23 December 2010

What did Jesus (not) say about... His mother, Mary? (Full post)

by Dan Phillips
"You know what you lot's problem is? You just don't think enough about My mother."
I've often had two thoughts about Mary:
  1. I dearly hope that her heavenly bliss has not been spoiled by the knowledge of how monstrously men came to pervert her significance and place in relation to her Son. And...
  2. In that view, I've thought that my article on Mary in a Bible dictionary might read, "The mother of Jesus. A pivotal yet minor figure in the New Testament, mentioned by name in only four books."
On the subject of Mary -- as on all other subjects -- the world divides into two kinds of people: those who affirm the binding sufficiency of Biblical revelation, and those who rebel against it. With the latter, their issue is spiritual in origin, and no amount of reasoning or Biblical evidence will suffice. With the former....

My semi-humorous summary above makes a point, but it is scarcely fair to the real woman, who was a truly remarkable individual. Few if any of us (and certainly no men) can do much of a job of imagining ourselves in her sandals. She was clearly a God-fearing young lady, as we shall see, who found a massive weight laid on her small, young shoulders.

We once dwelt on the difference between aged priest Zechariah and young Mary. The trained expert, faced with a word from God that would bring him blessing and cost him nothing, doubted and was judged. The rustic young girl, receiving a word that would also bring blessing but potentially cost her dearly, simply responded "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). For this, her cousin later said, "blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Luke 1:45).


That tells us a great deal about Mary.  Also, when she went to see Elizabeth, Mary burst forth in a song of praise that could be described as a glorious patchwork of quotations from (and allusions to) previous written revelation (Luke 1:46-55). Given that this is presented as a spontaneous outburst of praise, we surmise that Mary had hidden God's word in her heart. This gives us a strong indication as to how she could embrace the angel's word with such believing grace.

Think of it: this is in all likelihood a young teenaged girl. No formal education, no Bible college, no T4G or TGC conferences, no Christian blogging or bookstores. Probably not even a personal copy of the Torah -- just what she heard in synagogue and at home. But Mary received what she heard with such faith and eagerness that it prepared and enabled her for this absolutely and literally unparalleled place in history. It would be churlish at best to denigrate Mary as a believer solely because cultists deify her.

In fact, it is ironic that cultists themselves slander Mary by insinuating that she was in effect an ungodly, faithless wife in standing aloof from her wifely obligations to her husband (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Though any word of Scripture can be twisted to say anything when subjected to alien agendas, we do best to take the text in its most natural meaning, and affirm that Jesus was the first of a number of children (Matthew 1:25; 12:46; 13:55; Luke 2:7; 8:19; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; 1 Corinthians 9:5), sharing the same mother but separated from them by His virginal conception and birth, and His divine nature.

Yet (and all Christians will add "of course") Scripture portrays Mary as a flawed sinner, saved by grace alone just like every other believer. She knew and confessed that she personally needed a Savior (Luke 1:47). When she tried to hint to her adult Son what she thought he should do, she received a respectful reminder of how their relative roles had changed (John 2:4). We must note the grace with which she accepted that word (John 2:5).

Nor was this the only time Jesus put a distance between Himself and His earthly family. One day when He was teaching the Word of God, His earthly family -- who evidently were not numbering themselves among His students at this point -- stood outside the circle of believing pupils, and tried to call Him from His ministry and back to themselves (Matthew 12:48; Mark 3:33). How did Jesus respond? "Family first"? "Mom first"? Hardly:
But he replied to the man who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward 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." (Matthew 12:48-50).
So it is hardly surprising that the rest of Scripture gives very little notice to Mary. The New Testament is primarily about Jesus, not about Mary. She has played her role -- pivotal, yet taking up less space in the inspired text than the patriarchs, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, or even Job. As a devoted Son, in His dying moments Jesus assures Mary's continued care (John 19:25-27). Then she basically vanishes from the text, apart from one last appearance in Acts 1:14, where she has finally taken her place on a level plane with every other Christian, in prayer and worship of her risen Son.

So what would Mary say to us today, were she to speak? Would she bid our attention on her, summon the spotlight from her Son to herself to any degree, try to increase her place in the Christian's worshipful consciousness?

