Aim at Mary, Hit Jesus

Virgin Mary and Jesus, from the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, Axum, Ethiopia.
Virgin Mary and Jesus, from the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion (Axum, Ethiopia)

There’s a phenomenon that I refer to as “aiming for Mary and hitting Jesus.” It refers to a whole class of Protestant anti-Marian arguments that, if true, would also deny the Divinity or sinlessness of Christ. A good question to ask is, “would this argument against Mary also be an argument against Jesus?” It turns out, some of the most popular arguments against Mary fail this test.

Example 1: “All Have Sinned”

For example, Romans 3:23-24 says that “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which in Christ Jesus.” In context, Paul is referring to the need of both the Jews and Gentiles for justification through faith. But taking his words out of context, and applying them to every individual human, this is a “proof” that Mary must have sinned. After all, “all” means “all.”

Let’s take this argument seriously. Christ is also fully human, so this is just as good a “proof” that He must have sinned, fell short of the glory of God, and had to be redeemed… by Himself. After all, “all” means “all.” That’s heretical claptrap, of course. We’ve aimed at Mary but hit Jesus.

Example 2: “No One Greater than John the Baptist”

Another example is Matthew 11:11. Like Romans 3:23, it’s a single line of Scripture stripped of context. This time, it’s Jesus’ words that “among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist.” This is treated as a one-verse smoking gun. John the Baptist is a sinner – there’s no debate on that point – and if Mary’s born of women, she cannot be greater than John the Baptist, and therefore, must be a sinner.

Again, take the argument seriously. If Jesus is literally saying that no one born of woman is greater than John the Baptist, that would mean that Jesus Himself isn’t greater than John the Baptist. This, in turn, would mean that Jesus must be a sinner, just as much as it would prove that Mary must be. After all, Christ is one of those “born of women” (or more precisely, born of Woman), as Galatians 4:4-5 say: “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Of course, that’s more heretical claptrap, and John the Baptist will be the first to say so: “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me’” (John 1:15); “I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:26-27); “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), etc. And Jesus also says as much in John 5:33-36. So once more, what begins as an anti-Marian argument ends up being a denial of orthodox Christology. Aim at Mary, hit Jesus.

Charles-Antoine Bridan, Condemnation of Nestorius at the Council of Ephesus in 431 (1787)
Charles-Antoine Bridan, Condemnation of Nestorius at the Council of Ephesus in 431 (1787)

Example 3: God-Bearer? or Christ-Bearer?

These “aim at Mary, hit Jesus” arguments are nothing new. Indeed, they date back more than fifteen hundred years. The fifth century heretic Nestorius refused to call Mary “Mother of God” (Theotokos, “God-bearer”) referring to her instead as “Mother of Christ” (Christokos, “Christ-bearer”). His argument was that Mary was the origin of Christ’s sacred Humanity, but not His Divinity, and that God-bearer would seem to elevate her to Divine status.

This argument runs counter to the Scriptural evidence. Elizabeth refers to Mary as “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43), using a divine title for Mary’s Son. But this distinction between Christ-bearer and God-bearer also promotes a bad Christology. After all, if Mary is the Mother of Christ, but not Mother of God, then Christ is not God. So what appears as an argument against Mary results of the truth that there is one Person who dwelt within the womb of Mary, the God-Man Jesus Christ. The Church responded to this by holding an Ecumenical Council in Ephesus, where Mary spent her last days with the Apostle John. There, at the First Council of Ephesus in 431, Nestorious’ heresies were definitively condemned. The early Church saw what so many of us miss today: that these fights about Mary aren’t really about Mary at all, but about Christ.

Three Take-Away Points

Why does this keep happening? Why do these arguments against Mary so frequently turn out to be arguments against Christ? I would suggest three points: one exegetical, and two theological.

  1. Exegetically, we need to read Scripture in context. A lot of Protestant apologetics is built upon proof-texting: taking a phrase or partial sentence (“all have sinned,” “none greater than John the Baptist,” “one Mediator between God and Man,” “call no man Father,” “the sheep hear My voice,” etc.), and stripping it of its Scriptural context. Watch out for instances in which a verse is applied to a topic that the passage doesn’t even address, because that’s a good sign that the passage is being abused.

    In the case of Romans 3:28, context would have told us that Paul is speaking about how the Jews and Gentiles responded to the revelation given to each, and the our common need for justification by faith. Paul wasn’t trying to make a point about the sinfulness or sinlessness of Mary (or Jesus) at all. In Matthew 11:11, the quotation is stripped of the second half of the verse. What Christ actually says is that “among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Again, we see that Christ is saying something different from what Protestants are trying to make Him say. In context, He is speaking about the Old and New Covenant, not about Mary’s inferiority to John.

    This also means reading Scripture in its cultural context. For example, in Matthew 11:11, Jesus is using classically-Semitic hyperbole in speaking about John the Baptist. These hyperbolic expressions are frequently used in Hebrew, but modern literalists tend to think that such figures of speech (including exaggerations) are equivalent to lying. We need to learn to approach Scripture on Scripture’s terms, and let the inspired text speak for itself.
  2. Mary’s life is referential. 100% of the reason that we Catholics care about Mary is that we care about Jesus. Protestants tend to be skeptical of this claim, but these attacks on Mary bear it out. When you tug on the Marian threads, you start to unravel the whole Christian sweater.
  3. Satan hates Mary. The curse on the serpent put “enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:15). The “woman” at war with Satan is Mary, the woman that both Jesus Christ and St. Paul refer to exclusively as “Woman” (John 2:4; 19:26; Galatians 4:4). And in Revelation 12, we see the Mother of God enthroned in Heaven (Revelation 12:1-3), miraculously protected from the wiles of the devil. The chapter concludes by saying that “the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (Rev. 12:17).

So both positively or negatively, Mary matters because of her significance to Christ. Catholics love Mary because we love Jesus, and Satan hates Mary because he hates Jesus. By extension, he hates all faithful Christians for this same reason: we’re depicted in Scripture as her children (Rev. 12:17; John 19:27) . It’s hardly a surprise, then, that he should seek to separate us from our Mother, or to separate Mary from her Divine Son. That’s the deepest reason, spiritually, why attacks on Mary end up hitting Jesus.

45 Comments

  1. I think there is some very good exegesis in this article, which certainly counters the Scriptures Protestants bring up to debate Catholics on the Mary issue.

    However, I am very concerned that passages such as Mark 3:34-35 and John 12:4 are not interpreted in line with how the early Church viewed those same Scriptures, due to modern views of Mary which are simply not found in the ancient record.

    For example, in the above article we see it taken for granted that the woman of Rev 12 is Mary, the Queen of Heaven I suppose. However, this interpretation would ignore how the Church has historically interpreted that chapter for at least 1300 years.

    Hippolytus in his Treatise on Christ and the Antichrist views the woman as the Church (Chapter 60). So does Methodius (Banquet of the Ten Vigins, Thekla, Chapter 5)

    In the middle ages St. Bede viewed the woman of Rev 12:17 as the Church (Letter of Beda to Eusebius, Chapter 12). Further, Aquinas viewed the woman likewise as the Church shown by his citation of Rev 12:6 in Question 77, Article 2 of Book III of Summa Theologica.

    Ultimately, this whole issue of Mary becomes a lot of rhetoric, but very little Scripture or tradition, because both are silent on the issue. Simply put, I personally not prefer to believe something that would at least seem to contradict Scripture and there is no traditional support for hundreds (or in this case, over 1,000 years.) If Christians can be saved for so long without the specific kind of Marian devotion that exists today, it begs the question as to why we have it now. Of course, it is because the Catholic Church teaches it now. However, did the Church teach it back then. Well, supposedly…the Scripture or early tradition won’t say so, but we need to accept that it is so anyway.

    Just offering my Protestant coutner-point. I appreciate the opportunity to comment here, and may soon lose it when I start my new job 🙁

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. Isaac of Stella (+1170s) has a commentary on the Scriptures that deal with this very point. I’ll let him do the talking:

      “In the inspired Scriptures, what is said in a universal sense of the virgin mother, the Church, is understood in an individual sense of the Virgin Mary, and what is said in a particular sense of the virgin mother Mary is rightly understood in a general sense of the virgin mother, the Church. When either is spoken of, the meaning can be understood of both, almost without qualification.”

      So, you’re right that the early Church interpreted the scriptural imagery as pertaining to the Church itself, but this does not preclude that it also applies to Mary. Indeed, this is the richness of the biblical imagery and typology. Mary is a type of the Church.

      Here’s the full selection, in case you’re interested: https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/335/Mary_and_the_Church__Isaac_of_Stella.html

      God’s blessings

      1. Stephen’s right. If you want someone earlier than Isaac of Stella, Ambrose says the same thing back in the fourth century:

        “Well [does the Gospel say]: married but a virgin; because she is the type of the Church, which is also married but remains immaculate. The Virgin [Church] conceived us by the Holy Spirit and, as a virgin, gave birth to us without pain. And perhaps this is why holy Mary, married to one man[Joseph], is made fruitful by another [the Holy Spirit], to show that the individual churches are filled with the Spirit and with grace, even as they are united to the person of a temporal priest.”

