Why Mary is Our Mother in Faith

The Virgin Katafigi with St. John The Theologian (detail) (1935)
The Virgin Katafigi with St. John The Theologian (detail) (1935)

Recently,* I wrote about how Jesus isn’t the model of our faith, because He didn’t have faith (He had/has the sort of perfect knowledge that supplants faith). And so, I asked, who are our models of faith? Looking at Hebrews 11-12, I answered generally: the Saints. But there are two worthy of special mention. One of those is Abraham, our father in faith, who I wrote about last time. Today, I want to talk about our mother in faith, the Virgin Mary.

In some ways, Mary might seem less of an obvious choice than Abraham. As we saw in the post on Abraham, he is frequently described as our father in faith. Can the same be said for Scripture treating Mary as our mother in faith? Yes, but in a more subtle way. The two clearest areas are at in the dialogue with St. John at the foot of the Cross and in St. John’s heavenly vision (it’s not a coincidence that the same Disciple is involved in each, the one with whom the Virgin Mary spent her last years on Earth).

Let’s look first to the foot of the Cross (John 19:26-27):

When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Now, those who don’t want to give a large role to Mary in Christianity often write this off by saying that Jesus is just securing that His widowed mother has a home. That’s true enough, although a particularly ironic claim, given that most of these same critics also believe that Mary had other children, including the Apostle James, who could have taken care of her. But that can’t be the only thing going on here. I mean, Jesus could have entrusted His Mother to the care of the Apostle John without calling her his mom, or referring to the Beloved Disciple as her son.

After all, Scripture contains several admonitions to care for widows (for example, James 1:27 and 1 Timothy 5:3) without declaring those widows our mothers. So why does Jesus go further? Mary is not John’s mother physically, nor is her her son physically. Rather, Jesus is establishing (or revealing) Mary’s spiritual motherhood. That’s the way that Mary is John’s mother. And this spiritual motherhood isn’t limited to the Apostle John. It’s not for nothing that John is presented throughout this Gospel as the “Beloved Disciple,” a model of discipleship for us to emulate and from which to learn.

This is made clearer in the heavenly vision that John sees in Revelation 12. After seeing the (Marian) images of the Ark of the Covenant and Temple (Rev. 11:19), he sees a pregnant woman enthroned in Heaven (Rev. 12:1-2), who gives birth “a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5), a clear reference to Christ (Rev. 19:15). This woman is at war with the serpent, just as Eve was. In the last verse of the chapter (Rev. 12:17), we hear 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.” So the Bible is actually explicit that the Mother of Christ is also the Mother of Christians.

Those who are squeamish about thinking about Mary as our spiritual mother in this way will suggest that the Woman of Revelation 12 shouldn’t be understood literally. Instead, we should view her as an image of Israel / the Church (and it’s worth pointing out here that Revelation speaks of the Church as the true Israel). This interpretation is a good one, but it just points to the Marian nature of the Church. That is, the revelation John received of the glorified Church was seeing the Church as Mary. Far from belittling Mary, this interpretation places Mary at the center of the faith life of the Church. (I’ll return to this in a future post, soon).

And it’s right that we should view Mary this way. She is frequently spoken of as the faithful one. While the Apostles betray or desert Christ, and even the faithful women stand at a distance, Mary is unwavering. She stands (stands!) at the foot of the Cross. She’s so closely united to Christ in His Passion that the Prophet Simeon says to her (Luke 2:34-35): “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

We’re familiar with Elizabeth’s first praise of Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42). We’re perhaps less familiar with her second praise: “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43, recalling David’s question about the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6:9). But for our current purposes, the most important praise Elizabeth visits upon Mary is the last one: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45). Mary’s entire life, and her role as our spiritual model and our model of faith, can be captured in those words: blessed is she who believed.

Previously, in discussing Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, I said:

Here, we meet the intensity of Abraham’s faith in its fullest. He’s faced with two seemingly irreconcilable truths: God is to bless all nations through Isaac, and he is to sacrifice Isaac. And his response isn’t to give up one belief for the other, but to hold to both, in the face of seeming absurdity, because he completely trusts the God who is responsible for both.

With the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), we see Mary demonstrate that same radical faith. When the angel Gabriel announces that Mary will conceive the Christ Child, she has one question. That question is lamely translated in the RSV:CE, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” (Luke 1:34). That question makes little sense, since she did have a husband (Matthew 1:19), having undergone the first of the two stages of a Jewish wedding (inaccurately described as a “betrothal” in modern translations, for lack of a better term). Rather, her question is better translated by the KJV: “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34 KJV). Or to put it more bluntly: Mary is asking how she can get pregnant since she isn’t having sex with her husband.

This points to the very thing that the early Christians repeatedly told us about Mary: that she was a perpetual virgin, seemingly having previously taken some sort of vow of celibacy. You’ll notice that the angel Gabriel never tells them to remain celibate throughout the pregnancy, and yet Matthew 1:24-25 says that Joseph “took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son.” Many readers misunderstand that “until” to mean that they had relations after Christmas, but (as St. Jerome showed) the Greek doesn’t necessitate such a reading. The question we should be asking is: why were Joseph and Mary celibate after the Annunciation at all? And that oddity is another flag pointing towards Mary’s virginity.

And Mary doesn’t break this promised virginity, or even offer to give it up. Just as Abraham holds in faith to two paradoxical truths – that he will be the father of many nations through Isaac, and that he is to sacrifice Isaac – Mary likewise holds to the promise of her virginity and the promise of her motherhood. Her question to the angel makes sense exactly here: she’s asking how she will manage to be a virgin and a mother simultaneously. And the angel Gabriel’s answer speaks directly to this: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:29).

In Hannah’s hymn (1 Samuel 2), itself a prefigurement of Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Hannah proclaims, “The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn” (1 Samuel 2:5). Like the Magnificat, the theme of the hymn is that the Lord can raise up the lowly and cast down the proud, and one of the examples she gives is of a barren woman bearing many children. Mary more than fulfills this. The paradox of her virginal motherhood, a paradox which all Christians must acknowledge, is beyond even the sacrifice of Isaac in holding to two seemingly incompatible truths.

From the Annunciation to the Crucifixion to all eternity, Mary faithfully follows God. She follows Him in the message of the angel, she follows Him to Calvary, and she follows Him even into heavenly glory. Blessed is she who believed!

*Not as recently as I would have liked! Sorry for the delay in posting – I travelled a bit after returning to America on May 28, and spent the last week getting settled into my new parish assignment, St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood, Kansas.

74 Comments

  1. Welcome to St. Michael the Archangel! I hope you find yourself at home. Thank you for writing about our blessed Mother.