Or would she not rather reiterate what she had already said - "Whatever He tells you, do" (John 2:5)?

To ask the question is to answer it. We best honor Mary not by idolatrously focusing on her person, but by embracing her example of humble, devoted, Biblically-informed, self-disregarding, God-centered faith.

Dan Phillips's signature

44 comments:

Lynda O said...

Excellent article as usual, Dan. Mary's Magnificat is such a great statement of faith in her God, the God she trusted to uphold the promises made to the patriarchs, and the God she looked to for her own salvation. What Mary shows is a model for a good Christian -- as one who was a student of Holy Scripture. Yet like Hannah of 1 Samuel (and the Magnificat has many similarities to Hannah's praise), she had her small part to play and then faded into the background of the Story.

naturgesetz said...

" Scripture portrays Mary as a flawed sinner."

Oh? What sins does it say she committed?

And as you know, those of us who hold to the belief that she was preserved from sin, believe that it was through the redemptive work of her Son. So the fact that she refers to God as her Savior does not prove that she had personally sinned.

Jim Peet said...

Thanks Dan!

I posted over at Sharper Iron: here

naturgesetz said...

BTW, I agree with your last sentence.

Sir Aaron said...

I've honestly never understood The Catholic's obsession with Mary. Their entire discussion of the perpetual virginity of Mary is confusing.

I do appreciate your respect for Mary, certainly she was a hero of the faith. But we should remember a couple of things. First she was probably a child by our standards today (I've heard ranges from 13-15). Faith, IMO, comes a little easier to children. Secondly, despite her outstanding character, her sins were just as dirty as ours. She didn't receive favor because of her good works or meritorious behavior. She received favor the same way we do...through God's gracious election.

Sir Aaron said...

Luke 1:47, Mary acknowledges herself what the Scripture says about every man and woman ever born, save Christ. (Rom 3:23)

NoLongerBlind said...

So, Naturgesetz, you're saying that Mary is an exception to these verses:

(Romans 3:10) as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;"

(Romans 3:22b-24) "For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,"

(1 John 1:10) "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."


If she had never personally sinned, then she would have known that she had no need of a Savior, according to the promises of the Law......

DJP said...

Before this meta tilts off into a re-invention of the wheel, permit me to quote (ahem) the post:

On the subject of Mary -- as on all other subjects -- the world divides into two kinds of people: those who affirm the binding sufficiency of Biblical revelation, and those who rebel against it. With the latter, their issue is spiritual in origin, and no amount of reasoning or Biblical evidence will suffice

And, again, to quote the post:

[Mary] knew and confessed that she personally needed a Savior (Luke 1:47).

Scripture dates God's intervention in Mary's life, in re. Christ, from this then-future event: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Nothing prior is hinted. Scripture saves us from the cultists' ridiculous and endless loop of immaculate conceptions. She is no exception to Romans 3:23 and 5:12.

naturgesetz said...

@ NLB — Yes. Jesus is also an exception, so the verses in question do not apply to absolutely every human who ever lived.

@ DJP — "Hail, full of grace, " not "to become full of grace," "the Lord is with you," not "will be with you." Something has obviously happened prior to the then future event of the Holy Spirit coming upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowing her.

Merry Christmas to all.

DJP said...

The only person who the Bible says to be "full of grace" is the Lord Jesus (John 1:14). Mary received grace as a saved sinner (Luke 1:28 being a passive perfect participle). To load unnecessary nonsense into a single term is to do great and unwarranted violence to Scripture.

I think all are agreed that God incarnate is exceptional. There is no Biblical reason to multiply such exceptions.

Jon said...

Refreshing read Dan. It's nice to read a true biblical response to Mary worship.

@naturgesetz

Did Mary need to be sinless to give birth to Jesus? What about Mary's mother? And then her mother and on down the line?

What's the reason for a virgin birth of Jesus if God can just fill someone with grace to make them sinless from birth?

donsands said...

Good words.

I thought of how our Lord said to His disciples, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

Also Jesus says that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him, or her.

God chose Paul, and he chose Noah, and He chose Mary.
And He chose all of us.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved such nice people like us."

The thing is, the most godly saints think they are the most wretched.

