Christians in Parliament Prayer Meeting
Church of England

Christians in Parliament demonstrate what doing God really means

 

On Wednesday evening Christians in Parliament along with Christians in Politics and Christians in Government held their annual service of prayer and worship at the the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster. It’s always good to be invited to meet in fellowship with other Christians away from my own Church and this was no exception. Seeing the auditorium filled with hundreds of people involved in government at various levels was genuinely both heartening and encouraging. Gary Streeter MP was pleased to announce that many new MPs have joined Christians in Parliament (mostly Conservatives, I discovered). Christians in Politics are excited about the increasing interest in political involvement in our churches that they are witnessing. And Christians in Government which is made up mostly of civil servants reported that God is doing some wonderful things through their members within their departments.

This was a celebration of God’s direct involvement in the political realm. It was not a stuffy, dry, get-together for a bunch of people who are desperately trying to preserve a common interest. Instead, there was a sense that these were people confident that God could use them as missionaries and witnesses to bring light into their workplaces and beyond, sharing in the work of God who has a big plan for this world.

The main talk was from Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California. He talked about children when they play wanting to be superheroes or great sports people, or kings and princesses. They see themselves as capable of greatness; of doing amazing things. But as we grow up we lose that ability to see ourselves as being special and significant. The burdens of life cause most of us to settle for a mundane existence. Even for Christians who believe they are God’s children, it is too easy to carry on as if it makes little difference, failing to acknowledge the nature of that inheritance. In the book of Galatians, St Paul says this:

God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? (Gal 4:4-9)

Paul calls Christians ‘sons’ not to dismiss women, but because the son as heir would receive everything in inheritance from his father. In this case it is from our loving Abba Father/Daddy. Through Jesus, God gives us all that is in Him through the Holy Spirit. We become imitators of Christ not through striving and hard work, but because God has chosen us by means of adoption. Through sanctification he makes us Christlike and Christ is fully God.

The Bible does not describe Christians simply as priests, commanded to act as servants, but royal priests; that is kings who have received God’s power and authority. God calls us to share the ministry of Jesus and gives us all that we need to do just that.

I saw more hope and expectation during that service in Westminster than I do in many churches. God gives each one of us a calling and offers us a vision, but instead of responding with a big Yes, too often we come back with a whole set of noes. Instead of seeing Jesus as he is and us as God intends us to be, we settle for an inferior version. When this happens the natural tendency is to stop looking out, seeing ourselves as lights shining into the darkness, and instead shining that light at each other, finding faults and obsessing over differences and secondary issues. We get caught up in fretting over problems rather than fixing our eyes on God’s bigger picture.

All is not lost for the Church though. Even the Church of England for all of its failings is getting some things right. Yesterday two new Bishops were announced. What is of interest this time is not that we have another woman being appointed to the role, but rather the backgrounds of Graham Tomlin who will become Bishop of Kensington and Anne Hollinghurst, the next Bishop of Aston.

Tomlin is currently Principal of St Mellitus College, one of the largest theological colleges in the Anglican Church worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by the Bishops of London and Chelmsford with a focus on raising ordinands and leaders to serve the church in mission in those regions and beyond. Now as Bishop of Kensington, Tomlin will have Holy Trinity Brompton in his patch, which as the home of the Alpha course is one of the most successful and missionally focused churches in this country. The Diocese of London clearly has its sights set on further growth and Bishop Graham will have a key role in further facilitating this.

Anne Hollinghurst is a former inner-city youth worker describes her current role as a vicar in St Albans as ‘growing a vision for an outward-focused mission and ministry’. Her husband, Steve is currently a part-time tutor with the Church Army and a consultant, trainer and researcher in mission and contemporary culture. She too has been chosen because of her credentials in taking the Good News of Jesus out into the World.

If the Church is to have a bright future then it will need more Christians like Graham, Anne and many who were there on Wednesday. In their respective places they are seeing the world through God’s eyes and responding accordingly. They have not been afraid to step out in faith because they are holding on to God’s promises. When we see Jesus fully in us then we need not have any fear of what he asks – God can do great things through each one of us. When Jesus said, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God,’ he absolutely meant it.

  • Martin

    One wonders if the Calvinistic tone of the message is missed by those disobeying Scripture and placing women in positions of authority.

    • Gordon Tough

      I wonder what Junia would have made of your belief that women are to be denied full participation within the body of Christ?

      • Merchantman

        The body has many parts, no?

        • Gordon Tough

          But has no male or female, for all are equal in Christ

          • The Explorer

            I’m not trying to create difficulties; rather, I’m airing genuine puzzlement. Paul certainly says that, but he also likens believers to a body. And different parts of the body are not equal. You can lose a hand, or even an arm, and survive. But you can’t survive without a heart. All the parts of the body are necessary, but not all are of equal value.

          • magnolia

            Ah but one of your favourite authors C.S. Lewis warns against expecting an allegory to meet at all points. Similarly imagery is not expected to meet at all points.

            “My love is like a red, red rose” does not mean she has an earwig crawling out of her, is susceptible to greenfly, and would bloom more gloriously if asked to swallow some good nitrogen phosphorous and potassium mixed in the right quantities, and would appreciate a load of manure dug into her feet.

            Ah, started to enjoy that!! Sorry if that became over frivolous!!

          • preacher

            Hey Great !. LOL.

          • The Explorer

            No need for apology: most entertaining. Agreed an allegory need not meet at all points, but as the central point of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ is the journey of life, so the central point about the allegory of the body is that different parts have different functions.
            I think it a great shame that the Junia reference is ambiguous. Just think of all the heartache, soul searching and argument that could have been avoided if Paul had come out and said that Junia was as much an apostle as he was. As it is, that has to be inferred from what else he says about her, and the argument that she is not an apostle is equally plausible.
            The older I get (to echo your sentiments in the post higher up) the more I realise the slipperiness of language. Postmodernism overstates the case, but it is a partial truth.

          • Pubcrawler

            “slipperiness of language”

            Double that for translation.

          • That’s a straw-man. The reason for male leadership is not because of men are supposed to be superior to women. So, pointing out that they are in fact equal has no bearing on the question.

            Believing children also fully share in all the privileges that believers have in Christ. Should we make them leaders of churches? If the answer is “no, because (reason)”, then you’re conceding that there are reasons why someone can be equal, but not be appointed a leader. And that’s the question at issue – reasons can exist.

          • Gordon Tough

            Are you suggesting then that St. Paul was wrong and that equality is impossible?

          • The idea that “equality” means “sameness” has nothing to do with Paul, and is a bankrupt idea you have borrowed from modernist Western academia.

            God the Son and God the Father are equal, but they are not the same in their role-relationship between the two of them. Christian parents and Christian children are equal in Christ, but this does not mean that the parents’ authority has vanished. Christian wives and Christian husbands both have glorious and equal dignity, but this does not mean that they have the same calling or role. Hence the asymmetry of Paul’s instructions to wives and husbands.

      • Martin

        Gordon

        Where did I say that “women are to be denied full participation within the body of Christ”? Remember it is God who says they may not be in authority over men.

        I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (I Timothy 2:12 [ESV])

        • Gordon Tough

          And yet Paul is more than happy to count Junia as an apostle; presumably with full apostolic rights, authority and responsibilities.

          • The Explorer

            Is it that clear cut? Fellow prisoner, certainly. Christian before Paul, certainly. Well known to the apostles, certainly. But apostle herself? Maybe.

          • The fact that these are the strongest available arguments is revealing. Advocates of female leadership in the Christian church don’t make an explicit argument from the order of creation. Instead, they try to get their conclusion into the (imaginary) gaps. When an argument is constructed that way, that fact itself tells you something.

          • magnolia

            There is no explicit argument from Creation. There are two creation stories which are mutually contradictory images, which are presented as such, and which it would be foolish, and impossible to take as literal.

            In one story both man and woman are created at the same time, in the other woman is created out of a man’s rib, although this is impossible, and ribs have no creational significance in biology. We are to take them as images not as atomic instruction booklets.

            You clearly prefer the story in which females were created after men, but it is just that, a preference out of two given possibilities. You cannot build a theology on those very flimsy foundations. Better by far is Jesus’ example.

            The biological argument which is that women are taken up with having 10-16 or so pregnancies of which on average 2 to 3 survive to childbearing maturity is long gone, and I sense no great enthusiasm for bringing it back.

          • “Better by far is Jesus’ example.”

            What Jesus do you speak of? The only one whose words we have access to is the one:
            a) recorded in the Scripture which you reject, and
            b) who, in that Scripture, gave repeated and unequivocal endorsement to the accuracy and authority of the Genesis accounts

            If you reject the Bible as God’s revelation, then you have no access to any Jesus except one constructed from your own imagination.

          • magnolia

            I do not reject the Bible. I believe in the Bible
            a) as originally written in its original language
            b) as originally given without addition or subtraction
            c) understood within proper context
            d) understood within the appropriate literary type

            This puts me firmly and clearly within Evangelical Anglicanism of a mildly charismatic nature, which is a very well known position!

          • Pubcrawler

            “You clearly prefer the story in which females were created after men”

            Which also happens to be the one that Paul uses at 1 Tim 2:13 to justify his previous comments.

          • magnolia

            So Genesis 1 26-28 is a lesser text in your eyes, although it is the fuller and first account?

          • Pubcrawler

            Not at all, I’m just saying that Paul uses it there. Take it up with him.

          • magnolia

            Frequently thought to be a later interpolation. I believe in the text as originally written in the language in which it is written. We have treasures in earthen jars, and the earthen jars need breaking off.

            When we get to the real meaning of the text it glows breathes and lives not just in our minds and hearts but also in our lives, and it doesn’t involve telling people like Dame Cicely Saunders off for teaching men how to look after the dying in hospices for instance. It hits the ground and makes practical beautiful sense.

          • Pubcrawler

            “Frequently thought to be a later interpolation”

            By whom? Evidence, please. There is nothing the apparatus criticus of my Greek NT to suggest that it is in any way doubtful.

            “I believe in the text as originally written in the language in which it is written.”

            So do I, as my other comments show. Are you accusing me of not? I would bridle at such a suggestion.

            I also know the difficulties involved in textual criticism and MS transmission and how hard — perhaps impossible — it is to establish what exacly was ‘originally written’. We have the text as transmitted. Unless there are serious doubts as to its reading or authenticity, that’s the text we have to work with.

            Your tone is developing a hautiness reminiscent of Linus, as is your frequent recourse to hyperbole and unfounded inference. It doesn’t encourage engagement. Just sayin’.

            Peace. I’m out.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Indeed, she should argue with the Bible… oh, hang on a moment, that’s what………

          • The Explorer

            I’ve often wondered about the two creation accounts: given that the author/editor would have been aware that there are two and chose not to merge them.
            On Day 1 there is light. On Day 4 the Sun and Moon are created. How could there have been light without them? Or is it the sort of repetitive technique we find in ‘Revelation’: the same event viewed from another perspective? Day 4 amplifies Day 1.
            On that basis there could be a general statement about human creation, followed by amplification. The two accounts then become complementary rather than contradictory.

          • magnolia

            That is interesting about the light which preceded the sun and moon. I guess these revelations were visions translated into the words and concepts of the day. Some would say it was the Big Bang. It is fascinating that the order of creation is so universally agreed by all parties. As for the timescale…not so much!!!

          • Phil R

            Chapter 1 is a song and chapter 2 the history

          • The Explorer

            That’s a good way of putting it. Thank you.

          • Phil R

            Chapter 1 even has a chorus it seems

            What is the alternative? The editor of Genesis was too stupid to notice the inconsistencies. … or they did not matter because 1 was a song to God and everybody realised that 2 wasthe  start of the narrative.

          • magnolia

            I take it you have never studied history far less historiography then. It is not meant to be history, You have your literary types up the creek if you think it is.

          • Phil R

            OKAY so none of it is history. Or only the bits you want?

          • magnolia

            Well, it wasn’t written by Moses, or in the time of Moses, as the language it was mostly written in wasn’t around till 600 years later. Which is quite a lot. Now that doesn’t mean it wasn’t recorded in several versions of the language it became, nor does it rubbish oral tradition, but it does give it a bit of context. I would be fascinated to hear what Avi and Samuel say on this, as they will know far better. I would also expect Paul, given that he probably sat at the feet of Gamaliel and was very educated indeed to have known that, and I think (though am not sure) that is the reason why some scholars do not believe that he would have cited the “adam was made first and then Eve” bit as the reason reads like a lesser educated person adding it in.

          • Phil R

            OK you probably agree that Julius Ceasar died on the steps if the Senate on the 3rd March 44BC

            Except that the we only have 3 surviving accounts written within 1300 years. The closest surviving account was written over 800 years after his murder.

          • magnolia

            Yes, I probably would, though that information does enter quite a few caveats and questions.

            The thing is that we would both agree that it definitely isn’t modern “history” as we know it and therefore does raise heaps of questions. Are there any statues or pictures which back up any of the accounts?

          • Phil R

            Following the same theme. How about Ceasar’s description of British chariot warfare. Perhaps written by Ceasar but one surviving copy within 1600 years.

            Among other things it describes an extremely dry Kent countryside. So dry that dust from the chariots could be seen for miles. (Could this be true? Not as dry today)

            They lived in family groups of around 20 to 40 men and common wives.(Ceasar is reported to have found this quite remarkable and proof that the British were barbaric despite their skills with the chariots )

            Believe it? I do

          • Dominic Stockford

            God needs no sun for there to be light.

          • The Explorer

            True, but “Let there be light” suggests a source other than Himself being called into existence. Otherwise, there would be no need to say it.

          • Dominic Stockford

            To the woman he said,

            “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
            in pain you shall bring forth children.
            Your desire shall be for your husband,
            and he shall rule over you.”

            Seems absolutely clear to me, from the Creation narrative.

          • magnolia

            I agree. I find it amazing that some men take to themselves the right to say that what happens in female brains is inferior, without ever having experienced what it is like to be female, nor showing much imaginative empathy with women.

            And you are so right that the way both Jesus and Paul treated women is just so much nicer and kinder; they treated us like fellow people and challenged the constraints of their time. Quite how those who would follow yet wish to push women back into illogical constraints of a former time think they are following them is difficult to understand.

            At its worst I have heard of a man who believed that not only should his wife listen to the sermon at church but she should have him explain it to her afterwards, even though her intelligence was actually noticeably greater than his own. Unsurprisingly she opted to go to a different Church after a while and enough of being sorely and stupidly patronised and treated like an infant.

          • It has nothing to do with brain power or intelligence; it simply has to do with obeying the word of God. Junia and her husband Andronicus were greatly esteemed among the Apostles, but they were not Apostles themselves, and there is no suggestion in Romans 16:7 that they were. Likewise Priscilla and Aquilla were ‘fellow workers’ with Paul (v.3), but they were not Apostles.

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. ” Likewise Priscilla and Aquilla were ‘fellow workers’ with Paul (v.3), but they were not Apostles.”
            Indeed so, and in the light of much current, but mistaken thinking about women not teaching men, it was (female) Priscilla, along with her husband Aquilla who instructed and taught Apollos, who was “mighty in the (Old Testament) scriptures” about the way of the Lord and “the way of God more perfectly” – i.e. the doctrine of the Gospel of Christ, his life, death and resurrection. (Acts 18:24 – 28)

          • Indeed so, but she did not teach him on her own. Her husband is always named with her.
            Why can we not simply obey the clear word of God instead of scratching about looking for special cases and loopholes?

          • preacher

            True. We can’t choose our gender & we should remember the likes of Deborah & Esther, not to mention Julian of Norwich & of course Abbess Hilda of the Celtic Church among many more.

          • God assigning different roles to different people has absolutely nothing to do with being inferior or superior. God the Son himself submits to God the Father. This does not make him essentially inferior. Children are commanded to submit to their parents, despite being fully equal in human dignity. Church members submit to church leaders, but not because they are inferior beings.

          • magnolia

            And adult men and women are instructed by St Paul to submit to one another. Really your position is at odds with the NT. I am no fan of the Gospel of St Mary Magdalene, for it is shot through with holes. X says to Y, and we get two or three surviving words then another blank. It also have an allegory of a degree of wisdom, but not earth shattering. I am surprised anyone can read gnosticism into such flimsy foundations as it seems no more gnostic to me than Pilgrim’s Progress, and not as good.

            However what it does show is Mary’s respected place, and a degree of leadership within the band of disciples and Jesus’ respect for her as a spiritual person. And these are backed up by how he acted in the Gospels. I don’t see how they can be wished away.

            Furthermore not only in Acts- the scene along the riverbank- and in his letters, but also in the account of St Paul and St THecla!

          • “And adult men and women are instructed by St Paul to submit to one another.” – no, they aren’t; and this interpretation is meaningless nonsense. If everyone submits to everyone, then nobody submits to anyone. Rather, Paul commands that everybody submits to everybody *whom it is appropriate for them, in their person and calling, to submit to*…. and then, he goes on to give the major distinct and specific examples of this in the following words, in which he commands wives to submit to their husbands, children to parents, slaves to owners. i.e. He explains his own statement.

            The Christian church has never recognised any gospel other than Matthew to John as part of its canonical books, given by God to be authoritative, and thus anything found in them must be treated as human opinion, to be weighed up against the actual books of Scripture.

          • magnolia

            That is not sufficient to do history, and if you are asking about who is the greater disciple, or impose heirarchies of disciples, and who should be pre-eminent, questions which Jesus repeatedly urges us against, in strong and forceful language. but stupid disciples cling to like a life raft rather than listening to the Spirit, then you need to navigate all available texts, as Jesus did not encourage all our heirarchies at all, if we are to get right back to the text.

          • The same Jesus who sent the Spirit, also sent the apostles and inspired them by that Spirit, in the authoring of the Bible. We do not need to choose between Jesus, the Spirit or the Bible. They speak with one voice. Where you are urging disobedience to the Bible and the apostles who wrote very clearly about female leadership in the churches, you are urging disobedience against all three.

          • magnolia

            But we created the capitals in Apostles, Saints, and Church, not Jesus! They were descriptive titles, and not heirarchical appointments and concrete institutions. It is we who made them that.

          • magnolia

            I do not believe that they did write clearly. Nor do I read Scripture without asessing proper translation, original text, and literary mode as I hold that to be irresponsible. I have examined the texts carefully. I think you are mistaken and in danger of urging disrespect for women in whom the Holy Spirit is operating, and saying younger- and older- men who may have much to learn from them should treat them with disrespect. There are terrible levels of rudeness, crudeness and disrespect for female academics who have even been threatened with rape. This is not reasonable, it is disgusting, unnecessary, and evidence of a degrading level of sexual obsession. There is never any excuse for not learning from anyone who knows more than one does oneself, regardless of gender, age, race or anything else, and it is that arch fiend of pride in residence when we think there is. That is what I believe and I believe it is fully biblical.. Are you seriously telling me that if there was a room with Jackie Pullinger, Dame Cicely Saunders and Mother Theresa in it you would refuse to listen to a word that they had to say because you would be a man listening to women?

          • This is a ridiculous response. On one side, you line up your views; on the other, there are people who want to rape academics, and never listen to anything a female says. This is silly.

          • magnolia

            I am asking you to be realistic and practical. You suggest an adult woman should never teach an adult man anything to do with theology, which for a Christian covers a wide sphere. I am merely pointing out that what you say is impractical, unworkable, ridiculous, and posits total disrespect to women. How disrespectful is it to say for instance, ” I don’t know New Testament Greek/ Christian pastoral care for the terminally ill / Hebrew/ whatever, you do, but I will not learn from you because you have different hormones and genitalia.” It is not how anyone lives their lives, it is impossible, and those who claim never to learn from a woman are not telling the truth and being hypocritical, or are else living unbelievably narrow and paranoid lives.

            Would it be permissible to run over a female traffic warden because she is exercising authority over you? Or only in a church car park? If you are caught speeding and have to attend a naughty driver’s course is it permissible to block your ears if a woman is taking it and attempting to teach you? Or is that only so if it takes place in a church hall?

            All these notions are totally unworkable. Read that passage about Paul and Hecla and the women were strong and making their opinions heard – in the first century. You fantasize a society in which women were meek little submissive mice which was not how it was in Paul’s time, and never has been. No one has ever objected to the Hecla passage because the articulate women were the problem with it, but due to the miracles.

          • “I am asking you to be realistic and practical. You suggest an adult woman should never teach an adult man anything to do with theology, which for a Christian covers a wide sphere.”

            You put these words in my mouth. I haven’t yet stated where I think the exact boundary lies. That is moot until we’ve agreed that a boundary actually exists, according to God, as revealed in the Bible.

            “How disrespectful is it to say for instance … Would it be permissible to run over a female traffic warden … You fantasize a society in which women were meek little submissive mice …”

            The straw-men are out in force this evening!

          • Dominic Stockford

            I would certainly disregard the theresa woman, she was no Christian.

          • magnolia

            The Acts of Paul and THecla would come under the “Early Christian Writings” not “gospel”. As for the Gospel of St Mary Magdalene is is Emmental with more holes in. A good reason for it not being in the canon is that it is so very shot through with gaps and holes in the text, though actually it was discovered after the canon was put together, which begs another question!! The Canon is not entirely watertight. It varies from Protestant to Catholic to Orthodox I believe, and there are the deutero-canonical books as well.

            But in addition the church has I believe always recognised that there is good improving reading outside the Canon, not least the Early Church Fathers!!!! Or “pilgrim’s Progress”. Or…or..or..,Many early church writing are fascinating, though clearly to be read – not indiscriminately- with one eye on the canon! Unless one is to read solely the Scriptures though is this not true of all Christian writings?

            I think that the picture of Paul from the Acts of Paul and Thecla is a rather fascinating one, and has been very influential, certainly in the Eastern Church which has valued this story, not least in the iconography of Paul.

          • dannybhoy

            The first thing to note is that any male or female can be (spiritually) led astray and fall into and teach doctrinal error..
            Christian men can and do go astray.
            There’s an old fashioned word we used to use in YWAM – ‘covering.’ The idea of being covered by others in places of responsibility, either as equals or as exercising greater spiritual authority in the church. .
            Certainly on a local church level we should honour those in responsibility over us. Not that we can’t question them, but that we respect them.
            Both men and women need to recognise that they can be led astray, that the more effective their ministry, the more the enemy will target them.
            So I personally accept a woman can like a man have a place of authority and ministry. The important thing is that we are accountable within the Body of Christ and exercise that ministry in all humility. That applies to anyone.

          • “Presumably” – you have to say “presumably”, because there’s no argument that can be offered for it. The Greek for apostle can be used in a technical meaning of “one of the twelve”, but the word itself just means “a sent one”, and can just refer to someone commissioned, for something, and not necessarily a commission as one of the twelve. What you are deducing from the presence of the word in relation to Junia needs more than sheer presumption – it needs a detailed argument.

          • Martin

            Gordon

            Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. (Romans 16:7 [ESV]

            So where is Junia accounted an apostle?

          • Gordon Tough

            An alternative translation is that they are regarded amongst the Apostles.

          • Martin

            Gordon

            So whose translation?

        • Graham Wood

          Martin. I know this is off topic somewhat, but you raised it.
          As you know 1 Tim.2:11,12 is regarded as a key text in some Christian traditions to oppose the full gifting of women in ministry. It has long been a tradition within Anglican and RC theology to interpret the verse reference to “exercise authority” as validating women’s “silence” in the church.
          The context of 1 Tim 2:11,12 is, as always in interpreting scripture, important as I know you will appreciate.
          The Gk word translated “authority” in the AV, (a version I love and use) is authentein and has been frequently translated as “usurping authority over men, or a man”.
          Many conservative evangelical writers and commentators do not regard that translation as a good one. More accurate, and it is very important in the Ephesian church context, authentein means ‘not to have one’s way, or to dominate’, but rather to learn in quietness.
          The reference also is singular not plural – i.e. not to all women in the Ephesian churches or any other churches.
          That is, it is almost certain that there was an one individual woman in the gathering who was propagating error and wrong teaching and “dominating” the gathering.
          Thus Paul says: “I am not now permitting A woman……”
          Neither Paul, nor indeed many OT and NT scriptures ever placed restrictions on female ministry in the fullest sense, and thus we have that confirmed in his Corinthian letters, especially 1 Cor, 12-14 where women prayed and prophesied in company with their brethren in the church without any problem arising in Paul’s mind.
          This is a big subject, but distilled to its essentials, and as you say above, “women are not to be denied full participation within the body of Christ.

          • Pubcrawler

            Hmmm, that’s not how this (lapsed) Classicist interprets the Greek of 1 Tim 2: 11f.

            1) ‘authentein’ is a very rare word, so it’s difficult to say exactly what it means, but from related words it does indeed seem to have the sense of ‘have absolute authority over’ — and can even mean ‘murder’.

            2) ‘woman’ (‘gyne’) is anarthrous here — that is, lacks any article, either definite or indefinite — as is the corresponding ‘andros’ (‘man’), so that would naturally be interpreted as generic to womankind, not a vague reference to a specific one.

            What that means for exegesis I’ll let others decide. As you say, context is extremely important. But so is what the Greek can actually be made to mean, and — perhaps more importantly — what it cannot.

            More puzzling to me is what Paul meant by the word ‘epitrepo’, conventionally translated ‘permit’. But that seems a bit strong to me, it has more a tone of a preference than an absolute injunction.

          • Graham Wood

            Pub. ‘authentein’ is a very rare word, so it’s difficult to say exactly what it means, but from related words it does indeed seem to have the sense of ‘have absolute authority over’ — and can even mean ‘murder’.
            Agree. It is so rare in that its presence in 1 Tim 2:12 is the one single instance of its appearance in the NT! In classical Greek literature, before Christ, the word was indeed used to refer to a murderer – but clearly that is not the context of this passage in Timothy.
            If Paul had wanted to speak of an ordinary exercise of authority, as is claimed, then he could have picked any number of words (exousia, huperorche, epitage & more), but he does not do so. Why not? Because ‘authentein’ carried a nuance other than “rule” or “have authority”, that was particularly suited to the Ephesian situation, where it means: to control, dominate, restrain or to control in a domineering manner , or to ‘get one’s way’.
            As Zens rightly points out, the Lord taught us that in his kingdom “authority” – who’s in charge – is a non issue.
            The idea of one person having dominion over another or others is the essence of all that is antichrist…..
            The truth is, neither male nor females are to be in positions of authority… Christ is the one with ALL authority in his kingdom and in the church.
            As experience should teach us, to attempt to establish a NT doctrine and a whole weight of applied teaching and practice on a single text of scripture when a host of others teach the opposite is not a good hermeneutic !

          • Your logic indicates that churches should not have elders, and that families should not have parents in charge, because this is the work of the anti-christ. Reductio ad absurdum.

          • Graham Wood

            David. That appears to be your logic, not mine!
            I have not argued on such premises, and I believe in elders and their responsibilities as laid out in the NT as fully as I suppose you do.

          • “That appears to be your logic, not mine!”

            No – it was you that said “he goes on to teach in the ‘body’ picture, the complete equality of status, function, and mutuality for each member of Christ’s body, again, without distinction” – a statement which, if we take seriously abolishes all authority in the church and in Christian families.

          • Pubcrawler

            “Because ‘authentein’ carried a nuance other than “rule” or “have
            authority”, that was particularly suited to the Ephesian situation,
            where it means: to control, dominate, restrain or to control in a
            domineering manner , or to ‘get one’s way’.”

            Perhaps so, I don’t discount the possibility. But are there good linguistic grounds for that reading? How do we know there was that nuance? That particular verse also specifically says ‘woman’ should not hold authority over ‘man’, there is no reciprocity; there may be good grounds for extending it, but a decent case needs to be made because it’s not there in the words themselves. Perhaps this isn’t the place.

            “to attempt to establish a NT doctrine and a whole weight of applied
            teaching and practice on a single text of scripture when a host of
            others teach the opposite is not a good hermeneutic !”

            Absolutely!

          • The idea that the orthodox understanding of male leadership rests upon the odd, isolated text here and there is a straw-man created by feminist apologists. Study actual Christian history, and you’ll find that Christian expositors have constantly drawn attention to how the Bible grounds it within the order of creation. Paul’s instructions to the church are not based upon culture, but creation.

            To say that 1 Cor 12-14, by virtue of silence, fully confirms your ideas, is to admit that there in fact is no explicit argument for your ideas. When you say that women in the Corinthian churches in 1 Cor 12-14 led the church in prayer, you appear to have entirely overlooked that in 1 Cor 11, Paul explains that it would be appropriate for them to have a visible symbol when doing so, so that nobody would draw the wrong inference from them doing so. The whole premise of the argument in 1 Cor 11 is that men and women are not interchangeable, and that women are required to be in submission.

          • Graham Wood

            David. Thanks for your comment. I disagree with your first statement about the “isolated text” justifying a doctrine for an equal gender role in the church. I believe that Galatians 3:28 tells us that Paul had no concern for “gender” issues which so preoccupy or even obsess the church today.
            I agree with you that Paul teaches much about Christian living using the created order as being foundational truth, but that is not to argue that Pauls was indifferent to the cultural norms, or problems of his day. I agree too that the ‘head covering’ issue was just one of these. Notwithstanding the head covering for females in 1 Cor 11 did not in his view inhibit them from praying or prophesying in the assemblies alongside their male brethren.
            In his discussion of spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 12-14 the issue of gender does not enter at all into Pau’s thought or advice to the church in Corinth. On the contrary he assumes that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to all, male and female without distinction (1 Cor. 12:7), and he goes on to teach in the ‘body’ picture, the complete equality of status, function, and mutuality for each member of Christ’s body, again, without distinction. Thus in 1 Cor. 14 Paul expected to see prophecy and prayers and other gifts exercised from both genders to be central in the gathering – i.e. 14:31 “For you may ALL prophecy, one by one”.
            The main criteria was that the gathering should result in the spiritual edification of the whole, and that order should prevail within the exercise of spiritual freedom.
            Of course Christianity does not eliminate the fact of gender differences, but neither is there any justification for the claim that women are required “to be in submission” to their male brethren in relationships, or in the day to day functioning of the church collectively.
            Only institutional churches with a rigid ‘clerical’ hierarchy engender unhealthy status and gender distinctions. That is tradition not scripture teaching and I would be interested to learn where you glean that “women are to be in submission” from the NT – part from the marriage relationship.
            The whole emphasis on submission is in a different context entirely and has to do with a wife/husband relationship, and even then it is a mutual submission – 1 Cor.7:4.
            The truth is that the NT teaches that mutual submission to one another is appropriate for ALL in the body of Christ without distinction in the spirit of Eph.5:21.

          • On Galatians 3:28, you argue from a statement about essential equality to a conclusion about roles. That is illegitimate. The Father and the Son are equal, but the Son would never desire or seek to usurp the Father’s authority. A father and his believing children are equal in Christ, but it would be wrong for the children to seek to exercise parental authority. Paul gives specific, non-symmetric instructions to wives and husbands, and that fact alone proves that your inference from Gal. 3:28 is invalid.

            In 1 Cor 11, Paul *explicitly* bases his reasoning upon an unchangeable order of creation. When you talk about it being based on culture, you replace his reasoning with one that is without basis in the words of the text itself.

            “The truth is that the NT teaches that mutual submission to one another is appropriate for ALL in the body of Christ without distinction in the spirit of Eph.5:21.” – this is a glaring misinterpretation of the verse. Paul says that we are to submit to one another, and it is understood that that means, in accordance with our differing role relationships. The fact that he means that is glaringly obvious from the fact that he immediately then applies it to three non-symmetric role relationships, teaching slaves, wives and children to submit to masters, husbands and parents respectively. i.e. Paul tells us exactly what this “submitting to one another” actually means, in practice.

          • Martin

            Graham

            You will note that I didn’t use the AV, nor do I consider RC theology of any relevance, the CoE barely so and then only for selected reliable persons, mostly now dead. The CoE cannot even keep to its own founding documents! As I have said above, Paul shows that it is a Creation ordinance and it does not deny women full participation in Christ.

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. Re your first paragraph I fully agree with you on that, but I still think that your last comment makes Paul inconsistent and self contradictory. But let it rest there

          • Dominic Stockford

            Genesis 3:God’s statement of judgment upon Adam and Eve – that is, on mankind.

            To the woman he said,

            “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
            in pain you shall bring forth children.
            Your desire shall be for your husband,
            and he shall rule over you.”

          • Graham Wood

            Dominic. I find this quotation from the Old Testament post-Fall situation a very odd comment on the relationship of women to their husbands and their role in the church.
            As if a wooden statement of that fallen relationship is somehow relevant to the issue and closes discussion !
            The Christ centered relationship between the sexes under the New Covenant, which is the relevant administration to guide the church today as opposed to the Old Covenant, was not intended to promote EITHER male or female domination or subordinate situations. Such thinking is native to a fallen creation order.
            But why should NT believers take their cue from the curse-ridden words, “Your desire shall be towards your husband, and he will rule over you”? That is a simple description of sin’s implications for the husband/wife relationship.
            Rather, wouldn’t we want to be informed instead by the redemptive implications of Christ’s cross and resurrection and the pre-fall relationship of Adam and Eve to which Jesus appeals in Matthew 19:4-6?
            Christ’s coming, teaching, and especially the concept of the ‘body of Christ’ changed all that for ever. He came to REVERSE the sinful effects of the fall and the curse mentioned in Gen.3:16.
            If the church does not understand this it will not progress far in understanding the implications of Paul’s prayer in Eph. 1:17-23 and the emancipation his ministry brought for both men and women in his body.

          • Martin

            Graham

            You need to learn the difference between role and rank.

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. Without splitting hairs I think the distinction is artificial and unnecessary.

            Of course within the church there are different roles dependent on differing gifts of the Spirit, and natural gifts and talents also. That said I do not think references to “rank” ever comes into Paul’s mind in Gal.3:28, or indeed elsewhere. The word is suggestive of a hierarchical order and practice (embedded in all institutional churches) which I see as inimical to the spirit of Jesus teaching in Matt. 20: 20 – 28.
            My view is that the obsession with “gender” issues within the Christian church is not only a distraction from the priority of the Gospel, but also a failure to understand the radical nature of Paul’s statement in Galatians which most certainly is no casual comment, but a “rule” for the church in all ages in the spirit of Gal.6:15, 16.

          • Martin

            Graham

            The distinction is critical. Indeed the distinction is inherent in the Trinity. Each person in the Trinity has a different role, but each is equal in rank. In the same way, every Christian is equal in rank, and hence its absence from the NT, but frequently different in role.

            It is very simple, God designed men and women for different roles, and that continues in the Church.

          • Graham Wood

            Thanks Martin. As I mention above I don’t have a problem with differing roles, whether it be men or women in the church assemblies. But that is not the point at issue, for differing roles does not equate somehow with any difference in ‘rank’, if you prefer, status, or function. Why? Because as Paul argues in 1 Cor. 12-14 all are members of the same body of Christ, and all receive the same Spirit, and he dispenses gifts sovereignly as he wills.
            The point at issue is whether the sisters are equal in every respect with their male brethren.
            When the ekklesia began on the Day of Pentecost the very first thing that Peter mentioned concerned males and females prophesying together. So that continued throughout the NT records. Paul wished for prophecy from the whole assembly to be central (1 Cor.11:4,5)
            Thus to use 1 Tim. 2:11-15 as a basis to completely silence the sisters is hardly consistent with what Paul clearly envisages for them as a general principle – indeed it uses one context to cancel out the revelation of many others!
            Thus there must be a different explanation for the apparent contradiction of the Timothy passage (v.11). The clue is found in v.12 reference – to “A” woman (singular). Clearly in the Ephesian assembly ‘a’ woman prophet was teaching inappropriately, or even error, and Paul was anxious to prohibit this practice via instruction to Timothy….. “I am not now permitting……” Paul knew the assembly very well ,having ministered there for three whole years, and so would be familiar with all the saints there and that pagan background so special to the Ephesian church.
            Dr Jon Zens open up the ‘Ephesian problem’ in his book which I mentioned, and the cultural background of female converts from pagan Artemis (Diana) worship at Ephesus with its strange cult of female dominance over males which was a strong element within it. (I cannot recommend his ‘What’s With Paul & Women? too highly – only about £7 from Amazon. Truly superb
            Graham.

          • Martin

            Graham

            You cannot dismiss 1 Tim 2:11-15 on the basis of the cultural background of the time because Paul takes his reasoning back to the Creation. Nor is it a question of the special gifts of that time, gifts that have since ceased. What we are discussing is a position of authority within the local church, that of elder, and it is clear that this role is not one that is open to women. They have equality in rank but not equality in role.

          • Martin

            Graham

            I’m sure I replied to you, don’t know where it has gone!

            In 1 Tim 2:11-15, Paul is referring back to Creation, so any view of what the cultural background is has no relevance. It’s very simple, God has decreed roles for men and women and we should not seek to go against what God has decreed.

          • Graham Wood

            Thanks again Martin. I have your reply and will come back to you later with my response.
            Graham

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. I cannot find your earlier post, but recall that you opined that women did not have parity with men in the Christian assemblies, and, in response to my point about spiritual gifts, you mentioned that you consider these to be now no longer operative.
            This would suggest that you rare a cessationist re spiritual gifts – am I right, or have I misunderstood you?
            If that is the case then clearly there is no point of agreement between us as regards the function of women in the church.
            But as I pointed out there is an abundance of evidence in the NT that women had complete parity of status and function with their male brethren, and is not based on the odd proof text but much more fully.
            As regards the cultural background of 1 Tim. 2 passage it is very relevant as are other cultural matters in the NT – issues such as ‘head-coverings, praying with uplifted hands, the position of the ‘widow’ (1 Thess:5:26).
            The NT was written in the first century and many local and culturally rooted issues appear on its pages. I think this needs to be recognised.
            If spiritual gifts have ceased, then automatically that cuts out large passages in the NT where Paul and other Apostles directed advice as to how they should function – in particular I would point you to Acts 2:17-18, and 1 Cor.11:4-5; and 14:23-24. amongst many others.
            Graham

          • CliveM

            Graham

            Although I am agnostic on the status of spiritual gifts, I agree with your post.

          • Martin

            Graham

            I have never said that women did not have parity with men, rather that their role was different. The passage in 1 Timothy 2 is accompanied by Paul’s reasoning, from Genesis 1& 2, which clearly destroys the idea that Paul was talking of the culture of His time. If it were only the lack of women in leadership roles you might have an argument but when that is placed beside 1 Tim 2 your every argument is destroyed.

            Those miraculous gifts that marked the NT age were clearly for that time and 1 Cor 13, together with history. tells us that they were temporary. They were for that time when the Church had no New Testament, for that time when the canon was incomplete, when men could only see themselves reflected dimly in the Old Testament. Now we have the completed canon and have no need of prophecies, for the dead still speak to us through those pages. The apostles are gone from this Earth, but their words still come to us.

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. You say: “Those miraculous gifts that marked the NT age were clearly for that time and 1 Cor 13, together with history. tells us that they were temporary”
            I assume you refer to 1 Cor. 13:9,10? If this is the case, then Paul is not saying here that the spiritual gifts given by Christ are temporary, but rather that our knowledge and ability to prophecy is limited, or partial. That is all.
            But the cessationist point about gifts being temporary is an old one (shared incidentally by theological modernists and liberals) and cannot be valid for it would prove too much.
            If Paul’s instructions for the functioning of the church are only temporary then of course it renders huge tracts of the NT as meaningless and dependent on the subjective views of men, as opposed to Scripture being the Word of God for the church in every generation. Who then is to decide what is temporary and what is permanent?
            In addition if Paul’s words, given through Christ for his church are only temporary, then of course it could be argued that ANY part of the NT scriptures are also – even the words and commands of Christ !
            But we are told that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim.3:16) and therefore must be valid and authoritative for all time – for as Jesus himself declared the “Scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10.33-36). We have no authority therefore to decide, or select what we wish or to discard some and not others etc.
            Likewise, if you will quote Paul in his Corinthian letter then better to note what he says in summarising his teaching about spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 14:36,37.
            You say “We have no need of prophecies”. But that is your opinion and is not shared by the inspired Apostle who declared in 1 Cor. 14:1; 5; 12;24 his desire that ALL should prophecy (that is, speak words of edification for the whole church when gathered.
            Re your comment on the 1 Tim 2 passage and Genesis.
            I will comment on a separate post.
            Graham

          • Martin

            Graham

            Paul is saying that those spiritual gifts, given because the canon of Scripture was incomplete, are temporary. Before the Bible was complete men were seeing themselves reflected in Scripture in a partial way, not seeing their real nature as exposed in Scripture. Once the canon was complete there was no longer that partial vision and no need for the gifts since all that was needed was contained within Scripture.

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. Where does Paul say at all that his, or any other Apostolic writings, are either incomplete or that the gifts of the Spirit are temporary? I suggest there is no textual evidence for this at all, hence my earlier quote of 2 Tim.3:16 which is a hugely important and definitive statement about the nature of Scripture. It literally means that all Scripture (OT and NT) is God-breathed (Gk =’theopneustos). Since then God ‘spoke’ through Jesus and his Apostles then Scripture must be the normative rule for the church all down the ages- a matter never in dispute amongst Bible believing Christians.
            It follows then that to say that spiritual gifts are temporary is to contradict both Jesus and the Apostle Paul, for it is to claim that their words too are subject to the opinions of men, and not authoritative. That is to subtract from the Word of God.
            Thus God has given severe warnings to anyone who takes away even one word from what he has said to us.
            How do you read Deuteronomy 4:2; or 12:32?
            Further, Jesus said “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not pass away…..” (Mark13:31).
            Likewise Paul’s word to the Corinthians (following his chapter on spiritual gifts – 1 Cor:14 37 – “The things I write to you are the commandments of the Lord”.
            According to Revelation 22:19 we are NOT at liberty to pick and choose what portions of Scripture we think may be permanent or temporary.
            Re the canon of Scripture. This has nothing to do with scripture being incomplete or temporary, it was the collective consensus of the church (mid 4th century) to recognise what were genuine apostolic writings and what was not. Prior to that they were recognised by the early churches anyway, with the exception of certain Jewish ‘wisdom’ writings and the Apocrypha, and the Canon was merely a formal recognition and confirmation of what was commonly accepted.

          • Martin

            Graham

            So what do you think that seeing in a mirror dimly means? In that first century there were writings, but they weren’t complete, and the apostles supplied what was needed in part. Those special miraculous gifts took up the slack. With the apostles dead, the canon complete there was now no longer a need for the gifts, they had acted as a sign, supplied support to the Church but now they faded from history. The churches no longer experienced prophecy and speaking in tongues, they had all they needed in the completed Bible.

            “It follows then that to say that spiritual gifts are temporary is to contradict both Jesus and the Apostle Paul, for it is to claim that their words too are subject to the opinions of men, and not authoritative. That is to subtract from the Word of God.”

            No it doesn’t, we have their words in Scripture where we can rightly understand them by using the whole of Scripture.

            The 4th century Church merely accepted what the canon was, what it had been since the earliest days, they didn’t create the canon.

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. Let me have your e address as this comment facility will no doubt be closed, and I will respond to your post in a day or so.
            Graham
            Graham

          • Martin

            Graham

            I’d rather not post it.

          • Graham Wood

            “So what do you think that seeing in a mirror dimly means?” (1 Cor.13:12)
            Firstly, I do not see this as being linked in any way with the issue of spiritual gifts, and as usual the context gives us a clue as to the meaning. V.13 is linked with vs.9/10, and all Paul is saying here is that our understanding and knowledge this side of heaven is partial and limited – it is “in part”.
            When the consummation of the ages dawns with the return of Christ then that which is perfect will have arrived and we will see him “face to face”.
            “In that first century there were writings, but they weren’t complete”
            I suggest that this too has nothing to do with the permanent nature of spiritual gifts. The point to note here is that the “writings”, if by that you mean the Gospels and the NT letters, these are acknowledged by most scholars to have been completed by AD 100, although there were hundreds of fragments of both OT and NT copies and in circulation well after that, but essentially the NT itself was complete. But the NT books themselves did not become authoritative for the church because they were formally included in a canonical list, on the contrary the church included them in her canon because she ALREADY regarded them as divinely inspired and recording apostolic writings and authority.
            The question you raise about spiritual gifts being temporary or permanent is not a new one and raises the further question: is 1 Cor. 12-14 and Ephesians 4 as well as other passages, descriptive or prescriptive? The answer is both. 1 Cor 12-14 is the only passage in the NT which actually describes a NT church gathering. But such passages are also prescriptive in that Paul is clear that God gave such girts to his church for all time – otherwise of course Eph. 4:10-16 and many other NT passages encouraging the use of such gifts would be entirely meaningless for generations of Christians, particularly v.11 ! Large parts of the NT would then be entirely academic and of antiquarian interst only!
            These are God’s provision for his church for all time and it is presumptuous to assume that those who exercise such gifts, and those who recognise them in the collective church, are somehow deluded. Paul’s whole discussion of gifts in 1 Cor 12:12-26 in relation to the illustration of the “body” is important here. The ‘body of Christ’ is not a temporary phenomena but of course continues from age to age and place to place – hence there are evangelists, teachers, & etc today who have been gifted as such so that they can be clearly recognised. Thus a “hand” in the body does not become an “ear” or a “foot” . but various parts of the body exist permanently.
            1 Cor. 13. The great chapter on Christian love is sandwiched between chaps. 12-14. If as it is claimed the latter chapters are only temporary and merely descriptive, then the same criteria must be applied to Chap 13. Do we not need to heed Paul’s exhortations to love any more because the passage is descriptive? Of course not!
            The three chapters belong together, and the artificial divisions of chapters and verses did not occur until much later. It has been pointed out that the long and detailed chapters in 1 Cor. and other references to spiritual gifts in the NT are only of antiquarian or academic interest if these gifts are temporary. Would Paul have spent so much time and space for something which only applied to a short first generation of Christians?
            “No it doesn’t, we have their words in Scripture where we can rightly understand them by using the whole of Scripture.”
            I think you are confused here. We are discussing spiritual gifts not our use of Scripture. True, we must test all claims to spiritual gifts with all other spiritual claims (test the spirits says, John) and Scripture itself is one means of so doing. Bit it is Pauls himself who encourages the function and continuing use of the gifts of the Spirit and he expressly warns against dispensing or silencing those who are exercising a spiritual gift. (1 Cor. 14:39)
            Finally I mentioned Paul’s own teaching on gifts is in effect Scripture and to be recognised as authoritative – 1 Cor. 14:37.
            Martin, of necessity this cannot cover ALL implied in this big subject, but I trust you will find these comments address your questions.
            In Christ
            Graham

          • Martin

            Graham

            Paul is saying that Those miraculous gifts, represented by prophecy, tongues and a gift of special knowledge, are temporary, when Scripture is complete they will pass away. It says nothing about Heaven, indeed why would it need to be said for clearly those gifts would not be present in Heaven.