  2. Congratulations on your assignment Joe. How fortunate your new parish is to have you. Be sure not to forsake us for them. 🙂

  3. It seems that many misunderstandings regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary are due to a misunderstanding that many people have regarding the nature of the diversity of religious callings or vocations. Not understanding well the nature of Christian vocations, these people might give a greater attention, or value, to one of the many Christian vocations, such as being a priest, bishop, deacon or missionary, and maybe less attention or value to the contemplative, monastic, lay, or one or other of the many service orientated vocations. The Apostles’ vocations as teachers and preachers were very striking and well defined. The Blessed Virgin’s vocation, on the other hand was much more private, and from the time she fled with Jesus to Egypt, was focused mostly on both protecting and even hiding Jesus until His public ‘hour’ had finally arrived. And, even as Mary was pleased to keep her Son safe and hidden until His public life began, so Jesus also was pleased to keep the focus and public attention ‘off’ of His Mother for many of the same reasons that she kept Him private. People err in thinking that if a person is not in the public limelight, they have lesser value, or virtue, than others who ‘are’ in the public limelight. However, it is really God who provides the specific vocations of His multitudes of servants, whatever these various vocations might be. Only in Heaven will we realize the real value of all of the differing vocations found in the greatly diverse members incorporated in ‘the body of Christ’. To not understand this about Mary’s particular vocation, or to value it less than other vocations just because it was less public, is to show a great lack of Christian wisdom, perception, common sense and understanding. One just needs to meditate a little more deeply on every aspect of Mary’s life to get a proper assessment of her profoundly beautiful, and eminently holy vocation as ‘Mother of God’ and ‘Mother of Christ’s Holy Church’.

  4. ‘Mary is not John’s mother physically, nor is her her son physically. Rather, Jesus is establishing (or revealing) Mary’s spiritual motherhood. That’s the way that Mary is John’s mother. ”

    It was already established that Jesus’ disciples were His brothers and His mother (Matt 12:49), obviously in a spiritual sense. So, our spiritual mother and brothers precede Mary, and as Christians share an Apostolic faith, it is to Christ’s male disciples (who ruled in the Church, wrote the New Testament, and are the only known Apostles laying aside the unknown gender of Junia in Rom 16:7.

    I think we would be hard pressed to find another understanding from the Bible, or from anyone in Church history, for the next 300 years.

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. Craig,

      Your exegesis misunderstands Matthew 12:49. I tackle that directly (well, the parallel passage in Luke 8) in this post from 2011, but the short answer is that you’re assuming that Jesus is contrasting His Mother, “she who believes,” and those who follow Him. But Mary is obviously both His Mother and His disciple. The idea that Jesus is saying that every Christian is better than the Virgin Mary is obviously wrong, and I would challenge you to support it with a single patristic reference from the 300 years of history to which you’re fatuously citing.

      As for the rest, you’re conflating ecclesiastical authority with spiritual motherhood. Here again, you’d be hard pressed to find the Fathers making the same mistake. They knew that there were poor widows in Heaven and bishops (and probably one Apostle) in hell.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      1. I think you are misunderstanding my point. You quote the passage in John 20 as proof that Mary is the spiritual mother of all Christians, but really it only speaks of how Mary is John’s s piritual mother and he is her spiritual son. There’s nothing particularly special about this because it is not the first time it happened, as the apostles were first given such titles. The preeminence is to the Apostles, because they were first and they were given the power to bind and loose, and not Mary. Mary’s role, if there is any special role, is completely unknown in the Scripture and at least 300 years of the written historical record. Your article, with its exegesis of the text in John, implies otherwise but the text in John does not demand your explanation. It is classic eisegesis, where you read the text with a pre-conceived understanding and so you read out of it something that relates to it. Someone, without the pre-conceived notion, would never come to the same conclusion.

        Obviously we differ on Mary, but I think what I am writing is eminently logical.

        God bless,
        Craig

        1. “Mary’s role, if there is any special role, is completely unknown in the Scripture”

          Mary’s role was to bring Jesus to humanity. Her role was to provide the means for the incarnation of God into this world. Her role was to keep Jesus safe until His hour had come. Her role was to teach Jesus the normal human tasks and lessons that all children are taught by their parents, ie. how to speak, read, write, clean, bathe, work..etc…All of this is in scripture, or is just common sense.

          Moreover, Mary, by being the Mother of Jesus, is thereby also the Mother of the mystical body of Jesus. How do we know? Jesus said to Saul “Why do you persecute me?” Here, Jesus was referring to His Mystical Body…His Church. And if His Mystical Body, the Church, is identified PERSONALLY with Jesus as He taught with His own lips… then Mary, being the mother of this same Jesus who spoke to Paul, is by definition also the Mother of the Mystical Body of Jesus.

          1. “Mary’s role was to bring Jesus to humanity.”

            Yes, Al, this is true, I stand corrected on that point. The rest is, I am sure you admit, logical extrapolations based upon the truth that Christians are part of Christ’s body. However, being that Mary has a mother, and her mother has a mother, it seems to me a little counterproductive to come to the conclusion that you did based upon your logic.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. This is to say, that Mary herself, had she encountered Saul on the road to Damascus could have said to him: “Saul, Saul, Why are you persecuting my Son? And he could have asked “Who is he, your son?” And she, “Jesus, whom you are persecuting”. Thus, in this scenario, Mary can be considered the Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ.

        2. Craig,

          If I understand you correctly, you’re arguing that:

          (1) The Apostles have preeminent spiritual fatherhood; and
          (2) Mary was the spiritual mother to at least one Apostle, St. John.

          We’re not just talking about Mary being a spiritual mother to a random follower of Christ, but to (a) an Apostle, and (b) the Disciple that Jesus loved. This is Christ’s gift from the Cross. So if the Apostles are at the top, spiritually, and Mary is placed above them… I don’t see what’s even left to argue over?

          I’d point out that reading it as an unremarkable event, no different from the spiritual maternity and paternity, strikes me as an extremely unlikely bit of exegesis, just as treating Christ’s “I Thirst” as nothing more than ordinary human desire for water. We’re talking about the seven last words of Jesus Christ dying on the Cross. He chose to take that moment to entrust John to the Virgin Mary, and John (inspired by the Holy Spirit) chose to record that event for all eternity. And you find this unremarkable, “nothing particularly special”?

          I.X.,

          Joe

          1. I think you are reading too into it. Christ says those who leave houses, farms, brothers, and sisters, mothers and fathers will “receive a hundredfold in the present age—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions” (Mark 10:30). So, all Christians have spiritual family, so why wouldn’t John or Mary? There is nothing in the text that we may infer that Mary being John’s spiritual mother and he being her spiritual son is some sort of bequeathing to her the whole church. Rather, it seems like a simple fulfillment of Mark 10:30, and being that Christians are adopted children of the Father, fulfillments of this kind happen all the time as all Christians are spiritual family.