        1. That actually does not show that the early Church thought Rev 12 was about Mary and the Church, it only shows that in a different context the two were conflated in a sense. With Ambrose, he speaks of a possible (“perhaps”) interpretation of understanding the virgin birth of Christ as prefiguring something else. Of course, if we understand Ambrose’s allegorical view of the Scripture, such a leap makes sense. However, it still does not relate to Rev 12.

          As for the 12th century interpretation of Mary and the Church being one, this may be been his interpretation, but as far as I know not one that Aquinas endorses, and even so, applied to Rev 12.

          Let’s be honest with ourselves. We cannot take a mention of Mary and the Church have some sort of relation to one another as an endorsement that whenever we see the Church in a Scriptural interpretation, that we can throw Mary in with it. For example, we have Eph 5:31-32. Obviously the Church at large is here, to conflate it with Mary would be weird to say the least.

          So, what I have shown is that in the article here Rev 12 has been interpreted out of step with how it has been historically interpreted for 1200 year. A few scattered mentions of the conflation of Mary and the Church are not sufficient to read back into the specific exegesis of the men I quoted an interpretation that includes Mary, even though they failed to mention her. If we were to do this, then we would be forced to do the same with every exegesis of the word “Church” in the New Testament ever offered by an ECF or early interpreter. Of course, that would be absurd. If it is absurd in one case, then it is an absurd principle to apply to any case.

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. Craig Truglia says:
            May 6, 2015 at 11:53 am
            That actually does not show that the early Church thought Rev 12 was about Mary and the Church, it only shows that in a different context the two were conflated in a sense. With Ambrose, he speaks of a possible (“perhaps”) interpretation of understanding the virgin birth of Christ as prefiguring something else. Of course, if we understand Ambrose’s allegorical view of the Scripture, such a leap makes sense. However, it still does not relate to Rev 12.

            Again, you don’t understand Christian Culture established by Jesus Christ. Your focus is Scripture. As though, when Jesus was expecting us to look for and learn His Doctrines in Scripture alone. But Scripture itself tells you that Christians seek knowledge of the faith from their rulers in the faith:

            Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

            Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

            So, you assume that Ambrose would feel compelled to cite a bible verse when teaching the Word of God. But that isn’t the way that the majority of Early Christian writers wrote. You claim to read the Early Church Fathers. Notice how they rarely mention Scripture. They mostly mention from whom they learned a certain doctrine and trace it back through Tradition to the Apostles.

            As for the 12th century interpretation of Mary and the Church being one, this may be been his interpretation, but as far as I know not one that Aquinas endorses, and even so, applied to Rev 12.

            You would be wrong:
            Question 29. The espousals of the Mother of God

            Should Christ have been born of an espoused virgin?
            I answer that, ….It was also fitting ….Fourthly, because by this the universal Church is typified, which is a virgin and yet is espoused to one Man, Christ, as Augustine says (De Sanct. Virg. xii).

            What did St. Augustine say?

            Of Holy Virginity (St. Augustine)
            2. This we have undertaken in our present discourse: may Christ help us, the Son of a virgin, and the Spouse of virgins, born after the flesh of a virgin womb, and wedded after the Spirit in virgin marriage. Whereas, therefore, the whole Church itself is a virgin espoused unto one Husband Christ, as the Apostle says, of how great honor are its members worthy, who guard this even in the flesh itself, which the whole Church guards in the faith? Which imitates the mother of her husband, and her Lord. For the Church also is both a mother and a virgin. For whose virgin purity consult we for, if she is not a virgin? Or whose children address we, if she is not a mother? Mary bare the Head of This Body after the flesh, the Church bears the members of that Body after the Spirit. In both virginity hinders not fruitfulness: in both fruitfulness takes not away virginity. Wherefore, whereas the whole Church is holy both in body and spirit, and yet the whole is not virgin in body but in spirit; how much more holy is it in these members, wherein it is virgin both in body and spirit?

            ,b>Let’s be honest with ourselves. We cannot take a mention of Mary and the Church have some sort of relation to one another as an endorsement that whenever we see the Church in a Scriptural interpretation, that we can throw Mary in with it. For example, we have Eph 5:31-32. Obviously the Church at large is here, to conflate it with Mary would be weird to say the least.

            That’s a straw man argument. That is not what we are doing. We acknowledge the foreshadowings and typologies of many things and people in our Faith. The Bible itself is a type of Christ. It is the Word of God. Yet, we don’t say that the Bible is Christ everytime the Bible is mentioned. Nor do we worship the Bible as we do Christ.

            So, what I have shown is that in the article here Rev 12 has been interpreted out of step with how it has been historically interpreted for 1200 year.

            On the contrary, what you have merely done is to interpret the Word of God in post 1500, post Protestant revolution terms. Prior to that, everyone understood the significance of the typology of Mary and the Church.

            A few scattered mentions of the conflation of Mary and the Church are not sufficient to read back into the specific exegesis of the men I quoted an interpretation that includes Mary, even though they failed to mention her. If we were to do this, then we would be forced to do the same with every exegesis of the word “Church” in the New Testament ever offered by an ECF or early interpreter.

            We read everything in context. You are repeating your straw man argument in order to justify what you believe. Essentially, making an excuse in order to avoid considering the question in detail.

            Of course, that would be absurd. If it is absurd in one case, then it is an absurd principle to apply to any case.

            Wrong. It is absurd in certain cases. But it is perfectly legitimate in others. Jesus Christ is not a written word. Jesus Christ is not a book. That is absurd. But the Bible is the Word of God and thus a type of Christ.

            There are many other typologies taught, even in Scripture, which if read with your spirit of contrariness, would all sound absurd. But if taken in the Spirit of God, the Spirit in which they are intended, they make perfect sense:

            1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

            God bless,
            Craig

            You too.

    2. Craig,

      Your comment implies that you believe Marian devotion to be a relatively recent development. But were you aware that one of the earliest Christian prayers outside of the New Testament itself is the Sub tuum praesidium, an invocation to Mary for her assistance and protection? Look it up. There’s a relatively accurate article on the prayer in Wikipedia.

      The oldest known manuscript of the prayer dates to A.D. 250, but even that copy is suggestive of the fact that it was around for a long time before that date.

      Recent development? Invocations (prayers) to Mary date back almost to apostolic times.

      1. I’m aware of the prayer, but the dating is in doubt. There are claims that it is from the third century based upon “handwriting evidence” but there is no real solid reason to believe that it is at least from the fourth and fifth centuries. The prayer is otherwise not very explicit, it is quite short, and cannot be used as evidence of a very developed view of Marian dogma.

        1. You’ll deny anything Catholic and Marion, out of hand, Craig. Has it ever occurred to you that either of those dates makes it a highly developed theology at a very early point in Church history?

    3. Craig,

      I’ve really enjoyed our interactions on these articles, and I hope you’ll be sure to swing by as time permits once you start the new job (congratulations, by the way!). Let me again voice my respect for your humility, this time in recognizing your own limitations on ecclesiology.

      Having said that, can I follow up on this question of ecclesiology? Particularly if it’s an area that you’re rusty on, that strikes me as a reason to say more about it. Four major points: (A) Protestantism is not the Church Christ founded, nor the religion to which Christ is calling us; (B) Catholicism is; (C) we can account for the apparent differences between the Church today and yesterday, and (D) therefore, we can trust the Catholic Church as teacher.

      (A) Earlier in this thread, you put forward the standard that we should reject anything not found in the first 500 years of Christianity. I’d tweak that standard a bit (more on that later), but for now, consider the following:
      1) Everyone in the early Church believed in baptismal regeneration.
      2) Nobody in the early Church believed in forensic justification. McGrath concedes that the “Reformation understanding of the nature of justification – as opposed to its mode – must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum”of the sixteenth century. That’s a big admission.
      3) Everyone in the early Church believed in the Real Presence. And I don’t mean the sort of vague “spiritual presence” that Calvinists call the Real Presence. I mean that the early Christians believed, without exception, that the bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
      4) Related to #3, there was a universal belief in the New Testament ordained priesthood.
      5) Nobody in the early Church used the 66-book Protestant canon. Even the two people who thought we ought to use that canon (Jerome and Rufinus) didn’t use that canon.
      6) Everyone in the early Church believed that the hierarchy is called by the Church. That is, nobody makes themselves a bishop or priest, nobody starts their own church, etc.

      I go into some of those points in greater length here. But in any case, by your standard, we need to reject these core elements of Protestantism.

      To think about it another way, a Reformed pastor who preached these six teachings would almost certainly be shown the door. At least in certain Reformed communities, the result for proclaiming such beliefs would be excommunication. Conversely, if one were to take a time machine and go back to the early Church, and start proclaiming the ecclessiology and sacramental theology of Protestantism, it would surely lead to excommunication. After all, people were excommunicated for less.

      So on a fundamental level, the church proclaimed by Protestant Christianity, and the Church proclaimed (and experienced) in the early Church just can’t be harmonized. Either Protestantism is false or the first thousand years of Christianity are.