            And seeing face to face, as opposed to in a mirror clearly cannot mean seeing Christ, for we see ourselves in a mirror, not someone else. The concept is of seeing ourselves as we truly are, not in a vague way, in some 1st century mirror of polished metal, in the Old Testament reflected, but clearly, as it were face to face, clearly seeing ourselves for what we are in the New Testament, indeed the whole of the Bible.

            As James points out, Scripture is like a mirror that reflects our nature back to us:

            For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

            (James 1:23-25 [ESV]

            The canon wasn’t made complete by the decision of the churches at a council, but by an act of God who caused those books to be written. The council only accepted what was already decided.

            Those passages, like Eph 4:10-16 are for us also, just as those prophecies recorded in Scripture are for us. 1 Corinthians 12 & 14 teaches us how to conduct ourselves, just as those people of Corinth were taught. We don’t need to have those miraculous gifts to apply the lessons learnt there. Chapter 13 makes it plain that we are to behave as they were to behave.

            And the problem we see today is that those ‘gifts’ that are manifested are placed above Scripture. The authority of Scripture is subservient to the prophet who claims a direct revelation from God. That is why we have so many churches where preaching is sidelined, where the spectacular is sought, where singing has become about raising emotions.

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. You have yet to show me a Biblical reason why you think spiritual gifts are temporary! You say:

            “Paul is saying that Those miraculous gifts, represented by prophecy, tongues and a gift of special knowledge, are temporary”

            But where does Paul say that? Certainly not in any passage (1 Cor.12-14 and Eph. 4) where he speaks of these gifts.

            Please indicate a text which teaches this.

            In fact precisely the contrary is the case as Paul asserts in 1 Cor. 14:37 – i.e. “commandments of the Lord”. God does NOT give commandments on a temporary basis ever, as this would only be a source of error and confusion.

            “Those passages, like Eph 4:10-16 are for us also”
            But you have been arguing that they are temporary!!
            If they are “for us” today then clearly spiritual gifts are God’s on-going means of edifying and building up the church in every age.

            You say: “It says nothing about Heaven, indeed why would it need to be said for clearly those gifts would not be present in Heaven.”

            Answer the context clearly must be a reference to seeing Christ “face to face” because as Paul argues that will be when “that which is perfect” has arrived.

            Those who argue that “perfect” refers to Scripture and simply inserting a theory into the text, and putting words into Paul’s mouth which are alien to the whole context of 1 Cor. 12-14.

            Also, you need to explain how being “known as also I am known” (by Christ) can be anything other than heaven, the consummation of the Christian hope.
            You say also:
            “when Scripture is complete they will pass away.”

            But of course Scripture – in this case the words of God through his Apostle, were “complete” when uttered and then recorded and circulated to the churches. What was ‘incomplete’ about them.
            I will not comment further upon the “canon of Scripture” about which you seem to think is somehow relevant to the issue of gifts. As I said – I see no such connection.
            As mentioned before in reply to you claim that spiritual gifts are temporary. That cannot be the case for it would prove too much, in that one is then compelled to argue that the whole of 1 Cor. 13, the great passage on Christian love is also temporary. Impossible! That would be entirely inconsistent with the rest of Scripture so the theory is seriously flawed.
            Finally, for those who make claims about the ‘temporary’ nature of spiritual gifts the onus of proof rests on them to expound such passages in their respective contexts satisfactorily. The alternative? Honesty and consistency demands that such unbelief of God’s Word means they must cut them out of Scripture altogether – I hope that is not your position!

          • Martin

            Graham

            Where does Paul say the gifts are temporary? Here:

            Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

            (I Corinthians 13:8-12 [ESV])

            The perfect, or complete, is the completion of the canon, the finishing of the books of the Bible. Nowhere in Scripture is Heaven spoken of as the perfect, yet Scripture is frequently spoken of that way.

            Paul doesn’t say that prophecy is is the command of God, but that what he is saying should be acknowledged, even by the most spiritual.

            “Answer the context clearly must be a reference to seeing Christ “face to face” because as Paul argues that will be when “that which is perfect” has arrived.”

            How can it be Christ when the contrast is:

            “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”

            Do we ever see another person in a mirror? And, as I’ve said above, heaven is never referred to as the perfect thing while Scripture is.

            My argument is that the the gifts were temporary, for establishing the Church, not that the teaching was temporary.

            of course the big problem with the Charismatic Movement is that it is a hotchpotch of heresy and error, a means by which the supremacy of Scripture is undermined by the saying of self appointed ‘prophets’.

            You might also want to consider why the great Christian leaders of past centuries were so lacking as to not experience and extol those gifts.

        • dexey

          I thought Paul said that.

          • Martin

            Dexey

            The whole of the Bible is what God says.

          • dexey

            Now that I have problems with.
            I believe the Bible is the Word of God as man has messed around with it

          • Martin

            Dexey

            Sounds a pretty feeble god.

      • “denied full participation” – ? When you set up straw-men like this, you give the impression that addressing the actual position of those you disagree with would be too difficult. If that’s not the case, then why do it?

    • Graham Wood

      Martin. Further to my last post, and as so often in Paul’s letters, I think you will agree that the cultural background, particularly in the Ephesian church letter is important. In that context may I warmly recommend the ground-breaking treatment of this controversial subject by Dr Jon Zens in his small book
      ‘What’s With Paul and Women?, sub-titled ‘Unlocking the cultural background to 1 Timothy 2.
      He joins a host of other conservative writers mainly in the USA who have indeed thrown much fresh light on 1 Tim. in the light of the female Artemis (Goddess Diana) cult which prevailed in Ephesus, so that the “silencing” of women by male traditionalists is seen to be archaic and misplaced textually, within the wider context of NT teaching about the role of women in the church. Absolutely excellent, an eye-opener and very readable.

      • The prohibition against female leadership does not rest “merely” upon understanding the cultural background of Ephesians (though, if it did, it would still be remarkable that only a select uber-priesthood of Western scholars, 2000 years after the fact, have managed to detect how to do this correctly).

        It is a fixed situation throughout Scripture, resting upon the order of creation. God made Adam first, and then Eve. Paul explicitly and repeatedly bases his arguments, not upon culture, but upon God’s original creative acts (as indeed did Christ, when discussing questions in the area – e.g. marriage). We are not required to try to unpick what’s in between the lines regarding long-lost cultures. We can read what is directly written on the page very plainly.

        • Graham Wood

          Leaving aside the 1 Cor. 11 passage about the cultural norm of the day concerning ‘head-coverings’ which is something of a distraction from the central issue we are discussing about male/female roles in the church, I am intrigued as to where you base your assertion that there is a “prohibition against female leadership” ?
          How then do you view Gal.3:28? In my view Paul is making a fundamental statement about gender relationships in the Christian church. The apostle is not of course abolishing the creation ordinance of marriage, mush less the male/female distinction. He is saying that in certain respects the conditions and attitudes of the marriage relationship “in Adam” at creation are now transcended in Christ, and in Eph. 5:22-31 he expands on the ways in which this should be true of Christian marriage.
          But in the collective CHURCH the old male/female distinctions (largely expressed in the Old Testament) are now abolished, for all Christians without distinction, male and female, are one in Christ with equal participation in the promise given to the “seed”, that is the descendant of Abraham who is Christ.
          In THAT context of the function and order of the collective church the question of ‘leadership’ simply does not arise in Paul’s mind or is evident as male orientated in any of his letters.
          There are very many examples in the NT of how this pertained in practice:
          1. Rom. 16:3 Pricilla and Aquila were Paul’s co-workers
          2. Junia and Andronicus (wife/husband or brother/sister)
          were greeted as “outstanding among the apostles (Rom.16:7)
          3.Phoebe was a deaconess in the assembly at Cenchrea and recognised as a leader – Rom. 16:1&2).
          4. Eudoia and Syntyche were “co-workers” in the Gospel (Phil.4:2-3).
          IMO all that reinforces the truth of Gal.3:28. Do you agree?

          • I’m not sure why you’re asking me again how I view Galatians 3:28, when I’ve already directly replied to your comments on the verse before. “In my view Paul is making a fundamental statement about gender relationships in the Christian church.” – this is complete eisegesis, reading into a general statement some very specific conclusions that aren’t in the text.

            The gospel does not abolish creation. All of Paul’s arguments, when he addresses male-female role relationships, leadership issues, etc. are consistently grounded on creation.

          • Martin

            Graham

            So why shouldn’t husband/wife be partners in a work, it doesn’t impact on who is the authority. And once again we see the harm that the lack of translation of certain words does to theology. A deaconess is merely one who serves, as is a deacon., it doesn’t give any authority. Galatians 3:28 is not about roles and therefore has no relevance.

          • Graham Wood

            Martin. No reason at all why husband and wife….. no problem there with that, except when you go on to assign “authority”, presumably to the male partner.

            But there is no suggestion of that in the NT is there?

            I can only repeat what I said earlier that authority is to be a non issue in the church for ALL authority is in the hands of Christ as the Head of his church. That is why the so called ‘clergy/laity’ distinction in the institutional church is a false one that establishes a hierarchy of status, function, and assumed ‘authority’ that Jesus himself does not allow.

            May I suggest you read this passage (Matt.20:24-28) and reconsider whether Jesus reply and response to his disciples on the question of preference or authority settles the question of status, and authority in the church. Also the parallel passage Mark 9:34.

            Thus his words of application of the principle found in the passage in his reply and rebuke to his disciples – “But it shall NOT be so among you……”

            There is to be no chain of command in Jesus’ kingdom and he oversees his churches by his word and Spirit. Elders of course have a continuing place in the church, but again it is a role of function as under shepherds not one of status or ‘authority’.
            Finally re Gal 3:28 and your comment about “no relevance”. What then in your view is Paul saying here if not abolishing the gender distinctions that once prevailed under the Old Covenant, for the new relationships governing those who are “in Christ” ?

            As Zens points out: “Everything that is brought before the brethren is weighed and evaluated in light of the truth as it is in Jesus.”

            It can be rightly argued IMO that the Apostles alone had an authority but it was unique and confined to them for it was a delegated authority given by Christ, and undergirded all their teaching and miraculous works – see for example Peter’s words in Acts 3:12.

          • Martin

            Graham

            Seems to me that elders are granted authority as under shepherds:

            Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (I Timothy 5:17 [ESV]

            Not that it grants authority for a hierarchy. It is quite clear that there were those granted authority over the local church but they did not have rank as much as role.

            In Gal 3:28 Paul is not talking of role, but of rank, all Christians are equal in rank but not necessarily role, just as different parts of the body have different purposes.

            It is quite clear that elders have authority for they also have responsibility.

      • carl jacobs

        It’s amazing how these “new understandings” seem to always coincide with a regnant cultural imperative. Have we become egalitarian? Oh Look! We have a “new understanding” that reflects egalitarianism. I’m sure it is just a coincidence that this “new understanding” went unnoticed for 2000 years and only emerged now when the culture around us is trying to obliterate all male/female distinctions.

        • Also amazing how these “new understandings”, instead of placing new responsibilities upon those arguing for them, usually let them off the hook.

          And so, some Christians are forever discovering that they don’t have to take the Bible as seriously as they used to, that men divorcing their wives in order to swap for a younger model is OK (or at least, not as bad as it used to be), that they don’t have a responsibility to provide leadership because there are women to do this for them, etc…

        • …. and ‘scholars’ have ‘discovered’ (apparently) that the words of Jesus were later ‘interpolations’ (i.e. fabrications) to support a patriarchal and hierarchal Church. And the Nativity narratives are all made-up stories too. As for Jesus’ Divinity, and His death and resurrection, these are also questionable for some.

      • Martin

        Graham

        Trouble is, Paul takes it back to Genesis. It is not simply or in any way, down to a cultural background but to God’s decree of roles. The godhead has roles and so do the Church and family.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Hey Gillan, how about giving us advance notice of these events so that we too may share in the blessing of being there. (if it was a blessing that is?)

    There seems to be much delusion in ministry today. You write that is kings who have received God’s power and authority. God calls us to share the ministry of Jesus and gives us all that we need to do just that.

    I fear that many are not really aware of the true potential of God’s powers today. They delude themselves that they are empowered when in reality it is merely their own ambition. A true minister, called of God, frequently shies away from the calling, not jumping hurdles to get in as quick as they can.
    A few on this site I know are distinctly aware of Gods real power and approach it cautiously because it not to be trifled with.

    God bless all that have been truly called of God and may their lives be truly blessed.

    • dannybhoy

      I believe in being baptised in the Holy Spirit and anointed by the Holy Spirit.
      I believe in the fruit of the Spirit, and so much of that comes from obedience to our Lord; to be willing to be ‘a fool for Christ.’
      It seems to me that there is much that is vapid and inward looking in the Charismatic movement today. You think of the preaching and ministry of Dwight L Moody. Spurgeon, Wigglesworth even, General Booth, Billy Graham, so many, many great and fruitful saints.
      This is what we need now. Men and women unafraid to stand up for God’s word and God’s commandments.

    • I do try to remember to plug them on Twitter. Also recommend subscribing to the Christians in Parliament email.

  • preacher

    Thank you Gillan for a most edifying & enjoyable report.
    I hope that We will not go off piste, so to speak & start squabbling about gender in Ministry, or the ‘Gay’ debate. Both have been done to death & I feel that We need to begin seeking more positive avenues for the Wealth of talent of those that submit their opinions here.
    Today is a great chance to reach out & touch others, let’s not waste it folks.
    Blessings to all. P.

    • magnolia

      I agree except that I find that the older I get and the more I know the vaster I perceive the gulf between what God wants and how the world actually is, and that I struggle with what the US call “the normalcy bias” and what I suppose we call the normality bias. It is so hard to believe the grimness of some of what is happening that I need to read and re-read.

      Why did people react so little when others had their assets stolen in Cyprus?
      Why have we reacted so little when the ex Speaker of the House of Commons was discovered while getting to the lay top of the Methodist Conference to have been molesting little kids?
      Why did the BBC never repent in sackcloth and ashes over Saville?
      Do we get behind Mrs Batmangelidjh now having her name blackened in what she claims is comeback for challenging the Govt on child protection isssues?
      Do we care about the guy in Greece who says he worked for 50 years at sea and now has to beg to be allowed access to E120 of his own savings?
      Did we support Geoffrey Dickens back in the days when he was lampooned, for what turns out to have been right?

      As mostly regardless of how many celebratory services we have most Christians seem so exhausted or so busy that the Church largely passes by on the other side of the road on these exceptionally thorny issues,and others with some very honourable exceptions , that people who do take up often get severely harassed for so doing, or die in odd circumstances..

      We now know that Geoffrey Dickens is a stronger candidate for Heaven than George Thomas, but didn’t most Christians think the other way round while they were both alive?

      • preacher

        Totally agree Magnolia. I just sensed that we have been getting a bit stale lately & wanted to initiate some fresh thoughts & approaches to what is happening in the Church & outside of it.
        There are so many avenues that we have not trod, that could lift us & inspire not only us, but others that read this Blog.
        For Example what do others know or think of Bill Johnson & the team at Bethel Church in Redding & it’s teaching ?.

        Charismatic Speakers can impress with the liveliness of their meetings, but is the teaching scriptural ?.

        What are peoples thoughts on Revival, & What are the signs of true. Revival ?.

        How do we make our faith relevant to Young – & Old ?.

        Do we serve a living God or are we stuck in a religious time warp ?.

        As a famous character once said – ” The World is our Lobster “.

        Enjoy. P.

        • Shadrach Fire

          Preacher;
          I like your comments but ask this, You wrote, “Charismatic Speakers can impress with the liveliness of their meetings, but is the teaching scriptural “? It is not difficult to differentiate between Charisma and real content for Jesus taught; And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

          A preacher I knew would say; ‘No miracles, No Jesus’.
          Not always true but this marries with scripture and one should know when preaching witnesses with ones own Spirit.
          I would also comment on the term Revival. You can only revive something that was once alive, like the CofE. Otherwise we need an awakening, The world is asleep as to the message of God.

          • preacher

            I agree 100% But you know that a lot of what passes for teaching today is unrecognisable from a relatively short time ago. I well remember going to a highly publicised ‘Christian’ event with a well known & respected leader. It was awful with all sorts of manifestations, which was more like a circus parade that had crashed into an asylum.
            I actually had to go out as the atmosphere was so heavy. I prayed & asked God if it really was of Him & I was just old & prejudiced to show me. But if I was right, to leave me unmoved. I went back in & stood around for about an hour, feeling nothing. Once more I prayed & asked & I felt the answer was ” This is what you asked for ! “.

            I believe in Miracles & all the gifts of the Holy Spirit but they are His gifts & given at His discretion, I long for true revival, but It’s not something that any man can produce True revival often happens suddenly & unexpectedly, in answer to the prayers & supplications of the Saints.
            In many cases we are witnessing a pantomime of religion in our Churches.
            But the Christian Church was born afresh, on the morning of the resurrection & subsequently on the day of Pentecost she received power to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance & preach the gospel with signs & wonders following.
            That is what IMO we need, & I pray for today.

            But brother, we also need men & women of the same calibre as those first saints who are willing to give everything for Jesus Christ, even their lives if necessary for this to happen, then the World will wake up & the Kingdom of God will be established once again with mankind.

            I know from your previous posts that I’m preaching to the choir, but I hope that between us we may inspire some fire.
            ( Hmmmm, poetry or prose ).

            Many Blessings Brother. P.

          • Jack witnesses and participates in a wonderful miracle every time he attends Mass and receives the sacraments. Perhaps we should go back to basics and stop all the loud music, hand waving and leaping about. Regular, sober Sunday worship for families, sound preaching, good old fashioned hymns and the familiar prayers.

          • preacher

            I’m glad for you Jack, but why stop there ?. Have a look at my post above & give it some thought. Bless you bro’. P

          • Shadrach Fire

            Amen and Amen.

        • Dominic Stockford

          No revival without sincere repentance. No repentance without admission of sin.

      • Anton

        People should be aware that what they take to be money is actually government debt, and that banks are not vaults for secure storage of money. What is happening in Greece can happen here, and there was plenty of warning in that country.

        • magnolia

          Yes, I agree, and what is happening in Greece could happen here. The financially literate sentinel meerkats will have raised the alarm, and those who understand will have protected themselves, but being less financially literate is not a bad trait, and I feel along with others very sorry for those caught out. I see one guy has started a crowdfunding site for the Greeks which is a very lovely though rather quixotic venture. Me I just buy more Eridanous produce (though even that isn’t necessarily made there!)

          • Anton

            I’ll wait for the drachma before I buy Greek produce and holidays because they will be much cheaper then.

          • magnolia

            Perhaps we should be holding Greek evenings, with Greek produce, Tzatziki and stuffed vine leaves followed by greek yoghurt and Greek delight, to help the poor Greeks. Nice food, too. Not sure what the drinks would be!

          • Anton

            Ouzo. Good boozo.

    • sarky

      Scrolling down, I think you’ve lost that one!!!

      The church tears itself to pieces over these things and the rest of the world looks on in amusement, because we moved on a long time ago.

      • Martin

        Sarky

        Actually the Church doesn’t tear itself to pieces, it removes the rotten parts and grows stronger.

        • Absolutely. God is not working on our time-scales. To him, our life is but a mist. If it takes a few generations to clear out the rubbish, then so be it. 2000 years ago, the world thought it had ended Christianity by crucifying Jesus. Or would end Christianity in the Roman Empire by some severe clamp-downs. How wrong could it be?

        • sarky

          Unless it is so rotten it dies.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Then it isn’t part of the Church, and the Church continues.

      • Anton

        The rest of the world moved on? Actually it’s God who moved on, because even as Europe goes secular (and down the pan, sadly), communist China gains an increasingly influential set of believers – and there are a lot more Chinese than Europeans.

      • preacher

        O.K Bro’ no probs !.Time will tell.

  • I do pray that you are right. How we need another Wilberforce, another Shaftesbury- even, in some respects, another Paisley. However, if we know that one bad apple can spoil a whole barrel-load of good ones, what chance, humanly speaking, do half a dozen good apples have in a barrel-load of rotten ones? We are called to pray for our leaders and we need especially to pray for these new Christian MPs.
    .
    With regard to the C of E, I’m afraid that the candle-stick has been removed. The priests of Baal can dance around the altar as long as they like, but the fire is never going to come down for them. there are still some fine congregations within the C of E., and many fine Christians. They need to heed the voice from heaven in Rev. 18:4.

    • dannybhoy

      I applaud all Christians involved in government and the great offices of State, but I could wish that they would be willing to take on more of a leadership, prophetic role in rallying the nation on some issues.
      My fear is (and I’m open to rebuke) that the Christian Church still labours under the belief that Christians are always polite, always seeking harmony.
      Our voices are muted on issues like traditional marriage, abortion on demand, relative poverty, persecution of Christians overseas, etc.
      Granted Christians in politics cannot be radicals all the time, but neither should they be timid about proclaiming truth and righteousness. The Christian Church desperately needs leadership so that we have a rallying point a trumpet call.
      It won’t come from the CofE….

      • “My fear is (and I’m open to rebuke) that the Christian Church still labours under the belief that Christians are always polite and always seeking harmony rather than confrontation.”

        Gone are the days of plain speaking, Danny. It’s all nuance and code, for fear of alienating the public on the key issues. To think, the men leading the Church trained in theology and should know about man’s rebellious nature and sinful predisposition. When did the Church stop speaking about Satan, sin that offends the Perfect Holiness of God and avoided the reality of Hell?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Yes, though having been to a ‘prayer event’ in Parliament much of it consisted of people waving their arms about and uttering gobblydegook, so I have little hope that many of these people really understand their profession.

  • “Anne Hollinghurst is … ”

    We’ve still not yet learnt that God’s work needs to be done God’s way. God’s blessing is the one *and only* requirement of true growth, rather than just temporary noise.

    One of the glaring cultural sins of our age is the refusal to honour the fact that God made mankind male and female, and assigned roles to each. He gave the responsibility for leadership in the church to gifted men.

    When Christians decide that, on one of the major issues of the day, they can line up on the side that is defying God and seeking to de-construct his order for his creation, and still expect his blessing, they are partaking in utter foolishness. Do we think that God can be mocked, with no consequences?

  • Phil R

    “Anne Hollinghurst is a former inner-city youth worker describes her
    current role as a vicar in St Albans as ‘growing a vision for an
    outward-focused mission and ministry’. Her husband, Steve is currently a
    part-time tutor with the Church Army and a consultant, trainer and
    researcher in mission and contemporary culture. She too has been chosen
    because of her credentials in taking the Good News of Jesus out into the
    World.”

    The issue is that it should not be Anne that takes the lead. Why you ask it was decided by the Church Committee (Synod) that this is OK now. After all we are living in 2015 and women take the lead in lots of areas of life and so we have decided that it is God’s will that they take the lead in the Church.

    Sadly it is no different in essence to homosexuality, or any other sin we chose to condone.

    I want it, other people who are not Christians are doing it, so I want the Church to agree that it is OK.

    In the case of WBs I will stamp my feet and scream until you agree to my desires.

    Anglican men are on the whole too weak to stand up to them.

    BTW. If Christian men will not stand up to our women for what is right we have no chance of standing up against IS. Ever wondered how we would look dressed on orange? We might find out sooner than we expect.

    Yes Gillan they are great Christians, but it is like a house built on rotten foundations. No matter how much effort you put into the house and no matter how good it is to look at and even perhaps live in for a while. If the foundations are rotten it is wasted effort and the house will still fall.

    • magnolia

      So you are militantly against Catherine Booth (1829-1890) having led the Salvation Army too are you? Let’s have it on record!!

      • Dominic Stockford

        ‘militantly’? Against, yes.

      • Phil R

        She preached under the authority of her husband.

        Just like Joyce Meyer does now

        • magnolia

          But he was dead!!

          • Pubcrawler

            “I happily obey and learn from my satnav which is just a machine!!”

            I’d trust a proper OS map over a satnav any day of the week.

          • magnolia

            Should have written “obey within reason” or I’d end up impaled on bollards that the satnav was unaware of or doing a dangerous u turn in the middle of a dual carriageway. The funniest was being asked to do a u-turn in the middle of a tunnel!!

          • Phil R

            “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
            For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the
            church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits
            to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
            – Ephesians 5:22-24

            Seems pretty clear to me.

            Note it is

            “submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord”

            The problem is it is not fashionable to submit to the Lord. Especially for liberal Anglicans. Note Paul is not saying that your husband is clever, or more capable etc etc.

            You submit to him because he is your husband.

            Now what the feminists in the CofE always miss out is the next line

            “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
            Ephesians 5:25

            Magnolia if you continue to insist that women do not need to submit to their husbands you are also saying that husbands do not need to love their wives and give themselves up for them.

            How many women want to give up verse 25?

          • magnolia

            For women who have believed in your way in those verses it has often been a tragedy of epic proportions, involving domestic violence and SM and bondage. I have spoken to people like that, and, yes, your understanding is drastic. As St Paul writes “love does not insist on its own way” But also Jesus makes it clear that unless you love people you cannot love God. If you do not love God you have no place in heaven. Thus a woman who lets a man insist on his own way is depriving him of Heaven. Case closed.

          • Phil R

            “For women who have believed in your way in those verses it has often
            been a tragedy of epic proportions, involving domestic violence”

            Utter crap and I suspect you know it is.

            We are not talking about submitting to sinful desires. That would be a lack of love from the woman

          • magnolia

            But unless you can say I Corinthians 13 replacing “Love” with “I” you fall short. This is an exercise which David Watson used to recommend. And it is imcompatible with trying to lord it over one another, have the last word,with failing to listen to one another or exercise dominance, eiher male to female or female to male The Bible is not an easy handbook of dos and don’ts…It was never intended as primarily a book of rules. Nor did Jesus have any time for unworkable illogical rules, but instead he flouted them, and stated the reasons.

          • Phil R

            “Nor did Jesus ……….e for unworkable illogical rules, but instead he flouted them, and stated the reasons.”

            If there are no rules then Corinthians 13 is also optional.

            Ah but you decide to keep that one it seems

            for now anyways

          • Phil R

            And my earlier reply disappears also..!

            There were three issues

            Nobody is suggesting lording it over anyone is sanctioned by scripture

            i hope that you realise that i have different kind of love for my wife than my neighbour. There is no equivalence and there should not be. Therefore i stand by my assertion that if you bin the text stating that wives obey husbands you also remove obligations for husbands to love wives. This is a disaster for marriage

            N

          • Phil R

            My response seems to have been lost

            in essence it was if you want to lose the command to obey husbands you also lose the command to love wives

            I could also continue with your list above

            we could learn from listening to baal etc?

    • Martin

      Phil

      You make the women wanting to be bishops in the CoE sound like Violet Elizabeth, and I think you’re right.

      • magnolia

        You can’t be serious, and it sure ain’t funny…so…what on earth is it?

        • Martin

          Magnolia

          Deadly serious.

          • magnolia

            I wish you all joy of the worm.

          • Martin

            Magnolia

            With the spiritual state of the CoE, joy is not what it has.

    • “Anglican men are on the whole too weak to stand up to them.”

      It’s not just Anglican men. The Church is becoming increasingly feminised – compassion, mercy, forgiveness, all stressed whilst ignoring the Justice, Holiness and Judgement of God – a fluffy, cuddly God who welcomes everyone. Where are the men in this “Somewhere over the Rainbowism”, gnostic nonsense?

      • Phil R

        It’s me worship Jack

        I want to live my life as I want. So I believe in a God who loves me to do whatever I want to do.

        except if God does this it would not be love

  • Hi

    Do those who object to female leaders : is this in general or just in your churches?

    • preacher

      Hi Hannah. IMO we need a few Deborahs, Esthers, Marys & Magdalenes around today plus a few of the other assorted saints who lived & died for the message of redemption that Jesus (Yeshua) brought.

      • Hi

        Well Jewish women are a bit feisty 🙂

        • Pubcrawler

          Speaking from personal experience, aren’t they just… 🙂

    • Dominic Stockford

      The New Testament commands, ‘women should nor have authority over men’ – given that authority comes from God’s Word, it is clearly primarily within the church that women should not be in ‘ministry’ and preaching roles (as also in the orthodox synagogues). There is also a natural hierarchy within the family, where the responsibility of the man in taking the lead role is balanced by his requirement to be ready to (as Jesus did) die for his family.

    • Matthew

      I have read “Leadership is Male” by David Pawson and
      “Women and the Kingdom” by Faith and Roger Forster. The latter explains many of the “difficult” passages and looks at the original Greek. It persuaded me that female leadership is Godly and I recommend this book to all who are interested (even if you disagree with me).

    • Darter Noster

      I don’t object to female leaders; Margaret Thatcher is a personal heroine.

      I don’t object to female leadership in the Church either; all three of the most recent Doctors of the Church are women. St. Catherine of Siena, St. Theresa of Calcutta, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Julian of Norwich – the list of women who have shown exemplary leadership in the Church goes on and on.

      None of those women needed to be priests to fulfill their calling. The sacramental priesthood is a position which represents the paternity of God, and the way he chose to relate to us as a father. To mistake “the priesthood” for “leadership in the Church” is a Protestant error which has sadly taken root in the Roman church too; reserving the priesthood to men does not exclude women from following their calling, from taking on leadership roles, or from being beacons of Christ in the world, as they have been for centuries.

      • … but, do remember, is only ordained men who exercise leadership of the institutional and teaching Church and Pope Francis has recently indicated this isn’t about to change.

      • Anton

        Some of us don’t believe in the ordination of men either. St Peter himself was very clear that all believers are priests (1 Pe 2:9).

        It won’t do for those in churches that ordain to reply that believers comprise ordained priests and non-ordained priests, because their services of ordination contain the words “ordained as a priest” with the antiscriptural implication that the ordinand was not a priest beforehand.

        The existence of such a officer class in the church depowers the so-called laity into passive reception, while the ordained class comprises either the puffed-up or the conscientious who end up exhausted because they try to do the spiritual work of an entire congregation. (Just ask wives of male Anglican clergy.)

      • Cool.

      • Pubcrawler

        Add Hildegard of Bingen, championed by Bernard of Clairveaux, to that list.

        “None of those women needed to be priests to fulfill their calling”

        Indeed. Nor did any of them aspire to or agitate for it.

  • Inspector General

    All is not lost for the Church though. Even the Church of England for all of its failings is getting some things right. Yesterday two new Bishops were announced. What is of interest this time is not that we have another woman being appointed to the role, but rather the backgrounds of Graham Tomlin who will become Bishop of Kensington and Anne Hollinghurst, the next Bishop of Aston.

    Is it now? From Wiki – “Hollinghurst has described herself as a feminist“

    God’s truth, Scott! That is particularly lame even for you. Have you ever researched feminism? Do you even know what feminism is about? Does it come as some surprise to you that feminism is the antithesis of God’s role for womankind? Some of it and all of it, no less!

    It is becoming apparent, that given time, the Church of England will have no place for Christians. The hostility towards them will mount, especially once the worm that is Same Sex Marriage burrows into it and its larvae emergeth forth …

    • Inspector General

      From Wiki….

      Some feminists object to the fact that “woman” and “women” are “man” and “men” with a “wo-” prepended.“By taking the “men” and “man” out of the words “woman” and “women” we are symbolically saying that we do not need men to be “complete”. We, as womyn, are not a sub-category of men. We are not included in many of the history books, studies and statistics that are done in male dominated societies, thus they do not apply to us, for in these items we do not exist. In these societies men are the “norm” and women the “particular,” a mere sub-category of the “norm,” of men. The re-spelling of the word “woman” is a statement that we refused to be defined by men. We are womyn and only we have the right to define our relationships with ourselves, society, with other womyn and men. These re-spellings work as a symbolic act of looking at and defining ourselves as we really are, not how men and society view us, but through our own female views of ourselves, as self-defined womyn.[5]

      • CliveM

        Every movement has their nutters. Just because there are some it doesn’t mean the whole movement is wrong.

        Otherwise where would Christianity be (not mentioning any names, ahem!!)

    • dannybhoy

      http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&ved=0CCAQFjAAOApqFQoTCM2L4-W2v8YCFUdK2wodJdsAJw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.biblesociety.org.uk%2Fuploads%2Fcontent%2Fbible_in_transmission%2Ffiles%2F2001_spring%2FBiT_Spring_2001_Hollinghurst.pdf&ei=h76WVY2sBceU7QaltoO4Ag&usg=AFQjCNEnIR4ACi-u5BIec598WkNSEXVk3A&bvm=bv.96952980,d.ZGU&cad=rja

      Not sure if this is where you got your info, but this is well worth a read. The thing is that whether a male or female in ministry, Christ Jesus is to be exalted.

      If you have an axe to grind you’re not glorifying Christ.
      If you are trying to prove something, you’re not glorifying Christ.
      If you’re arguing for sexual equality in the Church, then you’re not glorifying Christ.

      If the anointing of the Holy Spirit is upon you, other godly men and women will recognise it.

    • Inspector General,

      His Grace’s Deputy Editor is not a moron. He will undoubtedly have read -> http://archbishopcranmer.com/this-is-what-a-feminist-theology-looks-like/ Feminism is not a mono-dimensional creed with immutable precepts: in some respects, Christ was a feminist.

      • Inspector General

        One was in the preparation of a robust reply. But it will not be posted. We must all cherish our right to be annoyed, and be graceful about it, of course.

        Instead, this man offers his apologies ‘to the management’, and will take no further part in proceedings tonight.. One thing if you will, please don’t associate Christ with feminism, not feminism as we know it today.

        • Come now, Inspector, no need to withdraw. We both know from experience our good host can take a “robust reply” that is erudite and free of ad hominem.

          A link was provided to an article outlining the Archbishops position. You thoughts on this might be a good penance for bad mouthing Gillan (again).

          • Inspector General

            Withdrawal is a question of honour, old chap. When a fellow is subject to discipline, he too must apply his own self discipline in tandem.

            Anyway, “in some respects, Christ was a feminist” floored the Inspector. He went off and mulled if there was any merit in those few words. Did not find anything to suggest that Christ wanted anything other from womankind than family orientation and support of their husband to the exclusion of their own outside interests if they so conflict.

      • dannybhoy

        Our Lord most definitely wasn’t a feminist! He respected women, he understood them. But there is no way you could extrapolate from His interaction with women that He was a feminist.
        If He wanted to prove a point He would have chosen a female disciple.
        Of course he didn’t, because equality was not the order of the day.

        • CliveM

          “Men and women are equal but different.”

          Do you remember who said that? :0)

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, me!
            In Christ we are equal -or are women saved “steerage class?”
            In the Church I believe a woman can exercise a God given ministry because other men and women will recognise that God has anointed them with a particular gift.
            The main point is that we all serve Christ anf glorify Him -not our “cause”, not our gender.

          • CliveM

            Oh I agree there.

            It’s easy to forget how unfairly women have been treated in fairly recent history. Not by everyone. But I can’t help but feel that some of the outrage is generated by bruised male ego’s and not for honest biblical concern.

          • dannybhoy

            Thanks for reminding me of what I said Clive. We should all be challenged in our thinking, especially us Christians. Men and women are equal but different. I think that fits in with my idea that Christians are part of the Kingdom of God and also citizens of the earthly society in which we live and work.
            So pre Industrial Revolution men and women’s roles were more clearly defined. Through technological advancements the lines have blurred, and women have taken on more and varied roles. Of course the two world wars helped speed up the changes.
            In the Kingdom of God these changes do not at first glance fit into the record and commandments of the Bible. Yet Christianity was born into a brutal empire in which slavery was the norm, and now through the influence of Christianity coupled with Greek philosophical ideas we live in various forms of democracy.
            The danger for us is that we incorporate secular concepts of equality, diversity and inclusion into the Church. They don’t fit. We are to prefer one another in love, to serve one another, to humble ourselves, not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, etc etc.
            No room in the Kingdom for union rights, demands and negotiations!
            (So by and large men continue to do what they are best suited to, and women do the work and generally keep things going… :0)
            I do believe therefore that the Lord can elevate a man or a woman into a prominent role or ministry, but not as a matter of right or equality.

          • CliveM

            One of the sad things about this is how the debate gets polarised and I think traps people into proclaiming a more extreme position then they mean. That with a tendency then to quote the most extreme examples and present them as the norm often has the affect of causing divisions where there could so easily be none.

            I tend to agree with your last sentence.

          • Albert

            In Christ we are equal

            Equally what?

          • dannybhoy

            Equally heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ Jesus..
            Romans 8>
            16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

            And that includes women Albert, for there are no second class citizens in Heaven.

          • Albert

            I agree with everything you have written here – my point if moot now because you have already said in another place (if I read you correctly) that a woman cannot have a headship role in Church.

        • You must define ‘feminist’, Danny.

          • dannybhoy

            A feminist is one who supports feminism, the idea that men and women should be completely equal socially, politically economically and opportunity.

      • Lol …. Welcome back Archbishop.

        • Shadrach Fire

          He’s probably not back Jack but reading this on a sunny beach somewhere. Conducting a mission no doubt.

          • Anton

            He found it warm enough in 1556…

    • Dominic Stockford

      It is not good in the slightest, yet another woman made bishop when the Bible is clear that they shouldn’t be preaching at all. I wonder what the ratio of women to men apppointments is since women were permitted to masquerade as bishops in the CofE

    • Linus

      I welcome the embishopification (is that the right verb?) of all these radical feminist wimmin.

      As the House of Bishops lurches even further to the left and the popular image of the vicar passes from a pale and podgy bespectacled man smelling of mothballs to a pale and podgy Eton cropped womyn with licorice Allsorts earrings and an “interesting” macramé and beadwork chasuble, the Church will lose whatever prestige it still clings onto, and people will come to associate Christianity with mad but essentially harmless hippies, Greens and vegans.

      From the secular point of view, this is all very satisfactory.

      A few “irréductibles” like the Inspector will continue to cling to the faith of their bigoted and misogynistic fathers. They’ll stamp and shout and call foul and try their best to halt the slide towards liberalism. But the unstoppable tide of change will sweep them and their incorrectly conjugated attempts at Middle English away without a trace. It always does. King Canute knew it. Why don’t you?

      Pauvre Inspecteur, if only you knew that the third person plural form of a Middle English verb in the present indicative is (or was) identical to its bare infinitive, and that only in the third person singular does (or did) it take a -th suffix, you might have enough intellectual credibility to be a spokesperson for the conservative position. You don’teth, so you’re notteth. And who among the ranks of the “old crusted” is going to follow someone who can’t even talk right, eh, me old Shiner?

      • Inspector General

        Linus, you are a living embodiment of degeneration, and the Inspector’s dearest wish is that one day he’ll get to parade you around for all to witness, on the end of a pole and strap…

        • Linus

          Is this really the place to display your sexual fantasies for all to see? BDSM may pop your cork, but it does nothing for me. Of course I can’t control what you lust after, but ew! I’d rather not know…

          • Inspector General

            Do you know, your chemical castration would be a kindness to all concerned, not least, you.

          • The Explorer

            The divine is needed, more than the physician. (‘Macbeth’ 5: 1).

      • The Explorer

        The fathers can’t have been unduly misogynistic, or their descendants would not exist.

        • Linus

          You do know that misogynist doesn’t mean gay, don’t you.

          I mean, there are certainly gay misogynists. But the majority are heterosexual and want to have sex with women even if they dislike them and treat them like inferior beings.

          I assume the Inspector to be descended from one of these. We all are somewhere along the line, just further back for most of us…

          • The Explorer

            Thanks, old chum, I do know that. Tennyson’s “Something dearer than his dog, a little better than his horse,” perfectly sums up the attitude you are describing.

            The gay misogyny thing is interesting. I know gays who like, and are liked by, straight women. But as an enthusiastic admirer of the female body myself, I find myself at odds with the contempt for it among an element of the gay community.

        • CliveM

          Did you not think that whole piece read as a bad pastiche of the screwtape letters.

          • The Explorer

            The sentiments trouble me more than the style. Look at how many things are attacked. “The heart is sorely charged. I would not have such a heart in my bosom for the dignity of the whole body.” (‘Macbeth’, 5:1).

  • preacher

    Has anybody thought that this problem has arisen because of mankind’s meddling with God’s original plan for His Church ?.
    Christ left a mixture of people of both genders to carry the Gospel to the World, they were born again, Baptised in the Holy Spirit, sold out for Jesus disciples, who saw the power of God working wherever they went.
    They had different ministries & gifts but it all fitted together & worked.

    One might be forgiven for wondering if men hadn’t elevated certain people to positions of power & influence above the rest of the saints, perhaps the whole situation of ordination based on gender would never have arisen, & leaders would have naturally been elected on the basis of their spiritual maturity & abilities recognised by the people of their fellowships.

    • CliveM

      I think there is a clue in the disciples squabbling over who will be the most important. To much of this debate to me seems to be about a desire for status and is not about what is most honouring to God. Women had a leading role in the early Church including prophesy.

      • preacher

        AMEN !!! brother.

        • Hmmm …. but where will you stop once you set aside God’s clearly expressed desire for a male only ministry, the actions of Jesus and 2000 years of Christian tradition?

          Thankfully, the Catholic Church has a settled and unchanging position on this particular issue. John Paul II stated in Ordinatio sacerdotalis:

          “[The Church] holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.”

          Not conclusive proof – and not really a tightly worked set of theological arguments, but then it doesn’t claim to be. However, it is consistent with human reason and biblical data. We have to trust the Church is preserving God’s sovereign freedom to select only men. As for the reasons, we may not know this side of eternity, but it is His will. Once you suspect the Church is misogynistic, lying, or anti-women and culturally out of date, you are in very dangerous spiritual territory.

          As a Catholic, when it comes to settled Church doctrine, you either accept the Church as a loving teacher, invested with God’s authority and acting according to His will, or you can look on her as an opponent. However, once you mistrust the Church and loose faith in her, what gift has she to offer?

          • preacher

            But Jack, I don’t see Where God clearly says that it is a male only ministry. When I read of Jesus’ Earthly ministry, I see many examples of women disciples. True that men were chosen as apostles, but they had physical attributes that suited the task of planting new Churches in a World that saw women in a similar light to the way that Islam still sees them, as not much more than chattels & the possessions of men.

            I find it quite an anomaly that the Church in Rome denies women have a leadership role to play but elevate Mary to almost equality with Christ, even to the tradition of been assumed up into heaven.

            Not all women are equal, but neither are all men I might go so far as to say that male pride & greed have caused more wars & grief over the centuries than women ever would.

            I don’t see the Church as an opponent, but feel that in any religious group, discernment is vital. to correct teaching & spiritual health. No man ( or woman for that matter ) is infallible. Human reason & logic is proven untrustworthy, especially in matters of religion. Jesus reproved the actions & greed of the Pharisees on many occasions, stating that they often suited themselves in interpretation of the law & traditions of men. their response was to arrest Him, hold an illegal trial complete with false witnesses & kill Him.
            Therefore I don’t mistrust God, but feel that men should be watched more closely when they hold the reins of power.

            I’d love to go on but it’s 3 A.M & it’s been a long day so God Bless you & keep you & yours safe.

          • Ivan M

            Mary was the closest human being to Christ when he walked on the Earth. From His birth to death no one else was closer. There is no near equality to Christ, she remains a creature. She is of the sentimental part of the Church and can be moved on our behalf if we beseech Her. But no one is compelled in any Catholic congregation to ask of Her anything, its just that its a lot easier with Her help.

          • preacher

            Ivan. I agree with your first statement & i don’t want to get into the old debate about prayer & all the other rites of the Roman Catholic Church V the Protestant Church as I feel it produces more heat than light & resolves nothing.
            The main thrust of my post is that we are all creatures, – true ! so if we can accept the fact that a woman & many other women held a special place in the life of the Lord, & in the early Church, why are they regarded by many as inferior to men ? They taught, supported financially, testified, suffered & were martyred alongside of their brothers & sisters & still are sharing the same persecution in the world today.
            Jesus’s acceptance & treatment of women shook the old regime of the scribes & Pharisees to it’s core. It seems to me that they were more open in their adoration of Him & yes, even braver than many of the men. They were the last at His Cross & the first at His tomb, Mary Magdalene was the first to meet & speak to the risen Christ. But it seems now that religion has consigned half of our brethren back to where they were before Jesus initiated the New Covenant.
            Now I’m no feminist, but I do like to see a level playing field & justice unfettered by dead tradition, I also feel that we need as many strong Christians as we can get regardless of gender. My personal feelings are that the World Wide Church is about to undergo a persecution unlike any seen before, & we should be preparing ALL believers for the battle ahead.
            I hope this clarifies my position brother. Blessings. P.

          • CliveM

            Agreed.

          • Ivan M

            preacher, while I have known many women devoted to the service of Christ, these same persons had no desire to exercise any kind of leadership role or replace the role of the priest. I personally would not attend any service headed by a woman, except Protestant funerals where I have no choice. The priestly functions are in some mysterious ways connected with the male principle. This is true across all cultures. Preaching the Gospels though is open to anyone who loves Christ. Thank you for your Blessings.

          • Anton

            “Mary was the closest human being to Christ when he walked on the Earth. From His birth to death no one else was closer.”

            From his birth to the start of his ministry no one else was closer. But during that ministry he never called her “mother” in public conversation, only “woman” (a respectful title in that culture, but more distant); she did not share in that peripatetic ministry; and in particular we read in Matthew 12:46-50:

            While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

          • Ivan M

            Surely you know of the story of the wedding, where Jesus tells His Mother not to bother Him, yet makes an unheard of wine-fest upon Mary telling the servants : “Do whatever he tells you to do..”.

            Without her “be it done unto me according to Thy Will…”, there would be no Christianity as we know it today. At that moment the very fate of the world was in Her hands.

            She apparently didn’t understand very much, thought that Jesus had come to free the poor and humble the rich and restore the Kingdom to Israel , and would have been in bleak despair at the foot of the Cross. Yet She kept everything in Her heart and humbly followed the instructions of Her Son on the Cross. She is the model of Christian fidelity. The very first and greatest Christian.

          • Anton

            I am not against the Mary of the gospels. I am against the Mary of Rome. Incidentally at Cana she nagged Jesus into doing a miracle before he had intended to. A small sin, to be sure, and one easily forgiven by such a gracious Lord and son, but a sin nevertheless, for she is a descendant of Adam and no exception to Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fallen short…”. That is why she needed a saviour, as she acknowledged in the Magnificat.

            We have no idea how many young women were available down the prophesied line to become the mother of the Messiah. Of them, she was chosen for her faith and motherly qualities. God bless her.

          • Ivan M

            Your idea of the parental authority of Mary is pretty odd. When Jesus wa 12 years old he went missing in the Temple. Were His parents sinning when they questioned him on His whereabouts? Subsequent to that He lived under His parents authority for decades.