        3. Craig

          Once again, your ‘exegesis’ appears to seek to minimise the role and place of Mary, which is quite sad and most unfortunate. Adam and Eve are the true original father and mother of the human race. They sinned and the whole human race needs redemption as a result. Jesus is the New Adam and Mary the new Eve, because she agreed to God’s request conveyed by the angel Gabriel. She is therefore our spiritual mother. There is a mass of scriptural evidence in support of this theme – see this link: http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/MARYINSC.htm

          For a neat summary, see this link: https://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2BVM64.htm

          For a deeper analysis, see this: http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/marian/5thdogma/spmotherhood.htm

          1. Peter, your “exegesis” reads a lot like eisegesis.

            “Jesus is the New Adam …”

            Yes, Rom 5 says that.

            “…and Mary the new Eve…”

            The Bible never says that, Irenaeus does but he’s not the Bible.

            “…because she agreed to God’s request conveyed by the angel Gabriel.”

            I don’t follow, why does agreeing to God’s request turn her into a new mother for the human race?

            “There is a mass of scriptural evidence…”

            Actually, there isn’t. If there were I’d happily accept it but we have nothing in the Scripture that calls Mary the new Eve, or in fact ascribes to her any special role above other saints whatsoever.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. “Peter, your “exegesis” reads a lot like eisegesis. ”
            Protestant propaganda creating a Greek-sound word.

            “The Bible never says that, Irenaeus does but he’s not the Bible.”
            Protestant dogma, not accepting a reasonable reasoning.

            “I don’t follow, why does agreeing to God’s request turn her into a new mother for the human race?”
            A Protestant not understanding symbolic language.

            “There is a mass of scriptural evidence…”
            A Catholic trying to tell a Protestant that there is another “logical” interpretation of scripture, but surely our Protestant friend’s denial that there is any true interpretation apart from his prevents him from seeing that.

        4. Through her ‘Fiat’ at the Anunciation, Mary demonstrated her faith in something she did not rationally understand. She therefore gave birth to Jesus prior to the apostles’ acceptance and handing Him on to us.

          1. Job knew His redeemer lived. The writer of Wisdom of Solomon wrote “Blessed is the wood from which righteousness comes.” Isaiah foresaw a suffering servant that would die for the gentiles, paying the penalty for their transgressions. Adam and Eve knew her Seed would crush Satan. In what sense did Mary have a more profound knowledge than this? I suppose she was the first to be told His name as Jesus.

        5. Craig, you missed the part where we are explicity called “the rest of [Mary’s] offspring” in Revelation 12.

    2. Simple logic suffices: 1) Mary is Jesus’ mother; 2) Jesus founded his Church; ergo 3) Mary is the (spiritual/metaphorical) Mother of the Church. If she had no faith, would she be Jesus’ mother? No. Hence, she is our “mother” in faith because she was the first person (male or female!) who ever believed in God the Father’s promise about His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit as announced by Gabriel. “First believer” — so much for precedence in time.

      I find Craig’s obsession with the 300’s threshold (or with absence of patristic quotes to any subject at hand) awfully awkward. Everyone comes with a preconceived notion, we’ve had this talk a myriad times. You come with yours, we come with ours. Nobody said what you said isn’t logical — but so is my “symbolic” syllogism above.

      Every point you make makes me think, “So what?” You grew up believing that every religious doctrine that isn’t explicit in the Bible (and the Bible according to your church’s interpretation or yours) is worthless. Why? Because people taught you so. You have your tradition, and we have ours. So please stop your empty accusations of “eisegesis”; as I pointed out before, you’re just a 21st century Baptist Protestant apologist from the US reading things in English on the Internet, and you hope you read the Bible with no “eisegesis”… You never try to understand, every time it seems you come to dialogue with ready-made conclusions from your apologetic toolkit.

      Believe me, every time I lost a little of my faith and patience because of people like you.

      1. KO, I already addressed this logic. Anne is Mary’s mother. Mary is the mother of Christ, whose body is the Church. Therefore, Anne is the grandmother of the Church. We can go on and on with ancestors, but I think I’ve proved my point via argumentum ad absurdum. Ancestry to Christ does not make bequeath a church to so and so person.

        1. You still haven’t addressed the fact that Mary was the first “believer” in Jesus, and that this was a precondition for her to bear Jesus (otherwise God could just “force” it upon her). Whether her obedience, faith and endurance are a model to you, it’s up to you. Mother in faith means her faith is a model to us. Just as Abraham’s, but more sublime. If this isn’t a metaphorical and spiritual motherhood, I don’t know what a metaphor or a symbol is anymore. If you think her faith is of little consequence, that you shouldn’t look up to her as an example, you belittle the importance of the Incarnation and the importance of Jesus being born “of woman” at all. And I never heard the Church was bequeathed to Mary. It’s not “hers” in the sense of ownership or inheritance. It’s not hers in the sense of ecclesiastical authority (as Joe said above). If you think Mary’s faith is less important just because she didn’t explicitly teach or hold a position of authority in the church, and that Peter or Paul are more important because they defined doctrine in your Bible and Mary didn’t, fine. If defining doctrine on paper for you is more important than the faith that brought God’s son in the world, fine. If you believe that words are superior to example by deeds, fine. Just let people who do practice their faith in peace, since you don’t understand them anyway. If you don’t believe she looks after the Church in the companionship of her Son in Heaven, that’s another issue. Joe isn’t talking about this.

          And yes, St. Anne is the patron of grandparents. If you think she taught Mary nothing, it’s also up to you.

          1. Again, whether Mary was the first believer or not is really not relevant to the question*. The point made here is that because Mary is Christ’s mom, and the CHurch is Christ’s body, therefore Mary is also the mother of the CHurch. A+B=C. However, this logic does not hold without saying her mother, grandmother, great grand mother, great great grandmother, and etcetera may rightfully be called great great great etc grandma of the Church. Being that no one takes that seriously, it makes no sense to believe that by virtue of Mary being CHrist’s mother, that makes her the Church’s mother in any meaningful way.

            *In what sense was Mary the first to have faith in Jesus? There were a plethora of Jews who foresaw the Messiah. Mary did not seem to warn the other disciples that Christ was resurrected, as the women visited the tomb to annoint His body. I don’t see how she had any fuller knowledge of Jesus as the Christ then Peter did, for example. Nothing from the Scripture would show us otherwise.

          2. Craig, you’re repeating your point like a parrot. Do I need to repeat? Here it goes: she is our “mother” in faith because she was the first person (male or female!) who ever believed in God the Father’s promise about His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit as announced by Gabriel. Can you deny that? No.

            Point me any Jewish prophet who did that.

            I never said it necessitated a genealogy up to Adam. You belittle Mary’s faith, again, it’s up to you.

            “whether Mary was the first believer or not is really not relevant to the question”.
            No, it matters to the question. Can you deny that? Surely no.

            I beg your pardon, but you plainly do not know what a metaphor is.

            Your * comment left me dumbfounded. If she didn’t know her own son, then, pardon me, but your “God” is really stupid. What do you think she thought He was? A wonder-maker? A prophet? A philosopher/preacher/hippie/drunkard man with ragged disciples of no social importance, who just happened to die because of the odd things he preached and had the balls to claim the title of Messiah and King of the Jews? Come on.

