That's Revelation.

Yes, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, I Peter and James are higher Greek literature than the other NT books.

Ken said...

I was thinking you might be Mitchell Pacwa, since you know so many languages.

But you are right; you couldn't be him; he is not a feisty as you. (LOL)

Adomnan said...

Ken: There in I Cor. 7, it is the opposite, "stop depriving one another"

Adomnan: If neither wants sex, then neither is deprived.

Adomnan said...

Ken: That's Revelation

Adomnan: The Apocalypse.

I always mess up when I try to talk "Protestant." It's not one of my 14 languages.

Adomnan said...

Ken: No; I am say if Mary had actually meant that; she would have said it, "I am keeping a vow to never know a man". So, Mary would have said it, if it was true.

Adomnan: Mary was a humble, plain-spoken Jewish girl. She didn't waste words. "I know not man" got the idea across.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Sorry to post and run. I have not had time to read any of the comments here for a bit.

I have a new post which deals with the nature of faith as I have previously discussed it with Adomnan here:

http://the-porters-lodge.blogspot.com

When I get more time, I'll get back into the combox.

Adomnan said...

Ken: No; I did not know that. Are you joking or is that really true?

Adomnan: It's true. Just rearrange the letters and you'll see.

Ken: Her father or her agent? rearranging the letters to form her name?

Adomnan: I don't think it was intentional. Just a rather striking coincidence.

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbout: I have a new post which deals with the nature of faith as I have previously discussed it with Adomnan here.

Adomnan: I read PA's post. Most of it doesn't really touch on the comments I made. Pilgrimsarbour provides a number of citations from the Old Testament that commend or recommend trust in God. However, I had already acknowledged in my previous posts that trust in God was appropriate in certain circumstances. In the examples PA provides, this trust is a matter of a general reliance on God, not belief in specific truths that God has revealed.

On the other hand, all of the examples he supplies from the New Testament are examples of faith, not trust. And in every one of these this faith is assent to a specific revelation of God (including Jesus Christ Himself, who as the Word, is God's revelation).

Therefore, PA's biblical survey reinforces my point; namely, that faith is solely assent to what God has revealed and does not involve any element of "trust." Trust is an entirely separate concept. Trust, unlike faith, is required where there is no revelation or when there is a possibility of deception or failure to deliver on a promise. We trust a friend to repay a loan because we realize there is a possibility he won't. If we were certain he would repay (say, if God had revealed it), then we wouldn't have to trust him,

When God reveals or promises something and we accept that revelation, we do not have to trust Him to tell the truth or make good on His revealed promises. He is God. We only have to believe Him.

In dealing with God, trust only comes into the picture when faith is lacking, because trust means that we are entertaining the possibility that He might fail or deceive us.

Let's look more closely at one of Pilgrimsarbour's comments:

"However, within the context of a discussion of faith and works, James said this:
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (James 2:18-19).

"We see that James acknowledges that faith cannot be merely assent to God's revelation of Himself and His precepts, for even the demons "believe" in Christ. But it is not a belief unto salvation. They do not "trust" in Him for eternal life as God's elect do."

In fact, this passage from James reinforces my point that faith is nothing other than assent to what God has revealed. PA appears to be drawing an unwarranted distinction between faith and believing. However, in Greek, "believe" (pisteuo) is just the verbal form of "faith" (pistis). To believe, then, is to assent to what God has revealed. Obviously, as James says, the demons do this, because they know that what God has revealed is true. So demons have "faith." They do not, however, have "trust" in God, as PA asserts quite correctly. Therefore, it is clear from this passage that faith, which the demons possess, does not include trust, which the demons lack, and is solely a matter of acknowledging what God has revealed But this has been my contention all along.

Just to reinforce this point, note that the object of the demons' belief/faith (again, same word in Greek) is a specific revealed truth; namely, that God is one. So faith in this passage is clearly restricted to assent to revelation, excluding even a hint of trust.

Finally, I need hardly add that, as a Catholic, I know that faith (assent to revelation) is only saving if it is accompanied by love and hope.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

The reason we need to trust in Christ is not because He is untrustworthy, but because we are frail in our sins and are not capable of extending our faith beyond that which the Lord Himself has extended to us:

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Why does Jesus call His words "trustworthy?"