Thanks for the post.

J♥Yce said...

Is it rightly dividing to say that Mary's "favour" in Luke 1:28 is the same as with all believers of Ephesians 1:6? http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5487&t=KJV

And Mary ~ handmaiden...is "slave" in Luke 1:48.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1399&t=KJV

We best honor Mary not by idolatrously focusing on her person, but by embracing her example of humble, devoted, Biblically-informed, self-disregarding, God-centered faith.

Amen.

j.s.kern said...

Dan--A most excellent revisit. Thank you.

naturgesetz—What sins did she commit? Are you serious? Haven't you read any of Paul's epistles?

Jason Engwer said...

naturgesetz,

As Dan said, the issue is how a passage of scripture is most naturally interpreted. We should be concerned with probability, not possibility. The possibility that Mary is an exception to the Biblical passages about general human sinfulness doesn't give us reason to think an exemption for her is probable. You should also consider the other evidence Dan cited, like Mark 3:21-35 and John 2:3-4. I would add Luke 2:48-50. For a discussion of how such passages suggest that Mary sinned, see here. And for documentation of the unbiblical and unhistorical nature of other Catholic Marian beliefs, see here. For a book-length treatment, see Eric Svendsen's Who Is My Mother? (Amityville, New York: Calvary Press, 2001). The church fathers frequently referred to Mary as a sinner, directly or indirectly, and sometimes discussed specific sins they thought she committed. They cited some of the same passages Dan has cited to support their conclusion that Mary was a sinner.

Rachael Starke said...

Wow. So much to ponder in my heart. :)

I really appreciate you calling out the evidence for Mary obviously knowing so much Scripture. It seems like for most churches, the only chapters they expect women to know and obey are Proverbs 31 and Titus 2. It's ironic that I hear more women talk about their desire to be a P31 woman (who is an ideal), rather than a Mary in Luke 1 woman. You call out such an obvious connection between her deep understanding of all of the Bible (as she had it), and her willingness to receive something supremely difficult.

It just makes me wonder what the church would be like if we made a more concerted effort to teach women all of God's Word, not just the same two chapters over and over again. What if we encouraged women to teach their daughters and sons the catechism and systematic theology, as much as we encourage them to teach them bread making and sewing?

Stefan said...

Mary's response to Gabriel really is quite remarkable: "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

Her response is reminiscent of Isaiah ("Here am I!") or Ezekiel (see 3:1-3), but contrast it with some of the worst foot-draggers in the Bible: Moses (who questioned God no fewer than five tiems!), Gideon, Jeremiah, and Jonah (who hopped the first boat out of town).

We don't have angels or God Himself speaking directly to us, but we do have His authoritative, revealed word in Scripture. Left to my own devices, though, I'm far more likely to take Moses' approach, than that of Mary or, say, Ezekiel.

May God grant us the grace to be as obedient to Him in His written word, as (some of) our predecessors were to Him in His spoken word.

DJP said...

It's huge, Stefan. We're too accustomed to the story. Gabriel in effect says "Here's a death warrant, socially if not physically," and Mary says in effect "If that's God's will for me, just show me where to sign."

Amazing young lady.

Stefan said...

Isn't it also interesting that of the three dozen men writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, only one was a Gentile (Luke); and yet, his Gospel is so replete with some of the richest and most beautiful Old Testament themes, imagery, and language.

Robert Warren said...

How horrified this fine woman would be if she knew what goes on in her name! Happily, she does not know.

naturgesetz said...

Jesus and Mary aren't the only exceptions to the apparent universality of what Paul writes. In 1 Corinthians 15:12, Paul says that "in Adam all die," But we also have Genesis 5:24, and 2 Kings 2:11-12, indicating exceptions in the cases of Enoch and Elijah. So the passages that assert that all have sinned can be generalities rather than true universals. "All" doesn't always mean "all."