          3. I’m pretty sure I know what a metaphor is, I just don’t subscribe to the theory that only Catholics can accurately surmise metaphors, allegories, and typology.

          4. Craig, and where did I say that only Catholics can accurately “surmise”? How can one “surmise” (as you sarcastically put it) a metaphor? [surmise: suppose that something is true without having evidence to confirm it.] We presented a whole lot of evidence that makes sense, though it doesn’t make sense to you. You just said that “Mary isn’t the mother of the church in any “truthful” sense.” Of course, truth as defined by you, evidence as defined by you, metaphors and symbols as invalidated by you.

        2. You’re missing something key though. Mary is the “Theotokos.” St. Anne is not. Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel. St. Anne was not. Mary said “Let it be done to ME according to your word.” St. Anne did not. Not that St. Anne is completely irrelevant or unimportant but she is not the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Anne is not the Mother of God. Jesus gets His humanity from Mary, not St. Anne. It’s as silly to try to make her the “Grandmother of the Church” as it is to call her “Grandmother of God.” I guess technically they are both true. None of those facts refute the fact that since Mary is the mother of Jesus who is God, she is the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church.

          1. Also, Mary is the first person to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:38). Craig, you said:

            ” I don’t see how she had any fuller knowledge of Jesus as the Christ then Peter did, for example. Nothing from the Scripture would show us otherwise”

            Really dude? Mary knew Jesus for a LOT longer than Peter did. The angelic revelation she received was more than sufficient and oh yeah, she RAISED Him! Mary has a closer relationship with her Son than any other member of the Church.

            Also, since it was brought up, I do believe that Jesus told Mary of his resurrection to her first privately. She also probably knew He would rise because of the angelic message. And again, she raised him. I bet they had some conversations about how Jesus’s ministry was going to go.

          2. Remember that Jesus said “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father”. There was no other person on Earth that had ‘seen’ Jesus, both physically and spiritually, more than His Blessed Mother. To even accept the offer of the Angel Gabriel she must have had the Wisdom of God given to her so as to understand what she was to do in her Fiat.

            Then, even after an Angel called her ‘Blessed among woman’, Elizabeth her cousin also call her ‘blessed’. And she herself reiterates the proof of sanctity saying ‘from this day all generations will call me blessed’. This means that until the end of the world she will be known as eminently ‘blessed’ among those who have lived in the world.

            And we should not forget the angels, shepherds and kings that came to Jesus, Mary and Joseph at the time of Jesus’ birth. And then we have the witness of Simeon at Jesus’ circumcision. He was only too happy to glimpse Jesus for a few moments and then be satisfied to die. Mary saw Him day and night.

            Then Mary was also at the first miracle at Cana, and actually was responsible for asking Jesus to perform it, in her own subtle way, which He did for her, and the wedding feast, even though He said His ‘hour had not come’. But He effected the first transubstantiation for Mary, but denied satan just a few weeks earlier when he tempted Him his extreme hunger to transubstantiate the stones into bread. Clearly He listened to Mary but He completely denied satan, and even commanded him to ‘begone’.

            These scripture passages should be neglected by no Christian in His study of Jesus Christ. They are essential to knowing Jesus and Mary properly. And to know Jesus is also to know God His Father, which is the goal of all Human life here on Earth.

          3. Matt, all the reasons you listed (i.e. but she saw and angel, she raised Him, etc) are inferences. The text never explicitly says that she knew Jesus would resurrect or confessed Him to be Christ. These are the bare essentials to proving your case, but we simply do not have the evidence for it.

            In fact, Mary, like the Apostles, seemed to not understand all the specifics until after the resurrection. Take the following from Luke 2:

            When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “[s]Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I [t]have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s [u]house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.

            Saint Bede wrote, “It follows, And they understood him not, that is, the word which He spoke to them of His divinity.”

            Origen concurs: “Or they knew not whether when He said about my Father’s business, He referred to the temple, or something higher and more edifying.”

            So, I don’t mean to be a jerk, but unless we accept extra-bibilical traditions from past the fourth century we simply do not have evidence of your contention.

          4. all the reasons you listed (i.e. but she saw and angel, she raised Him, etc) are inferences.
            OK, so we’re not authorized by Craig to make inferences from Bible stories anymore.

            “The text never explicitly says that she knew Jesus would resurrect or confessed Him to be Christ. These are the bare essentials to proving your case, but we simply do not have the evidence for it.”

            So, having faith in God, and knowing implicitly, and explicitly, the power of God the Father, the grace of the Holy Spirit, from whom she conceived, and the glory of her son, physically, because of her faith — is this not faith? How dare you. Now you say that she didn’t have faith, because only“confessing him to be the Christ” and “knowing he’d resurrect” does not count as faith to you. I didn’t now you were granted such an authority.

            But just notice how you ignore, skip, and dodge the issues. Mary the first believer? Craig: “It doesn’t matter.” And then Craig again: “She didn’t have faith”.

            And then, “having faith”, according to Craig, must include her knowing that a) Jesus was God himself b) he would redeem mankind c) she should understand everything he said. “Of course Mary didn’t believe that Jesus was the son of God, as the angel told her”, so Craig’s mind goes, “of course “Emmanuel” means nothing and Mary didn’t understand (let alone have faith) in that either; of course the magi astonished Mary because he had no idea what was going on; of course the fact that Jesus didn’t want to marry must have struck her as preposterous and suspicious; of course the fact that he was found discussing in the temple on equal terms with the sages was just a manifestation of his innate gift.” And of course the stories in the gospels whose only eyewitnesses must have been either Joseph, or Mary, or both, of course there’s no reason to know they’re telling the truth, anyway. All we have is Mary’s (and afterward Joseph’s) word that Jesus was conceived from the Holy Spirit. Should you believe her? And shouldn’t she know that the fact that she bore God’s son would have a higher purpose? Just like Abraham’s obeisance demonstrated that his faith implied his knowledge of a higher purpose in God’s commandment? By your logic, Abraham is not our father in faith either, because he didn’t know what God would do next.

            So, I don’t mean to be a jerk, but unless we accept extra-bibilical traditions from past the fourth century we simply do not have evidence of your contention.
            You’re still obtuse. You know that we don’t accept your authority or your arbitrary 300’s threshold of acceptability. You know we don’t believe in the Bible alone. If you do, and you have your own interpretations, fine. But we don’t. We clearly don’t accept your premises.

            “Evidence” from our contention comes from our interpretation of the Bible and the Apostles’ faith (surely you lack the latter, since your church is neither universal, nor apostolic). You deny prima facie that our interpretation of the Bible is correct, because you follow a different tradition. There is absolutely no common ground among us here.