    4. (B) We need to take the question of “Church” seriously. Not just whether this or that Catholic doctrine appears to be correct, but whether Christ actually did establish the Church. He presents this question as central. His opening words in the Gospel of Mark are “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Our fidelity to the King should draw us into His Kingdom.

      And that Kingdom is His Church. Christ established a Church, and called for all of us to be one in it: a single united flock (John 10:16), a Church as united as Christ is to the Father (John 17:20-23), etc. This is His Body, and it’s for this Church that He died (Ephesians 5:25-27). The Church Fathers (most famously, St. Cyprian) go so far as to say that outside this Church, there is no salvation: extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

      The first thing we need to ask: are we dealing with a visible or purely-invisible Church? Luther claimed it was the invisible collection of all the saved, while Calvin claimed that Scripture speaks of Church in two distinct senses (a visible Church and an invisible Church), but Scripture doesn’t take either of these views. The Bible unwaveringly speaks of the Church as visible: as a field containing good and bad seed, as a net containing good fish and bad (Matthew 13 contains several such images), and so forth. Christ says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matt. 5:14). The Church is given the power of binding and loosing, empowered to excommunicate the unrepentant (Matt. 18:17-18). Even Calvin acknowledged that extra ecclesiam nulla salus was true of the visible Church.

      So Christ established a visible Church, calling all of His followers to be part of it, and outside of which there is no salvation (in affirming this, we’ll leave aside the fate of those who are innocently unaware of Christ’s commandments; cf. John 21:21-22; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13). So which visible Church is it? After all, if Christ founded the Catholic Church, we should all be Catholic. If He didn’t, which visible Church did He found?

      Both Scripture and the testimony of the Fathers points to it being the Roman Catholic Church. We see this from the singular role that Peter has in the governance of the Church from the very beginning, and in the history of the Ecumenical Councils (for example, the early  would-be Council that was rejected by the pope has gone down in history as an illegitimate “robber Council”). And again, if not the Catholic Church, who? You’ve already affirmed that the Catholic Church is right, and the Orthodox Church wrong, about the Filioque. (You can’t affirm a “Branch Theory,” in which Christ’s Church is just sort of bits and pieces of all the churches without subsisting in any one… that sort of view is completely foreign to all the Fathers).

    5. (C) Before going any further, I had better add a few caveats to your otherwise excellent Patristic standard, in order to allow for legitimate doctrinal development. This is needed for two reasons. First, because sometimes the doctrinal implications are only slowly unfurled: the Trinitarian views of the Fathers become clearer and more precise over time, the canon of the 73 books of Sacred Scripture was only gradually agreed upon, etc. Second, because there are sometimes new challenges, like modern bioethical questions. But in both of these cases, it’s an application of the same faith that she’s always believed: that since we’ve always held X, then Y logically follows, etc.

      I would also distinguish doctrinal development from from liturgical and spiritual development. When you talk about changes in the way that Baptism was celebrated, or the specificity of particular prayers to Saints being offered, you’re dealing with things that aren’t themselves doctrines, even though they’re obviously related. And, excepting to the extent to which they’re Divinely-established (like the Our Father or the Trinitarian invocation in Baptism) these elements can obviously change. Sometimes, these changes are for the better, other times for the worse. But the faith doesn’t hang upon the Church always eating honey after Baptism. That’s a small-t liturgical tradition, not an Apostolic teaching (big-T Tradition). So the fact that the Church’s liturgical praxis has undergone both development and alteration doesn’t tell us much about her doctrinal development. They’re just separate topics.

      These distinctions are critical. Without them, you’d be left with an unsolvable problem. All Christian Churches and denominations have liturgical and spiritual practices that look different (at least a little) from various points in history. More importantly, we all believe things that weren’t universally consented to by the Fathers. Protestantism holds to positions that were universally rejected by the Fathers. Catholicism and Orthodox hold to positions that were “spoken against,” accepted by some, and rejected by some of the Fathers.

    6. (D)So how do we know when something is a genuine doctrinal development of something the Church has always believed, or when it’s the introduction of a heretical novelty?

      The answer can’t only be “go with your own reading of Scripture.” It was their own reading of the Mosaic Law that lead to the Judaizers’ heresy (Acts 15:1). Scriptural reading and exegesis are vital, but no major theological disputes have ever been definitively settled this way. Nor can it be solely through reading the Fathers. It’s wonderful that you’re well-read on the Fathers, but it’s not a prerequisite for orthodoxy or salvation. Rather, the answer has consistently come from listening to the Church, particularly in her Councils.

      Perhaps needless to say, Christ wouldn’t call us to be part of a Church that was going to fall into heresy or apostasy. So He sends His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). It’s with that assurance that the early Church can dogmatically decide questions with the authority of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28), and it’s how the Church was able to definitively settle the major disputes of Christian history: the Trinity, the Christological controversies, the question of Mary as Theotokos, the condemnation of iconoclasm, etc.

      At this point, we are carried down from the early Church down to the present, since that authority didn’t expire (John 14:16; Matthew 28:20). The Church still has the power to settle doctrinal disputes, and her condemnation of Protestantism at Trent is every bit as valid as her condemnation of Nestorianism at Ephesus. Her proclamation of papal infallibility at Vatican I is every bit as trustworthy as her proclamation of the Trinity at Nicaea I.

      So the questions you’ve been asking (is the Church right or wrong in teaching X?) are good, but they should be leading you to ask a bigger and better question: is the Church the infallible, indestructible Church founded by Christ? If the answer is no, where is that infallible Church? And how do we know that we can trust the Trinitarian and other dogmatic definitions? On the other hand, if the answer to this big question is yes, you’ve got your answers to all of the smaller questions.

      Even if my unaided logic would suggest X, or I would read Scripture as saying Y, or the Fathers as saying Z, I have the confidence of faith that if the Church says it’s Q, it’s Q. It’s the Church, not me or you individually, who has the ongoing protection of the Holy Spirit in this realm.

      One final point as you continue along this journey. As I mentioned above, the universal belief of the early Church is that the bread and wine become, at the priest’s blessing, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. A friend of mine came to recognize this, and to believe in the Eucharist, early on in her process of converting to Catholicism. She later described it as a “magnet” that helped her get through some of her other objections: all that she sacrificed in converting was a small price to pay for being to receive Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. So I’d urge you to open yourself up to that. Spend time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray through these things in Eucharistic adoration. And then just follow wherever He leads.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      P.S. I separated my four points into separate comments to make for clearer discussion if you’d like to follow up on one or another particular point. I’m obviously more than happy to engage you on any or all of what I’ve just said, but I will also respect if you choose not to. But either way, I thought that these points were worth making before we closed out the conversation altogether.

    7. Craig Truglia says:
      May 6, 2015 at 2:26 am
      I think there is some very good exegesis in this article, which certainly counters the Scriptures Protestants bring up to debate Catholics on the Mary issue.

      However, I am very concerned that passages such as Mark 3:34-35 and John 12:4 are not interpreted in line with how the early Church viewed those same Scriptures, due to modern views of Mary which are simply not found in the ancient record.

      Which Church Fathers are you talking about? Here are some commentaries recorded by St. Thomas Aquinas.

      From the Catena Aurea


      31. There came then His brethren, and His mother, and, standing without, sent unto Him, calling Him.

      32. And the multitude sat about Him, and they said unto Him, “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for Thee.”

      33. And He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brethren?”

      34. And He looked round about on them which sat about Him, and said, “Behold My mother and My brethren!”

      35. For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.

      69
      Theophylact: Because the relations of the Lord had come to seize upon Him, as if beside Himself, His mother, urged by the sympathy of her love, came to Him.

      Wherefore it is said, “And there came unto Him His mother, and, standing without, sent unto Him, calling Him.”

      Chrys.: From this it is manifest that His brethren and His mother were not always with Him; but because He was beloved by them, they come from reverence and affection, waiting without.

      Wherefore it goes on, “And the multitude sat about Him, &c.”

      Bede: The brother of the Lord must not be thought to be the sons of the ever-virgin Mary, as Helvidius says [ed. note: The perpetual virginity of the Mother of God is reckoned by White, Bramhall, Patrick and Pearson, amongst the traditions which have ever been held in the Catholic Church. For an account of the heretics who denied it, see Bp. Pearson on the Creed, Art, 3, p. 272, note x., also Catena Aurea in Matt., p 58, note c], nor the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, as some think, but rather they must be understood to be His relations.

      Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But another Evangelist says, that His brethren did not believe on Him. [John 7:5] With which this agrees, which says, that they sought Him, waiting without, and with this meaning the Lord does not mention them as relations.

      Wherefore it follows, “And He answered them, saying, Who is My mother or My brethren?”

      But He does not here mention His mother and His brethren altogether with reproof, but to shew that a man must honour his own soul above all earthly kindred; wherefore this is fitly said to those who called Him to speak with His mother and relations, as if it were a more useful task than the teaching of salvation.