But we see in Genesis 3:15 that the enmity is not just between the woman's offspring and the serpent, but also between the woman herself and the serpent. (And just as Isaiah 7:14 isn't just about Hezekiah, but also and preeminently about Jesus, so the woman isn't just Eve, but preeminently Mary.) We also see types of Mary in Noah's Ark, which alone escaped the destruction that was the consequence of sin and carried the renewer of humanity; the burning bush which was not consumed, out of which God spoke to Moses; David's unconquerable tower (Song of Songs 4:4); the enclosed garden and sealed fountain (which also point to the perpetual virginity) spoken of in Song of Songs 4:12; the city of Psalm 87, which God loves more than any other, of whom glorious things are said; the temple which the Lord's train filled (Isaiah 6:1). The foregoing are types which Pius IX explicitly cited in his proclamation of the Immaculate Conception.

@ Jon — Well Mary's mother wasn't chosen to give birth to God in his human nature, so the requirement for the mother of God to be sinless would not apply to Mary's mother as well.

The virgin birth was also necessary so that the one born would be both Son of God and Son of Man. The immaculate conception was to assure that his mother would be suitable for her role.

naturgesetz said...

(Previous comment removed and slightly edited to the following.)

@ Jason Engwer — Thanks for the links. As you put it, the passages *suggest* that Mary may have sinned, but IMO, being unaware of the full truth about Jesus and having doubts, especially before his resurrection, is not sin. And if Jesus' response to Mary at Cana shows unhappiness with her because he knows the consequence, namely that the sign would set him on the path to his death, who is sinning: the one who calls the Redeemer to do his work or the one who shrinks from the work? But clearly, Jesus does not sin. Furthermore, he complies with her request. Why would he do what she asked, if the request itself were sinful?

More generally I think what we have here are biblical passages which can be variously interpreted. There are those who think they indicate that Mary sinned. But nowhere is there a passage which says in so many words, "Mary sinned," nor do any of the passages which indicate some tension between Jesus and Mary attribute a specifically sinful act to her. So I will simply say that the passages which are invoked to dispute the dogma of the Immaculate Conception are subject to differing interpretations. Therefore I regard the case against the Immaculate Conception, Dan's assertion that Mary sinned, as unproved.

But I do agree with Dan and all the others who point out how remarkable a woman Mary was to be so willing to submit to God's will for her. "Be it done unto me according to thy word" so aptly parallels, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" and "Not my will but thine be done." In her obedience to God she is certainly an example for all of us.

Mike Riccardi said...

...their issue is spiritual in origin, and no amount of reasoning or Biblical evidence will suffice.

Dan, you've been doing this awhile, huh?

You sure you haven't offered naturgesetz a free copy of your book in exchange for his acting as a confederate to prove your point?

Oh, and, of course: great post.

J♥Yce said...

More generally I think what we have here are biblical passages which can be variously interpreted.

That would be called error...lie...as no Scripture is up for private interpretation of disparagement or extraneous embellishment.

Mary speaks in a vein as did Hannah in the Old Testament. Virtuous women and God fearers, yes ~ alike God's workmanship for His glory not to be shared and in His written Word not to be overshadowed. Next you'll be telling us that all believers must be sinless prior to Christ being born in them.

When reading Luke's(the beloved physician) account of Divine conception in the womb(not medically accepted teaching) it parallels to John 1:13 being likewise not of human orchestration. God's Word is rich. We should be worshipful, obedient...grateful Godward to follow Mary...Paul, Titus, Timothy, Solomon, Hannah, Lydia, Tabitha/Dorcas, etc....only as they followed His steps, giving Him preeminence.

Thanking God for you, Dan, and for sharing so beautifully ~ convicting, challenging, blessing.

Jason Engwer said...

naturgesetz wrote:

"As you put it, the passages *suggest* that Mary may have sinned, but IMO, being unaware of the full truth about Jesus and having doubts, especially before his resurrection, is not sin."

You haven't given us any reason to think doubt wasn't sinful prior to the resurrection. Jesus repeatedly rebukes the Twelve, Israel in general, and others for their lack of faith prior to the resurrection.

And there's more involved in these passages than you're mentioning. In Mark 3:21-35 and other passages, Mary is grouped with Jesus' unbelieving siblings in their opposition to His ministry, and she (along with Jesus' siblings) is contrasted with those who are faithfully following Jesus at the time.

The implication of Luke 2:48 is that Mary was accusing Jesus of mistreating her. When somebody asks you "Why did you treat me that way?", then goes on to say that you caused her to worry, she's most likely suggesting that you've mistreated her.