          5. KO, you sure wrote a lot of words while ignoring the fact that respected Catholic writers that I quoted agreed with my view, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

    3. “Again, there are those who say, “He is a man, and who shall know him?” and, “I came unto the prophetess, and she bare a son, and His name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God;” and those [of them] who proclaimed Him as Immanuel, [born] of the Virgin, exhibited the union of the Word of God with His own workmanship, [declaring] that the Word should become flesh, and the Son of God the Son of man (the pure One opening purely *that pure womb which regenerates men unto God*, and which He Himself made pure); and having become this which we also are, He [nevertheless] is the Mighty God, and possesses a generation which cannot be declared.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 4, chap. 33, paragraph 11. writing about A.D. 189. Emph. mine)

  5. It’s only a hypothetical to show the complexity of Mary’s nature as the Theotokos. I think her dignity is so great as to be only known to God alone. But, as Joe writes above, St. John, in the Book of Revelation, tries to give a hint of her great dignity under the analogy of a ‘woman clothed with the Sun’.

  6. Paul VI said and John Paul cited his saying in “Redemptoris Mater”: “Knowledge of the true Catholic doctrine regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary will always be a key to the exact understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the Church.”
    These are very true words.

  7. Craig, is it really that hard to believe that Mary believed everything the Angel told her and never stopped believing?

    Luke 1:33 reads: “And he will reign over the house of Jacob FOREVER and of his kingdom there will be NO END.”

    Similarly to Abraham, Mary believed that to be true (Luke 1:45) even before, during, and after the death of her Son. That would logically imply a belief in a resurrection since it’s difficult to reign forever if you’re dead lol. Now did she know everything about Jesus from the Angel? No but so what? Abraham knee much less about the full revelation of God and he is still our Father in Faith. Don’t confuse Faith with knowledge. Faith is the virtue that Mary abounded in.

    I should also point out that you are indeed presupposing a sola scriptura paradigm. Even “solo” scriptura since you refuse to believe it unless it’s “explicitly” in scripture. And you did not address how calling Mary “Theotokos” and/or “Mother of God” does not force us to have a doctrine that St. Anne is the “Grandmother of God.” The Council fathers at Ephesus were unconcerned and I am likewise unconcerned with your “argument” that calling Mary “Mother of the Church” makes St. Anne “Grandmother of the Church.” Like you said, we could call Eve the “Great to the nth grandmother of God” but so what? That wouldn’t show the syllogism to be false.

    May God be with you

    Matthew

  8. It’s pretty simple. Jesus addresses all those who say show me in the bible. He answers for all time when He says: ‘He who hears you (the Church), hears me. He who rejects you, rejects me.’,</strong. The Church has said that Mary is our spiritual Mother. I hear Jesus through the Church. To reject her teaching on Mary is to reject Christ. I have yet to find a passage where Jesus says take it to the bible.

  9. Craig, there is no “respected Catholic author” that would agree with your contention that Mary is not the Mother of the Church. Bede and Origen made comments on how Mary might not have had full knowledge of her Son’s divinity. Fine. Abraham didn’t have full knowledge of the Trinity either. Does that mean he cannot be considered our Father in Faith? Again, Faith is a virtue. You can have it without perfect knowledge of all dogma. Abraham had it. Mary had it abundantly.

    1. Would it be that Protestants would at least have the respect for Mary that St. Elizabeth had. It is a very sorry thing that Mary can effect holiness in others, such as Elizabeth and John the Baptist, but Protestants cannot appreciate this. Maybe they just ignore the particular Marian accounts in scripture, such as the one below, for some strange and biased reason? :

      “Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. [40] And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.

      [41] And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: [42] And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. [43] And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? [44] For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. [45] And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.”

      1. If one reads this Scripture carefully, it details that it was ‘Mary’s voice’, her ‘word of salutation’, which effected the gift of the Holy Ghost filling the body and soul of St. Elizabeth. This same voice of Mary was also the cause of St. John’s ‘leaping for joy’.

        Does this reveal to us nothing of Mary’s particular holiness as a servant of God?

    2. Matt, to be fair, my point was that there is no true sense Mary is Mother of the Church. The answers I got in response were she’s Christ’s mom (that’s a given) and that she was the first to have faith in Christ (which I have shown, not really, as it appears that she shared no more of an understanding of the Messiah then many who look forward to there being a Messiah.) In response, I have been told about inferences people draw (i.e. but Christ grew up with her, that she means she knew Him extremely well), and I don’t think intellectually these are really compelling arguments, especially because Christ’s brothers (or half-brothers, or cousins, or however you want to take it) did not seem to benefit from years growing up alongside Christ either.

      So, unless you can show me where in the Bible it says Mary is Mother of the Church, I don’t see why I should be forced to accept it. The RC tradition is a later one that asserts that Christians have always believed this, they just don’t have proof that Christians have always believed it. Now, we believe all sorts of things without proof–but let’s admit to ourselves what we can demonstrate and what we cannot and not look down on people that refuse our truth claims that lack sufficient demonstration.

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. It must explicitly say in the bible! Except the bible doesn’t explicitly say all the books in the bible are inspired. Ah Tradition tells us, but we must look to the Jews that rejected Jesus clarity.

        Tradition shows veneration to Mary. Ah but it must be mentioned before 300 AD says Craig. Why? Because his research does not shown this practice before then, that’s why. Does he consistently apply the it must be talked about by the 300s for all his doctrines? No.

        Craig – all we want from is consistency. Jerome is your go to man except when he isn’t. Bible alone with exceptions.

        Bottom line is, you can come up with any doctrine you want by picking and choosing writings you want and ignoring others. The early Christians already did this (making sure it agreed with what the Apostles verbally taught and wrote) but I get the impression you think evil won the day early and there was no one around to challenge these Romish heresies in a strong way or at all. They were willing to be eaten by lions but were too scared to challenge an illegal and not so powerful church.

        Catholics use Tradition, Authoritative teaching and Scripture to consistently support our doctrines. Pray tell us what approach do you consistently use to support your doctrines so we can judge your conclusions on your own terms? It seems ad hoc, but maybe I’m wrong.

        1. The funniest, or in actuality the most hypocritical part of the argument, is condemning the Catholic position because someone arbitrarily says it is an extra-biblical post fourth century tradition, while appealing to as the main basis for their condemnation the extra-biblical 16th century human tradition of sola scriptura.

      2. ” there is no true sense Mary is Mother of the Church.”
        What is a true sense of a metaphor/symbol/model? What is a true symbolic literary sense of Mother(hood) in Christian thought? Maybe you want to define that too…

  10. I found this interesting from piercedhearts.org:

    A very significant fresco found in the catacombs of St. Agnes depicts Mary situated between St. Peter and St. Paul with her arms outstretched to both. This fresco reflects, in the language of Christian frescoes, the earliest symbol of Mary as “Mother of the Church.” Whenever St. Peter and St. Paul are shown together, it is symbolic of the one Church of Christ, a Church of authority and evangelization, a Church for both Jew and Gentile. Mary’s prominent position between Sts. Peter and Paul illustrates the recognition by the Apostolic Church of the maternal centrality of the Savior’s Mother in his young Church.