      Bede; see Ambr. in Luc. 6, 36: Being asked therefore by a message to go out, He declines, not as though He refused the dutiful service of His mother, but to shew that He owes more to His Father’s mysteries than to His mother’s feelings. Nor does He rudely despise His brothers, but, preferring His spiritual work to fleshly relationship, He teaches us that religion is the bond of the heart rather than that of the body.

      Wherefore it goes on, “And looking round about on them which sat about Him, He said, Behold My mother and My brethren.”

      Chrys.: By this, the Lord shews that we should honour those who are relations by faith rather than those 70 who are relations by blood. A man indeed is made the mother of Jesus by preaching Him [ed. note: Nearly the same idea occurs in St. Ambrose, in Luc. 2, 8]; for He, as it were, brings forth the Lord, when he pours Him into the heart of his hearers.

      Pseudo-Jerome: But let us be assured that we are His brethren and His sisters, if we do the will of the Father; that we may be joint-heirs with Him, for He discerns us not by sex but by our deeds.

      Wherefore it goes on: “Whosoever shall do the will of God, &c.”

      Theophylact: He does not therefore say this, as denying His mother, but as shewing that He is worthy of honour, not only because she bore Christ, but on account of her possessing every other virtue.

      Bede: By mystically, the mother and brother of Jesus means the synagogue, (from which according to the flesh He sprung,) and the Jewish people who, while the Saviour is teaching within, come to Him, and are not able to enter, because they cannot understand spiritual things.

      But the crowd eagerly enter, because when the Jews delayed, the Gentiles flocked to Christ; but His kindred, who stand without wishing to see the Lord, are the Jews who obstinately remained without, guarding the letter, and would rather compel the Lord to go forth to them to teach carnal things, than consent to enter in to learn spiritual things of Him.

      If therefore not even His parents when standing without are acknowledged, how shall we be acknowledged, if we stand without? [ed. note: see Ambr. in Luc., 6, 37] For the word is within and the light within.

      For example, in the above article we see it taken for granted that the woman of Rev 12 is Mary, the Queen of Heaven I suppose. However, this interpretation would ignore how the Church has historically interpreted that chapter for at least 1300 years.

      Hippolytus in his Treatise on Christ and the Antichrist views the woman as the Church (Chapter 60). So does Methodius (Banquet of the Ten Vigins, Thekla, Chapter 5)

      In the middle ages St. Bede viewed the woman of Rev 12:17 as the Church (Letter of Beda to Eusebius, Chapter 12). Further, Aquinas viewed the woman likewise as the Church shown by his citation of Rev 12:6 in Question 77, Article 2 of Book III of Summa Theologica.

      Ultimately, this whole issue of Mary becomes a lot of rhetoric, but very little Scripture or tradition, because both are silent on the issue. Simply put, I personally not prefer to believe something that would at least seem to contradict Scripture and there is no traditional support for hundreds (or in this case, over 1,000 years.) If Christians can be saved for so long without the specific kind of Marian devotion that exists today, it begs the question as to why we have it now. Of course, it is because the Catholic Church teaches it now. However, did the Church teach it back then. Well, supposedly…the Scripture or early tradition won’t say so, but we need to accept that it is so anyway.

      Scripture and Tradition are explicit on it. But, you don’t understand the Scripture because you reject the Tradition.

      Just offering my Protestant coutner-point. I appreciate the opportunity to comment here, and may soon lose it when I start my new job 🙁

      No problem. We hear it all the time.

      God bless,
      Craig

      You too.

  2. Christian’s might have a hard time understanding references to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary as being a ‘type’ of ‘the Church’, without taking careful consideration that Jesus is seen in Scripture as being a ‘type’ of Adam, i.e.. a “New Adam”. Moreover, in the writings of the Early Church Fathers, Mary is portrayed as being a ‘type’ of Eve, i.e.. a ‘New Eve”.

    As for the typology of Christ as the ‘New Adam’, St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:

    “But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep: For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:20)

    And both St. Justin the Martyr and St. Irenaeus of Lyons, describe in their writings the ‘New Eve’ typology detailing the special relationship between Mary and Eve.

    These Church Father Quotes are somewhat lengthy, but any analysis needs sufficient detail for adequate comprehension. But still, they’re only about a page long:

    First, St. Justin AD 165:

    “Chapter XIX.—A comparison is instituted between the disobedient and sinning Eve and the Virgin Mary, her patroness. Various and discordant heresies are mentioned.

    That the Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation which is supported by Himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience which had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience which was [exhibited by Himself when He hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by which that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled,—was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man.4616 For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain (portaret) God, being obedient to His word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness4617 (advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first created man (protoplasti) receives amendment by the correction of the First-begotten, and the coming of the serpent is conquered by the harmlessness of the dove, those bonds being unloosed by which we had been fast bound to death.” (St. Justin, the Martyr, (+165) in his work, Dialogue with Trypho)

    **********************************

    And, St. Irenaeus (BookIII, ch.22 , Against Heresies) :

    “…Hence also was Adam himself termed by Paul “the figure of Him that was to come,” because the Word, the Maker of all things, had formed beforehand for Himself the future dispensation of the human race, connected with the Son of God; God having predestined that the first man should be of an animal nature, with this view, that he might be saved by the spiritual One. For inasmuch as He had a pre-existence as a saving Being, it was necessary that what might be saved should also be called into existence, in order that the Being who saves should not exist in vain.
    4. In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in Paradise “they were both naked, and were not ashamed,” inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. And on this account does the law term a woman betrothed to a man, the wife of him who had betrothed her, although she was as yet a virgin; thus indicating the back-reference from Mary to Eve, because what is joined together could not otherwise be put asunder than by inversion of the process by which these bonds of union had arisen; so that the former ties be cancelled by the latter, that the latter may set the former again at liberty. And it has, in fact, happened that the first compact looses from the second tie, but that the second tie takes the position of the first which has been cancelled. For this reason did the Lord declare that the first should in truth be last, and the last first. And the prophet, too, indicates the same, saying, “instead of fathers, children have been born unto thee.” For the Lord, having been born “the First-begotten of the dead,” and receiving into His bosom the ancient fathers, has regenerated them into the life of God, He having been made Himself the beginning of those that live, as Adam became the beginning of those who die. Wherefore also Luke, commencing the genealogy with the Lord, carried it back to Adam, indicating that it was He who regenerated them into the Gospel of life, and not they Him. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.”

    ***************************
    These scriptural and ECF writings on Jesus as the ‘New Adam’, and the Blessed Virgin Mary as the ‘New Eve’, are some of the building blocks highly useful for an better understanding of all future Church doctrines regarding the most Blessed Virgin Mary.

    1. “And both St. Justin the Martyr and St. Irenaeus of Lyons, describe in their writings the ‘New Eve’ typology detailing the special relationship between Mary and Eve.”

      There’s a problem with taking this typology and applying it universally (which Justin and Irenaeus did not say they intended to do): it leads to absurd exegesis.

      Here are a few examples:

      “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt 16:18).

      Could this verse pertain to Mary?

      “And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things” (Acts 5:11).

      Could this verse pertain to Mary?

      “for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church” (Eph 5:29).

      Could this verse pertain to Mary?

      Let’s take the actual verse in question:

      “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1).

      I pointed out that the whole Church for 1300 years viewed the woman as the Church. The response I got here is that the Church is a euphemism for Mary. However, this is not an interpretation that would apply to any of the above Church quotations.

      What I see modern Catholics doing is inconsistently making the Church Mary when it suits them, not using the context of the Scripture or the exegesis of earlier Catholics to support them. It just doesn’t seem to me very correct or scholarly for that matter.

      1. No, it’s not that the Church is a “euphemism for Mary.” It’s that Mary is a “type” of Eve and the Church. And also, there’s no reason that it has to be Mary or the Church, just as the Temple prophecy to David in 2 Samuel 7 didn’t have to be about Solomon or Jesus (some elements are clearly Christological, others are clearly not).

        Also worth noting: John’s writings are chock full of references to the first three chapters of Genesis. We see this in an obvious way in the prologue to his Gospel, which parallels Genesis 1. He then recounts seven days, leading up to the Wedding of Cana (John 1-2; Genesis 1-2). There, Christ refers to Mary as “Woman,” the name that Adam gives to Eve in Genesis 2.

        After going to the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ is put back on the Tree of the Cross, and from there, He famously says, “Woman, behold your son;” “behold, your Mother!” This shift from “Woman” to “Mother” at the exact moment that He is lifting the curse of the Fall recalls Genesis 3, in which — in the midst of the curse being placed upon them, halfway through the expulsion from Eden — Adam seemingly randomly decides to rename Woman to Eve (a name meaning “Mother of the living”). In the light of John 19, we see that this was a Christological and Marian prefigurement.

        I mention all of this because Revelation 12 also clearly harkens back to Genesis 3, with its imagery of the dragon vs. Woman. John even refers to the dragon as “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan,” (Rev. 19:9). Specifically, it calls to mind Genesis 3:15, which is clearly a Marian prophecy (Christ is “the seed of the Woman,” a lineage measured through Mary since He has no biological father). So even if Revelation 12 is ambiguous on its own, its relationship with Genesis secures the Marian interpretation.