In John 2, the central issue is Jesus' choice of language in His response to Mary. The best explanation for His choice of that language is that she did something wrong. See my quote from Craig Keener in the article linked above concerning the common usage of the language in question. The fact that Jesus does the miracle doesn't give us reason to think Mary didn't sin. Keener cites the example of John 4:48, where Jesus rebukes another person, yet performs the miracle requested anyway. A person can ask for something that's acceptable, yet do so for a bad reason or in the wrong way. We see that repeatedly in the gospels, and the incident with Mary in John 2 seems to be another example. Why are we supposed to treat the passage involving Mary different than the other passages of a similar nature?

Your position is undermined rather than supported when you cite Enoch and Elijah as exceptions to what Paul wrote about the human condition. We need evidence that an exception is involved in order to conclude that there's an exception. You've given us no reason to think we should make an exception for Mary. The fact that Enoch and Elijah didn't die gives us no reason to assume that Amos, Malachi, and Nicodemus didn't die either. We don't have evidence that the latter didn't die.

Regarding your speculative readings of Genesis 3, Song of Solomon 4, etc., you haven't explained why we should think such passages lead to your conclusions. You're making a lot of assumptions that you haven't argued for.

You write:

"So I will simply say that the passages which are invoked to dispute the dogma of the Immaculate Conception are subject to differing interpretations."

Saying there are "differing interpretations" doesn't tell us how those interpretations relate to each other. If one is more likely than another, then the fact that the less likely interpretation exists doesn't give us reason to think it's one equal footing with the more likely one. There are atheists, Muslims, and other people who disagree with your interpretation of who Jesus was. Do you simply say "there are differing interpretations" and leave it at that? When a liberal Catholic disagrees with your interpretation of a papal document or ecumenical council, do you just say "there are differing interpretations"?

trogdor said...

"You're making a lot of assumptions that you haven't argued for."

Here, let me help. The unstated assumptions necessary to hold this position:

1) Some condemned heretical teacher in Rome with a dorky hat said it
2) Everything that vile heretic says is superior to God's Word
3) No measure is too extreme, illogical, or absurd when it comes to defending this pagan's false teachings against scriptural truth

There you go. Hope that helps!

trogdor said...

Rachael, you're being far too negative. Most churches I know must also expect women to know portions of Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 29:11, and quote them no matter the situation. That's like four passages instead of two.

trogdor said...

The article itself is a great lesson in maintaining proper perspective when fighting a false teaching. The answer to Roman deification of Mary is not to denigrate her, but to return to the Biblical truth. There is no need to overreact to a cult's false teachings by swinging too far the other way. The answer to falsehood is no equal and opposite falsehood, but truth.

The same applies to Peter - Rome's absurdities do not require us to pretend he wasn't one of the most significant apostles. Or the Lord's Supper - as some have noted, we can react so strongly to the pope's blasphemies that we can sound like we believe his supper is the one place Jesus most definitely is not.

This is the way to handle it - submit to scripture's teaching, all of it and no more. Mary certainly had remarkable faith and a unique role in redemptive history. Isn't that enough?

Stefan said...

Wow, this blog has just been burninated (a.k.a. trogdorized).

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

“So what would Mary say to us today…”

I might have an answer. I know two very devout women who never knew each other but had very similar experiences. The first was my Grandmother, who passed away some 20 years ago. She had been raised Roman Catholic, but became Greek Orthodox after she married my Grandfather. She had been raised to revere Mary but wanted to honor God, and was concerned about changing her “religion.” In a dream, Mary appeared to my Grandmother, pointed to a crucifix, and said to her, “Worship Him.”

The second is my wife’s best friend, Patty. She was also raised Catholic, but about seven years ago she was very troubled by her relationship with her husband who was guilty of infidelity. During this troubling time, she went on a pilgrimage to see the Virgin of Medjugorje. While in prayer at the site, Mary appeared to her in a vision. Pointing to Christ, Mary said, “Believe in Him.”