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true" (Revelation 21:5).

and also here:

And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place" (Revelation 22:6).

Here Paul says:

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:9).

Paul is not speaking of his own message, but that which was delivered to him by Christ, which he is faithfully passing along.

No, I don't buy the premise that trust is an unnecessary (or even sinful!) element of faith.

I would be interested to know if Catholicism officially teaches that trust in Jesus Christ is unnecessary to salvation, and where might I find that in the catechism or other documents?

Also, are there any other Catholics here that think trust in Christ is unnecessary?

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Pilgrimsarbour provides a number of citations from the Old Testament that commend or recommend trust in God. However, I had already acknowledged in my previous posts that trust in God was appropriate in certain circumstances. In the examples PA provides, this trust is a matter of a general reliance on God, not belief in specific truths that God has revealed.

You're saying that we should trust and rely on God for everything except His salvation provision?

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: The reason we need to trust in Christ is not because He is untrustworthy, but because we are frail in our sins and are not capable of extending our faith beyond that which the Lord Himself has extended to us:

Adomnan: Well, okay. But if I understand you correctly, you are simply saying here that we have to trust Christ in those things that haven't been revealed ("beyond that which the Lord Himself has extended to us").

I would agree with this. However, I would prefer to use the New Testament language and say that we "hope" in Christ, not that we "trust" in Him. Hope is not as presumptuous as trust, because trust makes claims on people, whereas hope just, well, hopes. If Christ hasn't promised us something, then we have no claim on Him. If He has promised something, then that is a matter of revelation that we should accept with faith, not trust.

I don't see how your quote from Ephesians is relevant. It doesn't speak of trust.

All of the other citations you provided translate as "trustworthy" a Greek word that is a an adjective referring to faith, i.e., "pistos." It means something more like "faithworthy," but of course we don't have that word in English and so "trustworthy" is the best we can do. But the Greek root really refers to faith, not trust.

Ken: I would be interested to know if Catholicism officially teaches that trust in Jesus Christ is unnecessary to salvation, and where might I find that in the catechism or other documents?

Adomnan: I know that the Council of Trent's Decree on Justification referred to "the vain confidence of the heretics," and I think this is aimed at the Reformers' "trust." However, I don't know if the Latin for "confidence" here is actually "fiducia" or some other word. I'll have to look it up on line.

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: You're saying that we should trust and rely on God for everything except His salvation provision?

Adomnan: We don't have to trust anything that we believe God has revealed. We don't have to "trust" that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification. We either accept this as revealed by God, or we don't. Similarly, we don't rely on God to be one or to have raised Christ from the dead.

"I trust that Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose for my justification" is an act of hesitation, not an act of faith.

Paul had no doubt that God existed, that He was one, and that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. There was no room in his soul for "trust" about these things. It wouldn't even have occurred to him. It's only when people start to question these things that they feel the need to trust in them.

I'm just insisting on a biblical use of language.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I don't see how your quote from Ephesians is relevant. It doesn't speak of trust.

It does if one sees faith and trust as integral. I understand completely that you do not see trust as an element of faith, so the quote doesn't register with you.

Adomnan said...

The Latin word for "confidence" in the phrase "vain confidence of the heretics" from the Council of Trent's Decree on Justification is indeed the Reformers' "fiducia."

Caput 9. Contra inanem hæreticorum fiduciam

Section 9: Against the vain confidence of the heretics

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: It does if one sees faith and trust as integral. I understand completely that you do not see trust as an element of faith, so the quote doesn't register with you.

Adomnan: Frankly, I don't see how "trust" makes sense in this passage even if I do a willing suspension of disbelief.

8 For by grace you have been saved through "trust."

No, it just doesn't sound right.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

You seem to have a very unusual definition for the word trust, that it somehow implies sin in the object of that trust. I think that's reading too much into things, particularly since God is without sin. The dictionary definitions are in line with my own understanding:

1 a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b : one in which confidence is placed
2 a : dependence on something future or contingent : hope b : reliance on future payment for property (as merchandise) delivered

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trust)

1. reliance: confidence in and reliance on good qualities, especially fairness, truth, honor, or ability

2. care: responsibility for taking good care of somebody or something-- We put our children in the trust of a good daycare center.