        Finally, you’ve claimed a few times that this Marian interpretation wasn’t found for the first 1300 years. That’s not true. In the Panarion of St. Epiphanius of Salamis, written in 374-75, he ventures a probabilistic interpretation that it’s about Mary:

        “For I dare not say – though I have my suspicions, I keep silent. Perhaps, just as her death is not to be found, so I may have found some traces of the holy and blessed Virgin. In one passage Simeon says of her, ‘And a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed’ [Luke 2:35]. And elsewhere the Revelation of John says, ‘And the dragon hastened after the woman who had born the man child, and she was given the wings of an eagle and was taken to the wilderness, that the dragon might not seize her’ [Rev. 12:13-14]. Perhaps this can be applied to her; I cannot decide for certain, and am not saying that she remained immortal. But neither am I affirming that she died.”

        That’s about a millenium earlier than you’re claiming. And it’s also the sort of Marian belief that you’ve elsewhere suggested didn’t exist for the first millenium of Christianity. Underlying the confusion over whether or not Mary died is a widespread belief in her sinlessness, leading Christians to wonder whether mortal death, being a consequence of the Fall, applied to her. St. Epiphanius leans no, but admits that it’s an open question.

        1. I read your reply before leaving work, and upon driving to a crepe place with my wife, talked about Rev 12. We both thought back to the first time we read Rev 12. We both agreed, yeah, it did sound an awful lot like Mary. The whole part about the child being gathered and protected we found awfully confusing, and much of what we find in Revelation could not really understand what was going on.

          So, when I read your article I actually set out to see if the Church historically taught. And I saw that it was the interpretation I provided in my reply. So, the fact you brought up the additional citation I very much appreciate, and yes, it does humble me as sometimes I view myself much more learned on these matters than I am. Thank you for that.

          However, I think the issue is bigger than whether Mary being the woman in Rev 12 is Mary r the Church is how we go about exegeting this text, or any text of the Scripture. For example, context, consistent hermeneutics, and the historical interpretation of the Church. So, if I am a dominant interpretation for centuries and I find one exception to the rule (especially when the one voicing the exception admits that it is not the dominant view of the church, but a private interpretation), it is with pains that I would accept that interpretation. It is not impossible that I might, but it would be with great pains I would disagree with the historical teaching of the Church.

          This is why I mean what I said: “What I see modern Catholics doing is inconsistently making the Church Mary when it suits them, not using the context of the Scripture or the exegesis of earlier Catholics to support them. It just doesn’t seem to me very correct or scholarly for that matter.”

          “No, it’s not that the Church is a “euphemism for Mary.” It’s that Mary is a “type” of Eve and the Church. And also, there’s no reason that it has to be Mary or the Church, just as the Temple prophecy to David in 2 Samuel 7 didn’t have to be about Solomon or Jesus (some elements are clearly Christological, others are clearly not).”

          I think this is when a consistent hermeneutic is important. CHrist literally called His body “the Temple.” Mary never called herself the Church. The Scripture nowhere makes the connection. It is a connection that appears to extrapolate ideas from Irenaeus and make conclusions he did not explicitly make.

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. Hi Craig,

            I think you are arguing from silence. You are assuming that since very few early Church Fathers mention in their surviving writings that Mary is the Woman in Rev 12, it means that the Woman refers to the Church *alone* as the consensus of the Church. That may not be the case. Note that there were no controversy in the early church regarding who the Woman is because it is already assumed that the Woman is Mary.

            Also, it suffices to end the Bible with the characters in its beginning: a real serpent, a real man (Adam) and a real woman (Eve). Hence in the book of the revelation, it fits beautifully how the Bible should also end: a real serpent, a real man (Christ) and a real woman (Mary).

          2. “You are assuming that since very few early Church Fathers mention in their surviving writings that Mary is the Woman in Rev 12…”

            …1 ECF

            “…it means that the Woman refers to the Church *alone* as the consensus of the Church. That may not be the case.”

            It may ultimately not be, but it explicitly is the chief interpretation from every single patristic witness…which says something. To argue that there was an alternate interpretation in the midst, preferred or coupled with the other is an argument from silence. So, it is ironic that you accuse me off particularly what your whole position actually is.

            “Note that there were no controversy in the early church regarding who the Woman is because it is already assumed that the Woman is Mary.”

            And there is your argument from silence.

            “Also, it suffices to end the Bible with the characters in its beginning: a real serpent, a real man (Adam) and a real woman (Eve). Hence in the book of the revelation, it fits beautifully how the Bible should also end: a real serpent, a real man (Christ) and a real woman (Mary).”

            Again, that’s an interpretation, not necessarily inconsistent with Scripture, but one that lacks the endorsement of ECF. Joe’s source explicitly said concerning Rev 12 ” Perhaps this can be applied to her; I cannot decide for certain…” That sounds like that he was sure it applied to the Church and not sure it applied to Mary. Yet, you are saying you are sure it applies to Mary. Not a single ECF, that i know of, said this.

          3. Craig,

            I appreciate your humility on this.

            As for Revelation 12 referring to both Mary and the Church, I’d start with v. 5, which says that the Woman “brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.”

            Who is that male child? It has dual referents. It refers both to Jesus Christ and the Christian.

            Revelation 19:15 applies it to Christ: “From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”

            Revelation 2:26-28 applies it to the Christian: “He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father; and I will give him the morning star.”

            Inasmuch as it applies to Christians, the Woman clearly represents the Church (and less clearly represents Mary). Inasmuch as it applies to Christ, the Woman clearly represents Mary. The Fathers focused almost exclusively on this second connection: Church-Christian. But you can’t hold that the Church gave birth to Christ. So the ordinary Patristic exegesis, while accurate, clearly isn’t exhaustive. So while you can (and should!) affirm that the Woman in Revelation 12 is the Church, you can’t say that she is only the Church, since it was Christ who birthed the Church, not vice versa.

            This shouldn’t be surprising. Revelation is dealing with prophetic imagery, and many of the prophesies have multiple fulfillments (e.g., Psalm 69, 2 Samuel 7, etc.).

            Plus, since there are dual referents for the male child, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are dual referents for the mother of the child.

          4. I’m not a Revelation expert, but I take issue with this conclusion of yours:

            “But you can’t hold that the Church gave birth to Christ.”

            Wasn’t Israel the precursor to the Church? Christ according to his flesh was from the tribe of Judah. In the Old Testament Israel is compared to a woman oftentimes. In fact, I’ll quote the Aquinas Study Bible here:

            https://sites.google.com/site/aquinasstudybible/home/revelation/rev-1/rev-2/rev-3/rev-4/rev-5/rev-6/rev-7/rev-8/rev-9/rev-10/rev-11/rev-12

            If you compare the citations, the earliest Marian interpretations there are from the 10th century. The earliest interpretations for the traditional interpretations are Patristic (obviously.) Hippolytus, Primasius, Andrew of Caeserea, plus the ones I already cited up top. Further, they appeared capable of exegeting Rev 12;5, as well as others, without having to bring Mary in. So, I appreciate your exegesis, and it makes sense, but obviously it was not the dominant exegesis of the Church for the first 1,000 years. In fact, the one citation you have or a Marian interpretation from the Patristic period shows a reluctance on the part of the author to endorse it, so dominant was the Woman-as-Church interpretation.

            I forget which of your commenter’s here cited the Aquinas Study Bible, but what a fantastic online resource! It has been helping me a great deal work my way through a commentary on Romans I hope to finish up relatively soon.

            God bless,
            Craig

          5. Craig Truglia says:
            May 7, 2015 at 2:11 am
            I read your reply before leaving work, and upon driving to a crepe place with my wife, talked about Rev 12. We both thought back to the first time we read Rev 12. We both agreed, yeah, it did sound an awful lot like Mary.

            That’s because it is Mary.

            The whole part about the child being gathered and protected we found awfully confusing,

            It is a reference to Joseph and Mary carrying the Child to Egypt.

            and much of what we find in Revelation could not really understand what was going on.

            More’s the reason you should be seeking understanding from the Catholic Church.

            So, when I read your article I actually set out to see if the Church historically taught. And I saw that it was the interpretation I provided in my reply. So, the fact you brought up the additional citation I very much appreciate, and yes, it does humble me as sometimes I view myself much more learned on these matters than I am. Thank you for that.

            Hm. That was unexpected but nice.

            However, I think the issue is bigger than whether Mary being the woman in Rev 12 is Mary r the Church is how we go about exegeting this text, or any text of the Scripture. For example, context, consistent hermeneutics, and the historical interpretation of the Church. So, if I am a dominant interpretation for centuries and I find one exception to the rule (especially when the one voicing the exception admits that it is not the dominant view of the church, but a private interpretation), it is with pains that I would accept that interpretation. It is not impossible that I might, but it would be with great pains I would disagree with the historical teaching of the Church.

            But you disagree with MANY historical teachings of the Church. Sooooo…..that response sounds weak.