Having grown up in a Protestant tradition myself, I had not given much credence to Catholic related traditions. My study of history, however, has given me the understanding that much of what the Roman Catholic Church has done with religion has been intended to point people in the direction of Jesus Christ. These two experiences suggest that God can use even the most distorted traditions to draw people to Himself through Jesus Christ.

Strong Tower said...

but IMO...So I will simply say that the passages which are invoked to dispute the dogma of the Immaculate Conception are subject to differing interpretations.

...we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The word dogma doesn't mean interpretation. Dogma means established truth, doctrine, not to be disputed. Opinions are not allowed to stand, Scripturally speaking, period. Since you further the thought that it is only IYO, you have invalidated it as doctrine that you have established.

As Jason notes, there is more than just tension. Evidence of the sinfulness of Mary so far outweighs the contrary that it should be evident to anyone who actually reads Scripture. We do not need the kinds of speculative mysticism that you invoke as presupposition to establish the facts. Mary thought her son insane. Beside the blasphemy, which the context demonstrates, her inability to understand the revealed truth about her son, including his own claims about himself, is direct evidence of a mind clouded by the noetic effects of sin establishing the lack of a saving, relational knowledge of God. In other words, faith was not formed in her yet. No doubt the sword did pierce her own heart when she was silenced in her speculations by the resurrection. As noted, she went and hid with the rest of the disciples, fearing the worst, demonstrating she did not believe Jesus any more than any other disciple. This is along with the fact that Jesus made no special room for her and leveled her with the rest of the sinful world.

So it matters not at all what some impious Roman numeral proclaims as dogma. It is false and he is a liar if it doesn't agree with Scripture. Not even Mary was free to hold out IMO's as doctrine. Thank God too, and that she had no authority, or Christ would have been taken away by her family and would never have completed what Mary should have known was the will of the Father, but didn't.

Mary is a fellow believer, and we honor the honor given her just as we do all those graced with a special rememberance in Scripture, e.g. JtB whose prophetic office ranks above Mary's, but she came to faith as we all did- by the free gift that lifted her from death in sin to life and faith and seated us together with Christ in the heavens.

naturgesetz said...

Hurling insults at people with whom you disagree, such as popes, does not prove that they are wrong, nor does misstating your opponents' position, such as by accusing them of worshipping one whom they do not worship, prove that they are wrong in what they do believe.

What all of this proves is that we need the authoritative interpreter of scripture which God has graciously given us, namely the Church, the ground and pillar of truth, with its teaching office located in the body of the successors of the apostles gathered around the successor of Peter.

And trying again to be irenic, let me once more wish all a Merry Christmas and once more second Dan's invitation to honor and imitate Mary's acceptance of and obedience to the Word of God.

donsands said...

"...authoritative interpreter of scripture which God has graciously given us, namely the Church.."

Namely the Holy Spirit. The Word stands on it's own. The Spirit of God is sovereign, not any man.

"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen" _Luther

thomastwitchell said...

What all of this proves is that we need the authoritative interpreter of scripture which God has graciously given us

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

Don't forget what Dan also said: On the subject of Mary -- as on all other subjects -- the world divides into two kinds of people: those who affirm the binding sufficiency of Biblical revelation, and those who rebel against it. With the latter, their issue is spiritual in origin, and no amount of reasoning or Biblical evidence will suffice.

We have a final interpreter. Yours die and with them, so also the opinions they offer. Our need of the church is to reinforce in one another what has been finally delivered to us that which is without doubt and in no need of interpretation. Again, the fact that you look outside Scripture and the testimony of the Spirit of the clear revelation confirms just what Dan is saying. Mary deserves nothing more, nothing less, than the Scripture reveals about her. The error of Rome is going beyond what is written. As Scripture reveals, they have nothing more than what we have been given. And we have nothing except that which we have received from God. That is, what has been freely given to all believers, the mind of Christ, is so that we individually understand, know and believe as true. We do not believe because another knows for us. We know him in whom we have believed.

naturgesetz said...

"'But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.'"

Just so. As other commenters have pointed out, scripture is not a matter of private interpretation. It is in the Church that the Holy Spirit does his work. So it will not do to try to oppose the Holy Spirit to the Church.

BTW, donsands, thanks for that fascinating quote from Luther in which he proclaimed his belief that there were two sources from which he came to know truth: "the testimony of the Scriptures" and "clear reason." Wow!