          • Anton

            No they weren’t sinning when they questioned him on the way back from his bar mitzvah, but Mary got a (gentle) rebuke for her nagging him into doing a miracle before he was ready at Cana (the Greek means, idiomatically, Don’t interfere). Jesus, being perfect, never rebuked anybody wrongly. so this was a sin albeit a minor one. If you think I am labouring the point it is because some people have the heretical belief that Mary lived her life without sin.

            What exactly is odd about my beliefs?

          • Ivan M

            The people at the wedding were known to Mary. That is why they asked for Her help. As a kinswoman, She able to share in their embarrassment at the wine running out. So she asked Her Son as any mother would. That He was irritated about it, has no bearing on the fact that He did in fact create a miracle. Which shows to anyone that He is prepared to go the extra mile where His Mother was concerned, whether He was ready or not. There is nothing superfluous in the Gospels otherwise it would not be recorded

            Your reading of the Gospels is odd, actually bizarre to me, when at first you seemed to indicate that Mary was a sinner merely because She had asked of a favour. By your standards, the Cananite woman pleading for her daughter’s life was a sinner, since she was a mighty irritant, the same with the woman who had an uncontrollable issue of blood for tugging at His hem, and the Samaritan woman since she asked how He as a Jew could obtain water from her.

          • Anton

            Because Jesus is perfect, any irritation on his part shows that the person irritating him is sinning. So Mary was sinning. Not a big sin and one easily forgiven by a loving God and son, but still a sin and therefore counter to certain strange views of Mary. The Canaanite woman, in contrast, did not irritate Jesus.

          • Ivan M

            Your confidence in your assertions of who sinned and who did not is not warranted by any plain reading of the text. I don’t see anything but private idiosyncrasies..

          • Anton

            It is possible not to see because you are blinded by certain doctrines, of course; far be it from me to assert that this is what you are, but you have agreed verbatim that Mary “irritated” Jesus at Cana, and to irritate the perfect divinity is the very definition of sin, is it not? I repeat that this is a small sin and one readily forgiven by a loving God and son, but it suffices to show that Mary did not live her life without sin.

          • She is of the sentimental part of the Church and can be moved on our behalf if we beseech Her
            No she can’t. Wherein the Scriptures is there even the slightest hint of that?
            The Five Principles of Answered Prayer are found in
            John 16:23 (which pretty much excludes prayers to Mary)
            Psalm 66:18
            1 John 5:14
            Mark 11:24 and
            Luke 18:1

            its just that its a lot easier with Her help.

            No it isn’t. Not in the slightest.

          • Albert

            Psalm 66 in particular seems to me to be very suggestive of ecclesial prayer. Evil is found in our hearts, so what’s wrong with asking those holier than we are to pray for us? And why do you have such a downer on asking others to pray for us anyway?

          • A quick flick through Psalm 66 revealed no mention of the virgin Mary or prayers to anyone else but God.
            All prayer should be directed to God, otherwise it is idolatry. Simples.

          • Albert

            Obviously it doesn’t refer to the BVM. But it does speak of God hearing the prayer of the righteous as opposed to the sinner. Thus it makes sense for the sinner to ask for the prayers of the righteous.

            But I notice that you have not answered my question:

            why do you have such a downer on asking others to pray for us anyway?

            The word “prayer” is perhaps confusing in modern English, for it traditionally has a wider meaning, as in “Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?” Now in that sense, you cannot object to praying to others – that is, of asking them to pray for us.

          • ‘Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?’ There is no indication in Scripture (unless you are going to appeal to 1 Samuel 28, which would be very interesting) that the dead can hear our prayers or intervene on our behalf. Certainly we have no Biblical warrant to ask them to do anything.

          • Albert

            These passages are not relevant for we are not talking about consulting with the dead. Rather, we are talking about simply our communion with the dead being maintained:

            “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”

            You say we cannot ask for the prayers of the dead because they are dead. We say, with Jesus that they are alive, and that our communion with them is maintained:

            But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.

            Now in the light of such evidence, there is no way in which you can show asking for the prayers of such is wrong without raising the need to prove things from scripture to such a point of explicitness that you will not be able to prove that doctrine itself from scripture.

          • I certainly can show you. Mary is dead; as dead as David. ‘Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day’ (Acts 2:29). That both David and Mary are with their Saviour awaiting the resurrection at the Last day is doubtless true; that, if the Lord tarries, Christians will join them there is also true; but dead they are nonetheless. But David, ‘……Spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up’ (vs.31-2).
            .
            Yes, Jesus was raised up,
            according to the power of an endless life’ (Hebrews 7:16). He is the Living One (Rev. 1:18) and ‘Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them’ (Heb. 7:25). Since Christians have a Great High Priest who lives for ever, who has offered the one acceptable sacrifice for sin forever, and is ever present at God’s right hand to intercede for them, I ask again, ‘Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?’ Why bow and scrape before the dead statue of a dead person (cf. Psalm 115:4-8), when you can come before the true and living God through your great and living Saviour?

          • Albert

            To infer from David of the OT to the entirety of the NT does not make sense to me. You have given no reason for me to suppose that Mary is not alive in Christ. And if she is alive, why cannot she pray? Prayer does not overthrow the unique mediatorship of Christ. It presumes it.

          • Actually, I quoted from the New Testament. Didn’t you notice?

          • Albert

            If you really think that’s an adequate response to the point I made, you need to read Hebrews. It was not the quotation I was concerned with but the inference that what is true of those of the OT is also true of those of the NT. This is plainly untrue, for the OT is a shadow of the good things to come. Therefore, as the Lord says:

            I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

            So you see, your Protestant view makes no sense – you infer from one scripture what is contrary to another, and you make your rejection of Catholicism the cause of your contradiction of the Lord.

          • I was merely concerned to point out that you don’t seem to know the differences and connections between the Testaments. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive to Christ (Matt. 8:11; 22:32) Why not David? Yet he is described as dead, as, in Hebrews, are all the Patriarchs (Heb. 11:13). The Old Testament saints rest alongside the NT ones awaiting the Last Day. But they’re dead. You can say that they’ve ‘fallen asleep’ (Daniel 12:2; Acts 7:60) if you want, but that won’t help you. ‘Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep’ (Psalm 121:4).
            .
            There is one Person to whom we should pray whose ear is ever open to hear them; one Name in whom we should make our prayers, and one Spirit who should inspire them. Prayer to anyone else, even if you call it petitioning or anything else, is idolatry, and there’s an end to it.

          • Albert

            You still seem to be missing the point I am making. If the OT dead are alive in God, then how much more those of the NT? That was the whole point of my quotation of our Lord. You seem also not to notice that the plain teaching of the NT is that communion with our brothers and sisters is not destroyed by death. That was the point of my quotation of Hebrews earlier.

            Prayer to anyone else, even if you call it petitioning or anything else, is idolatry, and there’s an end to it.

            On your authority, you say there’s an end to it. But if you allow us to ask each other to pray for us (and this you cannot deny – I have given scripture in favour of that) and if you allow that the dead in Christ are alive, then you cannot simply say it is idolatry to ask them to pray for us. I cannot see the difference, to be honest, because, following scripture, I believe they are still alive in Christ. To sustain your position, you are going to need to come with some kind of doctrine of death that deals with that.

            So far are you from managing this, you actually seem to be making my point for me. For you say they “are alive to Christ”. This too can hardly be denied, for he even went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

            So the purpose of Acts 2 is not to say David is dead in any way that would prevent his soul being present to Christ, but to show that he has not been resurrected. But as for the souls of Christians, we read:

            I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?”

            So you simply cannot infer that David is dead in any sense that would prevent his prayers and you cannot infer from him to what happens with NT dead. As we can see clearly set out in scripture, the souls of the faithful are alive with God, they pray, and we have communion with them (Heb.12.23). We can ask for the prayers of those with whom we are in communion, and this does not in any way infringe upon Christ’s unique mediatorship, therefore, you have no grounds to object to asking the saints to pray for us. On the contrary, it is a conclusion drawn logically from each of those scriptural propositions.

          • Christ is the Living One (Revelation 1:18). He is this in distinction to any other person, or the verse is meaningless. He is also the Sinless One (John 8:46) in distinction to any other person (Romans 3:23 etc.), including Mary who knew full well that she needed a Saviour (Luke 1:47).
            There is simply no Biblical evidence that we are to ask deceased (is that word better for you than dead?) people to do anything for us. There is Biblical instance (Job 42:10) and instruction (Ephesians 6:18-19 etc.) for Christians to ask other living people to pray for them. For the third time therefore, ‘Should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?’ (Isaiah 8:19). According to you, and your faulty interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19f, it appears that no one is dead, so presumably the verse is meaningless.

          • Albert

            Obviously, Christ is in distinction with everyone else, but that does not mean that you can somehow claim they are not alive in him, when scripture makes it clear that they are alive in him. Obviously Mary knew she needed a Saviour, I will ignore the question of her sinlessness as that will be an unnecessary distraction.

            There is simply no Biblical evidence that we are to ask deceased (is that word better for you than dead?) people to do anything for us.

            I gave a clear logical argument for that. There is no Biblical evidence that we need direct Biblical evidence for everything, therefore my argument, drawn logically from biblical sources, suffices. It’s no good you keep quoting Isaiah 8.19 when I have already answered that. One only has to give the whole quote to see why it fails to do the work you need it to do:

            And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?

            No one is suggesting we should have some kind of seance to conjure up dead saints and ask them to tell us what to do. We are simply reflecting the fact that our communion with them has not been broken, and so, as we could ask their prayers on earth, so now that they are in heaven. The fact that you keep having quote this singularly irrelevant verse is telling to answer my biblical argument is telling: scripture simply does not have a passage to defend your position.

            According to you, and your faulty interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19f, it appears that no one is dead, so presumably the verse is meaningless.

            What’s fault about my interpretation of 1 Pet.3.19? Obviously, they are dead or they couldn’t be in heaven. The question is, as far as our communion with them and their communion with Christ are concerned, what does it mean that they are dead? The Bible has one answer, you have another. To be honest, you sound a bit like the atheist philosopher Antony Flew, who once argued that life after death is obviously impossible, because it is contradictory. Anyone can see what he means, and for that reason can see his argument as a fail.

          • Mary is dead and her body has long since rotted in the ground. I don’t wish to be unpleasant but that is the fact. That her soul is alive with Christ and that she will rise on the Last Day is wonderfully true, but no one in Scripture but Saul asks a dead person to do anything for him, and I think you’ll agree that it didn’t work out any too well for him.

            ‘There is no Biblical evidence that we need direct Biblical evidence for everything’

            Sheesh! “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honours Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me, and in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God you hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:6-8).
            .
            Anything for which there is no clear Biblical warrant is the commandments or the tradition of men. Time and again our Lord asks the Pharisees, “Have you not read…./” or declares, “It is written.” We have no warrant to do anything in our Christian life for which we cannot find precept or example in the word of God.
            .
            Is it your view that the ‘spirits in prison’ are actually in heaven?? If so your interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19 is even worse than I thought. If you really want me to explain it I will do so in another post, but otherwise I am finishing with this thread. I don’t think anyone else is reading it. You can make the final comment if you wish.

          • Albert

            1. Mary is dead and her body has long since rotted in the ground.

            That is to imply a level of faithlessness on the part of God which is unfitting.

            2. “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honours Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me, and in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God you hold the tradition of men”

            You suggestion is that if something isn’t in scripture then it is a tradition of men. But that is spectacularly unscriptural. Firstly, sola scriptura is not in scripture, as we know. Therefore, on your own terms it is a tradition of men, and therefore your whole system falls to incoherent ruins. Secondly, the NT does speak positively of tradition:

            I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.

            So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

            Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us

            You confuse tradition of men with Holy tradition, thereby rendering your own position doubly unscriptural and doubly incoherent. You seem to fail to see that scripture itself regards some tradition as being of God. So,

            for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God.

            3. You ask:

            Is it your view that the ‘spirits in prison’ are actually in heaven??

            Did I say that? Did I even imply it? How can you expect to interpret faithfully the words of scripture, when you cannot even interpret correctly the words of men? This is what I said:

            you say they “are alive to Christ”. This too can hardly be denied, for he even went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

            The point is to make a comparison, as with David and Jesus. If even the spirits of the disobedient are somehow alive, how much more then the righteous?

            4. Even setting aside all this, I have given clear logical argument from scriptural premises in favour of asking the dead to pray for us. You have done very little to answer this, except to say “It isn’t in the Bible”, but, as my argument shows, it is more in the Bible that your doctrine of sola scriptura.

          • Did I say that? Did I even imply it? How can you expect to interpret faithfully the words of scripture, when you cannot even interpret correctly the words of men?

            This is what I was replying to:

            What’s fault about my interpretation of 1 Pet.3.19? Obviously, they are dead or they couldn’t be in heaven.

            If you write gobbledegook, it’s no use being surprised if people misunderstand you.
            The rest of your nonsense I will pass over. It is the same tired old stuff that has been refuted on this blog more than once before.

          • Albert

            No, you had already objected to interpretation of 1 Pet 3.19. My response to that, is admittedly unclear, because I am responding to you. I had used 1 Pet 3.19 as evidence that even the wicked are alive in some sense, so how much more the righteous. You objected to this use of 1 Pet.3, but did not say what you objected to. The “they” you refer to was therefore the “they” of the original argument – the righteous, who are alive in Christ, who retain communion with us (Heb), and pray (Rev.).

            My arguments have not been refuted on this blog. Scripture is far more glorious and rich than your human tradition will allow. You raise and lower the bar of proof depending on whether you agree with what is being said.

          • Ivan M

            Her role in on the road to salvation is there in the Gospels for those who seek it. I have no problem with anyone not wanting to go through intermediaries and so on. It is not a deal breaker for me. But I do know of numerous priests who have credited Her for Her help in their fidelity to their vocation.

          • Her role on the road to salvation is there in the Gospels for those who seek it.
            Show me.

          • Anton

            In 1 Timothy 3, Paul gives the qualifications for being in church leadership including being a “man of one woman”.

          • dannybhoy

            Well of course becausem that’s how society then was. Others have made the point that members of that male only ministry ‘

          • Albert

            I find it quite an anomaly that the Church in Rome denies women have a leadership role to play but elevate Mary to almost equality with Christ, even to the tradition of been assumed up into heaven.

            If you really believe that, justice itself demands that you get yourself informed, before you again express yourself on the subject.

            True that men were chosen as apostles, but they had physical attributes that suited the task of planting new Churches in a World that saw women in a similar light to the way that Islam still sees them, as not much more than chattels & the possessions of men.

            So you think the incarnation God colludes in his own actions with what is wrong with his society, rather than acting faithfully to what is true and overturning what was wrong? How is that consistent with the scripture that says he is the Word of God made flesh full of grace and truth? Is this perhaps the reason why you think we view Mary as almost equal to Christ: that you do not see God the Incarnate Son as equal to God the Father?

          • Praise God is is possible to have a male-only leadership in the churches without all the nonsense of the Church of Rome.
            https://fiec.org.uk/resources/article/women-in-ministry-statement

          • dannybhoy

            There are Christians in every denomination Jack. That doesn’t mean any or every denomination has their doctrine completely right.
            Men and women complement each other. In God are found the masculine and feminine principles.
            We are called to be kings and priests unto God, a Royal Priesthood. I think Catholic priests need wives as much as Anglican priests do, unless the Lord has called them individually into a life of celibacy.
            The New Testament Scriptures nowhere teach a separate priesthood, and nowhere teach a separate celibate priesthood.

          • Albert

            The NT clearly, and explicitly reveals an apostolic ministry distinct from the laity. No one claims that celibacy is required by divine law in the Church. Where does scripture teach you cannot do something if (we say) it is not found in scripture?

          • dannybhoy

            Albert,

            the NT clearly and explicitly doesn’t teach anything of the sort!
            1 Corinthians 12
            12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
            14
            For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[e] yet one body.

            I don’t even buy into the charismatic/modern idea of apostles. The apostles were those twelve disciples appointed and anointed by our Lord to fulfil The Great Commission.
            The Scriptures both Old and New contain all that is necessary unto salvation and sound doctrine. I would never accept that one person, be he Pope or Archbishop, priest or minister “speaks as the voice of God.”
            I do believe a man or woman can be anointed of the Holy Spirit with a word from God, but not as having God’s authority.

          • Albert

            Well that’s interesting, because I would have thought that if you would be hard put to pick a passage which more clearly expressed the view I am defending. Paul’s logic is clear and explicit: we are all one in Christ (hence, one body), but that we have different roles (hence different members), and those roles do not abolish the unity. To see the force of Paul’s teaching of course, we have to quote a little more:

            And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.
            Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
            etc.

            It is because of this, that Paul is able to chastise the Galatians which is apostolic office.

            The apostles were those twelve disciples appointed and anointed by our Lord to fulfil The Great Commission.

            So Paul is not an apostle? Anyway, how do you know that your interpretation is the correct one? I assume you infer it from your reading of 1 Corinthians 12, but I would argue that you have interpreted that passage back to front: its purpose is precisely to say that although they are all one body, yet some have different and prior offices to others.

            The Scriptures both Old and New contain all that is necessary unto salvation and sound doctrine

            Where is that in scripture?

            I would never accept that one person, be he Pope or Archbishop, priest or minister “speaks as the voice of God.”

            You can’t mean that. I assume you mean they do not speak as the voice of God by virtue, purely of their office?

            I do believe a man or woman can be anointed of the Holy Spirit with a word from God, but not as having God’s authority.

            Well then you believe there is a distinction between men and women, and that this affects ministry. If you think that, then you obviously cannot infer from 1 Corinthians 12 that there is no distinction between offices.

          • Merchantman

            Interesting that the Lord allowed Stephen a non-apostle the honour of being the first martyr. Remember too he was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Spirit.

          • Albert

            Indeed, but of course, Catholics and others would see Stephen as ordained:

            And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Proch’orus, and Nica’nor, and Ti’mon, and Par’menas, and Nicola’us, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.

            He’s normally thought of as a deacon, although I’m not sure that is correct. But that, by the laying on of hands, he has received some kind of apostolic ministry, seems reasonable. Besides, the position I am defending does not prevent the laity from spreading the Gospel. On the contrary.

          • dannybhoy

            Meaty stuff Albert!

            As I understand it Paul is writing “in tempore”- the early days of establishing the Church.
            Therefore he says,
            “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? etc.”

            And yes, Paul is an apostle although not directly announced as such Acts 9, and see Acts 13.. Acts 26 Paul tells of his conversion..

            “12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

            Again 1 Corinthians 1:1..
            1″Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,”

            I think the point is Albert, that our Lord the Head of the Church even though He is no longer on the earth, appointed and anointed Saul the Rabbi to a specific ministry.

            It wasn’t the other apostles who did that. They merely recognised what God had done

            The Scriptures both Old and New contain all that is necessary unto salvation and sound doctrine
            Where is that in scripture?

            2 Timothy 3:16,17
            All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be competent, equipped for every good work..
            Acts 17..
            10 The brothers[a] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

            You can’t mean that. I assume you mean they do not speak as the voice of God by virtue, purely of their office
            Yes that is what I meant. I wrote that badly!

            Well then you believe there is a distinction between men and women, and that this affects ministry.

            Men and women are equal in the sight of God and receive grace and salvation in equal measure.

            But in human society they have different roles, and to an extent this is mirrored in the Church.

            Paul again in 1 Corinthians 11,

            ” Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife[a] is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

            Paul is stating the Godly order, but it is also clear that he accepts women as having ministries and working in proclaiming the Gospel e.g

            Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4..

            “2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion,[b] help these women, who have laboured side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

            Phoebe in Romans 16..
            “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.”

            Also Aquila and his wife Prisca in Acts 18..

            “24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,[a] he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

            Romans 16..
            “3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.”

            I do think women can have authority in the Church, but the key thing in all of this is that it is God, not man, who appoints and anoints, and no one so called will ‘lord it’ over their fellow believers.

          • Albert

            I think the point is Albert, that our Lord the Head of the Church even though He is no longer on the earth, appointed and anointed Saul the Rabbi to a specific ministry.

            It wasn’t the other apostles who did that. They merely recognised what God had done

            I can’t see what point you are answering there.

            The Scriptures both Old and New contain all that is necessary unto salvation and sound doctrine

            Neither passage you cite teaches this doctrine.

            Men and women are equal in the sight of God and receive grace and salvation in equal measure.But in human society they have different roles, and to an extent this is mirrored in the Church.

            Agreed. I think it is worth pointing out that women have always had ministry in the Catholic Church. You only have to consider the number of females doctors of the Church or the roles of people like Hilda or Hildegard. Historically, the Catholic Church has had. But from the earliest times, this ministry of women has never been apostolic, in the sense of headship, episcopal etc.

          • dannybhoy

            “I can’t see what point you are answering there.”

            That the appointment of apostles does not come through the decision or laying on of hands of other apostles.

            There is no apostolic succession. Once the first apostles had established the Church, overseen those churches and written their letters there was no further need of apostles like them,

            Throughout history God has raised up men (and women) to lead revivals or reforms or as a prophetic voice.

            Neither passage you cite teaches this doctrine.
            Well they do Albert, because everywhere in Scripture we see godly and devout men checking things against the revealed word of God. There is nowhere an example where rulings or edicts were made by devout men that went against the clear teaching of Scripture. This is especially true in the New Testament and the teaching of the apostles. They constantly referred to Scripture and events that confirmed Scripture.

          • Albert

            That the appointment of apostles does not come through the decision or laying on of hands of other apostles.

            Did I say that it did? If so, I misspoke, as that is not Cathoilc teaching. Ordination involves a handing on of some of the apostolic ministry, the office of apostle can only be created by God and cannot be handed on. Bishops are not apostles, although they have received the apostolic ministry of oversight.

            There is no apostolic succession.M

            On the contrary, we find examples of apostles ordaining others and sharing with them a portion of their ministry, but I wonder, if you have misunderstood the doctrine of apostolic succession.

            Once the first apostles had established the Church, overseen those churches and written their letters there was no further need of apostles like them,

            What is the evidence for this? It seems to me that you think that because it follows from Protestant ecclesiology, but that is begging the question. If scripture is sufficient, you must be able to prove your position from scripture, not from Protestant tradition.

            Well they do Albert, because everywhere in Scripture we see godly and devout men checking things against the revealed word of God.

            If you’re referring here to the Bereans then you prove more than you want to, because that would imply the OT is sufficient, and is sufficient to judge the Gospel! So I think you need to clarify here and in clarifying, you will come down on the side of seeing the passage as Catholics do.

            There is nowhere an example where rulings or edicts were made by devout men that went against the clear teaching of Scripture.</i.

            Clearly not, but firstly, I don't see the relevance of this, for I am not defending such rulings and secondly, there are apostolic rulings that were clearly perceived by some as going against scripture – e.g. on circumcision.

            They constantly referred to Scripture and events that confirmed Scripture.

            Again, I am a little puzzled as to why you think that is a problem for me.

          • dannybhoy

            ‘Ordination involves a handing on of some of the apostolic ministry, the
            office of apostle can only be created by God and cannot be handed on.
            Bishops are not apostles, although they have received the apostolic
            ministry of oversight.’

            Agreed in principle if not in practice..

            ‘but I wonder, if you have misunderstood the doctrine of apostolic succession.’

            Maybe. I’ve never discussed it with a real Catholic before..

            ‘If you’re referring here to the Bereans then you prove more than you want to, because that would imply the OT is sufficient, and is sufficient to judge the Gospel! So I think you need to clarify here and in clarifying, you will come down on the side of seeing the passage as
            Catholics do.’

            I was referring to those issues concerning the Mosaic Law, the nature of God and the nature of the Messiah and ‘pointers’ to His mission and ministry.The Bereans being Jews attending their own synagogue.
            In those newly established churches where the majority were not Jewish, St Paul and those who worked with him had different issues to contend with; hence the pastoral letters and looking to the disciples/apostles for clarification on the teachings of our Lord..

            ‘Again, I am a little puzzled as to why you think that is a problem for me.’

            Well, because the Catholic church has teachings such as purgatory, the position and authority of Mary the mother of Jesus Christ, the role of visions, relicts, the priesthood/laity divide, the authority of the Pope and transubstantiation, amongst others.

          • Albert

            I’ve never discussed it with a real Catholic before..

            Apostolic succession does not mean that the Church can make her own apostles. It means the authority of the Church’s ministers comes from the apostles and cannot simply come from members of the Church. As we cannot appoint apostles, so we cannot appoint those who come after apostles. As we cannot appointed apostles, we cannot found our own Churches.

            Regarding appealing to the scriptures, I don’t think there is any sense in which the NT is saying people should not believe Jesus or his apostles until they have proven what they say in the scriptures (perish the thought!). It is rather to show that you cannot even deny them by appealing to scripture. It is much the same way as a Christian evangelist appeals to philosophy, or a Catholic to the Bible. In neither can is he trying to prove his position, he is trying to show that his opponents’ position does not make sense on its own grounds.

            Well, because the Catholic church has teachings such as purgatory, the position and authority of Mary the mother of Jesus Christ, the role of visions, relicts, the priesthood/laity divide, the authority of the Pope and transubstantiation, amongst others./i>

            While it is true that we do not gain all our certainty about such things from scripture alone, these things are not contrary to scripture, as you implied.

    • “Has anybody thought that this problem has arisen because of mankind’s meddling with God’s original plan for His Church ?.”

      Well, yes. And the original plan was:

      “Blessed art thou, Simon son of Jona; it is not flesh and blood, it is my Father in heaven that has revealed this to thee. And I tell thee this in my turn, that thou art Peter, and it is upon this rock that I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

      Christians dispute “God’s original plan for His Church” – and once we fragmented over the fundamentals, started killing one another, and denying the authority Christ invested in the His Apostles and their successors, the cafeteria became one that is opened all hours and suited to all tastes.

      • Anton

        Yes, Peter was first to name Jesus as Messiah, who immediately replied “you are Peter [Petros], and on this rock [petra] I will build my church,” promising Peter the keys of God’s kingdom (Matthew 16:13-19). Peter himself used the image to call Christians living stones being built into Jesus’ church, quoting the Old Testament to show that Jesus is the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8). Peter was simply the first stone of many to be laid; Paul makes the distinction clear in Ephesians (2:19-22). Comparison with Matthew (18:18) and John (20:23) shows that the keys and promises were for all the disciples.

        Paul’s letter to the congregation in Rome nowhere indicates that it has a privileged role. Where does the New Testament advocate a vastly wealthy church based in its own State, led by a single person rated as infallible when he so declares, who travels the world negotiating with non-believing world leaders?

        • Albert

          Actually, a number of commentators have observed that the tone in which Paul addresses the Romans is different from others. Be that as it may, your point does not really work anyway, I think, because Paul as an apostle, was necessarily above the non-apostolic leaders at Rome, whom he seems to be addressing.

          Where does the New Testament advocate a vastly wealthy church based in its own State, led by a single person rated as infallible when he so declares, who travels the world negotiating with non-believing world leaders?

          Where does the NT advocate the division and schism of Protestantism?

          • Anton

            Yes, Paul’s tone to the congregation at Rome is different; that’s because it’s not a congregation he had founded or visited in advance of the letter, unlike the others he wrote extant letters to.

            When you say that my point does not really work, which point do you mean?

            Where does the NT advocate a single church hierarchy? The NT precedent is NO hierarchy above congregations.

          • Albert

            Yes, Paul’s tone to the congregation at Rome is different; that’s because it’s not a congregation he had founded or visited in advance of the letter, unlike the others he wrote extant letters to.

            Perhaps, but perhaps it is also because of Rome’s different situation. How do you know? You said:

            Paul’s letter to the congregation in Rome nowhere indicates that it has a privileged role.

            But that only follows if we assume you are exhaustively right in thinking Paul’s different tone is only because he did not found the Church there, and had never visited. But if we accept the Catholic view, then the letter fits equally well: Paul speaks in a different tone because he did not found the Church in Rome, and so it has a different position from the Churches that he founded himself. Thus if the Catholic claims are true then we have evidence for them here, if not, then perhaps not.

            My comment about your point not working is that we should not expect Paul, even if the Catholic claims are correct, to see Rome as privileged above himself – he is an apostle and therefore prior to any non-apostolic minister.

            Where does the NT advocate a single church hierarchy? The NT precedent is NO hierarchy above congregations.</i.

            Obviously it does. Above the local Churches are the apostles. The congregationalist view of all the NT is not correct. If there is a safe claim here, it is that.

            Peter was simply the first stone of many to be laid; Paul makes the distinction clear in Ephesians (2:19-22). Comparison with Matthew (18:18) and John (20:23) shows that the keys and promises were for all the disciples.

            This interpretation is only remotely possible if we assume there is no distinction between apostles and other disciples. But that is clearly false, as Paul says elsewhere:

            And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.
            Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

          • Anton

            The fact that Paul adopts a different tone when writing to the congregation at Rome could, as you say, have more than one reason, but nothing in the content of the letter says or implies that this congregation is to lead the worldwide church forever. Any such inference is eisegesis and the absence of such a comment if it were true is extraordinary.

            “This interpretation is only remotely possible if we assume there is no distinction between apostles and other disciples.”

            I said quite a few things in my words which you reproduce; would you clarify what you mean by “this interpretation”?

          • Albert

            The fact that Paul adopts a different tone when writing to the congregation at Rome could, as you say, have more than one reason, but nothing in the content of the letter says or implies that this congregation is to lead the worldwide church forever.

            You’ve maximized the papal claim there beyond what is necessary. Rome only needs to be a kind of touchstone for the rest of the Church, there is no necessity that she always leads. In some periods of time, other local Churches have taken the lead because of the character of the local bishop. Ambrose of Milan is a good example – although he was clear on the special status of Rome, if memory serves.

            Moreover, the special status of Rome is less relevant, in the time of the apostles, and as so often with scripture, if something is taken for granted, it does not need to be mentioned. I cannot, for example, think of a clear reference to montheism in Romans (but I could be wron). That does not mean it isn’t essential, rather, it does not get mentioned because it is so essential.

            “this interpretation”

            Sorry, something’s gone wrong with that post (new keyboard, I keep mistyping!).

            Let me try again:

            Where does the NT advocate a single church hierarchy? The NT precedent is NO hierarchy above congregations

            On the contrary, the apostles are clearly above congregations, therefore the congregationalist view of the Church does not reflect the NT world.

            Peter was simply the first stone of many to be laid; Paul makes the distinction clear in Ephesians (2:19-22). Comparison with Matthew (18:18) and John (20:23) shows that the keys and promises were for all the disciples.

            This interpretation, that Matthew and John shows that the keys and promises were for all the disciples, is only remotely possible if we assume there is no distinction between apostles and other disciples. But that is clearly false, as Paul says elsewhere:

            And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.
            Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

          • Anton

            If you are happy to argue that Rome should lead the church in the absence of any such comment in the letter to the Romans or anywhere else in the New Testament then you are most welcome to hold that view but you shouldn’t expect others to share it.

            Yes, the apostles (modern translation in context: church planters) are above the congregations they found, but they appoint an internal council of elders/overseers once the congregation is mature, as they will soon pass on. Then the congregation IS “the church is place X”.

            The John and Matthew quotes certainly show that the keys and promises were not for Peter alone.

          • Albert

            I see the NT as a historical document, reflecting the actual situation of the Church of the time. The situation was this: the apostles were running the Church. Peter clearly had some kind of primacy among them. This primacy was not transferred to the Church of Rome (as apostolic authority was not transferred to the Churches) while the apostles lived. Therefore, the only thing I would expect to find in the NT is the primacy of Peter, not of Rome. This is find clearly there, and Protestant Catholic interpretation.

            Yes, the apostles (modern translation in context: church planters)

            I don’t think that’s at all convincing. Church planters do not behave as Paul does in Galatians (except for in CofE situations, which assume a wider episcopal oversight, of a catholic nature).

            but they appoint an internal council of elders/overseers once the congregation is mature, as they will soon pass on.

            I do not see any point at which local churches fall outside the oversight of apostles. But if you have evidence to the contrary, state it.

            Then the congregation IS “the church is place X”.

            That is true, provided they retain the unity of the faith, which in turn entailed remaining under the oversight of the apostles – hence the sheer number of NT letters.

          • Anton

            And when the apostles who had known Jesus personally had passed on, what oversight then? SAcripture speaks of an internal council of overseers – that’s what the word episkopos actually means, shorn of 2000 years of church history. You can find it in the Septuagint meaning that before the church was born.

            Remember also what the word actually means – one who is sent. To start a congregation.

          • Albert

            It is well known that precisely what happened in that period is rather hazy. It’s sometimes called the tunnel, because it all disappears from view. What we know is that when they emerge from the tunnel, we find, episcopacy in people like Ignatius of Antioch – very early, and they having known the apostles etc.

            SAcripture speaks of an internal council of overseers – that’s what the word episkopos actually means, shorn of 2000 years of church history.</i.

            I'm very weary of Protestants who tell me what scripture says without reference to scripture. Can you give some evidence for that?

            And when the apostles who had known Jesus personally had passed on, what oversight then?

            The issue surely is what level of oversight was there. Was it purely congregational, or was there wider oversight? You seem to me to be assuming that there was no wider oversight, but as yet, I have seen no evidence to support this.

            Remember also what the word actually means – one who is sent. To start a congregation.

            The meaning of a word is to be found in its usage. Not all who are sent are called apostles – the 70 for example. Moreover, the apostles are so called before they are founding Church congregations, and he gives them more authority, for example to cast out demons. This authority we find plainly expressed in a different way by Paul in his oversight and authority over other congregations. I do not think you can be faithful to scripture and reduce the term apostle to one who founds a Church plant, you will not just sheer over Church tradition that way, but a good deal of scripture.

          • Anton

            A structure for the wider church is not prescribed in the scriptures, but one can nevertheless be inferred. The question then is by what authority were changes made to it?

            An apostolos means simply one who is sent. Apostles exist today: missionaries. They found congregations in places. The apostle who founds a congregation has authority over it. But someday he will be dead, or called to use his God-given talents to found congregations elsewhere once that congregation is up to speed. So, once it is mature, he appoints an internal council of men to run it, intending that they will co-opt people who show leadership qualities so that the congregation and its leadership council will thereafter be self-perpetuating. After its founder is gone, that congregation IS “the church in place X”, fully equipped with God’s promises and with the Holy Spirit. There is no hierarchy above the congregation.

            The internal council is described as men who are episkopoi (overseers) and presbyteroi (elders). These are the same men, one word describing their role and the other their seniority. These words have since changed in meaning within the church. (By what authority?)

            Here is why the presbyteroi and episkopoi are the same men. St Paul calls for the presbyteroi of the congregation at Ephesus (Acts 20:17) and then addresses them collectively as episkopoi (20:28). The plurals in James 5:14 and Acts 14:23 & 20:17 also show that each congregation had more than one.

          • Albert

            A structure for the wider church is not prescribed in the scriptures, but one can nevertheless be inferred. .

            I agree, but that is because I do not think the scriptures are properly understood if one thinks of them as prescribing things in that way. The Bible, someone once said, is the record of Christianity, not Christianity itself. The NT Church has a wider structure than just the local congregation: namely the apostles. What happens when the apostles die? Scripture will not address that, because the NT is almost by definition apostolic. It therefore does not record what happens later. It is the record of what happens in the time of the apostles, not the record of what comes after.

            What is evident is that a congregationalist pattern is not that found in the NT, because of the role of the apostles. What happens when the apostles are dead? Clearly to maintain the same shape of the Church, someone must maintain that wider oversight that the apostles maintained. As early as we can check, we find those who are just a few years after the apostles, and who knew the apostles are maintaining this oversight as bishops. By what authority Protestants reduced the shape of the Church is not a question I need to answer.

            An apostolos means simply one who is sent. Apostles exist today: missionaries..

            No, the word apostle is used in the NT in a variety of ways. Anyone who is sent might be called an apostle – even Jesus. But that does not mean that anyone who is sent is an apostle in the same way as (say) Peter and Paul. This is clearly accepted by scholars for often the word “apostolos” is not even translated “apostle” as in 2 Cor. 8.23 or Phi.2.25.

            To understand any text, one needs to see how a word is used, and your reduction of apostle simply to the level of missionary may fit with Protestant theology, but it shaves away a lot of scripture.

            So, once it is mature, he appoints an internal council of men to run it, intending that they will co-opt people who show leadership qualities so that the congregation and its leadership council will thereafter be self-perpetuating.

            You say all this as if it is all terribly clear and consistent across all the communities. But if there is one thing that is clear about NT ministry, is that it isn’t clear. You are working from odd hints here and there, but it would appear from other passages (I guess Timothy, although I haven’t checked) that there are different patterns. Or perhaps Paul, realising he would die soon, started to appoint from within the councils of presbyters those who would maintain oversight when he went. These might naturally be called from the more senior presbyters, and so the term episcopoi came to be used of them in a special sense. So here’s an idea, the term spiscopoi and presbyeroi change their meaning because Paul changes their meaning so that the shape of oversight he maintained could be maintained after his death.

            There is no hierarchy above the congregation.

            You keep claiming this, but what is the evidence? As far as I can see, there very clearly is a hierarchy above the congregation – the apostles, the assumption that when the apostle die nothing replaces them is just that, an assumption. Moreover, it means that there is less unity amongst the Churches after the dead of the apostles than during their lives, which seems odd. Notice how Paul appeals to the wider Church sometimes: As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. Surely, Paul is setting an example to the Churches, that they cannot just go their own way, but must retain union with each other. 1 Cor.14.34 does not sound like the injunction of an apostle who hold protocongregationalist views.

            Here is why the presbyteroi and episkopoi are the same men. St Paul calls for the presbyteroi of the congregation at Ephesus (Acts 20:17) and then addresses them collectively as episkopoi (20:28)..

            You make it sound as if all these terms are all terribly clear. But if there is something that is obvious it is that it is terribly unclear. Are these terms descriptions of what they do, or fixed offices? Or is one an office, another a function of the office? Or are those presbyters who are also called episcopoi those presbyters who have a wider oversight? (This is of course, what a bishop is – he is always a presbyter first). If so, that would make sense of people like Timothy, and the episcopal order we find at the turn of the century.

            But all this is speculation. We simply do not know what is going on in the NT Church because the NT is not a prescriptive constitutional document, but rather something written as it is going on, in situations which are partly hidden from us. It’s like trying to work out the details of a telephone conversation when you do not know the context and can only hear one person speaking. This is another reason why Protestantism doesn’t really work and why it is so divided, we do not have access to the shared understanding that so often stands behind the words used and so we cannot gain all our certainty from scripture alone.

            What we can see though is that Protestantism has lost that wider oversight which is found in the NT Church and it has lost the unity that it found there. For these reasons alone we can see that Protestantism is not the Church of the NT.

          • Anton

            “What is evident is that a congregationalist pattern is not that found in the NT, because of the role of the apostles. What happens when the apostles are dead?”

            I answered that question explicitly in what I wrote. Feel free to disagree but we’re not going to get anywhere if you won’t read what I write.

            You are essentially saying that the question is a difficult one, hard to answer, words have multiple meanings, etc. That cuts both ways, as I could use it against your arguments for your preferred church polity. Now, the NT is not going to contradict itself, because God won’t, and the structure I have described is entirely consistent with the NT once the Greek words in the NT take their contextual meanings there, not their meanings from centuries of church history later or from other contexts.

            “What we can see though is that Protestantism has lost that wider oversight which is found in the NT Church and it has lost the unity that it found there.”

            Read Rev 2&3 to see that Jesus himself provides direct oversight of congregations. He nowhere commands a diocesan merger.

            Schism is actually schism into rival hierarchies, as happened between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox in 1054. But if there is no hierarchy then the question of schism cannot even arise. With a decentralised structure. the worst that happens is a few congregations go apostate. With a hierarchical structure, Satan can corrupt the church over an entire continent by appealing too the baser instincts of a small number of men. Not a bad description of mediaeval church history…

          • Albert

            I answered that question explicitly in what I wrote. Feel free to disagree but we’re not going to get anywhere if you won’t read what I write.

            As I recall, I wasn’t asking that question of you, but rhetorically to bring forward the next idea.

            You haven’t given any evidence that either before or after the death of the apostles that local Churches became congregationalist. Moreover, the congregationalist notion is even less plausible when one considers that each local Church was made up of several congregations. This is clearest when considering the Church at Rome:

            Greet Prisca and Aq’uila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks; greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epae’netus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ… Greet Asyn’critus, Phlegon, Hermes, Pat’robas, Hermas, and the brethren who are with them. Greet Philol’ogus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olym’pas, and all the saints who are with them.

            This would appear to be at least three different congregations. But they are addressed as one, and, since they form one Church, there is a variety of levels of oversight.

            You are essentially saying that the question is a difficult one, hard to answer, words have multiple meanings, etc. That cuts both ways, as I could use it against your arguments for your preferred church polity.

            No. I am saying the NT is difficult, not just for the general linguistic reasons, but because of the specific nature of the case. That problem does not apply to me as a Catholic because I do not base my ecclesiology on scripture alone.

            Now, the NT is not going to contradict itself, because God won’t

            Not so fast. To observe that polity may be different in different places and that it may developing with circumstances does not mean there is a contradiction. It means the NT is ill-suited to give a one off-blue print for all time. In fact it means you cannot get such a blue-print from scripture. Similarly, the fact that words can be used in different senses in different places is obvious, even from the discussion of the word apostle. So you cannot know what is inteded by each use of the word. At best one has conjecture.

            the structure I have described is entirely consistent with the NT once the Greek words in the NT take their contextual meanings there, not their meanings from centuries of church history later or from other contexts.

            I am not reading back into the scripture later developments – except perhaps so say that the very earliest post biblical Church may shed light on what went on immediately before. You are working with a range of assumptions about what words mean, but these assumptions are being brought to the text, not from it. You assume for example, that the prebsyteroi and the episcopoi in Acts 20 represent the same office as is found named simply presbyteroi elsewhere. But this does not follow. The episcopoi could, as I have said, be a kind of presbyteroi. That would mean that all episcopoi are prebyteroi, but not vice verse. You also don’t allow for the historical nature of the text, namely that the ecclesiology would develop as circumstances changed. You have appealed to a situaiton in which there appears to be some kind of council, but you have to reconcile that with the more solitary oversight Timothy appears to exercise.

            What we see is that the picture is very complicated, and I cannot think that you would have come up with your ecclesiology had it not already been suggested to you by your tradition.

            Read Rev 2&3 to see that Jesus himself provides direct oversight of congregations. He nowhere commands a diocesan merger.

            Again, not so fast. Jesus is not providing direct oversight, for it is evidently coming through the prophetic ministry of St John, who is able to command and instruct lots of Churches. That makes my point, not yours, for this is obviously not congregationalism, but a group of Churches united by a wider ministry, a wider ministry, which, in the Lord, is able to command local Churches.

            Schism is actually schism into rival hierarchies, as happened between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox in 1054. But if there is no hierarchy then the question of schism cannot even arise.

            Schism just means division. It does not require rival hierarchies.

            With a hierarchical structure, Satan can corrupt the church over an entire continent by appealing too the baser instincts of a small number of men. Not a bad description of mediaeval church history…

            I wouldn’t be too sure of your Medieval Church history. It is the story of saints and sinners, as all times are. But without that structure, what you get is eve sinner imposing his authority over the scriptures. The fruits of that, we can see by the bewildering number of Protestants sects.

          • Anton

            I’m disengaging as I think it will be obvious to readers that you are doing your utmost to muddy waters that are in fact reasonably clear. Two quick points:

            1. Re that “house church”: the Greek word simply means “gathering” and could perfectly well be translated in today’s parlance as “cell group”.

            2. It is true that the NT describes a short period in time of church polity. But by what authority are later changes made to the system described in holy scripture?

          • Albert

            May I suggest that if you think I am muddying the waters, that you read some serious scholarship on this question? It is widely agreed that the whole picture is very unclear. Any reader of this discussion would, I think be able to see that you are claiming to know more about what is going on, and how words are used than we can actually draw from scripture. It is also clear that your view does not encompass the whole scriptural record. You have made no attempt to explain how Timothy fits into your picture.

            1. Re that “house church”: the Greek word simply means “gathering” and could perfectly well be translated in today’s parlance as “cell group”.

            Perhaps, but perhaps not. Perhaps in a single city there were several local congregations, each presided over by a presbyter, and all subordinate to some wider council of presbyters known as episcopoi. If that is what is meant the congregationalist view is falsified. How do we know? You can’t just proceed as if it is all known that the picture agrees with you.

            2. It is true that the NT describes a short period in time of church polity. But by what authority are later changes made to the system described in holy scripture?

            Change was inevitable given that oversight was provided by the apostles. It simply was not possible for Church to continue as it did in that earliest period. There are broadly two possibilities, either the shape was retained, by someone taking the place of the apostle, or the shape was changed by that oversight disappearing.

            You are sure that the latter change is what happened. But despite repeated requests, you have provided no evidence for that change. You have provided no account of the ministry of Timothy, or of why Paul appeals to the practice of other Churches unless it is his purpose to ensure there is that wider unity, which contradicts the congregationalist pattern. You have also given no account of why it is that, as soon as we move after the NT it is not congregationalism that the Church inherited but episcopacy.

            So I put it to you tentatively, that the following picture takes account of all the evidence:

            Paul founded Churches. These he left in the hands of presbyters, more senior presbyters had wider oversight in given places, and such presbyters were called in that ministry episcopoi. The precise roles was fluid, since all communities were under the authority of an apostle. As time went on, it became clear that that role of apostle would need to be continued to provide the wider oversight and unity. So Paul, started to make plans for when he was gone, such as appointing Timothy. Thus it is, that as soon as we have post apostolic evidence, we have that shame shape (local Churches with their own presbyters presided over by an apostle) has continued (local Church with their own presbyters presided over by a bishop).

            Now if you can show your position gives a better account of all the evidence here’s your chance. But if you can’t you won’t be able to accuse me of muddying the waters, for all I have done is point out the variety of evidence, and the different ways in which it can best be interpreted. One thing seems certain however: matters of ecclesiology cannot be decided by scripture alone, for God does not appear to have shaped the scripture in such a way as to enable us to do that.

          • Anton

            Kindly do not make the assumption that I am not well read on this subject simply because I disagree with you. There is the complexity of a complex matter but there is also complexity deployed to muddy the waters and your view that there are multiple categories of presbyteros/episkopos is of that sort and has no scriptural support when the literal and contextual meanings of these words are taken into account.

            A change demonstrably took place because I have shown from scripture that there were multiple episkopoi/presbyteroi in the original congregations, while later on there was one episkopos per town/congregation and later still multiple congregations under one episkopos. Since all Christians agree that scripture is normative, by what authority did these changes take place? As for Timothy and Silas, Paul asked them to oversee some congregations too immature for episkopoi/presbyteroi to be appointed while he went off elsewhere.