3. position of obligation: the position of somebody who is expected by others to behave responsibly or honorably--
breached the public trust

4. something in which confidence is placed: somebody who or something that people place confidence or faith in (archaic or literary)

5. hope for the future: hopeful reliance on what will happen in the future

6. responsibility that somebody has: something entrusted to somebody to be responsible for accepted his responsibilities as a sacred trust

(Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.)

Wow. Faith, hope, confidence, reliance, all here. Now, undoubtedly you will say that the word trust itself does not appear in the original lanuguages. All right, but I'm speaking of the concept which did not spring forth overnight in the 21st century.

The definitions involving commerce (trustee) issues are also relevant to our standing in Christ. Ephesians 1:14 speaks of the Holy Spirit (in different English translations) as being the earnest, the deposit, the downpayment of our inheritance in Christ, "earnest" apparently being the most literal translation.

Just as I was about to post this, I saw your comment on Trent. Thank you for that, but it's a little slim. How about something from the catechism? If I understand that reading correctly, this is very troubling to me indeed, for it indicates that I have much less in common with Roman Catholics than I originally had thought.

I hope I haven't been wasting everyone's time here with my running commentary the past few weeks. But I thank you all for your contributions to the many discussions we've had.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Adomnan: Frankly, I don't see how "trust" makes sense in this passage even if I do a willing suspension of disbelief.

You forget I said that trust is an element of faith, not that I equate the two words exactly.

Martin said...

No time to talk. newadvent discusses trust and belief but rules out "sola trusta" :)
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05752c.htm
off to chincoteague

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: Wow. Faith, hope, confidence, reliance, all here. Now, undoubtedly you will say that the word trust itself does not appear in the original lanuguages. All right, but I'm speaking of the concept which did not spring forth overnight in the 21st century.

Adomnan: I have never said that trust in God is inappropriate. However, it is only appropriate where there is no divine revelation. If God has revealed something, we assent to it if we have faith; we do not "trust" that it is true.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (article 157), "Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie."

My problem with evangelical/Reformed "trust" is this: It is never mentioned as an element of faith in the New Testament. Nor is it even hinted at. Therefore, when the Reformers added "trust" to faith, they introduced a concept that was an unbiblical innovation.

Why did they do this? They did it because they doubted what they believed. And so it was not enough just to assent to revelation; one had to take the extra step of trusting in it (i.e., setting aside one's doubts). This is what came to be called "the leap of faith." Paul, John, etc. didn't do any leaping.

Adomnan said...

Pilgrimsarbour: You forget I said that trust is an element of faith, not that I equate the two words exactly.

Adomnan: If trust were an element of faith, then the passage from Eph would ring true when one word were substituted for another.

Besides, I don't think that simple virtues, like faith, hope and love, have "elements." They are just one certain thing. If they were portmanteau concepts that could be broken down into elements, then we would give each of these elements its own name and talk about them instead of the ambiguous, equivocal concepts. Otherwise, we'd all be hopelessly confused.

In any event, the Eph passage cannot possibly be adduced to lend support to your conflation of faith and hope. You even admit that you're reading "trust" into Eph's faith, an idiosyncratic eisegesis you concede no one else is bound to recognize. So citing it serves no purpose in this discussion.

Adomnan said...

Martin: No time to talk. newadvent discusses trust and belief but rules out "sola trusta" :)
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05752c.htm
off to chincoteague

Adomnan: Thanks, Martin! This is an excellent article, and I would urge Pilgrimsarbour to read it to get a better understanding of the Catholic definition of faith than I could present.

What I found particularly interesting is the fact that "trust" was indeed the operative virtue in the Old Testament. However, with the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ, this trust blossomed into dogmatic faith.

My deconstruction of Reformed trust was based on an intuition, and I am happy to see it validated by scholarly research.

Ben M said...
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Ben M said...
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Adomnan said...

Above, I wrote: "In any event, the Eph passage cannot possibly be adduced to lend support to your conflation of faith and hope."

I meant to say "your conflation of faith and trust."

Still, it's also true that Pilgrimsarbour is conflating faith and hope, because Reformed/evangelical trust does bear some resemblance to biblical hope, albeit a distorted one (in my view).

Ben, yes indeed. Protestantism was born in an age of anxiety, and Protestant fiducia was an attempt to repress that anxiety by asserting a confidence that was neither biblical nor psychologically sustainable.