TAR said...

grOne of my favorite apologetic topics


Thanks

RN

naturgesetz said...

@ Dan — If only you hadn't felt the need to include the words "flawed sinner," and if only I hadn't felt the need to challenge those two words, your beautiful tribute to Mary might have achieved its originally intended effect of providing a fine meditation on the blessed mother of Jesus as a model for Christians. I'm sorry for the part my combativeness played in obscuring the heart of your message.

If you post it again, I won't get in the way of your main message.

Strong Tower said...

It is in the Church that the Holy Spirit does his work.

Not so. It is in individuals.

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you...

do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God...

Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him...

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual...

no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit...

And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.


It is the Spirit, not the church, who testifies to the truth.

Beside the fact that the RCC so often contradicts itself, the Holy Spirit always works through individuals.

Jesus' point and then Paul, John, Peter, following, is that each person is personally informed by God dwelling in them. Even Jesus tempered his words to Peter, informing him that it was not man who revealed the truth to anyone, but the Father. And Jesus makes it clear that the Father's word, and Jesus spoke only what the Father spoke, is directly communicated to the individual by the Spirit.

I said that there was no private interpretation, excluding even the RCC, or any church, or any preacher, or prophet. That is what Peter said. The men spoke as they were carried along by the Spirit. And since Paul relates what Jesus did, that it is the Spirit, and not men who interpret spiritual things to the spiritual, anyone, other than the Holy Spirit interpreting the Word of God, is an invalid source.

That said, what the Scripture plainly says to all men, even those devoid of the Spirit, is clear. It is there that anyone who actually reads the Scripture will see plainly that Mary was a sinner. It does not take interpretation by any except itself. Now, as Dan said, you will not accept the clear teaching, not because the teaching is unclear and in need of an interpreter, but because of rebellion, you look to the RCC, instead of to God, to enlighten you.

Strong Tower said...
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donsands said...

"BTW, donsands, thanks for that fascinating quote from Luther..."-naturg

Your welcome.

Have a blessed Christmas in His truth and Spirit.

Susan said...
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Susan said...

1. Dan said: In fact, it is ironic that cultists themselves slander Mary by insinuating that she was in effect an ungodly, faithless wife in standing aloof from her wifely obligations to her husband (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

That makes so much sense, DJP, and you made it so easy to understand! That WOULD be a specific sin that she committed, wouldn't it? But then the counter-argument [which I do not prescribe to but am throwing out nonetheless] could be that Joseph consented to such arrangement because he recognized her special role in redemptive history. But wait, might not that lead him to sin, because he was a man...? Nevermind. :)


2. Rachael said: It just makes me wonder what the church would be like if we made a more concerted effort to teach women all of God's Word, not just the same two chapters over and over again. What if we encouraged women to teach their daughters and sons the catechism and systematic theology, as much as we encourage them to teach them bread making and sewing?

Rachael, I guess Aquila's wife Priscilla and Timothy's mother Eunice would be examples of women who strove after the whole counsel of God. There is indeed something missing when the focus is only on the Prov. 31 and Titus 2 women (although they are, as you say, ideals). After all, the Lord made man--male AND female he created them. His whole counsel is for all man to read and understand. :)

3. Trogdor said: Most churches I know must also expect women to know portions of Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 29:11 and quote them no matter the situation. That's like four passages instead of two.

Trogdor, you're too much. :)

DJP said...

On 12/23 at 11:12, I said: The only person who the Bible says to be "full of grace" is the Lord Jesus (John 1:14). Mary received grace as a saved sinner (Luke 1:28 being a passive perfect participle).

The second statement is accurate and true, as the attempts to subvert it underscored. Biblical indications otherwise, direct or legitimately inferable, stand at ZERO.

The first, however, is inaccurate, and I thank reader Duane Wissel for pointing that out to me. Stephen is said to be "full of grace" by Luke in Acts 6:8. However, whereas John follows up on 1:14 by saying "and from His fullness have we all received" (v. 16), Luke makes no such inference about Stephen. He is no more an object of worship than was (or is) Mary, being a flawed and saved sinner just as exactly as she was.