          • Albert

            Kindly do not make the assumption that I am not well read on this subject simply because I disagree with you

            Then kindly do not assume that I am muddying the waters because I disagree with you. I can completely accept that your position is as a result of scholarship, what I cannot accept is that the view that sees this question as more unclear than you allow is not the result of scholarship.

            your view that there are multiple categories of presbyteros/episkopos.

            And there you show you have missed the point. The issue need not be whether those words are used in different ways, but whether they are used interchangeably of each other, so that all presbteroi are episcopoi and vice versa. If they mean the same thing, why have two words?

            A change demonstrably took place because I have shown from scripture that there were multiple episkopoi/presbyteroi in the original congregations, while later on there was one episkopos per town/congregation and later still multiple congregations under one episkopos. Since all Christians agree that scripture is normative, by what authority did these changes take place?

            Because for the former practice operated under one single minister, namely the apostle. Thus to maintain the same degree of unity and oversight, the apostle needed to be “replaced” by what came to be a bishop. The question you need to address is why did you congregationalist types abolish that higher level of oversight. When I say why, I am asking for scriptural evidence of your view, namely that apostolic oversight was only there while the congregations were immature.

            As for Timothy and Silas, Paul asked them to oversee some congregations too immature for episkopoi/presbyteroi to be appointed while he went off elsewhere.

            This is eisegesis. It simply does not say that that is the reason for appointing Timothy et al. It is perfectly consistent with a range of other views, e.g. that things have gone wrong, and they are put in to troubleshoot. It is possible that that the Churches are now defective because they lacked apostolic oversight (Paul having moved on), and Timothy et al have been put in to supply that vicariously, or it could be the view you take. I see no reason to assume that your congregationalist view is the correct one. This isn’t muddying the waters, it is allowing the scripture to speak against circular reasoning.

            But as before, if you have evidence to support your view (even apostles would not supply oversight once a congregation was mature), then provide it. But it seems implausible to me. Let us suppose that one of Paul’s congregations had become mature, but then had fallen into difficulty. Are you really of the view that Paul would not have intervened? And what of my argument that Paul used the practice of other Churches as an argument?

          • Anton

            “The issue need not be whether those words are used in different ways, but whether they are used interchangeably of each other, so that all presbteroi are episcopoi and vice versa. If they mean the same thing, why have two words?”

            I already explained that: one word describes function (oversight) and the other describes seniority (elder).

            Your conjectured breakdown of these people into subcategories has no scriptural support and the New Testament was not written as a legal treatise.

            An apostolos is someone who starts congregations. If that is his gift, he is not going to want to wait in one place – wasting his gift – for too long if the congregation there is slow in maturing. Or Paul might have had to leave for trial in Rome. Hence he instructs Timothy or Silas to oversee until the congregation is mature enough for episkopoi/presbyteroi to be appointed from among its members. After that, a council of persons has mutual accountability in a way that one man cannot; also there is continuity when one of its members dies or is jailed. That is why one-man oversight/leadership is a bad idea. Too bad that the church soon deviated to it; and later still to one man over many congregations, losing personal knowledge of the people he oversaw – another bad thing. Is it not the case that behind your obfuscation is a desire to uphold the apostolic succession? Yet there is no such thing in scripture; it is enough for there to be a family tree of faith, believer handing on the faith to believer down the centuries, rather than a family tree of episkopoi excommunicating all who are not of their tree even though such people are committed believers in Jesus Christ? Read the accounts of the Chinese house church movement – ordered as I have described – and it is obvious that they have the Holy Spirit. In other words God has put his seal on them. When you have God’s blessing, who needs man’s?

          • Albert

            I already explained that: one word describes function (oversight) and the other describes seniority (elder)..

            So they do not always refer to the same people, then?

            Your conjectured breakdown of these people into subcategories has no scriptural support and the New Testament was not written as a legal treatise..

            Your conjectured assumption that they are the same people has no scriptural support. I have already shown how the texts you rest your case on are patient of different readings. As the NT is not a legal treatise, it is hard to see how it can be the kind of constitutional document you need it to be. It records what went on, it does not for all time prescribe. If it was doing the latter it would need to be more legally precise.

            An apostolos is someone who starts congregations.

            I have already given three examples where that is not what the word means.

            If that is his gift, he is not going to want to wait in one place – wasting his gift – for too long if the congregation there is slow in maturing. Or Paul might have had to leave for trial in Rome. Hence he instructs Timothy or Silas to oversee until the congregation is mature enough for episkopoi/presbyteroi to be appointed from among its members.

            I do’t object to any of that, until you get to the last bit. What is the evidence that such oversight only lasts until the congregation is mature enough?

            After that, a council of persons has mutual accountability in a way that one man cannot; also there is continuity when one of its members dies or is jailed. That is why one-man oversight/leadership is a bad idea. Too bad that the church soon deviated to it; and later still to one man over many congregations, losing personal knowledge of the people he oversaw – another bad thing.

            On the other hand, neither unity, not decision making are well-maintained by a committee. Your model makes fracture almost inevitable, but the NT Church is one of unity. Therefore your model is not plausibly of the NT, even if I waive my request for evidence of your position ( the whole maturity thing).

            Is it not the case that behind your obfuscation is a desire to uphold the apostolic succession?

            It is not obfuscation simply to observe that the evidence is not clear. I have repeatedly asked you for evidence that wider oversight only lasts until the community is mature, but none has been forthcoming. You’re supposed to be the sola scriptura man, and yet you cannot found the key move in your ecclesiology on scriptural evidence! If you accuse me of obfuscation, cannot I accuse you of lacking evidence? And if you cannot bring the evidence, how can I can be accused of obfuscation for not accepting your interpretation? And you have not answered my question about what Paul would do if a mature congregation got into difficulties.

            Is it not the case that behind your obfuscation is a desire to uphold the apostolic succession?

            There is clearly apostolic succession in the NT:

            Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands</i.

            That is far better evidence than you have supplied for your congregationalism once mature model (because you have supplied no evidence for that).

            it is enough for there to be a family tree of faith, believer handing on the faith to believer down the centuries

            Evidence?

            rather than a family tree of episkopoi excommunicating all who are not of their tree even though such people are committed believers in Jesus Christ?

            All sorts of people are cut off in the NT, although doubtless each would have said they were committed believers in Jesus Christ. You cannot be committed properly to Christ without receiving his whole revelation, and maintaining one’s unity with his body and bride.

            Read the accounts of the Chinese house church movement – ordered as I have described – and it is obvious that they have the Holy Spirit. In other words God has put his seal on them. When you have God’s blessing, who needs man’s?</i.

            If they have the fullness of God's Spirit then they will seek unity with the rest of the Church, for scripture says:

            God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints

          • Anton

            One word, episkopos, describes function (oversight) and the other, presbyteros, describes seniority (elder) of the same set of people. The two descriptions aptly complement each other in application to a single set of people.

            “Your conjectured assumption that they are the same people has no scriptural support.”

            Not so: at Acts 20:17 & 20:28, Paul sent for the presbyteroi of the congregation at Ephesus, then addressed them collectively as episkopoi. But I am repeating myself.

            Jesus wrote to seven churches in the same region in Rev 2&3 and took personal oversight of them, making no reference to a single apostolos or episkopos over them. That is clear evidence for the congregationalist model after the apostolic era, rather than the one you propose (to which the church deviated without authority).

            The Chinese house churches are not constituted as a hierarchy but simply as congregations in each place, consistent with the model I derive from the NT. As a result they are indeed in unity with Holy-Spirit-filled believers elsewhere. You use the word unity, but unity consists in the Holy Spirit, not in your preferred hierarchy (or any other): see Ephesians 4:2-6.

            It is good that the episkopoi of a congregation lay hands on an new episkopos whom they appoint to their council, but the claim that this procedure must run back in an unbroken line to Jesus’ original followers is merely a weapon used by hierarchs to deny legitimacy to others, even when those others conform to the scriptural criteria for church more closely. The notion that a spiritual baton is passed on in that way from the original apostles is an irruption of magical thinking in the church.

          • Albert

            Not so: at Acts 20:17 & 20:28, Paul sent for the presbyteroi of the congregation at Ephesus, then addressed them collectively as episkopoi

            That does not show that they are the same, as I have already pointed out. For if here episcopoi seems to imply function, in other passages, it seems to imply office. But this is a sideshow. What you need to demonstrate is that when Churches are mature they need no further oversight. You need to answer my question about Paul’s response to failing Churches.

            Jesus wrote to seven churches in the same region in Rev 2&3 and took personal oversight of them, making no reference to a single apostolos or episkopos over them. That is clear evidence for the congregationalist model after the apostolic era, rather than the one you propose (to which the church deviated without authority).

            It most certainly is not. For that prophecy came through St John. Unless his wider authority is recognized, Revelation would have had no purchase. The Catholic model in contrast to the difficulties of your position, maintains the same shape as the NT Church, ensures wider unity, such as the NT presumes, and does not beg the question of evidence for your position.

            The Chinese house churches are not constituted as a hierarchy but simply as congregations in each place, consistent with the model I derive from the NT.

            But you have given no evidence for your position on what the NT Church looks like, beyond Revelation, which is evidence that, at best, tells in both directions.

            Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

            One faith, one baptism. What happens, on your model when Churches disagree?

            You use the word unity, but unity consists in the Holy Spirit, not in your preferred hierarchy (or any other): see Ephesians 4:2-6.

            The idea that the visible elements of the body of Christ are somehow opposed to the Holy Spirit is very odd. Aren’t you really overthrowing the incarnation, which is a kind of dualism?

            It is good that the episkopoi of a congregation lay hands on an new episkopos whom they appoint to their council, but the claim that this procedure must run back in an unbroken line to Jesus’ original followers is merely a weapon used by hierarchs to deny legitimacy to others, even when those others conform to the scriptural criteria for church more closely.

            So where is your evidence that it is possible to start a new Church and ministry without that laying on of hands?

            The notion that a spiritual baton is passed on in that way from the original apostles is an irruption of magical thinking in the church.

            But this is to misrepresent the Catholic position. It is not just laying on of hands, but laying on of hands and faith. And that is exactly what we see in the NT. But as for any other pattern of the basis of ministry, there has been no evidence given from the scripture. Given that, and the sheer antiquity of the Catholic model, it is extraordinary that you say it is magical. Did the Holy Spirit let the Church go wrong so soon? How then can you trust the Holy Spirit?

          • Anton

            I have no “need” to jump through your hoops. Paul called for the Ephesus presbyteroi and then addressed them as episkopoi, and to suggest that they are not synonymous and that there are grades of these people is legalism in view of the literal meaning of the two words and the absence of evidence for such distinctions in the NT.

            “What you need to demonstrate is that when Churches are mature they need no further oversight.”

            You are simply ignoring my comments in this context about the 7 churches of Rev 2&3. Jesus wrote them and took personal oversight of them, making no reference to a single apostolos or episkopos over them.

            “The Catholic model in contrast maintains the same shape as the NT Church, ensures wider unity, such as the NT presumes,”

            The same shape? Where – to go back to the beginning – does does the New Testament advocate a vastly wealthy church based in its own State, led by a single person rated as infallible whenever he so declares, who travels the world negotiating with non-believing world leaders?

            If you visit St Peter’s in Rome
            You’ll admire Michelangelo’s dome
            It’s spectacular, but
            In a fisherman’s hut
            I think Peter would feel more at home

            – Lesslie Newbigin

            “One faith, one baptism. What happens, on your model when Churches disagree?”

            If a congregation goes apostate on my model then the damage is limited to one place. If a hierarchy goes apostate then the damage can be continent-wide. It has happened, you know: prayers to Mary, death for people who peaceably disagree, compulsory tithes on people who were baptised at birth; all serious heresies.

            To my comment that unity consists in the Holy Spirit, a statement rooted firmly in scripture, you replied: “The idea that the visible elements of the body of Christ are somehow opposed to the Holy Spirit is very odd. Aren’t you really overthrowing the incarnation, which is a kind of dualism?”

            What on earth (or in heaven) do you mean, overthrowing the incarnation?

            “So where is your evidence that it is possible to start a new Church and ministry without that laying on of hands?”

            Plenty of unordained missionaries have done just that in Africa.

          • Albert

            Paul called for the Ephesus presbyteroi and then addressed them as episkopoi

            He called the presbyteroi and then spoke of part of their function. It is not evident that he is using in the latter a term of office, such as we perhaps find in 1 Tim.3.1. Thus we do not know whether they are speaking of the same thing, or whether there is any kind of development. But as I have already said, I don’t think much rests on this, because, as a scroll back through the discussion I think will show, my purpose in picking up on this was simply to illustrate the unclarity of the NT on ministry. I don’t need this distinction to show that. The massive diversity of the uses of words like “apostle” shows that point, as does this:

            Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church: first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracle workers, then those with gifts of healing, helpers, administrators, and those with diversity of tongues.

            Now if it is all so clear, where are the presbyteroi in that list? As they aren’t there, how do they fit in? There must be some kind of development or diversity, and to admit that is to admit the entire point. It cannot be denied that the NT pattern of ministry, even if I accept your point on presbteroi, is not clear.

            You are simply ignoring my comments in this context about the 7 churches of Rev 2&3. Jesus wrote them and took personal oversight of them, making no reference to a single apostolos or episkopos over them.

            I have plaoinly not ignored this, for I said:

            that prophecy came through St John. Unless his wider authority is recognized, Revelation would have had no purchase.

            and

            Jesus is not providing direct oversight, for it is evidently coming through the prophetic ministry of St John, who is able to command and instruct lots of Churches. That makes my point, not yours, for this is obviously not congregationalism, but a group of Churches united by a wider ministry, a wider ministry, which, in the Lord, is able to command local Churches.

            How can you say I have ignored it, when you have made such comments in two different posts, as as far as I can see you have ignored both! Jesus is not taking immediate oversight of these Churches. His commands are mediated through another, whom they must recognize, or they will not accept the message. That John has some kind of ministry towards them (it’s unclear what) is evident from these words:

            John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

            The congregations are not independent of some wider ministry, even if it is informal, they are not under the immediate authority of Christ, but rather mediately, for Christ speaks through John: and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead…Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches

            These Churches are not immature, and yet they are experiencing external interference. And where there is one example of that, others become a more like explanation – such as Timothy and Titus. Thus the pattern of some wider kind of ministry, above thew congregation still exists, as it did in the apostles time. And if John under prophetic influence can interfere in mature Churches, why would not St Paul or St Timothy under similar Circumstances? And if that point is conceded then the congregationalist view again perishes.

            Where – to go back to the beginning – does does the New Testament advocate a vastly wealthy church based in its own State

            It doesn’t, but what difference does that make. Unless I am not a donatist!

            led by a single person rated as infallible whenever he so declares, who travels the world negotiating with non-believing world leaders?

            I would appeal to the Petrine passages, but remember as a Catholic I do not get all my certainty from scripture alone. I find the implicit criticism in the last bit odd. What’s wrong with negotiating with non-believers?

            If you visit St Peter’s in Rome
            You’ll admire Michelangelo’s dome
            It’s spectacular, but
            In a fisherman’s hut
            I think Peter would feel more at home

            May be, or may be not. Rome hardly outshines the Temple, and it rather reflects the vision of heaven as found in Revelation. But nothing about being a Catholic requires one to defend the Renaissance.

            If a congregation goes apostate on my model then the damage is limited to one place. If a hierarchy goes apostate then the damage can be continent-wide.

            And if the entire Church fragments, the whole thing is totally obscured. Do you not see the modern secularist world as being the product of religious disagreement brought about by the Protestant Reformation?

            It has happened, you know: prayers to Mary, death for people who peaceably disagree, compulsory tithes on people who were baptised at birth; all serious heresies.

            Asking Mary to pray for us is not heresy and neither are tithes. Death for people who disagree, I seem to recall the Catholic are not the only ones who did that, so your model does not seem so perfect. To call it heresy is interesting, for that would imply a notion of development of doctrine – something that normally leads into the arms of Rome.

            What on earth (or in heaven) do you mean, overthrowing the incarnation?

            The incarnation prevents us from making a dualistic distinction between matter and spirit. Rather the Holy Spirit manifests himself in the real physical world. Hence the Church is a body made of parts. You therefore cannot reduce unity to some kind of unseen spiritual thing, as if it does not have solid visible effects.

            Plenty of unordained missionaries have done just that in Africa.

            I was asking for scriptural evidence actually, but this response has made me realize I didn’t express myself clearly, I meant found a new Church after the fashion of the Protestants. Start a new body, make a break away congregation where the Church already exists etc. Can you defend that at the bar of scripture?

          • Anton

            Regarding Paul addressing the presbyteroi of Ephesus as episkopoi I consider that you are simply muddying the waters and am happy to let readers decide for themselves.

            You quote 1 Cor 12:28 which is about the ministries; leadership is not a ministry.

            Jesus IS providing direct oversight of the seven churches in Rev 2&3; he is simply giving words to John to pass on to them unchanged (“say to the angel/messenger of the church at…”). Jesus promises that he personally will take further action in those churches, dependent on what happens next and having nothing to do with John.

            “And if the entire Church fragments, the whole thing is totally obscured.”

            Fragments? You are still thinking in hierarchies. Yet again: I do not.

            “Do you not see the modern secularist world as being the product of religious disagreement brought about by the Protestant Reformation?”

            It is an abuse of the freedom that was won at the Reformation. But God prioritises religious freedom over coercive forms of Christianity, for Christ never coerced anybody; he simply warned of the consequences of disobedience. It is no coincidence that 19th century Britain and 20th century America were blessed with great affluence and political influence; these were places with religious freedom where many people freely turned to Christ. Since then that freedom has been abused, but as soon as you enact compulsory Christianity it ceases to be authentic Christianity. The difference between North and South America prior to the secular revolution of the 1960s reflect the differences between protestantism and Catholicism.

            I wrote “prayers to Mary, death for people who peaceably disagree, compulsory tithes on people who were baptised at birth; all [are] serious heresies”. You replied: “Asking Mary to pray for us is not heresy and neither are tithes. Death for people who disagree, I seem to recall the Catholic are not the only ones who did that, so your model does not seem so perfect. To call it heresy is interesting, for that would imply a notion of development of doctrine”

            Asking Mary to pray for you most certainly is heresy, for there is one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5). Tithes on people baptised at birth and so denied a choice is also heresy. Death for people who peaceably disagree is heresy and be assured that I criticise protestant politicised churches as well. Christians must support freedom of belief, although not freedom of action. (Pagans may be pagans but nobody may sacrifice children.) Heresy is defined relative to the Bible, of course.

            “You therefore cannot reduce unity to some kind of unseen spiritual thing, as if it does not have solid visible effects.”

            It is a spiritual thing but I agree that it has physical effects; I just don’t think that those effects are everybody knocking on the doors of the Church of Rome.

            As I have said about events in Africa and China, new church movements have sprung up that manifestly have the Holy Spirit and, while practicing the laying-on of hands of new episkopoi, cannot trace that practice back to the first apostles. That God himself has granted the Holy Spirit, his seal of approval, to these churches, means they lack nothing that they need; only something that you think they need. But you cannot be right or they would not have been given the Holy Spirit. The new Chinese Christians have the Bible as their guidebook and they regard Protestant and Catholic merely as terms relating to European church history. That is right.

          • Albert

            Regarding Paul addressing the presbyteroi of Ephesus as episkopoi I consider that you are simply muddying the waters and am happy to let readers decide for themselves.

            This is missing the point. The issue is whether the ministry of the NT is fixed and clear. For you to infer the meaning of every use of these words from only this one passage beggars belief. And if differing meanings are allowed from other passages, then your interpretation of even this passage is thrown into doubt. But as I say for the third time, my argument does not rest on this point.

            You quote 1 Cor 12:28 which is about the ministries; leadership is not a ministry.

            Leadership clearly is a ministry. See Hebrews 13.

            Jesus IS providing direct oversight of the seven churches in Rev 2&3; he is simply giving words to John to pass on to them unchanged (“say to the angel/messenger of the church at…”).

            The message is coming through another. It’s like St Paul all over again:

            So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

            These are not independent congregations free of external influence. They are called to obedience by Christ through another – exactly how ministry should work. Could not St Paul or St Timothy also have taken this role? So Rev cannot possibly bear the brunt of your argument that once the Churches are mature they are independent even of the apostles. And if that is the case your position lacks all scriptural basis, and instead, the idea that some kind of ministerial oversight, as found in the apostles is continued when they are gone.

            Fragments? You are still thinking in hierarchies. Yet again: I do not.

            No I’m not. I’m thinking of visible unity.

            Asking Mary to pray for you most certainly is heresy, for there is one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5).

            Asking someone else to pray for you in no way denies the one mediatorship of Christ. It is clearly heresy to say that it does, for scripture says:

            Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

            You say:

            Tithes on people baptised at birth and so denied a choice is also heresy. Death for people who peaceably disagree is heresy and be assured that I criticise protestant politicised churches as well. Christians must support freedom of belief, although not freedom of action. (Pagans may be pagans but nobody may sacrifice children.) Heresy is defined relative to the Bible, of course.

            I don’t disagree with the sentiment, it’s the historical element I’m wondering about. It was not possible in people’s minds to separate religion and state, and this resulted in state punishments for religious disobedience. I think that’s wrong, but I can’t see how it is heresy, unless one allows a development of doctrine in terms of freedom and the role of religion in the state.

            It is a spiritual thing but I agree that it has physical effects; I just don’t think that those effects are everybody knocking on the doors of the Church of Rome.

            I am not arguing that in one leap. I am arguing that as it has physical effects, a tradition which lacks those physical effects cannot be the Church of the NT. My point could be made just as strongly by the Orthodox Church. We can exclude Protestantism on the grounds of scriptural teaching on unity, but that does not entail Rome in one leap.

            As I have said about events in Africa and China, new church movements have sprung up that manifestly have the Holy Spirit and, while practicing the laying-on of hands of new episkopoi, cannot trace that practice back to the first apostles. That God has granted the Holy Spirit,- his seal of approval – to these churches means that they lack nothing they need; they lack only something that you think they need. But you cannot be right or they would not have been given the Holy Spirit. The new Chinese Christians have the Bible as their guidebook and they regard Protestant and Catholic merely as terms relating to European church history. That is right.

            Again, I think this just reflects serious confusion about Catholic teaching. Catholic teaching says we need to avail ourselves of the sacraments, but if they are not available through no fault of our own, then God will give us such grace anyway. Thus unusual examples like missionaries in China are not helpful here. Also, Catholic teaching does not deny that the Holy Spirit is at work in non-Catholic communities. What we deny is that the fullness of his grace is found outside of the Catholic Church, for Christ is not divided.

            Now scripture says this:

            Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

            Thus if such communities have been blessed with the fullness of the Spirit, we can expect them to seek unity with the Church as soon as they are able, for the Spirit will be working to bring them to that unity. If they are then well and good. If they are not, then I can deny your premise that they lack nothing they need.

            But as I said, I was asking for scriptural evidence of people being able to found their own break way Churches (not necessarily what is evinced in China and Africa, and, I cannot see where you have given that.

          • Anton

            Regarding the original issues I consider that you have given a reply but not a response and I’ll let readers decide for themselves with no further words of mine.

            I can ask other Christians to pray for me but asking them to do so is not prayer. Asking Mary to do so IS prayer. And there is one mediator, as stated, and it is not Mary.

            “I don’t disagree with the sentiment, it’s the historical element I’m wondering about. It was not possible in people’s minds to separate religion and state, and this resulted in state punishments for religious disobedience. I think that’s wrong, but I can’t see how it is heresy”

            We have some agreement here. But as to how it is supposedly heresy, look at some records from the Inquisition and then notice that it was senior Catholic clergy agitating for Europe’s princes to enact the death penalty in a hypocritical effort to maintain the dictum Ecclesia non novit sanguinem.

            “I am arguing that as it has physical effects, a tradition which lacks those physical effects cannot be the Church of the NT. My point could be made just as strongly by the Orthodox Church. We can exclude Protestantism on the grounds of scriptural teaching on unity”

            You are once again thinking in hierarchies, that the ideal protestant situation is one hierarchy with Luther as its Pope and with Reformed theology rather than Catholic theology. Not so! As I’ve explained, the correct situation is NO hierarchy (and no ordination either). Shall we go round that loop again?

            “Thus if such communities [Chinese house churches] have been blessed with the fullness of the Spirit, we can expect them to seek unity with the Church as soon as they are able, for the Spirit will be working to bring them to that unity. If they are then well and good. If they are not, then I can deny your premise that they lack nothing they need.”

            Deny what you like, but the idea that they shall “seek unity with the Church” is nonsensical, because they ARE the church in many parts of China. They conform to scriptural criteria and they have the Holy Spirit. If they have God’s anointing then they don’t need the anointing of any hierarch.

          • Albert

            As far as I can see you have made the following claims:

            1. During the time of the apostles, when a community was immature they were subject to the oversight of an apostle.

            2. Apostles are nothing more than missionaries.

            3. When the community became mature they were not subject to the apostles.

            4. Churches therefore clearly moved to a congregational structure presided over by presbyters/episcopoi.

            5. Acts 20 makes it clear that these two are the same, and this is the consistent use throughout scripture.

            6. Such government of the Churches is the consistent practice throughout the NT.

            7. Evidence for the independence of each congregation is to be found in Revelation.

            8. Evidence to the contrary, such as 1 Corinthians 12 (which does not mention presbyeroi and espicopoi) is no problem, because:

            a. P&E are forms of leadership.

            b. Leadership in the NT is not a form of ministry.

            c.1 Cor.12 is speaking only of ministry and therefore would not make reference to leadership.

            9. For these reasons, the NT clearly shows the congregationalist model to the one for ever, and the Catholic model of maintaining oversight over congregations far from being in continuity with the NT Church is actually a change.

            I hope I have expressed your position correctly. Notice that you need each of claims 2-8 c to be correct. If one of those is false, or even less than certain, then the whole structure will become uncertain, and the chances of the continuity of 1 are raised. Now what surprises me is not that you think all this (although I do think some of these claims are tenuous and others demonstrably false). What surprises me is the vehemence with which you are convinced it is the only reasonable way to read the scripture. I am so convinced that a reader of this conversation (if anyone is reading it) will be unconvinced by your position that I am content, unless asked simply to leave your position stated as a set of propositions, without any further discussion of the points.

            I can ask other Christians to pray for me but asking them to do so is not prayer. Asking Mary to do so IS prayer.

            I love the way that Protestants know better than Catholics what Catholics are doing. We do not pray to Mary as to God. We believe that she is saved by the unique mediatorship of Jesus Christ. So how can we possibly believe she is a threat to his unique mediatorship. I think you may be caught up on the word “prayer”. But “to pray” can be used even when addressing someone on earth.

            You are once again thinking in hierarchies, that the ideal protestant situation is one hierarchy with Luther as its Pope and with Reformed theology rather than Catholic theology.

            Once again, you are very sure that you know what I think. I’m not thinking that at all.

            Deny what you like, but the idea that they shall “seek unity with the Church” is nonsensical, because they ARE the church in many parts of China. They conform to scriptural criteria and they have the Holy Spirit. If they have God’s anointing then they don’t need the anointing of any hierarch.

            This is now circular. Obviously, if I reduce my sense of the Church to the Protestant one then there’s no problem, but if I have a higher ecclesiology then I won’t acknowledge that. Now since your position rests on all those claims above, and since I don’t think they have anything like the strength to overturn the assumption that 1 continues, I have no reason whatsoever to accept your view here. You can’t appeal to examples I don’t accept.

          • Anton

            You write as if the New Testament is a legal document or contract, and like you I am content for readers to read my words and let them decide between us. Apart from Mary; it is disingenuous of Catholics to say that they don’t pray to her but through her, for I am familiar with Marian prayer and she is regularly asked to do things that are for God alone to do, and do not end “through Mary our Lady; whereas prayers to God through Christ end “through Christ our Lord”. You are free to correct me on Catholic doctrine but sometimes that doctrine is at variance with Catholic practice (a fact known well to the Catholic hierarchy) and one or both at variance with the NT, and I shall point this out.

          • Albert

            I assume you are referring to my numbering of claims when you say I write as if the NT is a legal document. You seem to have forgotten that I was simply enumerating your own claims! Actually, it is the Protestant spirit that turns the NT into a legal document. You expect everything to be proven therein. If I cannot show episcopacy in the NT, then it is an aberration. And if someone does prove something you do not like, you raise the bar and expect everything to be proven by syllogistic logic, with both premises proceeding from scripture. The paradox is that the Protestant method of reading scripture is far removed from the scriptural method of reading scripture, as evinced by St Paul and our Lord. The further paradox is that you cannot prove sola scriptura by that high bar.

            Apart from Mary; it is disingenuous of Catholics to say that they don’t pray to her but through her, for I am familiar with Marian prayer and she is regularly asked to do things that are for God alone to do, and do not end “through Mary our Lady; whereas prayers to God through Christ end “through Christ our Lord”.

            Prayers do not always address God the Father explicitly “through Christ our Lord.” Why not? Because it is obvious that that is what is meant. Prayer does not take place in a vacuum, rather prayer proceeds from a properly Catechized heart. We know we can only address God as Father because God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

            So it is ,mutatis mutandis, with Mary. We do not need to express the whole theology every time, although of course, the most formative address of Mary, ends with the request “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” We would never end a prayer saying “through Mary” for that would sound too much like “through Christ.” We do not address God through Mary, we are asking her prayers. Mary does not have a comparable Trinitarian place and so that kind of formula would be totally out of place. Instead, the Catholic knows Mary is a mere creature – one filled with grace of course, but that just means whatever she is, she is because of her Son.

            she is regularly asked to do things that are for God alone to do

            I wonder if you have forgotten what Jesus said:

            Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.

            and

            Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

            We Catholics take Jesus at his word, and assume that the saints really can do the things Jesus says they can do. But we do not think that they do them in their own strength – they have no strength, as I have just said. Instead, they do them because of their absolute faithfulness to Christ, because of their relationship with him, or rather, to be more precise, he does them through them, on account of their closeness to him, by grace. As Peter says:

            “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?”

            Does anyone believe that Catholics think Peter and John healed that man by their own power? Why then do Protestants seem to think that there is some conflict between the power of Christ and what Christ does through his followers? One only has to express it like that to see the logical absurdity of the objection! Do you think that the paralyzed man could have healed himself by his own prayers? No, the man cannot heal himself, but is healed by the apostles, is surely to illustrate the close identity between Christ and his Church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.

            And again:

            And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

            Why were they healed, if not because Peter is an ambassador for Christ?

            Again, are not the signs Philip does attributed to Philip himself:

            And the multitudes with one accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which he did. For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.

            Are we to fault scripture because it does not say that this was done through Philip, or in the name of Jesus or that Jesus was working through Philip, even though each of these things is of course, true?

            And again:

            It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery; and Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him.

            Will you criticise the Holy Spirit and say that this is for God alone to do, and therefore He should have written “In the name of Jesus”? And again:

            Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles.

            So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

            Even the unclean spirits witness to the power given to the Church, not only by being driven out, but also in the things they say:

            And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

            Why do these, and other scriptures not weigh upon you as you judge the Catholic Church so harshly? Will not your condemnation of our communion with the spirits of just men made perfect, and of the power that Jesus has promised to his Church, also condemn the apostles, the writers of scripture, and indeed scripture itself? You will find that any explanation you give for allow the scripture here will also allow what we ask of Mary and the saints to be done, by his power.

            So no, I don’t correct your understanding of Catholic doctrine, so much as ask you to consider the whole witness of scripture – not just the bits that (you think) support your own position.

          • Anton

            There is nothing wrong with syllogistic logic except that we have to bring syllogisms to test against scripture when the role of scripture is actually to give us syllogisms.

            Sola scriptura was Jesus’ rule of faith re the scriptures of his day, and that is good enough precedent for me. Saying that sola scriptura is not in the Bible is like saying the Trinity isn’t, merely because the word does not appear. Moreover the OT needs no church tradition to interpret it, because it is not about the church, and it is the context for the NT – so no more is needed. Moreover those churches that add stuff to scripture for their rule of faith need to make sure that it is consistent with scripture, and there are Marian dogmas which aren’t. She lived her life without sin? Nonsense, she is a descendant of Adam and Paul said (Romans 3) that all such do sin.

            As for Mary, there is one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5). So if I want to go to God I go through Jesus Christ. Not Mary. Catholics say that this verse does not preclude a chain, ie you to Mary to Christ to God, and that the verse means only the last link is the one that gets you to God. Catholics say it is normal to ask other humans to pray for you. Yes it is, but this argument ignores the difference between the fact that Mary is (presumably) in heaven while those believers are on earth. And we don’t know much about what goes on in heaven. How do you know that God has not said “I accept only prayers that come direct through Jesus”? How do you now that Mary, not being divine, isn’t sweltering under a huge backlog of prayers to pass to Jesus so that yours won’t get answered in time? If you pray to deceased persons other than Mary, how do you even know that they are in heaven? Do you not think it significant that nobody in Acts prays “through” Stephen the first martyr, for instance? Or that the epistles, some written into persecution, nowhere commend that practice?

          • Albert

            There is nothing wrong with syllogistic logic except that we have to bring syllogisms to test against scripture when the role of scripture is actually to give us syllogisms.

            Syllogistic logic is what I was accusing you of requiring. There is nothing wrong with syllogistic logic, of course. But to require all doctrines to be taught that way fails to take scripture seriously. Most of it is poetry, story and imagery, and is not easily reduced to simple propositions. Thus something is proved from scripture even if it not logically necessary from propositions.

            Sola scriptura was Jesus’ rule of faith re the scriptures of his day, and that is good enough precedent for me.

            I have a stack of evidence against that claim, but I’ll wait to see what you evidence in favour of it is. Moreover, your guess at Jesus’ attitude to scripture must be subordinate to the rest of scripture, and the rest of scripture denies sola scriptura, just as it denies the doctrine of perspicacity and says nothing at all to support the claim of private judgement.

            Saying that sola scriptura is not in the Bible is like saying the Trinity isn’t, merely because the word does not appear.

            Neither doctrine would be got from the Bible by an individual by himself. The certainty a Christian has for either comes from tradition. In the case of the Trinity, that is logical, in the case of sola scriptura, it is illogical. But the point you make is an intriguing one, for if you allow something to be biblical, even when it is clearly stated, then you will end up with disagreement over what is there. I say doctrines such as asking the saints to pray for us, and the Immaculate Conception are clearly in the scripture. You will say not. I will say you have an impoverished view of scripture. But what you will not be able to say is that I have added to the scripture, for I have no more added to the scripture in interpreting it that way than you have when you claim sola scriptura is there. To me, Mary and the saints are there far more clearly than sola scriptura.

            Moreover the OT needs no church tradition to interpret it, because it is not about the church, and it is the context for the NT – so nothing more is needed.

            Seriously?

            And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

            There are two things here, firstly the meaning of the OT was not evident to these disciples, and had to be taught. Secondly, he shows that the OT is about himself, and that means it must be about the Church. This is confirmed in Galatians:

            Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

            You say:

            She lived her life without sin? Nonsense, she is a descendant of Adam, and Paul said (Romans 3) that all such do sin.

            The scripture often uses the word “all” when it cannot mean literally “all”. For example,

            Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan,

            We also all accept that there are some who did not sin – children who die before the age of reason. As scripture says And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call,

            So unborn children who die do not sin. Another exception: Jesus is a descendant of Adam, but he did not sin, so we know that when someone not sinning is part of God’s saving purpose they do not sin. Really, if you admit this passage against the Immaculate Conception, you ought to admit the following passages against the Trinity:

            the Father is greater than I…And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent….”Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.

            But you won’t do that (thank goodness).

            She irritated her son at Cana, for instance.

            He did what she asked!

            Catholics say it is normal to ask other humans to pray for you so such cains are permitted. This argument ignores the difference between the fact that Mary is (presumably) in heaven while those believers are on earth. And we don’t know much about what goes on in heaven. How do you know that God has not said “I accept only prayers that reach heaven through Jesus”?

            You seem to have moved on from you objection that we ask the saints to do things only God can do. So now we are back to asking the saints to pray for us.

            Well, Jesus spoke to the dead at the transfiguration. We know also that angels know what is going on on earth (Luke 15:10) and that saints in heaven are equal to the angels (Lk 20.35-36), therefore the saints know what is going on earth and are equal to the angels. We know that the saints in heaven pray and that we have communion with them. We know that prayers are (or can be) presented to God by a created intermediary:

            “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.”

            No problem of backlog there! So I think your argument simply fails, as being contrary to the Bible. Given what we already know about our communion with the saints, the fact that they pray, that prayers are presented to God by a created intermediary, the fact that they are equal to the angels and so on, I think we can safely say that the doctrine is proved. Such that, if such prayers were not to be done we would need scripture to say so. But this you cannot show, and that is why you have moved to speculation. Asking the saints to pray or us is far clearer than your solas, that’s for sure. And please note, I have defended all this entirely on your grounds, not on mine. Of course, I deny that we gain all our certainty about divine matters from scripture alone.

            Do you not think it significant that nobody in Acts prays “through” Stephen the first martyr, for instance?

            If you look at the Mass text, you will not find any examples of people praying to the saints. Do you think that is significant?

            If you pray to deceased persons other than Mary, how do you even know that they are in heaven?

            At that point, I would appeal the Church the pillar and bulwark of the truth, and in that sense, I step off your ground and come onto mine. But this argument counts for very little, for it is more a prudential judgement you are making here, not an objection of principle.

          • Anton

            Re syllogistic logic I was not clear and I think we are in agreement. If you want to use the Bible to show a syllogism true or false then you bring the syllogism to it, whereas its purpose is to inspire truth rather than to act as a book of logic.

            I have given my argument for sola scriptura. I’ll repeat it: The context for the NT is the OT, and the OT does not need any church tradition to interpret it because it is not about the church. Moreover Jesus was sola scriptura in regard to the OT – he repeatedly emphasised the authority of the written word in the Law, Prophets and Writings, over and above and sometimes contrary to the words of the rabbis. That’s good enough precedent.

            Two supplementary comments. The OT begins from the creation – an event for which there is obviously no context – and builds on it from there. As for Paul commending traditions, he was writing before the gospels were written down and meant the tales about Jesus then circulating in oral form. Or perhaps he meant the traditions of love, self-sacrifice, etc that the (very) early church manifested and which distinguished it from the world.

            Re Mary, please derive the Immaculate Conception and Direct Assumption from scripture as you suggest you can.

            Yes, Mary changed Jesus’ mind at Cana but she had put him in a corner and it was the least worst option for him after she had spoken. She irritated him, and to do something that God finds irritating is a sin, is it not? This is Jesus, not a fallen human who is capable of wrongful reaction. Of course it is a small sin and one He would find easy to forgive, but it suffices to disprove assertions that she lived without sin. Do you agree?

            Re mediation I am putting two things together: the fact that to reach God an imprecation at some point in a chain has to go from earth to heaven, and the fact that at some point it has to go through Jesus (1 Tim 2:5).

            “If you look at the Mass text, you will not find any examples of people praying to the saints. Do you think that is significant?”

            Does it not contain the Hail Mary? (I’m not sure!)

            Also, I asked: If you pray to deceased persons other than Mary, how do you even know that they are in heaven? You answered: “At that point, I would appeal the Church the pillar and bulwark of the truth”. What does it say on the subject, please?

          • Albert

            The context for the NT is the OT, and the OT does not need any church tradition to interpret it because it is not about the church.

            I simply do not follow this argument. Besides, as the NT makes clear, the meaning of the OT is to be found in the New, so unless one understands exhaustively the NT, one cannot understand the OT. This is why Jesus has to explain the OT to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

            Moreover Jesus was sola scriptura in regard to the OT – he repeatedly emphasised the authority of the written word in the Law, Prophets and Writings, over and above and sometimes contrary to the words of the rabbis. That’s good enough precedent.

            Not so fast. Jesus does not simply appeal to the OT – the devil does that, after all – he appeals to his own interpretation of the OT. He embodies the meaning of the OT. Hence it is not enough to appeal to the OT. Now the Church retains her living relationship with Jesus, and thus with the living embodiment of the scriptures. Hence Jesus says:

            whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

            Now the power of binding and loosing is not a new idea, it was claimed by the Pharisees (of whom Jesus said of course, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. ). So your argument does not seem sound, when viewed in the light of the scriptural evidence.

            Now Jesus also clearly refers to books you call apocryphal. Therefore, either the scripture is longer than you allow, or he does not teach sola scriptura. You confuse the true claim:

            Jesus proclaims the authority of scripture.

            with the false claim

            Jesus proclaims only scripture is authoritative.

            The issue actually is of whose interpretation is authoritative, and he makes it clear that it is his Church’s interpretation.

            As for Paul commending traditions, he was writing before the gospels were written down and meant the tales about Jesus then circulating in oral form. Or perhaps he meant the traditions of love, self-sacrifice, etc that the (very) early church manifested and which distinguished it from the world.

            I don’t see any reason to accept that that all that is meant, and I can see plenty of reason to go against it.

            Re Mary, please derive the Immaculate Conception and Direct Assumption from scripture as you suggest you can.

            Let me go for the first for now. From Mary’s viriginal womb comes God himself as man. But the Bible says that an evil tree cannot bear good fruit. But she produces God! Eve was without original sin and produced death. How can Mary then produce Life if she has original sin? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. In her womb, her flesh became God’s flesh, but scripture says: what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

            Now not for one moment am I saying that I would set this down as syllogism, but we are already agreed that I do not have to. You put it rather beautifully when you said: its purpose is to inspire truth rather than to act as a book of logic. I would say that the reality scripture is witnessing to (God’s holiness and the incarnation) when applied to Mary means Mary is without sin. The Holy Spirit makes the realities scripture witnesses to present in the life of the Church, with Mary, the Church ponders these things, and, the reality that we encounter is Mary Immaculate.

            Yes, Mary changed Jesus’ mind at Cana but she had put him in a corner and it was the least worst option for him after she had spoken. She irritated him, and to do something that God finds irritating is a sin, is it not? This is Jesus, not a fallen human who is capable of wrongful reaction. Of course it is a small sin and one He would find easy to forgive, but it suffices to disprove assertions that she lived without sin. Do you agree?

            No, I think this is a very tenuous interpretation. Jesus often rebuffs those whom he wants to draw more faith out of:

            And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.”
            He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

            Jesus doesn’t get put in corners for he himself knew what was in man

            The idea of Jesus acting contrary to his Father’s will because his Mother has made him feel awkward is just wrong. And so your interpretation seems wrong to me.

            Re mediation I am putting two things together: the fact that to reach God an imprecation at some point in a chain has to go from earth to heaven, and the fact that at some point it has to go through Jesus (1 Tim 2:5).

            I think you still misunderstand what we do. Almost all of my prayers are address to a Person of the Holy Trinity. I often conclude (or sometimes begin) by asking a saint (usually Mary) to pray alongside me, to add her maternal boldness (John 2.3) to my poor prayer, for The LORD is far from wicked people, but he hears the prayers of righteous. So there is no sense that I ask Mary to pray, so I don’t. I ask her to join her prayers with mine.

            Does it not contain the Hail Mary? (I’m not sure!)

            Actually, no. The text does not. It is a custom in England and Ireland to add the Hail Mary to the bidding prayers (which are not part of the text anyway, but change according to what we need to pray about). But apparently, our Bishops had to get permission to do that!

            What does it say on the subject, please?

            The Church canonises saints.

          • Anton

            You speak of “interpretations” of the OT as if it is infinitely flexible. But a text that is infinitely flexible can mean anything. Since that is obviously not the case, our discussion is not about interpretation.

            One can understand plenty of the OT without the New. Not all of it, but much of it. Jesus quoted the Apocrypha but Paul quoted ancient Greek poets in Athens; what matters is where he is quoting something as decisive.

            Mary’s parents would also have to be without sin, according to your argument; and their parents; and so on.

            When Jesus did not reply to the Canaanite woman, there is no suggestion that he was irritated. Mary irritated him at Cana as his reply to her shows. To irritate Jesus is to sin, however little.

            Is it not the case that the Catholic church decides who is in heaven according to miracles that happen after someone has prayed “through?” them? Is that not unreliable? Does it not mean that someone – the recipient of the miracle – prayed to someone who was not known to be a saint? Is that acceptable Catholic practice?

          • Albert

            You speak of “interpretations” of the OT as if it is infinitely flexible. But a text that is infinitely flexible can mean anything. Since that is obviously not the case, our discussion is not about interpretation.

            You say “as if it is infinitely flexible”, and then proceed as if you have established that view. This will not do. I dot not think that, nor is it consistent with what I said, so I said Jesus embodies the OT. Now that does not allow for infinite interpretation, rather it excludes many.

            One can understand plenty of the OT without the New. Not all of it, but much of it.

            But the most important thing, that it is about Jesus, was not evident.

            what matters is where he is quoting something as decisive.

            Does it? Or just authoritative. Or doesn’t the fact that so many authors are cited make the whole idea of trying to work out exclusively what is authoritative, from what is cited, rather a dodgy move?

            Mary’s parents would also have to be without sin, according to your argument; and their parents; and so on.

            That does not answer the interpretation of scripture I have cited. Besides, the argument I have given suggests that the forebears need to be holy enough to produce the child they produce. Thus, Mary needs supreme holiness, because he is the greatest, she being infinitely less than him, but still without sin needed less holiness in her parents. In other words, what we should expect from scripture is that there will be a preparation, a growth in righteousness, through the generations. And this of course, is exactly what find, right does even to Joseph, who despite not being the human father of Jesus is nevertheless a righteous man.

            When Jesus did not reply to the Canaanite woman, there is no suggestion that he was irritated. Mary irritated him at Cana as his reply to her shows. To irritate Jesus is to sin, however little.

            It is no sin if you did not intend the irritation, but irritated only by accident. Sin requires will. So if Mary simply makes a mistake here, e.g. thinking it is Jesus’ business, when really it isn’t, she commits no sin, and the story is not evidence that she is not sinless.

            But if you read it as if she sins, you make the passage contradictory. Firstly, Mary does not understand Jesus’ words as a refusal or rebuke, for she says “Do whatever he tells you” (not words of a sinner). Secondly, he does in fact heed her request, which makes no sense on your reading, especially in the light of The LORD is far from wicked people, but he hears the prayers of righteous. Moreover, Jesus goes on to say “My hour has not yet come”. The implication being that he will hear her when his hour comes. And that of course, would be an argument for Mary’s prayers. But even this does not make much sense, for it means she changes his mind about his mission. Therefore, it seems the parallel with the Canaanite woman makes good sense – he is drawing faith out of Mary and showing she is not only associated with him in his death (My hour) but also in his life.