Faith is a kind of vision; and, as Isaiah said, "When there is no vision, the people perish."

Martin said...

Now I remember the answer to PA's Q: Why PVM is obligitory?

In 1536 the Sexual revolution started with the deninal of celebacy leading to today with "the true son of Luther"....feetxxxl (me quoting myself)

The assertion of the PVM as a necessay truth was needed (by the HS) to stem the oncoming tide. By the PVM we know truely celebacy, the marriage bed and how they are tied.

2nd bathroom break on a 5 hour carride. Sigh :)

CrimsonCatholic said...

My deconstruction of Reformed trust was based on an intuition, and I am happy to see it validated by scholarly research.

I think Tim Enloe is actually missing that distinction, and viewing what he says charitably, that is probably why he sees Aquinas as saying something similar to what he has in mind, which is that Scripture is "trustworthy" or a "sure guide." My response has been that this does not count as a proximate object of faith to which the intellect can assent. An intellectual assent is not trust; this is why it would be misleading to speak of "trusting one's senses." Even if you're trying to figure out a hallucination or an illusion, it still isn't a question of not "trusting" what your senses tell you, but rather trying to accurately evaluate what information you are receiving through them (which might not be directly related, like being under the influence of a hallucinogen). But there's no way even dysfunctional senses can fail to convey information, even if it is just the fact that they are functioning defectively.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I understand that you think the concept of trust wedded to faith is a Protestant innovation. I do have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but I just haven't had a chance to check it out. However, blogger TurretinFan provided this information to me from the CCC:

CCC150 Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.17

17: Cf. Jer 17:5-6; Pss 40:5; 146:3-4.

(italics in original, bold emphasis mine)

So there is, in fact, an element of trust involved, as the CCC states. I realise, of course, that we are miles apart regarding the RCC emphasis on mental assent to a series of revealed facts. The Protestant idea of trust does seem to be much more prominent in our theology than in yours, which is not to deny our deep love of doctrine as is infallibly revealed for us in the Scriptures.

Gotta run--hope to check out all the other comments later on, maybe late tonight or tomorrow.

Adomnan said...

Jonathan: My response has been that this does not count as a proximate object of faith to which the intellect can assent. An intellectual assent is not trust; this is why it would be misleading to speak of "trusting one's senses."

Adomnan: Helpful observation, Jonathan. One of the reasons that faith should not be confused with trust is that we believe with the intellect, not through subjective feeling. An intellecutal assent (faith) cannot be trust, as you say, because trust is a matter of subjective feeling or of practical necessity (reliance), not of intellect perception.

To me, it makes no sense to say, "I trust that Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification." It would be like saying, "I trust that God is One." Both of these assertions have been divinely revealed, and both can only be believed -- assented to -- not trusted.

There are many occasions when trust in God and Christ is called for, but believing what God has revealed is not one of them.

Adomnan said...

CCC: It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says.

Adomnan: This sentence recommends two things, trust and faith ("to believe absolutely what he says"). It doesn't confuse them.

Just because the CCC mentions trust in a section on faith doesn't mean they're collapsing the two concepts into one.

Elsewhere they mention love in connection with faith. Does that mean they're conflating faith and love?

If you read the whole section, which is rather lengthy, you'll see that trust isn't mentioned much and that the emphasis is put on faith as assent to God's revelation -- naturally enough, since the section is about faith!

Pilgrimsarbour: Gotta run--hope to check out all the other comments later on, maybe late tonight or tomorrow.

Adomnan: I may drop out of the discussion. I have to prepare for a trip.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Whatever happened to Dave A.? Seems like this combox should be renamed "The Silence of the Lambs."

LOL?

All right, so it wasn't so funny. I tried, didn't I?

Dave Armstrong said...

I'm still pluggin' away. Three new posts today. I tend to not get too involved in the combox (usually for lack of time) unless there is a direct challenge to my post (and not by an anti-Catholic).

The combox is mostly off on completely different topics now, anyway: trust and faith, etc.

That's fine, but I am not always interested at the time in rabbit trails that may spontaneously arise in the discussions. The comboxes are their own entities: I don't need to always get involved in them if the folks participating are holding their own.

That's part of this blog, too: others joining in and making great points.