            What it seems to me is that you have Protestant presuppositions which guide your understanding and stand in your way of understanding the Word of God.

            This is why I mean what I said: “What I see modern Catholics doing is inconsistently making the Church Mary when it suits them, not using the context of the Scripture or the exegesis of earlier Catholics to support them. It just doesn’t seem to me very correct or scholarly for that matter.”

            “No, it’s not that the Church is a “euphemism for Mary.” It’s that Mary is a “type” of Eve and the Church. And also, there’s no reason that it has to be Mary or the Church, just as the Temple prophecy to David in 2 Samuel 7 didn’t have to be about Solomon or Jesus (some elements are clearly Christological, others are clearly not).”

            I think this is when a consistent hermeneutic is important. CHrist literally called His body “the Temple.” Mary never called herself the Church. The Scripture nowhere makes the connection.

            Where is it written that everything must be explicitly set out in Scripture? For example, Scripture does not mention the Trinity. Or if it does, show me. Scripture does not mention the dual nature of Christ. Or if it does, show me.

            It is a connection that appears to extrapolate ideas from Irenaeus and make conclusions he did not explicitly make.

            It is a Teaching directly from Jesus Christ. Sacred Tradition is the basis of the New Testament. Jesus Christ deposited His Traditions with the Church. Jesus Christ did not write the Scripture.

            God bless,
            Craig

            God bless you as well.

      2. Craig Truglia says:
        May 6, 2015 at 8:40 pm
        “And both St. Justin the Martyr and St. Irenaeus of Lyons, describe in their writings the ‘New Eve’ typology detailing the special relationship between Mary and Eve.”

        There’s a problem with taking this typology and applying it universally (which Justin and Irenaeus did not say they intended to do): it leads to absurd exegesis…..

        No one does that, Craig. No one says that Adam is always Christ. Nor that Christ is always Adam. The two are not conflated. No one says that Mary is Eve. Nor that Eve is Mary.

        The Teaching is that one is the type of the other.

        Do you really not understand typology? Or do you have Adam and Jesus conflated one with the other?

        1. “It is a Teaching directly from Jesus Christ. Sacred Tradition is the basis of the New Testament”

          Actually, it isn’t, you cannot show that it is, and you know it.

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. Craig Truglia says:
            May 13, 2015 at 11:56 am
            “It is a Teaching directly from Jesus Christ. Sacred Tradition is the basis of the New Testament”

            Actually, it isn’t, you cannot show that it is, and you know it.

            I can show those who believe Scripture. But not those who don’t.

            Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

            That says that Jesus Christ commanded the Church to Teach what He commanded. Nothing about writing anything down.

            2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

            That says that the Church was inspired by the Holy Spirit to preach and then to write down that which they preached.

            And finally,

            1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

            That says that the Church is the purveyor of the Truth. It never lies and never makes an error.

            I’m sure you’ll find reasons to set these verses aside. Protestants don’t truly believe Scripture. They just pay lip service.

            God bless,
            Craig

            You too.

          2. I believe Protestant theologian Bruce Metzger has also conceded that the Bible is a product of tradition. Which would make sense.

            Q: What was the precursor to the NT Scriptures?
            A: The oral tradition of the Apostles which they received from Jesus.

            The New Testament didn’t come into being in some vacuum.

  3. ” Perhaps this can be applied to her; I cannot decide for certain…”

    Everyone should know already that the Book of Revelation is filled with metaphor and typology. Therefore, it should be read as such from the start. That there is uncertainty is no problem, it isn’t mean’t to be logically ‘certain’ and literal, but that does not make it untrue. This is highly spiritual writing, conveying highly spiritual truths in it’s own particular vocabulary and style. Jesus Himself taught in this way by His frequent use of parables. And that is likely where the Apostle John learned to both interpret, and compose, this type of spiritual literature in the first place.

    Regarding the degree of literalism that might be found in scriptural typology Jesus can provide us a hint in the Gospel. It should be considered because it pertains to the present discussion on Revelation12:1 regarding typology and Mary. Jesus said concerning John:

    ‘For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John: [14] And if you will receive it, he is Elias that is to come. [15] He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”. (Matt. 11:14)

    Consider this well. How is John… ‘Elias’, when John is John and Elias is Elias? Is this something for logicians to resolve? Does this signify some sort of lie or proven contradiction for a devotee of Aristotle to resolve? Does it prove reincarnation?

    Or, does Jesus teach us something about typological interpretation and the requisite wisdom, patience and humility needed to “receive” it (ie. ‘believe’ it). That it is true is certain, because Jesus said it. How it is true ‘exactly’ is the mystery inherent in ‘typology’, and we’re not intended to know the details. And Jesus also concludes that not all will have the virtue to understand this mystery, but only that “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”.

    So, when we analyze the book of Revelation, we need to consider this account of John the Baptist and Elias. We can understand by it that John both ‘was Elias’ and ‘was not Elias’ at the same time. And both are true statements in their own context. Again, Jesus teaches us about typology here, and it should be applied to the ‘Apocalypse’ exegesis in almost countless ways. To not do so is to miss the whole thrust, and meaning, of this type of apocalyptic prophesy and teaching.

    In this context, the Church AND Mary are easily seen to be typologically referred to in Rev. 12. That is, in a similar context to that found in the interpretation that Jesus explains of John and Elias. Read the account again from Rev. 12:1 Below it is a short explanation from the Douay- Rheims version Bible:

    “The vision of the woman clothed with the sun and of the great dragon her persecutor.

    [1] And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: [2] And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. [3] And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: [4] And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. [5] And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.” (Revelation 12:1)

    [1] A woman: The church of God. It may also, by allusion, be applied to our blessed Lady. The church is clothed with the sun, that is, with Christ: she hath the moon, that is, the changeable things of the world, under her feet: and the twelve stars with which she is crowned, are the twelve apostles: she is in labour and pain, whilst she brings forth her children, and Christ in them, in the midst of afflictions and persecutions.”

    1. “In this context, the Church AND Mary are easily seen to be typologically referred to in Rev. 12.”

      Wow, how did “perhaps” become “easily seen?”

      Now, I am not going to take issue specifically with your exegesis. My point is, the certainty of your exegesis compared to Epiphanis of Salamis is obviously different. Other exegetes simply never happened upon the interpretation.

      Now, what you are simply doing in your argumentation is showing how in your view, the Scripture more consistently makes the case that Rev 12 is about Mary. Tradition really has nothing to do with it, at least not tradition from the first 1300 years or so of the Church. Your personal view of the Scripture, in light of a separate tradition, is what you are defending.

      And, if you defend your view based upon squarely the merits of Scripture, now you open up the whole of Scripture to hermeneutical interpretation. Then, on what consistent basis can you disagree with a Protestant who takes a differing view, as long as the Protestant’s differing view is hermeneutically consistent?

      We have gone full circle in this article/comments. Aim at Mary, hit Jesus. In the same way, Aim at Protestant hermeneutics, hit Catholic hermeneutics.

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. [“5] And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.” (Revelation 12:1)”

        This is ‘no brainer’ exegesis. ‘Her’…’man child’…’son’ …is clearly Jesus, whether it be His ‘Mystical Body’, or not. Jesus’ mother is Mary. In typology this is as simple as it gets. Moreover, Mary, as stated in the ‘Douay’ commentary is..’an allusion’. This commentary in the Catholic Bible first acknowledges the ‘woman’ with the Church. And then it also acknowledges the ALLUSION to Mary, which is abundantly clear, even for a child to recognize. You have the quote right above: ” ..and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.” (Revelation 12:1)”

        You seem to suggest that there is NO ‘allusion’ to Mary at all? This would be like one of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time objecting to this saying of the Lord: “And if you will receive it, he is Elias that is to come.” (Matt. 11:14) And Pharisee responding to Jesus: “But John himself SAID that he was NOT the Prophet. You are contradicting John Himself!” But Jesus is obviously to be believed as He is the “Teacher”, and He Himself is hereby TEACHING us in this passage on how to properly interpret TYPOLOGY. It just seems that you aren’t interested in taking in this beautiful lesson of Christ, which was certainly mean’t for our own spiritual and exegetical benefit.

        And Joe already responded to you earlier that it is indeed possible for the Fathers of the Church to have varying opinions regarding exegesis, doctrines, customs, etc… There is no problem with this. Debate it good. However, this is why ecumenical Councils are called to settle debate after a due time, and sometimes, centuries.

        And also, regarding the book of Revelations you might consider that this ‘last’ of the ‘canonical books’ was debated for centuries by the same Fathers that you talk about, before being conclusively accepted as canonical but the Church:

        “The book was accepted as canonical in the West much earlier than the East. “full acceptance in the canon was recognized in the Festal Letter of Athanasius written from Alexandria in 367. The Damasine Council (382) and the Council of Carthage (397) ratified this by officially including it in the canon of New Testament Scriptures.”