            Is it not the case that the Catholic church decides who is in heaven according to miracles that happen after someone has prayed “through?” them? Is that not unreliable?

            If that’s all it was, then yes. But the Church has more to the discernment of canonisation than that.

            Does it not mean that someone – the recipient of the miracle – prayed to someone who was not known to be a saint? Is that acceptable Catholic practice?

            Yes and yes (I think!), although the Catholic will obvious already have reason to believe the person is in heaven.

          • Anton

            Regarding Mary and John 2. You say that Mary has to be sinless to beget Jesus who is sinless. In that case her parents would have to be sinless; and theirs; and so on. You have not refuted that logic above. But they are all descendants of Adam and therefore they are all sinful.

            The conception of a sinless one must necessarily then involve a miracle, ie something that violates the commonly understood norms. I say that this miracle is of the birth of Jesus only. You say of Mary too. But, given that a miracle is necessarily involved at some point, you now have no scriptural grounds to argue that Mary’s conception is too, And Jesus’ is certainly miraculous.

            As for Cana, you and I do not know what Mary was thinking but Jesus did, and he rebuked her. To do something that brings a rebuke from God is a sin, is it not? Please include a Yes or a No in any answer. As for what he and she said next, that is irrelevant to the point that she committed a (small) sin. He had been boxed in and had to get out of it as best he could, while her comment “Do what he says” could derive from several differing motivations, some good, some bad, which take little imagination to see.

          • Albert

            Regarding Mary and John 2. You say that Mary has to be sinless to beget Jesus who is sinless. In that case her parents would have to be sinless; and theirs; and so on. You have not refuted that logic above.

            Yes, the logic of that is sound. But, I’ve answered this point already, I think. Please cite where I said Mary has to be sinless to beget Jesus who is sinless.

            The conception of a sinless one must necessarily then involve a miracle, ie something that violates the commonly understood norms.

            Certainly, we agree on that. The Immaculate Conception is a miracle of God’s grace.

            I say that this miracle is of the birth of Jesus only. You say of Mary too. But, given that a miracle is necessarily involved at some point, you now have no scriptural grounds to argue that Mary’s conception is too, And Jesus’ is certainly miraculous.

            I think you really need to read what I said. The principle I set out is this one:

            the argument I have given suggests that the forebears need to be holy enough to produce the child they produce.

            Now that principle seems to be totally scriptural. Indeed, aren’t you actually arguing against scripture, for your position entails that God, in taking flesh from Mary is mismated with sin, even though Paul explicitly says what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

            You say,

            As for Cana, you and I do not know what Mary was thinking but Jesus did, and he rebuked her. To do something that brings a rebuke from God is a sin, is it not? Please include a Yes or a No in any answer.

            Yes, if the will is at fault, no if the fault is purely in the intellect (e.g. when someone makes an error of logic or is inculpable for their ignorance). But I don’t agree that Jesus is necessarily rebuking Mary. I think he rebukes her no more than he rebukes the Canaanite woman. His response is to draw out her faith.

            As for what he and she said next, that is irrelevant to the point that she committed a (small) sin.

            I think that sits very uneasily with more general scriptural principles, such as The LORD is far from wicked people, but he hears the prayers of righteous. A principle that seems to be found everywhere. Now your interpretation is particularly difficult, because you are claiming that the request itself was wrong. And yet Jesus did it anyway. But why was the request wrong? On your interpretation, it would appear to be wrong because the action requested was itself wrong: Jesus’ hour has not yet come, he has nothing to do with this sort of thing (I think at most that would show understandable misunderstanding in Mary). And yet Jesus nevertheless accedes to her. But that means as a matter of strict logic that Jesus committed a sinful act. And what is a person who commits a sinful act, but a sinner? And how can sinners be saved from sin, by a sinner? So in order to avoid acknowledging the work of his glorious grace in preserving Mary from sin, you have ended up, so it seems to me, in imputing sin to Jesus and undermining salvation. I find that interesting, because it is precisely that kind of connection between Jesus and Mary that yields the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

            He had been boxed in and had to get out of it as best he could

            I cannot make sense of that statement in the light of the incarnation. If Jesus is who scripture says he is, he does not get boxed in. Secondly, he does not do what is wrong, in any circumstances. Given that that is the case, it evident that we are faced with acknowledging that Mary’s request was not sinful, and that therefore you cannot claim it shows she committed sin.

            her comment “Do what he says” could derive from several differing motivations, some good, some bad, which take little imagination to see.

            I think it comes from faith, and I really wonder if there isn’t malice saying otherwise. How else can she believe that he will save the situation – by telling the attendants to pop down to the local offie?

            Just for the sake of argument, imagine that the Catholic Church is what she claims to be. Isn’t it obvious that the whole Church, suffused with the Holy Spirit and reflecting on scripture for two thousand years, will find more in scripture than an individual by himself, doing his best reading scripture, with the little time God gives him on earth? Isn’t that obvious? So isn’t it also the case, that your failure to find something in scripture that the Catholic Church says is there actually tells you nothing about whether it is there or not. For even if Catholicism is true, and her claims are in scripture, it is almost inevitable that you will not always be able to find them.

          • Anton

            “the argument I have given suggests that the forebears need to be holy enough to produce the child they produce.”

            NOBODY is holy enough to beget Jesus. That is why it is a miracle.

            At Cana, Jesus would know Mary’s motives and would not have rebuked her if they were from ignorance.

            You suggest malice as my motive in suggesting that not every explanation of Mary’s words “Do what he says” are 100% good. But I am not anti-Mary; I am against the Roman Catholic view of Mary. I have no malice against people but plenty against idolatry.

            “imagine that the Catholic Church is what she claims to be. Isn’t it obvious that the whole Church, suffused with the Holy Spirit and reflecting on scripture for two thousand years, will find more in scripture than an individual by himself, doing his best reading scripture, with the little time God gives him on earth?”

            You are falsely portraying me as a singleton against 2000 years of church tradition. But plenty of people take my view, and in my opinion the Holy Spirit has been conspicuous by his absence from the Roman Catholic system for a fair amount of that time.

          • Albert

            NOBODY is holy enough to beget Jesus. That is why it is a miracle.

            The idea that even with grace no one is holy enough to beget Jesus rather limits grace. Secondly, you do not address the rest of the scripture. Like or not, Mary does beget Jesus. She is not a mere channel, he is genuinely her Son. He takes her flesh as his flesh. Now if it no one is holy enough to beget Jesus, then it follows Jesus was not begotten. But Jesus was begotten, therefore Mary was holy enough to beget him. The miracles is not that Jesus is born of a sinner – that would over throw the whole notion of God’s holiness, and contradict 2 Cor. I cited. The miracle is that although no one without a miracle is holy enough to beget Jesus, yet, in Mary’s case, a miracle was performed so that she was. As Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

            It seems you do not believe grace is capable of transforming humanity? Of course, you will say that it is capable of transforming humanity, but in conceding that, you concede that God is able to make Mary holy enough, to be able to beget Jesus. What is the problem here? Are you limiting God’s power? In a sense, you have made the argument for me.

            Jesus would know Mary’s motives and would not have rebuked her if they were from ignorance.

            Okay, so you think they proceed from sin. But as I have argued, that makes Jesus complicit in sin. But Jesus was without sin. Therefore, Mary’s request did not proceed from sin, and therefore Jesus did not rebuke her – as I keep saying. Again, you seem to be making my case for me.

            You suggest malice as my motive in suggesting that not every explanation of Mary’s words “Do what he says” are 100% good.

            Mary’s words can only come from faith for she believes Jesus can solve a problem that cannot (otherwise) be solved. I have argued this already, and you have provided no response. Now I am still therefore unpersuaded that your view does not proceed from malice, for I have given reason to think her command came from faith, and you have not provided reason to deny that. Why then do you doubt that she speaks from faith?

            I am against the Roman Catholic view of Mary. I have no malice against people but plenty against idolatry.

            Idolatry means worship, and we do not worship Mary.

            You are falsely portraying me as a singleton against 2000 years of church tradition.

            Every Protestant, in the end, judges for himself. How does he know which congregation to join? He must judge for himself on the basis of his interpretation of scripture, for anyone who teaches contrary to what he believes is in scripture can safely be ignored. Have you never had the experience of hearing a preacher and thinking “I don’t think that can be defended at the bar of scripture”, but then finding, in time, that you think it can? What then if you had not changed your mind? There just is a sense in which Protestant judges for himself, and himself only how to interpret revelation.

            But plenty of people take my view,

            Yes, but they are in no better state than you. For if the Catholic faith is true and biblical, individuals will always have difficulty finding in scripture all the things she teaches, not because they are not there, but because they cannot find them. The issue here is no how many people think X isn’t in scripture, but whether those people can infer from their failure to find something in scripture to the conclusion that it isn’t there. And that move simply cannot be logically done. Therefore, you have no justification in denying Catholic teaching.

            and in my opinion the Holy Spirit has been conspicuous by his absence from the Roman Catholic system for a fair amount of that time.

            Yes, but it is your opinion that is in question here. The fact that you cannot see something does not mean it is not there. It just means you cannot see it. Now you cannot found a whole religious system and division on such sandy foundations.

          • Anton

            “The idea that even with grace no one is holy enough to beget Jesus rather limits grace. Secondly, you do not address the rest of the scripture. Like it or not, Mary does beget Jesus. She is not a mere channel, he is genuinely her Son. He takes her flesh as his flesh.”

            I do like it. I like the gospels and they are explicit about it. What I am saying is that the miracle of Jesus’ sinlessness is to be found at the boundary between his flesh and hers – at the interface between his placenta and her womb, if you like; and not at the boundary between her placenta and her mother’s womb a generation earlier. As sin begets sin, and as you have not disputed that Mary’s parents were sinners, there has to be a miracle somewhere in the family tree, and this fact undercuts your argument that it had to be at Mary’s own conception. The gospel is perfectly clear that a massive miracle took place at Christ’s conception and there is no reason to suppose another at Mary’s.

            Your claim that my argument undercuts itself involves further assumptions which I question.

            “Okay, so you think Mary’s request proceeds from sin. But as I have argued, that makes Jesus complicit in sin.”

            I say that Mary’s request proceeds from sin because Jesus rebukes her and Jesus would not rebuke a non-sinner.

            As for my motives, you may think what you like of me.

            Me: “You are falsely portraying me as a singleton against 2000 years of church tradition.”

            You: “Every Protestant, in the end, judges for himself. How does he know which congregation to join? How does he know which preachers to believe? He must judge for himself on the basis of his interpretation of scripture”

            As does every Catholic, because thankfully there are now alternatives available (and available without persecution). One alternative is the Eastern Orthodox, who split from Rome long before Luther. They too say they are the one true church; why should I heed you rather than them?

            You are fond if talking of “interpretations” of scripture as if the gospels are philosophical documents. They are not, of course. The great majority of verses are crystal clear and the difficult ones are the exception rather than the rule. Even then most of them relate merely to customs familiar at the time but different in our different culture.

            “Would you care to give an example of when you think the Holy Spirit was absent from the Catholic Church?”

            By all means. If I recall, the outcome of every conclave is ascribed to the Holy Spirit although many of the Renaissance Popes bribed and intrigued their way to the papacy. Or how about Benedict IX? Or – since we are discussing it – the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which I have shown that at the least is not necessary, or the claim in the catechism that Mary lived without sin.

            It is appropriate that we return to Mary. I have no doubt that she looks down from heaven at the idolatrous worship she receives from Catholics and weeps.

          • Albert

            As sin begets sin, and as you have not disputed that Mary’s parents were sinners, there has to be a miracle somewhere in the family tree, and this fact undercuts your argument that it had to be at Mary’s own conception.

            You are still answering an argument I have not made, and still failing to address and argument I have made. I never said , as you accused me of saying a post or two ago, that Mary has to be sinless to beget Jesus who is sinless. I said, and I give it now for the third time, the forebears need to be holy enough to produce the child they produce. That is to say, the holiness of the forebears is proportionate to the holiness of the child they produce. Can you not see this pattern in scripture? As well as passages such as 2 Corinthians, think of the birth of John the Baptist. His parents were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And yet, their holiness, was less than that of Mary,, for, even if I do not appeal to Luke 1.28, it is clear that she is holier than they. She does not understand the message, but she does not doubt it, in contrast to Zechariah who is punished for unbelief, and (among lots of other signs) Elizabeth says of Mary why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Is not the principle obvious: the holiness of the parents is greater according to the holiness of the child. Since John the Baptist is the forerunner of Christ, his parents are righteous and blameless, but sine Jesus is God, Mary has maximal creaturely holiness.

            Now this argument is not the same as, or reducible to, an argument about a parent needing to be sinless to produce a child that is sinless. But it does mean a parent needs to be sinless to produce a child who is God. If you do not accept that principle, please explain how you answer the passage from 2 Corinthians I gave and what the significance of the nativity of John the Baptist is.

            I say that Mary’s request proceeds from sin because Jesus rebukes her and Jesus would not rebuke a non-sinner.

            Jesus does not rebuke her. You have not proved that from the text, and I have now consulted with various Protestant authors who all reject your interpretation because it makes a nonsense of the passage as a whole. You are still refusing to defend this claim in the light of the fact that if her request from sinful, he would not have done it. You render one verse of the same chapter in a way that contradicts a later verse. Why do that?

            As does every Catholic, because thankfully there are now alternatives available (and available without persecution). One alternative is the Eastern Orthodox, who split from Rome long before Luther. They too say they are the one true church; why should I heed you rather than them?

            Because in the end the Orthodox do to tradition what Protestants do to the scripture – they reduce it to private judgement. You only have to look at Church history to see that the appeal to tradition, while it solves certain difficulties found in the interpretation of scripture, nevertheless creates new difficulties of its own. On the Eastern model, which tradition do you follow? Chalcedonian, non-Chalcedonian? If you go for the latter, will you follow the Nestorians or the Monophysites? Or would you have been a Hesychist, or a non-Hesychist? The Old-Believers or the others? Would you follow the Sophianists or those who reject them? Be a Slavophile or not? In each case, you make your mind up on the basis of tradition and your view of tradition. It’s the same problem as Protestantism really, only with more antiquity, deeper spirituality and more interesting (if longer) Church services.

            You are fond if talking of “interpretations” of scripture as if the gospels are philosophical documents.

            I am surprised that you object to “interpretation”, given that scripture says:

            And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And let’s be clear, his interpretation was not obvious.

            I agree that some passages are crystal clear, like this one:

            You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

            But when it comes to major doctrines like the Trinity for example, matters are not easy. That has nothing to do with the customs of the time, but with the sheer difficulty of the subject matter (which, being God, is infinite). If it’s all so clear,as you think doesn’t that make it rather shallow, thereby denigrating the scripture? Why then does St Paul pray for his people that they may have the:

            power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge

            Saying it is all simple and clear may be Protestant, but it isn’t biblical.

            By all means. If I recall, the outcome of every conclave is ascribed to the Holy Spirit

            Obviously God’s providence is over all things. As Jesus says:

            Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

            In that sense the outcome of the conclave is the will of God. But that does not mean that the Cardinals will always pick the man whom the Holy Spirit has chosen. The conclave is not infallible. So again, you reject what you misunderstand.

            the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which I have shown that at the least is not necessary, or the claim in the catechism that Mary lived without sin.

            You haven’t shown that it is not necessary, you have at best shown that you cannot see the truth of it, and you haven’t been able to answer the case in favour, yet, for you keep misrepresenting it.

            It is appropriate that we return to Mary. I have no doubt that she looks down from heaven at the idolatrous worship she receives from Catholics and weeps.

            We do not worship Mary.

          • Anton

            Indeed, I have not answered all of your questions; I have made my own case about the Immaculate Conception for what I imagine a reasonable reader to be. Ditto Cana. If you find what *I* rather than *you* consider to be a hole in my argument then I’ll respond. You might consider that this way of arguing is somewhat discourteous but we cannot possibly respond to all of each other’s points and I, at least, have not accused you of malice.

            “Jesus does not rebuke her. You have not proved that from the text”

            If you wish to deny the obvious then there is not much more to say. As you adhere to the view that Mary is sinless, readers might suppose that you are not willing to examine the phrase as you would if it were stated to someone else.

            “in the end the Orthodox do to tradition what Protestants do to the scripture – they reduce it to private judgement.”

            I now see that “private judgement” is really Vaticanspeak for a view that disagrees with Rome’s. It is no such thing as private, of course; millions of Orthodox disagree with Rome, as do millions of protestants.

            Rome denies that it worships Mary; but over the centuries it has applied to her, with no scriptural or historical evidence, various attributes of His that make him special – perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, the title “Our Lady” (cf “Our Lord”), Assumption to heaven, prayer directly to her, vast statues of her in many churches. Any pagan would be in no doubt who is being worshipped. Likewise this protestant.

          • Albert

            Ditto Cana. If you find what *I* rather than *you* consider to be a hole in my argument then I’ll respond. If you wish to deny the obvious then there is not much more to say.

            This is all very well, but unlike you, I have not simply asserted my position, I have given reason and evidence, from the text, for it. I have also indicated support from Protestant scholars and parallel cases. I do not need to show that my reading is the only one. This is your argument, I just need to show that the “Mary is a sinner” is not the only reading.

            You might consider that this way of arguing is somewhat discourteous but we cannot possibly respond to all of each other’s points and I, at least, have not accused you of malice.

            What is discourteous is the serial way in which you accuse me of saying things I have not said, and then proceed as if it is established that I have said them. It is also discourteous that you continue to impute idolatry to us, despite the fact that is it again serially evident that you do not understand Catholic practice. How many times in this thread have I had to correct your misunderstandings on such things? And yet you persist in such a damning comment. Now is that what you call charity? And if it is not charity, is not malice?

            Please answer the following questions. I will do what did a few posts ago, and ask for a yes or no answer:

            1. Does Mary’s comment “Do whatever he tells you” proceed from faith?

            2. Does Jesus in the end respond to Mary’s request?

            As you adhere to the view that Mary is sinless, readers might suppose that you are not willing to examine the phrase as you would if it were stated to someone else.

            I could make the same comment to you about passages which, by themselves seem to indicate that Jesus is not God. There is a breadth of biblical interpretation here, even among those who do not hold Mary is sinless. Besides, as I have pointed out more than once, making a mistake is consistent with being sinless. You have given not account of how you know Mary is guilty of sin, rather than simply making a mistake.

            I now see that “private judgement” is really Vaticanspeak for a view that disagrees with Rome’s.

            Private judgement is a perfectly widely used expression among Protestants. I have shown what it means, and an appeal ad populum is not an answer to it. It is the state of mind of the individual that is described and his personal practice. The fact that lots of people do it, doesn’t alter the form of the judgement. It just means lots of people do it. And if private judgement does not work for one, it does not work for many, it means many will fall into the pit.

            various attributes of His that make him special – perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, the title “Our Lady” (cf “Our Lord”), Assumption to heaven, prayer directly to her, vast statues of her in many churches.

            Seriously? That’s suppose to show worship? Believing in perpetual virginity is worship? Do you not know that lots of people are perpetually virgins? Do you not know that this doctrine was held by Luther and other early Protestant Reformers? Did they worship Mary? How exactly, does believing in the Immaculate Conception imply worship? Adam and Eve were both conceived without sin. Does that make them God? Mary was conceived without sin because she was saved by the grace of Christ from the first moment of her conception. Is being saved by grace a mark of divinity? If so, we must conclude that Jesus was not God! Were you aware that Luther held this doctrine? You who like to appeal to the Eastern Orthodox, did you not know that they don’t believe in original sin at all? Do they worship everyone? “Our Lady”? Do you have no sense of how this kind of language is used in earlier cultures? “Yes, M’Lady” says the workman to the lady of the house not so very long ago. Was he then worshipping her?! Assumption to heaven? Is it a mark of divinity that you are bodily resurrected by someone else? Won’t that mean that Christ is not God (since he does not need anyone else’s power), but that, in the fulness of time, we will be?! What about Elijah? Was he God? prayer directly to her – we have been dealing with this already. vast statues of her in many churches. I have never seen a statue of Mary as vast as that of Abraham Lincoln, but I never supposed Lincoln was worshipped!

            Any pagan would be in no doubt who is being worshipped. Likewise this protestant.

            How interesting that you identify with the pagans. I expect that many pagans would think the Jews worshipped the Temple – did they not love the very dust of Zion and bow down before the Temple?

          • Anton

            You are fond of telling me what I have done and what I would need to do in order to make my case. But that is what I would need to do to convince you, and I have in mind readers of this exchange who might be less willing to hang on to Catholic dogma at any cost, less ready to misunderstand my words when a dogma is threatened, less willing to make analogies in which significant details differ from the actual situation, less willing to enter into lengthy diversions. Effective rhetoric when you are contending with someone in a public forum involves making things easier for the audience, not harder.

            Feel free to state what exegetical scholars have made of Jesus’ words in John 2:4. I don’t mind whether they are Roman Catholic, Orthodox or protestant.

            “Does Mary’s comment “Do whatever he tells you” proceed from faith?”

            I’m not sure what you mean by “faith” in this sentence. (Faith in God?) Certainly the comment stems from knowledge that Jesus can improve any situation. But it might also stem from pride that the Messiah is her son and she wants to show off what he can do and associate herself with his capabilities. I am not insisting that this is the case. I am saying that Mary’s attitude cannot reliably be inferred from the words.

            “Does Jesus in the end respond to Mary’s request?”

            She does not make an explicit request. I’d call it a sly hint that he should do something to remedy the situation. Yes, he does remedy the situation, but she has put him on the spot and it is not good to put God to the test; in fact it is a sin. You said above that Jesus never let himself get boxed in but I disagree, for he came to interact with the sinful world, and the world always boxes people in. What is remarkable about Jesus in such situations is how he always gets out of the world’s boxes. As with this dilemma which his own mother put him in. (For the avoidance of misunderstanding I repeat that it is a small sin, readily forgiven by her son, and that it is the portrait that Rome paints of Mary that I am against, not the gospel portrait of her.)

            At Cana, why do you think Mary said to Jesus something that was already obvious, ie that the wine had run out?

            Given your reply about “private judgement” I’m happy to let readers decide for themselves whether you are using the phrase to mean “differing from the Catholic view”.

            “That’s suppose to show worship? Believing in perpetual virginity is worship?”

            Did I say that believing in Mary’s perpetual virginity is worship? Worship is an action, not a belief. It proceeds from a belief, and I showed that various attributes of Jesus which single him out have, over the centuries, been applied by Rome to Mary also in a de facto process of deification. Perpetual virginity is one of those attributes. (Co-redemptrix would be next.)

            You ask: “Do you not know that lots of people are perpetually virgins?” Since I said that an attribute of Jesus was assigned to Mary I am aware, obviously, that Jesus is such. And: “Do you not know that this doctrine was held by Luther…?” In some areas Luther didn’t go far enough, but he never had the hubris to claim he was infallible. He didn’t get this belief about Mary from scripture, which suggests the opposite, and I am not aware that he regarded denial of Mary’s virginity (after Christ was born) as heretical. Probably he regarded it as a church tradition and was unaware that its earliest traces came from so long after Mary’s time as to be unreliable. Do you consider it a scandalous assertion that Mary had sex with her husband sometime after Jesus was born? If so, why?

            “I have never seen a statue of Mary as vast as that of Abraham Lincoln, but I never supposed Lincoln was worshipped!”

            And I have never seen a statue of Abraham Lincoln in a church.

            “How interesting that you identify with the pagans. I expect that many pagans would think the Jews worshipped the Temple – did they not love the very dust of Zion and bow down before the Temple?”

            Any pagan who saw Jewish practice would suppose that this was a preliminary prostration, before the Jew went further into the Temple to worship the god of Israel. You are distorting my words in suggesting that I identify with pagans. The point is that someone who had had no exposure to Christianity would enter a Catholic church and see a huge statue of Mary holding a helpless infant and would be in no doubt who was worshipped there. Especially if that church building was called “Notre Dame de….”

          • Albert

            You are fond of telling me what I have done and what I would need to do in order to make my case.

            It is not at all controversial that if a person makes a claim, the burden of proof rests on them. If they make a strong claim, such as that we are guilty of idolatry, then a stronger burden of proof rests on them. If the person against whom they make a claim, gives a counter argument, it is normally the case, that the first person, needs to show that counter argument does not work. I don’t think this is unreasonable, and I think that is how it works in a court.

            I have in mind readers of this exchange who might be less willing to hang on to Catholic dogma at any cost, less ready to misunderstand my words when a dogma is threatened, less willing to make analogies in which significant details differ from the actual situation, less willing to enter into lengthy diversions.

            I doubt anyone is reading this, but if they are, my contention is to point out as many holes and inconsistencies in your position as I can. If you fail to respond to them, then I assume an average reader, especially one aware that the burden of proof rests on you, will think you cannot defend yourself.

            Effective rhetoric when you are contending with someone in a public forum involves making things easier for the audience, not harder.

            Well you stick to your rhetoric. I am interested in the truth.

            Feel free to state what exegetical scholars have made of Jesus’ words in John 2:4. I don’t mind whether they are Roman Catholic, Orthodox or protestant.

            Well try here:

            http://www.godvine.com/bible/john/2-4

            Two Protestants who disagree with you and one who agrees, although I’m not sure that Wesley is imputing sin to Mary. Clark is nice because it makes the point I made – a mistake is not a sin – this is a basic moral point and under-cuts any attempt to impute sin to Mary.

            So now I turn to commentaries I have here. Of those I have books, Lightfoot makes no suggestion such as yours, but shows that the context implies the opposite – she is prepared to leave the matter to Him. Sanders and Mastin say the impression given in English is all wrong, make the comparisons I drew with the Canaanite woman and concludes, when understood in context, that Jesus’ words are compatible with “affection and respect”. Please notice that these are all Protestants – and thus, if anything, inclined by their own prejudices to seek out objections to Mary. But they know they cannot make sense of the story, that way.

            Then there’s Mary in the NT which is an ecumenical study, makes the same points about how Jesus draws faith out from people by seeming denials and then concludes that the fact that Jesus does the miracle “makes it virtually impossible to maintain that the scene contains a harsh polemic against his mother. Rather she falls into a general category of those who, despit their good intentions misunderstand Jesus. It then develops the faith point by setting the passage in the wider context of Mary in John’s gospel (ending up at the foot of the cross etc.).

            Now this evidence should show that my interpretation is not some kind of eccentricity. It is mainstream, both for Protestants and Catholics, because the passage makes no sense if you say the request is sinful. Moreover, the points I made at the very beginning (mistakes are not sinful, Jesus is drawing out faith as he does elsewhere) have all been felt by other commentators. It may all seem preposterous to you, but what you cannot claim is that the interpretation comes from Catholicism, for the reading is ecumenical. Perhaps what seems obvious to you, just isn’t obvious to others.

            But it might also stem from pride that the Messiah is her son and she wants to show off what he can do and associate herself with his capabilities.

            That would be some kind of faith, for she must believe he is the Messiah and has such capabilities. But would Jesus do what she asked if it was sinful?

            I am saying that Mary’s attitude cannot reliably be inferred from the words.

            Then you cannot claim it is sinful.

            She does not make an explicit request. I’d call it a sly hint that he should do something to remedy the situation.

            So, you could have taken it as an act of faith “Here’s a problem, I do not determine what, if anything you do about it”, instead, you have taken it as a “sly hint”. Dear, dear.

            Yes, he does remedy the situation, but she has put him on the spot and it is not good to put God to the test; in fact it is a sin.

            But if it is a hint, he isn’t on the spot. Anyone over hearing it, and not knowing Jesus’ identity would think nothing of it. This interpretation is such a muddle.

            it is a small sin

            And so the muddle continues. Putting God to the test is not small sin. It violates the Ten Commandments!

            You said above that Jesus never let himself get boxed in but I disagree, for he came to interact with the sinful world, and the world always boxes people in.

            You cannot infer from what the world does to us to what it does to Jesus.

            As with this dilemma which his own mother put him in.

            He isn’t in a dilemma, because no one would think he could do anything about it.

            Seriously, if John 2 is your evidence that Mary was a sinner, then I think that’s a back handed compliment to the fact that she wasn’t.

            And I have never seen a statue of Abraham Lincoln in a church.

            May I suggest you visit Westminster Abbey? Not Lincoln perhaps but all sorts of other worthies. Personally, I’m doubtful that they should be there, but no one thinks Handel is being worshipped because there is a statue to him. The most distracting statue of Mary (distressingly so) that I have seen is in Ely Cathedral. I don’t think anyone assumes Mary is worshipped, there though.

            Did I say that believing in Mary’s perpetual virginity is worship?

            Well this is what you said:

            Rome denies that it worships Mary; but over the centuries it has applied to her, with no scriptural or historical evidence, various attributes of His that make him special – perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, the title “Our Lady” (cf “Our Lord”), Assumption to heaven, prayer directly to her, vast statues of her in many churches. Any pagan would be in no doubt who is being worshipped. Likewise this protestant.

            various attributes of Jesus which single him out have, over the centuries, been applied by Rome to Mary also in a de facto process of deification.

            You said that also about miracles, but it was easy to find scripture making similar statements about the apostles. Moreover, you are just wrong if you say that Mary being saved by grace makes her divine. And the idea that Mary is somehow being deified because she shows likenesses to Christ is just bizarre:

            And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ

            Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus

            You go on:

            (Co-redemptrix would be next.)

            What do you understand by Co-redemptrix?

            In some areas Luther didn’t go far enough, but he never had the hubris to claim he was infallible.

            There goes the doctrine of the perspicacity of scripture…

            He didn’t get this belief about Mary from scripture, which suggests the opposite, and I am not aware that he regarded denial of Mary’s virginity (after Christ was born) as heretical.

            Well, let’s see shall we? In his words:

            It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin. … Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact.

            An article of faith, he says. So either (a) Luther though it was in the Bible, or (b) he denies sola scriptura. Go with (a) and the perspicacity of scripture is endangered, go with (b) and he doesn’t believe in sola scriptura. Or you could just admit that the perpetual virginity is biblically speaking a reasonable doctrine.

            Do you consider it a scandalous assertion that Mary had sex with her husband sometime after Jesus was born? If so, why?

            Yes, of course. Her body becomes the Temple of the Christ, his dwelling place. Can you imagine a Jew having sex in the Temple? How much more extraordinary would it be to have sex with the Temple! But this point is only obvious to someone who has picked up the notion of God’s holiness. Moreover, her vocation was directed to her Son, and Mary of course would not use contraception, so the only way to maintain that bond was to remain a virgin. Hence the absence of other children when they find Jesus in the Temple, and at the foot of the cross.

            Any pagan who saw Jewish practice would suppose that this was a preliminary prostration, before the Jew went further into the Temple to worship the god of Israel.

            They would be very sophisticated pagans. And if that sophisticated, then I doubt they would think we worship Mary.

            You are distorting my words in suggesting that I identify with pagans.

            But you have identified pagans as good judges of these matters! I would say they are not, for the very reason God called Israel: the Gospel cannot be understood without preparation, so to bring the opinions of pagans into it undermines, again, the biblicity of your position.

            The point is that someone who had had no exposure to Christianity would enter a Catholic church and see a huge statue of Mary holding a helpless infant and would be in no doubt who was worshipped there. Especially if that church building was called “Notre Dame de….”

            And the Bible makes it clear that their opinion is not reliable, for:

            He declares his word to Jacob,
            his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
            He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
            they do not know his ordinances.

            Very likely they would think that Jesus the man was a god like their gods (rather than being the human nature of the transcendent God with his own nature). Pagans assumed Paul’s followers worshipped him. So I really don’t think this argument has any legs. But in any case, I remember as a teenager being in a Protestant service where we all stood up as the Bible was processed in and enthroned. It felt like the Bible was being worshipped. I dare say your pagan would have thought so. I have no doubt that the inference was wrong.

          • Anton

            “my contention is to point out as many holes and inconsistencies in your position as I can. If you fail to respond to them, then I assume an average reader, especially one aware that the burden of proof rests on you, will think you cannot defend yourself.”

            Yes, that is correct reasoning about rhetorical discussions. (Aristotle regarded rhetoric as a way to truth, by the way, and did not regard the two as exclusive as your retort suggests you do. Courts also seek truth via rhetorical processes.) I don’t consider you have found holes and inconsistencies, however, and am therefore equally happy to let readers decide for themselves.

            In response to my comments about prominent statues of Mary in Catholic churches, you responded: “I have never seen a statue of Mary as vast as that of Abraham Lincoln, but I never supposed Lincoln was worshipped!” I pointed out that I had never seen a statue of Abraham Lincoln in a church. You replied by referring to statues of Handel and others in Westminster Abbey. but statues of Mary dominate many Catholic churches in a way that tombs of deceased bishops and nobles do not. Moreover the Abbey is not a typical church building and I am not an Anglican (partly because Anglicanism retains some characteristics of Roman Catholicism). Also, you ignored my comment that these Catholic churches are commonly called “Notre Dame de…” It is characteristic of your rhetoric that you critique isolated sentences that comprise part of an argument.

            Thank you for the quote from Luther, whose source I have verified online. I agree with him that Jesus “came forth from a womb left perfectly intact” if by that he means a womb that had not known a man sexually: that is clear from Matthew 1:25. (I have no wish to get into discussions that concern some Catholics about the definition of virginity and whether Mary’s hymen was damaged while giving birth to Jesus.) As for Mary’s perpetual virginity, I presume Luther went along with the torture of scripture by which various verses are presumed to mean this. He made some mistakes, like any man. Mary’s perpetual virginity is against the normal inference from Matthew 1:18 and 1:25, that Joseph “had no [carnal] knowledge of her until she bore him a son” – which although stating nothing about what happened afterwards is not likely to be how Matthew would have written if the couple had remained celibate. If you hear that a woman broke her leg days before her wedding, and that she and her husband had no union until the plaster cast was removed, what do you think they did next? Did Mary and Joseph have separate beds to avoid temptation? Separate bedrooms? Rome appears to regard it as scandalous that a married couple had sex, whereas Paul takes the view that it is mistaken for them not to (1 Cor 7:5). Abundant children are viewed throughout the Old Testament as a blessing, and Mary was certainly blessed. The gospels refer to Jesus’ adelphoi and adelphai – ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ which in John 2:12 (“his brothers and disciples”) & 7:5 (“even his

            brothers did not believe in him”) & Matt 12:47 (“your mother and brothers are outside” – “who are my brothers – these [disciples] are”) cannot mean brothers in the spiritual sense. Catholics take these references to refer to cousins of Jesus (although there is a specific Greek word for that, anepsioi), or they postulate that Joseph was a widower with children from a previous marriage (a claim for which there is no evidence in the Bible or any other contemporary source). Seven of the ten references to ‘his brothers’ in the gospels and Acts are in immediate connection to Mary. (The exceptions are all in the passage John 7:2-10, which I have just explained cannot refer to spiritual brothers.) The obvious conclusion is that Mary and Joseph had children after Jesus in the usual way. Sadly many of them did not believe in Jesus during the time of his ministry (John 7:5), which is why Jesus, from the cross, charged John (19:27) with her care after he was gone.

            The dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity is from the 7th century. At that time Catholicism’s view of what sex is for was: for procreation only, and even then it should not be enjoyed. This depressing view is explicit in, for example, the Pastoral Rule (bk. 3 ch. 27) of Gregory ‘the Great’, the first monk to be pope and who died early in the 7th century. It grew from several sources: the influence of Greek ascetism; Augustine of Hippo, who upon repenting became disgusted at his own lust; and from conjecture about how sin is passed from one generation to the next. And it is nonsense, for couples experience a desire for union rather than for children; children are the normal consequence. That desire is designed by God for pair-bonding (Genesis 2:24), and like everything from before the Fall it is “very good” when kept within God’s instructions, ie marriage.

            “Her body becomes the Temple of the Christ, his dwelling place. Can you imagine a Jew having sex in the Temple? How much more extraordinary would it be to have sex with the Temple!”

            The bodies of Christians are temples according to St Paul (1 Cor 6:9), yet he encourages married Christian couples to have sex (1 Cor 7:5).

            To Cana. I certainly do not regard the word “Woman” as a rebuke in John 2:4; in the USA a couple of generations ago I’d have translated it as “Lady”, which was respectful. (Interesting that He doesn’t say “Mother”, though.) It is absurd of Barras to suppose that “my hour is not yet come” means “it’s a few minutes too early for me to turn water into wine” rather than “it is not yet timely for me to show publicly my power to do miracles”. Why, in that case, did Jesus say “So what for you and me”? Clarke, conversely, points out that “So what for you and me?” could mean that provision of wine was the exclusive business of the host, but this view misses the significance of the immediately following comment “my time is not yet come”. Clarke also treats this phrase separately rather than taking the two phrases together, and also makes a pig’s ear of it; his words about this latter phrase are incoherent.

            I am not willing to comment on a range of exegetes, or you could simply paste their comments in and I would have to spend all day responding. You are, obviously, free to educate yourself on what exegetes say (as am I), but this dialogue is between you and me, so please use the views of others to formulate your best shot and then aim it at me.

            In response to your question, I said that Mary’s attitude cannot reliably be inferred from her words. You respond: “Then you cannot claim it is sinful.” But, I repeat, I infer that her words are sinful not from her words from from her son’s, which comprise a rebuke. If she had spoken out of ignorance rather than out of some sinful attitude then Jesus would not have rebuked her. She nags him into doing a miracle before he was ready to “come out”. We are not told why it was premature, but we are certainly told that it was premature. Why did she say to Jesus something that he could obviously see for himself, that the wine had run out?

            I have fewer irons in this fire than you. I firmly believe the episode does show a (minor) sin but I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t, whereas for you your entire denomination’s claims are at stake.

          • Albert

            Yes, that is correct reasoning about rhetorical discussions.

            In that case, it was unfair of you to critique me for telling you what you needed to do.

            It is characteristic of your rhetoric that you critique isolated sentences that comprise part of an argument.

            That’s rather rich, considering that you’ve just admitted you don’t bother to respond to certain points! I didn’t respond to your point about churches being dedicated to Our Lady because it was banal. Lots of churches, and not just Catholic ones, are dedicated to lots of saints – even Presbyterian churches are so dedicated, I recall, but no one thinks presbyterians are worshipping the saints. Wasn’t my post long enough already without engaging directly with such weak arguments (arguments which are dealt with already indirectly by other responses)?

            the Abbey is not a typical church building and I am not an Anglican

            Most Anglican churches have statues of some sort or another. The less “catholic” the parish, the more likely it is that the statues will be of worthies rather than of Jesus, Mary and the saints. I’ve always thought it odd that Protestants got rid of images of Jesus and replaced them with images of themselves. But the point is that, at no point does anyone think they are being worshipped. The fact that there are lots of statues does not alter this. There are lots of statues of St Therese too, but that does not mean she is being worshipped. You simply cannot get the conclusion you want from that premise. And why persist in it when we deny it, and our teaching excludes and denies it?

            He made some mistakes, like any man.

            And that is why our interpretation of God’s revelation must be guaranteed by Christ, and not be a matter of private judgement. Faith cannot proceed from mistakes.

            Mat.1.20 is most naturally read as indicating St Joseph was aware of the reasoning behind the perpetual virginity, it also makes most sense of Lk.1.34. No passage requires us to say Mary was not a virgin. St Jerome dealt with this very easily. Responding to Helvidius, who wrote as you do he said:

            I know not whether to grieve or laugh…If I choose to say, ‘the apostle Paul before he went to Spain was put in fetters at Rome,’ or (as I certainly might) ‘Helvidius, before he repented, was cut off by death’ must Paul on being released at once go to Spain, or must Helvidius repent after death, although the Scripture says ‘In sheol who shall give thee thanks?’

            Jerome then deals with Helvidius’ objection that “he knew her not until she had born a son” (Mt.1.24). Jerome writes “it is clear (says he) that she was known after she was brought forth.”
            Jerome replies:

            When God by the mouth of the prophet says to certain persons, ‘Even to old age I am he.’ Will he cease to be God when they have grown old? And the Saviour in the Gospels tells the Apostles, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’ Will the Lord then after the end of the world forsake His disciples, and at the very time when seated on twelve thrones they are to judge to the twelve tribes of Israel will they be bereft of the company of their Lord?

            Now of course, it would be reasonable, under normal circumstances to assume Joseph and Mary had sex, but they are not a normal couple. And this too, scripture teaches, for it says:

            Joseph took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.

            In other words, contrary to normality, their marriage was certainly celibate at first. But why? I have already given an answer and that answer applies after the birth of Jesus. And this present verse shows us that you cannot infer from what couples ordinarily do, to what they did.

            The thing about brothers and sisters. We know that the terms used are used with very broad meaning in biblical times. I haven’t checked this, but I think there are examples even of husbands and fathers receiving the title “brother”. I also recall I think, that where brothers and sisters are named, even as being a child of “Mary” it turns out they were children of another Mary.

            Sadly many of them did not believe in Jesus during the time of his ministry (John 7:5), which is why Jesus, from the cross, charged John (19:27) with her care after he was gone.

            Many or none? Which is it? You need them to be biological and none of them to be believers by the crucifixion. Luke 8.20 suggests otherwise, as does the place of James within the Church in Acts. .

            The dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity is from the 7th century

            Where do you get these claims from? Off the top of my head, I know that it is actually the Council of Constantinople in 553 that gives her that title, and that it appears in people like St Athanasius.

            You are very partial in what you say about the purpose of sex. St John Chrysostom was almost racy in his view of the marriage bed if memory serves, while the Medieval Sarum Rite of marriage has the priest bless the couple in bed! It’s a much more complicated and interesting picture than you allow. The doctrine of the perpetual virginity is held by those uninfluenced by the later sources you mention (e.g. Irenaeus). It is held in the East (which you have appealed to before) even though they do not share the Augustinian view of sex and even before that view was articulated.

            The bodies of Christians are temples according to St Paul (1 Cor 6:9), yet he encourages married Christian couples to have sex (1 Cor 7:5).

            If you think that Mary’s body is a temple in the same way as Paul means here of other Christians, then I say plainly that you do not believe in the incarnation. And that is interesting, for all these doctrines ultimately come back to the incarnation.

            It is absurd of Barras to suppose that “my hour is not yet come” means “it’s a few minutes too early for me to turn water into wine” rather than “it is not yet timely for me to show publicly my power to do miracles”. Why, in that case, did Jesus say “So what for you and me”? Clarke, conversely, points out that “So what for you and me?” could mean that provision of wine was the exclusive business of the host, but this view misses the significance of the immediately following comment “my time is not yet come”. Clarke also treats this phrase separately rather than taking the two phrases together, and also makes a pig’s ear of it; his words about this latter phrase are incoherent.

            I think you are missing the point. You claimed my view that Jesus does not impute sin to Mary came only from Catholic dogma and therefore skewed the text. I was merely pointing out that the view I defend is perfectly consistent with the passage with or without that dogma. I was not saying I agreed with the precise reasoning behind any. But you also miss a further point. Given that neither of them believes the Immaculate Conception, why are they so keen to avoid imputing sin to Mary that they come up with such odd interpretations of this line? The answers seem to be either that they did not see the passage as implying sin, or that given the wider context (Mary’s “Do whatever he tells you” and Jesus acceding to the request) makes it impossible to impute sin here. In a sense, the more outlandish the Protestant attempt to avoid Jesus imputing sin to Mary, the stronger the case that the imputation of sin is inconsistent with the passage.

            this dialogue is between you and me, so please use the views of others to formulate your best shot and then aim it at me.

            But you said earlier:

            Feel free to state what exegetical scholars have made of Jesus’ words in John 2:4. I don’t mind whether they are Roman Catholic, Orthodox or protestant.

            And my point is only that your view that Mary committed sin is at least doubtful, and not only to Catholics. And this being so, you don’t seem to have an example of Mary being sinful. As I’ve said, your labouring of this point is a kind of backhanded compliment to the doctrine.

            But, I repeat, I infer that her words are sinful not from her words from from her son’s, which comprise a rebuke. If she had spoken out of ignorance rather than out of some sinful attitude then Jesus would not have rebuked her.

            It is evident from the foregoing that it is not a rebuke- not just my opinion but lots of commentators. It makes no sense of what follows, if it is, and you have given no account of how the passage makes sense on your terms.

            We are not told why it was premature, but we are certainly told that it was premature.

            We are told the reason why: “My hour has not yet come.” This refers to the crucifixion. So on your reading, Jesus performs miracles before he should because of Mary. I don’t share your Mariolotry. Mary does not have that power over Jesus. All the contradictions are taken away if we understand the passage differently. “My hour has not yet come” does not have to mean “I should do no miracles until the crucifixion” any more than “Why do you call me good? no one is good but God alone” excludes Christ from being God. It acknowledges that Mary will be with him in the crucifixion (My hour), but this draws our Mary’s faith for him also to perform miracles earlier than that.

            I have fewer irons in this fire than you. I firmly believe the episode does show a (minor) sin but I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t, whereas for you your entire denomination’s claims are at stake.

            You have that back to front. I do not need you to agree to the Church’s teaching for the Church’s teaching to be true or for me to believe it! I could be in the position to answer none of your arguments, and it would make no more difference to my faith than a JW taunting me with “Arian” quotations about Jesus, which I could not answer. Faith is not delivered by private judgement, it is, as Newman says

            assenting to a doctrine as true, which we do not see, which we cannot prove, because God says it is true, who cannot lie. And further than this, since God says it is true, not with His own voice, but by the voice of His messengers, it is assenting to what man says, not simply viewed as a man, but to what he is commissioned to declare, as a messenger, prophet, or ambassador from God.

            He continues:

            In the Apostles’ days the peculiarity of faith was submission to a living authority; this is what made it so distinctive; this is what made it an act of submission at all; this is what destroyed private judgment in matters of religion. If you will not look out for a living authority, and will bargain for private judgment, then say at once that you have not Apostolic faith.

            You really do seem to think that Catholics are Protestants. I am arguing on sola scriptura grounds not because I need to, but because I can. That is the strength of Catholicism. It can permit a self-denying ordinance and still defend her teaching on Protestant grounds, and, in this case at least, using Protestant authors. It says a great deal that in order to find an example sin in Mary, you have to appeal to John 2. And rather than just leaving the Bride of Christ blasphemed, I choose to defend her.

            Seriously, you can’t possibly believe that your solas could survive this level of scrutiny!

          • Anton

            “In that case, it was unfair of you to critique me for telling you what you needed to do.”

            I have not told you what you need to do to satisfy me. I have critiqued your reason – in this case approvingly. That is not the same thing, is it?

            “You simply cannot get the conclusion you want from that premise. And why persist in it when we deny it, and our teaching excludes and denies it?”