    It is also clear from the number of representations of the Blessed Virgin and their locations in the catacombs that the Mother of Jesus was also recognized for her maternal intercession of protection and defense. Her image was present on tombs, as well as on the large central vaults of the catacombs. Clearly, the early Christians dwelling in the catacombs prayed to Mary as intercessor to her Son for special protection and for motherly assistance. As early as the first century to the first half of the second century, Mary’s role as Spiritual Mother was recognized her protective intercession was invoked. (2)

    1. Duane, it that name on the Fresco or is that what it has been called by its interpreters?

      Further, the debate earlier was over whether Mary was the first to have faith in Jesus. I argued this was not the case. I do not think that fresco helps answer that question.

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. “I argued this was not the case.”
        You argued it based on your own notion of “faith”. We don’t agree, as said above: “Faith is a virtue. You can have it without perfect knowledge of all dogma. Abraham had it. Mary had it abundantly.”

      2. “it that name on the Fresco or is that what it has been called by its interpreters?”
        Surely you have another archaeological/art history theory? Please enlighten us! Oh, I forgot, it doesn’t matter for you, even if it breaches your 300-year threshold.

  11. Craig, there is a very true sense in which Mary is the Mother of the Church. She is the mother of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is the Church. Therefore, Mary is the mother of the Church. Your reply to this is irrelevant because the logic still holds. Calling Anne the “Grandmother of the Church” does not refute the fact that Mary is the Mother of the Church in any way.

    While I have no problem admitting I am drawing inferences from scripture when it comes to Mary’s life and faith, I will contend that they are in fact quite natural inferences. The Angel said to Mary that her Son would reign forever. You can’t do that while you are dead.

    As to Jesus’s kinsmen, they did not raise him. They were children and the Angel did not reveal anything to them that we know of. Mary is in a far superior position relative to Jesus than they were or are.

    Finally, your insistence on Sola Scriptura for this topic is making it hard to move forward. I do find it interesting that conversations with Protestants about Mary seem to always go back to this. However, since the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is demonstrably a non-apostolic teaching (as admitted by Protestants like James White), I see no reason at all to abide by it when discussing Mariology.

    May God be with you.

    Matthew

  12. As a reminder to some commenters here, Joe made a Biblical argument…so it is completely legitimate to discuss the merits of a Biblical argument based upon just the Bible.

    Anywho, here’s my Biblical argument for Sola Scriptura: https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/03/01/a-response-to-one-catholics-objections-to-sola-scriptura/

    Here’s my traditional argument for Sola Scriptura: https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/03/08/the-sufficiency-of-scripture-in-athanasius-de-synodis/

    God bless,
    Craig

    1. “it is completely legitimate to discuss the merits of a Biblical argument based upon just the Bible.”
      Of course it is. It just happens that you have a different interpretation of the Bible. We believe and have argued countless times that sola scriptura isn’t biblical, so your premise isn’t biblical either: therefore we don’t have to accept it, according to your own premises.

      It it just “also” happens that we’re not bound by your limitations, and we didn’t agree with those limitations before we engaged in dialogue with you. You have no other answer except “accept sola scriptura or I’ll stop talking”. It seems that’s the only way you ever learned to reason and argue, and I can accept that. I’m in fact not forcing you to leave your presuppositions, I’m just arguing that we reason differently. You cannot expect, let alone demand, that we think as you do.

      You did not have your way with “biblical” arguments, now you retract into your own dogma.

      As a reminder to you, no one here is bound to your dogma of sola scriptura, and neither of us agreed beforehand to discuss anything at all based on that premise. We (at least I tend to think that way) present things according to reason, tradition, magisterium, philosophical principles, biblical and textual exegesis, and so on. You seem utterly ignorant of what a metaphor is, focusing your silly argument on a single point, which denigrates our own capacity to think for ourselves: “Oh, if I cannot find that metaphor in the Bible (explicitly), I’m not allowed to derive it from there!” If that metaphor or symbolism or practice is based on the bible, as we say so, you have no binding authority to impose on us, not even according to reason (as if plain rationalism ever got into play here).

      You know very well that arguments “according to the bible alone” get nowhere. Allow me to remind the discussion here: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/ and the cul de sac here: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/we-believe-bible-and-you-do-not/.

      May I kindly remind you a brilliant exposition by Joe: http://shamelesspopery.com/catholicism-v-sola-scriptura/ or at length here: http://shamelesspopery.com/tag/sola-scriptura/

      May Allah bless you too,

      KO.

    2. Rebuttal:

      The Sufficiency of Scripture and Sola Scriptura are two different doctrines.

      Sufficiency of Scripture: it is possible to construct the essentials of the Christian faith for salvation from the canon of scripture alone.

      Sola Scriptura: it is possible to construct the essentials of the Christian faith for salvation from the scriptures alone AND it alone is infallible — the Church and Sacred Tradition are NOT infallible.

      From what I understand (my fellow Catholics can correct me if I am wrong about this), Catholics are permitted to believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. We are not permitted to deny that Sarcred Tradition and the Holy Church are infallible, as sola scriptura demands.

      Therefore, if you desire to keep an on-topic debate on sola scriptura, let’s make the battleground clear: we affirm the infallibility of Tradition and the Holy Church, you deny it. If you affirm the infallibility of Tradition or the Holy Church, you don’t believe in Sola Scriptura. If you consider possible the infallibility of Tradition or the Holy Church, but fail to explicitly affirm it, you deny their infallibility — as fallibility is imputed by default.

      In addition — please see my above quote for a pre-300s quote concerning the Motherhood of Mary of the Church.

      1. Actually, I was not asking for a debate on sola scriptura. I’ve made my case in the above links, I am not interested in bringing the thread here off topic. Joe made a Scriptural argument, I responded with evidence that put his hermeneutic into question. The whole issue of sola scriptura, really, is not relevant in this discussion. It just seems like people a throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and see what sticks instead of actually addressing the points made.

        God bless,
        Craig

        P.S. One poster here specifically denied the sufficiency of Scripture, so I am not aware of a singular Catholic view on the issue.

        1. Craig: “it is completely legitimate to discuss the merits of a Biblical argument based upon just the Bible.
          Craig 2: ” I was not asking for a debate on sola scriptura.” […] “The whole issue of sola scriptura, really, is not relevant in this discussion.”
          No, you were just asking that we accept your premises without discussion.

          1. Craig: “it is completely legitimate to discuss the merits of a Biblical argument based upon just the Bible.”
            Me: “it is completely legitimate to discuss the merits of a Biblical argument based upon the Bible, Tradition, and the Magisterium”.

            Nobody here mentioned sola scriptura before you did. Nobody really cared, and everyone knew beforehand that it’s your unassailable dogma. If you accept that we don’t agree with your debate premises and we don’t argue according to SS, fine. You argue with your tools, we argue with ours. If you cannot argue outside your Protestant toolbox, I pity you. We just have more resources. Let’s move on.