        And for your consideration also, it might be concluded that many of the earliest Church Fathers did not even study carefully this particular book due to it’s controversial status among many of the ‘Fathers’, and over centuries. This is probably why there is a lot less early Church Father exegesis on this book than many of the other Scriptures such as the ‘Four Gospels’ and the ‘Letters of St. Paul’. Even to this day, as found on Wikipedia:

        “…the New Testament canons of the Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Egyptian Coptic and Ethiopian Churches all have minor differences.[20] The Revelation of John is one of the most uncertain books; it was not translated into Georgian until the 10th century, and it has never been included in the official lectionary of the Eastern Orthodox Church, whether in Byzantine or modern times.”

        So, it’s no great wonder why there is little ‘Early Church’ exegesis on this particular book.

        Never-the-less, Jesus Himself gives us in the Holy Gospel (ie. Matt. 11:14) an excellent example on how to interpret ‘scriptural typology’, but such individual or private interpretations should be subject and deferred to the opinions, and declarations, of Catholic Church Synods, Ecumenical Councils and official Church Catechisms, wherein difficult cases of exegesis, or ‘canonicity’, is considered ‘settled’.

        1. I’ve avoided any exegesis of my own, because as I have already admitted, I do not quite understand Revelation.

          To reiterate my own point: We have gone full circle in this article/comments. Aim at Mary, hit Jesus. In the same way, Aim at Protestant hermeneutics, hit Catholic hermeneutics. So if you seek to show to me how your hermeneutic makes sense, you essentially rubber stamp the whole practice, which undercuts your following point:

          “…such individual or private interpretations should be subject and deferred to the opinions, and declarations, of Catholic Church Synods, Ecumenical Councils and official Church Catechisms, wherein difficult cases of exegesis, or ‘canonicity’, is considered ‘settled’.”

          Which is what you are guilty of not subjecting yourself to by taking your interpretation and not Aquinas’ interpretation, which was the obviously most popular one.

          Now, take of your RCC cap for a second and just consider where I would be coming from…

          …it is my view that the Catholic Church institutionally evolved to the point where the institution itself is no longer Catholic since the Council of Trent anathematized sola fide (a term much older than Luther, BTW. It is found in Aquinas and even Chrysostom for example.) Now don’t jump on me just yet, I’m not trying to argue this point, just consider that this is my perspective.

          So, if what I said was correct, then councils that meet after this point would prove to be irrelevant, just as the Council of Concorde or the Westminister Confession would be irrelevant to Catholics (or subsequent Eastern Orthodox synods since the schism would likewise lack legitimacy.)

          Hence, when you read my first post here in this page, I was actually applying the approach that you endorse in the above quote in a way consistent with my presumptions.

          Now, my presumptions can be wrong. However, your presumption that a church situated in the geography of Rome, Italy could never one day be concurrently Catholic in name but unCatholic in practice is just that–a presumption. Catholic offshoots, like sedevacantists, have no problem at least realizing that this is theoretically possible.

          1. Craig,

            It appears that you have various doctrinal problems going much farther back than the Council of Trent. Both Catholics and Orthodox consider Ecumenical “Infallible”, the Orthodox the 1st seven, and the Catholics 21. I’m pretty sure you do not believe in the Infallibility of any of these Councils. That is, at least as appears from everything you have posted on this blog thus far. So, you might not be as close to the historical church as you seem to claim.

            Consider this from a simple Wikipedia search:

            INFALLIBILITY OF THE ECUMENICAL COUNCILS

            Main article: ecumenical council

            “The doctrine of the infallibility of ecumenical councils states that solemn definitions of ecumenical councils, approved by the pope, which concern faith or morals, and to which the whole Church must adhere are infallible. Such decrees are often labeled as ‘Canons’ and they often have an attached anathema, a penalty of excommunication, against those who refuse to believe the teaching. The doctrine does not claim that every aspect of every ecumenical council is infallible.

            The Roman Catholic Church holds this doctrine,[2] as do most or all Eastern Orthodox theologians. However, the Orthodox churches accept only the first seven general councils as genuinely ecumenical, while Roman Catholics accept twenty-one. ”

            Just my observation from the history of your comments. I may be wrong on this though?

          2. Craig,

            I realize that we’ve gotten quite a bit off-topic here, but I’m very interested in your claim here: “it is my view that the Catholic Church institutionally evolved to the point where the institution itself is no longer Catholic since the Council of Trent anathematized sola fide.

            Let’s address your side points first, and then get to the heart of it:

            a term much older than Luther, BTW. It is found in Aquinas and even Chrysostom for example.
            What Luther meant (and what Trent condemned) by sola fide isn’t the same thing as the soteriology of St. Thomas or St. John Chrysostom (or Pope Benedict XVI), even though they all use the term “sola fide” to describe their views. Thomas’ Summa was placed next to the Bible on the altar at Trent. They weren’t ignorant of his views, nor were they condemning his views.

            However, your presumption that a church situated in the geography of Rome, Italy could never one day be concurrently Catholic in name but unCatholic in practice is just that–a presumption. Catholic offshoots, like sedevacantists, have no problem at least realizing that this is theoretically possible.

            You can’t just call every position that you disagree with a “presumption.” The Church Fathers – especially the Western Fathers, but a number of Eastern Fathers as well – speak to the Petrine primacy of the See of Rome, the necessity to keep union with her, etc. This isn’t just a “presumption,” it’s a foundation of Apostolic Christianity, that we see evidenced from the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch forward.

            You might disagree with this belief, and you might be unaware of the Patristic writings on point, but those facts don’t make it a “presumption.”

            Also, the sedevacantist position is theoretically incoherent: I think if you read more about it, you wouldn’t find it a useful shield to hide behind.

            Okay, now to the heart of things.Are you saying that the Catholic Church was the Catholic Church until 1547?And then that she ceased to be? Did a different church then become the Catholic Church?

            Luther’s views on justification are a theological novum of the sixteenth century: the notion of alien, forensic righteousness is simply not found prior to him. Nobody taught the Lutheran view on justification (including Luther himself) until after Luther’s schism.

            So did Luther break away from the true Church? Or was the Catholic Church already not the Catholic Church at that time?

            Basically, I’d like it if you would spell out your ecclesiology and your vision of Church history, particularly vis-a-vis the idea that the Church apostasized, or ceased to be Catholic, or whatever. Are the Church Fathers right about what they (along with Calvin and other Reformers) unanimously teach about the necessity of the visible Church for salvation? Are they right about what they (in contrast to Calvin and the other Reformers) say are the marks of the true Church? Based on your earlier comments about the Filioque, am I to understand that you recognize the West was in the right during the Great Schism?

            (Don’t worry, by the way. I’m not offended. I like that you’re at least trying to create a coherent “apostasy” narrative. This one doesn’t actually work, though, for reasons that I think will soon become clear.)

          3. I am choosing to bow out of this conversation for two reasons:

            1. I do not have a defined ecclesiology. I am still reading up on it, listening to stuff, trying to hear all sides (I’m here talking to you, right?) So, I cannot offer a coherent narrative to your liking, someone else’s, or myself. But, this I can tell you: When I read the ECF which I have fairly extensively for a guy who works in an auto repair shop, I simply cannot believe that what the Catholic Church was then is the same Church now. They clearly esteemed tradition, but they esteemed Scripture more. Entire doctrines hinged upon Scriptural hermeneutics and not slavishly to tradition (as this was honestly still being developed.) The concurrent “oral tradition” of the Apostles is mentioned but opaque and mysterious, as many sure-fire apostolic teachings such as milk and honey after baptisms get dumped, even though several defenders like Jerome are extremely insistent that they have the force of Law (see: http://christianreformedtheology.com/2015/03/04/milk-honey-baptism-and-the-death-of-tradition/). I honestly think that (many) Protestants would not be heretics in the eyes of the ancient church based upon what they taught. Meanwhile, if some modern day Catholic teachings were taught in the second century, I cannot imagine how else they would respond than with visceral horror. But I have not done enough study yet where I can cogently argue all these things and fully substantiate my impressions from reading the ancient text.

            2. I said I wouldn’t continue the conversation simply not to distract from the actual topic here. So, I just want to be a man of my word.

            3. I do think that Catholics need to be honest about their presumptions. I’ll tell you one of mine: the Bible really is the word of God. So, it affects my epistemology that I believe in revelation and I know what it is. If we cannot even get that far in a conversation, then there isn’t a conversation.

            To Al:

            The following approximates my view of Ecumenical Councils: “The doctrine does not claim that every aspect of every ecumenical council is infallible.” If we can agree on that, then what is there to disagree about?

            God bless,
            Craig

      2. Craig,

        you said,

        Other exegetes simply never happened upon the interpretation.

        Never say never, Craig. Just as you weren’t aware that St. Thomas and St. Augustine both agreed with the typology of Mary and the Church, you are not privy to everything that “other” exegetes have taught.

          1. Craig Truglia says:
            May 13, 2015 at 11:55 am
            If you read up on the topic, you would find that the CHurch-centric interpretation is far and away the dominant interpretation of the Church for 1,000 years.

            1. You ought to think about what you just said. Church-centric. According to that view, that chapter says that God is protecting the Church from being destroyed by Satan. Yet, Protestants believe the Church fell to apostacy in the 3rd century.