            The first sentence is your opinion. To the second, because it is evident to me that you are either blinded or refusing to admit what is obvious to everyone else.

            “And that is why our interpretation of God’s revelation must be guaranteed by Christ, and not be a matter of private judgement.”

            Not so fast. When you say “guided by Christ” you actually mean “guided by the Magisterium”, just as you abuse the meaning of the word “private” when you mean that private judgement is something other than Rome’s. Quite simply, I disagree with your denomination (and thank God it can no longer burn me for it). So also do plenty of others, and if you look up what private means in any dictionary you will see that you are misusing the word.

            Jerome’s sarcasm says more about him than Helvidius. You haven’t answered my question: if Mary and Joseph never had sex, why does Matthew (1:24) merely restrict himself to the statement that they didn’t have sex up to Jesus’ birth?

            “it would be reasonable, under normal circumstances to assume Joseph and Mary had sex, but they are not a normal couple.”

            Why were they planning to get married in the first place? Obviously for the normal reasons: to have a family in the normal way, to love each other, and to satisfy the normal urges that God has given to men and women. What evidence have you that they became an abnormal couple in those ways after the birth of Jesus? Did Joseph, a normal man who had been expecting to lie with Mary, sleep in a different bed or even in a different room so as not to see her naked and be tempted? What of Paul saying that married couples should have sex? What of the Hebraic view that children are a blessing? (Catholics can hardly deny that with their view of contraception.)

            I wrote, “The dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity is from the 7th century” and you asked: “Where do you get these claims from?” Here:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_virginity_of_Mary

            I quote: “The Lateran Council of 649, attended by Maximus the Confessor, explicitly affirmed the teaching of Mary’s virginity before, during and after birth. This was further affirmed at the sixth ecumenical council in 680.”

            “If you think that Mary’s body is a temple in the same way as Paul means here of other Christians, then I say plainly that you do not believe in the incarnation.”

            I now understand your meaning. Mary’s body WAS a temple while she carried Jesus. That is why Joseph had no union with her at that time, as Matthew says.

            As for Jesus’ brothers, you have not engaged with the detailed points and scripture references I gave, together with their contexts, all of which suggest that these were progeny of Mary. There is no syllogistic proof of it from scripture, but the scriptural evidence is cumulative and Catholics have to offer different get-outs from the obvious meanings of diverse scriptures, as I showed in my preceding post.

            Mary and Joseph had sex after Jesus’ birth. If you find that assertion disgusting, or blasphemous, or scandalous, there is something wrong with your view of marital sex, or of Mary, or both.

            At Cana…

            “We *are* told the reason why: “My hour has not yet come.” This refers to the crucifixion.”

            That makes no sense on any view. Why should he refer to the crucifixion, even obliquely, in response to Mary pointing out to him that there was no wine left? And, to repeat my question, why did Mary say to him something that was perfectly obvious to him?

            “I don’t share your Mariolotry.”

            I think you mean my Mariology. *I* don’t share *your* Mariolatry!

          • Albert

            The first sentence is your opinion.

            It is a matter of logic, actually. You cannot get “X is being worshipped” from “There are lots of statues of X in churches.” You would need an extra premise: “Having lots of statues of someone means they are being worshipped” and that premise could only come by looking at the beliefs of the community that has the statues. Ergo.

            To the second, because it is evident to me that you are either blinded or refusing to admit what is obvious to everyone else.

            It isn’t obvious to everyone else. If we judge just by the Christian community, we can see that the overwhelming majority reject your view here, even when they reject our devotion to Mary. You really do seem to think that what you think is what everyone, except those evil papists, thinks.

            When you say “guided by Christ” you actually mean “guided by the Magisterium”

            No I don’t. The Magisterium (and I expect you misuse the term) is guided by Christ. Now in that case, there is no more misuse of the word “guided” than I misuse the word “create” when I say my children were created by God. The fact that he uses a secondary cause, does not stop him being the author of what is happening.

            just as you abuse the meaning of the word “private” when you mean that private judgement is something other than Rome’s.

            That is how you claim I am misusing the word, but I have already shown that that is not how I am misusing the word. An Anglo-catholic believes most or even all of what Rome believes, but he is still using private judgement. Private judgement is to be found in the attitude and use of the mind, and not necessarily in the ideas that proceed from the mind. The meaning of words is to be found in their use.

            why does Matthew (1:24) merely restrict himself to the statement that they didn’t have sex up to Jesus’ birth?

            The purpose of the statement in Matt 1.24 is obvious – it is to prove that Jesus was not biologically Joseph’s son. As for why the statement does not say she remained a virgin for ever, it’s evident that that is outside the scope of that purpose. Here we are concerned with the incarnation, not with Mary. It’s entirely possible that Matthew did not know the doctrine and that is why he does not mention it. Perhaps he had an inkling, which is why he puts it so awkwardly (rather than “They only came together after the birth of Jesus”). Perhaps he thinks he has already made the point in 1.20 and so doesn’t need to repeat it here. Why doesn’t Mark correct the misimpression when he reports Jesus saying “Why do you call me good?” The fact that Matthew doesn’t mention the doctrine is no objection, Mark and John do not mention the virgin birth at all, and John doesn’t even correct the misimpression given by “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” Your interpretations seem to assume you know more than you can, and, as so often in the past, if apply your assumptions consistently, we will not come out with Protestant Christianity, or indeed any Christianity.

            Why were they planning to get married in the first place? Obviously for the normal reasons: to have a family in the normal way, to love each other, and to satisfy the normal urges that God has given to men and women.

            There are examples of celibate marriages in Judaism, I think. As for what they were planning, is it not obvious that they are not a normal couple, and even if they were prior to the Annunciation, they weren’t afterwards? You cannot infer from “normal couples” to them. I’m fascinated BTW that you have not queried my comment:

            Mat.1.20 is most naturally read as indicating St Joseph was aware of the reasoning behind the perpetual virginity

            I could be forgiven for thinking that you have started with the conclusion your human tradition has given you, and you are uninterested in what scripture actually says.

            Regarding your sources for the Perpetual Virginity, Wikipedia is not a good source, but in this case, it does not say what you said is says. It says:

            The Lateran Council of 649, attended by Maximus the Confessor, explicitly affirmed the teaching of Mary’s virginity before, during and after birth. This was further affirmed at the sixth ecumenical council in 680.

            From which you inferred:

            The dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity is from the 7th century

            Is it not obvious that that is an invalid inference? The Council of 680 also affirmed the incarnation, but it would be wholly mistaken to infer from that that the incarnation is a dogma from the 7th Century. And this is the constant problem. You have a limited grasp of the sources (I don’t blame you for that, BTW, we can’t all be interested in patristics, but your lack of knowledge of how biblical texts have been interpreted is a problem) from which you draw inferences which are invalid, and on the basis of all this you draw condemnations to make the angels weep. Since you make such mistakes, charity alone should force you to be a little more circumspect in your judgements about other people.

            Moreover, if you had a grasp of the ideas of which you speak, you would know that the quotation from wiki renders your position false. It speaks of the Eastern doctor Maximus, who was not a Westerner and not under the spell of Augustine. Now if you draw such invalid conclusions when dealing will human matters on wiki, is it not obvious you will draw invalid conclusions when dealing with heavenly matters in scripture? And if that is the case, how can you have confidence in your judgements? And how can faith proceed from doubtful judgements? Is not faith assured?

            I now understand your meaning. Mary’s body WAS a temple while she carried Jesus. That is why Joseph had no union with her at that time, as Matthew says.

            Now that is interesting. Let that thought develop. For surely Mary does not cease to be holy after the Lord has left the temple? Is not the Temple holy even after the Lord has left it and it has been destroyed? Do we not see the Jewish attitude in Ezekiel and Nehemiah and every time we see pictures of the Western Wall? Open your heart to the full logic of scripture.

            As for Jesus’ brothers, you have not engaged with the detailed points and scripture references I gave, together with their contexts, all of which suggest that these were progeny of Mary. There is no syllogistic proof of it from scripture, but the scriptural evidence is cumulative and Catholics have to offer different get-outs from the obvious meanings of diverse scriptures, as I showed in my preceding post.

            Which points did I not attend to? In any case, we have to consider the entire evidence – including the fact that Mary is the temple of the Lord. And I don’t think the entire evidence supports your view. It’s parallel to the Trinity. There are plenty of expressions which could be called Arian or consistent with Arianism (or Socinianism), but the overall impression is what counts. Most doctrines will have passages that are difficult and seem to tell against them. Will you therefore become a sceptic, abandoning faith in order to retain scripture? If, in the end, I fall back on Catholic teaching, what difference does that make? You’ve just said there is nothing in scripture logically to prevent it. Am I not faithful if I make the same judgement on the Trinity, in the face of a unitarian objector: I will say to him, “Whatever you say from the Bible, this is nevertheless the God that the Church encounters, who is with us even to the end of time. It matters little that I cannot answer your unitarian case. What matters is that a greater mind than mine, and ultimately, God can?”

            This is why this argument is so much more important to you than me. If I cannot prove my position, I just shrug my shoulders and carry on believing what the Church teaches. If you cannot prove your position, whether realise it or not, you cease to be a Protestant.
            But I don’t think your position works exegetically anyway because I think it fails to embrace the whole impression and all the evidence. Mary in the NT says that the matter cannot be decided on the basis of scripture alone.

            If you find that assertion disgusting, or blasphemous, or scandalous, there is something wrong with your view of marital sex, or of Mary, or both.

            You just make assertions which do not follow. I’m married myself. I see nothing intrinsically wrong in sex. My doctrine of Mary, as I have stated it, is entirely consistent with scripture, and indeed flows from scripture. You have already indicated a beginning of understanding the issue.

            That makes no sense on any view.

            I think it is a very common interpretation that “the hour” in John’s Gospel refers to the crucifixion (or the saving works of Christ). E.g.:

            And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.
            [24] Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

            “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.

            “Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee,

            You say

            Why should he refer to the crucifixion, even obliquely, in response to Mary pointing out to him that there was no wine left?

            However we interpret verse 4 it seems to mean that Jesus is not yet to be involved with Mary, but that he will be at the time of his hour. Now assuming “his hour” is used consistently in John, this means Mary will be associated with him at the time of his hour (saving works?). But that fact does not exclude her being associated with him earlier. He makes a rhetorical statement which draws out her faith and then proceeds to do what, on your interpretation, he shouldn’t have done, but which, on mine, he had intended from the beginning.

            And, to repeat my question, why did Mary say to him something that was perfectly obvious to him?

            I find it odd that you even bother with that question. Lots of people point things out to Jesus that he already knows. We had a nice example of it just a couple of verses before with Nathaniel. Since Jesus knows all things, everything that is pointed out to him is known already. But, ironically, it is perfectly possible to imagine a situation in which a man might not have noticed that they had no wine, but his mother had. If he was engaged in conversation, in a different room etc.,and Mary noticed tiny signs of embarrassment in the host and small evidences that the wine was done. It’s not hard to imagine.

            I think you mean my Mariology. *I* don’t share *your* Mariolatry!

            No, no. I meant Mariolatry. Your interpretation entails Mary managed to get Jesus into a corner and forced him to do something against his will, something he ought not to have done. That’s not possible. That’s Mariolatry. Mary, being human has no such power over God. If anything the passage is intended to avoid that kind of Mariolatry: Jesus does act according to Mary’s request (prayer works) but only because it is his will, not because she can compel him (verse 4). It is telling that in order to avoid the doctrine of Mary’s sinlessness you end up giving Mary a power over Christ that implies idolatry.

            What will your neutral reader make of that?

          • Anton

            “If we judge just by the Christian community, we can see that the overwhelming majority reject your view here, even when they reject our devotion to Mary.”

            What you actually mean is that some protestants also take the view that Jesus was not rebuking Mary (even gently). Catholics can’t take any other view, because of their Mariolatry; protestants are not unanimous. You have quoted 2 or 3 who agree with you but that does not begin to reveal what is the opinion of the “overwhelming majority”.

            I wrote: “When you say “guided by Christ” you actually mean “guided by the Magisterium” ” and you replied: “No I don’t. The Magisterium (and I expect you misuse the term) is guided by Christ.”

            I am open to correction about the precise term Magisterium. As for the view that the Roman Catholic denomination is incapable of erring in its teaching because its teaching comes from Christ without error, whereas all other Christians who differ are wrong: that is merely human arrogance. Prove it! I have given examples that I consider a reasonable reader would accept of where Catholic teaching is wrong.

            Regarding “private”, you say that the meaning of words is to be found in their use, but Catholic use appears to differ from what everybody else uses it to mean – as summarised in dictionaries – and if that is so then it is disingenuous.

            “The purpose of the statement in Matt 1.24 is obvious – it is to prove that Jesus was not biologically Joseph’s son. As for why the statement does not say she remained a virgin for ever, it’s evident that that is outside the scope of that purpose… It’s entirely possible that Matthew did not know the doctrine and that is why he does not mention it.”

            Nonsense. The statement already goes further than the assertion that Jesus was not biologically Joseph’s son, for it implies as well that they did not have sex during Mary’s pregnancy even after Jesus had been conceived. Any information about Mary’s sex life can only have reached the gospel writers from her, and it beggars belief that she said “no union until Jesus was born” while not saying “no union ever” if the latter were true.

            In formal logic nothing can be inferred, from the propositional content of Matthew’s statement (1:24), about whether she and Joseph had sex after Jesus was born; but this avoids the question of why Matthew wrote it up as he did. I regard your explanation of why he wrote this way if Mary was perpetually virgin as being thin, and am happy to let readers decide for themselves at this point.

            “is it not obvious that they are not a normal couple, and even if they were prior to the Annunciation, they weren’t afterwards? You cannot infer from “normal couples” to them.”

            You have provided no evidence that they were not originally marrying to have a family and love each other, and no evidence that those intentions changed after Jesus was born.

            I take Matthew 1:20 to mean “Joseph, although Mary is pregnant she has not been unfaithful to you and is still a virgin; this is a miracle of God so do not worry about her chasteness.” I do not understand your comment that this verse relates to perpetual virginity; please explain.

            When I said that the dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity was from the 7th century and quoted Wikipedia to that effect, I did not say that claims of it were first heard in that century. I am well aware that they were earlier – although long after Mary’s time. I mean that the dogma or doctrine (I am open to correction about differences between such terms in Catholic theology) was pronounced in that century. When I looked into it some years ago I checked academic sources, and gave only Wikipedia last night because it was online. You make inaccurate assumptions about how I work and it would be better to stick to what I write.

            “surely Mary does not cease to be holy after the Lord has left the temple? Is not the Temple holy even after the Lord has left it and it has been destroyed?”

            It is what Mary was carrying that was holy. Call no one holy but God, as you have yourself quoted.

            I wrote: “As for Jesus’ brothers, you have not engaged with the detailed points and scripture references I gave, together with their contexts, all of which suggest that these were progeny of Mary. There is no syllogistic proof of it from scripture, but the scriptural evidence is cumulative and Catholics have to offer different get-outs from the obvious meanings of diverse scriptures, as I showed in my preceding post.” You replied: “Which points did I not attend to?”

            The fact that there is a different word for “cousin”, which is not used; the fact that in many places “brother” cannot take its spiritual meaning because these were people who rejected Jesus as Messiah; the fact that the references almost always crop up in conjunction with ones to Mary. When a single thesis – that Mary and Joseph had children together – smoothly explains all of these things, whereas you have to resort to different explanations of each, and no verse excludes the thesis, it will be obvious to unbiased readers what the truth is.

            At Cana, “his hour/era” obviously means in context the time for him to show his power publicly. It would make no sense for him to reply to Mary: “What is this [lack of wine] to you and me? I am not yet ready to be crucified.” Do you really think that is what he meant? If so, why?

            I asked why did Mary say to him something that was perfectly obvious to him (ie, the wine is gone), and you replied that lots of people point things out to Jesus that he already knows. That is not, of course, an answer to my question. The notion that Jesus hadn’t noticed is highly implausible; he misses nothing that is significant. So why, if she were not pushing him, did she say it?

            “What will your neutral reader make of that?”

            Let’s leave it to him, shall we?

          • Albert

            What you actually mean is that some protestants also take the view that Jesus was not rebuking Mary (even gently).

            Why do you keep telling me what I “actually mean” when you keep misunderstanding what I say. From the context, isn’t it obvious that it has nothing to do with John 2, and therefore, I don’t “actually mean” what you say I “actually mean”. You said,

            you are either blinded or refusing to admit what is obvious to everyone else.

            But it isn’t obvious to everyone else. The overwhelming majority of Christians do not think we worship Mary. I can say that, BTW without reference to Protestants, since the vast majority of Christians are not Protestants. Throw in the latter, and the number of people in your set “everyone else” becomes tiny. How can you have any confidence in your interpretation of scripture, when you keep misinterpreting my words? And your facts are just plain wrong.

            As for the view that the Roman Catholic denomination is incapable of erring in its teaching because its teaching comes from Christ without error, whereas all other Christians who differ are wrong: that is merely human arrogance.

            Well, isn’t that what the secularists say to us as Christians: “You believe your religion alone offers the whole truth. That is just merely human arrogance.” If the claim comes from faith, it is not arrogance, quite the contrary, for it is the admission that, by ourselves, we cannot reach the heights necessary to maintain the truth. It is the Protestant claim that is arrogant – your interpretations are correct even when no one in 1500 years has noticed them! That’s arrogance. We believe the Church is infallible, not because we are, but because Christ is. This too is obvious from the context. You condemn us for having faith in Christ!

            Since Christ is the full and final revelation, he will not let his revelation be lost, indeed he has promised that this will not happen. But private judgement is not capable of grasping this revelation, as the bewildering range of views amongs sola scriptura types testifies, and as scripture warns us: our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

            I have given examples that I consider a reasonable reader would accept of where Catholic teaching is wrong.

            And I have pointed out that even if the Catholic Church is true, it is inevitable that her reading will be more profound after 2000 years than a single reader after a few years. So the fact that you cannot find something there does not mean it is not there, it just means you cannot see it – as 2 Peter warned. Besides, do you not know how many people find things like the Trinity hard to find in scripture, and contradicted by scripture? Doesn’t mean we have to take such interpretations seriously, though.

            Catholic use appears to differ from what everybody else uses it to mean – as summarised in dictionaries – and if that is so then it is disingenuous.

            Dictionaries are not the place to understand what theological terms mean. Show me what you think is disingenuous. You give no evidence for this. It’s as if you are so prejudiced that it is acceptable for you to condemn me without evidence or even example because I am Catholic. What of charity and what or justice?

            Nonsense. The statement already goes further than the assertion that Jesus was not biologically Joseph’s son, for it implies as well that they did not have sex during Mary’s pregnancy even after Jesus had been conceived.

            Seriously? There are two possibilities: 1. The passage is designed to remove any confusion about Christ’s paternity – “They hadn’t even had sex when he was born”. This answers someone who has a nagging doubt, rather as other verses says things like Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph 2. It is designed to convey the sense that Mary’s body is a Temple. I would have thought it is obvious that both were intended.

            Any information about Mary’s sex life can only have reached the gospel writers from her, and it beggars belief that she said “no union until Jesus was born” while not saying “no union ever” if the latter were true.

            This is unbelievably naive! Is it really likely that Mary went round talking about her sex life? Isn’t it much more like that Matthew knows about the virgin birth, not because he has a prurient interest in their sex life, but because he knows about Jesus. He therefore makes clear that there was no sexual intercourse prior to the birth of Christ which would make people question whether Joseph was, after all, the father of Jesus. He does this also because he grasps the inappropriateness of them having sex, while she is carrying Jesus. Lacking further information (and let’s remember, Matthew is actually light on information from Mary about the annunciation etc.) he goes no further.

            You have provided no evidence that they were not originally marrying to have a family and love each other, and no evidence that those intentions changed after Jesus was born.

            Well apart from the small matter that she becomes Mother of the Lord….

            I do not understand your comment that this verse relates to perpetual virginity; please explain.

            I’m surprised that you are not aware of the alternative reading, and surprised also that you did not ask for it earlier. How can you make such strong claims about the passage, when there are alternative readings which you know exist, but do not know what they say?

            Here’s the passage:

            before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 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

            Try to read it as if you’ve never read it before. What do Joseph find according to the text – not our imaginations – the text. It says she is found to be with child of the Holy Spirit. Not” she is found to be with child, who, unbeknownst to them is of the Holy Spirit”, but “found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.” The natural reading of the words is that Joseph knows from the beginning that Jesus is conceived of the Holy Spirit, that is, that God is his Father.

            So what does he think? He thinks he is unworthy to take Mary as his wife. He is in awe of her. How can he marry Mary (and have sex with her), when she is the Mother of the Father’s Son? So Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But this passage makes no sense on the “Mary’s been committing fornication” reading. For what does being a just man mean? It means he follows the law. And does the law require secrecy in cases of divorce following fornication or adultery? No it does not, it actually requires stoning. Now stoning was not usually used, but there is nothing requiring Joseph to put her away quietly as a result of him being a just man. Thus, he wants to put her away quietly, to spare her publicity, in accordnace with the Commandment Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, for she has not sinned, as would be presumed in a public divorce.

            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

            Joseph is not hearing new information here – the angel is simply stating the reason he is afraid of taking Mary as his wife. Instead God, tells him Mary has a role, to be mother, but he has a role to be (adopting) father: she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus

            Now if this is the meaning, and it is the most natural meaning, I think, then the passage strengthens the case for perpetual virginity, for Joseph has been worrying that he cannot make Mary his wife (with all that that entails). God says he can take her, but for the specific purpose of being a father to the child.

            I mean that the dogma or doctrine (I am open to correction about differences between such terms in Catholic theology) was pronounced in that century. When I looked into it some years ago I checked academic sources, and gave only Wikipedia last night because it was online. You make inaccurate assumptions about how I work and it would be better to stick to what I write.

            But you’re still wrong. It is pronounced already in 553. Moreover, and this is key, your claim was that it arose from certain assumptions about sex:

            The dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity is from the 7th century. At that time Catholicism’s view of what sex is for was: for procreation only, and even then it should not be enjoyed. This depressing view is explicit in, for example, the Pastoral Rule (bk. 3 ch. 27) of Gregory ‘the Great’, the first monk to be pope and who died early in the 7th century. It grew from several sources: the influence of Greek ascetism; Augustine of Hippo, who upon repenting became disgusted at his own lust; and from conjecture about how sin is passed from one generation to the next.

            But the doctrine arises long before those things are written, and is held in contexts which are uninfluenced by them, like the Council of Constantinople in 553 which, although ecumenical, is not a Western Council. And from this long quotation, I was entirely reasonable to take it that you thought it was 7th Century, for how else would your claim have any legs? You even make the connection At that time Catholicism’s view of what sex is for was: for procreation only and then you cite Latin fathers.

            It is what Mary was carrying that was holy. Call no one holy but God, as you have yourself quoted.

            Well, let’s see:

            Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! [says Elizabeth] And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.

            Notice that Luke makes it clear that this comes from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The same word is used in the same sentence, to describe both Jesus and Mary – blessed. And what does this word mean? It means “Holy”: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel. And notice that Elizabeth rejoices in the presence of Mary, not simply of Jesus within her: And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The notice that John the Baptist, under prophetic utterance rejoice rejoices to hear Mary’s voice. And then notice the connection with David:

            So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might

            Mary, according to this typology is the Ark – that which contains the presence of the Lord, hence as David dances before the Ark (since it contains God’s presence), so John dances before Mary (since she contains God’s presence).

            Now why do you object to Mary being called holy when all this is said in scripture about her? Here’s your answer:

            Call no one holy but God, as you have yourself quoted.

            I’m quite certain that I haven’t said that (unless I mispoke) , because I really do not recall ever reading that in scripture, but if you can find it in the Bible please give me the reference. What I do find in scripture is this – just a few verses later than our passage:

            he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.

            “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”

            And further:

            Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man

            And what is a saint, but one who is holy? So your argument makes no sense. There is no objection to calling Mary holy, on the grounds you have cited (unless you can find that text), and there are good reasons to call her holy. Not of course, holy instead of the Lord, but holy because of, and for the Lord.

            The fact that there is a different word for “cousin”, which is not used

            Yes, but the word for brother is widely used for those who are not brothers in the flesh – but wider family members like cousins and other relatives. So your argument proves nothing.

            cannot take its spiritual meaning because these were people who rejected Jesus as Messiah

            I think that your idea that the word “brother” means either “blood brother” or it means “spiritual brother” is just plain wrong. It can mean “neighbour” (Mt.5.22-24). It can mean step-brother (Mk.6.17-18) and, following semitic usage it can refer to other kinsmen (e.g. Gen.29.12 LXX). So you just cannot draw the conclusion you need. Now you say:

            When a single thesis – that Mary and Joseph had children together – smoothly explains all of these things, whereas you have to resort to different explanations of each, and no verse excludes the thesis, it will be obvious to unbiased readers what the truth is.

            It’s not as smooth as you think. Now when we consider named brothers of Jesus, it cannot be maintained that any is a son of Mary, and some are positively identified as sons of other women (if memory serves). So this “smooth” theory does not fit all the evidence. It also does not fit with the other evidence that Mary is a temple, that other children are not mentioned at appropriate moments and that Mary’s vocation is directed to the Lord. As Mary in the NT sums it up: The continued virginity of Mary after the birth of Jesus is not a question directly raised by the NT. Now of course, that will be enough for you say you do not have to believe it. But it is also too little for you to use the Bible as evidence to the contrary.

            At Cana, “his hour/era” obviously means in context the time for him to show his power publicly. It would make no sense for him to reply to Mary: “What is this [lack of wine] to you and me? I am not yet ready to be crucified.” Do you really think that is what he meant? If so, why?

            Given what I have written, I find it odd that you think that is what I am saying, for that interpretation is actually inconsistent with what I said. For I am saying, quite explicitly, that it is not consistent with Christian faith to imagine Jesus was pushed by Mary into doing something he shouldn’t have done.

            I asked why did Mary say to him something that was perfectly obvious to him (ie, the wine is gone), and you replied that lots of people point things out to Jesus that he already knows. That is not, of course, an answer to my question.

            Good grief. The point is that it blunts the objection – it is no objection that Mary tells Jesus something he already knows, for that is always the case with anything said.

            The notion that Jesus hadn’t noticed is highly implausible; he misses nothing that is significant. So why, if she were not pushing him, did she say it?

            These weddings go on for days, it is perfectly possible he was in another room. But you seem to be missing the fact that there is a human relationship going on here. My wife is always telling me things she knows I know already, and I often point things out to her that I know she has already noticed. That’s how relating works. It’s not just a flow of information. Now what is the relationship like between God incarnate, and his mother? I really have no idea, and neither do you, which is why you simply cannot make an argument here.

            You haven’t dealt with the charge of Mariolotry: it is wholly inconsistent with Christian faith that Mary gets Jesus to do something he doesn’t want to do and which he shouldn’t do. But your whole interpretation rests on that claim, I think. Therefore, it seems to me that your interpretation is contrary to Christian faith.

          • Anton

            You wrote: “The overwhelming majority of Christians do not think we worship Mary.”

            I am not suggesting that Catholics worship Mary instead of the Holy Trinity, but as well as. Catholic Mariolatry was twigged by the English Reformers even though Mary was not a triggering issue of the Reformation, for the 39 Articles of the Church of England refer to the “idolatrous worship of Mary”. I am confident that any Christian not of Rome who is fully informed of the contents of Ubi Primum of 1849 (re Immaculate Conception) together with Pius XII’s assertion of her Assumption and some of the Catholic prayers addressed to her would regard her as being worshipped as well as the Holy Trinity. An Eastern Orthodox acquaintance certainly does. The Chinese Christians – a larger practising number of Trinitarians than in Europe – would. In case you object that I am speaking for others, you are doing exactly that when you assert that “The overwhelming majority of Christians do not think we worship Mary.”

            I wrote: “As for the view that the Roman Catholic denomination is incapable of erring in its teaching because its teaching comes from Christ without error, whereas all other Christians who differ are wrong: that is merely human arrogance.” You responded: “Well, isn’t that what the secularists say to us as Christians: “You believe your religion alone offers the whole truth. That is just merely human arrogance.” If the claim comes from faith, it is not arrogance… for it is the admission that, by ourselves, we cannot reach the heights necessary to maintain the truth. It is the Protestant claim that is arrogant – your interpretations are correct even when no one in 1500 years has noticed them!”

            The difference between this situation and what secularists say is that Catholic and protestant have the New Testament in common. Yet Catholic doctrine regarding Mary is clearly idolatrous and therefore contrary to the NT. And it is an obvious sign of arrogance to persecute those who peaceably disagree with you whenever you have the political power to do so.

            If you think that I am repeating myself and not engaging with all of your arguments, please note that I am no longer trying to change your mind. (I mean that factually, not as a discourtesy.) I am writing with what I imagine to be an unbiased reader of this exchange in mind. I regard some of your argumentation as containing non sequiturs or smuggled-in assumptions that are questionable, and because I believe these are visible I am content to leave those arguments as they stand. As for “no one in 1500 years” – that is untrue, for we are returning to the Bible as it was written and understood by the church for centuries from its birth until it became arrogant and rotten (as it admitted in the Consilium… de emendanda ecclesia, a report on the state of the Catholic church commissioned in the light of the Reformation by Paul III for discussion at what became the Council of Trent; so embarrassing was it that it was placed on the Index of books forbidden to Catholic laity). You say that Catholics “believe the Church is infallible, not because we are, but because Christ is” yet you will not be able to derive that claim from scripture. The Holy Spirit will guide believers into all truth, but nowhere does the NT say there will not be error along the way. Moreover the NT describes such a situation: Peter got a matter of doctrine wrong, even after Pentecost (Galatians 2:11).

            You wrote: “if the Catholic Church is true, it is inevitable that her reading will be more profound after 2000 years than a single reader after a few years.”

            You may talk big about hermeneutics, but you are actually just one man disputing these questions with another. We begin from shared faith in the New Testament, after which it is up to me to show that your views are inconsistent with it and you to show otherwise. Your comment is like a wrestler whispering to his opponent, “I’ve got a very big man advising me in my corner.” I don’t care. And viewers may, as I’ve said, decide for themselves. You persist in trying to marginalise me by calling me a “single reader” although I have already pointed out that many Christian writers have said the same things I say here. That won‘t look good.

            I wrote: “Any information about Mary’s sex life can only have reached the gospel writers from her, and it beggars belief that she said “no union until Jesus was born” while not saying “no union ever” if the latter were true.” You replied: “Is it really likely that Mary went round talking about her sex life? Isn’t it much more like that Matthew knows about the virgin birth, not because he has a prurient interest in their sex life, but because he knows about Jesus.”

            My words did not imply that Mary spoke to a gathering, or even to Matthew privately, about whether she and Joseph had sex, or when. But she evidently spoke at least once to someone, or else nobody would know that the same One who fulfilled the other Messianic prophecies also fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of being born to a virgin. From thence the information reached Matthew. I affirm it beggars belief that she said “no union until Jesus was born” while not saying “no union ever” if the latter were true.

            You say my insistence that a married couple had sex is prurient yet you defend a denomination that engages in discussions of whether Mary’s hymen remained intact when she bore Jesus and that asked misfit mediaeval women under duress about their sex life with the devil. Do you consider the Song of Songs prurient?

            I wrote: “You have provided no evidence that they were not originally marrying to have a family and love each other, and no evidence that those intentions changed after Jesus was born.” You replied: “apart from the small matter that she becomes Mother of the Lord”.

            That is not evidence that they were not originally marrying to have a family and love each other, is it? No statement about them in the gospels suggests that at that stage they were anything other than a normal betrothed Jewish couple – of strong faith, having good qualities as potential parents, and of a certain line – for whom children would be normal and expected (and a blessing). Of course their lives were changed forever when they became the mother and stepfather of the Messiah, but that fact is not evidence that the change extended specifically to their expectations of a normal marital sex life, is it? It is not evidence that their natural desires for each other were suppressed, is it? And in that case it is right to share marital relations, as Paul explained to the Corinthians.

            You attach importance over this point to your comments that Mary’s body was a Temple. The operative word is WAS. After Jesus was born the Messiah had physically and permanently left that Temple. Her womb was free to revert to its intended use in holy matrimony. God let the first and second Temples be destroyed after he had left them, and revert to being multiple pieces of stone.

            I wrote: “I do not understand your comment that this verse relates to perpetual virginity; please explain.” You replied: “I’m surprised that you are not aware of the alternative reading, and surprised also that you did not ask for it earlier.”

            What you presumably mean by “I’m surprised” is “You are ignorant.” Your surprise is for you to deal with. I have read Scott Hahn’s (awful) book on Mary and studied plentiful Catholic material on the internet relating to her alleged perpetual virginity; additionally I own a nihil-obstat 1300-page book of which I generally think well called A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, which makes no argument for Mary’s post-natal virginity from Matthew 1 in a lengthy passage. If I am ignorant then clearly it is of an argument too weak for mainstream Catholicism to repeat. Nevertheless I am willing to learn more, hence my question.

            Here is my “amplified version” from Matthew 1: Mary was pledged to Joseph, but before they came together in matrimony she was found to be pregnant, due to the Holy Spirit. This sentence in isolation can equally well mean (a) “found to be pregnant, and this pregnancy was the work of the Holy Spirit” or (b) “found to be pregnant and the finder understood that this pregnancy was due to the Holy Spirit”. Which? The next sentence states that Joseph planned to divorce her as a result of her pregnancy. It is a universal norm that when a man finds his fiancée pregnant yet he has not slept with her, he dumps her for infidelity. Matthew would be aware that this understanding would leap to his readers’ minds, so if he did not intend readers to draw that inference about Joseph then he would have stated any alternative reason explicitly. In particular he would have stated your explanation (based on (b)) that Joseph thought she was too holy for him. (And why in that case does the angel tell Joseph what he already knows about the origin of her pregnancy?) But Matthew is silent, leaving readers to draw the conventional inference about Joseph’s reasons and thereby settling the ambiguity in favour of (a). (I’ll explain why Joseph is described as a “just man” in a moment.) Matthew added the phrase about the Holy Spirit to rule out any idea that Mary had been unfaithful, for this is his first mention of Jesus’ conception.

            We are told that Joseph planned to divorce Mary quietly rather than expose her to public disgrace. Notice that Matthew does not say “rather than have her stoned to death”. What’s the explanation? Since two witnesses are needed for criminal conviction (Deut 19:15) and this is unlikely for acts of sex, God himself showed whether a woman suspected of adultery was guilty in ancient Israel, in a public trial by ordeal (described at Numbers 5:11-31). Rather than subject Mary to this ordeal (although Joseph would have been surprised at the result), he preferred to divorce her quietly for her pregnancy. As he had not consummated his relationship with her, she would be able to marry and get support from the presumed father – exactly as Mosaic Law demands when a virgin is seduced. That is why Joseph is described as “just”. When you look at Mosaic Law more deeply, all becomes clear. Of course Joseph gladly married Mary once the angel told him that she had not been unfaithful.

            “Blessed” does not mean “holy”, by the way, and the quote I intended was Luke 18:19. I am happy to be corrected on dates of the dogma, but it is still a consequence of Greek ascetism pervading the church and making sex seem “dirty” even in marriage. Do you know that Jews have prayers of thanksgiving after using the toilet? The Greek mind finds the idea “dirty”, but God is lord of all things including the bathroom and the bedroom.

            I have shown that the gospels speak of Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” when a spiritual sense is not intended as these were unbelievers, while the more general Greek word for “cousin” is not used, and the root of the Greek word for brother and sister is delphys, meaning [from the same] womb. You still have a little wiggle room but not very much, and the cumulative evidence once a reasonable understanding of Matthew 1 and the Hebraic view of marriage are included is such that I stand by these words: When a single thesis – that Mary and Joseph had children together – smoothly explains all of these things, whereas you have to resort to different explanations of each, and no verse excludes the thesis, it will be obvious to unbiased readers what the truth is.

            I wrote: “At Cana, “his hour/era” obviously means in context the time for him to show his power publicly. It would make no sense for him to reply to Mary: “What is this [lack of wine] to you and me? I am not yet ready to be crucified.” Do you really think that is what he meant? If so, why?” You replied: “Given what I have written, I find it odd that you think that is what I am saying, for that interpretation is actually inconsistent with what I said. For I am saying, quite explicitly, that it is not consistent with Christian faith to imagine Jesus was pushed by Mary into doing something he shouldn’t have done.”

            What you find odd is your business. Of course Jesus would never make a mistake, even when apparently hemmed in – notice his infinite intelligence when opponents try to put him in a dilemma (over the woman caught in adultery and whether to pay taxes to Caesar). Mary might sin, though. Let’s see if she did on this occasion…

            You wrote: “These weddings go on for days, it is perfectly possible he was in another room. But you seem to be missing the fact that there is a human relationship going on here. My wife is always telling me things she knows I know already, and I often point things out to her that I know she has already noticed. That’s how relating works”

            As I have said before, it is Jesus’ response to Mary’s comment that illuminates her comment. “Madam, what is that between you and me?” clearly means: “Don’t nag”. And what do you think “my hour is not yet come” means at Cana? You have said that the phrase generally refers to the crucifixion but also said that it doesn’t refer to the crucifixion in this case; I agree with both of those statements and believe it means “I am not yet ready to go public”, but I don’t know your view of its meaning. Regarding your first comment, the wine running out would be the main subject throughout the entire area of the event and very obvious.

            You wrote: “what is the relationship like between God incarnate, and his mother? I really have no idea, and neither do you, which is why you simply cannot make an
            argument here.”

            Your frequent statements of what I can and cannot do pretend to an authority that you do not possess.

          • Albert

            At one level of course, it makes no difference to me what “other Christians” think of our teaching about Mary. In the end, you don’t ask an Arian for his opinion on the divinity of the Holy Spirit, nor a Unitarian for his doctrine of the incarnation. The Christian faith is a finely tuned ecosystem, make an error in one place, and it inevitably leads to errors in others. Your error is in the doctrine of creation and grace, and so it is inevitable that you do not under the saving works of God in his creatures. However, I think you have reached new heights when you say this:

            In case you object that I am speaking for others, you are doing exactly that when you assert that “The overwhelming majority of Christians do not think we worship Mary.”

            For that was simply a response to your earlier claims that

            it is evident to me that you are either blinded or refusing to admit what is obvious to everyone else.

            So on the one hand you speak for others, and then, when I correct you on that, you complain that I am speaking for others!

            As for the document Ubi Primum of 1849, I suspect you are confusing it with the definition of 1854, Ineffabilis Deus. But if you are so concerned with these documents, why don’t you cite what you object to.

            An Eastern Orthodox acquaintance certainly does.

            Well then he is plainly unacquainted with his own liturgy. For example the All-Night Vigil includes the line Most Holy Theotokos save us! and praises her as More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim.

            No the irony here is that you seem to want to pick a fight over the immaculate conception. Well, this is what the Orthodox speak of Mary:

            Commemorating the all-holy, immaculate, more than blessed mother of God and ever-virgin Mary

            That’s pretty strong, wouldn’t you say?

            Now which is more authoritative here? Your unnamed friend or the Orthodox liturgy? Given that it is obviously the latter, we can say with safety that two thirds of Christians do not regard Catholic devotion to Mary as worship. So even if every Protestant thinks we worship Mary (which they don’t) it is still only a minority of Christians who think so. And as that minority has a distorted doctrine of creation and grace, that matters little. I wonder BTW what you Orthodox friend thinks of the lack of devotion to Mary among Protestants!

            The difference between this situation and what secularists say is that Catholic and protestant have the New Testament in common. Yet Catholic doctrine regarding Mary is clearly idolatrous and therefore contrary to the NT.

            The fact that you keep asserting this idolatry does not make it a fact. The fact that your assertions are factually wrong and lacking in evidence makes your position untenable. It is true we have the NT in common, but your reading of scripture is so shallow that it is sometimes hard to see that we have it in common. We have the text in common, but your interpretation is your own.

            And it is an obvious sign of arrogance to persecute those who peaceably disagree with you whenever you have the political power to do so.

            Are you completely ignorant? Do you have any idea how much persecution there has been of Catholics in the British Isles alone? Persecuting people is wrong, but it does not prove thew faith of the person who persecutes is wrong. If it did, Protestantism would be in the dust-bin of history.

            As for “no one in 1500 years” – that is untrue, for we are returning to the Bible as it was written and understood by the church for centuries from its birth until it became arrogant and rotten

            So go on then. Give us the evidence. Sola fide as understood by Protestants taught before the Protestant Reformation.

            yet you will not be able to derive that claim from scripture.

            We can derive the claim from scripture. What we cannot do is prove it as a syllogism. But you have agreed that we do not need to, and you cannot prove your doctrines that way either.

            The Holy Spirit will guide believers into all truth, but nowhere does the NT say there will not be error along the way.

            The Bible says nothing about guiding individuals by themselves into all truth. That is a human tradition which is plainly contrary to scripture:

            First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation…There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

            Peter, BTW was in error on a matter of discipline I think. But there is nothing to suppose Peter or any pope is without error except as defining the faith. And definitions must be possible, or our faith will rest on the same private judgement scripture says it is not to rest on. Faith is assured as scripture says. Private judgement is not assured. Therefore, faith cannot come from private judgement. Now you cannot say that the Holy Spirit will guide people to prevent that, before you have just admitted there may be error on the way. And besides, how is someone to know when they are guided by the Holy and when they are twisting the scripture to their own destruction? There just aren’t Protestant answers to these scriptural questions, and that is because Protestantism is in rebellion against scripture.

            We begin from shared faith in the New Testament, after which it is up to me to show that your views are inconsistent with it and you to show otherwise. Your comment is like a wrestler whispering to his opponent, “I’ve got a very big man advising me in my corner.” I don’t care.

            There you show you haven’t the faintest idea what you are arguing against. How you can you be a Protestant, when you do not know what the protest is against? It makes no sense.

            As a Catholic, I’m not being advised over what the Bible says. I am receiving the faith from the Church. But you effectively keep saying to me “Come now, interpret the Bible like a good Protestant”. For at leas the second time, I say: I am arguing on sola scriptura terms, not because I believe the doctrine, or think I have to, but because your position is so weak, as Protestant positions are, that I can argue against it on your own terms. If Protestant were true, that wouldn’t be possible. But if Catholicism were true, it would be the case that you cannot find, on Protestant terms, things in scripture that Catholicism does. Now that is the exact situation in which we find ourselves.

            I have already pointed out that many Christian writers have said the same things I say here

            That’s obviously true – trivially so, do I not keep telling you you are following a human tradition?! The point is though that whether you judge this or that writer as biblical is based on your own private authority when when reading scripture. But as scripture says, your own private authority is no authority. Ergo.

            I affirm it beggars belief that she said “no union until Jesus was born”

            How do you know that that is what Mary said? And if she did say that, why does Luke not record it? It is Luke that knows here story, not Matthew. Matthew knew Jesus was born of a virgin. He perhaps knows nothing more. What matters is that he does not teach, and neither does any NT teaching, what you teach.

            You say my insistence that a married couple had sex is prurient yet you defend a denomination that engages in discussions of whether Mary’s hymen remained intact when she bore Jesus and that asked misfit mediaeval women under duress about their sex life with the devil.

            There is a theological issue about whether the birth of Christ did violence to Mary. But that is quite different from people actually asking Mary “If it’s not a personal question, are you a virgin?” As for what Catholics have done in the past, I do not have to defend that, but you seem again ignorant of the fact that the emphasis on witch stuff was actually more found amongst Protestants.

            Do you consider the Song of Songs prurient?

            So because I think asking a woman if she is virgin is prurient, I am supposed to be offended by the Song of Songs? Seriously?

            That is not evidence that they were not originally marrying to have a family and love each other, is it?

            It is evidence that they were not a normal couple – and I have given plenty of evidence that that lack of normality did affect their relationship.

            You attach importance over this point to your comments that Mary’s body was a Temple. The operative word is WAS. After Jesus was born the Messiah had physically and permanently left that Temple. Her womb was free to revert to its intended use in holy matrimony. God let the first and second Temples be destroyed after he had left them, and revert to being multiple pieces of stone.

            I think I’ve already answered that once, and I suggest that, as so often in this discussion, if you really think what you say here about the Temple, you haven’t ingested enough of the OT – and that perhaps if one of the key causes of the problems here.

            What you presumably mean by “I’m surprised” is “You are ignorant.”

            As usual, you impute to me things I haven’t said and do not mean – is it any wonder your interpretation of scripture is so tenuous. I meant what I said. If you had said to me that you were aware of an interpretation that overthrows my position, then I would have asked for it, not proceeded as if it didn’t exist. If we are serious about scripture, surely we wish to get as many insights as possible, especially on matters we are discussing. You have shown no interest in this, and so I can only assume that you are not serious about scripture.

            Nevertheless I am willing to learn more, hence my question.

            I am merely observing that your question to learn more came a little late. I first came across the interpretation in an early work of Schillebeeckx.

            As for your interpretation, I am perfectly aware of it, and it may be correct. I would simply say that it is not what the text says. Notice that the interpretation i have put forward is more literal, it is human understanding of sin that pushes that literal interpretation to the background.

            (And why in that case does the angel tell Joseph what he already knows about the origin of her pregnancy?)

            I think that is probably the best reason for thinking that the interpretation I have put forward is wrong, but I’m not sure how powerful it is. God often tells people what they already know:

            I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold in bondage

            So I think the passage is reasonably open to both interpretations. And that, of course, raises doubts as to your own assertions about Mary’s virginity. That’s all I’m saying.

          • Albert

            Just realised that is more on this post that first appeared on my screen – it seems the system does not like long posts! My first post is below this one.

            God himself showed whether a woman suspected of adultery was guilty in ancient Israel, in a public trial by ordeal (described at Numbers 5:11-31). Rather than subject Mary to this ordeal (although Joseph would have been surprised at the result), he preferred to divorce her quietly for her pregnancy. As he had not consummated his relationship with her, she would be able to marry and get support from the presumed father – exactly as Mosaic Law demands when a virgin is seduced.

            Would you do me the favour of actually quoting the line you are referring to here?

            the quote I intended was Luke 18:19

            Which does not say what you say it says and thus objection fails (it doesn’t anyway, because I have provided biblical proof to the contrary).

            “Blessed” does not mean “holy”, by the way

            Obviously, it has a whole range of meanings. The problem for you is that the same word is used for Mary as for Jesus. How do you interpret the word here: blessed are you are among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb?

            You still have a little wiggle room but not very much

            I have no doubt that an individual simply reading the scripture in a purely scientific way, without reflection on the incarnation, would reach the conclusion you do. But I do not accept those terms as the proper reading, and I observe that scripture does not actually teach what you do. Yours in an inference based on a range of assumptions I do not share, and which seem in any case to be plainly unscriptural. I would also suggest that it is not likely that an individual by themselves would come up with the Trinity, from scripture, either.