            What about your arbitrary 300-year limit? What about our biblical reasoning that you brushed aside like a knee-jerk because they were “deductions”? What about your subjective definition of faith? What about your notion of “reality”, “metaphor”, “symbol”, and “model”? Just let this sink in: “If you think Mary’s faith is less important just because she didn’t explicitly teach or hold a position of authority in the church, and that Peter or Paul are more important because they defined doctrine in your Bible and Mary didn’t, fine. If defining doctrine on paper for you is more important than the faith that brought God’s son in the world, fine. If you believe that words are superior to example by deeds, fine.” You have your faith. I respect your choice, but utterly reject it as heresy, that is, subjective opinion. So don’t tell us that ours is not “biblical”, or not “proven”.

        2. P.S. One poster here specifically denied the sufficiency of Scripture, so I am not aware of a singular Catholic view on the issue.

          So you’re not aware of the differentiation of formal and material sufficiency, or even if you’re aware, you’ll probably argue that it’s a false difference.

    3. Craig, can you show me where even one father of the Church rejects Apostolic oral tradition? I give you this quote from St. Basil:

      “Of the dogmas and kerygmas preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we received from the Tradition of the Apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the Gospel in its vitals; or rather, we would reduce kerygma to a mere term. For instance, to take the first and most general example, who taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? What writing has taught us to turn to the East in prayer? Which of the saints left us in writing the words of the epiclesis at the consecration of the Bread of the Eucharist and of the Cup of Benediction? For we are not content with those words the Apostle or the Gospel has recorded, but we say other things also, both before and after; and we regard these other words, which we have received from unwritten teaching, as being of great importance to the mystery.

      Where is it written that we are to bless the baptismal water, the oil of anointing, and even the one who is being baptized? Is it not from the silent and mystical tradition? Indeed, in what written word is even the anointing oil taught? Where does it say that in baptizing there is to be a triple immersion? And the rest of the things done at baptism — where is it written that we are to renounce Satan and his angels? Does this not come from that secret and arcane teaching which our Fathers guarded in a silence not too curiously meddled with and not idly investigated, when they had learned well that reverence for the mysteries is best preserved by silence…. In the same way the Apostles and Fathers who, in the beginning, prescribed the Church’s rites, guarded in secrecy and silence the dignity of the mysteries; for that which is blabbed at random and in the public ear is no mystery at all. This is the reason for our handing on of unwritten precepts and practices; that the knowledge of our dogmas may not be neglected and held in contempt by the multitude through too great a familiarity. Dogma and kerygma are two distinct things. Dogma is observed in silence; kerygma is proclaimed to all the world”

      -St. Basil, “The Holy Spirit” 17,66 (trans from The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol 2 p. 18f. by William A. Jurgens.

      Here’s St. Basil’s 92nd Canon (Translation from “The Rudder”, which is a book containing the Ecumenical canons, with Traditional commentary):

      [This is also found in chapter 29 of St. Basil’s work on the Holy Spirit]

      “Moreover, as relating to the assertion that the Doxology containing the words “together with the Spirit” is unwitnessed and unwritten, what we have to say is that if nothing else that is unwritten is admissible, then let this not be admitted either; but if the most of the mysteries are conveyed to us outside the scriptures, let us accept this one too together with numerous others. It is a usage that Apostolical, I presume, to adhere to unwritten and extra-biblical traditions. For it says: “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the Traditions as I have delivered them to you” (I Cor 11:2). And: “Hold fast to the Traditions which ye have been taught, whether orally or through an epistle of ours” (II Thess 2:15), one of which indeed is the present one, which the first originators composed and handed on to their successors, in due process of time and ever mindful of usage, and have firmly rooted in the Churches by dint of long custom. If, therefore, we are at a loss to present written evidence as though in a court of justice, but can produce a whole multitude of witnesses, should we not received an express permission from you. The way I look at the matter is as follows: “At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (Deut 19:15). But if, on the other hand, we have exhibited the fact to you perspicuously for a long time, should we not except you naturally enough to say that there is no evidence to warrant our being put on trial. For how can it be denied that the old doctrines are awesome and entitled to veneration because of their hoary antiquity?”

      Surely, if anyone in the early Church believed in sola scriptura, they would have taken St. Basil to task. You can find similar quotes from Tertullian, St. Cyril……

      Craig you wrote this on your blog:

      Yet, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox put the Scripture on par with the infallible pronouncements of Popes and Ecumenical Councils (even though this is an idea found nowhere in the writings of early Christians.)….And if this is the case, why does the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church spend so much time saying that the consciences of Christians are bound to authorities outside the Scripture?

      Athanasius would view such ideas as repugnant.

      Yet St. Athanasius says that the council of Nicaea is the word of God:

      But the word of the Lord which came through the ecumenical Synod at Nicea, abides forever. (Synodal Letter to the Bishops of Africa 2; NPNF 2, Vol. IV)

      and here St. Athanasius provides us with this summary of the authority of Nicea:

      “See, we are proving that this view has been transmitted from father to father; but ye, O modern Jews and disciples of Caiaphas, how many fathers can ye assign to your phrases? Not one of the understanding and wise; for all abhor you, but the devil alone ; none but he is your father in this apostasy, who both in the beginning sowed you with the seed of this irreligion, and now persuades you to slander the Ecumenical Council , for committing to writing, not your doctrines, but that which from the beginning those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word have handed down to us . For the faith which the Council has confessed in writing, that is the faith of the Catholic Church; to assert this, the blessed Fathers so expressed themselves while condemning the Arian heresy; and this is a chief reason why these apply themselves to calumniate the Council. For it is not the terms which trouble them , but that those terms prove them to be heretics, and presumptuous beyond other heresies.”
      De Decretis 27(A.D. 351),in NPNF2,IV:168-169

      Again Craig, the successors to the Apostles have spoken, and you refuse to hear them, based on your private interpretation of the bible. You hold fast to what is easily proven to be a man-made tradition of the sixteenth century, while criticizing Apostolic Traditions. Yet Jesus in no passage points to the bible as having the authority to speak for him, but points to the Church as having authority. I can only conclude that in rejecting the Church, you reject Him, and the one who sent Him. Many are the people who say they follow Christ, but have unknowingly rejected Him.

      1. There’s a lot here, and it is well thought out and I am really not looking to get into a long discussion on sola scriptura here. If you want to take it to the blog, that’s fine. Otherwise I’ll say that Athanasius specially said:

        ” for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrine so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture.”

        So, indeed he viewed Nicea as the word of God, because it perfectly re-presented what the Scripture taught ^^^.

        As for oral tradition, I agree, even in the first century Papias wrote about it. You will also notice that Papias, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and etcetera relate oral traditions that Catholics presently reject (respectively: Judas did not die from hanging, Jesus was older than 60, and milk and honey must be tasted after baptism). So, the fact that there is no way of knowing which oral traditions are actually right as some very early ones are rejected and much later ones (i.e. assumption of Mary) are accepted, shows your criteria for oral tradition is historically nebulous. Pretty much the only oral traditions that are accepted are not what history bears out as likely accurate, but what the Pope has infallibly taught as true.