            2. The “dominant” interpretation? For 1000 years?

            Let’s see. St. Thomas Aquinas lived in the middle ages. Round about 1200. And he said:

            Summa Theologica
            Third Part
            Question 28. The virginity of the Mother of God
            Article 1

            Was she a virgin in conceiving?
            Fourthly, on account of the very end of Incarnation of Christ, which was that men might be born again as sons of God, “not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13), i.e. of the power of God, of which fact the very conception of Christ was to appear as an exemplar. Whence Augustine says (De Sanct. Virg.): “It behooved that our Head, by a notable miracle, should be born, after the flesh, of a virgin, that He might thereby signify that His members would be born, after the Spirit, of a virgin Church.”

            Notice how he made reference to St. Augustine. When did St. Augustine live? Around 400 ad.

            And what did he say?

            2. This we have undertaken in our present discourse: may Christ help us, the Son of a virgin, and the Spouse of virgins, born after the flesh of a virgin womb, and wedded after the Spirit in virgin marriage. Whereas, therefore, the whole Church itself is a virgin espoused unto one Husband Christ, as the Apostle says, of how great honor are its members worthy, who guard this even in the flesh itself, which the whole Church guards in the faith? Which imitates the mother of her husband, and her Lord. For the Church also is both a mother and a virgin. For whose virgin purity consult we for, if she is not a virgin? Or whose children address we, if she is not a mother? Mary bare the Head of This Body after the flesh, the Church bears the members of that Body after the Spirit. In both virginity hinders not fruitfulness: in both fruitfulness takes not away virginity. Wherefore, whereas the whole Church is holy both in body and spirit, and yet the whole is not virgin in body but in spirit; how much more holy is it in these members, wherein it is virgin both in body and spirit?

            Do you think either of them was unaware of the Scripture? And if you and your wife saw the resemblance to Mary, what makes you think these two Princes of the Catholic Church would not immediately recognize her therein?

            Further, let me show what else they both say about the Doctrines they hold:

            Summa Theologica
            Second Part of the Second Part
            Question 5
            Answer #3:
            I answer that, Neither living nor lifeless faith remains in a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith.

            The reason of this is that the species of every habit depends on the formal aspect of the object, without which the species of the habit cannot remain. Now the formal object of faith is the First Truth, as manifested in Holy Writ and the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth. Consequently whoever does not adhere, as to an infallible and Divine rule, to the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth manifested in Holy Writ, has not the habit of faith, but holds that which is of faith otherwise than by faith. Even so, it is evident that a man whose mind holds a conclusion without knowing how it is proved, has not scientific knowledge, but merely an opinion about it. Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error. Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article has no faith in the other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will.

            St. Thomas holds Church Teaching, which we call Sacred Tradition, to be infallible.

            Now, what about St. Augustine. We’ve already discussed how he would not accept even the Gospel if it weren’t for the authority of the Catholic Church. Has he anything else to say about Sacred Tradition?

            Church

            To be sure, although on this matter, we cannot quote a clear example taken from the canonical Scriptures, at any rate, on this question, we are following the true thought of Scriptures when we observe what has appeared good to the universal Church which the authority of these same Scriptures recommends to you; thus, since Holy Scripture cannot be mistaken, anyone fearing to be misled by the obscurity of this question has only to consult on this same subject this very Church which the Holy Scriptures point out without ambiguity. (Against Cresconius I:33; in Eno, 134)

            So, again, St. Augustine says that if you can’t find the answer in Scripture, you should consult the Church.

            Now, since both of these eminent men see that the Virgin Mary is a type of the Church, I can not imagine that they didn’t see this typology expressed in Rev 12. And since neither of them would dream of contradicting the Teaching of the Church, then you can rest assured that this Teaching existed from Apostolic Times. As is confirmed in the very existence of Rev 12. The fact of the matter is that the verse, in Scripture, is an expression of a pre-existing Doctrine.

  4. Drat! I wish Craig had not already bowed out of this conversation. I would love to hear which “modern day Catholic teachings” would be met “with visceral horror” if they were taught in the 2nd Century, as he claims.

  5. Craig,

    The only reason I raised the question about the Ecumenical councils was to reinforce the truth that the Catholic Church has always had a means of maintaining unity over the last 2000 years, and this particularly started with the First Council of Jerusalem, which council addressed perhaps the most difficult of all the doctrinal dilemmas in Church history. But we note at this first council, that indeed resolutions were decisively made, and the entire Church was steered in the direction towards which the Apostles, headed by Peter, decided was correct. An analogy for this might be something like the ‘pruning’ of the vine that Jesus talks about : ” Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:1) This is to say, with the decisions of first the Apostles, and then after them their successor Bishops, the Church was pruned, or purged, of incorrect theological doctrine even as far back as the Council of Jerusalem. And we always note how much power, authority and faith followed these holy decisions, which is to say, the non-Apostles and non-Bishops(i.e.. the laity) were required to follow and accept these decisions, even as ‘sheep follow their Shepherds’. For these ‘lay’ Christians, the matter and debate was solved. To remain united to the Church was to remain united to the Bishop, even as St. Ignatius of Antioch AD107) said:

    “See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. […] Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. […] Whatsoever [the bishop] shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Smyrnaeans; Ch 8)

    “Let all things therefore be done by you with good order in Christ. Let the laity be subject to the deacons; the deacons to the presbyters; the presbyters to the bishop; the bishop to Christ, even as He is to the Father.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Smyrnaeans; Ch 9)

    So, this was the model showing the great “order” in the early Church. Herein, we also highlight that Ignatius points to a Church where everything done is “secure and valid”. This signifies that the Church was always on a firm foundation, and even the same that Jesus intended as He taught and prophesied in Matt.16:18 :

    “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

    And also,

    “He is like to a man building a house, who digged deep, and laid the foundation upon a rock. And when a flood came, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and it could not shake it; for it was founded on a rock.” (Luke 6:48)

    So, this is to say, that the Church that Christ founded is ‘secure and valid’, even as St. Ignatius alludes to. It is not ‘flimsy, insecure, spurious, inconclusive, doubtful or ‘weak in faith’. When the Church ‘puts Her hand to the plow, she doesn’t look back’ (Luke 9:62) : ie. “Jesus said to him: No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

    To sum up, the ‘Holy Faith’ has been very strong since the beginning. We note this strength and power of ‘faith’ in all of Scripture, and then in the writings of the ‘Church Fathers’. We also note this great faith in the declarations, creeds and canons of the ecumenical councils. It is very good to have a strong faith in this Church; a Church that is not afraid to make difficult decisions, and a Church that relies on the firm guidance of Her Shepherd which is the Lord. This is the Catholic Faith. It is demanding, even as the Apostles were at the first Council of Jerusalem, and Ignatius was when he wrote his ‘letters’, and the Fathers of Nicaea I were in the proclamation of their Canons and Creed. This faith is built on Christ and on Rock. We can trust in it because Jesus Himself taught us: “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”, and, ” behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

    So, the Lord’s Church, and Faith, is full of power, and every Christian should be able to note this strength and great faith when they read the ‘canons’ and doctrines of the many Ecumenical Councils that are recorded throughout Church history.

    We should accept these doctrines an ‘canons’ not with a flimsy or hesitant faith, but with a faith that the Lord loves from His people: a faith full of ‘zeal’ and love, a faith also which the multitudes of ‘Ecumenical council fathers intended: That is strong, courageous, and obedient faith.

    This is the strength, and faith, of the One Only Catholic Church. May it continue to grow and expand until the end of the world!

    1. Spot on, Tom. And I feel it is due to that dirty, little word known as “obedience”.

      It’s much easier to obey someone or something that “fits” your personal beliefs, than it is to follow, worship and OBEY Someone Who commands us to do things we don’t understand.

      Great post guys! God Bless

  6. Not only is your gospel of worthiness of Merit not in scripture, but the exultation of Mary above Christ and God will keep one out of heaven. Isaiah 48 ” I share my glory with no other. In her magnificat, she calls to her Lord and Savior. The biggest lie ever perpetuated is that the early catholic church was Roman Catholic . Far from it. ” The rise of Roman Catholicism” Whitehorse blog ” Out of His mouth” Revelations 18:4 ” come out of her my people” God is calling his elect out of the false Christianity of Roman Catholicism. God bless. Kevin

    1. Kevin,

      Reason and prudence tell me to ignore a posting so filled with ignorance and hatred as yours, but my heart tells me to at least toss you this lifeline.

      No Catholic ever “exalts Mary above Christ” – not one. The very thought is anathema. Rather, we listen to our Lord when he spoke to us (Us! Each and every individual Christian!) “Behold your Mother!” (John 19:27) From the very Cross, no less.

      And what does Our Blessed Mother tell us? Just this: “Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you.” (John 2:5)

      How could one possibly go wrong with that?

    2. Wow Kevin. Expert exegesis and retort. I think I may have to renounce my Catholic faith and the Church that Jesus founded and become Protestant. Well done.

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