            You have said that the phrase generally refers to the crucifixion but also said that it doesn’t refer to the crucifixion in this case

            Rather a long time ago, and I’ve lost the thread of what has been said. What I think is this: Jesus’ “Hour” refers to his saving works (crucifixion for shorthand). The passage clearly implies that Mary will be associated with him in that, and that Jesus is seeming to assert that she has nothing to do with him until then.

            clearly means: “Don’t nag”

            I don’t think it does clearly mean that. Moreover, there is no evidence that she was nagging. I think this is a typical pattern found in scripture, where someone at first seems to receive a rebuff or a command that God does not intend. It is done to test or drawn out more faith. That makes sense of the whole passage. But your interpretation that Mary sins, and somehow gets Jesus to collude with her sin, makes no Christian sense whatsoever.

            Regarding your first comment, the wine running out would be the main subject throughout the entire area of the event and very obvious.

            Probably every commentator I have read on this says the passage is full of symbolism: e.g. wedding (God and Israel) abundant wine (Messianic hope), Jesus’ first miracle, water pots of the law (old dispensation). It even makes this clear by describing the event as a sign by which he showed his glory. But you want to reduce it to a question of wine. Isn’t that the issue throughout this discussion, that the scripture just is much richer than you want it to be?

            Your frequent statements of what I can and cannot do pretend to an authority that you do not possess.

            I can say with 100% authority that you do not know the inner relationship between the incarnate Son of God and his Mother. Do you really believe that you do? If so, why?

          • Anton

            You wrote: “Your error is in the doctrine of creation and grace, and so it is inevitable that you do not under[stand] the saving works of God in his creatures.”

            The doctrine of creation is wholly unrelated to the issues we have been discussing. Where have I differed from Catholic or protestant understanding of it, or of grace?

            I quoted an Eastern Orthodox acquaintance and I have no intention of acting as a go-between, but it was made clear to me that the difference between their view of Mary and Rome’s is in degree of elevation rather than of doctrine.

            You wrote: “As for the document Ubi Primum of 1849, I suspect you are confusing it with the definition of 1854, Ineffabilis Deus. But if you are so concerned with these documents, why don’t you cite what you object to.”

            I have already stated in our exchanges what I object to in Ubi Primum (not Ineffabilis Deus): the words Mary, ever lovable and full of grace, always has delivered the Christian people from their greatest calamities and from the snares and assaults of all their enemies, ever rescuing them from ruin… The foundation of all Our confidence… is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary.. Change ‘Mary’ to ‘Jesus’ and ‘her’ to ‘him’ and this would be an exemplary statement of the Christian faith – demonstrating that it is blasphemous, for there is no other than Jesus who meets those needs.

            I wrote: “Catholic doctrine regarding Mary is clearly idolatrous and therefore contrary to the NT.” You responded: “The fact that you keep asserting this idolatry does not make it a fact.”

            Indeed; and the fact that you keep denying it does not make it false.

            You wrote: “Do you have any idea how much persecution there has been of Catholics in the British Isles alone?”

            A few hundred martyrs, sadly, as I recall, although there would have been many fewer had not Pius V hubristically issued a Bull in 1570 exhorting English Catholics to sedition, for in the previous decade of Elizabeth’s rule there had been almost none. How do they weigh against the victims of the Inquisition? I am against ALL political Christianity, because politics is about setting the law whereas the gospel is about grace as contrasted with law. Rome has been the largest politicised church, but I deliberately am not in England’s Established church.

            You write: “So go on then. Give us the evidence. Sola fide as understood by Protestants taught before the Protestant Reformation.”

            It’s right there in St Paul.

            You wrote: “Peter, BTW was in error on a matter of discipline I think. But there is nothing to suppose Peter or any pope is without error except as defining the faith.”

            The issue was that which led to the convening of the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15, and is demonstrably a matter of faith rather than discipline, in which Paul was right and Peter was wrong (Gal 2:11).

            You wrote: “Faith is assured as scripture says. Private judgement is not assured. Therefore, faith cannot come from private judgement.”

            Faith assures us of salvation. I am in no doubt that some people with whom I differ over certain aspects of scripture – both Catholic and protestant – will also be found in the New Jerusalem. That is because they obviously have a lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As for “private interpretation” (or judgement), you again abuse this phrase to mean anything that differs from your denomination’s judgement. So far as I am concerned yours is just one of many denominations (albeit a large one), each having its own interpretation.

            You wrote: “How you can you be a Protestant, when you do not know what the protest is against? It makes no sense.”

            I don’t consider myself a protestant first and foremost. I consider myself a Bibliocentric Christian. Like the Chinese house churches. I regard Catholic and Protestant merely as terms in European church history. Incidentally the origin of the word “protestant” to describe followers of Luther is not clear; some church historians suggest it is because they “protested their faith”.

            I wrote: “I affirm it beggars belief that she said “no union until Jesus was born”…” You responded: “How do you know that that is what Mary said?”

            You have cut off my quote before some of the conditionals that were in it. By the use of rhetorical devices like that you could reduce scripture itself to rubbish. Do check what I actually wrote.

            I wrote: “You say my insistence that a married couple had sex is prurient yet you defend a denomination that engages in discussions of whether Mary’s hymen remained intact when she bore Jesus and that asked misfit mediaeval women under duress about their sex life with the devil.” You replied: “There is a theological issue about whether the birth of Christ did violence to Mary. But that is quite different from people actually asking Mary “If it’s not a personal question, are you a virgin?” As for what Catholics have done in the past, I do not have to defend that, but you seem again ignorant of the fact that the emphasis on witch stuff was actually more found amongst Protestants”

            What matter whether Mary’s hymen ruptured during the birth of Jesus? The meaningful definition of a virgin is someone who has never had sex, and we agree that Mary never had sex before the birth of Jesus. The state of a woman’s hymen is just a clue to her sexual history – although it is a fallible one and perhaps Mary’s hymen had ruptured leaping over a stream the year before, which would not be unusual. If you find this discussion distasteful, so do I – but please tell your church leaders to expunge the subject of Mary’s hymen from Catholic theology. Protestants don’t regard it as a subject for discussion. As for the witch question, this was a disgrace on both sides of the Reformation, but protestants never produced anything as repulsive and bizarre as the Malleus Maleficarum which gave rise to my comment about sex with the devil.

            I wrote: “That is not evidence that they were not originally marrying to have a family and love each other, is it?” You replied: “It is evidence that they were not a normal couple – and I have given plenty of evidence that that lack of normality did affect their relationship.”

            But no evidence that it altered their intentions to start a family, as any couple intend upon their betrothal; and none that it affected their normal desires for each other, which St Paul affirms should be satisfied in the normal marital way.

            You wrote: “and so I can only assume that you are not serious about scripture.”

            I assume that is another wind-up. It doesn’t do any discredit to me.

            I wrote: “God himself showed whether a woman
            suspected of adultery was guilty in ancient Israel, in a public trial by ordeal (described at Numbers 5:11-31). Rather than subject Mary to this ordeal (although Joseph would have been surprised at the result), he preferred to divorce her quietly for her pregnancy. As he had not consummated his relationship with her, she would be able to marry and get support from the presumed father – exactly as Mosaic Law demands when a virgin is seduced.” You replied: “Would you do me the favour of actually quoting the line you are referring to here?”

            Exodus 22:16.

            You asked: “How do you interpret the word [blessed] here: blessed are you are among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb?”

            The word in the original Greek is eulogemen, whereas holy is hagios. One can be both of these things but they are not synonymous. There is no difference between Catholic and protestant in the meanings of these words.

            You wrote: “your interpretation [of John 2] that Mary sins, and somehow gets Jesus to collude with her sin, makes no Christian sense whatsoever.”

            I have argued that Mary sinned a little, and we seem to have reached agreement to disagree on that; but I never suggested that Jesus colluded in that sin. You are ignoring what I have said (often) about people putting Jesus on the spot and how he always manages to get out without sinlessly and often with egg on their faces.

            You wrote: “Probably every commentator I have read on this says the passage is full of symbolism: e.g. wedding (God and Israel) abundant wine (Messianic hope), Jesus’ first miracle, water pots of the law (old dispensation)… But you want to reduce it to a question of wine. Isn’t that the issue throughout this discussion, that the scripture just is much richer than you want it to be?”

            Where do you get the idea that I want to reduce it to a question of wine? I am not offering my exegesis of the episode; I am using it in relation to the question of whether Mary sinned.

            I wrote: “Your frequent statements of what I can
            and cannot do pretend to an authority that you do not possess.” That was in response to a comment of yours, “I really have no idea, and neither do you, which is why you simply cannot make an argument here.” You now state, “I can say with 100% authority that you do not know the inner relationship between the incarnate Son of God and his Mother. Do you really believe that you do?”

            O, you are right about that. I never claimed to. What are extraordinary are your frequent statements of what I can and can’t do. Just watch me.

          • Albert

            The doctrine of creation is wholly unrelated to the issues we have been discussing. Where have I differed from Catholic or protestant understanding of it, or of grace?

            The doctrine of creation and grace is exactly what we are about here. Since what we are discussing is what God, by grace can do in his creatures.

            it was made clear to me that the difference between their view of Mary and Rome’s is in degree of elevation rather than of doctrine.

            I’ve given you just a few quotes from the Orthodox liturgy. Judge for yourself.

            Change ‘Mary’ to ‘Jesus’ and ‘her’ to ‘him’ and this would be an exemplary statement of the Christian faith – demonstrating that it is blasphemous, for there is no other than Jesus who meets those needs.

            And as I have already argued (without response) that could be said of numerous NT passages about apostles. Therefore your argument is void.

            Indeed; and the fact that you keep denying it does not make it false.

            But you are the one making the claim, so the burden of proof rests on you. Besides, as a Catholic, I ought to know.

            A few hundred martyrs, sadly

            The single greatest act of religious violence in these islands was committed against Catholics, and it wasn’t after 1570.

            How do they weigh against the victims of the Inquisition?

            As we know, the Inquisition was a rather different organisation from that depicted in Protestant propaganda, but in any case, given that the Catholic Church was larger, it is hardly surprising it persecuted more. What we know is that all groups, more or less, when they had power, persecuted. That was wrong, but it hardly enables you to make an argument about one side being right and another being wrong.

            Pius V hubristically issued a Bull in 1570 exhorting English Catholics to sedition

            Even by Protestant standards, Elizabeth I was not the legitimate monarch.

            It’s right there in St Paul.

            It’s nowhere in St Paul and it is contradicted in numerous places. But the issue is whether you can find it taught by Christians after St Paul – that’s a good way of determining whether it was there or not, and how obvious (a key point if one accepts sola sciptura).

            a matter of faith rather than discipline

            I think it is a matter of discipline, since Peter changes his behaviour when Judaisers arrive.

            As for “private interpretation” (or judgement), you again abuse this phrase to mean anything that differs from your denomination’s judgement.

            I have asked you to explain where you think my interpretation of that expression is wrong. But you have done nothing but make this assertion. I have shown on numerous occasions that this assertion is unjust, and you have not answered. Remember: you are making the accusation, the burden of proof rests on you. The fact that I can answer your assertions without response tells against your whole claim.

            You have cut off my quote before some of the conditionals that were in it. By the use of rhetorical devices like that you could reduce scripture itself to rubbish. Do check what I actually wrote.

            I can’t see what you are getting at here. If you want to make something of it, make it explicit.

            What matter whether Mary’s hymen ruptured during the birth of Jesus?

            The issue is whether the redeemer perfects or harms the redeemed.

            If you find this discussion distasteful

            Yet again, you misrepresent what I said. My distaste and lack of acceptance of your position is that I think it unlikely that Mary told people about her sex life or that anyone asked.

            But no evidence that it altered their intentions to start a family, as any couple intend upon their betrothal; and none that it affected their normal desires for each other, which St Paul affirms should be satisfied in the normal marital way.

            Actually, I have given two kinds of evidence to that, and on more than one occasion.

            I assume that is another wind-up. It doesn’t do any discredit to me.

            It’s not a wind up at all. I said that there was an interpretation of Matthew that told against your whole argument, and rather than ask for it, you ignored it. That told me that you are more interested in bashing Catholicism than in finding out scripture.

            Exodus 22:16.

            I cannot see how that helps your cause. In which case, the claim that Joseph was a just man, continues to make no sense. In which case again, your case against Mary’s perpetual virginity is weakened.

            The word in the original Greek is eulogemen, whereas holy is hagios. One can be both of these things but they are not synonymous. There is no difference between Catholic and protestant in the meanings of these words.

            Even if I grant that, you have ignored the more central point that the same word if used of both Jesus and Mary.

            I have argued that Mary sinned a little, and we seem to have reached agreement to disagree on that; but I never suggested that Jesus colluded in that sin.

            If what Mary is asking for is sinful, then it is surely sinful for Jesus to grant it.

            Where do you get the idea that I want to reduce it to a question of wine?

            From here:

            the wine running out would be the main subject throughout the entire area of the event and very obvious.

            You go on:

            I am using it in relation to the question of whether Mary sinned.

            Not only would Jesus not do what is sinful, God does not give into sinful cries – this much is said so often in the Bible, that I am amazed you keep making this point. It is a back handed compliment that you are forced to claim that Mary was sinful from John 2 – given that Jesus does what Mary asks.

            O, you are right about that. I never claimed to.

            It was implicit in your exegesis – that you knew what was going on between them. But you can’t know that, as you now admit. Therefore your argument fails, and with yet it another reason to think John 2 teaches Mary sinned.

          • Anton

            I wrote: “The doctrine of creation is wholly unrelated to the issues we have been discussing. Where have I differed from Catholic or protestant understanding of it, or of grace?” You responded: “The doctrine of creation and grace is exactly what we are about here.”

            Actually, you are right. Worshipping Mary is about worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

            I wrote: “Change ‘Mary’ to ‘Jesus’ and ‘her’ to ‘him’ and this would be an exemplary statement of the Christian faith – demonstrating that it is blasphemous, for there is no other than Jesus who meets those needs. You replied: “And as I have already argued (without response) that could be said of numerous NT passages about apostles. Therefore your argument is void.”

            Where does the NT refer to any apostle as someone who delivers Christians from calamity and from their enemies? Or state that any apostle is the foundation of all our confidence? Or that we obtain everything through a certain apostle? (Those are exact descriptions of Mary in Ubi Primum.)

            I wrote: “the fact that you keep denying it does not make it false” and you responded: “you are the one making the claim, so the burden of proof rests on you.”

            Courtroom conventions are for courtrooms and people with weak arguments. I consider that I did demonstrate it and that your responses were without substance. I don’t mind if you disagree.

            I wrote: “Pius V hubristically issued a Bull in 1570 exhorting English Catholics to sedition” and you replied: “Even by Protestant standards, Elizabeth I was not the legitimate monarch.”

            In that case the monarchy ceased to be legitimate earlier, when Henry VIII’s father claimed the crown after Richard III had been killed in battle; or when Richard III gained the throne as he did; or when Bolingbroke overthrew Richard II; or when William the Conqueror invaded; and so on. Other than by lineal inheritance, people gain a throne by force or intrigue and then cloak themselves in religious sophistry – Catholic, protestant or pagan accordingly – to justify it. Politics is a dirty business. But Elizabeth was the obvious candidate after her half-sister Queen Mary died childless; even Mary and her husband King Philip of Spain eventually recognised that. It was hubris when the Pope pronounced in 1570 that he deprived Elizabeth of her throne. Politics is not the church’s legitimate business, for politics is about the law whereas the church is about grace in contrast to law. (I mean the church as a corporate body; Christians may, of course, be in politics.) Thankfully this papal pronouncement could safely be ignored in England. Regarding earlier persecution of English Catholics, you are playing cute in not stating what you meant. I can guess, but why should I play your guessing game?

            I wrote: “It’s [sola fide] right there in St Paul.” You responded: “It’s nowhere in St Paul and it is contradicted in numerous places.”

            As a fallen human being you (anyone) will inevitably sin, and the passmark for entry into heaven is not 50%, i.e. doing more good deeds than bad, but 100%. On the day of judgement you will be asked, “Did you break the law – Yes or no?” Saying that you kept one regulation is no use if you broke another: you broke the law. The passmark is 100% because God designed the world perfect, and any sin is enough to ravage perfection – as occurred in Eden. To get into heaven you must therefore have your sins covered. God has graciously provided a way, by the blood of his son Jesus Christ, for those who have faith in Him. Unless you live a perfect life, as He did, this is the only way. Once you have faith you will find yourself doing better works, but these are outworkings of your faith.

            I’ve not given scripture references in this paraphrase and I’m not willing to re-enact one side of a 500-year-old debate. If you are not familiar with the protestant view, you can readily find it expounded in church histories and protestant books of theology.

            You wrote: “I think it is a matter of discipline, since Peter changes his behaviour when Judaisers arrive.”

            Clearly it is a matter of both discipline and doctrine, for while Paul says that Peter was afraid (Gal 2:12) he also goes on to explain the correct doctrine to him (2:14-16).

            I wrote: “As for “private interpretation” (or judgement), you again abuse this phrase to mean anything that differs from your denomination’s judgement.” You replied: “I have asked you to explain where you think my interpretation of that expression is wrong. But you have done nothing but make this assertion. I have shown on numerous occasions that this assertion is unjust, and you have not answered… The fact that I can answer your assertions without response tells against your whole claim.”

            It means nothing more than that I chose not to repeat my arguments, which I believe your words have not rebutted. You have even, I recall, disputed the dictionary meaning of ‘private’, a word which is not intrinsically theological. If you are prepared to go to such lengths of sophistry then your arguments are auto-discrediting.

            I asked: “What matter whether Mary’s hymen ruptured during the birth of Jesus?” You replied: “The issue is whether the redeemer perfects or harms the redeemed.”

            I’m glad to learn that it is not about legalistic definitions of virginity. But what makes you think that Mary is exempt from the curse placed on women in Genesis 3, that childbirth would be very painful? Jesus himself suffered in the act of redemption, while circumcision, which is the mark of God’s people in the Old Testament, is painful; the baby boy cries.

            I wrote: “no evidence that it altered their intentions to start a family, as any couple intend upon their betrothal; and none that it affected their normal desires for each other, which St Paul affirms should be satisfied in the normal marital way.” You replied: “Actually, I have given two kinds of evidence to that, and on more than one occasion.”

            To my knowledge you have given only evidence that Joseph and Mary were different from other couples after the incarnation – which is obvious – but no evidence that this difference changed their sex life from that of any other married couple once Christ was born. Do fill in the gaps.

            I answered: Exodus 22:16. You replied: “I cannot see how that helps your cause.”

            It pertains to the case of a virgin who has been seduced – she and her seducer must marry. Joseph believes Mary has been seduced by another, as she is pregnant and he is not responsible, so he is giving her the opportunity to marry her presumed seducer as justice requires, rather than face the ordeal prescribed in Numbers 5, and (as he believes) disfigurement. A man who wishes to see justice done, especially when it means renouncing revenge, is a just man.

            You wrote, re Cana: “If what Mary is asking for is sinful, then it is surely sinful for Jesus to grant it.”

            It is Mary’s motivation for speaking that is sinful.

            I asked: “Where do you get the idea that I want to reduce it to a question of wine?” You said it was from my comment that “the wine running out would be the main subject throughout the entire area of the event and very obvious.”

            I meant the main subject of discussion at every table at Cana, not the main subject of John 2. My apologies for the ambiguity.

            I wrote: “O, you are right about that. I never claimed to.” You replied: “It was implicit in your exegesis – that you knew what was going on between them. But you can’t know that, as you now admit. Therefore your argument fails…”

            I love your specious “therefore”s! I suggest you reread what I actually wrote.

          • Albert

            Worshipping Mary is about worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

            That at least, is something we agree on.

            Where does the NT refer to any apostle as someone who delivers Christians from calamity and from their enemies? Or state that any apostle is the foundation of all our confidence? Or that we obtain everything through a certain apostle? (Those are exact descriptions of Mary in Ubi Primum.)

            Jesus said we shall do greater things than he does if we believe. Acts attributes miracles to the apostles. The difference with Mary is not therefore in terms of kind but in terms of degree. Her holiness being greater results in greater effects. But as with the apostles, each work is really the work of God done in her. Mary is the foundation of all our confidence in so far as she has faith and gives birth to Jesus. We may be said to obtain everything through her insofar as the grace of Christ may be said to come through her. That’s not Catholic dogma by the way, it is a pious belief. As Christ is the head, so Mary may be thought of as the neck. Now you will doubtless disagree with that, and I would assume you could be a faithful Catholic and do so. But the key thing is, does believing the grace of Christ comes through Mary mean we worship Mary? I cannot see that it does, quite the contrary.

            Courtroom conventions are for courtrooms and people with weak arguments. I consider that I did demonstrate it and that your responses were without substance.

            The idea of the burden of proof is not restricted to courtrooms, and without it anyone can just claim anything and then say that by claiming it the thing is established. That would be a position to suit people with weak arguments. But look at the weakness of your position. Why so much talk about Mary’s virginity or her sinlessness? You can disagree with us on both points, but our belief in either of them does not imply worship. And that is your claim You need better arguments.

            Elizabeth was the obvious candidate after her half-sister Queen Mary died childless

            As she was illegitimate even on Protestant grounds, she was not in line. Now when someone takes the throne, they can be recognized if they are recognized. The Pope was well within his rights not to recognize her, especially after the events of 1569, which is what I was referring to.

            As a fallen human being you (anyone) will inevitably sin, and the passmark for entry into heaven is not 50%, i.e. doing more good deeds than bad, but 100%. On the day of judgement you will be asked, “Did you break the law – Yes or no?” Saying that you kept one regulation is no use if you broke another: you broke the law. The passmark is 100% because God designed the world perfect, and any sin is enough to ravage perfection – as occurred in Eden. To get into heaven you must therefore have your sins covered. God has graciously provided a way, by the blood of his son Jesus Christ, for those who have faith in Him. Unless you live a perfect life, as He did, this is the only way. Once you have faith you will find yourself doing better works, but these are outworkings of your faith.

            Great, so that’s an argument for justification by faith – we all believe that. The question was about faith alone.

            If you are not familiar with the protestant view, you can readily find it expounded in church histories and protestant books of theology.

            Judging by your previous paragraph it is you that is unfamiliar with the Catholic view and quite possibly the Protestant view as well.

            Clearly it is a matter of both discipline and doctrine, for while Paul says that Peter was afraid (Gal 2:12) he also goes on to explain the correct doctrine to him (2:14-16).

            What you think that Peter did not know the proper doctrine until Paul explained it?

            It means nothing more than that I chose not to repeat my arguments, which I believe your words have not rebutted. You have even, I recall, disputed the dictionary meaning of ‘private’, a word which is not intrinsically theological. If you are prepared to go to such lengths of sophistry then your arguments are auto-discrediting.

            That’s very bad. You have given no account of what it is that you object to except that it disagrees with a modern dictionary. But lots of words of ancient origin do that. Look at the word “gay”, or try substance:http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/substance. None of these definitions could apply to God when we say he is one substance. Am I then guilty of sophistry because I will not say that God being one substance means God is A particular kind of matter with uniform properties ?

            But what makes you think that Mary is exempt from the curse placed on women in Genesis 3, that childbirth would be very painful?

            The fact that she is sinless, and the fact that her child is the redeemer. Again, I do not ask you to accept the conclusion, I just marvel that you think all this stuff means we worship her.

            Jesus himself suffered in the act of redemption, while circumcision, which is the mark of God’s people in the Old Testament, is painful; the baby boy cries.

            Yes, but he is the redeemer, she isn’t. The issue is not whether she gets damaged in lif , but whether he causes her to to be damaged.

            no evidence that this difference changed their sex life from that of any other married couple once Christ was born. Do fill in the gaps.

            We know that they were already a different couple because they did not have sex even after marriage but before the child was born. Now since they were already different, you cannot proceed as if it has been established that they were the same.

            It pertains to the case of a virgin who has been seduced

            But there is no evidence that Joseph thinks she has been seduced.

            It is Mary’s motivation for speaking that is sinful.

            You know her motivation now? !! But if her motivation was sinful, why would our Lord give in to her? He does not listen to sinners.

            I meant the main subject of discussion at every table at Cana, not the main subject of John 2. My apologies for the ambiguity.

            That’s fine, but off the top of my head, I cannot see any evidence for that. You are assuming that Jesus “knew” because you assume everyone knew. But that’s just an assumption.

            I love your specious “therefore”s! I suggest you reread what I actually wrote.

            If you disagree with what I say point it out.

          • Anton

            I asked: “Where does the NT refer to any apostle as someone who delivers Christians from calamity and from their enemies? Or state that any apostle is the foundation of all our confidence? Or that we obtain everything through a certain apostle? (Those are exact descriptions of Mary in Ubi Primum.)” You replied: Jesus said we shall do greater things than he does if we believe. Acts attributes miracles to the apostles. The difference with Mary is not therefore in terms of kind but in terms of degree. Her holiness being greater results in greater effects. But as with the apostles, each work is really the work of God done in her. Mary is the foundation of all our confidence in so far as she has faith and gives birth to Jesus. We may be said to obtain everything through her insofar as the grace of Christ may be said to come through her. That’s not Catholic dogma by the way, it is a pious belief. As Christ is the head, so Mary may be thought of as the neck. Now you will doubtless disagree with that, and I would assume you could be a faithful Catholic and do so. But the key thing is, does believing the grace of Christ comes through Mary mean we worship Mary? I cannot see that it does, quite the contrary.

            So many words, yet you still give no answer to my question! Is that because, contrary to your earlier assertion, you are unable to find any such place in the NT?

            I wrote: “Elizabeth was the obvious candidate after her half-sister Queen Mary died childless”. You replied: “As she was illegitimate even on Protestant grounds, she was not in line… The Pope was well within his rights not to recognize her”

            He was perfectly entitled not to recognise her. But to pronounce that he deprived her of her realm, as in Regnans in Excelsis, was hubristic posturing. He didn’t deprive her of it, did he? As for her legitimacy, you ignore my point that any formal legitimacy had already vanished at each previous usurpation: by Henry VII, Richard III, Henry IV or William I for instance. Who occupies the thrones of this fallen world is about nothing more than power politics, and that is true in countries Catholic, protestant or pagan. Read Shakespeare. Look at the history of any throne. Every ruling house likes to pronounce that their deity put them on the throne, and who dare disagree in public? But we don’t have to believe such pious puffery in private. The principle you use is that of not worrying about usurpations when they involve Catholic monarchs, but objecting when they involve protestant. That is inconsistency if not hypocrisy.

            The northern Englishmen who were executed in 1569 died for their political actions in trying to start a civil war. Had they heeded Romans 13 about accepting the political authorities of this world, they would have lived. They were not being asked to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ crucified, died and risen.

            I wrote: As a fallen human being you (anyone) will inevitably sin, and the passmark for entry into heaven is not 50%, i.e. doing more good deeds than bad, but 100%. On the day of judgement you will be asked, “Did you break the law – Yes or no?” Saying that you kept one regulation is no use if you broke another: you broke the law. The passmark is 100% because God designed the world perfect, and any sin is enough to ravage perfection – as occurred in Eden. To get into heaven you must therefore have your sins covered. God has graciously provided a way, by the blood of his son Jesus Christ, for those who have faith in Him. Unless you live a perfect life, as He did, this is the only way. Once you have faith you will find yourself doing better works, but these are outworkings of your faith. You responded: “Great, so that’s an argument for justification by faith – we all believe that. The question was about faith alone.”

            As you agree with what I wrote then you agree that (1) any sin debars you from salvation, (2) everybody sins, and (3) that the only way to get your sins passed over is by the blood of Christ, which (4) requires faith in him. Where then is room for any other way of salvation from sin than by faith?

            I asked: “what makes you think that Mary is exempt from the curse placed on women in Genesis 3, that childbirth would be very painful? You replied: “The fact that she is sinless, and the fact that her child is the redeemer.”

            She is a young woman of strong faith having excellent motherly qualities, of a certain bloodline. But sinless, no. Sin propagates from Adam. This propagation of sin is prevented from reaching Jesus Christ, perhaps by a miracle, perhaps if sin is transmitted through the male line and therefore did not reach Him. If you say it is prevented from reaching Mary then that must either be by natural means or by a miracle. If natural, you face a regress problem: HER parents must in turn have been sinless, and so on back to Adam; yet Adam was not sinless when he begat us. If you say it is by a miracle, what evidence have you? None from the scriptural record; nor is one necessary given that a miracle took place at Christ’s conception. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a further assignation to her of one of the properties of Jesus Christ that make him unique.

            I wrote that there is “no evidence that this difference changed their sex life from that of any other married couple once Christ was born. Do fill in the gaps.” You replied: “We know that they were already a different couple because they did not have sex even after marriage but before the child was born. Now since they were already different, you cannot proceed as if it has been established that they were the same.”

            Messiah’s mother and stepfather were different from other married couples in some ways, but the same in others. What evidence have you that their sex life after the birth of Christ fell in the former category?

            You wrote: “But there is no evidence that Joseph thinks she has been seduced.”

            How can you miss the fact that she is pregnant and not by him? Any chaste man whose fiancée is pregnant supposes that she has slept with another man. Matthew would know that this scenario would spring to his readers’ minds, so if Joseph’s intent to divorce her has another explanation then Matthew would give it. He doesn’t. Therefore your objection fails.

            I wrote: “It is Mary’s motivation for speaking that is sinful.” You replied: “You know her motivation now? !! But if her motivation was sinful, why would our Lord give in to her?”

            I infer that her motivation is sinful from his rebuke. It was not sinful for him to perform a miracle, but the timing was before he had wished it. She was putting God to the test.

          • Albert

            So many words, yet you still give no answer to my question! Is that because, contrary to your earlier assertion, you are unable to find any such place in the NT?

            Obviously it doesn’t appear explicitly. Much of theology does not appear there. I asked for your passages concerning sola fide and you did not provide any and you are the one who is supposed to believe in sola scriptura and the other pretended doctrines that go with it. Where did I say I would be able to show thew NT makes such a reference? The question is whether it arises from or is consonant with biblical principles. I say simply what Christ say. If you say that those who believe in him cannot do what he does then take that up with him.

            He was perfectly entitled not to recognise her. But to pronounce that he deprived her of her realm, as in Regnans in Excelsis, was hubristic posturing.

            If he does not recognize her, he cannot deprive her. What he says is she is deprived of her pretended title. That’s tautological.

            As for her legitimacy, you ignore my point that any formal legitimacy had already vanished at each previous usurpation: by Henry VII, Richard III, Henry IV or William I for instance.

            I did not ignore it. My point about other powers needing to recognize her was because she was illegitimate. As I put it then:

            As she was illegitimate even on Protestant grounds, she was not in line. Now when someone takes the throne, they can be recognized if they are recognized. The Pope was well within his rights not to recognize her

            You write:

            The northern Englishmen who were executed in 1569 died for their political actions in trying to start a civil war. Had they heeded Romans 13 about accepting the political authorities of this world, they would have lived.

            They were already being persecuted, and Romans 13 does not come into play in such cases especially when it is doubtful whether the persecutor is legitimate.

            As you agree with what I wrote then you agree that (1) any sin debars you from salvation, (2) everybody sins, and (3) that the only way to get your sins passed over is by the blood of Christ, which (4) requires faith in him. Where then is room for any other way of salvation from sin than by faith?

            There is none. What you’ve done is effectively to give the Catholic doctrine of justification by faith. What is telling is that you don’t know that. I’m now quite confused whether you are a Protestant or a Catholic!

            If you say it is by a miracle, what evidence have you?

            Just because you don’t get the nature of God’s holiness as presented in scripture doesn’t mean it isn’t taught. It just means the doctrine of perspicuity of scripture is false.

            The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a further assignation to her of one of the properties of Jesus Christ that make him unique.

            Here is the doctrine as defined by Pius IX:

            the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin

            Now how can that possibly confuse her with Jesus? It is absurd to think that Christ saves himself, so you must believe he receives salvation from another. But God cannot receive salvation from another. In saying Mary is free from sin, we promote the utter gratuity and effectiveness of Christ’s saving grace in his creature. Now if we say she is saved by grace, how can she be God?

            Messiah’s mother and stepfather were different from other married couples in some ways, but the same in others. What evidence have you that their sex life after the birth of Christ fell in the former category?

            I have no evidence either way. All I need to show is that Mary and Joseph are taught by scripture not to have been a normal couple. This is evident. Therefore, you cannot proceed as if they were.

            How can you miss the fact that she is pregnant and not by him?

            That doesn’t mean she’s been seduced. Not all women who have sex before marriage have been seduced. Some just want it. Didn’t you know? The case could just as easily be that of Deuteronomy 22. But don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying your reading is actually the wrong one. I think both are possible, neither excludes the other. I think my reading is more literal, and yours as well as being less literal requires us to import a number of assumptions that are not stated there. Therefore, you cannot exclude my reading, and so what follows from my reading must be allowed as a legitimate opinion.

            I infer that her motivation is sinful from his rebuke.

            But it is not obvious that it was a rebuke, and nothing you have said has made it so, on the contrary, I have cited numerous Protestant scholars who think it wasn’t not least because of the absurdity of what you say next:

            It was not sinful for him to perform a miracle, but the timing was before he had wished it.

            You believe that Mary gets Jesus to do something before he wants to? Really?

          • Anton

            Jesus did more than one thing he didn’t want to: let himself be crucified, in particular.

            Beyond that, I’m content to let your responses to my questions speak for themselves.

          • Albert

            Jesus did more than one thing he didn’t want to: let himself be crucified, in particular.

            I’ll take his word on it thanks:

            For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.
            No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.

            I think that it is likely that the heart of the problem is that you don’t properly believe in the incarnation. Like many modern Protestants you are likely a Nestorian or a Socinian. That being so, it is inevitable that you have not grasped Mary’s role. For Mary’s role is disclosed to us when we reflect that God himself, the Holy one of Israel, as Man, is born of her.

          • Anton

            By all means take Jesus’ word on it: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will be done, but yours be” (Luke 22:42).

            I think I know what I believe rather better than you know what I believe, thank you.

          • Albert

            I think I know what I believe rather better than you know what I believe, thank you.

            And yet this whole discussion has been based on your arrogance that you know better than me whether I worship Mary.

            BTW Gethsemane shows Christ’s human will conforming to God’s will. Moreover, even if it hadn’t, there is a huge difference between Christ doing something he didn’t want to do because God willed it, and your extraordinary theology in which he does something he didn’t want to do because Mary willed it.

          • Anton

            I never accused you of worshipping Mary; I said that she is an idol of the Roman Catholic church.

          • Albert

            Really? This is what you said:

            I have no doubt that she looks down from heaven at the idolatrous worship she receives from Catholics and weeps.

            Any pagan would be in no doubt who is being worshipped. Likewise this protestant.

            I am not suggesting that Catholics worship Mary instead of the Holy Trinity, but as well as.

          • Anton

            Let me clarify; I am not accusing you *personally* of worshipping Mary. I don’t know your practices. I believe that many Catholics do, on the basis above all of prayers addressed personally to Mary, making no mention of Christ, asking her for things that the NT reserves for him to dispense.

            You, in contrast, told me what I believe. I am used, in dialogue, to saying what I believe and hearing from others what they believe, but to be told what I believe by others is unintentionally hilarious.

          • Albert

            The paradox Anton is that you have frequently shown that you do not in fact understand Catholicism. You set out our doctrine of justification by faith as if I would reject it. Why would I reject what I believe? Thereby you showed you do not understand Catholicism. And this is another case in point. If the Catholic Church’s faith and practice is idolatrous, all Catholics are idolatrous. Catholic faith isn’t à la carte! Isn’t that perhaps the most famous thing about Catholicism? Now since you do not understand Catholicism, it is extraordinary that you persist in making such extreme and offensive claims as if you do. Thus your last line is one I can just as well play back at you:

            to be told what I believe by others is unintentionally hilarious.

            By all means don’t be a Catholic. By all means don’t like it. But surely, you should have the humility to try to understand it before you condemn it.

          • CliveM

            ” Catholic faith isn’t à la carte! Isn’t that perhaps the most famous thing about Catholicism?”

            Not according to HJ’s websites!! :0)

          • Albert

            Are really reading this discussion?!!

          • CliveM

            Some of it. I’m admiring the stamina and determination you are both exhibiting!

          • Albert

            Thank you. I’m really working on something else. It’s a welcome distraction rather than an exercise in stamina and determination. It’s more testing from a patience point of view, to be honest…! 🙂

          • CliveM

            I’m sure you will receive your reward.

          • Anton

            “you have frequently shown that you do not in fact understand Catholicism. You set out our doctrine of justification by faith as if I would reject it.”

            But you are contradicting yourself, not me. I set out an argument for sola fide and you accepted it; yet earlier you expressed scepticism of sola fide.

            “If the Catholic Church’s faith and practice is idolatrous, all Catholics are idolatrous. Catholic faith isn’t à la carte!”

            The Marian prayers of which I spoke are not part of Catholic liturgy, although they are used by many Catholics. Other Catholics do not use them – a friend who converted from the CoE to Rome, for instance.

          • Albert

            But you are contradicting yourself, not me. I set out an argument for sola fide and you accepted it; yet earlier you expressed scepticism of sola fide.

            No Anton. What you set out is not sola fide, but justification by faith. They are two different doctrines. At the moment you haven’t gone beyond the Catholic doctrine (justification by faith). It’s evidence for faith alone I’m interested in.

            The Marian prayers of which I spoke are not part of Catholic liturgy, although they are used by many Catholics. Other Catholics do not use them – a friend who converted from the CoE to Rome, for instance.

            This distinction does not work. No Catholic can be without the Hail Mary, or the Marian dogmas. We must hold that she is without sin, that she was Mother of God, that she remained a virgin, that she was Assumed into heaven, that she prays for us. It’s true we don’t all use the same devotions, but we cannot be without some devotion. As the Catechism puts it:

            “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honoured with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

            The quotes are from papal and conciliar documents and express the Church’s teaching.

          • Anton

            I did expound justification by faith ALONE, but you didn’t acknowledge it and when I asked you a question designed to point it out you passed it by and I didn’t take you up on it. This time I shall. Above, I wrote:

            As a fallen human being you (anyone) will inevitably sin, and the passmark for entry into heaven is not 50%, i.e. doing more good deeds than bad, but 100%. On the day of judgement you will be asked, “Did you break the law – Yes or no?” Saying that you kept one regulation is no use if you broke another: you broke the law. The passmark is 100% because God designed the world perfect, and any sin is enough to ravage perfection – as occurred in Eden. To get into heaven you must therefore have your sins covered. God has graciously provided a way, by the blood of his son Jesus Christ, for those who have faith in Him. Unless you live a perfect life, as He did, this is the only way. Once you have faith you will find yourself doing better works, but these are outworkings of your faith.

            You replied: Great, so that’s an argument for justification by faith – we all believe that. The question was about faith alone.

            I then responded: As you agree with what I wrote then you agree that (1) any sin debars you from salvation, (2) everybody sins, and (3) that the only way to get your sins passed over is by the blood of Christ, which (4) requires faith in him. Where then is room for any other way of salvation from sin than by faith?

            You didn’t answer. This time, please do so.

            I am willing to learn of certain aspects of Catholicism from you, specifically that all Catholics have to affirm those idolatrous Marian doctrines. What shame and disgrace! As for “all generations shall call me blessed,” I do indeed affirm that she was blessed – no problem there.

          • Albert

            You keep setting out simply the doctrine of justification by faith. We all believe that. Don’t you understand that? We all believe in justification by faith. But the Protestant doctrine is that we justified by faith alone.

            Let me set out a few passages of scripture that a Catholic can simply accept as they are, but which a Protestant must modify:

            Bible/Catholic: For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.

            Protestant For we hold that a man is justified by faith alone apart from works of law.

            Bible/Catholic: yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.

            Protestant: yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith alone in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith alone in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.

            Bible/Catholic: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.

            Protestant: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith alone working through love.

            Bible/Catholic: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

            Bible/Catholic: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

            Protestant: Was not Abraham our father justified by faith alone works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

            Do you get the idea? None of us merits the grace of Christ, but once that grace is in us, by faith, it works to justify us, that is, to make us just/righteous. Not simply that we may be counted justified, when really we are not (Simul justus et peccator), but that it makes us just, by forgiveness of sins, by putting on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. God’s righteousnes is not forensic, it is intrinsic to him and in him we might become the righteousness of God.

            In a sense then, the issue between Protestant and Catholic is ultimately about what is meant by justification. Is it simply being declared righteous when really we are not, or is it that God’s grace makes us righteous. This “righteousing” is clearly process as the multiform use of the word “justification” in the Bible shows: sometimes it refers to Christ’s death sometimes to our act of faith, sometimes to our works which grace works in us by faith, and sometimes to end product.

            And this failure to understand the effects of grace is what makes you accuse us of idolatry with Mary. Since Mary is saved by grace, she becomes righteous, by grace. How can that faith be idolatry?

          • Anton

            Question ducker!

          • Albert

            I believe with all my heart the doctrine of justification by faith as set out in scripture, and, although I’d like to express one or two points differently, as set out in your post. I absolutely refute the doctrine of justification by faith alone. But you asked me about what you wrote, and it wasn’t justification by faith alone.

          • Anton

            Actually you agreed with it, because I set out a paragraph which you affirmed (great!) but which left no room for any other way to be justified. If you disagree, you should answer my question.

          • Albert

            You think you have set out justification by faith alone, but you haven’t. You’ve set out the Catholic doctrine. Yes, I accept that. But the doctrine Protestants hold is:

            We are justified by faith alone and not by works.

            I completely deny that, and deny that it is to be found anywhere in scripture. Where do you find it?

          • Anton

            You have affirmed this statement which I made above:

            As a fallen human being you (anyone) will inevitably sin, and the passmark for entry into heaven is not 50%, i.e. doing more good deeds than bad, but 100%. On the day of judgement you will be asked, “Did you break the law – Yes or no?” Saying that you kept one regulation is no use if you broke another: you broke the law. The passmark is 100% because God designed the world perfect, and any sin is enough to ravage perfection – as occurred in Eden. To get into heaven you must therefore have your sins covered. God has graciously provided a way, by the blood of his son Jesus Christ, for those who have faith in Him. Unless you live a perfect life, as He did, this is the only way. Once you have faith you will find yourself doing better works, but these are outworkings of your faith.

            As you agree with it then you will agree with its components: (1) any sin debars you from salvation; (2) everybody sins; (3) the only way to get your sins passed over is by the blood of Christ, which (4) requires faith in him.

            From those four it follows unambiguously that there is no other way of salvation from sin than by faith, does it not? The favour of a Yes/No reply is requested.

          • Albert

            Yes. That is the Catholic doctrine of justification by faith. It is not (at least not yet) the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone.

            But I note with interest how you are more concerned with the things you say than with the scriptural passages I set out earlier.

          • Anton

            You have now assented that there is *no other* way of salvation from sin than by faith. Yet you continue to dispute that justification is by faith *alone*. So please give an example which conforms to th statement to which you have assented yet which involves justification by other than “faith alone”.

          • Albert

            Isn’t this just the heart of the question? And isn’t this already answered by those biblical passages I set out for you, showing how we differ? Why on earth have you not taken up the biblical elements of this? I have argued that you Prots cut and paste the scriptures according to your human tradition, and yet you will not defend yourself! You are far too interested in condemning Catholicism to be scriptural, it seems to me.

            There are two versions of justification by faith, the biblical/Catholic one, which everyone believed from NT times until the Protestant Reformation, and the Protestant Reformation version.

            Catholic: By faith we receive the grace that makes us righteous/justified. In other words, by faith, God’s grace actually changes us so that we become and do the things by which we are righteous and saved. Being saved means being righteous/justified, and being righteous/justified means exactly that, being righteous or just, as it does for God.

            By faith we become the righteousness of God. By faith you work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. We cannot save ourselves, but whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, so that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. For For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake. Indeed, God will equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ. So You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. This is one doctrine of justification by faith. I simply state the Bible as I take it, a Catholic believes it, without quibble or difficulty or any explaining away.

            Then there’s the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone, that by faith God does nothing more than count us as righteous, even though we are not. By the Protestant doctrine God says that because we have faith, we are saved, even though by still being sinners, we are clearly anything but saved. But the Bible says a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

            You see the difference in terms of justification? In Catholicism God justifies us by faith, in Protestantism God counts us as justified by faith. From a Catholic and Biblical perspective, the Protestant doctrine isn’t really a doctrine of justification at all – or at least it does not go far enough properly to be one. The problems really get started when we then move to the Protestant doctrine of sanctification, by which a man does come to be changed.

            So perhaps I get to ask a question: where does freewill come into all this, on your model?

            Now I notice that after all your complaining that I have told you what you believe, whereas you say you had not told me what I believe, it has now become clear that you have, all along being telling me what I believe. For you say this:

            I am willing to learn of certain aspects of Catholicism from you, specifically that all Catholics have to affirm those idolatrous Marian doctrines. What shame and disgrace!

            But of course in not understanding the way Catholicism works, you put yourself in the position of not being able, justly to condemn Catholicism (or this Catholic). And so your judgement is unjust.

          • Anton

            It is merely your judgement that my judgement is unjust.

            The thief on the cross was justified by faith alone, wasn’t he? But if you want to go into it in more depth, the position is this. When we become Christians (and if I want to discuss whether that is a matter of freewill, it would be with people having a less patronising tone), we get the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. That is justification and it is purely by faith. Is righteousness also imparted? Yes, but that is a process rather than a one-off. That is sanctification and it shows in improved works.

          • Albert

            It is merely your judgement that my judgement is unjust.

            Anton, you accused me indirectly of idolatry. Then you said you hadn’t. When I pointed out that you had, and that if only you understood Catholicism, you would realize that you had, you then admitted that, yes, you think I am an idolater. But if you don’t have a sufficient understanding of something, then your judgement is unjust – that’s not my opinion, that’s what the word means.

            if I want to discuss whether that is a matter of freewill, it would be with people having a less patronising tone

            That’s a nice way of evading the issue, but, as someone who accuses me of being an idolater, despite the fact that I say I am not, that I ought to understand what I believe better than you, and that you manifestly don’t understand Catholicism, I don’t think you are in any position to complain about patronising tone. I patronise you because you foolishly, falsely, patronising and persistently accuse me of idolatry.

            The thief on the cross was justified by faith alone, wasn’t he?