        I’ll give you the last word.

        1. Actually don’t take it to his blog. Craig just wants you to read and accept his premises. You can see how well my discussion went.

          1. One-sentence sarcastic rebuttals like “go read X”, “Your handling of those baptism texts is wrong and not relevant to the discussion, it is a non sequitur.” You cite text after text of supporting biblical material (“faith, repentance, baptism, the requirement to eat His body,” and that is the response he gives you, citing one supporting verse and dutifully ignoring the others that contradict him. And you didn’t even mention Matthew 16.27, 18:3, 19:17-19, John 5:29, Mark 16:16… wow, I cannot even begin quoting deeds through which one will merit salvation (oh, no, he’ll babble we don’t merit salvation…) Just take a look: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/saved.html Craig’s hierarchy of “faith better than works” crumbles.

          2. CK, I’ve been there, I’ve made that mistake. One more Protestant apologist who censors comments when he sees fit. I’ve seen my share of those. When he’s tired of verse after verse from the bible that contradicts his position, he argues that they are “random quotes”, and turns down further comments. After being lambasted for his 60-year-old bogus fairy-tale concocted from copy-pasting and ill will, he has the nerve to bring it all again. I’ve had enough.

        2. Oh, the old bogus “Jesus was older than 60” fairy-tale! Didn’t we discuss it here before, and you told us you learned through osmosis from James White?

          1. “If you remembered, we quoted Against Heresies and it was explicitly there.”
            We had that discussion already.

          1. In your view, nothings constitutes a valid defense of Catholicism. And yes, it is a bogus faity-tale that Catholics have never believed, and you said you read/heard that story from James White in order to advance the argument that oral tradition is not trustworthy. Am I wrong? Did I lie? In what does that constitute a personal attack? Of course it’s personal in the strict sense, because it was you who uttered such nonsense; it’s not personal in the sense that I’m denigrating your person, individually.

        3. “your criteria for oral tradition is historically nebulous.”
          The existence of Christ is historically nebulous, the Gospels are historically nebulous, the Old Testament his deeply flawed historically, to say the least — if you think the Exodus existed, Abraham existed, &c &c — think again, because there’s absolutely no evidence. You may even believe that Adam and Eve were real people, that God literally created the world in 7 days, and so on. It’s all symbolic, or else, it’s a big laughable lie. So your criteria for what constitutes a historical source are biased when it suits you. You seem to think there’s such a wide gap between the oral and the written tradition, when in fact their much more intertwined than you think. The reasons for you to reject the “oral tradition” are the sames used by agnostics to reject the texts also.

    4. it is completely legitimate to discuss the merits of a Biblical argument based upon just the Bible.”
      Of course it is. It just happens that you have a different interpretation of the Bible. We believe and have argued countless times that sola scriptura isn’t biblical, so your premise isn’t biblical either: therefore we don’t have to accept it, according to your own premises.

      It it just “also” happens that we’re not bound by your limitations, and we didn’t agree with those limitations before we engaged in dialogue with you. You have no other answer except “accept sola scriptura or I’ll stop talking”. It seems that’s the only way you ever learned to reason and argue, and I can accept that. I’m in fact not forcing you to leave your presuppositions, I’m just arguing that we reason differently. You cannot expect, let alone demand, that we think as you do.

      You did not have your way with “biblical” arguments, now you retract into your own dogma.

      As a reminder to you, no one here is bound to your dogma of sola scriptura, and neither of us agreed beforehand to discuss anything at all based on that premise. We (at least I tend to think that way) present things according to reason, tradition, magisterium, philosophical principles, biblical and textual exegesis, and so on. You seem utterly ignorant of what a metaphor is, focusing your silly argument on a single point, which denigrates our own capacity to think for ourselves: “Oh, if I cannot find that metaphor in the Bible (explicitly), I’m not allowed to derive it from there!” If that metaphor or symbolism or practice is based on the bible, as we say so, you have no binding authority to impose on us, not even according to reason (as if plain rationalism ever got into play here).

      You know very well that arguments “according to the bible alone” get nowhere. Allow me to remind the discussion at calledtocommunion entitled: “Sola scriptura and the question of interpretive authority”, and the cul de sac in an article by Mathison entitled “We believe the bible and you don’t”.

      May I kindly remind you a brilliant exposition by Joe in the post “Catholicism and sola scriptura”.

      May Allah bless you too.

      KO

  13. Craig,

    In your posts where you try to show that Mary was not the first to come to faith, you conflate understanding and faith. You show that in the temple, Mary did not understand, but not understanding something fully does not show whether she was the first to come to faith or not. So your whole temple passage, in reality, says nothing about her faith.

    But here is a favorite of yours, St. Augustine, who says this about Mary:

    The Mother of the Head, in bearing Him corporally became spiritually the Mother of all members of this Divine Head.” (Of Holy Virginity 6, [A.D.401])

    1. Regarding St. Augustines quote on the motherhood of Mary. If we examine carefully the exact words of the Gospel passage wherein Jesus speaks in His agony to both His Mother and St. John from the cross, we note that Jesus addresses first Mary, and then afterwards, His beloved disciple John:

      “When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. [27] After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.” (John 19:26)

      What He is saying to His Mother is that John is her Son… physically, or spiritually, matters not, even as when a person adopts a child, the child is thereafter considered a part of the family who adopted him. The amazing thing is that Jesus is seen here either commanding Mary to adopt John as her son, or else, just proclaiming an already existing spiritual truth recalling Jesus’ teaching: “whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers, that you do unto Me.” Mary is thus bound to look at John as a real brother of Jesus Her son, and as Mother, she is to give him all the attention that a loving mother, both spiritually and physically, should give to a child of hers. Jesus is actually affirming Johns true discipleship, and this word of Jesus wouldn’t have been possible had it been Judas that was standing up there with Mary, below the cross, instead of John.

      Then, after addressing Mary, He proclaims to St. John: “Behold thy Mother”. Jesus hereby confirms His word to Mary, and John takes this word of Jesus literally. He realizes that he has both spiritual and physical duties now, as any good son should have for his mother following the fourth commandment: “honor thy mother and thy father”.

      The only question remaining is how the other Apostles of Jesus relate to this, as they were not present at this scene on Calvary.

      The answer can be found in Jesus’ emphasis on unity amongst his Apostles, and disciples, when He says in John 17:11:

      “And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are.”

      And again in John 17:20, He continues:

      And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. [22] And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one: [23] I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.”

      With these words any sensitive Christian should see how it is that Mary is indeed the Mother of St. John, as well as the mother of all the other Apostles and Disciples of Jesus, and even until the end of the world.

      So this is one way that St. Augustine’s passage, above, can be understood through the words of Jesus in the Holy Gospel.

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