            I don’t think the case in any way contradicts mine. Firstly, there are several exegetical problems with the passage. Secondly, the man’s life is cut short and so the process is necessarily different (e.g. he could go to purgatory), he is on the cross, and so in a state of permanent penance (and so perhaps is perfect on death), it may be that his zeal in repentance and faith is sufficient to justify him and in any case (and so is perfect on death), my understanding of it is that a person who dies immediately after baptism is assuredly saved and goes straight to heaven (being perfect on death). So there are numerous ways in which this passage in no way overthrows all those other passages I cited.

            When we become Christians…we get the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. That is justification and it is purely by faith. Is righteousness also imparted? Yes, but that is a process rather than a one-off. That is sanctification and it shows in improved works.

            I don’t think I have any great difficulty with this, I would simply point out that the Protestant distinction in play here between imputed righteousness and the process of sanctification excludes a number of scriptures. The key thing is that justification and sanctification are overlapping concepts in the Bible, and so you cannot simply stop at imputed righteousness.

            But this question brings us back to the question of freewill. Here’s my question: Do we have freewill in justification? As you put it, a simple yes or no please. Also, how do you reconcile all those passages of scripture I cited with the Protestant view?

          • Anton

            The New Testament shows no concern with that question and I don’t lose sleep over it either. I suspect there is a paradox/mystery here, but I don’t consider myself under obligation to share any further thought on it with you and I don’t plan to, for the reason I have explained.

          • Albert

            If we have no free will, God is the cause of our evil actions. That seems to be a problem for scripture. But that wasn’t the only question I asked, I also asked about the scripture. But you don’t want to answer that. You seem quite content to make accusations, but not man enough actually to defend them, but neither will you withdraw them. Poor show.

          • Anton

            I’m perfectly happy to discuss these things in good faith, but I think you are not asking in good faith.

          • Albert

            I am asking in good faith. I do not believe sola fide is biblical. I have given plenty of evidence to support this. That I am asking in good faith is evident from the fact that if you cannot maintain that doctrine, your claim that we are idolaters will fail.

            You on the other hand do not appear to be operating in good faith. This is evident from the fact that you began with your conclusion that we are idolaters and have stuck to it even though I have said we are not, that I have given plenty of evidence that we are not, I have answered your claims, even in some cases with evidence from your own scholars, and that you will not discuss the underlying issues of nature and grace which will resolve the problem. Your willingness to confuse Mary and God the Father in your attempt to show Jesus did something against his will (which is entailed from your claim that Mary sins in John 2) seems to me to show bad faith. Why pay the price of messing up the Incarnation and Trinity, just so you can say Mary sinned?

          • Anton

            I consider that it is you who are confusing Mary with the divine.

          • Albert

            Yes, because you do not understand nature and grace in a biblical way and yet you will not discuss the question.

            That you are confusing them is evident from the fact that you think Mary even in her sin can change Jesus to do what he does not want to do, and that when I pointed out this fact, you made the comparison with God the Father.

            Let me make it clear: however much we glorify the work of God’s grace in Mary, she is always below God, infinitely below him, and therefore, never able to get him to do what he does not want to do. Everything she has or does, and I mean everything, she receives as a result of his will and grace.

          • Anton

            If I thought there was more to say then I’d say it but there is no point in our repeating ourselves and I’m happy to let readers decide between us (there is at least one).

          • Albert

            Okay. It’s been fun – thanks for the discussion.

          • Anton

            Two matters arising, Albert.

            First, I wrote, above: “Jesus did more than one thing he didn’t want to: let himself be crucified, in particular.” You responded, sceptically, by quoting these words of his: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” To which I replied: “By all means take Jesus’ word on it: Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will be done, but yours (Luke 22:42).” You then pointed out that this episode in Gethsemane shows Christ’s human will conforming to God’s will. I agree. But he still *didn’t want to*; He chose that path out of obedience, just like martyrs today. Do you believe they – and he – actually want(ed) to die?

            Second, I asked: “Where does the NT refer to any apostle as someone who delivers Christians from calamity and from their enemies? Or state that any apostle is the foundation of all our confidence? Or that we obtain everything through a certain apostle? (Those are exact descriptions of Mary in Ubi Primum.)” You gave a lengthy reply that did not contain any scripture references, in response to which I wrote: “So many words, yet you still give no answer to my question! Is that because, contrary to your earlier assertion, you are unable to find any such place in the NT?” You then said: Obviously it doesn’t appear explicitly. Much of theology does not appear there… Where did I say I would be able to show thew NT makes such a reference?”

            Here: you wrote in your immediately preceding responses to me, specifically in response to my comment “Change ‘Mary’ to ‘Jesus’ and ‘her’ to ‘him’ and this would be an exemplary statement of the Christian faith – demonstrating that it is blasphemous, for there is no other than Jesus who meets those needs”, the following words – which I have pasted unchanged:

            I have already argued (without response) that could be said of numerous NT passages about apostles.

            You speak of numerous NT passages yet you can’t name one.

          • Albert

            But he still *didn’t want to*; He chose that path out of obedience, just like martyrs today. Do you believe they – and he – actually want(ed) to die?

            I pointed out that there is a difference here between him doing what God wants and what Mary wants, especially in this case, when Mary on your account is premature, i.e. she is wanting something before it is God’s will that he does it. If you ask did Christ what to die in itself, then presumably not. But the question is, did he want to do his Father’s will, did he want to save the world? Then assuredly yes, for scripture says:

            Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,”…`Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,'”

            Now I’ve made this point about the distinction between God’s will and Mary’s will before. I cannot see that you have answered it, and so I cannot see why you raise the point again. In order to show we worship Mary, you seem strangely to be confusing her with God. I find that interesting.

            You gave a lengthy reply that did not contain any scripture references

            I had already set out the biblical principle in the words of our Lord among others. Given that you so rarely reply to my Bible references, why would you expect me to state them all again?

            You speak of numerous NT passages yet you can’t name one.

            What I am talking about is all those passages where the apostles perform miracles, or rather that miracles that are properly the work of Jesus are attributed to them. The principles are all there, and although you wish to deny the specific case here, you cannot do so without conflicting yourself with John 14.12-14.

          • Anton

            Actually it is you who confuse Mary with the divine, in your denomination’s systematic ascription to her of many of her Son’s unique qualities. I am happy to go round that again if you wish as I believe your answers were unconvincing and would be seen as such.

            Where the apostles perform miracles, who refers to any of them as someone who delivers Christians from calamity and from their enemies? Or state that any of them is the foundation of all our confidence? Or that we obtain everything through any of them?

          • Albert

            Mary does what she does, by grace. This is explicit in Catholic teaching. That is not divine, that is creaturely.

            Where the apostles perform miracles, who refers to any of them as someone who delivers Christians from calamity and from their enemies?

            When an apostles heals someone, do they not deliver that person from calamity? And when they exorcise someone, do they not deliver someone from their enemy?

            Or state that any of them is the foundation of all our confidence?

            She is the foundation of all our confidence because she is, by being Jesus’ mother the foundation of Christ.

            Or that we obtain everything through any of them?

            We wouldn’t expect that to be said of the apostles, because we don’t think it is true. But as to Mary, if by grace, God decides that we should receive everything through Mary, who are you to grumble? Grace can come through creatures. The idea here is ecclesial, that grace comes to us through the Church, it has an ecclesial shape. Mary is the first and most faithful member of the Church. As we get Christ through her, who can complain that we get grace (which is less that Christ) through her?

            Now you can disagree with all this, but I don’t think you can successfully argue it is to confuse Mary with the divine. And it is nothing compared with you horrific confusion with the divine you make in John 2.

          • Anton

            “She is the foundation of all our confidence because she is, by being Jesus’ mother the foundation of Christ.”

            If you want to know the foundation of Christ then there is one outstanding passage on the subject: the prologue of St John’s gospel. Is Mary mentioned?

            Please summarise in a self-contained paragraph why you consider that I conflate Mary with the divine in my understanding of John 2.

          • Albert

            He’s made flesh in John 1! What do you think that means?

            Please summarise in a self-contained paragraph why you consider that I conflate Mary with the divine in my understanding of John 2.

            Because, although you think she is being sinful, nevertheless, you think that Mary gets Jesus to do something before he wants to do it. Therefore, Mary has a power over the divine which a Catholic would not dare to say (except in hyperbole, I suppose). Now Jesus’ human will is the will of a divine person and as such it is conformed to the divine will, thus either you separate Jesus the Man from Jesus the Second Person of the Holy Trinity or you think she has power over the divine. Perhaps you do the former, in which case I will withdraw the accusation and replace it with another one.

          • Anton

            I’m trembling!

            Jesus always conforms his will to His Father’s yet he frequently changed his mind according to the imprecations of fallen people; there is an example at Matthew 15:22-28 and there would be little point in intercessory prayer otherwise. Was that sinful? Is it not the case that your exegesis of Cana is conditioned by your determination to deny that Mary might sin rather than the obvious meaning of the text?

          • Albert

            I’m speechless. Firstly, I don’t think Jesus changes his mind in Mt 15.22-28, for needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. and Lord, you know all things. I think he behaves as he does there, as in John 2 in order to draw out a faith he knows is already present.

            But these cases are not alike in one vital matter anyway. For no one would say the woman is sinning when she asks Jesus to heal her daughter. Thus, there is no reason why he shouldn’t heal her. But you say Mary is sinning in John 2.

            there would be little point in intercessory prayer otherwise

            Do you honestly think that when you pray, you change God’s mind?

            For I, the LORD, do not change

            Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. “Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. “But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.

            Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

            And you cannot claim that you inform him of anything for

            Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

            For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

            You say

            Is it not the case that your exegesis of Cana is conditioned by your determination to deny that Mary might sin rather than the obvious meaning of the text?

            Given that I have listed a range of Protestant scholar who refuse your interpretation precisely because of the absurdities it results in (absurdities not about Mary, but about Jesus), isn’t it the other way around:

            Is it not the case that your exegesis of Cana is conditioned by your determination to deny that Mary might sin rather than the obvious meaning of the text?

          • Anton

            My determination that Mary might sin derives from the fact that she is a descendant of Adam. My exegesis of Cana is exactly that rather than eisegesis.

            “Do you honestly think that when you pray, you change God’s mind?”

            Not every time! But it is perfectly possible; why bother praying otherwise? What about Abraham haggling with God over the number of righteous men needed in Sodom for Him to spare it? (Please check exactly what God says in his responses to Abraham in Genesis 18.) When the Bible affirms that God does not change, that refers to his personality; his righteousness and other qualities.

          • Albert

            My determination that Mary might sin derives from the fact that she is a descendant of Adam. My exegesis of Cana is exactly that rather than eisegesis.

            It does not follow that if Mary is a sinner that therefore in any given story she sins. Thus the idea that she sins in John 2 can only come from John 2. But since such a reading makes no sense of the behaviour of Christ, it cannot actually be exegesis.

            But it is perfectly possible

            No it isn’t. God isn’t a kind of big version of ourselves. To change implies some kind of imperfection. Either one lacks a perfection and in changing gains it, or one has a perfection and in changing loses it. But God is perfect. Therefore, God does not change.

            What about Abraham haggling with God over the number of righteous men needed in Sodom for Him to spare it?

            So let’s just be clear: you think there is some goodwill in Abraham that God did not put there? How is that consistent with either the doctrine of creation or salvation?

            “who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things.

            So you place Mary (and yourself now) above God and you give me a Pelagian interpretation of prayer. But it’s the Catholics you accuse of idolatry!

            When the Bible affirms that God does not change, that refers to his personality; his righteousness and other qualities.

            That is certainly true of some passages, but not all. I think the examples I gave are not patient of the interpretation you give. Are you not aware that the idea of the mutability of God is rejected in classical Protestant theology?

          • Anton

            Of course I am aware of that. This nonsense of immutability is due to Greek philosophy in the church. It has been there since the early church kicked over its Jewish roots, and the Reformation by no means rooted it out fully. I made no mention of goodwill in Abraham; I pointed out that Genesis 18 was a perfectly clear example of God changing his mind in response to human pleading. God clearly says that he may do this in “If…” passages such as Jeremiah 18:8 and 2 Chronicles 7:14. Otherwise real relationship with God is impossible.

          • Albert

            The fact that something fits with Greek thought does not mean it has its origins there. I have set out passages of scripture that make it clear God does not change. I know that from time to time, according to modern fads, people end up saying this or that comes from the Greeks. There’s a great list of stuff the Trinity did or the Incarnation or the idea that we have a soul which survives our death. And in each case people will claim they represent a return to scripture, and will say that this or that passage is misinterpreted. I see no reason to think anything other than the normal pattern is happening here – especially as, as usual, you will not in fact engage with the precise passages.

            I made no mention of goodwill in Abraham

            It is logically entailed. If Abraham changes God’s mind, on what basis does he do so? Either he has some knowledge God does not have and God changes his mind on that basis (do you deny omniscince as some nasty Greek rationalism?) or God changes his mind because Abraham has some goodness in his pleading or desire that God (since he is changed by it) did not himself supply. Either way, Abraham is supplying goodness to God that God is not the author of. But that isn’t biblical. Therefore your objection fails.

            I pointed out that Genesis 18 was a perfectly clear example of God changing his mind in response to human pleading.

            Seriously? Surely, the first thing we need to notice is that whenever the Bible speaks anthropomorphically we are not supposed to take it literally. Am I supposed to believe that God has legs because I read that he walks in the Garden of Eden? or that he has an arm a hand or mouth or breath or clothes or footstool? God is a mystery beyond all telling who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. Therefore, we can never ascribe words univocally of God and creatures. To do so is paganism pure and simple, and it results in the absurdity of men changing God.

            God clearly says that he may do this in “If…” passages such as Jeremiah 18:8 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

            Yes, but that does not mean he changes. Neither passage makes any sense if you take it literally:

            If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

            if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

            Does God repent? and of evil? or if he hears, with what does he hear? Does he have ears? If you don’t take these passages literally, but rightly recognize the picture language, how can your point stand?

            Otherwise real relationship with God is impossible.

            Now that is a piece of philosophy crowding out biblical teaching.

          • Anton

            Jeremiah 18:8: If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

            Repent here means simply to change one’s mind – “re” refers to the change, and pensive means thoughtful; I am not, of course, suggesting that God is capable of sin. But it is clear from this verse that He is capable of changing his mind. You use false analogy when you compare that to God’s hand stretching out the heavens (see Isaiah 45) and other analogies of that sort.

            I recognise that in denying that God changes his mind you are defending his omniscience, and I honour you for that. These are serious matters. But I do believe that, in demanding that God cannot change his mind, philosophers have used their own limited powers of reason and ended up contradicting God’s own words. The Bible was written for peasants, not philosophers, and perhaps the latter get lost in its depths. For the Bible itself provides a different and happier resolution to the problem, fully capable of viewing him as a relational being rather than a supersentient piece of stone.

            It is often said that God can see the whole of time laid out before him – what we call past, present and future. This is supposedly why God is able to tell us the future, through his prophets. How to reconcile this with verses in which he says he may change his mind? The philosophers’ answer is that God is immutable: He is not only unchanging in character, but in intent – He only seems to us to change his mind. Christian thinkers as early as Origen have said this (Documents in Early Christian Thought, eds. M. Wiles & M. Santer, 1975, p.10). But that would rule out real interaction with him, and a solution closer to the biblical view comes from the notion of the Trinity. God the Father is above time, which is part of his creation; God the Son is in time – at least during his Incarnation, and presumably before as in Genesis 18. A Bible verse backs up this explanation: in Mark 13:32, Jesus says that only God his Father knows the date of the ‘Day of the Lord’ on which Jesus will return (at least, at the time Jesus spoke).

          • Albert

            You use false analogy when you compare that to God’s hand stretching out the heavens (see Isaiah 45) and other analogies of that sort.

            I really can’t see why. I have given scripture to defend the idea that God does not change, and I cannot see that you have answered that plausibly. Secondly, I have given further reason in that we cannot use language univocally of God and creatures. The interesting thing here is that Protestantism normally, I think presses this Catholic point to quite an extreme. So whereas we allow analogia entis, someone like Barth thinks that’s really the heart of the Catholic disease. But you are going the other way and assuming God is sufficiently like his creatures that his picture language is in fact literal. But if we can use language univocally of God and creatures, that means God is in the same category as his creatures. Isn’t that the very idolatry that the OT in particular is given to help us avoid? And didn’t this whole discussion start with you accusing us of idolatry. But to defend that you have allowed a sinning creature to change God’s mind. Now that is not possible, if we are talking about the maker of heaven and earth.

            I recognise that in denying that God changes his mind you are defending his omniscience, and I honour you for that.

            Thank you, and I do honour that you are defending biblical imagery.

            For the Bible itself provides a different and happier resolution to the problem, fully capable of viewing him as a relational being rather than a supersentient piece of stone.

            You see, I just don’t get this contradiction between the philosophers and the Bible. Of course I think the Bible gives us what human reason cannot give us, but reason itself is capable of knowing God, as St Paul says:

            For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
            Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.

            And since the deliverance of reason, coheres with the teaching of scripture that God cannot change, what is the problem? The problem is that you say the Bible teaches God does change. But we know that the Bible uses picture language for God, and we know that when that happens we must recognize is as non-literal. If so, why do that with some and not other scriptures?

            How to reconcile this with verses in which he says he may change his mind? The philosophers’ answer is that God is immutable: He is not only unchanging in character, but in intent – He only seems to us to change his mind.

            God appears to change to us, but it’s a kind of Cambridge change”, it is our relation to him that is different, not him in himself.

            But that would rule out real interaction with him, and a solution closer to the biblical view comes from the notion of the Trinity.

            This I just don’t get. I believe God is immutable, I have a relation with him. And not just me, but all those great Christians from ancient times through into the modern times – Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin etc. none of them has had the problem you say they have. It’s possible that you can see something that they cannot, but then I think it is more possible that they can see something you cannot.

            in Mark 13:32, Jesus says that only God his Father knows the date of the ‘Day of the Lord’ on which Jesus will return (at least, at the time Jesus spoke)

            That is obviously referring to a human limitation (and even then, I don’t think it does). The Trinity would cease to be the Trinity, if the Son of God in heaven is not as omniscient as God the Father.

          • Anton

            I in turn cannot see that the scriptures you quote to the effect that God does not change necessarily refer to more than His personality. Certainly you have not proved that they must.

            I also agree that this has little to do with the Reformation. It is more to do with Greek and Hebraic mindsets, and both Testaments derive from the latter despite your disparaging earlier comments claiming that its recovery is a passing modern fad, when it is really a return to the original hermeneutic.

            I wish you would start from scripture rather than from an axiom such as “you have allowed a sinning creature to change God’s mind. Now that is not possible”. First, it is possible to have a sinful motivation for asking for something good. Second and more important, the real issue is whether God changes his mind at all. You say he only appears to, and that although identical language is used in the Bible when man changes his mind and when God appears to, these are not the same thing. I don’t agree but, more importantly, neither does God. It is one thing for men under inspiration to write about God’s doings in scripture, but God himself says that he is willing to change his mind in, for instance, Jeremiah 18:8. He says he will “repent”, which means simply “re-think” (pensive means thoughtful). That’s exactly what he did when he delayed the destruction of Nineveh as told in Jonah 3. He say he would destroy it within 40 days but then delayed it because its inhabitants mended their ways. How can you reconcile the specific statements in Jonah with your view that he only appears to change his mind? Above all we have God’s own word that he will rethink. What do you take that to mean?

            Nothing in your comments makes me relinquish my view that God does change his mind, and that the explanation concordant with the scriptures is that we have dealings with the second person of the Trinity who, although he is capable of knowing everything, voluntarily limits his knowledge in regard to the future, just as he subjected himself to the laws of matter when he became man. That makes good sense of Mark 13:32 as well – better, I believe, than your partitioning of Jesus into man who doesn’t know and God who does know.

            If you have, in your corner, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin etc, then, if I am wrong, it should not be difficult for you to consult with them between ’rounds’ here and knock me over.

          • Albert

            I in turn cannot see that the scriptures you quote to the effect that God does not change necessarily refer to more than His personality. Certainly you have not proved that they must.

            Well, given that the passages do in fact say that God does not change – explicitly they say this – I don’t think the burden of proof rests on me. Also, you have allowed that scripture does not always speak literally when speaking of God, so you acknowledge that I am in principle doing nothing you can object to. Moreover, I’m unclear at the moment how you decide when to take the scripture literally. Moreover, I have given reason why we should not take these passages literally, because the transcendence of God means we never use words univocally of God and creatures – to do so is to place God in the pagan category of his creation. For these reasons, I do not think the burden of proof rests on me.

            However, since you seem determined to put it there, let me comment on the Psalm. You say it is only about intent. But there is nothing about intent I think here. Instead, it is a metaphysical contrast between the things God has made and God himself. The heaven do perish by intent, but by nature. Therefore, God is unchanging by nature.

            What this means is that you rejection of scripture here, places your position in a pagan situation – a kind of pantheism or panentheism. A god who is like his creatures.

            disparaging earlier comments claiming that its recovery is a passing modern fad

            I gave a list of other things “biblical” people say are not biblical. I don’t accept those points, and I cannot see that you have made any effort to make your position any more convincing.

            I wish you would start from scripture rather than from an axiom such as “you have allowed a sinning creature to change God’s mind. Now that is not possible”.

            My rejection of the idea that God might change his mind to perform a sinful request is hardly unscriptural.

            You say:

            it is possible to have a sinful motivation for asking for something good.

            But the Bible says:

            If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;

            You go on:

            You say he only appears to, and that although identical language is used in the Bible when man changes his mind and when God appears to, these are not the same thing.

            But you agree that the Bible uses all sorts of identical language for God and man, but you will not take them in the same sense, so you invalidate this argument even as you use it.

            I don’t agree but, more importantly, neither does God.

            You seem very clear about what God is – rather clearer than the Bible says you can be.

            It is one thing for men under inspiration to write about God’s doings in scripture, but God himself says that he is willing to change his mind in, for instance, Jeremiah 18:8.

            So I say Jer. 18.8 is picture and you appeal to Jer. 18.8 as evidence that it is not?

            which means simply “re-think” (pensive means thoughtful)

            That’s interesting – a re-think. Why does God need a rethink? Has he learnt something he did not already know, and therefore, as we do, has to rearrange his thoughts to accommodate this?

            That’s exactly what he did when he delayed the destruction of Nineveh as told in Jonah 3. He say he would destroy it within 40 days but then delayed it because its inhabitants mended their ways. How can you reconcile the specific statements in Jonah with your view that he only appears to change his mind?

            I cannot for the life of me see how this advances your argument. I say such passages are symbolic, and you answer that they can’t be on the strength of those passages. It just doesn’t follow.

            Above all we have God’s own word that he will rethink. What do you take that to mean?

            I take it as being symbolic of our experience of God, just as I take the following as symbolic:

            Hide not thy face from me; Put not thy servant away in anger

            You say,

            voluntarily limits his knowledge in regard to the future, just as he subjected himself to the laws of matter when he became man.

            There is no comparison here, for the fact that Jesus abides by certain laws, does not mean he lacks the power to act differently. Therefore, there is not a limiting of power here, only a choice not to exercise that power. Therefore, if the example tells us anything, it is more that Jesus does not exercise his omniscience. It is this that I take Mark 13.32 to mean. After all, we know explicitly from scripture that Jesus does in fact “know all things”. For which reason, if you read my comment carefully, I did not in fact agree with the partitioning of Jesus into man who doesn’t know and God who does know.

            You say:

            If you have, in your corner, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin etc, then, if I am wrong, it should not be difficult for you to consult with them between ’rounds’ here and knock me over.

            I don’t expect that to happen. It does not matter how strong the arguments or the scriptures, if past experience is anything to go by, you will just say that you don’t have to answer them. So here goes: I have given a large number of arguments in defence of my position here. Will you actually answer all of them?

          • Anton

            I wrote: “if I am wrong, it should not be difficult for you to consult with them between ’rounds’ here and knock me over.” you replied: “I don’t expect that to happen. It does not matter how strong the arguments or the scriptures, if past experience is anything to go by…”

            It is true that the analogy with boxing fails at this point, for here one side can deliver an intellectual knockout blow yet the other can carry on talking regardless. The trouble is that you think that of me, and I (be assured) think it of you. That is why I write for an imagined reasonable reader; and you, presumably, do the same – and we come to a halt when we each think that such a reader would be convinced (even if we each believe the other is like the man in the Monty Python film saying “Come back and fight!” after all his limbs have been hacked off).

            I’ll forget the crotchety little points and cut to the big one: there is a difference between a human writer under divine inspiration saying in scripture that God changes his mind, and God *himself* saying it – as he says he may in Jeremiah 18, and states he did in Jonah 3. If God himself didn’t change his mind but only seemed to, then a man might well put it as you say; but not God himself, or he’d be lying. If you doubt that he says he may or did change his mind, read Jonah and Jeremiah with a decent interlinear. And, even if you don’t like my Trinitarian resolution of this problem, that remains a problem for you.

          • Albert

            It is true that the analogy with boxing fails at this point, for here one side can deliver an intellectual knockout blow yet the other can carry on talking regardless. The trouble is that you think that of me, and I (be assured) think it of you.

            The difference between us is that whereas I go through your posts point by point, you ignore most of my arguments. Presumably, you think they are unworthy of your attention, but anyone with any grasp of the issues would recognize that my points do not typically come from me but from far greater minds. And therefore, it seems hard for you to just dismiss them without attention and proceed as if they are rubbish. All of which may of course open the possibility that it isn’t because you feel them unworthy of your attention that you do not attend to them.

            there is a difference between a human writer under divine inspiration saying in scripture that God changes his mind, and God *himself* saying it – as he says he may in Jeremiah 18, and states he did in Jonah 3

            This distinction simply does not exist. For, excepting out Lord’s words, how else does God speak to human beings except by inspiration? A further problem here is that just because someone speaks does not mean we know the manner of their speaking. Just because God is speaking, it does not mean his words are to be understood univocally rather than symbolically, for example. You don’t cut through the problem this way, you simply run into it. For example:

            “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty.

            Now this is God speaking, but it isn’t literal.

            And, even if you don’t like my Trinitarian resolution of this problem, that remains a problem for you.

            The problem is that I suspect your “Trinitarian resolution” isn’t Trinitarian at all, but tritheistic and probably Socinian. BTW way, I’m not entirely clear what the resolution is.

          • Anton

            Apart from one point my imaginary reader is satisfied. That point is that when a human writer uses the first person as God, he has surely been told the exact words to write down.

          • Albert

            And how, apart from inspiration, does he get these messages? And how do you know what you have said is true? And how does it answer the issue that the question is not “Did God say this?” as “Did God speak univocally?”?

            I am genuinely finding it hard to take you seriously. You must know that, even if you disagree with the points I make, these are serious points discussed by serious Christian thinkers – of all stripes. And yet, you are quite sure that your imaginary reader will immediately see the folly of them, and that therefore you can proceed as if they have been knocked down, when in reality you have not even touched them.

            I’m beginning to think you are troll to be honest.

          • Anton

            No man of faith would dare to use the first person unless God had told him *exactly* what to say. Look at Mosaic Law. The phrase “I am Yahuweh” frequently appears. Moses isn’t God.

            Your view of me is not my problem.

          • Albert

            Two points missing here:

            1. How else, except by inspiration does God speak to his prophets?
            2. Even if God is speaking, how does your argument here show he is speaking univocally?

          • Anton

            If you apologise for your troll comment then I’ll go into it further.

          • Albert

            I think the problem is that you think a statement of justification by faith is a statement of justification by faith alone, and it just isn’t.

          • dannybhoy

            Albert, don’t you think the divisions and schisms started almost from day one of the early Church?

            There were all kinds of disagreements and false teachings. “You gotta be circumcised! You gotta keep the Law! You mustn’t eat non kosher! etc etc.

            It seems to me that it is the Holy Spirit that works in the churches, and where people are hungry and humble enough He blesses and anoints their ministry. When error or complacency creep in He lets that church die and directs the faithful elsewhere. The Holy Spirit breathes life into us and that life is expressed in many different ways. We shouldn’t be surprised or upset when movements die because he will raise up new expressions of that life. Our responsibility is to prayerfully check it out with the Scriptures that it is basically sound.

            As in Acts 5..

            33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honour by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”

            It’s the same principle.

          • Albert

            Albert, don’t you think the divisions and schisms started almost from day one of the early Church?

            Yes, but they were sinful, and clearly if the division entailed a visible break or a break with apostolic teaching and fellowship, then the schism was away from the Church, not within it. The NT does not advocate schism, it deplores it.

            I’m not sure that the Gamaliel principle works within the Church in quite that way. Certainly, we can see if God blesses something, but we can tell in advance that some developments, even if they flourish, are not of God.

          • dannybhoy

            Albert,
            are you seriousy trying to suggest that there have been no schisms within the Roman Catholic Church, no evil doings, no corruptions, no torturings?
            Of course there have been. But no Christian should gloat over these failings deliberate or otherwise. Sufficient that we believe God Himself will deal justly.
            Your last point though I do agree with. In my own little life I have seen things purporting to be of God but which were not. Sometimes we Christians grab hold of verses or promises and take them out of context because we have our own idea of what God wants to happen, and we open purselves up to deception or even downright stupidity..

          • Albert

            are you seriousy trying to suggest that there have been no schisms within the Roman Catholic Church, no evil doings, no corruptions, no torturings?

            This needs clarifying. Schism is different from sin. By sin, an individual may separate themselves from the Church’s communion, until they are restored by repentance. That has clearly happened in the Catholic Church, although the fact that it has is a cause of regret, not an endorsement, still less an example to follow.

            By schism is signified an actual break with the Church. This may happen by heresy (as when a Christian separates himself from the Church’s teaching) or it may happen by ill-discipline ( as when a rogue priest starts his own church). Now in this sense, schism only happens by people dividing from the Church (for the body of Christ cannot be divided), never within it.

            Of course, there are other divisions within the Church (e.g. between Dominicans and Franciscans in matters of philosophy), but these would not entail a visible break, for they maintain the same wider discipline and faith. If that broke, then one or other has broken from the Church. What I am saying is that the Church is one in her faith and discipline by definition. So a division on faith or discipline is necessarily a division from the Church, not within it.

            Now this, I think is the world of the NT as well. There are disagreements and quarrels within the Church, and there are divisions from the Church on grounds of faith or discipline. The Protestant world of people divided on faith and discipline, has nothing of the actually NT Church about it and is plainly repugnant to the expressed wish of our Lord and of his prayer, which of course, does not fail (and thereby establishes the Catholic principle of unity).

          • dannybhoy

            Albert, there has always been disagreements and fallings out and false doctrine etc.
            Remember Simony?
            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14001a.htm

            What I think you are pointing to is that within the Protestant Church there is more fracturing and differences of doctrine because we see the Scriptures as our source of authority, and that lends itself to disagreement because as I think the Explorer pointed out, portions or verses of Scripture can be found to support just about anything!
            If you go the ‘Catholic way’ the problem as Inspector Clouseau might say ‘is solv-ed’.
            You have a central, hierarchical authority whose leader speaks or has spoken, on behalf of God.
            Essentially you diminish the role of Scripture and strengthen the voice of leadership and tradition, so that the faithful are encouraged to look to the Papacy, obey the priests etc and harmony is (mostly) guaranteed.
            Is that fair?
            I hope so, because I have no wish to offend or attack another’s faith.

            I have known nothing else except a non conformist brand of Protestantism; even though my wife and I are currently involved in an Anglican parish church. We are there because that’s where we think our Lord wants us to be. Our clergy although very much Anglicans love the Lord and preach the Gospel, teach discipleship.
            I also think that though there are indeed those fracturings within Protestantism, nevertheless we can find fellowship with other Christians within the Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, URC, Pentecostal, Charismatic traditions.
            It is our belief in our Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and overall Head of the Church that binds us together.
            As long as we are being salt and light in the world and witnessing to the transformative power of the Gospel, then we are being faithful to our calling as believers and disciples.

          • Albert

            What I think you are pointing to is that within the Protestant Church there is more fracturing and differences of doctrine because we see the Scriptures as our source of authority, and that lends itself to disagreement because as I think the Explorer pointed out, portions or verses of Scripture can be found to support just about anything!
            If you go the ‘Catholic way’ the problem as Inspector Clouseau might say ‘is solv-ed’.
            You have a central, hierarchical authority whose leader speaks or has spoken, on behalf of God.
            Essentially you diminish the role of Scripture and strengthen the voice of leadership and tradition, so that the faithful are encouraged to look to the Papacy, obey the priests etc and harmony is (mostly) guaranteed.
            Is that fair?

            No. Protestants are split because they raise their own judgement over the meaning of revelationto the level that is reserved for Christ and exercised by him through the teaching office of his Church. As he himself promises:

            When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.

            Therefore,

            the church of the living God is called the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

            what else can the Church be when Christ has promised:

            And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [Note, I am not focusing on the Petrine claim here, but on the Church Christ founds).

            and

            he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,
            [23] which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.

            But of private judgement, such as causes so much division among Protestants, that same Spirit says:

            our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

            You say,

            I also think that though there are indeed those fracturings within Protestantism, nevertheless we can find fellowship with other Christians within the Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, URC, Pentecostal, Charismatic traditions.
            It is our belief in our Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and overall Head of the Church that binds us together.

            I am afraid I think you are accepting a far more divided sense of unity than is tolerated in the NT.

            As long as we are being salt and light in the world and witnessing to the transformative power of the Gospel, then we are being faithful to our calling as believers and disciples.

            But disunity witnesses against that for For God is not a God of confusion but of peace and Jesus himself prays:

            “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

          • dannybhoy

            Therefore, the church of the living God is called the pillar and bulwark of the truth.
            what else can the Church be when Christ has promised:
            And
            I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [Note, I am not focusing on the Petrine claim here, but on the Church Christ founds).

            I don’t agree with that analysis Albert because I don’t agree that our Lord was referring to Peter, he was referring to Himself, Psalm 118:22>

            “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.[23 This is the Lord’s doing;it is marvellous in our eyes.24 This is the day that the Lord has made;let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
            There is no indication anywhere that Peter was regarded as the chosen apostle, but rather one of the chief leaders..as James and John were.

            And to go from there to building a church structure which crushed opposition, tortured dissidents and forced Jews to convert under pain of death is surely every bit as reprehensible as the Protestant ‘sin’ of disunity.

          • Albert

            I don’t agree with that analysis Albert because I don’t agree that our Lord was referring to Peter

            As I said, I wasn’t referring to the Petrine claims, I was speaking of the Church. /in a sense, Protestants have got too caught up on the Petrine claims of this passage and have failed to notice that the Church (whatever Peter and his successors’ role in it) is far greater than can possibly be found in Protestant ecclesiology.

            And to go from there to building a church structure which crushed opposition, tortured dissidents and forced Jews to convert under pain of death is surely every bit as reprehensible as the Protestant ‘sin’ of disunity.

            Utterly reprehensible, but the issue is not the members’ sins, but the nature of the Church. Will the Church have sinners within it, and leading it? Yes, until the end of time. Can the Church be divided in faith and discipline? No. So, the sins of the Catholics do not stop the Catholic Church being the Church, but the schisms of the Protestants means the Protestants have divided themselves from the Church. This doesn’t mean that there is not great grace among Protestants, only that the grace which is the NT Church is far greater.

          • dannybhoy

            Okay so we’re getting closer here.
            Scary ain’t it!
            So what is the Church? I am happy to call it the Church Universal, whose Head is Christ, and whose energiser is the Holy Spirit.
            I don’t see this Church as a physical tangible entity, but as a spiritual one made out of believers from all over the world, from all generations and denominations and who recognise our Lord as its Head. So whether persecution draws us all closer together (whether we want to be or not..) it is our love for, and obedience to Christ, which unites us.
            I think this side of Heaven our doctrinal differences will not be reconciled. It will be in Heaven where we’ll attend the seminars led by Peter, Paul et al, and get to hear what was really meant..
            Here on earth we should first of all love one another, respect one another and build relationships based on what we can all agree on in our Lord’s teaching.
            Which I would suggest has more to do with us as sinners, saved and being sanctified and being obedient to our calling as saints.

          • Albert

            I don’t see this Church as a physical tangible entity, but as a spiritual one made out of believers from all over the world, from all generations and denominations and who recognise our Lord as its Head.</i.

            The issue, surely, is what does scripture show the Church to be? It is certainly a spiritual entity, but it is also a body. That is, it is a physical reality. And this view is confirmed by all the passages about unity and the sinful danger of disunity.

            it is our love for, and obedience to Christ, which unites us.

            But what is obedience to Christ in this matter? I would quote him to effect of:

            “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me..

            Thus, I don’t see that the Church is somehow external to Christ or our obedience to him. How can it be? It is his body, his bride. I think it is Protestant tradition which has, contrary to the scriptures, resulted in people thinking of the Church as somehow a bit less important than it is.

          • dannybhoy

            But what is obedience to Christ in this matter?
            Obedience to Christ is to want unity, to have a humble and contrite heart, to be always willing to say ‘sorry’ to ask forgiveness, to work at being a peacemaker..
            It is the intent of the heart that God looks at, not just the outward conformity.
            My time in a Christian community (YWAM) was one of the most privileged experiences of my life, and I will always be grateful for it and the friends I made along the way. I do think that Christianity is a community faith and there should be more expressions of Christian communal living.
            But what it all boils down to is wanting God’s will to be done, not our own. For all its messiness and doctrinal divisions, I still believe that the Protestant tradition is valid, that God has brought true revival to this country through the Wesleys and Whitefield, Evan Roberts, not to mention the reformers like Wilberforce and the Earl of Shaftesbury, General Booth, George Mueller, and many many more.

          • Albert

            It is the intent of the heart that God looks at, not just the outward conformity.

            Agreed. But if there is no outward conformity, how can there be inward intent of the heart? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. Outward confirmity reflects inward intent.

            Don’t get me wrong, there are hugely admirable Protestants. I regard Barth as the greatest theologian of the last century. I have huge respect for evangelicalism (I know it probably doesn’t show, because for the most part down here we disagree). I gained hugely from my time in the CofE. I love the BCP (even while I think its doctrine often off the wall). Herbert I love along with a whole load of hymns and tradition. I admire Wesley, I venerable Bonhoffer. But I expect there are Catholics you admire too. Recognizing God has done great things through other Christians does not mean we don’t have to ask also, “But is their tradition, the true one?” I ask that of Protestantism, and the sheer disunity, so profoundly contrary to scripture and the prayer of Jesus, makes me feel the answer is “No” (not that I mean that is the only reason I became a Catholic, but I think even as a teenager, something seemed wrong about it, and missing in a tradition that can result in such division – perhaps it was this that made me ultimately look elsewhere).

            Does that make any sense?

          • dannybhoy

            Albert,
            I’m an evangelical born again Christian. It’s hard enough for my wife and I in the Anglican church. I couldn’t cope with Catholicism!
            I miss the simple church, where the emphasis is on loving one another in practical ways, prayer and bible study and outreach.
            I like this website because it challenges my thinking. None of us has all the answers, but like many of my old YWAM friends I know what I believe church life and witness should be like.
            If you have found peace and a sense of belonging in the Catholic communion, then Halleluia! I’m happy for you brother. I know you love the Lord from your comments, so who am I to say that God hasn’t put you where you can serve Him best?

          • Albert

            Thank you Dannybhoy, and God bless you.

          • Anton

            “the sins of the Catholics do not stop the Catholic Church being the Church, but the schisms of the Protestants means the Protestants have divided themselves from the Church.”

            Tell that to the Eastern Orthodox!

          • Albert

            The Eastern Orthodox would concur entirely, for to deny my statement is to be a donatist. Where they would differ is that they would see the Catholic Church as divided from the true Church, which they take to be their own!

      • The Explorer

        An interesting point. Postmodernism (although it expresses itself in such ridiculously-convoluted language that it’s difficult to be sure) said that truth was what a particular community agreed it to be. A particular community decides to drive on the left or decides that murder is wrong. Another community might decide to drive on the right and decide that murder is right. The individual “If it’s true for me it’s true,” was a corruption of this principle: inevitable once the belief in actual, objective truth is broken.

        An individual armed with a Bible – ignorant of the original language, the history, the original target audience, literary genre etc – who then gets going on something like ‘Revelation’ : ouch! I was reading something about Protestant interpretation which said it should not be left to the individual, but should be the consensus of the particular faith community (Including the biblically-educated within it.) That is not that unlike the principle of the Magisterium.

      • What was the “this” that was revealed? That Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, God the Son come in the flesh.
        It has nothing to do with the idea of a ‘Pope,’ whose very title is blasphemous (Matthew 23:9).

      • len

        Jesus Christ is the Rock not Peter. Even Peter himself identifies Jesus as’ the Rock’ that fact identifies the Roman Church as a false Church.

    • Graham Wood

      Preacher. Fully agree with your comment, and particularly: ” if men hadn’t elevated certain people to positions of power & influence above the rest of the saints, perhaps the whole situation of ordination based on gender would never have arisen”
      The whole system of what we might call institutional Christianity, or ‘churchianity’ as it is sometimes called, with its built in professionalism of a priestly caste, its false clergy/ laity distinction, its elevation of status, the rise of the one-bishop (vicar, pastor, & etc) rule, and its divisive practice of ordination with all its gaudy exhibitionism, all serve to further the massive chasm between the modern church and the simplicity of the New Testament order.
      It is as if modern church leaders have never read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, or, concerning the nature of the church’s gatherings and the function of believers, both male and female, as set out in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and elsewhere, is entirely irrelevant for the call to spiritual life and maturity.

      • dannybhoy

        Well put sir.

  • The Explorer

    We might wish – I know I do – that Scripture was not ambiguous in the places where it is.

    The problem of obscurity is not, of course, confined to the Bible. This from the Qur’an Sura 74:30: “Above it are nineteen.” ???

    This from Milton’s ‘Lycidas’: “But that two-handed engine at the door/Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.” ???

    We might assign obscurity in human texts to human error. But obscurity in the Divine text to Divine error? The only explanation I can think of is that ambiguity keeps us arguing: and argument keeps us focused on the text.

    • From the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.

      The infallible rule for the interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself, and therefore whenever there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold but one), it must be searched by
      [ie. understood in the light of] other passages which speak more clearly.

      The problem is not that the Scriptures are obscure, but that this age does not like their message, and therefore wishes that they were not so clear as they are.

      • The Explorer

        Yes, to interpret the obscure in the light of the clear is a sound principle; but knowing which is which requires biblical training, or at least thorough biblical knowledge.

        I agree that the Bible is not nearly as obscure as theological liberals would like it to be. Liberals tie themselves in knots trying to avoid the plain implications of ‘Leviticus’ 18:22: it applies only to Canaanite temple prostitution etc. Ian McKellan’s solution of ripping the page out of the Gideon Bible if he’s in a hotel room has the virtue of honesty. If you find that particular page missing, you know he’s been there.

        But with the best wiil in the world, obscurity/ambiguity remains: “You are Peter”, the status of Junia, the spirits to whom Christ preached before his resurrection, the meaning of the Millennium…

        • ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15).
          .
          I think that if you consider prayerfully and look hard enough, you will find the correct interpretation of the three problems you mention. My experience is that God did not write the Scriptures to be mysterious. The only text that has me completely foxed is 1 Cor. 15:29. Any help there will be gratefully appreciated.

          • The Explorer

            I have already my understanding of the examples I cited. I wasn’t asking what they meant: I was simply pointing out that they are read in different ways by Christians I respect. (I never worry, for instance, about what the liberals think.)

            I Cor 15:29. Yes, difficult. The Mormons are said to be hot on it. I don’t think it’s a variation of the Purgatory pay/pray to get a loved one to Heaven; in this case, be baptised on behalf of a non-Christian relative in order to ensure relative’s salvation.
            I think Paul is simply citing it as evidence of the growing belief that all will be resurrected (otherwise, why bother to be baptised on their behalf if they’re permanently dead and gone) and saying the practice is not necessary because it is not baptism on which salvation depends. (ie you need faith in Christ; although he doesn’t say so here.)

      • Graham Wood

        Agree with you again! The 1689 Confession is excellent. I would go a little further than saying this age does not like the message of the Scriptures – for it has ever been thus as Paul explains in 1 Cor. 2:11-16.
        But more than that, unlike many liberal and modernist church leaders, as opposed to theological conservatives such as our Baptist brethren of the 17th century, and indeed most of our English and continental Reformers, these believed in the sufficiency of Scripture. Thus 2 Timothy 3: 16 was meaningful and relevant for every aspect of the Christian life, personally and collectively for the church, in a way which appears to have been abandoned by much of the modern church

    • Graham Wood

      Explorer. Scripture ambiguous? I don’t think so. WhilsT the apostle Peter speaks of his fellow apostle Paul’s writings (scripture as recorded through an inspired apostle) as some of them being “hard to be understood”, that is not the same as ambiguity.!
      That would be to imply that God, through the inspired writers of the New Testament, was unable to speak clearly his will for the church.
      But that is not so for scripture itself cannot be imperfect as it reflects the mind and will of God.
      No, it is our partial understanding, and worse, often our built in bias, which makes our grasp of scriptures meaning difficult or apparently ‘ambiguous’.
      Is it not for that reason that the Holy Spirit has been given to each and every believer and to the church collectively in order to progressively grow in our understanding of the mind and will of God? Cf. John 16:13

      • The Explorer

        Note, I did not say Scripture as a whole is ambiguous. My point was the parts of it about which there is disagreement. (Otherwise there would be no argument about the position of women in the Church.)

        I define ambiguity as ‘inexactness’, or ‘open to more than one interpretation’. So, what does “You are Peter,” mean? What does “This present generation will live to see it all” (Matt. 24:34) mean? Is there a future role for the Jews? Who/what are the imprisoned spirits of ‘I Peter’ 3:19 to whom Christ made his proclamation? Why is there disagreement about who/or even what the number 666 represents? If the meaning of the Millennium is unambiguous why are sincere, spirit-filled believers across the opinion spectrum of Amillennialism, Premillenialism, Postmillenilaism and Dispensationalism?

        • Graham Wood

          Yes, point taken. Perhaps a better word may be ‘obscure’?

          Because you or I have not (yet?) the answers to some of these questions does not mean of course that somewhere or someone in the wider church has not had a sufficient measure of spiritual light or discernment on them. But it’s a truism that none of us have a complete handle on the truth.
          But as Paul reminds us “we see through a glass darkly” at best.

          But it’s also true that spiritual light on some of these points is progressive, for that is part of the process of growing and maturing in the things of Christ.
          Would it not be your experience and mine that you ‘see’ certain truths and clarity on certain doctrines more fully now than say, 10 years ago, as god enlightens us through a variety of means, not least others – gifted teachers in the church?

          As an example I often think it is amazing, almost incomprehensible, that the collective medieval church failed to understand and teach the central doctrine of justification by grace, and through faith alone for over 300 years!

          • The Explorer

            Great post! Yes, ‘obscure’ is a better word. And justification is a very good example.